The most popular and frequently asked question I receive is some variation of “do you actually make money as a writer?” “How do you survive?” or “How much money are you actually making though?” While my answer contains a question following up with “how do you make money?” or if I know the person’s job ask “how much money are you actually making as a banker” to communicate it is none of said person’s business and two writing is like any career- it has opportunities for various earnings based on what you do and how you do it. For my fellow writers genuinely curious and approaching this question in a nonjudgemental way, welcome! Here are ways you can support yourself while pursuing your passion as a career.
How To Make Money As A Writer
Networking is key. If you’re not actively pursuing valuable connections, you’re failing as a writer. This will be the way a majority of your work comes through- especially if you’re newer on the scene. My top paying and consistent gig was a recommendation from a connection who heard about a need for a freelance social justice writer and recommended me to the organization. Now, every year I can count on that income and not having to pitch myself or fill my summer with multiple jobs or a large project. Networking is a great way to learn about what current market needs are, as well. This allows for you to pitch to brands who may not know they need your services/ that you offer a certain skillset their team is looking for. Networking also allows for you to establish yourself within the writing community/ your niche. On the other hand, networking is great because it works both ways and it a constant benefit to all involved. Someday a project will come across your desk (or rather float to the top of your inbox) and it will not be of interest to you. In this case, you will be able to recommend a connection you know is seeking this type of work. This not only helps the other writer but the brand/ client also sees you as someone who is able to prioritize goals and community over their personal goals and agenda. The company may even come back and offer you something in alignment with what you are looking for based on your initiative to help them reach their goal and do so genuinely. Networking is also great because you can receive feedback on industry trends, your portfolio, and generate a regular income.
Pitch Yourself And Your Ideas
As a writer you need to be comfortable pitching yourself and your ideas to your target audience and those in the business who writer the paychecks or send you to the people approve the budget to hire you. (This goes back to what I wrote about in my article “Tips For New Writers”. Click here to read why it’s vital to have a strategy.) Pitch according to your strategy and seek jobs out- don’t wait for them to come to you because most often they won’t. Sure you hear stories of people who become an overnight success and “go viral”, but for most, this is not the case. If you are interested in a guide to pitching/ how I secure gigs though pitching comment on this post below and I will write a post all about pitching- what to include, how to format, and who to pitch to.
Stay On Top Of Things
This is sound advice for many things, actually. Stay on top of your inbox, communication, deadlines, etc. Most importantly, stay on top of industry needs and job boards. Make it a routine to check your platforms for opportunities and STAY ON TOP OF IT. Pitch that day. Submit your resume when you see the listing. Don’t wait days or weeks to do this because someone else will jump on the opportunity if you do not prioritize your writing career or opportunities. If you jump on this and the position is filled already/ they go with someone else, stay in contact and network. They may need you for another future opportunity.
You are your biggest advocate. Share with people that you’re a writer and what you’re looking for. Oftentimes friends, family, social media, and community members know someone who is looking for your skillset.
Now that I’ve covered my top tips in acquiring income, here is a list of 21 ways you can earn a living as a writer:
Writing Marketing Copy
Being a writer mentor and advising new writers
Creating a course
Publishing research or a book
Short story competitions
Magazine writer/ article writer (print or digital)
Writing Social Media Copy
Writing Email Campaign Copy
Textbook writing/ editing
Those are a few of the most popular/ easier to regulate means of securing reliable income. Did I leave any out? Let me know in the comments if I missed one of your favorite ways to make a living as a writer, in the comments!