15 Ways to Get Paid to Write

15 Ways to Get Paid to Write

get paid to writeThere’s a really great scene in Sister Act 2 (don’t judge me – that movie’s freaking awesome) where Whoopi Goldberg’s character is telling a very young Lauryn Hill to follow her dreams, quoting a book by poet Rainer Maria Rilke that says “Don’t ask me if you’re a writer. Because I say, ‘If all you can think of in the morning when you get up is writing, then you’re a writer.’”

So whether you feel called to writing because of some deep-seated, internal need to communicate with the world and share ideas, or because you simply have the skills to write and want to get paid to do it – you’re a writer!

Of course, writing for the sake of writing isn’t what we’re after here. Even if you do want to change the world through the power of the written word, you’ll find that it’s a lot easier to do your writing on a full stomach, in the comfort of your own home than it is if you’re living the starving artist lifestyle. Basically, you want to get paid!

So consider the following ways to get paid to write. No matter what your goals, you’ll find a method of earning money as a writer that’ll work for you:

Low Hanging Fruit

Maybe you don’t want to be a full-time writer. Maybe you just want a few extra dollars each month to buy beer or shave a few years off your mortgage. If you want to translate your writing skills into a couple of extra dollars, consider the following low-cost, low-investment ideas for making money writing:

1. Write for revenue sharing content sites like Associated Content, eHow or Squidoo. These sites allow you to post your articles on their websites and give you a cut of the profits from the Adsense advertisements on your pages. It ain’t much, but if you do your keyword research and post enough articles, this method can put a little cash in your checking account.

To get started: Go sign up for an account and get started writing. Associated Content and Squidoo will let you publish right away, while eHow has a review process. Once you’re approved, you can start earning money immediately.

2. Respond to projects on Elance, Guru or any of the other freelancer portal websites. Fair warning – these sites are pretty much a “race to the bottom”. You’re going to get beat up on price, and you’re going to be asked to go beyond the scope of the initial project. However, it can be a good way to build a portfolio and pick up regular clients.

To get started: Sign up for a professional profile on one or more of the sites listed above. Believe me – you’ll need the professional profile (not the free basic one), to be taken seriously at all on these sites. Then, start responding to postings and wait to get selected for your first assignment.

3. Publish your own works on Kindle, iBooks or other digital publishing website. Although some people do quite well with this method, most “Average Joe” writers will find that it takes significant effort in terms of researching, writing and promoting your books to gain any kind of traction with this method.

To get started: Check out the “Publishing on Kindle for Profit” post over on Affhelper.com for some really great tips on how to get started.

4. Write for community publications. Community newspapers and magazines are always looking for contributors – you would be too if you had to come up with new ideas to please a tiny readership with every edition that comes out! The stipend you’ll receive won’t be much, but you will get the added bonus of seeing your name in print.

To get started: Visit the website of each local publication in your area and navigate to the “Contact Us” page (if there isn’t a page that blatantly says “Get in touch with us here with story ideas”). Then, send an email to the editorial assistant to see if they accept submissions and what you have to do to have your work considered.

5. Become a paid blog and forum commenter. Again, you won’t earn much commenting on other people’s blogs and forums, but it’s quick and easy way to put a few extra bucks in your pocket.

To get started: Postings looking for paid blog and forum commenters come up pretty frequently on internet marketing forums, like the Warrior Forum and Digital Point. Start there, or get in touch with big name marketers directly to see if they’d be interested in this service.

Makin’ a Living

So, you’ve dipped your toe in the waters of writing, and now you think you want to make a full time go of it? Consider the following ideas, all of which have the potential to provide a comfortable income for a hard-working writer:

1. Write website articles. Regularly updated content is a major ranking factor for SEO, but many website owners lack the time or interest to write their own articles. You can hire out to write general content for them (typically in 350-1,000 word blocks) that will be posted to their websites. For an extra bonus, consider writing extra articles of your own to sell as PLR!

To get started: Go read the entire post series I did on this subject on “Getting Started with an Article Writing Service.” Seriously, just about everything you need to know is there :)

2. Look for paid blogging positions on the Problogger Job Board. The Problogger site is, hands-down, the best source of information I’ve found when it comes to paid blogging positions that actually pay a decent rate (compared with the nickels and dimes you’ll get on Guru and Elance…). I’ve picked up several clients through this site that have resulted in long term, well-paying projects.

To get started: Go to the Problogger Job Board, find positions that interest you (and that you’re qualified for) and follow the instructions in each job posting to apply. You’ll typically need to email the contact person a resume and some of your writing samples to be considered.

