Entering my third year as an indie, it is my responsibility to impart sage wisdom to the world. (Don’t blink, or you might miss it.) See the series introduction post for more on my saga. But for now, lesson #9 for 2012:
Put professional effort into everything you do, or don’t do it.
Being professional is about doing whatever it is you do for others rather than yourself. A writer can write for him or herself. A professional writer must (to an extent) write for the reader. That is what it means to be professional. I can build myself a house and therefore be a builder. But if I build you a house, I damn well better be a professional. (Unless you’re okay with things like load-bearing posters and remembering to walk around certain spots in the floor.)
No matter how small the job, a builder’s career can be on the hook if he/she slops the hogs instead of feeding the chicks. Indie writers should live by the same rule.
Success within the realm of art is built on the Waldo Effect.
The three basic tenets of this effect state:
- be sufficiently individual while maintaining a presence among the crowd.
- be consistently recognizable via brand
- pick a place to be and hope luck spots you quickly
All of this to say, you never know who may be looking your way at any given time. If what that person sees is something unprofessional, inconsistent, etc. then that person may never look your way again. A poor blog post can lose you potential readers. A sloppy social media bio can turn someone off. A horrible headshot or poor cover for a short story. A sloppy guest post or article.
Whether you are writing blog posts, short stories, articles, etc., all of these can build your brand. Blogs are now a legitimate form of writing. There are such things as professional bloggers. Put professional energy into your blogging or don’t do it. If your blog is how a reader checks you out and your blog isn’t professional, then you aren’t professional.
If you blog, ensure people who are reading your blog subscribe. A subscription is a sale (even if the price is free). Someone who subscribes to your free products (if they are professional) is much more likely to pay for others when they come along.
Dont’ read me wrong. By professional I’m not saying stuffy or starched or straight-laced. But I am saying even a blog post should be considerate of your readers more than yourself (if you are trying to be a professional!) Even as I type this I realize there is probably a type-(oh!) somehwere lurking about. A blog post is probably not worth paying for professional editing (although having a couple reliable friends who read your posts and send you immediate feedback is a good idea), but you can believe I give it pofreshinal effort.
***Standard Disclaimer: There are 3 brands of Indie:
- an artist expressing him/herself for the pure joy of it
- an artist or idealist who wishes to express an emotion or idea to the world
- an artist/entrepreneur who wishes to make a living as a writer
An indie can be one, two or all three of these. But knowing the composition is critical. I am all three of the above, but first and foremost I have to be #3, or I won’t be able to continue doing #2 and #1 full-time. Not all of the above applies to someone seeking #1 or #2. Man, this is sounding scatological, isn’t it?