Use Web resources for strategic planning
Published: January 22, 2008
|Strategic planning rings a bell with corporate employees, but it should also ring a bell with writers. If you aim to freelance full time, strategic planning is a must. If you're hoping to augment your income by writing part time, the same holds true. Think of your writing as a business, despite the popular mindset to think of writing as anything but. Writing is the product you sell, and the goal is usually to increase sales as with any business. The Web can help you grow opportunities and sales.|
Start by crafting a simple written plan. Begin by working outward from your core clients. Ask yourself a series of questions. If you have existing relationships, how might you serve those relationships better? What other needs might you fulfill for a Web site, magazine or other print publication? If you write for a magazine that is part of a publishing group, what other magazines within the group might benefit from your services? Work your way down a list of additional questions. What publishers would you like to write for? What other pursuits, such as a blog or Web site, would help you to market your services more efficiently? Don't forget to include an important question. What is your dream project?
I set up a simple form, with the first section devoted to priorities. Those are my regular accounts that I supplied with copy on a continual basis the previous year. My next section is entitled "Books." I list book projects that must be completed in the coming year. My third section is titled, "New Business." Within that section I list possibilities for publications I've never sold to but have introduced myself to. My fourth section is titled, "Speaking." That section includes events I've already committed to and others I'd like to be part of. Another section is entitled, "Wish List." That section comprises long shots-places I'd like to publish even though it may not be likely.
Dozens of conferences are held each year. Select one or two that might be of benefit, and list those in a section of your plan. List the benefits you might derive from attending and what those benefits will cost you. Take a look at each conference Web site, and visit frequently to see what speakers have been added. Note special opportunities such as possibilities for meeting agents and/or editors in person.
Finally, as part of your written plan, set up an expense sheet. Include travel, equipment, supplies and any other fees. The goal is to end up with a plus column income-wise at the end of the year.
Set up a folder in "Favorites" and bookmark each Web site that represents a possibility for sales. My folder is titled "Leads." I check those sites every week or so, to stay abreast of calls for submission, contests, or other news. You can also set up news alerts through sites like Google and Yahoo. You'll receive e-mail notifications every time a topic is covered in the news.
This year I came up with an idea I plan to implement soon, something more along the lines of strategic inspiration. As a full-time freelancer, I'm alone in the office a lot. So a writer friend and I decided soon we'll take a day off. We'll go to a museum in the morning, or some other inspirational place. Then we'll have coffee. Then we'll take a walk to re-energize. We'll wind up the day by sharing our ideas and goals. I modeled this on the framework of a corporate retreat. By doing ours locally, we won't have to spend a lot of money. We can plan, map and arrange our agenda by using the Web to pinpoint museums, coffee shops, walking areas and any other places convenient to each other.
Another aspect of planning involves researching markets. Never before has there been so much information for writers on the Web. You can start here at The Writer. This Web site offers markets, contests, conferences and other resources, more than you can really research in a day. Useful links are included at the end of this column.
Strategic planning might sound cliché to some, but every successful writer I know does this and the Web makes it simpler than ever before. In order to capitalize on your time, you have to use it wisely. Planning helps ensure that you're seizing opportunity rather than simply reacting to it. It's sort of like planting a garden. You don't just walk outside and scatter seed, then flood the soil with water. You select good places for certain plants to grow, prepare the ground and approach your garden methodically. By creating a sound plan and using resources on the Web, you can grow your writing just as successfully as you grow your garden.
Market Listings at The Writer
Writing Resources at The Writer
Includes media news, forum, and links to resources.
The Renegade Writer
Titled after the popular book by the same name; hands-on articles written by pros.
Writers and Editors
In-depth content related to almost everything about writing.
Magazine will keep you informed about tools and technology useful for writing.
--Jan. 22, 2008
In our next Web Savvy, we take a look at "Web-Working." Learn how writers can connect and collaborate via the Web in order to publish books, organize events and network in general.