Fair caution: Making money as a writer is neither easy nor romantic as some people make it out to be. But then again, no work is. If you want to do the thing you love, you also have to do an equal amount of things that you don’t love, if not more.
I love writing; there’s no arguing that. But do I like to promote? No. Do I like to sell? No. Do I want to submit one essay to some fifty publications? No. Do I like reaching out to potential sponsors or doing outreach for guest posts? Hell no!
But still, doing those things allow me to write and make a living with writing, and if that’s what it takes, then that’s what it takes!
In any case, I’ll share the five different ways I’ve personally made money with my written words. You don’t have to do all of these, of course. But if writing is your passion, feel free to pick your own poison from this list 😉
(Note: I haven’t included things like writing a book or journalism or being a staff writer for a print or web publication in this list because I have zero experience or knowledge in those areas.)
1. Start a blog and be a content marketer
Starting your own blog (on your own platform like WordPress) is one of the ways to make money as a writer and the most lucrative one at that.
I blog on the side, writing maybe one blog post per week, sometimes every other week, and I make a decent monthly income from it; enough to pay rent, bills, and just about anything else I need. Basically, my blog is my primary income source even though I’m only a part-time blogger.
The caveat of running a content marketing blog is that you don’t make money directly with your words.
Typically, you leverage your blog to sell something else to make money.
These are some ways to make money from your blog:
- Affiliate marketing
- Selling digital products
- Offering services
- Running ads (not the best way to monetize your blog, but I have heard of some success stories.)
- Publishing sponsored blog posts (where a company may pay you to write content that promotes their product.)
You can find a detailed guide to making money as a blogger here.
For me, I make anywhere from 1–2k per month with affiliate marketing, and 2–5k per month selling my digital products (templates and online courses.) There is also some fringe income from sponsored posts, coaching clients, workshops,
I know of other bloggers who make much, much more than I do; like, high five figures and even six figures per month!
How much you make depends on how much work you put into your blog, how you promote your posts, and the type of monetization methods you put into place. Whatever you do, I recommend diversifying your income.
2. Become a freelance writer
The next lucrative method of making money as a writer is freelancing. If you can land the right gigs with the right clients, you can easily make a few thousand per month.
The goal should be to secure regular gigs with repeat clients. I know many writers get their first gigs from platforms like Fiverr or Upwork, but ideally, the premium gigs come from networking, referrals, and LinkedIn.
You can also search for these gigs on Indeed, Pro Blogger, or other job markets.
Freelance content writing gigs pay anywhere from a couple of hundred to a couple of thousand bucks per article, so depending on your niche, outreach, and marketing efforts, you can easily make a few thousand per month.
- It’s better to pick a niche when you start freelancing. A niche helps you get more targeted clients.
- Have a portfolio! You can create your own blog, or try to guest blog on high-authority websites as a way to build that portfolio.
- Definitely set up a LinkedIn profile. Many freelance writers get leads from LinkedIn.
- Not all freelancing niches are paid equally. Choosing a lucrative niche will help you make more money. Consider SaaS, B2B, and B2C; they’re some of the highest paying markets. You can also consider UX writing, email writing, sales copywriting, tech, health, etc.
3. Start writing on Medium
Back in 2020 or 2021, a handful of writers could make as much as five figures per month on Medium. I’m not sure if that’s possible in 2022, but I do know of a few writers who make 2–3k per month on that platform.
So, even if you do not make a full-time income on Medium, you may still make a decent amount provided you put in the work.
Do keep in mind that to make any significant money on Medium, you have to write a ton. Quantity is a huge factor on Medium (as long as you meet the basic requirements for quality, which, unless you absolutely suck, you shouldn’t have to worry about too much.)
People (unless they’re fellow content creators who write about money as I do) do not share how much they make, so it’s hard to tell if all niches make the same kind of money or not for an equal amount of effort.
As for me, I started taking Medium seriously in June (2022.) So, it’s been almost three months, as of writing this, since I started putting in the effort. In June I made a little less than 30 bucks. In July I made a little more than 50 bucks. In August, I’ve already made over 100 bucks and the month isn’t over yet. So, consistent effort definitely pays off if my gradual increase in earnings is anything to go by.
Don’t rely on Medium alone to pay your rent and bills. It may have worked in 2020, but this platform is volatile, and I know of writers who went from making five figures to less than a grand per month. So, yeah. Keep that in mind.
I highly recommend having your own platform (start your own blog on WordPress, for example,) or freelance, or have a 9–5. Don’t put all your chips on Medium. Instead, you can use Medium to grow your main blog (by syndicating content.)
All that said, Medium can be a nice side income stream for writers for sure.
3.5 (Bonus) Write on Newsbreak, Vocal, Quora, etc.
There are certain platforms that are kind of like Medium, but worse (in my very personal opinion.) These are:
I’ve tried all of these and honestly, the bad UX, bad UI, confusing rules, and other not-so-hot stuff have put me off big time — enough to get off these platforms.
However, I have heard of writers who use some of those platforms and are relatively satisfied with them too. Feel free to check them out, but don’t expect much.
My advice? If you have the time, you may as well double down on your own blog and on Medium.
4. Sell your articles
I doubt writers on these platforms can make a full-time living just selling articles, so you’d likely have to either start your own blog or freelance or have a 9–5 as you sell pre-written articles on the side.
The following is for creative writers:
5. Write on creative writing outlets
The creative writing sphere is a truly depressing one.
Maybe you can share your creative nonfiction pieces on Medium. I know some do. But I can’t know for sure if they make good money or not.
The other alternative is to write for literary publications. But the problem is that it’s a competitive field and the monetary compensation is laughable.
Most lit pubs pay less than $100 per story. Many of them are unpaid, and only a few pay over $100.
Unless you’re writing for Vogue or Vox or… I don’t know — pubs that are owned by Condé Nast — you likely won’t make more than $500 per story.
Very, very few journals will pay over $1k for a single story, and rest assured, they’re very, very competitive, and unless you become a staff writer for them or snag some type of regular contribution contract, it’s not going to be a sustainable gig for you.
I don’t say this to discourage you from trying. Heck, I’ve been trying to get published in lit pubs for some time now, and I know I’ll continue trying. Because I hope to one day write for the bigger pubs, and to catch a big fish in this industry, you have to start catching smaller fish first. And in the meantime, start a content marketing blog or freelance to pay the bills.
(Just got accepted by a lit pub recently, so yay!!! They’re paying me $75 for a flash nonfiction piece, and well, I wasn’t doing it for the money anyway; it’s my name on the pub that counts. Remember, small fish before bigger fish.)
Well, that’s all I have for you 🙂 These are my experiences of making money as a writer. If you know of more, I’d love for you to share them with me in the comments.
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