Many of us dream of quitting our day jobs and making a full-time income from writing. This is not as farfetched as it seems. Most successful writers bring in money from multiple streams of income.
Multiple streams of income refers to the many ways a person can make money that add up to their total monthly or yearly income. I have another post about multiple streams of income here: 21 Streams of Income for Artists
You can absolutely make money writing and bring in a full-time income if you are willing to put in the work and use the multiple streams of income practice. This is the best way to build your writing career and start doing what you love.
These 23 streams of income for writers can fit into 5 categories: Books, Freelancing, Blogging, Selling Written Products and Audience Monetization.
Most professional writers use a combination of a few of these streams to make money writing. Pick the ones that appeal the most to you and build your writing career.
Books are the most obvious way to bring in an income from your writing. But most people don’t realize that there are several avenues you could take to make money from your books.
1. Traditional Book Advance
The traditional book advance is what many authors dream about when they go to sleep at night, so let’s get it out of the way.
A book advance happens when your book gets picked up by a traditional publisher and they pay you up front for the right to publish and sell it. The advance is usually a large sum, but you give up many rights to your own work for a specified period of time.
Getting a book advance is possible, but requires a lot of work to perfect your manuscript, find an agent, and then get accepted by a publisher.
Book advances will bring you the most money up front, but they are the most difficult stream of income on this list to acquire. And they are not the best option for everyone.
2. Traditional Book Royalties
Once your book gets published by a traditional publisher, you may receive royalties from the copies of the book that sell. This means that the publisher will pay you a portion of the profits made from sales.
This income is contingent on whether your book brings in enough money after your advance to make a profit.
Once again, this is one of the more difficult methods of bringing in income as a writer, but for many years it was the only way to make money writing. It’s still a viable option today if you publish traditionally.
However, just like with book advances, this may not be the best and most reliable income stream for many writers.
3. Indie Book Sales
The self-publishing world has grown significantly in recent years and has become a great option for many writers.
Independently published books can bring in a lot of income for an author because they usually receive a much higher percentage of profit from book sales. Indie authors make even more money when they learn proper marketing practices.
Once again, bringing in money from independently published books will take time to set up. Of course, you will need to write a book and edit it, before you can publish and sell it.
However, once your book is published, you have an asset that can earn money for you for years to come.
4. Ebook Sales
On top of regular book sales, once your book is published, you can also bring in money from ebook sales.
You can even earn money from ebook borrowing and pages read through Kindle Unlimited and similar platforms.
5. Short Story Collaborations
Some authors like to join together and publish a collection of short stories as a group.
Publishing together means less writing time for each author and exposes readers to several writers with the purchase of a single book.
Many publications will host contests to find writers to join in these collaborations. However, sometimes authors who already know each other will get together and share the cost and the profits of a collaboration.
This practice can be especially helpful for new authors who have not built up a full platform yet. Not only can authors bring in a portion of the profits from books sales, but they can use these collaborations to feed readers and fans into their other streams of income.
Freelancing is a great way to make money writing if you need income right away. Many authors supplement their income from book sales by offering freelance services.
There are many websites that allow you to sign up and post your services such as Upwork and Fiverr. You can also pitch those services directly to people and companies who are looking for the services you are willing to offer.
Here are a few of the most popular freelancing options for writers:
6. Magazine Articles
Many magazines will pay writers with expertise to write their articles. Websites like whopayswriters.com post real writing jobs people have done and let you know which publications will pay writers to complete articles for them.
There are other sites like Where To Pitch that will let you search for publications based on your preferred topic.
You can pitch those magazines directly if you think your writing may be a good fit for them. Just make sure you stick to their submission guidelines.
Some people want to have a book or information product available to sell but don’t have the time to write it themselves. That is where ghostwriting comes in.
Many celebrities and business professionals will pay top dollar to individuals who will write their books for them. This form of writing is also great for practicing your craft and getting paid without having to go through the effort of getting your work published.
Check out top freelancing websites and digital job finding sites like Working Nomads to find ghostwriting opportunities and offer your services.
Companies often have the need for writers who can write the copy for their websites, emails, and sales letters. This is a great option if you have a background in sales and you know something about the company or the products they are trying to sell.
Copywriting opportunities are usually posted on freelancing and digital job sites.
9. Technical Writing
Once again, companies who specialize in a particular product often do not have the skills to properly write about that product. These companies will hire technical writers to work on things like user manuals and product descriptions.
If you can write clear and concise instructions, this may be a great option for you. Once again, these opportunities are usually posted on popular freelancing and digital job sites.
10. Social Media Content Writing
Social media is a must these days, but it often stresses brands out to have to constantly update their social media with engaging content.
If social media is one of your strengths, you can offer content services for brands who want to take this task off of their to-do list. Make sure that you understand the values and tone of whatever brand you work with before you start.
11. Freelance Editing
Many writers use their extra time to edit other people’s work and give them feedback. There are many kinds of editors out there including Developmental Editors, Copy Editors, Line Editors, and Proofreaders.
There is no training prerequisite for freelance editing, but most editors do best if they have some kind of English degree or certification. Always be transparent with your clients about how much training and experience you have.
