Maybe you’re already making some. You’ve published a book or you’ve sold an article, story or blog post. You might even have a regular client or two. But still you wonder, “will I ever be able to make a living writing?”
The Internet offers many, many opportunities to make a living with our words. Only a few short years ago, we would never have dreamt of what is possible today.
But, there are also a lot of wild claims out there. It can be difficult to know who to believe or where to go for help and information.
The following 77 posts and places will provide you with tried and true ideas and advice. You’ll hear from writers who have struggled and from those who have thrived; there are many stories from both extremes.
One thing they all have in common? Make no mistake and leave your illusions behind. To find your success, you must understand that writing is an art AND a business.
” … whoever you are, there is a way to capitalize on your uniqueness.” ~ Carol Tice [tweet this]
The Reality of Writing for Content Mills—14 Writers’ True Stories
Carol Tice exposes the truth about the content mills. Don’t know what content mills are or why they’re bad for your financial health? This article would be a good place to start your education. I put this first on my list for a reason—when I first started looking at my options, I was thankful to find Carol’s advice.
10 Freelance Writing Money Traps and How to Avoid Them
Laura Spencer offers some advice on what you should try to avoid. This is where solid financial planning comes in.
How to Make Money from your Writing
This short post links to a one-hour videocast discussion with Jane Friedman and Orna Ross, Director of the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi). The discussion touches on the idea of diversifying or repurposing — looking beyond books for other sources of income related to your writing.
How a Chinese Fruit Vendor Taught Me to Negotiate Rocking Freelance Blogging Rates
While this post is about negotiating pay rates for freelance blogging, it won’t hurt to read this if you’re inclined to undervalue yourself, regardless of your writing specialty.
3 Secrets to Quickly Grow Your Freelance Writing Income
Here’s Carol Tice’s advice for getting your business going if you find that it’s falling flat.
Can I Really Make a Living by Blogging?
A good realistic survey of the money-making landscape for blogging.
Make Money Blogging
Problogger’s Darren Rowse provides a rich presentation of resources & ideas for making money with a blog. There’s a link to a Make Money Blogging MindMap that will give you tons of ideas!
How to Become a Writer as a Second Career
Brie Reynolds’ recent piece provides some high-level tips on starting a second career as a writer. It’s heavy on job search, if that’s more of what you’re looking for (rather than going the more entrepreneurial route). But, having said that, lines are blurring that way as more and more writers build a portfolio of jobs, wearing many hats at any given time.
Make Art. Make Money. Lessons From Jim Henson With Elizabeth Hyde Stevens. Podcast Episode 189
Joanna Penn’s blog—The Creative Penn—is a great source for writers who see themselves as “authorpreneurs”. In this podcast, she explores the blending of creative and financial success as demonstrated in the career of Jim Henson.
The Simple Shift That Lets You Earn More from Your Writing
It’s all about shifting your perspective. Linda Formichelli advises that we start thinking like a journalist, and then start using the tricks of a journalist.
Freelancing, contracting, telecommuting: surviving and thriving as a creative entrepreneur
Warning: This page might occupy the rest of your day! Pat McNees provides so many links and references to help you get started and understand the business of freelancing, I wouldn’t know where to start. Let’s just say, this is not the kind of reading you can scan.
Self-Publishing and Print on Demand
What I just said above about the freelancing information? Well, Pat McNees does the same here for self-publishing.
So, Mr Public, you really want to be an author, do you?
Jane Lovering writes a letter from the trenches with a smattering of humor, sharing the challenges of working as an author … it’s not “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”.
“Overworking, underearning, undercharging – do you recognize these issues? It’s common amongst creatives and you can change.” ~ Joanna Penn [tweet this]
Can You Make Money Blogging without Selling Your Soul?
The fact that this post was written over 3 years ago does not take away from what Jeff Goins has to say. In fact, it makes it even more interesting to read, knowing how well he has done with his blog, his business and his writing.
“Sponsored” by my husband: Why it’s a problem that writers never talk about where their money comes from
Every once in a while, an article gets published that triggers a storm of responses. This one did that. Ann Bauer shares openly that she is supported in her efforts and believes that writers need to be more honest about it for the sake of those who struggle.
