The 4 Fundamentals of a REAL Writing Business

Dec 12, 2023

One of the ironies of becoming more skilled in a certain area is that you must constantly revisit the fundamentals. This is true in any career, industry, or area of specialty.

A baseball player must know how to throw a ball and swing a bat effectively. A runner needs to have proper shoes and know how to warm up so they don’t hurt themselves. A guitar player needs to understand scales and chord progressions.

Likewise, a professional writer must have a firm grasp of the fundamentals to run a successful business. But it’s not enough to understand the fundamentals. You have to practice them.

There are lots of “fundamentals” we could list when building a writing business. But I’ve boiled them down to four key critical ingredients for success. They are also where writers frequently get tripped up.

If you get these fundamentals right, you will be well on your way to building a strong business. But without these four elements as the foundation of your business, you will struggle before you reach your potential. 

I’ve framed these fundamentals with the acronym R-E-A-L.

1. Relationships with people. 

Every business exists to serve people. Without people, you wouldn’t have a business. That probably sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how often business owners forget that the entire reason for their business’s existence is to serve others.

Business is built on relationships. If you don’t focus on giving, serving, and investing in your relationships, you will quickly burn bridges, and no one will trust you. 

Everything we do as writers is for others (insofar as the writing is connected to your business). We write, publish, and create in service of others and add value to them.

Many writers, especially introverted ones, don’t focus on developing great relationships with people. It’s easy to see others as an interruption or inconvenience. They mistakenly think that writing is all about the craft.

You can be the most talented writer in the world, but you won't go far if you can’t get along with people.

2. Excellence in your craft. 

Let me balance out the last point. It’s important to have great relationships, but at the end of the day, you must deliver.

To build a successful business, you have to be very good at what you do. You must have the skills and understanding to produce high-quality products and services for your fans, readers, customers, and clients. 

In the writing world, this involves elements such as grammar, storytelling, voice, persuasion, structure, and more.

But craft is not just about writing well. It’s also about other important elements of a business, such as showing up to meetings on time, paying your invoices, and otherwise presenting yourself as a real professional.

3. Attitude toward money and business. 

One of the most common themes I hear from writers is that they don’t enjoy the “business” side of writing. They would rather focus on the craft than worry about marketing, money, budgets, sales, etc.

This is common with creative types, who would rather spend their energy making things than thinking about business, which they perceive as boring and uncreative.

Nothing could be further than the truth. If you can learn to embrace the business side , you can have a blast!

For many years, I assumed I wasn’t good at business. I felt intimidated by the idea of being self-employed or having to secure my own clients. But once I started to see business as a game, it became much more fun!

I encourage you to embrace your role as a business owner and continually work on your money mindset. This involves charging what you’re worth, developing an abundance rather than a poverty mindset, and getting comfortable with people at a higher level than you.

We all have lots of growing to do! Don’t limit your potential for success by having a negative attitude toward business and money.

4. Leadership in your business and industry.

Creating a business, as well as publishing books or any content, is an act of leadership. Are you comfortable embracing the role of a leader and influencer? 

As much as we resist the term “influencer,” the fact remains that you are indeed influencing others. Why else do we write? We write to influence and persuade others.

Leadership involves being courageous, taking a risk, and making decisions. Remember that the word author is the root of authority. As an author, you stand before others and proclaim yourself as an authority on your topic.

Many writers resist this role of leadership. Remember that people are looking for a guide, coach, and mentor. A big part of leadership is finding ways to teach and pass on what you have learned.

Earl Nightingale hit it on the nose with the title of his audio program, “Lead the Field.” I want you to do the same. My dream for you is to become a confident, influential leader as a writer and business owner!

These four points act like a compass to help you stay the course and build your business the right way. If you commit to living them out during each phase of your writing journey, you will build your business on a solid foundation.