How to Make a Side Hustle as a Fiction Writer (6 Steps)

By: Rafal Reyzer
Updated: Oct 4th, 2023

fiction lover

Do you want to make some extra cash as a fiction writer? Say hello to your side hustle!

The term ‘side hustle’ basically denotes a way to earn or make money alongside your main source of income or employment. If you can snatch some time away from your full-time gig, you can use it to pursue another occupation or hobby that pays extra income. How exciting, isn’t it? Side hustles may involve an array of activities. This includes the sale of DIY goods or food items, cab rides services, photography services, coaching, freelance blogging, and content writing. The list is practically endless, but in this article, we’ll focus on one specific side hustle – fiction writing.

Why choose fiction writing as a side hustle?

Writing is a powerful creative skill that allows you to make some extra money. If you love to write, yet your current role has nothing to do with it, you ought to consider fiction writing as a viable side hustle mechanism. Book marketplaces like Amazon are full of successful self-published fiction authors with engaged audiences, always waiting for a new release. Freelance writing offers plenty of opportunities in terms of income. You can sell fiction directly on your website, or through a marketplace and promote it for free through a variety of online channels. You can also ghostwrite stories for others, so there’s always something to do. Freelancing also involves greater flexibility, and is, therefore, one of the best side hustle options for anyone who enjoys writing. Whether you’re a blogger, article writer, new author, or fiction writer, you can make it if you stick with it.

6 Steps to Make a Side Hustle as a Fiction Writer:

1. Start with the word “hustle” and make time

Your 9-5 job will squeeze out the best part of you; hence, to work on a side hustle, you need to make time for it. We all know how time is a scarce resource, and therefore you should choose what you wish to spend your time on wisely. You will be drawn to watch another episode on Netflix. You will want to watch a movie, hang out with your friends in a pub, or browse continuously through your social media apps. But please understand, that you will have to make sacrifices and work on your fiction project instead! Identify the time of the day when your brain is at its best. It could be in the morning, maybe an hour before your full-time job starts, or evenings and nights after you log out, or anytime during the day when you’d be able to invest time in writing actively. Friendly Tip: If possible, try to spend more time during weekends writing. To be honest, if you enjoy writing, when you take time to do it, it will never really feel like work.

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2. Set a goal for monthly income

“A goal without a plan is only a dream.” Without a goal set in mind, you’ll end up floundering about without purpose. The same goes for side hustles! When you start as a fiction writer, you would want to write out of passion, and the focus on income is less pronounced. But you can’t rely only on your passion, so focus on income as well. It’s always great to set a monthly income goal. For example, if you set your goal at $5,000, you will take up projects and find time to meet your targets. In contrast, if there is no set objective, you may end up earning $20 a day too! How many fiction pieces would you have to write per month to hit your desired goal? Always have an answer to this question and set your rates accordingly. Also, analyze how achievable the set target is. Do not over-exert yourself to meet your goals. Friendly Tip: Track your progress and for best results, maintain a spreadsheet with columns such as project details, amount per word/hour, no. of invested hours/words, and the earnings total amount. This personal tracker will help you stay focused and motivated to do more and eventually increase your earning capacity!


3. Write fiction for online and print magazines

Not all clients would have big content needs. You must pick the right clients to work for to maximize your income, and it is always advisable to go after bigger clients! Writing for a magazine is one such option. Breaking into magazine or journal writing will be a tough nut to crack, but it is not impossible. This is a high-paying writing niche, and the earning potential is immense. Some magazines pay close to $0.5-$2 per word, so it’s always about finding an optimal gig.

Remember three things when applying or submitting your work:

1. Come up with a fresh idea: You need to pitch it to your editors and tell them why your topic is the best or will be useful for the magazine readers. 2. Make it easy to envision: Your pitch letter should have good examples, quotes, side notes, and an overall structure for your piece. This will help the editors to envision your idea quickly. 3. Have no fear: It’s okay to be rejected, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. As a new writer, don’t hold yourself back from sending out a pitch letter only when it is perfect.

4. Find gigs on Craigslist

As a beginner freelance fiction writer, one go-to place for new opportunities could be Craigslist. It’s full of unique writing opportunities. However, you need to be careful and aware of the scammers present on the website. Do your due diligence and sign up for genuine contracts only. You do not want to get duped! The platform is simple to use. Visit the website, search big cities (for example, Singapore or New York), go to the “Jobs” section, and click on “writing/editing.” It will present before you a host of listings, and you can choose the most suitable opportunity. For more one-time gigs like this, please visit my popular list of 250 sites that will pay you to write.

craigslist reflection

5. Use LinkedIn to Find Clients

LinkedIn can help you find the right contacts when your profile is fully up to date (this increases your chance of being noticed by 40%). Promote your services in the headline, and summary sections of your LinkedIn profile, and write about your fiction writing interests or experience. Remember, the “summary” should be like an elevator pitch; crisp yet does all the talking! List small projects in the “experience” section. Build your “skills and endorsements” and add them. Be active on LinkedIn and ask for referrals. Keep looking actively. LinkedIn can help you narrow down and connect with editors and marketing managers from your niche. Search for a company and identify the right contact. Connect with them via LinkedIn and send an InMail. If you can find their email addresses, send a proper introduction or a cold pitch.

6. Ask for more work

Once you finish your fiction assignment for an editor, do not stop there! New-time writers are shy to ask for more work from their clients and editors. When it comes to freelancing, asking for more work is like a marketing strategy. It can help to turn your side hustle into full-time freelancing when you have built the right contacts and get regular work. Check with your editors for future projects or topics. Know about the upcoming blog posts, issues, stories, and unique projects. Try to see if other editors in the same company require freelance writers. Friendly Tip: A small group of clients who have several regular work assignments is much better than big clients with one-time projects.

happily emailing

Final thoughts

Practice the above, and who knows, your side hustle could turn into a full-time paid job one day! Once you build your brand and earn well, you will finally gather the guts to bid goodbye to that boring job of yours. Imagine a workday where you love what you do! I will conclude this article with Isabel Allende’s quote, “Write what should not be forgotten.” Next up, you may want to explore a guide to top flash fiction publishers that pay writers.

Rafal Reyzer

Rafal Reyzer

Hey there, welcome to my blog! I'm a full-time entrepreneur building two companies, a digital marketer, and a content creator with 10+ years of experience. I started to provide you with great tools and strategies you can use to become a proficient digital marketer and achieve freedom through online creativity. My site is a one-stop shop for digital marketers, and content enthusiasts who want to be independent, earn more money, and create beautiful things. Explore my journey here, and don't miss out on my AI Marketing Mastery online course.