The 3 Fastest Ways to Make Good Money as a Freelance Writer
There are LOTS of ways to make a great living as a writer …
But some paths can take longer than others due to their complexity and learning curve. So, what if your goal is to start making money as soon as possible?
In this article and the accompanying webinar, we lay out the fastest ways we know to make money as a writer. We’ll explore three types of writing projects you can learn quickly and are in high demand.
We also share seven time-tested methods for landing quality clients as a new writer.
Why Are Some Ways to Make Money as a Writer Faster Than Others?
The copywriting industry as a whole is massive.
According to Statista, companies around the world spent a total of $837 billion on advertising in 2021 — which includes paying writers to create all the advertising copy and content they need.
And they need a huge range of different projects written on a regular basis.
With so many opportunities as a copywriter … how do you know which ones to focus on when you’re first starting out?
We’ll get to specific projects in the next section, but the writing opportunities that are ideal for making money fast have certain factors in common:
- Single project type — the project itself is well-defined, such as writing a blog post or an email.
- Skill can be learned quickly — you can easily learn the fundamentals in less than a month if you apply yourself.
- Market is familiar with it — companies know what the project is and why they need it.
- Clients are easy to identify — the types of writing a company uses are clear when you look at their website and other publications.
- Projects are short — ideally, you can complete a single project in a day or less.
- Lots of writers are already succeeding — you can find many case studies of successful copywriters who specialize in that project type.
A big reason why these projects will quickly get you up and running as a copywriter is that they’re low-risk for potential writing clients.
A company doesn’t have to take a big chance on a new writer if they’re only writing a short project like a blog post. Whereas, a company will be much more careful when hiring a writer for a more complicated project, such as a lengthy sales letter.
So, not only are these projects fast to complete … you’re also more likely to find paying clients faster.
Project 1: Emails
Most everyone is familiar with email, and it’s become a vital part of marketing in nearly every industry around the world.
Consider some of these telling statistics:
- 80% of retail professionals indicate that email marketing is the greatest driver of customer retention. The next closest channel was social media, identified by just 44% of those same professionals.
- Consumers who purchase products through email spend 138% more than those who don’t receive email offers.
- On average, 320% more revenue is attributed to welcome emails on a per-email basis than other promotional emails.
Companies know the value of email marketing — which is why they actively seek out skilled email writers.
Email also fits all the criteria we just discussed for projects that can make money fast … emails are short projects that can be learned quickly, companies know and want an ongoing supply of emails, and many writers make an excellent income specializing in emails.
1. Goals of an Email
Every email is written with a purpose. From the subject line to the main content, an email is designed to:
- Get readers to open it,
- Engage them, and
- Make them take action.
Although, the action you want them to take isn’t always to buy something directly.
In fact, the action is typically to click on a link in the email — which will then take the reader to another page, such as a product page, a registration page for an event, or perhaps a longer sales page or sales video.
Email is only one part of what we call the Copywriting-Content Continuum, which simply refers to the different types of copy and content that are used at different stages of a buyer’s journey, as shown below:
Email can fit into any stage of the Copywriting-Content Continuum. It can be used to introduce a new product to a potential customer, provide more details to encourage a sale, or help support a customer after they’ve made a purchase.
However it’s used, the purpose of an email is to get the reader to take action. But that action will lead to other steps along the customer’s journey.
2. Email Types
As email can be used in so many different ways, it’s good to know the various types of email you may be asked to write as an email writer.
Here are some of the most common email types:
- Welcome or onboarding emails introduce a company to new subscribers on their email list.
- E-newsletters share relevant content with a company’s subscribers and support ongoing engagement and retention.
- Offer or promotional emails notify subscribers of current discounts or other limited-time promotions.
- Announcement emails communicate important changes or developments within a company.
- Abandoned cart emails remind and encourage a customer to complete a transaction they started, but didn’t finish.
And this is just a sampling of the main types. Email can also be used for a host of other communications between a company and their subscribers.
In addition, many of these email types are usually written as a series or sent out on a regular basis. So if a company hires you for one project and likes your writing … there’s a good chance it will develop into ongoing, long-term work.
3. How Much Money Can You Make Writing Emails?
We’ve compiled the average rates of 80 different copywriting projects in our Copywriting Pricing Guide. And we found the average rates for emails range from $100 to $1,000 per email when they’re part of a series, or $250 to $2,000 each for a special promotion or other single-event email.
Keep in mind there are often 5-10 emails in a typical series, or sometimes more. So your fee for one project can easily be thousands of dollars in total.
