It's not easy and you have to beware of all the "make money fast" schemes out there. However, there are legitimate options that you can pursue in your spare time. Here are three suggestions:
* self-publishing an ebook (this can be done very inexpensively) - of course you will also have to market it so people are aware it exists. If you have a particular expertise, probably a non-fiction, how-to ebook would be your best choice. There are people making good money self-publishing novels as well.
* helping small businesses set up or improve their websites. You might want to consider partnering with a web designer/developer. They do the tech stuff, you provide the words. You could start with local businesses you use yourself. Check out whether they have a site. If so, identify how it could be improved to bring in more customers. Copywriting is persuasive writing, so you'd need to educate yourself in that but there are good books available.
Often these sites are missing a crucial element: good testimonials. If you can collect and add these, there's a good chance that alone will boost their results.
By the way, don't sign up for an expensive course until you've checked out other ways you can learn this craft. Some of the high-priced courses make extravagent claims as to how much you'll earn. Yes, there are copywriters who make very big money, but they're not beginners. It's like telling an acting student he or she can make $20 million a picture because that's what a top star earns.
* propose writing and editing an e-newsletter for businesses to send to their customers. Many businesses are desperate for ways to bring in more revenue and may be open to this. They may be reluctant to spend money without knowing whether it will work, so you might propose doing one free for 3 months. Let them see the results, get testimonials from them, and then start charging them, and use this proof to demonstrate the benefits to other businesses you approach.
AVOID OR APPROACH WITH CAUTION:
* proofreading. Don't believe the ads that suggest there is a terrible shortage of proofreaders and if you take their course you'll have more work than you can handle. The publisher of one of my books told me there is no pressing demand for proofreaders.
* writing articles for the web. Actually, if you can crank out half a dozen or more in an hour, maybe you can make some money, but there are a lot of scams that try to get you to pay a registration fee or a monthly fee and then never give you the promised lucrative assignments.
Before signing up with any services, Google them. Read past the first page of results--many such services put up websites in someone else's name.
If you google "Moneypotts Writing scams" for instance (a made-up example), you'll come on to lots of apparent review sites that say, "Do you wonder whether Moneypotts is a scam? No, it's not, it's wonderful. I make thousands a month writing blog posts for clients, thanks to Moneypotts!" These are phoney sites and the people behind them are good at techniques that keep these on the first page or two of Google results. They are counting on you to give up before you get to any real reviews.
* travel writing. Yes, there are people who do make money writing articles for newspapers, travel magazines, and some large websites. If this is your passion and you're good at it, you can make money from it. But it's not the thriving, high-paying,free-ticket giving hive of activity that some people trying to sell you travel writing courses like to pretend. These days, people rely less on travel writers, more on reviews by other customers.
* courses that claim to show you how to write a best-seller in 30 (or 14 or even 7) days. Sure, it's possible to write a book in 30 days--thousands and thousands have just done it during the National Novel Writing Month. Most of them are aware, though, that what they have is a rough draft that will need extensive rewriting.
And as for best-seller…well, if you have some willing supporters you can write a book, especially an e-book, that you can get to the top of the Amazon charts for a day. That makes it an Amazon best-seller, even if it drops down to number 112,543 the next day and stays there. Is it worth paying a lot of money to learn how to do that? I don't think so. In fact, if you're really interested, I'll write a future blog post about exactly how to do it.
When somebody tells you how great a particular field of writing is, just check whether they're coming from the desire to profit from having you believe it.
I sell courses, too, including the Breakthrough Writing Strategy Program. But I don't promise that what you write while we work together will turn into a best-seller or a hit movie. I can only promise that if you put in the work, you will end up with something that could do well in the marketplace--and that if you don't write it, for sure it won't!
The other thing I can promise is that if writing is a dream of yours, you will be happier doing it rather than ignoring or delaying it. The benefits of expressing your creativity are not just monetary, they go much deeper than that.
Those promises don't bring in as much money as the ones made by the "write a best-seller in 7 days" crowd, but they have one advantage: they're true.
IF YOU KNOW ANY ASPIRING WRITERS WHO YOU THINK COULD BENEFIT FROM THIS INFORMATION, PLEASE FORWARD THIS TO THEM AND ALSO USE TWITTER & FACEBOOK TO SPREAD THE MESSAGE.
(For additional honest guidance on how to write, see my book, "Your Writing Coach," published by Nicholas Brealey and available from Amazon and other booksellers. My next Breakthrough Writing Strategy Program starts on Jan 16, 2012 and is offered four times a year. For more information, see http://www.WritingBreakthroughStrategy.com - sign up there and you'll also get a copy of the 2012 Writing Breakthrough Report, the most useful and comprehensive report I've written on how to find the time, the motivation, and the skill to write your book).