This article is written by Desiree Villena
Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash.
With all of us spending a lot more time at home these days, now is the perfect opportunity to start investing more energy into our hobbies, whether that be crochet, baking, building ships in bottles – or writing. And in our hustle-centric world, you may even be wondering how to convert your favorite hobby into a little extra cash! If writing is your bag, we’re here to help. Here are four ways you can start to monetize your hobby and turn writing into your new side hustle.
1. Post your writing on monetized platforms
You might think that the only way to make money off your short-form writing is to run ads on a blog you own. There are, however, some (easier!) alternatives. Hosting sites like Medium run partnership programs to compensate their content creators, paying out varying amounts depending on how well a post performs. Although the amount of money to be made here varies pretty dramatically from writer to writer, these programs can give writers a sense of the financial potential of any short-form content they’re already producing for fun.
The major pro of this approach is that you’ll have the freedom to post whatever you already enjoy writing, whether that be short stories, essays, poetry, or something unique. You can start putting out the backlog of things you’d previously written for fun, or get creative and write something brand new! There’s also no commitment to post a certain amount, making it a great, flexible way to earn some extra cash. Another advantage is that this is an especially low-risk approach to monetizing your writing – but do bear in mind that you probably won’t be making the big bucks unless a post goes viral!
2. Look for publications that take submissions
If you think you’d enjoy tailoring your writing to a brief, why not try submitting it to online publications? Many blogs and online magazines welcome pitches from external freelance writers, especially when seeking specific content for themed issues or seasonal features, and some are willing to pay for the content they end up using.
Compensation will vary from site to site, and will typically depend on project size or performance. Examples of some sites that pay writers for articles can be found here, but it’s also worth checking whether sites you personally enjoy reading are open to submissions. You may even consider looking for ghostwriting jobs writing for established blogs! Short-term gigs like these can be a great way to make some extra money if you already enjoy writing.
Just like posting on sites like Medium, the biggest advantages of this approach are that it’s low-commitment and there’s a fair amount of freedom – just pitch as and when you have a killer idea, and pick and choose the publications that are interesting to you. There are, however, some drawbacks to bear in mind if you go down this route. You will have to stick to other people’s timelines once you agree on a project, and you’ll have to channel your creativity in a particular direction to make sure that your content fits the site to which you’re pitching – and always double-check their submission guidelines to be safe.
Nevertheless, whilst it’s less flexible than self-publishing, if you do your research and stay organized, you can definitely turn freelance writing into a lucrative side hustle.
3. Self-publish your own ebook
In the age of Amazon self-publishing, there are now more chances than ever for previously casual writers to strike gold, by turning their hobby into a serious money maker. Services like Kindle Direct Publishing allow you to turn that novel you’ve been working on from a passion project to a product available for purchase within just a couple of days (although you should not publish anything before editing it thoroughly)!
It’s no mean feat to get a book ready to publish, but success stories like EL James and Andy Weir prove that self-publishing can be hugely profitable for some. And even modest sales will land money directly in your pocket because sites like Amazon pay out a percentage of the purchase price on every sale – and you’ll get better royalties if you self-publish than if you go the traditional route.
There are a ton of helpful resources out there on how to publish an ebook so you can make the most of self-publishing, and therefore increase your chances of making sales. Don’t forget you can also consult with professionals to make sure your product is up to scratch before putting it out into the world – you could even consider hiring an editor to get the prose squeaky clean, or a cover designer to make sure your thumbnail stands out in the Kindle store.
These little tweaks can make all the difference in getting your work to the top of the sales charts! You’ll be amazed at how well your book can do after a bit of polishing. So if longer-form writing is what you enjoy, and you’re sitting on a manuscript that you think might be the next big thing, get researching and give self-publishing a try.
4. Enter writing competitions with cash prizes
Finally, keep your eyes peeled for any writing contests that offer cash rewards. If creative writing is your thing, there are tons of writing contests you can enter online, many of which offer a cash prize! If you’re looking for inspiration for a prize-winning short story, turn to short fiction writers with strong writing styles like Jhumpa Lahiri and Carmen Maria Machado.
These definitely aren’t a sure thing when it comes to making regular money, but entering competitions can be a great way to hone your skills and have some fun – and the chance to win some cash is always a nice bonus!
Happy writing – and happy hustling!
Throughout the pandemic, many of us have spent more time writing, but haven’t necessarily made a profit from it. For those hoping to kill two birds with one stone, this post will show you four viable ways to turn your writing hobby into a lucrative side hustle.
Desiree Villena is a freelancer and writer with Reedsy, a marketplace that connects authors with the world’s best publishing and book marketing resources. In her spare time, Desiree enjoys reading contemporary fiction and writing short stories.