Also, most companies need ongoing emails to accompany their various promotions and daily customer communications. This means you’ll likely have repeating work with each of your clients.
Then, if you add any single-event emails to your ongoing projects … you can expect your income as an email writer to add up quickly.
4. How to Find Email Writing Work
A good place to start is to decide which types of companies you’d like to work with.
At AWAI, we often recommend choosing a niche or a specialty to focus on as a writer. This can be an industry where you already have some experience, or simply an area that interests you, such as renewable energy, fashion, or blockchain technology.
When veteran copywriter and coach Jay White launched his freelance writing career, he started by contacting potential clients in the same industry where he had worked previously. By the end of his first week as a freelancer, he had already secured a $6,000 email writing gig because of his targeted approach.
Once you’ve chosen a niche, you’ll need to learn the hands-on skills of writing emails. Start by reading a lot of emails … including the ones you already get, and sign up to receive emails from companies you admire. Notice the types of emails they send, as well as their structure and what makes some more compelling than others.
Then practice writing emails on your own, or take a course to help shorten your learning curve. A good option is our How to Write High Impact Emails program, which takes you through the nuts and bolts of writing emails, as well as how to get email writing clients.
Project 2: Blogging
Blogs are another perfect opportunity to launch your copywriting career at top speed. You can learn the basics of how to write a blog post in fairly short order, and skilled bloggers are consistently in high demand.
Blogging is also a great choice if you prefer writing editorial or informational content over sales copy. But don’t be fooled … even though individual blog posts don’t focus on selling a product or service directly, they’re still an essential part of a company’s overall marketing plan.
The following statistics highlight the value of having a strong blog on a company’s website:
- 57% of marketers say they’ve gained customers specifically through blogging.
- Companies who blog get 97% more links to their websites.
- Marketers who prioritize blogging are 13x more likely to have a positive ROI on their efforts.
- 53% of marketers say blogging is their top content marketing priority.
An additional benefit of writing blogs is that you never write just one blog post. If a client likes your work, you’ll likely become their go-to blogger for years to come. The recurring nature of blogs also makes them perfect for retainer deals.
1. Purpose of a Blog
The main purpose of a blog is to be a great source of information for a company’s target audience. The first step to writing good blog posts is to find out what issues your client’s customers are facing. What topics are important to them right now?
Based on this, make sure your blog posts provide useful tips or insights into these issues, and practical ways the readers can solve their personal or professional challenges.
Sharing helpful and relevant information like this allows companies to develop deeper relationships with their readers by building trust and respect. This also helps establish the company as an expert in their field.
In addition, high-quality blog posts will naturally get more traffic from search engines — which translates into more sales and higher profits over time.
To help encourage further engagement with the company, most blog posts end with a call-to-action of some kind. This is usually to find out more information about the company or their products, or perhaps linking to another blog post for further reading.
As we mentioned previously, blog posts aren’t meant to sell directly, but they support a company’s ongoing growth and success in a variety of ways.
2. Blog Content Types
Blog posts can take many different forms, depending on their individual purpose.
They can provide how-to instructions, product reviews, or a list of relevant facts, tips, or options for doing something. Blog posts can also answer a question your audience has, share a personal story, or report on international news.
The possibilities for blog post topics are nearly endless …
As an example, Fitness Clothing is a Business-to-Business (B2B) wholesale fitness clothing manufacturer that sells clothing directly to retailers. This is their blog:
Notice how the posts are all different types, and they would clearly appeal to Fitness Clothing’s target audience of retailers looking for fitness and workout clothes.
Their first blog post provides how-to steps to choosing a company name … the second post reviews some of their women’s clothing lines … and the last post is a list of essential fitness accessories.
Writing varied blog posts like this will keep them more interesting and engaging for your readers — which will help bring more traffic and potential customers to your client’s website.
3. How Much Money Can You Make Writing Blogs?
On average, bloggers usually charge between $150 to $800 per blog post, depending on the length and complexity of the post.
And typical blog posts range between 1,000 to 2,500 words. (Blog posts are rarely shorter because anything less than 1,000 words tends not to rank well on search engines.)
Although, writing significantly longer blog posts is another excellent opportunity. For example, AWAI’s Ultimate Guide to SEO Content Writing is a multipage blog post:
We call a longer, more extensive blog post like this an “SEO magnet” because the depth of information it contains makes it more likely to be found by search engines. As a writer, you can easily charge $3,500 to $5,000 or more for a blog post of this length.
