Find out how to earn money through content writing. You’ll discover the truth, the lies, and some resources.
Your journey to six figures as a content writer begins with the understanding that you have to steal people’s attention. Then, determine how much value you can offer people and business owners.
So, let’s get started.
How to make money writing online: The ugly truth
There’s no absolute path. What works for one person might not work for another.
It’s your duty to pick a method and spend the next six months or 5 years figuring things out. If you think it will be easier than that, then expect to be shocked. Artificial intelligence is here to write now, and how to make money writing online is constantly changing.
Reminder: No one can lay a straight path to making money. Your story will be different. You should know this simple fact before you begin.
You can check my other post, earning through content writing, to see amazing stories of people who build a business out of content writing instead of writing for specific brands.
13 Ways Content Writers Make Money
Look at the details, resources, and explanations. You will realize they are grouped under 13 headings, but they are actually more than that
One of the best ways to make money as a content writer is by starting a blog.
Be prepared. If quick money is your aim, try something else on the list. It takes years of work and doing something different from what everyone is doing.
Bloggers make money through:
- Affiliate marketing
- Creating digital products
- Selling ad space
- Publishing gated content
What you need:
These might look funny, but these are the things you need:
- Quality content
- Knowledge of search engine optimization
- Business Mindset
You can also do guest posting on bigger sites to create more awareness about your personal brand. It usually won’t bring much traffic to your blog, but it can build your authority as a brand and that of your blog.
These are helpful blog posts for those who want to know how to earn money through content writing and blogging:
- 9 Blogging Tactics for 2 Million Views in 2 Years
- How to start a million dollar business one weekend, Tim Ferris
- 10 blog posts that will teach you how to become a better writer
#2. Build a niche site
A niche site is a practicable strategy for those looking for how to make money as a writer. It involves focusing on a small but growing niche with huge potential.
Consider three main things before starting a niche blog:
- People are ready to buy things you recommend
- There is a reasonable volume of search
- You really understand SEO and work hard
- The trend will keep growing
- How to Start a Niche Site by Ahref
I have another post that can teach you how to earn money through content writing, but it’s about building your own business.
#3. Freelance writing
Many websites you see online need your services as a content writer to consistently create quality content for their business. They need help with blog posts, articles, newsletters, content for social media, press releases, and YouTube scripts.
You can start your own YouTube channel, write the scripts, and make money. You won’t get paid in a week or two, but you can build a business in some years.
Back to freelance writing, for many years, the most common answer you will get when you ask writing for money is freelance writing.
It is viable and easy to get in if you can write well. However, it’s getting harder by the day for those just starting out. AI has removed the need for beginners. Only professional writers are getting gigs in 2023.
All is not lost, though. You can still start. If you wait a little longer as a beginner, you delay becoming an expert in your niche.
What you need to start freelance writing:
- Search engine optimization (depending on the types of content you’re writing. Press releases and video scripts do not require SEO, but blog writing does)
- A portfolio of work (the bigger the platform you used, the better. Businesses will work with someone with a byline at Businessinsider rather than someone using Google Docs. Remember, there is no perfect plan. Start somewhere.)
- Copywriting skills
With the advanced developments in artificial intelligence, it’s becoming harder and harder for average writers to get writing opportunities. Job boards are becoming boring, with fewer jobs and terrible offers. You can take a few of the other ideas in this post and try them while searching for freelance writing opportunities.
Resources for freelance writing:
- 36 Beginner-Friendly Ways to Find Freelance Writing Jobs
- You will find this Reddit page helpful.
Ghostwriting means writing on behalf of someone else. For example, someone hires you to write something after they have developed the idea.
It’s one of the ways to earn money through content writing that pays a huge sum at a go.
What you need:
- Ability to hold people’s attention. (Ghostwriters are often hired to write long-form blog posts and books.)
- Portfolio, especially in the niche you’re trying to write
- Ability to step into your client’s roles/stories like an actor
- Making money writing fiction, my experience: (The story might look ridiculous to foreigners, but it’s still my story)
- How to become a freelance ghostwriter, according to someone who left her $50,000-a-year banking job and now makes $80,000 a year on her own time
- How I Become a Famous Ghostwriter, Nicolas Cole
And, if you’re a beginner who wants to go into fiction writing — want to write stories that captivate readers and keep them turning the pages — you will find my post, a saner guide to writing fiction, helpful. I cover everything you need to kick ass and become great at it.
Some famous books that were ghostwritten:
Content writing and copywriting aren’t the same. Content writers are hired to create awareness about a brand, while copywriters are often hired to make people buy something.
If you’re a professional content writer, you have the foundation to become a professional copywriter.
But you need to learn, practice, and understand human psychology. Then, sharpen the money-making side of your brain.
What you need:
- Good pitching skills
- Copywriting skill
Resources for copywriting:
- The Adweek copywriting handbook by Joe Sugarman
- 15+ reusable ideas to find copywriting clients who pay well, Kaleigh Moore
- How I Wrote Posts That Touched the Hearts of More Than 6 Million People — Jon Morrow
- One way to learn copywriting? Watch a pro copywriter rewrite some landing pages.
- 10 phenomenal blog posts that will teach you how to become a better writer
One of the best books on copywriting and advertising is Ogilvy On Advertising.
#6. UX writing
User Experience writers plan or write the guides, instructions, and microcopy for websites, apps, and software.
What You Need:
You need to know more about behavioral marketing and some psychological triggers.
