5 Other Ways for Writers to Make Money – Besides Writing

Other Ways for Writers to Make Money

Making Money as a Writer is About Using Your Imagination

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.

 Other Ways for Writers to Make Money Besides WritingIf 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.

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15 thoughts on “5 Other Ways for Writers to Make Money – Besides Writing”

  1. Thanks for these tips for increasing your writing income, Susan. I especially like the tip about tapping into seasonal oppportunities, writing letters for weddings!

  2. Thanks for your info, Susan…

    I was going to mention you in my comment (we were writing at the same time!), but didn’t know if you were still hooked up to this post. Great to see that you are. 🙂
    .-= Laurie PK´s last blog post ..7 Tips for Writing for Trade Magazines =-.

  3. This summer, I participated in two web writing panels for two different writer’s conferences. I LOVE being part of a panel, because you’re not “on the spot.” Plus, you learn so much from the other panelists; you hear different opinions. And, you get paid!

    I applied to be part of the first writing panel, and was asked to be on the second panel by an editor who saw me on the first one.

    Right after my second panel appearance, I emailed SFU (Simon Fraser University in BC) and asked if I could submit a blogging course possibility. They sent the form, I filled it out, and now I’ll be teaching a blogging class at SFU!

    So, to get hired to teach a creative writing (or any) class, I suggest contacting the school directly.

    Another way is to look for upcoming writing conferences in your area, and ask if they need extra presenters or workshop leaders. You’ll have to show that you’re an experienced writer, I think.

    I think many community learning programs are open to new instructors and new classes — you just need to suggest and plan the class.

    Good luck!

    .-= Laurie PK´s last blog post ..7 Tips for Writing for Trade Magazines =-.

  4. @Freida: I got referred by a friend who teaches at my local adult ed center, but you could also send in a course proposal. There are three centers in my area and they all have slightly different programming cycles and application requirements, so make sure to read all the directions and follow up in a couple of weeks after the deadline.
    .-= Susan Johnston´s last blog post ..Open Thread: How Do You Handle Time Off? =-.

  5. Yes, some good tips. Having spent quite a while writing for pleasure recently, it’s time to get paid for it again. Will be trying to restrict writing-for-fun to a few carefully chosen blogs, including a new one I’ve just started.
    .-= Reflexive´s last blog ..Trolls and trolling – not reasonless writers =-.

  6. I work as an adjunct teacher at two local colleges. The good thing for me is that there aren’t a lot of professional writers with my credentials out in the boondocks AND my employer is flexible with my schedule. It’s something I love and I make ok money at it.

    mimi’s last blog post..What do you think…

  7. Nice advice. I like that you encourage being open to a variety of things. We need to remember the advantages to the writing life in order to make it through the rough times, even if it means taking a gig we aren’t in love with.

  8. Hello Susan and Laurie,

    This article is very timely for me as I just helped my cousin write a press release for her art show and helped her with her artist statement – so that spurred me on to sending in an ad to our local paper letting the small business and artists know that I can help them write their ads, press releases, brochures, artist statements, website content etc. So many ways to earn money writing when you let your imagination run with it.

    Gini Grey’s last blog post..Pathways

  9. Hi Susan and Laurie,

    Glad to have found your blog. Really enjoyed your postings, chock full of helpful information. I started writing on a website as a way to journal our cruising travels. Last year, I joined Helium, and recently started blogging. The problem I have is keeping organized (since there is so much info)and focused and motivated. You guys inspired me, and I thank you.

    E. Thai’s last blog post..Fowling around in the marina

  10. Hi Susan,

    This is a great list. I’ve engaged in one or two of them, but you’ve inspired me to think of different venues to ply my trade. The folks over at Visa thank you. 😉



    Tumblemoose’s last blog post..Community expansion challenge

  11. Fantastic article Susan.

    The post caused a giggle with a few of the team on how to organise this post within TheWriteNetwork.com; with you both being members.

    We think we have organised it the best way but it has given me a few ‘value-adding’ ideas for when members inter-cross with guest posts 🙂

    Chung Nguyen-Le’s last blog post..5 Ways to Increase Your Writing Income

  12. Laurie, thanks so much for the opportunity to guest post! Looking forward to sharing more posts.

    Susan Johnston’s last blog post..5 Q’s with Stephanie Dickison (& a Book Giveaway!)

  13. Thanks for this wonderful post, Susan!

    I’d also add blogging or web writing…Not all websites are created equal in terms of pay rates or return on investment (good old ROI!), but if you find the right one, you can increase your writing income quite nicely over the long term.

    If you have the time and energy to build your own blogs into more commercial sites, that could become a solid stream of income as well!

    I love the immediacy and control I get in my blogs, too. If I could get editorial support (an editor and a SEO expert helping me with those aspects), I’d be the happiest blogger in the world 🙂


    Laurie PK’s last blog post..5 Ways to Increase Your Writing Income