Whether you write shorter or longer posts, remember that blog posts are usually ongoing projects you’ll keep writing month after month for each client. This can create a consistent and lucrative income as a writer quite quickly.
4. How to Find Blogging Work
As we discussed for email writing, we recommend starting your client search by choosing a niche or industry you’d like to write for.
Then, research which companies in that niche already have strong blogs. These are the companies who are more likely to recognize the value of a quality blog — as well as your value as a blogger.
Take note of your favorite companies and contact them directly to ask if they work with freelance writers. Tell them who you are and what you do, and suggest a few blog post ideas you think would be great for their website. If you’re stuck on what to say, try using these email samples to help craft your initial message.
Another option is to look for blogging jobs on online job boards. You can check out AWAI’s own WritersWanted job board, where we personally vet every opportunity before posting it on the site. Our sister site Barefoot Writer also has some helpful suggestions on finding freelance writing jobs.
We share additional strategies for finding blogging clients, as well as detailed instructions on how to write knock-out blog posts, in our self-training program How to Write Blogs for Yourself and Clients.
Project 3: E-newsletters and Newsletters
Newsletters are a proven way for businesses to stay in touch with their customers. They’re sent to subscribers on a regular schedule, such as quarterly, monthly, or weekly, and they usually have a fun mix of interesting and helpful information relevant to their industry.
Newsletters are most commonly sent as emails — also known as e-newsletters. Although, some companies still send out paper newsletters. As a newsletter writer, you could work on either project.
A main reason why businesses love sending e-newsletters is that subscribers often look forward to reading them, unlike many other marketing emails. In fact, about 22% of e-newsletters get opened on average, compared to only 17% of regular emails. And some businesses have even higher open rates for their e-newsletters.
This makes newsletters an excellent marketing channel because people actually read them! Marketers know this, which is why they also value skilled e-newsletter writers to help them craft useful and engaging newsletters.
1. Purpose of E-newsletters and Newsletters
Companies use newsletters as a way to keep in touch with their existing and potential customers. Publishing a regular newsletter helps establish the company as an expert in their field, and keeps their brand at the top of their audience’s mind.
As their readers get to know and respect the company over time, there’s a good chance some of them will become either new or repeat customers.
This is the newsletter web page for Honeck O’Toole, a small accounting firm in Maine:
They send out a paper newsletter to their subscribers every quarter, and post a PDF of their newsletter on their website. There are much larger accounting firms in their area, but Honeck O’Toole has established itself as an expert in dealing with small-business taxes.
And a big part of their success is based on their helpful, customer-focused quarterly newsletter, which they’ve been sending out for over 25 years.
2. What Do Newsletter Writers Do?
Writing newsletters is a fun process. As a newsletter writer, your main tasks will be things like:
- Researching the industry and staying on top of current news.
- Developing an Editorial Calendar for the topics you’ll be covering in each newsletter.
- Writing the newsletter content, which can include interviewing industry experts and other means of gathering information.
- Developing a single voice of the company.
Another optional task is managing the subscriber list for a company and disseminating the newsletter itself, as long as you’re comfortable with the “tech” side of emailing or mailing newsletters.
But don’t worry if this sounds like something you wouldn’t want to do. The majority of writers simply write the newsletter in Word and then send it to their client for them to format and distribute on their own.
3. How Much Money Can You Make Writing Newsletters?
The average fee for writing a newsletter is $800 to $2,000 per issue. And an issue is typically between 1,200 and 2,500 words long, similar to a blog post.
At this length, it should take you no longer than an average eight-hour workday to complete a full newsletter once you get some practice. This means you can easily be earning over $100 per hour as a newsletter writer.
Also, remember that newsletters are an ongoing project. Especially since e-newsletters can be sent out monthly, weekly, or sometimes daily. For example, Platform & Stream has a daily e-newsletter they send to subscribers:
If you’re a new writer charging a low $800 fee per newsletter, you can see how finding a daily newsletter client could quickly become very lucrative.
But even if you find a few clients who publish less regularly, writing newsletters can still provide a very reliable and substantial income.
4. How to Find Newsletter Writing Work
One way to begin is by looking at the newsletters or e-newsletters you already receive. What sort of content is in each newsletter? If you feel you could make a positive contribution, contact the company and share some article ideas or other content suggestions you could write.
It’s also helpful to prepare some writing samples you can send to potential clients. Start by reading newsletters from existing experts in the niche or industry you’re focusing on. Notice the formatting of the newsletters and the types of topics they cover.
