Essay: Alexis Fedor on The Writer’s Profit Plan

By Alexis Fedor 

I arrived in NYC at age 24 to attend grad school at NYU’s Gallatin School to study Cross-Cultural Dance and Theater with a focus on the Classical Indian performance styles of Bharatanatyam and Kathakali. Sitting in my first seminar titled “Performances of Magnitude” taught by the infamous Richard Schechner, I became acutely aware that I couldn’t have picked a more obscure focus for my degree if I tried (ok, maybe if I tried…). In that moment, I knew I was going to have to get exceptionally creative if I didn’t want to graduate with an MA and find myself immersed in “day jobs” so I could come home at night and write about Krishna’s role in the landscape of Indian mythology (a favorite topic of mine to wax poetical about). I wanted to write and perform for a living my way, without the distraction of side jobs I wasn’t passionate about.

When I left NYU, I had two plays written, three shows in production, a web series written and produced with an invitation to join the Writers Guild, and not a clue as to how I was going to pay my bills past the next two months. The stress was blinding. I had faith and confidence in myself and my abilities to carve out a successful career as an artist, but was having serious doubt and anxiety about how I was going to make it financially for the long term. And I believed there had to be a way to bridge that gap once and for all.

That was when I realized as an artist I am a business owner by default- that, in fact, every writer who makes a living with their art owns their own business. We are taxed as freelancers at the very least, which is a business owned by a single person. But I didn’t understand how to run a business like a successful entrepreneur – I never acquired that skill set. I knew how to land certain jobs here and there, but I didn’t know how to create consistent and predictable income throughout the year.

So, I decided to figure that out by starting my own business. I spent a year taking marketing courses while developing my concept for an online t-shirt company with designs by artists from around the world. I sought advice from some of the top entrepreneurs, grew my community (literally thinking to myself, “this is going to be easy!”) and then launched the company.

And there were crickets.

Nothing happened – very few sales came in – and 12 months later I had to close the doors. I had no idea what I had done wrong, but I felt if I couldn’t get a simple t-shirt company up and running, I certainly was never going to make a consistent income as a writer and choreographer. I didn’t want to work for someone else, I didn’t want to apply for grants, I wanted to run a business as an artist, my way (stubborn, I know – ask my mom.)

I had secretly given up while trying to smile through the pain of figuring out my next move to a day job, when I met a man named Roger Webster who owned a successful PR company and was looking for a writer and marketing expert to run the online campaigns for his high-end clients. He liked my honesty (I told him I didn’t think he should hire me because I clearly didn’t know what I was doing and had just watched my own online business tank) and quickly became my mentor. He said, “I believe in you – so I want to look at your marketing plan to see where you went wrong.”

We sat down, he took one look and said, “when are you creative people going to learn?” And from there proceeded to show me the HUGE mistake I made that only creative people make in business (his words). And from there, I designed a campaign for his client, The American Cancer Society, that enabled them to exceed their fundraising goal, had a six-figure writing and consulting business within six months, and six months after that began teaching other writers and artists how to do the same.

Because my membership to the Writer’s Guild is one of the greatest honors in my life (that’s the truth) I have a workshop I’ve designed specifically for members called The Writer’s Profit Plan, which I’m teaching live online to members only on October 17th. CLICK HERE to register and let’s talk about how you can build your writing business, your way.


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