MULTIPLE STREAMS OF INCOME FOR WRITERS By Damaris Irungu Ochieng’

In July 2006, at 24, I was made redundant as a radio presenter on YFM 96(now hot 96), alongside some of my workmates. I was suddenly, without notice, out in the streets after two years of what I considered dedicated blood, tears and sweat for an employer. It was a dark time for me, I had bills to pay, I lost fake friends, I was confused and alone, the world hadn’t prepared me to handle this at the tender age of 24!

14 years later, I am wiser. During those dark times, as I tried to find my footing, I learnt one very important lesson. ‘Never put your eggs in one basket’ Later on I would stumble upon the Bible verse Ecclesiastes 11:2 ‘Invest in Seven ventures, yes, in eight; you do not know what disaster may come upon the land’ Basically talking about having seven, no eight streams of income so that when disaster strikes, you’ll be fine.

It was a dark almost one year before I found my footing, I got an opportunity to contribute articles for the Saturday Magazine, I got to write for Eve Magazine, Act at the theatre and even when I got a big break on Makutano Junction as an actress, I didn’t stop at that, I went on to start writing for the show, that meant two salaries, for acting, writing and I still kept contributing to the magazines, as I worked on other TV shows.

My life had been turned upside down in one swoop on that fateful day in July 2006 and I vowed to myself to never ever depend on one source of income in my life. I write this from a point of sensitivity because I know some of you might have lost your income because of the pandemic or are about to lose it. Take comfort because this too shall pass and there’s light at the end of the tunnel, I was in that dark space in that season years ago, by God’s grace I got out of it.

I now see that I was fortunate to have gone through such a tough financial time in my early 20’s, I will never forget that feeling…that feeling of helplessness I went through, I learnt from it and now in my 30’s, with a family, I can rest easy and say the lessons learnt then, will be a buffer for me for several months or even a longer term despite IMF’s prediction that this pandemic will cause a far worse recession than the one in 2008.  I am working hard at fool proofing my current and new sources of income to make sure I survive this!

I am therefore sharing ideas of streams of income for writers, most of which are currently my sources of income and some, very close in the pipeline. Read below and I hope they inspire you to do the best you can to make sure you don’t go down with the pandemic.

Some of these things can happen for you now, others will wait, but the question is what will be the new normal? Will you sit and wait? You have the power within you to change your current situation. It is time to adapt, to get creative or starve.

