As a young writer trying to practice my trade, what are some things I can break into that allow me to make some money alongside being able to write? I've comtemplated ghost writing on sites such as Fiver, or transcription. I'm realistic and I'm not looking to quit my day job, just looking for some outlets that might also benefit me financially.
My advice would be to actually practice writing ad copy, either for digital marketing campaigns (Facebook ads and Instagram ads for example). Once you start building up a profile for yourself with smaller agencies - which mostly require freelance work, and will give you an additional source of income while also building your own portfolio - you can begin charging more.
You can check out Upwork, which is a database of online editors and writers, and see if you might like it.
One thing you might do is scour want ads for writing. I've seen very few of these, but if you find out, send a manuscript. The other thing is the obvious -- submit short stories to many, many publications. The upside is that if they reject you, they may also give you some advice. The best rejection I ever got was from an editor who gave me actual advice on what they were looking for and what other publications might be looking for. The problem with all of this is that you'll have to have a real drive, because the folks you're competing against have two things going for them. First is that they've likely established themselves a lot more than you have. Second is that they're good. Very good. And good so that they have that "special insight" or even perhaps luck to have found out what a publisher wants.
For me, I just kept at it. and I landed some gigs in some companies that used to do humorous drop-ins for radio stations. Given that today we have not only radio stations but tons and tons and tons of podcasts.
Also, get into some creative production outlets like folks who are planning plays or other shows anywhere and make connections that way. Getting your foot in the door is generally more than just being good, but being known.
Good thoughts from Mark Stewart. I'd just add to that the ideas of developing your "platform" -- at least it used to get thrown around -- and leveraging your area of expertise (often related to platform). I've been at a number of talks by writers, literary agents, and small publishers where I've heard that over and again.
The idea here is to build your reputation on a subject by any means available: publishing on the web, being a guest on a show (or creating your show, say via podcast), speaking in front of audiences, even self-publishing. All of these can focus on your particular area of expertise and/or something that you love to do. Let's say you're a great surfer, and that you've also taught surfing to others. Now you're talking and writing about surfing, and your bio says you've placed at some competition, spoken at these venues, been interviewed on those shows, published articles on such-and-such publications, you get the picture.
And today, of course, you're going to use social media to make sure people know about all that. You've build a platform for yourself, and you've got a better chance of getting paid for writing. Obviously it's not necessarily that easy, especially if you're working another job, but it's one path that can raise your odds of getting paid.