Have you thought about extending your self-publishing and becoming a self-employed blogger?
With all the apps and tools that are available now for writers to publish their work online, there are many options when it comes to earning an income from your writing career.
You might think of self-publishing as only publishing ebooks and books on Amazon. But this is only one of many ways that are available to publish and get paid for your writing.
There are so many possibilities including online writing, freelance writing, editing or content writing when it comes to getting paid to write.
A lot of people are now learning to mix and match writing and publishing to maximise the return on their work.
Writing jobs are also a good fit if you want more independence and more flexible working hours. If you are a stay at home mom or want to start a business from home, your writing experience gives you a great head start.
Yes, publishing ebooks on Kindle is one way to sell your writing. But if you love writing, blogging quality content is now becoming a very lucrative means of making extra money every day of the week from your writing skills.
But, let’s start with books and ebooks.
Selling books and making money
With ebooks and books, the time investment needed to write, produce, market and then promote one title is enormous. Then there is the issue of whether a book will be popular enough to sell reasonably well.
Book publishing has always been a gamble, so nothing is new here about self-publishing and making a living writing.
Only a small percentage of self-publishing authors make a decent annual income from ebooks, books and audiobooks. In other words, the failure rate is very high, so there is no easy money to be made.
Of course, there is a difference between authors who succeed and those who don’t. Usually, it is that successful authors write for their clearly defined target reading market, and know exactly what these readers buy and want to read.
Before writing a new book, they read many books that are highly ranked in their specific genre or sub-genre because these books are competitive products.
By doing this, they do what any other business does before producing and launching a new product. They do market research before deciding on what they will produce and publish.
The horse before the cart
For many self-published writers, poor book sales are the result of having this logical business order in reverse. Sure, writing a book is rewarding, and for many, it is a very proud moment when their book is finally published.
But writing a book, and then crossing your fingers and hoping that your great idea will sell is not a great recipe for success.
Publishing a book and then doing a lot of research about where it might sell, but without the knowledge of what books you are competing against it is not a good business practice.
It creates the obvious problem that it is impossible to promote the book to a clearly defined target audience before publishing to build hype and gain pre-order sales.
Pre-order sales are like gold because they can give a new book a huge sales ranking boost on the day of publication, which then helps gain more sales, and money in your pocket, in the days and weeks after the book launch.
Secondly, after a book is published, without a clear understanding of where to market and advertise a book, a lot of time and money will be wasted.
Fine-tuning book marketing and promotion
As an example, if you use Facebook advertising to promote a book, where and to who will it be targeted?
Placing a Facebook ad to target people between the ages of 18 and 65 who live in the US will cost a fortune and result in very few sales.
However, if an author knows precisely what the target readers and buyers are for a book, the chances of success are much higher for far less investment. Instead of a scattergun approach, the author will place highly targeted ads.
Perhaps for a young adult light romance based in San Francisco, the demographics could be between 19 and 23, live on the west coast of the US and have interests in reading, and in particular, young adult and romance.
For a World War Two historical novel about a fighter pilot based in England in the latter years of the war, or a collection of short stories about the swinging 60’s, the demographics would be entirely different.
Understanding, recognising and using target reader demographics is the best way to fine-tune book marketing and book promotion.
Yes, you can make money by self-publishing ebooks and books
There are some successful writers and self-publishing authors, but they all treat what they do as a real business. It means doing all the hard work that is absolutely necessary before finally writing and publishing a new title.
Well before writing they do their market research before deciding on what they will write. Then, after writing, hours, days, weeks and even months will be spent on editing and proofreading.
With the keen knowledge of the target market, there will also be a lot of time, and money spent on book cover design. It will be meticulous, to make sure the book cover will attract target readers and book buyers.
Authors who make money, spend very wisely, and have a set marketing plan to launch a new title, and also a separate promotion plan for after the book is launched and often for the first year or more.
Treating ebook and book self-publishing as a real business like any other is the best way to succeed, and hopefully, build a career on writing.
But the honest truth is that it is a very tough business. Don’t give up, but there are easier ways to increase your income from your writing.
Becoming a blogger or online publisher is also self-publishing and lucrative
It is not only from selling ebooks and books that you can make money from writing.
More and more authors are turning to monetized blogging to either supplement their income from book royalties, or in some cases, to make blogging their full-time writing job.
Starting a blog is easy and extremely cheap, even for a self-hosted WordPress site.
In my case, I do both, but in recent years the financial return on time invested has led me to concentrate more on blogging and content writing than on writing books.
The reason is simple. Books and ebooks need sales, which can vary significantly from month to month or year to year. But blogging earnings are much more stable and predictable resulting in a very steady income.
