Make Money Online By Writing, With Just That One Skill. Build A Whole Knowledge Commerce Business Out Of It. Or Earn By Writing For Others’ Businesses.
Knowledge Commerce is a very hot online business idea now worth $325 billion. It will never be going out of demand either, till time itself stops. In Knowledge Commerce, you just write a lot on any subject of passion – and convert it into your area of visible expertise.
You write ebooks, course materials, podcast scripts, video scripts, content for membership sites, consulting or mentoring webinar scripts – it’s just about creating loads and loads of valuable practical and in-demand content in your niche. You then write marketing stuff to sell all these online as “ecommerce using knowledge products”.
If you love writing and are already reasonably good at it, you can just polish up your skills a bit and get going. If you’re a beginner to writing, and daunted, just remember that writing is only another form of speaking. If you can talk, you can write.
At Solohacks Academy, we’d like to tell you that there’s also a huge market for writers who can write for others doing Knowledge Commerce. So if you’re not into selling your own knowledge products, why not earn fistfuls of dollars helping others write up their workloads?
1. Why Everybody Who Wants To Make Money Online Should Begin To Love Writing
What do people come online for? What do you go online for? Invariably it is to get information and knowledge. Even if you went to shop online, you would do a whole lot of information-shopping first, wouldn’t you? You’d want to read reviews of products, compare them, see what others have said about them, see what brands are saying about themselves …the whole online lives and breathes knowledge and information.
Almost all of it requires reams and reams of good writing. To earn any sort of money online you have to write to create information products. You have to write promotional information to proliferate your visibility. Then you have to write marketing information to sell your wares.
To blog, you have to write a lot and regularly. You want to make videos and podcasts, you still have to start with written scripts. See how information and knowledge drive the whole online world? If you want to earn handsomely in this online world, you absolutely have to know how to earn money by writing.
a. What Does It Take To Be A Really Great Writer
To those who already write, it takes a bit of learning to know how to write for online Knowledge Commerce and marketing. To those who are rank beginners to the art of writing, all I can say is that it’s among the easiest skills to acquire. There is no earthly reason to fear that you may not be a good writer. Nobody starts out being good. They start and then with practice they get good at it. But if you want to earn online, you have to be confident enough to say “I am going to start and by and by I will get very good at it.” That the reasonable and achievable path to take.
The many qualities and skills a great writer needs
There are many skills that experts say a good writer needs. But I would distill it down to just three things. Here they are in order of importance:
- You have to be able to write as smartly and simply as you talk. A lot of beginners feel daunted by having to write because they feel as if their writing has to be classy, compelling, precise, and full of big authoritative words. In fact, that is exactly not the way to write for an online audience. Did you know that online audiences are believed to be no more intelligent than fifth-graders at school? That means your simplicity, authenticity, clarity, short sentences, easy vocabulary, and casual writing style will work best. Write exactly as you would talk. If you’re not sure how to do that get a dictation-software like Dragon Naturally Speaking and then talk out what you want to say. The computer will put it into text. Then slightly tweak the sentences around if you wish and correct the spellings. You will be good to go.
- You have to write with a person in front of your mind’s eye. If you don’t write for someone specifically, you’ll be writing so generally that it will make no sense to the somebody you are trying to convince i.e. your target audiences. Unlike writing a book of fiction, online writing has to be aimed at a typical person from among your target audience set. Imagine the person in your mind’s eye, see what he or she may look like, speak like, show some preferences and habits, have some background or education … the more you can imagine accurately the person you are writing to inform or advice, the sharper will be your writing without your even making an effort to write.
- You have to have an objective for your writing – an outcome you hope to get. Online writing is done to get some tangible actions or results from the reader. What do you want the reader to do after reading the piece you have written? Do you want him or her to nod in agreement, feel compelled to send your piece to a friend who may also like it, feel compelled to read another article of yours, feel moved to reply you with a comment below your article, prefer to socially share your article or sign up for your newsletters? If you don’t know what action you want someone to take after reading your writing, it’s a pointless exercise.
