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How to Make a Living Wage as a Writer
by Beth Erickson

Making a living as a writer can be difficult – something I’m sure you’ve already discovered. I remember applying for a position as a staff writer at my local newspaper office... the secretary handed me the application and proceeded to tell me where I could apply to be included in the Federal Food Stamp Program.

"Why would I want to do that?" I asked.

"Most of our new reporters need to do it to supplement their wage," she replied.

I walked out the door and tossed the application on the back seat of my car. I didn’t touch it again until a couple weeks later when I threw it into the trashcan.

I spent the next few months querying publications and enduring those pesky rejection letters. I’d occasionally make $25 here, another $15 there, but nothing that would support my family of three.

I simply couldn’t figure out why it would have to be so difficult to make a living wage as a writer.

A short time later I was perusing the business books at the local Barnes and Noble and ran across Bob Bly’s The Copywriter’s Handbook. It introduced me to "copywriting," a branch of writing I’d read about but never given much thought to.

In case you don’t know, copywriting is simply writing for businesses. Copywriters write sales letters, direct mail packages, web sites, public relations materials, and press releases – just to name a few. And the wages they earn can be truly astounding.

I studied Bly’s book, purchased a few more copywriting manuals, took a couple courses to make sure my writing skills were razor sharp, and hung out my shingle. Before I knew it, I was a professional copywriter making my living wage.

But learning the secrets of copywriting did more for my writing career than generate a good wage.

When I applied copywriting techniques to my queries, magazine articles, and manuscripts something interesting happened.

I suddenly started receiving far more acceptance letters than rejections.

Because of the copywriting skills I developed, today I have two published books, a thriving e-mag, my own web site ( http://filbertpublishing.com), and have articles published in e-mags, web sites, and magazines on a regular basis. And writing copy for businesses finances all these endeavors.

I wish I had started writing copy earlier in my career. It’s an absolutely enriching endeavor. I meet interesting people, I get to stretch my writing skills on a regular basis, but most of all I’m a writer living my dream.

And it doesn’t get any better than that…

© Copyright 2002, Beth Erickson

Beth Ann Erickson is the author of Jumpstart Your Writing Career and The Almach – both available at http://booklocker.com. She’s also a busy copywriter, speaker, and publisher of Writing Etc., the free e-mag for writers. Check it out – plus receive the free e-booklet "Power Queries" at http://filbertpublishing.com.

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