Ten unusual ways to earn more money as a writer
Competition is fierce in the world of magazines, newspapers, and Web writing. Tens of thousands of writers vie for thousands of jobs and rates plummet to pre-21st century levels. If you’re felling frustrated, and worse, if your bills are not getting paid, rethink your writing market strategies and consider a few out-of-the ordinary writing gigs that pay real money for capable writing.
- Real estate descriptions — this is a purely local gig. Send out a mailing (or emailing) to every local real estate office and to the real estate board in your county. Offer to write the descriptions that accompany every listing. Could be a regular, long term gig, with good rewards.
- Eulogies — make friends with local funeral directors via email, snail mail, or personal visit. If you can write clear, heartfelt, engaging profiles of people after you interview their family, this is a terrific revenue stream.
- Catalog copy — send retail company corporate communication departments your resume and clips if you have done brief descriptive work for advertising or business clients. This is a never-ending need and another long-term job.
- Speeches — for local politicians, entrepreneurs, or movers and shakers. Contact their offices and talk first with their administrative assistant. Make sure you have a brochure, introductory letter, and list of your accomplishments to send as a follow-up.
- Business letters — build a promotional packet with your business card, a brochure, a letter introducing yourself, and a sheet of compliments from your past clients. Send that packet to doctor offices, small and medium sized businesses, and independent retailers in your area. Offer to compose custom letters for specific needs, or offer to write form letters they can use over and over. Collection letter, thank you letters, product inquiries.
- Short or long biographies and profiles for artists, musicians, local bands, craftspeople, or anyone who works as an independent contractor and must promote themselves. Advertise on Craigslist, in your local paper, or hang your business card on bulletin boards where creatives hang out (online or in brick and mortar places).
- Teach writing — no degree required if you apply to your local park district, adult education programs, community college extension, or even local school district. Offer seminars or classes on any aspect of writing. You’ll need to write a lesson plan and create assignments. This can pay well, or just a stipend but it’s a fantastic resume addition and really fun to do.
- Personal letters for seniors — Create a relationship with retirement communities, nursing homes, or senior centers in your town. Set reasonable rates, be as pleasant and friendly as you can be, and word-of-mouth will build this business. Lots of seniors have vision or mobility trouble that makes it tough to write anything. You can do letters or emails to friends and family, letters to their congressional reps, or anything they need written.
- Greeting cards — it’s true, there is a huge market opportunity here if you can write what they need. Go to your local card shop and read a hundred or so cards from different lines and for different occasions. If you think you can do this with any degree of consistency, jump in. Pay is from a pittance to several hundred dollars per verse. If you’re good, contact Blue Mountain Arts — they are always looking for writers, but they are very, very selective.
- Newsletters — this isn’t terribly unusual. Many freelancers rely on newsletter clients for most of their income. Establish yourself and you’ll have never-ending resources. Learn a desktop publishing program, practice laying out simple four-page (a bi-fold printed on two sides) newsletters, and read up on layout and font conventions. Sell to local service clubs, real estate people, service providers, etc. Double your potential by offering to post each issue on the client’s website for a small additional fee.
Some are tedious, some are fun, and you may not be skilled at all of them. Marketing is the key to success. There is no way to be a business person (and writers are business people) without doing your marketing. Perfect one of these approaches, and your income can increase significantly.
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