TLDR: You can earn money writing online… a LOT of money.
People tend to associate freelance writing with sporadic income, flaky clients, and nonexistent career growth, but imagine having the freedom of a freelance career without any of the normal hassles.
For the last year, that’s been my reality: high income, steady clients, and complete work/life freedom. And it’s really awesome!
For example, two weeks ago, I decided I wanted to buy a new, cutting-edge work/gaming PC. So I made the unusual decision to actually work a good 40 hours the next week, and I made $4,000 as a result. For those doing the math, that’s around $100 per hour, and to be honest, I’m one of the slowest writers of all time.
I get distracted. I browse Reddit. I start going off on tangents while doing research. I play Dragon Age Inquisition (some of the many reasons I never charge by the hour).
But despite my slowness, kindergarten focus, and predisposition for procrastination, I still made $4,000. And that’s not a fluke. It’s higher than usual, since I prefer to only work around 20-30 hours per week, but it’s not a fluke, because I can replicate it whenever I wish.
How am I able to pull this off? Because I’ve solved the 3 problems every freelancer faces.
- I know where the high paying gigs are.
- I have the skills to land them.
- I’m willing to write about the topics that pay well.
It’s that simple, and with the answers to these questions and some initial hard work, you too can achieve these types of results (which we’ll discuss later in this post).
But first, let’s break down my income from this last week.
(Click here to download my writer’s career guide, showing you how to generate demand for you business and leave cold calling behind.)
Income Breakdown: What A $4,000 Writing Week Looks Like
So let’s get to it.
Here’s what a $4,000 writing week looks like.
As you may have noticed, there aren’t 15+ different items on this list. There are only 6 entries here and yet they add up to a fairly nice one-week payout. This is because I was able to land several larger gigs, which is always my goal. I’d much rather focus on one big project paying $1,000 than 5 smaller projects paying $200.
That said, shorter gigs take less time to complete and are easier to acquire. If you are disciplined, you could just as easily emulate my weekly total with the following breakdown.
But let’s focus on the gigs I landed, because that’s what you’re here to read about.
1. Guest Blogging Backlinks
What is this? Guest blogging backlinks are how you get paid to write unpaid guest blogs. Basically, you write guest posts for free and include links to paid products.
99% of people trying to do this are clueless about the correct way to go about it and fail constantly. Why? Because they are being spammy. They are trying to use outdated SEO techniques that successful companies already know to avoid. No self-respecting editor will let you include a spammy backlink.
That’s why you have to go about this the RIGHT way and include the type of links that you would include even if you weren’t being paid — the types of links that add value to the reader and fit with the article. I discuss this in detail in my upcoming freelancer’s guide: How To Earn $400 Per Article As An Online Writer.
2. Skyscraper Posts
Skyscraper posts are long, in-depth posts designed to be obviously better than an already successful blog post. In other words, a website will identify a competitor’s blog post that did very well in their niche and then hire you to write a post 3-4 times better.
Skyscraper posts have been my bread and butter of late, because (A) they are becoming super popular thanks to the recommendations of several marketing experts, and (B) they are often 3,000+ words in length, translating to a nice payday if you charge by the word (which I do).
The best part about writing skyscraper posts is that they serve as passive lead generating sources. People come across your epic posts and think, “Wow, I want my own blog to have these types of posts.” I get a new request for this type of writing every week.
(If you are a little confused about how to use your paid writing to constantly generate new leads, check out my free 3-year career blueprint for becoming an overpaid writer. I give you a detailed plan to be cold-call free in 3 years.)
3. Standard Blog Post
Standard blog posts are the type of posts that blogs publish every day. These are typically around 1,000 words in length and are incredibly easy and quick to write if you’ve done it a few times before. More importantly, once you get your foot in the door, it’s very easy to acquire as many of these gigs as you want, giving you the ability to create a nice level of income stability for yourself, if that’s your goal.
The “standard rate” for a blog post can vary from $15 – $400 depending on the niche. Obviously, it’s better to target a high-paying niche as opposed to a low-paying niche. So why don’t more writers target the high-paying niches?
The same reason more car salesmen don’t sell BMW’s.
- There are less buyers and thus, less gigs available.
- They don’t know how to get their foot in the door.
- They are intimidated to try or don’t feel qualified.
Don’t let these be the reasons you sell 10 year old Toyotas! Try to find a niche that is interesting to you AND pays well at the same time.
4. Lead Magnets, Ebooks, White Papers, etc.
Even more lucrative than skyscraper posts, longform content like an ebook, white paper, or any other resource intended for use as a lead magnet can net a sizable payout. You will rarely get one of these without a referral of some sort as this type of writing requires an unusually large investment from the business ordering it.
That said, there are a lot of business owners today who are aware of lead magnets and know they should have one but have simply never gotten around to it. These types of individuals would be prime targets for a cold pitch, particularly if you can make a rock-solid suggestion for a compelling lead magnet topic and headline.
In fact, this would make for a fantastic case study. I would look for blogs with a basic “Subscribe to our newsletter” optin, spend a few minutes checking out their most popular content, and then send them a pitch to provide them with a beautifully designed, well-written lead magnet. For now, I’ll log that one in the “to do” folder.
Earn Money Writing: Planning + Execution Over Time = Payout
Now that we’ve broken down the various income sources, let’s talk about how I lined up these projects in the first place.
As you can probably guess, it didn’t just happen. I planned it. But what you may not realize is that I didn’t just plan it two weeks ago. I also planned it 3 years ago.
Here’s what I mean. 5 out of my 6 projects from last week were from passive leads. In other words, they came to me and asked me to write for them. I didn’t cold call them. I didn’t apply to a job listing. I didn’t meet them at a convention and pitch my services.
I simply opened my inbox and there they were, asking to pay me money in exchange for my writing services.
Why? Because I’ve spent the last 5 years building my career specifically to make that happen. I’ve targeted the right type of people, written the right type of content, and built the right type of network to permanently leave cold calls behind.
Fortunately, you can too! And I’ve created a downloadable resource for you with that in mind. I’ve optimized my own journey into a repeatable process ANYONE can follow to go from complete rookie to lucrative freelancer in just 3 years. Check it out!