According to Investopedia, “the term business model refers to a company’s plan for making a profit”. And although you may think that business plans refer only to companies, I have to tell you this is not true.
Every person who intends to have their own business (no matter whether it’s a solopreneur, an entrepreneur, or a company owner/CEO) has to have a business model. Writers included.
To put it in simple words, the business model is the strategy for how you intend to make money. It gives you a clear view of who your customers (or clients) are, what can you offer them, and how you’ll make a profit from this.
And if you think that as writers, we don’t need a business model…. Well, I have to disappoint you. If you’re serious about your writing career, if you want to make a living as a writer, you MUST think about your business model.
That’s why in today’s article, I’m going to share with you ten different business models that you can choose from. So let’s dive in.
Elements of a business model
Every business model has a few major elements that are correlated. These are the main things you have to think about when you’re creating your business model.
First and foremost you have to think about your target customer (or client if you plan to develop a service-based business). These are the people that will be your business customers/clients or the readers of your books.
Why starting with them?
Because those are the people that will bring you money.
You need to know what they want, what they need, what are their problems. This way you will know what exactly to offer them and how to help them. You will also know how to market your business.
Knowing your ideal buyer inside out is of crucial importance.
Building a business without knowing your buyers is like writing a novel without knowing your characters.
This is the place to plan how you will earn money. And this is the essence of your business model. In fact, all the different business models for writers that you’ll see below depend mainly on this element.
In this part, you’ll need to decide how you will market your books, products, and/or services. And here I’m not talking about ads.
Remember, marketing is not advertising. You have different options to market your business – from creating free content (content marketing) to using social media (social media marketing) to publishing YouTube videos (video marketing). So when we talk about marketing, we don’t think only about advertisements.
Finances and resources
You also need to have an idea of how much exactly this will cost you and what resources you will need. Here you’ll decide who are your main partners, main resources, and of course main costs.
Even though your business model is highly dependable on the income streams you plan to have, all four elements will create your full business model.
Do writers need to have a business model?
The first question that comes to your mind is probably, “I don’t need a business model. I’m a writer. I make money writing and selling books.”
But I have to tell you this. If you’re serious about what you do and want to become a full-time writer, then you need to have a business model in place. Even before you start writing your first novel, it will be helpful to know what income streams you will have.
Yes, we are writers. Yes, we are creatives. And yes, our main purpose is to create. But you have to remember that if you want to succeed, if you want to sell your books, if you want to be able to make a living working for yourself while doing what you like, you have to stop thinking like a writer, and start thinking like an entrepreneur.
Now let’s dive into what options you have for your business model.
10 business models for writers
This is one of the most common business models, at least according to my observations.
But I must say, it’s not JUST writing. It’s creating high-volume production regularly.
If you want to just support your income, then you can take your time and write one book per three years.
But if you want to be able to make a full-time living out of your writing, you need to be at least like David Baldacci. He writes two books per year. James Patterson, on the other hand, has another model of being highly productive. He publishes several books per year. But his secret is hidden in his unique business model.
James Patterson has a really unique business model. He outsources the writing process. He writes very detailed outlines and works with co-authors who write the first draft. Then he makes several other drafts and finally the book is published. This way he manages to publish several books per year. A quick check on Wikipedia shows that in 2019 alone he has 25 books and short stories published.
So, to sum up, this business model requires you to write a few books per year to be able to support yourself only with writing. And even then, it’s not necessary that you will succeed. Not every book will sell equally well, especially at the beginning of your career.
That’s why some writers choose one of the other business models below.
Writing while keeping your day job
This is another common business model. Many writers keep their day jobs, at least until they’re completely sure they can support themselves from their books.
Even David Baldacci admits that he quit his job as an attorney only after he was sure he can make it with writing.
But, if you’re like me, and want to be your own boss, to have the time and freedom to do what you love, then you will need to think about something different.
I don’t tell you to quit your job right now. Not at all. I would even advise you not to do it until you’re sure you can make enough money. But start thinking about different other ways to make money. Start an online business, offer services or some sort of products. And if you think you won’t have time, find a part-time job.
Writing and selling online courses
Most people think that this model is typical for non-fiction writers. And indeed, it’s often practice for experts in different fields to publish books and then sell online courses. But it’s not reserved for non-fiction writers only.
Fiction writers can also sell online courses. The topics may vary from writing to anything that’s connected or not to writing. For example, if you’re also an artist, you can teach people how to draw.
If you want everything that you do to have a connection with writing, then you can create writing courses. You can teach newbie writers how to write, use special writing software like Scrivener, edit, create characters…. The list is almost endless.
