The Secret To Getting Paid To Write

The Secret To Getting Paid To A Pro Writer

Being a Pro Writer is only half about writing.

There are good writers, and there are good writers with great soft skills. 


Soft skills – personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people (Oxford).

The difference between the two is money. 


I mean that—literally. Being a writer, at least in the beginning when no one knows you, is 20% how you write (and you do have to write well) and 80% how you relate to people. 


Learn to write well if you want to be a writer. I usually write about that in this newsletter, but for today, here are the eight soft skills that have allowed me to write for a living. 


  1. Reliability
  2. Unflappability 
  3. Kindness
  4. Prayerfulness
  5. Leadership
  6. Getting-up-earlyness 
  7. Knowledge in a niche
  8. Knowledge in a lot of things 


Soft Skills Broken Down Briefly 



These are in no particular order except for this one. Do what you say you’re going to do. Period. Every time. Think about hiring a contractor to work on your home. Almost anytime I have to do that, I think afterward how easy it would be to get rich as a contractor: You’d simply have to show up when you say you’re going to and do what you say you’re going to do. Writers are no different. This alone will give you great success since many people won’t do it. Reliability is a superpower.


“Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil” (Mt 5:37).



I like this term, unflappable. If you get flapped, you will have a hard time, especially if you choose to be a ghostwriter (co-writer). Some of my clients are amazing (and you know who you are), and others are challenging (you probably don’t know who you are because I’m unflappable). 


You can go a long way if you can be patient and never take anything personally. I’m not saying you should set no boundaries, but the man or woman who can deal with difficult people (it’s just a game) will have triple the clients. 


“A fool gives vent to his spirit, but a wise man holds it back” (Pr 29:11).



Beyond just dealing with people, being kind to people is godly and great for business. If people like to talk to you and work with you because of the kind of person you are, then it is hard to calculate the value of that trait. Many “artists” think they are not real artists unless they are mean and prickly. But that is just dumb. Being a good person is good for business. Not only that, but we’re commanded to love our brothers, neighbors, and enemies. Loving them means, at the very least, being kind. 


“Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mk 12:31).



Christian co-writing is a spiritual business (not that they aren’t all spiritual businesses). We are dealing with communicating the truth. We are fulfilling some aspect of the great commission (usually), and this is a partnership with God. Therefore, I pray. I pray for my projects. I pray for my clients. I pray for their readers. I pray for inspiration. I pray for reach. I pray for everything. If I had a nickel for every time someone said, “I prayed, and God led me to your website.” Actually, I have more than a nickel for every time that happens because that is a person who will hire me! 


“…but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Phil 4:6b).



For two reasons, leadership is a valuable skill for a professional writer. Sometimes, you have to lead your clients. If you are a ghostwriter, they are relying on you to help them understand the craft of writing and structuring a book. That requires leading. 


But I have also found that it is helpful to outsource the aspects of the business that I am less good at, have too much to do, or don’t like as much. Therefore, I have a team I employ to help me, and that team has to be led. With leadership, you can leverage your abilities and your reach. To build significant wealth in any field requires greater and greater leverage. You don’t have to lead a team to be a writer, but you will make a better living for yourself if you do. Furthermore, you will employ more talented people who otherwise might find it difficult to break in. It’s a win for them, for you, and your clients. 


Don’t forget that a leader is a servant: 


25 But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, (Mt 20:25-26).



I am a naturally early riser. This is God’s grace to me. If you wake up at 7, I have already been working for three hours. I built my writing career by writing every day before I started my day job as a pastor at 8 a.m. Early rising is a blessing from God, and I don’t claim to be disciplined, just blessed. I just wake up without an alarm and have since the day I was born. But if you don’t have that blessing, you will need the blessing of discipline because you will likely have to build your writing career outside your day job hours. It also works pretty well if you are a night person and can put in the time after hours. 


And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed” (Mk 1:35).

Knowledge in a Niche


Everyone says you can’t build a career on I did because I write in a niche. I am a pastor and know things people writing Biblical books need to know. I think niching down is a great way to start. Maybe you can write about the business you’ve been in for a long time. Perhaps you’ve been an educator or worked in finance or medicine. Whatever you have learned a lot about, there is someone who will read about that field. 


Is there a Bible verse on niching down? If you think so, drop it in the comments. 

Knowledge in a Lot of Things 


Read a lot. Follow your interests doggedly. You will learn much, cross-multiply your knowledge, and become unique. The right clients or publications will come along, and suddenly, everything you’ve learned will be just the thing needed to write a powerful book or article. 


Read and watch content on what most fascinates you. You will find that stuff leaking wonderfully into your writing and delighting your readers and clients with novel ways of thinking. Brett McKay at the calls this being a Mr. T. Think of the shape of a T. This symbolizes a wide knowledge of a lot of things and a deep knowledge of one thing. This will give a lot to write about. And when you don’t have to do much research because you know a lot, you will save time, again, leveraging your skills for a better payoff. 


Though the Bible warns that knowledge can “puff up,” it also says, “An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge” (Pr 18:15).

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