How to Earn a Living as a Writer

We live in a new age for writers. The written word has never been as important as it is today since there is such a demand for it. The internet has created a new area for people to come and read about the topics they care about and to be entertained. The amount of content that is being produced and consumed is mind boggling. Yes, people want free content, but a good chunk of them are more than willing to give you their hard earned money for your work.

In my last article I talked about how writing for free is bad. I am following up that piece with how you can be a writer in today’s marketplace.


I laughed when I first heard about this many years ago, “Blogging, you mean pretend journalism?” HA. HA. HA. Now we laugh at what is being considered as real journalism. Blogging is a great way to earn a living and there are two ways of going about it.

  • Do it for yourself– Start a website, hosting is cheap these days and website templates oh so plentiful, and start talking about something. Pick a topic you are passionate about and write about it and its many different facets. Go nuts about something that pisses you off or you think needs to be pointed out. Many great blogs started off as small places for someone to bitch about something and they grew because they gave entertaining or thoughtful arguments about certain topics. It may take a bit, but if you’re consistent and write well enough it could eventually work out for you. EX: The Oatmeal, Hyperbole and a half, and Rage against the minivan
  • Do it for a company– This is what I am doing these days. Blogging as a contract writer is becoming a more popular source of revenue as marketing companies are becoming more and more aware that Click-bait and Likes are not the only way of going about advertising on the internet. A lot of the time blogs on websites are used as a way to SEO a website without dumping a bunch of words on a hidden page. Google hates it when they do that, so blogs are used instead. This gives the website owners the visibility they need on Google, and other search engines, and it gives them content for someone to come and read that relates to their product. You can find a lot of these jobs on sites like oDesk and Elance; also check out marketing company job pages as they are usually trying to hire a writer.


This might make many of you laugh. Again, I did it as well, but I am enlightened and far more humble than I was when I was in college. E-publishing was a rather new thing when I was in school. Many of my professors warned against it as many them as they were traditionally published authors for decades and they, as well as us students, did not know if self-publishing was going to be a black mark against you or not.

Turns out, it’s not, in fact my old professor informed me that many publishers look through e-published authors and actually offer to buy their books if they are showing to be profitable. This is great news to writers because if your book sells well enough on e-books then you are sitting comfortably and if you attract a publisher you can entertain the thought of partnering up with them or not. The choice is yours and it is a great debate in the writing community right now, but I will talk about that another day.

Being a novelist has never been easier and this is a double edged sword because this means everyone is dumping their half-baked ideas out on to the market. This has created a very flooded marketplace that is filled with about 30% good and 70% bad books. This might seem like a negative against publishing an e-book, but it isn’t, in fact e-book sales are slowly overtaking traditional book sales. Even with the flood of bad, if you are a good writer, you can overcome this sea and rise to the top. I’m not promising you’ll be rich, but I am saying that you can sell enough that it may pay for rent or more if you are successful at it.

If this is something you want to do, please check out these resources for a more in depth look into the world of e-books: AmazonSmashwords, Draft2Digital, Gumroad, Reddit, Teresa LoChuck Wendig. These are a mixture of publishing platforms, a great writing community for E-books, and two writers who have made it work very well for themselves and give great advice on this topic.

I too am wading into this world, so it will be an adventure for both of us!


Traditional magazines are a tough nut to crack. If you have a great article about a topic that a magazine would find interesting it’s really about how you get that article in front of the people who matter. As a new writer this is a tougher route as many of these magazines will only take pieces from already established authors; but if you can get into contact with an editor of a magazine you can get your work in front of them instead of the catch all email. This usually means having to go to conventions that cover the interest you are writing about or starting a dialogue over Twitter.

E-magazines are a new genre that has come along with e-books. Many established magazines have moved over to this format completely, like Newsweek, but there are a lot of new e-magazines out there for you to submit. This is great for a writer because many new magazines are willing to take chances on new writers who have an interesting story to spin.

Once you’re published with a magazine (traditional or e-versions) it will only become easier to publish with them or other magazines.

Websites need content and many are willing to take open submissions. They usually have guidelines for submissions that will either have you send in the whole article or send in a summary of it. Websites will respond toward your idea if it is intriguing enough as they are for-profit and want articles that will share well.  This is great for those of us who obsess about odd subjects like topography, math, and The Last Starfighter… I mean you obsess about that movie too right?


Many script writers might scoff at this idea because it could take a while for you to make money as a script writer; but frankly the internet has made it possible that for you to create great videos that you have written.

Youtube and Vimeo have made it easy for you to have HD quality videos on the web. Making a movie or a series has never been easier and really you don’t need an insane amount of equipment to do it. A lot of the time you need good lighting, sound, and a camera that can record. Your phone can do most  this in fact.

It’s not about the equipment, but the talent of storytelling that makes a movie or series great. Many bad movies have been made on very expensive pieces of equipment. If you know you can do this, then you will prosper.


This isn’t a list of how to get rich or even how to succeed, but rather to help demonstrate that if you put enough elbow grease into this line of work you can make a living out it. I wrote this article because I have heard so many times how writers cannot find any money for their writing, and frankly I think it’s a bit of a cop out. If you have the talent there is an avenue for you to make a wage doing this, but it requires you to take this gig seriously and to have an open mind.

These are my thoughts and I hope they helped you.

-Nicholas Mazmanian

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Nick enjoys making things and drinking coffee, specifically the latter, for without it the former wouldn’t get done. He also wrote a book titled “Where Monsters Lie & Other Tales”