Profit Spikes in Short Bursts of Time: Small Projects Writers Should Pursue

Writing to Make Money: Short Projects author Loriann Oberlin tells how putting your energy into short writing projects can surge freelance writing income.
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Want to see an uptick in your freelance writing income? Author of Writing to Make Money: Short Projects author Loriann Oberlin has a few ideas to get you started.

In what we call the gig economy, writers routinely dream of contributing editor status, attracting a crowd to their blogs or hitting the bestseller lists. These or other goals often stem from expertise—knowledge culled from decades in a day job or a hobby such as cooking, crafting, gardening, or collecting. More source matter: life itself. Like anyone, writers navigate ordinary circumstances as parents, vacationers, and party planners; they survive troubled times, i.e., job loss, caregiving, illness, divorce, or grief.

Anything that writers encounter can spark content. By committing these ideas to short formats, spending fewer hours at the keyboard, writers may see an uptick in bank deposits. Brief projects can mean fillers, those up-to-500-word contributions found in consumer magazines or newsletters. Though readers gravitate online for information, both print and digital platforms provide home to such quick, inspiring efforts. Yet, short projects should go beyond new spins on evergreen topics. Beginning writers hone their skills on them; experienced writers repackage research or take a creative breather.

Here are proven steps to raise your publishing ratio and bank balance:

Write What You Know Concisely

How many people work in the exact job for which college study prepared them? Those who diverted to a better paycheck or new field have double the knowledge base from which to write.

Articles—in-depth or devoted to quick takeaways—aim to educate. Write to impact a reader’s bottom line, better health, improved relationships, and general happiness, and you enhance editorial acceptance. Undeniably, we all know something far better than someone else. Credentials and degrees may boost short pieces to the top of an editor’s inbox, but so will sheer utility. Improve readers lives. Period.

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That said, to write concisely, jump to imperative verbs. Did you notice my verbs? “To write” followed by “jump to...” Every word must work. When you steer readers straight to the action, you keep your word count lean and your value high. Write also without fluff, too many anecdotes or quotes.

Next, peruse a quality magazine stand at a bookstore, airport rack, warehouse club or even the grocery check-out. Woman’s World invites you to “share your story” and offers to pay roughly $250 if the piece runs. Some editors assign a writer to put your life experience into words. Your writing skill may not even get tested.

Scientific American, Parents, Cat Fancy, and Dog Fancy are national publications open to short, freelance material averaging 500 words. Mountain Gazette accepts submissions and pays between $50-$500. Eating Well and Family Fun solicit recipes, which qualify as short material.

Transfer Your Skills

Many professional writers—perhaps those from business, technical, or public relations—prefer to write something different during their down time. Whatever your day job, let’s say you have merely five or six hours a week to devote to a side gig. By sheer numbers, you increase your chances of acceptance when you send out several submissions.

Writers might create on-hold messages, business or job application letters, or even resumes—short projects that they likely do not encounter vocationally. Self-esteem tends to soar when you get a paycheck, not to mention the good feelings that follow from helping others with your persuasive skills.

Tap Your Soul & Everyone Else’s

The markets that bring profit for poetry are not plentiful. Thus, transfer these skills and brighten someone else’s day. Greeting card editors do not see the majority of their products as poetry. A different type sentiment sells. The card’s exterior and interior verses must also speak to the needs of many purchasers. Yet when the recipient opens the card, it must feel as if the thought was individually crafted. That is the essence of the me-to-you message.

Despite limited retail space, six billion cards are sold per year, according to the Greeting Card Association (reported USA Today, March 2019). The Louie Awards showcase industry talent, and millennials have increasingly turned to more expensive, tactile greetings that literally pop when opened. Born from ingenuity and a Shark Tank appearance that catapulted its concepts, Lovepop is a Boston-based startup company which has sold more than five million premium cards since 2014. Blue Mountain, Papyrus, and various entrepreneurs on Etsy feature deluxe cards, too. In this industry, graphic skill is separate from text acquisition; however, if you are blessed with artistic talent, and especially if you create finished card products, more money may follow.

Those who have that affectionate flair do well crafting the ultimate in sentiments—the marriage proposal. Is there a market? As I say in Writing to Make Money: Short Projects, who would have thought people would hire out closet or garage organization? These days, proposals are stellar occasions. Word-of-mouth and social media are best at advertising this gig.

Lastly, if you enjoy making others laugh, apply your sarcasm or wit to parody material, jokes or gag sheets. Memorable comedic lines find their way into pop culture. At the very least, your short material could make it onto a T-shirt, mug, calendar, or sticky note, radio host banter, or standup comedy routines.

All it takes is a few hours to write tight, pitch to different markets, and see your short material find a productive, new home. Your bank account will notice the effort, and my hunch is, you will warm your own heart in the process.

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Loriann Oberlin is a therapist, writer, and author of 13 books. She provides set-up tips, critical how-to steps, cognitive-behavioral bolstering, and cheerleading in Writing to Make Money: Short Projects, available in e-book and paperback. Visit and follow @writingtomakemoney on Facebook for profit-producing articles, writing fun, and advice.

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