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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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  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    LOL! That's a great idea, Cherihut! I will look into it. Also - I think BillyBuc on our site has written something like that? He has some great tips on marketing yourself as a writer. Meanwhile, I will think over what I can add to the mix!

  • cherihut profile image

    Cheri Hutson 4 years ago from Eastern Ohio

    Marcy, just a thought... maybe you could write a hub on"How to Sell Yourself as a Writer." :) (for real beginners... you know... talk to us like 5-yr-olds. ;) )

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thanks, cherihut! Yes, it's difficult to sell yourself - but when you make it clear how the things you do will benefit the other person, the focus shifts away from you. That makes it a bit easier!

  • cherihut profile image

    Cheri Hutson 4 years ago from Eastern Ohio

    Marcy, these are great tips! But, like one of the commenters wrote, you have to be a good salesperson to sell yourself and get your foot in the door. How do you do that? That's my biggest problem, I think... trying to sell myself. I am NOT a salesperson, unfortunately. But the ideas are good ones to keep in mind.

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Hi, Doodlehead - yes, there are many more venues than the content mill route. Although most companies are heavily invested in online or social media venues now!

  • Doodlehead profile image

    Doodlehead 4 years ago from Northern California

    Good to hear another point of view other than about the content mills. It sounds like the business is out there, and you sound like a go-getter!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Dive on in, Umbertoobrian - the water is great! Best of luck with your writing!

  • umbertoobrian profile image

    umbertoobrian 4 years ago from Speedway, Indiana

    It is good to read your hubs on writing. I have thought about some of these things but you have convinced me to dive in. Thanks.

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

    Hi, LyricWriter - I'm so glad to meet you here, and I'm happy you found some helpful ideas in the hub. Thanks for reading and commenting, and best of luck with your writing!

  • thelyricwriter profile image

    Richard Ricky Hale 5 years ago from West Virginia

    Marcy, this was a great article to make an income in the "local" market per say. Great tips and sound advice. Voted up, useful, and awesome.

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

    Hi, KE Morgan - so glad you found the hub useful! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

  • diamond1mo profile image

    KE Morgan 5 years ago from Arizona

    Very interesting. Thanks.

    KE Morgan

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

    Hi, Victoria Lynn! There are quite a few writing opportunities small businesses need. Obituaries might depend a bit on the market there. Some funeral homes have people on staff who write them, or they have writers they contract with. You could check to see what the paper charges or a funeral home charges, and work from there. Ask if they charge by the length - some are quite long. Then maybe offer a slightly lower price to get the business.

    Thanks for reading and commenting! Let me know if you land one of these!

  • Victoria Lynn profile image

    Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

    Very useful, Marcy. Great ideas that I need to look into. Someone else had mentioned the real estate avenue to me. Also, I worked in a nursing home where I was around dying patients and their families all the time. I even wrote an obituary for a woman once before she died. How much would one charge for such a thing? Anyway, great hub. Many votes!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thank you, Kitty! I look forward to reading your hubs! Thanks so much for reading and commenting here; I'm glad you enjoyed the article.

  • kittyjj profile image

    Ann Leung 5 years ago from San Jose, California

    Great hub! Thank your for sharing those useful tips. I will give them a try after I've polished up my writing skills. :)

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

    Hi, Esoterika - thanks for your very kind comments here! Although I can't speak for everyone, my suggestion would be to create the name by which you hope to be known, and stick to it as much as possible. It can be a pen name or your current or future real name (although you might need to wait a bit for the name to change).

    After writing under a married name in the past, I gradually changed to my maiden name (the one I use here) and it has been my professional name for many years. I rarely have to use those clips now, because they're older, but when I did use them in previous years, I explained the reason my byline changed.

    If your name change will happen soon, maybe it's a good idea to wait. I personally like using my maiden name, because I am now divorced, and had I continued to use a married name, it might confuse things in the future if and when I remarry.

    Hope this is helpful!

  • Esoterika profile image

    Carrie Shaffer 5 years ago from Taos,

    Thank you so much for all your contributions Marcy! Both the information and the acumen with which you write have taught me so much; you are a tremendous asset to HubPages!

    I had a question if you don't mind...I don't use my legal name very often when I write online primarily because it's likely to change soon. Is this detrimental to building my reputation? Would I be better off using a pen name that won't change?

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thanks, Jaye - I appreciate your comments! Hope this gives you some ideas that work for you!

  • JayeWisdom profile image

    Jaye Denman 5 years ago from Deep South, USA

    I've done some of these things in years gone by, from writing newsletters, feature articles for newspapers and even obits, all while pursuing my "real" career as a human resources director.

    Your suggestions are all worthwhile, and I may try a couple of them now that I'm retired from the "real" job. Thanks for a very thorough hub.

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thanks, Cyndi - I hope you find some local opportunities to try these out!

  • Cyndi10 profile image

    Cynthia B Turner 5 years ago from Georgia

    This is great information, wonderful companion piece to your other articles about writing for a living. Thank you so much for doing all research on the subject.

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thank you for your kind comments, prairieprincess! (I love your username, by the way!). I will check out the site you mentioned, and I'm flattered to be indexed there!

  • prairieprincess profile image

    Sharilee Swaity 5 years ago from Canada

    I have thoroughly enjoyed all of these articles on writing. It is so generous of you to share your expertise as a professional writer. I have indexed a couple of these on Delicious. Such excellent information. Thank you!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

    How exciting! I hope you'll still be on the site - that way, we can hear about your travels!

  • LadyLyell profile image

    LadyLyell 5 years ago from George, South Africa

    I am returning to South Africa to live in the Cape region. South Africa has eleven official languages.

