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Monetizing Your Writing: Making Money Doing What You Love

By Karan Lodha, Director of Freelance Operations at Scripted

Writing for a living is both a blessing and a curse.

On the one hand, being a writer is one of the most fulfilling professions in the world. Every day, you get to flex your creative muscles and express your voice and personality.

Yet, there is a certain burden that comes with being a full-time writer. Unlike those people who have a job with a set routine and a fixed schedule, writing for a living means constantly thinking about how to monetize your craft. If you’re not a salaried writer on staff for a newspaper, magazine, or website, you are likely generating income from a variety of sources, trying to find the best balance of doing great work while still finding a way to pay the bills.

So what are the most effective techniques for monetizing your writing? There are four broad categories of options for you to consider: advertising, product marketing, paid content and services, and freelance writing. Here’s a look at each of those categories in detail.

1. Advertising

If you have your own blog or website with a solid following, you’ve already done the hard work of collecting a group of engaged readers. Now, the key is to make sure that you are being rewarded for connecting with these individuals.

The good news is that there are a myriad of tools that help you monetize your blog’s traffic through advertising. The most popular of these is Google AdSense, which lets you display banner ads or sponsored links alongside your content. When your readers interact with these ads, you receive payment for their engagement. AdSense is very easy to set up, and Google has streamlined the process of tracking and optimizing the ads on your site.

If you’re looking for alternatives to AdSense, there are plenty of them out there. Yahoo! and Microsoft have tools that are very similar but may offer advertisers or product features that more closely suit your needs. If you use WordPress, you can take advantage of WordAds, which allows the platform’s bloggers to outsource ad management entirely while ensuring that those ads are tailored to their themes and content.

Depending on the size of your site, you may find that it’s more cost-effective to establish direct partnerships with advertisers. This requires a lot more planning and follow-up, but you can earn better rates while building longer-lasting partnerships with individual advertisers.

2. Product Marketing

One of the most common ways bloggers generate revenue from their sites is by participating in affiliate marketing programs. Quite simply, affiliate marketing rewards writers for promoting and linking to products.

Typically, the company whose website you are linking to will provide you with a commission or a “bounty” in exchange for driving traffic to the product in question. The great news is that major retailers like Amazon.com have programs that are easy to sign up for and don’t require much bookkeeping on your part. If you are already reviewing products regularly, you should sign up for these programs to ensure you are getting paid for the promotional work you are doing.

Many other writers choose to sell their own products. This is an entirely unique experience; there is something supremely satisfying about using your writing to sell things that you -- or perhaps a friend or business partner -- have made. You can list these products on your blog or website, or you can set up a store on a site like Etsy to make it easier to take and process orders.

3. Paid Content and Services

Although it’s not as typical, you should consider whether you can monetize your content directly. Several prominent bloggers have launched subscription-only sites or introduced paywalls that control how much free content their readers receive before having to make a contribution. While closing off access to your writing can be scary, if you are generating unique insights that are valuable to your readers, they may very well be willing to pay for them.

Another way to approach this is to take the daily or weekly content that you produce and repackage it into e-books or e-courses. Even readers who visit your site regularly may appreciate the deeper insights that can be presented in an e-book. If your writing is instructional, then e-courses may be a great way to share that knowledge with those people who are eager to learn and are willing to pay for a personalized experience.

If you find that your expertise is particularly sought after, you may also want to explore setting up coaching or consulting services. The powerful thing about writing is that it highlights your intelligence and perspicacity, and your readers may often look to you for guidance. For those individuals who are looking to apply the insights from your writing to their jobs or lives, a consulting service may be a perfect way to share your wisdom while also generating some significant income.

4. Freelance Writing

Perhaps your blog doesn’t yet have enough traffic or influence to pursue advertising, product marketing, or paid services. Or maybe you’re less inclined to maintain a writing presence that is not tied to particular projects or publications. If so, freelance writing gigs may be perfect for you.

There are a multitude of benefits to freelance writing. You can typically control your own schedule and write from anywhere. If you’re writing bylined content, you can establish a portfolio that can help highlight your skills to potential customers in the future. You can also choose which assignments are a better fit for your expertise and interests, which allows you to avoid the frustration that comes from writing about topics that you find boring or unpleasant.

Scripted is a community that connects freelance writers with customers who are looking for written content. Unlike the complicated process that is associated with working with staffing agencies, writing for Scripted is easy: you sign up for an account, apply to the industries you want to write in, and then claim the jobs that appeal to you. All the information about guidelines, rates, and deadlines is established upfront, and you can write and submit your draft and revisions directly through the Scripted platform. Scripted also takes care of payments, so you’ll never have to worry about haggling over a bill with a customer again.

As you can see, there are a variety of ways to write for a living and actually make a living doing so. The great news is that there isn’t just one path that you have to follow; depending on your writing style and penchant for different kinds of marketing, there are many avenues to generate the kind of income you are looking for. The key to success is to try these various methods of monetizing your writing until you find the one that’s right for you.

Karan Lodha is the Director of Freelance Operations at Scripted, where he oversees its community of writers and editors. He penned his first article for the school newspaper at the age of 6 and has been in love with writing ever since. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/getalodhathis.

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