With apologies to Paul Simon.
The problem is all inside your head
You said to me
The answer’s easy if you
Take it logically
I’d like to help you in your struggle to break free
There must be fifty ways
To sell your writing
You said it’s not really my habit
To make dough
Ask if I know how and I’ll have to
Tell you no
But that’s really not the way
It has to go
There must be fifty ways
To sell your writing
I’ve been writing, hanging out with writers, coaching writers, and helping writers for more than a decade and the biggest, most common problem I encounter is that nobody seems to know where to start. We leave high school with three ideas of what it looks like to be a “professional writer:”
- Published authors like JK Rowling or Stephen King
- Freelance journalists who write all those magazine articles
- That scrappy reporter from that one detective show our grandma watches
None of those models really works for most people who like writing and dislike their day jobs. But because there’s not much out there about other ways to go about being a writer, most people just consider writing for a living to be a pipe dream.
But it’s not. It’s as achievable as being a teacher, a plumber, or a lawyer. All you do is put in your time, learn the trade, find the jobs, and boom! You’re a pro writer.
You can write in an unbelievable number of areas, following just about any passion or interest that calls to you.
The trick is knowing where all these writing jobs are. So, again with apologies to and inspiration from Art Garfunkle’s Bestest Buddy, here’s our list of 50 different places where your words might find a home.
1. Traditionally Published Books
When most people think of “writer” as a job, this is what they think about. You write a book, get an agent to represent you, sell the book to a publisher, promote the book, and get started on another book. Some say this market is dying. It would be a fib to suggest it isn’t hurting, but there’s plenty of room for excellent new talent.
Pros: highest level of respect, you’ll see your work at Barnes & Noble
Cons: long timeframe, extremely low chance of success
Earnings: low to fair. Though the potential earnings are in the multimillions, most published authors keep their day jobs.
Get Started Here: https://www.tckpublishing.com/how-to-get-a-literary-agent/
2. Nonfiction Magazines
This is the second best-known way to write professionally. You pitch an article idea to a magazine (or many magazines). Some accept the pitch. You write the article. You get paid. Repeat. Interestingly, the number of print magazines has been rising for the past 10 years. This is a huge market with lots of variety.
Pros: opportunity for cool assignments, high visibility for your work
Cons: takes a long time to break in, needs constant maintenance
Earnings: good to excellent. Top-level magazines pay $1 per word for assignments of 5-10k words. Even short articles pay $50 to $100. With a long enough submissions list, you can string together a professional income.
Get Started Here: https://www.mediabistro.com/career-advice/go-freelance/how-to-pitch/
3. Fiction Magazines
You can also write fiction for magazines, but it’s a much tougher row. The process is similar, but the realities are a little more grim. The market is small. The competition is higher. The rates are 1/3 to 1/10th that of a comparable nonfiction title. It’s a real thrill to get a story in one of these publications, and many of the greats got started with magazines.
Pros: lots of fun, can launch a traditional book deal
Cons: almost impossible to make a living here, quickly changing market
Earnings: poor. Expect $10 to $50 for most of your work, and only a few hundred at most and best. Also expect to go a month or two between paid gigs.
Get Started Here: https://www.freelancewriting.com/writers-guidelines/
4. Content Mills
These websites game the search engine system by spamming medium-quality articles and attracting eyes to pay-per-impression advertising. Some operate on a pitch-and-assign basis like magazines, while others hire a stable of regular writers. Either way, you’ll be writing a handful of shorter articles every day on a variety of topics. Because entry is relatively easy, it’s a good way to get started with paid credits.
Pros: low barrier to entry, easy to write
Cons: low quality work, poor treatment from many editors
Earnings: moderate to good. Although the articles only pay $10 to $50 each, you can bang out two or three in an hour. With some mills, you can get 4 or 5 assignments a day.
5. Content Brokers
A content broker finds clients and writers, then builds some kind of platform to help them find each other. The highest-end ones make the sale and assignment personally, while the lower tiers create an automated community that operates more like eBay. In either case, it starts with you building a profile. Potential clients log in and describe what they need. You browse what’s available (or get pinged by a client) and make a pitch. If you come to an agreement, the broker helps track the payment and work and takes a percentage of your fee.
