6 Figures in Year Two: One Writer’s Success Tips

Editor

Ring the BellBy Shawndra Russell

If you’re a writer, you should be skipping in the streets, because we are needed more than ever.

Evidence: I was able to ramp my writing business to six figures by the end of my second year freelancing.

Some writers bemoan the fact that magazines and newspapers pay less per word or that attention spans are shorter.

If you want to write books, well, that’s a lost cause, too. More books than ever are published every day, so you have no chance of standing out, and fat advances have disappeared.

Plus newsrooms are shrinking, and becoming a staff writer is nearly impossible because no one hires salaried writers, right?

Snap out of it

Wrong.

This is the best time to be a writer because our words are needed more than ever. Copyblogger boldly declared  2013 The Year of the Online Writer, and I wholeheartedly agree.

As everyone desperately tries to make their voices heard, well-written, useful writing stands out.

The never-ending need for high-quality content means professional writers can write not only for media outlets but every single business on the planet — everyone is now in the business of storytelling and content marketing.

Maybe this isn’t the kind of writing you had in mind, but why not embrace it?

I’ve rapidly built a six-figure writing business because I write freelance articles and publish books — and provide content services for businesses. The content might be a tweet, Facebook post, or blog post, but no matter what it is, each item boils down to delivering stories in clever, engaging ways.

Expand your horizons

So how did I start landing these business-writing gigs? I pitched entrepreneurs the same way I do editors.

Small business owners are so overwhelmed that they aren’t creating job postings seeking writers. They just continue to push this need aside or slap something together and publish it themselves. The business owners I’ve approached have all been thrilled to hand over their content to-do lists.

I’ve written newsletters, blog posts, social media content, emails, website copy, brochure copy, guest blogs, and press releases for these busy entrepreneurs, and you can, too.

The very first entrepreneur I pitched was someone I’d read about in a local magazine. I emailed saying I loved his product and asked if he needed help with digital marketing. I worked for a low rate so I could get one client under my belt, and the rest is history.

I continue to work with small businesses but have also worked as the social media manager for a $2 billion global snack food brand. As writers, the possibilities for new sources of income are all around us.

Be the hero

You can be the hero for these business owners.

You can see if they don’t have a current blog, don’t have a solid social media presence, or need new website copy, and then approach them with your services. And you can deliver what they need because you are a content master.

Maybe this type of content is different than what you typically tackle, but if you want to break into six-figure earnings, you’ll accept the challenge and embrace these alternative revenue streams.

Have you tried online writing for businesses? How did you land your first gig? Tell us in the comments.

Shawndra RussellShawndra Russell is tourism and lifestyle brand journalist and the Savannah correspondent for Forbes Travel Guide.  

39 Comments

  1. Alex

    Well, writing from England, I can say I had three solid years of unemployment after finishing my English and then Journalism degrees. There was no work. There are writing opportunities, but as for journalism it’s an almighty struggle with many unpaid internships. My advice is, if you want to study it, don’t bother. Take up something else.

    Novel writing’s straight forward as you can e-publish, but there’s no guarantee your book will get any notice. However, you can try through literary agents and publishers of course. Even the best writers faces years of rejection letters before they had a success, so it’s best to just keep at it and not give up. There is no easy way in.

    • Shawndra

      Hi Alex, it’s definitely a challenging line of work, but hopefully this post helps writers see some alternative ways they can use their writing skills and make a good living. Even if the ultimate goal is to be a novelist or journalist, helping businesses with their content marketing can be a lucrative path to those bigger dreams.

  2. Lorraine Reguly

    Good information – I have actually heard of this before – to approach local small businesses. I haven’t yet, though, so maybe this is something I need to do!

    • Shawndra

      Go for it Lorraine! I guarantee there are some businesses that need your help. Good luck.

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