Writing is my life, but I never thought of myself as one day being able to just write for money. You know how people say that this and that are their lives, and then they just bluff about it? I don’t. I can’t remember a single day in which I wasn’t writing something, in… years! I first started writing more than 15 years ago, with a little blog that got me into troubles while in high school. More on that later. But I’d have never imagined this being my full-time job.
In this guide:
Writing for 10 years
I started to write for money back in 2010. Well, “money” is a little much to be honest. I was making 10 bucks per week for gas, writing for a local newspaper here in my hometown. I remember driving my old Dacia 1310 (not my actual Dacia in the photo, mine had better rims) a beast of a car with an impossible steering wheel, to accidents and fires, reporting on it as fast as I could, just so that my piece would go out first.
That first job landed me a second one, at another local paper, where I’d actually gotten a salary. My first ever money made from writing stories and whatnot. It went on for a year or so, but then the inevitable degradation of the printed press got to us, and the paper was shut down. By that point, people in town knew I was a journalist, and started asking me to come work for them.
Media journey, 2011-2016
Between 2011 and 2016, I’d worked in all forms of media. I was a news reporter for the local TV station, and also wrote the news for the radio in the meantime. Then I was once again hired by another newspaper, and when that failed, we’ve made our own, and then ultimately turned everything online and have been working on our virtual news site ever since. We still do!
Over those 6 years, I’d learned everything that I know about writing, as well as time management, income, setting out disputes (as a journalist, you get a ton of that especially in a little town where everybody knows everybody) and everything else. Without me noticing, I was getting myself ready for the beginnings of my freelancing career. And one day, I quit.
The start of my freelance journey, 2016-2019
In 2016, I started looking through ways of monetizing my writing skills. I was working as a journalist and used to blog back then, but the money came really hard from these two hustles. I discovered Fiverr at first, which I’ve used for a year and made $1.000 from it. It was though, but so educational and rewarding. Then I went on Upwork and found my first real clients.
The rest is history.
Everything coming together in 2020
I consider 2016 and 2017 as trial years in my write for money story. They’ve been good and bad, but mostly educational, as I’ve said. From 2018 onwards, money started pouring in. Don’t think “6-figure” income. Instead, think “a heck of a lot more” income than in the trial years. In 2020, my already amazing income from the previous two years had grown by 30.9%!
This was my money-making journey thus far, all from writing. And I know what you’re thinking, I was lucky or had some help from some friends, or God knows what. But as you can see, becoming financially independent from writing takes time and effort. Loads of them. If you’re willing to put these two into play and make the journey, read on. If not, think again!
Types of freelance writing for money
We will talk about niche a little more down the article, but for now, we’ll just list the many types of freelance writing that you can indulge into. And make money from. With some examples from my work and some pricing, as well as some technical details. Luckily, freelance writing is such a vast domain, there’s something to be found for pretty much every single writer out there.
-SEO writing: With so many of the social media platforms giving up on the freedom and installing the paid when it comes to advertising and putting your products in front of people, one way to go about it is to have your website properly optimized for search engines. If done right, your website and products will be the first in search results. It’s an entire niche of writing.
-Blogging: Everybody blogs these days, apparently. Still, only 5% of bloggers are turning out to be really great. You don’t even have to aim for that, as it took them many years to get there. Instead, aim to be one of the 10-25% of blog writers who’re really good at it. If you can niche your blog writing right, you won’t be able to cope with the amount of work coming your way. And the best thing is, anything is a niche, including… plumbing. A Google search for “plumber tips” returns 48 MILLION results. Tons of content to be written!
-Copywriting: Websites, product descriptions, infomercials, Instagram posts, Facebook ads, commercials, whatever you might read today is 95% of the time written by a copywriter. This domain of writing consists of a great deal of content that’s largely available to the masses. Good copy makes the difference between a million-dollar idea, and a million-dollar in profit.
-Technical writing: This is one of the most demanding genres of the write for money spectrum. It involves a lot of research, planning, back-and-forth with the client, as well as many revisions and a complete biography at the end. But it’s also the most rewarding domain in writing, money-wise. You can charge double or triple your regular prices, especially if the project is technical to the extreme.
-B2B writing: Writing as a business for another business is pretty straightforward. For example, you can appreciate the things Asana has done for freelancers, writing about it in an elaborate blog post, or a quick and easy LinkedIn article. It helps you become more of an icon about it with your followers, and Asana gets to more people. Business-to-business success.
How to prepare to write for money in 2021
In 2021, with the surge in demand for writers, you’ll have no problems finding work if you’re actually great at writing. What does that mean? It means you have an understanding of grammar, structure in a sentence, paragraph, and therefore article. Or a piece. Or paper, blog post, product description, whatever the client might need. It means you can write about stuff.
Get great at writing
If you want to make a living from doing something you love, just doing it good won’t cut it. You have to get great, exceptional, unique and indispensable at that thing, in order to make money off of it. First thing is, you need to get great at writing. Practice, create a blog and write on it, help your friends with written assignments, take some online tests, and write. Write a lot!
Practice it every day
In 2018, I’ve written every single day, for 365 days straight, on my blog. Unfortunately, without any explanation, Medium has suspended my account which has now been under investigation for a year. So none of those articles are available but to me. Thanks, Medium! Anyways, 2018 was also my first palpable money-making year from full-time writing. Writing every single day helped me a ton because practicing something regularly makes you great at it.
Read books of all sorts
Writers know this, but most people who’re getting into writing usually move past this very important trait that you have to go for in order to become a great content creator. I’m talking about reading, and a good load of it! Read whatever you can get your hands on, from blogs to newspapers, magazines, books about development, writing, reading, Harry Potter and the Freelance Writer, I don’t care. Great writing starts with reading your eyes out, and that’s a fact.
Consistency is key with any skill developing. Why? Because it puts you out there even if you don’t want to be. When running, do you really want to do it in 100% of cases? Of course not! Many people love running in 10% of cases at most! The rest is just consistency, work, and scheduling. Be consistent with your writing. Do it every day, if you want to get great at it.
Put your journey into a product
I’ve been writing for so long, and making money out of it, I consider myself one self-taught writing professional. I may be, I may be not, that’s for people to decide. I certainly know I am. But it would be useless to tell you all of this without something to back it up. In the end, they do say you’re no writer without a published book, right? Well, dear world, there you have it, my book!
You can too put your journey to freelance freedom in a course, a book, or just some quality blog articles. If you want to read about my particular journey into writing, from the start when I was working as a journalist, all the way through my first years, and now as I’m making a full-time living from freelance writing, I’ve written a book on it all. You can find it on Amazon at 50% off. Just click the book.
How to begin to write for money in 2021
Now that we’ve covered the “how to get great at writing” part of this guide, let’s dive into the actual steps that you need to take in order to start making money off of your newly developed skill. And again, and I cannot stress this enough, do not skip the last step. Only go ahead and start to write for money when you’re 100% sure you know and can do it. Otherwise, you’ll fail.
Sign up to a freelancing platform
Most people start with a few assignments for a friend or a coworker when they first begin to write for money. It could be a little blog article for your friend who’s into pickling and decided to open up shop. Or a coworker who’s running some drop shifting and needs some product descriptions written. But the actual first step into freelance writing is joining a platform.
My first platform that I joined for freelance work was Fiverr, back in 2016 and 2017. It was good, but I’ve only managed to make very little money from it. In 2018, I joined Upwork and things blew up pretty fast. All I did was to sign up, put my profile on, add some portfolio pieces, and apply for the jobs that were matching my skills and values. After a few failures, I was in and working on my first projects.
Find a niche within a niche
A niche is a specialization of sorts. You can’t write about everything great, so you just pick a few topics that you’re familiar with and focus on those. For me, I am very good at writing about events and the news, blockchain, video games, various lifestyle articles, and gadgets. I don’t have a set niche, but I’m focusing on the news/blockchain/games and gadgets. Niche enough? It sure works!
Pitch and win over your first three clients
The hardest thing you’ll ever do when you start to write for money will be to pitch and win over your first three clients. When you sign up on a new platform like Upwork, you’re not the only one doing so. Hundreds, even thousands are doing it every week. So you need to stand out from the crowd, and the thing that will separate you from the rest is your pitch.
A pitch is a singular block of text, to maximum a few paragraphs, that you send out to a probable client in response to a job proposal. It can be sent with or without a described job, as in, you can send the proposal because the client has asked for work on Upwork, or you can send your own because you’ve discovered a client who’d benefit from your writing services, and could be hiring you for website content, blog articles, product descriptions, or a paper.
I don’t usually have a pitch ready to go because every single pitch that I’m sending out is different and fresh. Pre-made pitches are for the frozen aisle, not for a professional freelance writer that you can become. But I do have a few rules that I’m following with every single pitch that I send out, regardless if on a platform, or direct.
I noticed you’re looking for a writer for your new website and blog. I’ve been writing on topics surrounding the blockchain for 5 years now, and I know I can do a great job in this case. I see that your primary focus will be on the technology behind it, as well as ICOs, which I love writing about!
I also noticed you need the website done in a month from now. I’m pretty open on my afternoon schedule and so I’m positive we’ll be done with the site in about two weeks if you’ve got the structure in mind. Without lowering the quality, of course, as that’s what we’re aiming for.
I want to know more about this exciting project of yours, so let me know when you have 15 minutes of free time, so we can jump on a quick call and sort this one out.
Breaking down the pitch, we’ll look at the elements that will repeat with each of the pitches that you send out, but also have to be different, to be effective, according to the job at hand.
-Name – Keep it professional, but casual. You don’t have to go with “Mr.” or “Mrs.” 99% of the time, especially on Upwork. Speaking of Upwork, the platform does not show you the name of your prospect before they agree on an interview. So what I do is look into the previous jobs of the future client until I spot their name from the reviews left by previous clients. It has an impact!
-“Yes, I’ve read everything” status – Tons of freelancers are sending pitch after pitch in an automated manner, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed as a client. A fresh, clean, and on-point pitch will surely be appreciated by the prospect. And it will stand out for them to see you’ve read through the entire thing. If you’ve read the proposal and can recite from it, you’re 95% hired.
