Anyone who’s interested in working online, working from home or generally being creative for a living is bound to have considered writing something at some point or other. Personally, I’ve always loved writing. It was one of the few subjects I enjoyed at school that allowed me to be creative, and it’s one of the things I spend a lot of my spare time doing. But as well as writing for a hobby, how can you make money writing?
The good news is, there are plenty of different ways, depending on what type of writing you want to do. In fact, there’s never been a better time.
It’s difficult to sit here in 2019 and look back on a time pre-internet and imagine what it must have been like trying to get yourself published in any meaningful capacity. What did you have to do? Write a novel and then send it out to hundreds of publishers in the vague hope someone would actually read it and offer you a lucrative contract? The odds must have been astronomical.
I imagine there must have been millions of frustrated creative people out there, keeping awesome diaries that nobody ever got to read just as a way of getting things off their chest. Or writing strongly worded letters to local newspaper editors, many of which were probably too controversial or interesting to ever make it anywhere near the printing presses and onto the pages.
Well, guess what? That’s not a problem any more! Anyone with a laptop and an internet connection can get their thoughts down on (virtual) paper, and there for the whole word to see. But the question is, how do you make money out of writing? Here’s what I know, and what different ways there are:
- Blogging. I’ve written more extensively about writing a blog here. The idea is, you can write a blog about anything you want, and monetise it in different ways such as ad traffic or an affiliate programme. But it’s really all about traffic. If not many people are reading your blog, that’s cool. It can still be fun to write. But if you want to make money writing in this way, you’ll need a lot of visitors one way or another.
- Copywriting. Copy is a more professional form of writing. Advertisers need people to write text for advertising or publications and need expert writers who can follow strict style and tone guidelines. There’s obviously still an element of creativity involved as you will be inviting people to buy or interact with a product, so will need an element of flair in your writing. But you won’t be let loose to say whatever you like. A company relies on their brand, and spend years and lots of money cultivating it, so you will need to be able to write with the strict needs of the client in mind. If this sounds like something you would like to try your hand at their are vast copywriting opportunities out there. Either start with a simple search for ‘copywriter’ on Indeed. Or alternatively, look for freelance opportunities on gig-work sites like Fiverr and Upwork. Whichever route you go down, a solid reputation and portfolio of work will be essential so get as much and any experience wherever you can.
- Product Descriptions. This is an interesting one. I only discovered you could make money writing product descriptions myself recently, and I’ve actually done it for a little while now. When you think about it, it’s obvious. There are literally millions of products out there for sale on sites like Amazon, and sellers want someone to know what they’re buying, usually in the form of short, punchy product descriptions. What I found is editors follow extremely strict style guidelines and expect you to get all the essential information into very brief paragraphs meaning it can be a little more challenging that it sounds. However, I was able to fire off numerous descriptions in a relatively short space of time and earn around five dollars for each one, so there’s definitely money to be made. Check out Metro and see if this is for you.
- Freelance Blogging/Writing. We spoke earlier about the idea of setting up your own blog. To be honest, this is my favourite option. I love the freedom of being able to write precisely about what I want to, when I want to. However, if you just like writing in general and aren’t too fussed about which topic you cover, then there are loads of fellow web developers looking for writers to add quality content to their own sites, and they’re willing to pay for it. You could checkout gig sites we’ve mentioned like Fiverr and try to get offers this way. Or alternatively you could actively seek out paid employment as a blog writer. There are so many opportunities, but I recommend checking out the Problogger community on Facebook who advertise regular openings and tips on how to succeed as a freelance writer.
- Write a Book or Ebook. We’ve talked about the more throwaway, freelance types of writing. Covering different subjects. Writing short blog posts. But some of us have got a burning topic in us, or a plot idea for a novel that they’re always dreamt of putting down on paper. Well, why not? As we’ve mentioned, it’s incredibly difficult to get noticed by a traditional publisher. You’ll need loads of skill, patience and tenacity in getting your work noticed, not to mention a thick skin as you can expect LOTS of rejections. But it’s an an avenue that’s very much still open for business, if you’re willing to give it a shot. Waterstones have written a decent article about how to use a publishing agent etc to market your work. The other alternative is to publish yourself through an ebook. You can sell a digital copy of your work through Amazon which gives you a freedom writers could never previously have dreamt of. You’ll have to do all the marketing yourself, but plenty of people make a very reasonable living off their work this way. Check out Amazon Self Publishing to find out more.
I’m sure there are loads of other ways, and I’ll keep updating this page regularly as and when they spring to mind. That’s just a flavour.
As I always say though, writing should be enjoyable. If it feels like a chore, then is it right for you? Perhaps. I suppose for some people work is just a means to an end and a way of making an income. It’s surely better to love what you do though. I’d love to think there’s someone out there who’s always secretly fancied writing a novel, and I’ve at least given them a nudge in the right direction. If there is, I wish you the best of luck!