Making Money from Your Writing

One of the most frustrating things about being a writer is that you spend hours and hours at your computer, and you feel like you have nothing to show for it. It's hard to justify time away from your family and friends when there's no paycheck waiting, and no boss looking over your shoulder.

In the years leading up to publication, you want to leverage your writing in to something that pays, even if it's not much. And it can't hurt to collect some publishing credits. Here are a few ideas you can try.

Online Freelance Writing
Several sites allow you to sign up as a freelance writer. A buyer posts a project, and writers bid on it. Whoever wins the bid does the job. I've worked for Elance for a year, and it's been a good experience. Elance holds the money in escrow, and when the job is done, the payment is made immediately. I can't speak personally about the other companies, but Elance is very professional.


Magazine Writing
There is a periodical for every niche in the world. Do you like fly-fishing, and sometimes fish in Canada? There's a magazine for that. Do you know anything about cheerleading in the USA? There's a magazine for that, too.

How do you find out what they need? Start with the magazines you already subscribe to. The big ones, like Woman's Day, or Better Homes and Gardens, are tough to get into without a track record. But smaller, regional or specialty publications need a steady flow of articles all year long. Check out the website of the magazines you get, and look for "writer's guidelines" or "submission guidelines".

If you have expertise in any area--from your career or you hobbies--do a search to find which publications cater to others with that interest. Look for regional publications like parent magazines and local tourist "newspapers".

Subscribe to free newsletters that post lists of freelance opportunities. Here are a few that I receive:
Worldwide Freelance Writer
Funds for Writers
Writing for Dollars

Check out my earlier post with more freelancing ideas here.
Terry Whalin has an article on 7 Ways to Write for Profit on the Internet here.

How have you made money from your writing? Post a comment to let us know.


  1. Thanks for this article! I learned a lot and can definitely relate to writing whenever I can squeeze it in. I also homeschool--3 girls! ;O)

    Love your site!

  2. Thanks, Mary. If you have any tips on how you fit writing in, I'd love to share them on the blog (mainly because I want to know myself!).

  3. Hi, this is Nicole from Rent a Coder. Rentacoder provides access to programming, writing, illustration, even data entry jobs. (You can get a sense of the broad scope of work available here:

    I'd like to point out a few issues with using services like Elance, Freelancer (GetAFreelancer), and oDesk since those issues could influence your satisfaction and earnings.


    Workers on Elance cannot place more than 10 bids a month unless they pay a subscription fee ($10/month for 20, $20/month for 40 or $40/month for 60). It also charges workers a monthly subscription fee of $10/month - $40/month just to show test results on their profiles.

    Odesk charges 10% for all types of projects versus 6.5-10% on Rent a Coder. So we let you keep more of your money and if you bring a repeat buyer from Odesk, you're guaranteed a cheaper 9% maximum rate (and perhaps lower - see

    Rent a Coder does not have any subscription fees or any other types of hidden fees. Our project fees are as low as 6% and we guarantee all types of unlimited work.

    Escrow/Guarantee of Payment:

    With pay-for-time type projects, netiher Elance nor Freelancer allows you to verify your time on pay-for-time projects by punching in and out of a real-time system, and conclusively prove to the buyer that you were working. As a result they do not guarantee payment, and if the buyer does not wish to pay you, you may end up with no money.

    Rent a Coder allows you to verify your time spent on a project by punching in and out of a real-time card application which records your desktop and webcam. The end result is indisputable proof that you've worked and deserve payment.

    In addition, Elance does not offer escrowing on pay-for-time projects so payment is not guaranteed on these types of jobs. And oDesk does not require escrow for pay-for-deliverables projects. But Rent a Coder protects your money with escrowing on all job types.


    Elance charges $66.66 or $133.33 for each arbitration, which may make it too expensive to be a legitimate option on your project. In addition, a buyer intent on abusing the system can stall the start of arbitration on Elance for 21 business days and during this period your money is not available to you. You also won't find any detailed rules on how Elance arbitrators make their decisions.

    Freelancer limits arbitration to projects with milestone payments of more than $30. And its mandatory pre-arbitration processes allow an abusive buyer to stall the start of arbitration (and prevent you from accessing your money) for weeks.

    oDesk's limited arbitration could prevent you from getting rightfully paid for the work you do. And they won't test your work to make sure it meets contract requirements.

    At Rentacoder, we offer arbitration on all projects free of charge and we test your deliverables to make sure they meet requirements so that you can get paid. We also prevent abusive buyers from stalling the start of arbitration. As a result, 45% of our arbitrations are completed under a day. 75% under a week. We additionally publicize the detailed rules of how our arbitrators make their decisions.

    There are other differences as well. I invite everyone to compare the 7 major services through this link to learn even more:

    If you have any questions, please let me know. You can also call in to talk to a facilitator 7 days a week, or email us (see


  4. Thank you, Nicole, for sharing the information on Rentacoder. So sorry I missed your site in the lineup. My experience with Elance has been great, and I don't sign up for the membership plan. Rentacoder sounds like an excellent option, also.

  5. You're welcome Debbie. I hope to see you join us in the near future.



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