In the last article about freelance writing you identified topic areas you can write in, wrote at least one sample article, created your writer’s bio, and worked to expand your social networks. Now you’re going to use these to get hired to write online content.
Sources of Writing Work
There are tons of writing jobs available online. Some are short-term projects, while others are ongoing. Some allow you to write as much or as little as you want, while others want a set number of articles per week. Here are some common sources of writing work found online.
How To Write For Content Mills
There are differing opinions about whether or not you should write for content mills. Part of the issue is their history. Most content mills started out needing keyword-rich (SEO) articles to fill sites, get good search engine ranking, drive lots of traffic, and ultimately make money. At the time, most of the mills weren’t too picky about the quality of writing. As a result, most of the content was poorly written and not viewed as quality or real writing. Although many content mills have more stringent writing quality controls now, they are still perceived negatively. In fact, you might be better off to say you have no clips than to offer clips written for a content mill.
The other issue is that pay is low. Many writing experts say that if you want to be a professional writer, you should command a professional-level fee. Professional writers usually try to earn at least a $1 per word, although some breaking into the field may write for 10, 15 or 20 cents a word to get clips and build to higher fees. Most content mills offer a flat rate, usually only $5 – $15 per article, with a few like Demand Media paying $20 to $35 or more for specialty articles. That comes down to as low as 1 cent a word or less. Some mills pay through ad revenue, which is essentially working for free and hoping people will read your article and click on an ad. I don’t recommend that option.
Finally, the biggest reason to not write for content mills is that once you’re in and counting on it for income, it can be hard to get out. If you wanted to move on to higher paying markets, you’d have to cut back on your content mill writing, which can reduce your income. Plus, since many media sources don’t consider clips from content mills, you have to start from scratch if you want to expand to higher profile publications. While you can make money from content mills, you may find it’s difficult to expand and build a freelance writing career.
With that said, there are reasons that a content mill might work for you. If you’ve never made a living writing, they can be a great place to get your feet wet and decide if writing is for you. Because it requires a lot of writing to make a living, you get practice, and when it comes to writing, the more you do it, the better you get. Many content sites require references and resources, so you’ll also be able to create a library of resources that you can use to expand your writing. Finally, the content mills that pay a flat fee often pay weekly or even twice a week, so it can be a quick source of income.
Ultimately, whether you write for a content mill comes down to whether you’re writing for money or prestige. If you want the prestige, don’t write for content mills, or at least don’t use content mill writing on your resume. But if you want to make several hundred dollars a week cranking out articles, then a content mill might be for you.
Here are some tips to writing for a content mill:
How To Write For Businesses (Websites/Blogs)
Content is king when it comes to marketing, so many businesses are hiring writers to create compelling articles to draw in consumers. The amount of work, pay, and prestige varies depending on who you work for. For example, you can get hired by a Realtor to post 5 blog posts a week at $20 per post. I once worked for Internet Brands on a shortterm project writing articles related to anxiety. I was paid $40 to $45 per article until the project was over. Later, I wrote one article a week for WAHM.com, also a part of Internet Brands, for which I was paid $25 per piece.
Writing for businesses can offer a little more pay than content mills, especially if you write in a market that requires specific knowledge, such as law, medicine, or real estate. Plus, writing content for businesses offers more prestige and a source of clips to use for future writing jobs or pitching ideas to publications.
However, writing for businesses usually requires writing for more than one company to meet your income goals. This is a good thing, because the other disadvantage is that the work can dry up in an instant. The more places you write for, the less impact there will be on your income if one writing job goes away. Here are some tips to writing for businesses:
How To Write For Information Portals
Information portals are one-stop websites with tons of information, such as About.com or HowStuffWorks.com. Each information portal operates differently. About.com hires experts who focus on a single topic area. HowStuffWorks.com takes on generalist or specialist writers, assigning work when available on a project-by-project basis.
Because information portals are built around delivering information, a strong background either through education or experience is required. What’s most fun about information portals is the vast and interesting number of topic areas. About.com has topic areas in soap operas, board games, crafts, travel, and more.
