Making Money Freelance Writing – 5 Ways to Support Yourself as a Writer


Making money as a freelance writer is possible, even for new writers, even in a struggling economy! These tips for supporting yourself as a writer from professiona, experienced, employed writers, and they can catapult you from struggling wordsmith to professional writer!

Before the tips, a quip:





“In baseball, you get only three swings and you’re out,” says playwright Neil Simon. “In rewriting, you get almost as many swings as you want and you know that, sooner or later, you’ll hit the ball.”

It’s the same with freelance writing, fellow scribes. Keep pitching and swinging – stay in the game – and your articles will sell faster than beer at a Mets game. Click the Writer’s Digest Handbook of Making Money Freelance Writing for more info, and read on for tips from working writers…

Making Money Freelance Writing – 5 Ways to Support Yourself as a Writer

1. Hone your online marketing skills. “Pick a couple hours a day to do nothing but market yourself online,” says part-time writer and published author Gary Unger. “You need to get those writing gigs. If you don’t set aside time to market yourself as a writer, you’ll get too busy with one writing project, and when you’re done you won’t have anything in the ‘next’ pile to work on. That makes your time from article pitch to sale longer. I usually spend the first part of my morning marketing. I scan all the sites I’m on, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, looking for ways to insert what I do into the conversation.”

2. Think strategically about how to earn money writing. “Analyze your revenue performance periodically to see what’s working, what’s not, and where the opportunities are,” says full-time writer Iyna Bort Caruso. “Then adjust your business plan accordingly. Market aggressively. Send out queries and LOIs, get your URL on as many relevant Web site directories as possible, network with other writers and be generous with leads/advice, and experiment with joining organizations to see where the returns are.

3. Bid article bidding websites adieu. “Invest in a good website and online portfolio and then network, network, network!” says Robin Noelle, travel writer & PR specialist. “Not just online but getting out there and meeting people face to face. Forget those online bidding websites!”

4. Be innovative, imaginative, and multi-faceted as a freelance writer. “Look outside your niche for a new one, such as a Twitter, book, or nonfiction group,” says freelancer and editor Nick Belardes. “Constantly create, write, and seek promotional connections that are lucrative. Be imaginative and multifaceted when you’re freelance writing. And be aware that Twitter is perfect for quoting. You never know when some news outlet is going to look at what you’re saying on Twitter as newsworthy.”



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5. Find your writing brand or image.  “Writers must find their ‘Nike swoosh’,” says lifestyle and humor writer Ron Doyle. “A rejection letter still increases your overall brand salience. That said, flashing your brand alone isn’t enough-editors aren’t swayed easily by subliminal messaging. ‘Gentle pressure relentlessly applied’ seems to work best.  Writers must recognize that a masterful grasp of the English language does not guarantee a career as a writer, but a masterful grasp of sales and marketing can.  Of course I’m a rookie and don’t make close to $45,000 a year freelance writing, so I’m speaking from a modicum of experience.”

If you have any questions or thoughts on supporting yourself as a writer, I welcome you below…



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25 thoughts on “Making Money Freelance Writing – 5 Ways to Support Yourself as a Writer

  • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hello Ashleigh,

    Great question — you’ve inspired me to write a whole article!

    Do Writers Need Writing Degrees? Tips for Aspiring Writers

    Let me know if it helps….and if you have other questions, please feel free to ask.

    Tally ho,
    Laurie

    PS Try not to get too stressed out about your future. You don’t have to make a decision now about your whole life! You can take one road, such as retail for awhile, and you can write at the same time. You can go to university for a writing degree, and even change your mind and do something else….just take it one step at a time, my friend.

  • Ashleigh

    Hello. I’m extremely pleased that I came across your article – it made a lot of sense to me actually.

    I’m sixteen and I’m really struggling about the future. I don’t know what to do yet, so much pressure has been put on me. I want more than anything to just write. Write what I see, touch, smell – but my mum is nagging on at me saying that “Egotistic people like you need a job y’know!”

    I’ve no idea what kind of job I’m looking for.

    Retail? Should I go to college and take up a Journalism course? Go to Uni and get a degree in English so I can become a full-time journalist? My teacher gave me some local news paper e-mails.
    “Send them some of your stuff Ash,” she said, “Get yourself recognised. They will love it.”

    I have my doubts, but do YOU think it’s a good idea?

    …so stressed out here! Gah!

    Help me.

    Ashleigh.

  • Kelly

    Hi Laurie, you’re a great resource for tips, tricks and information – thank you for all of this! Now that I’ve found your site, I’m going to be visiting regularly. Particularly resonant (right now, anyway) was your piece on finding your writer’s voice – that was a criticism I recently received and what I’m working to express now. Thanks for being so open!

  • Tricia Campbell

    You’re supporting yourself as a freelance writer? I’ve heard that it’s really hard. Most writers have jobs on the side, to supplement their income. Thanks for sharing some tips on making money writing, because I didn’t think it was possible! Especially now that magazines have really cut back on budgets.

  • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Jeremy, welcome to Quips & Tips for Successful Writers! I hope you find useful info here…and I especially hope you’re building a financially prosperous freelancing career 🙂
    .-= Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen´s last blog post ..6 Tips for Freelance Writers and Authors Who Can’t Pay Their Income Taxes =-.

  • Jeremy

    HI! i am new here and found this writing blog excellent. I am going to contribute here and hopefully stick around! just wanted to say hi.

