New writers today start their careers on the internet dreaming they can make a living through their crafts. The good news is: you can indeed make money by writing.
But writing for money might have negative connotations derived from layman speak — such as that you disrespect the creative writing pursuit by “selling out” or that real artists starve. You’ll need to let go of such biases and notions. Instead, spend some time understanding the business of writing.
Broadly speaking there are seven ways to get paid to write. Let’s have a look at each strategy one-by-one.
Table of Contents
1. Get Paid To Blog And Write Articles
Right out of the gate, this is the simplest strategy to make money writing online. You directly pitch to publications looking for writers.
Knowing the rules of grammar is merely compliance — you need to write well too. Either you should have interesting ideas on a subject matter or the ability to perform online research in order to compile and write genuinely useful articles.
An existing writing portfolio with a few samples in the niche of the publication you’re pitching to is helpful, but it’s not essential.
How To Find Freelance Blogging And Writing Jobs?
To start writing articles for money, start by pitching to reputable publishers by offering to write for free. I know it’s ironic, but such guest articles will build your authority, attract prospective clients, and enable you to earn the top dollar.
The Problogger job board, for me, served as the number one source of leads. New blogging opportunities keep getting posted regularly on the platform, though they tend to be biased towards marketing, B2B, software, and technology industries.
If you’re from a traditional writing background, pitching to magazines and publications could be more appealing.
Strengths and Weaknesses
2. Starting Own Blog
Probably the best asset for your writing career right now is a blog. You can self-publish, write as often as you can, remain consistent, and change your writing themes altogether — nothing is off the limits.
I’ve already created a detailed guide on how to start a blog — specifically for writers. I recommend going after a niche that appeals to you, and something that you would love to keep writing about for a few years.
Starting a blog would entail learning the nuances of SEO, guest posting, social media relationship building, and the like. All of these are essential skills that could help your freelance writing business take off. And hey, the growth of your blog would mean extra visibility for your brand and hence be a red hot source of new leads for your writing business as well.
How To Make Money Blogging?
Monetizing your blog would generally involve these strategies:
- Affiliate marketing – Here, you mention brands you’ve used and found helpful in your blog posts. Try to forego the “advertisement” vibe from your writing by weaving the products you mention organically — don’t force them on every occasion you can.
- Coaching – A blog is a great way to educate your audience, and offering coaching calls on the top of it, on subjects your audience tends to get stuck in, could be a game-changer. People pay a premium for such personalized sessions.
- Selling own products – Generally, the most profitable way to make money writing is by building trust and influence over an audience. Then, researching the kinds of products that have a demand and selling them — online courses are generally a great starting point. And here are the top online course platforms to get you started with building one.
Strengths and Weaknesses
- You can write your heart out on your favorite subject and give yourself a shot at running a popular publication in your niche.
- You’ll learn how to find and prioritize subjects for writing, manage the complete editorial workflow, and run a business centered around your craft.
- If you want to grow your blog, you might have to transition out of writing and go into a managerial role where you edit and publish articles by others.
- Finding your way around WordPress, learning SEO, and other skills could be overwhelming for writers without a technical background.
3. Content Marketing
Blogging has widely gotten formalized into the content marketing industry due to its effectiveness in driving traffic, leads, and revenue for businesses. I would deem it as the number one high-paying opportunity for writers.
If you’re a purist, you might struggle to come to terms with the goals and frameworks around writing. You’re no longer a “writer” who’s earning by their words alone — they are a means to an end, the end being, getting a piece of the consumer’s attention through your words.
As a writer, your best bet is teaching yourself the nuances of SEO as they apply to your writing — because search is a sustainable organic channel to drive “evergreen” traffic. Specifically, you’ll need to:
- Learn keyword research – Writing for SEO begins with finding phrases that have business value for a company And baking these relevant phrases in your content.
- Competitor SEO research – Your article isn’t any good on the second page of Google because nobody will see it. Instead of relying on your gut alone, looking at the existing ranking articles on your subject will be important to beat their quality and usefulness for readers.
Using relevant images in your article – Humans are visual learners. Further, web users scan content instead of reading word-for-word. Images, that add context to your article, add value, provide breathing space, and can improve the engagement of your content.
How To Dip Your Toes Into This Content Marketing Thing?
To demonstrate your expertise as a content marketer, a practical project — like the blog we talked about in the last pointer — might make the most sense.
But the lines between freelance writing gigs and content marketing are blurred. So you can approach companies for content internships, or even learn the marketing bit of content on the job while on a writing job.
Also, since content includes visuals, audio, video, and other hybrid formats — it will be more lucrative if you’re comfortable recording podcasts and in front of the camera.
Strengths and Weaknesses
- You own the complete spectrum of your writing’s life — from choosing subjects, putting words on the page, promoting it, and seeing it gain eyeballs on the internet.
- The pay for content marketing writers is the best in the industry. You might be able to make $100 to $200, or even more per hour by writing for clients.
- “Content” is a marketing channel. And you can play the roles of a social media content manager, YouTube creator, or podcast host — anything that helps the business’ bottom line.
- Purist writers might find the business around content challenging to manoeuver through due to their belief systems about the craft.
