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4 Side Hustles for Writers: Part 1

Diane is a self-published author who has also spent time freelancing. This first-hand experience has proven to be invaluable in her niche.

Side Hustle Series

5-side-hustles-for-writers-part-1

Introduction

Side hustle. I’m sure you’ve heard the term by now. But, what exactly is a side hustle you ask?

A side hustle is anything you do in your spare time to earn some extra income. In this article, I’m going to cover a variety of side hustles you can start by utilizing your writing skills. As I am a writer first, it is the one I have decided to start with in my Side Hustle Series.

Many writers (myself included) have more than one writing gig going at a time. For me, writing eBooks is my favourite. As an author of fiction and nonfiction, I can say I know a lot about the writing and publishing industry. And as with any industry, change is imminent. What’s popular today may not be popular tomorrow, so having the versatility to adapt will help you overcome some of the financial hurdles you may be facing.

Writing to please the market is hard work, and sometimes you will find yourself discouraged. I’ve been there, which is why I now write to please myself, not the trends. Forced writing isn’t as rewarding as a topic you are passionate about. I have written for others during my time on Fiverr, and although the money was welcome, I often found myself writing about topics that just didn’t appeal to me. Sometimes it was a chore just to complete an assignment.

With that being said, I do not discourage anyone from signing up as a writer on Fiverr. It is a good starting point, which I will explain more about later in this article. For now, I encourage you to find a quiet spot and read this from beginning to end. Feel free to make notes as you go along so you can utilize your writing skills to start a side hustle that gives you the extra income you want, whether it be for daily expenses, a vacation or your children’s college fund.

This article is about what I have done and am doing to earn a living with my writing. It is written with the intention of giving you the little push you may need to get started, or to give you some different avenues to take as a writer. I have also dabbled in other side hustles, but they will be discussed more in-depth in future articles in my Side Hustle Series.

Now, let’s get started!


1. Revenue Share Sites

This is where my writing career began; by submitting my very first article on HubPages in early 2010. I was new to the writing for money scene, and I wasn’t sure where to start. Luckily for me, I came across HubPages and never looked back.

I have always kept a journal of some sort, but writing for others to see was scary. I honestly didn’t think I had what it took to be a writer. After submitting a few articles, I began receiving positive feedback from complete strangers. It was then I decided to take it one step further; writing my own books. But, I’ll get more into that later. Right now I want to give you more information on writing for revenue share sites.

What is a revenue share site?

A revenue share site is a site that pays contributors based on number of views and/or revenue earned from advertisements. Since my writing online began in 2010, HubPages has been the most consistent. I have seen other sites come and go; often due to either poor management or not being able to handle the influx of traffic. In some cases the promise to pay per view resulted in sub-standard submissions, which in turn led to the demise of the sites. Although I’m not mentioning any names, I will say this: the founder of the site in question had great ideas, but they were unprepared financially for the payouts they ended up making. As a result, they received a lot of negative feedback.

What types of articles do I write?

As I said, I have been a long-time contributor on HubPages. I learned early to write evergreen articles, and those are the articles that still earn me money. By writing evergreen (as in articles that do not expire, such as how-to articles) the earning potential can be substantial over time.

Articles on gardening, crafts, DIY and anything that doesn’t have an expiry date are ideal. If posting current events, the odds of making any long-term earnings is low. I’m presuming you’re interested in earning passive income in addition to immediate income from your work.

I recently read Hubs by other writers, and found information and advice I can utilize in my own writing. One such hub is this one written by Stacie L. Although this particular post was made in 2017, the information within still is beneficial to writers in general; not just HubPages.

How do I get views?

By sharing the links to your articles on social media or Pinterest, you will increase your earning potential. The important thing to remember is to not spam others with links to only your articles. It’s always good to share the work of others as well.

It’s also good karma to comment on the articles of others. And by commenting, I’m referring to positive feedback. If you don’t agree with what another writer has to say on a topic, I feel it’s best to not say anything at all. I see too many cases of where a difference of opinion on social media can have a negative impact on a writer’s integrity. If you want to be seen in a positive light, keep your rude comments to yourself. If you’re pleasant in your comments, others will more than likely want to read articles you have written.

And, there will be others who may not have anything nice to say on your articles. It’s important to handle that situation with maturity and integrity. If you don’t agree with something someone has said, simply thank them for voicing their opinion and leave it at that. Do not get sucked into an online battle of words. It will not look good for you, because let’s face it, what happens online ends up everywhere.

What do revenue share sites pay?

In my experience, revenue share sites pay a percentage of what they receive from advertisements. It’s not a certain amount per article, per view or even per click. This is where the site I was referring to earlier ran into trouble. They initially promised a certain amount per view, and some figured out how to abuse the system. That in turn made it much more difficult for the honest contributors to earn, as they had to revamp how they distributed the funds.

Are revenue share sites feasible?

