Having earned my Bachelor's degree in Professional Writing, I ghostwrite web content for clients.
A Realistic Route to Make Money with Professional Writing
If you are interested in Professional Writing, this article is well worth reading. We will explore options such as blogging, freelance writing, and KDP publishing—all viable side hustles for those with a passion for writing. However, as the title of this article suggests, we will be discussing the topic realistically. In contrast, many books and tutorials out there that insinuate that becoming a millionaire writer is easy.
What is Professional Writing?
A professional writer is someone that gets paid to write. And in the world we live today, the gatekeepers are no longer in charge. In the past, for example, if you wanted to reach and influence a huge audience, you needed to secure a position as a journalist or columnist for a major newspaper or media outlet. As Jason R. Rich puts it in his book Start Your Own Blogging Business, “In the past, if you wanted to reach a mass audience, it was necessary to land a job as a reporter for a major newspaper or magazine or become the host of a radio or TV show” (iii).
However, now you could create a relatively inexpensive blog or even Self-Publish a KDP book for free. Both endeavors could earn you money in and of themselves while establishing your expertise in your chosen field. Or, if you own a business, such a blog or book could attract you clients.
There are indeed many ways to use professional writing to your advantage. That said, as we will discuss, there is also a lot of hype out there. In other words, you could make money from writing, but do not expect to become a millionaire overnight.
The Reality of Making Money Online
The Make Money online niche is a profitable one, and there are plenty of Make Money with Writing books on the market. However, since the primary objective of most of the authors is to generate income for themselves, they care more about selling books than providing value. For instance, many of the titles suggest that you will become a six-figure freelance writer or millionaire blogger. If it were only that easy.
The harsh truth is that making a living as a freelance writer alone is nearly impossible. In fact, if you read the more realistic books out there, you will learn that freelance writers rely on multiple streams of income, sometimes referred to as diversification of income. This makes up for the “feast or famine” nature of freelancing.
The most obvious additional stream, of course, is a full-time job. If you are an Introvert though, there is less need to worry in these times. Due to the Pandemic, the popularity of remote work has skyrocketed. Above all, this affords you location freedom. You could either work at home or nearly any Wifi hotspot. Besides, this is usually a win-win since you do not have to commute or even change out of your pajamas while your employer avoids the costs of renting office space and other expenses. In short, along with ecommerce, the popularity of remote work has skyrocketed, and it is likely here to stay.
Make Money Writing
The Upside of a Writing Business
The decided upside of the writing business model is that it requires little to no investment to start. For instance, to become a freelance writer, you merely join a freelancing platform (e.g., Textbroker, Upwork, Freelancer, Writer Access). and select assignments to write. (Keep in mind though, many of these sites require you to pass exams.)
In stark contrast, brick and mortar businesses are quite expensive to start. This and a shortage of demand can, in fact, spell doom for your business. In her book How to Blog for Profit, Ruth Soukup puts it this way: “the beauty of content marketing and starting an online business is that it essentially avoids those two problems altogether” (16).
Freelance Writing is a popular way to generate income writing. For instance, a Web Content Writer on a platform such as Textbroker ghostwrites online articles and webpages intended to attract customers to the client’s site. To accomplish this, the writer uses search engine optimization (SEO). SEO Writing features the repetition of keywords and phrases that result to Google ranking the page higher on the search engine results page.
For instance, if an Atlanta homeowner Googles, “Roofing company near me,” the article or webpage that features this exact phrase four times will likely get ranked higher on the results page. And, let’s face it, customers are not scrolling to the bottom of the results page, so if you want to generate a lot of traffic, SEO is a must.
However, since research is what takes the longest when it comes to writing these articles, you can write more articles by niching-down. To do this, you choose a profitable niche that you are interested in. Popular niches include Make Money Online, Tech (Cybersecurity, Cryptocurrency), Finance, and Alternative Health. And, as you might have noticed from these examples, there is sometimes overlap. For instance, Cryptocurrency (e.g., Bitcoin) is a topic that is both Tech and Finance.
On the one hand, you could always still write as a generalist when there are not high-paying article requests within your niche, but you will benefit when an article within your niche is available. For example, I have written a lot about Web Development and Cybersecurity, and I have written entire articles off the top of my head on these topics.
While blogging is similar to freelance writing, you are not ghostwriting the content but rather writing as yourself, or perhaps under a penname. After you have built a decent following, you could monetize your blog. An excellent way to do this is through Affiliate Marketing. To do this, you sign up for affiliate programs and copy affiliate links of products related to your blog content. Then when someone clicks on your affiliate link and purchases a product, you earn a commission.
Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing is a platform to Self-Publish your books for free. As the official site puts it: “Self-publish eBooks and paperbacks for free with Kindle Direct Publishing and reach millions of readers on Amazon.”
Many novices to the field erroneously assume that the only money to make with Self-Publishing is from the royalties. However, as author Michelle Kulp notes, “A book can be a magnetic tool that attracts new readers, followers, leads, and customers directly into your business” (10). For instance, you could use your book as a funnel to your blog/website that features affiliate links, generating more traffic and generating more income.
Beyond all this, there are other ways to build a following which include vlogging with YouTube or offering lead magnets (e.g., free books) to build an email marketing list. The key, of course, is to provide value to your prospects.
Write Really Well & Provide Value
All things considered, writing is a worthwhile endeavor which provides value to customers, clients, and readers. In contrast, to provide shoddy work is to rip off the client or customer. For instance, if you write an SEO article poorly, you are ripping off the client and creating a webpage that could cost the client business.
That said, you are not crafting beautiful prose but rather sufficient information to establish trust between the site visitor and the business.
As for KDP Self-Publishing, remember what we discussed about the Make Money Online authors who only care about selling books, overpromising to boost sales. Do not be that type of writer. Instead craft and market your books with integrity. Ripping off customers is never acceptable.
In short, write the book you would love to read.
Kulp, Michelle. Backwards Book Launch: Reverse Engineer Your Book and Unlock Its Hidden 6-Figure Potential, Go From Being a Broke Author to a Rich Author (p. 10). Kindle Edition.
Rich, Jason R. Start Your Own Blogging Business (iii).. Entrepreneur Press.
Soukup, Ruth. How To Blog For Profit: Without Selling Your Soul (p. 16). Life Well Lived Publications. Kindle Edition.