You can make money writing.  Just not by writing fiction or poetry.

That’s not true. (But it kind of is.)     

Let me explain.  Most authors, even the ones who have had a book on the bestseller’s list, have other jobs to help pay the bills.  A lot are professors; many are journalists.  Some are freelance writers. Some published authors make money ghostwriting, working as part-time reporters for smaller newspapers and magazines, or writing copy for clients.   Because, unless you’re John Grisham, your book will not sustain you.

Case in point: last year during one of my writing courses, my class had the pleasure of meeting visiting author Cheryl Wagner.  Wagner wrote a very successful memoir about restoring her house in New Orleans after the floods from Katrina receded.  She was candid not only about the publishing process, but about the other writing she has had to do to make ends meet.  She is a contributor to a public radio program and writes articles for various magazines. 

Aspiring authors have dreams of writing for a living.   Those dreams are a very real possibility.  Freelance writing is a veritable way to make a living. 

Freelance writers make their own schedules.  A freelancer can crank out three hours of honest-to-goodness work and have the rest of the day to devote to what they really love, whether it’s writing fiction, poetry, a memoir, etc.  It takes a measure of discipline, organization, research skills, and time to get your small business started, but dedication and resolve can eventually pay off. 

Unlike other home-based businesses, there are minimal start-up costs for freelancers.  You will need a computer, internet access, and a phone.  That’s pretty much it.  The intangibles required include time, the ability to write succinctly and grammatically, and a willingness to sell yourself to potential clients. 

Any home business generally requires a good year to get rolling.  Freelance writers can make money right away, but you should remember that it will take months to get regular paying clients.  As you gain steady clients, you can devote less time to searching for work and more time to writing.  As you gain a reputation as a trustworthy and capable writer, you will be able to demand more money for your work.   

Freelance writing is certainly different from fiction or poetry writing.  However, any writing is good practice.  Freelance writing keeps your mind sharp, forces you to learn new writing techniques, and provides constant challenges.  (And you’d be surprised at all of the interesting stuff I’ve researched and can tell you about.  It makes for great dinnertime conversation.)

But does it pay?

Yes, it certainly can.  If you are discerning and competent, freelance writing can pay well.

How well?

March was a pretty good month for me.  I made $1000.00!

 1000.00?  That wouldn’t cut it for me.

I should probably mention that I only worked a total of 12 hours. (I should also mention this is not the norm- but is certainly possible.)

My next few posts will detail how to go about getting starting in the freelance writing biz.  Whether you want to write full-time or part-time, I hope I can provide you with some basic information to help you get started.

 Next week:  Where to find your first writing gig.