- You might find it unappealing to write an article on “how to unclog your drain” or extremely technical (boring) subjects. But that’s what a company selling a drain cleaner might warrant you to do.
Long before Bill Gates said “content is king”, businesses still had to create written documents. They had to create brochures, marketing collaterals, product copies, and the like — for which they relied on copywriters. This kind of writing required you to appeal emotionally to your audience, compel them to take out their wallets, and hand you cash.
Fast forward to today, such sales-driven copywriting skills remain invaluable and get paid the top dollar. It’s taken the form of writing landing page copy for digital products, Ecommerce product page copy, case study, whitepaper, and email sequence to onboard new customers.
Joana Weibe, the founder of Copy Hacker, coined the term “conversion copywriter” to describe writing craftsmen whose job is to persuade prospects to press the buy button.
As you’re dealing with a prospect who’s almost ready to buy, the stakes are high. Practicing it through creating marketing collateral for your own writing business could be a great start. So write a white-paper interviewing industry professionals in your niche on what kind of content they are hedging their bets on this year and promote it.
Creating an insightful white-paper that helps industry professionals and reaches them at the right time will get you leads for your copywriting business.
Becoming A Copywriter
Learning the principles of persuasion, influence, and consumer psychology, are fundamental to stellar copywriting. So reading books, enrolling in Udemy courses, and reading blog posts about the same is essential education to dip your toes in this profession.
Strengths and Weaknesses
- The shelf life of a copy written for marketing purposes is higher. It requires more effort, so the pay for copywriting gigs also tends to be top drawer. It’s not uncommon for top copywriters to get paid multiple thousands of dollars for a single project.
- The most precious skills of writers from a journalism background are research and storytelling which in turn are invaluable, though they often tend to be centered around a company’s product.
- You’ll often remain an unnamed “ghostwriter” for the homepage of a website or even the landing page. The job of copywriters is strictly centered around “selling” their brand. Not the recognition stuff romantic writing dreams are made off, aye?
- Psychology, market research, and loads of aspects related to selling will be pivotal in your copy. Your personal understanding of the “writing craft” will have to evolve.
5. Becoming A Nonfiction Author
Becoming a traditionally published author is a great way to build your reputation as a writer. Indeed one best seller alone could lead to royalty income, speaking gigs, and consultation offers that sustain you for life. Of course, such grand successes are rare.
If you have a great idea you want to work on, pitching to publishers is great for a start. But nonfiction could even work well down the self-publishing quote. What’s more?
You can start talking about the subject matter of your book on your blog, on your YouTube channel, or another social media — wherever your readers are more likely to hang out. Regular publishing will build an audience for your book even before it launches.
Numerous marketers and bloggers have built their email lists from scratch, then self-published their books on a subject relevant to their audience, and ended up with bestsellers.
Strengths and Weaknesses
- A nonfiction book is great for experimentation on the side of a full-time job and building your brand.
- Great to satiate your curiosity on a subject you would have loved to learn about anyway.
- A complete writing project could be tedious and challenging, especially for first-time authors.
- With every business guru, marketer, or blogger publishing their books, the competition is fierce. Your writing craft alone won’t determine your success, but numerous other factors.
6. Selling Your Fiction Writing Skills
Writing fiction is a curse. When you’re creating stories and developing characters, your work becomes relatable to a wider audience. You might also feel more fulfilled to draw from your imagination.
At the same time, the market for fiction remains super competitive. The distribution of novels and fictional works hasn’t democratized the way nonfiction has through blogs. So you’ll need to persuade traditional gatekeepers to give you the slip and back your craft. It’s a time-consuming process to take your writing for publishing in such a setup, so you can’t earn money right away.
Many authors who have self-published on Amazon and Kindle seem to get decent royalties as compared to independent authors — especially those who wrote a series of books. But its model hasn’t taken off after the initial success.
You can consider becoming a playwright or dialogue writer for films. However they have similar power structures and cartels, so scoring your first writing job there isn’t easy either. You can consider writing a web series and publishing it on YouTube to kick off such a fiction writing career.
Almost everyone I’ve talked to about writing feels they have a story in them — and they might. What’s valuable is if they can articulate their imagination in an engaging manner.
Where To Start
If you’re also interested in non-fiction writing, a blog would be a great vehicle to self-publish some articles and build your audience. You can also consider building a body of work by manually publishing your poetry Ebook on Amazon and promoting it on social media.
Without a body of work, pitching your poetries, movie ideas, or even novel synopsis to publishers directly, could be a grind. But you should start building relationships with them.
Strengths and Weaknesses
- Fulfilling for writers who dream to bring their imaginations to life.
- With the advent of Netflix, the market for quality episodic writers is huge.
- Challenging to break in, and few writers manage to make a living from writing fiction alone.
- Due to it being a mass-market endeavor, you’ll be in the public eye and deal with lots of stress. Not to mention the challenging process of writing fiction, per se, involves lots of creative blocks.
To make a living as a writer, you might need to unlearn principles about business and money. You probably won’t get paid to write about anything — it’s largely driven by market demand, though you should take creative risks.
Hopefully, the article provided you actionable advice on how to make money writing.