Information portals vary in requirements. While some simply want articles, others are looking for someone to write and maintain a portal topic. For example, the portal may want blog posts, newsletters, and discussion board moderation, as well as articles.
Information portals vary on how they pay, as well. About.com has base requirements that if met can garner several hundred dollars a month, with bonuses that can earn even more. Other portals will pay per published piece. Here are some tips for working for an information portal:
How To Write For Online Publications
Online publications are like online magazines. In some cases, they are online versions of print magazines, such as Entrepreneur.com. But there are many online media sources that are Internet only, such as Salon.com. Online publishers often pay more than other online media, anywhere from $25 to $300 per article. However, the writing work is assigned based on an idea you pitch, just like with print magazines. If the publication likes your idea, you’ll be assigned the article, and that will be it, unless you pitch another idea. While writing for freelance markets can pay better per piece, the work isn’t necessarily as steady unless you’re a master idea pitcher.
Writing for online freelance markets is a great way to build clips, improve your prestige, and expand into print, if that’s of interest to you. Here are tips to breaking into online publications:
How To Get Get Hired Online
There are two basic ways to get hired to write. One is applying to writing jobs, and the other is pitching online publications. We’ll start with applying to writing jobs.
Applying to Writing Jobs
There is no one way that businesses request you apply, but here is a list of some things (beyond your contact info) you might be asked for when applying for writing work:
How To Write A a Cover Letter and Resume for Writing Work
One of the biggest complaints of online employers is applicants’ failure to follow directions. With the delete button one click away, employers don’t waste time on applications that don’t adhere to the specifications outlined in the announcement.
Following directions seems like a no-brainer. Why wouldn’t you follow the directions the company provides for applying to a job? Too often in an attempt to be clever or stand out from the crowd, people break the rules and send a resume with fancy font or other materials the company didn’t request. The problem is that sending something other than what is requested indicates that you don’t know how to follow directions. The result? No job.
Companies vary on how they want to receive your application or resume. Some have forms online that you can paste your resume into. Others supply an e-mail address. The one rule that is consistent across the board is to never send your resume as an attachment unless asked to do so.
Some companies will also want samples of your work. Others will want you to take a test. Always do what is asked. Send no more and no less.
The Cover Letter
When emailing your resume, include a cover note or introduction. This is the first thing an employer will read and the key to whether or not your resume will be read. That’s a lot of work for a few lines of text. The cover letter or introduction requires a delicate balance of selling yourself without sounding overly conceited. You need to choose your wording and content wisely. In essence, you want to let the employer know, in just a few sentences, that you are the best candidate for the job. And since it’s being used to get a writing job, it needs to be grammatically correct and free of errors. There are four parts to the cover letter:
How To Create Your Resume
You’ve made it past the delete button, and the employer is ready to read your resume. This is another area in which job seekers can easily gain a few extra points by taking the additional time to tailor it to the job. The resume is your best chance for showing a potential editor that you have what it takes to do the job, and it can take you to the next step.
Just like I suggested you create a text version of your sample article, you’ll want to do the same with your resume and cover letter. As a reminder, you can create your resume and cover in a word processing program, but you’ll want to paste it in Notepad or other text editor to remove hidden formatting. Justify everything left, add spaces between lines when needed, and save. These are the versions you’ll paste into an email. Some jobs will ask you to upload your resume—not paste—to its site. In that case, you can use the word processed version.
If you’re ready to write, here are six steps to creating a winning resume:
Many people add a line about references such as References are available on request. While you should have a list of references prepared, you don’t have to make any mention of it on your resume. An employer will ask you for references if he wants them.
Most employers will ask you to send your information within an email (no attachments) or through an online form. Copying and pasting your cover letter and resume from a word-processing document into email or online form can cause issues. MS Word in particular has hidden code that can make formatting and text go wonky. To avoid having your resume show up in a mess, paste your cover letter and resume into a text editor (i.e., Notepad or Text Edit). All the Word formatting will be removed. Justify everything left and add spaces between lines where needed. Copy and paste this new text version into email or online application forms.