I’m a full-time writer and this has been my only income for the last three years. It took a long time to get everything up and running, so don’t think it was easy.
My paychecks come from all over the place – marketing, guest posting, and ghostwriting assignments are the bulk of my monthly income. This triad pays the bills and keeps me working for another day.
Behind the simple paycheck system is a level of perks and swag I receive as a blogger. From my special edition Zippo to my Manduka yoga mats, a lot of the band’s I mention in my blogs have sent me review units to test and often keep.
In writing about yoga, travel, tech, games, and such, I’ve been invited to cover a variety of trade shows and conventions. This gets me free stuff for writing about products.
All the solar gear I reviewed for Goal Zero, Enerplex, and the like became part of my personal collection, some of which I traded for other accessories with a PC gaming journalist I met at E3 and PAX. LL Bean and REI outfitted my outdoor travel this fall and winter.
The only time I pay for pot anymore is when I write about the cost. Otherwise dispensaries and caregivers normally give it to me. I’m known in the cannabis industry, so I get a lot of concentrates and nuggets free.
The trick to all of this is to follow your passion. I got all this free stuff by writing about it in major publications. It’s not payola – DJ’s need to hear a song to play it, retail associates need to own products to sell them, and critics need products to review.
It becomes a symbiotic relationship in which providing exposure for brands like Celestron and personalities like Snoop Dogg got me access to bigger brands. The PR industry is small, and word spreads when you deliver.
Much of my swag networking was put on hold when I was forced to defend myself from a banking executive in court. I’ll rebuild soon though.
Brian Penny is a former Business Analyst and Operations Manager at Bank of America turned whistleblower, troll, and freelance writer. His work has appeared in Huffington Post, Main Street, Fast Company, and Hardcore Droid.