Struggling to make money writing? Try these 3 things
I’ve been fortunate. For the past six years, I’ve been able to call myself a full-time writer. I still get excited declaring that out loud and that’s because I still remember how hard it was for me to get here. But the struggle was worth it. The uncertainty at the beginning of my career, not understanding that there was more to being a writer than I could’ve ever imagined, dealing with low paying, shitty projects — all of it feels like a grand masterclass that has gotten me to where I am now.
What do I mean I’m a full-time writer?
This is a good question with a simple answer. When I say that I’m a full-time writer, it means that I don’t need any other side job outside of writing to support my lifestyle. All of the projects I take on include writing in some way. Even if I’m hosting a workshop, that workshop will be based on some aspect of what it means to be a writer.
What being a full-time writer does not mean is that I am now a full-time author. That’s a goal I’m working towards but haven’t conquered yet. Although I’ve sold thousands of copies of my two self-published fiction books (Thoughts of a Fractured Soul and Beauty Scars), it’s nowhere near enough to manifest my dream of waking up every day just to write stories.
3 things you can do right now to make money writing
I’d be lying if I said it’s been easy to get here. I first started my mission to make a living as a writer back in 2008. That means it took about five or six years of grinding before that mission came to fruition. Are you ready to make that kind of commitment? If you’re not and you’re comfortable with making money as a writer on the side or just writing for fun, there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, I recommend that all writers do some personal writing. But if this is what you want to do, there are steps you can take right now to start driving some dollars into your pocket.
- Learn to write for other people — It is much harder to sell your own writing than it is to sell your services as a writer. And there’s probably never been a time when the need for writing (for content in general) was so high. All you need to do is open your eyes to the opportunities. In your network right now, there is someone who needs help writing Instagram posts, someone you know who wants to start a blog, someone you know who has a small business and needs marketing and social content. Find those people. Connect with them. Create a post on your Facebook timeline that lets people know that you’re able to help them share their stories. You’ll be surprised how much money is sitting right in front of you and all you have to do is raise your hand.
- Work with recruitment agencies — I wrote an entire newsletter about this but it’s so important that it’s worth mentioning again. It’s a recruitment agency's duty to match you with employers that are looking for writers. And because a recruiter’s pay is tied to the projects they get you, those projects will almost certainly pay well. When I say pay well, contracts I’ve signed or have been offered through working with agencies typically land between $35-$65/hour. And the duration of the contracts has been at least six months. If you haven’t read my newsletter about this, I give a list of agencies you can connect with. Go check it out and start making money.
- Learn different styles of writing — I told you from the beginning of this post that making a living as a writer takes some time. What it also takes is some versatility. There are so many ways to make money as a writer, you just have to be willing to learn those skills. I’ve probably made the most money as a copywriter. That has included me writing ads for landing pages, social media campaigns, email campaigns, website copy and other pieces of copy meant to influence a consumer to purchase. Ghostwriting has also been lucrative for me. I’ve ghostwritten books for several people, some of whom are well known, and have been able to secure tens of thousands of dollars per project. Being versatile is vital to your ability to earn a living as a writer.
Don’t be discouraged
I went years before I made the leap to full-time writer. There were a lot of times it felt impossible and I wanted to throw in the towel and call it quits. But I knew if I kept on learning, kept getting better and more well-rounded as a writer that eventually it would pay off. And it has, in a big way.
My income as a writer is in the six figures and growing. I’ve managed to carve out a life for myself and my daughter that I’m proud of. And while I’m still working towards fulfilling more goals, I can confidently say I’ve accomplished a lot already.
And you can, too.
Just try some of the things that I’ve outlined here. They seem simple, but each of them can really help add to your income and get you one step closer to doing this full-time.