The first time you get paid to write is a momentous day. You never really forget that feeling — whether it’s 10 cents or $10,000.
But what happens after the first payday?
Ideally it becomes a regular thing. First there’s one, then three, then six, then eighteen…
And then — you realize that there’s more to the writer’s life than the bottom line in your bank balance. There are other things, a lot of other things, that matter just as much or more than the dollars you bring in.
Time is a big one. Your satisfaction with your work is another. And your personal brand is too.
One way to save time is to build your brand name.
Who you are — and who you’re perceived to be — as a professional is actually more valuable than any per-project paycheck. Eventually the branded value of your name will define…
- the fees you command,
- the amount of work that’s available to you,
- and how far out you’re booked.
When I was growing up on a ranch, an important concept that the entire community shared was whether a cowboy or cowgirl would “ride for the brand.” A ranch hand who didn’t look after the interests of the ranch they were riding for had a pretty limited work life.
Of course that also meant that ranch hands who showed loyalty to their brand could have their pick of jobs — all the ranches wanted them.
In my family, the secret to keeping ranch hands loyal to our brand was pretty simple.
My parents shared a border with my grandpa’s ranch, but even though my grandpa was more established in the community, my dad always had first and best choice of riders.
When my dad would call for a cowboy crew for a fall gather or a spring branding, the first question would be, “Who’s cooking?”
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