-The benefits of them hiring you – Tell them what they want to hear, that’s what you should do in your second paragraph. Why you’re the right fit for them and the project, the speed with which you can deliver the assignments, everything that’s a plus for you, put it in there. Don’t say stuff you can’t or are unsure you will be able to do. Focus on the pluses, and adjust as you go.
-Call to action – The ending should always be a call to action. Ask for a quick call or chat, just like you would be sending emails, not talking on a platform. Make it short and to the point.
Turn your writing into a must-have service for clients
The hard thing about a constant flow of freelance work isn’t just about getting those first clients. Now that we’ve covered that, we need to address the big problem, and that is, how do you keep those clients around for as long as possible? Short answer, you turn your writing into a must-have service for them. How do you do that? By making sure you’re adding value to whatever your client is doing.
Tip #1: Do your job right – Don’t go for half-done jobs, or mediocre, or even good deliveries. Check that text an extra couple of times, change what’s funky to your ears, and deliver greatness. Write for their money, but also their goal in mind.
Tip #2: Plan in advance – A secure way to keep your clients close is to plan with them way in advance. With my long-term clients, I have made plans until next year. If all goes well, there’s no reason for the plan to be turned down.
Tip #3: Propose new ideas – Things might get stuck, or a little off at times, with your client. If this happens, propose some new ideas for your common project. I once saved a client by asking them to make two other websites for his business. We’ve been working together since 2019.
This particular part of the freelance writing guide that I’m putting together here needs its own article. And a long one, that is. But in general, you want to price your writing on a 1000-word basis, and also based on the topic. Me, I generally write at a $50 for 1000 words, and going up when there’s a more technical piece needed. Test and adjust. I still do, 6 years in.
How to make tons of money in 2021 with writing
Making money online is not easy. I should know. But it is possible. And when I say “money”, I’m not talking about change for lattes. I’m talking real money, the kind of money you’d be enough with to make a great living, go on vacations, save for later, and have everything in between. When you’re ready for it, you can start making progress towards full-time writing for… ever!
Create your own website
This website has come around in 2018, at the beginning of my first truly successful, financial-wise, freelancing year. It was much more basic then than it is now, but it was still a great addition. People who’d hire me would see that I was all business. Having a website shows you’re serious about your enterprise. It’s a statement, “I’m here to stay”, and that sells.
Sell an experience
People buy into experiences more than products or services. They don’t just buy a Tesla, they buy the car of the future, operable via a phone, which is cool and fun and can be powered by energy that’s good for the planet, and all the rest. This is also applicable with your writing, and the way you’re presenting yourself, your business and services, to your clients. Be the best customer support guy you can be. Respond to messages no matter the hour, if you can. It shows interest and implication. And avoid disputes even if it means giving money back.
Speaking of disputes, you will want to avoid these with all of your might and heart. Especially on Upwork, as these sites are all about ratings and job scores. The best way to avoid disputes, which often appear with new clients, is to offer them their money back if they start shouting. If that’s not the case, it means they’re open for discussion. Put your calm hat on, and fix things.
Send offers to people you know and don’t know
Friends will most likely be your first clients if you’re really just starting out with your write for money gig, and need some testing done before moving to the foreign clients. And you’ll probably do some work for free, but it’s good for your portfolio. Simply send out some emails or messages letting them know you write for money (use “a living” instead of being so blunt) now, and can help them with some content.
For the people you know, it’s a little easier and you can be more friendly. For those you don’t know, you have to keep it professional, but relaxed. When I was left without clients, I took on Facebook and Google and searched for the latest small businesses in my area: restaurants, hotels, lawyers, bakeries, shops, you name it. And then I’d just pitch them my offer.
The writer-client relationship
As with any business, your writing enterprise will only survive if you’re great enough at writing, as well as at bonding with your clients. No relationship is based solely on the product or service at hand, no. It’s a mixture of good talks, results, openness to changes and yes, a dispute or two once in a while. All for the better good. If these are met, the relationship works. You don’t just work for money, you work for connections, influence, consistency, friendship, and value.
And if the relationship between you and your client works, you’re going to write for money consistently, which means you have financial stability. Which also means you’re ready to learn some more about writing, and become better at it, and get even better clients with better-paying projects. It’s a healthy, constantly rotating circle of good work, good money, and good life.
Write for money, but also for living your dream, and never feeling like you’re working ever again.
Hei, just a quick thing before you leave:
First, nice of you to read thus far, it means that you’ve enjoyed my writing!
I’m not here to ask you for any likes, shares, or comments, although that would be cool of you! Instead, I’m offering you a chance to have an even better piece, sort of like this one, but better, written for you by a content creator. That would be me! Check out my Services, Portfolio and Testimonials pages for details. And then shoot me an email at the address you’ll find on the Contact page.
If you’re a freelancer like me and are confused about learning how to make money online, especially through writing but also programming, design, or social media management, you can buy my book. It’s called “From 0 To $2543 A Month With A Crappy Laptop – The Freelancing Course From A Self-Made Content Creator Boss” and you can find it on Amazon at 50% off!