Writing for a Living — 5 Ways to Earn an Active Income

You can be successful writing for a living!
Photo courtesy of LadyDragonfly from Flickr.com

I’ve been writing for several years now. Although I’m still not in the financial bracket that I’d like to be in, I do have many clients, and that list continues to grow. It took me a while to get to where I am today, because when I first started writing for a living, I spent a lot of time reading advice from more experienced writers. Furthermore, I started back when the Internet was just booming. At that time there weren’t many writing blogs to learn from, so I spent the majority of my time in writing forums. In addition, blog writing and SEO writing hardly existed. Therefore, I had to depend on assignments from magazine and newsletter editors to make ends meet, which meant writing and sending numerous query letters, and then waiting for editors to respond. On top of that, there was always the possibility of rejections.

Eventually, blogging and SEO started to grow in popularity, so after I honed my skills in those areas, things started getting better; however, I continued to send queries hoping for acceptance letters and steady assignments.

The good news for you is you don’t have to wait a year or more to really start doing well at writing for a living. Keep in mind, though, it will still take time, but if you follow the advice I’m sharing today, you should begin earning an active income within a few months.

Writing for a Living: Gaining Experience and Clients

1. Keep at least five query letters and letters of introduction (a.k.a. cover letters) in circulation. Create and send a minimum of five query letters to print and electronic publications. Also, send a minimum of five letters of introduction to websites, network blogs and publications that are within your areas of expertise. Coffee Break for Writers offers a three-part freelance writing exercise that will help you perform this marketing task in record-breaking time. The exercise also includes a sample letter of introduction.

2. Sell your writing services to potential clients (business owners, SEO companies, book producers, etc.). Scan writing jobs listed on writing-related websites and blogs. Respond to the jobs that apply to you. For example, if you want to write blog posts, articles and SEO content about the real estate market, parenting and green living, only reply to blog writing, article writing, ghostwriting and SEO writing jobs for those niche areas.

3. Don’t depend on content mills when writing for a living. Places such as Demand Studios (DS) and Associated Content (AC) are only good for when times are slow or you need a little extra spending money. I learned my lesson the hard way with these type gigs. Sure, if you write 25 articles a week for DS, you’ll earn $1,500 a month, but wouldn’t you rather earn $200 for one article instead of $1,500 for 100 articles? Here, let me give you a better example: You can write and sell two articles each week for $200 each and earn more than $1,500 a month. Plus you won’t be selling all your rights to the articles. Yes, when you write for DS and many of the other content mills, you’re selling all your rights, which means if they choose, they can make money off you by reselling your articles and claiming those articles as their own.

4. Resell your previously published articles. You can earn more money on articles you’ve already sold by searching for paying markets that buy reprints. Many times you won’t earn as much selling the reprint rights as you did when the article was original, but you can still earn a decent price by reselling those articles.

5. Market to local businesses. Mail a letter of introduction to local businesses. Along with the letter, include relevant clips or writing samples, your business card and a brochure about your writing services. Some things you can write for local businesses are blogs, obituaries for funeral homes and local newspapers, neighborhood guides, home buyer tips for real estate agents, columns for local newspapers, and contact schools with an offer to create newsletters for parents.

Words of Encouragement

No matter how rough things get, you must keep on writing for a living and marketing your services. Don’t let the big-name magazines and other publications scare you either. If you think you have an article that would benefit their readers, send the query letter. Yes, they may say no, but you’ll never know if you don’t try, and they won’t know if your articles or writing services are what they’re looking for, if you don’t let them know you’re out there.

Good luck and happy writing! May the Lord bless you with an abundance of words and many clients!


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