Pros: lots of opportunity, no need to market yourself
Cons: you pay the broker, “race to the bottom” issue with competition from people living in countries with lower costs of living
Earnings: poor to moderate. With a strong profile and a systematic approach to finding work, you can get a steady stream of work. The work, though, is usually a little below scale and the broker takes a bite.
Get Started Here: www.upwork.com
6. Freelance Blogging
Pretty much every business out there should have a blog. Pretty much no business out there has a professional writer on staff to write a blog of the quality they need. That’s where you step in. You’ll make a deal with the business in question to write a number of blog posts per month (or just a one-off job for a number of posts). Although these opportunities can be found through content brokers, it pays better to negotiate them on your own.
Pros: learn lots of interesting things, easy repeat clients
Cons: not all assignments are fun, requires real-time commitments
Earnings: moderate to good. $100 to $150 per post is standard, with $50 per post being the bottom for a writer with experience. How many of those you do per week or day is up to your preferences and how hard you market yourself.
Get Started Here: www.makealivingwriting.com
7. Monetized Blogging
This model starts with you writing a blog on something you find fascinating, preferably after doing keyword research to help nail down a specialty that works out financially. As you develop a long list of subscribers, you start to turn those readers into income streams. Advertising revenue, affiliate programs, ebooks and print books, courses, and coaching are just a few of the ways to make that happen.
Pros: you’re your own boss, write about what you want
Cons: requires marketing, requires specialized knowledge
Earnings: poor to moderate. You’ll make nothing for a long time while you build your list. After that, nothing’s guaranteed but you can potentially work your way up to a few thousand a month.
Get Started Here: www.marketsamurai.com
8. Blog to Book
Step one: blog for 6 months to a year, building up a mailing list the whole time. Step two: compile the material into a book. Step three: revise and edit, based in part on the comments made about your blog while you posted. Step four: sell the book to your subscriber base, and online. Andy Weir did this with The Martian, and many businesses use the method to make those free ebooks you see all over the place.
Pros: creates a ready-made book for traditional or self-publishing, can support many other models
Cons: requires marketing, lots of up-front work on spec
Earnings: poor to moderate on its own. The model can make a little money, but it’s best used as a way of accelerating other income streams.
9. Ebook Extravaganza
Write a book. Make a few electronic versions. Post it on Amazon, the Apple Store, and similar platforms. Market it aggressively. Repeat. After a while, the sheer bulk of your publications list can generate lots of backlist (residual) sales and add up to a not-inconsiderable sum. Works well in concert with other methods.
Pros: low initial investment, opportunity for residual income
Cons: extremely competitive market, requires some marketing
Earnings: Varies widely. Largely, you get out of it what you put in. The more systematized and professional your approach, the more you’ll make. In general, though, don’t expect to make more than a teacher even in good years.
Get Started Here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/110604178950149
10. Be a Working Poet
You’ll write poetry for publication online, in chapbooks, and for magazines. A lot of what goes out, you’ll self-publish. You will need to support all this with readings and other appearances, and at the end of the day, you won’t be paid much except for the respect of all us writers who have to write sentences because we don’t know how to be poets.
Pros: you get to write poetry, access to art grant money
Cons: almost impossible to make a living, some of your friends will tease you
Earnings: poor. Most professional poets make their money from grants and fellowships. Nearly all poets fail to make a full-time living writing.
Get Started Here: http://www.freelancewritinggigs.com/poetry-markets-that-pay/
11. Greeting Cards
Somebody has to write all those birthday, wedding, Christmas, and Groundhog Day wishes. Most companies have an open submissions process, while others maintain a stable of freelancers. Only a handful, like Hallmark, are big enough to maintain in-house staff.
Pros: high per-hour/per-word earnings, kind of cool when you think about it
Cons: very thin market, most work is on spec
Earnings: low. Although you’ll be paid very well for the work you do—in the $100 to $500 range for a handful of lines—there isn’t a lot of work to go round.