Depending on the types of articles you submit, and how diligent you are at sharing them, a decent income can be earned. Personally I haven’t earned enough to pay all of my bills, but I do earn some each month. Keep in mind I do not submit new articles regularly, nor do I regularly share the ones I do have. It all depends on how much work you want to put into them.

I found articles on gardening, earning money from home and craft tutorials are the best earners, at least for me. Other topics that would be popular are home organization, food, parenting tips and DIY. If you have knowledge of any of these topics, then don’t be afraid to sign up.

Creative writing is also becoming more popular on HubPages. I haven’t submitted any short stories myself, but have read several by Hubbers I follow. Submitting quality articles/stories regularly can provide a nice little side hustle for you, plus allow for the flexibility of pursuing other options.

I haven’t submitted anything new for quite some time (this is my first in well over a year, maybe two), yet continue to earn a little each month. I know if I were to submit regularly, I could easily increase my income.

Notice that I have only referred to HubPages, and that is because that is the only site I have an active account with. I have written for Triond, Bubblews, Knoji and others, but to my knowledge HubPages is one that has stood the test of time. They have a $50.00 threshold you must earn before they pay (via PayPal), but if you are actively contributing and sharing it’s possible to cash out every month or two.


2. Fiverr

Fiverr is a great way to get your feet wet when beginning your writing career. Or even to earn a few extra dollars on the side. I have paid many bills from my earnings on Fiverr. As my experience and focus changed, I ventured away from posting my writing gigs on the site. I do have one listed as of writing this article, which pertains to a side hustle of its own.

How does it work?

Its concept is simple: pick something you’ll do for $5.00, be specific about what the gig includes, add a photo, and post it. A new member is only allowed to list a small number of gigs, but as you receive more orders and positive reviews, your number of allowed gigs will increase. Plus, as your reputation grows, you can add extras to your gigs.

Who is it for?

It's not just for writers, so if you have other talents chances are you can list them as well. Graphic design, voice-overs, tarot readings: you name it, chances are you’ll find someone willing to pay $5.00 for what you can do.

I have mostly done article writing, and some copywriting. Keep in mind you are competing with a lot of people from all over the world. There are many people who charge very little for their work, simply because the cost of living is lower in their part of the world. Being from North America, I could not justify spending an hour or more on a project I was only getting paid $5.00 to do. And, unless things have changed, they kept $1.00 of my earnings for their portion to cover administration fees (and understandably so). So, for every $5.00 I earned, Fiverr kept one-fifth of it. When I earned $10.00, I got paid $8.00.

If you can find the sweet spot where you can duplicate your gig without increasing the time spent, then it is worth it. There is a waiting period for your funds, but if you are able to earn each day, after a couple weeks you can be cashing out on a daily basis. That in itself is big for some people. I know it was perfect for me. Some members make several hundred dollars per month, if not thousands. I found it easier to commit when I wasn’t working outside my home, but that particular step was necessary to make ends meet. Plus, I enjoy the social aspect of the library.

Do they pay on time?

I have never had an issue getting my funds from Fiverr. They deposited my available funds into my PayPal account within hours of requesting it most of the time. Holidays and weekends took a little longer, but that’s understandable. Once it was in my PayPal account, I could easily transfer it to my bank account.

How do I know what to charge?

I suggest you browse the gigs most related to what you want to do, and get a feel for what others are offering. Can you add a little extra, yet still make money at it? I recently was contacted by a former client to do more writing for him, but I declined as I am concentrating more on my own projects. One thing I have found is to over-deliver. That will keep your clients happy and they will be more willing to post better reviews and recommend you to others.

Customer Satisfaction

Customer service should always be priority, whether you’re on Fiverr, another site or freelancing via your own platform. Clients remember the service longer than they remember the work itself. And they will talk about the service they received even more. Be sure what they’re saying about you is good.

In a nutshell, Fiverr is a reputable site to join. Whether you’re a writer or have some other talents, I highly recommend you give it a try.


3. Ghostwriting

This is an ideal side hustle if you don’t mind your name not being attached to your work. Ghostwriters are paid very well, as they are signing away any rights to their work. While many writers want to be recognized for their work, others are just as happy staying on the sidelines.

Where do I find clients?

As a ghostwriter, you will need to find a good match. Sites such as Fiverr and Upwork are ideal, because both are reputable. Have a good idea of what type of writing you’re interested in so you can provide better services. If you’re a writer of romance, then perhaps accepting the writing of a nonfiction book on natural healing isn’t a good choice. That is, unless you genuinely have an interest in it. It’s important to have a good line of communication with your client once you have found him/her, because he/she could be a longtime client. Plus, your happy clients will refer your services to others.

What does it pay?

Ghostwriting pays more than most writing projects, especially if your client earns substantial income from what you have written. If you are new to the industry, you might want to test the waters on Fiverr. The rates others charge varies depending on the number of words, content, research required, publish-ready files and any other extras they provide. I have seen ranges in price from $7.00 Canadian for 500 words to over $600.00 Canadian for less than 2000 words.

