I get this question quite a bit. You’ve been writing for a while. You’ve paid your dues. You’ve had your fair share of posts that just haven’t exploded like you thought they would. So how the heck do you start getting paid for your writing?
I get it. Seriously, I know your pain. I was there, just a few short years ago. It still feels like yesterday. It’s frustrating, annoying and irritating all at the same time.
You’re ready to start getting paid for your writing.
So what can you do to start making money as a writer? Honestly, you’re asking the wrong question. It’s not about getting paid for your writing.
Rather, it’s about asking “How can I help other people?”
My First Paid Writing Gig
Wanna know how I got my first freelancing job? It required writing in silence for about three years or so. I kid you not. It sucked. But I just kept writing. And writing. In what felt like total silence. But it wasn’t.
People were actually watching when I was:
- Blogging with a focus on helping other people.
- Answering emails galore.
- Responding to Facebook messages.
- Helping other writers make connections.
- Doing everything I could possibly to build community.
- Tweeting out encouragement and support to others.
Basically just helping people every way possible. (Yes, I know I just said the word helpful several times in a very short amount of time. It’s THAT important.)
Before I go any further though, I have to explain something for a moment. Everything I did was sincere. I had no expectations, and I was not going into things hoping that other people would repay favors.
Here’s how it all went for me. Several years ago, I heard a friend was looking for a job. He was working a gig at a fast food place and wanted to do something more creative.
I passed on the word to people I knew that were connected to a lot of people. And he got a job working as an editor. Guess where my first freelance job came from?
That’s right, the friend I helped get the job as an editor.
Here’s the important thing you already know: success comes when you show up consistently over time and help people.
If you’re showing up on a regular basis and learning and growing, you can’t help but find some level of success. Now let’s dig a little deeper and get specific. Here are fifteen specific ways you can earn money as a writer.
1. Writing Blog Posts For Other Websites.
This is by far one of the most common ways that many writers make income from writing. Every blog needs great content on a regular basis to have an impact and to stay relevant. If you have a blog, your blog serves as a portfolio and can be a way to potentially find some of these gigs.
2. Rewriting Resumes and Cover Letters.
If you have a lot of experience with resumes or cover letters, this is a great area to consider. When starting out, go for the direct connection first. Let others in your network know you offer this service. Facebook is a fantastic way to advertise this service. Rates typically range from $100–500. (Please note that all dollar figures are just a guide.)
Pro Tip: Check out some of the top resume sites and talk to any friends that you have in HR or who own a small business to see what they specifically look for in a resume.
3. Rewriting Webpages.
You could earn an income rewriting specific web pages for bloggers such as an About Me page or a FAQ page. If you need experience, write — or rewrite — a few for some other bloggers you know to improve, and you’ll likely have some solid recommendations as well.
4. Writing Emails.
Writing good emails that get opened and people respond to is truly an art form. If you have experience with email marketing, your skills are VERY MUCH in need. This would work well with as a service that focuses on product launches. Figure around $30–100 an hour for this service.
Pro Tip: Go through your own email inbox. What have you opened? What emails evoke a response? What have you purchased because of an email? Make notes of what emails stand out and reverse engineer them.
5. Writing Newsletters.
Newsletters are a great way to stay connected to the audience, and this does not have to be writing the entire newsletter; even just outlining or co-writing newsletters is a very valuable service in great demand. Pricing estimates vary, so assume around $30–200 an hour.
Pro Tip: Keep in mind that newsletters are written for a specific audience. Look at the ones you like and analyze why you like them.
6. Write a Book Yourself.
The best part of this option is that you have total control of this. You are the boss. You will not know how much money you will make from it, but with proper research and if you know your audience well, you can make money from a book.
Yes, this will likely take a least a month or two. But you can surprise yourself with how much you can write in a very short amount of time. If you need help writing a book, I’d love to help. Feel free to reach out to me (I’m very easy to find).
7. Write a Book for Someone Else.
Many who want to write a book don’t have the time or ability to write a book. In most cases, the ghostwriter does interviews or gets an outline from the author and then writes the book. This is actually really straightforward, and the author is the one who gets credit for the book. The ghostwriter is paid a flat amount for the work. Typically, a ghostwriter is paid 50% up front and 50% upon completion of the book. Ghostwriting costs range from as low as $3K to around $20K to write a book.
8. Write Tweets or Social Media Updates.
Do this for someone else and load them into an app like Buffer or Hootsuite. This takes time, so many writers put it off. If you can keep someone connected to others on social, there is great demand for this. If you are good with photos, you could make customized photos and artwork with many of the tools available online. Figure between $30–100 an hour for this service.
