I’ve racked up six-figures from writing alone this year. This is not a post designed to brag but to be helpful.
You deserve to turn your writing into an income stream that helps you help more people and feel a little more freedom at the same time. Turning written words into valuable insights that people go giddy for isn’t that hard.
Before I ever made a single dollar from writing, I wish someone had shared these thoughts below with me. I’m going to give them to you for free, and don’t worry about sending me a commission cheque later on.
Here’s how to make your first $10,000 from writing.
Write One Thing Every Day
Making money from writing starts with having a writing habit.
This first step is one that many people overthink, and I rarely hear any practical advice that helps with the problem. Let me make it really practical for you.
Choose one of these four ways to write:
- Write one social media post each day.
- Write a daily newsletter.
- Send one email daily to anybody you like.
- Write one journal entry daily.
Start by creating a daily writing habit that you’re aware of (often we write daily and are unaware of it). It can start out as taking two minutes. The habit will take about 60 days to build, and once you have it, you can use your writing habit to do a helluva lot more.
Pick One Way to Make Money and Master It Like a Pro
Once you have a writing habit, you can build it or begin to monetize it. My advice would always be to wait as long as you can before earning money from your writing, but that doesn’t mean you have to.
When you’re ready to make money from your writing, it’s time to pick one way — notice how I didn’t say any more than one way?
You only need one way to make money to get started. The goal is to go incredibly narrow and deep with one way of making money.
Making money is like a snowball. In the beginning, it will be zero, then a few dollars to buy a sandwich, and then after five years, enough money to do some damage and buy a home if you’re patient enough.
In case you’ve never read my work before, here are the ways to make money as a writer:
- Write on a platform that pays you to publish.
- Pitch publications for a paid column.
- Release an eBook, publish it on a website, and then send traffic to it.
- Charge for a paid newsletter.
- Setup a monthly Mastermind Call with readers who pay you to ask questions and to have experts you invite join the call.
- Recommend products and services to your audience and get paid via affiliate links.
- Create an online course about a subject you’re an expert in (and have written about) and charge for it.
- Charge for coaching in your field of expertise.
- Speak at events and charge for it (works better later in your writing career).
- Supplement your writing with videos on the same topic and then get paid for ads that feature in your videos.
- Setup an ecommerce website and sell physical items that your audience can buy (think t-shirts with cool quotes).
- Be a ghostwriter for people who suck at writing and don’t ever want to write (you write under their name and collect a paycheque).
- Consult to companies who need written content.
I could go on for years about all the ways to make money from writing. The options to make money from writing are only limited by your creativity.
Worship Picture Porn
These images are like delicious candy for your mouth. They’re the pictures that stop you scrolling, make you think, have beautiful colors (I hate black and white photos and they make me depressed), and take your breath away.
The picture you choose forms the end masterpiece, and masterpieces tend to make a lot of money for the creator.
Don’t just write well. Think about the art form as a whole and all the components that produce the end product — the picture, headline, headings, spacing, white space, sentence length, article length, main points, and the sentences you choose to turn into quotes that stand out.
Treat Your Readers Like Customers
This is an idea that I’ve experimented a lot with this year. When I use the word customer, I don’t mean thinking of your readers as dollar signs.
Treating readers like customers means applying a bit of business theory to how you write and treat the audience.
User experience (UX)
I think deeply about the reader’s experience in the same way I think about UX.
What’s their goal?
How might they feel?
What do they want to know?
Which reader persona do they fit?
The personas that I think about when it comes to my readers are:
- A reader that wants to be a writer.
- A reader that’s having career challenges.
- A reader that wants to change or improve their life.
- A reader who wants to use social media as a tool for something bigger.
In terms of writing, the user interface is the platform you choose to write on and how you use it. Think about how your writing looks on the screen and whether it’s easy to navigate and get to the point.
Are you putting too much on the screen for the reader or not enough?
Can you use fewer caps, fewer quotes, fewer italics, fewer images, less name-dropping, fewer hashtags, fewer external links, fewer right hook to the face call-to-actions, fewer stories, less ego, less complaining — the list is long when it comes to writing and the minimalist philosophy you can apply to the process.
Less is more when it comes to helping a reader navigate your writing.
If you think about your reader like a customer, then human-centered design in business teaches us to be empathetic towards them.
This means talking to the reader in a way that’s helpful rather than shaming them for not knowing a particular piece of information.
Not too many “asks” or “sells”
As a customer, think about a company that’s always jamming offers in your face or trying to upsell, cross-sell, touch-your-ass-sell, and harass you like a creepy stalker out of a crime show.
It’s not nice, is it? In fact, it’s freaking annoying. When you feel like you’re always being sold to as a customer or there’s always a hidden agenda that’s designed to make you part with your money, you subconsciously move away.
The same applies to readers. Readers want a break from being sold to, and they need compelling reasons to read your work and find value in what you have to say.
The biggest reason some writers never make $10,000 from writing is because they try too hard to sell to their readers instead of writing for their readers — there’s a whopping big difference.
Choose a Writing Goal
There are four goals you can have as a writer.
- Give people a laugh
Now obviously, you can do all four or switch it up. As always, I’m going to suggest you embrace the power of only doing one thing and pick one writing goal that you go deep on for a while until you master it.