    Will follow your articles wherever my travels take me!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thanks, Vinaya - I am glad you enjoyed the hub! These small assignments can lead to bigger ones through getting your name out in the business world. Thanks for your comments - and best of luck!

  • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

    Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

    These are the brilliant ideas for freelancer, mostly for the ones who are serious about writing but never been accepted by big fish.

    Working with small firms will also build your strong portfolio.

    Thanks for sharing this useful and informative article.

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

    How exciting! That's always been a closet dream of mine; where will you be moving? I'm sure you already know about sites such as Textbroker or elance? There are others, but I can't think of all of them. Depending on where you live, you might be able to market your skills in writing and editing in English, since so many countries do commerce with the U.S. Best of luck!

  • LadyLyell profile image

    LadyLyell 5 years ago from George, South Africa

    I am quite serious about applying the ideas and may come back to you at a future date should I need support.

    The reason being, that I will be moving overseas soon and could hit obstacles not apparent now.

    I am not a writer as such in any terms, but thoroughly enjoy expressing myself by putting pen to paper.

    My appreciation!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thank you for reading and commenting, LadyLyell! (I love your pen name, by the way!). I hope you can put some of these to use!

  • LadyLyell profile image

    LadyLyell 5 years ago from George, South Africa

    I have taken heed of all your suggestions and will consider the possibilities.

    Thank you for sharing the ideas!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thanks so much for your kind comment, sholland - I'm glad you found the hub useful. Wouldn't it be great if the collective tips on various hubs on the site helped everyone realize their goals and dreams as writers?

  • sholland10 profile image

    Susan Holland 5 years ago from Southwest Missouri

    Marcy, this is such useful information! I am going to bookmark this and try to seek out some of the opportunities you have listed. Great hub!! Votes and shared! Thanks!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

    Wow (blush!) - thanks for the vote of confidence! And thank you for taking time to stop, read and comment. I can personally attest that these opportunities are there, and they work. Also, once you get a small assignment somewhere, you get referrals from happy clients who like your work.

  • profile image

    Website Examiner 5 years ago

    This is very good indeed! I like the energetic tone and pointed, meaningful advice. It makes sense to ask writers to look at local opportunities; given that Internet-based article writing is terribly crowded. I foretell that you will have a bright future on HubPages!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thanks, Tammy - I can tell you have a lot of experience! I'd be curious how those assignments work for you; I've considered Textbroker, but I haven't looked into it yet. Let us know if you have tips or feedback on it? Thanks for reading and commenting!

  • tammyswallow profile image

    Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

    This is a very helpful list! I work for Textbroker and the assignments are very random, but they are these little things you talk about. Bios, web pages descriptions, product reviews. Thanks for sharing these great ideas!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thanks for stopping by, reading and commenting, Bill!

  • Billjordan profile image

    Billjordan 5 years ago from Houston

    great tips

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

    I agree, injured lamb - there are so many opportunities out there. I'm glad we have this great community where we can share information and support each other. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thanks, theastrology - I appreciate your feedback. Hope you get some earnings from these ideas!

  • Injured lamb profile image

    Injured lamb 5 years ago

    Sounds great, we are so blessed to be who we are and where we are now...yes, writers in the writing field...thanks Marcy.

  • theastrology profile image

    theastrology 5 years ago from New Delhi

    Great tips for content writers, Also very useful to increase so earning. :))

    Thanks for valuable article..

  • KDF profile image

    KDF 5 years ago from Central Illinois

    Interesting stuff! Thanks for the info. I especially found the obituaries interesting. You never know where your talents may take you. Voted UP and interesting!

  • profile image

    kelleyward 5 years ago

    Thanks for sharing this information. There is so much out there that I hadn't thought of yet.

  • Alecia Murphy profile image

    Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

    This is a great list. I never thought about this but since you mentioned it, it makes complete since. Thanks for the information Marcy!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thanks, Jaye! I know several businesses that use part-time contract help from freelancers, and I know freelancers who make a healthy income doing work for small companies. I'd love to see everyone here get on that bandwagon!

  • JayeWisdom profile image

    Jaye Denman 5 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Great list, Marcy! Thanks so much for reminding us that small businesses have writing needs and usually can't afford either staff writers or to keep ad agencies on retainer. That means that good freelance copywriters have lots of opportunities for making money in the small business area.

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thanks, alocsin! I agree - there are writing opportunities in places we never imagined.

  • alocsin profile image

    alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

    I think many writers miss money-making opportunities because they don't realize what businesses need. Thanks for pointing those out. Voting this Up and Useful.

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

    You are right, dahoglund! I guess that's the key to getting any job, though; we have to sell ourselves to get hired. Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

  • dahoglund profile image

    Don A. Hoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

    Interesting ideas. It does take some sales ability to get these assignments though.

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

    I agree, too, saurabhjha. Writing has been the backbone of my career. I had no idea the places it would take me. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  • saurabhjha profile image

    saurabhjha 5 years ago from India

    Yeah I agree with James writing ability opens Your door of success and money..

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thanks, larcaustin! I know what you mean - I cringe when I see some websites (a great addition to this list!), and most mailers I get are really awful. Let us know if you get some business!

  • larcaustin46 profile image

    larcaustin46 5 years ago from Austin, TX

    Great ideas! I've often thought about talking to some small business owners I know whose websites are visually attractive, but horribly written, content-wise. Thanks for the push!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thanks, James - there are so many small ways businesses need writers, and yet they can't justify hiring someone just for that talent. Freelancing with little jobs like these really does add up financially, though. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  • JamesPoppell profile image

    JamesPoppell 5 years ago

    Wow, so many ideas here. Some I would have never thought of, such as obituaries, and professional bios. Thanks so much for sharing. Vote up. Interesting & useful.

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