If you have a way with words then writing for a living can be an attractive choice.
With the growth of the internet, there are now numerous ways you can earn a living online by writing.
Here are my top seven ways to make money online as a writer.
#1 Article & Blog Posts
Websites need content, of that there is no doubt. As an individual website grows, the need for more content grows with it, as more and more visitors clamor for more valuable information.
As a writer, this gives you an incredible amount of potential to find work.
There are two broad options ahead of you: do you go the route of using sites like Upwork, or do you try to go direct?
Both have pros and cons.
With marketplace sites, you have the benefit of a wide range of potential jobs, a large number of people posting jobs and the ability to grow a reputation that can be seen by thousands.
On the flip side, you’re also competing with thousands in a cut throat industry, where standing out becomes much more difficult. As well as that, the marketplace will also take a cut of your earnings.
Going direct to websites and companies poses its own challenges. How can you find places looking for writers? How can you convince them that you are the one they need?
Getting your foot in the door might seem harder this way, but by going direct you also leap above others by showing resourcefulness and helping potential employers cut out some of the chaff.
If you’re new to writing, then it’s probably best to run the gauntlet of the marketplaces, at least for a while, to help build up a portfolio and reputation.
#2 Ghost Writing
For a lot of people, expressing their thoughts and ideas in words can be difficult. As a ghost writer, your job is to take the kernel of an idea and produce anything from an article to a fully-fledged book.
You can find ghost writing gigs on all the major job marketplaces like Upwork. Depending on the job they can pay a mere few hundred bucks, or into tens of thousands of dollars.
Ghost writing allows a freedom for a writer: you get to write about a variety of topics often with little constraint apart from a basic brief. Sure some clients will be more hands on, but with ghost writing you will be able to learn your craft, improve it, and even learn new skills outside the fields of writing.
Not having your name attached to the final product for some is liberating as it allows you to change voice and change it often. However, not having your name shown is also limiting as you will be at the mercy of your clients to obtain a solid reference, rather than being able to show future customers your ghost writing portfolio.
#3 Copy Writing
Copy writing is definitely a unique skillset, one that not all writers can master. To be a successful online copy writer you need to be part poet, part salesman and part search engine optimization guru.
If you can master creating engaging content that funnels readers towards taking a specific action then copy writing is a worthwhile venture. This is because pretty much every business online needs a decent copy writer, whether they know it or not.
Of course you can promote your skills in the normal ways via job websites, but you can also take your skills direct to customers by using some forward thinking. Take a piece of their current copy and improve it, offering it to them at a low fee with the side offer of doing more work at your regular fee.
This is of course a little risky as you’ll be doing something for nothing if they turn you down, but a lot of businesses sell similar products so any copy you write but fail to sell can always be reworked for their competitors!
If your interests slant more towards current affairs than fantasy or corporate writing, then you should consider journalism as an outlet for your creativity.
Even excluding traditional print media, there are plenty of opportunities to use your writing skills in a journalism setting.
You could writer for online versions or newspapers and magazines. How about local news? Even blogs are becoming more journalistic in nature and are a source of potential news stories.
You’re note even required to become an investigative journalist (unless you want to!), instead you can write pieces on art and culture, food and drink and so forth.
Unlike a lot of work for writers online, to get into the journalistic side of things, you will either need qualifications, experience or both. Sometimes it’s possible to get by with luck, skill and sheer determination, but you will generally always start at the bottom of the heap before you can move up.
The only exception to this rule is when you already have sufficient of a reputation for you to guest post on news sites.
If the idea of writing a book via ghost writing just for someone else to profit turns you cold, then what about self-publishing?
The internet, and Amazon.com in particular, have made self-publishing incredibly easy to do.
While it’s a long shot that you can write one book and become a millionaire (unless yours is as successful as 50 Shades of Grey!) you can still make a tidy profit per book if you choose the right topic.
Informational books might seem boring (unless you enjoy the topic) but can often have their Return On Investment gauged better than a work of fiction.
Not only that, but by self-publishing you are getting your name out there and can slowly start to build not just a portfolio, but a fan base!
#6 Submit to Competitions
A list like this wouldn’t be complete without something that you can do, but that I don’t really recommend.
There are lots of websites out there that run competitions for writers: you submit a piece based on their brief, and if you win you get paid.
As a career move, this is a bad one. Sure there’s potential to make some money as some of these competitions offer thousands in winnings, and the larger scale ones also offer publishing deals.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing bad about making some submissions to these competitions, but if you’re looking to have writing support you financially, then these really should be sideline things as the chance for winning is slim.
Some popular competitions are:
#7 Fan Fiction
When you hear about fan fiction, perhaps your first thought is poorly written trash novels or barely concealed erotica.
While that might be true, you can also earn money from it.
Sites like Amazon’s Kindle Worlds allow you to select a world such as TV series like Veronica Mars, The Vampire Diaries, Gossip Girl, The 100 and more.
Follow the brief and write 10,000 or more words and you can submit your piece. The ebooks don’t sell for a huge amount, between $0.99 and $3.99 but you get 35% of the purchase price and have the might of Amazon behind you to promote it.
Hopefully Amazon will continue to expand the worlds you can choose from in the future because fans of things like Star Wars, and Firely prove that there is a market for quality fan fiction.
The Bottom Line
There are many ways in which a writer can earn a living online, and they don’t all have to involve working for pennies.
Are you a writer? How have you made your way and earned success as a writer? Let me know in the comments!