How do I make money as a writer?
Is getting my book traditionally published the only way to make money?
What other writing jobs, other than an author, are there even?
If you have asked yourself any of the questions above (or all three), I am here to tell you that you do not have to get a book published to make money as a writer. To be honest, that might be the most difficult way to make money as a writer and is not a reality for everyone.
Of course, to make money from writing takes time and skill. It involves crafting an impressive portfolio of writing samples that will make companies want to hire you or literary magazines want to publish you. It takes practice to improve your writing skills and get them to a level where people can and want to read them.
Today, I am going to breakdown what types of writing you can make money from, where you can go to make money from writing, and take you through the steps.
Here is your go-to guide for how to make money as a writer.
Types of Writing Jobs Out There:
- Article Writing
- Press Release Writing
- Content Writing
- Creative Writing (Submitting to short story contests and literary magazines. Not a job exactly, but a way to make money from writing on the side with enough patience and practice.)
Some of these jobs overlap. For example, a copywriter can be a blogger and an article writer because copywriting is a form of advertising. It means to write in a way that promotes a company and encourages a client to take a particular action. This is something that can be done it multiple forms.
Where to Start
1. To Freelance or Not to Freelance
Do you want to be a freelancer, which is someone who works for themselves and is employed by other companies either for permanent, contract, or temporary work, or do you want to write for one specific company? This is the first thing to narrow down.
When choosing freelancing, you have to understand that it is a business. That means you need to build a website, keep track of clients, send contracts and invoices, as well as make sure you get paid. If you aren’t willing to put in the work to market you and your business, I would recommend becoming a writer employed by one company.
I love freelancing. I love running my own business and marketing myself (which is why I am a digital marketing writer). However, it isn’t always smooth sailing. It involves lots of long days, lots of rejection, lots of dealing with people, and lots of research. But in the end, it’s all worth it to me!
What’s important is figuring out what fits you best. If you want to try out freelancing, give it a go! If it doesn’t work out, you have other options.
2. Determine Your Writing Niche
The second step to succeeding in the writing world is to determine your niche. But what is a niche? A niche is a specific topic that you decide to write about. For example, I am a freelance digital marketing writer. That means that now, after taking some time to discover my own niche, I only write (for clients) content that relates to digital marketing such as social media, SEO, email marketing, etc.
It is absolutely essential to determine your niche, otherwise, you will just be a meh writer in a wide range of topics. You want to hone in on one topic and really educate yourself on it so that when clients look at your portfolio, they will see that you really know your stuff.
For the literary magazines and writing contest side of things, your “niche” could be fantasy short stories or contemporary poems. The more specific you are, the better chances you have.
Here is a list of more popular niches in 2020: https://www.writingrevolt.com/profitable-freelance-writing-niches/
3. Build a Website
This is especially important for freelancers, but even if you don’t want to freelance, I think it is a good idea to have a website as a writer.
You need a nice and clean website to showcase your niche, services, portfolio, testimonials, and contact information. If a company stumbles on your website and they can’t figure out what type of writing you do, or how much you charge, there is a good chance they will click off the website. We want to avoid those missed opportunities.
Check out my website for inspiration. I am no website designer, but it certainly does the trick: http://www.zoemathers.com
4. Publish Your Writing Online
When I first put together my writing portfolio, I remember thanking myself for creating this blog when I did. For six years, I have been consistently posting blog posts on here and that gave me a strong writing foundation. Not only did it improve my writing skills immensely, especially my skills for writing for the web, but it helped me build credibility and an audience. I am a freelance content and copywriter which means when I contact a company, or am discovered by a company who is in need of a writer, they can see my years and years and hundreds and hundreds of blog posts that I have written. They are not all beautifully written, many were strewn together in less than an hour, but it shows that I can write a lot and fast. It also shows how much my writing has grown over the years. Kind of like a diary. (However, I don’t have many of my own blog posts in my writing portfolio.)
I cannot stress enough how helpful it is to build a platform where you post your writing on. Whether that is a social media account like Instagram or Facebook, or a blog, it will make jump starting your writing career a lot easier.
5. Create a Portfolio
A portfolio is a collection of your best writing pieces out there. Mostly, they are samples already published online, however, if you are just starting out and don’t have a blog, they don’t have to be published.
When it comes to curating content for your portfolio, make sure you include pieces that showcase your skill, voice, and niche the best.
Want some inspiration? Check out my writing portfolio: http://www.zoemathers.com/writing-portfolio
6. Build Up a Cold Emailing List
Whether this list is full of literary magazines to submit to or companies to propose your copywriting services, build up a list of people to cold email. Cold emailing, when done right, can lead to new clients and is an essential step towards making money as a writer. I recommend building up a list of at least 50 potential clients before starting to send out emails.
Here are some tips for cold emailing:
- Be Personable and Personalized – Be courteous; compliment their company, tell them why you admire them and want to write for them. To check if your email is personalized enough, if you read over your email and realize you could send the exact same message to the next company on your list without changing anything, it is not personalized enough.
- Offer Up Your Ideas for the Company – Do they not have a blog on their website? Do they have a poorly written “About Us” section? Whatever it is, kindly offer up your ideas to them in a pitch. Tell them how a blog would improve their website and drive more traffic to it. And then, tell them how you would proceed to build up a blog for them.
- Link 2 Writing Samples – Do not attach your resume or attach your writing samples. Instead, provide a link to your Google Drive where they are organized by category, topic, etc. Or, link them to where they were originally posted. You don’t need to overwhelm with samples either, so stick to two.
7. Create a CRM Spreadsheet
A CRM is a Customer Relationship Manager. Basically, it organizes your clients, or potential clients, so you can keep track of what project they hired you for, if they’ve paid you, if they contacted you first, if you sent them a cold email, etc, etc. It will be a time saver as you grow your writing career. It is also handy when submitting to contests or literary magazines. When it comes to the end of the year, the time when you want to reflect on your writing business and see how much you made, a CRM that process a lot easier. Trust me.
If you want a CRM template, subscribe to my freelancing newsletter HERE. My newsletter went out today (Nov 30) so if you sign up now, you can still get the template I included in this month’s newsletter! If it is past that date already, feel free to subscribe anyways and leave in the notes section of the sign up form that you would like access to my CRM spreadsheet! 🙂
Places to Find Writing-Related Work
Now that you have your niche picked out, a website built, and a curated selection of writing samples, it is time to figure out where the heck to submit your work or find clients.
Below, I have listed a few freelance job boards to help kickstart your process of making money as a writer.
A lot of the websites listed below are best for beginner writers, or those of you who want to build up your portfolio. Some of them, you can find well paying gigs, but on websites like Fiverr, you will start out not making too much per word. However, this is how I started and it really helped me learn how much my services cost and what my writing was worth.
LinkedIn (Much more credible and better for finding a full-time, non-freelancing job)
Now you have all the tools to get started! Remember, you won’t find success right away, and that’s okay. Some months for me are super busy with contract work and it is great, however, there are slower months too. Much slower months. That is the life of a writer, especially a freelance writer.
I hope this was helpful, and if you are in search of more writing and/or freelance-related content, consider checking out the links below! Thanks for reading 🙂
My Freelance + Writing Newsletter:
My Freelance + Writing Blog:
Last Blog Post: My Anticipated Releases