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Yes, You Can Write For A Living Online

Updated on June 2, 2010

1000 hubs and several years later, I think its safe to say that I'm a bit of a Hub Pages veteran and that I've learned a fair bit about making a living being a writer. Is it possible to support yourself as a writer? The good news is that the answer is yes. The bad and otherwise interesting news follows.

We live in an age where every Tom, Dick and Harry is focused on personal fame. If you work online, you're going to be told that you need to start half a dozen social networking accounts, get on the face book, get on the twitter etc. You're going to hear a lot of twaddle about 'establishing a personal brand'. If this sounds like a tedious waste of time to you, I have some good news, it's entirely unnecessary.


That, young padwan, is a deeper question than you may be able to fathom at this time. That brings me to the NUMBER ONE rule you need to learn about being a mildly successful writer. I'll put it down here all by itself so it makes impact and whatnot.

NOBODY CARES ABOUT YOU (Seth Godin said that, and he was right, oh so right.)

That's important. People may enjoy what you write, but they'll generally like it because it reinforces their pre-existing world view. If you're any good as a writer you will develop an audience over time, but it is important to remember that your audience is usually only loyal as long as your content satisfies them in the way they expect to be satisfied. There are always a few loyal fans, and god bless those people, the people who will read almost anything you write, but remember those people will always be a very small proportion of your reader base. Most people will read only what interests them, and that is quite right and proper.

This rule exists at every level of the writing profession.If JK Rowling decided to write a detailed history of the Falklands War, her reader base would likely not follow her. If Stephen King decided to suddenly start putting out books about organic gardening, they would surely not see the success of one of his horror novels.

The idea then, is to write about subjects which passionately interest you, and build up a readership around them. Don't waste your time writing about subjects that don't fill you with fire and vigor because on the Internet, someone who cares more than you is probably already writing about them and doing it better than you ever could.

As a writer, you are less of a mouthpiece of wisdom and deep knowledge and more of a monkey dancing for coins. If you want to passionately change the world, don't try to write for a living. Keep your day job and advance your agenda in your own time. It is possible to parlay that kind of passion into a career, but with no real expertise behind you, you're just another nut with a keyboard.

Don't let the idea of becoming a writer go to your head. Don't fall prey to the tempting pride that comes with having the ability to put words on the Internet. Don't think you're special because you have a few hundred people who return to your writings everyday. Don't make the mistake of thinking that you are some kind of leader, because you're not, what you are, is a slave to the whims of your reading public. You exist only so far as you fulfill their needs. Change your message or your subject matter and all the readers that followed you so passionately will melt away like snow in a furnace.

There's nothing wrong with writing on several subjects, however you should be aware that people will generally follow you for their own reasons and not for yours, so don't be upset when you have to begin to establish an entirely new reader base when you branch into other areas.

It is possible too to have anti-fans. Sometimes, whether through sustained efforts, or simply because you end up writing for a reader base that is inherently ideologically opposed to you, you will develop ant-fans. These people will have the sort of fanaticism that you could only wish your pro-fans had. They will remember everything you've ever written and they will spend hours of their lives concocting hate-filled mail. If you've got any sense you'll start your own I Hate (insert name here) fan-club and sell them merchandise.


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    • Karen Banes profile image

      Karen Banes 7 years ago from Canada

      Great hub - I particularly love the last paragraph. Truly inspired entrepreneurship ;)

    • profile image

      Fiona Sass 8 years ago from Saint Laurant de Cerdans, PyrĂ©nees Orientales, France

      hi hope, great hub - i have had similar realisations and have carried on writing "online" but got a day-job too. Now I write about that, but keep my other topics stuffed up my allegorical sleeves, as I wish organic gardening was more popular than horror, but if its not, then i atleast make hints. I find many leads to deep, rich topics embedded in your hub - topics you might write about if the readership could make the leap. I think this hub helps greatly to pave the way. Thanx xchara

    • Hope Alexander profile image

      Hope Alexander 8 years ago

      Thanks for your concern guys, actually the hate mail (mostly) comes from another site I write for. Hub Pages is actually an incredibly good site to write on because it has good moderation tools and a helpful team behind it.

      I'm glad this was interesting for many of you! :D

    • shazwellyn profile image

      shazwellyn 8 years ago from Great Britain

      Love it! You are absolutely correct! We are only as good as the last bit of work. Everyone has the 'what have you done for me lately?' mentality!

      We can all get caught up in the egosentric euphoria of a subtle success, then onto the next one.

      Good article and one of the reasons I follow you x

    • profile image

      sissychuck44 8 years ago

      What are you suggesting? Are people sending you hate mail? for supporting men wearing lingerie and panties?

    • profile image

      ILoveLingerie 8 years ago

      Writing is like selling products to the market. You must meet the demands or you won't sell anything at all.

      It's kind of sad, but that's the way it works.

      That being said, do you get a lot of hate mail for encouraging men to wear lingerie or for writing about other topics you present here on hubpages?

      Anyways you write great articles, no matter what topic, but you have to give out cookies for reading here or else... just kidding!

      Keep it up :)

    • Jim Bryan profile image

      Jim Bryan 8 years ago from Austin, TX


      This hub is as much genius as it is wisdom. I can attest that my anti-fans have about as many hits as my fans. My fans tend to be more literate and therefore more coherent (making points instead of simply yelling insults, bless them all... everyone), but that is another matter entirely.

      In regards to your own writing, I think much of what you write is brilliant, but I have NO interest in what seems to be the majority. When you write on an interesting topic I tear through it like a wolverine on PCP. That being said, most of what you write does not interest me, personally (I much prefer a gal in boots to a fella in heels). I have enough trouble getting the various torture objects you women pretend are clothes off, ergo my lack of interest in putting them on.

      Regardless, good job Hope.