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Seven Ways to Diversify Your Writing Portfolio and Increase Your Income
by Jennifer Brown Banks

One of the quickest ways to commit professional suicide as a creative writer is to be a "one trick pony." Though some experts advise that being a "specialist" helps to establish your expertise and allows you to devote your energies and focus to a selected niche, the more titles and experience you can add to your resume, the more value you bring to your clients.

Or think of it this way: how indispensable is the secretary that not only types 90 words per minute, but also saves on copier repairs because she can fix the machine, in addition to speaking Spanish and making a mean cup of joe? Or perhaps the cute contractor that not only does roof repairs, but is also handy with electrical work and plumbing.

Given today's economic climate, where employers and clients are seeking value-added services and relationships, bringing a buffet to the proverbial table means you're less likely to be a starving artist in the truest sense. It's a no-brainer.

This writing epiphany came to me some years ago when I attempted to garner pay from my first literary love. (Would you believe poetry?)

After many years of struggle and strife, I eventually decided to change gears. As they say, "insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results." Since I had earned the equivalent of a “purple heart” in terms of bravery in dating, I tried my hand at writing relationship articles. And it stuck like Velcro. That was more than a decade ago. And the rest, as they say, is history...

Since then I have truly embraced the philosophy that variety is the spice of life. I've pursued and gotten paid for poetry, commentary pieces, blog posts, web content, reviews, how-tos, and magazine features. Expanding my creative horizons not only increased my marketability, but also my bottom line. And it'll do the same for you.

Here are seven savvy ways to get more bang for your Bic and stay in the black!

  1. Come out of your comfort zone. We all have pet projects and preferred areas of concentration. Just don't get stuck there. To realize your full earning potential, it's important to dabble in different genres and to maintain a child-like curiosity about what makes people tick and how things work. It may be uncomfortable to venture into new territories at first, but as they say, "no pain no gain."

  2. Draw from your personal and professional background. Oftentimes writers underestimate the value of life experiences, interesting hobbies, and hard-knock lessons. And there's a wealth of writing material here. Take a trip down memory lane and use yours to pen how-tos, personal essays, insightful articles, and even greeting card submissions. Reflect. What have you learned from work woes? A boomerang boyfriend? Getting a degree later in life? Freelancing on the fly? Share "ah-ha" moments with your reading audience and help to enhance their lives.

  3. Stay abreast of current events. They provide great fodder for social and political commentary, trends, press releases, and interviews.

  4. Consider blog coaching for business clients. For example, many of my old-school clients run very successful businesses, but know very little about the Internet and the blogging world. To provide them with greater exposure, and to get them on board with technology, I've assisted them in creating blogs and updating their content via this new medium.

  5. Combine a love for reading with writing book reviews. Not only will you earn extra cash, it will enable you to have a greater awareness of the needs of your reading audience and help to hone your craft.

  6. Don't forget fillers. Fillers, (as the name implies) are shorter pieces that publications purchase to fill in space. They can be anything from recipes to rants. For a few minutes of your time, and very little labor, you can earn anywhere from $5.00 to $50.00 on average.

  7. Add photography to your list of services. Many publications will pay a little extra for stories that are provided with pictures. Increase your odds for acceptance, (and your pay rate) by becoming a shutter bug. With today's cameras and the many advancements in technology, it doesn't require a great deal of expertise to produce quality shots. Read up on tips and techniques by purchasing a how-to book at your local book store, or by taking a class at a local community college. It's well worth the time and investment.

Follow these seven savvy tips and not only will you expand your skill set, but your influence and income too.

© Copyright 2011, 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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