Finding the Other Skill Sets You Need to Build Up Your Writing Business

Unless your entire business model is querying editors and sending out articles from here to eternity, you need skills beyond simply writing. Just what those skills are depends on your business, of course. For me, the technical aspects of setting up a new website and designing it are important — I know just enough about graphic design to tell you when something will be entirely unsuccessful and I know enough about HTML to thoroughly break any website I come across.

Now I can (and am) working to improve my skills in those fields. I’m taking a class in typography this semester and I’ve got a stack of books on the technical side of building a website. But, at the end of the day, I’m much better at writing. I know that’s going to remain true, as well. That doesn’t mean that I’m out of luck if a client needs a website before I can start writing content for them, though.

Take on the Project Manager Role

For some of my clients, I’m just as much a project manager as a writer. I tell them, ‘sure, I can get the whole website put together for you.’ Then I email my web guy, describe the project and tell him it’s now his problem. Everybody gets paid and everybody is happy. I do charge for my time handling project management tasks, of course, but it’s certainly not a problem for me.

Referring parts of projects to someone else is certainly an option, but for me, a sub-contracting arrangement just seems to work out better. I’ve had situations where I referred the design part of a project to someone else, only to come back to the client later and find that the designer brought in someone else to handle content. That sort of set up has lead me to the decision that being a little bit of a control freak is good for my business. Of course, it’s a matter of personal comfort, too.

Bring in a Partner to Help

I’ve found that bringing in a partner is often easiest on my own projects. I’ve had some luck splitting the work (and income) for a particular project with someone else. I think ConstructivelyProductive is a case in point. There is no way that Ali Luke and I could have individually got that site up and moving — but with both of us working on it, we have enough time between the two of us to get everything done that we need to.

Working with a partner is one of the fastest ways to get something done, especially if that partner has some passion for the project.

Hiring a Spare Pair of Hands

A lot of writers seem reluctant to hire help for their projects. They’d rather have a lower quality final product (such as an ebook), but do everything themselves. I used to all into this category, but I’ve come to the conclusion that hiring help is often a matter of investment — if I bring in a designer to work on an ebook, the final project will look more professional and sell more copies. Sometimes, after all, you have to spend money to make money.

Further Resources

Image by Flickr user Brenda Gottsabend

1 Comment

  1. Ali Luke   •  

    I’m totally with you re. Constructively Productive – I definitely didn’t have the time or energy to run a second blog single-handed! I find it really motivating to work with other people — having accountability, and having fresh ideas that I wouldn’t’ve come up with myself — keeps me engaged.

    I’d definitely encourage other writers to hire help where appropriate. I pay for design work (from the lovely Charlie of Charfish Design) because I want my writing to be showcased in something that looks great.

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