Writing is one of the few activities that acts as a profession, hobby, artistic outlet, and has stood the test of time from early civilization to today’s technological world. It requires little in terms of experience on behalf of the writer to start and a lifetime of study and practice to absolutely master.
If you’re considering writing professionally, there are many ways to start. For many full-time writers, their professional careers started as the result of their hobby writing. Submissions sent to large publications, multi-writer blogs, local newspapers, and even small newsletters can create the opportunity that turns a novice into a professional. Below are three methods of furthering your craft and potentially paying a few bills in the process.
Sell Your Work to Content Distributors
There are services and content publishers out there that actually pay for useful content they can resell or republish under their own brand. Helium, Seed, and Demand Media are a few examples of companies that offer direct payment for your writing.
If you’re really good, you can make a significant amount of scratch doing what you love. Typically members of these services make a wholesale rate for their work while the services sell it at a premium to publishers and reap the profits. The better your work, the more likely you’ll receive a more substantial paycheck.
One important thing to remember is that while these services are an easy way to get your work out there and boost your writing resume, you don’t have much — if any — control over where your work is published and how much you’ll receive for it. Basically, you’re building literary houses and handing over the deeds in hopes you’ll get a fair price.
Join a Profit-Sharing Blogging Community
In the interest of disclosure, this article you’re reading now is published on one of these communities. LockerGnome offers a place for bloggers, especially in the area of tech, to earn money with their knowledge. Unlike content distributors, these communities allow bloggers to maintain a personal brand and keep their content in a controlled environment where they have control over their work.
One benefit of these sites over having a personally hosted blog is a maintained level of quality as well as an active community of readers. This creates a great environment for both writer and reader. In addition, hosting costs and limited promotion is provided by the site in exchange for a percentage of the ad impressions.
Starting a blog is a great way to highlight and promote you and your work. Everything published using this method is yours and yours alone to distribute in a manner you control.
The most common method for self-hosting a blog is by using a CMS like WordPress or Drupal. Novice writers typically use budget hosting solutions through providers like GoDaddy or Eleven2. Another method is by using a more controlled solution like Squarespace.
Monetization can occur through ad revenue, sponsorship, donations, and potentially through paid subscriptions. Unlike the other methods mentioned previously, a self-hosted blog gives you direct access to 100% of your revenue without having to split or share it with anyone else.
Hosting, domain registration, branding, theme development, scripting, and scaling are all potential costs that fall on the writer to cover with this method. Having one of your articles picked up by a major aggregate can become a mixed blessing where a boost in traffic is accompanied by an unexpectedly high bandwidth bill. A popular Web site can easily draw monthly fees in the thousands.
Without a proper and often expensive infrastructure, your blog may also experience downtime once it becomes overwhelmed with traffic.
Overall, making money from writing shouldn’t require a college education in server maintenance or accounting. There are options out there that allow you to concentrate on your content and forget most of the hassle behind distributing your content. With a little compromise, you might discover that breaking the barrier between writing as a hobby and a profession isn’t as difficult as it seems.