How to (Actually) Get Paid to Write

An exact formula to get you to the next level

Photo by Davids Kokainis on Unsplash

When I was growing up, I always wanted to be a writer.

Books inspired me to tell stories and to continue reading as much as I could. Magazine and newspaper articles compelled me to start writing short-form narratives.

Throughout college I kept a journal, writing every single day and continuing a voracious habit of reading.

I had thought that, in order to become a writer, it would take years and years of practice, and I would have to jump through hoops to land some low-level job at a local newspaper or online publication.

The moment that changed my life was when I started my own blog and began writing for free.

I’ll say it again: I wrote for free. But the thing is, I was writing high-quality and thoughtful work. Long-form articles, short stories, travel pieces, self-help articles — I was writing an article or two a week.

I did this for over a year and then, almost accidentally, I had a portfolio of 60 articles and an established platform to call my own.

Without making or spending a single penny, I became a writer by my own volition.

This led to me earning a position as an editor and writer at a publication. I was being paid to write full-time and work as a journalist.

And it all came from starting a blog and building a veritable portfolio of writing — all for free.

The lesson here? Prove and provide your value first, then the rewards and validation will follow.

I was writing for a year before someone else decided to pay me for my work. But that should not be a surprise — I had to put leg work behind my passion of writing in order to refine my skills.

Thousands of hours backed up my craft as a writer and this is what afforded me the skill, mindset, and practice.

I learned to put in the work, day after day and week after week, in spite of earning zero money.

This time was an investment in myself.

I invested all my efforts into becoming a better writer and it paid off, albeit not immediately.

My blog audience grew and grew as my writing abilities improved. I worked to improve just a small, tiny bit every single day.

Then the job offer became the validation I did not know I was seeking: someone in the outside world was telling me that the work I had put in was worth it.

The next lesson here is key: hard work does not always pay off immediately.

Usually it takes a great deal of time to begin reaping the rewards of your own efforts. For me it was about 13 months of writing every single day for hours before I saw the real-world kickback of a job.

But this is why the formula to success is actually more simple than we may think.

Most people will work hard for only a short while, then they stop because they do not see reward immediately.

Even after I was hired as a full-time writer, I continued writing on my blog. I wrote articles every single week that I was not getting paid for.

Then, after another year, I compiled and reworked my writings all into a book that became one of Amazon’s bestselling travel writing books.

All that time, effort, and investment of writing day after day for free has paid off — at this point, it’s been a journey of over three years.

In short — those who do put in the work and also continue longer than short-term will be the ones who reap the largest rewards.

Put in the work every single day. Then, don’t stop. This is how to become a writer.

Phil Rosen is a writer, editor, and journalist. His new book is available on Amazon. If you want to see more of his ideas, check out his travel and lifestyle blog and Instagram.

Written by

Bestselling travel writer. Columnist. Author. USC Annenberg School of Journalism.

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