The amount you choose to charge should be based on your ability, willingness to give up all rights to the work and subject matter. The better quality you provide, the more your services are worth. It can be a rewarding side hustle if you find the right clients. Picture writing a 10,000 word eBook and earning over $5,000.00 to do so. Now wouldn’t that be worth giving up a few evenings or weekend for?

If you specialize in a certain niche, chances are you can earn a substantial income. Perhaps you’re great at writing erotica, but don’t want your name associated with what you write. Finding a client who wishes to publish erotica without having to do the work themselves will be a win-win. Or perhaps you have a talent for taking the stories of others and turning them into a memoir or biography. No matter what you write, always do your very best work and deliver ahead of schedule.

Do I need any special skills?

As a writer you should already have the skills you require, such as error-free text, ability to research, basic document formatting and some people skills. No matter how much of an introvert you are, you’re going to have to communicate with your clients, either via email, phone or in person. What? In person? Do people still do that?

How do I showcase myself if I’m just starting out?

You need experience to get clients, and clients to get experience. When you’re brand new to the business of ghostwriting, you’re going to have to showcase your skills so would-be clients are willing to take a chance on you.

The best way to do this is to write a compelling ‘about me’ description, combined with an accurate description of your gig. State what you’re willing to write about, how many words and how much you charge. Plus, you’ll want to include any revisions you provide. And last but not least, make sure your spelling and punctuation are correct, your sentences complete and everything in a neat and orderly format.

If you put your best foot forward right from the start, you’ll land your first client, then your second, then your hundredth. Don’t give potential clients any reason NOT to hire you.

It’s not for everyone.

Keep in mind ghostwriting is not for everyone. When you agree to write for a client, you are giving up all rights to the work. That means if you were paid $5000.00 to write an eBook that nets 50 million dollars, you’re still only earning the $5000.00 for that piece. You will not be able to go back to the client later expecting more money. It’s a risk you take when you are a ghostwriter.

In some instances, the client is unable to pay a large fee for the work but offers a percentage of sales as an added bonus. If you are presented with a situation like this and agree there’s great earning potential, be sure to have everything laid out in a contract. This way you have something to fall back on if the client makes millions and doesn’t want to share the profits with you after all. If in doubt, consult a lawyer who specializes in contracts for writers. And if you really have reservations over this type of arrangement, settle on a flat fee.

4. Writing Fiction

This is a venture that could pay off big time, or just give you coffee money. Either way, using your imagination and creating worlds for others to get lost in can be satisfying.

The genres are vast, from historical fiction to fantasy. I myself enjoy writing romance, but have briefly dabbled in mystery for short story contests. You are only limited by your imagination.

What do I write?

As I’ve said, the possibilities are limited only by your imagination. I do, however, suggest you write the types of books and stories you like to read. If romance isn’t your thing, then you’ll find writing it a little more difficult.

I love to read and write romance, but when it comes to fantasy I’m the first to admit I have a hard time reading it. I would have an even harder time writing it. It just isn’t one of my favourites. I do know other fiction writers who love to create other worlds, far from our own. And they do quite well when it comes to finding readers.

What length of story should I write?

Here again, the choice is up to you. If you prefer to write short stories, you can easily do that and then compile several into an eBook or print book (or both). If you prefer to get your work out there before you have enough for a compilation, then make them available in online retailer platforms, such as Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, etc. Depending on the platform(s) you choose, you may be able to earn on pages read (this does require exclusivity on certain platforms).

If you prefer to spread your books across all platforms, I suggest uploading to a platform such as Draft2Digital and they will do the work for you. It will save you a lot of time because you won’t have to create separate accounts for each platform. And I see it as time better spent writing.

At time of writing, they (Draft2Digital) do not have a POD (print on demand) service, but they will format a PDF for authors. This PDF can then be uploaded to a POD service such as Kindle Direct Publishing, Lulu or you may use it at a local print shop. Or if you have a good quality printer, you may choose to print off a few copies and bind them on your own.

Fiction may also be shared on HubPages, but I don’t recommend a full length novel in that case. You may wish to submit a chapter at a time, or short stories. The nice thing about this approach is you could earn from your stories for years to come. If you’re going to upload a chapter at a time, I do suggest you ensure your story is finished within a reasonable amount of time. Perhaps finishing it before uploading will be beneficial, as you will have those who won’t want to wait to see how it ends.

If you have a good story, people will want to read it no matter how much time has passed since it was written. As a part-time library assistant, I can honestly tell you the classics still are checked out to patrons regularly. Some are more popular than others, but it’s like that no matter the genre or the age of the story.

Conclusion

The above are just four ways to earn extra money as a writer. Stay tuned for more side hustles for writers, plus for other creatives as well.

This has been the first article in my new Side Hustle Series, with more to come throughout the summer. Thanks for reading!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Diane Ziomek

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