Make Money as a Freelance Writer: 17 Niches You Should Consider
How to Make Money Freelance Writing
Let's face it – writing is everywhere and powers everything, from the news tickers on the bottom of the TV screen, to the thousands of advertisements we are bombarded with daily, to the carefully worded menu at your favorite restaurant. If it's in print or on your screen someone was likely paid to write it.
It bothers me that so many writer's choose to devalue themselves and our profession(s). I can't tell you how many times I've seen listings on freelance writing websites seeking well-researched, completely unique articles for a whole whopping dollar per 100 words, if that. Really? What's even more sad, the number of writers who are actually willing to work for slave wages.
Why should it matter to me what other writers do? Simple. When people agree to work for pennies it devalues the field for all freelance writers, making legitimate jobs harder to come by.
It's a common misconception that writing jobs are scarce or that you have to be willing to work for next to nothing to get established. Nothing could be further from the truth and your income is only limited by your inability to think (or not) outside the box.
What follows is a list of some of the many freelance writing niches available. Perhaps there is something here you had not considered before that will inspire you to branch out, or at least see that there are more opportunities for writers than meets the eye.
Freelance Writing Niches
Blogging & Content Writing
Write what you like and focus on a niche you know and love. Over time, you'll develop residual income with advertisements, product placements, and even direct sales of your own products or services associated with your subject area.
You'll need to learn a bit about SEO (search engine optimization) so you have the best chance to rank. For example, health niche blogs are difficult to establish because you will be outranked by high authority pages.
Write what you like or what people are requesting and name your own price on websites like Constant Content or Daily Article. If you can craft exceptionally well written pieces you can earn quite a bit of money selling content this way. Avoid sites that want to pay you a pittance for developing content. Do you think those sites and the people who buy the articles aren't profiting wildly for a very long time from what you wrote for pennies? Think about it.
In this digital day and age eBooks are gaining popularity and many people are able to write and develop very strong “how to” or niche products based on their experience and expertise and sell them on their own website or even online on eBay and other large sites.
This applies largely to those of us with web design and development experience, but there are several websites that pay good money (150 – 350+) for well written, error free tutorials. A great way to cash in on your knowledge/skill base if you happen to be a semi-decent writer to boot.
Copywriting is an art that takes time and dedication to develop, but the top copywriters earn top of the line salaries and are never short for opportunities. Copywriters have mastered the art of persuasion and motivation through their words. Have you ever read a great piece of advertising or a website where you really felt compelled to take action? That was the work of a master copywriter. With time, practice, and some training you can be one too.
Product Description Writing
From items in catalogs to those found on retail websites and even restaurant menus, those who can write effective, short, but powerful descriptions of products and services can find themselves in a very lucrative niche that has a lot of opportunities.
You know those autobiographies put out by all those celebrities and politicians etc? What do you think the chances are that they had enough time to sit down, develop excellent writing skills and then type up a whole book by themselves? Newsflash – they didn't.
Ghostwriting is one of the most lucrative forms of writing around. If you don't mind not seeing your name in lights, have a strong writing background, and the desire to earn on average $20 - $40 dollars per typed page – you may want to consider this market.
Yes the trend these days tends to be more towards copywriting and non-fiction. It can be difficult for creative writers to find venues to sell and promote their work. Difficult, but not impossible. Consider joining writers circles, self-publishing and promoting and local stores, or take your knack for creating awesome characters and stories and use them to help companies establish a brand image.
In a tough economy, people are looking for any edge they can get. This means opportunities for a lucrative salary for top-quality freelance professional resume writers. Here's the rub. Everyone and anyone it seems slaps this title on these days, but it's a difficult profession.
Genuine professional resume writers must stay on top of current trends, should have or be willing to train in skills related to human resources, and above all their motivation should be to help others land jobs and not merely line their own pockets. Genuine resume professionals can earn a hundred or more per resume.
