Writers Are Lying To You About Their Earnings

These are five ways they do it.

Benya Clark

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Photo by Jametlene Reskp on Unsplash

Lately, I’ve felt like I’m drowning in a flood of articles about how much money writers make. You know the type: “How I make $500 an hour blogging,” “How I made $100,000 from my first novel,” and “How I quadrupled my writing income in one month.”

In principle, I don’t mind these earnings reports. When they’re done well, they can provide a very useful peek into my fellow writers’ marketing strategies. Some of these articles helped me a lot when I was first starting as a blogger.

The trouble, however, is that most of these articles don’t have good advice. In fact, many of the writers are simply lying about how much they make, and therefore, don’t have anything useful to share at all.

If there’s one thing that does impress me about these articles, it’s the wide variety of methods that writers have discovered to exaggerate, twist, and stretch their supposed earnings. I think sometimes these can be subtle, so I’d like to share some of the most common to watch out for:

Unrepresentative Samples

It’s typical for bloggers to have one or two articles that far outperform all of their others. Nearly every professional blogger has at least one story of a viral hit. The trouble is that some people write about these viral hits as if they represented their normal success rate.

To give a real example, I have one article that I wrote in a hurry and miraculously took off and made me over $1000. I think I literally spent about 30 minutes on it. Extrapolating from that one article, I could claim “I make $2000 an hour from writing.”

But I think we can all see that this would be a lie. That was just one article out of hundreds. It ignores the countless other articles that took hours to write and only made me a few bucks. Unfortunately, this is exactly how unscrupulous bloggers massage their numbers.

Misleading Ratios

What about writers who have never had a viral hit? How can they make it seem like they’re more successful than they are? One incredibly common way is to use a misleading ratio.

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Benya Clark

I’m a lawyer turned writer from North Carolina. I write about sobriety, mental health, and more. Subscribe to my weekly newsletter at exploringsobriety.com.