3 Side-jobs for Freelance Writers I’ve Actually Made Money With

3 Side-jobs for Freelance Writers I've Actually Made.jpg

Hey, writers. How’s it going?

Have you written this week? Are you planning to write next week?

Since the last Coffee Talk & Writers Secrets, I have both taken a vacation [from freelancing for three days] and worked solely on my WIP. Apparently I needed the post and a talk with a writer friend to nudge myself into activity on that front. I finished the 25,000 word edits I promised I would do this month! Yay!

But I had a friend email me asking a question – she was frustrated and said that even though she sent out 100 pitches last month, she’s hearing crickets. She wanted to know how to make money when the fish aren’t nibbling.

I get it. Sometimes, even if you work your tail off pitching to everyone on your list, you’re going to have moments when it’s quiet and people are fishing or barbequing or just not hiring. What can you do when you’re one of thousands of voices shouting online, trying to be heard and hired, and your voice doesn’t carry over the hurricane around you?

In those moments, you can buckle down and get to work, or you can change your strategy. I’ve adapted my freelance writing strategy several times. I’ve also taken gigs.

I am a freelance writer, but I’m also a person who can wear other hats. We take these gigs to fuel our bellies and help cover the passion projects [like DarWrites which was fueled this month by a paid research study and a photography job].

A heads-up: there are gigs, tasks, and part-time jobs that are great for writers and others that aren’t. My person part-time list includes everything from focus group participant [yeah, that’s a thing], to photographer. When you talk to writers, they talk about their passion projects first…and the fifth or sixth time you meet them later, they talk about the jobs that help sustain them. Writers I know do everything from accounting to zookeeping. The coolest job a writer I know has is flying airplanes. I don’t know about you, but I don’t qualify for that one.

So…if you are like me and you troll Pinterest for hiking information, clean eating, how to be a digital nomad, and writing tips, you have seen headlines that make your heart sing: “How to Go from $0 to $4,000 a month as a Paid Freelance Writer,” “How to make $5,000/mo Writing Online When You’re Broke and Clueless,” “75 Paid Writing Gigs,” “How I make [insert $ as there are dozens of these] a Month Freelance Writing,” “How I consistently Earn $5,000+ Per Month as a Freelance Writer.” These are tempting beyond chocolate!

I want to [and often do] click them all.

But how do I make money when I don’t meet my freelance writing goals?

Here are my top 3 recommended side jobs that I’ve actually earned money with. I’m not talking a few dollars, I’m talking hundreds of dollars.

Specialty Skills

You know how they say use what you know? My momma was a chef. I grew up watching her in the kitchen at cafes and later huge restaurants…and naturally she pulled me over and showed me how to make everything from antipasto to spätzle. I’ve worked in kitchens, cafes, and fairgrounds and covered everything from barista to line cook [I was privately trained, have recommendations from a few chefs, and show my chops when I visit the kitchens the first time]. I’ve always kept my food handler’s permit up to date so I can cover gigs. So, use what you know. Pick a side job that you are familiar with and don’t mind doing for a few hours. My favorite gigs of this type are for caterers who are understaffed or one-time gigs cooking special meals in homes.

Gigs on Craigslist

At first my friends thought I was crazy answering some of the ads on Craigslist, mostly because they’ve seen too many serial killer movies on Lifetime, but most of the posters are honest and just want help [of course, do your due diligence, tell someone where you’re going and when you’re going to be back, and if it feels hinky, get out fast]. The most lucrative gig I’ve come across so far is for a paid focus group. Sound strange, but if you live near a big city, you can be paid to be in a research focus group for a company or to stand in as a juror and give them your honest opinions. They only take an afternoon or day, and it can make you some money. The largest amount I was paid for a focus group was $250 [Note: I’ve been told that you can do this online, but I’ve never done that – I always go to the studies at a popular office building].


I never thought snapping photos was going to make me money…until it did. Seriously, I was shocked. I knew there were photographers out there, but I wasn’t one of them…until I was. I answered a Craigslist ad when I was just getting started as a freelance writer back in 2010, and found a client who wanted a ton of pictures and words. As an avid shutterbug, I said yes, of course, I can take care of that for you! It was landscape photos and business photos. Since then, I’ve done everything from taking engagement photos to landscape photography. Use your skills – if you’re an artist, use that, if you’re tech savvy, figure out a way to level up your craft and sell it. You never know when or what someone will find helpful.


On Focus

Of course, we’re writers first. If  you’re a fiction writer, a poet, or a nonfiction writer, there are ways to use your skills – and sell them. You may not have come across the one that will work for you yet, but have faith that it will happen.

My sister always says things happen for a reason, and they happen in their time.

I agree. We have to pay the bills. But don’t forget your writing and don’t let it get lost in the shuffle. Your writing needs you – you are its only advocate. So write.

Hope this helps inspire you!

Now get back to writing.

Write on,


DarWrites Logo #2 2017


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About Darlene Reilley

Hey, I'm Darlene, a nomadic writer and teacher. If you're looking for writing prompts, inspiration, and a fellow writer to commiserate with, you've come to the right place. If you're a reader looking for a fun mix of poetry, romance, science and fiction, you've found a buddy!
This entry was posted in Creative Writing, Freelance Writing, Inspiration, Lifestyle, writing craft, writing life, Writing Secrets and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to 3 Side-jobs for Freelance Writers I’ve Actually Made Money With

  1. Pingback: 2020 Writer Helpers | Dar Writes

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