Over the next 2000 words in this post I will answer the question of “How to make money writing” from my personal experience. In 2013 I refocused on writing as an income source in order to write my way out of a $54000 business debt and become financially free. Here’s how I did it, so you can use the same approach yourself.
At present, there are 4 ways I make money writing. Some of them are better than others when it comes to the cash flow they can bring in. I’ll explain each in detail.
My writing arsenal breaks down into four basic chunks. They are;
- Creative Fiction
- How To Non-Fiction
- Commercial Writing I.E. Copywriting
- Content Marketing – Blogging And Articles
I will start with the lowest income producing, and end with the highest income producting writing. Please note that while you sometimes write for pleasure, the main focus here is writing for income until your debt is fully paid off.
Writing solely for money is instinctively wrong to me because I am a big fan of Ray Bradbury and in his book Zen In The Art Of Writing he talks about (page 140) The benefits of working without making money, writing for joy and how it all works out in the end. I love the sound of it, but just cant bet the farm on chances anymore.
So here we go…
Creative Fiction Writing – This is the writing that most authors want to succeed at. Self-publishing on Amazon has certainly helped some achieve that goal. Not me. (Check out fiction vs nonfiction writing and reading for the lifestyle factors.)
When it comes to making money writing, creative writing is the loser of the bunch. It’s not for lack of potential but the fact that a lot of the steps to success are outside your control.
Battlefield Barren is the only creative fiction book I have for sale, and maybe the lack of quantity is the problem. Most authors have multiple fiction books self-published before they hit the combination that really starts to pay off.
Time and guesswork is not a luxury some of us can afford.
The main problem is that creative fiction is a “Want” purchase and not a “Need” purchase. Getting your name and marketing to the point where people WANT your fictional writing can take years. For some it never happens.
Fictional writing is speculative (ya, I did) and you don’t control much of the process when it comes to the income you make. You create a book out of thin air and hope, even with market niche research, that someone will want to buy it.
Hope is not a plan.
Because of these things, there is a lot of time invested with hardly any solid evidence that the effort will pay off. The upside is that if a book does take off, a one-time effort will allow you to continuously make money from the same time investment, for a long time.
How to Non-Fiction Writing – This one has the same pro upside as fictional writing. It continuously pays if you have written something people want to buy. The way it differs though is that there is more of a “Need” factor when it comes to the customer’s buying decision.
People will instantly buy a book by someone they’ve never heard of if they think it will show them how to solve a problem they are having.
For example; writers sit all day to write, this makes them gain weight. So a lot of writers want to lose weight. That can be both a want and a need depending on the outcome of their last doctors visit.
As a personal trainer turned writer, I have the skillset to write such a book. A book called “Weight Loss For Writers,” that answers the question once and for all, “How To Lose Weight When You Sit For A Living.”
If you can identify a group of people that want a book written, and there is a gap in the market, and you figure out how to let the people know you can solve their problem… you’ll make money writing.
If someone wants to know how to do something, or how to fix a problem and you can write a solution for them to solve their problem, then they will gladly exchange their money for your expertise.
The trick here is finding a real need in the market. One that is being underserved and then providing a solution at a price that people will feel is a value.
Copywriting and Freelance Writing (Content Writing) – This is the new kid on the block for me but also the one with the greatest upside potential. You can make more on a single copywriting job than some of your books have made since you published them. The only con of copywriting, is that it is work in the traditional sense. It takes time to write and it’s a one-shot.
Copywriting and most types of commercial writing require that you put effort into learning the client’s needs for each specific job. It requires conscious thought to get down the correct information in order to achieve the correct outcome. In other words, it is not semi-enjoyable escapism like fiction writing, nor is it regurgitating what you may already know about (unless you are a niche copywriter like I am with fitness copywriting.)
As I write this I am up North working in a Gas Plant. This is a necessary evil to slash down my previous business debt as fast as possible, but the days are long and physical. All said and done, it’s a 12 hour day, then supper, shower and the rest is free time. There just isn’t much wiggle room to write except by waking up at 4AM.
So with content writing and copywriting, you use up the remaining free time in your day to make more money. If you stop writing, you stop getting paid. There is no living, just working.
This is when it really hit me.
