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Top Secret Tips on Making Money as a Writer

Updated on May 2, 2016
Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

A professional career coach, Marcy has helped hundreds refine their resumes, improve their interviewing skills, and advance their careers.

Freelance Writing for Small Businesses Pays Well

Small businesses need good writers. Here's how you can make money doing freelance assignments.
Small businesses need good writers. Here's how you can make money doing freelance assignments.
Write for small businesses and make big bucks.
Write for small businesses and make big bucks.

How to Make Money Writing for Small Businesses

Small firms need writers, too. They just don't have the budget or space to bring someone on full-time, and their need is more sporadic than a major corporation. Some businesses don't even recognize their need for a writer; they stumble along with poorly written business or promotional materials without realizing they can raise their stock by using your services.

Your talent can help businesses in your own neighborhood grow their customer base and earn more money. Here are some ways you can market your writing services to Mom and Pop business or other small outlets in your immediate area. All you need to do is spot the opportunities and approach them in the right way:

Ways to Make Money Writing Business Letters

Business letters are good freelance writing assignments.
Business letters are good freelance writing assignments.

Get Paid to Write Business | Client Letters

Letters to Potential Clients/Customers: Direct mail is still alive and well (just look at your mailbox). Many smaller firms are not using this to its fullest potential; they spend hundreds of dollars on mailing lists and then send out a bio with a photo in hopes to attract new business. They do not know how to write compelling content. Check your junk mail for a few weeks and save the letters that are poorly written puff-pieces. Real estate agents, insurance firms, and dental/medical offices are good businesses to target. You will generally get letters from firms in your immediate area, which makes this an even better market opportunity. Visit them in person and explain how you can improve their direct-mailing messages to help accomplish what they want (which is to get more customers, clients, patients, whatever).

Letters to Resolve Complaints: Businesses often have fairly good customer service staffers who can quell anger on the phone. But do they have effective follow-ups in place with personalized letters to smooth things over? And is anyone on board who can write these things? As a trained mediator and writer, I have written hundreds of letters for clients to help address or resolve complaints. My clients value this because the letters are specifically written for each complaint and the recipient can tell their concern has been heard. The fee for this can be higher than you might think. These letters represent the business to its public; firms place a high value on their reputations.

Freelance Writing Jobs for Marketing Pay Big Bucks

Freelance writers can get paid well for marketing and promotional text | content.
Freelance writers can get paid well for marketing and promotional text | content.

Write Promotional Materials

Flyers and Brochures: Have you ever gone into an office and seen a display of tri-fold brochures that tell the story of the firm, with a few photos of the office staff and an outline of the company’s services. These are good sales tools for companies; customers pick them up almost automatically, they pass them passed along to friends, and the brochures do get read. You can use the junk mail stack as a starting point to find firms that need this service. Meanwhile, visit every small business around where you live, and see if they need a brochure (or if you can improve on the one they already have). Do candid photos for them (or use shots they provide, if they prefer), and create a good layout on your desktop publisher (literally every computer has this feature now). Interview them to get a good feel for what they do and create brief but interesting content. You should get a minimum of $300 for a simple brochure (perhaps more with photos or graphics). Provide it in electronic form so they can print it off on their own inkjet printer, but deliver a small supply of hard copies in person, along with your invoice.

Ad Copy: Small firms often write their own sales copy for local ads. Check those small local papers or tabloids you see in restaurants or you get in the mail and see which companies in your area have ads. Now, decide which ones are oh-so-boring. Offer to write more interesting copy for them, and perhaps do photos as well. Firms pay for the placement, not per word, so a small investment in developing a better ad may appeal to businesses on a budget. Charge a minimum of $50 for a very small ad with just a few (very carefully chosen) words.

Slogans: How many slogans can you name? Tons of them – and they automatically bring to mind the product or firm behind them. Big corporations use PR firms to develop slogans and campaigns. But small firms need branding as well. Again, look for small businesses in your area and charge a small fee to develop a slogan. If you also provide the visual product (similar to a logo), see what their corporate ‘look’ is and present a few choices in various typefaces. This slogan can become part of their ongoing ads, can be used on their business cards and can go on their storefront. It will be worth many times over the fee you get, and they won’t be stuck with the high-end fees a PR firm would demand.

Get Paid to Write Business Plans

Business plans are good freelance jobs for writers.
Business plans are good freelance jobs for writers.
Many business need good writers to create business plans.
Many business need good writers to create business plans.

Business Writing Jobs that Pay Well

Business Plans: If you are skilled at asking the right questions and converting data into writing, you can help steer a business through the planning stages and develop a written business plan. This takes a combination of writing and management skills, but it’s a lucrative sideline for good writers who have a background in corporate settings. Taking a firm through the planning process from start to finish (including the final product) can yield up to five figures in consulting fees (for a large firm). For smaller firms, scale your fees accordingly.

Bids and RFPs: Some firms know how to do the task or work an RFP (Request for Proposals) outlines, but they are stumped when it comes to putting it in writing. Find firms in your area that might want to bid for contracts and offer your services in helping them write their proposals. Gear your fees to reflect the potential bid amount, but request payment upfront rather than hinging it on a successful bid.

Obituaries: Yes, really. Somebody has to write these pieces. In recent years, families often submit their own obits via the funeral home they use. But often, funeral homes arrange for the obituary to be written (for a fee). Contact the funeral homes in your area and offer to write these short pieces for a small enough fee to allow them a profit margin. Then provide a Q&A sheet for families to fill out that will help you extract information for the obituary. Most papers charge by the inch (check for guidelines in your area); if you can hone your writing to allow the maximum amount of information in the fewest number of words (but still honoring the loved one’s personality and spirit), you can get a good reputation as a writer for this niche. You'll need to provide a quick turnaround for assignments, but you'll feel personally rewarded when families express their thanks for the sensitive way you captured the life of their loved one.

Small Writing Jobs Pay Well

Writing consultants are in demand. Some businesses can't afford a staff writer.
Writing consultants are in demand. Some businesses can't afford a staff writer.

Other Good Freelance Writing Jobs

Professional Bios: Many business owners need a well-written bio to distribute for speaking engagements, to prospective clients or for use on sites like LinkedIn. It’s often difficult to blow your own horn in writing, and if the business person isn’t a writer, it’s even more of a challenge. Offer your services to small businesses (look at the junk mailings again for prospective clients), and explain how a small investment of $100-$300 can be used many times over for the next several years. If you’re good with a camera, offer to add a candid mug shot for an additional fee.

Resumes: As with bios, many people simply cannot develop their own resume. You can get good fees for providing professionally written and formatted resumes. You’ll need to develop a strategy for interviewing your clients about their strengths, career histories and highlights, and the type of client a business owner wants to attract or the career positions they want in the future. Charge one amount for the first version and a much smaller amount for each of up to three or four variations so they will have resumes geared for several career directions.


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