3. Take a paid position as a writer. If you don’t want to go the self-employment route, be aware that there are tons of people out there who hire regular, full-time writers. Sure, there are newspapers and magazines, but there are also opportunities for writers in the creative industries (ad agencies, marketing firms, etc) and technical fields (engineering companies, medical equipment manufacturers and more).

To get started: Browse the classified ad listings in your area, both online and offline. Build a list of companies that hire full-time writers and keep an eye on their websites for new positions as they open up.

4. Freelance for offline companies. Besides companies that hire full-time writers, there are plenty of businesses that need occasional writing work done, but don’t have the budget to keep a writer on the payroll. Typically, you’ll work for them on “one-off” projects in just about any industry you can think of.

To get started: Get a copy of The Well Fed Writer from your local library and read it cover to cover. Then, go to www.WritersWeekly.com and sign up for their value-packed weekly freelance writing newsletter.

5. Look for alternative writing jobs. When you hear the word “writer”, you probably think books. If you’re at all digitally savvy, you might think blogger, but for most people, “writer” has pretty defined connotations. But what about the speech writers who find work on the campaign trail? Or the sitcom writers who put words in celebrity’s mouths once a week? Or even the video game dialog writers who get paid to bring their digital characters to life? Don’t forget about these fun alternatives when trying to make money as a writer.

To get started: Determine what specific kind of writing you want to do, and then start hustling. You’ll want to build a portfolio and start making whatever personal connections you can with people inside the industry.

Cream of the Crop

Yes, it’s absolutely possible to make a living as a writer – but it doesn’t have to stop there! With these opportunities, you aren’t just earning a living – you’re doing well enough for yourself to get your relatives gossiping at holiday get togethers about how you simply *must* be doing something besides writing to be driving that kind of car…

1. Learn copywriting. In the writing community, there’s really no arguing with the fact that copywriters are number one on the totem pole. A good long form sales letter can command $1,000-$5,000; a really good sales letter can bring in as much as $30,000-$50,000 a pop.

To get started: If you don’t already know how to write a good long form sales letter, you’ll need to improve your technique before you start charging big bucks. Develop your style by reading swipe files from great, well-respected copywriters and then get feedback on your attempts from the Copywriters Forum on the Warrior Forum.

2. Traditional book publishing. It’s a damn competitive industry, but if you have the skills, the connections and the self-promotion ability to get noticed, traditional book publishing can still pay well and offer fun perks, like paid travel and royalty payments.

To get started: You’ll need an agent and a well-crafted book proposal. Search your community guides for any writer’s workshops or writing fairs coming up, as these are often the best places to get feedback on your work and make connections within the book publishing industry.

3. Launch a popular blog. Okay, obviously this one is easier said than done, but quite frankly, if you want a “cream of the crop” income, you’re going to be putting in a lot of work as a writer. If you want to make money as a blogger, the keys to being successful are choosing a good niche with lots of demand for information and paid products, and getting your site in front of as many people as possible.

To get started: Pick a topic you’re passionate about in a niche where people are willing to spend money. Target specific keyword phrases to get your site ranked in the SERPs and offer good information, as well as opportunities to buy from you.

4. Become a high-level consultant. In the previous section, we talked about writing for offline companies, which – in most cases – is a very “middle of the road” income opportunity. However, if you have extra skills or extensive experience in a particular field, you can often charge much, much more for your writing and consulting services. For example, if you have experience in offline sales or marketing, you can sell your services to a company not as a writer, but as a creative consultant who can help with branding and ideation as well as writing.

To get started: Either have special skills that an industry will pay well for or get to work developing them. Then, connect with people in that industry in your area and network with decision makers to introduce your unique services.

5. Take it to Hollywood, baby! One way to earn big bucks as a writer is to get a script purchased and produced into a movie. Obviously, this path isn’t going to work out for everybody, but if it does, you’ll be set for life. For example, even though the thriller “The Panic Room” did so-so at the box office, its screenwriter – David Koepp – walked away with $3 million for his efforts.

To get started: Hone your craft by studying pop culture trends and actually developing screenplays. Find an agent who will represent your work and start pitching the hell out of as many Hollywood insiders as you can get access to.

Have I missed anything? If you’ve got another way to make money as a working writer, share your advice below in the comments!

Image: Sam Howzit

30 Responses to 15 Ways to Get Paid to Write

  1. Awesome list! I’ll definitely be checking some of these out, especially the “making a living” category for now. I do some freelance writing right now, but it would be great to expand and get some more regular work.

    • Sarah says:

      Jeffrey – Yeah, I definitely can’t recommend the Problogger job board enough. The “Warriors for Hire” section of the Warrior Forum can be good as well.

      Keep me posted on how your freelance writing career goes – I’m always happy to help or offer any advice I can give on this subject!

