When we talk about ways to make the most of your writing time, I know it’s tempting to begin with talk about setting our priorities straight. However, I don’t think we can discuss priorities until we take the time to categorize our tasks.
This can be a difficult exercise because we’re essentially evaluating the nature and benefits of each task. Does it pay well? Does it build community? Does it drain time without delivering on either of these benefits? Here are a few basic categories you can use, though there surely are others you can add to your own list:
Not Paid for Original Content. Community and Experience Building: Sharing original content on a personal or community blog is an excellent way to build community. None of these things pay the bills, but it’s important to build your experience as a writer and to contribute to your community of colleagues and readers.
Not Paid for Recycled Content. Community and Audience Building: There are blogs, web sites, and online magazines that may not pay, but are too good to pass up if you’re a writer who wants to reach a wider group of readers with your helpful information. You can’t think of original content for every site out there, but many web sites and magazines will accept previously posted/published material that you’ve rewritten from a different perspective. There will be more discussions and hopefully you’ll expand your network of colleagues and friends. By exploring different angles of previous posts and articles you keep your output and community high without facing too many blank pages each day.
Paid, low: Some magazines will pay, and therefore you should take some time to pick a few that you feel best embody the kind of writing you do and the kind of audience you want to reach. Even if the pay doesn’t add up to a respectable hourly wage, there is much value in partnering with a magazine to produce great content for the ideal group of readers. In addition, you can recycle some ideas you’ve already posted on your blog, provided you revise them. You can also make a little money through your web site.
Paid, high: The high-paying projects, whether for books or magazines, carry a high risk of rejection, but the right partnership can pay off in many ways. Be careful about investing all of your time into the high-paying projects, but make sure you have several in the works in order to ensure you’ll have a chance to make enough money to help pay the bills.