40 Ways to Make Money as a Writer

make money writing

When people think of someone as being a writer they often think in terms of books. Fiction, non-fiction, memoir, and scholarly books all come to mind as “writerly” pursuits. And certainly books are a noble goal and worth writing if that’s what you want to do. However, there are many more ways to make money as a writer. In fact, there are so many ways to make money writing that it’s possible to make a very good income as a writer without ever penning a single book. Here are forty ideas to get you started.

Blogging

It seems like everyone has a blog these days, but there is still room for well-crafted blogs that serve their readers with useful, unique, and timely information. If you don’t want to start your own blog, you may be able to write for someone else or sell yourself as a guest poster to several different blogs. It’s also important to remember that a lot of blogging these days is promoting yourself.

Greeting Cards

You can get paid to craft those pithy sayings inside the cards.

Magazine Articles

Print magazines aren’t dead and there are thousands of them out there for just about every interest, hobby, and demographic.

Scholarly Publishing

If you have academic credentials or want to boost your credibility within the academic community, you might look into writing for scholarly journals in your field, or publishing books with an academic press. If you don’t want to enter the market under your own name, plenty of academics need help with their articles, books, dissertations, and course materials.

E-Books/Self-Publishing

It’s easier than ever for an author to self-publish their books, either electronically or in print. The positives are that you retain control of all of the content and any income you generate is yours to keep (after taxes, of course). The negatives are that you are responsible for all of the marketing of your book, as well as any expenses incurred to publish it.

Traditional Publishing

Some consider having a book accepted by a traditional print publisher to be the “holy grail” of writing. However, you will likely have to compromise on some of your content and you will still have to do a lot of your own marketing and publicity. Your publisher may also not give you a large advance and your royalties may not match your dreams.

Textbooks

You can either write whole books (see scholarly publishing, above), or write individual sections. Many publishers hire writers on staff or on a freelance basis to write sections of textbooks.

Technical Writing

Online help, user manuals, training manuals, scientific documents, research notes, and other forms of documentation fall under the heading of “technical writing.” It can be dry, but lucrative. Experience in the field about which you are writing is often helpful, but may not be required.

Marketing Copy

Businesses have to move their products and advertise themselves. They need writers to write brochures, advertisements, catalog copy, slogans, marketing emails, and direct mail pieces.

Poetry

While not (generally) a huge money-maker, poets can publish their own collections, or publish individual poems in anthologies or magazines. Also, poets may find work in the greeting card and lyricist markets.

Contests

There are contests for almost every form of writing and many offer cash prizes. You might not be able to make a living from contests alone, but the recognition you get from winning can open up additional opportunities for you.

Teaching

Many people need to learn how to be better writers. You can teach at workshops, through community education classes and private tutoring, at corporations and corporate retreats, in job training programs, and even in prisons. It’s not true that those who can’t do teach. Many writers supplement their incomes through training and teaching programs.

Content Mills

These are companies that rely on a small army of freelancers to churn out online content that will result in huge numbers of hits for the company, thus bringing in revenue through advertising. Pay is usually dismal, creativity and lovely prose are sacrificed in favor of search engine optimization, and the clips you get from working there may or may not net you additional opportunities, as more “serious” markets sometimes look down on content mills. Only you can decide whether or not a content mill is for you.

Ghostwriting

Some people have stories to tell, but not a writerly bone in their body. You get paid to tell the story, but you will receive no byline or credit for the work. It can be lucrative, but contractual limitations may prevent you from cashing in on the work should the book become a bestseller.

Short Stories

You may be able to have several published in book form, but the larger markets for stories tend to be magazines or niche websites.

Newspaper Reporter/Columnist/Editorials

Print journalism isn’t dead, yet. There are still openings for reporters and columnists. You might have the best luck breaking in at your local paper, rather than going straight for the state or national papers.

Script Writing

Sure, everyone wants to pen a movie, but scripts are also required in television, advertising, and in the corporate world.

Write the News for TV

You can write the news bits that the newscasters will read off the TelePrompTer.

Articles for Trade Publications

Sure, the big glossy magazines are a dream market, but steady, well paying work can be found writing for trade publications. These are the magazines that cover such exciting topics like plumbing, landscaping, and fish pond management, among many others. They need content, too.

