My answer to this nuts and bolts question on how to make money writing has changed over the years.
Back when I published Working Writer Happy Writer to help people learn how to make money writing, it was a total pain in the butt to build websites. I had a program I used which was slightly less painful than giving birth – but not by much.
You could easily invest weeks in the building of your freelance writing site. Actually, that’s not quite accurate. The building part wasn’t too horrible… the getting it to run like you thought it should and stay running that way – that was the hard part. Finding someone to help if you broke something? Priceless, because that someone didn’t seem to exist!
So, what would happen if I’d taught my students that they needed a website before they could make money writing?
One of two things:
- They’d have to spend thousands of dollars getting a pro to build a great site (and then not be able to update it on their own, so it would be a continuing expense).
- They’d fall into the molasses swamp (think Candy Land) of web building torment where they’d likely never resurface.
There were two main goals of having a site back then:
- Have a credible and convenient place to show off your portfolio.
- Attract clients using SEO (which was way easier back then!)
There was such an easy workaround that all the torture of building your own site was totally unnecessary. Back then, my advice was to go find your initial clients on Guru, where you could also post your portfolio. Neat and tidy… DONE!
Oh, How Times Have Changed!
Now, it’s a whole ‘nuther ball game – and the changes are all for the best. Here are five of my mini diatribes about what it takes to make money writing now – and my best advice connected to the “Do I need a website” question:
1. Own your own.
Anyone can build a website using WordPress. I’m not talking about the free .com version. I mean the kind where you buy a domain name, hosting, and install WordPress. (I use CoffeeandDomains.com for domains, and HostGator for hosting – if you use my affiliate link, I get a little commission. If you use this coupon code: WWHWHostGatorOct2013 you get 25% off your purchase.) This way you OWN your site.
2. Learn to pop the hood.
Anyone can learn how to build a simple site with WordPress by watching YouTube videos. Actually, my theory is you can learn to do almost ANYTHING watching YouTube videos.
3. Spend $5 to fix what you break.
For the most part, help when your site breaks or you want to add something you can’t figure out from YouTube is only $5 away. You can hire people all over the world to do all kinds of crazy stuff for $5 at Fiverr.com. When I run into a challenge on one of my sites that I either don’t know how to fix or don’t want to mess with (time = money), I find a Fiverr guy to fix it. There are tons of Fiverr gigs from people who will fix WordPress issues.
4. Guru sucks.
But it’s not alone in its suckage… I’d throw in all the freelance writing job boards. It’s harsh, and it’s just my experience, and you might find good projects there, and there are some good reasons to have a profile there, but that’s not where you’ll get your best clients. We can talk about that another time.
5. Business owners want you… bad.
Used to be the bulk of freelance writing gigs were in information marketing or online marketers who were using keyword articles to sell physical product – at least that’s what I wrote to earn a full-time income. Business owners back in 2005 through about 2010 were still hoping they could avoid the whole online marketing thing. Now they know they can’t, and many are starting to see how much more effective marketing is when they do it online – and many of them know they need great writers to handle all the content creation for that marketing strategy.
Build Your Own Freelance Writer Website and Get Busy Making Money Writing
With all this evolution in our field, I’ve made a major U-Turn in my coaching advice. Now it’s important to have your own site. You can house your portfolio there (Note: Don’t post your creative writing or personal blog posts there.). You can display your mad skillz in copywriting. You can offer a newsletter and drip market on the prospects who sign up for it (another topic for another day). You can build some traction in the search engine results (if you do it right… yet another topic for another day). You’ll boost your credibility because you’ll have an online presence.
Plus, you’ll learn a lot as you build your own site. You’ll learn about all the pieces and parts that go into a good web page. You’ll learn the ins and outs of WordPress. You’ll break stuff and learn how to fix it (or to work with someone who can). You’ll learn the language spoken by many of your clients (Geek) – especially if you attract marketing firms and website builders as your clients.
A Lot Has Changed in the Make Money Writing World
I’m trying to remember back to when I published my first book for the first time – I think it was 2007. That book and the online course that went with it helped a LOT of people get started as freelance commercial writers. I still hear from some of my students from time to time with questions and updates on their business (one guy travels to the most gorgeous and exotic places – and sometimes sends me quick little videos showing the latest digs… and always thanks me for helping him get started). That’s neat!
The original book is still available on Amazon and Kindle, and is still selling, which is also neat. The advice in it is still solid – even though there are now much easier ways to ramp up your writing income faster than Guru (which, have I mentioned, sucks?!). I get emails now and then from people asking to join the mastermind group I referred to in the book (it doesn’t exist anymore). I also get people asking when I’ll update the book, what’s working now, whether now’s a good time to get started (or if it’s too late… um, no).
My business went through a lot since then, too. (Funny… my personal life went through a bunch of stuff during that same time… think there’s a connection?) Honestly, I kind of put my nose to the grindstone and just wrote my butt off to meet the challenges. While I feel passionate about helping other writers get started, I just didn’t have the bandwidth to do it all.
Now I’ve systematized and grown my business and my team to the point I know I’ll make my nut before the month is half done. Now I’m not doing it all on my own. Now I’ve developed systems for getting new clients and for writing the projects they need – and I know I can teach them. Now my own website skills (and my Fiverr guy’s!) are solid enough to keep a site running well. And now I can’t ignore the pleas I’ve gotten asking for me to revamp and relaunch the Working Writer Happy Writer course.
I’ve got some great ideas for what to teach in the redux, but want to find out from YOU what you think would be most useful to learn.
So, would you do me a huge favor?
Would you leave a comment here right now and answer this one question:
What one problem or question do you wrestle with most about making money writing?