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Can You Earn a Living Writing Online?

Updated on July 12, 2016
Personal computer - Just one of the expenses you'll need to consider.
Personal computer - Just one of the expenses you'll need to consider. | Source

Is it possible to make a living writing online? This is the big question many writers have. I'll be honest with you. You'll only be able to if you learn SEO and can write an article quickly and then it may still be difficult. You might find a high paying niche that doesn't have a lot of competition and then you might be able to do it. You'll need to write a few thousand articles to make it and then you still might not earn enough, but there are people that do.

Can it be done? Yes it can for a lucky few. Writing online does earn a good part-time income for many writers, but you need to stick to it. It can really help pay the bills or help save for retirement.

Content sites are a good way to add to your income, but most of your money will be earned from your own websites. You'll work more hours than you would at your 9 to 5 job.

If you want to earn full-time money you are going to have to work and work hard. A lot depends on what your expertise outside of writing already is. I've seen a few writers that earn really good money with few articles, but they are the exception.

Does Anyone Earn Enough to Make a Living?

There are online authors making a living writing. I've met those that do, but they have multiple websites and a large collection of writing at many sites. One man claims it took him 3000 articles to earn enough to quit his job. Others state that it took 3 years of steady writing every night after work. Most of these writers live a frugal lifestyle.

If you work hard and keep at it, you may be able to do it. You need to learn SEO and how to use the right titles. Don't worry you can find enough articles right here on Hubpages to give you an entire education. You also need to learn about finding the right niche.

I myself have a nice part-time income, but I have 3 sites and write here at Hubpages. The sites don't get as much attention from me as they could. If I spent more of my time writing, I could do a lot better.

You need to set a time that you will write each day. Having your own space in your home, even if it is small will help you keep away from the distractions. You need to set goals and work hard until you reach them. Write out a good plan with objectives to reach and reread it often.

Write at Multiple Sites

The best advice is always not to put all your eggs in one basket. There are several sites where you can post your work and you can always start your own websites and blogs. Many writers make a living from a large website.

The best and most respected place to create your own site is now Wordpress. There is a learning curve there, but it is easy once you've studied it and well worth it.

Tripod Lycos offers sites for $4.95 a month. You need to pay for your own domain address which will cost another $20.00 a year. This does include a free blog and a site builder. You are able to build several sites there for the same price. Customer support is good, but can take a day sometimes. Tripod is where I host my sites. Many other free website builders are available for a low price.

At Blogger you can start a blog for free. Blogger is owned by Google. Again, you need to have the right topic to write about and the site needs to be well promoted with huge amounts of content. Keep your blog updated every week. More often is better.

Another site is InfoBarrel. I've only written a couple of articles there and then I started with Hubpages and was hooked. I enjoy reading the forum at Infobarrel, because they share so much information about writing. It doesn't rank as well as Hubpages.

If you'd like direct pay per article, try sites like Textbroker and Elance where you will earn a one time payment quicker. I don't care for these sites myself. I just feel over time that I can earn more at sites like Hubpages where you can earn residual income.

Setting Per Word Rates - Freelance Writing

If you are writing for the content sites, keep track of your word count and how long it takes to write an article. The day will come when someone contacts you and offers you an assignment. You need to know how much you should charge per word or article. Because you take it as a compliment, you will be excited by the offer. Don't let that allow you to undercut yourself.

I erred in this department when I took my first freelance job. When quoting a rate I thought it would be a good wage. Afterwards, I realized that I wrote much slower than I thought. Be sure to count in all reference work that you do too. Most writers will tell you to quote a rate per word that will earn you at least $20 per hour.Be sure to check your expenses to see if this is enough.

As you gain experience, you will be able to charge much more. Never undercut yourself!

How Much Income is Enough to Quit Your Full-time Job?

If you are earning enough to pay the bills and you are thinking about quitting your regular job, there are other considerations you need to take into account.