Selling online courses is one of the best passive income. It’s like writing a book and then sell it for a lifetime. With courses it’s the same. You create a course once, and then you can sell it for as long as you want.
Selling online courses is also one of the fastest growing industries nowadays. According to Forbes even before the pandemic there were forecasts that the online education market will reach $350 Billion by 2025. So selling online courses is really a highly profitable niche.
But you have to have in mind that for this you need to build a solid audience, credibility and authority. In order for people to buy your courses they have to know and trust you. And this is a slow process.
Writing and selling services
Another great way to make money is to sell different services – writing-related or not.
For example, if you’re good at design, you can create book covers, book art, etc. If you’re good at website design, you can create websites for other writers. You can offer editing, proofreading services, etc.
And it’s not necessary to limit yourself to only writing-related services. If you have a hobby or a profession that you love, you can start offering services related to that.
Writing and selling products
Another option for your business model is to combine writing with selling products. You have three options here – selling physical, digital products, or both.
The easiest way is to sell digital products. You can create different templates, e-books, digital planners, etc. that you can sell to other writers. For example, you can create a workbook for other fantasy writers that will help them create their fictional world. Or, sell outlining templates for specific genres.
Selling physical products is more difficult. If you want to create your own physical products, you have to think about who will produce them. You’ll also have to think about packaging, mailing, and all other things.
Writing and blogging
Blogging is a great option for writers to make money. If you’re a writer, then you love writing. So, what’s better than making money doing what you love. But here you have to have a few things in mind.
First, to make money from your blog, you need to have a bigger audience and solid traffic to your site.
Next, one of the ways to make money from your blog is to sell advertising space. But this can decrease your readers’ interest. So you have to think carefully about whether to use your writer’s blog to make money or create another blog specifically to make money from it. If you choose the second option, it doesn’t have to be connected with writing. If you have any other interests, you can start a blog about one of them. Then start with affiliate marketing, sell advertising space, etc.
Writing and YouTube
Making money on YouTube may be easier than making money with your blog. Or at least it seems easier. The problem with YouTube is that your channel has to comply with certain criteria to be eligible for YouTube monetization.
At the moment, to become a YouTube partner and be able to monetize your videos, you need to have at least 1,000 subscribers and at least 4,000 watch hours in the last 12 months.
Even though monetizing a YouTube channel may seem easier than monetizing a blog, you need to also consider whether you like sitting and talking in front of a camera.
Writing and patronage
Many writers choose to use the patronage business model. They create membership sites where there are different tiers for the different types of members. Every member category receives different bonuses based on the tier they subscribed to.
You can host your membership site on your own site or use platforms like Patreon, Buy me a Coffee, Thinkific, Teachable, and even Gumroad.
This is a great opportunity to have an additional stream of income.
The cons of patronage as a way to make money is that you need to constantly create new content to share with your subscribers.
Writing fiction and non-fiction
Another opportunity to have an additional income stream that’s connected with writing is to write both fiction and non-fiction.
You can publish books on writing or any other topic you’re interested in.
You can also diversify your income by selling e-books, paperback, and audiobooks. You can create different workbooks that are connected with your non-fiction books.
A combination of some or all of the above
The final option is to combine a few of the business models above. This is a great opportunity to build a passive income. If, for example, you choose to combine writing fiction, non-fiction, and selling online courses, all your income will be passive. Once you write your book and create your course, they can bring you money for as long as you sell them.
Now the question is, how to choose the right business model for you.
How to choose the right business model for your
When it comes to choosing your business model there is no right or wrong answer. It depends on you which business model to choose.
Start with answering these questions:
- What do I want to do? If you want to offer design services, don’t start with creating courses.
- What do I love doing? If you love writing and hate being in front of a camera, don’t start a YouTube channel. Start a blog instead.
- What am I good at? If you’re good at editing but you’re not a good teacher, don’t create courses. Start with offering editing services.
- How much time can I devote to building my business?
Have in mind that monetizing a blog or a YouTube channel requires not only consistency but also many hours for writing and/or filming and editing.
Creating a membership site may be tempting but it also requires a great amount of time to always produce new content for your members.
Don’t rush on selling online courses if you don’t have any experience. Build your audience, grow your authority, gain credibility. And then, create a course. Start small, grow big.
And finally, have in mind that building a business requires some sacrifices. For example, because I want to quit my job ASAP I decided to put my efforts into building a sustainable income stream. Then I will have the freedom to work on my novels.
So, are you ready to start your business? Share in the comments what business model will you use? I’d love to hear what are your thoughts.