A Word From My Sponsor
In response to the fuss over Ann Bauer’s post about being sponsored, Allison K. Williams comes clean about her new approach to “sponsorship” or, as she suggests, “a job like any other, this “writing-while-supported” thing.
Sponsor Goes Here: When Writing Doesn’t Pay the Rent
Stephanie Lucianovic responded to the “Sponsored” post first by Twitter, and then wrote a full article on Medium around that. She makes a valid point that it’s not just about financial support; networks and connections are a big part of the picture for writers who want to be read.
The Price I Pay to Write
Laura Bogart first reveals her very personal reasons why she can’t see her way clear to ever being “sponsored”, and then goes on to suggest that we need more stories of how women writers work “through” life’s demands, rather than how they get around or away from them. I’m just not sure how you would differentiate going “through” them versus “away” from them.
Talking About Money: Why Writers Need to Be More Honest About How We Earn
Using the “Sponsored” article as a jumping off point, this article on The Write Life has spawned a fantastically frank discussion in the comments.
Creating Money, Creating Meaning, Getting Into Financial Flow with Orna Ross
This is Joanna Penn’s podcast interview with The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) Director, Orna Ross. Among the things they discuss is the difficulty creatives tend to have reconciling their work with the idea of making a living. They explore interesting questions around the discomfort a lot of us have.
Money, Writing and Life With Jane Friedman
Here’s another “Joanna Penn podcast”. There’s a reason for that — she offers a lot of excellent content on the business of writing, and here’s one more.
From Layoff to Payoff: Penny Thomas Masters the Barefoot Living Lifestyle
This is the story of how one writer went from getting laid off from a job in the financial industry after 9/11, to become a successful copywriter and up and coming novelist.
When I was researching this piece, I initially struggled to differentiate between freelance writing and blogging because many do both. I determined the fundamental difference to be the primary activity of the business: either the blog is the business, or the writing is the business.
For example, Carol Tice has a very successful blog. But in the piece I share in this section, the income she reports is all from freelance writing work. When Tom Ewer reports his numbers (below, under “Blogging Numbers”), they include blog business income, which includes things like affiliate marketing and information products.
Actual 2014 Earnings: How a Freelance Writer Makes a Living
Nicole Dieker details her earnings from freelance writing income in 2014. You’ll be impressed with how many pieces that woman can write in a month!!
Tracking Freelance Earnings: January Income Report
As of January 2015, Nicole Dieker is now reporting monthly on The Write Life. This will be worth watching. It’s interesting to note the earnings per piece: the majority pay $50 or more.
How I Made 6 Figures as a Freelance Writer in 2011
Carol Tice breaks down her income sources in a table format, including what percentage of the income came from each source and how she found each one. Yes, the information is three years old now, but I think it remains relevant today. Lesson: diversify!
The Surprising Truth About How Much Money You Can Make as a Freelance Blogger
This article offers great advice and some numbers to go with it. If you’re interested in getting into freelance blogging, Sophie Lizard’s blog is a great place to start — for community, mentoring, and even a job board.
Rates: Editorial Freelancers Association
Handy chart #1, showing rates for editorial and writing, including things as disparate as layout of a website, proofreading and project management.
How Much Should I Charge?
Handy chart #2, in a PDF document made freely available by Writer’s Digest. There are pages and pages of freelance job types here, so I would even recommend this for those still trying to decide on their writing niche.
January 2015 Author Earnings Report
While this links to one month’s worth of data, the whole site is a wealth of information about earnings and authorship, served up by bestselling indie author Hugh Howey and “The Data Guy”. The earnings reports are full of numbers, so be prepared if you’re not a numbers type! FYI: Self-publishing IS more than just a viable option; the challenge right now is getting accurate numbers, something that Howey and “The Data Guy” are working to address.
Amazon Earnings for Self-Published Authors are Growing, Report Says
This is a good summary of the numbers you get at authorearnings.com (Hugh Howey’s site noted above), provided by Annie Rose Favreau on The Write Life. It’ll save you from numbers overwhelm, or at least ease you in slowly.
