Writing reports was my entry into the freelance world back in the 1980’s. I wrote little booklets on everything from how to buy a house to how to groom a horse. Each piece was just 3,000 to 5,000 words.
I would spend 2 to 5 days researching and writing, then I would print them at Kinkos and sell them by putting tiny ads in local Pennysaver ad circulars or specialty magazines. I sold them for $1 to $3 each, and cleared around $200/month (about $630/mo in today’s money).
It was a fun hobby that paid a few bills. In those days, it was called “information marketing.” That meant you sold the information in the report. Today it’s called “content marketing,” and it also means you sell information, but can you use those reports to recommend and sell other products, too.
A good report writer today can make money in three ways:
- Affiliate Sales
- Ebooks for Profit
- Freelance Writing
The Role of Reports in Affiliate Sales
A report is an in-depth look at a particular topic. While there are many formal reports, such as essays, police reports, and journalistic articles, I’m talking about informal reports in this post. Informal reports have no particular structure, and tend to follow the information where it leads, rather than following a structured formula. This post itself is a report.
Often informal reports are how-to in nature. How to groom a horse. How to buy a house. How to clean dog urine from your carpet. But they can also be reviews. Review of the all-new curry comb. Review of the House Hunter app. Review of Nature’s Miracle urine remover. Or they can be accounts of events, such as 10 Take-Aways from the Horse Grooming Convention.
If these topics sound like ordinary blog or article titles, well, you’re right. Many, but not all blog posts are reports. If I’m showing you pictures of how to dress your dog for Halloween and selling dog Halloween costumes, that’s not a report. If I’m discussing the latest findings in Psychology Today about people who dress their dogs up for Halloween, that’s a report. The main difference is the depth of information provided.
When I wrote reports back in the 1980’s, it was to sell the report itself. Today, however, if I were writing about how to groom a horse, I’d be promoting a certain kind of curry comb or mane and tail shampoo. I’d give the pamphlet (blog post) away for free so more people would read it and possibly click the links to buy the products being recommended. That is the very definition of affiliate marketing.
To sell affiliate products from reports, you’ll want to mix true stories in with the facts. You’ll want to include results and compare results without the product. You’ll want to share educated opinions, and lots of facts. When you learn how to write a report that dovetails as a sales letter, then you’ll make a lot of affiliate sales. (Of course, you have to market each report, too…but more on that later.)
If you’re looking for a course that shows you how to do affiliate marketing, here’s one I like from Udemy: No Cost Affiliate Marketing For Beginners.
One way to make a steady, passive income is to write ebooks and sell them on Amazon. I’m specific to Amazon, because they’re the biggest and easiest market to sell ebooks on today.
I have published seven ebooks on Amazon. Three of them are reports, and they’re my best sellers so far. One is a book of short stories for kids, and three others are “list” books. I’ll talk more about those in another post.
I make about $350/month from these books now. When first published several years ago, I made close to $800/month. That’s because I did a little more marketing. For the past two years, I’ve done ZERO marketing. I haven’t even looked at the reviews in years. And yet, I still get around $350/month. Years later.
So, publishing reports on Amazon may not be a get-rich-quick idea, but it’s a great way to generate a passive income stream. I know several writers who publish more than 1,000 of their own and other people’s reports, earning them a regular, passive $3,000+ per month. One publisher has over 2,000 reports and books, and says he earns over $8,000/month. These people are not writing their own reports. They write some. They hire a lot of people to write others. And they also publish for other people and take a cut of the sales.
By the way, one neat trick I’ve found to writing reports more quickly is this: Place a job on the freelance boards for a writer to write a report about X topic. To keep the cost down, tell them you only want a detailed outline. You can probably pay around $50 to $100 for such an outline. Then use that to fill in the blanks as you write the report yourself. That way you can get a jump start on the report, without having to pay a year’s worth of profits to a writer to write the whole thing.
What kinds of reports will people buy? That’s really the hard part…coming up with titles that make someone’s mouth water, and content that’s specific enough that people will want to leave 4- and 5-star reviews. For example, my ebook Mind Over Mouth has been selling month after month for 5 years. My careful analysis of what people want and how to get that into a title, as well as carefully crafting the free matter at the front, has made this ebook sell well.
The Role of Reports in Freelance Writing
Writing reports for others as a freelance service is the easiest and fastest way to make money as a freelance writer.
Many small business owners need Opt-In Reports to get email subscribers, but they lack the time or skill to write the reports themselves. They can’t write. You can. Freelance sites like Upwork, PeoplePerHour, and Outsourcely frequently have job postings for report and ebook writers.
When I got started as a freelance writer (read my About page), I stumbled on Reports through a job posting that was looking for someone to write a report about how to grow a green lawn. The company doing the hiring was a marketing firm. They helped their clients set up websites. One of their clients was a lawn care company that needed a lawn care report as an opt-in offer. That was an $800 job. That company hired me over the next year to write nine more reports. Each report was really a collection of information that was easily found online, but formatted and pitched to support their products.
Keep in mind the following:
The faster you can write these reports for hire, the more you’ll earn per hour! Be prepared to write on dozens of different topics: “The Pros and Cons of Solar Power,” “How to Grow Greener Grass,” “How to Select the Right Timber Construction Company,” and “How to Save Thousands when Selling Your House with a Realtor,” are just a few that I’ve written. And remember that at it’s heart, these are really a subtle kind of sales letter. You’re hiding the sales part, but ultimately promoting the solution that the person hiring you wants.
There you have it…3 ways to turn reports into profits. A great report writer can make $100,000 per year, either by demanding high dollars for their writing service, by selling their own reports as ebooks, or by using their reports to do affiliate marketing. It all starts with knowing how to write a Report that makes people want to buy. Learn how to write a great Report using Len Smith’s fantastic Udemy tutorial: Click here for the tutorial.