This is Why You’re Not Making Money as a Writer

Carol Tice

Sean Platt of Ghostwriter Dad

By Sean Platt

Let’s face it, most online writers struggle to survive.

They start out with stars in their eyes, imagining easy dollars earned. Sure, they have a way with words.

But writing online is hard, harder than they expected. In little time, they find themselves writing at all hours of the day and night, writing anything for anyone at any price.

Worst of all, they’re writing without a plan or means to pull free from the insanity.

Sad, but true.

Writers start blogs, figuring it’s easy enough to be a freelance writer. They know their way around a thesaurus and are willing to work hard to make it online.

But they didn’t anticipate the competition, all fighting for their shot at the same slop copy – the kind that’s paid for by the pound. And not just local competition, but GLOBAL – writers who undercut with bargain basement pricing.

Too many writers get snared in this trap.

They find themselves running in the same circles as so many writers before them – writers who went online looking for magic, only to end up fatigued, defeated, and ready to quit.

If this sounds like you, don’t give up.

If you’re at the end of your rope, tie a loop around your wrist and start climbing back to the top.

Despite all that you’ve read above and have seen for yourself, your future has never been brighter.

It’s the best time in history to pick up a pen and write yourself a crazy amazing future.

Whether you want to freelance forever or set your sites on eBooks, the tools to create your art and share it with the world are plentiful, mostly free, and available to everyone.

And it gets better. Effectively leverage your time and writing isn’t just a great job, it’s one of the best in the world.

Balance your work load between high-paying clients and your own assets such as books and information products, and you will increase your hourly rate, while creating assets that will continue to pay, whether you’re working or not.

Don’t waste your time or talent on keyword copy that’s bought and sold for clicks and pennies. You can make a real living, rather than the pittance paid to the majority. But only if you elevate your skill set and learn to write in a way few others can.

Many freelancers can write well.

But few freelancers can write copy that persuades their readers and drives them to action.

Writing blog posts isn’t enough.

Writing keyword articles isn’t enough.

Even writing viral content isn’t enough.

But if you can write copy that tells people what to do, then moves them to do it, you can charge enough per job to make up for more than 10 keyword article jobs.

I used to write cheap articles, too. Until I quit cold turkey.

It was better to get paid nothing than next to nothing, so long as I used my time to sharpen a skill that would help me earn more forever.

So I hunkered down and learned from the best.

I read everything I could. From Sugarman to Kennedy to Cialdini to Ogilvy himself. I learned about the art of persuasion and the science of copywriting, not from today’s bloggers, but from the direct response architects of the past. Information that’s as relevant now as it ever was.

They gave me the bigger, better toolbox I needed to multiply my earning potential and quickly grow my business.

You don’t have to be a starving artist, you just need a few high-quality clients to pay you what you’re worth so you can fund your writing dreams. The dreams that will write your “happily ever after.”

The highest-paid writers in the world aren’t anointed, they’re studied.

Add the art of persuasion to your portfolio of writing tools and you will have the ability to make more money for every word you write.


Sean Platt is Ghostwriter Dad, author of Writing Online. Follow him on Twitter.


  1. Wade Finnegan

    So Sean is your focus only copywriting, sales letters etc.? Or is that where your bread and butter comes from in order to write other things? Thanks for giving us hope that we can make a living. No pun intended. 🙂

    • Sean

      Hi Wade,

      Copywriting is the bread and butter, but there’s no doubt it gave me the time I needed to write what I really want to write. My focus is now on writing and publishing for Amazon.

  2. TrafficColeman

    You have to understand what important and whats measure the things that makes you enough money.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  3. anne

    Thanks for the article. Any book titles that you recommend in particular?

  4. Joseph

    Hi Sean, thanks for the post. I loved it. Regarding the books, are there any particular titles you recommend? I’d like to learn more about copywriting, and who better to learn from than the best?

  5. Sean

    Anne and Joseph, if I were to start with three books they would be “Influence: The Art of Persuasion” by Robert Cialdini, “Adweek” by Joe Sugarman, and “The Ultimate Sales Letter” by Dan Kennedy. It’s a nice, round, readable list that will get you started right!

    • Joseph

      Thanks, Sean!

