Quick Cash for Writing

Where can I find cash right away for writing? This is no big secret…

in your town.

People need shoes. People need waffles. People need words. Some only need a menu. Others need a report. Some just need a reader and an edit. In any town, there are people who wish they knew someone who was good with words. So—find these people.

There’s a perspective about business and media you might want to consider. High end media production—movies, magazines and spectaculars—take a lot of time, money and organization. They have great production values and use sensory and cognitive presentations to convey a message. Advertisers mimic these production values to win your attention. Commercials and ads are written and designed to exploit the captivating features of media and sell a product or idea. Further down the budget totem pole, small business, factories, services and entrepreneurs also want to compete for consumer attention. For every magazine spread there are a thousand businesses who would like to try the same using a brochure, or flier, or a web presence. Enter the freelance writer and designer. They can convey a professional, enticing message that applies many of the same conventions as mass media. A good writer and a good designer can position a start up company for acceptance in the market.

Small Business. Most small business owners are concentrating their energy on a product or service. They need to communicate with clients and establish a wider reach. If you own a small business, it’s easy to get excited about your product but it can be daunting to tell others.

  • Set up blogs for local businesses who have a product or service and want a presence on the web.
  • Draft and desktop publish their reports and proposals.
  • Write announcements to get local newspaper ink.
  • Write their instruction manuals.
  • Write materials for clients going to trade shows and conventions. When a small business owner nears an important presentation date, they scramble for support materials. If you are quick, clean and organized you will soon become their go-to-person. I have made a living selling ‘emergency’ words.
  • Do a couple good jobs for them and they will call you with gigs you never thought of.

Remember, many small business owners usually want things short and sweet. Get to the point. This is an opportunity to try a new style. If they want flair, give them flair. The business owner knows their customer best. Your job is to communicate features and benefits in the most effective way and convince the customer to buy. Many clients will have the basic material written. They just need a wordsmith to check for typos, do the ‘keystroking’, and make sure the text is grammatical. Suggestions on how to convey an idea clearer or ‘jazz it up’ will be the most common request. Also, small business owners are generally connected in the community. If you do a fast, good and reasonably priced job—you are on their cellphone list. They also like to brag to their friends that they have a writer on call.

1875 engraving of a Print Collector.
Order from: antiquemapsandprints.com

The Portfolio. Most small business owners are not actively looking for a writer, but many are struggling with a trade show presentation or a wordy brochure. They may have a product explanation to prepare. Enter the wordsmith. Put together some examples of your writing.

  • What have you got on file? This is not a time to showcase your poetry. Choose journalism stories, reviews, brief essays, and well-worded feature pieces.
  • Make a blog for your new writing service. Fill it with example ads—5, 10, 30, 200 words. Write a clean, brief ‘About’ page. Sell your skills.
  • Edit some existing material. Show ‘before’ and ‘after’ what your skills can do. Take a mediocre brochure or a thick, word-heavy sales promo and craft some good customer mood that will invite action.
  • Write example articles about a business that could run in local papers or in online reviews. If you are going after a sales or product client, show a plan how you can write and send out quality emails that online editors might post.
  • Write a resume, but keep it brief—one page! More important, write a clean, enticing cover sheet that spells out how you can help them directly. Include a short plan in point form listing materials you can create to make their job easier.
  • Local clients want to see that you are serious, organized and follow through. They are not interested in writer’s block or  that your memory stick didn’t work at Kinkos. Usually they are calling you late for a trade show and if you can write on the plane and have the brochure printed in Atlanta, you are in. Rates vary with travel.

Rates for Small Business. This can be subjective but there are only three rules:

  • Good, fast or cheap—pick any two.
  • Fifty percent down, C.O.D.
  • How big is their piano? (Paper Moon, 1973)

Beginners in the biz: Shoot for  $50 to 100 for a brief article or news release, $15 to 20 per hour for research time. Negotiate your time on anything that will take more than a day’s labor ($200). If you are writing a classic, ‘trademarkable’ slogan, start the bidding at $1 per square foot of office space.

To help you understand the importance of a good presentation, consider the budget allotted for one trade show. The following is a list of expenses for a slick corporate brochure with a trade show distribution of 2000 units. A good lead or sale at the event is valued in the thousands. Having a qualified scribe on hand is just the cost of doing business.

  • Concept and design – $2500
  • Photography – $6000
  • Research and copy writing – $3000
  • Pre-press – $1500
  • Printing – $8,000
  • Turn-around: 30 days

Egyptian hieroglyph promoting
the health benefits of wheat.

Places to start. Solicit a few jobs and gigs online. Get a Paypal account and start receiving deposits. Also, draft a terse and titillating cover for marketers and entrepreneurs. Let the businesses in your area know that you are in the business of writing. Circulate your promo material with printers in your area. The print shop manager knows who is advertising and who might need a good writer. Team up with designers and webmasters to add words to their projects. Meet with your client and be prepared to start taking notes immediately. Collect, draft, edit, then submit for approval. Stay organized and be prepared to work with a design team. Shape your words to affect the intended audience with desired results.

When I first got started, I charged $100 to write and layout a nice flyer and coordinate the printing. Expenses were extra. I took one day to get them a proof. Nowadays, the rate for freelancers can easily be triple. While freelance writing can net six to ten cents per word for an article, getting a cash or check deposit to start a project can mean food right away. Many days I’ve left with a proposal and come home with groceries. Those were exciting times.


I’ve always thought about the potential for biographers. So many anxious messages pop up on forums, “I have a great story that should be a book. I just need a writer.” Sure, why not? A few cents per word, maybe a deposit on each chapter and cash on delivery before the next one, helping a few people convey personal memories in a nice, little novella.

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