How to Ditch the Poorly Paid Gigs and Start Making Money as a Writer

Start Making Money as a WriterAre you making money as a writer? If so, how much?

These are good questions to ask yourself. Other good questions include:

  • Are you spending the majority of your days (or evenings) writing for content mills or pitching for individual jobs on freelancing sites like Elance and Freelancer?
  • Do you rejoice when you get a writing gig on these sites, work hard on it and only realise when you finally get paid that there’s no way you can actually earn a full-time living like this?

Not even if you get a few good gigs every single day.

…And you’re not even getting a few good gigs every single day.

I’m not saying that finding work on freelancing sites is inherently bad for freelance writers. I’ve made some decent money this way myself.

In fact, freelancing sites are great for making a bit of cash, and even for finding a long-term client or two. In fact, I’d advise using freelancing and job sites for both of these things.

But if you want to start making money as a writer and earn a full-time living from it, you need a different strategy to simply pitching for the odd gig here and there.

So here’s what not to do regarding freelancing sites (and what to do instead).

Don’t:

Work for content mills for the long-term

Quit the content mills once you’ve built up a portfolio and practised your craft. This will free up your time to find well-paid work and complete it to a high standard.

Use freelancing sites as your first port of call for writing work

Only pitch for work on freelancing sites if you want to build your portfolio and reputation – particularly in a certain niche – or when you genuinely have a gap in your workload (and/or your bank balance).

Instead:

Research clients who will likely have a healthy budget for content creation

Consider websites, companies and other publications you would enjoy working for, and who perhaps need a bit of help with creating quality content. Compile a list of these companies along with the right person to contact for each one.

Write solid pitches to these potential clients

You need to convince these clients that they need you and your writing services on a long-term basis. Pitch for regular, long-term work that you can bill for weekly or monthly – not for one-off gigs. There’s a section about how to pitch, who to pitch to and even an email template to use in my course on How to Earn a Full-Time Living as a Freelance Writer Online.

By pitching for writing clients instead of individual writing gigs, you’ll make the transition from poorly paid, struggling writer to the realms of making good money as a writer.

If you take nothing else from this post, take this:

If you want to earn a full-time living from your writing, you need to stop doing what every other writer is doing and get a bit creative about it.

That’s how you ditch the poorly paid writing gigs and start making money as a writer – and that’s what you need to do if you’re serious about earning a full-time income from your writing.

Learn more about How to Earn a Full-Time Living as a Freelance Writer Online.

Image courtesy of Images Money via Flickr.

6 Comments

  • Jessica Burde

    Reply Reply February 9, 2014

    I’ll be the first to admit that the amount of income I need to ‘make a living’ is lower than many peoples (I could actually do well on a minimum wage job as long it was full time–of course, good luck finding a full time minimum wage job) but by being very picky in what gigs I bid on (it’s rare for me to find more than 3 gigs a week worth my time) I have two long term freelancing gigs off of a bidding site that will cover all my expenses plus a bit in under 20 hours work.

    I don’t plan on sticking with bidding sites forever–right now I’m using the rest of my week to learn about other places to find clients willing to pay higher rates than on the bidding sites. While I’m making a living now, in a year or two my expenses are going to go up a lot (yay kids!) so improving my income now sounds like a damned good idea. But depending on your needs, it is possible to make a living income on the bidding sites (I’m averaging $15-30 per hour, which is a good bit over the ‘living wage’ minimum increase that is never going to pass in Congress)

    • Kirsty Stuart

      Reply Reply February 9, 2014

      It sounds like you’ve got a plan Jessica. It’s all about making it work for you. I too have very low outgoings and that was a personal choice I consciously made and applied to my life. Low outgoings certainly help when starting out as a freelancer, that’s for sure! Thanks for stopping by and and sharing your experience.

  • Claire Redfield

    Reply Reply March 10, 2014

    The smartest thing any of you could do is to DROP writing altogether. Find something that pays MUCH more money, like working at Taco Bell or Burger King.Plus you’ll get food if you work at TB or BK (or even KFC).

    I know you are tempted to reply back to my comment here and challenge me but writing is just way too poorly paid to even warrant arguing over or discussing.

    • Kirsty Stuart

      Reply Reply March 10, 2014

      Hi Claire,

      Thanks for stopping by a freelance writing site to comment on how commenting about freelance writing sites is pointless! How strange – thanks for setting the time aside for that!

      We don’t have Taco Bell in the UK but I Googled it and it doesn’t really look like my sort of thing. Maybe I’ll give it a miss – I’m currently on a beautiful Thai island writing about travel for a well-known American tour company and the food here is pretty great.

      Thanks again for stopping by.

      • Morgan

        Reply Reply April 1, 2014

        Hello There,
        Love your classy reply! Also, the part about being on an island sounds great! I recently quit my job and am needing the sort of inspiration your site inspires, wish me luck and Thank you!
        Morgan :)

        • Kirsty Stuart

          Reply Reply April 2, 2014

          Hey, thank you Morgan! All the best with the new lifestyle. You don’t need luck – it’ll be fabulous. :)

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