There are lots of ways to earn income as a writer, but in 5 years of writing, these are the 3 absolute worst and ineffective ways I’ve found to earn income.
1. Write books
The ultimate dream of many writers doesn’t come with a lot of money.
Prolific author James Altucher has written nearly 20 books. In his most recent, Choose Yourself, he confirmed that actual book deals didn’t make him a lot of money. He explained he earned about $50,000 total from one of his best-selling books — nothing to scoff at, but no fortune, either.
I recently signed my first book deal. It feels amazing. I’m going to be a published author!
But I’ve learned that an average cut from traditionally-published books is only about 10% — 15%. Even with a modest advance, that’s not a lot. Self-publishing can be more lucrative, but even selling 10,000 books (a monumental feat for most new writers) at $10 will only give you around $50,000 after taxes, royalties, and cuts from places like Amazon.
A top-tier, high-quality book takes a long time to write; some of the best full-time authors I follow can only publish 1 book per year.
Writing books obviously isn’t a bad idea. But in terms of earning income, they’re one of the least viable options.
The most important truth I’ve learned about books is that they’re a platform to earn income from other projects — related online courses, coaching, and seminars, etc.
My dad, bless his heart, still asks me why I don’t have any banner ads or other advertisements on my blog or in my articles.
Ads used to work (if only a little). But not anymore.
I hate ads. I hate them. I never click on them, ever. Most people don’t, either.
Ads work like most affiliate links do — if a reader clicks on the ad and buys the product, you get a little cut.
But hardly anyone reads blogs anymore. Unless you have an enormous readership for your personal blog (I’m talking about 10,000+ views/day), ads aren’t going to earn you any noticeable income.
Readers today are only satisfied with high-caliber, top-quality content that provides immense value. Then, when you build enough trust with them (what Gary Vaynerchuk calls “jab, jab, jab, right hook”), you can pitch them a product.
But ads don’t work anymore. No one wants them, no one clicks them, and the income you earn is minuscule while you repel readers with ugly advertisements.
3. SEO and Paid Links
SEO is dead.
Some writers may fight me on this, and I’d love to discuss it. But I worked for an SEO boutique firm for a year after college, and even in 2013 SEO was sinking. Trying to game Google and Facebook for viewers and scrollers simply isn’t a viable option anymore.
Google is constantly advancing their already-Zodiac-level algorithms to provide only the most relevant value for users, and paying more isn’t helping your ads get more clicks anymore.
Same for Facebook; they’ve openly stated they’re moving away from updates from “companies” and more from friends and family on your newsfeed.
If you can write amazing, incredible content full of value that people will read, Google will heavily favor you more than mediocre writers’ advertisements — even if their wallet is bigger than yours.
Don’t focus on gaming the system; focus on writing better.