I jest, of course. But not really, because I fully plan on becoming a millionaire. I already have my lifestyle picked out.
There are a TONNE of platforms out there that will allow writers to make money.
What you need to consider is how much time you have, how much money, and what you want to get out of it. I’ll discuss the three main ways writers can make money which are:
- Create your own website/book
- Write for paid writing sites, like Medium
- Freelance, and get paid for writing for other people.
We’ll go all traditional, and do a pros and cons list of the three ways.
As I said, there are more ways to make money writing, but these are the three broad categories.
None of them is the easiest, or the best, or the others wouldn't exist. You just have to find out what you like OR hate yourself and do all three.
I recommend having a crack at one or two, and fit in a third if you have time.
Create your own website/book
- Low barrier to entry
You can set up your own website or write your own book for free. Actually free.
- You can write about whatever the hell you like
House rabbits, elven weaponry, BetaMax. WHATEVER.
- You can write as much or as many as you like
Sure, it’s beneficial to niche down, but you can write multiple blogs or websites. You can do it for free after all. You’re only bound by your time and energy.
- Anyone can do it
Yes, technically a pro, but it also means competition is high, and you have to work out a way to stand out from the crowd. Millions of people are trying to achieve their dream of being a professional writer — can you outlast them all.
- It takes time
Yeah, don’t think you’re gonna be quitting your day job any time soon. We’re talking years here, especially if you’re writing a book and don’t have a website to accompany it.
If you’re writing purely to make a bit of cash, you’re unlikely to stay the course. Sorry.
- It’s hard af
It’s not just the competitiveness. You have to be an expert at managing your time, you have to learn programmes like Wordpress and Canva, all whilst battling imposter syndrome. Oh, and sticking out those first few months when no one cares.
- You can’t work in a vacuum
Sorry, introverts, but you can’t.
Whether you need an editor, agent, publisher, or just to interact with your viewers, you will need to forge alliances with people.
Write for Medium (or similar)
- It’s free
I would recommend that you get a paid membership, but it’s perfectly possible to make money on Medium without doing so. It’s just easier to feel part of the community if you’re an avid reader, commenter, and clapper.
- You can write about whatever you like
There are niche publications you can join if you like separating your niches and maintaining some level of organisation *raises hand*. You can start your own publications if you’re not ready to start pitching to bigger ones yet.
- You don’t need much backend knowledge
Ugh, what an awful phrase.
It’s true though. Medium has a super simple interface that is great for learning how to write for the internet (which is like normal writing but you press this key — ️↩️ — more than you ever thought you would) without having to learn Wordpress.
- You don’t need to worry about images
This is an extension of the previous pro, but I love how easy Medium have made it to add photos from Unsplash.
- You can make serious money
There are people on Medium making ten grand a month.
- You can syndicate content to Medium
I don’t know why I haven’t always done this, because it seems like a no-brainer. If you don’t want to active on Medium, you can still post the content from your blog onto Medium. It takes about five minutes, and you never know: you might earn a significant amount of money from the same content in two places.
- It’s not easy
I mean, this is obvious. I don’t know how hard it is to make ten grand a month, but when I reach it I’ll be sure to do a post all about it *fingers, toes, legs, eyebrows crossed*. You have to put time and effort into it, and like anything, you don’t know if it’ll be worth it until you do the graft.
- We don’t control it
Medium control Medium. They can change the algorithm, the way we’re paid, if we’re paid at all whenever they like. You can’t rely on the money.
To be honest, you can say this about most jobs. I’m not saying it’s not worth pursuing a Medium career, just…don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
- It takes time
I mean, if you have a lot of free time and get lucky, you could make money from Medium in the first few months of posting content here. But if you can only post on a weekly basis and are new to writing, it may take a few months to build up some momentum.
- The sky is the limit
You can choose your own clients, projects, and prices. You can make money only writing the kind of stuff you want to write: you can ghostwrite novels, write blog posts, or create email campaigns.
- Anyone can do it
You don’t need any formal qualifications or a degree or anything to get started.
- It’s low cost to start
A self-hosted website does have a certain professionalism, but it’s not necessary. What you do need is time. One of the most widely used methods of soliciting clients is with cold emails, and you’ll need to send a lot of emails (like, hundreds)to get a client or two.
As you progress in your career you can spend money on things like invoicing software, but there are plenty of free basic templates to get you going
- There’s a plethora of information out there
The same could be true for starting your own website or writing a book, but there’s almost too much information in that area. However, there’s a lot of free content about starting freelance writing and a few highly regarded paid courses that a lot of people credit for getting them started. Elna Cain and Jorden Roper are the ones to Google.
- You can make money quickly
See the word ‘can’ in the above sentence? Yeah, it’s there for a reason.
I, for example, didn’t make money quickly. I just don’t have the hustle to write that many emails. Or, indeed, find that many emails. Freelance writing wasn't for me, but it could be for you, and some people report making thousands of pounds in their first few months.
I wish it was for me, but alas, I like writing about plants on my own website and writing about myself writing about plants here. We can’t all be the same.
- So. Much. Competition.
It’s a really common side hustle (probably because of the low barriers to entry), and there’s always someone more qualified, more experienced or cheaper than you.
This is why you must niche down. Being an expert in your field is the best way to stand out.
- There’s a lot of scams out there
When you’re first starting out, it’s tempting to take those penny-a-word gigs (or worse, getting paid in exposure).
And sure, if you don’t have a portfolio, £30 is better than nothing.
But don’t be afraid to charge more. You’ll attract higher-quality clients and are less likely to burn out. Know your worth.
If you want to build a portfolio, but don’t want to work for some cheapskate that doesn’t value your work, reach out to a local charity or school or someone that would really value your work but maybe can’t afford to pay.
Offer to write a few blog posts either for free or a discount, and then you can either continue at your normal rates or part ways.
- You have to write for your client
Which means vacuum cleaner product reviews. Or whitepapers on some dull B2B software.
Sure, you should have some interest in your niche, but your client will dictate the direction your writing will go, and sometimes it’s boring. It’s unlikely that your client will pay you thousands of pounds to write about whatever the hell you want.
I wish I could be bothered to think up a better title for the last bit of my story than ‘conclusion’ but I can’t.
Most of you probably don’t make it this far tbh, so why bother? I can write whatever I like here. Willy. Hah.
Also, it is the conclusion.
I’m sorry if you thought I’d be able to tell the best way for writers to make money, but it really depends on you. I tried freelancing off and on for a while but it wasn’t for me.
Instead, I set up a ‘hire me’ section on my website and left it. I don’t particularly desire to freelance write, but if someone needs me, I’m there.
My main source of income will always be my own websites and ebooks. I like the set-it-and-forget-it-aspect.
I wrote a load of posts on veganism and left it. I write more posts when I fancy.
I repeated this with house plants, and when I hit 100 posts I might start another. And another. So I get a small amount of ad revenue from multiple websites.
I’d write a post on my strategy but, er, that’s it.