So you’re passionate about writing creatively, and you’d like to try your hand at making money online as a writer.
But, after scouring the web for creative writer jobs, you end up finding a lot of gigs for content mills, copywriting, or academic writing that isn’t quite your style.
So, now what?
How do you turn your passion for creative writing and skills into paid work?
Well there’s several avenues you can take.
Creative writers are always in demand, whether it be for television, advertising, or books. All you need to do is find the job that is right for you.
If you’re wondering how to make money with creative writing, keep reading to find out exactly where your creativity and writing skills can take you!
How To Make Money With Creative Writing
Now, there isn’t a cookie-cutter way to make a living as a creative writer.
In fact, it’s not uncommon for freelancers to take on multiples types of projects and to have a variety of income sources.
However, these are some common ways you can get paid for creative writing and turn your passion into an income source.
1. Enter Writing Competitons (And Win!)
It’s sometimes hard to find steady work as a creative writer.
Creative writing contests on the other hand…now these are pretty common!
Much like other passions and hobbies, there is an entire competitive side to creative writing, one which offers publicity and large cash prizes to those who dominate it.
Not only will you be financially motivated to produce your best work, but if you enter enough competitions, you’ll have a portfolio full of completed and polished works to share in a very short period of time.
A good place to start is Writer’s Digest magazine. They run several competitions throughout the year to cover different styles of creative writing, including poetry, e-books, short stories, and personal essays.
Don’t see your genre? No problem!
Try entering their Annual Writing Competition, where anything goes!
The grand prize winner receives $5,000 cash and an interview in the magazine, and there are also pretty great payouts for 1st-10th place winners in each of the many categories.
Looking for more? Here are a few other competitions to checkout:
- Cabell First Novelist Award
- Short Fiction Prize
- John Gardner Fiction Book Award
- Nelson Algren Short Story Award
Tom actually won a writing contest or two back in school, so this is also a side hustle students can take on since many competitions are for students or certain grades.
2. Publish A Book Or EBook
Another way you can make money with creative writing is to publish your own story.
While it might seem intimidating to take a crack at publishing your own book, you actually have a few options here.
For starters, if you’ve spent a year or so trying your hand at writing competitions, but found that they don’t turn enough of a profit for you, the good news is that you will have generated enough content to release an anthology.
Alternatively, you can take your best story and work to expand it into a fully-fledged novel.
Amazon is one great selling platform for indie writers, especially if you know how to market yourself and make sales.
While it’s many writers’ dream to get published and have their book occupy physical shelf space in a bookstore, it’s unrealistic for many and not nearly as profitable as you may think– unless you smash out a bestseller of course.
If you do manage to get your book published the traditional way, it’s still a great way to make a name for yourself in the writing world.
Just know it’s not really a reliable way to make a living.
It will take the same amount of self promotion and work as self-publishing, with less pay– however, it can definitely help your career to have your book readily available in bookstores.
But if your book becomes a hit on Amazon, you could be looking at some serious passive income while you work on your next writing project.
Extra Reading – 19 Ways To Make Money On Amazon.
3. Turn A Blog Into A Business
Another way to make money with creative writing is to start your own blog and to grow it as an income source.
Now, this is definitely harder than writing a niche blog, following strict SEO, and approaching a blog like a business.
However, it’s possible to make money blogging through a variety of methods, and you don’t necessarily need thousands of monthly visitors to make money…a small and devout following that like your stories might be pretty powerful!
For example, This Online World makes $20,000 a month or more through a mixture of display ads and affiliate income:
The above screenshot is a snapshot of advertisement revenue for This Online World from Mediavine, a premium ad-network for bloggers.
This might be tough to reach with a blog that just focuses on creative writing, but you can make money with other sources like affiliate marketing, subscriptions, and selling your own book!
So, if you can be patient and work hard, there’s money to be made from blogging, especially if you’re putting out good content and attracting the right audience.
You can start by finding the things that you’re interested in and writing about those.
The more content you can turn out, the better.
Gaining an audience is a slow process, but regardless of how it goes, you will still come out with a pretty impressive portfolio at the end.
While it may take you longer to make any money from blogging, there is something to be said for the connections and networking opportunities that you can make along the way.
The blogging community is massive and you can easily find people in your industry who may have some advice or are willing to help you advance your career.
Learn more about blogging in this guide! Should I Start A Blog? – What To Know Before Taking On This Side Hustle.
Ready to start blogging? I suggest using SiteGround for your blog hosting because they’re affordable and the same host I use (and love) for all of my websites.
4. Write On Medium
Making money on Medium is one of the easiest ways to dip your toes in the world of writing for income.
In a nutshell, Medium pays you when Medium members spend time reading your content. The top writers on Medium can earn five figures per month, which is insane.
You need to build a decent following and write stories with captivating headlines to get the ball rolling, but Medium is incredibly beginner friendly.
On Medium, you don’t have to worry about setting up your own website, growing organic traffic, or even marketing your work that much; Medium’s massive platform already has an audience.
Plus, Medium is also great for creative writers.
Some categories with massive followings on Medium include:
- Human parts (humanity).
- Slackjaw (humor).
- Poetry (general topic that’s popular).
- The Writing Cooperative (writing).
- Personal growth.
- Better Humans (self-improvement).
In short, making money with creative writing is possible on Medium, and there are so many niches you can explore!
And if you have a story trend or stay at the top of Medium’s rankings for certain topics, you basically make money on autopilot as the views come in every day.
Extra Reading – 6 Best Websites Like Medium.
