It all started with a dream. A dream of a fifteen-year-old girl who aspired to become a bestselling author and got lost. Six years have passed, that girl became a writer.
For the past few weeks, I have spent more time reflecting on my journey as a writer. How I earned my first $5,000 writing online, how I finished three books on Wattpad, and above all, how I managed to free myself from 9 to 5 and focused on building my writing career.
“How did I do that?” I thought.
And as a non-native English speaking writer, this chosen path is more daunting than you think. It was a difficult choice but I have to because I love to write.
This is the big reason for writing this post after a long time thinking about it.
Should I write my journey and share how I quit my full-time teaching job and pursued my dream: to become a published author (though I’m still working on that)?
It took time for me to decide to write this post down. 🙂
Just a bit of disclaimer, this post would be long enough to make you sleep. I hope you try to stay here and join me as I entangle the mysteries of writing, especially if English isn’t your mother tongue.
I also hope that my story will inspire you to join me in this crusade—gathering of amazing writers around the world who share my sentiment.
Before we begin, I recommend claiming your FREE ebook + 1-week free masterclass + other bonuses to dig in deeper into content writing.
Plus, a high-paying writing opportunity awaits you if you stay towards the end of the post.
Are you ready? Let’s begin. Shall we? *sighs*
|Yet another disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Rest assured that the products or programs I recommend are the ones I approve and personally use.|
How Do You Know You Are A Writer? You Already Are.
Yesterday, I attended Jeff Goins’s Day 3 of his live Bootcamp, a bonus resource for his Intentional Blogging course. One of the attendees wrote on the class chat a sentence that manifests her doubt as a writer.
At first glance, you would think there’s something special about that but the fact that she’s a native speaker, it struck me.
I thought, “If even a native speaker feels like that, how much more for someone like me whose familiarity in English isn’t as colloquial as theirs?”
So, how do you know you are a writer?
I know this sounds a cliché but becoming a writer is about feeling it. It’s not a kind of profession limited to offering professional services. It’s not like you’re applying for a random job and just do what your boss tells you to do.
Becoming a writer is about embodying the spirit of a writer. The words float in front of our eyes as we scan the surroundings. Stories flow as the branches dance with the rhythm of the wind.
You’re a writer when you stroll along the sidewalks, when you eat, when you feed the stray dogs and cats, and when you poop.
In every single second of your existence, you’re aware that you exist because you have something to say. You have something to reveal by allowing someone to read your thoughts.
Nowadays, most people, who aspire to become a writer, believe that writing brings them more income. So, they apply for writing jobs and earn an income at home.
That’s why more and more people get interested in blogging because they know they have to write content per content to make it run.
What’s the real problem?
The problem here isn’t the writing skill itself. It’s the motivation behind the writing per se.
Most of us see blogging as the fastest way to make money and quit our job. We don’t see it as an avenue to share our unique standpoint of the world.
Let’s go back to the question. How do you know you are a writer?
I know the internet has a lot to say to take more minutes of your time reading the content. Yet, you don’t realize that it all boils to ONE thing.
You will know you’re a writer if you act or live like one.
You can’t be a writer by following tips only.
Because no matter how many times I do that, if you aren’t one with your writer spirit, whatever I teach you becomes useless.
Am I making sense to you?
What’s The First Step To Become A Writer?
If you’re expecting me suggesting a grand-scale step to build a writing career, don’t. It’s because the very first step to become a writer is to act like one. Live its lifestyle. Embody the writing spirit that’s warming up within you.
As Jeff Goins said many times in his book, “You Are A Writer,” just write. If you want to become a writer, start writing. That’s it. And I guess it’s no simpler than that.
Once you believe in yourself that you have competency for writing, you won’t hesitate to search for opportunities that help you improve and unleash your prowess.
To give you a clear example, let me share my experience when I encountered someone you could relate to.
Last two weeks ago, I did a series of video calls to several new bloggers and one of them shared her intention to write through blogging. She wanted to do the same as I did.
She scoured my Facebook profile, followed me, and read my content—inspired to do the same. Especially that we both came from the same country of origin.
It’s flattering but I’m not yet impressed.
Being inspired by someone to pursue this career isn’t enough.
It’s about the skills + the writing confidence that matter.
You have to possess the spirit of a writer without any doubts. Whether you can make a lucrative income or not, your passion to write should remain.
For sure, it’s challenging your reality (income) as you don’t make much from the beginning. However, as you leverage your brand as a writer, you will see opportunities coming towards you without knowing it.
That’s exactly what happened to me. I didn’t get anything from the beginning except for guest posting without any payment at all. Yet, those contributions played a big role in my successful writing life.