Get Started Here: http://www.sps.com/help/writers_guidelines.html
12. Write, Speak, Repeat
Write on a topic you love. Use the blog and articles you write to get yourself a gig speaking about that topic. Write a book about it. Use your book’s performance to improve the quality of speaking gig you get, and the speaking gigs to sell your book. Done right, this is an upward spiral of success.
Pros: self-reinforcing business model, situates you as an expert in your field
Cons: requires marketing, requires public speaking
Earnings: good to excellent. Speaking fees are in the four- and five-figure range once you’re solidly started, and you’ll sell more books on top of that.
Few writers are great at speaking in public, and few great speakers excel at writing their own speeches. You can find work as a freelance speechwriter, or on somebody’s staff, and most gigs are gotten through networking and word-of-mouth. You may have to (gasp) do a few for free to get your reputation rolling.
Pros: high pay per word, access to high-level contacts
Cons: requires specialized knowledge, high barrier to entry
Earnings: good to excellent. You can expect $2,000 to $8,000 for a good speech (much higher for people who charge large speaking fees). It’s easy to get repeat clients once somebody is happy with your work.
Get Started Here: https://www.vsotd.com/speech-writers-association
Not everybody who has a story to tell has the writing chops to tell it well. That’s where you come in. Assignments can range from a short instructional guide to an “auto”biography running in the 100,000-word range. You get most of this work by word of mouth or directly approaching somebody who needs writing help. Referrals are king with a ghostwriting career.
Pros: you can learn really interesting things, potential access to high-level contacts
Cons: requires people management, you don’t get credit
Earnings: good to excellent. Even low-cost ghostwriting should command at least 10 cents per word, and senior professionals come in at $1 a word for 70,000 to 100,000-word books.
This is like ghostwriting, only for blogs. It requires a different skill set and writing style, and usually you get the gigs differently. Find clients on brokerage sites and via want ads, and by approaching them in your local community. Once you have a few of those first jobs, you can work your way up into major corporate gigs.
Pros: can be regular and long-term, learn interesting things
Cons: you don’t get credit, can sometimes be boring and repetitive
Earnings: moderate to good. Pay rates are higher than if you blog for credit ($150-200 or more per post), and with work you can establish a stable of regular clients.
Get Started Here: www.problogger.com
16. Resume, Cover Letter, and Bio Writing
Being awesome and knowing how to tell people about your particular brand of awesome are two different skills, and when jobs or clients are on the line, folks will pay to make up for the difference. A few services exist for this, but you’ll get your best work through word of mouth. Do a favor for a couple of friends, reach out to some headhunters, and let your talent do the rest.
Pros: people will pay to invest in their future, high per-word rates
Cons: not much repeat business, requires specialized knowledge
Earnings: moderate to good. Rate for an individual resume can be $100, to $500 and take only an hour or two once you get a rhythm and system going.
Get Started Here: https://www.thebalance.com/how-to-start-a-resume-writing-service-3957645
17. Being Cyrano
Some services exist to help people optimize their online dating profiles, and in some cases carry out initial communication leading up to a date. You can find them with a Google search, and enjoy an okay rate of pay for a very specific writing challenge.
Pros: surprisingly robust market, kind of fun
Cons: a little sleazy, low per-word rate
Earnings: poor to moderate. You can get a surprising number of assignments here, but won’t make more than 10 or 15 bucks an hour while you’re doing them.
Get Started Here: http://dating-profile.com/
18. Press Releases
The internet made everybody a journalist, and smart businesspeople have decided to outsource their press materials to folks who know how to write. A lot of these gigs you’ll find via online brokers and want ads, but the best repeat customers come from approaching local businesses and other personal contacts.
Pros: high pay per word, lots of repeat business
Cons: becomes formulaic quickly, often boring subject matter
Earnings: moderate to good. You can charge $100 to $200 for a strong press release. It’s possible, but difficult, to get a full-time living’s worth of them.
19. Native Content Creation
“Native content” is the newspeak word for advertising that looks like journalism. It’s the “investigative” article about a vitamin supplement that comes to the conclusion that the supplement is pretty neat and people should buy it. There’s a bottomless market for this kind of work, most of which you’ll find in ads on Craigslist and other free classifieds. Send in a resume, get an assignment, finish it well. Repeat.
