If you asked me whether I would ever make money from writing, I would have said no. I have no special skill, gift, or even a writer to mentor me.
In the last 30 days, I’ve made more than $11,000 from writing.
It was after doing an audit of my expenses for the month that I realized, “Holy shit, there’s $11,000 of income just from writing!”
So here’s the deal: If I can make money from writing, you definitely can too. The reason for this article is that the most common questions I still get are:
So without any fluff, BS, broken promises, dreams of Ferraris and selfies with Richard Branson, I’m going to tell you the answer to these two questions after doing it successfully for more than a year.
Ready? Let’s go.
Not a single dollar was made from blogging during these years.
Let’s be clear that the start is a slow burn. But the good news is that I wasn’t just a shit writer to begin with—I was a really shit writer, and a lot of time was wasted. You can definitely do better than me by avoiding a few of the pitfalls.
By avoiding these pitfalls, you can build momentum quicker than I did.
I want to make this so easy that you can’t screw it up.
The two I chose were entrepreneurship and personal development. Write about these two topics and nothing else.
Make sure they are topics you know something about or at least have enough passion to research without getting bored.
I chose Saturday at the start because it was the one day I wasn’t working. Pick the day that you know you’ll have time and set it in your calendar as a recurring event.
Bonus tip: For added accountability, tell a mate what you have committed to and agree that you will pay them $100 if you miss a Saturday of writing. (This idea came from when I had a personal trainer and often couldn’t be assed going to the gym, but the fear of him being upset, and the loss of $35 due to cancellation, was enough to get my skinny little ass to the gym and pump those weights.)
You can’t make any substantial amount of money from writing until you have put some time into your art.
Technically, you could make a few bucks on somewhere like Fiver, but the work will be so uninspiring that it will likely be the cause of you giving up. Sure you could make $20 for writing an article, but that is poo change compared to the thousands you can make by getting good.
An excellent mindset to have is to write off at least the first year. Start by doing it for free because that will test you and reveal whether you really enjoy doing it. Without the pleasure you get from writing, you’ll likely give up.
Right now I could write every single day, but I purposely do not. Starting out can also make you really excited to the point where you overdo it. Overdoing it leads to you feeling as though you have run out of ideas.
Here is what took me five years to understand:
If all you do is lock yourself in your home office and write every day, the good shit that people want to read from your experience and view of the world will be hidden from plain sight.
I said before not to start with your own website for a damn good reason.
Having your own website will force you to piss fart around choosing website templates, engaging with web developers, paying for hosting, endlessly screwing around with column widths and a whole bunch of other BS that will not make you $11,000 per month later on.
Start with someone else’s platform.
I started on my mate from Western Australia’s Wordpress blog. He did all the SEO nonsense, marketing, and traffic watching so I could do the writing.
Another way to start is by using a social media platform. Medium is the obvious choice, but people also forget some not-so-obvious choices:
That last point is very left-of-center, but I have genuinely seen people do it. Get creative as there are so many ways you can practice the art of writing.
The goal is to find a place where you can write without distraction and say something useful, inspiring, or entertaining consistently.
Through that process, you find what works and what doesn’t, and if you’re lucky, you’ll get a small audience.
So much of my time at the start was wasted doing podcasts and promoting my work to an audience I hadn’t earned.
Wherever you are starting from, you need to find your niche, your voice, and your unique way of putting sentences together.
There is no substitute for doing the writing itself. If I could go back in time the way Marty McFly did in Back To The Future and do one thing differently, it would be to stop being distracted by bullshit and just do the writing.
The reason we avoid doing the writing is because it’s the hardest bit. Doing the writing, though, is what made me the $11,000 in 30 days — not anything else.
My first articles were huge walls of text—even if you could see a bee’s dick from 100m away, you would not be able to see where a sentence began and ended.
Insert lots of white space between your sentences. Use high-quality images and take the time to find the right photo to match with your article — remember, an image you choose is just as much a statement as the words themselves.
If I was going back to the start I would have used much bigger, brighter, and scroll-stopping images. I would also have taken my safety pants off and used more bolding, images amongst the text, and tools that break things up.
The key with these tools though is balance. You can also overdo it with these tools and that is twice as bad as not using them at all.