I didn’t have any website at that time. So, I don’t have any portfolio to show to my clients except for the free contributions I wrote before. Hence, the next point.
Why Do Writers Need To Build A Portfolio?
When you decide to start a writing career online, of course, you need to build a portfolio to show your style and review if your writing fits their needs.
That means you have to start writing pieces of content on several platforms and gather loyal fans. Free or paid.
With that, there are 4 primary options I find helpful for you to choose, which depends on the reasons for writing online. You can either have:
- Online publishing platform
- Website builder platform
- Free hosted platform
- Self-hosted platform
Let’s discuss each of these platforms quickly first before we proceed.
1. Online Publishing Platform
The first type is an online publishing platform launched for you to simply publish posts without worrying about the algorithm because they’ll handle it for you. The best example is Medium.com.
The only access you get is the dashboard to write your story and publish it. You can set the tags for searchability reasons and schedule the post if you like. Other than these, you don’t have autonomy on the site.
You’re not in full control of the content because Medium has teams that monitor the content quality. Therefore, your posts that tackle sensitive topics or something against the majority’s beliefs, they might take it down.
Another example is guest blogging. It does have a similar process as Medium but you undergo the editorial process in which a team of people will review your work and publish it on their website.
Similar to Medium, the team could reject the post or advise you to revise to adhere to the editorial guidelines.
Here’s why. You are not the property owner. Your content should adhere to the terms of the platform. Do you get me?
As long as you have a good story, a good number of followers, and active reader engagements, you can take advantage of those to guarantee the virality of your post.
2. Website Builder Platform
Squarespace and Constant Contact are one of the most popular website builder platforms out there. Lifestyle blogs often prefer Squarespace for publishing their blog posts for its sophisticated website layouts.
Unlike online publishing platforms, you register for free. But to enjoy the features to help you run your website, you have to pay for it.
Here’s another bad reason.
WPBeginner pointed out that not all integration services are compatible or available for this type. Hence, you’re not 100% free to do anything you like on your site.
This kind of platform may allow you to build a great-looking website but you still don’t have full control of your content (especially if your content becomes political).
Do you get the picture?
3. Free Hosted Platform
If you’re familiar with Blogger or WordPress.com, these are examples of free hosted platforms. You can sign-up for no cost, yet, you’re still under the control of a landlord.
What does that even mean?
Like online publishing platforms, you have no full access to customize the site layout, though they provide you with free theme options. For instance, you can’t get rid of the ads on your blog, though you’re not making an income from it.
Again, it’s because the platform isn’t yours.
Let’s say, you wrote a post that goes viral. This is certain. You will not gain anything from it except for exposure.
The income from these ads placed on your content will not go to your bank account. Everything goes to the company that runs the platform. If you want to earn an income from it, you have to build your self-hosted website.
Do you get me?
4. Self-hosted Platform
This is where WordPress.org comes into the picture, which is highly recommended among the 4 platforms. Among them, this is the only one that allows you to become the landlord.
You spent some bucks on a web hosting package (domain + hosting) without worries about access to features because everything will be available for you.
The provider will provide you full access to your site, including the backend, cPanel, and all the files your site contains. In other words, you have full control of your website (even if you’re non-tech-savvy).
If you like to monetize your site through ads or not, it’s your decision. Nobody’s going to place ads except you. Do you get what I mean?
This is also the only platform where it allows you to install a premium theme for a professional-looking space for you and your audience. No other platform allows you to do that.
How To Make Money As A Writer?
I wrote a separate post about this in which I detailed the process of making money as a writer.
The article covered the 4 ways for you to start making an income as a writer. It is either you start:
- Guest posting (paid posts)
- Searching for writing jobs on content mill providers
- Starting a free blog for portfolio, and
- Investing in a professional blog
As you can see, investing in a professional blog is on the list. That’s because it’s only when you have a self-hosted platform where you can unlock more opportunities online than relying on free blogging options.
I know you’re quite overwhelmed with the options. Don’t worry. Let’s see your reasons for writing first before we dig into the best option for you to do. Alright?
Here are the popular reasons for writers to write online:
- Share personal experiences to inspire people
- Make money by offering freelance writing services
- Promote their books
- Make money by offering online courses
- Make money by affiliate marketing
Reason 1: Share personal experiences to inspire people
Going back to history, the term “blog” never existed until the late 1990s when John Hall, one of the earliest bloggers, coined the term “weblog”. Later, Peter Merholz, a programmer, shortened to “blog” in 1999.
When you take a look at how bloggers structure their content, it’s more like an online diary. There was no concern about search engine optimization (SEO) nor the existence of “make money blogging”.
Twenty years later, the blogosphere morphed into a multi-million business industry, attracting more people to make money while staying at home. Especially with easier website building providers available.
