How to Make Money Writing (Up to $10,000 Per Month)
I hesitate to write articles like these.
Articles about making an income writing, or making an income doing anything else online, are almost always self-serving humble brags.
I make it a point to avoid sharing exactly how much money I make because I know it breeds envy more than it does inspiration.
So why am I doing it now?
One, because I put together a bonus online course on making a living writing that you can gain access to for buying my new book. So, it’s a blatant self-promotion piece in one sense.
Also, though, I want to pass on the type of insights that helped me move forward as a writer. There was a small handful of people who talked about how to make a living writing in the most honest, non-B.S. way possible.
Thanks to those teachers, I’m here today living out the caveat-ridden predictions they made.
This is what I’m going to give you now — educated guess on how you might eventually make a real living as a writer, combined with a ton of caveats and warnings about the cold reality of actually pulling it off.
You want to make a living writing, right?
Right. Let’s break that sentence down.
“Make a living” – Most aspiring writers fail because they refuse to become marketers. If you don’t study marketing, persuasion, and sales, you’ll never become a successful writer.
Marketing and Persuasion = Lizard Brain Effectiveness
Studying marketing and persuasion teaches you a skill that a writer in any genre needs. You need the ability to get inside people’s heads.
You need to understand:
- Human nature
- What people want deep down, but might not admit they want out loud
- People’s deep-seated fears
If you know those, you’ll know how to craft words people want to read. Any genre. The Alchemist speaks to the hero’s journey and aspiring to be better. Anna Karenina touches on household and family dynamics. 50 Shades of Grey…you know what that tickles.
Speaking of 50 Shades…why is a book with, frankly, bad prose, so successful?
Because writing isn’t about the words themselves, it’s about the underlying concepts and emotions framed by those words.
Most aspiring writers simply can’t get this through their skulls.
You’d honestly be better off reading a bunch of copywriting books and studying the headlines of the national inquirer than you would by getting an MFA – I’m serious.
Marketing helps you understand that you’re writing for an audience, not for yourself.
99 percent of aspiring writers think they should be able to write whatever they want without targeting a specific audience or actively promoting their work whatsoever. Logically, this makes no sense, but writers are emotional creatures. You think of your writing pieces like your children. To be successful, look at them for what they really are — products.
The Most Important Aspect of Making a Living Writing
I’ve said this a few times now, but I feel bad for writers who initially started writing on the Medium Partner Program.
Because the allure of money is clouding their judgment.
I continue to see them say things like:
- “I’m not getting curated…wah!!!!”
- “I’m not making any real money”
- “Why don’t I have any fans”
I observe these Facebook groups. These “writers” come up with all these reasons why they’re not successful. And they always miss the most obvious reason.
Their writing sucks. Medium is saturated with garbage writing.
By the way, I’m fine with that.
Almost every writer sucks when they start. I’m thankful I had the chance to write a bunch of crappy articles for free without making a dime. By the time the Medium Partner Program came around, I was already a decent writer.
It took about five years to finally look at my writing and consider it good. And five years, deep, I’d still say I’m at about 30 percent of my full capabilities as a writer — haven’t scratched the surface.
Since no one else seems to want to tell you this, I will.
If you want to make a living…writing, learn how to write. Admit, that right now, you don’t know how to write that well. Write poorly until you become mediocre. Go from mediocre to pretty good. Then, you will start to make a little bit of money.
I thought Medium’s saturation was the issue, but then I noticed some writers come to the platform recently who were established outside of Medium and knew how to write well. Guess what? They’re making money.
Now with those two items out of the way, let’s take a deeper look at what the process looks like.
Step 1 – Write 3-5 Articles Per Week for 90 Days
Another thing I’ve observed with “writers” who complain about how they aren’t making a killing on Medium?
They don’t seem to write all that much.
If you’re just starting on Medium, I’d commit to at least 1-2 articles per week at a bare minimum. But if you really want to accelerate your progress, write 3-5 articles per week.
If you block out 1-3 hours per day to focus on writing and publishing your stuff, yes including weekends, you should be able to meet this quota.
Up to 3 hours? Yes, alleged aspiring writer, up to 3 hours. Yes, including weekends, alleged aspiring writer.
