How to write for a living

The literary world is filled with wonderful words. But how does pen on paper pay translate into a business? Kylie Malone, copywriter, designer and businesswoman share’s her reflections on turning writing into a viable business.

Baby Steps

“When I started out I was getting bogged down worrying about all the things you have to get done to ‘run a business.”

Kylie avoided the lengthy details setting up her business, to instead focus on the essentials.

“I realised that all I needed, essentially, was the ABN, a website and a rough business plan." 

“I came from a creative background, not a business background, so working out how to run my business has been an invaluable learning curve."

Get On The Net

Along with admin tasks like getting an ABN, registering a business name and sending a quarterly Business Activity Statement (BAS) to the taxation department, the most important aspect of Kylie’s work is her website, which she developed using Wordpress.

“I found a theme that I felt would work for my style and for the requirements of my business and customised it, calling in a web developer to help with the more tricky things like adding the newsletter sign up link.”  

Save For Rainy Days

The rewards of flexible working hours are countered by a lack of financial security at times.  “I may have a run with lots of client work and that feels a fantastic, but then there’ll be quiet periods where it’s a little bit wobbly and unsure,” she explains. “The way I counteract these is by making sure I approach clients even when I have plenty of work." 

"When the going’s good I try not to live it up too much and try and put the money aside for those times when it’s a little quieter.”

"When the going’s good I try not to live it up too much and try and put the money aside for those times when it’s a little quieter.”

Flexibility Is A Perk

Wanting more creative freedom, Kylie soon took the leap and started her own business, after deciding design and writing were the avenues she sought to pursue for her career. “The creative freedom of having my own business is so rewarding,” says Kylie.

“It’s not necessarily about working from home in your pyjamas, but to start work at 10am rather than 8am and then finish at 8pm is wonderful. And if you can have an office dog, you should have an office dog. My little chihuahua Frankie is great company.”

“It’s all about creating relationships, whether that be online and offline, and being able to foster those relationships so that your current clients refer you on”

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Build Bridges

Among her favourite clients to work with Kylie lists Sydney Catalyst, a Translational Cancer Research unit based at Sydney University. “Working with them is really rewarding because the work they do is amazing. It’s about taking complicated data-driven research and turning it into messaging and something creative.”

“It’s all about creating relationships, whether that be online and offline, and being able to foster those relationships so that your current clients refer you on”

For Kylie, the secret of building and maintaining a client base is word of mouth. “It’s all about creating relationships, whether that be online and offline, and being able to foster those relationships so that your current clients refer you on. It’s worth more than any money that you could be throwing at social media or targeted advertising.”

Be Sociable

That’s not to say social media doesn’t play an important role in promoting Malone Copy & Design. “I’ve got a Twitter account and Pinterest. I don’t have an official Facebook page for my business because people seem to be steering away from Facebook and turning to other channels.” 

“For me, Facebook is like a TV infomercial in that it interrupts what you’re enjoying, whereas something like Instagram gives your clients added value and doesn’t make them feel like they’re being sold to.” Email is also a big player in Kylie’s business. “Email campaigns are just as effective, if not more effective, than social media, especially for what I do.” 

Kylie uses MailChimp to send weekly e-newsletters containing tips, articles and infographics that may be of value to her clients.

“The key is to be fast and brave and to trust in your abilities no matter what you’re selling or what your business is”

Bianca Farmakis