Let's say goodbye to the myth of the starving artist.
Every writer and creative professional deserves to get paid… and there's no reason why you can't.
In this week's mini-episode, I cover 5 great ways writers can get paid for their hard, creative work, list the pros and cons and offer some ways to get started faster.
Bryan Collins: Would you like to get paid to write? Getting paid what you’re worth for your hard creative work is something that we’re going to talk about in this week’s podcast episode. I’m actually going to talk about five different ways you can get paid for writing, whether it be directly or indirectly. I’ve used each of the five ways for getting paid as part of my business over the years. I’ve learned about the pros and cons about what works and what doesn’t work. I’m going to share that with you.
Bryan Collins: Number one, the first way that you can get paid from writing, and it’s probably the quickest way to do it, is to become a freelance writer. Basically, a freelance writer is somebody who writes for publications and websites and gets a check or deposit into their PayPal account for her hard work. To become a freelance writer, you’re going to need a few things. You’re going to need clients, you’re going to need a niche to specialise in, and you’re also going to need a willingness to work with editors and accept critical feedback about your work.
Bryan Collins: Years ago, I actually worked as a freelance writer, as a technology journalist for a number of Irish publications in Ireland. It paid relatively well at the time, but then the recession happened and this was back in 2008-2009. As you can imagine, who was the first to be booted out the door when the recession happened? Well, it was freelance writers. That meant I was very quickly out of work. Now there’s no recession today and there are lots of opportunities for freelance writers online. I still dabble in a bit of freelance writing for publications like Forbes and so on.
Bryan Collins: If you’re interested in becoming a freelance writer, I’ve actually put together a resource that explains how freelancers can find work and get paid. I’ll put a link to that in the show notes. Or you can simply visit, becomeawritertoday.com/writing-jobs.
Bryan Collins: Now the next way you can get paid from writing is a little bit like freelance writing, but it’s a bit more specialised. You can become a copywriter. Basically a copywriter is somebody who writes words that sell. What do I mean by words that sell? Well, you could be writing a long-form sales letter for a client, or a customer, or even for yourself for your blog, which I’ll get to in a few moments. Or you could be writing emails that are used to sell products or services. Or you could be writing a blog post or a product review that talks about something that customers and readers can get value from.
Bryan Collins: It takes training and experience to become a copywriter and if you’re interested in getting started, I’d recommend checking out copywriting training by American Writers and Artists Inc. I’ve taken a number of their training courses over the past year and they really are excellent. You can find them at awai.com. Just look for their master’s copywriting training program.
Bryan Collins: Now the pros of being a copywriter are that it can become extremely profitable if you specialise in a niche. It could be technology, which is what I specialised in. It could be healthcare, it could be personal development, it could be sports, and so on. You’ll also need to find clients and that’s something that takes a bit of training, too.
Bryan Collins: The downside of becoming a copywriter is not every writer feels comfortable with writing something that’s so commercial and that is more about somebody else’s business or product. Rather than an idea that they have for a story. Copywriting is also a little bit scientific, so you need to bring a bit of analysis into this type of writing, too.
Bryan Collins: Number three. The third way that you can get paid from writing is by writing and publishing books, and this is one of my favorite pursuits. Now I love writing books. I love the feel of a book in my hand and the sense of accomplishment when you reach the end and when you upload it to stores like Amazon and Press Publish. Then a couple of days later you get the copy back. You can say to yourself, “I did this.” It feels a bit more permanent than an article, than a sales page, or a blog post or anything else that you can spend your valuable creative hours on.
Bryan Collins: The other great thing about writing books apart from them being fun to write, is it helps you build credibility as a writer. Because you can call yourself an author. That’s a great way of finding clients if you want to build your freelance business. Or finding students, if you’re going to offer coaching or courses, which is something I’ll cover in a moment.
Bryan Collins: The downsides of writing and publishing books are that it’s one of the more time-intensive ways to earn an income as a writer. Because it can take many months to take a book from the initial idea to something that you could publish on Amazon. You also need to invest in the book to get editing, a book cover designer, and also a proofreader, and all those things which will turn it into a product that you’d be proud to sell. But writing books is still something that’s close to my heart. I actually created a tutorial that you can find at becomeawritertoday.com, How to Write a Book.
Bryan Collins: The fourth way that you can earn an income from writing is through blogging. Blogging is a skill in itself. But basically if you set up a blog about a particular area or specialism and you write about that consistently. Over time, you will attract readers who are interested in that topic to your site. I hope that’s one way that you found me because you were interested in practical writing advice and you found Become a Writer Today. Then once you have readers who are visiting your site, you can offer products and services that you use with a discount. Then if readers want to use that product or service, you get paid a small commission and you should be completely upfront about that.
