Writers don’t have to rely on magazine assignments and book advances to make money! Here are a few other ways to make money, ranging from selling photos to working at a library.
This guest post is from freelance writer and blogger Susan Johnston, who created one of my favorite writing blogs, The Urban Muse.
Before her tips, a quip:
“I’d been trying to sell out for years, but nobody was buying,” wrote Susan Shapiro in Only as Good as Your Word, after her writing group accused her of writing a book they thought was too commercial.
Going “commercial” is one way to increase your writing income – and there’s nothing wrong with it. But, there are other ways to support yourself as a writer. Here are Johnston’s tips for making more money as a writer…
5 Other Ways for Writers to Make Money – Besides Writing
Print publications are rapidly shrinking (or disappearing altogether), but there are still plenty of ways to earn a living as a writer if you’re flexible and creative. Sure, it’d be great to retire rich after writing the Great American Novel; however, you also have to think about what type of writing is marketable. Someday I hope to write great inspiring narrative non-fiction, but right now I’m happy to be paying the bills with teaching, ghostwriting, and other projects.
Here are some creative ways you can use your writing skills to increase your writing income. Hopefully you’ll find one or two that you can incorporate into your own business plan.
Teach a class
Not everyone who is a good writer is also a good teacher. But if you’re comfortable speaking in front of people and you have a desire to help others achieve their goals, then it’s worth a shot. I teach freelance writing and blogging at Boston Center for Adult Education. It’s not going to make me rich or famous, but it’s another way to build my platform and connect with the local writing community.
Moonlight as a copyeditor, proofreader, or fact-checker
Even if you don’t earn money in these areas, they are important skills to know. With newsrooms slashing their staffs, some of them will have a need for freelance proofreaders or fact-checkers. Even though I haven’t tapped into these skills and applied for separate gigs in these areas, I took a proofreading course last summer, and I read an ebook on fact-checking to get an overview of the fact-checking process. Again, it’s good skill to have and one that can only boost your research and writing ability (not to mention increasing your writing income).
Sell photos or multimedia
Offering extras like photos, podcasts, and videos can increase your writing income and make you more desirable as a writer, especially for online markets. Since I have a decent digital camera, I’ve been able to take my own photos on severl occasions. Michelle Rafter has a great post about including interactive material with queries.
Tap into seasonal opportunities
I read about a writer who earns money by creating personalized letters from Santa. Another writer has carved out a niche writing customized wedding poems, which is especially timely during wedding season. Maybe in the fall one could create a side business helping high school seniors edit their college application essays. With college admissions getting more and more competitive, there are bound to be people who would pay good money for that! To increase your writing income, you need to “think outside the box” (excuse the cliche).
Work in your niche
Whatever topic you cover, there’s probably a part-time job that can get you out of the house, give you the inside scoop on the industry, and increase your writing income. For instance, I know a wine writer who now works part time as a clerk at a wine shop. Another freelancer picks up shifts at the library, which allows her to see new books and magazines as they come in. Be careful about non-disclosure clauses, but often it’s not an issue if you’re simply folding shirts or stacking books.
If you’re serious about increasing your writing income, read The Wealthy Freelancer: 12 Secrets to a Great Income and an Enviable Lifestyle by Steve Slaunwhite. It’s a bestselling book on freelancing for a reason: it offers solid advice.
If you’re struggling to find work, read Want More Writing Jobs? 5 Ways to Set Yourself Apart as a Writer.
Have you tried any of these ways to increase your writing income? Are there other ideas I’ve missed?
Susan Johnston is a Boston-based freelance writer and blogger who has covered business and lifestyle topics for The Boston Globe, The Christian Science Monitor, DailyCandy.com, Yahoo! HotJobs, and many other publications. Want to know more? check out The Urban Muse or follow her on Twitter.