These include:

  • Income taxes - Figure state taxes, local taxes and Federal income taxes into your expenses. You will also need to pay your employers half of social security. All of these things will no longer be taken out of your check.
  • Health Insurance - Does your spouse have you on his/her work policy? If not, this can be an enormous expense. My husband checked into ours and it would cost $1700 a month if we wanted to carry our own. I've heard you can get policies with large deductibles for less money, but they still aren't cheap. Just be sure you have the money in a bank account to cover the deductible, in case you do get a serious health problem.
  • No More Paid Vacations - If you'd still like to take a paid vacation, get paid holidays, you need to consider if you will be able to take a break from writing.
  • Disability Insurance - You'll need to pay your own disability insurance too.

Are You Able to Work Long Hours By Yourself?

You need to be a self-motivated person and be able to spend long hours alone. Do others interrupt you on a continual basis? You'll need to have quiet time to work. You may still need a babysitter for the kids. Be sure to include that in your wage.

Writing can be a satisfying job for the right person. I wish you all the best with your new career. Just don't jump in and quit your job until you have taken all of these things into consideration.


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    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Badder 2 years ago from USA

      Ron, I'm happy you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading.

    • RonElFran profile image

      Ronald E. Franklin 2 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      Although at this point, I'm not concerned with making a living by my writing, I still find articles like this informative and encouraging. Thanks!

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Badder 3 years ago from USA

      abbaelijah, Thanks for reading it and you are welcome.

    • abbaelijah profile image

      Abba Elijah aka elijagod 3 years ago from Nigeria

      Thanks for this hub

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Badder 3 years ago from USA

      Anne, Some of these are easy if you know how to do them. Thanks for reading.

    • Anne Harrison profile image

      Anne Harrison 3 years ago from Australia

      Thanks for the article barbara - and all the others, I'll certainly be reading and re-reading. I've only just started thinking about the money side of things, enough to work a little less is my first goal. Thank you for suggesting ways to reach this

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Badder 3 years ago from USA

      ologsinquito, I am happy you found something helpful and thanks for pinning.

    • ologsinquito profile image

      ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

      Hi Barbara, this article is very useful for people just starting out and it gives them a good idea of how much work it will take. I'm pinning it to my online writing board.

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Badder 3 years ago from USA

      FlorishAnyway, Thanks for reading the hub and voting up. I'm happy you enjoyed it.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      Great information, Barbara Kay. It's a good reality check for those who think this is a get rich quick method (hahahaha). Voted up and more.

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Badder 4 years ago from USA

      CarNoobz, I've thought about what you are talking about. I have 3 websites and if you have other thoughts on monetizing them, please share. Where I still find a problem though is if Google decides they don't like them, where can you get traffic, at least any decent amount. It seems like they are king over us. If you have a solution, please share that too. Thanks for reading the hub and commenting. Thanks for voting it up.

    • CarNoobz profile image

      CarNoobz 4 years ago from USA

      I agree with the "don't put all your eggs in one basket" idea...absolutely...but I think that writing on multiple sites only halfway resolves the issue.

      Writing on multiple sites makes you FEEL like you're diversified, but the key is actually to diversify your MONETIZATION and TRAFFIC sources.

      Some people write on several HP-like sites yet have Google as their main source of traffic on all of them. So what happens if a Google algo update sinks all those Web 2.0 sites? They're done. That's exactly what happened with Panda and Penguin.

      Also, what if you have several blogs set up in different niches, but all those sites rely on Adsense. What happens if Google accuses you of click fraud and kills your Adsense accounts? You lose money on all those sites, even though they're different types of content and different niches.

      That's why I think it's important to not only diversify where you publish, but also how you monetize and where your traffic comes from.

      Great food for thought. Voted up and useful.

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Badder 4 years ago from USA

      Better Living, Thanks for reading.

    • Better Living profile image

      Better Living 4 years ago

      Thanks for the tips. I hope to up my online earnings this year.

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Badder 4 years ago from USA

      dressup4charity, Good Start.

    • dressup4charity profile image

      John Davis 4 years ago from U.S.

      I've earned money from Squidoo. And also, I'm planning to write a blog for hubpages too.

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Badder 4 years ago from USA

      Cyndi, I am happy to hear that you found this helpful. Thanks for commenting and voting it up.