Pros: regular work, can be an interesting challenge
Cons: low pay, not the most honest work in the world
Earnings: poor. Pay is often less than a penny a word. Even though demand is high, it’s hard to get more than a supplementary income from the hours you spend doing this.
Get Started Here: www.onlinewritingjobs.com
20. Grant Writing
Nonprofit organizations, corporations, and individuals need you to write the grants that keep money flowing toward them. People established in this field are kept busy while making $50 or more per hour. Start by working with nonprofits you currently know somebody in, and branch out from there. Sometimes you’ll see a call on a job board or broker site, too.
Pros: employers will invest in you like they do the marketing department, you’re doing some good in the world
Cons: specialized and highly competitive market, more feast-or-famine than other markets
Earnings: moderate to good. You can charge a thousand dollars or more for a well-written grant even at the lower tiers. It can be tricky to get enough of those to make a full-time living.
21. Catalog Copy
If it’s for sale, there’s a product description somewhere. If there’s a product description, somebody wrote it. That applies to book listings on Amazon, the next Ronco Kitchen Gadget, real estate listings, and clothing. The best ones are written by professionals paid to write accurate descriptions that still read like an effective ad. You’ll find entry-level assignments on job boards and some brokerages. Once you show your skill, expect lots of repeat business.
Pros: lots of available work, can get lots of cool free samples
Cons: gets repetitive quickly, golden handcuff problem of not quite enough money for reliable work
Earnings: moderate. The individual entries don’t pay much each, but can add up to $20 or $30 an hour. It’s not hard to put together enough assignments to total 30 hours a week.
22. Technical Writing (Full Time)
Translate geek to English for fun and profit. A full-time gig in this is something you apply for just like any other job. Resume. References. Writing samples. You don’t have to have tech writing experience for an entry-level gig. If you have samples of any kind of how-to or technical content, that can demonstrate your qualifications.
Pros: challenging and fun writing challenges, one of the few full-time writing careers still around
Cons: increasingly requires a degree, you have to have a real job with a commute and everything
Earnings: excellent. Computer coder money is not unusual for an experienced technical writer.
23. Technical Writing (Freelance)
Although many employers prefer permanent staff for improved communication and continuity, others lack the budget for full-timers. You do the same work, often for months at a time, before moving on to your next assignment. Find your first assignments via job boards, but once you’re in, it’s pretty easy to keep the next job coming through contacts and word of mouth.
Pros: engaging work, lots of freedom and variety
Cons: not much variety, increasingly requires a degree
Earnings: good to excellent. Technical writing pays well per hour (often $30-50) and work is abundant.
Get Started Here: http://careerlancer.net/freelance-technical-writer/
Come up with an idea for a comic strip. Put it on a website. Update it regularly (not necessarily every day, but it must be there when people expect to see it). Otherwise, the model works the same as monetized blogging: you build the client base, and they start to buy things and trigger advertising revenue.
Pros: more responsive than many models, you get to draw
Cons: requires specialized knowledge, requires marketing
Earnings: fair to moderate. Once you have a fan base, this can result in a good, professional income each month. Payments start pretty quickly, even if it’s only a couple of bucks a month to start.
Get Started Here: http://jephjacques.com/post/596723785/so-you-want-to-start-a-webcomic
What you can do with blogs and comics, you can also do with video. It takes more technical knowledge (not to mention equipment), but it’s the same when it comes to building a fan base and turning them into money. You may be able to partner with someone with video expertise and be the scriptwriting member of the team, if you want to specialize in writing only.
Pros: low competition, lots of flexibility
Cons: requires specialized knowledge, requires marketing
Earnings: low. A few YouTube stars make millions each month, but most don’t. This is absolutely a way to earn extra money, not a primary initiative.
