A lot of people write for free online. This includes your popular Instagram fitness models who write long dissertations on bikini shots by the beach, your friend who shares every conspiracy theory out there, and even bloggers like myself. I’m not getting paid for this article. I often don’t get paid to write. It’s actually pretty difficult to get paid for your writing.
Is it possible to get paid to write these days? Yes.
Let’s look at how to actually get paid for writing content online so that you don’t waste your time fumbling in the dark…
I want you to get paid for your writing. I’ve recently worked with a few novice writers who want to get noticed and make some money in this field. I love to see potential writers get excited about making moves.
It can be really discouraging when you’re trying to get experience and nobody cares about your work. This is why I wanted to share everything that I learned along my journey the past decade.
How did I first get paid to write?
I lucked into freelance writing. I was in a forum with a bunch of personal finance bloggers (this was before Facebook groups became popular). A friend in the forum approached me about writing for him since he was swamped with work and real life responsibilities (like a family and all of that adult stuff). I wasn’t looking for a work but I had built up my writing portfolio with Studenomics. My blog got me noticed, which in turn helped me land work that I wasn’t even looking for.
I’ve found most of my paid writing gigs through connections and friends.
Here are some of the questions that we’re going to address in here:
- How do you actually get paid from writing?
- How do you start writing?
- Where do you find your first paid gig?
- How do you get better at writing?
If you don’t like to read then check out my podcast, Do You Even Hustle. We have two detailed episodes on how to get paid as a writer:
- Miranda shares how she has managed to write for every possible personal finance blog.
- My good buddy Eric went into detail about how he became a full-time writer.
Let’s get started!
Here are the different ways to make money from writing…
The first thing that you need to know about writing is:
Someone has to care about what you have to say. You need to have a clear message with a distinct audience. If you don’t know what your message is or who you’re trying to reach, then please go back to the drawing board.
There’s no sense in wasting your time on writing random articles or trying to be a general expert. The world doesn’t need that. There’s no demand for general advice.
How do you actually make money from writing content online?
You can write books and then sell them on Amazon. You can also sell eBooks on your own blog.
Chances are that you’re going to self-publish if you want to go through Amazon. I’ve spoken with traditional publishers and it never worked out. I always published on my own because I wanted to be in control of the book and the marketing (which can be ton of work).
I’ve truthfully never made much money off self-publishing or launching eBooks. My first eBook venture on here was a total flop. I never made the money back that I spent on the designing of the damn thing. Don’t even get me started on the time that I invested into it. I’ve made more money through Amazon, but it’s not exactly a fortune.
I don’t want you think that you could get rich from one book off Amazon. I mean technically, I’m sure that you could. I don’t want to discourage you, but someone has to be realistic around here.
If you want to publish an eBook on your own these are the steps:
- Decide on a clear topic.
- Make an outline.
- Get to writing.
- Write everything out in a doc file.
- Get a nice design (cover and interior).
- Upload the file to Gumroad or somewhere else.
- Promote like crazy!
If you want to self-publish on Amazon, you’re going to want to speak with a designer and a proofreader. The process is pretty straight forward. A few Google searches could point you in the right direction.
You’re probably thinking right now about which option is better.
Should you launch something on Amazon or publish on your own blog?
This depends on your choices. If you can grow your blog into something that’s massively popular then by all means you should sell products on your blog.
If you’re an unknown writer then you’re better off trying to get books on Amazon. They already have the audience on the platform. You just need to tackle a popular topic and then find ways to spread the word.
As a final option, you can offer to be a ghost writer or to co-write a book with a popular blogger. You would have to invest the time into finding someone to work with.
Writing content for your own blog.
You can write content for your own website. You of course have to follow these steps to launch your own blog. Then you have to promote your blog.
How does this content make you money?
- Advertising when your blog becomes popular. You can sell advertising space through links or sponsorships.
- Promoting products. Affiliate marketing allows you to earn a commission through promoting products that you believe it.
- Selling products. This ranges from creating your own guides (eBooks) to building out courses where you offer more information.
There are plenty of detailed articles out there on how to make money blogging. The whole process may take a long time (at least a year in most cases to see real money), but if it was easy then everyone would be doing it.
This is where most writers make money. Freelance writing gigs are all around us. The team at Smart Blogger put together a guide for 31 ways to find freelance writing jobs.
How do you get paid to freelance write?
Find someone to pay you for your work.
That’s the only step that you have to worry about. You have to convince someone to pay you for your writing. We list some resources later in this article. For now, I leave you with a free copy of my freelancing guide.
[Download your free copy of my premium guide, “Start Freelancing Now.”]
Before you get excited about writing a book or setting your rates, it’s important to take a step back. Take the time to work on your writing.
