Warren Buffett is considered one of the most successful investors in the world, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. He’s famous for, well, how much money he makes.
And because apparently, he’s been a really good investor, a lot of people tend to follow his advice to the letter. And while that is a good rule of thumb, we can also extrapolate that wisdom and use it for our own writing career. After all, by doing so we’re investing in ourselves as well.
So, let’s take a look at 9 pieces of advice from Warren and how we can apply it to ourselves.
Risk comes from not knowing what you are doing
No matter what your goal is as far as your writing goes, you need to be in control of it.
This quote doesn’t mean you have to know everything, that is not possible. It means you have to understand what you’re doing, why you’re doing it and what you expect to get out of it.
If you’re writing, you can’t just write whatever comes to mind and expect the end result to work. You need to control your writing. Set yourself up for success and figure out the big three before you start:
Expectation. Understand what you want to get out of your article.
Intention. Understand the message you’re trying to send across.
Reason. And finally, understand why you’re writing what you’re writing.
Only then, start writing.
The stock market is designed to transfer money from the active to the patient
Making money takes time, and that is no different if you’re trying to earn an income from your writing.
Starting from scratch means no matter how much you write, for a while you won’t get any traction. And that is normal, you need to understand that before money starts flowing in, an audience needs to be created.
You don’t have to write like a madman, you just need to hone your skills, practice, review, adjust and keep writing. It’s not about volume, it’s about quality, that is what will bring the money in.
There seems to be some perverse human characteristic that likes to make easy things difficult
I love this one, it applies to so many aspects of life, including of course, your writing.
In fact, it’s very relevant to making money from your writing because not everyone makes it, and therefore, it must be difficult.
And of course, it is, it takes effort, it takes time and it takes A LOT of work. But when you see someone making six figures salaries from writing in their house, you immediately think: “that’s not for me, I’m not that good”.
That’s just human nature, don’t listen to it! You ARE good, or rather, you CAN BE good, if you work for it, that’s the only trick. Successful writers have been working at it for a long time, you’re only seeing their results.
Opportunities come infrequently. When it rains gold, put out the bucket, not the thimble
It’s all about recognizing when an opportunity hits.
Even successful authors can’t write big hitters every single time. It’s just not possible. The writer is not in control of the reader’s opinions, there are millions of factors involved in whether a piece will go viral or not.
But when it happens, and trust me, if you write long enough, it will, you can’t ignore it, you can’t just tell your friends about it and move on to the next one.
You have to put out the bucket, gather and analyze the feedback you’re receiving. If you got a viral hit, you won’t just get a lot of social media shares, you’ll also get a lot of comments, so review them, interact with the audience, understand what they’re saying and why they’re saying it.
Try to understand their personal reasons of why they liked your article so much, find the pattern and come up with a set of characteristics that appeal to them.
It won’t give you the ability to reproduce the success 100% of the time, but it will give you an edge for your next piece.
It’s better to hang out with people better than you. Pick out associates whose behavior is better than yours and you’ll drift in that direction
When it comes to your writing, this translates to learning from others. It’s an obvious one for some people, but others tend to believe that writing is a lonely profession. And that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Facebook is filled with groups aimed at helping writers get to the next level. It is also filled with share-by-share groups, which really don’t do any good and help no one. So make sure you do your research, figure out who’s active in these types of groups and join the ones with successful writers, or at least, those more successful than you.
Essentially, surround yourself with others that are getting better results, then figure how they’re doing it. This is not to say, copy their methods, everyone will have a different one, so find the pattern, match and mix, and eventually you’ll find what works for you.
Not every successful writer is willing to share their methods, but those who take part in these groups are definitely open to the idea. So take advantage of that.
Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago
Actions have consequences, we all know that, we’re supposed to know that, we’re adults afterall.
However, we tend to ignore the fact that we can control those consequences if we think long term.
Succeeding as a writer overnight, is not common, heck, you’d have to be very lucky to do it. But for most human beings, success comes over time, and it comes if you plan ahead. If your actions reflect your goals.
Invest in your writing today, keep going at it, and eventually you’ll reach your goal.
Fail to do so, and you’ll never sit in the shade of the success tree.
The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything
It’s actually less about saying “no” and more about keeping control over your life and your schedule.
To succeed, you need to write, you need to learn, and you need to put in the time that it takes. And if your schedule is not consistent, or if you can’t rely on it because your attention is getting pulled into multiple directions then you’re never going to improve.
You need to make your learning a priority, your writing must come first, not to everything, mind you, but to many other things. That includes activities that don’t really do anything for you other than wasting your time.
It might sound hard, yes, but the more time you waste, the less time you have to work on your skills. It’s a simple equation, so use the numbers in your favor.
The most important investment you can make is in yourself
I’ve been implying this one on almost every single piece of advice I’ve covered so far, but why not be direct?
It’s that simple, you can’t expect success in your writing if you don’t work on your skills. And how do you do that?
There is not a single way of answering that question.
You can simply invest your time — which is already a big investment — by learning on your own. And you can spend actual money, and join courses, one-on-one sessions and many other sources of training that while not cheap, can help you a lot more in giving you relevant information and guiding you in the right direction.
Finding the right way to spend your money on yourself is not easy, in fact, internet is filled with so-called experts selling writing courses. The best thing you can do for yourself, is research, find out what other writers think, even ask on the online groups I mentioned before. Don’t click the “Buy” button on the first online course you find, do your research.
Investing in yourself means you care about your writing career, so even if you don’t have money to spend, consider investing your time and learn from free resources online.
Rule №1: Never lose money. Rule №2: Don’t forget rule №1
Or as I like to say: Keep your eye on the ball.
Reaching success comes with time, I’ve already covered that. Investing in yourself is crucial, I’ve already said it.
But during that time, and during all that learning effort, things might — and probably, will — go wrong. You’ll get negative feedback on some articles, others might be rejected, trolls will comment and probably say something hurtful. It’s all part of the deal that comes with online publishing.
And that is when you have to remind yourself to keep your eye on the ball. You know your goals, so keep working towards them, even when things might not look great. It’s all part of the journey, accept it and keep moving.
If you don’t find a way to make money while you sleep, you will work until you die
If your end goal is to successfully live off of your earnings as a writer, then you have to approach this with scale in mind.
Even if you manage to get some freelance clients, you can’t just rely on a fixed price for every article you write. Thinking about scale means growing your income beyond what you can directly earn from your work.
Those successful authors you see around, those who manage to live off of their writing success, do so because they’ve turned their work into a money-making machine. They earn money following different business models, but none of them implies writing — at least not directly anyway.
Writing success does not come easy, but one way to achieve it is to study how others have done it before. And if you’re hoping your writing to become a business, then you should also study how successful business people earn their money.
Here we have 9 very solid pieces of advice from Warren Buffett, one of the richest men in the world, and clearly, someone who’s managed to understand how the activity of earning money works.
What do you think? Would you agree with Mr. Buffett? Would you say that following his advice can lead to a successful writing career?