Grant Writing

Helping other people secure money can be very lucrative. There is an art to grant writing, however, and you need to learn how successful grant proposals are crafted before you can expect to succeed in this market.

Travel/Tourism/Chamber of Commerce Publications

All of those brochures in the visitor’s center, the articles in the coupon books you find in the hotel lobby, and local magazines need writers. You can also write for the glossy travel magazines, but you’ll have a better chance getting in if you’ve perfected your craft at the local level.

Newsletters

Churches, businesses, neighborhood groups, and many other organizations publish newsletters. Some keep writers on staff, but many hire freelancers or talented members of the organization.

Press Releases

When a business or government organization has something to say to the public, they don’t just blurt it out. They craft a carefully worded press release that casts them and the issue or product in the best light. If you can make anything sound wonderful, you’ll likely succeed here.

Corporate Writing

Annual reports, business plans, legal documents (if you have that background), internal newsletters, catalogs, training manuals and scripts, and presentation scripts are some examples of the writing types that businesses need. Some businesses have dedicated writers and others hire on a freelance basis.

Government Work

Legislative agendas, new laws, requests for proposals, reports, meeting notes, and distilling scientific or other research into language that can be understood by the public and elected officials are all government writing jobs. Some are hired for a specific department, others work state or countywide. Small towns and counties may hire freelancers to do their writing for them.

Book Doctor

Alas, someone has written a book and it’s terrible. But they won’t give up the dream of seeing it in print. You could be hired to resuscitate the book (which may mean anything from a little editing to a full blown do-over or ghostwriter gig). You may also help the author find an agent or publisher, or help with their self-publishing plan. You’ll have the satisfaction of seeing the project live on, but you won’t get the joy of a byline.

Children’s Markets

Kids have more of a place in the world today than they used to. There are many magazines for children and teens, as well as a booming Young Adult market for books. Many corporations also hire people to write marketing and advertising copy that appeals to teens and kids. Writers are needed for kid’s TV programs, educational books, and games, as well.

Video Game Writer

Sure, the programmers make the characters appear on the screen, but it’s often writers who put together the story lines and dialogue for those games. They also write the manuals.

Resume Writer

You can help job candidates stand out by crafting a well-written resume that presents their skills in a readable, professional format.

Speaking

If your writing has qualified you as an expert on anything, you can turn that into extra income by giving talks or seminars about your areas of expertise.

Eulogies and Obituaries

It sounds morbid, but people will pay to make sure their loved one, corporate chief, or political ally gets a proper send off.

Humor

Joke books, humorous memoirs, funny advice books, captions for cartoons, funny bumper stickers, scripts for comedians, and poster captions are writing types where a good sense of humor is required. All of those things you see around town that make you chuckle were written by someone.

Editing and Proofreading

While not “writing” per se, this can be a great way to earn a little extra on the side.

Lyricist

If you have a musical bent, you can write for musicians and corporations. Sometimes they have no trouble getting the notes right, but they can’t write a decent lyric or jingle.

Web Copy

Sometimes this is synonymous with marketing copy or blogging, but there are people and companies who need writers to write the various sections of their websites. Those “About Us,” “Corporate History,” “Employee Profile,” and product pages get written by someone.

Reviewer

Books, movies, and products all get reviewed on websites, in magazines, and on TV shows. If you have a knack for criticism, you can make a living as a reviewer.

Domain Name Writer

People will pay you to come up with a great domain name. It’s not as easy as it sounds since, at this point, all of the common names have been snatched up.

Translator

If you’re fluent in another language, you can make a living translating books and articles. It may not be writing your own stuff, but often some editing and rewriting is required to make the translation read correctly.

Speech Writer

Many business people, politicians, and activists don’t write their own speeches. A gifted orator is not necessarily a gifted writer and vice-versa.

Online Articles

If you don’t want to work for a content mill, a blog, or the Internet site of a print magazine, there are still plenty of places online that need content. There are some web-only “magazines” that cover a variety of issues, and there are plenty of niche sites. Some businesses also post articles related to what they do or sell.

