(Photo by Antonina, a fantastic London contemporary portrait photographer)
The end of this month will mark three years since I left my day job.
Since then, I’ve been supporting myself through writing. It’s my dream career – and I love being able to set my own hours, work from home, and have a huge amount of flexibility and freedom.
I haven’t written much here on Aliventures about how exactly I actually make money. Maybe you suspect that there’s some amazing secret skill involved, or some sort of dark art.
But there really isn’t. Turning words into money might sound like spinning straw into gold … but it’s a darn sight easier.
And … if you want to … there’s no reason why you can’t do exactly the same as me.
In short, I have a bunch of different revenue streams that bring in cash every month. I’m going to explain the basics of each, and provide some links to places where you can get further information or try these methods out for yourself.
I’ll start with the ones that were easiest to get going with, and work up to the methods that take a bit more time…
#1: Paid Writing for Blogs (2008 onwards)
My family and friends find it bizarre that I can get paid to write for blogs. It’s no big mystery, though. Like magazine and newspapers, blogs need regular content. Many generate revenue through advertising, and they need a constant stream of new articles to bring in readers.
Writing for blogs typically means:
- Regular work – often one or more posts every week
- Flexibility over what you write about – 90% of the time, I’ve chosen my own topics
- Quick payments, usually via PayPal
- The chance to get your work in front of tens of thousands of people
How much does paid blogging make?
I’ve been paid anything from $20 – $100 per post, depending on the length and complexity. Around $40 – $50 for a 750 word post is considered a good rate.
Magazines often pay more per word – but they’ll also have longer turn-arounds, and higher requirements.
When I write paid blog posts, I usually make $40-$50/hour. (Including admin time.) I write fast!
How to Blog: Blogging Tips for Beginners – a great listing of articles on ProBlogger. If you’re totally new to blogging, start here.
Freelance Writing Jobs – lots of writing gigs, including blogging ones, posted daily.
The Blogger’s Guide to Freelancing – I wrote a whole ebook about making money as a paid blogger. It’ll teach you everything I’ve learnt in 3+ years of writing for blogs.
#2: Website Advertising (2008 onwards)
In November 2008, I got my very first Google Adsense cheque, for a whopping $100 or so. Nowadays, most of my advertising income is from people who pay to have a link or banner ad up on my site.
I don’t run much advertising here on Aliventures, and I try to keep it fairly unobtrusive: there are currently three ads in the sidebar. Most of my advertising revenue is from a couple of dormant blogs: The Office Diet and Alpha Student. I wrote a lot of content for those sites a couple of years ago, and I’m reaping the benefits every month!
How much do ads make?
This varies hugely depending on how big your site is. So you have some indication, I typically charge $60/month for a 125×125 banner ad here on Aliventures.
Advertising is a long-term strategy. It took me eleven months to get that first Google Adsense cheque – but since then, the time that I invested on writing content has really paid off. If you’re a fast writer, and if you’re willing to put in the work to get a good Page Rank for your website (by guest posting, doing article marketing, submitting to blog carnivals, etc) then you may well be able to make good advertising revenue.
Google AdSense – this is a good place to start, though as your site grows, you’ll want to look at approaching advertisers direct.
How to Find Advertisers for Your Website: The Ultimate Guide and 22 Ways To Find Advertisers For Your Website – two great pieces on Daily Blog Tips that’ll teach you all you need to know.
#3: Affiliate Promotions (2009 onwards)
A small proportion of my income comes from affiliate sales. When I write a review of a product, I normally link to it with a special URL that lets me get commission on any sales that I make.
This is one of my smallest revenue streams, largely because I don’t like to do too much selling here on Aliventures. I normally only post reviews to the Reviews page, rather than publishing them as blog posts.
If I’ve bought an ebook or piece of software that I find useful, I’ll review it (though I have a bit of a backlog to get to right now!) Whenever I use an affiliate link, it’s for a product that I own and that I like! I’ll only promote things that I’m happy to be associated with.
How much do affiliate promotions make?
On ebooks and other digital products, most authors/creators will pay 50% commission. With products on Amazon, you’ll normally get 5-6% commission.
Obviously, you’re more likely to make sales if (a) you have a big audience and (b) the product is very on-topic for your audience.
11 Lessons I Learned Earning $119,725.45 from Amazon Associates Program – an in-depth post on ProBlogger about Amazon specifically, but with advice that applies to any affiliate endeavours
Blogger’s Guides affiliate program – my own affiliate program, if you’re interested in spreading the word about my ebooks. It has step-by-step instructions to get you started.
#4: Coaching (2010 onwards)
For a long time, coaching wasn’t on my radar. But after I was asked if I offered mentoring, and after several friends had turned to me for help with blog posts or sales pages, I realised that there was definitely a demand out there for writing coaching.
