If you follow John White, you’ll know that he didn’t start off as a writer. Instead, John was able to turn his side hustle into a full-time gig. He was working as a salesman when he first started publishing on LinkedIn. After just one viral post, John started to receive requests for his rate card. He didn’t even have a rate card at the time! But John had a realization that he could make money doing something he enjoyed – writing. Now, he is a columnist for Inc.com, and CMO of Social Marketing Solutions – an agency dedicated to helping clients do more online.
Like John, I never thought I would be able to make money from writing. It was something I enjoyed and excelled at from a young age. But my father told me to keep it as a hobby, as very few writers make a living from writing. Well, he was right and wrong. Many writers do make a living writing, but it’s not necessarily the best writers. It’s the ones who are the most entrepreneurial about looking for and obtaining work.
Here are a few ways to go about doing just that.
#1: Blog Platforms and Social Media
As mentioned, John White was able to launch his writing and social media marketing career by blogging on LinkedIn. After a few of his pieces had racked up thousands of page views, he was approached by a client to write for them on a regular basis. Not long after that, he found himself writing a column for Inc.com and recently had his contract renewed. John also contributes to The Huffington Post and is a regular author on LinkedIn, and Bebee, an affinity networking site and blogging platform.
So, while there is no immediate revenue-generating benefit from posting on social media, and blogging sites like Medium, they are the best way to get exposure. Because of the sheer volume of traffic on these portals, and broad range of interest groups, it’s possible that someone who needs a writer – just like you – could stumble across your blog and reach out. It’s happened to John, and it’s happened to me, leading to new clients. Happy days.
Of course, there’s no fixed time frame for earning new business. It can take hundreds of blog posts to generate a single lead, as master ghostwriter and blogger, Paul Croubalian, recently admitted.
But it’s still one of the most practical ways to get your work out there, and in front of as many eyeballs as possible. And, other than your time, blogging doesn’t cost anything either.
#2: Freelancer Sites
When I first decided to take my writing to the money-making, side hustle-level, I created profiles on sites like Upwork and Freelancer. These sites are large marketplaces for freelancers in the creative space to find work – the eBay for creative gigs and giggers.
While a lot of the work goes to those that bid aggressively, there is still a focus on quality. So, to rise to the top, you’ll need to make sure you complete jobs successfully and with great feedback. That means choosing gigs wisely. In other words, finding clients that are experienced on the site and have realistic expectations.
Just like eBay, you may find some ‘bad apples’ – both buyers and sellers – so people on both sides tend to be wary when working with someone new. To ensure you do not come across as someone to worry about, be reliable with your deadlines, always communicate timely and professionally, and stick to all job requirements. Read instructions carefully, and always submit your very best work, even for lower value jobs. Pleasing a client will pay dividends in terms of positive feedback on your profile.
When bidding on jobs, make sure the poster has spent at least $5,000 on the site previously and has a high feedback score. Also, make sure there’s no hidden small print in the proposal sent to you, for example, regarding payment terms.
That way, there will be little cause for dispute on either side. Remember, negative feedback will remain publicly on your feedback file and cannot be reversed.
#3: Your Website
Starting your website hosted on its own domain name is essential for starting your writing side gig. You may feel it’s not necessary given a lot of the blogs you post will be repeats of what you are already posting on social media. However, to get taken seriously as an independent writer – it is necessary to show you are an operating business, and that means having a professional website.
You can, of course, structure your website to have the blog page as your home page, so that your writing is on show from the moment someone comes to the site. That is how I have structured my site, and I find it draws people into the site and they tend to stay on it longer as a result. Of course, I have separate pages for my resume and a place to request my portfolio.
But, I’ve earned gigs simply by directing people to check out my website. It’s the quickest way for them to gauge my writing style, and if I might be a good fit for them.
It’s also a nice way to track my evolution as a writer over the years, and to see how much better I’ve gotten with practice.
#4: Guest Blogging
Offering to produce blogs for friends, business contacts, and other publications is an excellent way to gain exposure. No, you will not be compensated for your efforts, but the prestige of guest-blogging on certain sites will only add to your portfolio and will help you to raise your profile as a writer.
Don’t limit yourself to only well-known sites – as long as a site gets decent traffic, it’s worth taking the time to submit a short 500-800 word piece. If the subject matter is more niche, this could prove beneficial if someone reading is looking for an expert blogger in that field. Positioning yourself as an expert blogger in a particular subcategory differentiates you from other writers, and gives prospective clients a clear sense of who you are, and how you may be able to benefit them.
Interested in guest blogging on this site? Get in touch. We’re always looking for new voices to feature.
#5: Business Development
Writing is a hustle – whether a side hustle or a full time one. You need to be on your game about finding new clients – until such a point where you have enough regular work coming in without you having to look for more. But like any business, it can take a while to get there.
So, until then, it’s back to grassroots business development. That means networking online on sites like Bebee and LinkedIn. Answering every commenter who posts on your blog, and adding them as a connection is a good strategy.
Reaching out to companies or organizations who you think you could add value to their blog or website is another strategy. Just the other day, I read a press release about a blogging agency who was experiencing growth. So, I filled in their contact form back on their site, and a few hours later I was submitting a writing sample to them. I’m now in discussions to do some work for them.
Imagine if I did that fifty or a hundred times a week? I’d be in pretty good shape. Of course, it’s a balancing act regarding outreach versus actually doing the work. So, don’t be shy, and start putting yourself out there. You’ll be surprised by how many organizations are looking for talented, freelance writers with unique industry knowledge. And remember, if you don’t ask – you don’t get.
They may not always be for-profit, either. Charities and associations may be a good place to start if you have ideas for blogs that their audience would find interesting.
Use the experience gained throughout your career to write about topics you know intimately. The best writers write about what they know.
The broader the online platform you create for yourself, the more likely you will be to find work. I would say that as much as 50% of your time will be looking for new work, the other fifty will be writing. Although some weeks, you’ll find nearly 100% of your time is taken up gig or job hunting, or just adding to your portfolio without immediate monetization. Don’t worry if you experience weeks like these – we all do. This unpredictability is exactly why it’s a good idea to start writing on the side, before quitting your day job.
At least now you have an idea of where to get started looking for work if you are serious about making writing a side-hustle. Leave your comments and suggestions for other places to find writing work below.
Looking for more advice on how to build your writer platform, and earn new clients for your side hustle? Get in touch with us today!