Pro Tip: Engage with a business or blog that does not have much of a presence in social media. Just offer to help out for free and do some high-quality work that blows them away. More often than not that will lead to some freelance work.
9. Write Sales Copy For Books.
Make no mistake, authors know that sales copy on a webpage sells books.You can customize the copy not just on Amazon, but for any location that has a book is up for sale such as Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, etc.You could also write the sales copy for the book’s landing page as well. Between .15 cents to $.50 cents a word is a good estimate there.
10. Writing For Medium.
Yep, you can get paid for your writing right here. The challenge is that it takes a lot of time and a lot of effort to really make more than coffee money here. If you’re going to write for Medium and do well, you really must write 3 posts a day and focus on writing for the biggest publications that are out there. Most of those are on the Medium homepage like One Zero, Elemental, Human Parts, and Forge. If you’re writing 3 posts per day, say 100 or so posts per month, I think you can definitely bring in $500–1500 per month from Medium.
11. Doing Podcast Transcriptions.
There is a great demand for this. Obviously, it will take some time to be proficient with this skill, but once you get good at transcribing, you can work very quickly and make good money doing it. Average rates go from $30–150 to transcribe an hour of audio with one to two people talking.
12. Writing Show Notes for Podcasters.
Most podcasters can’t stand to do this. This and editing the podcast are the two biggest pain points I constantly hear from podcasters. The cost will depend on the detail of the show notes, and how long the podcast is in length; a good guide would be between $15–50 for one episode.
13. Find Other Problems and Offer Solutions.
This can focus on writing depending on how you do it. If you read an ebook full of typos, contact the author and offer to fix one chapter for free. Then offer to fix the rest for a fee.
14. Writing for Magazines.
My friend Kelsey Humphreys has been a contributor for Entrepreneur.com. While this may not be a paying gig, it often leads to other opportunities, such as speaking engagements. Don’t hesitate to reach out to others and ask if they know of anything. You can also pay it forward too!
15. Check Out Upwork and Fiverr.
Yes, there are a lot of extremely low-paying gigs on these sites, but I know several people who have done well posting here. The rates are all over the map on these websites. I have not had much success with this myself, but in all honesty, I have not tried very hard on these platforms. I’m betting the more time you spend on it, the better you will do. With Fiverr, the platform has changed and most services are actually a lot more than five dollars. Just beware that these websites attract a client that often wants a lot for a low price and each of these websites gets a percentage of your income.
Here Are A Few More Ideas To Consider…
1. Editing Books.
There are many, many ebooks out there and I have worked with five editors on different books myself. And the best thing about editing is that it actually makes you a better writer. (Yes, I just told my secret about why I love being an editor.) Payment is often 50% up front and 50% on completion. Pricing ranges from .01 cents per word to .10 cents per word.
2. Editing Blog Posts.
In many cases, editing (and rewriting) is the difference between a great blog post and a mediocre one. Often this is paid per post or for a number of posts each month.
3. Help Authors with Book Launches.
This is one of the biggest needs for authors, right up there with coffee. If you are good with organization, social media and project management, there is always a need for this. In many ways, the book launch is more difficult than the actual writing of the book itself. There is a lot of work involved: coordinating interviews, writing guest posts, asking for book reviews and engaging your book launch team. Hope marketing does not work. Intentionally connecting with as many people at intentional times does. Volunteer to help another writer with a book launch to get some hands-on experience and the next time around you can charge for your services.
How To Find New Opportunities
First, you need to have a network in place. You likely have one in place even if you think you don’t; if you are online, you have a network. Reconnect with people you know on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin or any other social network you use. You want to let them know that you are pursuing freelance work, but don’t just send a message and say, “Hey I’m doing some freelancing. Got any leads?” This is kind of a jerk move. If you spoke with your friend yesterday, then this approach might be fine, but in most situations, you need to reconnect first.
Common courtesy is always a good thing. Ask about their situation and see if you can help before asking for anything. Then, mention what you are up to with freelancing. Yes, this may sound counterintuitive. I know you’re itching to find some work; be patient.
Good things come to those who work hard and are nice to others.
This is by far the number one way I have found the most freelance work. Applying for jobs is important as well, but a direct connection always beats being one of many emails sitting in an inbox.
Know that rejection is part of this process. You have to intentionally look for work. Writing for income is not easy, nor should it be.
But remember… you can do this.
Seriously, you can.
Jim Woods is an author, freelance writer, and productivity coach. You can sign up for his free 5-day writing challenge here.