The many types of writing that you need to be good at
To be able to earn money off your writing through online avenues, you need to be skilled at the nuances of three types of writing. Here they are:
- Blog writing: In this form of writing, you have to write both for the search engines (like Google and Bing) and for people. What do we mean by this? Search engines like Google have thousands of people searching for topics of interest every day. We have to pick the “keywords” or topics people want answers for. We then have to write precisely, and thoroughly answer the search queries. That way the search engines are able to offer their users exact match answers to their queries. Our piece also thus appeals to people because it answers their problems or pain-points or challenges. Blogging is not like writing a diary of your own thoughts. It is intended to answer the queries people ask most in relation to the topic that is your chosen field of expertise.
- Writing for marketing materials: This is a different form of writing because you are not aiming at merely being informative, you are aiming to be persuasive. You have to be able to enumerate all the good points about a topic that you are writing about but also thereafter sell the concept, recommendation, or product to a person as a good purchase that gives value for money. Your arguments must, therefore, be both mentally appealing and financially logical. Writing to inform and writing to sell are different. In writing to sell, you can’t leave a topic open-ended to let a person ponder over your ideas. You have round it all off saying “Here’s why you, therefore, need to consider buying this (idea/recommendation/product).”
- Writing for creating knowledge products: This is the third type of writing you have to master. When you create ebooks, courses, or consulting packs, you have to logically list a sequence of things a person must know one after another. You have to take people on a journey of learning, assuming they are starting with no knowledge and building their understanding step by step. See the contents of books on Amazon, or the courses on Udemy and their curricula. See how they take their customers through a topic in-depth, but step by step? This is the approach to building something that appeals to a broad spectrum of target audiences, wherever their knowledge level is at for the moment.
b. Tools That Help With Your Writing Polish, Style and Savvy
The real polish in writing comes from polished ideas. It does not come from polished words and sentences. Writing polished content for your brand requires putting thought on content value first. Then come the four hallmarks that separate brands and their writing styles. These four hallmarks are creativity, confidence, credibility and conviction.
That said, there are some free and excellent tools to help you polish up your writing skills …
As the name suggests, the Hemingway App is a free online tool that helps you write in the very polished and easy-to-read style of the great writer Ernest Hemingway. Mr. Hemingway believed that Engish must be written in a simple but strong way – without confusing sentence construction, overuse of weak adverbs, or excessive passive voice. If we avoid these three errors, he felt, language would become very classy and stylish.
In the image of the Hemingway App shown above, everything is self-explanatory. Type in your text directly or copy-paste from another document. Using color-codes, the app tells you where you are using fussy sentences, weak adverbs, and passive voice. Till you correct the sentence, the colors won’t disappear. Finally, when you have pared it all down to meet Mr. Hemingway’s high standards, all your text will be black on white. That’s when you’ve done a good job. Isn’t this a fabulously easy way to keep to the high standards of a man noted for his depth of vocabulary and smart communication of ideas?
Gramarly declares itself to be an “AI-powered application to help people communicate more effectively.” Millions of users rely on Grammarly to make their messages, documents, and social media posts clear, mistake-free, and impactful. The free version is more than good enough for most writers. If you just install Grammarly’s free browser extension, it will help you write correctly on nearly every site on the web.
Grammarly not only corrects your grammatical mistakes but also makes your writing more understandable. In addition, it is able to check the tone of your writing, and makes synonym suggestions to make your text more readable and precise. I find it to be invaluable because it underlines in green every word or phrase that looks or sounds wrong – and it gives me alternatives that I can just click to use instead of the words I did.
c. Tools That Help You Make Your Writing Workload Many Times Easier
There are two nifty tools that most writers never think of – but they can be enormously useful in speeding up your writing time. One is a speech-to-text software and another is the opposite – a text-to-speech online app. You’ll never guess what these two can do for you till you’ve tried them.
It takes me on average at least three hours to think, write and type up a blog post. On the other hand, I can dictate my thoughts in good natural sentences to my Dragon Naturally Speaking Software in less than half an hour, and given a bit of tweaking time, I have a blog post, ready-to-go in one hour. In the time I can do three blog posts with Dragon, I would do just one without my Dragon.
Dragon Naturally Speaking costs a bit of money ($49.99 and upwards), but it is worth every penny to a writer who wants to produce reams of content at a good speed and in a conversational tone. Dragon is especially good with people of different speaking accents. Free or cheap online free dictation software may not understand your English accent. Whereas, Dragon primes itself by making you read one paragraph over and over and correct it’s typing, till it gets it 100% right. After that training up (say 1-2 hours) it’s all set up for your unique pronunciations, diction, and accent.