Get Started Here: http://tubularinsights.com/creating-web-series/
26. Online Curation
You know all those “X Things That Y, You Won’t Believe Number Z” articles Facebook keeps sending you to? It’s somebody’s job to gather all those photos and snippets of information. This is another gig with a low barrier for entry. Just look for the submissions guidelines at a site you want to write for and put your hat in the ring. Most accept queries on spec, but some maintain a small group of very busy freelancers.
Pros: lots of demand, high variety of assignments
Cons: you write for sleazy websites, can “rabbit hole” and lose time easily
Earnings: moderate to good. Most of the sites that buy your work will pay $100 or so for an article. It’s possible to get a submission list that nets 20 or more reliable assignments per month.
Get Started Here: http://www.therichest.com/write-for-us/
27. Graphic Novels
This is essentially self-publishing a graphic novel the same way you would a book. The differences lie in the customer base and how much the books cost to print. Full-color comics can set you back a lot more than a simple novel. Other than that, it’s the same cycle of idea, creation, promotion, publication, repetition as you build a catalog of titles.
Pros: you get to draw, finished product looks amazing
Cons: requires specialized novels, in most cases requires collaboration
Earnings: poor. The market for graphic novels is growing, but it’s still even less reliable and more competitive than traditional books. Whether you self-publish or get a traditional deal, it’s unlikely to represent a livable wage.
28. Monetized Podcasting
I’ve described this model before with monetized blogging, webcomics, and webseries. This time you use a podcast to build that fan base. Start with an idea. Listen to the other podcasts about that topic. Find ways to be just as good as the best, but from an angle different enough to give people a reason to choose your podcast over the others. Monetization is the same combination of advertising, affiliate revenue, and product sales.
Pros: growing market, good networking opportunity
Cons: requires specialized knowledge, requires marketing
Earnings: poor. Only the elite of the podcasting world make a professional income from the podcast alone. Most people (and you) should consider it a way to help fund marketing, and to get your name out into the world .
Get Started Here: https://www.amazon.com/Crush-Time-Cash-Your-Passion/dp/0061914177
29. Audiobook Releases
A cross between self-publishing and monetized podcasting, this is more than just putting your words into an .mp3. That’s for people who have popular works already out in the world. Instead, you can release audio versions of your work serially as podcasts (or even you reading live on YouTube) and use it to build a following of people who eventually buy the books. Monetization works like any other serial self-publishing like blogs and podcasts.
Pros: advertises other products, less competition
Cons: requires specialized knowledge, time-consuming
Earnings: poor to fair. Audiobooks don’t make a lot of money unless you’re already famous, but can provide some direct income. Best considered an addition to your other work, or even just as a marketing arm for your other projects.
Get Started Here: https://www.audiobookproducers.com/
Step one: write a script. Step two: find somebody who’s willing to put the script on stage or on a screen. Step three: get paid. Early in your career, you’ll be paid an up-front fee and have no control over how many changes or mistakes the director makes. As you develop experience and clout, you can become more involved. And paid better. It’s possible to land a full-time gig writing for television or radio, but don’t make that a part of your business model. The competition far outweighs the available slots.
Pros: unlike anything else, potential for serious money
Cons: extremely difficult to break into, may require relocation
Earnings: poor or excellent. Professional scriptwriters make serious bank. Until you become one, you’ll be making a few hundred dollars once in a while off individual gigs.
31. Textbook Writing
Textbooks are an incredibly lucrative market for the publishers, and can make good money for the authors, too. Outside of those little adjunct books for college, the overwhelming majority of textbooks are written by a handful of large companies with a stable of repeat freelancers and full-timers. Break in by knowing somebody already doing it. Find those people at writing conferences. Buy them beer. Otherwise, you can watch job boards for occasional postings.
Pros: enduring market with lots of repeat opportunities, involved in important work
Cons: hard to break into, requires extensive collaboration
Earnings: good. The pay is in the middle of the road, but most textbook writers are kept very busy.
Get Started Here: https://www.indeed.com/q-Textbook-Writer-jobs.html
This is a bit of a cross between scriptwriting, speech writing, and writing textbooks. It’s a relatively new market: classes taught online using PowerPoint-type slides. You can make money two ways with this model. The most common is writing courses for other people: corporations wanting tutorials, coaches wanting more to offer, smaller schools and academies. They’ll hire you to write something and then pay you when you’re done. The other way is for those coming to writing with another trade. There’s no reason you can’t make and sell a class about whatever you happen to be great at.
