11 ways to make money from writing
Writing is such a rewarding hobby, not least when you start making money from it. If you're looking for ways to get paid to write, you're in luck – this guide will show you how.
Whether you're hoping to make some extra pocket money in your spare time, or you're thinking ahead towards your long-term career goals, writing for money can take a fair amount of work and effort, but it's so, so worth it.
It's a particularly good way to make money at uni, as you're earning an income while gaining experience that'll come in very handy when you start applying for graduate writing jobs.
So, to help you turn your wordy skills into well-deserved cash, we've put together a list of the top 11 ways to make money from writing. ✍
How to get paid to write
Here are the best ways to earn money as a writer:
Make money reviewing films, products, music and more
It's super easy to get paid to write reviews, when you know how...
Initially, when it comes to writing reviews, you might think of full-time jobs that require loads of previous experience, like professional TV and film reviewing.
But, you can actually start making money from reviews very quickly by signing up for a few rewards websites. On these sites, you could find yourself reviewing anything from gadgets to music to stationery, and everything in between.
Or, if you register to become a product tester or a paid survey site panel member you could end up making money by reviewing products you'd otherwise pay to buy, like technology, clothes and cosmetics.
Plus, as an added bonus, product testers are sometimes able to keep the items they review, or even sell them on to increase their earnings!
Write articles for money
Journalism is a brilliant career route for anyone with a love and talent for writing, and we really recommend going for it if it's what you want to do.
It's important to recognise, though, that it is a competitive industry, and it has a reputation for involving a fair amount of low-paid work and unpaid internships for young writers who are just starting out.
However, while it's not always easy, it is possible to make money as a student journalist.
While you don't necessarily need to be studying journalism to start getting paid to write articles, you do need to be a strong writer with a great eye for stories and brilliant attention to detail.
To start building up your writing portfolio, we suggest contributing to the student newspaper or magazine at your university at first. It's also a good idea to start a blog (more on this later) to showcase your interests and writing ability.
Once you've got a solid portfolio, you can try pitching article ideas to commissioning editors (these are journalists who commission articles for their publication). If they like your article ideas, they could hire you to write for them on a freelance basis.
The amount you'd earn per article will vary depending on the publication and length/style of the piece, but you could be looking at £100+ for commissioned articles in top papers.
Pitching freelance article ideas to editors
When you feel ready to start pitching article ideas to magazines and newspapers, it's worth following the commissioning editors of your favourite publications on Twitter and finding them on LinkedIn.
And, if you fancy writing something directly related to your degree, you could try pitching article ideas to trade magazines that cover news about a particular industry. A quick Google search for '[industry] trade magazine' will help you find ones that are relevant to your studies and interests.
Editors will often tweet about the themes or topics they're particularly interested in at that time. If you see a call out for an article that you'd have the experience and skills to write, plan out the pitch carefully, directly tailored to the publication, and email it to the commissioning journalist as soon as you can (ideally within an hour).
You don't always need to wait for editors to post call outs for articles before you pitch to them, but it helps your chances of getting commissioned if you have a clear idea of the kind of thing they're looking for.
When pitching, try to keep your emails short but persuasive, highlighting why it's right for the publication and adding a link to your online blog or website so that editors can see what you can do.
It's best not to send complete articles along with your pitches for a number of reasons.
Editors won't have much time when reading pitches, and they may ask you to go in a different direction with the article. There's even a risk they could run an article with similar ideas themselves, so don't send them too much too soon.
Keep in mind that not every pitch will be successful but, ultimately, you shouldn't give up. Learn from the rejections, improve your pitches, and keep trying until you start getting commissioned to write paid articles.If you make money as a freelance writer, remember to fill in a self-assessment tax return to declare your earnings.
Sell your revision notes
If you're great at making clear and concise lecture notes, you could actually make a bit of income from your revision.
In our guide to making money, we recommend a couple of sites to use if you'd like to sell your notes to other students. On these sites, it's usually free for you to list your notes, but it's worth bearing in mind that the companies might charge a fee for any sales made.
And, for anyone with particularly beautiful revision notes, you could also make money by creating a studygram account on Instagram – it has the added bonus of (hopefully!) keeping you motivated with your revision, too.
Enter writing competitions to win cash prizes
It might seem pretty daunting to enter writing competitions, but remember: someone's got to win. Why not you?
It will look great on your CV if you can say that you won a writing competition or award, or that you were highly commended. Plus, it's also a rather lovely boost to your student bank balance if you receive a monetary prize.
Writing competitions and awards can come with cash prizes of hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds.
How to win writing competitions
These tips will help to increase your chances of winning writing competitions and awards:
- Be creative – To impress competition judges, you will need to stand out from the first line of your entry. Try to start with something surprising and, if you can, consider playing around with conventional writing techniques and present your ideas in an unusual, memorable way.
- Read previous winning entries – Try to find winning entries from previous years to see the styles and arguments that have previously been successful. It's still important to write creatively, but keep in mind the key features that judges might be looking for in an award-winning piece of writing.
- Check the competition T&Cs – This is so important. Before you even start writing an entry for a competition, make sure you are eligible to apply. Some competitions might specify you need to be within an age range, from a particular area or have a certain level of writing experience (e.g. be a published writer).
- Proofread – Always check through your work several times before submitting it. It might help to read it aloud to highlight typos or inconsistencies in your argument, and it's also worth asking family and friends to read through it too in case they spot something you've missed.
