How easy is it to make a living from writing

(11 Posts)
hiddengems Tue 26-Apr-16 22:03:50

I would love to be a writer.

I do it for a hobby but would like to make a living out of it. I haven't got the faintest idea how to do it though.

Everyone seems to be a writer these days and I'm sure it's not easy to be published/get commissions.

Is it worth pursuing or should I just keep it as a hobby?

MattDillonsPants Tue 26-Apr-16 23:48:29

To give you some idea of just how difficult it is, I'll tell you my journey.

I was first commissioned professionally 10 years ago by BBC Radio 4 comedy. I went on to work on a number of their comedy shows as a team writer.

Then I began to freelance; I wrote content for trade magazines and web content for various clients including marketing agencies. I also had a short story published and won an award for radio drama.

During this time I also worked 3 days a week as a bar tender.

It has taken me until now, 10 years of intermittent work and struggle, to get to the stage where I can live off what I earn.

And even now, I don't earn a huge amount. I recommend you look into a degree in creative writing. My journey was unusual in that I never studied writing and instead trained as an actor. It was acting which gave me my first break in writing due to links with the BBC and a LOT of effort and rejection.

expatinscotland Tue 26-Apr-16 23:53:15

It's very hard.

LunaLoveg00d Wed 27-Apr-16 07:52:56

It depends what sort of writing you are wanting to do.

I write web content and blogs for a variety of clients and it's not particularly well-paid. I don't do it as a "career", I do it because it fits perfectly around my husband's work and means I can be fully flexible for the kids. I usually get around 2p to 3p per word - so around £10 per standard 500 word article. One of the clients I work with regularly commissions work which is easy to produce and doesn't need much research and I can easily bang out 2 articles in an hour, so £20 an hourly rate. Other clients where research takes longer or the subject matter is more complex, I charge more. Remember too that it's never guaranteed income - last week I was sat twiddling my thumbs waiting for clients to decide on projects, this week is shaping up to be busier.

The main problem with this sort of work is that for every "good" client like I have, there is one who expect the moon on a stick for 5p. There are also thousands of people who call themselves writers who live in places like Bangladesh, Pakistan or Kenya who are quite happy to write a 500 word article for £2 or less. Yes, their copy is crap and full of grammatical and spelling errors, but some clients don't care, as long as they have words to stuff their website with.

People Per Hour is a good website to start with, you can browse through the sorts of jobs on offer there and see if there's anything which piques your interest.

WhatsGoingOnEh Sat 30-Apr-16 10:05:19

I've made a living as a writer for 23 years. I think I'm lucky in that I never assumed it'd be difficulty, so I had the ignorance and confidence to plough ahead!

My CV: I started on a magazine as a sub-editor. I had a degree in Advertising/Copywriting so it was easy to write headlines, plus I'm naturally a grammar Nazi. smile Started writing for that magazine, then others, in my spare time. Wrote my first book.

Went freelance and since then have written 4 more books and for loads of magazines and papers.

My tips: concentrate on thinking of ideas, and build up your cuttings file. (Blog posts are probably fine for that.) Then phone up magazines & papers and ask who to send ideas to. Then send them! Continue to send them in, as often as possible. Get into a routine. Just keep doing it.

Eventually someone will commission you, and then you'll be on a roll.

Magazines & papers pay well: around £500 for 1,000 words. A few of those every month and you're all set!

MedSchoolRat Sat 30-Apr-16 10:42:55

I think I'm mostly a writer but that's writing about scientific research.

PartiallyStars Sat 30-Apr-16 10:49:28

I'm a freelance writer, have been since DS2 was born six years ago. But I had put in the time working on editorial - postgrad journalism course, then 12 years on different magazines. The contacts I made during that time are now the people who commission me, and they know what they are getting in terms of accuracy, understanding of the style and subject etc.

When I was a commissioning editor I was reluctant to commission work from non-journalists - I did a few times, when people contacted me with ideas, and not once was the resulting piece any good, they always required extensive rewriting. Not to say you won't get commissioned, perhaps in these days of blogs etc commissioning editors are more likely to take a chance.

I wish I got £500 a 1,000! Trade magazines are about half that!

phillipa1980 Mon 02-May-16 11:32:50

very hard unfortunately. a friend of mine has written some very successful childrens books and even some stuff for tv but still has had to take a full time job as a teaching assistant.

crazywriter Tue 03-May-16 15:51:16

It depends on the niche you break into. I've freelanced in writing for 5 years now, and only last year really struggled financially but that wasn't due to lack of clients and more my lack of searching for them and really wanting to write (I had another job that I enjoyed more). I've now quit the other job and will soon be the sole earner in the house. I was the main earner for two years, as DH was in uni and only worked pt.

It all depends on the clients, though. I tend to get paid in US dollars more than UK pounds because of where my clients are. It works out that I make £30 per hour with conversion rates and PayPal fees.

This last 6 months has seen an increase as I've now finally broken into TV show writing. I cover the likes of Game of Thrones, The Vampire Diaries and Arrow. They site has a basic pay and then bonuses for views and my view count always takes me well over half my monthly target, so I just need to find the other half from private clients (and I always aim to get 75%from private clients at least so I don't have to rely on views).

MissBattleaxe Mon 23-May-16 16:20:45

It depends on the writing you want to do. If it's articles then the previous posters offer good advice. If it's novels or creative writing, try the Creative Writing Board. There's a wealth of knowledge and experience there.

Good luck!

SleepyRoo Mon 23-May-16 18:57:45

Marry somebody rich, and go for it!

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now