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A Cheat Sheet — 7 Ways To Keep Financially Afloat Between Writing Projects
by Jennifer Brown Banks

If you’re like most struggling artists, you’re probably in constant search of ways to create more paychecks between “regular gigs.” Industry mishaps and Murphy’s Law often means that even with contractual agreements, paydays are “irregular.”

Case in point—In February, despite promises otherwise, three of my long-standing projects paid late. One by a few days, the other two by a few weeks. As a veteran writer, it’s understood: it’s the nature of the beast.

But my mortgage company and creditors, however, are a little less understanding! For this reason, I have found the following practices and principles to make a measurable difference in plugging the gaps. And you will too!


1. Consider "temping" with one of the many service agencies for creative artists. Why not take some of the mystery and madness out of searching for paying assignments? Signing up with these firms can provide steady projects that last from 1 day to 1 month, and can be maintained from the privacy of your own home, during slow periods.

Check out some of the opportunities listed through popular sites like www.Copydesk.net and www.mediabistro.com.

2. Widen your net. A while back ago, I was having some difficulty in scheduling a poetry reading at a local high school. The person with whom I was speaking didn’t think it would generate enough potential interest. When I mentioned to her that as a self-publishing writer, I could also do a workshop on entrepreneurship, the idea sold.

3. Partner with an existing program—Your weekly community newspaper is chock full of exhibits, book signings, and local happenings. Sometimes complementary activities can happily co-exist, giving the hosting venue more bang for their buck! For example, I recently contacted an art gallery in my area to do a poetry reading for their opening reception, which would provide patrons with something for the eyes and something for the ears! Events can also be accessed on line via organizations’ events calendar.

4. Consider doing music reviews. If you’re like most creative creatures, you probably appreciate music as well. Why not get paid to groove? Look into www.indie-music.com or www.chicagoreader.com.

5. Join the BLOG craze. A “blog” is simply an abbreviation for web log. These are online journals that record everything from your daily activities, to political views, to rants. Many are free and can be used to promote your event, garner publicity, or boost book sales. The sky’s the limit! To get an idea of the many features, see www.blogger.com.

6. Teach what you know— This is one of my favorite stand-bys. Many people would be surprised to discover that the same areas of “expertise” that lend well to articles and “how-to”s can also be taught in a classroom environment. To date, I’ve taught time management, creative writing, and self-publishing to eager, well-paying audiences. Another great aspect of teaching, is that it often presents networking opportunities for future work. Former students from my “Don’t Query, Be Happy Workshop” and “How not to be a Starving Artist” are now current clients. As a result, I have had the pleasure of seeing the principles I teach put to practice, and to actually nurture others’ writing careers!

7. Don't be shy, peddle your products. Whether it’s a book, a favorite poem placed in a plaque, or personalized greeting card. These efforts help to get the word out and increase your fan base, and your financial bottom line! Sometimes a few small sells can make a big impact.

So the next time you find yourself with more month left at the end of your paycheck, pull out this cheat sheet and pull out the stops!

© Copyright 2006, Jennifer Brown Banks

Jennifer Brown Banks is the former senior editor of Mahogany Magazine. She holds a B.A. in Business Management and blogs at Penandprosper.blogspot.com

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