Nine Jobs for Writers (Paying the Bills)

Photo credit: BigStockPhoto, Rixie

We’re all about trying to help you sell more books here at, but until you find the “magic formula” that’s going to work to sell more of your books (whether that’s advertising, book bloggers, building your mailing list, growing your social media, or any of the other stuff we talk about), I thought that today I’d give you some ideas for earning some money using those writing/ editing/ design skills.  After all, you’re much more likely to be a successful author if you’re not desperate for money and driving yourself bonkers checking your book’s ranking on Amazon every five minutes.

Until you can get to the goal of “author as your full-time gig,” here are some jobs that will allow you the freedom to write and develop your skills further while being paid to do so.   Again, I’m not AT ALL trying to discourage you from continuing to write and market your own books.  I think you should do both!  I just know it can be frustrating when you’re trying to find the exact right marketing plan for your book and you need money for Christmas shopping.

With that in mind, here is a list of jobs for creative type people.   I hope one of these is helpful!

1. Graphic designer/ virtual assistant/ PowerPoint maker/ a variety of other “odd job” type jobs. If you had an administrative-type job in an office or you’re one of those super-organized types, a VA job could be a great fit for you. There are still business owners who don’t want to outsource assistant jobs overseas, and if you can take care of someone else’s administrative stuff (for pay) while doing your own (for free), you come out money ahead. Basically you register with Elance, then you get the chance to look at proposals from business owners who need everything from writers to V.A.s to social media managers to part-time accountants and everything in between.    The advantage of doing something like this is that it gives you the chance to work on your own schedule and write when you’re not working.

2. Social media assistant/ social media manager. Social media (and former unemployed dance teacher) Kate Buck Jr. now has a six-figure business managing social media for clients. Her “Let’s Get Social” course is inexpensive, packed with information, and comes with coaching calls and a large network of people.  I actually require everyone who works for me to take this course, and I took it myself.    If you use Twitter or Facebook to communicate with your friends and fellow authors, believe it or not, you are probably already experienced enough to take on this task for clients.   The one consistent thing missing from social media is (in my opinion), good writing, so you’ll instantly be providing value.   If you’re super skilled, you could even offer this service to other authors, like some of our contributors!

Let’s Get Social course:

3. Copywriter
I’m assuming you’re here because you wrote a book, which means you’re a writer, right??  If you’re good at copywriting at all, definitely sign up to be a content provider at Elance. You will have to “claim” jobs on each network, but depending on your area of expertise), this can not only be a great source of income, but a chance to build your writing muscles, which will help you with your next book.   I actually met a writer last month who ghost-writes eBooks and writes articles through Elance, all while raising six kids and writing books of her own.   You guys– she writes 10,000 words PER DAY.   That is the power of being paid to write for other people– you quickly lose that “writer’s block,” and this translates very well into your own work.

So, Elance is where I would start with that, and I know some writers who have had luck with these site as well: and  I have also heard good things about this person’s course (maybe I’m biased because I think all authors should know a little SEO).  You also could register (for free) on this site, to get notifications for copywriter jobs in your area.

As you probably know by now, freelance gigs are mostly about networking, but you must have something in your portfolio to show people, so that’s where I would start.   You also might want to put a gig or two on Fiverr— you won’t get rich writing articles for $5 a pop, but you will probably pick up “bonus” gigs or residual work if you do a great job.  I have personally hired several writers I found on Fiverr for repeat gigs.


4. Affiliate marketer (also known as “Internet Marketer). Internet marketing is a useful skill no matter what you use it for, and once you’re familiar with the concepts of doing keyword research and setting up WordPress sites, it’s fun to continue learning new things as you promote people’s products (which can certainly earn you a full time income).  I would say that Marcus Campbell’s Blog Profit Network is the simplest and most straightforward for accomplishing this goal.  Basically, this course will teach you how to build sites as well as how to write marketing copy and choose affiliate offers.  I think authors need this skill anyway.


5. Photographer. With the hundreds of photos you’ve taken for your blog, you’ve actually learned a little bit about photography and gotten good at it, right? Honestly, digital photography is a real skill that people need-from real estate agents to other moms who want family portraits done to pet photographers to people who need nice photos of their cars for their CraigsList listing. Here is a website where you can find a guide to starting a home-based photography business, since you are probably already doing this for your child, his or her friends, and their soccer team.   You could start this by putting together an inexpensive website showcasing your work, or by signing up to contribute to stock photography sites like or

6. Designer/ developer.  Honestly, it is much more difficult than you think to find an affordable, experienced designer these days.   If you found that you absolutely loved putting together your author website, maybe this is a skill you should offer to other authors (or business owners, or just about anyone, actually)!   This is something you could definitely sign up to do on Elance.  Another way to go with this is to enter (and hopefully win!) web design “contests”. is a site where anyone can participate in design “contests.” The good news: everyone is different, so no matter what kind of designer you are, you will probably be able to find a customer who is receptive to this, plus once you win the contest, chances are that person will not only stay your client, but refer you to their friends. Visit or to sign up and get started.   If you’re looking for leads, you might also want to put a gig or two on  You won’t get rich doing jobs for five bucks a pop, but if you’re good (and fast), you will start building up leads.  I personally have found several designers on Fiverr that I use all the time (for more than $5).


7.  Mystery Shopper.  Go with me on this.  Writers need interesting things to write about, and it’s good for us to get out of the house.   Mystery shopping accomplishes both of these goals, plus it pays. Secret shopper is actually a job that stores need, because it gives them valuable feedback on how their employees/ stores are doing and alerts them to things they need to change. This is a job that myself and several of my friends do, because it can make errands pay for themselves and because it’s fun and interesting. Basically, you sign up over at this site, get alerted to jobs in your area, accept them, and go!  You’ll need strong writing and organizational skills (and probably a camera), but it’s interesting work and you’ll never have the same day twice.  Try it! Personally, I once reviewed a grocery store, a bank, and a fancy watch store all in the same day, just because I was in the area.  This type of job will also build your writing skills, because you have to turn in reports on deadline.

8.  Public Sector Job.  I know, this one doesn’t really count as a job you can do from home, but I thought I would include it because a) there seem to be a lot of part time public sector jobs available right now, and b) some of them require writing skills, so it could offer you some extra money and still be a way of developing your writing.   Here is a site where you can find more info on that.

9.  Santa’s Elf.   I’m kind of kidding about this one, but there actually ARE a lot of seasonal jobs out there, and if you’ve ever read David Sedaris’ “Santaland Diaries,” you’ll recognize that the more absurd the job, the more fodder for excellent writing in the future.   Seriously– I have had many, many jobs, and the weirdest ones make the best stories.



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