15 Ways to Make Money as a Content Writer
How I made $100,000+ writing part-time
There are so many ways to make money as a content writer.
In my two-plus years of freelancing, I’ve made over $100,000 working part-time hours.
The goal of this post is simple — to show you all the ways I’ve made money from writing to give you inspiration — because most writers only think about getting paid to write blog posts and emails.
As you’ll see below, those made up a good chunk of the income, but they weren’t the only ways. In the past two-plus years, I’ve earned money writing at least 15 different ways.
With so much changing in the online space, there have never been more opportunities to earn money as a content writer.
Here’s the thing, writing isn’t easy for most people.
So if you possess this skill and can help people get their message in front of their audience, regardless of the niche, you can succeed as a freelance writer.
Here are 15 ways I’ve made money as a freelance writer without writing on my own blog.
Let’s rewind to January 2018.
My blog was failing, I already had my millennial life crisis, and quit my six-figure job the previous year.
For eight months, I hustled as a blogger and had almost nothing to show for it. But as the calendar turned to 2018, I was desperate to make online writing work. It was either that or return to corporate (which was my nightmare).
I decided to pivot from publishing on my own blog to writing for others. Upwork and job boards were my best friend and I relentlessly applied for any gig I could.
This led to one of my first golf writing clients. They were doing a major revamp to the website and needed the following pages rewritten:
- Home page
- About page
- Membership page
- Work with me page
- History of the golf course page
At the time, I was just getting started as a writer and couldn’t believe someone paid me $1,600 to rewrite five pages of a golf website!
I’ve done this with several clients and it’s pretty simple and straight forward.
I would say that 60% of my $100,000+ freelance writing income has been from writing blog posts.
Since I was a blogger from 2016 to 2018, these weren’t that hard for me to learn. Some were ghostwritten, and others had my name attached to them.
Let’s get real, most blog posts aren’t sexy or glamorous.
But they are the most consistent way to make money as a freelance content writer.
I’ve been paid to write about nearly everything including:
- Personal finance
If you want consistent money each month as a writer, start by finding blog writing clients. These clients are dependable and make it easy to forecast your monthly income.
In the beginning, I suggest pricing your work on a per word basis. If you’re a brand new writer, start at .10 cents per word and work your way up.
Finally, make sure you establish a niche so you can become an expert and raise your rates!
The week I quit my 9–5, I published my first book, “Advice to My Younger Self.”
At the time, I was 29 years old and had aspirations of being the next millennial finance guru. I wanted to help everyone learn what college didn’t teach them.
I thought this book was going to land me on podcasts, talk shows, and provide passive income for years.
Well, that dream was short-lived.
The book made maybe $700 (including the extra copies my parents bought to hand out and brag that their son was a writer).
Needless to say, I quickly realized that my first book wasn’t going to make me a millionaire or help a million people.
But still, I got to say I was a published author at 29 years old and crossed something off my bucket list.
While my first book didn’t make me rich, it gave me some experience.
After one of my writing clients enjoyed working together, he asked me to ghostwrite his book.
While it’s yet to get published, I got paid for it and it led to my highest income month ever.
The book ended up being 65,000 words and I got paid $13,000. Just a little more than my $700 for my first book.
So if you want to write a book and money is your main goal, I suggest ghostwriting for someone else. Unless you have a massive social media following, good luck self-publishing.
At the end of 2018, I landed my first writing client through Instagram.
He saw my motivational content, clicked the link in my bio, went to my writing website, and reached out via DM.
The first project we worked on was an eBook lead magnet. I ended up creating several for him and they ranged between 5,000 to 10,000 words.
I also tried my hand at self-publishing and bought a course to guide me through it.
Even though my first book didn’t make me rich or famous, I liked the idea of creating passive income.
Needless to say, this idea failed. I bet I made $100 total, not enough to pay for the course. Plus, it took way too much time.
So if your goal is to self-publish eBooks via the Kindle store, make sure you outsource as much as possible, learn about Amazon ads, and find your niche.
Email marketing is not dead (despite what some online gurus say).
Yes, email marketing has been a steady decline over the past five to ten years, but it’s still the best way to sell anything to your audience.
Email writing is a great way to make consistent money as a writer.
Clients need writers to help tell their story and I’ve helped create several email campaigns. Some of them include:
- Nurture sequences
- Weekly newsletters
- Online course launch
I’m still a rookie in this category, but I plan to experiment a lot more with copywriting and email marketing in 2020.
Another way to make money writing is by creating lead magnets for clients (AKA freebies, freemiums, list-builders, opt-ins, etc.)
