Writing whatever you want, and getting paid for it… now that sounds like the life!
If you want the ultimate freedom to express yourself, while getting paid along the way, it’s my goal with this article to help you get there. I’m going to share with you the number one way to write what you want along with some tips for starting your own profitable writing business.
I’ve been making a lucrative living writing online (as well as offline) for over ten years now. In fact, my story is somewhat unusual. I started my professional career in the military before being medically discharged. That is when I entered into the security industry.
I did very well in the security industry and moved up the chain of command pretty quickly, however, it mostly involved long hours of watching over younger officers that really didn’t want to work, but still wanted to receive a paycheck.
Most people would not consider it very much fun, but, strangely, I enjoyed it. You see, I enjoy the idea of security, and believe it or not, most people don’t really have an accurate understanding of what security is all about. But that is for another time and article.
When it came time to take a break, my coworkers didn’t seem to understand why I wanted to keep working. You see, I have this thing about me where I always have to be doing something. I can’t just stand around or sit around and do nothing. “This is when and where you take a break,” they would say, staring at me until I stopped.
And here is the thing, I’ve never been very good at working according to other people’s schedules. And I have never been one to follow the crowd. You see, when it comes to writing it took me several years to get started on my own. But, I eventually did. And if you’re anything like me, which I think most of you might be, I hope you’ll find this article helpful.
Where it All Started for Me
When I first started out, I tried writing for sites like HubPages and many others. They’ve been around for a fair amount of time now, and they basically work like this: You post articles on their website, and they share their ad space with you. I will give it to them, they are very well established. Many writers report earning several hundred dollars a month, or more from sites likes these. However, I am going to be up front with you, I was never able to master this kind of writing platform.
They do have a good community and can be a great way to practice writing, but if you want to make your living from writing, you definitely shouldn’t depend on sites like these.
Along with trying to write for sites like HubPages, I drowned myself in as many books and newsletters as I could about freelance writing, novel writing, blogging, writing for money, etc. etc. Until eventually, I said to myself, “William, at some point you are going to have to put all of this information that you have studied and learned and put it to practice.”
At the time, I was a member of Carol Tice’s Freelance Writer’s Den (AFF), and that was the place where I got some of the best advice anyone could ever give me. Carol asked me, “William, when was the last time you sent out a query or pitch to a publication?” You see, the funny thing is, at that time the answer to that question was none. I am sure you can guess what her response would have been. Carol said, “Well, William, it’s no wonder you haven’t made anything from your writing then.”
I know, it sounds a bit harsh, but sometimes we need that kick in the butt to get us moving in the right direction. That was the day I pitched to Entrepreneur.com and landed my first actual writing gig. You can check out my Entrepreneur article that started my Freelance Writing career HERE.
Bottomline: If you want to be successful with your writing, the most important thing is to have some flexibility with what you write. But, you’ll want to be strategic. Think about who will end up buying your articles (and yes, you heard me right, I said, “Buy your articles”). Think about what your potential buyers (editors and marketing directors) will be looking for. Choose a good niche and do some research. Plus, understand that knowing your audience is one of the most important lessons to learn about selling just about anything.
Where Should You Start?
Now, I will say this: It is pretty hard to land clients if you don’t have a personal and professional website. Running your own website can be a lot more work than just writing. You’re really going to have to answer some fundamental questions, like:
- What message will your website speak?
- Who is your target audience?
- How will your ideal readers and potential customers find you?
- How will you keep them coming back?
- Who will your advertisers be, and will they be able to pay enough to support your writing?
Each of these questions are vitally important, and will need to be answered if you really want to make it in this industry. Don’t worry about getting it right the first time. I suggest experimenting. Start with an idea, and find out as quickly as possible if it will work for you. You don’t have to have a business plan. The most important thing you need is readers. If you can find them, and give them what they want, then you’re 90% of the way there.
Now, once you have your own personal website up and running, and it is looks professional and attractive to online readers, find your favorite websites and blogs and pitch them an article idea. You just might be surprised at how many of them will pay you for your ideas and writing.
Before you send them a pitch though, be sure you have read through their guidelines thoroughly, and make sure you have a clear understanding of what their audience and readership is looking for.
Answer these questions before ever pitching an article idea:
- Does your idea match their needs?
- Will the editors like it?
- Will the audience respond?
Once you have an article idea that you strongly believe the audience will love and that will fit the needs of the website editors, then there is one more step. You need to be able to explain what the article idea is, why it would be good for the publications audience, and why you are the right writer for the job or the assignment in a few sentences.
And here’s some good advice: You need to look at every one of your pitches or queries as marketing materials. In other words, you need to be able to sell each editor on the article idea that you are presenting to them in this powerful email.
But always remember to keep it short, sweet, and to the point. Editors are very busy and don’t have time to read through two or three pages of text in an email. So, try writing several of these short email pitches, and share them with your writing friends. If they’re immediately excited and interested, then you’re probably on the right track. If their eyes glaze over, then you have more work to do.
So what is the number one way to write whatever you want and get paid for it?
The number one way to write whatever you want and get paid for it is to build and grow your own website/blog, write as often as you can, and write for your readers, not for yourself. Provide valuable information that will help them solve a problem that they are dealing with.
Once you got a few articles under your belt and a respectful following of readers (this number doesn’t have to be in the hundreds), start pitching article ideas to as many websites and blogs as you can think of. And don’t be afraid to go after the BIG fish. To be honest, if I didn’t first pitch to Entrepreneur, and instead, if I would have pitched to a much smaller publication, I am not sure where I would be today.
Now I am writing for publications like Wealth Web Writer, Writer’s Digest, and Working Writers and Bloggers. It doesn’t really get any better than this.