How I became an independent writer

Last week, I shared how I became a writer, in the face of some of the gnarly, unhelpful and untrue rules and expectations I had put on my shoulders as an aspiring writer.

In this post, I am sharing how I not only became a writer but an independent writer – that is, someone with the freedom to write things I care about, and making an income from doing so.

There's going to be a lot of information in this post, and I would really encourage you to first read my last post if you haven't already, because becoming a writer is the foundation stone that I would recommend laying before – or at least alongside – your becoming an independent writer. At least, that’s been my own experience.

To briefly bring you up to speed, in my last post, I wrote about my tumultuous journey of dropping out of university twice, working in recruitment for 5 years, and the various “careers” I tried out.

I talked about the various blogs I ran after leaving said job, alongside this long-running career search of mine, and the turning point that was INF Club – an introvert blog tht I posted to almost every week for two years.

Those two INF Club years (2019 to 2021) were a pivotal time for me as they saw me not only become a writer, but also become an independent writer.

Writer vs independent writer

A writer is simply someone who writes things. I expanded more on this in my last post – and explained how I truly felt like a writer when I was writing and publishing consistently to my blog.

An independent writer is someone who writes and publishes with consistency and makes an income from doing so.

That’s what I was talking about with the whole ‘foundation stone’ thing earlier.

A writer = someone who write and publishes their writing

An independent writer = someone who writes and publishes their writing, and makes an income from doing so

Yes, that's right. Anyone on this earth with an internet connection can become a writer and an independent writer.

Let me explain.

Making money from your writing

As I started writing and realised how much I enjoyed it, I have considered various options that would allow me to “make money from writing”.

I realised I simply wanted to write and make money from my writing. And so I thought about being a journalist, or a freelance writer for magazines. But I soon realised that, even for those “fun topics” that I enjoy writing about, it still meant I was writing for others, under set criteria, and this wasn't for me.

I tried to start my own content business. I made the mistake of choosing one of the most uninteresting industries (financial services) in the name of the people I knew/the money I could make. And I knew that even choosing a more fun/exciting industry, it would still involve me having to find and write for clients, and end up with the same scenario I mentioned in the paragraph above.

I wanted to write things I cared about and have my own platform as a writer, having the freedom of being my own boss, choosing what I wanted to write about (in my own unique style), and with complete creative freedom.

I considered writing books. This would tick the “freedom to write whatever I wanted to write about” box to an extent, but would involve pitching to publishers and agents, perhaps for weeks or months or even years to land a book deal. Hmm, that didn't feel right, either. I didn't have an existing brand/audience that would help my cause, and – perhaps most of all – I realised that publishing traditionally would mean having to write for a particular genre to increase my chances, and then possibly have my work touched and tweaked even more in the name of “making it more commercial”.

Again, not for me. I wanted to be able to write freely as Jas and make money from doing so.

And so I was now left with one option…

(an important note before I continue… what I’ve just in the section above is writing and publishing books the traditional way. There is another way called self-publishing, or publishing the indie way which is a totally different kettle of fish. More on this below)

The magic of the internet

The internet has made the barrier to entry for writers much lower.

You need an internet connection and your own platform. That’s it.

The ‘internet connection’ part is pretty self-explanatory. The ‘own platform’ part is comprised of two pieces:

1) Blog/website = the platform itself 2) Email newsletter = a way to communicate to those who find value in your platform and whom you can build a relationship with

These days, there are writers/creatives making money without blog or website, by finding people interested in them some other way. For example through a social media platform like YouTube, Pinterest or Tumblr. Or by building a following on Reddit, Quora or some other forum-type place.

And that's fine. But the thing is, without your own platform, and ownership of the platform and that direct relationship between yourself and your audience, you are at the mercy of said platform. Instagram might change their algorithm, or YouTube might introduce more adverts. Perhaps, the platform significantly changes somehow, your audience stops using it, or it even shuts down completely. Either way, by being on the platform you are relying on the platform itself (which is built to serve itself and maximise the time people are spending on it – rather than to serve you).

Yes, these social platforms may have replies and DMs and other ways of communicating with your audience, who you can build a relationship with over time, but:

The only way to have complete freedom, independent and control is with your own platform, that is a website/blog and an email opt-in to be able to nurture that relationship with your audience.

Own platform = independence = complete freedom and control

My own little publishing company

I talked earlier about how I liked the idea of being an author, but it didn’t feel very attainable to be.

That is, until I discovered the whole self-publishing thing. I think I first came across the concept when I was attending events with Escape the City (an organisation with their HQ in London at the time, a stone’s throw from my office in fact() and came across folks like Joanna Penn and Alastair Humphries who had shunned corporate life for meaningful work, self-publishing their own books along the way and spoke at a couple of the ‘Escape’ events I attended.

I soon got really into this indie publishing thing, started interviewing authors on a little blog called The Indie Author, and soon after that paused that blog (running two blogs wasn’t easy – I was already running another introvert blog at the time) and started working on a book with the same name, instead.

A couple of years later, The Indie Author book was complete, and I self-published it under my own little imprint, Indie Writer Press.

At the time of writing this I’ve been an author for a couple of months, and my book has sold more than 100 copies which I’m delighted with.

To clarify, as a writer, I have now made money from my blog and also from my book.

I see my blog as my primary business, with my publishing company as one part of that business.

(A side note: it is possible to make a full-time income as an independent author, and there are authors who do, but I have chosen to keep my ‘book writing’ as more of a fun secondary business, and to focus my independent writing business around my blog – rather than having to force myself to write, publish and market lots of books. One day I hope my author business will be making a reasonable income in its own right, but I’m in no rush, and I don’t want to kill the joy of writing my books by having to rely on that as an income stream).

In summary

An independent writer is someone who writes and publishes with some consistency, and makes money from doing so.

Which is why, more specifically, I define an independent writer as someone who is a writer and makes money from their writing using a blog.

Some final words

I truly believe we live in the most exciting time there is as writers. The only permission we need to give ourselves to “become” writers, or independent writers, is our own.

Today I call myself a writer, and an independent writer, having made more than $5,000 so far from my blogging*, plus a little more from the book I’ve self-published.

*When I say from my blogging, technically I have made money ‘around’ my blogging. The money itself has come from paid services I offered on my introvert blog (like memberships, a group programme, and 1:1 coaching), but it is the writing to my blog which has ultimately led to the money I’ve made from my blogging.

In short, the internet has opened up a whole world of opportunity for us all.

A world where we no longer have to ask for permission for gatekeepers, or from anyone else in order to be writers.

By publishing our words, through a blog or through books, we can become writers… and, if we choose to, we can became independent writers, writing words and stories we care about, and making an income from doing so.

by,

Jas

I’m Jas 😊 I’m a writer, self-published author and introvert. You can read my story over here. I’m not on social media, but I’d love to send you my little weekly newsletter.