Regardless, the blogging format allows you as a writer to share something in a friendlier tone, giving you the chance to get closer to your audience. This is why it’s the best marketing strategy for most businesses.
If you’re still exploring your niche, and if you don’t want to spend money yet, you can start with an online publishing platform.
A free hosted platform also does the work.
Reason 2: Make money by offering freelance writing services
This is an attractive reason for most people to write content. Why? It is when they have established a stable platform they generate buzz and make an income from it.
True. Blogging unlocks a lot of opportunities you can think of. It gives you an avenue to collaborate with fellow bloggers, at the same time, showcase your writing prowess to your clients.
By the way, I wrote a separate post about how to start freelance writing and earn money even if you’re a non-native English speaker. The post detailed the steps to do first and succeed as a freelance writer.
Paid guest blogging or paid posts also fall under this category because you’re not tied with any contract to write.
Clients prefer writers with self-hosted blogs to review their writing styles.
Others consider reviewing the ones published on an online publishing platform or free hosted.
However, to leave a lasting impression, it’s best to have a self-hosted site.
Reason 3: Promote their books
Many authors and aspiring authors alike turn their attention to blogging as an effective way to promote their books.
Jeff Goins, Michael Hyatt, Patt Flynn, Joanna Penn, and Chandler Bolt are one of a few bestselling authors, who started blogging their ideas and repackage them into a bestseller.
And because blogging opens the opportunity to get closer with your audience, it’s easier to market your books and gather reviews which then becomes the aid to achieve the bestselling status.
A self-hosted platform is the best option because it affects your brand as an author.
Not only is it best to keep your authority, but it’s also the most effective way to market your books without problems.
Reason 4: Make money by offering online courses
A lot of writers offer online writing courses aside from juggling other side income hustles like book publishing and writing sponsored posts.
This is possible these days because several educational platforms provide an easier way to create online classes without the need to build a website from scratch.
These became a popular option for bloggers who eventually transformed their personal blogs to business.
Let’s take Melyssa Griffin as an example. She’s a successful entrepreneur who started her blog The Nectar Collective, which became a way to build her empire by creating courses for her audience.
The most popular one is her flagship course, Pinfinite Growth. You can check that out.
The self-hosted platform is the best choice to promote your courses without questioning your expertise in your niche.
Reason 5: Make money by affiliate marketing
Aside from offering freelance writing services, a lot of writers participate in affiliate marketing to promote products to their audience and earn commissions. Especially the ones they believe or personally use.
Others offer affiliate opportunities, too. They allow their audience to promote their products or services—whatever they have—to lessen the advertising expenses.
From a publisher’s point of view (you), you write product reviews and publish them on your site.
For example, I promote Grammarly because I use it in writing my content without knowing it would be my first—my very first—affiliate sale worth $25.
Once a user clicks on the referral link and purchases the product you promoted, you earn commissions. That is if you know how to write posts that convert and sell.
When you write content that achieves its goal (conversion) constantly, you will have no problems writing to make an income in this niche.
However, you have to be careful with the programs you choose to make sure it is profitable. I have here 15 affiliate programs to try for beginner affiliates.
Affiliate merchants always ask for a self-hosted website before they approve your application.
If you don’t have one, it would be difficult for you to get accepted as an affiliate and make money from this kind of opportunity.
Before we proceed to the next point, are you still with me?
How Non-Native Speakers Improve Writing?
I know it entails a lot of hard work to write a piece of content in English if you’re not from an English-speaking country. However, don’t fret.
Besides the reason for writing this post is to share all that I did to become a writer. At this point, I will share the strategies I did to achieve the goal and getting my work published on a major website.
Here’s the summary:
- Read materials written in English.
- Avoid the use of adverbs (as much as you can).
- Be careful of using articles (a, an, and the).
- Master the use of prepositions.
- Study other writers’ styles.
- Record new words encountered from a material.
- Listen to their colloquial phrases. (through TV shows, podcasts, etc.)
- Stick to brevity.
- Practice, practice, & practice!
1. Read materials written in English.
Although I’ve been writing online for 6 years now, there’s no way I could achieve the native level. My Philippine accent remains, however, I’m striving to improve by reading materials written in English.
But reading helps you to expand your vocabulary and to get familiar with the aesthetics. It’s the best way to learn new words rather than relying merely on a thesaurus. Otherwise, you’ll get bored.
You can read your favorite book and highlight words that aren’t familiar to you. Blinkist is a good app to try in which it allows.
Then, you can record them in your notebook or journal and get back to these words again and use them in your next content.
I do the same thing to improve my writing style. This is also the key why editors or site owners don’t have problems publishing my work. Or, at least, I’m a bit more confident with my writing that I was 6 years ago.
