How to Not be a “Starving Writer”


by Sheree Crawford

Writing can pay.

No seriously. Ok, so the average author earns less than the Living Wage (hell, they sometimes earn less than the Minimum Wage), but the great thing about writing is that it’s a versatile skill that can be applied to so many situations. A few conversations with followers about just how hard it can be to make money as a writer spurred this article; these are 5 ways to make money as a writer that are open to everyone.


Sell Short Stories

The short story is on the rise once more, and if you can be bothered to go through the process of self-publishing you could start making money pretty quickly. You can find a much longer run down of how to do this here, but a basic synopsis goes like this; write it, polish it, format it, publish it. Kindle does big business when it comes to short stories, and plenty of people love them because they are “bite-sized”.

The most popular genres are, unsurprisingly, Romance, Erotica, and Horror, but there’s no reason to avoid all other genres and follow the crowd. If you want to maximise interest you should consider working on a series at a time, thereby giving the readers characters they can become invested in. Consider making each instalment free for the first week or so to bring people in, and be sure to sell them as a collection once you have a few under your belt.


SEO and Content Writing 

Sites like allow you to apply for short term, small projects to supplement your income. Things like producting search engine optimised articles for websites are common and easy to come by (some clients will even be looking for someone do to the work on an ongoing basis), but be ready to fight for the juicy jobs because such sites are swamped. Ideally you should be looking to find clients who will return to you again and again if you want a stable income.

Pitch content hungry websites directly, or approach popular blogs to see if they need someone to do the heavy lifting for them.


Rewriting and Polishing

Not everyone can write and so, if you’re good, there’s decent money to be made in rewriting or “polishing” other peoples C.V.s, cover letters, university and job applications, or even their bios and website content. This is much like proofreading, but in this case you’re being paid to identify and made changes to language, structure, and even content rather than just grammar and structure.



If you can write well enough to sell your work you can proofread; proofreading can be big business for those willing to endure the tedious and often tiring nature of the work. Other writers will pay to have people proofread their works, but most often you will find it’s post-graduate students who want someone to go over their thesis with a fine-toothed comb that will be your main clients. Consider leaving flyers or your business card around College and University campuses.


Write Articles

The Magazine market is tough, but it’s not impossible to crack. The key is finding your niche; magazines are specialised publications aimed at people who, very often, know their stuff. The quickest way to get into this is to start with something that you love, e.g. are you a model train lover, a yoga & fitness guru, or a fashionista. If you have a pre-existing hobby you should make the most of it and start looking into magazines that cover this area.

Case each prospective magazine to see what they publish and ask yourself what you can add to this. You could start with an article which responds to one already published; it may not be bought, but it should catch the editors eye. It’s all about getting and keeping that attention!

The truth is that if you want to make money writing you have to work at it as hard as you would at any 9-5 job.




Guest post contributed by Sheree Crawford. Sheree is a UK based content writer and ghostwriter and often writes about the art of writing.

34 thoughts on “How to Not be a “Starving Writer”

  1. Reblogged this on GeezWriter Blog and commented:
    Short personal experience essays related to the subject of the periodical are easier for breaking in and getting some credits, even if the pay is a few bucks or writer copies. Here is some great advice. Thanks, Sheree Crawford.


  2. Great post. I’m a relatively new freelance writer but have had my blog for a little over a year. It’s definitely taxing and is almost an every day thing especially since I write about history. It’s tough in terms of the amount of work but it’s also very enjoyable and rewarding. I definitely agree with establishing a niche. And don’t be discouraged if you lack the experience or educational degree. Apply anyways even if you feel you’re unqualified, maybe someone will take a chance on you. I need to read more about the short stories bit where I can leverage certain aspects.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for a wonderful post. It will certainly give a lot of starving writers some hope. I’m looking to supplement my income when I retire. You can only do physical jobs for so long. but as long as your mind is sharp, you can write for decades. Thanks again, and take care.


  4. I appreciate this reminder about writing because some days I question my own writer’s path. I so easily forget to write for myself and let the rest come later, so thank you for reminding me I won’t neccisarily be starving 😉


  5. Thanks for your piece, I had no idea about the short story / kindle route.
    I think in some ways writing is a bit like making music. Unless you’re a big established act you need to look for many angles to bring in the $.
    Really useful piece.


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