#7. Technical writing
Writers with backgrounds in a technical field like coding or Artificial intelligence can dive into technical writing.
It requires you to understand what you’re talking about deeply. So it can be a lot of difficult choices for people who don’t have the expected knowledge. But it does pay well if you are really looking for how to earn money through content writing.
What you need:
- Background knowledge of a technical topic (the more complicated it is to understand, the less the competition)
- Ability to break those complex topics down
#8. Writing for magazines
Pritching to magazines is competitive and has the same difficulties as writing for contests. If the magazine is popular, it is usually harder to get in.
What you need:
- Read the magazine you’re writing for. If you haven’t read at least 10 of their posts, you are probably doing yourself a disservice.
- Follow the submission guidelines.
- What journal editors want
- How To Make Money Freelance Writing: Websites That Pay Writers $50+, Make A Living Writing
- Here’s How to Pitch and Write a Guest Post for Copyhackers (A good example of clear and specific descriptions of what editors want)
#9. Writing Contest
It is like playing the lottery. A thousand people submit to a publication, and some of them will be picked, and often, the winner is selected based on votes.
What you need:
- You (might) need a large number of social media followers
- Ability to write captivating stories
#10. Ebook Writing
Ebook publishing is one of the ways you can make money as a writer.
Do you have knowledge that you think will be valuable to others? Then, write, develop, and sell it.
Ebooks can be combined with some of the ways to make money that have been mentioned. For instance, if you are a blogger, you can sell ebooks. You can write and sell an ebook about your expertise if you’re a freelance writer in a particular niche.
Getting book sales is actually hard. I have tried it, and I can tell you firsthand that it’s harder than what they tell you on YouTube. You can see copies of my books on this page you’re reading. For those who want to go this route, you need to understand content marketing or have a large audience that is interested before you launch. Or you can simply try your luck.
What you need:
- A marketing strategy
- A quality book
- Read my guide on how to make money on Amazon Kindle
- How to publish a book on Amazon (and sell over 100,000 copies the SMART way), Growthlab
- Confessions of the Underground World of Kindle eBooks, Part 1, The Hustle
- How I make $400 a month in Passive Income by Self-Publishing
#11. Using a money-making writing platform
Some platforms are designed to allow creators to earn from their work. They include:
- Twitter now pays influencers (the majority are writers, celebrities, influencers, or brands).
#12. Building an audience and creating paid content
Some platforms allow content writers to create a paid subscription for their content. It is difficult, and those who make good money have at least three things in common:
- A large following
- A volume of free work
- Consistency. Those earning good money have been creating for years, which have built some fame.
Those aren’t reasons to give up, but to start doing something right now if you think of writing as a career.
Platforms for earning income as a content writer:
- Buy me a coffee
Some stories to inspire you: How Lenny’s Letter makes $65,000 in its first year.
Do you have some form of knowledge people will be interested in?
Have you achieved something that people want to do the same?
You can start a course and sell what you know.
Check places like Udemy and the ads that show in your searches. Do you find those topics? Those indicators that people are paying for what you want to discuss.
Write a course or the script of your course and sell it.
What you need:
- A marketing strategy for selling your course
- A large following on social media
- Some testimonials or portfolios that your course is good
Those are 13 ways to make money as a content writer. Now it’s up to you
Before you continue, I suggest you take the time to read my other posts on how to make money online: things they don’t tell you.
Do you want to know more about how to earn money as a freelance content writer worldwide? Then, listen to more success stories of content writers. You will hear how writers are using different ways to make money.
For instance, I find stories of people nearer to me more inspiring.
Time has changed, and not every writer is waiting or using traditional publishing or having to write a book to make money.
New opportunities are emerging, and writers are using them.
F A Q
These are some common questions and the corresponding answers:
How Much Does a Writer Earn?
How much you’ll earn as a writer depends on your writing type, tenacity, and business acumen. Treat it like a business; you should make good money.
Do Content Writers Make Good Money?
Content writers can make good money if they know that writing is just a tool, not an end product. In fiction, your job is to keep the readers’ experience, inspire their imagination, and let them forget their problems while they are consumed with the pleasure of what they are reading. It’s a lot different in content writing because you’re a marketer, brand ambassador, or tutor. Writing is how you achieve any of these purposes. When you understand it, you approach writing differently and work on things you need to achieve with your writing.
What Are the Best Sites That Will Pay You to Write?
Check the article under “writing for magazines,” some brands are willing to pay you. Check some of the links I added. You’ll find 100 websites paying content writers. Prepare your pitch.
I have not once mentioned Upwork or Fiverr since I started this article. It’s one of the job sites where you can find people who will be willing to pay you. However, don’t expect a lot from them. If you make good money writing on those platforms, you’re among a few percent of content writers with a success story. Don’t get me wrong. Some writers make good money from Upwork or Fiverr, and I still use the sites till the day of writing this post. But it’s hard for the majority of writers. So, your chances on how to make money as a content writer are slim on these job sites.
How Can I Earn Money Writing as a Teen?
Starting early can be a great advantage if you’re a teen. Choose 1 of the 12 methods you have read about and start working on it. You will have a great writing career than most people if you learn marketing, network, and stay consistent. Check the former posts about content writing.
Bonus tip: Learn SEO and start blogging. Alternatively, find a platform and start writing about something you understand or are trying to learn. That work will pay off if you stay consistent for 1 year.