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5 Money Making Jobs for Writers

By Athena Hayes

As an aspiring novelist or screenwriter, it can be frustrating to work at a day job that doesn’t allow for much creativity. Fortunately, there are avenues you can explore for bringing in a steady stream of income that incorporates your passion for writing.

Below are 5 writing gigs that can turn into full-time careers with enough perseverance. You’re only limited by your own imagination!

1. Affiliate Blogger

Sure, most writers know what a blog is, but many don’t realize the potential cash flow that comes with being part of an affiliate program. A marketing tactic employed by many online businesses, an affiliate program is a system in which a company rewards a registered affiliate (in this case, a blogger) for driving customers and sales to the company’s website. In short, bloggers receive commission payments when their readers click over to a company’s site from their affiliate links and make a purchase.

The best way to start affiliate blogging is to choose a topic for a blog that has a natural propensity for purchases, like travel, music, tech gadgets, or other type of consumer product. Once you’ve chosen a topic, you can search for available affiliate programs, or join a site like VigLink, which automates the affiliate process for you. You can use affiliate programs (and VigLink) on an existing blog as well. Simply join a program and add affiliate links to your past and future content.

For those who may not have the time or the inclination to start their own blog, a site like Squidoo is a compelling option. Squidoo is free to join, and lets you create pages, called “lenses,” on any topic of your choosing. You then have the ability to be a part of Squidoo’s affiliate program. It’s an easy way to monetize your writing and self-publish articles on subjects you’re passionate about, which leads us into the next paying gig…

2. Article Writer

The adage is true: content is king. But let’s extend that to great content is king. While just about anyone can write a blog or an article and have it posted, only a select few will generate income. Those are the ones who take the time to write a thoughtful article, filled with useful content that naturally attracts readers. As with blogging, there’s an art to this kind of writing but once you’re up to speed on the principles, you can generate a supplemental income while building a portfolio of work.

Programs like the Yahoo! Contributor Network let writers earn cash through a variety of channels, from up-front payments and exclusive assignments to bonuses based on the amount of traffic drawn to the site from their content.

Another reputable site is About.com, where you can apply to become a guide or a contributing writer on a subject of your choosing. This New York Times-backed site covers everything from Action Figures to Zoology, so you’re sure to find a topic that suits you. Plus, About has a guaranteed minimum monthly payment that takes the guesswork out of salary calculations.

For the aspiring filmmakers out there, About.com also hires freelance video producers. Once hired, video producers can submit an unlimited amount of videos, all on their own schedules!

3. eBook Author

Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook e-Reading devices are the top-selling items on each respective website. Regardless of your personal feelings about eReaders, there’s no denying that eBooks represent the future of publishing.

The good news is that this is a great time to be a writer, and preparing and publishing an eBook is probably much easier than you think. Sites like Lulu and Smashwords can help you get your eBook in shape for purchase in just a few simple steps.

Once you have your eBook ready to go, the options for it are immense. To start with, you can submit it to retailers, post it on your own blog or website for purchase, and promote the heck out of it through Twitter and Facebook.

4. Proofreader

Proofreading may not be the most glamorous side gig, but it can be steady work that brings in a respectable income. The first thing to do is make sure your skills are up to snuff. To find out where you stand, locate a proofreading test either online, or by requesting one from a company you’d like to work with as a freelancer.

If you need to brush up, the Merriam-Webster's Concise Handbook for Writers is a must-have desk reference that also includes detailed guidance on both copyediting and proofreading. The Editorial Freelancers Association is also a helpful organization for pursuing work as a freelance proofreader.

Sites like Elance, Guru, and Odesk feature companies that need proofing services. Standard job boards like Monster list want ads for proofreaders as well. Temp agencies in your area can also be a significant resource for locating proofing jobs.

5. Freelance Copywriter

While you may think of Mad Men’s Don Draper in his swanky NYC ad office when you hear “copywriter,” the truth is that the online copywriting market is where the jobs are for freelancers. Online copywriting includes website content, web ads, and more. That means regardless of where you live, you can launch a full or part-time career as a copywriter.

A copywriting gig is a natural fit for aspiring novelists or screenwriters, and it’s a profession that’s growing in leaps and bounds. To get an idea of what kind of jobs are available, search under writing jobs and writing gigs on craigslist.org in your local area, or enter “copywriter” on a job search aggregator site like Indeed.

If you’re willing to do some work for a low fee or pro bono to start, you may likely have a full portfolio together in less than six months, ready to seek out higher-paying jobs. 

Another way to get started is to check with the marketing or communications department at your current job to see if there are any opportunities to create some content for the company. While many companies have internal writers, smaller ones usually don’t. Besides getting experience, you could potentially transition from your current position into a full-time writing role.

There are many freelance writing prospects out there just waiting for you to discover. Besides being a source of income, these opportunities will help you grow as a writer, and may even turn into a rewarding full-time career.

Meet the Author: Athena Hayes

Athena Hayes is an experienced writer specializing in online content. Her knack for bringing a clever twist to her projects has brought accolades from her high-profile clients, including Banana Republic, Old Navy, CBS Interactive and National Planning Corporation. She received an English degree from UCLA, and studied screenwriting and television writing at the UCLA Extension Writers' Program. 

Athena has worked with The Writers Store and Writers University since 2001, writing and editing the eZine, marketing collateral and va...