Editorial note: All Guest Post authors share their views and experiences, and do not represent Week of Saturdays.
If the harsh reality of the present economic situation is forcing you to look for alternative ways to make money as a freelance writer, and you’re wondering:
“Can I Make Money From Writing Without the Regular Route of Freelance Job Boards?”
Yes, you can!
And no, you don’t have to work for $5 while at it. It takes time to work your way up to earn a lucrative income from freelance writing, but it is possible. Here is a little secret:
The most high-value writers are not necessarily more experienced or talented than you are, they simply know how to get paid.
If you want to join this league of well-earning writers, here are 11 ways to get started:
1. Pitch a Guest Post
If you love sharing tips about unique topics, and you’re on the look out for ways to get paid for your passion, writing guest posts for magazines in that niche is a lucrative avenue.
The exciting part about this option is that you can get paid recurrently without having to commit to submitting articles regularly. Basically, you earn money for doing what you enjoy. If you have a great article or essay idea for one of your interests, simply pitch it to any of these blogs to get paid:
This blog is a reputable frugal living website with a monthly newsletter. If your pitch gets accepted, you earn $0.10 per word for your tips or stories (as published in the newsletter).
American College of Healthcare Science accepts posts (between 600-1,000 words) related to health and wellness. If that is your niche, pitch! ACHS pays $50 per post.
The Penny Hoarder is a blog committed to posting tips on the unique ways to earn and save money. If you have interesting ideas to pitch, you should do so right away. The Penny Hoarder pays a flat rate per post and offers bonuses of up to $800 if your blog post reaches a particular number of views.
Back to College accepts articles relating to older students heading back to college. Their pay is between $32-$65+ per post.
iWork Well is a website for business, and it covers a wide range of topics. This site pays up to $200 per post (if accepted).
Bitch Media aims to provide thoughtful feminist responses to popular culture and mainstream media. They accept articles between 1,200 – 3,000 words. Their pay ranges between $150 – $1,000 (depending on the nature of the article).
If you love writing self-improvement tips (like I do), you should consider writing for Better Humans. They accept articles on self-improvement and human potential (and they are strict about writers having personal experience with the advice they are giving). The minimum word length for their articles is 2,750 words. Their pay is around $500.
Tip: Ensure you familiarise yourself with the blog you want to pitch to and its guidelines. Carry out proper research before submitting a pitch so you stand a chance of getting accepted.
2. Self-Publish Your Book
Do you find it hard to complete your novel or non-fiction book? Why not try out serializing and publishing it? Andy Weir did it with The Martian. And he didn’t just make money off the book sales, he also got a movie deal.
You don’t have to go through the traditional publishing path before you can make money off book sales. With Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, you can self-publish and manage yourself.
Upload your book, get it ready in Kindle-format, and start promoting right away. Let your market know that you have a book published and available on Amazon.
For more useful information on self-publishing, check out Steve Scott’s website on the subject.
Sign Up With Content Sites
From how-to articles to email newsletters, content sites pay for essays of all lengths.
But before you write for content sites, get familiar with AP style as content clients want error-free writing. Learn as much as you can about the site and its style before taking its entry test. Also, avoid showcasing your personality in your write-ups. Content sites want a clean and straightforward copy, no quirkiness.
You want to be extra careful when applying to content sites because if you don’t pass, you’ll have to wait a few months before getting another chance.
Not all content sites pay the same rate and offer the same quality of assignments. Crowdsource is an excellent content site to get started with. Content sites are a great start for beginners. But once you have gained some experiences, you can want to move on to better-paying opportunities.
Participate in Writing Contests
There is no barrier stopping you from hopping on writing contests. Whether you are a beginner or an established professional, you can always participate in writing competitions. From short stories to poems, there are several unique writing contests out there. And they offer attractive prices.
To get started with writing contests, check out The Write Life’s list of 27 Free Writing Contests to see if you can win any cash price.
Cold Pitch Your Desired Clients
Cold pitching to prospects who you think might need your services is one of the best ways to create a steady stream of income for yourself. More importantly, it is the smartest way to work with people who you enjoy working with.
If you’re on unsure about how to get started with cold pitching, here are few tips to help you get started:
- Identify the people you want to pitch – When it comes to pitching in the freelance world, research is as vital as the content of your proposal. Ask yourself, “Who are the people I want to send pitches to?” Once you identify them, look for their LinkedIn profile and check if you can find their email address. While you’re at it, read up what their job description and what they care about.
