The starving artist is romantic in theory, but in reality it’s depressing and confidence-wrecking. There’s nothing poetic about working 10 hour days and making 2 cents per word or being such a lazy writer that you have nothing to show for your “career.” There are a lot of aspiring writers with pipe dreams but no plan for reaching them and no idea how to make money writing. Then there’s you – you know this won’t be a walk in the park, but you’re willing to do what it takes anyway. Your learning curve will never end, but understanding standard best practices and considering a few different income streams will put you ahead of the rest.
Best Practices for Writers
If you put a stellar writer with terrible soft skills next to a so-so writer with phenomenal soft skills, the so-so writer will get the job every time. Many clients can’t differentiate good writing from great writing, so things like communication style and personality become the differentiator. Follow these best practices to improve your chances of landing the job.
Find a niche.
Even if you’re a generalist writer, it still pays to have deeper knowledge of a niche or two. You can always go after niche job opportunities, then pick and choose the more general job opportunities that interest you. When you select your niche, write about related topics as much as possible, and when you’re not writing about them, read about them to stay up-to-date with the industry. To figure out the most lucrative niches right now, check out job postings daily. You’ll see the same topics come up over and over again, and you can then write a few articles on your own to use as samples.
Maintain your portfolio.
Writers don’t often go on interviews (although it does happen). The way you’ll showcase your experience is through your portfolio. You can have a public or private portfolio or both. Your public portfolio should only have your best and most recent work. Some clients will want a link to your portfolio, while others will want you to send them two or three links to the pieces that are most relevant for the job.
Write for yourself.
When you apply for a writing job, you’ll often be asked to supply your website address. You don’t have to update your blog every day, but writers should have a simple website with a few articles in their voice, plus About and Contact pages. You can also post your rates, portfolio and areas of expertise.
Improve your customer service.
Writing is a solo job, and all that alone time can make it easy to forget how to work with others. If you’re unresponsive to potential clients or you’re short, rude or dull on the phone, you won’t give them any reason to work with you. It’s hard enough to get a client to make the leap from “I think I may need a writer” to “I’ll give this stranger my money,” and being difficult or unpleasant to work with only makes it worse.
Sell the solution.
If you’re trying to figure out how to make money writing a blog, you should be able to string a sentence together and then turn those sentences into paragraphs, etc. What you’re selling to the client or publication is a solution that goes beyond that, though. If you write for small businesses, you’re selling the business owner peace of mind that you’ll come up with the perfect words for their About Us page. If you write for a tech magazine, you’re selling your ability to turn complex ideas into an easily understandable guide for a beginner audience.
Prioritize administrative tasks.
Some writers mistakenly get into this career assuming it’ll be all poetry writing and late nights in pubs discussing writer’s block. The reality is that you have to work long hours, often including weekends, and instead of having no boss, you have several (each client is like a different boss). The hard truth is that there are many components to writing that are unlikable, and administrative tasks are possibly the most drab and unlikable of all. But if you don’t create systems for updating your calendar, checking email, raising your rates, applying to new jobs, managing your time and deadlines, etc., you’ll flail and then fail.
13 Ideas for How to Make Money Writing in 2019
While your job title may be “writer,” there are other professionals who can incorporate writing into their work. Writing opportunities are available for:
- Marketers and salespeople
- Subject experts
- Generalist writers
- And more…
Earning money as a writer means knowing the different avenues that are available to you. Writers can fail if they don’t realize how much is out there. While the next section is organized by specialty, there’s crossover. For example, subject experts can write ebooks and generalist writers may want to conduct interviews.
Writing Opportunities For Consultants
1. Ebook Author
If you have a topic to cover that’s too long for a blog post and too stylistic for a white paper, consider self-publishing an ebook. First, though, validate the market – are there readers who care about what you have to say? It’ll probably take several books before you gain traction, so when it comes to how to make money writing, this isn’t a quick solution. However, once you have an audience, there could be more interest in your past books.
Consultants often have a lot of contacts in the field, whether that’s connections with other consultants or with clients. Many outlets need interviews with experts, and you already have relationships with good interview candidates. By conducting interviews and writing articles around them, you’ll share insider knowledge with audiences and reinforce that you’re part of the industry. You’ll also maintain your relationships with your contacts.
3. Online Course Writer
Consultants can create a free online course to promote their services or they can create a paid online course as an alternative to working directly with clients. Those courses can be live or created once and automated for people to purchase at any point. When creating an online course, consultants should give away enough information to be valuable to the student, but leave enough hidden to encourage one-on-one consulting. Or, offer only automated online courses if what you’re after is 100% passive income.
Writing Opportunities For Marketers and Salespeople
4. Affiliate Marketing Through Newsletters
Think outside the box about how to make money writing online. If you have an email list, regularly send emails recommending products that include affiliate links. This works best if your email list is targeted, of course, with recipients who are interested in a particular type of product, like books on success or business tools that improve productivity. If your topic is broader, creation sections of the newsletter to promote different categories. For example, a lifestyle newsletter could include sections for baby, home, pets, style, etc.