All through my teens and my twenties, I’ve been involved in workshops with other writers, so I’m used to giving feedback and I know what sorts of issues to watch out for. I also really enjoy working with people on their writing, so it was quickly obvious that coaching was a good fit! I’ve also got a degree in English and a Masters in Creative Writing, which means that I usually know what I’m talking about…
I started out by working with a few people for free, until I was confident in charging for my coaching – then I set up my coaching page here on Aliventures. Almost every client I work with books multiple sessions, so coaching has become a steady income stream for me.
How much does coaching make?
I charge $79 for an hour-long coaching session. I usually spend around half an hour preparing for each session, reading the client’s work.
I’m on the low side for a coach: I’ve seen some business coaches charge $500/hour or more. I love working with bloggers, freelance writers and fiction writers so I’ve kept my prices low enough that these folks can afford my coaching.
How Do I Become A Life Coach? – a great post by Tim Brownson (who’s a fantastic life coach). Life coaching is a booming industry; if you’re interested in getting trained and certified, Tim explains how.
How To Get Coaching Testimonials That Make You The Monies – by Naomi Dunford. Testimonials really matter when it comes to coaching, and you’ll want ones that help your potential clients decide.
#5: Ebook Sales (2009 onwards)
I make considerably more money selling my own ebooks than promoting other people’s. I brought out my very first paid ebook in 2008 (it was okay, all things considered!) and since then, I’ve created several more. The ones that have sold best are in the Blogger’s Guide series:
- The Blogger’s Guide to Freelancing
- The Blogger’s Guide to Effective Writing
- The Blogger’s Guide to Irresistible Ebooks
I really enjoy writing ebooks, because they give me a chance to work on an extended project (the Blogger’s Guides are all over 20,000 words long) and because they’re affordable for people who might not be able to pay for my coaching or for an ecourse.
How much do ebooks make?
If you’re writing business-related ebooks (rather than novels or popular non-fiction) then you can charge almost any amount that your audience will pay. It’s not uncommon to find ebooks that cost $97 or even more.
In most cases, you’ll want to charge less – anything from $10 – $50 could work, depending on the length of your ebook and how specialist the material is.
As to how many you’ll sell … that depends on how big your audience is. I sometimes guest post on much bigger blogs (like ProBlogger) to get my ebooks in front of a wider audience.
How My Ebook Paid for South by South West – in Just Two Months – a post of mine on ProBlogger, which I wrote after the launch of The Blogger’s Guide to Effective Writing.
(In case you’ve not heard of it before, South by South West in Austin, Texas incorporates a geeky “interactive” conference that draws in bloggers from all over the world.)
e-junkie – this is the site that I use for my ebooks. It hosts the files, provides an affiliate program, keeps track of my sales, and so on. It’s very cheap, starting at just $5/month.
#6: Running Ecourses (2011 onwards)
I’ve only been running ecourses since January of this year, when I did my very first email ecourse, On Track, and also co-ran an online course with Daily Writing Tips. Right now, I’m in Week Six of Blog On, my online course for bloggers.
I’m still learning a lot, but so far, I’ve realised that:
- Ecourses are a great way to have some small-group interaction with people who might not want one-to-one coaching.
- They’re incredibly fun – I get to see members cheering one another on, conquering new challenges, and so on.
- They take up a lot of energy and time. It’s not just a case of writing the materials – I’m showing up to answer questions, to encourage people and so on. There’s also a lot more admin involved.
Ecourses have been a great journey so far, and one which I’m very glad I started on: they combine a lot of what I love about both ebooks and coaching (I get to do lots of writing and lots of interacting!)
How much do ecourses make?
With both On Track and Blog On, I priced low – but I figured that was only fair, as my first groups of members are acting as my willing guinea-pigs!
Ecourses can cost almost anything, from a few dollars up to a few thousand. Some huge courses like Teaching Sells go for $2,000+. Realistically, though, you’re probably going to be looking at $40 – $100 per member for a six – eight week ecourse.
Courses That Matter – Ainslie Hunter has been absolutely invaluable in helping me structure and present my ecourses. She has a wealth of information on her website.
Engaging Ecourses (link goes to my review) – This self-study course from Pace Smith and Kelly Kingman taught me a huge amount, and gave me tons of ideas. I highly recommend it.
I’m hoping this has given you a clearer idea of how I actually make money from my writing, and I also hope I’ve inspired you to try out some entrepreneurial routes yourself. (If you do, drop me a line and let me know.)
Find Time to Write
Of course, one of the challenges of making money from writing is actually finding the time to put words onto the page. I’ve had to get pretty good at this over the past three years (no words on the page = no food on the table…) so I put together a little ebook called How to Find Time For Your Writing.
You can nab it for free by going here and signing up for my shiny-new revamped email newsletter.