How Do I Get Paid to Write About Sex or Anything Else?
A kink friend of mine, who recently started her own blog, emailed me with a seemingly simple question, and I’m not sure I’ve ever answered it succinctly here. Not that I’m sure I can now, but we’ll try.
How do I get started as a paid writer? Was it hard for you to get started and where did you begin?
There’s no single correct path on this, but I’ll share all the ways I started my freelance writing career. For me, it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be because there are a million and one opportunities for writers (more than you imagine). But my path was messy, and it took me longer than it should have to realize I was worth more than the pennies I was paid in the beginning.
You don’t have to do all of this, but maybe it’ll give you an idea of how to get where you want to be as a writer.
Just Start Writing
The first thing is to write. Blogging, great emails, every time you have the chance to string words together, it’s both practice and proof to whoever reads it that you are capable of writing. The more you write, the better you get at it. Plus, at some point, the people who are willing to pay you will want proof that you can write, too.
Write for Free (Sometimes)
My writing career was helped in two ways — I told anyone and everyone who would listen that I was for hire and I (sometimes) wrote for free. Being able to get my name on a site was powerful. It meant I could show other sites (who would pay) that someone else was willing to publish my work.
I do not recommend this in exchange for “exposure” nor do I think companies with actual money should refuse to pay writers. But there are small sites that don’t make money (or much) that you might decide to write for. It’s a judgement call, and you have to do what’s right for you. But I won’t lie and say I’ve never written for free, and I won’t pretend that it didn’t help in small ways.
Barter Your Services
You can also barter your writing services. My absolute first client (unpaid) was the woman who did my nails and waxing. We swapped services. I got a discount on waxing once a month and bi-weekly manicures at no charge, and she got blog content and a weekly email newsletter.
To this day, I’m open to bartering. Got something I need? I’ll trade blog content for it. I won’t do it for companies who can afford to pay me, but yes, I’ll barter for graphics work, web stuff, and other things. It’s a win-win for both sides. You get to point to each other as clients and use that work as proof for others who will pay you. Plus, you get things you need without spending the cash to do it.
Start with What You Know
My first paying client was a former professional colleague in the very vanilla world of real estate. She’d worked with me for years, knew I could write, and was willing to pay my (ridiculously) cheap rates as my first client. My second client was someone I knew, too.
Start with who and what you know. Look for the low-hanging fruit of industries, contacts, and colleagues you know and that you’re good at. It’s a great confidence booster and good practice while you work towards the type of content you really want to create. I was a freelance writer for vanilla topics for more than a year before I began the (long, slow) switch to freelance sex writing.
Do Your Research
You can pitch ideas to online publications, and/or you can look for companies who need a writer. It’s time to put your Google skills to the test. To help you out, I have a section on The Smutlancer devoted to writing opportunities (some paid, some not). But a quick search online for “getting paid to write” or “hiring writers” will give you plenty. It’s a bit like drinking from a fire hose.
I recommend the Probloggers Job Board and higher-end content mills like Scripted or CopyPress (they pay better rates than other places I wrote for) if you’re open to vanilla writing.
Promote Yourself as a Writer
If anyone ever thinks I’m a bit obnoxious about telling the world that I’m a writer or that I have clients, they’d be forgiven. Because it’s true. I talk about and promote myself as a writer for hire as often as I can. Why? Because you never know who’s paying attention and who will reach out.
Share your published work. Promote yourself. Tell everyone. You truly never know who will approach you.
Are there other ways to become a paid writer? Of course there are. But this was my messy path to a full-time writing income. If you wait for the “perfect” opportunity, you may never get started.
Got a question you’d like to ask? Ask the Smutlancer and it may be a blog post or podcast topic in the future!