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Harold Writes: 5 Things Every Serious Writer Must Do In 2014

The unexamined life is not worth living” – Socrates
On December 29, 2013, I had dinner with Tunde Leye and a couple of other contemporary Nigerian writers. It was a good opportunity to socialise with some great literary minds and share some fresh ideas. Our discussions during dinner covered one broad subject area: the art of writing and our individual projections for 2014. That meet up could be summed up in the above quote by the great Philosopher, Socrates. We were able to reflect on our experiences in 2013, while also deliberating on what we hoped to achieve in 2014 in this chosen, hallowed field.
In the course of evening, Tunde Leye popped the question, “if you were to be relieved of your 8-6 job in 2014, how do you hope to make money from writing?” We all had different answers to the question, but of course, those answers came after some very deep thoughts. The time each person spent deliberating on the question before proffering an answer was a pointer to the fact that not everyone at the table had been taking their writings seriously.
While this post is not about how to make money from writing, it is a guide on how to take your writing serious in 2014. Hopefully by adopting some of the tips herein, your path will be led to the mysterious writing money vault.
Get a Blog
While it is cool to write for different platforms and call yourself a freelance writer, the benefits of owning a personal blog cannot be overemphasized. I have some writer friends who don’t own personal blogs for different, seemingly genuine reasons. Some claim to be too busy to maintain a blog with regular posts, while others believe social media is a great substitute for blogging. I have a poet friend who does all his postings on Facebook. He has quite an impressive following on his Facebook Page and sees no reason why he should trade that for a blog.
If you belong to this category of writers, you are missing out on something special here. Your blog is your fortress, your battle field, your empire. It is where the world worships at your feet. I host my blog with WordPress and they sent me my 2013 Audit.  One fascinating stat from the audit was that in the year 2013, I had visitors from over 65 countries, and most of them were not even from my resident country. What more? Many discovered my blog by searching for information using search engines. This is one benefit the alternatives to blogging cannot afford you.

Build a Brand
If you already own a blog, then you are already a ruler of one of the foremost fortresses in the world, and you have to start treating it as one. One of the resolutions we made at the writers’ dinner was that each person should endeavour to develop their brands in 2014. Do you want to be taken seriously as a writer? Then you have to do something serious about your brand.
For starters, get a domain name. Research shows that readers are likely to click on, and take information from a site more seriously, than they would from a freely hosted domain.
Another way to build your brand is to have a unique writing style. Let people be able to read an anonymous piece, and ascribe your name as the likely author. It is okay to write on different subject areas with different styles occasionally, but do make this the exception, rather than the rule in 2014. Imagine if you were to read erotic, historical, romance, paranormal, chick-lit and political novels from John Grisham…Seems muddled up, right? Yup! Furthermore, build your brand by using ONE name across your different social media platforms. Be it Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, BBM, Google +, Youtube, LinkedIn, Pinterest etc. If you aren’t using any of the aforementioned social media platforms, endeavour to do so as it builds your visibility. If you can get on TV or radio every now and then, by all means, grab the opportunities. Also, get customised business cards and T-Shirts for your blog.
Collaborate with Other Writers
In 2013, I collaborated with two writers, Femi Famutimi and Oladimeji Ojo to write a singular story – Boiling Pot of Madness. And boy, was it fun! Femi writes fast-paced action pieces, Oladimeji is the author of the fantasy/paranormal book “Monitored” and my humble self is a specialist writer of crime/legal thrillers. So it was a fun challenge for all three of us to deliberate on a singular plot, and then paint the storyline in our different unique ways, with each person writing a part of the story for the other writer to continue therefrom. Doing stuff like this takes you away from your comfort zone as a writer, affording you the opportunity to explore other genres while sharpening your writing skills in the process. 2014 is a great year to take up this challenge!.
Fraternise with other Writers
Following from the above, it is important that you create time to socialize with other writers. There is the saying that no man is an island. In ancient times, writers were thought to be recluses, boring or generally different from the lot. Meeting with people of like minds affords you the opportunity of sharing ideas and learning from people who understand you and share your goals. Furthermore, host other writers on your blog and endeavour to share their contents on your social media platforms. Variety, they say, is the spice of life. Offering your followers/fans something different has a way of keeping them endeared to you. In fraternising with other writers, you could also choose to write guest posts on/for their blogs. The third biggest source of traffic to my blog last year was from a popular site I had written a piece for. Just one piece, and that proved to direct the third most traffic to my blog in 2013.
Host Blog Parties/Giveaways
If there is one thing readers have soft spots for, it is blog giveaways. I had my first blog giveaway last year when celebrating my blog’s 1st year anniversary. The experience was absolutely fantastic. I made new friends and gained new followers as a result. You can host blog parties/giveaways during festive seasons, special dates, your blog anniversary or you can do it for just about any reason or no reason whatsoever. And the good news is, you don’t have to go to the moon to get the gifts. For example, I gave away 5 e-books during my blog’s anniversary to my followers, and this did not cost me one cent kobo.

Publish an Ebook
I know the title of the post says “5 Things”, but hey, if I were a Magician, this last tip would be my encore. Do you write short-stories or weekly series? If you do, 2014 is the year to compile them, publish as Ebook and give out freely. Don’t bother about professional editors if you cannot afford any. Also don’t bother about making money off the ebook! I had the same concerns when compiling my first free ebook, How I Met Your Murder last year, but they weren’t major concerns. What’s the magic in this ‘trick’? It helps in spreading the visibility of your brand as more people get to download. Also, there’s something naturally magical about having a book out there; it makes you feel like John Grisham you’ve done something productive with your talent.
By Harold Writes


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