  1. Writing for TV/Film/Animation: This will still happen. People will need to watch things and productions won’t close forever, so you better be working on some great ideas and scripts to pitch some TV and Film companies or Producers. I know producers at INKTIP Magazine are still asking for script ideas pitched to them in this season. I predict a growth in animation shows and films, they all need scripts. The world is a global village, and the quarantine hasn’t stopped online pitching. Sky is the limit.
  2. Writing books/comics for kids or grown-ups: I have for the bigger part of my career been writing for TV and Film, with a past in writing for newspapers and Magazines. For the past two years, I’ve been flexing my muscle in writing books, both fiction and non-fiction, which I plan to share with the world very soon. We are living in very interesting times, a time where the internet has broken the barrier of gatekeepers in the name of traditional publishers. Anyone can now Indie-publish their own book and put it up as an E-book on Amazon and other places online for close to nothing! You can also sell it direct to your email list. Indie-publishing doesn’t mean a poor quality book, you can still get an editor if you can afford it, if you can’t then get a friend or family who knows story and grammar and have a second and third eye on your book. Read as much as you can about writing, self-editing and all you need. You can also collaborate with a friend who can draw and does illustrations and do comics! With the craze of book adaptations into film and TV series, I think every writer should jump on writing a book! We are in interesting times!
  3. Teaching: You can teach what you know online or in person (but with the current quarantine, physical teaching is not possible. I make a good part of my income from teaching what I know. Writing. I teach at the Multichoice Talent Factory EA, I taught at ADMI for 2 years, and I also run my kids camp every school holiday where I teach creative writing, storytelling and much more to kids and teens. That is an income lost this holiday season, but we shall recover. I’ve had offers to teach writing to Individuals and I always decline as this would mean a lot of time taken out of my own writing,  this gave me the idea to start a writing course online which I’m currently preparing and will put it up online on teachable.com, for a fee! Haha. We are talking income sources after all!
  4. Writing Short Stories: This could be a quick way to make money from friends, family and friends of family and friends, Imagine writing gripping short stories of 2k words, selling them at 50bob or 100bob, having a serious cliff hanger that your fans will want to read more and hence pay another amount for book(short story) 2, 3,4,5 up to 10 perhaps. It is cheap and quick way to have cash flowing in and helping you stay afloat.
  5. Writing Consultancy: You can be a creative writer for NGO work, copyrighting for adverts and much more. This is very competitive and will require some form of foot in, in the sense of a network on the inside to even know when there’s work, but when you do get in, it is a good source of income that doesn’t take up much of your time but pays well.
  6. Ghost writing: You can be a ghost writer for people’s biographies, autobiographies and even books. This means you don’t get the credit for the work done but you get paid for it. I know several writers earning some good money doing ghost writing work here in Kenya. Look around you, identify individuals who could benefit from having an autobiography done, a book out and approach them. You might be in luck for some good cash flow in this season.
  7. Writing for Newspapers and Magazines: I made some money in my past years from writing for Magazines such as True Love, Drum Magazine, Eve woman, Pulse Magazine and Saturday Nation Magazine. I believe if you are determined and have a great angle to life stories you might get a chance to contribute to some of these magazines, it might not be the best of times to approach the magazines because the pandemic obviously means less income for these magazines but you never know where some of these things lead up to. You can also contribute to NGO monthly or yearly Magazines. I’ve made some good amount of money contributing to NGO magazines, they don’t have to be local, again, the world, thanks to the internet, is the size of a peanut, don’t short change yourself by limiting your vision to just local, Do the best for you!
  8. Getting a grant to develop your story:  A simple google search can lead you to many grants available for development of story. You could google ‘Writing grants for females, grants for African writers and so forth and see where that leads. I know some writers who live from one grant to the other.

There are more ideas out there, I Hope these ones I’ve shared inspire you to keep going and keep writing! If you know other ideas of how writers can make money, hit reply and share with me. I’d love to know more ways!

Please share this article with another writer to inspire them! TIA

Happy writing and Happy creating!

8 thoughts on “MULTIPLE STREAMS OF INCOME FOR WRITERS By Damaris Irungu Ochieng’”

  1. Thanks for sharing Damaris.Am a high school teacher of English. People say am funny in the play around with words both in English and Kikuyu.I have written a handful of poems for fun.I badly need your mentorship

    1. Hey Esther, great to hear from you. Please sign up to my email list to get more mentorship. Hit the sign up button on my FB writer’s page- Damaris Irungu O-writers page, confirm subscription and we can connect more there as I am currently doing with other writers already subscribed. See you there!

  2. Woooow! This is really great especially for someone like me who thinks that I am going nowhere with my blogs and story. I started a story that I am still developing but I also think that I can do short stories. I am sure that there are magazines that would love them. It is all about starting it and going on even when writer’s block settles in! I will try my best with what I have as of the moment. Will it be okay to share the story I am writing with you?

    Once again, thank you very much. You have greatly inspired me to write some more. Who knows what the future has in store for me?

    Kind regards,
    Bridgid Colette Amboga

    1. Go for it Bridgid! Not able to read your work at the moment as swamped with personal deadlines and work deadlines, but keep writing and honing your craft!

  3. Wow! I love this! I could use it an given time but hold it right there…..My excitement usually has no limits lol! I am blogging and at times I think it’s worth nothing. “It’s just your mind Bridgid.” I tell myself. I am into a story which seems to be long. I would like to shorten it but at the same time, I think I can start writing short stories. I am a Theatre Assistant and a boarding parent too. I bet I could use a bit of blogging during this time and write stories too. Been discouraged of late but I will be persistent with this! i do not know where it will lead to. Let me write my first short story and send it to you. I would like to know what you think about it.

    Kind regards,
    Bridgid

  4. Thanks for sharing the inspiration. I have realised its my hidden talent. Currently I am out of work and have my few poems but also a researcher. I will search for grants for writing on google.

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