Underpaying writers from developing countries is rampant across online platforms. So, why and how writers from the third-world can earn an income they “really” deserve for their work? This is what this post is going to talk about.
What is with writing that makes even the strongest people I know fear?
What is about writing that people want to avoid, even when they’re already stuck in a rut without options to make an income?
In that light, I want to know if a “marketable and profitable writing” can actually be learned and not a gift as most of us believe.
If this were true, it would explain the irrational fears and pessimistic view on writing regardless of the format one likes to indulge. Be it as a novelist, freelance writer, or a blogger.
Hence, we can debunk this idea where only native speakers deserve to earn more or that non-native English speakers don’t deserve the right or equal pay.
These industries are interrelated but the differences are wide. They apply different skill sets to perform the best in these areas. However, they belong to one industry category and that is writing per se.
Initially, I planned to write a listicle about the 10 writing jobs from home you should try doing this year as others do often.
However, my sensitive intuition tells me to dig into this matter deeper. To tackle what most articles haven’t talked about. Yet.
To get into these competitive and high-paying writing jobs, we must learn if learning the preferred writing skills required for these opportunities is possible for those who don’t have any writing-related experience or who aren’t native speakers, at least.
Nonetheless, based on my experience, the writing process for non-native English writers can be harder. Working hand-in-hand with native speakers is like swimming against a strong surge.
What’s more interesting for me, including the linguists, is the process of learning the writing skill to those who are non-natives.
No research studies showed a concrete picture of how someone develops writing skills that are similar to someone of the native-level.
- If you are a non-US resident (This also means you don’t reside in an English-speaking country.)
- If your college degree doesn’t require crisp writing skills (For example, you took engineering in college. The major itself doesn’t require perfect writing to pass or to satisfy professors.)
- If you don’t have any writing background (If your level of education doesn’t require you to write due to financial inability, etc.)
Nonetheless, based on my experience, the writing process for non-native English writers can be harder. Working hand-in-hand with native speakers is like swimming against a strong surge.
You’re seeing the massive waves coming at you. But you’re already in the middle of the sea, what are you going to do?
Will you stare at it and accept your untimely death or you’ll decide to swim against it and survive?
It’s an unfortunate situation, however, we can’t deny this ongoing issue amongst non-native English speakers. Though none of the successful ones aren’t vocal about this, this matter exists and has already been present years ago.
If you belong to any third-world country or a developing country, like Nigeria, India, and the Philippines, you won’t receive the same pay as those writers from English-speaking countries such as the UK, USA, Canada, and Australia.
And that’s the current situation right now, my friend.
The goal here is to find out how you, as a writer, can compete against the native English speakers, or is there a way for you to do so. I’m hoping for positive news towards the end. Fingers-crossed. 🙂
Are you ready? Let’s dive into this. Shall we?
Can Everyone Make Money Through Writing Online?
Yes, and I have no doubts about it. As a non-native English speaker, I can attest as to how far have I gone to achieve a certain level wherein the natives appreciate my form of writing.
With that being said, it’s possible for everyone, including you, to make money online through writing. I mean, like, writing a bunch of articles or copies, depending on the skill you honed earlier.
Does that surprise you?
The key to unlocking these high-paying writing jobs is learning the skill set itself. So, let’s take a closer look at how other writers do it.
The key to unlocking these high-paying writing jobs (on demand and continuously will be as most online businesses hire more writers) is learning the skill set itself.
How To Develop Writing Skills?
Henneke Duistermaat of Enchanting Marketing wrote in her post, “Rhythm in Writing: How to Make Your Words Swing and Swirl,” writing rhythm is of the aspects people often ignore unless you write poems.
In writing, the use of punctuations connotes the stops, pauses, and breaths of your readers.
Therefore, studying how others write in such detail is one of the fundamental keys to improving your writing skills. The same skill as writing jobs require.
Why is that so?
Businesses define their goals for each content. Part of the marketing plan is writing a copy or a blog post that uses the same process. Play with the market’s emotions to guarantee profits.