Why Authors Walk Away From Good, Big 5 Publishers
Here’s an interesting piece about how the money plays out with traditional versus indie publishing. As author Harry Bingham states, this “new era of publishing is one where authors have a meaningful choice.”
How much do authors really earn? Some answers
Scott Berkun responds to Ann Bauer’s “Sponsorship” article on Salon. To prove that she’s wrong—that authors do talk about money—he offers links to authors that share and articles that detail author earnings, and then wraps it up with a link to his own financial approach. (He and his wife implemented a plan before he quit, much like my husband and I did.)
How Steve Scott Makes Over $40K Per Month Publishing Kindle eBooks About Habits
Yes, you read that right … $40K per month!! I want to share this material with you and then I want to say, “really?!?!” But, from everything I can see, it looks legit. The question is, is it something anyone can replicate?
Six Figure Success Self-Publishing Non-Fiction Books With Steve Scott
Yes, I know, this is the second article/podcast I’m listing about Steve Scott. How could I not? The numbers are crazy to me and, in this case, the podcast is from someone I refer to often as a trusted authority in the space: Joanna Penn.
Learn from the MASTER of Kindle Publishing: Tom Corson-Knowles
Here’s another guy with huge earnings from Kindle: $12,000+ a month from royalties. Side note: Tom Corson Knowles runs TCK Publishing and offers incredibly informative training in his methods as well.
My Year On Amazon
Joanne Lewis, a fiction author of 5 novels, provides a detailed report of her royalties from Amazon for the period of May 1, 2013 to May 31, 2014. She breaks it down by month and novel, and offers some additional details to explain the ups and downs of the numbers. Contrast these numbers with the numbers of Steve Scott and Tom Corson-Knowles. There could be a lot of factors at play, but I think it’s good to see this for gaining a full picture.
These romance writers ditched their publishers for ebooks — and made millions
Interesting profiles of some of the more successful self-published romance authors. (E.L. James included.) There’s a graph in this one, comparing the performance of various genres in the the self-publishing space.
Self-Published Authors Make A Living — And Sometimes A Fortune
Even if writers don’t make a fortune, they can make a living self-publishing. Examples of writers doing better without traditional publishing are highlighted.
How Much Money do Bloggers Really Make? Part 2
The bloggers who share their earnings in this article are definitely doing it for the love of it! Again, like I did with self-publishing, I think it’s important to get a clear picture of the business landscape. It’s not all mega-numbers.
How Much Money do Bloggers Really Make? Part 3
Unlike “Part 2”, these bloggers make a decent living. It just shows it can go both ways, but there’s no question you have to get the traffic. (Average monthly page views is one of the big differences.)
Leaving Work Behind: Income Reports
For quite some time, Tom Ewer was reporting his income on a monthly basis, to show how he was growing his blogging business. He no longer reports it this way, but it’s still an education to look at his old posts.
7 Ways the Make a Living Writing Blog Makes Money
Carol Tice offers a breakdown, not only of how long it took to start making money with the blog but where the money comes from. Here is another example of finding success through the diversification of income streams.
How to Start and Scale a Service Business to Quit Your Job
This isn’t just any service business … it’s a ghost blog writer business. I never thought of it or heard of it before, but if you want to blog for someone else behind the scenes, this could be an option. (It requires a $0 upfront investment.)
How Brian Clark turned a blog into the $7 million company Copyblogger
Here’s an example of extraordinary, over-the-top success in blogging. What you’ll see here is how a blog became a big business — creating software, hosting services, etc…, in addition to providing amazing content that helps bloggers get started on the right foot.
Who Pays Writers?
This is not an article or post, but rather a searchable database started in 2012 by the editor of Scratch magazine, Manjula Martin. The listing is based on anonymous reports received from freelance writers about what they were paid by various outlets.
9 Online Gold Mines for Finding Paid Freelance Writing Jobs
Kelly Gurnett provides a list of great job sites “worth your time”, via The Write Life website.
140 Websites That Pay Writers in 2014
Here’s a post you’ll want to bookmark, pin, share, save to Evernote … what ever it is that you do with posts that you’ll want to refer to again and again. It either lists a website that pays writers or links to another list of websites that pay writers.
