It's Timbo Denning from LinkedIn & Medium. I'm currently on holidays at the beach but couldn't forget ya'll.
Here's my most shared tweet this week (click to read all of it):
The Most Common Ways To Earn $1M as a Writer
The millionaire writers club is growing.
Ali Abdaal, Nicolas Cole, Dickie Bush, Dan Koe, Justin Welsh, Packy McCormack, Polina Pompliano … the list goes on.
And I joined the club a few years ago. I don’t say that to brag as I know you don’t care. The point is to demonstrate that more writers are making good money from their art.
The days of starving artists are dying as the value of human creativity is increasing, thanks to the commodification of everything due to artificial intelligence.
To be clear, you don’t have to be a millionaire writer to succeed or experience the good life.
There are plenty of happy 5 and 6-figure writers. The point of this article is to show you what’s possible, especially if you’ve always wanted to write and make a full-time income from it.
The time is now.
Aim to be a millionaire writer, and if you fall short, you’ll still do better than most and learn a helluva lot more.
Here are the most common ways to earn $1M as a writer.
Uncommon paid newsletters (but not how you think)
Newsletters … blah, blah, blah.
I’m not joking when I say newsletters are an underrated way to make $1M as a writer. Obviously, it won’t happen overnight, but the built-in flywheel of social media now makes it easier than ever.
The key is to become a practitioner in your chosen topics. They need to be subjects you’re obsessed with, that you naturally research without being told to, so the process is effortless and you don’t give up.
Then you’ll choose either $ubstack, Beehiiv, or ConvertKit to sell your newsletter. Pricing will go something like this:
$10 a month or $50 a year.
This will persuade most people to choose annual, ensuring you have 12 months to build a relationship with readers (as opposed to 30 days). And you’ll get paid most of the money upfront.
If your newsletter delivers then when the annual subscription renews for each reader, they’ll stick with you.
That gives you extra money for doing no extra work.
If you can write a newsletter for an industry like finance or medicine, the price is often higher. Why? People can claim newsletters as a work or business expense. When they’re not paying they don’t care how much it is.
You’ll need to:
- Get other newsletter writers to share your work in return for you doing the same. This requires you to DM people to ask them.
- Use social media (“X” or LinkedIn primarily) to talk about your newsletter. The best strategy is to share the main points of your newsletter as a free thread or essay (think freemium software), then link to the newsletter at the end.
- Read lots of books and online content about your chosen topics.
- Publish one free & one paid newsletter every week (for at least a year).
Online writing is moving from free to paid. Join this new trend and dare to launch a newsletter. Start free then add a paid tier once you have a little traction. Add ads or affiliate links for extra revenue.
Most writers online are non-fiction writers.
This means online content is just a gateway to your more in-depth insights, frameworks, methods, and teaching.
Education is changing.
People are shifting from college degrees to specific, just-in-time online education. People want to learn from those who have the skills they want. They want social proof, not professors full of theories they’ve never tested.
The key to online education is *not* to sell information.
ChatGPT and Google can give people that for free. The key is to sell limited information that can be consumed fast, and then help students implement and take action inside of a thriving community you build.
This income source alone can easily make someone $1M a year — no exaggeration. But first you must have a little social proof. That comes from writing on social media every day. Do it. Write. Then publish.
A new kind of ghostwriter
A ghostwriter is a writer who writes for someone else without anyone knowing. I love this pathway.
Many of you are shy or hate fame (like me). Ghostwriting lets you say and do whatever without putting your name to it.
Every person and business now needs a never-ending stream of online content to remain relevant and be seen, so they can make sales or attract opportunities.
The qualifications for being a ghostwriter are low, too. All you need is some examples of your writing and a couple of testimonials. The testimonials can be gotten by doing a few free gigs in return for a written endorsement.
My friend Dakota runs a ghostwriting agency. He can easily charge one client $10K a month without much problem. Imagine that. A 6 figure a year income from winning one client.