“Rhythm creates a mood,” Duistermaat explained, “Rhythm can make you rush ahead, or slow you down to quietly enjoy reading.”
If you keep doing this practice and slowly integrate the rhythm in your writing, you’ll eventually get used to it.
Studying how writers arrange the words and listen to their rhythms plays a critical role in learning how native speakers write. For a non-native English speaker, like you, it’s your key, your weapon to integrate in your writing today. That’s how you study like an editor, like an author.
According to William Zinsser, author of “Writing to Learn,” the more you got used to the melody, the more it sounds right for you.
In other words, without knowing it, your writing style improves and more agreeable to the editorial standards most websites follow.
Mark Nichol published an interesting article on Daily Writing Tips suggesting 5 tips on how to improve writing with rhythm, which you can try and play around while learning the writing process itself.
According to him, a person’s writing ability can dramatically improve if one sees writing as a learned skill just like doing day-to-day tasks. It requires the person’s conscious attention to enhance writing.
- Alternate sentence length
- Relocate words and phrases
- Embrace sentence fragments
- Match rhythm to mood
- Apply tension and release
As for the next part, I’ll break the steps down to make sure you understand what Nichol wants you to comprehend to apply them as effectively as possible in your writing practice.
1. Alternate Sentence Length
Try to listen to your favorite music. Do you notice the tempo and tune from the first verse, the chorus, the bridge, to the last verse?
Writing the same principle. Nichol wrote, “Describe a torturous bureaucratic procedure with a run-on-and-on sentence, and then figuratively snap your fingers at it with a brusque reaction.”
Just for a quick review, a run-on sentence comprises more independent sentences connected improperly.
This technique applies to content writing as well. It’s not limited to fiction writing only. For example, I can start a blog post like this,
“Because of the on-going crisis, you are forced to stay at home, to feel hopeless, without a clue where and how to move on.”
It sounds dramatic, isn’t it? But let’s admit, it’s a great sentence to hook your audience right from the start.
Just as how effective historical speeches are, (remember Martin Luther King, Jr.?) writing a piece of content follows the same dynamic regardless if it’s a copy or a blog post.
2. Relocate Words And Phrases
To do this right, you’ve got to read your word aloud. Play around with the English language’s flexibility.
For example, where do you like to add “too” in a sentence? It’s okay if you place it from the beginning of the sentence, in the middle, or at the end as long as it sounds uncoerced.
To elaborate this further, allow me to give a clearer explanation.
Sentence 1: Even if you’re a non-native English speaker, you can make money online writing in English, too.
Sentence 2: Even if you, too, are a non-native English speaker, you can make money online writing in English.
What if we try putting “too” in the middle? What happens?
Sentence 3: Even if you’re a non-native English speaker, too, you can make money online writing English.
It’s kinda awkward, isn’t it? So, we cross it out.
The point is that you play around and experiment and find out your unique writing rhythm. This gives you an allowance to find your writing style, voice, and tonality without other writer’s influence.
3. Embrace Sentence Fragments
Nichol revealed that there was never such a law against sentence fragments. Besides, people speak normally in fragments or incomplete sentences.
Considering the non-existence of this law, it is right for us to ignore our irrational writing insecurities.
The reason for saying this is the countless number of people I know refused to take on any writing job in fear of their inability to write perfectly.
Yet, in today’s market, people appreciate the form and accept the written piece as is rather than criticizing its errors. Apparently, this is a trap for most writers from developing countries.
Most of us think our writing capability will never be on par with those of native speakers, which isn’t true at all.
4. Match rhythm to mood
The tonality of your content depends on your mood. That’s true. When you’re experiencing a good or happy vibe, you tend to write descriptively and wordier versus when you’re down.
When you use these emotions in writing, you must understand that you’re bringing your reader onto the same situation, not just on the same page.
