Most creatives don’t understand one, simple truth:
Turning what you love into a business involves being good at business.
I write full-time for a living — a luxury I enjoy because I’m just as much of a business person as I am a writer.
My business acumen said don’t listen to the “pros” selling overnight self-publishing success.
Not that I don’t want to self publish — and I’m definitely not condemning it — but, without a high number of followers (many thousands) or email subscribers (many thousands), self-publishing isn’t likely to earn a livable wage.
You can build a following and email list, and then self-publish profitably. But the likelihood that you’ll make money from your first book (immense amount of effort) is extremely low.
Even if you’re a best-seller in some random category no one has ever heard of — people don’t search for keywords they’ve never heard of.
You could invest money into ads for your self-published work, but then, you’d likely be far in the red before you start to make money. You’d be lucky to break even.
Or, you might write a dynamite book on your first try (highly unlikely) and sell the shit out of it without any marketing effort whatsoever (highly unlikely).
I asked myself —would a smart business person gamble all that writing time and effort on something so unlikely to pay off?
A better way to make money writing
Here are a few mediums I’ve used to generate a significant income from my writing. I write or ghostwrite ebooks, blogs, articles, and emails for businesses.
I write for IT/tech companies, but you can choose any niche that interests you. I have friends that make money writing for lifestyle companies, yoga studios, medical journals, finance firms, law firms, women’s rights orgs, etc.
I was able to build a six-figure writing company with zero professional writing experience, zero followers, and zero people on an email list — using the tools I’m going to share here.
I have no affiliation with any of these tools.
1. LinkedIn Profinder
LinkedIn Profinder is one of my favorite tools for finding quality work. You can find decent paying gigs with small/medium businesses here. The way it works is that you create a profile and enter the type of work you’re looking for (content writing, ghostwriting, etc.).
Then, when companies create proposal requests for those types of work, you are notified and can apply to the gig.
It’s a passive medium, meaning, you wait for requests to come to you.
Money I made from LinkedIn Profinder
One-off writing/email project for $3k.
Contena is a job board that aggregates all the writing jobs posted on the web and puts them into one place. You can create alerts for yourself for specific job types like how well they pay, what niche, etc.
Money I made from Contena
Client 1: more than 0.25 USD per word for more than 6 months. Multiple articles per month. Total earnings about $10k.
Client 2: more than 0.25 USD per word for few projects sporadically for a year. Total earnings about $14k.
3. Sending your own pitch 2X per week
This is by far the best way to make money as a writer. Any time a company sends out an RFP or posts to a job board, thousands of writers see it and apply. If you send a pitch to a company, you’re likely the only person pitching. There’s much less competition.
You need to pitch in bulk. Make it a goal to pitch at least 100 companies per week. Ask to write for their blog. Find companies in industries you’re interested in writing about (i.e., fitness/lifestyle, tech startups, women’s health, etc.).
I wrote this article for salespeople, but writers can use it to learn to send pitches in bulk.
Money I made from sending a pitch
- 7 regular clients buying multiple articles/ebooks per month. Monthly income varies from $3–6k depending on the number of projects.
- 1 retainer client at $2k/mo.
4. Get the cheapest WeWork (or other coworking space) membership
If you join WeWork for $45/month, you have access to their online platform. This platform is full of business connections and leads. I got more clients out of the platform than I got by working in the space.
Money I made from WeWork app
- Retainer for email writing and marketing. Total yearly earnings is about $20k. I’ve had this client for more than 2 years.
If you want to write for a living
You need to be open-minded about the types of work you can do to earn a decent wage.
A lot of writers feel bummed when they read about writers who aren’t as skilled making lots of money. But, if you’re a highly-skilled writer, you should be gleeful that other, less-skilled writers make more than you. That only means you can earn much more.
If you want to make money writing, you need to read about the business of writing. Learn from the writers who are making money.