What if I did content marketing myself. If my copywriting, content marketing, email landing pages and sales funnels are so good that others pay me to write them… then why don’t I do more of it for MYSELF?
Now I do just that. I write more for MY business than others businesses. My content continues to work for me. The sales pages for my own products sell the products and are little oil wells producing income every day.
If you are good at what you do, then every day you write for someone else you’re doing them a paid favor. If you spent the time writing for your own business, you’d be investing.
Which leads to your fourth type of writing that earns income.
Content Marketing i.e. Blogging And Articles -Your website or blog is so important for you as a writer or business owner. It brings in job opportunities but it also acts as a passive source of income especially if you are good at what you do.
Eventually, the money you make from blogging can surpass the business it was meant to promote.
What you do is create engaging content that is sharable, interesting, or that sells a product to someone that needs and wants it. If you can do that, then not only are you in demand to do it for other people, but people will want to learn how to do it from you.
And it makes money for you while you are out in the gas plant connecting electrical wiring for exhaust fans.
If you would like to make sure your website is generating all the traffic it can for you then check out this post on SEO for small business in 2017 (coming soon)
How To “Consistently” Make Money Writing
Getting Paid – Regardless of which path you take as a writer, it always comes down to getting someone to buy your work. This, of course, requires customers. If you are writing to make money then you need the most predictable way to find customers that want what you are providing.
For me, this has now become a “Marketing as if your life depended on it” situation. I am 42 and there is only so much youthful life left. I don’t want to be out in freezing -20 weather, sitting on steel beams any more. You’re reading this because you need to figure out how to make money writing, so I’ll assume you are of the same mindset. You must do what is required, and not what you want, in order to pay off your debt and get to the point of being a full-time writer with physical and financial freedom.
The Goal: To live the ultimate self-reliant, enjoyable and free lifestyle.
Right off the bat if you need some writing credits under your belt and you can’t seem to get anything from queries, check out my Freelance Writing Jobs For Beginners article. It covers getting work on Upwork.
Upwork is a mixed bag. I tried it and got more work than I could handle, it just didn’t pay that well. I’ve since stopped being active there but maintain a profile for visibility. The great part about Upwork was I went through a process… THE process of querying a job, winning the bid, doing the work, getting a 5 start referral and getting paid.
It’s like graduating from writing for money school. You check all the boxes and are now ready to step out to the real world. The processes are the same, but now it’s for the real money.
The methods I’ve chosen are the most reliable methods for myself. The ones I will consistently do to make money writing. I know I won’t cold call or go to the Chambers Of Commerce. The Postcard method I can’t afford. I will continue to list and then report on new methods of getting clients right here.
My Go To Methods Of Getting Clients:
- LinkedIn Connections
- Content Marketing
Upwork I’ve already discussed in the mentioned article above. It’s pimping yourself out.
SEO is trying to be pretty enough at the dance to get asked onto the floor. While warm emails are “Working the wall” and asking everyone that makes eye contact, if they’d like to dance.
If you can take the “No’s” you’ll end up with a lot more “Yes’s.”
To predictably get clients you must be proactive. A pretty website sitting in the nether space of the Internet is hoping at best. It worked ten years ago, but now the competition is fierce. Although you can’t ignore SEO for getting clients, it’s not the controlled way of scaling up your business.
I’ve spent a lot of time trying different methods of sniping out clients. Both for my books and my copywriting services. And that was the problem. The one shot sniping method of creating the perfect customer buying solution is bunk. Magic words are not the key. Sniping at a target means you must get the windage and distance perfect. Instead, spray the area with a stream of lead from a machine gun. Get clients by taking massive action repeatedly on many fronts.
Even if your marketing is crappy, the law of averages will work for you. Just do it on a massive scale. Ask any salesman. Even with flawed technique, more calls means more sales.
My method in a nutshell? Actively go out and make connections on LinkedIn with companies you would like to work with. Build a connection with them and then pitch your service/ideas to the places you want to work. Be able to withstand the emotions of ten rejections to every single yes. Go get your 100 rejections as fast as possible. Do this continuously until you have 10 long-term clients. Then get their referrals. Also use the testimonials and clips and put them on your author/copywriter website to build even more business through your own content marketing.
This is enough to really get a foothold for your writing business. From here, just rinse and repeat, scale up until you are at the level you want. GO GRIND.