Writing can be a rewarding way of using your creative skills both for personal fulfillment and to earn money. Freelance opportunities provide flexible employment, while the research and imagination involved in writing can be highly enjoyable. That said, earning money as a writer is not always easy or quick. Fortunately, opportunities have proliferated with the growth of online publishing for writers to break into the historically difficult realm of writing for profit. A host of possibilities now exist to earn money from your writing outside the bounds of traditional publishing.
Method One of Five:
Publishing a Blog Edit
Consider Your Audience. Rather than writing a personal blog, create and maintain a blog on a specific topic. Readers are more likely to return regularly to blogs that provide reliable content in a specific subject area.
- Reflect upon your interests. Perhaps you are an enthusiastic gardener or a voracious reader of celebrity news. Targeting a blog to your interests will help keep you engaged as a writer, and your passion for the subject will likely translate into enjoyable content for your readers.
- Focus upon an area of expertise. Maybe you work in computer programming, or have learned how to provide restricted-diet foods for your family. Use these skills as a foundation for developing a blog that will provide useful instruction for your readers. 
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Update your blog regularly. Careful attention to blog maintenance and to providing fresh content will help you grow and maintain a steady audience.
- Create a regular schedule to keep yourself on track. Perhaps you’ll plan to post a set number of times per week, or designate different content for different days — a recipe each Monday and Wednesday, for example, on a culinary blog, with plans to share shopping advice on Tuesdays and an amusing anecdote on Thursdays.
- Learn how to schedule postings in advance. Popular blogging sites typically give you the option of drafting posts and then scheduling them for release at a future date and time. Doing so will enable you to keep your blog active even if you’re out of town or otherwise occupied.
Recognize that making money blogging will take time. While the process of setting up advertising links via ad players such as Google Ad Sense, Amazon Associates, or Pay-Per-Post is fairly straightforward, it may take several months before you start to receive ad revenue. Ads typically pay on a format of “cost per thousand readers,” or CPM, so drawing readers to your blog is very important.
- Search for related blogs and post comments to draw readers to your site. Always remember to link your URL. 
- Scan the Web for opportunities to participate in “link ups” hosted by prominent bloggers. Link ups offer you the chance to submit a blog post that will then be posted alongside other bloggers’ posts in a collection of links.
- Consider learning “search engine optimization,” or SEO. This is a technique for improving the rate at which search engines such as Google list your blog postings in their search results. A quick Web search will yield tools to help you learn how SEO works. 
Prepare to spend significant time and effort on your blog.  Maintaining a quality blog requires an investment of both time and significant mental energy. Payoff, however, comes both in the form of ad revenue and in the community successful blogs can create.
- The number of hours successful bloggers put in per week varies, but remember that in addition to writing content, you’ll need to spend time on advertising, networking, bookkeeping, and efforts to maximize your social media and search results. Consider 20 hours per week a reasonable starting point in terms of time commitment, then evaluate your own work pace and habits once you’re underway. 
- Plan to spend at least an hour or two drafting and an extra hour editing each post. Always, always proofread before posting to ensure your content is tidy and easily read.
Method Two of Five:
Writing Online Content Edit
Tap online resources to find writing opportunities. Web-based publications, print publications that post additional content online, and businesses all need freelance writers to provide quality material for their sites. Search for resource sites that offer free access to listings of online writing opportunities. You may also consider investing in subscriptions to more specialized job-listing sites.
- Avoid listings that don’t mention pay, or that ask writers to submit new work on speculation in order to be considered — after all, your time has worth.
- Exercise care regarding offers to blog purely for exposure or that involve payment in exchange for Web traffic (for example, $1 per 1,000 page-views). You aren’t likely to make much from such jobs.
- Take the entire context of a job opportunity into consideration. You may be willing to write for less, for example, if you are just starting out or if a job takes minimal time and effort. The predictability of establishing an ongoing relationship (a weekly guest post, for example) may merit accepting a slightly lower pay rate, or you might value the opportunity to retain the rights to your material after it is posted.
Network online and in person. Read the forums of writer networking groups to gain knowledge and insight. You’ll learn where to look for work — and what opportunities to avoid. Attending industry events can yield valuable opportunities and help you gain exposure.