  2. Andrew says:

    Hi,

    I already make money as a writer, but this article has some great tips that I will check out.

    I’m subscribed to your blog and look forward to further posts, plus devouring more of your old articles.

    All the best

    Andrew

    • Sarah says:

      Andrew – Glad to hear you’re already making money writing, and I hope you find some of these tips useful. Please let me know if you have any questions on this topic, as it’s one I’m happy to share my experiences on!

      And thanks so much for your kind words – so glad you’re enjoying this site :)

  3. Steve Roy says:

    Sarah,
    I would love nothing more than to get paid to write. I am working on it with my blog but really have no clue how to make money in the freelance writing arena.

    I’ve spent some time on the Problogger job boards, but was not familiar with some of the things you mentioned.

    Thanks for sharing this info, it definitely helped me see a few different angles.

    • Sarah says:

      Steve – Thanks for your comment! In general, I’ve found that it’s a lot easier to get started in freelance writing than it is via blog traffic (although, obviously, your experience might be different). I hope the Problogger recommendation helps, and please let me know if there’s anything I can help with as you begin your career as a freelance writer :)

  4. Chas says:

    I don’t really consider myself a writer, even though I was told in college that I was good at it. I find your articles engaging, whether they are in specific areas I am interested in, or not. I would think this article would be a great help to writers, and if I do decide to write something on occasion, I will come back to this piece. I would also like to say that I like the design of your blog- I find the colors easy on the eyes and the design clean and organized (I’ve visited several blogs and that isn’t always the case).

    • Sarah says:

      Thanks so much! I appreciate the feedback on the design, since I’m always going back and forth on whether I want to do a full redesign to the site :)

  5. Bojan says:

    Already on the path of some the great ideas mentioned in this article. Writing from a coffee shop, so this article goes to Instapaper for later read.

    See you around :)

    • Sarah says:

      Woo hoo – I love me some coffee shop writing :) It’s very classy…

      Let me know if you have any questions once you’re able to read the whole article!

  6. Hello Sarah, sometimes I like to browse other internet marketers blogs and meet them. So, this is how I found your blog!

    Writing being my niche I chose to click on this article. Great tips for anyone who loves to write and wants to make money writing.

    • Sarah says:

      Hi Sylviane, and welcome! Always glad to hear from other writers working online. Please let me know if there’s anything I can help you with!

      • Sylviane says:

        Well, I could improve my networking for show LOL. Why don’t we exchange blog post comments, twitter and facebook follow??? I always try to leave intelligent comments, and yes I do read the post. This would be good for both of us I believe.

  7. AstroGremlin says:

    I have a professional writing background and now am trying blogging. Freelancing requires mental toughness and a true love of writing. The quote, ‘If all you can think of in the morning when you get up is writing, then you’re a writer.’ hits it right on the head. You have to love it. You have to be compelled, when you find something exciting in the world, to want share it, to explain it. If you have this gift (or curse), you have been selected for a hard road.
    Most freelancers are young. If you are any good, you eventually will be offered a job. I didn’t know this, but as a freelancer I was paying dues and getting a degree. If you can make it as a freelancer, you are not merely a writer, you are a salesperson, an accountant, a business strategist, and you have steel in your spine. If you can get paid to write freelance and can make a living at it, you deserve great respect. It begins with the love of words; it sustains with the love of freedom. May the muses find you, and when they don’t, may you write anyway!

    • Sarah says:

      Definitely agree with this – working as a freelance writer is tough! It takes a lot of discipline and a huge love of writing to power through the days when you’d rather do anything but sit down and write yet another article :)

      Best of luck with your blog – it sounds like you have a great start in terms of the mindset needed to be successful!

      • Kait says:

        I know that feeling all too well. In fact, right now, I should be writing, but I haven’t been able to work up the motivation yet. Any tips on how to get past that barrier and get started?

        I agree with you that Problogger is great. That’s where I found my first freelancing job, paying $5 an article (I know, a terrible rate…but you can’t start out making a lot of money with no experience).

        • Sarah says:

          Kait – A couple of things that work for me:

          1. The Pomodoro Technique can be really useful (basically, you work for 25 minutes and then take a 5 minute break – there are free timers all over the web).

          2. Trick yourself into working – If you’re watching TV, tell yourself, “At the next commercial, I’m going to go get some writing done” and then just do it without thinking about it too much.

          3. Do not turn on the damn TV. Ever.

          4. Have a pre-written motivational speech that reminds you what you’re working towards and why you’re writing. Read it out loud any time you can’t seem to get motivated.

