The Most I’ve Ever Earned For A Blog Post

Payment Getting Paid - Igal Ness

Photo: Igal Ness

Writing for a living is generally a poor way to make a living, especially if you live in regions where the craft itself is often under-appreciated.

So when USD 300 was credited into my account today for what would essentially qualify as a blog post, I can finally say that for the first time in almost a decade of writing for a living, I actually earned money from something I wanted to write.

But Stuart, you may ask, don’t you already write for a living? What’s the big deal?

Yes, it may be a paltry sum compared to what a full-time job gets you. But all the words I’ve sold—newspaper articles, ad copy, social media posts—were merely assignments handed down to me. I never had any choice in what to write.

This latest gig, in contrast, is the equivalent of someone giving me money just because they liked my blog post. It was a piece I had written out of pure desire and nothing else. So getting paid for it is the equivalent of being paid for fiction.

So what’s the point?

Until today, the most I’ve ever earned from an unsolicited blog post was USD 30 on Medium, and even then I felt like I was in the big leagues (especially since that’s the equivalent of a week’s worth of groceries for me as a Malaysian).

Which brings me to the point of this post—to remind all the budding writers out there to keep grinding away at their craft, even though it may seem like you’re not making progress.

It’s to remind you that just because none of the doors are opening doesn’t mean you can’t go ahead and try knocking on another one.

And along with that, I’d also like to add a few points extra points for the aspiring writer to keep in mind, and I think I’ll start that off by being a total killjoy.

Be a realist

As much as I think that I’ll never reach the upper echelons of writing solely because of my circumstances, I have to admit that the universe was also kind enough to nudge me towards writerdom.

For one, my parents had left books around the house, which I prompted me to start reading from a very young age. I also come from a lower middle-class family, which means that my struggles were few. I didn’t have many responsibilities when I quit my job to write a novel either, so that’s another plus.

Could you do the same thing and take a couple of years off work just so you could pursue your writing dreams? Sure you can. Should you do it, especially if you have a family to take care of? Maybe not.

Maybe you’ll have to take the slow-and-steady route and write during your lunch breaks instead. I personally know a mother of two who’d written an award-winning book by making the most out of her children’s nap time.

So don’t feel bummed out if you can’t drop everything and write full-time, or that finding the time to write would mean you getting up two hours earlier, because that just means you have your own path to forge.

Payment Bored Girls - Sinitta Leunen

Just gotta keep it real, ya know? Photo: Sinitta Leunen

You can’t think about the money, even if it is about the money

I’ve always dreamed to one day become an Allie Brosh, or a Mark Manson, to be able to profit from my creative fancies. Maybe that’s why I’ve chosen to try fiction.

The thing is though, once that becomes your goal, you’ll need to not think about the potential contracts you’d score, or how you’ll be living off your royalties by 2022.

The paradox of making a living off your writing (and not work writing) is that you can’t go into it wanting to profit right off the bat. Or ever, even.

So yes, keep your day job (and health insurance), be practical, then pursue your writing goals on the side.

And I say this as someone who’s quit his job to write a novel. Having learned what I needed to from that experience, I can safely say that I could’ve done the same thing even while holding down a day job.

Have faith

To be fair, I suck at having faith in myself. Every day I wake up doubting my writing dreams. Will I die without writing anything substantial? Am I just wasting my time? Do I have a different calling in life and just not know it?

I’ve written three more manuscripts ever since I got published, and two out of those have already been rejected. Maybe my luck has run out. Or maybe it was just a fluke. Either way, I find it hard to maintain the belief in myself that what I’m doing has a purpose, and if you feel it too, just know that it’s perfectly normal.

It won’t go away when you get your first byline, and it sure as hell won’t when you see your first book in print.

Still, if this is really your dream, the best thing you can do is to soldier on and keep putting in the work even when the odds seem stacked against you.

Don’t be afraid to dream

During my time as a hairdresser, I remember how I pined to see my name in a magazine one day. I never thought I’d ever be able to do exactly that—to enjoy cool life experiences, write about them, and see my name in print.

Then I dreamt about writing a book, which couldn’t have been a more impossible goal in my eyes. But then I reached that goal, and I ended up writing a few more. I dreamt of being published, and of being paid for unsolicited work.

Now I dream to be known as a sci-fi writer at least in my home country of Malaysia. Will I ever get there? I have no idea. But what I do know is that I reached all my previous goals because I had first dared to dream.

Be kind to yourself

I’ve taken to following people like David Goggins, Wes Watson, and Gary Vaynerchuk in recent years, and I’ve totally bought into the hustle culture, of pushing yourself to see where your limits lie.

But I’ve also spent thirty-five years of my life basically slacking and always finding the easy way out, so it’s natural for me to fall back to my old ways, and my journey to self-improvement can best be categorised as ‘two steps forward, one step back’.

When those moments hit—say I woke up late or drank one too many beers—I’ve found that the best thing to do is to forgive myself, because I’ve spilled the milk, and we all know there’s no use crying over that.

So if you find yourself not meeting your weekly word count yet again, or if you chose to rest instead of writing during your lunchtime, don’t beat yourself up over it.

The worst thing you could do is to ruminate, and the best is to just pick up where you’d left off.

Which brings us to the end of this post. If there’s anything you take away from this, it’s this: I’m probably one of the least-qualified people to be writing for a living today, and if I can make a decent amount of change on a blog post, then so can you.

42 thoughts on “The Most I’ve Ever Earned For A Blog Post

  1. Well said. It is my dream to be able to earn something from my writing, but I refuse to monetize my blog. Why? Out of the fear that I would be once more spending money without seeing any in return. is what I do worthy of a donation? Are my word bleeds worthy of being paid? While obviously as long as I don’t monetize it, I’m doing it out of the sheer love of writing.. of which there is no doubt, at least for me. It would help me if it did bring in even a few dollars. As long as there are no donation or pay options, I can dream and believe my writings worthy at least in my own mind. Congratulations on proving to yourself though that yours are indeed worthy. And the manuscripts, may have just been sent to the wrong place or at the wrong time. Research Steven King or Dr. Seuss.