Many of you could quit your job with just a single client. That’s why ghostwriting is the writing trend to jump on if you love writing.
When I did ghostwriting I used to record the calls of the people I was writing for. Then my main job was to edit out all the fluff and filler in the transcription and repackage it with a nice headline, subtitle, and image.
None of this is hard. All of it can be learned by someone with 5th-grader english skills. Write for others, change your life.
The naughty art of copywriting
Copywriting upsets some people.
This field of writing requires you to write words that persuade, not just inform. Bottom line: Copywriting is used to sell stuff.
Some people find this unethical as a result. I don’t. As long as persuasion is ethical, non-manipulative, and designed to help rather than sell — I’m cool with it. I’ll let you decide which side you’re on.
At the start you get paid for copywriting based on one project. Later on, when you get good, you can charge a fee that’s based on a percentage of sales that your words help to generate.
So if someone sells a $10,000 per person event and you write the sales landing page for them, you could get a fixed fee of $5000 + 5% of all sales. That’s a fast way to $1M a year if you play the game smart.
Self-published books (rather book publishing p*rn)
Books are a love affair for writers.
My business partner Todd loves to read Jane Austin novels. He gets naturally high as a kite after he’s read one of them. These books made him want to write his own romantic novel that’d take him 5 years to write.
He used to dream of getting chosen by a well-known book publisher and banking a 6-figure advance. He couldn’t wait to pitch publishers, hire book agents, and dream of writing a book in a wood cabin with a corn cob pipe.
Books are writing p*rn.
Most book authors make peanuts. They spend all their time writing instead of focusing on getting readers. So when they finally do publish a book, no one knows about it.
They think lazy book publishers will magically market their book for them and all they have to do is bank the check and show up to give the acceptance speech when the book becomes an Oscar-winning movie.
Millionaire writers don’t follow this useless path.
No. They build an audience online, funnel readers to an email list, then sell a book a year to the list. In tandem they will also self-publish their book on Amazon and buy high ROI ads that help readers find it.
They’ll also promote their email list in their book so a reader who buys the book via Amazon can stay in touch with them — and buy the next book.
Wealthy writers think like a business.
They don’t hope, wish, or put their destiny in someone else’s hands only to have them burn it to the ground and piss all over it.
Books can make writers $1M with the right mindset.
The new dawn of “creator programs”
This is a new writer income stream so it comes last.
Plenty of people know that you can make $1M from posting Youtube videos. Youtube shares the ad revenue with creators.
Mr Beast is the best example, but there are a host of other creators who’ve all directly made decent money from Youtube royalties. Youtube is just writing. You write a script and then read it in front of camera. Then you add nice pictures, graphs, and a few transitions.
Ali Abdaal has done well with Youtube as well. He’s more relatable to us. Obviously, he says it’s not easy, but it’s attainable if you stick at it.
I don’t do Youtube because I’m a writer who hates the video apocalypse. But after all these years, other content platforms are starting to copy the Youtube model.
Elon’s “X” app is one of the first. They share ad revenue now too. More apps will follow. I predict Zuckerberg’s Facebook and Instaglam empire will be next. These royalties can be meaningful in terms of income.
The next generation of writers will have writing royalties from social media apps as their largest income source.
Start writing online. Maybe you’ll make $1M or perhaps not. But you’ll certainly make more money than you would if you never wrote online.
And remember: the greatest payment for writing often comes in the form of opportunities and emails from your idols.
It’s time to join the digital renaissance and write. Your words now have more value than ever. So write. Then write some more.
– Tim Denning
P.S. For obvious reasons, most people WON'T make $1,000,000 writing online.
(At least, not directly)
But it's still the highest-leverage activity you can do in 2023 and beyond.
That's why I'm preparing some piping-hot new articles to help you write online more consistently and powerfully.
Now's the time to tell me EXACTLY what you want.