Show, don’t tell.
Use short words.
There’s a ton of writing advice floating on the Internet, and you have implemented them all, you have invested time and effort into your craft, and have been getting lots of compliments and likes from friends and strangers alike. However, you have been unable to translate all this adulation and adoration into cash. You have taken to referring to writing as a hobby, like swimming or playing board games. But you cannot shake the feeling that writing ought to be more than that. That it should be more than a hobby, it should be a job, an alternative source of income. You want to translate your skills to wealth, but you do not know how to go about it. Read this article and find out how to turn your ability to craft beautifully written passages into cold, hard cash.
1. Start a Blog
Every writer needs a blog. It is one of the best places for you to develop both your style and your audience.
Now, how can you make money from your blog?
You could start by promoting 3rd party products, or affiliate marketing, as the process is called. Affiliate marketing starts with picking a blog niche where a large, passionate audience already exists and where you can find successful products from trusted names to sell. So, when starting your blog, pick a niche which already has a large market, and begin marketing 3rd party products to the audience.
Promoting affiliate products is a much smarter way to start earning money from a blog than creating your product. With an affiliate product, someone else has already done the hard work of validating the market, building the product, and enhancing it based on customer feedback. Someone else gets to handle the pre-sales inquiries, payments, refunds, and product support.
Many affiliate products pay high commissions too — 50% or even more — because the incremental production cost of digital products is essentially nothing. Konga and Shopify offer affiliate marketing deals.
The secret is finding the right products — ones that you can stake your reputation on. Pat Flynn is the undisputed king of passive income, check out his smart affiliate marketing strategies
Ideally, you will know what products you will sell even before starting your blog because then you are growing an audience that perfectly matches your offer.
Of course, you still have to do all the stuff that makes a blog successful — publishing great content, building your email list, reaching out to influencers, etc. — but writing remains a big part of the equation, i.e., creating the stellar content that brings people to your site.
Once you are in the groove, you can think about adding your products to the mix, using your writing skills and topic knowledge to deliver a specific result that readers are willing to pay for.
However, when you are starting out, promoting affiliate products is the most realistic, and least risky, way to make a living writing on your blog. You could also include a “hire me!” link on your blog, so people who read your writing know that you are a writer for hire.
2. Write Articles for Popular Blogs
You have got a few favourite blogs on your daily must-read list, right? Why not pitch the guys a guest post?
Although writing for popular blogs (a.k.a. guest blogging) is still typically unpaid, with most writers trading their content for exposure, numerous exceptions still exist. For some examples, check out Bamidele Onibalusi’s 110 Websites that Pay You to Contribute an Article, Instantly. You will need to hustle to find the best opportunities, understanding that success will not happen overnight, but writing for these publications is still a realistic way to make a living as a writer.
Guest posts can also lead to other paid work. Familiarize yourself with the blog and its posting guidelines, and make your guest post pitch. If all goes well, you will have a byline on a website, a clip for your portfolio and money in your pocket.
In general, the secret to making this model work is being tenacious about chasing down opportunities and being efficient with your writing once you land them.
The people who follow this model successfully are like writing machines — they crank out quality content quickly and don’t allow themselves to get bogged down in any one project.
3. Self-Publish Your Book
What about making it big as an author? Could that be your best route to a life of freedom as a full-time writer?
Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing is ready to help you make money off your book. Upload your book, get it Kindle-ready and then start telling everyone you know that you have a book available on Amazon.
Of course, if you have visions of publishing one book and retiring on the profits, you will be sorely disappointed. That sort of thing only happens to one writer in a million, and since you are not E.L. James, you are going to have to be prolific and persistent.
To succeed, you need to be commercially minded and target an established market with proven demand from readers. That does not mean you should not follow your passion but be prepared to validate it first. Chances are you will publish several books before gaining any traction, and you will need sales from multiple titles to approach anything resembling a full-time income.
You will have to keep on churning out book after book. Some indie writers have written up to 100 books, and they are still writing.
For inspiration and direction visit The Creative Penn. Joanna Penn is a prolific author, and her site is rich with information about making it as a writer.
However, in either case, you need to be led by the market for topic (or genre) selection. Moreover, you need to be prepared to write multiple books before seeing any real results.
One major advantage of this route is that you continue to earn money from your back catalogue, sometimes far into the future. Once you start to make a basic living from your writing, additional titles only build your income further. Build an email list. Your existing fans are the perfect audience for your next book.
Also, don’t forget to write about your book on your blog, and include an ad in the sidebar!
4. Become a Copywriter
Copywriting is writing that is designed to make readers take a specific action.
Sales letters, video scripts, even product descriptions — these all need writing by someone, and they live or die on the results they produce.
Copywriting may not seem fundamentally different to other forms of writing, but in practice, it is a discipline all of its own.
So, unless you have a copywriting background be prepared to invest time and money in learning the fundamentals. There are some excellent books on the topic — CA$HVERTISING: How to Use More than 100 Secrets of Ad-Agency Psychology to Make Big Money Selling Anything to Anyone (affiliate link) is a good place to start.
You do not need to wait a year to get started as a copywriter; you can look for copy sites like Get a Copywriter and start applying for jobs. Notwithstanding the steep learning curve, the rewards of copywriting can be significant. You could also be a content writer for company blogs and newsletters. Start by building your portfolio with your guest posts, blog posts, and occasional voluntary gig like writing/editing your church’s newsletter.
As a bonus, a foundation in copywriting will also be valuable if you ever decide to sell your own products.
So which of these four paths above will you follow? The article writer? The published author? The copywriter? The niche blogger?
If none of them feels like an exact fit, don’t worry, that is normal. Pick whichever one is the closest and try it on for size.
Remember, everyone is a beginner at some point- but the more you write, the faster you will become a professional writer.
How did you first make money as a freelance writer? Let us know in the comments below!