While there are tens of dozens of ways to make money writing online, we’re going to focus on three of my favorites.
But First… Coffee (and a quick backstory): or Skip the Backstory
I’ve been a deep-thinker for most of my life. I enjoy reading, thinking, and diving into the depths of the adventure of life.
I like to be creative and live free.
But in 2015, my daughter was born over 3 months early (while her Mom and I were in a city 2,000+ miles from home).
Amidst the fear, questioning, and uncertainty, I found myself reflecting on those big existential questions… “What am I doing here? Who am I? Is there any meaning in my work?”
I’ll spare you the scenic route of jobs I tried, and just tell you the commitment I made to myself: I am going to stop doing work that I don’t care about.
My zest for life was trickling like a leaking faucet, and I needed a plumber. My energy was plummeting at work.
I was constantly trying to find a way to conserve.
“I’m going to be a writer”
After my quarter-life crises, it took me at least 6 months to discover what I really wanted to do.
But when I did… I found myself full of energy, purpose, vision for my life. Finally, I could start living those dreams lying dormant in my heart.
But I had a big problem.
I had no clue how to make an income from writing.
With a family that relied on me for provision, I couldn’t see a way forward.
My crystal clear dream quickly started to feel like sand slipping through my fingers.
Can you imagine? Maybe you can.
It feels like you’ve been searching for a long lost lover most of your life, and when you finally see him or her, at that exact moment you realize you just stepped into a pool of quicksand.
Talk about disheartening.
So I tried something risky. I needed to skip the whole “Writing for Pennies” thing… and accelerate my online earnings.
In less than 18 months, I invested $650,000+ in online businesses.
My Online Business Acquisitions
- I bought 5 blogs for a sum total of just over $338,000
- And I acquired two e-commerce businesses for $296,000
- Then tallied an additional $30,000 or so in losses on the e-com stores
Within months, I knew I’d goofed up. Big time.
Things got pretty bad. The e-commerce businesses tanked to 20% of their revenue watermarks, and I was losing upwards of 5-figures monthly on them. (I’ll likely share more of my online stories in another post soon).
I also realized I was neglecting the one thing I wanted to do most: Write and do things that mattered to me every day.
Success is failing and over and over again, right?
Damn, I hope so.
Despite all of the “failing” (reframing that… LEARNING), in 2018, I also created $147,000+ of revenue blogging.
If you’re a math-nerdo like me, you just did the math. $147,000 of revenue on $338,000 of invested cash (on the blogs) ain’t too shabby.
This blogging thing is cool. I learned that much. (But I don’t advise e-commerce unless you know what you’re doing).
What Would I Do Differently This Time?
I don’t live my life with regrets, but if you’re looking to learn from my mistakes, I’ve got some advice for you.
I would highly suggest anyone who wants to make money writing online to consider these three options:
3 Ways to Get Paid for Writing (Online, Remote Work)
And I would recommend just starting from scratch.
Don’t go sell the farm and pour everything into blogs you don’t love, that you didn’t create, and that pull you away from whatever your true passion is.
After all, blogs are content. The content needs to be close to your heart, or you won’t be able to get behind it with passion and bliss.
1. Start Your Own Blog
Last week, I heard a quote by Alan Watts that said, “…sensible people make money doing things that make them happy”.
If your passion is writing, and you’re looking to monetize that bliss, I’ve put starting a blog at the top of my list intentionally.
Am I following my own advice? Well, you’re at ForrestWebber.com right now…
*This post contains affiliate links, click here to learn more.
Here’s Why Making Money Blogging Works
The dawn of the digital age has decentralized consumer trust, and more than ever– two distinct shifts have created a massive opportunity for bloggers:
(A) People are turning to blogs for information, education, and answers.
(B) Advertisers are turning to blogs for the attention of their prospective customers.
Here’s How the Blogging Thing Earns Cash-Money-Money
The Simple Version: You write content, you draw in readers, and you get paid.
A More Complex Version: You can make money by showing ads on your site, linking to affiliate partners, or selling products/services (e.g. your Freelance Writing services).
The bottom line is that you no longer have to be a New York Times best-selling author to make a million dollars writing. (See my post on the Highest Paid Bloggers… hint: $100,000+/mo)
In fact, starting a blog can be an incredibly lucrative writing career for young aspiring writers.
