A lot of people will jump into writing on the Internet. In reality, it’s an incredibly easy industry to get into. Unfortunately, not everyone will have the same level of success. Whether it’s ghostwriting, blogging or trying to publish your own novel, how much is necessary to make a living?
How to Make a Living as a Writer
The Internet provides all kinds of tools to help writers. From third-party contract sites such as Textbroker to Amazon’s publishing site Create Space, there are many options to choose from. But how much do you need to write to make a living? That is really up to several factors.
What Kind of Platform Do You Write?
In reality, there are three major ways anyone can make money online as a writer. So far, I’ve had a bit of success with two of them.
Here they are:
One of the most common, and most difficult to succeed in is blogging. While it’s easy to write for and maintain a blog, especially if you use WordPress, it’s also difficult to make a living. It relies purely on the popularity of your content and how you engage an audience.
I’m not saying that blogging doesn’t have its own rewards, but it is often very difficult to make a living by keeping a blog running. I’ve seen many people drop blogging after a few months because it doesn’t pay the bills. Personally, I do it because I enjoy writing.
Blogging is attractive because it gives you total control of a project. It’s simple to just sit back, write and let the money come rolling in. However, it doesn’t work like that. A great deal of content development, marketing and engagement is required if you want to make a living at it.
This is where I make the vast majority of my money. I create content for other people and businesses as a ghostwriter. I’ve completed more than 6,000 articles ranging from animals to travel. I am currently on retainer from a major web hosting company and create content for a range of other clients.
The thing about being successful is that you need to be quick and accurate. On average, I can turn around about 1,000 words per hour after proofreading and research time. Depending on the client, this ranges anywhere from $15 to $25 per hour.
Ghostwriting is a bit easier than blogging. You are paid per project regardless if someone reads the content or not. A client hires you to write, you get paid. It’s that simple. The other side of the coin is that you need to have a good turn-around rate, great grammar and be attentive. After all, you’re writing as the client and not yourself.
Publishing Personal Pieces
Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to publish anything outside of Wattpad. This isn’t because I don’t think it will work, but more because I am often too lazy to complete a project.
After the amount of research I have done on private publishing, it’s similar to blogging. You won’t make a living as an author if there is a lack of effort. I’m still going to try…eventually.
A lot of people have the same feeling of ownership when writing a novel as they do blogging. Unlike ghostwriting, you get to put your name on a project. The success, and failure, is yours alone. And that’s the rub. Are you confident enough to put yourself out there for critique? It’s actually a great way to develop your skills so the next attempt is better.
How Professional Is Your Persona?
A lot of people are in love with the idea of working from home in their pajamas. However, this isn’t always the best way to approach being a professional. Your mindset often creates the tempo for how successful your are. Speaking from experience, I find it much easier to make a living getting dressed for “work” and not in my PJs.
I’m not saying that I dress in a suit and tie when I sit at my desk. In fact, I am writing this blog right now in my pajamas. However, I will take a shower and get dressed before working for my retainer client.
I treat each client with respect regardless if I agree with the project or not. My skills for customer support are superior, which is why all of my clients love working with me. And that’s how you succeed. Working from home isn’t about pajamas or making your own schedule. It’s about opportunity and limitless income…if you’re willing to work.
How Well Do You Market Yourself as a Writer?
No matter which of the three above you commit to, marketing yourself is key to make a living as a writer. If it’s a blog, people need to know it exists. If you’re writing a novel, no one will read it if they don’t see an advertisement. Having a detailed and public profile is part of how to gain more work as a ghostwriter.
Just about anything today requires a level of marketing, whether it’s on social media or in search engines. You can’t just call yourself a writer and cross your fingers that a client will make contact. There needs to be some kind of marketing involved to attract those who are willing to pay.
I have no doubt that I would be more popular among clients if I put in more effort to market myself. However, I have so many projects going on right now that I don’t know if I would be able to put in good quality work if I spread myself too thin.
How Diverse is Your Creativity?
I believe all writers should be diverse. You don’t want to put all of your eggs into one basket and hope for the best. At first, this meant expanding from just writing for computer and technology clients. Now, I am quite flexible and have worked on projects from magazines to instruction manuals covering almost any industry you can think of.
And yes…that sometimes meant the adult industries as well. Hey, why not? My name isn’t on it and I was paid for my effort. Wow…just made myself sound like a prostitute there.
Great, now I feel dirty.
Here’s an example. I write content for a range of industries on Textbroker. I also work for my retainer client on a daily basis, blog and work on my professional novel. Yeah, that sounds like quite a bit until you consider how much time I actually waste in a day.
The point is you don’t have to just stick with one method of writing to make a living. It doesn’t hurt to diversify yourself and find a groove that works best for you.
How Motivated Are You To Keep Up the Pace?
Motivation is one of the biggest problems I see from potential writers. In fact, I have yet to meet someone who has the stamina to write for more than a year. There is a lot that goes into keeping motivated if you want to make a living.
Here are a few things I’ve witnessed from others which sapped their motivation.
I’ve seen some good potential wasted because success wasn’t instant. I know one person in particular who gave up after a week, even though his writing hobby had a great deal of potential.
Being an author or a ghostwriter isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme. It takes a lot of effort to be a success.
Too Much Work
Not everyone has the stamina to write more than 5,000 words per day for various clients. Sometimes I can understand this part, though. Even I get tired of sitting for long periods of time. But, I have my nice Serta chair now – which has made a HUGE impact on writing.
Lack of Passion
I’ve seen some good writers only get into it for the money. After a while, they decide it’s not for them and move on to something else. Writing takes a great deal of commitment if you want to make a living.
Are You Willing to Keep Learning?
I am a big fan of education and knowledge in any form. This is something that seems to be getting scarce in the world. There is no such thing as “knowing enough.” Never assume that you have all the answers, because life will prove you wrong.
When I first started, my skills were severely lacking. However, I put in the effort to learn everything I can so that I can be the success I am today. That’s one of the reasons why I started writing on Wattpad. I want to hone my skills, and what better way to improve myself than to subject my projects to regular critiques?
In reality, It’s Up to You to Make a Living
It all boils down to how serious you are to be a writer working from home. I can’t say that you’ll make as much as I do. In fact, you may wind up making more. If you are serious about being a writer of any kind, then do so.
The odds of becoming widely successful instantly are not that good. Don’t assume you’ll be the best there is in any industry. Focus your mind and prepare yourself to what you’re committing to.
Success From Effort
The level of success most people experience is directly related to the effort they put in. It’s not just about volume that dictates how you make a living. While many may believe being a writer is simple, they don’t really consider the different facets that go into the process. As a result, many of them quit. If you want to be a writer, then be a writer.