How to make money as a writer, according to 3 experts: One makes $50,000 per project

Make sure to "expose yourself to a lot of" different types of writing.

Michelle Jackson.
Courtesy Michelle Jackson

The coronavirus pandemic has many people rethinking their career paths. Nearly half, 41%, of the global workforce is likely to consider leaving their current employer within the next year, and 46% are planning to make a major pivot in their work lives, according to a January 2021 Microsoft survey of 31,092 workers across 31 countries.

For anyone with a creative flair or a knack for wordplay, writing is a pivot to consider. There are many different ways to make money as a writer either part- or full-time, like copywriting for advertisers or contributing articles to publications. Some can be quite lucrative.

Here are three freelancers who are making good money through writing, and their advice for anyone who'd like to try it themselves.

Try some 'creative' copywriting

In 2011, after seeing how much fun his now-wife was having with writing as a career, Stefan Georgi decided to become a copywriter.

He quit his corporate job and tried writing all sorts of copy, ranging from web content to helping students with their term papers. Eventually, he started writing infomercial scripts, and realized that was his niche. "You get to be cheeky, you get to be creative," he previously told Grow. "It married a lot of things that I'm passionate about."  

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With his years of experience, Georgi now brings in $50,000 per infomercial script.

If writing infomercials doesn't sound like it's for you, that's OK: There are other avenues to try, too. Copywriting is needed for internet banners, brochures, and email marketing campaigns, for example. Look for freelance copywriting gigs on sites like Upwork, Fiverr, and Freelancer.com.

Write e-books based on what 'people are interested in'

A Colorado native, Michelle Jackson had long fielded questions about moving to or traveling in her home state. So in 2018, she decided to write an e-book about it: "The Epic Guide to Moving to Colorado." She has since written 11 more e-books, both fiction and nonfiction, and collected nearly $13,000 in passive income from them.

E-books run the gamut of subject matters and lengths; some are as short as 12 pages, while others are hundreds of pages long. When it comes to choosing a topic, "listen to what people are asking and what they're interested in," Jackson previously told Grow.

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There are many platforms where authors can publish finished e-books, including Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Gumroad, and each pays writers differently. Barnes & Noble pays e-book writers a 70% royalty, meaning that the author gets 70% of the retail price of each sale. Amazon pays e-book authors a 35% or 70% royalty, depending on the option they prefer.

Gumroad uses a fee-based model: It charges authors a fee for every sale. These range from 2.9% to 9% depending on how much you've sold on the site overall, plus 30 cents on each transaction. The author keeps the profits of each sale minus the fees.

Another important thing to remember, Jackson says: While e-books can technically bring in a passive income, you'll need to continue marketing them after publication if you want to boost sales.

Start a blog with affiliate links

In 2016, side hustle expert Daniella Flores started a blog called I Like to Dabble. Though it was originally dedicated to her crafting projects, it eventually became a place to write about her many side hustles. It's now read by about 100,000 people each month.

As Flores' readership grew, she began experimenting with ways to monetize her writing, including affiliate links. "Affiliate links are unique links given to you by that brand to promote their products with," she previously told Grow. "When a reader clicks on any of those links and performs a specific action or makes a purchase, you make a small percentage or commission."

Starting a blog often comes with modest up-front costs. Flores spent about $100 to buy a domain name, pay for a hosting site, and cover the cost of security. But after she began including affiliate links to brands and products she "already used and loved," her investment quickly paid for itself. I Like to Dabble is now a regular income stream for Flores and helped her pay off $35,000 worth of debt in just two and a half years.

To succeed, 'expose yourself to a lot of' different types of writing

As you figure out how to make money this way, read a lot and experiment. Try different formats, Georgi suggests. "Expose yourself to a lot of" different types of writing, he says. "Over time, you'll start to find that there are certain areas or categories you like writing for, and you'll gain more confidence."

This story has been updated to reflect the amount various sites pay their e-book authors.

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