The First Two Decisions You’ll Make to Become a Well-Paid Writer

Woman looking at ocean for inspiration, writing on laptop

Over the last 20+ years, AWAI has helped thousands of writers achieve their dreams of living the writer’s life …

And when you read through all the case studies on our website, you quickly see that no two writers — or their journeys — are exactly the same.

Yet when you look closer, you find two things every successful writer has in common:

  1. They acquired the skills needed to take on writing projects that are highly valued by companies — and therefore pay very well.
  2. They have the ability to make decisions — and then take action.

#1 comes easy for most writers …

Learning is fun, and it’s always inside your comfort zone.

And if there’s a great way to make money writing, you can guarantee AWAI has a program taught by a leading expert in the field that will give you the skills you need.

But #2 is the part that delays many writers’ success …

When faced with a decision, writers often become paralyzed — fearful they may make the “wrong” choice. Many of our case study interviewees share their experience with indecision, often ending with something like: “when I finally made the decision to … that’s when things really started to move fast.”

Decisions are part of a working writer’s everyday life …

  • Should I accept this project?
  • How much do I want to charge?
  • Do I want to continue working with this client, or is it time to move on?
  • Which of these ideas is stronger?

So, it’s important you get comfortable making decisions, and once made, follow through.

How do you get more comfortable?

Make some decisions!

To get you started, let’s walk through two decisions you need to make early on in your journey to the writer’s life …

Decision One: Choosing a Path

The first decision you encounter is choosing a path. And by choosing a path, I’m talking about how you’ll get to the writer’s life.

Will you make money as a copywriter, social media writer, B2B writer, information marketer, Money-Making Website owner, something else … ?

This first decision is important, because it determines what training you’ll invest in, how you’ll spend your time, and potentially how your writing business will be structured …

If you don’t make it, you may waste a lot of time and money, spinning your wheels and not really moving forward.

But as important as the decision is to make, you don’t need to put a ton of pressure on yourself to choose the “right” path. Rest assured, you won’t be stuck with just one for life.

The idea is to make a decision and choose a path that appeals to you, begin making forward progress, and testing it out. If you decide you want to pursue a different path, you’ll be able to leverage and apply all of the knowledge and experience you gained.

Plus, you can always add in other paths, and additional revenue streams, once you get started. The key here is to make a decision and take action to move forward, so you don’t get stuck in the “maybe I should try this … or that … or this other thing” holding pattern.

These days, you’ve got lots of options to choose from. Some of the most popular paths to the writer’s life include:

If you want my recommendation, I’m going to tell you to start with copywriting.

Why?

Because with huge growing opportunities like the digital market, the Business-to-Business market, and social media, you have the potential to make as much money as you want and truly live the lifestyle you desire. And copywriting is the foundation for all of it.

Plus, it’s definitely the most adaptable path you can choose.

And even if you start with copywriting and down the line you decide to focus on information publishing, resume writing, grant writing, or any other writing field … there’s definitely no better investment than learning how to write persuasively, which is really what copywriting is all about.

Now — once you’ve chosen your path, it’s time to move on to the second big decision you’ll encounter on your journey towards living the writer’s life …

Decision Two: How You’ll Specialize

Specializing confuses a lot of new writers because the words “specialty” and “niche” are thrown around quite a bit and often used interchangeably.

First, let’s talk about the reason you want to specialize …

When many writers start out, they cast their net really wide and are willing to take any job that comes their way. They think it’s the best way to start making money fast.

But the truth is that you can’t be all things to all people as a copywriter. You’ll actually have a harder time finding work this way. And when you do find work, they’ll not only want to pay you less, you’ll also have to work harder because you’ll have to learn entirely new industries and markets for each assignment.

When you specialize, it’s easier to market your services and identify new clients, plus you’ll be able to charge more for your services.

Bottom line: specializing actually makes starting your business easier AND allows you to make more money faster.

Be it an industry niche or a project type … what will you focus your business on? What will make you different from all the “generalists” out there promoting themselves in your same field?

Just like with Decision One, you’re NOT going to be stuck with this choice forever. So, don’t let it hold you back.

You can try out various niches and specialties, and revise your business as you go. Just like with choosing a path, you shouldn’t overanalyze your decision.

Now, as I’ve said … since copywriting is the path I typically recommend everyone start with, I want to go a bit more into detail on the ways to specialize because you have a few options.

First, you can specialize by industry niche. Your niche could be a large industry like health, finance, fundraising, self-help, etc.

Or it could be more specific, like anti-aging, financial newsletters, political fundraising, or child safety.

You can also specialize by project type. Your “specialty” may be broad like the Web or B2B. Or it could be more specific like writing autoresponders, case studies, or white papers.

However, even if you choose a specialty, I still highly recommend you focus on an industry niche to start as well.

For example, you could be a writer who specializes in B2B copy for the food services industry.

Or an autoresponder and web content writer for the alternative health industry.

Just like a good product, the more of a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) you have, the easier you are to “sell” and the more your perceived value increases.

So, how will you specialize? Just like with choosing a path, I don’t want you to worry about choosing the “wrong” niche or the “wrong” specialty.

You may find you want to change your mind down the line. Or you’ll want to add another niche or specialty to your services. And that’s totally okay!