Pros: good networking, growing field
Cons: need specialized knowledge, requires marketing
Earnings: moderate to good. The income from a single successful e-course can be good in real time, and result in residual income for months or years. You will have to wait a while between courses, though.
Get Started Here: https://problogger.com/9-steps-to-creating-a-successful-e-course/
33. Traditional Journalism
Here’s another one you probably already know a lot about. This is getting work with newspapers, online and real world, doing the day-to-day and feature reporting that people (used to) read every day. Find postings at the website for any paper you want to approach, and don’t ignore your local weeklies. They have deep need for freelancers.
Pros: established field, opportunity for exciting assignments
Cons: dying on the vine as we watch, high pressure environment
Earnings: moderate. Full-time reporters make about as much as teachers. Freelancers can expect a couple hundred dollars for a medium-length article. Feature assignments in four figures aren’t unheard of.
Get Started Here: www.journalismjobs.com
34. New Model Journalism
A lot of jobs and trades have changed in the information age, but you can argue journalism is one of the most changed of all. Instead of working for a newspaper or TV station, you can do your own investigation, reporting, publication, and broadcasting using whatever medium you like best. This works like monetized blogging: you build your content and wait for subscribers to start generating income.
Pros: socially responsible, evolving environment
Cons: getting a little dangerous, changes can gut business models without warning
Earnings: fair to moderate. Most work in this field is speculative, so you’ll spend a lot of time working for free. Those who’ve broken through report incomes in the $30-50k range.
Get Started Here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3&v=0MD5srZU954
35. Revenue Sharing
This isn’t really its own model of writing, but rather a method of payment many sites still offer. You write for them, and get either no payment or a token payment up front. Afterwards, you get what amounts to a commission payment on that article based on how many views the page gets. You’ll find it offered in many of the models above, and should make up your own mind about how interested you are in it.
Pros: more available projects, passive income
Cons: unreliable income, has some ethical gray areas
Earnings: poor. The individual payments amount to very little, though if you have enough out there it can equal beer money after a few years.
36. Trade Niches
Whatever anybody does for a living, there are several trade magazines (and newsletters from trade associations) in desperate need of people who can actually write. This is a solid source of lots of repeat work if you establish yourself as both a talented writer and an expert in the field. Submit early and often for your first assignment, then push a little once they know your name.
Pros: qualified writers already have an in, good networking
Cons: requires specialized knowledge, limited scope
Earnings: good. Lots of trade magazines are funded by national organizations and pay a dollar a word or more. You’ll make excellent money per assignment, but it’s hard to get a lot of assignments in any given quarter.
Get Started Here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Professional_and_trade_magazines
You’ve heard more and more about this over the past 15 years. Using CreateSpace, Ingram Spark, and similar platforms, you publish your own darn book. The pace can be much greater than traditional publishing, and the commissions higher. But you have to market at least as hard as you write or you won’t make much progress.
Pros: you are in complete control and responsible for every aspect of your writing career
Cons: you are in complete control and responsible for every aspect of your writing career
Earnings: low to moderate. You’ll start out not even breaking even, but with enough titles and a strong marketing program, you’ll build your way up to enough money to supplement your regular income.
Get Started Here: https://ebookpublishingschool.com/
A Social Media Warrior goes online every day and produces social media content for a company (or companies). This can be a full-time or freelance gig, and you find both the same way. Watch the message boards, reach out to friends, look for job postings, and get yourself in there. Don’t limit yourself to companies that need social media directly, though. Lots of publicity companies need a few SMWs on tap for their clients.
Pros: dynamic and fast-paced, more responsive than most writing
Cons: not much prestige, more real-time demands
Earnings: highly variable. Hours are as negotiated, and gigs are available from full-time in an office to small, one-off assignments.
