3 creative writing careers that actually pay (Get Your Dream Job or Find Your First Client)

You can earn a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars per month working as a freelance writer.

Several of my students — like Karan and Felicia, have made very successful careers as freelance writers (some as a side gig in addition to their 9-5 job).

How?

Think of all the written materials even a tiny company puts out.

Imagine a software company with 5 employees. Their annual report doesn’t write itself. They need a blog to keep up with the content marketing war. The sales team sends out sales letters and brochures to prospects.

The prospects want white papers, case studies. Not to mention technical papers for the actual software.

Someone has to write it all — and the truth is, most people and businesses don’t know how to do it. And they don’t want to learn.

Do you know how much they’re willing to pay for someone to just do it for them?

That’s where you can help. There are thousands of people looking for freelance writers every day.

In this post, I’ll show you what you need to become a freelance writer yourself.

Bonus: Some say writing ridiculously good content that your audience loves is hard. I’ll show you how to make it easy with my FREE Ultimate Guide to Content

What’s the difference between Felicia and people posting gigs on Fiverr? Felicia chose a creative writing career that actually paid…instead of boxing herself into one that guaranteed her years of frustration and $5 work.

Many writers fall into this same trap. They buy into the romanticized notion that you have to be poor, or that you have to live in someone’s basement until you catch your big break.

Not true. There are dozens of ways you could make a great living as a writer — right now.

Today, I’m going to show you the 3 best options. And I’ll give you a roadmap for getting started.

1. Get your Dream Job as a creative writer

So how do most people become writers?

The answer is simple: they don’t. They stumble into a job after college, take whatever they can get, and hope one day they’ll catch their big break. Maybe they’ll publish a novel someday?

No wonder most writers are frustrated.

Of course, if you ask for advice on breaking into the industry, you don’t get much help:

  • “Write a book!”
  • “Network with publishers.”
  • “You’re lucky to have ANY job in this economy — so just take what you can get.”

There is a better way. You can land a high paying job working full time as a creative writer. All you need to do is create a system for:

  • Finding the highest paying writing jobs
  • Selecting the best companies to work for
  • And landing the job want even if you’re up against people with 10+ years of experience

The system I’m about to show you has helped thousands break into and thrive in some of the most competitive industries on earth.

Dream Job Course Twitter Testimonial
Dream Job Course Twitter Testimonial

And I’m going to show you how to use it to find your dream job as a creative writer.

The first step is making sure everyone knows you’re a top-performer. You do this with competence triggers.

In the video below, I’ll show you a few key competence triggers for writers — these are subtle signals that show a hiring manager you deserve the job…and you’re not some desperate wannabe writer.

Of course you have to be good at your craft, too. Competence Triggers are not a trick to hide your deficiencies.

But these signals prove you’re worthy of further investigation and a job offer. If you need any help preparing for your interview, check out this free guide to dominating your job interview and getting an offer.

That’s option 1. But if writing in a corporate setting doesn’t sound appealing, you have other options.

Bonus: Want to turn your dream of working from home into a reality? Download my Ultimate Guide to Working from Home to learn how to make working from home work for YOU.

2. Get paid to break into a creative writing career

You can earn a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars per month working as a freelance writer.

How?

Think of all the written materials even a tiny company puts out.

Imagine a software company with 5 employees. Their annual report doesn’t write itself. They need a blog to keep up with the content marketing war. The sales team sends out sales letters and brochures to prospects.

The prospects want white papers, case studies. Not to mention technical papers for the actual software.

Someone has to write it — and the truth is, they don’t know how to do it. And they don’t want to learn.

Do you know how much they’re willing to pay for someone to just do it for them?

That’s where you can help. There are thousands of people looking for freelance writers every day. But the best writing gigs are usually unadvertised. Most struggling writers never find out about these jobs.

Fortunately, I have a simple process for finding the highest paying clients and making them want to hire you as a creative writer.

This is probably the easiest way to get started. If you’re interested, just enter your name and email below. When you do, you’ll get instant access to my free material on getting your first client in less than 6 weeks flat. Or you can keep reading below to learn how to make $60,000 or more next year by building your own business.

