Writing essays is, for many college students, little more than a necessary evil. But here’s the real perk -- now that you’ve broken the ice on writing, you may actually be able to put this skill to use to make some extra money on the side. It all starts with the right attitude and the right approach. Here’s how to get started.
Identify a niche and form a business plan
Just like any business, a writing business needs to be aimed at a certain niche. You can't write the entire internet yourself. It's best to find a segment of an industry and/or a specific type of writing to focus on. This could be your college major, or something you’ve always been passionate about and therefore have a good base of knowledge.
Solve people's problems
Writing for money might not be something you’ve ever done before, but if it’s something you enjoy doing, it can bring in a nice extra chunk of income each month. It works like this: many business owners and managers have projects that involve writing. They don’t want to do it, or don’t have the time to do it, so they outsource the work to someone else.
There are a number of sites on the internet that connect writers with clients, like Upwork and Scripted. The site I work for, Live Lingua, takes guest posts now and then, if you have something important to say about language learning.
Keep an updated portfolio that is available online for potential clients to view. For this, you can use a site like Wix or WordPress and just set up a very simple website template. You can even include essays and term papers in there, if there are any you are particularly proud of. Work hard to grow your business, and develop your skillset along the way. Follow up with clients and potential clients.
The money is in B2B client work
Copywriting, SEO work, and article writing that helps brands engage an audience and build traffic are the cash cows. My experience over the last few years has led me to believe that SEO writing, whether PR, blogging, or other forms, is where the dollars are right now. To grow your business, help others grow their own. My two biggest clients currently have me doing SEO-friendly work for them.
It’s tempting to think you can make a living doing travel writing or other, more fun, types of writing than SEO work. While it is certainly possible to make a bit of cash doing that, you’re likely to have far more success doing the stuff other people don’t want to do. In essence, solving their problem and then charging them do so.
I cannot emphasize this enough. Get off your ass, out of your spare bedroom office, and into the world. Building relationships and maintaining contacts is the number one way to make money as a freelance writer.
I went to a conference in Austin a few months back and landed a $1,200/month client out of it. I sat in a coworking space for two days, networked and listened to people's stories, then approached a guy who expressed a need for web articles and research to help grow his already successful brand.
We shared dinner and drinks, sat next to each other on the last day of the event, and now I not only have a great new client, I have a great new friend as well.
Find events that influencers, business owners, and other freelancers in that field will be at. Then, buy a ticket and go!
Thom Jackson is a freelance writer who contributes to the blog at Live Lingua and a number of other sites around the web.