Explained by someone who’s done it multiple times and spent time with writers who’ve made a career out of it
I have made over $5,000 on several blog posts that are no more than 3,000 words. There are fellow writers I know well who have done the same.
Like you, I’m no Ernest Hemingway or “Tim ‘4-Hour WorkWeek’ Ferriss.”
My ideas can suck. Some days, I can’t be bothered. I have my fair share of critics. Yet it still happened—and here are a few lessons that might help you along the way.
At the end of this article, I’ll share with you where the $5,000 is likely to come from.
Warning: this is not a guarantee
I can’t guarantee you will make $5,000 from one blog post, but what I can do is help you get a lot closer than you were before.
There’s no magic genie that can grant you your wish and pay you for your writing. Having said that, the commonalities of articles that have made $5,000 or more are hard to ignore.
Even if you fall short, what you’ll learn in the process will help you to get there if you persist. Let’s get started.
Have the Headline Make a Point
Part of having an article that does well is making a clear point in the headline. People will not click your article if they don’t know what they’re getting into.
Your headline provides an overview as to what’s about happen so the reader can decide if they want to sign up or run for their life. Make your headline so clear and simple that anyone can figure out what’s about to happen.
Syndicate Through Large Publications
When you see a bit of traction on an article, one tactic you can use is to syndicate your article.
It’s not rocket science and a lazy dude from Australia (me) uses this exact approach:
- An article starts to do well.
- Find a publication that has a large audience and publishes similar content (Google is your friend).
- Send an email like this to the editor: “Hi Big Name Publication, would you like to syndicate this article to your readers?”.
- Wait for a response.
- No response? Try a different publication.
It shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to type an email with a story pitch to a publication. The only part about the email that matters is to make it incredibly short and link to the article.
If the article is a quality piece, editors will say yes.
Say Something Different
It’s cool to cover a topic like waking up that’s been covered by every writer seeking to become the next Mark Manson while Not Giving A Fuck.
Articles that make money say something different. The topic can be generic, but the writer’s ability to say what hasn’t been said or repackage their thoughts in a way that has never been written before makes all the difference.
It takes courage to say something different and it’s how you find the readers that finally sit up and listen to an idea that they’ve heard hundreds of times.
Be Unbelievably Helpful
The best articles are helpful. You walk away having felt something, or been entertained, or had a laugh, or learned something, or gained a new skill, or been inspired to consider an alternative point of view.
To be helpful is to create value — and that value transforms into dollars that can be spent in the real world by writers who remember to do so frequently.
Every one of us has at least one way we can be helpful. There’s something that you know that I don’t. There is a story that you know off by heart and that has never been shared before, which could help someone in desperate need.
If you have one goal, make it to be helpful.
Find a Problem People Are Currently Having
Solving problems is one of the shortcuts.
When people have a problem and you help them solve it, they share your work — and that’s what can lead to earning $5,000 or more. There are several ways to find a problem people are having. For me, I use the questions readers ask me most frequently to see common patterns.
If you don’t have an audience just yet, you can go on Quora and look at the most popular questions people ask in your field of expertise.
Writers that find a big problem and solve it go on to earn a healthy income from it. That problem can then be solved again and again through more articles that seek to unpack the problem further.
Research the Heck Out of Your Piece
Brilliant articles that make $5,000 are rarely thought of and published in ten minutes.
Consider researching your article or choosing a topic that you have been thinking about or learning about for a while. Spend some time choosing quotes that support your article or reading articles written by other writers that add meat to the bone of your piece.
There’s no need to rush your piece and you have time.
Include the Small Details
There are plenty of articles that make big promises, but then forget to include the small details that the reader can use and that makes the story helpful.
The difference between two writers that have covered the same topic is that the one who goes the extra mile will do better than the writer who is lazy and thinks people will figure out the details themselves.
Make your work simple by giving all the details.
Why are the small details left out? Because as a writer, you can fall into the trap of believing that if you share all of your secrets about a topic, you’ll have nothing left to give — or worse, nothing to charge for.
I say screw that. Tell people how you did the thing and give them everything you know.
Give all the small details that nobody else has taken the time to include in an article that has similar advice.
Use a Decent Image
Articles that do well don’t have dumb-looking dudes in suits high-fiving each other in a dimly lit office with a plain white wall in the background.
If you’re going to write a killer article that’s helpful and then select the first image you see in Google Images without putting any thought into it, you’re selling yourself short, amigo.
Take time to find the right image. The right image speaks to you and it sits nicely next to your headline.
Insert Your Experience
Repeating facts or making a point is not enough.
Share your experience with the topic and describe what you did or how you felt at that time. Humans crave experience because it tells us that if someone else has done it or experienced it, then we can too.
Without your experience, what you’re saying sounds impossible to normal people.
Have a Lot to Say
The topics that have made me $5,000 or more have all been about subjects where I’ve got a lot to say. The safest bet when it comes to a topic is something you care about.
Topics that frustrate you are good too, as long as you can draw something positive out of it all by the end. No one wants to hear your frustration that leads to more frustration and feeling like shit.
Show a Bit of Yourself
I’m tall, slim, have big ears, am an Aussie, eat too many frozen yogurts, have yellow teeth in-between visits to the dentist, doubt myself, and lost my job earlier this year before finding a new one.
That’s the truth, and as you can see, I’m not afraid to poke fun at myself or point out the not-so-glamorous parts of my life.
This rawness is what makes you relatable and people read the work of people that are just like them.
Fuse Storytelling With Actionable Advice
I can’t say I’ve seen too many articles that have made more than $5,000 and not had at least one actionable sentence in them.
You can go off on a tangent and tell a story if you’d like. Just don’t forget to include one bit of actionable advice. That actionable advice can be something as simple as a thought for readers to ponder at the end.
Tell stories, by all means, just make it actionable in some small way. Give us a takeaway or some homework to do so that the article lives on when it’s forgotten in a month’s time.
Make Your Work Evergreen
Evergreen writing means that if I read an article today, it’s hard for me to know when it’s written.
The easy way to achieve this goal is to avoid referencing the current political leader or the movie you watched last week.
Evergreen content can be helpful at any time. Think about Mark Manson’s piece “The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fuck.” It could be 2065, and you’re sitting on your rocking chair going, “You know what, Mark’s right — I’m going to stop giving a fuck and visit Mars next month.”
The best writers have been doing this for years and it’s something I only discovered recently by spending the time to do the research.
Where Does the Money Come From?
That’s your decision. You get to choose how the money makes it into your bank account. Here are a few ways to get you thinking:
- Sell an eBook on your website for $20. Link to it in the article. (My friend made $400K from this idea.)
- Sell a course that gives readers a path to learn more about the main concept of your article.
- Submit your article to the Medium Partner Program.
- Ask to be paid from a major publication.
- Sell coaching services through your website that help people with the same concept you present in your article.
- Use the audience from your writing to find a few new customers for your side business.
Or you can make zero dollars. You can bask in the glory of reaching lots of people and being helpful.
You can delay making $5,000 from an article and decide to make money from your work later on. (This was the option I took for the first few years.)
It’s entirely possible to make $5,000 from one single blog post. Many writers have done it through their WordPress blog, Medium, or by being featured in a major publication. The ways to earn money are only limited by your creativity and your ability to be helpful.
Find a problem or tell a story, be helpful, enjoy the process, put everything you have into your work, learn from those who have made money from writing — and maybe, just maybe, like me, you’ll discover that $5,000 is only the beginning.