Successful authors treat self-publishing books as a business. Making money from blogging is exactly the same. You need to do your research first and then learn to identify your target market. It will be crucial to your success.
A blog that makes money is one that is acutely targeted to a particular online reading audience. In most cases, a successful blog will answer questions people have when they search for answers on the Internet.
Other good blog ideas come in the form of being entertaining or informative.
Think here of a local news blog or a blog publishing weekly and seasonal gardening articles. You can even go more upmarket and start your own online magazine.
Recipe blogs have come a long way over the years, and today they are one of the most popular monetized blogging topics and can earn excellent advertising revenue.
Define, fine-tune, quality writing and stay focused
Successful blogs are almost always focused on one narrow topic niche. Think of SLR digital cameras, or for a recipe blog, vegan recipes or South Indian curries.
The reason this narrow focus is necessary is that blogs rely heavily on Google and Bing search for site traffic, so keyword selection for blog posts is vital in attracting blog visitors in large numbers.
Social media also plays a role in attracting traffic, but it is usually quite a way behind organic search and email marketing.
By far the most essential quality of an excellent blog is to write articles that are of high quality, accurate and error-free. Because blog articles are published quite quickly, make sure you use a good grammar checker before you publish an article or post.
Making money online from blogging relies almost entirely on the amount of traffic you can get. The more visits you get, the more money you can make.
But building up site visits takes time and a lot of work, so never expect blogging will be a financial success from day one.
The advice often given by other bloggers, which I agree with, is that it takes at least a year to get a blog moving in the right direction.
It means writing a lot of quality long-form content for your site and learning to apply excellent SEO practices to build a sizable base of daily traffic.
You can speed up the process by using an SEO pro-tool like Semrush to quickly build your ranking keywords and to write better, keyword rich content. It is a vast suite of tools that most successful professional bloggers use.
But once you have done the hard work, and you are getting traffic to your blog, you can expect to start making steady money.
What can you sell on a blog?
1. Sell advertising space
Selling blog space, which is sometimes called webpage real estate, is the quickest and easiest way to start making money.
Google Adsense is the easiest way to monetize a blog by allowing Google to show ads on your blog. At first, it will earn pennies, but as your traffic builds, it can turn into a steady and reliable passive income paycheck every month.
2. Become an affiliate marketer
Affiliate marketing is another great way to make money from your blog.
Affiliate programs, such as Amazon Associates among many others are usually easy to join and to start earning sales commissions. Again, your either allow space on your site for ads, or you can use text affiliate links, which very effective and are not as intrusive.
3. Accept paid content
Another simple way of earning money is to accept sponsored posts, advertorial articles or paid links on your blog. Content marketers are always looking for blogs that accept paid articles.
But where you can make lots of money from blogging is from selling products and services.
If you are a writer and author, the very first products you should start selling on your blog are your books and ebooks.
4. Sell a service
You could also sell your services as a proofreader, ebook formatter or freelance writer. If you have the skills and some free time, you could also sell your time as an editor.
Online courses are becoming extremely popular now. Perhaps you could offer online writing classes.
Do you have a non-writing skill that people need? You could offer your services as a consultant for website development, social media management or as a personal virtual assistant.
5. Sell memberships
Another idea is membership sites. Your product is premium content that you restrict to only paying subscribers. This is a difficult model, but one that is being tried more and more.
6. Write for other blogs
Some bloggers also accept freelance writing jobs and sell their content to other blogs. Be careful to avoid content mills that underpay writers by doing your research first for a list of websites that pay fairly. Generally, fair sites pay $50 at a minimum for quality articles.
It can work in reverse too. If you are in the process of building your blog, you can pay for experienced content writers to write content or guest posts for your new blog.
A quick Google search will result in hundreds of ideas and ways to earn a steady and reliable income from a well-designed and content-rich blog and turn it into a full-time job.
Writing for money from blogging and books is much easier today than years ago.
All the tools and resources are at your fingertips to successfully publish books and ebooks, or to start a career in blogging, or content writing for sites that pay writers.
But both need to treated as a long-term business and not a short-term hobby. Both are hard work and time-intensive, but as a writer, you know this is the case in any writing endeavour.
Both forms of publishing need at least a modest investment in the tools and services you will need to succeed. But compared to a brick and mortar business, the investment is negligible.
So in closing, can you earn money from blogging and writing books?
Yes, as long as you do your research, treat it like a real business and above all else, work hard and be stubbornly committed to achieving your personal business goals.
I started my working life as a lithographer and then spent over 30 years in the printing and publishing business.
Originally from Australia, I moved to Switzerland 20 years ago. My days are spent teaching English, writing and wrestling with technology while enjoying my glorious view of the Alps.
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