Bryan Collins: Or you can run ads on your site if you’re getting a bit of traffic and then you can earn hundreds or thousands of dollars each month. If your site’s getting lots of traffic. Another way that you can earn money from blogging is to offering to coach your readers whereby you’ll get on the phone with them, or on Skype, or Zoom and you help them solve a problem. That will be part of a premium coaching package that you offer them.
Bryan Collins: Now the pros of blogging are that it really is a business that you can control. Because unlike setting up shop on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. If you’ve got your own blog on WordPress, then you’re completely in control of the relationship between you and your audience. You can decide what direction to take your business in. You could start by blogging about personal development and then you can create a book around personal development and offer that to your readers. Or alternatively, you could pivot from personal development to another topic. It’s just a fascinating way of connecting with readers online today.
Bryan Collins: Of course, there’s a couple of downsides to blogging. It is quite time intensive if you’re serious about it. You also need to learn a little about marketing. You’ll need to study the basics of email marketing. It’ll help if you understand tools like Google Analytics. You’ll also need to be prepared to invest in a few things for your blog. That could be a premium WordPress theme. It could be good web hosting so that your site doesn’t go down when you get lots of traffic. It could be software for creating things like landing pages. If all of that sounds tactical, then you might need to invest in outsourcing. As you can see, there’s lots of different secondary skills that you’ll need to learn if you want to earn money from blogging. But, that said, blogging is a great way of earning an income as a writer and it can be extremely profitable.
Bryan Collins: Number five. The fifth way of earning an income as a writer is to consider what other products and services you could create based on your work. What do I mean by other products and services? Let’s say you wrote a book about fitness, for example. Well, you could turn that book into an online course and then you could sell that online course at a higher price point. Because people like to consume information in different ways. Your book may be about how to run a marathon in under four hours.
Bryan Collins: Then you could turn that into a two or three-hour video course that you sell on your own site if you have a blog. Or if you don’t, you could use another platform like Udemy, although you’d have to sell it at a discount. I’ve actually found that once you have a book or a series of articles, it doesn’t take too long to turn them into a series of videos and some lesson materials that you can offer students. Here’s how to be prepared to accept feedback from your students and use this to improve the quality of your course. You also have to be prepared to sell your course at a higher price point to your book.
Bryan Collins: You may be thinking, but I don’t know enough to teach a course. Well, the simple fact is, you probably do. Because everybody has a hobby or an interest or a passion that they know way more about than their friends, or their colleagues, or their family members. You’d be surprised how much people want to hear from you. Of course, the online course industry is huge today and I’ve created courses over the years. It really is a great way of providing a better level of service to your readers and to students. It’s also a great way of growing your business.
Bryan Collins: Now the downsides of creating a course are, it might not work. The first course that I created, I sent it to my list and it was crickets. Nobody bought it. That was a bit heartbreaking. But I went back and re-shot some of the course, and repositioned it, and retitled it, and then I improved it from there. But still, it took me quite a bit of time, it took me several months to do all of that. What I’m getting at is, it can take time and you’ve just got to be persistent.
Bryan Collins: The other downsides to creating an online course is you’re going to have to learn secondary skills, just like blogging. Secondary skills that are indirectly related to writing. Perhaps you’d have to learn how to edit video. Perhaps you’d have to learn how to record audio. Perhaps you’d have to learn how to condense a chapter into a three or four-minute lesson that people will actually consume. Or again, if you’re not comfortable doing all of that. Perhaps you’d have to invest a little bit in outsourcing, invest in a video editor, or invest in a platform like Teachable. Where you can host your lesson materials and they’ll take care of some of the customer service issues.
Bryan Collins: There you go. There are five great ways that you can earn money as a writer today. You can earn money freelance writing and that’s relatively quick to do. You can become a copywriter and specialise in an industry and then charge premium prices to clients. You can write about what you’re passionate about, assuming that readers will buy it and create a book and then you’ve got something lasting. That’ll help you call yourself an author.
Bryan Collins: You can set up your own blog and invest in the time it takes and also spend money on learning the skills you need to become a successful blogger. Or you can offer and sell courses based on your creative work today. Each of these five different ways will help you increase your income as a creative professional. The good news is, once you’ve got one working, there’s no reason why you can’t do two or even three of these ways, and grow your bottom line over time. Of course, every writer deserves to get paid. Just like the doctor who gets paid for helping a patient. You too should get paid for when you create something of value or something that entertains, informs, or inspires your readers, your fans, or your audience.
Bryan Collins: I hope you enjoyed this podcast episode. If you did, please leave a rating on the iTunes store. If you want to accomplish more with your writing, please visit becomeawritertoday.com/join and I’ll send you a free email course. Thanks for listening.
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