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Let's Talk About Money
This Week In Writing, we talk about earning money as a writer online and check in on NaNoWriMo.
Writing has become an extremely lucrative opportunity over the last few years. Know how to string a few sentences together? Quit your job and become a six-figure content creator. At least, that's what so many online writers want you to believe. I tend to have a slightly different take.
I'm all for writers getting paid. Writing is a significant talent that few people can do well. Those who can deserve to be compensated accordingly. That said, most people will not open up a Medium account and instantly make a living.
Systems like Medium's Partner Program democratized payments for writers -- it's a fantastic program that changed writing online forever. Unfortunately, it also empowered content creators who realized theycould make money by telling others how to make money. It's a parasitic process.
As I write this, The Writing Cooperative has over 240k followers on Medium, and I personally have over 50k. I'm grateful to each and every one of you who chose to give me a bit of your attention. I, however, do not want to fund my pursuits by exploiting yours.
I can see how this might seem a bit disingenuous since I wrote a book on writing, have a paid Substack option, and encourage you to use my Medium affiliate link at the end of emails. However, I try to always be honest with my audience. I can't promise you the keys to instant financial success from writing -- that's not something I think anyone can do. Instead, I try to empower and support writers to build their audience, grow their skills, and make the most money they can with their talent.
Despite tools like Medium's Partner Program, making a living as a writer is still very difficult. Most financially successful writers I've encountered over the years do not make a living posting online -- they write for clients, provide marketing consultation to businesses, and develop several income streams. Sites like Medium make up a small portion of their overall income.
Even with the size of my audience (again, thank you so much), Medium, book sales, and Substack/Patreon provide me with enough money to keep the business running (marketing tools, business taxes, accounting, etc.). Money from my full-time writing clients paid my salary. Now that I'm no longer writing full-time, I rarely see a real salary -- last month was a few hundred dollars.
So, what's the point of all this? Well, today is Talk Money Day, and it got me thinking about so many of the articles that pop up in my various feeds. While I want to encourage all writers to earn money and pursue their dream, I want you to do so with realistic expectations.
Are there people who make a living posting online? Yes. Is it as easy as most of the articles make it seem? Hell no.
What is your experience making money as an online writer? Hit reply, and let's chat.
Today is November 8 -- if you're participating in a traditional NaNo, you should be sitting at 13,336 words by the end of the day. How are you doing? Are you meeting your goals? How can I encourage your pursuit?
Last week Substack launched a new chat feature creating a private messaging space for subscribers. Shortly after the announcement, I turned it on and invited you all to say hello — and you all showed up! It was so cool scrolling through your responses and seeing everyone interact with each other. Moving forward, I’ll use that space for the weekly discussion question posed in the newsletter.
There are two lessons learned since launching the chat feature last week:
Chat is currently only available in the iOS app. Those of you on Android or who choose to read via email or the web cannot participate (for now). Substack said, “it’s coming.” You can still engage in the weekly discussion by commenting or sending a reply.
For some reason, Substack sends an email notification in addition to app notifications. I don’t know why, but you can turn them off in your settings.
Enough disclaimer, let’s connect!