The words you choose, the way you arrange the words in a sentence, in a paragraph, affects the feelings of your readers regardless of the type of content you write.
Be it a book, a copy, or a blog post, always ask yourself, “What message am I relaying here? Do I want my reader to feel depressed, happy, or hopeful?”
Writing, in general, follows the same dynamic. But it takes a writing detective to figure this out.
5. Apply tension and release
This isn’t limited to fiction writing.
As I mentioned in the last point, to ensure a successful post, for instance, you have to be clear with your goal and play the reader’s emotions, slowing driving them to choose where you want to take them.
How do you want to convince your friend to buy your old lined-notebook for $125?
How about purchasing a $1,000 course? Buying the second book of your Trilogy?
Based on these questions, though they’re from different writing areas, writers must design their works based on their goals and effectively share stories to convince them to do something you want them to do.
If this is clear to you, then you are prepared to go for the advanced level—what most companies prefer when hiring writers (full-time, freelance), including ghostwriters (unfortunately is rampant in the book writing industry).
It’s how you design your post or your content that defines your writing success. Hence, writers, like architects, must be clear with their goal as to how they want their content leads their readers and create a design based on it.
How To Start Writing? Your Baby Steps
The amount of time you dedicate to your writing could determine the future of your business. I mean, seriously, you want to earn a stable income from it, right?
And you’re also aware that you don’t have any writing experience and the fact you’re not a native English speaker. So, you have to work harder, my friend.
What you can do first to give writing a try is summarized into 3 writing prompt categories:
- Writing about what you know and want to know
- Writing about your interests
- Writing about everything you’re thankful for
I got these ideas from William Zinsser’s and Lauren Sapala’s published books namely “Writing to Learn” and “The INFJ Writer: Cracking the Creative Genius of the World’s Rarest Type”.
Grab a journal or open your word processor now and start writing.
Is Writing Skills Considerably Enough?
Studies showed rising demand for online writers, especially as most businesses operate online. Now, the skills required aren’t necessarily revolved in writing alone.
According to Avil Beckford, the author of “Writers and the Skills They Need to Thrive in 2020 and Beyond” published on Medium, writers need to learn about the basics of SEO, content marketing, research, and personal branding.
In her argument, though most writers don’t necessarily have the same skillset, what is more attractive to most companies, is the ability to generate new ideas and connect the dots. This is, in turn, a writer’s sense of purposeful writing.
“In addition to the basics [writing], it is also important that you love to learn, know how to connect the dots, and can generate ideas, express ideas, problem solve, and read with purpose,” she added, “Writers need to learn how to become polymaths and autodidacts.”
Writing is simply your entry to unlock a multi-million dollar opportunity.
As you see from the World Economic Forum 10 Soft Skills to Thrive in 2020 list, these have already been developed in your previous working experiences.
Your previous job, though unrelated to writing, taught you how to solve complex problems and creativity.
Perhaps, at some point in your life, you taught yourself how to coordinate with others, judgment, and decision making.
These soft skills are already embedded in you, however, you need the writing skills to earn a profitable and marketable business from them.
Are you getting my point?
Another reason to consider is the amount of money you can make when you dedicate your time to sharpening your writing skills.
If self-publishing a book is one of your options, Joanna Penn revealed in her book entitled “Successful Self-Publishing” the following percentages you’ll get from royalty fees.
- Amazon – 70% royalty fees for books set within $2.99 to $9.99 price range
- Kobo – 70%
- Apple Books – 70%
- Aggregators (Draft2Digital, PublishDrive, Streetlib, and Smashwords) – 60% to 85%
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics gleaned the occupational employment and wages in May 2019 based on the industry-based profiles.
Based on the statistics, independent artists, writers, and performers earn an average hourly rate of $46.06 and $95,800 annually.
In comparison to other top-paying industries, the writer’s position lies at the second from the last on the list.
But the difference between the hourly mean wage a highly-paid writer receives is only a few dollar gaps from someone who works for the Federal Executive Branch (OES Designation), for instance.