Social Media Writer

There are businesses that are (or need to be) on social media, but have no clue how to go about it or what to say. They need someone who can write Tweets that make sense, or Facebook postings that attract potential clients. This might be the province of someone in marketing, but some businesses have created dedicated social medial jobs, or you might be able to offer yourself up as a freelancer.

Writing skills are valuable. Everything you see around you that has words on it was written by someone. That means that whatever you’re looking at could be a potential market for you. The good news is that while some markets require a large number of clips or a solid portfolio of work, many are open to beginners. Especially local, community publications and organizations. They may not pay much, but you can get in, build up your reputation, and network your way to higher paying opportunities. If you can write well, doors will open.

Even better, you can do several types of writing at once. You can be both a technical writer and a marketing writer, if you want. That way, if one market temporarily slows down, you have others to fall back on. The more types of writing you can offer clients, the higher your income is likely to go.

And here’s a final piece of advice: Don’t get hung up on the idea that you’re not a writer if you haven’t published a book. I used to hem and haw whenever someone asked me, “What do you do?” because I didn’t want to say, “I’m a writer.” It seemed as though I couldn’t claim that title if I hadn’t written a book. Fortunately, I got over it. I write many different types of articles and manuals. I put my rear end in the chair every day and write something for someone. And I get paid for it. If that doesn’t make me a writer, I don’t know what does. So now, when someone asks, “What do you do?” I proudly say, “I’m a writer.”

(Photo courtesy of Tony Hall)

27 comments

    1. Most people want to make money overnight, and also a lot of it and some think that writing will enable that. But unfortunately that is not true. It takes time, effort and patience. if you think writing is a good way to make money fast, you’re going to be sorely disappointed.

  1. People should appreciate this as a source for understanding the different ways one can make money when writing. Most think there is only one way — to write a book — when in reality, there are a lot of great ways to use writing to make a living. Be creative and open you mind to alternative possibilities if you want a full-time career as a writer!

    1. Just remember that a lot of these “writing careers” are such that your friends won’t see you as a writer. That doesn’t mean you aren’t, just that most people have preconceived ideas of what a writer is. If there is a part of you who wants others to acknowledge you as a writer, then keep this in mind as well.

      1. If your friends don’t see you as a writer because of the type of writing you do, then are they really your friends? Your main obligation is to yourself and the passion you have. If you are writing, then you are a writer no matter what anybody else says.

  2. I want to make my living writing, but it’s difficult to find work as a writer that pays well. The problem is that I need money right now, and it makes it difficult to write a novel when you need money to live today. How can I start making money writing right away? Is there a good way for me to make a living as a writer without having to wait a year until my first novel is published? How do writers survive when they have to spend so much time doing it and not getting anything in return? These are all questions that I’m struggling with, and I need help to figure out how I can be a writer which I love but still be able to survive. What is the best way to do this?

    1. If you aren’t making ends meet without your writing, you are going to have a difficult time being a full time writer. Most writers write during their spare time after working other jobs. If you want to get paid writing, you’re going to have to write what others need written, not what you want to write. The best way to begin is to make sure you write during your spare time and get a job that pays well and doesn’t exhaust you so much you don’t have the energy to write.

  3. It is me here and I find this topic to be of great interest. Who doesn’t want to make money writing? I look forward to putting these ideas into practice and earning a lot of money as a writer in the future!!

  4. If you choose to be a writer, you need to realize that you’re not going to make a lot of money. Sure, there are exceptions to the rule, but for most people writing isn’t a full-time job. I hate to break it to you, but these are the facts. Be a writer because you want to be a writer, not for the money. If you do it strictly for the money, you’re going to have a bad time.

  5. If you need to make some quick money, Fiverr is an easy way to make some extra money writing quickly. There are always people that need something written. The thing about it, though, is that it’s quick money — it;s not good money. But if you need a few bucks right away, it’s an option

  6. Most writers won’t make a lot of money writing. That’s Okay. Most people who write do so as a hobby, not to make a lot of money. They don’t want writing to be a JOB, they want it to be an expression of their thoughts and creativity.

  7. This article makes it seem like making money as a writer would be easy with all the suggestions. It’s not! I’ve been trying to be a writer for 2 years now and I’ve hardly made any money. Knowing what to do and actually getting paid to do it are two different things. Nobody wants to pay a new writer.