How do you get noticed as a writer?
You have to become REALLY AMAZING. Average doesn’t cut it.
I know that this sounds vague. I don’t know how else to explain to you that you have to be good. You have to be amazing. Most people just skim through articles these days. You have to find a way to connect with your audience so that they want to read your stuff and then share it. Being average won’t get you very far.
You need to have a powerful message.
Look, the world has enough people telling us to quit our jobs and to be passionate. What the world needs is someone with a powerful message. How do you do this?
- Put together a story. What’s your story? What life events brought you here?
- A unique message. What’s so different about the stuff that you’re writing about? What have you accomplished?
- Have some great samples. Build a portfolio. You have to get your work out there. You have to send your mix tape or your product.
How do you get better at writing?
Please don’t go looking for work before you’re ready.
How do you get better?
Nobody cares about that story that you almost wrote. Nobody cares about what you almost did. You have to publish. You have to get your work out there. Keep on publishing. Keep on posting content.
Get feedback and be open to it. Criticism of your writing is not a critique of your character. Get lots of feedback and be open to improvement.
My friend Jana Lynch wrote in with her thoughts on why you need an editor and a proofreader:
“All writers need an editor. Even best-selling authors have them! We know your writing is good; we just want to help you polish it. Sometimes we just need a second opinion because we’re too close to the work to see any issues.
That’s what an editor provides and why you need one.
When you hire an editor, they will go through your words, find grammar and spelling errors, and suggest phrasing modifications that improve your content. They might make structural changes, content changes, or word choice changes. It’s nothing personal and a ton of edits don’t mean we think what you wrote is crap. The edits are simply intended to help you publish the best book or blog post you can.
A proofreader is also essential because that’s the person you hire (after your editor) to find mistakes. A rogue apostrophe, an erroneous comma, a misused homophone – they look for those (and more!) so your copy is as clean as possible before it goes to print.”
Write every single day.
The trick is to get into the habit of writing every day. I try to write at least a few hundred words on a daily basis. If I have a busy day, I try to write notes on my phone just to keep the habit alive.
You have to actually live. The more experiences that you go through, the more stories that you have to share. It’s tough to find motivation to write if you never do anything interesting.
It will take years before you feel like a decent writer. Don’t stress if your first few pieces don’t take off.
What are the exact steps to get hired as a freelance writer?
There’s no rule that I can highlight. Here are the steps that come to mind for anyone looking to get hired as a freelance writer:
Step #1. Decide on a niche to write about.
You need a specific niche and message or else nobody will care.
How do you determine your niche?
- Your interests. This is the stuff that you do on a daily basis.
- Your life events/history.
- Stuff that you care about.
Examples of good niches with potential:
- Personal finance tips for young adults.
- Fitness advice for new moms who want to get back into shape.
- Real estate advice for new investors.
Examples of ideas that you shouldn’t bother with:
- How passionate you are about your passions.
- Online blogging concepts.
- How to lead a better life.
Step #2: Start writing.
Pick your niche and start writing. You have to write and get experience. You have to get your words out there. Keep on writing until you feel confident with your writing. Then write some more.
Step #3: Create a home base for your writing.
Do you have a home base for your writing?
I would suggest that you start your own blog just to have a place for your writing. I also know that starting a blog could be intimidating. You have a few other options for finding a home base for your writing:
- You could easily start on social media with longer Facebook posts.
- Instagram posts.
- Get a Medium account.
- Create a Google Drive file.
- Write a book in Word.
Step #4: Apply for a few gigs.
Apply for gigs. There’s no way around this one. You have to apply and actively seek work to get your first few paid clients. Once you get paid it’s easier to find more work. Then hopefully companies will reach out to you.
Where do you apply for writing gigs?
- ProBlogger Job Board. So many of my friends have found work through this board. Keep your eye out for relevant gigs.
- Upwork. This is a freelancing market place. Some love it. Some hate it. I’ll let you decide if it works.
- Writer’s Market. You have to pay to join but you get to apply for a wide variety of writing gigs.
- LinkedIn. Do you have an account on here? I’ve neglected LinkedIn for far too long. There are many job postings for writing jobs on there.
- Freelancer Writers Den. This is a paid membership site.
Those are the most popular places for finding freelance writing gigs. You have to find that first client. Then it gets easier.
Step #5: Reach out to other writers.
Try to stay active in communities. Reach out to people. Join Facebook groups. Try to meet people that will help you find paid work. Try to make friends with writers. Look out for opportunities.
You never know where you’re going to end up with your writing career. Earlier this year we highlighted five completely random freelancers. You could find yourself writing headlines for Facebook or editing marketing copy on Instagram. All that matters is that you give this writing thing a shot right now if it’s something that you want to do.