Now, you may be wondering why a writer would need a text-to-speech reader. In fact, I’ve chosen a most basic, free online one you can use, as I frequently do. The idea is that it’s really so much easier to proof-read your writing, especially a lot of it, if you could hear a voice read it than if you were to tire your eyes out correcting every missing letter here and there.
Let’s say you have accidentally typed the word “the” twice in a sentence. You wouldn’t notice it (and neither may Grammarly or Hemingway) because it is not a misspelled word, not a wrong one to use. It’s just appeared twice. When a text reader reads it back to you, though, it would stutter over “the the” and you’d spot the error faster. Hearing sentences read aloud also makes you aware if they seem overlong, or too fussy with clauses and meanderings. It the text reader reads a crisp piece of writing without a flaw, you’re proofing is easy as pie.
2. Writing For Your Own Business Vs. Writing For Others
There are three different ways you could earn money from writing. One, is to write for your own website where you can sell your knowledge products – ebooks, courses, memberships, pre-packaged consulting. You can blog for your own business to grow, and the money you earn grows by selling your knowledge products in any niche of your choice.
The second way to earn from writing is to undertake freelance-writing or ghost-writing for other people’s websites and blogs. Those who can’t handle their workloads may like to outsource help. The third type of writing is guest-blogging. You write under your own name but submit articles to magazines and online publications and websites that pay their “guest authors”.
a. Writing For Your Own Knowledge Commerce Business
Writing for your own business – your website and blog – has a sequence to follow. If you want to see great results, build an audience first, earn the trust of that audience, and then sell products to them (which they will buy based on the trust developed in you).
Writing to build an audience first
You’ll find that almost 95% of the most successful business people online are those who have written hundreds of blog posts in their niche, and have acquired three advantages from this prolific blogging:
One: The more blog posts you write, for your target audiences, in your own specialized and unique niche, the more touches people get from you to see what an authority you are. Experts believe that it takes at least 12-14 touches of a reader to make him or her a loyal reader and fan. So the objective is to write a lot of blog posts initially, at high frequency, so that your site and blog are choc-full of very pointed, useful articles for your target audiences to read.
They’ll read your work once, and then if you capture their emails into a subscriber mailing list you can keep them alerted every time you make a new blog post. Over time, you build a relationship with your audiences with your blogging. Later when they’ve become ardent followers, you will be able to recommend products for them to buy, which they will do out of trust in your word.
Two: The more blog posts you have in your repository, the more Google looks at you as a very rankable site. Google looks at you as a domain authority, and tends to put you up on its rankings for various related keywords. You’ll thus find your traffic increases and swells with every new blog post you write. Freshness of content, regularity, and quality of writing get you Google traffic.
Three: When you focus on building an audience first, your audience will itself show you the way to create your knowledge products that you can sell to them – such as ebooks, courses, membership site content or pre-packaged consulting services. This is a less risky and more lucrative way of knowing your likely demand for your products before you create them.
Writing to sell knowledge products second
After you’ve built up a sizeable audience, you can then launch a number of written up productsfor them – which you can sell as your own knowledge-products or info-products.
The Big Four Products you can sell are these:
- Membership Sites
- Coaching/Consulting Services (Pre-packaged)
Other than these, here’s a whole list of marketable services and products that involve various forms of writing:
- Short Reports/eDocs
- Video Tutorials/Screencasts
- Resource Lists/Tool Kits
- Group Coaching/Customized Tutoring
- Video or Podcast Learning Series
- Email-Based Training Sequences
- Allowing Paid Guest Posts From Renowned Writers
- Powerpoint or Skype Presentations
- Interviews/Case Studies
- Guided Do-It-Yourself Projects
- Done-For-You Services In Your Niche
- Collaborative Online Events With Other Experts
- Online Research Assistance Services
- Creation Of Libraries of Images, Music or Video Clips
- Customized Collated Knowledge Packs
- Developing Your Own Saleable App or Tool
- Developing a Jobs Board In Your Niche
b. Freelance Writing For Other People’s Businesses
If you aren’t planning to start your own site or blog, but would like to use your writing to earn by helping others, you could become a freelance writer. Among the people most demanded today for online businesses are freelance writers. This is especially so for Knowledge Commerce entrepreneurs who sell their knowledge to others. Many of these entrepreneurs are solopreneurs – single-person businesses. They have to write truckloads of content to be able to create and market their knowledge products. But before you begin this line of earning, you have to know a couple of things about how online businesspeople select outsource writing help.
