91 Things I’ve Learned About Writing For Money

make money writing

Over my years of writing for tech companies and running my own writing blog, I have learned quite a few valuable lessons. So what better way to share these lessons than by sharing them with you? Take a look at the list of things I have learned with failures and doubtful times during my writing career. Hopefully these can help you out in the future.

1. If you start by wanting to make money, it will get old fast
2. Your best friend is changing settings
3. Never start writing to become a superstar
4. Writing about your current passion doesn’t mean you can’t find and learn about new passions
5. You are always going to have to fill in some down time with work that seems a bit tedious
6. Always go outside to get your day started
7. Always take breaks after short periods of time
8. Try to go outside during most of these breaks

9. Try to build many relationships with potential writing buddies

10. Celebrate all of your tiny successes
11. Move on quickly from all failures and successes
12. Write about your writing in order to learn from other people and get your thoughts on paper
13. Consider occasionally using voice dictation software to give your fingers a break
14. Prepare before you write with a fresh shower, warm cup of tea and an outline that shows you your road map
15. Write down your daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals
16. Update these goals frequently, and make them realistic

17. If you feel you’re about to go crazy, chat with other writers online or meet a writer friend at a coffee shop
18. Keep calm and carry on
19. Dedicate yourself to writing, and stay the path
20. Join a writing community
21. Keep your writing space clean
22. Become a minimalist–get rid of all the extra junk
23. Criticize other writers, and hope that they will criticize you back
24. Steal writing styles from people who know how to write
25. Eventually develop your own style of writing
26. Never compare yourself to other writers–there’s always going to be someone with a better website, stronger social following or more comments on their blog
27. Take bold stances and stand behind them
28. Take care of your health and hygiene
29. Realize that there are some days that you may not shower or shave
30. Try to write more and hit the publish button less
31. Just because you don’t think a certain article idea or short story is good doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write it
32. Write about your own life

33. Even with the most boring topics, incorporate stories to create an emotional connection with your readers
34. Share your work with friends and family and other writers even when it’s not quite ready
35. Develop a blog with loads of free content
36. Use your blog to interact with other people, improve your tech skills and write about things you enjoy
37. Read tons of books about writing
38. Take a different approach to every piece you write–don’t get stuck with a template
39. Blogging for other companies and websites is one of the more fun and consistent ways to make money
40. Find affiliate programs that you can work into blog posts and e-books to make a little extra money
41. It takes time to become a good writer
42. The best equipment is whatever you have on you right now–write regardless
43. Know the rules, and break them to develop your own style
44. Follow blogs that give you inspiration or keep you updated on trends
45. Don’t just use social media as a distribution outlet
46. Use social media to have fun and create relationships with people in your industry
47. Always respond to your emails and comments
48. Create a portfolio website if you plan on freelance writing
49. Use a conversational tone in your freelance pitch emails
50. Mention your blog in freelance pitch emails to show your style of writing
51. Ask questions at the end of your blog posts to get people chatting
52. Take old blog posts or old articles and re-purpose them into new content you can sell
53. Develop a mindset of how you can create a different angle on other people’s articles–never regurgitate content that has been written before

small gerbil
54. Everyone has to start small
55. Laugh about your past failures
56. Your first 10, 100 or even 10,000 articles or stories will suck
57. Spend 30% of your time developing a good title
58. Editing is the most important part of writing
59. Participate in writing contests
60. Hold writing contests to draw people to your blog
61. Talk to influencers through social media as much as possible
62. Try to work on projects with influencers in your industry
63. Use stories, stats and quotes to grab reader attention
64. Don’t be afraid of mistakes–make as many as possible
65. If you don’t know how to use a certain piece of technology, learn how
66. Write every day
67. Learn how to use WordPress and master it
68. Tell people you know how to use WordPress when pitching potential new clients
69. Don’t be afraid of offending anyone
70. Never trust your backups–use multiple hard drives and backup options
71. Spend a day or two to perfect your search engine optimization
72. Learn how to write while on the road
73. Always ship your product–never miss deadlines
74. Your writing is never going to be perfect
75. Print your favorite articles out and post them on the wall

76. Wake up by reading something motivational or helpful
77. Pay attention to the sky and the landscapes around you
78. Always keep a notepad on you
79. You can only become a paid writer when you learn to fight your laziness
80. Ask yourself how you want to be represented with your writing and how you want to be remembered
81. Be different–always think outside the box
82. Find a mentor and pick their brain frequently
83. Always offer something before asking for something
84. Don’t sway people with a pitch, but with action
85. Writing is never a waste of time
86. Don’t ever get too emotionally attached to your writing–write and move on
87. Be nice to people
88. A high-priced class, book or software doesn’t guarantee better writing
89. You can’t satisfy everyone
90. There will always be someone who hates your work
91. Your writing is an extension of yourself–if you help or motivate just a single person, you’ve done well

Let me know in the comments section below if you would add any other points that could help writers earn money with their own careers.

