3 Side-Hustles for Freelance Writers — Without Any Pressure

Updated: Oct 1, 2019

Client work isn’t the only way to make money as a freelance writer. Here are three flexible opportunities you may not have considered.

If you’re willing to hustle, sites like Conyac can be great places to secure client work as a freelance writer or editor. However, the work isn’t always constant, so it can be helpful to establish additional income streams if you can find gigs that are flexible and won’t get in the way of your client work. In this article, we’ll explore three that, over time and with the right approach, can help you supplement your income.

1. Blogging & Affiliate Links

Since writing is your strongest skill, blogging should come to you relatively easily. However, you likely want to avoid creating a spammy-looking blog that is covered in ads. A more subtle way to monetize your writing is to use affiliate links. Don’t worry — it’s easier than you think.

Here’s a brief overview of how the top bloggers go from zero to hero:

  • Pick a Topic: Blogs that discuss items available for purchase online are the easiest to monetize. For example, fashion, travel, or specific products. This is because your readers will click on a link, and, if they make a purchase, you’ll get a commission.

  • Find Your Niche: There are likely many blogs already about your given topic, so find a sub-category of that. Ideally, you want to be writing based on your own experience and give it your own unique spin.

  • Define Your Brand: Some bloggers use their own names and photos. Others choose to remain anonymous and use a pseudonym and get an artist to create a logo or cartoon character to serve as their icon.

  • Set Up Your Site: There are countless platforms available. Popular ones that will let you have your own domain name include Revue, Tumblr, and WordPress.com.

  • Add a Custom Domain: Register a domain that fits your brand. Setting this up will differ slightly depending on which platform you chose. Ask your nearest geek to help if necessary!

  • About Page: Introduce yourself and add links to all your social media. You could add a link to your Conyac profile if you wish to refer people to your paid services.

  • Write a Few Posts: The key is to be publishing high-quality content consistently that people will want to subscribe to.

  • Sign Up to an Affiliate Program: Two popular ones that cover multiple merchants are Skimlinks and VigLink. Alternatively, you might prefer to sign up directly to the affiliate programs of specific merchants.

  • Keep On Keeping On: Work to build your traffic by sharing your posts via social media.

  • You need to view this as a long-term project. Even the world’s top-earning bloggers weren’t overnight successes. To learn more, check out resources such as ProBlogger.

2. Publishing Platform Partner Programs

If setting up a blog and publishing your writing on a regular schedule is not feasible for you, there is another option. Platforms such as Medium and Quora allow you to post when you have time, but still, give you distribution to their massive user community. Plus, they let you earn from your contributions.


Medium was founded by one of the first members of the Twitter team. It is home to writers covering a broad range of topics and genres. It has a website and mobile apps.

The Medium Partner Program allows writers to earn money for the content they publish on Medium based on engagement from other users. Stories set as eligible to earn money in the program are put behind a metered paywall.

Readers on Medium who aren’t yet paying members can view up to two stories for free per month. If a reader hasn’t yet registered to have a Medium account, they can still get their two stories per month for free. Moreover, you can also share a Friend Link that guarantees that your friends, family, and fans have free access to your stories.

You can publish original content on Medium, or, if you already have a blog elsewhere, you can republish your content on Medium. Medium lets you link back to the original to avoid Google penalizing your main blog’s SEO.

How much you earn on Medium will depend on many factors, and their system is constantly evolving. One major factor in whether or not a story gains traction is whether or not their curation staff feature it — either on the top page or on one of the many category pages. Following Medium’s Curation Guidelines will help maximize your stories’ chances of being picked.


Quite a different beast from Medium, Quora is known as being a Q&A site. Nowadays, it also has a popular mobile app. You can also start a blog on Quora. It is a great place to showcase your knowledge and expertise.

The Quora Partner Program (you’ll need to be logged in to see it) rewards align with its objective to grow the platform with high-quality user-generated content. It’s quite different from Medium and focuses on the site’s core Q&A element. The program is still evolving, which you can see from the Quora Partners blog.

If you have the time, being active on all of the above — your own blog, Medium, and Quora — will be ideal, as it will give you more exposure and help you build up an audience.

3. Print on Demand Sites

Can you write quotes, sayings, or slogans that would look good printed on a t-shirt or other item? In that case, consider opening up a shop on a print-on-demand (POD) site. There are many to choose from — check them out and go with one that feels right and matches the kind of style your works might have. Based on my personal experience, TeePublic is the simplest and easiest to get started on. Another popular one is RedBubble (which actually owns TeePublic, but operates both as separate sites).

Some popular designs are literally just text that has been laid-out to work well on a t-shirt. Here’s one that got people’s attention via another POD site, RageOn:

Source: RageOn Instagram

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be a designer. You just need to learn how to use simple web-based tools such as BeFunky or Canva to create a transparent graphic using a font that fits the words. The site you choose will specify the ideal dimensions of your graphic.

Since it’s so easy to create content for these sites, the amount of competition is insane. You’ll need to hustle as follows:

  • Upload your designs on multiple POD sites (at least two)

  • Promote your designs via visually-oriented social media such as Instagram or Pinterest

  • Work consistently over time to build up your following


All of the above side hustles are easy to start, don’t require any upfront costs, and don’t have any specific time commitments. However, they do require hard work, persistence, and a long-term perspective. If you have what it takes and are prepared to commit, then over time, they can build up into substantial supplementary income streams that will complement your client work on freelance sites such as Conyac.

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Xtra.blog is a resource for freelancers including tips and advice on how to earn more, improve your skills, get better gigs, and live a balanced lifestyle.

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