What’s the difference between amateur and professional?

9 Sep

Tuesday morning, I was a humble amateur blogger – writing about whatever came to mind with little direction and few plans on how to make a single penny off of my work.

That morning, my beautiful and intelligent wife asked what was truly a head-slappingly simple question:  “what are your options for submitting the articles that you write about football?”

Now you’d think that would be a pretty simple question to answer.  And while I had thought about some different ideas for getting my stuff published (and hopefully earning some money too), in the time between when I created my first two Husker pieces and my wife’s question, that business related thought had not crossed my creative mind.

In honesty, the situation reminded me a lot of a story told by one of my favorite writers:  Joe Posnanski (formerly of the KC Star, and now with Sports Illustrated).  Here is an excerpt from his blog that I’m copying, if for no other reason than to prove that I’m not alone:

“I was telling this story the other day to the delight of my wife … a few years ago, I went along on the Royals caravan and it made an unexpected stop at the home of David Glass, who, as you probably know, is the owner of the Kansas City Royals and was the CEO of Wal-Mart. There was a small dinner party at his home, and the family was very gracious to me though I have, at times, said a few unkind things about the way the baseball team is run. Anyway, at one point I ended up at a dinner table with some of the bigger hitters of the Wal-Mart family — David Glass, various buyers for Wal-Mart, people with important titles, the manager of Sam’s Club and so on. And, against odds, I found myself at the center of the conversation. There were a lot of questions about what I did (“How long does it take you to write a story?”), requests for stories about my past experiences (“What’s Augusta really like? How were the Olympics?”), questions about sports (“How do you think Arkansas will be this year?”) and so on. I was sort of a minor celebrity, at least for a few moments, among the brain trust of the world’s most successful company.

When it ended, I called Margo and told her a little bit about that. I was oddly juiced about being briefly the center of attention among such business heavyweights. And she asked me a question that I have not forgotten. She said, “Did you mention that you have a book on Buck O’Neil coming out?” My book was coming out later that month.

The thing that makes the story real is not that I had failed to mention that I had a book coming out to one of the world’s biggest distributors of books. It is not even that I had NEVER CONSIDERED mentioning that I had a book coming out. No, the thing that makes the story real is that when Margo asked me if I had mentioned the book, my first reaction was: “Why would I mention that?” “

In comparison, sitting on a football game report for a few days doesn’t seem so bad, now does it?  Except that it is.  I have been aware of my writing abilities for years, and aside from lesser duties in my previous jobs, I really haven’t used my gifts to earn a living.  And that is something that needs to change.  Changing to know the value of my work.  Changing to understand that people enjoy reading what I write (and if not, feel free to let me know in the comments).  Changing the way I look at positioning and marketing myself.

Like a good (and smart) husband, I acted upon my wife’s advice and set out to find a wider audience for my work.  And within an hour I was brought on-board as a “Contributor” at HuskerMax.com – widely considered the leading source for Husker news, game information, commentary, and fan interaction.

So I am pleased to announce that (pending the first payment) I am officially a professional writer, as my work on HuskerMax will be compensated based upon the number of views (and I assume ad clicks) my pieces receive.  I don’t want to divulge my contract information, but my first article was posted a little after 1 pm on Tuesday, and by 5 pm I calculated that I had earned somewhere between 5 and 10 cents.  (Therefore, click on the page, click on the ads, leave comments, and share the link with your Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn audiences.  Thanks!)

So the difference between amateur and professional?  It appears to be simple change.

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