  6. Karen

    I’ve done the whole range of writing from the ‘mills’ to magazines, and started off in PR so I should know a thing or two about persuasive writing, but I’m just realizing how important persuasive writing is for bloggers. Bloggers blog for all sorts of reasons but generally they’re trying to pesuade someone to do something. Subscribe, buy a product, click on a link, visit an online store or whatever. I’ve only recently stumbled on the idea that blog content should be persuasive. not hard sell or aggressive marketing, of course. That’s not what people read blogs for, but the writing should be persuading readers to take some sort of action. Man, I’m slow on the uptake sometimes, but this realization is making me re-think my blog objectives. and I love the ideas of learning from the real masters, rather than the ‘gurus’. No offense to the gurus but I can’t believe how many people will read a blog called ‘how to write great literature’ but not actually read any great literature.

  7. Linda H

    Thank you, Sean. I agree with Karen that is an honor to be taught by the masters and not the gurus. Your article has change my mind about how to create copy for my web site, my blog and any copy I write for my own brochure and that for others. One step toward success that few people think about and few writers write about. Connecting with the masters made me back away from the content mills and focus on learning my craft better, implementing better practices and getting organized. I’ve seen the difference in my business already. I look forward to hearing more from you on the upcoming call on Wednesday and learning more ideas on how to strengthen my writing and become on of those high-end writers that contribute to freelance writers’ successes.

  8. Misty

    Learning the art of persuasive copy as Sean discusses is one of the most lucrative types of writing online gigs. Many copywriters are easily making six-figure incomes. But – you have to be willing to put in the time to learn this craft. Just like Sean says, learn from the masters, read lots of books on copywriting, and join Carol’s writing group and get coaching. (Unpaid endorsement..LOL). It’s a must for getting quick answers when you’re stuck.

    In addition to Carol’s site, a few sites worth mentioning if you’re serious about this type of writing, are AWAI ( and the Weatlhy Web Writer ( I’ve tripled my income in the last 3 months due to the training I’ve received from these two sites. My favorite course: Writing Web Copy That Converts by Nick Usborne. Not cheap, but worth every $$$.

    A short story: I recently landed a 6-month writing contract with a local real estate firm. How? The owner and I were watching our kids play basketball. The conversation turned to work. When I shared that I was a copywriter, he asked, “Do you know SEO?” Yup. This simple conversation led to several meetings. I did a site audit (skills I learned from the sites mentioned above) and earned a six month contract to redesign the homepage, rewrite the keyword stuffed articles, and do video scripting. All this without having a website yet. Companies are desperate for these kinds of skills.

    Be prepared for a steep learning curve, but the payout is worth it.

  9. LS

    I’ll have to beg to differ on this one. I supported my family of five for more than two years by doing nothing but keyword articles. It certainly can be done. I don’t like copywriting because it’s incredibly subjective and anything you write can be rejected by a client for no reason at all. Keyword articles provide a safe, steady income indefinitely.

  10. Serge

    I am looking to become a internet writer. I was particularly looking @ guest blogging.

    I have masters in journalism and my style is good. I have to improve my copy writing skills i agree.
    But I can write basically on any topic and any kind of article. However I would appreciate someone directing me to the right path, right sites, right kind of stories that I can get paid dissent Buck for..

    I need some sort of mentor to get there because there’s so much crap online that it is too confusing and really hard to choose the right site to write for.

    I can’t afford to pay for anything at this point, so it is just depends on whoever can agree to direct me right way and give me right tips.

    Thanks for your article Sean.

    I got some insights from it!

  11. Marlene

    This is approach i like. Quality over quantity. Can you tell how much are you paid for a sales letter ? I know it depends, just throw some numbers if you can.


    • Carol Tice

      Hi Marlene —

      I don’t know if Sean’s going to see this as this post is a little old now. I haven’t written sales letters for pay myself — just the ones on my own blog! — but I know Naomi Dunford from Ittybiz says on her blog that she gets $2,000 to write the long landing pages she excels at, which are basically a sales letter. I think it depends a lot on your experience and track record in getting results — at first you might be happy to get a few hundred from a small business that needs a squeeze page or direct mail letter written, and then your rates increase as you go.

      • Marlene

        That awesome! Comparing it to 1,2$ – 1,5$ for 100 words with “normal” articles – they dont make sense at all.

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