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The Reality of Making Money as an Online Writer

Updated on March 16, 2012
Making Money as an Online Writer
Making Money as an Online Writer

I was impressed by HubPages recent podcast “A Practical Look at Making Money as an Online Writer.” If you haven't listened yet, take a few minutes and go listen to it. The lure of working at home is strong. The ability to get up when you want, work when you want and without having a time clock is a great way to earn a living. You can work from anywhere and there is nothing keeping you in one place. Just recently we moved from the East Coast to the Pacific Northwest Region in Weed, California. Our work went with us via an Internet connection and a laptop. But as attractive as making money from home writing is, it is not an easy career and it is certainly not something that you can expect to make money overnight. There are two big issues that face people who want to write for money online. Where to start, and finding more work. While these issues are big, they also have some pretty simple answers.

My Story

I found my first writing gig back in 2007 through Craigslist. Someone wanted articles about water purification systems and were paying $5 a pop. I ended up doing about $60 worth of articles, got paid within 24 hours and was hooked. I was especially hooked because I was also without employment at the time. Now some people might say $5 a pop is slave wages, but that $60 put food on the table when there wasn't any money coming in at all.

I found employment temporarily and got the bug of writing online again. I ended up writing for a content mill in early 2009. By July of 2009, I was writing full-time from home and not working anywhere else. That was the beginning of online writing career and I haven't looked back. Of course it hasn't always been an easy road. There have been times where I didn't know how I was going to make rent or a car payment. But each month, all the bills were paid. It's called hustling your rear-end off and writing until your eyes bleed and your fingertips begin adhering to the keyboard keys.

Currently I run two blogs, write at places like HubPages, put out a daily newsletter and write articles for my affiliate marketing business. I'm nearing three years full-time working from home. I'm not where I want to be financially yet, but I get closer every day. I have days where I don't work at all which are great. I also have days where I work 15 hours. It's a business.

The reality of making money as an online writer is that it is a lot of work. Expect to work longer hours than you ever would at a brick-and-mortar job. In the beginning there were times where I worked 15 hour days seven days a week. You do what you have to do because you are the boss and you determine how much or how little you bring in each week. If you're having a slow week, you put in more hours creating income and looking for freelance writing jobs. There is no secret pill. Even those folks who look at affiliate marketing as a way to bring in income. It doesn't happen overnight. You bust your rear-end day-in and day-out until you achieve the results you desire.

Where To Start

The single question most people ask me is where to start. The answer is anywhere. But know what to expect. If you decide to start by writing for revenue sharing sites like HubPages, expect to write a lot and expect a couple of months before you see your first payout. I highly recommend the 30 Hubs in 30 Days to get started, which is something I should have done in the beginning. There are also places like Textbroker and MediaPiston where you write for clients, at a much lower rate of pay. If you decide to start by finding clients on your own, expect to look long and hard. Expect to start out with low-paying gigs such as $5 an article. Personally, I wouldn't suggest doing it for any less. There really is no one single place to start. The key is just to start somewhere. Though the money is not instant, I recommend starting at HubPages and getting feedback from folks on your writing. Much of the feedback goes a long way in making you a better writer which also provides value to any potential clients you obtain.

Where To Find Work

This really goes hand-in-hand with where to start. There are endless opportunities to earn a living as a writer. But what most people want is work that pays now rather than building a passive income. I say do both. Build a passive income while creating income on a weekly basis.

Passive income is writing you do today that pays you over and over again. HubPages is a great place to begin earning passive income. Of course the best way to earn passive income with writing is by creating your own blogs and websites around topics you enjoy. Passive income takes time, so be diligent and be patient.

Earning regular income that pays the bills and helps support you while your passive income grows requires work. This has become a bit more difficult for new writers as many of the up-front content mills simply aren't hiring or offering the work availability that they used to on a regular basis. Craigslist is a good place to start. Granted there are a lot of bogus ads on Craigslist, but there are plenty of good ones as well. You have to sort through them to find the ones that pay. Some pay the same day, some the same week. There is also blogs and websites that post freelance writing gigs.