    1. You to make money as a writer if you put your mind to it. I know because I have made money as a writer. Nothing is easy in life, but that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible. If you work hard and continue to try to improve, you can make a good living as a writer. Don’t let these Debbie Downers make you feel like it’s impossible. Anyone who truly wants to become a writer can be a writer. I know because I am one of those people.

  8. You can’t make money writing greeting cards. I hate when I see this as an option. All greeting card companies have in-house staff to write. You can’t just come up with a single idea and pitch it. Don’t waste your time trying to do this. It’s not realistic.

  9. This is a very nice post for people who would like to start to make money as there are so many possibilities when it comes to writing. It’s definitely a great way to start to make some extra money. That’s my plan!

  10. I have a PhD in biology, and now I wish to switch to writing. I feel that I could be a great technical writer, in any field, and I think I’ll enjoy it. Problem: every ad for technical writer demands a degree in technical writing, or at least in journalism or something similar.

    I have a feeling that 30 years ago it wasn’t quite like that. Nowadays there are degrees for everything. I also have a feeling that while in the USA employers might be more flexible and daring and might actually take someone like me, here in strict, buttoned-up Europe nobody’s gonna look twice in my direction.

    The solution might be freelancing, but obviously companies that advertise technical-writer positions don’t also employ freelancers; and if they do sometimes offer an assignment on Freelance.com, they pay less than minimum wage (as was widely discussed here).

    How to overcome this conundrum?

    1. It’s to take some work and sacrifice on your part, but it’s doable. What you’re going to have to do is prove yourself, and that may entail writing for a lot less than you should be getting until you show that your writing is superior. Since you don’t have the degree that people want, you’re going to have to show that you can do the job without the degree. Nobody is going to just accept your word on it. You’re going to have to show them, and that may be taking on a job without a guaranteed payment. That’s what I did to break it.

      I basically said that even though I didn’t have the journalism degree, I could do the job and to prove it I said that I would do it and if they weren’t satisfied, I wouldn’t take any pay for it. It was risky and I ended up doing a lot of work for free because of some kind of shady companies, but in the end it worked out well. I would’ve never wanted to work long term for any of the shady companies, and when I found the quality company that valued my writing skill, I found myself in a very good position.

      It takes time and work and you’re going to have to get a bit creative to even get the chance to write, but if this is something that you really want to do, it’s possible.

  11. I think one of the biggest barriers writers have to be successful is the thought that writing has to be a certain way. As this list shows, there are many different ways that you can use your writing skills to make money. Most writers only think about writing a novel. If you pigeonhole yourself to that one thing, it’s going to be much more difficult to make a living as a writer. Most people don’t think about all the other areas where you can make money writing, you’re much more likely To have success in these areas. Making a living as a writer is possible if you’re willing to be flexible on what your image of writing is.

  12. The thing that people need to remember is that when you want to make money with your writing, writing becomes a job. That means that you don’t get to write only when you feel the urge to write. You need to write consistently on a daily basis just like you would go to work and do any other job.

    1. Most people fail to understand this. To be successful in writing, you need to treat it as a job, not a hobby. Sure, there are exceptions to the rule, but there are also people who make money by winning the lottery. It happens, but it’s not a viable option for the vast majority of people. If you want to make money as a writer, you need to treat writing as a job.

  13. “I make a huge amount of money writing. It’s easy and all you have to do is buy my program and I’ll show you how to do it too!”

    If you ever see anything like that on the Internet, it’s a sure sign it’s a scam. There is no “easy” way to make a lot of money writing. It takes a lot of work and time. Just like any other business or profession,

  14. Writing is like any other job. There are a lot of different ways to make money at it, but you need to approach it as a job. I know far too many writers who say they want to write as a job, but treat it as a hobby. If you are going to make money writing, you have to commit to doing it and treat it as a job.

  15. Everyone wants to make money as a writer, but only those who are truly talented can do it. You can’t expect to be a famous writer without talent. I have that talent and one day you’ll all know my name.

  16. I have published 30 books in my vernacular and 7 in English on royalty basis.

    But the money is not much. May be I should try some of these tips. Or write

    for the joy of writing. I think I should combine the two. Thanks

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