Is it difficult to make a living writing?
Yes and no.
If you love to write, then making money as a writer sounds great. You get to do what you love while providing for your family or your future. Go ahead. Just picture yourself in your fuzziest socks at ten o’clock in the morning, drinking coffee and typing away instead of running around an office getting coffee for everyone else. Looks pretty good, doesn’t it?
But what if you have no clue where to start?
Or, on another note, you think: Why should I monetize? I’m an artist. Wouldn’t that make me a sellout?
Some writers think that way, and that’s totally fine. Personally, I want to provide for my family through my writing, so I choose to think about it from a more business-like standpoint. My poems might be pretty darn delightful, but they’re not going to pay our mortgage. So I write other things, too.
If you love to write or help others creatively and you want to make an income while you’re doing it, or if you’re a stay-at-home mom who wants to avoid taking a 9-to-5 and putting your baby in daycare, then it’s an excellent idea to monetize your blog or writing business.
This post contains affiliate links to help me keep my little blog up and running. Check out my disclosure policy for more information.
In addition to saving on childcare, some benefits might include :
- Diversifying your income for added security
- Paying off debts and meeting savings goals more quickly
- Doing what you love and learning a lot in the process
Here are some of the most effective ways to monetize your blog or writing business:
This could be a post in and of itself. Freelance writing can go so many different ways, from working as a stringer for your local newspaper to blogging for local businesses. Or you can think outside your community and write content for startups, universities, or magazines. Everything you read was written by someone, from pool toy descriptions to dishwasher manuals. (Thank you for indulging my “duh” moment.) If you have a particular interest or background that could lend credibility to your writing, focus on that and build your portfolio around it.
In my first year as a freelance writer, I wrote for tourism boards, real estate companies, IT training facilities, newspapers, and more. I also learned what you should definitely NOT do as a freelance writer. (Oops.) To find out how to make freelance writing work for you — and to learn what not to do — check out Ink Blots & Happy Thoughts: 20 Lessons Learned in My First Year of Freelance Writing.
Sell a Product
I really love blogging, but I’d be happy if I could write books all day, every day. That’s why this is my favorite way to make money as a writer. It doesn’t provide instant gratification if you want to earn an income right away, but building a portfolio of books can be an excellent way to do what you love and earn passive income.
I write novels, but if fiction isn’t your thing, you can write helpful or informative nonfiction books or ebooks. You could create and sell digital products, like ebooks, ecourses, memberships, or apps, or you could focus on physical products.
If you’re a blogger, affiliate marketing can be a great way to monetize your site and earn an income. This basically means you promote a product or service through your site (via blog posts, email newsletter, etc.) and earn a commission whenever you bring business to the company you’re promoting. If you want to make affiliate marketing work for you, though, you need to choose products related to your niche, products you use or recommend yourself. Affiliate marketing doesn’t guarantee an instant income, but over time it can be a great source of passive income. Though there are plenty of affiliate programs to choose from, my favorites are Amazon Associates, Shareasale, and Awin.
A sponsored post is exactly what it sounds like: a blog post written by you and sponsored (i.e. paid for) by the company whose product you’re advertising in your post. Many bloggers like writing sponsored posts because, assuming you write about products you actually use and enjoy (which is a good idea), it’s a great way to get paid for sharing helpful tools and info with your readers. Here’s a great post detailing sponsored posts and how to get them.
This is another popular way for bloggers to make a little bit (or a lot) of extra income from their blogs. A couple of methods include pay-per-click advertising and selling ad space on your site. This is neither my favorite way to monetize nor my area of expertise. So if this is something you ARE interested in doing, read this article to learn more about making money with ads on your blog.
Social Media Management
If you’d rather offer an actual service through your blog, social media management is a good option. According to Entrepreneur.com, 53 million people currently make up America’s independent workforce. And that’s just freelancers. Imagine how many people out there, freelancers or otherwise, need help managing the social media profiles that promote their products and grow their businesses. Managing multiple social media profiles doesn’t need to be difficult. If you’re an author or blogger, here are a few tips that might help you simplify your social media routine (and others’ too).