As promising as it sounds, freelance writers from the third-world countries may find it hard to compete with the native speakers.
Issa Mirandilla, a Philippine-based freelance writer, published an article on Freelance Writing, revealing just that.
“Apparently, many clients are under the impression that writers from the Third-World or developing countries are article-spewing robots who run on gasoline, rather than living, breathing human beings who need to shell out money every day to survive,” she wrote.
Nonetheless, writing, especially for a non-native English speaker, remains a booming industry to take advantage of this year.
Not only does it bring more income, but it can also open more opportunities to leverage your authority as one. As such, you can build a lucrative business from it.
All you need to do today is to start honing your writing skills. Even if you’re a third-world country, just try. You’ll never know you’ll surpass what I have achieved.
The online writing industry can be tough for every writer, but it’s tougher for those who are non-native English speakers. However, with a fair amount of time dedicated to studying and writing, it’s still a great option for third-world writers to try.
Conclusion – Seriously, Just Start Writing!
I thought I couldn’t do it.
I thought I couldn’t prove to my parents that writing can make a stable income.
But I did.
For a non-native English speaker, for an insecure writer like me, achieving so much through writing, a favorite hobby once forgotten for a corporate dream, wasn’t what I imagined.
I remember doing accounting with my husband and figured out my writing income. He handed me the paper with the numbers written at the top, encircled. I was caught by surprise.
“I earned $6,000+ just from writing,” I said in a soft voice, still fascinated by such achievement.
Later that day, while we’re walking towards the train station, he asked, “How long do you need to work to make the same amount of money you made by writing alone?”
I was caught into thinking again as I looked at him. “I don’t know. A few more years.” Come to think of it, I need years to make the amount of money if I chose my teaching career.
Yet, for only a few months, I earned that much through writing online.
If my story isn’t enough to convince you that it’s time to take a look at writing again, I don’t know what else I should tell you.
As I mentioned before, more and more online businesses demand more writers and offer high-paying writing jobs for them.
If you’re at the dead-end right now, clueless where to earn and how to earn more money, it’s time to wake up your writing spirit. It’s time to disregard the inner critic that’s telling you that you can’t make it.
Because you can.
If you like to save time from guessing games, sign-up, and take advantage of my exclusive writing and blogging resources for free. I’ll teach you everything valuable for your writing success.
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“27-3043 Writers and Authors.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 6 July 2020, www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes273043.htm.
Beckford, Avil. “Writers and the Skills They Need to Thrive in 2020 and Beyond.” Medium, The Writing Cooperative, 6 Apr. 2019, writingcooperative.com/writers-and-the-skills-they-need-to-thrive-in-2020-and-beyond-c4b88329bfc3.
By, et al. “Rhythm in Writing: How to Make Your Words Swing and Swirl.” Enchanting Marketing, 26 June 2019, www.enchantingmarketing.com/rhythm-in-writing/.
Mirandilla, Issa. “How to Get Higher Rates If You’re a Freelance Writer from a Third-World Country.” Freelance Writing, 28 July 2016, www.freelancewriting.com/get-paid-more/how-to-get-higher-rates-if-from-third-world-country/.
Nichol, Mark. “5 Tips About Writing with Rhythm.” Daily Writing Tips, www.dailywritingtips.com/5-tips-about-writing-with-rhythm/.
PENN, JOANNA. SUCCESSFUL SELF-PUBLISHING: How to Self-Publish and Market Your Book in Ebook and Print. CURL UP Press, 2018.
Sapala, Lauren. The INFJ Writer: Cracking the Creative Genius of the World’s Rarest Type. Lauren Sapala, 2016.
Sternglass, Marilyn S. “Time to Know Them: A Longitudinal Study of Writing & Learning at the College Level.” 2017, doi:10.4324/9780203810835.
Zinsser, William. On Writing Well: the Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction. 2016, www.amazon.com/Writing-Learn-William-Zinsser/dp/0062720406.