It’s OK to Admit You’re Writing For Money

Oren Cohen

Just don’t be a douche-bag about it.

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Have you ever heard the sentence, “True Writing is above compensation”?

Or maybe, “If you write for money, you’ll never succeed”? Many young writers believe that the art of writing is reserved only for gifted people.

I’m here to say it as clearly as I can: Not True.

One example is from my time in college. One of my extracurricular courses was about the science of Creativity over the decades. During one of the classes, our lecturer asked who in the class has a favorite author. Many people raised hands and said many names, which I don’t remember. What happened next was burned into my mind.

The lecturer asked one of the students what does she think about the author as a person. The student glorified the author for their works and how smart they must be for creating them.

The lecturer laughed and started explaining that this same adoration was why medieval artists were so successful. It’s because we subconsciously put Creativity and Art on a pedestal higher than we are.

And perhaps we shouldn’t, but that’s a discussion for a different day.

Today, I want to focus on how we writers are affected by this human nature trait and how it relates to getting paid for your writing.

Some of us are modest, kind, shy. Some others — aware or not — utilize that human adoration to create crowds of people that revere them for something they are not.

Many successful writers on Medium like Ayodeji Awosika, Tim Denning, and Sean Kernan — among others — create helpful posts that people can go on a deep dive and binge on their articles. I love reading them, but more than that — I learned a lot by reading them. They gave me value.

But there are some others, too. Those writers feel obliged to put a story or two into the world and invite people to give them money. For what? You steal 3 minutes of my time without giving me anything in return, and now you ask me to financially support you, too? It doesn’t seem like a fair trade to me.

But you know what? The crowd writers — that’s how I’ll name the negative ones — are all for finding innocent people who believe only some people in the world can write a book or even a blog post.

In Hebrew, there’s a saying (which sounds a lot better in Hebrew):

“Suckers don’t die. They are replaced.” — Hebrew saying.

There will always be people who believe a lie. There will always be people to take advantage of them. It’s quite bleak, I know, but life isn’t all roses and smiles.

In the last decade, I’ve been dealing with considerable debt. I’ve asked my parents to help out, and they did. It’s still there. Not going anywhere, at least not anytime soon. Does that mean I’m a starved artist? I mean, I write, don’t I?

Well, No. I have a day job. In fact, I have a fantastic day job in the high tech industry, and the salary fits the description of the job.

And still, it’s easy to incur debt — it’s tough to get rid of it.

So, I work. But I also know how to write. Shouldn’t I utilize this skill? Shouldn’t I monetize what I can in a bid to get myself out of the rut I put myself into in my earlier years?

Yes.

I’m allowed to do that, and so are you. I’m OK with admitting I write because I love writing, and I also want to make money from my craft.

I’m perfectly OK to say to my readers that I may provide them with a unique perspective, but they could also be totally smarter than I am.

I’m perfectly OK with saying to my readers that I’m sharing their lived experiences, dreams, or fantasies. I’m not better than them.

What people immediately think about a writer who charges money is that my writing will be full of sales pitches.

Wrong.

Subscription writing is now taking over the world by storm. Frameworks like Substack, Revue, and my personal favorite, Ghost, allow people to open blogs and offer a monthly subscription service.

Now, I’m not going to offer you to join one, there are no hidden affiliate links, and I’m not getting paid for mentioning them. I’m only saying that they are a good outlet for writers who want to share their writing with the world and maybe make some money off it.

When a writer offers you to get some posts unlocked for the price of one Starbucks a month, it’s nothing for you — it’s the world for them.

There are many examples of people who get paid nicely for running subscription blogs — whether being helpful or not. Perhaps the most well known out of all of them is Andrew Sullivan. Andrew made more than a million dollars a year from his subscription-based political blog.

So, please, if you’re a writer reading my words, don’t be afraid to admit you’re writing to get paid. We’re all human. We all have needs and wants and dreams.

Just don’t be a douchebag about it and put yourself on a pedestal above everyone else. Because frankly, the best way to get paid as a writer — is to help other people and change their lives for the better.

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I'm a geeky content creator. My content will usually be helpful articles for other content creators like me or some fun geeky articles about shows, video games, and literature. Recommend me a new fantasy book! Also, I'm working on my own fantasy story so stay tuned for that, too.

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