How To Make A Living From Writing

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.

Why?

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!

Yeah, right!

Over to you, Frank….

 

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

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?

JAMES:

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!

  • Kate Garklavs

    Hi Frank: My name is Kate Garklavs, and I’m the editorial analyst at Scripted. One of my primary goals is ensuring that our writers are satisfied, and I’m glad to hear that you’ve had a positive experience working with us. If you have any questions or would like to send us feedback, please don’t hesitate to email me at kgarklavs@scripted.com, and thank you for your excellent work!

    • http://www.frankcjones.com/ Frank C Jones

      Kate: I’m glad to see that Scripted noticed this new link to the site. I guess this post has sent some traffic your way. I’ve enjoyed working with Scripted and I hope more people will learn about the great service through this post. Content marketing is a booming business and Scripted allows me to create great content that clients love. I look forward to working on more projects for Scripted clients as the site continues to grow.

  • Luisa

    Hi guys, great story, I love to see how writers in general are managing to work and make money beyond the traditional ways and with freedom.
    It´s not specifically writting on line: I work as a freelance correspondent from Spain to a newspaper and a TV of my country. I came to Madrid for a 10 month post graduation here, but once here, and beside loving the city, I realized how working from here as a freelance could work out ok.
    So I started suggesting articles and stories for the newspaper I used to work for and little by little started to earn money enough to pay bills in Madrid and plus travellng around Europe. That´s when I realized I could also write stories from those places I used to travel to.
    The good news is that, onde you´re really looking around, reading local papers, talking to people, you ALWAYS get a story that some media in your country will eventually be interested in. The bad news is that you`ll never be able to travel without automatically working again;).
    Later on I also started to work for a brazilian TV and now I´m putting up a website about Madrid, travel tips, daily live and news from Spain and Europe, which I tried to do by myself but I realize I better hire someone who really know about webpaging.
    So guess what? I remebered that a good friend of mine back in Brazil who´s a designer and had just made the decision of quiting her job for freelancing and be happy. So I hired her and she´s so excited about it.
    Which is also the main feeling I´ve been getting these last six years which I´ve been living in Spain.
    And I feel so happy and alive to see that other people are doing the same.
    Thank you both for building up your new lives and mostly for sharing it with the world!