Writing is Right for Me
Writing might seem like an easy way to make money, and for some people it is. For me, it has taken years of study, practice, and trial and error to become a decent writer who can cover topics that consistently earn. I’ve always considered writing to be a skill that could make me money, and I ended up earning a degree in Technical Writing because I enjoy the craft. As I started pursuing a career in writing, blogging was nothing more than a way for me to build a portfolio and research new ideas. While I blogged on and off over the years, in the past seven months blogging has evolved into a side hustle that is earning me hundreds of dollars a month!
Getting noticed on Medium opened the door for me to work with other bloggers and companies. Once I built a body of work, found an audience and earned some credibility, companies started reaching out to me to create content for their sites. Through a lot of hard work, I turned my passion for writing into real money.
If you’ve decided writing seems right for you, use these four principles to come up with a strategy for writing content that earns money.
Have a Purpose
In the beginning, I simply wanted to write inspiring content and share interesting ideas. It wasn’t about money because I never earned any. Before I started writing on Medium, I tried my hand at creating blogs in various niches. Towards the end of college around 2011, I started a Futurist blog and wrote about things like the Singularity, space travel, and brain computer interfacing. It didn’t get much traffic and I eventually got tired of researching futurist topics so I turned to blogging about video games. That generated more traffic, but I didn’t understand how to monetize so my site never made any money.
During the span of 2012–2017, I made several blogs under different niches using platforms like WordPress. I created a blog about Writing and Rhetorical Theory, one or two about Political Satire, a blog focused on my life and professional portfolio, and even an Affiliate Marketing blog to sell beef jerky! No matter what I tried, my results were always the same… Write a few pieces, share them on social media, generate little to no interest, and give up on the niche… My beef jerky endeavor earned me a whooping five dollars; it would have been easy to give up on blogging all together!
Despite making no money majority of the years, my desire to inspire others using my words is one of the reasons I stuck with writing and blogging. To succeed in anything typically takes time. My purpose drove me to continue writing regardless of not making money.
Become the Expert
My profession and background in technical writing, combined with my passion for coding and data, gave me the perfect foundation for writing in the Programming niche. As I learn new tech and software, my writing ideas stem from begging the question, “What information would have helped me learn this faster?” I formulate an outline, research and code an example, and then complete and promote the piece. I happen to enjoy writing documentation, so I approach my articles from the perspective of an expert. I become the expert.
Even with years of experience, it often takes at least six hours to research a topic and complete a piece. That is why I focus on producing one article per week on average! A lot of blogging advice pushes people to write every day or as often as possible, but I find that to be a recipe for burn-out. Blogging every day might work for some writers, but it takes substantial time and effort to translate expertise into digestible information from which beginners can learn.
I recommend new bloggers focus on producing three or four polished articles a month. Being an expert and producing quality work often results in curation for my articles, and that means more reader and money!
Focus on Sharing Knowledge
Readers will spend time on your article if it is easy to follow and informative. Think about how the information is organized and presented. Remember, as the writer it is your responsibility to avoid and alleviate ambiguity! Explain things that seem hard to understand. For example, if you write an article that breaks down a process and shares steps for completing a task, the readers could be enticed to follow along and end up spending a lot of time on your content. Some of my top earning articles on Medium are coding tutorials aimed at beginners. They are designed to keep readers on the page by suggesting they follow along with my code.
Foolishly, when I first started writing on Medium, I thought I had to write highly technical articles to get curated and earn money. That is not true! Over time, I experimented with different topics and tried to attract different audiences so I could find a niche that delivered consistent results.
Regardless of the topic, my articles focus on sharing knowledge. Whether it be coding tutorials or sharing lessons I learned working in Data Science, my articles always focus on leaving the reader knowing more than when they started. If you don’t have the background to write coding tutorials and/or don’t work in a field that could naturally appeal to an audience, I recommend researching topics in these popular niches:
Sales and Marketing
Health and Fitness
Each of these niches are broad and include tons of strategies and techniques that can be shared through writing. Focus on finding bits that you can apply in your life and share those tips with others! It will likely take a few months of sharing knowledge to establish some credibility and build a wider audience, so give it time.
Promote Promote Promote
It is super easy to burn-out if you’re new to blogging and trying to promote your articles on every social media platform. It is a trap I fell into when I first started! I thought more platforms would equal more exposure and that would equal more views. Manually trying to keep up with every platform every time I posted was simply too much. I’ve thought about coding a solution to automate posting but haven’t yet.
Instead of going all out and promoting on every platform, focus on promoting your content on two or three platforms until you have a body of work and are comfortable managing your content. For example, I primarily write about data science and coding aimed at beginners and new professionals. I focus on promoting my work on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook since those are platforms used by my target audience.
In addition to promoting the article through your own channels, I recommend submitting it to publications on Medium. I frequently publish articles to Towards Data Science, for example. Publications help get your content to your target audience, and they are a great way to get exposure and earn credibility in your field!
Is Writing Right for You?
Anyone can make money from writing, but 80–90% of Medium authors make less than 100 dollars any given month. I’ve been earning hundreds of dollars a month, and receive writing opportunities from companies regularly. My goal to inspire is one of the reasons I continued writing despite making no money most of my blogging experience. If you want to turn writing into a source of income, follow these principles and try to produce edited, quality work:
- Have a Purpose — Having a purpose will keep you driven when it feels writing isn’t worth it.
- Become the Expert — Spend time researching your topics and developing content that teaches the reader.
- Focus on Sharing Knowledge — Tutorials are a great way to keep readers on a page. Write articles that walk readers through a process.
- Promote your Work — Submit to a Medium Publication. Identify a few platforms used by your target audience and promote on them until you’re comfortable managing a large body of work.
Check out my tutorials if you’re interested in examples!
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