What exactly do you think it takes to make a living writing?
Did you really think you’d become an overnight success?
No, you didn’t. But, you use quitting early as a form of self-sabotage because, deep down, you don’t believe in yourself. Writing a half dozen articles and throwing up your hands when you don’t get curated is your way of protecting your ego.
Here’s a useful thought for you – stop wanting to feel good. Just write anyway.
Step 2 – 90 days – 12 Months = Iterate, Iterate, Iterate
First, you want to get the habit down.
Second, if you want to make the leap to become a successful writer, learn how to practice the right way.
What do I mean?
Most people don’t know how to practice.
Writing a blog post doesn’t equal practice. Writing a blog post while trying to implement new techniques equals practice.
Each time I’d stumble across a new writing technique, I’d forcefully try to jam it into new articles. Say I was learning about writing compelling subheadings. My only goal during the period, let’s say a few weeks, where I was working on subheadings was…making sure my subheadings were killer.
Each new little technique eventually becomes second nature.
Next, I’d work on something new. Say I saw an article that said contractions make prose flow faster and better. Each new blog posts I’d focus on making sure each blog post had 100% contractions where possible:
I’d do this until I had a stack of writing techniques that came second nature to me.
On top of writing skills, you want to start developing marketing skills and iterating those as well.
This includes things like:
- Creating an opt-in freebie to collect emails
- Slowly beginning to build your list
- Comitting to nurturing your list by sending weekly emails
- Promoting on social
- Doing outreach and networking
By the end of year one, you’ll have a realistic understanding of the landscape.
Some great articles to read for this are:
Step 3 – Begin to Make Major Splashes
After about a year, you can attempt to make major splashes.
This could happen in many forms:
- Starting to write articles that go semi-viral
- Working on your first book
- Creating your first product
I published my first book 10 months after I published my first blog post online. The book, to date, has made like $6,000. For me, publishing the book made things serious.
I also started to think of other ways to make a living writing. I created an email series product that sold zero copies. I got butthurt about that for about a week, then moved on.
I worked on my second book, You 2.0., and published that about a year after my first book. To date, that book has netted about $20,000 — not too shabby!
I dabbled in little experiments like Amazon Affiliates, other affiliate marketing techniques, and I also did 1 on 1 coaching for other writers after I’d spend a couple of years learning the craft myself.
At this point, you have a bit of a recurring income and the prospect of making a living writing becomes…really real.
The “Beginning of Your Empire” Stage
Exactly two years and seven months into my writing career, I published my first handful article on the Medium Partner Program.
- The end result? $225.08
- Month 2? $654.02
- Month 3? $777.58
I was in the right place at the right time, yes. I started writing on MPP when there was less competition and I had a decent number of followers at the time.
The real lesson here, though? I practiced for nearly three years without knowing such a profitable opportunity was going to come along. Had this opportunity came along at a time where I was just getting started, I wouldn’t have been on pace for major growth.
If you, newbie writer, were to join Medium when it was less competitive, but you still had little to no writing experience, your results wouldn’t be all that great either.
You write, iterate, and practice marketing to be ready to seize opportunities.
Jon Morrow says it takes four to six years to simply have the writing skills and business acumen to make a six-figure living as a writer.
I’ve seen other writers do it faster, much faster, but modeling yourself after anomalies isn’t smart.
So, when did I have my first $10,000 month as a writer?
March 2019 — four years into my writing career and 19 months into joining the Medium Partner Program.
I just laugh when I see these alleged writers complaining about their income on Medium or in general.
You are a baby in this writing game. An infant. You don’t even know how to walk yet. Calm down.
The Secret? There Are no Secrets
I just released my third book. It will sell 10-50x the copies of my first book.
Millions of people read my work per year.
I make $10,000 a month reliably.
But…none of that matters to you, not right now.
None of this will happen to you or become real to you unless you do the work.
So, for the love of god, will you do it?
I put together a course on making a living writing with Medium. Here’s how you can get access to it.
First, buy my new book, Real Help: An Honest Guide to Self-Improvement.
Second, enter your email to this landing page and get access to the course.
Start your journey now. I’ll see you inside.