3. Turn a blog into a business

This is my personal favorite way to make money with creative writing.

With an online business, you get to talk about things you enjoy: your hobbies, interests, and even weird things like your love of hot sauce or your amazing ironing skills.

I know it sounds crazy, but there’s an audience for almost anything. And even if you’re not sure how to do it right now, you can build a business based on your unique skills and experiences.

Take me, for example. When I started this site back in 2004, it wasn’t a business. It was just a simple blog I wrote out of my dorm room at Stanford.

And I had no idea what I was doing. Look how bad my design was:

I Will Teach You To Be Rich Old Website Design Screenshot

Early I was clueless. I had no idea how to get traffic, how to build an email list, or how to design a webpage.

My only goal was to write great content that people would share with their friends.

And it worked.

After awhile, I built up a following of a few thousand readers. And I thought, “You know what? Why don’t I just create a small product and see what happens?”

So I decided to launch a $4.95 ebook. It was called, “Ramit’s 2007 Guide to Kicking Ass.”

Ramit Sethi's 2007 Guide to Kicking Ass eBook Cover

My first product: a terribly priced, terribly positioned ebook.

I was terrified that nobody would buy it.

But then the orders started rolling in:

Ramit Sethi's First Sale Invoice


My first sale — a measly $4.95, but it was a start.

Fast forward a few years. I’ve created 18+ products that have generated millions of dollars in sales.

IWT's Revenue Growth From 2009 To 2015 Chart

IWT’s revenue growth.

It’s easy to look at the chart above and say, “must be nice.” But in reality, it all started with the simple decision to keep writing my blog and turn my passion into a real business.

Your first goal: Get 3 writing clients

Complex marketing strategies like SEO, blogging, and viral marketing appear both easy and discreet, when in reality they’re often an excuse for you to avoid the hard work of finding actual people who will pay you for your services. Do you know how long “SEO” takes to work?

Stop building complex marketing strategies for clients you don’t have. Your first goal is to get 3 clients. Do you really need a blog to do that?

And notice I said 3 clients, not just 1 — that could be a fluke. Get 3. Once you have 3 clients, you’ve proven that you have a reliable base of people who’ll pay you for your services. You can test service offerings and prices on them. And now you can start with more complex marketing strategies.

Remember: Skip all the fanciness and get 3 people to pay you first.

Getting your first client is a 2-step process that I call Locate and Communicate.

Step 1: Locate freelancing clients

Who is your exact client, and where do they go to look for a solution to their problems?  Where are people already looking for solutions to problems and how can you make a match between them and your service?

Identify very specific leads in your very specific target market and figure out where they go to look for a solution to their needs.

Here’s how you find them:

First step is to niche down your market. Do not try to find every business that might need writing services — reports, copywriting, websites, emails, etc. NICHE IT DOWN. By location, size, revenue, type of business, and so many more options.

Next, find out where they go to find writers. Get in their heads.

Research your audience. Email a few people. Take them out to lunch.

Could you pitch one potential client each morning? You probably could if you created an email template. How about 10 over the weekend, playing with different headlines/offers so you can see which ones work better?

It doesn’t have to take a long time, and it doesn’t have to be agonizing…which brings us to step 2.

Step 2: Communicate with your clients

Email will be your most important communication tool for pitching clients. I get pitched via email all the time by freelance writers. The problem is, these emails are usually way too long and have no clear point.

BAD EMAIL:

Subject: to the real ramit [Subject line is too vague]

Ramit (please forward to him, if VA reading),

I’m impressed, I’ve scanned your blog from 2004 to now, left a few comments and felt the need to contact you for networking, an offer, and advice. This should take you about 4 minutes to read, I hope you can. [Good compliments, but 4 minutes is way too long]

Background: I’m influenced by Tim Ferriss, Seth Godin, Leo Babauta, Rocky Balboa, and Steve Jobs. Effective efficiency meets ideas, the power of less, will power and innovation.