Get Started Here: https://alexisgrant.com/social-media-consultant/
39. Direct Mail Copywriting
Another old-school way of getting paid to write, this model means writing junk mail for a living. Whether it’s snail or e, the pay starts small but can rise rapidly for people with proven talent. The easiest way to break into this gig is to apply with one of dozens of direct mail mills operating basically everywhere. A few years of that and you can start approaching clients directly.
Pros: can be a fun challenge, extremely lucrative
Cons: requires specialized style and knowledge, less prestige
Earnings: excellent. Direct mail messages pay some of the best per-word rates in the industry, and once you have a reputation, you can find as much work as you want.
Get Started Here: http://www.procopytips.com/direct-mail-copywriting
40. Writing Contests
This is exactly what it sounds like. Find contests. Submit to them (try sticking to those without entry fees if you want to do this for money). Win some. Cash the prize checks. On the day-to-day it works a lot like querying magazines, only you’re not guaranteed a check at the end.
Pros: big resume builder, competition can be fun
Cons: uncertain income, often time-consuming
Earnings: poor. Some contests pay well, but you can’t guarantee winning and it’s hard to find enough to make a real go.
Get Started Here: https://thewritelife.com/writing-contests/
41. Hobby and Interest Niches
What I said earlier about trades is even truer about hobbies and interests: there’s a magazine for everything, and most of their writers stink. You can also use your hobbies and interests with monetized blogging, or a combination of both. Becoming a subject matter expert in something you are passionate about isn’t the worst way to earn a living.
Pros: you get to write about things you find interesting, good networking with fellow enthusiasts
Cons: can be hard to brainstorm new topics after a while, limited scope in some fields
Earnings: moderate to good. These articles pay less, but the markets need more from people who can actually write.
Get Started Here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Hobby_magazines
42. Medical and Legal Writing
Both of these professions need a lot of things to be written down, and both feature professionals who get paid way too much per hour to be bothered to do the writing. That means hiring writers who specialize in this jargon-rich, high-stakes type of documentation. Freelancers fill most niches here, but full-time gigs do happen. Start by getting an appropriate certification or training course, then watch the job boards. Also look at the jobs page at your local hospital, HMO, or major law firm.
Pros: lots of work once you’re in the door, interesting subject matter
Cons: gets monotonous, clients are more demanding than others
Earnings: good. $100 per article is standard, and so is getting 10–12 assignments a week.
Get Started Here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2212320/
43. Web Copywriting
All those words on the web get written by somebody. You should be that somebody. Most people get started here in one of two ways. They either find clients via job postings, or reach out to business they already deal with personally. A third way in is to contact a website, explain why you can write their pages better, and offer to do it if the price is right.
Pros: deep demand, opportunity to learn new things
Cons: requires specialized style, often uses complicated content management systems
Earnings: good. You can get 10 to 20 cents a word for most copy, and the demand is limited only to how much you’re willing to market your services.
Get Started Here: www.problogger.com
Transcription mills dot the landscape and pay a wage for doing their work. It’s more typing than writing, but most gigs have the same time and location independence as with regular writing. It’s also a chance to explore and really dig into how words fit together: both what’s bad and what’s good. You’ll find job postings basically all the time all over the internet.
Pros: bottomless demand, relatively easy work
Cons: gets boring rapidly, golden handcuff problem of having not quite enough money from a safe and reliable source
Earnings: fair. Consider this a working-class job at the mill. You can easily find 40 hours a week worth of work, but you won’t make more than $10 or $15 during those hours.
Get Started Here: https://libroediting.com/2013/03/20/career-in-transcription/
45. Review Artistry
You can get paid to write reviews. At the bottom rung, you’re paid to shill for companies by leaving reviews of them on Yelp, Amazon, and similar sites. If you’re established as an expert in something, you can also do reviewing as part of a monetized blog. You’ll also find some review opportunities on those “get paid to surf the web” sites, but those are best avoided.
Pros: wide variety of things to review, great networking for other gigs
Cons: some ethical gray areas, can become monotonous
Earnings: fair. Individual reviews pay little. Though it’s possible to string enough together to make a reasonable living, it’s hard to do so while giving things responsible consideration.