    Thanks alot.

  • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi Robert,

    Thanks for your comment — it’s great to hear that you’re earning a fantastic living as a freelance writer! I love hearing success stories 🙂

    Hope to see you around Quips & Tips again…

    Laurie
    .-= Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen´s last blog post ..5 Ideas for Earning Money Writing – Tips From Experienced Writers =-.

  • Robert S. Nahas

    Laurie, I greatly enjoyed your post. These are great tips for the aspiring author! I had been at that point about 10 years ago and have now built up a fantastic writing business and the income to boot. If I might add, yes there are many many ways to earn money doing one of the things you love most – writing!

  • Laurie PK

    Hi Kerry,

    My apologies for letting your comment and question go so long without responding — the Christmas holidays really put a crimp in my blogging life! I’m just catching up now…

    There are several ways to earn more money as a writer, and I’ve written about most of them on Quips & Tips for Successful Writers. I’ll list a few ways here; to learn more, just search for each term on this blog. I can’t explain all these terms here; each idea is worthy of its own article (or book!).

    – diversify your writing income as much as possible. Write for small local magazines, large international magazines, and everything in between.

    – find ways to earn money writing on the web, such as for Suite 101 or about.com.

    – monetize your blog.

    – look into writing for newspapers (but in my experience they pay less than magazines).

    – network with other writers and spread the word that you’re looking for work (they may pass work along to you).

    – hook up with magazine editors on Twitter.

    Don’t forget that it takes time, perseverance, and energy to make a living as a writer. I started out freelancing part-time too, and now have several editors that I often work for. It takes time to build a strong freelance writing career — but you CAN do it if you keep trying different things and learning as much as possible about freelancing.

    I hope this helps, and that you make a full-time living as a writer sooner than you think!

    Take care,
    Laurie
    .-= Laurie PK´s last blog post ..Blogging Goals – 7 Types of Goals to Set for Your Blog =-.

  • Kerry

    Hi Laurie,

    I’m at the beginning of my freelance writing career. I work part-time, and write for magazines part-time. But, I’m not earning alot of money writing for magazines, only about $400 per month. How can I earn more money as a writer?

    Thanks for your help,

    Kerry

  • Joel R.

    These are fantastic tips from working writers, thank you!

    I sent an article pitch to the editors of Men’s Health last week. How long should I wait before following up with an email or phone call? And, how much do they pay?

    Thanks,
    Joel

  • Craig Reed

    It takes a long time to build a career as a freelance writer. If I didn’t have a mortgage and kids to feed, I’d be writing full-time and living on Ramen noodles. Maybe one day I’ll start my freelance writing career. For now, I live vicariously through writing blogs like these!

  • Laurie PK

    Hi Dee,

    Yes, it can definitely take years to earn that much money as a freelance writer, if you’re working part-time. But I grossed over $40,000 in my first year, and I did work part-time for a few months.

    Freelance success is really about learn how to do things the right way. That above all else is the secret to success. I did — and still do — lots of things wrong (not following up a few weeks after I send a pitch, for example), and that decreases the odds of success.

    Anyway, welcome to Quips & Tips for Successful Writers — and I hope to see you around!

    Laurie
    .-= Laurie PK´s last blog post ..6 Tips for Long-Term Success as a Freelance Writer =-.

  • Dee E.

    It takes years to earn $45,000 a year as a freelance writer. Especially if you write part-time (which most of can only afford to do).

    These are good tips though.

    Dee

  • Laurie PK

    I blogged about tracking my submissions; the link should be below.

    Laurie PK’s last blog post..Tracking Your Article Pitches and Submissions

  • Laurie PK

    To keep track of my submissions, invoices, editors’ emails, etc — I use a simple Excel spreadsheet. Magazine name, editor’s name, email address, article pitched, date pitched, date accepted/passed, and comments.

    I’ve been meaning to write an article about this, so thanks for the question, Ivy! Will do within a week.

    Other writers — how do you keep track of your submissions? I’ll also post the question on Twitter and include their suggestions here.

    Laurie PK’s last blog post..How to Make Your Articles, Pitches, and Writing Memorable

  • Ivy

    Your tips are terrific, but how does a writer keep track of all their submissions, whether they’ve been paid, etc.? Is there a program for VISTA that would do this?

  • Becca

    Great post. I just wanted to add that I think another tip would be to keep your options open and keep expanding your knowledge and skills. For example, I’ve been working on improving my blogging skills because it seems that that industry is just exploding right now. Actually, I just read an article about the hottest job skills of 2008, and it shows that the demand for people with blogging skills has grown tremendously – 4 times what it was just the previous year. Incredible! My point is, don’t put all your eggs in one basket, but instead expand your skills and you will inevitably be more successful.

    Thanks again for the great post. 🙂

  • Laurie PK

    I really like the tip about branding your image, or marketing your brand. That’s great writing advice, which I hadn’t really considered. It does happen naturally to some extent — for instance, I’m finding that I really enjoy health writing. It may be time to jump into that field with both feet, instead of trying to generalize….

    Thanks, all you who contributed to this post — they really are great tips!

    And, thanks Gary and Rebecca for your comments 🙂

  • Rebecca

    These are great tips…Networking is the key. I signed up with Guru.com, and I only had one project. I’m wondering if it’s worth it. The only way I can “bid” on premium projects is if I pay a fee. I’ll think about keeping my account open…