- Compose your pitch – Once you know enough about your desired client for your email not to sound like you’re a random job, send in your pitch. Make you keep things as short as possible. Follow this process: Indicate your purpose > Sell yourself (by indicating important info about you) > Conclude.
- Time your pitch – Timing is everything when it comes to cold pitches. The best time to send pitches is during weekdays, preferably towards the end of work hours (between 2 – 6 pm). At these times, people are relaxed, and they might spare some time to read your pitch.
While cold pitch is a good strategy, remember that you will not get a response to every email. From my experience so far, getting one reply back out of every ten emails is a great thing. That is one extra client you didn’t need freelance job boards to find, and that is a significant win. So, keep pitching. You’ll get better results over time.
Submit Short Stories to Penpee
If you are a creative writer who derives joy from creating exciting stories and you want to get paid, don’t look further than Penpee. It is a platform that allows you to write stories and get paid for them.
Every time someone reads your published story on Penpee, you earn credits. After that, you can convert these credits to cash and withdraw through PayPal and bank transfers in more than 35 countries.
The best part about this platform is that you don’t need to be a polished writer to submit your story. The editors would help you edit your content before it goes live. Essentially, you get to earn, learn, and improve.
Publish Members-Only Articles on Medium
You’ve likely heard about Medium. The blogging platform that allows people to share their thoughts and get applause as a form of likes. But did you know you can earn money for every story you publish on Medium? Yes, you can, and the process is seamless too. Here are the steps to becoming a paid writer on Medium.
Your earnings depend on the popularity of your content. I’ve read about Medium writers who make thousands of dollars. You can become one too.
Although this is tougher to break into, magazine writing is one of the best ways to earn money from writing. Writing for magazines can help you earn between $0.10 to $2 per word. In the long run, that nets you a lucrative income. The only downside about magazine writing is that it is less consistent.
If you want to get work published in a magazine, here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Have a compelling story idea – This might involve uncovering a story that the media has not looked into or one that you have personal experience in. Having a story that you feel passionate about will favour you in the sight of a magazine’s editors.
- Make a list of publications you’d like to pitch – Once you identify your topic idea, do your research and come up with a list of publications you want to pitch.
- Write a query letter – Write a short formal letter to the editor of any of the publications convincing her to consider you for publishing. If the magazine has more than one editor, send the letter to the editor in charge of your niche. In your letter, ensure you address him/her by name and provide work samples that you’ve done in the past.
- Wait – This is a vital step. Give the editors adequate time to respond. But if they don’t respond within a few weeks to a month, send a letter telling them you’re moving on with the idea.
- Follow Up – These publications might respond to your pitch simply to tell you any of the following: They don’t like the idea, they want you to modify the idea, or they want to publish the idea. Whatever happens, ensure you follow up through and agree on a deadline. Then, start writing.
Become a Conversion-Focused Copywriter
In summary, copywriting means writing that is designed to make readers take a specific action.
Video scripts, sales letters, product descriptions … name it, these are examples of copywriting.
Copywriting is rewarding as writing a high-converting sales page might earn you as high as $2,000. However, you need to learn the principles of copywriting before you delve into it as a means of income. You need to learn to invest in learning the cores of copywriting. To get started, you can read some of the books listed here in our writing resources.
To become a professional copywriter, you can get started with AWAI’s Accelerated Programme for Six-Figure Copywriting. Once you know your onions, you can look for jobs on sites like Get a Copywriter.
Sign up to ClearVoice
ClearVoice is a content marketing platform where you can create a portfolio and get leads in your portfolio. Essentially, ClearVoice sends gigs to your email inbox. Unlike other job boards, ClearVoice is less stressful as all you need to do is share writing samples and set your rate. Afterward, ClearVoice matches clients to you.
Consider ClearVoice as a matchmaker of clients and freelance writers.
Create Your Product
While it might take a while to execute, creating products like an eBook, online courses, or masterclasses is a great way to make money as a freelance writer. The best part about creating your own products is that it generates a long-lasting income. It also frees up your time as it targets lots of people at the same time rather than a 1:1, which is time-consuming.
So, if you have an idea for digital product in your niche, this should be part of your long-term goals.
It’s time to finally make money from writing
If you are serious about getting paid for your writing skills, then decide:
Which of these paths mentioned above will you follow? Guest blogging? Writing Contests? Magazine Writing? Digital Product creation? Getting gigs on ClearVoice? Self-publishing on Amazon? Submitting short stories on Penpee? Copywriting? Or writing for content sites?
If none of them feel like an exact fit for you, that’s okay. Pick the one that feels closest or easiest and try that. Remember, discomfort is a price for getting started.
We wish you the best!