    • Oh yeah, you’ve just described the writing journey so perfectly. It is indeed filled with constant doubt, wondering if you’re ever good enough, even if you’ve earned a few bucks along the way.

      We’re in this together, and I’m sending you all the good vibes for your writing journey.

      Thanks so much for dropping this wonderful comment, by the way!

  2. Congrats Stuart! I’ve done a couple blogs for websites but most are topics I’m less passionate about. It’s always a joy when it’s something close to home! Celebrate it :D

    • Oh yea, it’s the best feeling when it’s your non-work writing that gets you the bacon. Am going to be forever thankful for this day. Anyway, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!

  3. Just this morning, I was thinking about taking a ‘short break’ from blogging — one that equates to being VERY behind on my blog posting schedule. Now, I might just be rotating my thoughts.
    I really agree with your thoughts on not just thinking, “I’m going to make money”. Actually, this is why most bloggers stop after a couple of months; “This blogging gig? Hard. I’m not making money anytime before my ninety-year-old neighbor becomes a K-pop star. And obviously, I don’t have the time or effort to wait so long!” And so they quit.
    I love the messages in the post. Thank you for this post, Stuart!

    • I hope I’d managed to keep you on the writing train, because that’s what really matters in the end, cliche or not. But yeah, it’s one of those pursuits where you can’t really feel the progress as you grind through it, much like losing weight or learning a new language. But there will be progress. All you have to do is not stop. Wishing you all the best!

      • Thank you so much!! I appreciate your words and you have kept me on the writing train after all :)

  4. Such a killer opening paragraph. As an aspiring writer it goes straight to the heart. Fabulous advice, practical and crisp~~

    • Aww, I truly appreciate your kind words, Laran. I hope that opening paragraph didn’t discourage you from writing, even though it can be that way sometime. Wishing you all the best with your writing journey!

  5. First of all… I completely disagree. You are quite qualified to earn money on your blog posts!😊

    Second, thank you. Thank you for both for your financial transparency as well as providing yet another delightfully inspiring piece.

    I couldn’t keep going without more experienced writers like yourself admitting insecurities and adversities to the rest of us🌺

    • That really makes my day that you would think that. I really appreciate it.

      And thank YOU for stopping by and leaving this wonderful comment!

      But yeah, we all have our struggles and insecurities, don’t we? I believe no one’s free from this, even those who have it made. Thanks so much for your thoughts!

  6. Fantastic Stu (*clap clap*)! Thanks as always for sharing. And you have given me an idea of what to write for my blog tomorrow. Cos I too made a most surprising and unexpected windfall when a post I was once invited to write on last year earned me some greenback as well! It totally lifted my spirits and made me realise my writing might actually be good enough for someone from across the globe to pay me! Look out for my post on it ok? I’m pumped!!

    • Whoa! Am definitely gonna look out for it. I’ve always believed you deserve to earn for your writing, so I hope this will be one of many more similar gigs to come! Thanks for stopping by as usual, Kelvin!

    • I’m so happy you would say that, because I often feel as though I actually speak from my butt instead, and there’s always the doubt niggling away at the back of my mind, then I read comments like yours and feel that perhaps I’m headed down the right path after all. Thanks so much for your encouraging comment!

      • That’s true. We often feel unsure of ourselves and wonder about our own approval and other people’s opinions. I am going through that every day. LOL. I feel a connection with what you write and those thoughts are what I think about from time to time.

  7. Congrats Stuart! I am so happy for you. I am silent reader of your blog and I am not really surprised. More to come!! 😁

  8. I am not exactly sure what it means regarding ‘lower middle-class family’ or if there is actually a chart or some form of detailed information about it, or the other classes as well.

    One very strong thing that came to me in response to this…is The Book of Light and The Book of Dark…which I threw away years ago.

    I basically bought two notebooks and named one as ‘The Book of Light’ and ‘The Book of Dark’…meaning one book contains all positive poems and one more…all negative.

    It was when I was still a teenager. I gained inspiration from music and if I was sad…I would listen to the song that would amplify the emotion…and then I would blast it out into poetry.

    I am remembering the concept…it was to write a book where every poem connects to each other like a story. It was an inspiration from Avantasia, a metal rock project or something.
    I remember buying the first album called ‘Avantasia – The Metal Opera’ and…the whole album is actually a story. So if I wanted to know what happens next, I have to listen to the next song…and finally the end.

    I forgot why I threw away the two books, but whoever and whatever I am right now…it is not ‘that’ from the past…which means if I were to create the same books…the content would be completely different.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing!
    Joker Wood

    • Lol, I guess that basically means I didn’t need to starve, but also our family never did have any fancy things growing up.

      There IS a chart for it, but it’s subjective and it belongs solely in my head, lol.

      That’s an interesting concept you’ve shared there, and a great story of your past too. Appreciate your comments as always. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Congratulations for coming so far! Your words are in inspiration for aspiring writers! Hope you are able to achieve your dream, become a well known sci-fi writer not only in Malaysia but world wide.

  10. Congrats!! That’s really exciting to make so much money on a post you actually wanted to write. I would love to get into freelance writing once I graduate college and have a little more spare time. But I will definitely be a realist and not expect too much, haha!

    Miles of smiles,

    • I’m gonna be a hypocrite and say that you should definitely dream big. But if nothing happens, then we shall take it in stride. Wishing you all the best in your journey to becoming a freelance writer!

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