          5. Take a 5 minute break and dance to Pitbull music (not even joking…)

          Hope these help :)

          • Kait says:

            Haha I love those! Thanks. I especially like #4…I think I might try that. And I do love me some “On the Floor” (Pitbull and J.Lo). I don’t think I can do without TV, though. One thing that actually works for me sometimes is alternating writing an article with watching a show. The show is like a reward for getting some work done. That only works when I have a certain level of motivation, though.

  8. ES says:

    Thanks for these healthy tips. I work at odesk and while I do not make couple of thousand dollars, I do make a few hundred dollars out there and that’s pretty much sufficient for an add-on/part-time income.

    While I do agree that most of the jobs that are posted are pretty much a race to the bottom, there is at least one job posted everyday that would excite me. Of course, it takes a lot of work to identify such contractors, but when we have developed a rapport with them its easy to get repeat contracts from them. Its more than a month since I applied for any job in odesk now and I think its a great place to work, once you have made a few worthy connections.

    • Sarah says:

      That’s great to hear – I’m glad you’re finding success with Odesk. I haven’t had much luck with those sites, but if they’re meeting your income goals, then that’s great to hear.

      Thanks for sharing :)

  9. Ben says:

    Sarah, this definitely a fantastic list for those looking to make money from writing. I use to write a lot back when I was in high school, and made a decent amount of money (for my age). I still write once in a while, but just to cover costs of new niche sites and such.

    To anyone looking to make money writing, I’d also recommend Fiverr. There are lots of people on there daily looking for content writers.

    • Sarah says:

      Ben – Thanks so much! Fiverr is another one that’s interesting to consider. If you’re willing to write for $4/article, there’s definitely work to be had there, as a lot of the content being sold there is pretty junky.

      Thanks for stopping by :)

  10. Michael says:

    Hi Sarah.
    I hope I find you well, and happy! I am a new visitor to your site, can I just say how well it is set out it’s very easy on the eye.

    It is not cluttered up with useless ads and links that really take you nowhere. I am very impressed at the simplicity of it, which makes for a very enjoyable read! So, thank you for that.

    I have just signed up to your, 25 steps e-mail news letter because, from what I have read here so far; it is pure no-nonsense information of an excellent standard, of which you should be very proud.

    I wonder could you tell me the best place for me to go to relate my 36 years of driving experience to others so that I can, well inform, help, educate and guide drivers on the fun of driving and the dangers of driving, plus a million and one situations that can arise from one’s actions and the consiquences thereof while driving on the, Highways, By-ways & Motorways

    Thank You once again for a very plesent experience.

    Kind Regards
    Michael.

    • Sarah says:

      Hi Michael – Thanks for stopping by and being a part of the Common Sense Marketing community!

      On the topic of driving – what kind of driving specifically are you talking about? Trucking, regular driving, etc? For regular driving, I can see there being a lot of potential in an info product/blog/email newsletter targeted towards parents of new drivers, offering tips on how to keep their darling children out of accidents and their cars out of the shop.

      Of course, you’d want to look into any applicable licensing requirements – I’m not sure if you need any kind of special permits to talk about driving safety – but I think that something talking not just about “how to drive” specifically, but how to handle a new driver might be really interesting.

      Let me know if there’s anything else I can do to help!

  11. Georgia says:

    Or the sitcom writers who put words in celebrity’s mouths once a week?

    Actually, it should be ‘words in celebrities’ mouths.’

    Oh, the irony of a grammar mistake in an article about how to be a writer.

    • Sarah says:

      Good point – I’m sure any Hollywood writing positions would pay off pretty nicely, although I can’t say for sure, as I’ve never pursued that avenue. I’d love to hear from people who are writing in those positions, though – it sounds fascinating!

      Thanks for stopping by :)

  12. Sarah, could you explain the different licensing styles for places like squidoo and AC? Let’s say I review a local restaurant. Is it better to submit it exclusively to one site, or to send it multiple times to multiple contributor sites with a different license?

    • Sarah says:

      Arturo – Depends on the site you’re submitting it to. Some sites offer different payouts for exclusive content versus content you’ve shared on multiple sites, so in most cases, you’ll need to specify where/how you’re sharing the content when you post it. Each site’s TOS can give you more info on specific practices, and it’d be worth experimenting with taking higher payouts for exclusive content versus lower payouts on multiple sites to see which results in the highest earnings.

      Hope this helps!

  13. [...] 15 Ways to Get Paid to Write | Common Sense Marketing So consider the following ways to get paid to write. No matter what your goals, you’ll find a method of earning money as a writer that’ll work for you: Low Hanging Fruit Of course, writing for the sake of writing isn’t what we’re after here. Even if you do want to change the world through the power of the written word, you’ll find that it’s a lot easier to do your writing on a full stomach, in the comfort of your own home than it is if you’re living the starving artist lifestyle. Basically, you want to get paid! [...]

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