The Ultimate Guide to Making a Living Writing

No exaggeration, No BS

Is it just me, or does it seem like everyone on planet Earth wants to learn how to make money writing?

Making money writing is one of those strategies that sounds sexy, but when it comes to the following through, it can be quite difficult.

Difficult, but not impossible.

Can you make money writing? Absolutely.

But you won’t be able to do either until you adopt the right attitude.

All of the strategies I’m going to share with you work. How do I know? Because I personally use each of these strategies to make money writing myself.

If you want to make a living writing, you need to have the following qualities:

Still with me?

Let’s take a look at the income streams I personally use to make money writing.

My Number One Blogging Income Stream by Far

As long as the website exists, I will bang the drum and be one of its top evangelists because this site almost solely afforded me the opportunity to quit my job and become a full-time writer.

I joined Medium in late 2015 after seeing someone on my Twitter timeline share that she had an article go viral on the website.

I had no idea how the site worked, but by that point, life taught me to always seek out and seize new opportunities. When I joined Medium, it didn’t have as many writers on the platform as it does today, but it had a sizeable audience already. Call it right place, right time, but the true lesson is to always be on the lookout for the next trend.

From 2015 to 2017, I wrote articles on Medium primarily to build my email list. In 2017, Medium rolled out the Medium Partner Program, which pays writers based on engagement from Medium members. I gave it a test run and when I saw the results I just kept going. Nineteen months later, I had my first five-figure month on Medium and quit my job.

Anyone reading this right now can start writing on Medium and start making an income in as little as 30 days. In the beginning, you likely won’t make much money at all. But if you stick with it long term, you can make anywhere from a decent living to a full-time living.

Pros of writing on Medium

Cons to writing on Medium

Resources on success on Medium

How to Make Money Writing and Achieve a Life-Long Dream at the Same Time

According to a New York Times survey, 81% of people say they have a book in them. If you’re an aspiring writer, odds are you’d like to publish a book. And I think you should.

There’s nothing quite like having a book, a solidified piece of thought, out there in the world. Thanks to self-publishing, you can put together a professional book without having to use a traditional publisher in the process at all.

Self-publishing gives you total creative control over the content of your book, the design and packaging of your book, the price of the book, and the timeline for when the book comes out. You also get higher royalty payments from self-publishing than you would a traditional publisher.

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I’ve published three books. My first book made a few thousand dollars. My second book did much better, making multiple five figures. And my third and most recent book is pacing to outdo both of those books combined and then some. With each new book you put out, you have a larger audience to share your book with.

Most self-published authors write multiple books to build up a catalog that can lead to a more substantial living. Again, if you like to write a lot, you can put out multiple books and make a living from them. I personally know writers who do just that. They’re not famous, but they make a living with serial publishing and reach the goal of making a living with their words.

Pros to publishing books

Cons to publishing books

Resources on successful self-publishing

Share Your Wisdom With the World

If you write ‘how-to’ content, you can leverage that knowledge to make money teaching people about your subject. You can become a coach, create online courses, or become a consultant.

After a few years of learning how to write myself, I provided one on one coaching for aspiring writers. Recently, five years after penning my first word, I created an online course teaching people how to build an audience and make money on Medium.

People kept asking me for advice on writing and wanted to work with me in a bit more depth, so I created the course and I’m currently working on a coaching program to go with it.

If you put your writing out there and share your expertise, you’ll have people who see the value in your work and want to work with you. When it comes to teaching others, you don’t have to be an infallible expert, you just need to have knowledge that helps other people.

One thing that struck me when observing new writers is the fact that there are many things that seem obvious to me that are totally new to them.

When you write and build an audience, you build up a level of expertise you might take for granted. Just know that people are out there who want your help and if you’re suited for it, teaching can be a great option.

Pros to coaching, courses, and consulting

Cons to coaching, courses, and consulting

Resources on coaching, courses, and consulting

How to Make Money Writing Damn Near Out of Thin Air

If you have no idea what products to create or don’t want to become a coach, you can promote other people’s products on your blog and make money writing through affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing is simple. You get a custom link to a page for a product. You add these links to blog posts or pages on your website. When people click on those links and buy the products, you receive a commission at no extra cost to them.

That’s the great part. You just share products with people who might be interested in them and get paid. I don’t do a ton of affiliate marketing. Mainly, I have a page teaching people how to start a WordPress blog that contains affiliate links to website hosting.

You’ll want to create helpful content around the affiliate product you want to promote to educate and persuade people into buying the product.

If you can attract traffic to pages on your site that contain affiliate links, you can earn anywhere from a decent trickle to a massive income. Depending on the niche and the price point of the products you promote, you can make a killing with affiliate marketing if you know how to do it right.

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Image via Ryan Robinson

Pros to affiliate marketing

Cons to affiliate marketing

Resources on affiliate marketing

A Straightforward Path to Cashflow

You can make money writing with this last model quite quickly if you’re dedicated.

It’s my lowest source of income, but I’ve still used it to make quick cashflow. When done right, you can build an amazing writing business from this model.

What is the model in question? Freelancing.

I wrote freelance articles for the digital marketing company I worked for prior to quitting to write full-time. I wasn’t making much money with other forms of writing yet, so freelancing was the quickest and easiest way to make a living at the time.

These days? I take on freelance jobs only if they come my way and only if they pay a lot of money. If you start to put your work out there, eventually people will notice the quality of your writing and want to hire you for jobs.

Also, if you start writing with the intention of becoming a full-time freelancer, you can quickly pave the way to making a full-time living if you do it right. Companies have bigger budgets to hire you than individuals.

Say you make $60,000 a year right now. To replace that income as a freelancer, you’d need five clients at a $1,000/month retainer, or you could piece together that living by finding a way to write 20 articles per month as $250.

Not only are these numbers doable, but you can charge much much higher rates than that if you have the skills and sales knowhow. Copywriting specifically, words that sell, is one of if not the most lucrative form of writing you can learn, with some copywriters making seven or eight figures.

The bottom line. The skill of writing sells. First, you develop the skill. Second, you create a portfolio displaying the skill. Last, you either go out and find or attract traffic to get clients.

Pros of Freelancing

Cons to freelancing

Resources on becoming a freelancer

The Bottom Line on Making Money Writing

The bottom line here?

You have no excuses.

All of these strategies to figure out how to make money writing work. They’ve all been successfully done to the tune of six, seven, even eight-figures.

My advice? Choose one to work on as your primary strategy until you replace your income with it. Then, build your second, third, fourth, etc. to create safety and hedge against having all your eggs in one basket.

Don’t try to do them all at once.

There are so many ways to not just make money writing, but make money online period, that you can suffer from ‘analysis paralysis’ or experience fear of missing out because you just don’t have enough time to execute them all at once.

Guess what, though?

If you wear yourself thin trying to do them all at once, you’ll surely make less money than you would have if you just chose a path and stuck to it. Not only that, but you’ll probably burn out.

Give yourself time. My blogging mentor told me it would take four to six years to make a full-time living blogging. I listened to him, put my head down, worked hard, and it took just about that long.

It will probably take you that long, too.

But a half-decade is nothing if it gives you the chance to spend the rest of your life making a living doing what you love.

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