How To Start A Writing Career With No Experience

Dickie Bush & Nicolas Cole

Ultimate Guide Table of Contents

How do you start a writing career with no experience?

Conventional wisdom says, “Just start!”

Unconventional wisdom says, “Let's ask a better (fundamental) question.”

What Makes A Writer?

It’s not a fancy degree from a prestigious institution, it’s not a certification, and it’s not the permission you get from your mom or dad to chase your dreams.

Becoming a writer is a mindset.

It’s the willingness to put pen to paper and write. It’s the desire to create something out of nothing. It’s the passion that drives you from one word to another and then another until you have written. And then once you have written, it’s the willingness to learn from your mistakes and grow from them.

That’s it. Period.

We make 100% of our income from writing, and we believe anyone is a "writer" the minute they hit publish. Becoming "professional" is subjective. And there are tons of ways to start making money from your writing (from freelancing to newsletters to ebooks).

Let’s dive in.

Is It Too Late To Start A Writing Career?

Walk with us for a minute.

Writing online is a lot different than it was 10 years ago.

People used to write blog posts on their own custom-built websites, then publish them off into the internet void. Fingers crossed, they hoped they would get thousands of views. Only to find 36 people who took a remote interest and promptly left.

Most early bloggers got discouraged and quit.

Compare that with Digital Writing today.

It's never been easier to publish your writing on social platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, Medium, and Substack. You don’t need a blog. You don’t need a “publisher.” You can go straight to the source: the reader, gather feedback, and they will help you grow as a writer.

Build a daily writing habit and you could be making money off of your writing in a matter of months, not years. We see it all the time in Ship 30 for 30.

Today is the best time to start writing.

The Benefits Of Starting A Career In Writing

The greatest benefit of writing is clarifying your thinking.

The greatest benefit of writing online is clarifying your thinking exponentially faster (and building an audience while scaling yourself in the process). And the greatest benefit of building an audience is having someone to sell to who is already interested in what you have to say and offer.

But the biggest benefit of building a career writing online is the vast library of content you build and the fact that you can continue to leverage that library over and over again.

How To Start A Writing Career With No Experience: 3 Tips On Where To Start As A Writer

Here's a guide for how to turn writing into your CAREER.

Write More Than You “Think” About Writing

If you want to be a writer, you have to care more about writing than you care about being “known” as a writer.

As an aspiring writer, it's easy to get caught up in the idea of yourself as an author. We all want that kind of validation. It's human nature! But if you're serious about writing, you need to shift your focus away from your own ego and towards the work itself.

If you want to be a writer, you must hit publish.

Your output is what matters.

Figure Out What Type Of Writing You Want To Make A Career Out Of

The big mistake aspiring writers make is thinking they can only make money in 1 way. As if there is nobility in only living off your book sales, for example. There's not.

In the digital age, you want as many revenue streams as possible.

You can put food on the table as a:

You're "pro" when you make money from your words.

Your business model can be:

  • Selling products (books)
  • Selling education (courses)
  • Selling services (ghostwriting)
  • Selling insight (consulting)
  • Selling digital access (paywalled content)

There are many ways to do this, but they all have one thing in common: you must be willing to take risks and learn from your mistakes. You'll need to be able to pivot quickly, adapt to changing circumstances, and keep going even when things don't work out as planned.  You want to be antifragile.

Choose what type of writer (you think) suits you best then start writing.

Adapt to the business model your readers react to.

Create Your Own Definition Of Success As A Writer

When Nicolas Cole was younger and first starting out as a writer, he had a very fixed definition of what "success" looked like.

  • “I needed a book deal.”
  • “I needed to be Hemingway 2.0.”
  • “I needed the literature world to tell me I was awesome.”

But this was a giant mistake.

He had a very small vision of success.

And he learned that there is more than 1 way to achieve "status" as a writer.

Status isn't only for NYT best-selling authors. Writers get into trouble when they think of themselves as a "failure" because they don't have a certain type of status. Maybe that status isn't possible for WHAT you write, or WHERE you write, or WHEN, or WHY, or HOW you write.

Status can be:

  • Social media status (followers)
  • Ecosystem status (Twitter famous)
  • Industry status (Category King)
  • Sales status (money made)

Status is subjective.

Many people write because they want to make an impact. They know that words can be powerful catalysts for change. In fact, one of the most common reasons people write is to make a difference in someone else's life—to help them feel less alone, or give them hope when they need it most.

And guess what else we learned? There is more than 1 way to have an impact as a writer.

Impact can be:

  • Helping people take action
  • Helping people change their perspective
  • Helping people laugh, cry, or make emotional progress in their life

Different types of impact, but all valuable.

Now, some writers want to move beyond impact. They write because they want to leave a legacy. They want to leave behind something that will live on long after they're gone, and that can be passed down from generation to generation.

And just like writing for status and impact, there is more than 1 way to leave a legacy as a writer.

Legacy can be:

  • Breaking records
  • Leading by example
  • Creating a new category
  • Starting or advancing difficult conversations

There is massive freedom in creating your own definition for success as a writer. For me, I’m on a journey of helping one million people start writing online. You have to decide and define for yourself what success is.

Seek the impact you believe is important (not the impact someone else says is important).

And remember, your CAREER starts the minute you hit publish on your first piece of content.

After You’ve Started A Writing Career, How Do You Progress & Earn More Money?

Everyone wants to know how to make money.

But very few people want to know how to be GOOD ENOUGH at a skill worthy of money. I’m telling you right now, stop focusing on the money.

In writing (like most skills), mastery is what matters.

Here is what we tell everyone:

Work For Free And Build Your Library Of Content

If you can't do it for free, you can't get paid to do it.

Period. Full stop.

  • Prove you can do "the writing."
  • Prove people think it's great.
  • Prove you are reliable.

Once you get really good, people will GLADLY pay you to do it.

Say Yes (To Everything)

Client: Can you write tweets?

You: YES.

Client: Can you write a newsletter?

You: YES!

Client: Can you format my articles?

You: YES!!!

Say YES to things you haven't done before. Say YES to things that feel like a reach. Say YES to anything and everything. This will 100x your growth.

You are not only building a library of content, you are building a library of skills.

Choose 1 Thing And Ignore Everything Else

After saying YES to everything, slowly separate what you love from what you don't.

  • What is most interesting?
  • What teaches you the most?
  • What makes you the most money?

Be relentless. You have to ruthlessly prioritize. The more you focus, the more you can lean into the success you want: status, impact, and legacy. This is how you become the Category King of your 1 thing.

For Cole, this was ghostwriting.

He got to talk to executives. It was fascinating work. He loved the challenge of coming up with an idea for an article that would appeal to them and their readers, and then writing it in a way that felt authentic to their voice. He could charge $2k for an article, which was more than he’d ever been able to make before. And he could do it in less than an hour!

As a result: he became the Category King of "ghostwriting for executives."

Closing Thoughts On How To Start A Career In Writing

A career is a journey.

A career as a writer is no different—it's not for the faint of heart, and it takes time, energy, and dedication to see it through. But if you stick with it long enough, you will be rewarded.

  • Build your daily writing habit
  • Exploring the business models that work for you
  • Attract a super niche audience
  • Make your first $1 online
  • Catapult your career & create multiple revenue streams

Now go hit that publish button!

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