Writing is rewarding. It’s exhilarating, fun, and satisfying.
And at times it can be frustrating, right?
But can writing reward you financially?
Can you earn money as a writer? I don’t mean pin money, like $25 here and there. My question is: can you create a whole life-style through writing?
The short answer is ‘yes’, but there are some steps you need to take to achieve this goal.
The good news is that there are many different tracks to earning money as a writer. Whatever your particular writing talent is you can find a pathway that fits. In a moment, I’ll walk you through the various tracks you can choose.
(You can find infographics about the four main tracks down below.)
But first, let’s consider the main ingredients of creating an income with writing.
What do you need to earn money from writing?
1. ADOPT THIS MINDSET
The first important step is to adopt a new mindset. As successful writer Sean Platt says :
“If you want to build a career on writing, you have to treat it like a business.”
It doesn’t matter whether you are a fiction - or non-fiction writer; you still have to treat your writing like a business.
I think this is the step where most writers falter. And this is obvious to us editors in the WritetoDone team. Articles about content marketing (which is a factor of regarding your writing as a business) are not nearly as popular as inspirational articles.
Earning money as a writer means selling something. Selling a book, or selling freelance articles, or selling content, or selling related products.
You don’t like the word ‘selling’? You’re not alone.
However, if you want to make a sustainable career from writing you’ll need to get to grips with selling the stuff you produce.
2. LOVE THE LEARNING CURVE
As writers, we need to learn our craft in order to earn an income. Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, there are important skills you need to develop in order to succeed.
There are many ways to learn. You can learn by trial and error, for example. This is a slow way of acquiring skills. And it can be disheartening.
Or you can tap into the knowledge and experience of successful writers who have broken through and created a career as a writer. The best way to fast-track success is to join courses and add particular skills to your portfolio.
Some aspiring writers don’t want to embrace the learning curve which making a living as a writer demands of us. This attitude will most likely result in failure.
3. GENERATE YOUR AUDIENCE
For every writer, there is an audience online. Whatever you want to write, there are people who want to read it and people who want to buy what you produce.
But how can they find you?
You can generate an audience by creating a blog, or an author website, as well as using social media to become known. It takes time, but it works.
There are also alternative strategies to build an audience. For example, Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant, two of the most successful indie authors, found that creating a podcast became the tipping point of success because it helped them to build their particular audience.
Once you’ve built your audience, you can alert them to a new piece of content, or your new book, or a new product. But only if you…
4. BUILD YOUR LIST OF FANS
Building an audience only reaps success if you can reach your fans when you need them. The best way to do this is to build a list of email addresses. You can see in my article about creating author websites how nonfiction, as well as fiction writers build an email list by giving away something for free in return for an email address.
The email list enables you convert the influence you’re building into action. After all, you need to sell your content or products to make a living. Here is what Jon Morrow has to say about this:
If you can master creating content that generates influence, and then you back up that content with marketing that converts influence into action, you’ll have built a “machine” that prints money for years or even decades into the future." Jon Morrow
Which Earning Track is Right for You?
1. TAKE THE BLOG TRACK
If you want to take the Blog Track, check out the infographic below.
You can also tap into the following two excellent resources. Glen Long wrote an article, called The Five Most Realistic Ways to Make a Living as a Writer. And Jon Morrow wrote How to Make Money Blogging
2. TAKE THE FREELANCER TRACK
Becoming a freelance writer is a quick way to start making money as a writer.
Here is an excellent article by Carol Tice: The New Freelance Writer’s Quick-and-Simple Guide to Getting Started.
Check out the infographic below for more tips.
If you want to take the Freelancer Track, don’t forget that there’s also a lucrative market for articles in print magazines. Choose the magazines you enjoy reading and pitch some articles to the editor. It pays to craft your pitch very carefully to show how their readers can benefit from your article. Make sure you include links to articles you’ve published online.
Copywriting is the process of writing promotional materials. Copywriters are responsible for the text on brochures, websites, emails, billboards, advertisements, catalogs, and so on.
In contrast to content writing, copywriting is all about getting the reader to take action. That action might be to purchase, opt-in, or engage with a service, a product, or a company.
3. TAKE THE COPYWRITER TRACK
Copywriters are some of the most highly paid writers. You can check out how to become a copywriter in this excellent article by Neville Medhora: How to Become a Copywriter.
Also check out this list of 75 Resources for Writing Incredible Copy that Converts invaluable.
Take a look at the infographic on copywriting below, created by Vertical Response.
4. TAKE THE AUTHORPRENEUR TRACK
Taking the Authorpreneur Track means becoming an Indie author or to go along the conventional route of working with a publishing house.
In this part, I'm going to focus on becoming a self-published author.
Publishing houses consider not only the quality of a manuscript but also the size of the audience a writer has already gathered as subscribers or as fans on social media. They also like to see a novel or nonfiction book do well on Kindle before they accept a new writer into their stable.
“If you see yourself as the creative director of your books, from concept to completion and beyond, then you’re indie. You don’t approach publishers with a longing for validation: “publish me please.”- Orna Ross
Among indie authors, you can find both fiction- and nonfiction writers. Check out the excellent guide by Steve Scott and Barrie Davenport: 17 Steps to Earn Your First $1,000 with Self-Publishing
Take a look at the infographic below which shows the 12 steps of publishing by Steve Scott and Barrie Davenport. You can find more excellent resources for aspiring authorpreneurs below the infographic.
Here are some excellent resources for the Authorpreneur Track.
As you can see in this article, earning a good living from writing is a reality. Which track do you think would suit you best?
The Blog Track, the Freelance Track, the Copywriter Track, or the Authorpreneur track?
Ideally, you’ll want to stick with one main track. If you jump about from track to track, you may find it challenging to establish a successful career as a writer.
I think it’s always a good strategy to work on enhancing the track you are currently on. This is where study comes into play. It pays to read articles and buy courses to upskill so that you can make your track work for you.
If you are unhappy with the track you are on, give yourself three months and work as hard as you can to learn and improve things. If there is no movement after three months, you might want to consider trying another track or developing a complementary skill. For example, if you are writing a blog, consider adding a podcast or Youtube videos to reach a wider audience.
Finally, check out the last infographic: