Make money with your writing: it’s not only doable, it’s an awesome profession that will give you the freedom to live life on your terms.
I’m making a great income from my writing, working on a part-time basis, which still allows me to homeschool my awesome kids. So it strikes me as odd when people have preconceived, negative notions of how a writing career works. The most widely held, incorrect belief? You can’t make money with your writing.
You’re at this nice family gathering, where people you haven’t seen in a year are chatting politely about mundane things. And then the question happens:
“So, what are you doing these days?”
And you answer,
“I’m a writer.” Because you own that title.
The mood changes, the energy in the room plummets, and you’re met with one of a number of responses, none of them positive:
“Oh, but what do you really do? You know, for work?”
“It’s really hard to make it as a writer…” (whatever “make it as a writer” means)
“So can you really make money doing that?”
[Insert other ridiculous/hurtful/dumb response here].
Some of us are fortunate enough to have family and friends who support us in our writing careers, but unfortunately, there’s a lot of naysayers out there. It’s a crappy situation, no doubt about it. But you don’t need to listen to these people. Yes, you can make money with your writing. And if writing is your passion, you should.
If being a writer is what you want to do, and if you want to make money doing it, there are several ways to accomplish that goal. You do need a few things to get started:
- Thick Skin
- An open mind
- Ease with making connections between topics
- Willingness to adapt your writing.
If you have all those things and you are willing to keep writing your heart out, revising, editing, submitting, publishing, and repeating, then yes, you can make money with your writing.
And if you’re willing to be flexible, you can do some writing that’s not necessarily your favourite, but that pays well. When you do that, you can have the funds to devote to your passion writing projects.
So yes, making money (and an excellent living) as a writer is possible.
But it’s not easy. Nothing worth pursuing really is.
To make money with your writing, you have to become more than a writer. You have to become a business person, a marketer, an entrepreneur. Most of all, you need to become someone who’s not willing to give up. It’s the writers who are willing to keep fighting in the face of adversity who are able to make a living with their writing. That’s true of any other profession, too.
So next time someone asks what you do for a living, instead of dreading their response to “I’m a writer,” own that title. Say it with pride. Don’t make excuses. You’re a writer. Period.
And when you’re a MultiTalented Writer, you should say it with even more pride. Not only are you a writer, you’re an adaptable person who can make your writing suit many avenues, and can therefore multiply your ways of earning in any way you see fit.
And if you start to believe the people who dismiss writing as something that can never pay your bills… remember this list. Here are 12 ways to make money with your writing.
1. The most obvious (but definitely not the easiest): Write Fiction Books
Whether you publish traditionally or self-publish (there are advantages and disadvantages to both forms), yes, you can get paid for your fiction. It’s hard to get published traditionally. But it’s not impossible. Especially if you’re willing to do some research, be persistent, and take constructive criticism to heart.
How well your fiction sells will be entirely dependent on who the target market is, what the topic is, and a number of other factors, which are a topic for another post. For now, here are just some types of fiction you can write:
- Toddler/Children’s Picture books
- Children’s books
- Young Adult
- Historical Fiction
- The list goes on.
2. Another obvious choice: Write non-fiction books
Prefer to write nonfiction? Lots of options here, too:
- Academic Writing
- Academic journal articles
- Educational materials
- Technical writing
- Instructional Manuals
- Operational Manuals
- Training Materials
- Train-the-trainer manuals
3. Write Poetry
Yes, you can get paid for your poetry. I’m not saying it’s easy, but it’s doable. Poetry comes in many forms, and many literary magazines, children’s magazines, and other periodicals look for verse, so don’t give up your life as a poet just because someone told you you’ll never “make it” as one. Here are just some types of poetry you can write:
- General/themed poems (e.g. according to seasons, events)
- Poetry Collections (e.g. publish your own books)
- Spoken Word Poems (e.g. get comfortable with performance art and public speaking)
4. Write screenplays
You can do screenwriting, too! And yes, you can sell these. You can go the traditional route and try to play with the big boys and girls, or you can sell your scripts privately to a gigantic market that’s largely untapped: independent Internet TV. Whichever route you decide to go, you can write:
- Scripts for TV shows
- Scripts for commercials
- Movie Scripts
5. Freelance Writing
Freelance writing pays well if you know who to pitch, and there are many things you can do as a freelance writer. Here are just a few.
- email copywriting, company newsletters, ad copy, product descriptions, web copy. Web copy includes about pages, landing pages, and more.
- Article Writing
- You can write articles about a variety of topics for different magazines in various niches. Choose the magazines that pay well and pitch, pitch, pitch. The more you pitch, the better the chances your articles will get picked up.
6. Blog Writing (create your own)
Another great way to make money as a writer is to write blog posts: either creating your own blog or writing blog posts for companies (this is how I make most of my money currently).
You can create your own blog and market to your own audience. It’s a good option, and probably the most freeing, but it takes time to build.
7. Freelance Blogging
If you know who to pitch for blog writing and you’re good at what you do, you can make a very decent income doing it. Here’s what you can do with blogging.
Freelance blogging for brands and small businesses pays off sooner and better (that doesn’t mean you should give up your own blog if that’s what you really want to do, but doing freelance blogging can give you the freedom and cash to work on your own blog, too).
Freelance blogging is also referred to as content marketing, and if you combine blog posts with email copywriting and offer these services together to brands, you can make money, and an excellent income at that, as a writer—which will, in turn, give you time to work on your passion writing projects.
Investigative journalism more your thing? It’s a dying field, but it’s still out there. You can write articles for large, national or international newspapers, smaller community newspapers, or you can also provide newsletters for organizations.
It’s hard to get into this field, but that doesn’t mean you should give up—most rewarding experiences aren’t easy. If journalism is what you want to do, find ways to make it work for you.
Print journalism is on its way out, but that doesn’t mean that journalism is dead. It’s the journalists and reporters who are willing to adapt to a changing (and mostly digital) world who continue to do what they love (and make money doing it).
Ghostwriting pays extremely well if you know where to look, and the best part is that it pays ahead of time, with a guaranteed amount (that you yourself set).
People do ghostwriting for all kinds of things, from company information products to memoirs for the famous and beyond.
If you know how to market yourself to brands and companies, ghostwriting eBooks or other publications for businesses is an excellent way to make money as a writer.
10. Social media management/ads
If you’re comfortable on social media, offering copy for social media ads would be right up your alley—and actually pays well if you know who to pitch.
11. Resume Writing
If you can synthesize information in a way that reads well, is to the point, and checks all the boxes that employers are looking for, you can write resumes through a company or for your own private clients.
12. Curriculum Writing
Are you a former teacher? You can make money writing curriculum for school children or adult students and selling this curriculum online, either via your own website or via a service such as Teachers Pay Teachers.
If you love writing curriculum, you can also create courses about things that you’re an expert in. You can then sell these courses via your own site or sites like Udemy.
There are a tonne of ways to get paid for your writing, and as MultiTalented Writers, we don’t have to stick to just one of them. Personally, I make/have made money doing all of the following:
- blog writing
- writing curriculum for school children
- writing curriculum for adults at a health centre
- writing train-the-trainer manuals
- writing ad copy
- writing web copy
- writing magazine articles
- writing social media posts
And because I used to be an English teacher and have experience with various forms of editing, I’ve also earned money for:
- editing cookbooks
- editing novels
- editing blog posts
- editing magazine articles
- editing Master’s theses
So the next time someone discourages you from this awesome profession, remember this: There are many ways to make money as a writer. Which one will you pick?