How to Make a Living as a Writer (by running a website teaching people how to make a living as a writer)

If there’s one thing people always ask me, it’s “How do I make a living as a writer?” Fewer and fewer people are reading books, fewer and fewer books are being published, and authors (if they’re part of the tiny minority that actually get published) are receiving smaller and smaller advances and royalties.

But there’s one segment that continues to grow: people who want to make a living as a writer. You know this to be true because you are one of them! (And if not, why are you here?) And these people read. In fact, they read more about how to make a living as a writer than they read actual books. Most haven’t read a good page turner in years, because they’re too busy reading about perfecting their cover letter, or finding the right agent, or developing story tension through the use of fifteen proven structures adopted by Shakespeare himself.

Articles about how to make a living as a writer (such as this one) are guaranteed clickbait. You don’t even have to offer anything new. You could simply summarise what everyone else is saying about crafting great characters, telling great stories, taking the reader somewhere they’ve never been before. You could even write parody articles (like this one) that satirise the predatory industry that thrives on selling nothing but hope. Aspiring writers are going to lap it up regardless, because it’s easy, achievable, and somehow feels like work. Case in point: you! You’re reading this right now!

Now that you have eyeballs on your website, you need to monetise them. That’s where ads come into play. Have you noticed the ads in the sidebar? I’m making money right now, just because you’ve visited this page. Neat, huh? You can also sell products, like pdf e-books about how to make money as a writer, or novelty merchandise featuring cute animal puns. (Go on, click the link and buy something!)

The best part is, you will actually get read. Most novels are lucky to sell a thousand copies. This article will get a thousand views a week - and that’s in a bad week! And you know something about this article? I wrote it. That makes me a writer. And since I’m making money from my writing, I’m a professional. Who cares that you originally set out to write spine-tingling horrors, or uplifting literary fiction, or thought-provoking feminist thrillers. That was all means to an end - the end of becoming a professional writer.

But why stop at one article? If you rehash the same subject matter in a slightly different way, you can derive income from people who’ve already read your first article. Do this enough times, and you have an entire website dedicated to the subject. The more pages you have, the more ads you can display, and the more revenue you can make.

Continue reading: How To Make A Living As A Writer Part 2: Know Your Audience