So you want to be a professional writer.
That’s the goal, right?
First off, I want to congratulate you–most people don’t know what it is they really want.
This means you can’t treat writing like a hobby. After all, this is your future career we are talking about here.
If you are willing to work really hard and be very dedicated, you can do it.
A Word of Warning
Before we dive deeper, you must pay close attention to your emotions. Do everything you can in your mind to avoid the comparison trap. You may have to do some intentional free work or poorly paying work to get your foot in the door.
Your writing journey is not going to be exactly like someone else’s.
You’ll need some thicker skin to do this; rejection comes with the territory.
So just know that going in.
Success comes when you show up consistently over time.
Without further ado, here are 15 ways to get traction with your writing career:
1. Writing Blog Posts For Other Websites.
This is kind of like guest posting. However, in most cases, you won’t get credit for the writing. You could call it ghost blogging if you want a term for it. This is by far one of the most common ways that many writers make income from writing. Every blog needs great content on a regular basis to have an impact and to stay relevant. You know you can provide this—and you have the experience to prove it in the form of your blog.
The Problogger Job Board is very a popular place to find some of this work. Rates are all over the map for this kind of writing, from free to hundreds or even thousands of dollars per post. When first starting out, don’t worry about what a gig pays; just do as many as possible (in the area you want to focus on) if you really want to pursue a writing career.
Pro Tip: Sign up for the Morning Coffee Newsletter. This great resource sends you open writing positions to your email. Apply for the jobs that interest you.
2. Rewriting Resumes and Cover Letters.
If you have a lot of experience with resumes or cover letters, this is a great area to consider. When starting out, go for the direct connection first. Let others in your network know you do it. Facebook is fantastic for this. Rates typically range from $100-500. (Please note that all dollar figures are just a guide.)
Pro Tip: Check out some of the top resume sites and talk to any friends you have in HR or who own a small business to see what they specifically look for in a resume.
3. Rewriting Webpages.
One great example is rewriting an About Me page or writing a FAQ page. The Start Here page is quickly replacing many pages, so study some great examples such as this one or this one. Write–or rewrite–a few for some bloggers you know to improve, and you’ll likely have some solid recommendations as well.
4. Writing Emails.
Writing good emails (that get opened and people respond to) is truly an art form. If you have experience with email marketing, your skills are VERY MUCH in need. This would work well with as a service that focuses on product launches. Figure around $30-100 an hour for this service.
Pro Tip: Go through your own email inbox. What have you opened? What emails envoked a response? What have you purchased because of an email? Make notes of what emails stand out and reverse engineer them.
5. Writing Newsletters.
Newsletters are a great way to stay connected to the audience, and this does not have to be writing the entire newsletter; even just outlining or co-writing newsletters is a very valuable service in great demand. Pricing estimates vary, so assume around $30-100 an hour.
Pro Tip: Keep in mind that newsletters are written for a specific audience. Look at the ones you like and analyze why you like them. For example, I really like Amy Lynn Andrew’s Useletter.
6. Write a Book Yourself.
The best part of this option is that you have total control of this. You are the boss. You will not know how much money you will make from it, but with proper research and if you know your audience well, you can make money from a book.
Yes, this will likely take a month or two. But you can surprise yourself with how much you can write in a very short amount of time. I recently created a new course called Write Publish Share that takes you through the ENTIRE book writing and publishing process. (Assuming you purchase level 1 of the course, plus a great cover, editing, and marketing, you can have a finished book in hand for between $500 to $1000. Even less if you barter your services for editing and a cover.)
7. Write a Book for Someone Else.
Many who want to write a book don’t have the time or ability to write a book. In most cases, the ghostwriter does interviews or gets an outline from the author and then writes the book. This is actually really straightforward, and the author is the one who gets credit for the book. The ghostwriter is paid a flat amount for the work. Typically, a ghostwriter is paid 50% up front and 50% upon completion of the book. Ghostwriting costs range from as low as $5K to around $20K to write a book.
8. Write Tweets or Social Media Updates.
Do this for someone else and load them into an app like Buffer or Hootsuite. This takes time, so many writers put it off. If you can keep someone connected to others on social, there is great demand for this. If you are good with photos, you could design photos using an app like shareasimage.com to make customized photos and artwork. Figure between $30-100 an hour for this service.
