Is Writing a Good Job?
Writing for a living is a path to wealth, stability, and freedom.
It’s a very good job.
Which, I fully understand, may NOT be how your high school guidance counselor, parents, or even your friends view the writing profession.
So today, we’re going to do a little myth-busting on the whole professional writing business — and I promise to teach you some fun, interesting, and highly useful facts about getting paid to write.
Myth #1: You Can’t Get Paid (Much) to Write
One of the biggest — and most persistent — myths about writing is that professional writers are BROKE.
In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent figures, the median income for a full-time writer is $63,200.
In comparison, the Social Security Administration reports that the median wage for all workers is … $34,248.
What does that mean?
It means you can potentially make more money by switching over to a writing career than by staying in the “typical” 9-to-5 job.
How? Well, professional writers — and by that I mean those who write every day (or most days) for clients or for their own income-generating projects — are in high demand.
Newsletter articles, blog posts, social media updates, and emails ALWAYS need to be written. Few business owners have the time. And for professional writers who choose to write sales copy, the high fees and associated royalty payments often mean a full-time income working only part-time hours.
This is a special benefit for those who may have come into the writing world wanting to write novels, poetry, or screenplays. By taking on professional writing projects on a part-time basis, you can “buy” yourself the freedom to write and create. Want examples? Check out how Pat McCoy uses persuasive writing to fund her murder mystery books, how Heather Robson balances web writing with her fantasy series, or how Robert Rice has used copywriting to support his acting and screenwriting career.
Myth #2: Writing Isn’t a Stable Source of Income
Far too many people keep a “day job” because they worry that freelance writing — or working for clients — won’t give them the same kind of regular income.
There are three main ways professional writers can recreate the stability of a traditional 9-to-5 arrangement:
- Choose a full-time writing job. Full-time writing jobs … sometimes also called “in-house” positions … come with the same health benefits, paid vacation hours, and regular paychecks as non-writing jobs. Plus, thanks to 2020’s shift to remote work for many firms, you often don’t need to move to take on a full-time writing job. (Not sure where to find writing jobs? AWAI maintains a private job board — www.DirectResponseJobs.com — that features approximately 500 open jobs per week for writers.)
- Go “on retainer” with your clients. Retainer agreements are contracts where you do a certain, consistent amount of work each week or each month in exchange for a fixed amount of monthly fees. So, for instance, you might agree to do a six-page newsletter for your local accountant each month in exchange for $1,000 in your bank account on the first of the month. Or swap daily social media posts for predictable $2,000 checks. Some clients will want more — like Les Worley’s client who put him on a $5,000/month retainer — while others will want less. You can often “stack” two or three retainers together, too, allowing a small handful of regular clients to give you steady income all year long. Retainers truly combine the best of both worlds — the freedom of a freelance writer with a stable, ongoing income.
- Mix “flat-fee” work with “royalty” payments. Professional writers who choose to write sales copy often have the benefit of getting royalty payments on their work. You can think of it like a commission on sales. Royalties can be paid monthly or quarterly, tend to be 1% to 5% of the total sale, and go on for as long as the sales copy continues to be used. This is how you can work once and get paid over and over for the same project. Mix royalty work with traditional project-based or “flat-fee” payments, and it’s an excellent recipe for keeping cash flowing into your bank account.
Myth #3: You’ll Be Stuck at Your Computer All Day
Ah, pity the poor writer stuck at their computer all day, slaving away at the keyboard to bring home a few humble pennies …
No, not true!
We already know the bit about the few humble pennies is a false stereotype — so let’s tackle the myth of being chained to your keyboard all the time to make a living.
Many writers find that they can only do good work for about three to four hours a day. Being creative takes brainpower, and the brain needs regular recharging and breaks.
Four hours a day, Monday to Friday, is the equivalent of a part-time job (about 1,000 of work a year). And, since freelance writers can set their own schedules, you can get your time in early in the day, split it up around appointments or errands, or work after your kids go to sleep (as I do). It gives you incredible flexibility to dial up or dial down your workload and build your work around your life. You work only when it suits you best.
Plus, without a boss breathing down your neck all day, when you do choose to work, it doesn’t feel like you’re “tied down” to your job. You’re in charge of your life as a writer, and if you get tired of looking at your computer, you can take a break! As long as you’re meeting deadlines and communicating regularly with your clients, they won’t care when or how you get your work done.
Myth #4: It Takes Years to Find Success
It can take years to write a novel, get a script polished and published, or pull together a book of poetry. So does it take years to find success as a professional persuasive writer?
No, not true!
Now, I won’t promise overnight success. That’s not realistic. But if you’re committed to becoming a working writer, you could easily start today and have a steady, thriving writing business before the year is out.
Most likely even sooner …
You see, while many new writers rely on self-study to build their skills, you can speed up your transition into the writing life by getting help, coaching, and feedback on your progress.
And I’ll testify firsthand that a little help goes a long way …
After three years of self-study on my own, I had a modestly successful writing career. But I’ll confess … many of the programs I’d started, I hadn’t finished. It made me less confident, and I knew I was missing out on bigger paydays as a result.
Then, I had the chance to do a live version of one of my favorite programs. I was linked up with a group to keep me accountable, a set of coaches to help me focus on the most important elements, and even feedback to get those priceless critiques of my work.
In a matter of weeks, I’d finished the program, leveled up my skills, and gotten fresh confidence. I started taking on more sales writing work, bigger content writing projects, and even felt brave enough to pitch some of my dream clients. My income started to grow … and has kept growing steadily ever since (yes, even in 2020!).
Now, AWAI is offering you the same opportunity. They’ve recently added a live walk-through to their foundational program, The AWAI MethodTM for Becoming a Skilled, In-Demand Copywriter. It’s your chance to quickly and confidently complete the program, launch your writing career, and start earning what you deserve.
Yes, you will have to push yourself … a little. But a touch of effort now beats years of wondering if you could’ve, should’ve, given the writing life a try. With AWAI’s help, you’ll soon get to see for yourself what it’s like to get paid (very well) to write, to have a stable income on your preferred schedule, and to enjoy a bit of writing success this year rather than later.
But, if there’s something else you feel is still holding you back, I’d like to hear about it. Please share with me below, and I’ll see what I can do to help.
The Professional Writers’ Alliance
At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »