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Ways you can make a living as a freelance writer

Closeup of the keyboard on a notebook computer

I don’t know any freelance writers who make their livings solely by writing for print and online publications or writing books. Or a combination of both. I haven’t, to be entirely honest, for a number of years.

That doesn’t mean you can’t make a decent (or better) living with your keyboard. There are other ways you can use your skills to pay the bills, do good work, and still call yourself a writer.

Let’s look at a few of them.

Writing for firms large and small

One great aspect of writing for clients like this is the variety of work that you can do — corporate communications, public relations, technical writing, policies and procedures, and more. You will need certain skills and a certain level of experience for each type of gig, but you can leverage the skills you have.

Often, work like this consists of a series of one-off projects. You can also snag contracts for three to six months, or longer. Again, some of those contracts could just run for their duration, while others could be regularly renewed. Then again, there are contracts that you’re glad to see the end of regardless of what they pay!


At the start of my freelance writing career, I did a lot of copyediting and proofreading in addition to writing. The editing and proofreading helped my make ends meet, as I wasn’t making a lot from the articles I was publishing at the time.

As I’ve discovered over the last year or so, there’s quite a bit of demand for professional editing services. Not just copy editing, but also substantive editing and developmental editing. That could range from editing articles and the writing on entire websites to editing full-length books.

Freelance editing isn’t always the steadiest of work, and is subject to peaks and troughs. But if you have the skills and and a good analytical eye, editing is a great way to help other writers and get paid to do it.

(Note: I’ll be offering an expanded slate of editing services in the coming months. Feel free to http://scottnesbitt.net/contact for more information.)

Teaching and coaching

Over the last couple of years, I’ve been informally coaching a few writers. And if I had any sense, I would have charged them …

More and more people are turning to writing as either a profession or as part of their work. Some of them want or need help to improve and refine their skills. A good coach, who’s also a good writer, can help do that.

Before you think about jumping in, remember that coaching can take a lot of time and energy. It involves building a relationship with the person you’re coaching, and being able to see the strengths and flaws in their writing. Not only that, but also find effective ways to address those strengths and flaws. That said, coaching can be both lucrative and fulfilling.

UX writing

UX writing involves crafting the help that appears in an application’s window or on web page — tooltips, information embedded on a page or a screen, error messages, and more. It’s short text that gives users the information they need when they need it.

You don’t need to be a technical writer to do effective UX writing (though it can help). You do, however, need to be able to write in clear, concise, and tight prose.

If you’re curious about UX writing, then checked this list of resources I’ve compiled.

Is that it?

Definitely not.

There are a number of other areas in which you can use your writing skills, most of which I’ve never touched professionally.

Simply because you’re not making a living writing aritcles or books doesn’t mean you’re not a writer. There are many ways you can make a good (or better) living with your keyboard. You just need to explore them.

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