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I recently read a series of articles on Kristen Lamb’s blog that had me thinking.

The first was “Welcome to The Matrix: You Work for FREE & There IS No Payday”. In this post she tells you exactly how the matrix creatives find themselves in works. She explains how working for free for MEGA brands only leads to more unpaid work… and not to that perfect place where writers actually get paid for writing great content.

The second was “Pay the WRITER 2—Out-Hustle the Hustlers”. Basically she explains how you can become fearless and work towards your brand instead of someone else’s for “exposure”.

She does refer to Millennials a lot in both posts…

There were others, of course, but these two stood out.

What I think we should learn from these posts:

Build Your Author Brand

So what’s the difference between building your author brand and being hustled?

The truth? Not much.

Building your brand means working tirelessly on social media to make sure everyone knows your name and what it stands for (e.g. blog posts about folklore, guest posts about folklore, tweets about folklore, Pinterest boards about folklore, etc.).

That sounds like getting “exposure” right? Which means you’re getting paid in experience instead of money. (Check out what Kristen has to say about that in the first article linked.) Not that experience, bragging rights and exposure isn’t good. As long as it benefits you.

Which means: pour your energy into your own blog, writing guest posts appearing on similar blogs to grow your audience, share your content on various social media platforms, share the work of others in your field (yes: your bestie blogger friends), share a few things on social media that is helpful to your friends and won’t hurt your own brand, focus on your own writing and brand.

That way, even if you aren’t getting paid in actual money, at least you are truly working for yourself. Which, as all entrepreneurs know, will lead to success (and money).

Being hustled means doing all of that work for free for someone else’s brand and thus making someone else rich.

Emotions and people playing with them.

So, someone told you that writing them something for free is such a nice/superb/super-human/whatever-compliment-you-love thing to do. So you do it. For nada. Why? Because emotions are easily manipulated. We all want to feel like we’re awesome. Why do you think feel-good romcoms and books do well?

Anyhow, if it’s something they can do themselves but only want you to do because “you’re the writer” then figure out what truly lies behind the request. Is it someone’s big birthday and they want the card to be nicely worded with a dash of warmth from someone who knows them? Is it a speech for someone you know who has trouble with language and this is a teachable moment? (Helping others is a good thing, you know, even if you come off as being a know-it-all.) Or is the request simply made so the other person doesn’t have to do the dirty job of actually having to string words cohesively together? Or, worse, so they can have an evening off because you’ll do it?

Be honest with yourself. Whether it’s doing the dishes or writing a birthday card, if it’s not your turn to do it and you really don’t have time, then don’t. They’ll be angry. But if it’s important to them, they’ll do it. And if not… Then why did they ask you to waste your time?

Don’t let anyone shame you for valuing your time or wanting to be paid for your hard work. (Even if it’s only a cup of coffee after helping with that speech…)

Build Your Author Platform

Still skeptical that having a platform is a good thing? As mentioned above, there’s a lot of work involved…

I wrote a while back about why you should have an author platform.

“I’ve said before that having a writing platform is like having an online portfolio. Readers get an idea of your writing style and what to expect story-wise. Which means they won’t feel like they’re gambling when buying your novel (books are expensive). Which leads to better sales. Which means that you’re finally getting paid for your writing.”

I even hosted a challenge on another site to help you build your author platform.

“As part of building a better online presence (defining my brand and getting it noticed), I decided to look into more ways to grow my blog’s readership. I realised then that I should share what I know.

The Basics of Author Online Presence Challenge is exactly that: the basics. But I do believe that sometimes we can only truly succeed when we get the basics right. So drawing on my own experience, I created the challenge and helped a few writers in the process.”

Not taking my word for this? Good. You’re learning not to trust blindly 😉

Check out Roz Morris’s post about how to make a living as a writer in 2017 – using your author platform. 

So to build your author platform, check out the helpful posts linked to in this section and remember to try out blog hops too. You’ll thank me one day.

Participating in blog awards is another great way to build your brand and interact with your friends and fans…

Working for Free

As a writer, you send your stories to a lot of competitions, anthologies and ezines that only pay in exposure and copies (if you’re lucky). A few of the anthologies and ezines pay in actual money, but not all.

So where do you draw the line?

Personally, I go with my gut. If I have time to write a flash fiction piece/short story/novella to send out to competitions/anthologies/ezines, I do it. If I don’t have time – the writing that really matters is my novel – then I don’t. If the terms and conditions of sending a piece to one of these publishers seem too good to be true/not specific enough/anything dodgy, I don’t do it.

Money? Honestly, it would be great to get paid. But after taxes, currency changes and banking costs, that $15 (if you’re lucky) doesn’t amount to much. Know the rules of your local government and banks before dreaming about using money from your writing for anything. Go with your gut… If getting published in ezines and anthologies is going to help build your brand and won’t hurt you in any way, go for it.

The Point?

If you play with Rottweilers without knowing the rules, you’re going to get bitten. If you’re going to play with them using the rules of someone else’s dog, you’re going to get bitten. If you’re going to play with Rottweilers but you’re secretly terrified of them, you’re going to get bitten.

The same with building your brand and hanging out on social media.

If you’re going to flit around without a plan you’re going to fail. If you’re going to try it out with “rules” someone with only a bit more experience than you thought out, you’re going to fail. If you don’t try, you’re going to fail.

See where I’m going with this?

Trust your gut – not the nauseous feeling you get when you just think of logging on, but the feeling you have about using a specific social media network. Is that network a safe place for you? Does it do what you expect it to? (Not gather nasty trolls but meeting professional writers.) Does it benefit you? If not, move on.

I’m not an expert in any way, but I agree with Kristen that you should stop being a battery in the matrix.

See your brand.

Be your brand.

You are your brand.

Besides, you’re a special little snowflake – why would you want to be part of the sludge?

Mm… blunt, even for me. Anyhow, I hope this article has helped you. Be fearless and master social media and your brand. And if you fail? You try and try again. Do you write for free for anyone except yourself? How do you feel about sending your writing to ezines and the like that only pay in “exposure”? Feel free to comment.

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