What kinds of freelance help do most knowledge-marketing solopreneurs need?
As the first task, Knowledge Commerce solopreneurs have to focus on their audience-building. Their speed and quantity of blogging at the early stage – say 150 blog posts in 3-4 months – is what helps them get traction and visibility in Google and elsewhere online.
They also have to capture their casual readers and build them into a community of loyal fans. For this, they need to build mailing lists, and get people to subscribe to their email lists. Further, they have to update their subscribers whenever they post new blog posts, or send them regular newsletters of great interest.
Once they have got a substantial quantity of quality target subscribers as their own little community, they can then begin to create ebooks, courses, membership sites, consulting services, or a host of knowledge products. That’s when product ecommerce begins.
Seeing their writing workloads, you can be sure it would help them to get high-quality freelancers whom they can train and then rely on. That’s where your opportunities come in. The trade-off is that freelance help costs money to the solopreneurs. But if they felt they could earn more than what they spend back as a result of external help, they would gladly take the help.
What skills in a freelancer do knowledge-marketer solopreneurs value?
Solopreneur Knowledge Commerce marketers value the usual expected level of comfort from freelancers – consistency, professionalism, reliability. But more than that, they would highly value the ability of a freelancer to understand their brand and its unique character and display brand-consciousness in all the work they do for the solopreneur.
They would expect the freelancer to be always thinking of their brand values when writing anything, and to accept “brand stewardship” – a responsibility to their brand, as if the freelancer also co-owned the brand.
c. Guest Writing To Add To Your Sources Of Income
On the Internet you may have seen many sites – from small ones to very big ones – solicit guest blog posts. They usually have a page that says “Write For Us” and offers the terms and conditions by which you can pitch them for ideas. In the old days, other bloggers would love to guest post because the host site would give them a backlink to their own blogs. But soon the host sites saw the trashy quality of posts they got just for backlinks, so they upped their expectations of guest post quality by offering money to those who write stunning guest posts for them. Herein lies your earning ability as a guest post writer. There always was the demand for guest posts. Now there’s is good money in it, too.
What is guest posting and what can you earn from it?
A surprising number of websites actually pay quite handsomely for the guest posts they accept, even from newbie guest authors. They do this to cultivate and incentivize good writers whom they can rely on for several pieces of work regularly submitted. If you get a first lucky break with a reasonably-sized site of good quality, you can climb from there towards bigger online publications and higher fees. Starters can earn between $25 for a post to $500, while some really recognized writers I know make a regular income of $2000 per guest post they write for the topnotch blogs.
The two types of guest-posting sites I’d advise you to focus on to get started
- Niche blogs paying for specialized content, who need writers who understand their niches very well. If you take the trouble to learn up lots of native knowledge on their specialized sectors you can become a mainstay on their panel of writers and earn a steady income. There are lots of general writers but very few with solid domain expertise in any field.
- Medium-sized magazine websites that need a regular churn of good articles and writers they can rely on to produce consistent quality. They are usually looking out for writers who write lifestyle, marketing-related or personal productivity pieces of universal and evergreen interest. Their need for fresh views is very high to sell their magazines. They pay well if you can get a relationship going for an article-series.
3. A Few Extra Critical Tips For Writers In Knowledge Commerce
Three things to particularly get good at, in writing for online audiences, are these: your headlines, your templates, and your ability to write for audiences at any stage of the buying journey. Read on to pick up tips in all these three areas that separate polished writers from the run-of-the-mill hacks …
a. Headlines Are The Only Thing A Reader May Read, So Give It Everything
My biggest boss at the ad agency Ogilvy & Mather was the great David Ogilvy himself. He used to say “95% of people read only the headline. Another small fraction may read the subheads.” Naturally, we cub copywriters asked him: “Then why are you saying long copy ads work well. Who reads the copy?” He would reply: “The long copy is only to visually justify to the reader that the business has enough to say about itself.”