12. Beta Reading
If you don’t have an English degree but you still want to help other writers improve their products, beta reading is a good option.
Hundreds of writers are looking every day for beta readers to give them feedback on their work and help them move forward with the publishing process.
If you love reading other people’s work, this may be a great option for you.
13. Transcribing and Translating
Some companies don’t need help coming up with new content, they simply need someone to turn their audio into a written format. If you are a fast typist, then transcribing might be a good option for you.
This is especially true if you speak multiple languages because many companies need content transcribed into various languages by someone who actually understands it.
The online publishing world has gotten bigger and bigger over the years. Blogs make up a significant part of the online space and can offer a lot of value to both readers and writers.
According to Blogging Wizard, 77% of internet users read blogs regularly, which makes the blogging space a serious thing to consider when deciding on your income streams.
14. Start a Blog
Many writers get into the writing space through blogging. Blogging offers a lot of separate income streams on its own and can really grow a brand when done correctly.
However, blogging is a long-term strategy for making money as a writer. To monetize your own blog, you have to publish consistently, have a basic understanding of how your website works, and utilize SEO strategies.
However, even with its difficulties, many writers find blogging to be a rewarding option.
15. Guest Blogging
Just like magazines, there are many online publications that will pay writers to write articles for their own blogs.
If you don’t want to go through the effort of starting your own website and posting on it consistently, or if you don’t want to have to niche down on your writing topics, consider guest blogging.
Sites like Blogging Pro and Text Broker will connect bloggers with potential guest bloggers. This is a great way to find websites that already need the kind of content you are most knowledgeable about.
16. Partner Blogging
Another option for writing blogs without starting your own website is partner blogging.
Sites like Medium and Vocal will allow you to create an account and monetize your posted articles based on how many people read them. You can sign up and write articles for these sites for free and begin immediately.
However, many writers find that, just like with a self-run blog, building an audience and bringing in traffic to your articles on these sites takes time. Beginning writers may not see income immediately, but writers who have been at it for a while have reported income in the thousands every month.
Selling Written Products
Books, freelancing, and blogging are the most well-known ways to make money writing. However, there are other lucartive streams of income that many writers have not considered. One of these is selling written products.
17. Digital Products
Many online business owners these days are selling digital products to bring in extra income. As a writer, there is a plethora of digital options for you to sell on a website or other selling platform.
Downloadable mini ebooks are a good option, especially if you have expertise in something that you could break down into a few pages of useful content. Writers could also put together an email course or digital workbook for their topic of choice.
Many writers even use digital products as a lead to selling their full books to readers or to get subscribers to join their email lists.
18. Kindle Vella
Amazon recently began a reading platform called Kindle Vella which allows readers to buy “episodes” of a story using credits. Rather than purchasing an entire book, readers can purchase stories one chapter at a time.
This new service creates a great option for writers because they can publish a story chapter by chapter and test it out with readers before going through the entire publishing process.
As of the writing of this article, authors can then self-publish the full story once it’s complete without taking it off of Kindle Vella. This is a newer option from Amazon Kindle and may go through changes as it matures.
19. Signed Book Copies
Of course, you need a published book to sell signed copies of that book.
Many readers who love a book and its author will pay extra to get a signed copy. Authors often offer this option on their website or through another selling platform such as Etsy.
These products sell best when your book has gained traction with your audience.
Monetizing Your Audience
The last streams of income I have for writers have to do with building an audience and monetizing it.
As you build your writing career, you will likely grow your audience and platform along the way. By putting in a little extra effort into building your platform, you could provide yourself with another avenue for making money with your writing.
20. Author Events
Once you have a book out, author signing events give you extra exposure and often lead to more book sales. However, these events can also help you grow your email list and even book speaking engagements on your topic.
Author events can bring in extra income the day of, but can also have a ripple effect through your other income streams. So, make sure you bring along freebies that you can send home with potential readers who may purchase at a later date.
Some authors will even set up speaking events before their book is published to begin building hype and to make money by providing a service to the event coordinators.
21. Start a Vlog
Many writers build their audience through video content. As long as the videos you make are relevant to the writing that you do, your vlog can help you boost the money brought in through your various writing gigs.
Plus, sites like YouTube will pay you on how many video views you get once you have reached a certain threshold.
22. Sell Fan Products
Once you have an audience who likes you and appreciates your content, you can start selling products related to that content.
This includes character art, quote t-shirts and bookmarks, and even candles and home goods. The possibilities are endless.
You can set up an online shop on your personal website, or use a marketplace like Etsy and promote it on your social media channels and to your email subscribers.
Another great option for adding just a little more income to your pocket is Patreon. Patreon is a site for artists and creators to let their audiences help support them and the work that they do.
Most Patreon members create different packages for their fans that offer different levels of value, so patrons can choose the package that works best for them.
Patreon is a great option to use with other monetization strategies because you can use content you are already creating and expand it for your biggest fans.
Many writers dream of the day they can stop working their day jobs and just focus on writing. They don’t realize that to make money writing, you simply need to focus on multiple streams of income and pick the income streams that work best for you.
Keep in mind, most of these income streams for writers will take a little time to master. So, be patient and consistent with your work and learn as you go.
You may find that making a living as a writer is not as farfetched as you once thought.