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Tips for Writers Who Want to Make a Living Working Online

Updated on November 18, 2016
SMD2012 profile image

Sally is a business communications coach who gives workshops on how to keep your professional reputation squeaky-clean and drama-free.

It will take patience and dedication, but it is possible to make money as a writer or blogger if you're ready to put yourself out there.

One of the best perks about making a living as a writer is that you can set up your office almost anywhere in the world! my favorite place to write is outside on a warm sunny day!
One of the best perks about making a living as a writer is that you can set up your office almost anywhere in the world! my favorite place to write is outside on a warm sunny day!

Connecting online with other writers and storytellers is a great way to promote your writing, hone your editing skills, stay motivated and seek answers to common writing problems. Being involved in an online writing community can also can help you widen your readership, sell your writing as a freelancer, increase your blog traffic and turn you into well-respected, paid writer!

Here are some tips on how to work your way up to making money online as a blogger or freelance writer.

Show up regularly. Whatever community use choose to belong to, whether it’s a circle of people you know in person or a wide network of thousands of people converging on a forum, show up regularly and be mentally present. Ask meaningful questions. Do your research and provide new insights into online discussions. Respond to people’s comments.

Enjoy the silence. Writers who get ahead are comfortable working alone. Freelance writers need to be comfortable finding ways to generate their own story topics and article ideas. Unlike a writer working for a corporation or media outlet where an assignment editor or communications supervisor delegates writing projects, freelancers must come up with creative ideas on their own. There isn’t always some sitting two desks over, ready to brainstorm and bounce ideas around.

Practice good self-discipline. Strong writers don’t need to constantly check-in with an editor or seek approval from a supervisor. Writers with ambition are self-motivated and confident in their writing skills. They can work well on their own because they don’t always need to test their ideas or get approval, one step at a time. Before a writer tackles a new assignment, s/he makes sure that s/he has all the information needed to meet the publishing requirements. Good writers follow directions from their editors and contractees. Freelancer writes need to motivate themselves to achieve their writing goals and get paid. If you want to work from home as a writer, learn how to tune out distractions (TV, mindless web surfing, fooling around on Facebook, cleaning the house…).

Take initiative. Professional writers can’t wait around for assignments to walk through the door and plop down on their desks. If you want to get paid for your writing, you don’t have the privilege of sitting around and waiting to be told what to do next. If you plan to make a living from your writing passion, be prepared to step out of your comfort zone; be ready to call up experts for interviews and go out to find compelling personal stories from real people. To earn a living as a freelance writer, you must be genuinely curious about the world around you.

Work the program. The more you write, the faster you’ll learn. And the faster you learn, the faster you’ll start to feel confident in your writing and storytelling skills.

Know your readers. Visualize your audience as you write and try to think about what could be useful or helpful to them. If you publish an article or story and your first thought is “Wow, I really hope my tips on XYZ can help someone reach their goal/ finish a project/ find a solution to their challenge!” then you’re on the right track to becoming the kind of helpful online writer who generates meaningful traffic, attracts thoughtful comments and makes money on Amazon and eBay.

Be generous. The more you help other writers and bloggers, the more you will grow and learn. Ask questions on forums. Answer other people’s questions too, if you can. Share pages and web-sites that you like on other social bookmarking sites too. Elevating good quality content helps the entire writing and storytelling community grow. Give your thoughts, feedback and positive encouragement to others freely, without expecting anything in return. Giving generously builds rapport and strengthens your online friendships.

Adding an e-book to your blog is an effective way to diversify the ways you can make money from your website!
Adding an e-book to your blog is an effective way to diversify the ways you can make money from your website!

Give stuff away. People like free stuff. And they tell other people about free stuff too, which will help you build your writing network and establish you as a trusted online community member. Why not giveaways free copies of your e-book or .pdf’s of your best writing? Giving to others is one of the most well-known ways to attract more positive things in your writing life.

Don’t race to the bottom. Try to write on a regular basis but only if you can write useful, original material. I believe that quality is the key to successful blogging and community engagement, in the present and over the long term. It may be tempting to fill up your blog with as many pages as you can when you get started, but you don’t want to burn yourself out in the process. Find a steady, comfortable blogging pace that pace that gives you the time to tend to comments, make reciprocal visits and write high-quality content.

Step outside of your comfort zone. Find people who have different opinions or write about topics outside of your niche or book genre. As in life, having a diverse range of friends and acquaintances with unique talents and abilities makes life interesting. When we learn about other people’s perspectives our lives are richer and we have more life experience to draw on as we weave our stories together and challenge ourselves to become better writers.

Pick a topic that will make you stand out from the crowd. If you want to make money writing online, pick a topic that you are passionate about, and then continue to refine it. You'll need to choose a topic that you actually enjoy writing about because the key to your success as a blogger or writer making money online is patience and persistence. The more time you spend online building your writing platform, the greater your chances of success at making money. Once you have chosen a topic, narrow it down to a more focused topic that appeals to a specific audience. It's a mistake to think that the only way to make money online is to appeal to a mass audience. You can't be everything to everybody, so choose a topic that isn't so broad that you'll be competing with a gazillion other writers trying to make money writing about the same topic. The table below shows how you can narrow a broad blog topic down into a niche topic that has a better chance of attracting an audience online.

Broad Topic
Refined Topic
Niche Topic
Women's Fashion
Plus-Sized Casual Wear For Women over 40
Healthy Cooking
Baking Desserts for Kid's with IBS or Chrohn's
Non-Fiction History Books
The Life and Times of Women Writers in 17th Century
Home Improvement
Making Your Home Accessible So That You Can Live There as You Get Older
Picking a niche topic is important if you want people to find your blog online. By focusing on a specialty topic, you can build your writing platform around an issue you are passionate about.

Successful freelance writers are out there! They’re making good money and they’re happy doing what they love. They're linked into supportive writing networks and they take their work seriously. With discipline, it is possible to make a solid living as a writer, earning between $20,000 - $100,000 per year, depending on how much effort they put into building their freelance business.

Image credits:

It may take time to start earning a living by writing online, but once you do, your efforts will pay off. You'll have a more flexible work/life schedule that gives you more time to spend with the ones you love!
It may take time to start earning a living by writing online, but once you do, your efforts will pay off. You'll have a more flexible work/life schedule that gives you more time to spend with the ones you love!

© 2014 Sally Hayes


Submit a Comment
  • Happymommy2520 profile image


    3 years ago from East Coast

    Love the pics and chart you made in your article. The example of keyword usage is excellent! Thank you for inspiring me!

  • dhimanreena profile image

    Reena Dhiman 

    5 years ago

    I enjoy reading your article. I find it useful. I am a writer so I clearly understand what can make me successful. Your article adds on my knowledge

  • freedomfight profile image

    Christian Mike Simmons 

    5 years ago from Durham, NC

    Good advice.

  • DDE profile image

    Devika Primić 

    5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

    All these tips sound very useful to me.

  • Hooks and Needles profile image

    Hooks and Needles 

    5 years ago

    I enjoyed some of you ideas and agree about narrowing down your niche.

  • mdscoggins profile image

    Michelle Scoggins 

    5 years ago from Fresno, CA

    Thanks SMD2012. It is very important to make connections with other writers and to find an audience. Keep up the good work :)


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