How Not To Be Poor 0 Comments

How Not To Be Poor

After drinking too much eggnog, Virgule is back for another year. To kick things off, we’ve got a piece by EdCommer Rafael SW on how to make money as a writer. Or rather, how to make some money.

One of the benefits of my creative writing degree was that by third year, they finally started to address the question we’d all been asking for a while. Namely: ‘How are we going to make money from this?’

Today I’m going to save you several thousand dollars and a few years of your time by giving you the condensed version of your options as financially savvy writers. However this isn’t going to be ‘Get rich quick’ so much as ‘Get a little less poor’. So here are four good fields to be aware of as developing writers: publications, competitions, online writing, and grants.


Publications were thought of as the first step. If you are more comfortable blogging, then a foray into the online marketplace could also be fine, but it was suggested you work on traditional publishing concurrently. Although the payments aren’t always huge, it is a great experience writing for an audience, developing your work with an editor and getting your writing out there. Experiences which may not always come from blogging. As well as this, you gain physical proof of your skill as a writer, which will help you with later steps.



Competitions involve a lot more faith (and often a cash investment) from you as a writer. While there are a lot of competitions out there, it is up to you to work out if they are worth it or not. Discussions with my tutor revealed several different elements to focus on when looking at competitions. Rather than just the money, what was also important was:

  • the reputation of the competition
  • the quality of the organisation or journal running it
  • past winners
  • audience reach

With that in mind, hopefully it’s less of a gamble. There are great competitions out there, as well as excellent resources to help you find and assess them.

Online Writing

Besides having a blog, there are other avenues for starting to generate an income online. I’ve briefly explored some of the pay-for-review sites, and although there is often free stuff in it for you, it is hard to generate an income without putting in a fair bit of work. If you’re skilled at reviewing then it could certainly be a path worth going down. Having your own blog at the same time helps build an audience base and (ideally) keeps you to a schedule.


Grants are often the culmination of the past three fields of work. If you have done well in at least some of these areas, then you might consider applying for grants or fellowships. There are plenty around, especially for emerging writers. They’re also provide a great opportunity for financial support and recognition for your work.

By Rafael SW

Rafael SW is an EdCommer who just finished a  degree in creative writing at RMIT and is one of the founding members of Dead Poets’ Fight Club. He writes every single day and has been published in VoiceworksEx Calamusand Dotdotdash. He also competes in poetry slams and giant-sized chess games. Find more at

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