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Badder 4 years ago from USA

      weestro, Thanks for reading and commenting. I hope there was some info that will help you.

    • weestro profile image

      Pete Fanning 4 years ago from Virginia

      Great info Barbara, thanks for sharing! Voted up and useful!

    • Cyndi10 profile image

      Cynthia B Turner 4 years ago from Georgia

      I love the practicality of this article! I am still in the infant stage of finding my footing in freelance writing. I am determined to make this it. Well, maybe write a novel or two. (Isn't that what most writers want to do?)

      I digress, your information is great and anyone going into freelance should read it. I might add that I try to do a lot of face to face networking because there are so many small businesses or solopreneurs who want writing content, but don't know where to turn to find it. My goal is to be their source. Thanks for the writing. Voted up and sharing.

    • Distant Mind profile image

      Distant Mind 4 years ago

      You could earn even more, but I don't believe writing is the key to earning online. Just saying.

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Badder 4 years ago from USA

      rfmoran, I agree with your thinking. I'd hope after 3 years of hard work you'd see a good amount coming in though. Thanks for your comment.

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Badder 4 years ago from USA

      cloverleaffarm, I just read a blog where the lady and her husband together are making $7000 a month, but they are writing product reviews. Together they write 7 a day. I can't even imagine. It can be done by a few lucky ones. She stated though that most of the money is made from selling the products they are writing about through Amazon and other affiliates. Thanks for commenting.

    • rfmoran profile image

      Russ Moran 4 years ago from Long Island, New York

      The key as I see it Barbara is to have the fortitude to stick with the task for at least three years and then decide if it's worth your time or just a part time fun thing.

    • cloverleaffarm profile image

      Healing Herbalist 4 years ago from The Hamlet of Effingham

      Great hub! While I write here, my own blog, as well as other sites, my writing doesn't make enough money to live on. I write constantly, but I can never see it making enough money to live on. I do, however make enough money online with my products. We ship to every corner of the globe, and I easily live off what I make. I must add, that I live much more frugally than any other person I know living in the US.

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Badder 4 years ago from USA

      Distant Mind, I've heard you need to sell a product, but there are many people that do earn enough to make a living.I hate the shipping part of selling. I never reached the point that I could hire employees though. Thanks for your comments.

    • Distant Mind profile image

      Distant Mind 4 years ago

      One thing that might make it easier to make a living online is living in a country with a lower standard of living. If you live in the USA you need to make a larger sum of money to cover your expenses and to lead a normal lifestyle than in India, for instance. If you live in a country where you need to make a few hundred dollars a month in order to be able to pay yourself a decent salary, it is totally doable. The obstacle you have to overcome is writing in a language that is not your native tongue and usually the quality of your writing suffers. I guess a native speaker would always tell that I'm not a native speaker myself when they read my hubs, though I hope it will not be the case.

      But writing online is not really the best way to make money on the internet and people that are trying to make a living online should be aware of that. I personally quit my well paying and exhausting job in order to try to make a living online, but writing is not part of my top priorities at all. There are so simply much better and smarter ways to earn and all it is for me is a productive leisure activity to take the stress away. Of course, earning a few bucks from HubPages is not a bad feeling.

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Badder 4 years ago from USA

      ambercita04, If you study hubs about how to make it first and really stick to writing on a regular basis, you can make it. It depends on how hard you want to work.

    • ambercita04 profile image

      Amber 4 years ago from Winter Park

      I became unemployed at the beginning of the year. Right after Christmas, our boss laid off about 5 of us. I am also a mom of a 1 year old boy. I love staying at home, but also need an income. I went back to school since I couldn't land a job. I have also been getting tons of those work from home emails, which I am so scared to try. I have always been told writing is my true gift. I also really enjoy doing it. Thanks for your article. I have been thinking of making writing my job so I can stay home with my son. I appreciate this article because it helps answer a lot of questions that I had. I have been trying to write at least one article a day, sometimes more if I can. But thanks again. This article was very helpful.

    • Julie DeNeen profile image

      Blurter of Indiscretions 4 years ago from Clinton CT

      Very realistic expectations. Good job!