And in the future of blogging, I speculate that all content creation will become decreasingly focused on business logistics and increasingly hinge on creativity.
2. Freelance Writing
While starting a blog can be lucrative, the money doesn’t come in a hurry. It’s a long-term play.
On the other hand, with freelance writing, you can earn your first $1000 online this week… if you do it right.
How does freelance writing work?
As someone who hires freelance writers every week for my blogs, I am privileged to see firsthand how this industry operates.
It’s a service-based business model that doesn’t have many moving parts, compared to a blog.
You sell a skill, in this case, writing. Plus, you only need an email and internet connection to start making money (keep reading for a step by step guide).
It sounds simple – it is – but make no mistake, unless you’re treating freelance writing as a real business, you won’t see the results you’re hoping for.
Why do most freelance writers make $0?
I said you can make $1000 this week. It’s true if you already have a marketable skill.
Unfortunately, because there isn’t a barrier to entry, most people assume it’s a get-rich-quick scheme. They don’t invest time in their craft, and their dreams about location independence come crashing down.
(But that’s a good thing for the people who are serious and passionate about writing.)
So, before you start typing away, there’s one more thing you need to know:
What kind of freelance writer are you?
- Do you like writing long-form, educational blog posts?
- Are you good using words to persuade and influence people?
- Are you passionate about building brands or making the most sales?
See, there are two kinds of freelance writers:
- Content writers
This is a gross oversimplification but you get the point.
Content writers focus on blog posts, articles, and whatnot. If you choose to be a content writer, you might benefit from learning SEO.
The purpose of copywriters is to sell via the written word. Product descriptions, emails, etc.
Of course, you can do both! It comes down to whether you want to find a profitable niche or have your options open.
It’s true that copywriters tend to earn more. In fact, a 300-word email could generate thousands of dollars in sales, netting its creator a hefty chunk of that.
But don’t get discouraged if you like writing blog posts like this one. If you’re hard-working and passionate, you can earn upwards of $700 per post.
Now that we’ve got the theory down, let’s get down to business.
A 1-Step Method To Become A Successful Freelance Writer (without a website or social media)
There are many different opinions about breaking into the industry.
Use LinkedIn, take advantage of Facebook groups and content mills, use your network, etc.
These are all viable options but you’re competing with 1000s of other freelance writers. Chances are, you won’t find your ideal client that way.
Instead, I propose this:
10 cold emails per day.
Yup! You’ll find a company/brand/blog you *really* want to work with and you’ll pitch your services to the decision-maker (usually the marketing director or the founder).
I know it sounds like a lot of work, but at the end of the day, cold emails work — about 1% conversion rate if you’re targeting the right people.
That means you’ll land a client every 100 emails you send.
Freelance writing can be a profitable business model if you’re willing to put in the hours. Most importantly, if you need cash right now and you’re a decent writer, you could start earning right away!
How Much Can You Make Freelance Writing?
I’ve paid a wide variety of prices for writing services, but I’ve seen an even wider cost displayed in my research.
Some freelance writers charge by the word, some by the article.
I’ve seen rates as low as $0.02 per word, and as high as $0.25 per word.
3. Self-Publishing (Your Own Books)
Want to know what originally got me thinking about wedging my way into the online space? Yep. Self-publishing books.
I had several friends with some “semi-success” stories, and I was itching to get in the game.
(Pssst… this section of the blog post is incomplete. I’m planning to circle back to this third suggestion in the next week or so with more details on self-publishing… stay tuned)
How Do You Get Started (right now)?
The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and starting on the first one.”Mark Twain
It’s time for you to pause, take a deep breath, and ask yourself if you really want to do this. Are you ready?
Are you ready to get paid for your thoughts, your words, and your style? Do you want to write for a living?
It won’t be easy. But nothing worthwhile is.
It will be meaningful, a major shift in your life, and it could be fantastically lucrative.
To Get Started…
- Tell someone supportive that you want to start writing for your career
- Read my guide to starting a blog
- Write down on a piece of paper why you want to write, and why you think you’d be good at it
- Place the piece of paper somewhere visible in your home
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