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How to Make a Living as a Writer

Updated on March 12, 2011

Make Money Writing

You've heard of starving writers, but being a writer is certainly no reason to starve. Cast aside that image of the starving writer and start making a real living doing what you love.

Writing is an enormous industry with billions made every year on books, copywriting and other forms of the craft. The trick to getting a piece of the financial pie is to write what people want. Often, that doesn't mean the fiction work you have half completed in your desk drawer.

Choose Your Freelance Writing Type(s)

Identify what kind of writing you want to do. There are writers who will only write fiction, those who write both fiction and non-fiction and those who make a very nice living writing only non-fiction. Your own writing preferences will guide you, but keep in mind that non-fiction in general is much more lucrative than fiction. Once you decide what type of writing you will do best with, decide what topics interest you the most.

Photo by Zsuzsanna Kilian
Photo by Zsuzsanna Kilian

Gain Writing Skill

Practice your writing. Writing is just like any other profession - you have to be good if you want to make a living at it. Practice daily and have others read what you write. Take writing courses that specialize in your chosen writing type.

Find a Place to Sell Your Writing

Explore all of the work earning opportunities. This is a process that depends on your chosen mode of writing. If you've chosen to write only fiction, you'll need to study The Writer's Market regularly in order to find what publishing companies are buying from freelance writers. You'll need to send out query letters to publishing houses, magazines and literary agents every day.

If you've decided to write non-fiction, you may be interested in querying publishers and agents, but you can also make a good living elsewhere. Copywriting and technical writing both pay well. If you have a talent for either, set up a website that displays your talents and design a brochure for local businesses. You can write ads, manuals, marketing materials, brochures and flyers for local companies as well as companies that contact you online.

Get Into Web Writing

Web writing is another important venue for writers, though it doesn't generally pay as well. There are millions of websites out there, and many of them hire freelance writers to write their articles, Web copy and sales pages. Query phrases like "write for us" and "writers needed" in a search engine to find countless websites that are hiring writers. To get started in Web writing, put together writing samples that you can use as  writing clips. Most employers will want to see numerous samples to gauge your skill. Make sure those samples are error-free.

Building a Name as a Writer

Build a reputation. In fiction writing, your writing reputation is simply the work itself. Deliver consistently what the publisher wants. In non-fiction, deliver your work on time and without mistakes. A good reputation will lead to more work and higher prices for that work. Soon you will be making enough to live on. This can take much longer in fiction than non-fiction, as many fiction books take one to two years from acceptance to publication. Web writing and other non-fiction can bring in a living in less than a year.


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    • profile image

      Beaker 7 years ago

      Glad you like it! I do make a living as a writer, and it is possible for just about anyone to do. Good luck!

    • profile image

      Debra 7 years ago

      A nice post. Thank you.

    • mdlawyer profile image

      mdlawyer 8 years ago

      Great share. Thank you