"Time is money." - Benjamin Franklin

Writing to Bring in Extra Cash

By , May 15th, 2009 | 13 Comments »

I truly love to write. I enjoy self-expression. I enjoy giving advice. I enjoy the feedback I receive from my readers. I love the power that the written word has to motivate, to intrigue and to inspire. We all have stories worth telling or knowledge and experience worth sharing. With a little effort, we can all make some money while we pass on what we know.

I was thrilled when I was selected as a freelancer and I have thoroughly enjoyed learning the writer’s craft while contributing my insight here. After I had been writing for about six months, however, I began to look for additional places where I could share my views and I very quickly found another site which hired me to write arts, entertainment and political content.

After finding a second site to which I could contribute content, I then proceeded to find a site to which I could contribute book reviews. The site is not paying me for the reviews but did provide me with the credentials that I needed to obtain review copies of books that I otherwise would have had to purchase. In the past week alone, I have received about $350 worth of books which I will review – after I have enjoyed reading them.

Although I am not by any stretch of the imagination supporting myself as a writer, my monthly income from writing has increased from $25 last August to about $350 per month in April (excluding the money that I save by not having to purchase the books that I read and review). More to the point, I am seeing steady growth in my income and new opportunities are opening up every day. I do not ever expect to fully support myself as a writer, but I do expect to earn more next month and the month after that.

You must have something to say. Start saying it. If you start small and work your way up to more substantial pieces, you will find that the writing gets easier and easier. Here is a gradual approach that you might want to consider:

Step 1: Leave comments on each of the sites that you visit. My friend, Dr. Sardonic, whose blog is now sadly “out of print,” commented once to me that he can spend an hour writing a one sentence comment on blogs that he visited. He wanted every word to be perfect. If you learn to leave comments with an emphasis on substance, the words will start to flow more perfectly -even if each word is not necessarily the perfect word. Heaven knows, you won’t be a successful writer if you write at a one sentence per hour pace!

Step 2: Start a blog. What do you know best? Whatever it is, start writing about it. Learn the lingo of the blog community. Not familiar with SEO (search engine optimization)? Start reading about it. Learn the web applications, such as WordPress, that commercial bloggers use. Establish your credibility as a writer so that you can credibly seek paying positions as a writer. Last week I mentioned to a fellow I know that I am now receiving a lot of free books because I am willing to review them. He started a golf equipment blog two days later and is now trying to get gold equipment manufacturers to send him equipment that he can review. You can do the same!

Step 3: After you are comfortable with your writing style and you have writing samples that you can share, you should begin to look for compensated assignments. There are a lot of sites which offer links to blogging “want ads.” I like ProBlogger and BloggerJobs.Biz. There are plenty of other sites that offer similar listings so you may find other sites that you prefer.

Step 4: Be persistent. Your craft will develop over time so if you are turned down for the first assignments that you seek, do not give up. Keep writing and you will eventually have a body of work that you can use to sell your services.

Are you an aspiring writer? Do you have a blog? Are you making money at it? Tell us your secrets to success and your reasons for writing. What works? What does not?

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  • Ann says:

    I must admit that I generally enjoy reading your articles, Dave, but I have no urge to do so myself. 🙂

    I found my joy when I started back into art, specifically sculpting and carving. My website for that is currently being built mainly because I love creating and am running out of space around here. LOL The extra money wouldn’t hurt either!

    There’s a joy that comes from doing what you truly love. Don’t know that I’ll ever get wealthy doing art work, but I wouldn’t go back to finance and all that stress again unless I REALLY had to for some unknown reason.

    One reason for the delay in getting my website built was that I had a fear of how I would handle commissions and custom canes. I don’t want all of my time taken doing something that doesn’t involve my total heart and imagination. Had to resolve that issue before I could put myself out there. LOL

    With as much as you enjoy writing, I wish that your writing would grow to the point where it could be your sole source of income. 🙂 You never know…..

  • Kristin says:

    Thank you for your insight and ideas. Step 1 is truly a killer right now; however, i am completing what i set out to do. Now… it’s on to step 2. 🙂

  • Another suggestion might be to find niche. It should be something you enjoy, and have passion about. If you don’t have the passion to write about your subject, it won’t last. Getting the desire to write about a topic that you don’t enjoy is like trying to sail a boat with no wind…it just doesn’t work.

    When I first started blogging I had a great idea, but was uncertain of where I would take my writing. After a while of writing I found my voice and my readership has been continuing to climb. I think the reason for my small successes is that I have passion and a voice that is new to the subject of personal finance.

    I look forward to writing a daily article and working to improve the reader experience on my site. I have not monetized my site yet, but I hope to soon as the extra income from doing something I am passionate about would be a great change of pace!

  • Lou Russo says:

    I enjoyed your article. My problem is a lack of discipline and a difficulty in having a passion. By nature, I am laid back, with no overriding interests that are worth writing about. I just don’t see me spending time crafting thoughtful, thought-provoking columns. I have a neighbor who is a writer, and I am envious of his facility with commentary, as I am of yours. I have no real gift for writing. My only real talent is in speaking. I clarify my ideas best through discussion. I think it is one reason I was successful as a teacher. I loved my subject, and I got to spend all day talking about it and discussing it. Ah well, c’est la vie.

  • David G. Mitchell says:

    Lou — I think you are quite an engaging writer, based on your comments here and on your participation in a forum that we both frequent. Don’t sell yourself short — you have a lot to say and you say it well whether you are writing it or speaking it!

  • Neil says:


    Do you never see yourself supporting yourself through writing? If you continue to increase your income surely there will come a point when you do?

    When writing there is an important distinction between writing for a one-off fee, and arrangements where you derive a royalty or otherwise earn an ongoing income from it (like advertising revenue from your blog for instance). The latter is obviously better for building up an income over time.

  • David G. Mitchell says:

    Neil — I would love to make a living as a writer but I believe that is a long way off. Ideally, my wife and I would both be earning money as writers. She has just finished a novel so we are trying to shop that around. Of course, I am not averse to being a “kept man” with my wife making all of the money, either!

  • spicoli says:

    I do everything but keep my own blog. I think that takes too much time. I do make a few dollars freelancing, but it is not enough to keep me from week to week.

  • persephone says:

    I also like to use sites like iFreelance to find freelance jobs.

  • Gail says:

    I enjoy your articles and am happy for your increase in income. I’ve also started reviewing books too and it is so much fun to get free books in the mail (I love to read). I have enjoyed having a blog and doing the writing I do on line. I just wish I had the energy to do more. I have so many ideas in my head and if I was 100% physically fit, I know I could earn my entire income on line!

  • Gail says:

    One other comment. Write about something you feel passionate about. What is my passion you say? If you read your newspaper or magazine and see something that you want to comment on, do so. How many of us read a magazine or newspaper article and compose a letter to the editor in our head yet never send it? Well put it down on paper or bytes and snail mail or email it to the editor. In the past 2 years I’ve had 3 letters to the editor published in my favorite magazine and one in our local newspaper. When you see your name in print once, you may think it is a fluke, but when you continue to see it, you start to realize, that maybe you too can write! Go for it!

  • Derek says:

    Loved the article and do a bit of blogging myself, both for fun and for extra money. I am intrigued by the book reviewing that you mentioned. Is there any chance you might be able to recommend a site to get started in reviewing??


  • David G. Mitchell says:

    Derek — I checked out your blog and it appears that you have an IT focus. I suggest you start by requesting review copies of IT books and review them on your site. You will have the most credibility reviewing books in an arena relevant to your blog. I review WWII books because I am a moderator at a World War II forum.


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