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About Joe Warnimont

I am a writer, marketing expert and adventure seeker. I help people write, market their writing, live truthfully and embrace their lives through creativity. You can find me riding my bike around the streets of Chicago. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus.


  1. Jen Danger says:

    Love this list, I’m going to print it out and stick it on my wall! By the way, 56 and 59 are the same…

  2. Karen Martínez P. says:

    Haha loved #2. I’m obsessed with it!

    #82 is really important, it’s the best way to keep improving and learning. I would include master mind groups to this.

    Great list!

    • Hi Karen,

      Master mind groups are key. I try to find new Meetups whenever I can around the Chicago area. I’m glad you liked the list. Have a nice weekend!

  3. Thanks for following my lapetitekiwi blog! Now that I’ve come across your site I hope to learn a few things to become a better blogger. Cheers 🙂

  4. There’s not a thing on this list I disagree with. As to #31, when you are being paid to write web content, you are using the client’s voice and ideas. I have found myself writing things I would never say in person – but since I know my client would say it, I figure my job is to help him say it as well as he can. However, there are some jobs I have decided just not to take on. I won’t write for a quack or a charlatan, or someone pushing solutions I have moral objections to. I don’t have to agree with what I write, but I do have to think the client is being honest. That’s just a personal choice. Sometimes I read copy from what I would consider a bogus source and think, “I know how to say that better.” It is sometimes even a tempting game to rephrase badly written sophistry. But I’d rather not make money by getting people to accept faulty ideas. I’m a trained legal secretary and paralegal, and I know there is always more than one way to look at evidence. But lure someone into fuzzy thinking? Even though I’m good at it, I’ll pass.

    • I agree Susan. I think when I wrote #31 I was thinking more about original ideas that I come up with myself (since there always seems to be a few that I doubt,) but it applies even more when writing for clients. When I was getting started I completed a few jobs that I can’t say I was proud of (regurgitated content, sketchy marketing tactics and so on,) but I’ve learned from those experiences, and I make an effort to work with people who sell a product or service that can benefit other people. The client’s voice is always a bit different than my own, but that’s part of the job, to make other people’s thoughts and words sound better.

  5. Evelyne Holingue says:

    Always good to read your uplifting posts, Joe. Actually, I followed just a few of your tips from your book Rise of the Writer and I have increased my blog readership very significantly. What if I had followed ALL of your tips?
    In this post, I like the fact that you mention laziness # 79 and discipline # 66 since both are truly the reasons why we get stuck or succeed. Cheers to your own success.

    • That’s awesome to hear Evelyne. It’s nice to hear that my ramblings helped you find a few new readers. Also, I mention laziness and discipline because those are things I struggle with! 🙂

  6. Evelyne Holingue says:

    I do apologize for the grey icon. I always use my WordPress account with my Gravatar but wasn’t able to do so. Sorry for this anonymous head.

    • 🙂 No problem Evelyne. I know who you are. I few months ago I switched to this Disqus comment plugin and I didn’t realize you can’t login with a WordPress account. It’s still a work in progress, so time will tell if I keep it, but in the meantime you can login with a social account if needed. Have a nice weekend!

  7. ryantyrl says:

    Great info! Thanks for following.

  8. Joe, this is a great list of tips. Thanks for sharing these. I studied Goal Setting theory and theories of motivation in Grad school and setting goals is so important. Thanks for following my blog on songwriting.

  9. csknotts says:

    Great tips. I know most of them personally. My most frequent problem right now is Writer’s Block. How do you deal with being blocked?

    • Personally I just start writing about my day or about the room I’m sitting in. I find that staring at a computer screen or browsing online never does anything for writer’s block. Writing is the only cure.

  10. Lida Bushloper says:

    Joe, this is brilliant. Every bit of advice and practical tips from every successful writer all smushed into one highly accessible list.

  11. Amanda Wood says:

    Hi Joe. I had to laugh at many of your points…as a tech writer by day and professional writing masters student by night..So many of the thoughts that run through my head were captured in your 91 points. I also stopped by because you very kindly followed a blog of mine that just moved domain to here: http://clearlywriting.com/ and I wanted to let you know. I look forward to reading more of your posts. Amanda