Another way some people find writing work is through bidding sites such as oDesk and Elance. Unfortunately, many people on these sites are looking for extremely cheap labor. However, I know many people that experience great success at these places. The key is not accepting any jobs that you won't make a decent income with, and expect to do extensive searching through the listings.

Invest In Yourself

Making money as an online writer also requires investing in yourself and your business. Start soaking up knowledge about your favorite niche and about the craft of writing. Purchase books or sign up for classes that will help you build your writing skills. Start following blogs and websites that offer good information without the hype of “making money overnight.” Freelance writing is a constant learning experience.

Bottom line is that it takes time to earn a good living as an online writer. You must build a passive income while you are writing for money now. There is no one single way to get started or a single place to begin. It is different for each individual. However, if you are ready to commit yourself to a lot of work in the beginning it is a career move that is without limitations. It takes persistence, it takes consistency and it takes patience to succeed as an online writer. Possess those three qualities and you will make it as an online writer.


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    • creativelycc profile image

      Carrie L Cronkite 

      6 years ago from Maine

      Excellent hub! Freelance writing is hard work, but I'm discovering that I really love it! It finally does start to pay after a while.The best to you!

    • kenwrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken Crawford 

      7 years ago from Yreka, California

      Hi dipless,

      The layout is different for each individual writing style and topic. It is simply a matter of testing things and adjusting as you go. It ultimately depends on your audience. I know a lot of people suggest doing things that get the search engines to rank you high. While it is great if you get on page one of Google, it is a lot of work. I find that building a relationship with your audience does far more in bringing in traffic and conversions.

      I use Wordpress for my main authority blogs. I do some testing and some affiliate marketing using Blogger, only because it's Googles and it is easy to use.

      As far as content...the focus should be on your audience first. Once you write an article, then go back and do some keyword research. Massage the keywords into your article so they flow naturally. Ideally try to fit the keyword into your title and at least twice in the first 150 words of the article. Above all, maintain quality. Offer value to the reader and you will be rewarded.

      Hope that helps. :)

    • dipless profile image


      7 years ago from Manchester

      Kenwrites thank you so much for sharing your experiences, i have been at HP for about 2 years although I have only just gotten serious about online writing. I am looking into starting my own website around a niche I am interested in. Have you got any tips about the layout of pages and how to link them or any software you'd recommend, like wordpress etc. Thanks again for sharing some interesting information.

    • kenwrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken Crawford 

      7 years ago from Yreka, California

      Thank you Ehtesham12. Much appreciated

    • Ehtesham12 profile image


      7 years ago from Islambad

      Very useful and helping hub.Thanks for sharing

    • kenwrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken Crawford 

      7 years ago from Yreka, California

      Thanks Debbie,

      We are all in a constant state of learning. That's one of the great things about online writing, there is always something new. :)

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 

      7 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      thank you for the HUB.. I am so interesting in learning all I can about online writing.

      Great Read.


    • kenwrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken Crawford 

      7 years ago from Yreka, California

      Hi Erik,

      Thanks for the comment. Though my story isn't that interesting on the surface to me, hopefully it gives others some encouragement that this can be done. I look out my window now and see this beautiful mountain, Mt Shasta, and realize that the reason I was able to move cross-country on a whim was due directly to my online writing.

    • Erik Parker profile image

      Eric Parker 

      7 years ago from Fort Worth, Texas

      Very useful hub. It's always great to hear other people's stories. I appreciate you taking the time to share yours.

    • kenwrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken Crawford 

      7 years ago from Yreka, California

      Thank you kikalina,

      Digital Point and Warrior Forum Help Wanted section are both good places to get writing work. Like with all avenues, you have to separate the wheat from the chaff. It's a process and you learn as you go. Writing online is extremely lucrative and there is literally no ceiling as to how much you can earn as an online writer.

    • kikalina profile image


      7 years ago from Europe

      I loved hearing your story. I have found the forums at very helpful in finding online work.


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