How to Get Paid for Your Writing

Making cash from your writing is rewarding.

Making cash from your writing is rewarding.

It's every writer's dream: to turn the writing habit into a money-maker. To do so is definitely possible, but you've got to be savvy and well-informed when it comes to the market, your genre, and your publishing avenues. Depending on your genre or field, fees and royalties will vary. A basic breakdown of the ways to write for pay will help you determine your best approach.

Freelance Writing

If you want paid gigs for freelance articles, print or online, you've got to build a portfolio and a client base. Networking is your friend. According to a "Writer's Digest" article, "The Secret to Paid Writing Gigs," inviting people to lunch or drinks and developing relationships with people who need writers for their businesses and websites is a way to build a client base. There are tens of thousands of writers out there, so business owners are likely to stick with writers whom they know and trust. Yet, the article warns against networking too high. In other words, don't climb the social food chain with the ultimate goal of wooing the CEO of a company into your freelance den. It won't work, and it will likely rub a lot of people the wrong way. Instead, develop genuine working relationships with the actual buyers of your services and provide a quality product. Once you've published several articles, brochures, marketing materials, or whatever your specialty, put together a website to show off your clips. This will help you attract clients who don't know you personally but dig your work.

Literary Writing

Making money as a literary writer takes dedication and a willingness to take risks. If you write short stories, poetry, or novels, don't expect to make a huge chunk of change from book sales. Instead, your profits will come from winning literary awards, fellowships, and prizes. Magazines like "Poets & Writers" print long lists in each issue of the contests available for short fiction, poetry, essays, and other genres. You'll pay a fee to enter most contests, but the fee is nominal compared to the prize if you win. In fact, most prizes are thousands of dollars. You'll also get recognition, which can benefit your sales and publishing record. Literary writing presents a longer road to pay, but your monetary rewards are augmented with prestige and respect.

Mass-Market Publishing

If your passion is writing popular novels or non-fiction books, mass-market publishing might be your avenue of choice. Advances for books in the commercial market range from four or five figures to six- and seven-figure headline-making advances. An advance is the cash a publisher pays you against potential book sales. In other words, you get a sum up front, and once your book "earns out" that advance, you begin to see royalty checks. In order to go this route, usually you need to secure an agent who will sell your manuscript to a publisher for you. Hooking an agent requires a finished, polished manuscript for fiction and a descriptive query letter that highlights the book's plot. For non-fiction, you need a platform, which is your persona as the book's author, and a marketing plan. Know your audience, and be prepared to show the agent exactly how this book will take off in the market. This industry is competitive, but book deals are made every day, and it's possible to break in if you have a fresh idea and strong writing.

Monetizing your Blog

If you love blogging and you have developed a niche focus, you can monetize your blog by running ads on your page. Depending upon the amount of traffic to your prose, you'll earn money each time a visitor sees or clicks on an ad. This can be highly profitable if your blog traffic is high, but you'll need to build a consistent fan base and a steady writing habit to keep your traffic and profits high. The most successful bloggers find a specific focus, such as vegan recipes or green pet care, and then strive to become the premier blog for that topic. Networking with other bloggers in your niche and linking to their blogs helps too, as it builds a highway of traffic from one blog to another.

 

About the Author

Jan Archer holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science and a master's degree in creative writing. Roth has written trade books for Books-a-Million and has published articles on green living, wellness and education topics. She taught business writing, literature, creative writing and English composition at the college level for five years.

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