Do you want to make money using your writing skills? I receive many questions about how to get started, what fees to charge, self-publishing and pen names…
The most popular question is: can you make money with a writing business?
Can you make money with a writing business?
Yes, you can. If you check any of the freelance marketplaces, such as Upwork, you’ll see many projects posted.
Think about the kind of freelance writing you’d like to do. If you’re a blogger, you might offer blogging services. Or, if you’re a self-publishing author, you might offer fiction ghostwriting services.
However, every writing business has challenges.
If you’re a freelance writer, you’re trading your hours for income, much like a job. You’ll always be limited by hours. You can’t manufacture more hours. However, as your experience grows, you can charge more for your services.
Alternatively, you can create products, such as books. Authors can sell their books forever. So, you’re no longer trading hours for dollars.
Every writing business is different. This brings us to another very popular question: how long does it take to set up a writing business?
1. What’s the quickest way to create a writing business?
You want to make money from writing… How do you get clients?
Are you completely new to writing? In this case, you need experience more than anything else. Use the freelance marketplaces to get gigs. Although you may not make a lucrative income on these sites, you’ll gain experience and confidence.
When you build a site, pay attention to SEO.
2. How important is search engine optimization (SEO) on your website?
This is another popular question.
The answer: SEO is very important for your site, so that your clients can find you via searches, and you can make money. However, the search engines are just indexing scripts. So every page/ blog post you create needs meta data (information about itself) to get indexed appropriately, otherwise your pages won’t get found.
The SEO basics are: a page title and description, keywords (one primary, two secondary). Link out to other sites. When someone hires you, politely ask whether they could link to your website. Links are important.
That said, don’t worry about SEO beyond the basics. SEO is a full-time occupation. You’re a writer, so you don’t have time to get complicated with SEO. Your time is much better spent sending out pitches, and writing.
Want to write a book? Hundreds of thousands of authors make money writing fiction and nonfiction.
3. I’m writing a book. How can I make sure it sells?
If you want to make money with self-publishing, test the market. Write something short, and see what response you get.
Writing fiction? Test the market by writing short fiction in the genre you’ve chosen. Keep the stories short, around 10,000 words. Publish them. Do they sell?
Similarly with nonfiction. If you want to write a nonfiction book about behavioral problems in dogs for example, create a short ebook of 20 pages (5000 words) about fixing barking problems. If you get sales, write the full book. No sales? There can be a number of reasons for this. Rethink your topic.
Here’s another popular question, about pen names.
4. Are pen names legal?
Feel free to use a pen name for your writing; you can use multiple pen names. Call yourself anything you like—there are endless reasons to use pen names.
For example, let’s say your first novel sells. It’s a domestic thriller. However, now you want to publish a novel which is a sweet romance: a retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice.
You could use your own name for both, but your domestic thriller audience may be annoyed with sugar and spice, when they expect danger and daggers. So, you use a pen name for your Pride & Prejudice retelling.
Use any pen name you choose, BUT do a search first, to make sure that other authors aren’t publishing under this name. Choose one pen name for your nonfiction, and another pen name (or three) for your fiction. It’s completely up to you.
When I suggest that an author can use any number of pen names, I’m sometimes asked about Amazon KDP—won’t it be confusing if you use several names?
Amazon pays you via your Amazon account:
Note: Don’t enter your pen name here. This matters because we issue your payments and tax forms under the same name. If you want to use a pen name, enter it when you’re setting up your book details.
Your Amazon publishing business happens via your Amazon account. Then when you’re publishing a book, and want to use a pen name, enter that name as the author; you’re still only publishing under the one Amazon account.
Copywriter and marketing pro Angela Booth maintains a busy copywriting and ghostwriting practice. Fascinated by online marketing, she wrote one of the first business books for internet marketing, published by Allen & Unwin. She’s been an enthusiastic blogger since the late 1990s.