Making Money As A Professional Writer Is Hard, Here’s How To Succeed

Making Money As A Professional Writer Is Hard, Here’s How To Succeed

The reason why the terms “starving artist” or “starving writer” exist is because they are true. It is very difficult to make money in the arts. However, if you want to be a professional writer and not starve, let me provide you with some insights.

For background, I’ve written over 2,500 articles on Financial Samurai since 2009, authored a 200+-page e-book in 2012, and published a 300+-page hardcover personal finance book in 2022. Combined, these writing activities have enabled me to earn enough money as a professional writer to provide for my family of four in San Francisco.

However, sadly, I could NOT make it as a professional writer if I only was the author of books. Let me explain more about making money as a writer. I’ll share with you some dollar figures that will make you scratch your head with dismay.

While writing is one of the best ways to make extra money from home , it is also a difficult way to make money full time. For those of you looking to build more side income through writing, this post is for you. The Easiest Ways To Make Money As A Writer

To summarize this long post, the easiest ways to make money as writer are as a:

1) Freelancer. Since we all took English in high school, almost all of us can write. You just need to start applying for freelance writing gigs online, which there are plenty.

2) Journalist / Columnist. Get a job at a media organization and you are a professional writer. But not everybody can get such a job without a degree in writing, English, or Journalism.

3) Blogger. Anybody can start their own site for less than $100 nowadays. From your blog you can make advertising revenue and money from your own products. But it takes years of making little-to-no money, which is why it’s harder to sustain.

4) Book author. The hardest way to make money as a writer is by writing a book. Don’t publish a book if you want to get rich. Publish a book only if you have something you must say. Even with my book, Buy This, Not That being a WSJ bestseller, it likely won’t generate enough royalties to pay for my family’s living expenses.

Now let’s get to the meat of why being a professional writer is so hard to make a living! Why It’s So Difficult Making It As A Professional Writer

Making it as a writer is so difficult because most people expect everything they read to be free nowadays. This is despite people unwilling to do their own jobs for free.

It doesn’t matter how much value you add to your blog readers or newsletter subscribers either. Only 2% – 4% of your readers will buy something from you. 2% – 5% is the industry standard. For example, if you have 10,000 subscribers of your 10-year-old free newsletter, only between 200 – 500 of your subscribers will buy anything from you.

You could have hosted your cousin at your home, paid for all their meals, and took them sightseeing over several days. Chances are still less than 50% they will support your work!

Thanks to the internet and technology, the race to the bottom happened extremely quickly with writing. Print-only newspapers went out of business, journalists got laid off, and free blogs and social media platforms grew to the billions.

After going through an initial 20-year retrenchment phase, media organizations needed to adapt in order to survive. As a result, traditional media organizations like The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Bloomberg, and The Washington Post focused on online subscription revenue.

Hence, if you want to increase your chances of making it as a professional writer, the best way is to join a media organization as a columnist or journalist. Depending on experience, the job will pay between $35,000 – $150,000 a year. You should receive healthcare benefits and hopefully some retirement benefits as well.

Take a look at this crowdsourced media salary Google doc for hundreds of writing and editing positions and their respective salaries. The vast majority make under $750,000 a year. You May Need To Already Be Rich To Be A Professional Writer

There’s an interesting stereotype in the writing industry. Given the pay is relatively low, only the already wealthy are willing to join media organizations and write for a living. Further, to get a job at a top publication often requires getting a masters degree in journalism.

Below are the 2022 -2023 tuition rates for the […]

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