Public relations writing is all about gaining publicity for your client or organization in a meaningful way. Press releases have to be crafted in a way that generates interest in the product/service being pushed and also offers something to the viewers/readers of the particular media source being targeted.
It's tricky, but if you have decent copywriting skills and a great personality that shines in your writing this can be a great way to earn some extra money. The more successful you are getting your press releases acted on means the more money you can command.
Have a thirst for knowledge and the desire to research and compile information for texts and educational materials? This could be a great niche for you. No I am not talking about writing term papers and selling them. This encourages plagiarism and theft. Would you want your future doctor buying his dissertation? - yeah me either.
There are however lucrative and non-dubious ways of doing educational writing, particularly if you have an advanced degree and experience in a field. Write for textbooks, online tutorials and even video courses.
You know that manual that came with your latest gadget that you probably didn't read until you had to? That was written by a technical writer whose job it is to break down subjects step by step and tell you how a product works.
This is an area where you need to have practical experience. If all you know about the blender is how to plug it in and turn it on, you won't be able to write a manual telling other people how to do it. If you have experience building blenders, have worked with blenders all your life, or have a strange fascination with them, chances are you know them well enough to explore the product, research it and then write the manual that is probably not appreciated enough.
The plus side to this is that technical writers earn over $50,000 a year on average nationwide in the US – not too shabby for dry writing.
This is for writers with the spirit of philanthropy in their hearts. The job of a grant writer is to try to secure funding for their organizations. If you work as a grant writer for a non-profit that deals with fighting cancer, your job would be to locate potential investors, draw up documentation and use your writing to help secure funding for that particular cause.
This is great for people who are able to get a job finding funding for an institution they deeply believe in and are passionate about. Many grand writers start off volunteering to get a bit of experience and then when they have proven abilities they can earn a very nice salary doing this kind of writing full time.
Business Plan Writing
Perhaps you have a good mind for business and want to help prospective business owners. Business plans are quite intensive and include everything from the companies goals, to projected profits and losses, plans for how to become profitable, and everything in between.
If you are a master at organization and compiling information in a manner that is persuasive to potential investors, business plan writing may be the freelance writing career for you. Business plan writers have an average salary of $50,000 per year according to SimplyHired.com.
Yes, many newspapers these days are struggling, however small local papers are often a great way for newbie writers to gain some experience and get a bit of name recognition. Contact your local paper and pitch an idea for a column.
They may not accept you, or if they do they may pay very little (or nothing) but the idea here is to gain publicity that will help you make contacts to further your career over time. Having your name out in your local community can be a great help to getting established and getting more clients.
Breaking into magazine writing takes time, diligence, experience and patience. The good news is once you've done it once or twice, you are more likely to have your queries accepted in the future.
Purchase a copy of the Writer's Market. It comes with a year subscription to their website and database where you can get writer's guidelines to hundreds of publications, from niche trade magazines to the top national consumer magazines. The rates of pay vary, but freelancing for magazines can be very lucrative.
Proofreading & Editing
Tired of writing yourself and want to help other writers? Put your sharp eye to the test and become a proofreader or editor. This requires a degree in English or Journalism or a great deal of writing or publishing experience. Editors make very good money and their skills are always in demand.
There are many ways to develop a career as a freelance writer. Put your skills and your imagination to the test. If you don't have a portfolio yet, make one. There are many sites where you can do this for free, however I highly suggest building your own or having one built for you. Remember you are a unique voice and a unique website/portfolio is the ideal way to capture that.
I can't recommend Writer's Market Guides enough for freelance writers. All the information you need on major publications, contacts, and even charts for current pay rates are included. The deluxe edition gives you website membership where you can have all the info you need, regularly updated and at your fingertips! One gig pays for the book. I have found a few paying jobs using this resource.
Share Your Experiences...
Have you heard of all of these different writing niche's and have you tried any yet?
Questions & Answers
© 2011 Christin Sander