Your Writing Side Hustle: 4 Steps To Thinking Like A Writer

Could writing turn into a wonderful side hustle for you? If you’re treating your passion for words strictly as a hobby, you’re wondering whether you can turn pro.

I’ve received questions about this from writers around the world. Some are on furlough from their day jobs. Others’ jobs have vanished.

Either way, they’re wondering whether they can turn their hobby into a useful side hustle. (Maybe even a full-time profession.)

Can you create a writing side hustle?

How much do you love writing? If you’re a natural-born scribbler, you know it. Perhaps you’ve suppressed your passion for words.

It’s time to take a hard look at who pays for words and how.

Who pays for words?

Take seven days to look around you.

You’ll find words:

  • On the internet;
  • As junk in your postal mail box;
  • In advertisements online and offline;
  • Accompanying visuals on your TV screen, in videos;
  • In books…

Words are everywhere and someone paid for them. Yes, I know I’m stating the blindingly obvious, but here’s the point: you need to start thinking like a writer. Grab a notebook and take a full seven days to see what catches your attention.

"Words are everywhere and someone paid for them. Start thinking like a writer."

1. Pay attention for seven days

Let’s say you see a webpage. Think about why the page exists. What it for? Who paid for it?

Perhaps you see a house under construction on your daily walk. There’s a sign: Another Robertson-Marwhick Construction.

Use your phone to snap an image of the sign. When you get home, research the company. What’s their website like? Are they advertising online? In your local newspaper?

Pay attention to your enthusiasms too.

Choose an area you know something about, and for which you’ve seen advertisers. For example, let’s say you’re a parent, so you type “parenting” into a web search engine.

Click on several sites, and take note of the advertisers on those sites. Advertisers show you that money is being made in that space, and where money is being made, writers are required. Write down the names of the advertisers, and visit their sites.

2. Collect questions: write them in your notebook

Relax while you’re filling your notebook over the next seven days. Avoid stress; look on this as fun, because it is. You can’t do this incorrectly, because you’re following where your interest and attention leads you.

You’ll have questions; write them down.

Vital: try to forget what you know about writing and who pays for writing. Aim for beginner’s mind. Be curious.

You’re doing primary research. Your goal is to find your answers, for yourself, in your current situation.

3. Find your passion: what would be fun to write?

Your seven days are over and you’re thinking like a writer. It’s time to develop the perfect side hustle for you, right now.

Perhaps you already know what you’d like to write.

Remember, you’re looking for something FUN. It’s much easier to make money writing something you enjoy than something you don’t. Of course, no one enjoys everything all the time, but it’s essential that you find a niche which will get you out of bed in the morning eager to write.

4. Your writing side hustle: next steps

Your next steps are up to you. Again, follow your intuition—go where your natural inclination leads you.

Remember those questions in your notebook? It’s time to find answers. Pick up the phone, or write an email message. You’re not asking for a job (yet), you’re gathering information.

Potential next steps:

  • Write a quick email proposal when you see something that someone needs that you could write;
  • Create some writing samples of the kind of writing you’d like to do;
  • Decide what you’ll charge…

To summarize:

  • Words are everywhere.
  • Someone wrote them; someone paid for those words to be written.
  • You build a writing side hustle by writing what people need.

Get started. Grab a notebook. Pay attention for seven days. You’ll create the perfect writing side hustle for YOU.

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Typewriter keys photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Update: June 9, 2021