In the three decades that I’ve been writing for a living, I have gone through many seasons in which specific niches have helped pay the bills, allowed me to practice my craft and to get published. For a long time, I put all my energy into writing articles for local, regional and national magazines. Though writing articles paid well enough, I supplemented this income by writing professional resumes for a leading online human resources organization.
Throughout my career, I have kept my eyes open to writing opportunities that would either pay me well or help build my portfolio. I have written articles and blogs for free if I had a passion for the subject matter or if by doing so, I could increase my credibility and get my byline in print.
The key to establishing a long and successful writing life is to write as much as you can and to discover niches that will keep the checks coming. When first starting out as a writer, the checks will be fewer and farther between, and most likely be written for less than what you think is right. But if you love what you do, and if you have real writing talent, the ‘right’ money will follow in time.
When designing your writing life, create it with your personal writing style and personality in mind, but don’t limit yourself in terms of what you will write. For example, I spent about four years writing workforce development grants for businesses in my region. I had never written grants before, but when the opportunity to make a comfortable amount of money came up and someone asked, “Can you write grants?” I quickly answered “Yes.” Then I began to study the art of grant writing.
As a result of saying ‘yes’ and moving past my insecurities and lack of experience, I became well known for writing workforce development grants, which opened up many other opportunities to work with businesses. By the way, I ended up writing nine workforce development grants and garnered close to $1 million for seven different businesses. This not only benefited the grant recipients, but increased my confidence as a writer. It proved that the willingness to accept new challenges was a key component to growing in my field.
Finding work as a writer is not always easy, but can be accomplished if you’re determined and diligent, and of course, if you’re talented. You can test your diligence and talent by starting a blog and maintaining it. When you create a blog, you are moving forward with practicing your craft, and you will be challenged with writing material that is relevant and readable.
Blogs also help you move forward with marketing yourself as a writer because you want as many people as possible to read what you write. So, create a social media campaign that promotes your work as a writer and blogger, and ask for honest feedback. (Be prepared for some negativity, and carefully consider what people say.)
In reference to social media, I saw an opportunity about five years ago to use my writing and marketing skills in this burgeoning industry. As a result, I studied Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media sites and then engaged in my own successful campaign. Today, I provide many businesses with social media marketing. I charge my clients a reasonable monthly fee to ensure they take part in this awesome global marketing opportunity.
If you’re wondering how to make money as a writer, get creative. Look up freelance writing jobs on the Internet, check out Craigslist for opportunities, call around to local businesses and send out emails to introduce yourself and the skills you have. And most importantly, be open to new ideas and possibilities that present themselves to you.
Jamee Rae is a writer, editor and social media consultant. You can learn about her social media services at www.thesocialmediateacher.com and you can follow her on Twitter at @JameeTheWriter. You can also become a Friend of Jamee on Facebook.