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How to Become a Professional Writer, and Earn Money Writing

Knowing how to become a professional writer is the first step to earning money writing. Use these tips to leap from hobby writer to professional writer in three shakes of a writer’s tale!

One of my favorite business magazines is MoneySense. No matter how old the articles are, they always contain business tips that can be applied to freelance writing (so don’t pooh pooh back issues of magazines! There’s gold in them thar hills).

Here’s what Rick Spence wrote in “A $30 Million Dollar Hobby” a couple years ago:

“Businesses big and small can grow out of simple pastimes. But do hobbyists make good entrepreneurs? Can people who are passionate about Elvis, sewing, or old books become excited about marketing and cash flow?”

Yes, yes, yes! The bigger my writing and blogging business grows, the more excited I get about marketing and advertising, cash flow, and small business tips. Fellow scribes, if you want to make money writing as a professional, read The ASJA Guide to Freelance Writing: A Professional Guide to the Business, for Nonfiction Writers of All Experience Levels. It’s collected wisdom from professional journalists, from the American Society of Journalists and Authors.

And, here are my tips for professional writing and blogging…

How to Become a Professional Writer, and Earn Money Writing

1. Check your attitude. Can you switch from the “art and craft” of writing to the “business” of writing? In my sixth blog – Quips and Tips From the Working World – I interview people at work and share the best and worst parts of their jobs. I just posted a profile of an architect who said, “To be successful, an entrepreneur has to devote equal amounts of energy to art, science, and business. Being too focused on just one or even two of them tends to result in being categorized…and almost inevitably results in spending your career as an employee of someone who is successful in all three.” Writers, this tip applies to you, too. Can you subordinate your love of writing to an entrepreneurial, businesslike mindset? You need to make decisions with your head, not your heart.

2. Do the math. Can you afford to support yourself as a writer? To determine if you can become a professional writer, you need to calculate how much money you need to earn from writing. I wanted to be a writer for years, but it wasn’t until I moved to an island, realized I couldn’t and didn’t want to put my Education or Psychology degrees to work, and found a part-time office job. Then I launched into my professional writing career. Part-time at first, until I was busting at the seams and had to write and blog full-time.

3. Jump in with both feet. What are you waiting for? The only way to find out if, say, freelance web writing for sites like Suite101 or Demand Studios will help you earn money writing is to do it. Apply. Try. Decide. Then you’ll know! The only way to find out if, say, the Reader’s Digest or Rolling Stone editors will accept your article pitches is learn how to write compelling query letters, and then send those query letters. It’s okay to be scared or doubtful or anxious (I’m all those almost all the time!)…but it’s not okay to let your fears, doubts, and anxieties stop you from becoming a professional writer.

4. Join a business club or small business owners association. Why venture forth alone? We recently moved from a small island to Vancouver, BC. The first thing I did was join a local group of entrepreneurs. We meet every Tuesday morning for breakfast, and give each other job leads, small business tips, marketing suggestions, and general support. I love this club – I love being with small business owners, learning what does and doesn’t work for them, and sharing what I do as a professional writer and blogger. These entrepreneurs keep trying to send work my way, but I just want to focus on my blogs and ebooks. I don’t want to consult or take outside writing jobs….but if I did, I’d be drowning in work.

This last writing tip may seem like a big leap for aspiring or new professional writers. But, I encourage you to look into the small business clubs in your area; the insight, encouragement, support, and writing job leads may be just the thing you need!

To learn more about writing as a business, read The Best Freelance Job for Writers – Blogging for Dollars.

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Since you won’t earn a lot of money writing at first, you might want to read How to Live on a Writer’s Salary.

And, as always, I welcome your thoughts and questions below!

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6 thoughts on “How to Become a Professional Writer, and Earn Money Writing”

  1. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Thanks for your comment, Linda. I too like to focus on evergreen content. But, I’ve found that my Halloween articles are very popular! I guess there are some seasonal topics that just fit, for some reason.

  2. Laurie some solid information here.I would prefer to concentrate on being able to write on evergreen niches like weight loss,insurance etc.John Carlton has got few important tips on copywriting in his blog.I agree with Bob’s suggestion as well.Being a member of writers’ critique will give us the feedback which is so vital on improving as a writer.

  3. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Thanks for your tips — I always love to add quips and tips!

    I’m not part of a writers’ critique group…..my editors give me enough critique. 🙂

  4. Thanks for sharing. So many are on the journey to becoming a better writers.

    I would respectfully add a couple if tips.
    1. Join a writers’ crituque group. A good one can give you strong feedback, encouragement and support.
    2. Do the face-to-face interaction but do not forget about social media. Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin can let the world know who you are and what you do.

    Thanks again

  5. Laurie, very solid advice here.

    I also think it’s important to specialize in one or two niches in which businesses are willing to pay freelance writers good money. That’s what I’ve done, and it’s worked well for me.