- Start your perusal of online forums with a general site such as the American Society of Journalists and Authors.  You can then move on to genre-specific sites for information specific to your writing interests.
- Research writer’s organizations in your field of interest to see whether and when they host conferences. Groups ranging from the Society of American Travel Writers to the American Medical Writers Association (and many organizations based in other countries or world regions) host regular gatherings.
Study your target before making a pitch. If you’re interested in writing for a particular site, examine which areas of the site are updated most frequently. Is there a blog? Does it feature regular content from outside contributors? Understanding where opportunities lie will help you target your approach.
Make the first move. Send a letter of introduction, or, better yet, a query outlining a specific pitch. Emphasize your Web writing experience, if you have it, and include any personal referrals you can muster. If you’re short on experience but do maintain a blog or Web site, include a link.
Search online for “paying greeting card markets. ” While card manufacturers of all sizes accept freelance work, consider starting with smaller companies where competition may be less fierce. 
- Consider what types of card-writing interest you. Perhaps you enjoy developing funny quips, for example, or consider yourself gifted at composing meaningful poetry. Understanding your own talents will help you target card companies that produce relevant card collections.
Request companies’ guidelines before submitting your material. Ensure that you’re targeting your material to the company’s needs. One manufacturer may be in particular need of rhymed poetry for sentimental cards, for example, while another might have a word limit for humorous text.
- Study retail card displays. Reflect upon what types of material work well. Pay specific attention to the styles of cards each manufacturer provides so you can target your material most effectively.
Pay attention to voice. The greeting card format is more directly personal than most other forms of writing. Even a blog that you write with a confidential “me-to-you” voice actually reaches a host of readers; greeting cards, by contrast, are explicitly sent from one individual to another.
- Composing greeting card text provides a great opportunity to practice “writing tight.” Carefully consider each word to ensure your verse or quip packs maximum impact from minimum length.
Aim for “rack impact. ” Greeting cards on a rack have an average of 1.5 seconds in which to catch a consumer’s eye. Cards with strong “rack impact” will stand out to consumers. Ensure your text will attract potential buyers quickly. 
- Remember that the cover of a card is what consumers see when they’re scanning a rack or display. A high-impact beginning will ensure that potential buyers pick up the card and open it to view your amusing punchline or heartfelt verse.
Search online resources to find opportunities. In addition to freelancing resource sites, consider searching advertising sites such as Craigslist where individuals outside the field of publishing may be seeking writing assistance.
- Ensure you understand your client’s expectations before taking on a project — and verify they understand that you are a writer and not a literary agent. You might be able to offer advice to your client, but you won’t be formally “representing” their publishing needs.
- Always sign a written agreement with your client before undertaking a ghostwriting project. At minimum, this contract should itemize the work you’ll be doing, how much you’ll be paid, when you’ll be paid, your deadline, and who will retain (usually this will be your client). It’s a good idea to seek legal assistance in composing or evaluating a contract.
Advertise your services. Make you have an author’s Web site and/or blog, and specify on your site that you are interested in ghostwriting. Mention your ghostwriting services in your email signature, and let editors, story sources, and colleagues know you’re ghostwriting. 
- Experience helps, but promote what you have. Seek ghostwriting opportunities in fields where you bring special skills. A background working in the computing field, for example, may make you an attractive ghostwriter for someone seeking a writer conversant with technological jargon.
Analyze the strengths and weaknesses of each ghostwriting opportunity. Ghostwriting generally means you will not receive personal credit for your work. You do, however, gain multiple advantages. First, ghostwriters are not responsible for publicizing their work — simply fulfill the terms of your writing contract and you’re done. Second, you will spend less time on research and preparation, as your client is generally responsible for providing background material, or at minimum pointing you in the right direction. In addition, you may enjoy the opportunity work as part of a team in what is often a very solitary profession. 
- A typical ghostwriting contract is paid entirely in advance. If a publication is likely to generate substantial sales, however, you may consider accepting a smaller advance and a cut of the profits.
- In cases where your name appears on a title as co-author or editor, you may determine that the prestige of the association merits accepting a lower fee, perhaps in combination with a percentage of the book’s royalties.