My writing goal when I started was to inspire, and then later I added teaching. (Laughing and entertaining are normally happy accidents rather than goals when it comes to my work.)
Traits of Writers I Know That Make More Than $10,000 a Month
I have quite a few writers in my network that I call friends who do the same as me. They’re not Brad Pitt in a Batman costume either. These writers make a living from writing and each clear six-figures.
What do they have in common? They are:
- Always willing to help
- Straight talkers
- They don’t overthink it
Don’t Be Romantic About It
People can sometimes treat writing like it’s some magical faraway place that needs scented candles, a warm bath, perfect outside weather, a mountainous view out the study room window, rose petals spread out on the floor, a bookshelf of novels written by Ryan Holiday’s mentor to use as inspiration, and brilliantly heated coffee in a mug with an inspirational quote.
This is what I call being way too fucking romantic about writing. Settle down, lover boy/girl — it’s just writing. Being romantic about your writing in simple terms means overthinking the process and wanting perfection.
The best writing is absolutely broken and imperfect.
Write on One Day and Edit on Another Day
This is a practical tip: Don’t edit and write on the same day. Why?
Both writing and editing require different states of mind and switching between the two is exhausting. On days when you write, you want to be inspired and carefree. On days when you edit, you want to be analytical and care about the details.
I do writing on Thursday and Saturday and editing in the evening on Monday and Tuesday night. Find a mix that works for you. Well-edited writing tends to make more money down the track.
Use a Platform You Don’t Own
Setting up your own blog is one giant pain-in-the-ass, and you’ll end up worrying about all the stuff that has nothing to do with writing.
As we said earlier, the beginning is about building the writing habit. So, therefore, you want a place to write that requires zero setup, distractions, and layouts to tinker with endlessly.
I did not start writing by setting up a blog. In fact, I love this idea so much that I still don’t own my own blog today and am damn proud of it.
Your job is to be a writer, not a web developer.
Write What You Feel and Don’t Hold Back
Writing that eventually makes money makes the reader feel something. And when a reader feels something, they’re inspired to take action and use your writing in a practical sense.
Readers that are inspired to take action become your super fans later on.
The hardest part about making someone feel something through the words you write is not to hold back. It’s tempting to hold back and leave out the small details that might make you look stupid or show signs of weakness.
Here’s the truth: We’re all weak in at least a few areas of life so you have nothing to lose. Don’t hold back. Tell us the whole story.
Did you cry?
Did you feel like crap?
Did the situation hurt you?
Did you lie to yourself or to others?
Did you learn something?
Did something embarrassing happen?
Are you still embarrassed today?
Is your heart broken?
Use one of these questions to make us feel something from your writing. We search every corner of our life trying to find people, things, and writing that makes us feel so we can heal ourselves and contemplate a better life.
When you make people feel and don’t hold back, you move us to action and give us something that’s so hard to find anywhere else.
Add a Subscribe Link
Whatever happens in the future, place a subscribe link on the button of every piece of writing so people can connect with you. Later on, this will be helpful.
I accidentally did this right at the start, and I now have 40,000 email subscribers that I can have a conversation with who may decide they like me enough to buy a book that I publish one day.
Bow Down to the “Off” Days
The days when I’m feeling off produce some of the best work. The reason is because on our off days, we stop caring about every damn thing and just write.
Perfect moods rarely produce amazing work.
You have to be having an off day to get out of your own way and write what you wouldn’t normally write. My writing days that look like hole-in-ones are almost always a lie when the reading stats follow later on.
What seemed like a perfectly written article to me becomes an unhelpful thought that ends up in the wasteland of the internet never to be read again.
Learn to love your off days.
Publishing Created More Millionaires
Those writers that make their first $10,000, and then eventually become millionaires, do something incredibly daring: they hit the big green publish button.
Publishing your way to $10,000 is a better strategy than thinking about how to do it and occasionally publishing something out of fear.
Read authors like Ryan Holiday and Tim Ferriss and you’ll see their early work sucked ass. Their original websites, book covers, and Instagram photos are worse than anything you’ve ever seen — and those authors are bloody proud of it (the paradox of progress).
It’s how many times you can hit publish and not look back that determines whether you’ll stick to this writing game long enough to ever pass go and collect a single dollar. Don’t think — just publish.
Let your readers decide if your writing is valuable since you sure as hell can’t make that decision for them or hypnotize them into believing there is value when there isn’t.
Forget the Money in the Beginning
We’re at the end (almost). I left this one out, but it’s perfect timing to drop it right now before you get to work. Focus your attention away from making money at the start.
Write because you want to write.
Write because you have something to say.
Write because it’s your human right to do so if you choose.
If you can forget about the money for long enough, I promise you, you’ll eventually see the money. And you know what’s weird? When you discover the money that can come from writing, you’ll realize it’s not that important.
That’s How You Make Your First $10,000 From Writing
As you can see, the making money part is not the hard bit. It’s how you think about the process and the way you treat your readers that will determine whether you ever make money from writing.
I’m not a talented writer by a long shot. My English teacher in high school let me know that when she saw the word “Engish” written on my red folder for her class and asked sarcastically in front of the whole class if it was intentional (it wasn’t) — true story LOL.
So if a dude that can’t spell the word English can do it, I’m certain you can too.
Write those words and have fun with it. Writing can make you money and be an escape to a magical place that helps others.