Get Started Here: http://moneypantry.com/get-paid-to-write-reviews/
Speak a second (or third, or fourth) language? Find a translation mill or brokerage service and apply. Kind of like the hobby and trade places, any writing chops at all will stand you out against the rest of the crowd.
Pros: more work available than qualified people, you get to practice your other language
Cons: hard to break in, sometimes your hourly rate can plummet because of tricky translations
Earnings: moderate to good. Earning $20-30 an hour isn’t unusual for somebody with the chops. A bit feast-or-famine unless you live in an international center.
Get Started Here: http://atanet.org/
47. Freelance Editing
This is exactly what it sounds like. People have words. You make those words error-free. Despite being in an industry that relies on precise word usage, editing can mean two things. Copy editing is proofreading for errors, inconsistencies, and other small things. Developmental editing is reading the whole of a work and making suggestions on the macro level. You’ll find copy editing work on the job boards, and by hitting up writers you know. Developmental editing usually requires some experience in publishing. By the time you have enough, you’ll already know where to look for clients.
Pros: solid and steady work, lots of repeat clients
Cons: you have to be extremely detail-oriented, assignments won’t always be thrilling
Earnings: good. You can charge 2-4 cents per word while you’re still pretty fresh and there’s more than enough work available to make this a full-time gig.
Get Started Here: https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x62n27m
48. Food and Travel Writing
Get paid to go places, eat their food, drink their wine, and see their cool stuff. This works like magazine writing—query, get assigned, and write your guts out—but has more of an “insider track” than many others. You can compete with retirees and soccer moms who don’t need to make a living, or you can go to a few travel writing and tourism conferences and make friends with somebody who can help you pull gigs.
Pros: eat and drink and travel for free or cheap, strong and trending market
Cons: lots of competition, low per-hour rate if you count research
Earnings: moderate. Individual assignments pay pretty well, but it’s hard to get enough for this to be more than supplementary income.
Get Started Here: https://www.tckpublishing.com/how-to-become-a-travel-writer/
49. Crowdfunded Patronage
The new century has inverted some of the funding processes, and crowdfunding has democratized it. Step one: have a great idea. Step two: announce and publicize it on sites like Kickstarter and Patreon. Step three: get paid before you write the thing. Works best if you already have a mailing list or social media following, but a few people have broken big on the strength of their idea alone. You can also sign up for a crowd-sourced publishing model like Inkitt, where you post your book online and start gaining a fanbase; the most popular books are offered publishing contracts.
Pros: model was proven as far back as the Renaissance, allows you to specialize
Cons: you’ll do a lot of work for free, can make it hard to take a vacation
Earnings: low. The best way to make real money with crowdfunding is to already be famous. But many self-published authors have used this method to fund the costs of editing, design, etc so all money forward is profit.
Get Started Here: https://www.tckpublishing.com/crowdfunding-1-what-why-where/
50. The 1,000 Fans Model
Works like this: Find 1,000 people who love your work so much they’ll spend an average of $100 a year on it. Serve them like crazy, producing whatever you think they’ll want most. The bad news is, you have to find those 1,000 people. The good news is, you can make money by many of the 49 models above while you’re finding them.
Pros: engaging with people who share your passion, variety in the types of projects you write
Cons: slow start-up period, requires marketing savvy
Earnings: excellent. Once you have 1,000 fans willing to spend $100 bucks a year on you, things are golden. Even ramping up, you can see appreciable income fairly quickly.
Get Started Here: http://www.sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2011/09/we-are-all-weird.html
Some notes on earnings. There are people who’ve made ridiculous sums with every single one of these models, and some professionals routinely make two or 10 times as much as I’ve listed here. There are also plenty of people who made no money at all while trying their hand at each one.
What I’ve tried to reflect is what somebody can reliably make if they spend a couple of years working at making a go of that kind of writing.
I hope it’s helpful.
For more on earning a living as a writer, check out these articles:
- 16 Ways to Increase Your Author Earnings and Earn a Full-Time Income as an Author
- How to Become a #1 Bestselling Author on Amazon with Step-by-Step Instructions
- What It Actually Takes to Earn a Six Figure Income Writing Nonfiction Books