Moral of the story: The headlines you write can make or break you. Headline writing is an art. But like all arts it grows into a unique talent with time. One thing: don’t click into a free headline generator tool online. Everybody is going to the same place to get the same ideas.
If you need some really good advice on how to formulate great headlines, there is a terrific Hubspot infographic on this. I’ve shown you a part of the whole infographic below.
Infographic courtesy: Hubspot
b. Learn To Write For The Different Stages Of The Buyer’s Journey
Blog writing – or business marketing writing – is different from other forms of writing because it has to have an end-goal in mind. It is writing meant to move the reader into taking some action that helps the online marketer. You writing may have to build an audience, build a reputation as an authority, help sell more, or help earn more. Most often the pieces you’ll write will be addressing some stage of the target audiences’ buying journeys.
What are “buying journeys”? They are the sequence of steps any buyer would take from the time of identifying a personal problem to solve. He would then look for solutions, shortlist some solution-products, choosing between them, and finally decide on one solution to buy. The buying journey is usually depicted as a diagram of the stages people typically go through, as they explore information before buying. To be able to sell products and services to people, we need to write correctly in a way that matches reader needs at each stage of the buying journey.
This helps audiences to get enough information to progress to the next stage of their buying journey (hopefully getting readier and readier as they progress, to buy goods and services).
Here is a visual of the 8-step buying journey that audiences invariably go through before buying:
They first get TRIGGERED to become aware of something that interests them. They CONSIDER deeper information. They then do some CHOOSING of a shortlist of sellers, and decide to give a chosen seller a TRY.
If happy, they BUY – and EXPERIENCE the service the get with the purchase. If they’re happy again, they REPURCHASE even more products from the same seller, and then start ADVOCATING the seller to their friends.
The diagram below shows the kind of content they need at each stage to progress to the next stage.
To become a terrific online writer, you’ll need to be able to write for buyers at any of these stages of their journeys. Each stage needs its own persuasion angles and its most salient points to cover in the article.
c. Don’t Write Every Post Differently – Use A Template Of Your Own
People who read your work like to get accustomed to the flow and sequencing of your writing. That helps them skim through faster because they know how you arrange your thoughts. You’ll find most top-rated writers have developed a template that they follow for all their articles. Templates not only organize your writing, they also help you think about how you want to fill the blanks in the format with the right kinds of points to make.
Most experts agree that the ideal blog post length is roughly 2,000 words
When I started blogging, I created a rough template for my blog posts to cover 2100 words. My template had about eight subheadings. That meant I could put about 200 words in the intro, and 200 words in the conclusion. Each of the 8 subheads would have about 200 words below it. So that would add up to 2000 words in all.
If you too plan it this way you’ll know exactly how much to write to make up a smart, easy article in the shortest time. It also helps to have a template where you can put down the exact outline of your article. Let’s say you have 4 key points to make under each subheading. So your 200 words will have 4 points of about 50 words each.
The image below shows the kind of template I created for myself. You too can make one for yourself (or use mine). See how I’ve also created some extra fields to fill, to keep my post on track. I have place to note who I am writing for and which stage of the buying journey they are in. I can also fill in what value my article will aim to provide. There is also room on this template to show where to include supportive images.
In Summary …
- You can make lots of money online with just one skill: writing. In fact, you can build a whole Knowledge Commerce business out of it.
- In Knowledge Commerce, you just write a lot on any subject of passion – and convert it into your area of visible expertise.
- You write ebooks, course materials, podcast scripts, video scripts, content for membership sites, consulting or mentoring webinar scripts – it’s about creating in-demand content in your niche.
- In the second type of writing-to-earn, if you’re not into selling your own knowledge products, why not earn fistfuls of dollars helping others write up their workloads?
- The third type of writing is guest-blogging. You write under your own name but submit articles to magazines and online publications and websites that pay their “guest authors”.
- Building your own templates not only helps organize your writing, but it also helps organize your thinking about the key points you want to make.
So What Are Your Thoughts? Do Share!
This post is incomplete without your input. The community of Knowledge Commerce solopreneurs would feel galvanized to hear from you … so do share your thoughts on this topic with us, in the comments field below this post.
This post is part of a series that elaborates on “Make Money Online Without Investment Via Knowledge Commerce“.
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