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All of us write. It may be work communication or sending text messages to friends and family. It doesn’t matter – we write.

Have you ever considered that if you string those words into decent sentences, you could make money writing?

It’s a bit more complicated than jotting down a few sentences and hoping for the best – but not by much.

People have built careers based on the written word. Some make well over six figures a year from their writing. Many of the paths they’ve taken are unconventional but the end result is the same – they make a sizeable income from writing.

There are many ways to go about it and in this guide, you’ll learn how to make money writing, get insights into potential earnings, and find out the difficulty level of each strategy. 

How to make money writing

Before we jump in, it’s important to note that some of the ways you can make money from your words are more complicated than others. There’s also a lot of variability. Someone may make a million dollars doing it and others only may make $10.

It depends on your skill set, the time you invest, and the competition in the market. Whatever method you choose, know that it takes time and effort and you should be prepared for that.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s focus on what you came here for.

1.    Create a blog and write affiliate reviews

The website you’re on right now is an affiliate marketing blog. If you’re not familiar with what affiliate marketing is and how to get started, you can read this detailed guide.

The concept of affiliate marketing is simple. You use products, write an article reviewing them, and the ones that are good get recommended to your readers. If the product doesn’t measure up then you warn your readers against it.

You earn money by adding a special link to the product that contains your unique affiliate ID. This is a way to track the people you send to the company. If someone buys, you get a cut of the sale. Sometimes, you’re even paid for a lead.

Here’s an example of an affiliate review article:

Make money writing affiliate content

The percentage cut can range from 1% all the way up to 50%+. It depends on the type of product (physical vs digital), the business model of the partner (recurring subscription or one-off purchase), and how much business you’re sending (if you generate many customers you can negotiate a better rate).

There are many ways to go about affiliate marketing but they all involve writing:

  • Create reviews on your website and rank them in search engines
  • Send out emails to your subscriber list
  • Create social media posts and link to your partner websites with your affiliate link

There’s a common misconception that affiliate marketing is a scam or it’s sleazy. That’s simply not the case. In fact, some of the largest websites in the world are affiliate marketing sites.

  • NerdWallet
  • The Wire Cutter
  • The Spruce
  • Etc.

Affiliate marketing itself isn’t sleazy. The approach some people take can be. Focus on products you’d use yourself and make it known when products don’t meet your expectations. If you do that then you’ll be fine.

Difficulty: 4/10

Earning potential: $1000/m – $10,000,000/m.

2.    Submit short stories for publication

If you have a flair for writing fiction stories that have a clear beginning, middle, and end then you can cash in on your skills. Many publications actively looking for new writers with a bit of talent.

Examples include:

  • https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/glines.htm
  • https://firesidefiction.com/submissions
  • http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/submissions/

Each publication will have different requirements, expectations, and payment terms. Some will ask for stories less than 2,000 words while others will want the stories to be 15,000+ words.

Before you start your literary career, take a moment to think about the kind of work you want to publish. These publications have higher standards than a blog or company website.

After all:

Easy reading is damn hard writing

Nathaniel Hawthorne

That means you may be rejected a lot in the beginning but with each story, you’ll hone your voice and writing style. Few writers have been able to switch between genres so the one you choose is a decision that’ll stick with you for years to come.

Choose wisely.

Difficulty: 7/10

Earning potential: $500 – $3000 per story

3.    Write for magazines

Magazines are unique because they require a constant stream of written content. In fact, they publish long and short content multiple times a day.

Modern media companies have different types of writers which include staff writers, freelance writers, and unpaid contributors.

Depending on the size of the publication and the focus of its content, they may need outside perspectives from operators. For example, Forbes staff members can only write so much about business or marketing without doing it themselves.

That’s where you can step in and fill the gaps. If you have experience in a specific field you can get a paid writing gig or a regular column.

Unfortunately, these opportunities aren’t widely advertised by magazines. Usually, you’ll need a warm introduction or a relationship with the editors.

This isn’t as hard as it appears. Use the following framework:

  1. Create a few pieces of content that you can use as samples (bonus points if you can get them published in relevant places under your name
  2. Find the magazine you’d like to work with
  3. Find an editor you can approach
  4. Send them an introductory email and comment on their work and show you’ve actually read it
  5. Send another email a week or two later commenting on their latest articles
  6. Repeat again
  7. Ask for them to take a look at your work
  8. If they comment that they like it, ask to become a contributor

You may have to use some trial and error but this process works pretty well.

Difficulty: 5/10

Potential earnings: $1,000/m- $5,000/m

4.    Self-Publish books

Amazon upended an industry when it allowed authors to publish books without going through a middleman – the publisher.

There were no more gatekeepers and this created countless opportunities. Indie authors were able to reach their audience directly and keep more of their income.

Today, there are multiple platforms that allow you to publish your without needing a publisher.

These include:

  • Amazon KDP
  • iBooks
  • Kobo
  • Ingram Spark
  • Draft2Digital
  • Many more

Many people believe that writing a book is an epic project that requires months or years. If you’re trying to compete with Stephen King then you may be right.

