Finding Ways to Earn $ With Your Writing
There is a popular theory, developed by Kevin Kelly, that a creator needs 1,000 true fans in order to make a living. True fans are people who would buy anything you produce. If you’ll be consistent in providing regular content, you could make a living this way. In general, I think the article is essential to understanding marketing.
I have tried a lot of things to earn money with my writing, most of those didn’t work at all. Wasted time one can say, but if you don’t try, you don’t know.
Luckily, some did work! Although I have to say I have more to learn in to fully support myself with writing.
But this is a Side Hustle Series. So, that means my writing income serves as an additional income stream next to my regular paycheck. And that’s pretty cool if you ask me.
However, money is not the end goal – at least not now. Who knows, I might dive in fully next year. For now though, here are some ways you can and can’t earn money while side hustling your writing career.
Be Inventive and Try – These Are New Times With New Opportunities
“What things harm a writer? Politics, women, drinks, money, ambition. Also, a lack of politics, women, drinks, money, and ambition.” – Ernest Hemingway
In the glory days of Fitzgerald, Hemingway or even Bukowski, it was a lot harder to earn money as a writer. Think of how many potential Hemingway’s were unable to get their stories published in magazines like Esquire, or even published as a book.
There was no Medium back in the 1920s. There was no Amazon with its Kindle Direct Publishing back in 1950.
I see earning money with my writing as an experiment. I have a business/marketing background, so I’m naturally curious about what I can do to earn money.
So with all these online platforms and opportunities at our disposal, let’s explore!
What Didn’t Work For Me
With every experiment, you have to test something. In this case, I wanted to test different money making opportunities. More than half of those experiments failed. Miserably.
However, because I tested, I learned the results. I did some pretty random stuff to try to earn money with my blog. Let me share some “failures”.
I started simple, installing a PayPal donate button on my blog. I think no one has even seen it. The thing was, I saw a similar button on so many writing blogs, so it seemed only logical to try. Earned: $0. Cost: $0 and a bit of time.
I thought it might be fun to have a webshop with the artwork from my stories. (I still do). Luckily it’s all print on demand, so no investments in inventory have been made. Just investments in time. I also thought it would be nice to split potential earnings with my friend Jonat who makes all the beautiful illustrations.
Earned: $5 – of my own money! I ordered a mug with an illustration for me and a friend. They’re awesome! Why does no one buy them? Haha. Cost: $0 and a lot of time editing the illustrations and designing the material correctly for the Zazzle store.
What DID Work For Me
Not all experiments were in vain. Some ways worked. Here they are, from earning below average to the best one.
Amazon Affiliate links. Yup, I’ve fallen prey to help Amazon even further in their quest to dominate all online sales worldwide. Although I think my efforts are too slim to cover even half a day of work for one Amazon employee.
Still, I earned a bit of money, less than $20. I didn’t say I’m going to make you rich with this article ;)
It’s simple, You just set up an account with Amazon. Then when you write something and refer to a product or book, you’ll get a small commission. This ranges from 1-10% depending on the product. For books, it’s 4-4,5%.
I sometimes link to books I recommend. A tip: link to your own Amazon (Kindle) books with an affiliate link too! You’ll earn a bit extra on your own material.
I don’t like spamming people with affiliate links, but there are people who recommend all kinds of products and earn some extra cash.
(e)Book Sales. This one is very interesting, but you have to play the long game here. About nine months ago I published my first Kindle eBook through Amazon, using KDP. I sold no more than a dozen so far. In the past half year, I added to more. Still, sales haven’t surpassed 20.
Thing is, you can go all out. Learning more about Amazon publishing (there are tons of ‘experts’ on Amazon publishing out there trying to sell you courses). I learned a lot from Creativindie. Problem is, it takes a LOT of time to go ahead with these tips to move up in the ranks and sell for hundreds, even thousands of dollars a month.
An increasing body of work helps, but this takes a lot of time again. So, it depends on the amount of time you have and your willingness to explore this alley.
In September I published my first Paperback, this resulted in a spike in sales. Naturally, more than half of the books were sold to family and friends. But it exists.
Already mentioned the time. When you’re finished editing, formatting, designing and figuring out Kindle Publishing, you’re far from done. Once the book is available, you have to start selling it!
We’re side hustling here, so be careful with allocating your time.
I’ve earned >$100 so far. Not much, but I can at least buy ten more (secondhand) books with that money ;)
I will be adding more (e)books in the future though.
Medium locked posts. This has proven to be the most lucrative so far. Now I’m looking at earning $100-$200 per month! That’s crazy! And I’m beyond grateful that Medium allows for (unknown) writers to earn some money with their writing.
I guess most of you writers read this on Medium and are familiar with their partner program. In short, when you’re a Medium member, you can put your articles behind a paywall and receive money for the amount of engagement your posts get.
Here too holds, to more time you spent on this, the more money you’re likely to earn. I know fellow Medium writers who publish every day or have a broad reach and earn $1000s of dollars per month. With anything, you’ve to be willing to put in the work.
Interesting fact: only 9% of all Medium writers earn over $100 per month on Medium. (According to one of their latest emails).
Reflecting on what works and what doesn’t is great, because then it becomes clear what things you need to focus on and what not.
There are also things I don’t like trying. Like placing banner ads on my website. I don’t like that clutter.
In the coming months/year I plan to try other ways to monetize my writing. I plan on publishing my first novel next year in autumn. Plus, I have a special crowdsourcing project in the works, along with a course and a non-fiction eBook.
Naturally, I will share more insights in the future.
Now I’m curious to know, what ways have you found to earn a little side income with your writing?