With formatting, if you are feeling lazy, watch the work of the pros.
Once you have earned the right to make money from writing, the ways to do it are fairly straight forward. But they’re often hidden in the dark by people who would prefer to charge you money to tell you how they monetize their words.
Here is how you make money from writing:
If you write for long enough, your work will get noticed. Large publications pay good writers to publish exclusive articles on their website.
Some pay per month and others pay per article. So far, I have only been paid per article, but I know a few writers that are paid a monthly fee (retainer) to write.
Medium has a partner program where they will pay anybody, despite their experience, based on the engagement on their article.
It might only be a few dollars in the beginning, but what is most important is this: Even only getting $10 a month from Medium makes you a paid writer and the mental shift that does to you is incredibly powerful.
Boy, this one is hidden and not something that you can Google. It’s the secret dark art of the writers’ world that many big names do not want you to know about.
All those CEOs, entrepreneurs, leaders, and influencers often have someone that does ghostwriting for them. If you are okay to write and not be credited for it in return for stupid amounts of money, then this is one way a proven writer with experience can make some easy, ongoing cash.
These opportunities will come to you directly and you can also seek them out by sending direct messages on platforms such as LinkedIn and Instagram to people who post a lot. Don’t spam them with sales pitches and just focus on sending them a link to your writing with a direct “I can do this for you.”
Writing is one of the biggest pain-in-the-asses for businesses. They all have to do it and a lot of them don’t have the time or talent to do so.
Without too much effort, if you write where the eyeballs are, then businesses will come to you asking for help. You can consult to them by helping them find writers, mapping out content, and inspiring them to keep going.
When I get these offers directly, I try my best to use manners. Saying something like “I have a few key articles (provide links) about how I do it and I also do part-time consulting for those who need something more. What option makes sense for you?”
It’s soft, polite, non-egotistical and most of all, helpful. Copy and paste the text above if you are lost and don’t know how to turn inquiries into consulting.
Writing helps give you a voice and it can also help you be a teacher. Some people are perfectly happy being taught by the words you write for free and that is completely fine.
Other people want to go deeper and don’t just want your advice; they want you to hold them accountable, which is another way of saying they want you to coach them.
Anyone can be a coach and writing is one way to become one and get paid for it. My first few clients were charged nothing so that I could gain the experience and figure out how to structure it.
My coaching structure ended up looking like this:
When you develop a voice, people again want you to go that extra step and help their teams — sports teams, leadership teams, business teams, not-for-profit teams — with your knowledge and experience.
The price range for this varies greatly and a lot of it comes down to how good you are at negotiating. I’m going to be completely transparent and say that I have been offered anywhere from $5000-$10,000 for up to sixty minutes of speaking.
Someone I know gets $20,000-$40,000 for one hour, plus business class flights and five-star accommodation. There is another dude I know who is just starting out and gets $500 a talk.
The price range is endless but it’s another way to make money from writing.
I launched one last month and it flopped—and I wrote about it, as it was 100% my fault. With that aside, you can still make good money helping beginners in your field of expertise.
I created a course a few years back that did pretty well and often it comes down to how good the topic is that you are teaching.
Like with most of the advice in this article, don’t overdo it, okay?
Many writers also become vloggers as another way to express themselves. If you want to get really creative, you can also embed your own videos in your writing as another tool to connect with the audience.
YouTube is a long game and having a very deep and narrow niche tends to work best. If you can pump out lots of videos that are 5–10 minutes long every week, after a year or so, you can generate money from it via ads.
My promise at the start of this article was not to sell you the dream too much, so I want to add one thing: YouTube is one of the hardest games to play given how long the platform has been around for. Getting views is not easy, so you really need to be dedicated to it, otherwise just stick with the writing.
One final bit of advice is not to forget the soft skills.
These are the skills that take you from earning $1000 per month, which is decent, to earning $11,000. No one wants to read the work of a writer who is in love with themselves and thinks their shit doesn’t stink.
Be yourself in all its glory.
Now all that is left is to ask yourself whether you would like to do the same — because you totally can.
If a skinny guy from Australia with no grammar or spelling skills can make $11,000 in 30 days, then you can too.
Remember to be helpful and enjoy the process more than the money.
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