How do you make a living as a writer? Get a full time job writing for a newspaper, magazine, or internet company. It’s impossible to make full time money stringing together part-time jobs. If you’re not regularly employed, view freelance gigs as supplemental income, not the way to pay your mortgage. There’s too much unpaid time looking for new work to prevent you from going broke. (internal link) Let me explain.
Query letters and book proposals take enormous amounts of time, only to have 90% or more of them rejected. A solid book proposal will take weeks, an article query (internal link) at least a day, if not more, to research and write. Travel may be required for both. A great deal of time is also spent investigating whom to send your proposal to, to see what title or publishing house you should approach. All queries must be well crafted and individually tailored to the person you are addressing. And all of this consistently rejected query work is unpaid. There’s more.
Right now I am waiting on a substantial check for the last magazine article I wrote. I submitted the article two weeks before last Thanksgiving. Yes, in 2017. The article has been published but I have still not been paid. While this situation is uncommon, you must be prepared for it to happen. You can only make a living at writing if you have money coming in to eat.
Aside from working for someone else on a regular basis, I have heard about another way. It demands that you have several book titles in print at once, and that each of these books needs revising every two years or so. Think computer books that go out of date when software comes out with revisions. Photoshop and Microsoft Word have undoubtedly provided many authors with regular income.
Writing as a profession is oversold, at least from a freelancer’s point of view. But there is no shame in writing for someone else. A guaranteed paycheck gives you the freedom to write in your spare time, without worrying if an article will be accepted, if it will only pay a hundred dollars, or if a check for it will come in soon.
Through my Vancouver employer I edit and post blogs and web pages for trial lawyers. I could see that kind of position being a full time job for someone who wanted it. Content creation jobs on the net are becoming more and more plentiful. Pick a profession that interests you and explore the possibilities if you want full time work. Otherwise, enjoy the tumult of writing part-time as a lower earning freelancer. Those hours and experience may eventually lead to the work you truly desire. Good luck.