Nearly everyone who writes has one thing in common: we do it because we love it. But one of the dark little secrets of the avocation is that the more you do it for money, the less you do it for love. Writing becomes work, and while it’s perfectly normal to love your work, it’s just not the same as those days when you wondered what it would be like to open an envelope with a check in it because of something you’ve written. Many writers consider writing professionally to be the ultimate dream, a fantasy career, a nearly unattainable vision that becomes as much about the process as the goal. But the truth is, those of us who write for money aren’t necessary any better at it than you are. But then, deep in your ambitious little heart, you already knew that.
Newsflash: if, at a minimum, you can cobble together a coherent sentence, you can get paid for your writing. In fact, if you have an extra half hour later, you can throw the switch and actually land a paying writing gig today. I kid you not.
The market for professional writing looks nothing like it did as little as five years ago. The internet has changed everything – you no longer look for a job in the newspaper, you go online… you no longer advertise your old fridge in the want ads, you post on Craigslist or eBay… you no longer use a travel agent, you book your trip yourself on line… an so forth – and this is just as true about freelance writing. In fact, in much the same way that eBay auctions off everything from used shoes to used celebrity chewing gum, there are websites out there that post available writing jobs – and I’m talking everything from a simple tagline to articles to promotional material to ghostwritten novels and screenplays – upon which writers, any writer, can place a bid. These sites are turn-key: you read the job postings, you place a proposal and your bid, you submit samples, a bidder is selected by the buyer and an agreement and schedule are agreed upon, you deliver your drafts, you exchange feedback and finally finish the job (the good news is that these buyers are usually less than sophisticated and your first draft will usually make them happy), you submit your invoice, the buyer pays you, you collect the cash… all of it online.
While I’ve been writing my novels and, more lately, waxing eloquent about writing here on this blog, I’ve made over fifty grand doing what I’ve just described, all part-time over the past two years.
The best site for this is Elance.com, sort of the eBay of online services. Writing is one of eight skill categories available, and there’s a small membership fee you’ll need to pony up before you can place a bid. If making a few bucks from your writing is something you never thought was available to you, I urge you to check out Elance and see just how deep and wide the available job pool is – they post about 15,000 new jobs each month – and how unintimidating the competition for that work really is. Like I said, if you can write a decent sentence, you’ll be in the top quartile of professionalism among these bidders, and you’ll have a shot.
Check back for more about Elance, because there is definitely a learning curve and I’m delighted to share it with you. If you can’t wait, email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I’ll help you. By the way, my user name on Elance is Wryterman, and you can check out my track record there, just in case you think this is all hot air.
No more excuses. If you’re saying “show me the money,” I just did.