Be a Freelance Blogger: Job Board
Sophie Lizard generously offers free access to this board located on her Be a Freelance Blogger website. You can browse job listings and pay rates as an unregistered guest.
A free job board, courtesy of Problogger, listing a wide variety of online content writing jobs.
Flexjobs: Writing Telecommuting & Part-Time Jobs
Flexjobs offers job listings in a variety of fields, all under the overarching theme of job flexibility. I’m linking to the writing specific jobs, but think about it … if you’re in transition from another field as you move into writing, a “flex job” in any field could give you more time to write.
Flexible Jobs for Writers: These Companies Offer Remote Positions
While these aren’t writing jobs, they are options to consider if you need a steady income while you pursue your writing goals. Finding a more flexible job may just free up the time you need to get that book done!
Here is another job board, this time specifically for writers. You can search for jobs with pay rates only, as well as editor jobs, literary markets, and competitions.
How (& Where) to Get a Short Story Published
If you’re a fiction writer, this might be an option to consider between books … or, you may be a short story writer, a la Alice Munro. This piece will give you some ideas on where you can get them published.
Short stories are beautiful, but will they sell?
In light of Alice Munro’s Nobel Prize, one would think that the short story market is booming. This article identifies the ongoing challenges in the market for this type of fiction.
The big short—why Amazon’s Kindle Singles are the future
Here is yet another way technology is altering the publishing landscape. Traditional print publishers would never be willing to print a 50 page story, no matter how perfect. But now? Publish it yourself as a “single”!
How to Get Your Short Stories Published in Lit Mags
Great advice for how to get your short stories published, and why you should consider writing them (if you haven’t yet).
Let’s Write a Short Story (a Write Practice Resource)
This whole website, courtesy of Joe Bunting of The Write Practice, is packed with useful tips and resources, including an article titled “44 Literary Magazines To Submit To”.
Crowdfunding for Authors: Is it right and is it right for you?
If you’re not yet familiar with the concept, Susan Bearman of Write it Sideways gives you a thorough introduction to crowdfunding and how it would work for your book.
Top Tips on Crowdfunding for Authors
Written by ALLi’s own Crowdfunding Advisor, “authorpreneur” Ben Galley, this article not only explains what is involved in crowdfunding for self-publishing authors, but gives you tips on how to go about doing it well.
Is Crowdfunding for Authors a Good Idea?
Another good introduction to crowdfunding, this article explores what’s involved for authors who want to take the crowdfunding route and how they would go about doing it. Quotable: “If you’re looking to crowdfund, think of it as a full-time marketing job.”
Kickstarted: How two Austin authors raised $19,000 in 11 hours
A news article that summarizes the success of the crowdfunding project, “Fiction Unboxed“, by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant.
A Warts-and-All Guide to Kickstarter: What Works and What Doesn’t (Plus Where We Royally Screwed Up)
Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant provide an account of lessons learned from their “Fiction Unboxed” project. I remember this one catching my eye from the start; they offered donors the opportunity to watch them write a novel from scratch. Very cool … and I heard a rumor they’ll be doing it again.
Example: CursiveLogic (a workbook and method of teaching cursive writing)
This recent project intrigued the teacher in me, so I had to share. A teacher, concerned that cursive writing skills are becoming a lost art, decided to find a way to teach it in a way that would give students a fast and easy result. She got her workbook funded well beyond her goal.
Combined, you will find hundreds of ways for you to submit your writing in the list below, and there are probably many more specific to your area and country. I tried to limit this list to opportunities open to international applicants. (For example, I saw many, many sites from Canada, but they were for Canadians only so I left them out.)
It’s worth taking a look. I’ve read accounts of quite a few writers who do quite well for themselves just with contests alone.
Final Wrap Up
I hope you have found some useful resources and information that will help you on your path to making money with your writing.
Was there an idea you hadn’t thought of before? Did you find something new that intrigues you enough to give it a try? Is there a particular approach identified on this list that has worked/not worked for you?
Comments are now closed, but I always love to hear from readers so feel free to contact me!
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