For more tips on how to enter competitions and win, check out our guide.
Make money writing translations
One great way to make money from your language skills is to write translations.
There will be plenty of businesses willing to pay you to translate text for them on a freelance basis.
We go into loads more detail about working as a translator in our in-depth guide.
Monetise your blog
As a blogger, turning your website from a passion project into a money-making venture takes some time and effort, but the work can pay off (literally).
When monetised, your website will act as an online portfolio of your work to help you stand out in job applications, while letting you earn some cash.
Through affiliate marketing, advertising, sponsored content and more, there are lots of little changes that you can make to your blog to start earning money from it.
One site you could use to create your website is Bluehost (you can get a 60% discount and a free domain name by clicking here) – you can find out more about this in our guide to setting up a website in 20 minutes.
And, for more advice on monetising your blog and maximising your profits, see our full guide to making money from blogging.
Earn money writing social media content
Looking to put your social media skills to good (and profitable) use? Writing social media content can be a great money earner, ideal for anyone with a knack for building online followings and creating viral social posts.
If you'd like to focus on making money from your own social feeds, it's worth trying affiliate marketing.
We explain brand affiliation in more detail in our guide to making money on social media, but as a brief overview, it involves adding a particular type of link to your social media posts when you share a product or service.
When people use that link to buy the thing you're recommending, you earn a small commission (with no impact on the buyer).
You could also get paid to create social media content for businesses, perhaps through writing their tweets, crafting engaging Instagram captions or tweaking the bios on their social channels.
To do this, it's worth reaching out to small businesses directly, using your own successes on social media as examples of why they should hire you on a freelance basis as their social media assistant.
Become a copywriter
If you've already been looking into different types of writing jobs, you've no doubt come across adverts for copywriting roles – this is more of a long-term career option rather than a quick way to make money.
At the time of writing, Glassdoor says that the average salary of copywriters is around £29K (about £10k less than technical writers).
But, you won't be alone in wondering what copywriters actually do...
What is copywriting?
A key part of copywriting is creating written content for a business, both for online and offline resources, that reflects the brand's identity.
As a copywriter, you could be writing content that will be seen by customers, clients or even other staff members within the company – regardless of who reads the content, the voice of your brand will run throughout it.
When you're writing content that will be seen by customers, this is known as business-to-consumer copywriting (or B2C). And, when you're writing for a target audience of other companies, this is called business-to-business copywriting (B2B).
As an example of copywriting, next time you order something from ASOS, have a look at the tone of writing in their product descriptions, confirmation emails and newsletters. You'll notice that it's fun, informal and focused on a young audience.
Or, as another example, the dating app Bumble has a really strong brand identity running throughout its advertising, notifications, emails and blog posts – it's focused on being witty, empowering and positive. Again, copywriters play a massive role in this.
It's quite a skill to adapt your usual style of writing to take on a business's individual voice, but it's something you can develop with practice.
To prepare for copywriting roles, try to gain as much experience as you can, contributing to a number of publications with a range of audiences. Tailor the tone and arguments within your writing to suit each outlet, and develop a portfolio that's as diverse and versatile as possible.
Write a book
As a massive goal for pretty much every aspiring writer, writing a book is definitely not the quickest way to make money on this list, and nor is it the simplest. But, it is very possible (and perhaps not quite as difficult as you might think).
There are so many different things you could write a book about. You could write a fictional novel, or collate a series of poems or short stories as a book, or even write something non-fiction, like an advice guide for students, based on your own uni experiences.
You may want to go down the route of finding a writing agent and getting a publishing deal, but this isn't the only way to make money from a book.
eBooks are very straightforward to self-publish and can see you making a nice passive income from relatively little effort (besides actually writing and finishing the book, obviously). We recommend it as a way to publish a book and start earning cash from sales pretty quickly.
Work as a technical writer
Technical writing is another writing job that's more of a long-term career route, rather than an immediate way to earn money in your spare time.
Wondering what a technical writer actually does? The exact nature of your work would vary depending on the specialisms of the company and industry you're working in, but you'll generally be expected to explain complex technical info in clear, concise texts.
A common task for technical writers is writing instruction manuals. To do this, you'd need to do thorough research around the processes you're writing about, then explain them in a way that's easy for the target audience to follow.
You'll likely need a fair amount of work experience as a writer to get into this career, so you could try some of the other suggestions in our list to build up your writing portfolio.
Then, once you're working as a technical writer, you could be looking at an average salary of just under £40K according to Glassdoor. This makes it a pretty well-paid career, as far as writing jobs go.
If you're talented at research, have good communication skills and are comfortable working with challenging, technical information, this could be a great career for you.
Make money as a ghostwriter
A lot of people have great writing skills, but don't really fancy the public attention that writing can bring. If that's you, ghostwriting could be ideal.
As a ghostwriter, you would be working with others to help them write texts (e.g. books or speeches), but you wouldn't be publicly credited as the author.
It's difficult to say what salary you could expect to receive as a ghostwriter as it depends heavily on the industry you work in and the clients you write for. But, for big, high-profile writing projects, it could be pretty lucrative.
As with technical writing, you'll need a fair amount of writing experience to start ghostwriting full-time. It's important to work on developing a strong portfolio to boost your writing credentials.
It will take time, but you could eventually be working with celebrities or politicians, making a living from doing what you love – writing.
In need of a portfolio site? You can create a website in just 20 minutes.