Do you like to write or tell stories? Have you been looking for a fun way to make some extra money? Are you looking for a way to replace your current income with something flexible that you can do from home? Working at home as a writer is both lucrative and freeing. There are several ways you can earn money as an online writer or content creator.
Some pay better than others, some pay faster and more frequently than others. There are opportunities out there for fiction, personal memoir, and website content. You can search out jobs that pay for your time, or look for things that have the potential for residual income. These options are some of the best side hustles for people who want to make some extra money.
“The scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better.” – Stephen King
Write on Medium, Vocal, and NewsBreak
I had come across an article about acedia about six months before I started writing again. That article prompted me to start a journey of walking around the lake near my house every day, regardless of what else happened that day.
I had set off to do this for a year (I almost made it), but it only took about one month for me to know I was dissatisfied with my current career choices. I would not become the person I had always hoped to be by continuing down that path, and a quick Google search led me to Medium.
I started writing on there at the end of September 2019 and earned $9 for the last few days of that month. I remember crying because I had earned money for my writing, and I had given up on that dream about 20 years prior.
Interestingly, the article that had popped up on my Facebook feed about acedia was published on Medium, and I thought it was rather a kismet when I stumbled across it a few months later. I soon branched out writing on Vocal and NewsBreak, too! Here are a few pros and cons for each:
- It is easy to start writing on there. Just make an account and start publishing any type of content you choose.
- No technical skills required.
- You can get a lot of exposure relatively early on from publishing on publications with larger followings.
- It can help you build an online presence and portfolio pieces for getting other work
- You can earn residual income (most times in tiny amounts) on older articles that people read
- Medium pays once a month, and only a small percentage of writers make over $100 a month (my highest month was around $350).
- It can take a while to build up a substantial base of readers, and the pay is performance-based
- Vocal has the same benefits as Medium with ease of publishing, exposure, and portfolio building.
- People can also leave you tips on Vocal, which is a feature Medium does not offer.
- Vocal offers contests with large prizes.
- The interface is not as friendly as the reader.
- It was harder to build a following or audience on here.
- You can control the content you write, like with Medium and Vocal. However, it seems like local news coverage or newsworthy stories work best.
- Generous pay structure with frequent promos for new writers (I made $1000 in my first month)
- Referral bonuses for bringing in readers and new writers.
- The readers are not niche readers and often only find value in more salacious news like stories.
- You need to have some previously published work or they will not accept you as a writer, so if you are just getting started, Medium or Vocal will work better.
I enjoyed writing for each of these platforms. The biggest downfalls involve the variability of how much money you can actually make per month, versus the effort required to promote, build a following, and create content. Each platform also only pays once per month, so if you need money right away, these might not be your best options, unless you are just starting out.
“You have to follow your own voice. You have to be yourself when you write. In effect, you have to announce, ‘This is me, this is what I stand for, this is what you get when you read me. I’m doing the best I can—buy me or not—but this is who I am as a writer.” – David Morrell
Start searching freelance writing sites
If you are looking to make money quickly, and already have a portfolio with a few published works, a freelance site is likely going to be the most profitable in the quickest time frame. I read about UpWork from a Medium article when I was first starting out.
The site is well run, they use escrow accounts and contracts to protect pay, and there are tons of writing jobs on there. I have done everything from writing a virtual mystery escape room story to beta reading. I also have had several long-term clients and have earned a full-time income.
The biggest con with using Upwork is that without past clients or a large portfolio, it can take a minute to get that first client. You will probably have to apply for some less glamorous gigs that don’t pay as much as you should. The best advice I can give you is to take those in the beginning and get a few five-star reviews, and then the clients will come to you! Then you can take jobs that interest you and pay what you are worth!
There are other websites like Writers Work or Reedsy that offer jobs for new and experienced writers, editors, and proofreaders. I haven’t used those to look for freelance work because I stay busy on Upwork, but I use Reedsy for my creative writing.
“Good writing is remembering detail. Most people want to forget. Don’t forget things that were painful or embarrassing or silly. Turn them into a story that tells the truth.” – Paula Danziger
Enter free contests on Reedsy and GoodNovel
For a while, I took part in contests through NYC Midnight to fulfill my desire for creative writing. These are a lot of fun, with great feedback and bigger prizes. However, if you are looking to make money fast, they aren’t the best choice because it can take months to get through all the rounds and declare a winner.
Reedsy, however, offers weekly free contests. The prize is smaller ($50), but the stories are short, and it is fun to interact with the other contestants! If you want to try your hand at writing a full novel, or maybe you have one ready to go, then check out GoodNovel.
GoodNovel will pay you to write your story once you get to 15 thousand words and sign a contract. The pay byword is low, but you can enter your novel into the various contests they offer, and those prizes are large! It is good practice, and the readers don’t hesitate to give feedback either.
If contests aren’t your thing, there are magazines, sites, and publications that are open to paid submissions. Facebook does a superb job filling my feed with ads from publications. Books like Chicken Soup for the Soul have a call for submissions year-round.
“There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” – W. Somerset Maugham
It can be daunting trying to figure out how to turn your passion for words into something that can help you pay the bills, but these are all great options to help you get started. When I left my management job to pursue a career in writing, I had people look at me like I had lost my mind. One of my supervisors even said, “Danielle, writing? Really writing?” Don’t be surprised if you get that response from a few people.
If writing is something you have always wanted to do, just know it is within your reach. Sites like Reedsy and Writers Work also offer many options for building your skills. There are a ton of groups, newsletters, and online courses you can take too, that will help you hone your skills and become more in demand. Feel free to share any other sites that have paid you for writing in the comment section below.
“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” – Richard Bach