That’s not the goal. Instead, the focus is on creating quality books that earn you passive income. Yes, real passive income.

Self published authors book covers

I wrote half a dozen books a few years ago and I still get a check from Amazon every month. It’s not much anymore but I use it to buy lunch a few times a month and offset a few small bills. 

Books can be relatively short (10,000 words) but they should be quality and focus on a specific group of people. Keep in mind that you’ll be creating nonfiction.

Why?

It’s much harder to sell fiction books because they need to be much longer (80,000+ words) and have a built-in audience. It’s rare for a self-published author without a budget or audience to succeed with fiction books.

The name of the game here is volume and quality. Make high-quality books regularly to be successful.

A quality book in the right niche can make $200/m. If you turn it into an audiobook, you can more than double that to $500 a month.

If each quality book you produce makes $500/m in passive income, it’ll take 10 books to earn $5,000/m.

I’d like to point out that this is one of the only business models that is truly passive. You write a book once and earn for years. Of course, earnings will reduce over time so you should continue to produce books after you hit your initial income goal.

Difficulty: 6/10

Potential earnings: $500/m – $20,000/m

5.    Create a blog and use ads to monetize traffic

This time, we’re using a different monetization strategy. Instead of relying on affiliate marketing reviews to generate income, you let others advertise on your website.

No, you don’t have to go out and find advertisers yourself. That would take up a lot of your time and limit your earning potential. Apply to the best advertising networks and focus on growing your traffic.

  • Google Adsense
  • Mediavine
  • Monumetric
  • Ezoic
  • Adthrive
  • Etc.

There are many to choose from but each one has its own traffic requirements, payment terms, and even revenue potential. I recommend taking a few days to research different platforms before choosing one.

The key with ads is generating real traffic. Spend time on content that has the potential to rank in search engines so you won’t have to hustle for each visitor via social media. That means creating content around search terms people are looking for.

Instead of “get ready with me,” to describe how you prepare for work in the morning, you might choose “The morning routine I use for more energy.”

Over time, as your audience and mailing list grow, you may be able to generate traffic on demand – not before.  

Difficulty: 1/10

Earning potential: $10/m – $400,000/m

6.    Write sales & email copy

Copy, in a writing context, are the written words intended for use in marketing and advertising. Its goal is to get people to take action based on the information provided and how it’s presented.

If you’ve ever read an ad, you’ve read copy. If you’ve ever read a description of a product, you’ve read copy.

Example of Facebook ad copy

Copy is all around us and it’s in high demand.

Why?

Because if you can move people to purchase with your words then you can scale yourself infinitely. That’s something companies who get it will pay top dollar for.

But, there’s a caveat. Writing sales and email copy isn’t the easiest thing in the world. It takes a lot of practice and you’ll get it wrong before you get it right.

It doesn’t start with the writing, it starts with the research. Who are you writing for, what do they want, what do they expect, what’s their state of mind, etc.

All of these things will inform how you write the copy.

The entire copywriting process is beyond the scope of this post. Hell, entire books and courses have been dedicated to the subject. I can point you in the right direction.

  • The Gary Halbert Letters
  • Hey Whipple! Squeeze this
  • The Adweek Copywriting Handbook
  • The Robert Collier Letter

The amount you can make varies considerably and depends on your reputation, the kind of copy you’re writing, and who you’re working with. It’s safe to say that a single email is worth $500+ and a sales page can be worth tens of thousands of dollars.

Difficulty: 9/10

Earning potential: $500 – $50,000 per job.

7.     Freelance content writer for businesses

These days, brands produce enough content to rival traditional newspapers. It includes social media posts, blog articles, email newsletters, and everything in between.

It’s often outsourced to someone because it’s too expensive to hire a full-time staff member. Or, it could be that the owner is too busy.

Whatever the reason, there’s a demand for people who can write across a variety of topics. The challenge with freelance writing is that there’s international competition.

Some people live in low cost of living areas and can charge much less. Some people live in more expensive places and have to charge much more.

If you’re positioning yourself as just another writer, you’ll never be able to make a livable wage. If, on the other hand, you position yourself as a premium writer, you’ll get all the work you want.

How do you do that?

First, you get some experience under your belt to build your portfolio. You can do that by applying for jobs on Upwork, Freelancer, or People per Hour.

Upwork writing Jobs

After you’ve gotten solid experience, approach businesses directly. Ask them if they need content written and share your portfolio with them.

This is one of the easiest (and fastest) ways to start earning income from your writing. Like many of the other methods to make money writing, your income is capped based on your personal productivity.

If you go this route, I recommend you start planning how you’ll scale your energy by starting a blog or a writing service managing other writers.

Difficulty: 3/10

Earning potential: $500/m – $5,000/m

Final word on make money writing strategies

There are many ways to make money writing and this guide has shared a few of the most popular (and lucrative). There are many that were left out.

I didn’t focus on creating a writing service, editing, and many other strategies. That doesn’t mean those methods aren’t viable.

Take one or two tactics from this list and start working on them. You may be pleasantly surprised at the results and income you earn.