A little while back I wrote the first part of this two-part series on the myriad ways to make a living putting words on paper (or on the ethereal electronic shared hallucination that is the internet). Click here for part one.
The short version of why I’m writing this. Our culture and school system do a terrible job of explaining how to make a living doing creative work. I don’t know how to make a living as a singer, or sculptor, but I know 50 ways to do it as a writer.
So here’s the second third of those 50 ways.
17. Cyrano DeBergeracing. Online dating doesn’t really have a stigma anymore, and why would it? Some people take it a step further and have people write their profiles, and even communicate with potential dates, for them on Match.com and the like. Pros: surprisingly robust market. Kind of fun. Cons: A bit sleazy.
18. Press Releases. Since the Internet made everybody a journalist, the demand for press releases is greater than ever. It’s a specialized skill, but one you can pick up pretty quickly. Pros: High pay per word and per hour. Cons: Becomes formulaic quickly.
19. Native Content Creation. Native content is the newspeak word for advertising that looks like journalism. It’s the “investigative” article about a vitamin supplement that comes to the conclusion that it’s pretty neat and people should buy it. There’s a bottomless market for this kind of work. Pros: Regular work. Cons: Pay is low, and the work isn’t the most honest ever.
20. Grant Writing. Nonprofit organizations, corporations, and individuals can ask governments and charities for money. Writing the request is a skill in and of itself, and one the people who run those organizations and corporations lack. Pros: You’re bringing in money, so your employer will invest accordingly. You’re doing good works. Cons: Specialized and highly competitive market. More feast-or-famine than other writing gigs.
21. Catalog Copy. You know those little blurbs describing products in print and web catalogs? Somebody had to write them. Often it’s the person at the company who said “123 Not It!” last, but the best companies hire it done. Pros: Lots of repeat work once you get in the door. High pay per word. Cons: It gets really, really repetitive. If doing it online, you’ll probably need some strong WordPress or other light coding chops.
22. Technical Writing (Full Time). Technical writing is the art of translating from geek to regular english, and consists of writing the instructions and spec manuals of things. The bulk of this market is for software, but you can still find gigs for actual, physical products. It’s also one of the few writing gigs that has a strong market for full-time jobs with benefits and paid vacation. Pros: Very high pay scale for writing. Cons: all the disadvantages of a regular job.
23. Technical Writing (Freelance). You can also do technical writing as a freelancer, though this usually consists of taking full-time assignments serially. Pros: Even higher pay scale. This specific gig routinely makes the list for Top Ten Jobs For Quality of Life. Cons: you will need more formal education to be seriously considered for these writing jobs than for others.
24. Webcomics. If you like to draw, the comics market has exploded online. Blogging a regular comic strip takes a huge amount of work and dedication, but the rewards can be equally huge. The Oatmeal‘s card game Exploding Kittens Kickstarted at 8 Million. Pros: really, really interesting work. All the freedom of self-publishing. Cons: Very niche market with high barrier for entry. Requires extremely regular updating.
25. Webseries. What happened with publishing books last decade is beginning to happen with film. If you can write a good script and find actors and a cameraperson, you can put your work up on YouTube and derive ad revenue. If it succeeds, Patreon and Kickstarter will provide other forms of funding. Pros: Potentially staggering income. Lots of secondary income possibilities. Cons: Most webseries make very little money. Requires more skills and people to make happen.
26. Graphic Novels. You can also write your comics in book form and release them in volumes online. Many of the most successful webcomics collect their online posts into graphic novels once or twice a year. Pros: The graphic novel industry is growing hugely, and becoming more critically accepted. Cons: You have to know how to draw. Print costs are much higher than a regular book.
27. Online Curation. The great thing about the modern web is there is so much information available. The problem with the modern web is there is so much information available. Online curators find the best and most relevant pieces of info and guide readers to them. You’ve seen this in the form of listicles and slide shows recently, and they pay about $100 a pop. Pros: you end up learning a lot of cool trivia. High pay per word. Cons: time-consuming for those high-pay words. Individual clients come and go quickly.
28. Podcasting (Monetized). Step one: write a script for a podcast. Step two: record the podcast. Step three: grow a fan base. Step four: use advertising, affiliate sales, and products to make your fortune. Pros: dynamic and surprisingly easy to succeed if you can put in the regular, disciplined time. Cons: costs a bit to set up. Will definitely require you to learn a few new skills.
29. Podcasting (Audiobook). You can also record your own voice, or somebody else’s, reading your books or short stories out loud. Then you sell those stories. The market for this is only beginning to really shine, but the potential is strong. Pros: gives a competitive edge to your fiction over the millions of self-pubbed books out there. Cons: costs to set up, and requires new, non-writing skills.
30. Movie Scripts. This one’s a lottery ticket. You write a script and you (probably) don’t sell it. Then you write another script. If you win, it’s six and seven figures overnight and your life changes forever. If you lose, you’re still working at home depot twenty years later. In the middle, you can get a high 4 or low 5 figure fee from an independent film producer somewhere. Pros: exciting, potentially enormous money. Cons: the lowest chance of success on this list.
31. Television Scripts. You won’t sell your script on television. This. Will. Not. Happen. But you might get the attention of a producer or manager who will put you to work on somebody else’s show. This is working-class scriptwriting, and a good career for many. Pros: regular work once established. Your stuff will be on TV. Cons: high barrier to entry. Requires as much social skills as it does writing chops.
32. E-Courses. The market in online classes and instructional videos is surprisingly large, and a lot of people need them written. Right now, most people think they can write their own, but those who can’t are willing to pay pretty well for the work. Pros: high rate of pay. You learn interesting stuff. Cons: inconsistent market. You will not make a full-time living doing this and this alone.
What on this list has you excited to try it on for size? Stay tuned. Next time we’ll finish off the list.