The New Year is nearly here, and I wanted to share how a few stats about my writing. In this End of Year Report, I hope to provide readers and other writers insight into how much I've made, who published my work, and my plans for the future.
As some may recall, I decided to professionalize my writing in mid-September of 2021. At the time, I wanted a side-gig and stumbled across UpWork. This was also shortly before I took the October LSAT exam. But since then I found a renewed sense of purpose in life.
What has been really cool about the experience is that it was the first time that I've received money for my writing—which is still a bit insane for me, all things considered. While I always knew that I could write throughout high school and college, I always downplayed my strength.
In college, I had a professor, Sean Purio of the Air Force Academy, who had tried to convince me to become an English major after submitting a paper on Blood Meridian. If I were able to go back in time, I likely would have accepted. But there is nothing I can do about it now. The only thing that I can do now is make up for lost time! So, let's get into the details!
Writing Income: The Pay, The Clients, & the Value of UpWork
Cha Ching! Haha, just kidding. As much as I would like to be rolling-in the dough, I'm not, but writing has turned out to be decently profitable. Now I have to figure out the next steps.
When I started writing on UpWork, I wasn't sure what I thought about the program. While I didn't have a problem finding jobs, the hard part is figuring out what is worth your time. Sites like Textbroker, CrowdContent, and various SEO-styled jobs are a waste of time. You won't make any money, and you'll write like 2,500 words per day (which is crazy).
That said, I wanted to break down the numbers. In total, I made: $1,369.32 over 3.5 months (figure is before tax). This amount divides to $391.23 per month. Also, keep in mind that the lion's share of the revenue was made in the first six weeks, when I was doing the most amount of work on UpWork. Only $250 of this came from outside of UpWork.
In addition, I made $18.64 on one story for Kindle Vella and $38.69 on the other. This cash is related to the November bonus. While I am still waiting on the December bonus, I did upload two additional episodes which should be accessible in February. So, although my total is $57.33 so far, I believe that the December bonus will include another $25-35 bucks.
Lastly, by the end of January, I should have another $250 coming my way from one client. So, when we add up all the numbers the math is: $1369.32 + $18.64 + $38.69 + $250 which equals $1676.65. Not bad, but I think over the next year I'm hoping to make more money doing less SEO-styled work and more byline/freelancing/fiction/non-fiction work.
Publication Progress: Bylines, Blog Posts, & Next Year
Since professionalizing my writing I have had bylines appear in The Financial Times as a Letter to the Editor, in the Royal United Services Institute as a 1,500-word commentary piece, and in The National Interest as a 1,100-word commentary article. It should be known that The Financial Times Letter to the Editor led to the Royal United Services Institute article. Further, the commentary article in The National Interest is attributable to my current internship on the editorial team.
Further, I was quoted in two news sources: LinkedIn and the i (newspaper). In LinkedIn, my comment on a post was featured on a daily news story, and for the i (newspaper) my co-author and I were cited as "defence experts" in the Royal United Services Institute article.(Defense with a "c" because the paper was UK-based).
Over the last three-and-a-half months, I have written twenty-three blog posts (including this). While the post vary across a variety of niches, I know that blogging on everything is not going to help me get established. So, it is my plan in the New Year to do a few things: first, to publish consistently once every Sunday, and, second, to publish on defense matters exclusively. Each post, if they do not directly tie-in with defense must be reconnected eventually—so, for the law school posts, I hope to connect that to what life is like as a Judge Advocate General in the military. I may even try to get a guest post from one of my friends.
Next Steps: Developing Credibility, Tying Up Loose Ends
Right now, I am hoping to develop more credibility as a writer. Unfortunately, or fortunately, credibility will come from outside sources. So, as a current editorial intern for The National Interest (a widely-read Foreign Policy magazine with a neocon bent) I'm hoping to get a few more articles out there. My first article will be out on their magazine on December 28 about President Joe Biden signing the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act.
As far as other next steps, I want to niche my writing to topics on defense. While I was lucky enough to be called an expert by i (newspaper), I do believe that this niche overall makes sense. I am an Air Force Academy graduate, and had been reading military history books since high school. Plus, given my operational experience and day-job as an acquisitions officer, I believe I have a solid understanding of the defense industry. This analysis also omits the fact my experience living overseas as a Foreign Service Officer's kid in Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, and Israel.
With respect to a content calendar, I plan to write 600-words a day for five days a week. This amounts to 3,000 publishable words which will include my blog, and a myriad of other smaller projects or goals that I am trying to achieve. Ultimately, this is an iterative process in which I have to be both systematic and relentless. To further compound my weekly and daily goals, I received about nine books for Christmas, and will need to read those, as well!
For marketing, there is an eventual hope to use YouTube, but for now I need to produce content. While I did retool my Facebook page and signed up for a Service Academy Forums account, I have yet to comment any posts or do cross-collaboration with other blogs. I actually had a phone call with the owner of Academy Endeavors, an admissions consulting firm, and he had mentioned doing something together in the future. But who knows?
True success in writing will happen over years, and not in months. But, if I implement a systematic and relentless approach, I believe I should find some success. Whether it is getting bylines out there or writing a manuscript about my Air Force Academy experience or anything else—I really need to write quality content, and write a massive amount of quantity. There is no other way of putting-it.
Fun fact, Slate magazine has rejected six of my pitches, but I—nevertheless—will keep trying! I hope to secure a major publication byline, like theirs, over the next calendar year. Not only do these pitches pay more than I could from other clients, the substance is also more interesting when I put in the time to research the subject. So, keeping my fingers crossed!!