The key to making forward progress is to make decisions and take action. Even if you decide to change direction in the future, the experience you gain will transfer to your new path, and enable you to move forward even faster.

For a jump-start, Pam Foster and I lay out nine steps you can follow to make very good money with freelance writing. Check out our step-by-step blueprint for becoming a working copywriter.

Which path will you take to the writer’s life? And how will you specialize? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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Published: March 26, 2018

22 Responses to “The First Two Decisions You’ll Make to Become a Well-Paid Writer”

  1. I must say, your articles have gotten really good. Or maybe they were always good and it's that now I am so very focused on what AWAI is telling me.

    Either way, it's really good stuff.

    Thank you.

    Joe PolivickMarch 26, 2018 at 1:04 pm

  2. Hi Rebecca,

    I've decided to focus on writing sales copy (especially long form sales letters, both on and offline) for the self-help market, specializing in targeting older millennials.

    My biggest question is how to find smaller info marketers/publishers (under $1 million in annual revenue) to focus my marketing on. Outside of social media research, what other channels would be effective?

    Thanks!

    JoshuaMarch 26, 2018 at 2:30 pm

  3. I've been trying to decide whether to sign up for the Accelerated Copywriting program or the Web Copywriting program. I am currently a technical writer publishing how-to articles for a couple of websites. I want to specialize in writing copy in tech niches like software, devices, apps, consumer gadgets, etc. I'm hoping I can start earning a good amount of money quickly as I need to in order to support us. I don't earn enough with my current writing gigs.

    LoriKMarch 26, 2018 at 6:11 pm

  4. I've finally decided on a niche to get me started. Direct- Response Copywriter for B2B Sports and Fitness Industry, writing emails, landing pages and Ads.

    Guest (Marcellus)March 26, 2018 at 6:50 pm

  5. I am interested in learning to be a copywriter for the health industry. however right now I do not have the funds to purchase any programs. I will have to look at the archives and learn little by little till something changes.

    Thank you for your support!
    Annette

    apollickMarch 26, 2018 at 8:58 pm

  6. I appreciate your kind words, of certain-uncertainty and encouragement to choose a path and follow with action. Identifying that I have been one in said “holding-pattern,” I have just gained clairity in what I must do, thanks to you!

    1. Specialized Copywriting
    2. Money-Making Lifestyle Brand Website

    Guest (Mariel Garcia)March 27, 2018 at 1:46 pm

  7. Hi Rebecca! Thank you for this article that came in perfect timing. I'm stuck! I know I want to do some form of sales writing and possibly speech writing for the self help market. But where I need help is I don't know what's more lucrative/easier to get into B2C self help? Or B2B self help/training consulting firms that go into companies and motivate employees? Any thoughts there? Also, for self help industry what type of writing is most in demand, sales letters? Emails? Brochures, speeches? Thx

    JasmineYMarch 27, 2018 at 10:53 pm

  8. A big - thank you! To Rebecca Matters, for this clearification and guidiance... just what I needed for a Start.
    From the first day of Reading that "CopyWriting_101" I decided to try out "Copy writing" And The B2B industry is Quite more friendly to newbies, as I believe .... ( like User friendly)

    So I want to start with COPYWRITING..
    The B2B aspect...
    And Let me Start with the FOOD INDUSTRY.. (for now)

    Thanks alot..

    Guest (Abraham)March 29, 2018 at 10:41 am

  9. Thanks, Rebecca, for the article on making a decision concerning my future as a copywriter. I would so like to purchase the programs you have recommended but I don't have the money to do so. My credit cards are all maxed out as well. I'm considering starting as an Internet Research Specialist to earn money to invest in your programs later. Thanks again and keep writing!

    ChinaDoll51March 29, 2018 at 1:43 pm

  10. Hi Rebecca. I know the American Writer's And Artist's Inc is a great organization pushing talented writers to move forward when they may not know how to get started or which direction to take. After years of being on and off jobs, I realize that I love to write because it clears my mind plus calms' his emotions no matter what other employment position I'm offered. Currently, I write product reviews for a small company. Eventhough, I"m not generating enough revenues it's a good start and I'm willing to do the work. My niche is The Word Of God. What I love writing the most is poetry, but it's not earning me income unlike my niece. I had a couple of my poems published in a magazine and book. A manager even gave me a free meal.

    Guest (SpiritualCare)April 10, 2018 at 7:23 pm

  11. Hi Rebecca so excited to be a part of this program. Thanks for all the information and advice. I've decided to choose the B2B path with a focus on Health - Alternative Health and anti-aging. With your advice I will take Copy Writing to start. I see Case Studies as essential to my efforts and wondering whether, and how my personal experience can be of use in assignments I write? Can't wait to start learning how to get the job done-long overdue, looking forward to success

    ThembaMay 1, 2018 at 9:00 am

  12. Dear Rebecca, I have been told that the fastest way to get clients and make a lot of money is to do the B2B Slunwhite program. What I am confused about is why you said that the web copy program was the easiest niche for writers to get into, when it was suggested by AWAI that I pursue the B2B copywriting program. There are so many cool programs and I do not want to overwhelm myself. I have so much attention on quickly getting to my goal of success as a copywriter and making a great living. Help.

    Guest (PJ Quirino)March 26, 2019 at 3:55 am


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