This is another way I’ve been paid as a writer and a method that’s been relatively easy as well. Since the content isn’t getting published online, you don’t have to worry about SEO, so it speeds up the entire writing process.
These projects are usually a fixed fee or per word, as some of them are short eBooks which are really like a long-form blog post.
As you know, not all content is created equally.
With Google constantly updating their algorithm, it’s important to refresh content. Some savvy clients will also have you update past posts from yourself or other writers.
For example, one of my golf clients is refreshing all of his content that isn’t ranking on page one. To make the necessary updates, he sends me a link of the post within Surfer SEO to make necessary updates.
The SEO tool shows you what you need to do in order to get that article to rank properly. Maybe it’s removing keywords, adding a certain number of words, removing headings, adding LSI keywords, and more.
For rewrites, we agree on a flat fee in advance. This is pretty easy as you don’t have to come up with new content from scratch.
Online Course Content
The online learning space is booming!
According to this survey, “the global eLearning market was worth an impressive $107 billion in 2015. By 2025, however, Research and Markets believe that it will reach a staggering total market value of $325 billion.”
With so many entrepreneurs, thought leaders, and influencers creating online courses, they need writers to help them turn their knowledge into a course.
I’ve written the content for two online courses in the personal development niche for an entrepreneur. I was tasked with creating lesson plans (basically blog posts), video scripts, and worksheets.
One is a six-module course that paid $3,000 and the other was a 12-module massive course that paid $11,000!
Remember, this is a growing market and one I highly encourage you to pursue as a writer.
As online learning is growing, podcasts aren’t far behind.
According to Podcast Insights, there are over 30 million episodes as of January 2020. Yet, according to the same article, only 51% of the population have listened to a podcast, which means there is a huge amount of growth potential.
I’ve been hired to create:
- Show notes
- Podcast scripts
- Social media captions
If you’re a new writer, this is a great way to meet podcasters, grow your network, and make money writing.
Social Media Captions
Nothing fancy here, just writing captions on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn for several clients.
These are usually a flat-fee for each post or something that is part of a monthly retainer package.
While I haven’t done a ton of voice-overs, I was able to write one that ended up going viral with 2,000,000 views!
One of my old clients, Fearless Motivation, switched from having me write blog posts to video scripts.
But after they heard my voice on my show, “Inspire Your Success” podcast, they had me do voice-over work as well. I sent in the audio file (which took about three takes and only 40 minutes) and it was done.
The pay was only a few hundred bucks, but the exposure has been epic. They added the amazing visuals to the video and now, two million people have heard it worldwide!
Don’t forget, money isn’t everything
Knowing that my message potentially impacted 2,000,000+ people with my words is priceless.
Video is the future.
While writing will never go away (don’t worry, writers), more and more people are watching video content than ever before.
After one client heard my work with Fearless Motivation, he hired me to write video scripts and used his voice to create a series of motivational videos.
This was one of my favorite projects ever.
I got paid .20 cents per word and each post was around 1,000 words. I did 20 video scripts, so I ended up making roughly $4,000.
Not only was this fun and highly profitable, but it’s also great to see some of them go viral!
When it comes to accepting gigs, I live by this quote:
“If someone offers you an amazing opportunity and you’re not sure you can do it, say yes — then learn how to do it later.” — Richard Branson
When a client asked if I could do a press release, I said yes, no problem (despite not having an idea what to do)!
While I’ve only done a few of them (and had to research what the hell I was doing) overall, they were pretty easy.
These were based on a per word rate and only contributed a few hundred dollars.
One of the final ways I’ve been paid as a content writer is by speech writing. Similar to the press releases, I had no clue what I was doing but I just said yes and figured it out later.
I ended up writing the talking points for a corporate presentation since I knew my client’s voice and story so well. Someone else did all the PowerPoint, and I did the writing.
The final way I’ve made money writing is by publishing on Medium.
I tried to publish starting in 2017 (just look at my awful articles) but never stayed consistent until now.
Since 2020, I’ve started making money via the Medium Partner program, coaching students, and affiliate sales.
Medium is my top writing priority for 2020, so I hope to have more to share on this soon.
Hopefully, you can tell there are tons of ways to get paid to write content online.
Don’t feel like you just have to write emails or blog posts for clients.
While I think those are both great methods to give you a consistent income, don’t be afraid to venture out and try new types of content.
Live by the Richard Branson quote and just say yes. If you’re a crafty writer, I’m sure you’ll figure it out.
Plus, you never know what you will like writing and what you’re good at until you give it a shot.
Keep an open mind, be okay with ghostwriting at times, and follow the trends to make the most you can from writing online.
What are some ways you’ve been paid to write online?
Let me know in the comments below!