5. Conversion Copywriting
As a marketing or sales specialist, you know what makes people take action. Use that knowledge to create ad copy or other conversion-focused collateral. Product descriptions, sales letters and video scripts all have to push the reader to take that next step. You can also check out our article about How to Use Storytelling to Market Your Products.
6. SEO Expert
The SEO tactics of the past are dead, but modern, quality SEO is very much alive. SEO experts with writing chops are in demand because clients would rather get everything from one source rather than hire separate SEO strategists and content writers. Since techniques are always changing, you have to stay on top of the industry daily. It also helps to have real-life examples or case studies of how your SEO strategies have helped other clients (or even your own blog or website).
7. Brand-Supporting Content
Let’s say you run the marketing department for a company. Your primary focus is social media. However, you’ve noticed questions that need more in-depth coverage than what you can include in a Facebook post. You may want to create spin-off collateral through a new medium to address those questions and interests. You can write blog posts, contribute to industry publications, publish an ebook or even write podcast scripts.
Writing Opportunities For Subject Experts
8. News Reporter
There’s a high demand for news reporters today in a variety of fields, and the pay can be respectable (and sometimes on the high end). The key to being a news reporter is availability – you have to be available according to the outlet’s schedule, which often means early mornings, late nights or weekends. You also have to be able to turn stories around quickly. News writing should be objective and based on facts. There’s not a lot of room for creativity or personality. If you have familiarity with a topic, whether that’s CBD, Hollywood or politics, and you’re willing to work within their requirements, there are a lot of potential jobs out there.
9. Product or Service Reviewer
Today’s consumers turn to online reviews before making a purchase decision, which means there’s a demand for niche reviewers. You have two options: promote products on your website and earn money through affiliate links or seek out a publication that needs reviewers in your niche and have them pay you. If you don’t need cash flow immediately, consider affiliate marketing. If you’re trying to build your name in the niche, though, get published on an existing website that already has an audience.
10. Tutorial Writer
Tutorials differ from reviews because they drill down into a component of a product or service and show audiences how to use it. The beginning of a tutorial is often a brief overview, but then you’ll jump into a specific lesson, like how to edit a photo using a popular app. If you have advanced experience with a product or service, there’s a great need for tutorials. You’ll also want to provide lots of visual guidance via screenshots or video.
11. Miscellaneous Brand Collateral
As a subject matter expert, you can write for a brand in the same field and produce all types of content for them, like blog posts, brochures, website copy, white papers, etc. You’re only limited by what you have experience with and what you like to do. For example, you may not have experience writing white papers, or maybe you hate writing press releases. Figuring out (a) what you can do and (b) what you want to do puts you in a better position to apply to the jobs you’re best suited for. In the meantime, work on the types of writing you’re interested in but haven’t done yet. For example, offer to write a white paper for free or write your own and add it to your portfolio.
Writing Opportunities For Writers
12. Get Published on Blogs and in Magazines
If you don’t need cash flow ASAP, seek out blogs and magazines that need expert advice or personal stories. This process is lengthy – it’s not the same as writing for a client who knows what they need and will pay you within days. Publications that are seeking high-level articles or stories have a lot of writers competing for a spot. You’ll send in your query or completed piece (whatever the guidelines ask for), wait to hear if they’ll publish it, wait for it to be published, wait to get paid… there’s a lot of waiting. If you have the time, though, this is one of the best ways to earn a lot per word and build up your name.
P.S. Submitting to writing contests is similar in terms of process and waiting time. Also, you may have to pay an entry fee. If you win, though, you’ll have a fantastic sample for your portfolio and recognition from the writing community.
Ghostwriting means your work will be published under someone else’s name. If you’re trying to build a name for yourself as a writer, you’ll need a byline on everything you write. If your main goal is to get paid, though, being open to ghostwriting jobs will present several more opportunities. It’s also the right choice if you want to stay under the radar as a writer or if you’re writing about a topic you don’t want to be known for. Ghostwriting pays anywhere from low to the standard going rate, which makes it the right choice for beginners who are building their portfolio. You can’t promote the work as your own since it’s published under another name, but you can use those pieces as samples to show potential clients.
Some writers don’t ever figure out how to make money writing online, while others earn six figures. If your dream is to live somewhere right in the middle – earning a realistic amount that lets you stock your fridge and take a vacation every year – it’s absolutely possible. Writing talent is not the only component of a successful writing career, though. The will to explore new writing paths, the drive to go after jobs even when you’re being denied left and right, and a mature approach to day-to-day admin and client maintenance are as important as the quality of work you produce.
Writing for WordPress and need to improve that readability score? Check out our article about What It Is, Why It’s Important, & How to Get a Good One on Every Post.
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