I think I was in the 5th grade when I first declared I was going to be a writer when I grew up. I had been writing really bad poetry since I was about 7 or 8 and in 5th grade I started reading the work of Maya Angelou. And so I decided I would one day be a famous poet like her.
As I got older the type of writing I did changed, but my love for writing never did. And as I got older I started asking myself a question that 5th grade Javacia didn’t think much about — How will I make money as a writer? This is probably a question you’ve been asking yourself, too. And this is a question I want to help you answer in part four of the Write Like a Boss series. (Be sure to read part 1, part 2, and part 3, if you haven’t already.)
Let’s discuss seven different ways you can make money with your writing skills.
I was in high school when I finally asked someone how I could make money as a writer and that person told me I could be a journalist. And so that’s what I decided I would be.
In college and grad school I made money as an intern at newspapers like The Seattle Times and at magazines like Time Inc.’s Health. After college I worked as a full-time reporter at The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky.
Now, I’m not saying you need to quit your job, go to journalism school, and become a newspaper reporter. But I am saying that you can make money freelancing.
I’ve made money freelancing for national media outlets like Hispanic Executive, Heart & Soul magazine, NPR, and USA Today. I continue to make money freelancing for local publications like B-Metro and Birmingham magazine and online publications like StyleBlueprint.
Most writers want to make money through writing and publishing books. You can do this by working hard to land an agent and a book deal, or you can self-publish. Either way, though, if you want to really make some money, you have to really market your work. People can’t buy your book if they don’t know it exists.
I’m currently working on a collection of essays that I hope to publish soon and I’ve had the honor of having my essays appear in published collections in the past.
Copywriting, Ghostwriting & Editing
Another way you can make money with your writing talent and skills is to help other people’s work look and sound better. You could be a ghostwriter or co-author for someone who has a great story to share but is having trouble getting it on paper. You could write newsletters or blog posts for companies or organizations. You could also offer editing services to other writers.
Before I move on I want to offer a word of caution. Don’t feel pressured to pursue every possible source of income mentioned in this post, especially if you don’t have a pressing financial need compelling you to do so. I have several revenue streams as a writer because of my entrepreneurial spirt, but there are some things I refuse to do. Editing is one of those things. While, I do help some of my coaching clients with blog posts and I host writing critique sessions for See Jane Write members, I don’t offer a formal editing service and when people email me asking if I will edit their essays or book chapters (which happens OFTEN) I have to kindly refuse.
You see, I am a teacher and on average I teach 100 students each year. This means I am editing 100 papers every other week (or every single week, depending on the time of the year). I am NOT adding your work to that pile. Sorry. (Not sorry.)
I started blogging about ten years ago and it was love at first post. I first started blogging for the newspaper at which I worked and because I enjoyed it so much I soon started a blog of my own. That first blog is now defunct, but in 2011 I started a new one and that same year I started See Jane Write.
See Jane Write opened my eyes to a world of possibilities for writers. Through See Jane Write I figured out I could use my skills as a writer to make money in ways beyond freelance assignments and books and that if I didn’t want to be a ghostwriter or copywriter or edit people’s work, that was OK.
Blogging offered me the chance to make money through affiliate links and sponsored posts. (I’ve also garnered freelance writing opportunities because of my blog.) But I also realized that I could start a writing-centered business and use blogging as a form of content marketing.
E-Courses & Subscription Services
After seeing other bloggers do it, I realized that I could take the informational and inspirational content of my blog, expand on it and package it into a e-course that I could sell to my readers and others. The ideas for my e-courses always come from my readers. There are always certain questions that people ask me again and again. So, I create courses to answer these questions. You can easily do the same.
If you have enough people who want help over a longer period time, you could also start a membership site or subscription service. I’ve done this through See Jane Write. Members receive an email each Monday morning with exclusive content to help them with writing, blogging, or brand building.
Speaking Engagements & Events
When I started See Jane Write I started hosting quarterly events to help women with writing and blogging. See Jane Write wasn’t a business at this time. I didn’t charge for the events and I paid for everything with my own money (much to my frugal husband’s chagrin). At this point See Jane Write was just a VERY expensive hobby.
But because of the buzz I was building through See Jane Write people started asking me to come speak at their events. At first, I was doing this for free, too, but then one day someone asked my speaker rate and I realized I could actually be getting paid for this. And thus I discovered another way writers could make money — speaking engagements. Step away from your computer to share your story or your expertise with others in person.
Eventually, I started charging for events, too. Though it is very difficult to make a profit from events (ticket sales usually just barely cover the expenses for throwing an event), it is possible if you get enough sponsors.
Coaching & Consulting
I sometimes call myself an accidental entrepreneur. When I started See Jane Write in 2011 it was meant to just be a small women’s writing group. It was meant to be a small group of women getting together once a month to talk about the writing life. But people started asking for events and so I gave them events. And then people started asking for one-on-one help and I gave them that, too. At first I gave them that one-on-one help for free. I was running around all over town after a long day of teaching meeting people at their favorite coffee shop helping them outline their book, launch a blog, or jump start a freelance writing career and I was getting paid a smoothie and smile. Finally, a business coach made me realize that what I was doing was called consulting or coaching and that I should be getting paid for it. So I started a formal coaching program and this has been my most lucrative (and most rewarding) venture yet.
So if you have several people regularly emailing you asking if they can “pick your brain” on a topic, you may have a coaching practice in the making. Do a few sessions for free in exchange for testimonials once they have results. Then launch your coaching business and use those testimonials on your website and promotional material.
- You can use your writing talent and skills to make money in a number of ways including freelancing, writing and selling books, copywriting, ghostwriting, editing, blogging, e-courses, events or speaking engagements, and coaching.
- If you have the ability to do so, only choose the revenue streams you’re most passionate about.
- Determine what e-courses or services to offer based on the questions people ask you and the help people request of you.
In the fifth and final installment of the “Write Like a Boss” series I’ll discuss the importance of having a tribe of like-minded women to support you in your journey as a writer, blogger and entrepreneur. Be sure to sign up for the See Jane Write mailing list to be notified when the next post publishes.
And if you want to dig even deeper, join me Tuesday, June 20 at 6:30 p.m. CT for the Write Like a Boss webinar. It’s FREE! I’ll go over the content covered in this series and more and I’ll answer any specific questions you have about writing and blogging. Space is limited. Sign up here.