2. Avoid the use of adverbs (as much as you can).
You can take thesaurus with you and familiarize yourself as many words as you can, especially when it comes to verbs.
Instead of relying on adverbs to describe the movement of your subject, use the exact term. That’s the key.
You work hard on expanding your vocabulary to avoid wordiness. For example, you say, “They walk slowly.” Instead, “They stroll.”
Are you getting my point?
3. Be careful of using articles (a, an, and the).
Up to this day, I still have this concern and it’s true to all non-native English speakers. This is due to our tendency to translate sentences from our mother tongue to English.
You can avoid this with the help of proofreading tools, though.
4. Master the use of prepositions.
My previous point pertains to the correct use of articles.
This time, I encourage you to master the use of prepositions because it’s the highest number of errors in my content, too, (though I’ve been writing professionally for 6 years).
5. Study other writers’ styles.
Take a look at my writing journal. It contains a record of all the unfamiliar words and phrases an author used in her books.
Afterward, I get back to them and open thesaurus to find the meaning behind this and that word.
At the same time, reading the phrases in repetition helps in familiarizing the usage and the sound it does when I read the sentence aloud.
6. Record new words encountered from a material.
This is related to the previous point. You record unfamiliar words and write down its meaning.
7. Listen to their colloquial phrases. (through TV shows, podcasts, etc.)
Listening to American television series or podcasts help you a lot when it comes to familiarizing colloquial phrases they use.
It’s the same strategy as the previous points, however, this focuses on common expressions, metaphors, etc. native speakers use both in written and verbal form.
Not only it improves your writing, but it also does the same with your speaking skills. Take me as an example.
8. Stick to brevity.
This was my mistake when I first got started. I thought if I use this and that phrase it will make my content look good. But it’s just a terrible idea.
When I started to stick with brevity, more people, especially the native speakers, liked and appreciated my content.
Therefore, it’s the best technique you can do as a non-native English speaker to avoid writing complexity and possible errors i.e. wordiness, redundancy, etc.
So, keep your sentences short and simple, though you use simple words to express your idea rather than using complicated words. Especially when you aren’t sure if it’s used correctly in a sentence.
To help you with the proofreading process, I recommend using Grammarly to have a run-through of your content.
9. Practice, practice, & practice!
As I mentioned earlier, teaching you the process of writing will be useless if you don’t have the right mindset of a writer. For sure, you don’t expect good content from the first draft.
Your draft undergoes scrutiny when your inner critical editor comes in. Even before you submit the post to the editorial team. That’s normal for writers to feel that way. Don’t worry.
Beat it instead.
When the writer’s spirit is absent in your work, you’ll never appreciate the highs and lows of this career. You’ll just find writing exasperating.
Remember that this isn’t a profession where you simply apply and do what your boss tells you to do. It’s not the same thing as writing a formal letter, my friend.
Writing content, regardless if it’s for your website or others, entails character from the author, who’s behind it. Especially if English isn’t your mother language.
Important Key To Successful Writing As A Non-Native Speaker
It requires a lot of winning mindset on your part because you’re dealing with someone’s subjective reasons to believe in your argument or to confirm its worth for publishing.
The same principle applies to book writing, guest posting, freelance writing, and all sorts of writing opportunities.
This is because writing is pretty subjective. Good content depends on how someone perceives it.
What you can do as a non-native English speaker is to practice and persevere, trying to write a piece of content that sounds nice to your ears.
If you like to know the secret behind my successful writing, you can sign-up and avail my free email masterclass + FREE ebook.
Conclusion – How I Managed To Write Confidently As A Non-Native Speaker?
Though I have written a lot in English before I pursued professional writing in 2014, dealing with native speakers (apparently the site owners and editors) was a different story.
For them, my writing style wasn’t acceptable because of its accent as the Philippine language is heavily rooted in the Spanish language. It continued like that in the next few months before a news company hired me to write for them.
Though editors hated to work with me, I insisted and doubled the hard work (aside from writing the content).
With the help of non-stop writing over the years and continuous efforts to improve I mentioned in this post, I overcame that writing fear and began exploring more writing opportunities without worries.
The point is to follow my advice. I’ve been where you are right now.
If you’re a non-native English speaker and want to test your writing, submit a post to me and I will review it. You can do so by sending me an email and will keep in touch. 🙂
Now, it’s your turn. Do you think you can do it?
It’s up to you.
If you are struggling to find a writing job, you can check this out (potential high-paying opportunity!)
I know this post is pretty long. I hope you didn’t fall asleep in between. Haha!
Anyway, if you like the post, feel free to share it with your family and friends who struggle pursue a writing career online.
If you have something more to add, feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below. 🙂