Then, based on what you’ve learned, create a few sample newsletters in a similar style. If a client asks you for a writing sample, it’s fine to share samples that haven’t been formally published. That client is only interested in seeing your writing skills — so if a writing sample proves you can do the job, that’s all you need to help land the project.
It can also be helpful to get some training in newsletter writing, such as our How to Write Engaging E-newsletters program. In this program, AWAI’s Learning Chief Pam Foster shares her expert guidance on how to write the most popular types of e-newsletters, as well as her best strategies for finding newsletter writing clients.
7 Tips to Start Making Money as a Writer NOW
Now that you know different ways you can quickly make money as a writer, let’s get into practical steps you can take to launch your writing career.
1. Pick One Path to Start With
We’ve discussed three writing opportunities in this article, but your fastest route to writing success will be to focus on one opportunity at a time.
For example, if you choose to start with writing emails, learn all you can about the craft of writing emails. Read lots of emails … practice writing emails every day … and start building a portfolio of top-notch writing samples.
This kind of focus will help you become a skilled writer in your chosen specialty as quickly as possible. Then you can start reaching out to potential writing clients with confidence.
2. Get Training
Investing in yourself can be well worth the cost, and it’s a great way to speed up your learning process.
If you’re interested in a comprehensive course that’s good for beginners, consider The AWAI Method™ for Becoming a Skilled, In-Demand Copywriter. This self-training program gives you hands-on practice writing five of the most in-demand copywriting projects today, including emails and blog posts. And you can use the samples you create in the course to start finding clients right away.
3. Study Successful Examples
Make sure you read as much of your chosen writing specialty as possible.
If you’ve chosen to focus on writing e-newsletters, subscribe to a wide variety of different newsletters. You might even want to start a new email address to receive your e-newsletters so you can easily keep track of them.
Take note of what you think works well in the examples you’re reading. Over time, you’ll naturally start incorporating these elements into your own writing.
4. Follow Successful Writers
Consider subscribing to e-newsletters from successful writers, such as Ann Handley’s newsletter Total ANNARCHY, or Russ Henneberry’s newsletter The Clikk.
These newsletters, as well as many others, share helpful tips on writing and digital marketing that you can apply to your own writing projects.
And if you're not already reading AWAI's free daily e-newsletter, The Writer's Life, you can sign up here. Each day you’ll receive actionable advice from working writers you can use to write smarter, get paid faster, and build the kind of lifestyle you want.
Launch Your Business
Once you’ve chosen a project and mastered the basics of writing it, your next question might be … When do I officially launch my business?
The best answer is today!
It can be easy to put off your official launch until you feel absolutely ready. But most successful writers will tell you they never felt “ready” before they got started. Instead, they took a leap and put themselves out there even if they were a bit nervous.
The timing will never be perfect to start your new writing business, so the time to launch is now.
6. Market Yourself
The most important step in launching your business is to actively start marketing yourself. The top marketing channels we recommend are LinkedIn and building your own website.
You can set up a profile on LinkedIn for free and begin connecting with potential clients within hours. Check out our webinar How to Write a Professional LinkedIn Profile for step-by-step instructions on creating a winning LinkedIn profile.
And if you’re interested in launching your own writer’s website, consider taking our Build Your Freelance Website in Four Days Series.
7. Tell Everyone What You Do
Take advantage of the network you already have and let people know about your new writing business. You can announce it on social media, send individual emails to friends and colleagues, or simply tell others about your work the next time you’re in conversation.
You may also find it useful to prepare an elevator pitch for yourself, which is a short description of what you do. This way, you’ll be ready whenever you need to quickly explain your business to someone new.
If you want to make money quickly as a writer, you’ll stand the best chance with projects like emails, blog posts, and e-newsletters.
All these writing opportunities can be learned in a short time. They’re also great for beginners because they’re clear, well-defined projects that are in high demand.
Marketers need all these projects on a continuous basis, so once you’ve gotten started with a client, they may never let you go! All it really takes to start making money as a writer is to choose your direction and focus on building your skills and finding clients.
And if we can help at any point on your writing journey, don’t hesitate to contact us here.
Article Archive — Search by Topic
How to Choose a Profitable Copywriting Niche
How to Create a Winning Portfolio of Writing Samples (Even If You’ve Never Had Any Clients!)
How to Write a Professional LinkedIn Profile
AWAI Programs for Quick Learning
How to Write Blogs for Yourself and Clients
Creating Email Newsletters for Professional Service Firms
The AWAI Method™ for Becoming a Skilled, In-Demand Copywriter
Build Your Freelance Website in Four Days Webinar Series
Access the Inside AWAI archives here.