Earning My First Million as a Writer

Writing for money

“I went to Mumbai because I wanted to write film stories,” said one of my friends at the Ahmedabad airport. “I was in touch with Madhur Bhandarkar last month but he didn’t like the script.”
He was in Mumbai for several years trying to sell scripts. Our flight was delayed by a couple of hours. I had nothing else to do.
“So, for how long you have been in Mumbai doing this,” I asked him.
“Seven years but I also work at a local bank.”
“Have you tried television?” I was wondering if it takes seven years.
“I had an offer but you know that’s not my thing. I want to write for movies and I will only do that.”
KABOOM! Limitations killed him.
A friend of mine is a DJ. She has outstanding skills and great taste in music.
“Why don’t you accept the club offer?” I asked her a couple of years back when a big restaurant chain in Bengaluru wanted to hire her fulltime.
“I don’t want to waste my talent in local clubs and events. I am meant to be big.”
She now works at a call center.
I can’t judge anyone. I can’t predict if someone will succeed or not.
But I know that success is not linear. What Bollywood movies tell you are all lies.
Begin. Struggle. Win. It doesn’t happen that way.
You have to be there consistently, practicing the art on whatever you can. Nobody is looking for you. Nobody is going to magically appear on the door and tell you how incredible the talent is leaving behind a business card.
If Ev Williams would have waited for someone to acknowledge his talent, he’d be working on podcasts than managing Twitter.

Working Your Way Up

When I started writing, I was a mediocre writer. I still am but with many people who think they can get some work out of me. I’m just a phone call away from them, which is 100 times better than finding the content wizard, paying with enormous amounts and then dealing with the attitude. I’m hirable.
I released my first book three years back. It was a fluke. I didn’t have a job and writing was the only thing that kept my mind away from certain bad things that happened during the time.
Jordan is an average piece of work but it’s still better than a nonexistent novel. In the first two months, I sold only 30 copies. It was devastating. The publisher only offered me 50,000 INR initially and 30 books earned me just 1000 bucks.
I didn’t wait for a miracle. I didn’t wait for some big shot publisher to look at the story and say Wow. I built a website, marketed the hell out of it, and went to retail houses to arrange for purchases.
In the next seven months, we sold 5000 copies making a hell lot of money.

Ad Scripts, Website Copy, Tech Writing & What Not

During my struggle days, I used to send out 70 personalized emails everyday asking for work. I was ready to write on anything anyone had for me. I did flyers, pamphlets, hoardings, 3-page local websites and even toilet ad copies. Not for the money. I wanted to be busy writing. I wanted to learn by practicing the art in real market rather than listening to what the big shots had to say.
One day, a woman from an early startup (now owns one of the biggest mobile wallet apps) called me.
“Our CEO would like to meet you. Is 5 PM okay for you next Monday?” she asked.
“I’m sorry. What for?” I was the guy writing toilet copies called in to the offices of a huge startup.
“He liked your pitch for the ad,” she explained.
I spent that night looking for the pitch I shared with their CEO over an email. I had no idea I was emailing to a hot tech startup but did it really matter? That’s what I was looking for. A shot at doing something special.
By the way, it was my first television ad script but nobody knows that. No one cared what my resume said or what my experience was.
So, do I have the idea to generate a million through writing?
I do. Respect every opportunity even if you are writing for a toilet cleaner.

Ishan Mathur

Ishan is a published author, blogger, content and growth marketer. He's the guy behind SnapWryt and Copy Chronicles communities.

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