How To Make A Living From Writing
I almost never accept guest posts.
But when one of my readers, Frank Jones, offered to write one, I didn’t hesitate to make an exception.
Because Frank got my attention.
Frank has been a subscriber to jamesswanwick.com since mid-2013.
Since then, he’s contacted me to point out a missing link on my site (Thanks, Frank!), he’s consistently emailed me when I’ve asked readers to give me their thoughts and.…well, he simply asked if he could guest post and pitched me a great idea.
You’re about to read it.
All aspiring job-hunters – whether it’s as a writer or journalist or something else – should always get the attention of the hirer to make them impossible to ignore.
Frank is currently a freelance content writer, and has his own blog & podcast at CitedScholar.com.
He takes his writing with him, and Frank tells me he will spend 11 weeks this summer visiting Spain, Greece, and Turkey on a budget equal to his cost to stay home.
Pretty good, right?
And people say there’s no money in writing!
Over to you, Frank….
How to Make a Living From Writing
We’ve all heard about starving artists and unemployed writers, but I’m here to tell you that you can work as a writer and earn a living. Ask around, lots of people claim they cannot write. This is proof that the world is full of demand for your skills. All you have to do is make your services available, and I’ll show you how.
Freelance Content Writer
When you get started, expect to spend some time earning a low wage. In the beginning I was only making about $10 per hour. During this time you need to focus on turning out quality work as quickly as possible. Too many writers get stuck on perfecting each piece and they forget to value their time. Doing so might make your writing better, but that extra effort is not rewarded. Over the years I have seen many writers quit this job because they can earn more from a minimum wage job.
I’ve been working as a freelance content writer since 2010. I started earning $0.02/word and I now command as much as $0.12/word. As I’ve become a better writer I have also set a pace of at least 500 words per hour, researched and written. This brings in somewhere between $40 – $80 per hour, depending on the job.
This all began when I was a graduate student looking to supplement my income. Today, I work a few more hours each week and focus on the higher-wage jobs so I can pay my bills. The best part is that I can devote more time to my own projects.
Setting a pace for your writing can help you avoid this problem and let you know if you’re reaching your goals. For most writers, 300 words per hour is a good place to start. Then you can begin to increase your rate while maintaining quality.
As a freelance writer, I have been able to travel for weeks and months at a time while taking my work with me. The location independence of this work is a great advantage. Don’t forget that you can compete for projects around the globe regardless of where you’re located.
How Can Writers Make Money
There are many ways that writers can make money. This list isn’t exhaustive, but it should get you thinking about the opportunities around you.
Keep in mind that most agency work will be done as a ghost writer. Having your own blog is the best way to develop a portfolio that you can showcase. Additionally, you’ll earn much more when you build your own client list. However, agencies can help you get started, bring in regular work, and fill any gaps in your schedule as you build your own client list.
When you’re just getting started, you should create your own blog and write a few articles that showcase your talent. This can be used to land agency jobs because most will ask for examples of your published work, self-published is acceptable.
Lots of writers start at DemandStudios and Yahoo! Voices. Although the pay is low, you can get your foot in the door and begin pacing your work. You can apply to both agencies and work for both at the same time. Occasionally, DemandStudios will reject submitted articles. When this happens, you can submit the work to Yahoo! Voices in the hopes it will get some traffic. Don’t expect too much from this strategy, but it’s a good way to capitalize on work you’ve already done.
Once you have some experience, you can move up with better agencies like WriterAccess and Scripted. These agencies pay higher wages than DemandStudios or Yahoo! Voices, but they don’t have enough work for a full-time schedule. It’s best to supplement your work with jobs from these agencies.
In addition, you can look for freelance work on oDesk and Elance. These sites don’t typically pay very well, but some writers can command a decent wage. Freelance sites are another good place to pickup work to fill your schedule as you build your client list.
Once you have some experience as a content writer, six months is usually enough, you can begin chasing down your own clients. Start by listing your services on Fiverr and getting positive reviews. Keep in mind that the real money on Fiverr is found in the add-on services. This will teach you to promote yourself and to up-sell customers with add-ons.
When you’re ready to pitch your services in-person, take a look at the MeetUp groups in your area. Networking with local businesses is a great way to find out who needs writers. Search for local groups interested in SEO, entrepreneurship, networking, and real estate. People in these groups are always in need of great writers.
If you become stressed by all the low paying jobs you find with content agencies and freelance sites, just remember the variation with restaurant menus. You can buy a $1 sandwich at a fast food place, an $8 burger at a diner, or a $50 plate at a fancy restaurant. In each case you get what you pay for and writers are no different. As you gain experience you should demand a higher wage to match the experience and knowledge you bring to each project.
About Frank Jones
Frank C Jones is a political science scholar, content writer, and serial entrepreneur. His latest venture is Cited Scholar, a blog and podcast dedicated to helping scholars figure out the business of being an academic.
Now It’s Your Turn: Where’s Your Writing Online?
Thanks, Frank! Great advice there!
What have you published online? Leave a link to your own article, blog, or book in the comments below. You’ll get an extra link to your content online, and Frank and I would love to see your work!