Welcome to the wonderful world of freelance writing. I’m your host, Sandra Parker. In this installment, we will be taking a look at what you need in order to take advantage of this little known opportunity for making money from home. My hope is that I can point a few of you in the right direction and avoid some of the pitfalls many newbie writers fall into as well as speed up the learning curve just a tad.
I’ve personally been writing for the Web for approximately 18 months. In that 18 months I have been able to supplement my full-time income as a banker with a good secondary income as a freelance writer. It took some patience and a lot of discipline, but I have managed to turn a $50 a month “experiment” into a $1200+ per month second income.
So how’d I do it?
By writing. And I’m not talking about for magazines, newspapers, or even a book. These outlets are legit and many are high paying markets, and yet I found that I needed instant gratification in order to keep me engaged. I found my niche in writing for online venues such as Associated Content, Demand Studios, Helium, Buskia, Examiner, and Textbroker.
Of course, every opportunity has a list of pros and cons. Working as a content writer, I have found that the freedom to work from wherever I am, whenever I want and about whatever strikes me is a major pro. Not many part time jobs give you the flexibility to work in a manner that purely benefits you. I wanted to earn extra money without sacrificing my already squeezed time with my husband and kids and writing has provided me a way of doing just that. Another upside is that, other than my Internet connection, it doesn’t cost me anything but time. A regular part time job would cost me time, money for gas, money for a sitter, and extra in utilities for washing and drying uniforms, etc. I have the flexibility to attend almost any after school activity or school function and watch my favorite TV shows without the worry of being fired.
Of course, the drawback is that you have to be highly motivated and disciplined in order for online content writing to work. It’s easy to say “I’ll write that later” and then later never comes. Sometimes I simply have to force myself to write, even when fifty other things are calling my name. While this doesn’t sound like much of a con, trust me, it can be tough sometimes. Filing taxes as a contractor isn’t great either, but its not a deal breaker for me.
But enough about how great online writing is. If you are reading this article, it’s probably not so much that you need to be convinced that writing for online publications is a good thing, but that you need more intel on what you need to get started and to be successful. So here we go.
The first thing you need to have when you write on the internet as a freelance writer is a copy of a word processing program. The good news is that most computers already have one installed on it. I’m hooked on Microsoft Word, but any word processing program will work. The only stipulation is that you’ll need one that has spellcheck and grammar correction built in. These tools are lifesavers.
Next, get a Paypal account. Most online writing sites will only pay via Paypal and those that do cut checks take forever to get your money to you. Paypal allows you to receive your money quickly and gives you an easy way to track who’s paid and who hasn’t. A basic Paypal account is free and you can disperse funds directly into the bank account of your choice. A premier account doesn’t cost anything to join, but may cost you a little per deposit. The good news is that the premier account allows you to get a debit card that pays you cash back, so your fees for deposits will usually break even.
Start with a couple of sites like Helium and Associated Content. They offer modest upfront payments for articles you write, but allow you to cash I month after month with their revenue share program. Both sites are free to join and aren’t too tough in the editorial department. Helium reserves payment to once per month, but Associated Content pays you any upfront payments within a few days of article submission and revenue shares once per month.
Once you have mastered these sites, spread you wings and try out a few others. There are many more than I have listed in this article and you can find them by either searching the web or by joining a writing forum like accentuatewritersforum.com. The forum will not only point you in the right direction for legitimate paying sites, but have tons of free advice and tips as well. I fully recommend that you join at least one forum at the start of your writing career.
Pimp your stuff. I know that you’ve been told time and time again that its not a good idea to toot your own horn. Well, I’m here to tell you that in freelance writing, it is essential to your success. Join Facebook, Twitter, Digg, MySpace and any other social media outlet you can think of and spread the word about your work. Creating a buzz is what its all about. People can’t reac your stuff if they don’t know its out there, and who better to tell them about it than you? Social media sites are great for this sort of thing because not only do you get to tell your friends, but then they tell their friends and so on, creating a readership far beyond anything you could have done yourself.
Lastly, learn how to write in SEO. No, this is not some new strange alien language. It’s simply a style of writing that you can employ in your articles that help capture the attention of surfers on the web. Successful use of SEO techniques will help you build you passive income stream.
Anyone can be successful with online writing. Dedication, perseverance, and a little know-how goes a long way in this business. Who knows, you may even find out you have a knack for writing and go on to become the next Stephen King or James Patterson.