5. Write For Online Publications
If you’re looking for creative writer jobs with a bit more structure than blogging or entering writing contests, your best bet is to write for online publications.
There are so many online articles that you can easily find one geared to your interests or writing style.
Cracked.com and The Onion will publish humour pieces, and offer a good platform to increase visibility as well.
Longreads accept well-written non-fictional stories that can be relatable for others, and they pay very well for publications.
There’s even options to write about policy and foreign policy, travel, feminism, and plenty more. If you have a favourite online publication that you love to read, it may be worth checking if they accept submissions!
Extra Reading – Make $100 A Day With PayPal.
6. Write Snippets & Features
Some magazines will actually pay for submissions for smaller filler sections.
Small written sections are essential to any printed subscription piece, from recipes, jokes, lifestyle tips and tricks, and just about anything else you can think of.
Don’t let the length of these submissions fool you…there is still a professional rate to be made from this type of work.
It can be an excellent supplement to your income and also presents an awesome opportunity for new writers to step into the print world.
As with other submission work, the pieces will likely be subject to specific guidelines in terms of format, structure, and style, so be sure to do your research before completing your work.
7. Write Storylines For Games
If you’re already familiar with game design or if it’s something that you would be interested in learning about, you could use your creative writing skills in the gaming world.
When it comes to game development, smaller teams usually place the storyline on the bottom of their priority list.
However, the right gaming studio will know the value of having an actual creative writer to craft their storyline, and you can stumble across gigs for this sort of thing.
You can actually find storyline gigs online, or even on forums like Reddit For Hire:
Admittedly, this creative writing job is probably best for gamers who also like creative writing, but it could be a very fun side hustle if you enjoy playing video games.
Extra Reading – How To Make Money On Reddit.
8. Get Into Television Writing
Breaking into the world of TV writing is tough, but if you have a knack for it then it could be your chance at a big break.
Beyond your writing skills, it’s good to have extensive knowledge of television history. You need to be an expert in the genre you’re writing for and know why other shows in that genre either failed or succeeded.
There’s also a lot of work that you’ll need to do before landing a show.
Take master classes, enter TV writing competitions, and network with industry professionals. All of these things will give you a leg up in the working world.
Once you feel ready, you should write a speculative script– otherwise known as a spec script– which is basically a script that is not commissioned by a network.
It can be your rendition of an episode of an already existing show or something original, but it’s intended to be used by your manager to demonstrate your creativity and skill to possible networks.
9. Become A Copywriter
One final way to get paid fo creative writing is to get into copywriting, which is essentially writing for advertising.
There’s an end goal involved, which is usually to make a sale for a product or service or to tell a better brand story.
Companies hire copywriters all the time for things like website redesign, advertising copy help, and creating brochures or marketing material.
The great thing about working as a copywriter is that you can work your way up to an insane hourly rate.
I mean, checkout this copywriter salary data from Payscale.
The median hourly rate is awesome, but the top percentile of copywriters can make an amazing salary.
Now, if you want to succeed with copywriting, you definitely want an extensive portfolio of work to show when you’re applying for the job.
This will take time to build, so you might have to start out with some smaller website projects and lower-paying gigs to grow.
Another tip is to write about anything and everything that you’re interested in and publish it on Medium or your own blog.
The more work you have to show the better. Not only will you have an extensive portfolio, but your writing is guaranteed to become better.
The other option is to use freelancing websites to pick up short term or one-off jobs.
It’s important to note that these platforms are super competitive, so you have to be good at selling yourself and be prepared to charge competitive prices for your work (which may be a lot less than you’re used to).
The upside is that once you’re well established in the community, you can be pickier with what work you take and will have the ability to manage your own schedule.
Creative Writing vs Content Writing – What’s The Difference?
It’s good to understand the difference between what you do– that is, creative writing– and the general concept of content writing.
The reason for this is that much of the work you find in the world of freelance writing isn’t creative writing; so you need to steer clear of these gigs.
The main difference between writing creatively and writing for content is the purpose, or goal of the end product.
Creative writing is often done for artistic purposes or for personal enjoyment, and is usually subject to literary themes and typical storytelling structures.
Content writing, on the other hand, is intended to be consumable and persuasive to a specific targeted audience.
This form of writing has to be clear, concise, and easy for the reader to consume. Oftentimes, content writing jobs also require understanding SEO.
Because of this, it usually involves strict rules or guidelines to follow, in terms of tone and structure, with less room for creativity.
Typically, content writers are contracted to develop content for advertisements, blogs, branding, and more– with the general goal being measurable results in terms of visibility, traffic, and profit.
If you’re a more creatively inclined writer, you may be worried that you are confining yourself to a life as a starved artist.
Luckily, there are many ways you can channel your creativity into more lucrative outcomes if you know where to look.
There are so many ways to sell your skills online as a creative writer….it’s all about finding the right avenue for your specific talents and to find work that makes you happy.
While some creative writing jobs are definitely more lucrative than others, you can definitely get yourself some steady earnings if you devote your energy into any of the above options.
Regardless of what option you choose, the main takeaway is just to get writing.
Having a good portfolio– no matter what the contents are– will not only make you a more viable option when applying for positions, but it’s guaranteed to make you better at writing.
Hopefully, this guide has helped you figure out how to make money with creative writing!
If you want other ideas to maximize your income, you can also checkout:
Selena Fulham knows how valuable having a side hustle can be. She’s a freelance content writer with a focus on SaaS, B2B technology, social media, and the art of making money online. Currently based in Montreal, Quebec, Selena can usually be found either drinking coffee, hiking up a mountain, or snowboarding down it.