If you have an eye for design, this is another great service to offer clients. I, personally, do not. PicMonkey has saved my blogging life because I’m not a designer, but I’ve been able to make all of the graphics I need without having any experience. On the other hand, my husband is an excellent graphic designer, and he offers it in addition to the screen printing services his business already offers.
Can’t decide which service you’d rather offer? Offer them all! Many writers swear that hiring a virtual assistant (VA) has made life much easier by freeing up more time to write. As a VA, you might perform research, write emails, make phone calls, manage social media, and more. To learn more about becoming a VA, check out this post by The Work at Home Woman.
Tools to Help You Monetize Your Blog or Writing Business
These are the tools I’ve used since I started blogging and freelance writing several years ago. I’ve tried to include as many free resources as possible since I know how it is to have little to no extra money to spend. Others aren’t free but are very reasonable and, in my opinion, well worth the cost.
- A computer and smartphone. I just started using an HP Pavilion laptop — the kind that you can flip and basically use as a tablet. It’s light, portable, and easy to use. So far I love it!
- A website. Whether you want to make a living blogging, freelance writing, or publishing novels, you need a website. Starting one doesn’t have to be confusing or time-consuming either. I set mine up easily with Bluehost, WordPress, and this beautiful Novelty Theme from Restored 316. Here’s how I did it.
- Words/Docs/Pages, for outlining and drafting articles and books.
- Social media profiles. Choose your favorite 3 and focus on those instead of trying to master them all. I use Instagram and Twitter, but I prefer Pinterest because it has brought the most traffic to my blog and because I can keep a professional writing portfolio board I can refer potential clients to when they need writing samples (or when I need to find them myself).
- Social media scheduling tools. I use BoardBooster for $5/month and I LOVE it. It literally grows my Pinterest profile for me while keeping me off Pinterest as much as I used to be. That means I have more time to write and blog while my work is circulating. It also means I’m getting email subscribers without even trying. Another scheduler I’m looking into is RecurPost, which I’ve heard good things about. A couple of other options include Tailwind (which is highly customizable for Pinterest) and Buffer.
- Tools for managing your finances, such as Paypal, Quickbooks, or a good old-fashioned spreadsheet.
- Design tools for creating branded, consistent graphics for your blog or business. Photoshop, Gimp, and InDesign are widely-used, but I’m not *quite* that design-savvy (I’ve made peace with it. 😛 ) That’s why I use PicMonkey. You can use a few of its features for free, but at $40/year even the premium plan is extremely affordable. Plus, it’s incredibly easy to use.
- A camera and/or high-quality stock photos. I’ve been dreaming about this camera, which would allow me to take my own photos for my blog. But hey, I’m a writer and a new mama, so it’s not in the budget right now. Instead, I use stock photos. Hands down, my favorite resource for stock photos is Ivorymix. Kayla offers gorgeous, clean photos and great blogging advice. Even if I can’t get my hands on that camera anytime soon, I know I’ll always be able to find the perfect photos for my blog.
- An hour every day. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s all you need to get started. Even if you already have your hands full, you can work toward building a writing career in an hour a day, no matter what kind of writing career you want to have. I’d rather make slow progress than no progress!
From the first day I found out I was pregnant I knew I wanted to be a work at home mom. My first priority was to be available for my baby, but I also wanted to write because 1) it’s what I love to do, and 2) I want to provide financially for my family, too.
I don’t buy into those “get rich quick” claims because this has not been quick for me. I don’t think it is for many people, nor should it be. Good, lasting things take time and commitment. You can implement all of the ideas I listed above, but if you’re not committed to your writing career, it won’t work. So hang in there on the discouraging days. You’re a writer, and you have what it takes.
Did I miss anything? How have you managed to make a living as a writer? Let me know in the comments!