Today, I bring you good news about freelance writing:
There has never, ever been a better time to be a writer.
I know what you’re going to say: Haven’t I noticed the daily-paper world is in collapse? Magazines have folded. Many online sites pay squat.
So how can I make this claim?
Here’s why the golden age for writers is now
There are three reasons why things have never been better for freelance writers. They’re all things the Internet has made possible:
- It’s spawned huge numbers of new, paying markets and made existing magazines and companies need a strong online presence
- It’s now possible for writers to get these gigs even if the client is based half a continent or half a world away
- It’s handed writers the freedom to make money from their own blogs, websites, ebooks and print-on-demand physical books
Compare this with the supposedly wonderful days of last century. There were a fairly set number of major magazines, major newspapers, major corporations, and major book publishers that paid well. If you couldn’t crack some of these, you didn’t earn so great.
In the case of books, your novel often never saw the light of day, or if it did manage to get published, your royalty rate was usually pretty small. Now, you can self-publish and keep every dime of revenue over the modest cost of creating your product.
The Internet has introduced new business models that scads of startups are trying out. These online markets are attracting venture capital and in some cases real revenue…which is opening up many new opportunities to earn.
It used to be difficult to make connections with companies or magazines that weren’t in your town. Either you wrote awesome query letters and then waited two months or so for a mailed response, or you got on planes and went to trade shows in hopes of meeting editors. Now, Twitter, LinkedIn or just a simple email can instantly connect us to new editors wherever they are, and help us land gigs.
Here’s the amazing opportunity
But really, nothing is as life-changing for writers as the ability to have unlimited earnings by writing your own products and selling them online.
Let’s pause to fully appreciate the empowering moment we are living in right now. If you have an idea for a how-to book, or a novel, you can shop it to a traditional publisher if you like. OR…you can just write it, build an audience for it on your blog, and sell it to your readers. And keep selling it, over and over, for years to come. No gatekeeper can stop you from publishing now.
Instead of earning $100 from an article, or $1,000, you can earn from it indefinitely. You can repackage a blog post into an ebook, which gets bundled into a course, or gets you consulting work. The possibilities truly are endless.
Your earnings are limited now only by your imagination, and your willingness to dive in and master these new methods of making your writing pay.
But then there’s the tricky part
If everything is so fantastic, what is holding so many writers back from earning a good freelance living?
I believe it’s change.
Things have changed a lot for writers in the past decade or so. It can be pretty boggling. Many writers I’ve talked with are still in mourning for a writing ecosystem that is gone and never coming back — one where they didn’t even have to know how to write headlines, much less how to use blogging platforms and Twitter. Today, writers have to know how to market their writing more actively than before.
While there may be more opportunity today — boundless opportunity, really — two things have to happen for writers to take advantage of it.
The first one is a mindset change: Writers have to not only accept, but embrace the new reality of our lives. Throw off your black clothes and realize these are the good old days.
The second one involves learning: Writers who want to take full advantage of the opportunities online need to learn how to create a powerful blog.
Commit to constantly seeking more information about how you can improve your online presence. Take it from me, every small change you make will make a difference. Even if you aren’t getting many readers, comments, or subscribers now, you can learn how to grow your audience, improve engagement, and use your blog to get gigs and sell your work.