How to Stay in the Writing Business

This week, I was fortunate enough to be interviewed on the Rocking Self Publishing Podcast. The topic was called "Writing Around Self Publishing," and it focused on how I've been able to keep up a full-time writing career without going broke. 

The fact that I've sold more than 30,000 copies of my books and I still can't afford to live off my self-publishing puts the term, "writing career" into perspective. If I didn't think outside the box to determine ways to keep myself in the writing business, I may have abandoned my craft and dream years ago for a safe 9 to 5 job. Here are three tips for keeping yourself afloat when you're trying to turn that writing hobby into a calling. 

1. Seek Expert Advice

Most of the ways I earned extra money in the past few years came from either asking someone for advice or reading something in a book. I made more than $4,000 last year from my Udemy course. I found out about Udemy in a book written by my friend Connie Brentford that I received for free. When I got on the online course platform, I didn't know what I was doing. Once again, I sought out expert advice by taking a course on how to make a course. It was a $250 investment for the course and the equipment the instructor recommended, but I took the plunge and was well rewarded for it. Sometimes, the information you learn in a well-reviewed $3 book or a several hundred dollar can be enough to set you down an earning path you'd never even considered. 

2. Reconsider Old Ideas 

When I came upon Udemy, it wasn't the first time I'd considered doing a class online. In fact, if I went back through my old notebooks, I would probably see the note, "figure out how to put a course online," at least three times. Just because you've never taken an idea to its conclusion, doesn't mean the idea wasn't good in the first place. Perhaps it wasn't the best time or you weren't in the right place in your life to make it a reality. Either look through your old notes or think back to some of your greatest ideas of all time. An increase in diligence or a feeling of desperation may be just what you need to make some money off your old idea. 

3. List New Ideas 

In early 2012, I was saddled with about $8,000 of credit card debt. I wanted to figure out a way to get rid of it all at once. I made a list of things I could do that would earn me $8,000. While most of the ideas I came up with were clunkers, it really got me thinking about some small steps I could take that would get me big rewards. One of those ideas was to try out for the game show "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire." If it wasn't for that list, I never would have auditioned or gotten onto the show. You need to constantly think of new ideas and new methods for earning money. Maybe none of them will pan out, but you'll never know if you don't make the list in the first place. 


Earning a living from your writing isn't easy. Unless you get a big hit, it's a marathon of blog posts, email lists, social media interaction and other time sucks. If you allow yourself to research opportunities, trust yourself and brainstorm, you may be able to supplement your income until you become a "overnight success story." 

Happy earning. Here's the link to that podcast again if you'd like to hear more of my ideas. 

Done with How to Stay in the Writing Business? Go back to Marketing and Promotion. 

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Written by Bryan Cohen

Bryan Cohen is the author of more than 30 books, many of which focus on creative writing and blasting through that pesky writer's block. His books have sold more than 20,000 copies. You can find him on and Facebook.
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