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John Kunney

How do you make a living as a writer? Your first step should be to decide what type of writer you want to be. Do you want to be a journalist, proposal writer, technical writer (like me), SQL report writer, or a creative writer? These are just a few options of a much longer list. But before you make this decision let me give you a word of advice.

The first four choices that I proposed to you all have one thing in common. You are paid by the hour. The last choice (creative writer) you will not be given an hourly wage, however, you can still be financially successful but it will be a difficult aspiration to achieve. Keep in mind that business writing (no matter what field) is in constant demand every year and will need very talented writers to carry out the task at hand.

So if you want to pursue becoming a creative writer, make sure that you pair this job with one of the others (your day job in other words) that will enable you to make an hourly wage to pay for you living expenses while in your spare time you create that novel you truly believe will make it to the New York Times best seller list. If you achieve this goal then it’s just a matter of living off the royalties you make from your book.

The second step is to ask yourself the question do you want to work full-time or do you want to be a freelancer.

As a full-time employee you’ll dedicate yourself to one company and make a career within that institution while climbing the ladder to your success. It does pay well and you will be provided benefits but, you won’t make as much money working full-time as you would as a freelancer like me.

We freelancers tend to be paid more, however, we’re in charge of acquiring and maintaining our own benefits like health care because we’re really considered self-employed. We also are granted more freedom than our full-time counterparts. They are authorized one week vacation, while we can take one for at least one month or more. Keep in mind that the work we perform for our clients is temporary. It can last anywhere from one to 12 months or longer. When your task is completed you’ll have to find a new client.

The third step for you to take (especially if you decide to become a freelancer) is to save enough money to pay for your living expenses anywhere from six months to at least a year (and if you can save money to live longer than that, I would highly recommend it). Hopefully after you been in this business for at least two years you’ll already have saved a substantial amount of money in your savings to live without work for a while (which I call the extended vacation) before you start work again.

As for the pay itself you will be compensated well enough to get by. I work in the technical writing industry and we can make anywhere between 50 to over 100K a year. Proposal and SQL report writing you can make even more. But keep in mind that this is after you had at least five years’ experience.

I hope this advice was helpful.

Answered 5 years ago

John Kunney