Status: Working 40 hours a week until I can escape via passive or easily managed income. I am IT support for an all Apple global consulting firm. I run [Company], a well oiled machine of an IT support, web development, and internet consulting company (just me and my VAs). I run [Website] – a chronicling of the stages of becoming self actualized to the fact that life isn’t how people tell you it is, and you can design it otherwise. I just bumped up my pretax savings to 11% of my earned income. I am unrelentingly in pursuit of the break that will come and free me to live out my dreams of supporting people and their technology, training in Crossfit, learning Spanish, and giving to youth without worrying about money. [Too long=I’m starting to lose interest]

My need is to learn from you (not your typical money wisdom), and your need is that you or someone you know could use me like a cup of coffee on a Monday morning. [This is where most busy people make the decision not to read on]

I’ve seen enough cases now, yours included of people vice gripping life and making it their own. I’ve always been service oriented in the quiet leader type way, and I’ve made smart no risk decisions, I’m 25 and will no longer take the slow road. I’m primed for a break, and will be unrelenting until it comes. I’d like to include you in that because I think you’re smart, on your way up, and accessible. Please review me below, I hope you can make use of me before I realize my full potential and be swept up in that.

Although I can be wordy, I’m not a magician with words, I’ll lay my most powerful qualities/experiences out in bullet points. I hope you see them as I do, as ammunition.

  • will power like no other (never lost a “bet you can’t stay…”)
  • technical savant (no technology too frustrating or complex)
  • people person (communication is a strength, met several C level execs, Sony for instance)
  • action oriented, all plans suck without implementation. simple plans plus action work.
  • business man. started and sold several businesses
  • founder of [Company]
  • i save 11% of what i make, split to an IRA and emergency fund. i make very little.
  • building a backup information product and breaking the ice of online marketing
  • traveled the world while being a digital worker
  • self starter, will succeed and see the positive regardless of situation
  • educated, technical, fast and i think before i act

Would you let me help you or someone you know with these skills? If yes, please connect with me.

Honestly, the guy sounds like a nice guy who wants to offer his services. I think. I’m not really sure.

But instead of getting in my head and suggesting how he could help me specifically, he just listed a series of vague skills that were all over the board.

And the call-to-action is…for me to “connect” with him? I responded, as I usually do to vague emails, with a 1-sentence: “So what would you like to do for/with me?” He sent another rambling email, so at that point I simply shrugged and moved on with my life.

GOOD EMAIL:

Subject line: I want to work for you for free [Best subject line I’ve ever received]

Hey Ramit,

Love your site, especially the articles about automation and personal entrepreneurship. It’s because of you that I have multiple ING Direct accounts for my savings goals, a Roth IRA, automatic contributions, and asset allocation all set up. [Good buttering me up]

I’m a writer for [Company], a site that gets around 50 million hits per month. I used to do freelance work exclusively, and I’m preparing to make the switch back to doing freelance work ~30 hours / week while I travel and study in China. [He’s in my head: I’m always looking for talented writers and he’s clearly one of them]

In order to start getting myself back out there, I’d love to have the chance to do some work for you, completely gratis. If you like my work and have some paid projects for me down the road, that’d be great of course, but I’d be happy just for the opportunity to network and receive a little advice. I’m sure you have a project or two in the back of your head that you haven’t had time to produce yourself yet; let me do it for you! [I LOVE IT!! As a matter of fact, yes I DO have some side projects I’ve been wanting to do]

You can give me a call at ###, or find me on Google Talk under this address. You can also check out some samples of my work here: [website]

Thank you!

Two things:

  1. That was the best subject line I’ve ever received.
  2. It’s clear, concise and makes me a strong offer while highlighting his experience. I called him within 60 seconds of receiving this email.

Note that if you are looking for paying clients, you can often skip the work-for-free arrangement that I often urge by creating an incredibly niche offer. For example, if he had attended the last 5 video office hours I did and had heard me make an offhand comment about how I’ve been wanting to launch XXX project, his subject line could be: “I can help you launch XXX in 2 weeks.” This could then lay out why he’s good, what he would do, and it could lead directly to paid work.

When it comes to communicating with your prospects, I hear many people complain that they’ve tried to reach out with little success. The truth is they’re often reaching out in the wrong way. But by getting in your clients’ heads, you can fix that and write emails that engage and lead directly to paid work — no fancy marketing strategy needed.

I did it, and since then I’ve shown thousands of people how to do the same. You can, too.

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