Pro Tip: Engage with a business or blog that does not have much of a presence in social media. Just offer to help out for free and do some high-quality work that blows them away. More often than not that will lead to some freelance work.
9. Write Sales Copy For Books.
Not just on Amazon, but for everywhere a book is up for sale such as Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, etc. You could also write the sales copy for the book’s landing page as well. Between $.15-.50 cents a word is a good estimate there.
10. Writing For Magazines.
Magazines—both physical and online magazines often pay writers well. The only downside is that you often have to submit a query and the process can be more time-consuming. Being paid a dollar a word is quite common with some magazines. It really depends on each publication.
11. Doing Podcast Transcriptions.
There is a great demand for this. Obviously, it will take some time to be proficient with this skill, but once you get good at transcribing, you can work very quickly and make good money doing it. Average rates go from $30-150 to transcribe an hour of audio with one to two people talking.
12. Writing Show Notes for Podcasters.
Most podcasters can’t stand to do this. This and editing the podcast are the two biggest pain points I consistently hear from podcasters. The cost will depend on the detail of the show notes, and now long the podcast is in length; a good guide would be between $15-50 for one episode.
13. Find Other Problems and Offer Solutions.
This can focus on writing depending on how you do it. If you read an ebook full of typos, contact the author and offer to fix them for free or for a fee (the choice is up to you and where you are in your writing journey).
14. Writing for Magazines.
15. Check Out Elance/Odesk/Fiverr.
Yes, there are a lot of extremely low-paying gigs on these sites, but I know several people who have done well posting here. The rates are all over the map on these websites. I have not had much success with this, but in all honesty, I have not tried very hard on these platforms. Perhaps the more time you spend on it, the better you will do. With Fiverr, the key is to offer different options which will allow you more opportunities to make more than five dollars.
A couple More Ideas (just to help you even more)
1. Editing Books—specifically ebooks—is always in great demand.
There are many, many ebooks out there and I have worked with five editors on different books myself. And the best thing about editing is that it actually makes you a better writer. (Yes, I just told my secret about why I love being an editor.) Payment is often 50% up front and 50% on completion. Pricing ranges from .01 per word to .10 per word.
2. There Is A GREAT Demand For Editing Blog Posts.
In many cases, editing (and rewriting) is the difference between a great blog post and a mediocre one. Often this is paid per post or for a number of posts each month. The challenge here is to find blogs that are
3. Help Authors with Book Launches.
This is one of the biggest needs for authors, right up there with coffee. If you are good with organization, social media and project management, there is always a need for this. In many ways, the book launch is more difficult than the actual writing of the book itself. There is a lot of work involved: coordinating interviews, writing guest posts, asking for book reviews and engaging your book launch team. Hope marketing does not work. Intentionally connecting with as many people at intentional times does. Volunteer to help another writer with a book launch to get some hands on experience and the next time around you can charge for your services.
How To Find Opportunities
First, you need to have a network in place. You likely have one in place even if you think you don’t; if you are online, you have a network. Reconnect with people you know on Facebook, Twitter and Linked In or any other social network you use. You want to let them know that you are pursuing freelance work, but don’t just send a message and say, “Hey I’m freelancing. Got any leads?” This is kind of a jerk move. If it is your buddy that you spoke with yesterday, then this approach might be fine, but in most situations, you need to reconnect first.
Common courtesy is always a good thing. Ask about their situation and see if you can help before asking for anything. Then, mention what you are up to with freelancing. Yes, this may sound counterintuitive. I know you’re itching to find some work; be patient.
Good things come to those who work hard and are nice to others.
This is by far the number one way I have found the most freelance work. Applying for jobs is important as well, but a direct connection always beats being one of many emails sitting in an inbox.
Know that rejection is part of this process. You have to intentionally look for work; it is only when you are established will others come to you with work.
For anyone who is interested, I do offer coaching services and can provide help with all of these services listed in this post. This is what I spend the majority of my time doing for my business. I will work with you and give you honest, encouraging feedback so you can bring in some income. Just go here for more info. Wouldn’t it be great to bring in hundreds–even thousands per month of income with your writing?
Now repeat after me: You can do this.
I KNOW you can.
Shoot me an email and let’s chat about how you can move forward today.
Do you know any other ways to kick start your writing career? Share them in the comments!