If you’re keen to start an online business, and you have a way with words, consider starting a business creating content for other people’s web sites. You don’t have to be an award-winning writer to find clients, and it’s a particularly simple type of business to establish.
So what do you have to be able to do? And how do you find clients?
Skills and Opportunities
You do need to have good writing skills if your business is to succeed. While plenty of half illiterate non-English speakers seem to get jobs “writing” online content, this is not the caliber of writing we are talking about. To start and run a successful business as a writer, you need to be able to produce good quality work and maintain the quality consistently. Commitment, creativity, accuracy, and ability are all key.
Unless people head-hunt you (which does happen to some writers), you’re going to need to look for job opportunities.
While fulltime writing jobs – both traditional and online – are commonly advertised, freelance jobs generally aren’t. So in the simplest terms, you need to target clients and pitch to them.
But first you need to know, generically, who your potential clients are.
Identifying Potential Clients
First of all, your potential clients are the people or businesses that have a need for the kind of writing you specialize in. Maybe you don’t specialize, and consider yourself a well-rounded writer who can tackle anything. This may be true, but for those who don’t know you, “I do it all” will likely give the impression that you are a jack of all trades. This of course means you can do most things, but don’t excel in anything!
So identify what you do BEST. What interests you? What can you write about with ease? Usually if you can happily discuss an issue or topic without having to research it first, you’ll be able to write about it comfortably. Once a client has confidence in your writing, you can share your other interests and writing skills, and widen your interest-base once you are on board.
Next step is to decide what type of clients you want. Broadly speaking, there are at least five different types of client that have a need for online writing:
- web sites that hire and pay writers to provide articles (often they will pay for some and not others so be sure to check out their terms)
- web sites that allow writers to post articles, but don’t pay for them – ever
- web sites that need,
a) initial web content written and/or edited and rewritten
b) blog posts written on an ongoing basis
c) articles that are added to web sites to keep them fresh, interesting and up-to-date (usually to keep readers revisiting the site and improve their stakes with Google and other browsers)
- marketing or SEO specialists who service clients who need articles and other content written according to their specifications, commonly to help promote these sites in some specific way
- online businesses that offer a variety of ebooks free or for sale and require ghost writers to produce and/or write the books
The content possibilities of all of these, is as vast as all the world’s oceans put together.
While you might stumble across some possibilities by simply surfing the Internet, it helps to know what you are looking for – and what you can expect to find.
Web Sites that Pay Writers for Articles
In the good old days, mid-2000s, web sites like eHow and Associated Content offered easy pickings for writers. But there were two fatal flaws.
- Too many so-called writers submitted badly written rubbish.
- These sites thought there would be market for selling the articles (well at least some of them did) – and this simply didn’t happen, probably because so much is available free.
While some sites do still pay for articles, the rules have changed quite radically, and you will need to familiarize yourself with the requirements of each site before you get started.
Associated Content, for instance (which was launched in 2005), was sold to Yahoo in 2010. But 19 months down the line, in December 2011, the Internet mogul announced a major reshuffle, total rebranding, and a bright new face: Yahoo! Voices. Criticism that the web site was offering “bad writing, uninformed commentary” and worse, had hit home to the powers at Yahoo. Now only content that meets the revised – and one hopes hugely upgraded – Submission Guidelines will be accepted and paid for according to their advertised terms. To become part of the Yahoo Contributor Network, you must be a citizen or legal resident of the United States, and you aren’t guaranteed any payment at all!
Early in 2010 eHow stopped accepting articles from professional writers (for which they had, in the past paid). To get work accepted on eHow, writers must now submit articles via Demand Studios, which is, in essence a content mill. Demand Studios submits writers articles to eHow and to several other top web sites including LIVESTRONG.COM, typeF, USA Today, salon,com and the Houston Chronicle. The company currently pays on average between $15 and $25 for articles, depending on length and the topic. One article might get used several times (after attracting a single fee). It is not known what financial arrangement Demand Studios has with their web site clients, and how much they recoup.
Then there are smaller operations and individual websites like the SitePress Design Festival site that is prepared to pay what they describe as “competitive rates”.
Another example is The Writer magazine, which, while a well-established printed publication, also publishes articles online. They generally buy first rights, and if your articles are accepted, you can expect to be paid anything from $25 to $50 per article, depending on length and content.
Article Web Sites that Don’t Pay for Submissions
Why on earth would you want to write for a web site that doesn’t pay you?
Three common reasons are that:
- Other people will pay you to write these articles for them – because they can be easily exploited as a means to promoting products, services and people.
- You can use these sites as a vehicle to get people to link to your own web site.
- Some (Hub Pages for example) will share ad revenue, and so while you don’t get paid for the words, you can expect some sort of passive income for your efforts.
Three of the best on-line article sites are Ezine, Hub Pages and Isnare. However they all operate differently. Isnare, for instance offers free registration and free article submission; but for a fee they will distribute your articles to other web sites, giving them wider exposure. Ezine offers perks to writers who pay a subscription fee.
Outsourcing Sites that Bring Clients to their Site to Find Writers
There are numerous outsourcing sites on the Internet including Elance, Guru, oDesk, PeoplePerHour, and freelancer.com. The way they work is that you register and then bid for jobs. While registration is free, most offer paid-for options that increase your potential and professional in various ways.
In short, when you are awarded a job, you communicate directly with the person who hired you, but get paid via the outsourcing web site, that takes a commission.
This is an excellent way to find writing jobs, and since most offer the security of Escrow payments, you will assured that you will be paid, even if your employers are faceless, and a million miles away.
While it’s difficult to assess exactly how much you will earn through this field, the potential is enormous. For instance, top Elance writers have earned more than $200,000 in just 12 months – though these people usually have a team of writers assisting. One of Guru’s top ghost writers has earned more than $58,000 in a year – on his own. And this is not necessarily the only writing he does for a living.
Don’t bother with sites like online-writing-jobs.com that offer a compilation of possibilities because they’re likely not up to date, and it’s irritating having to pop in and out of a third-party site. Also this particular site lists mainly to craigslist.com which is essentially a classified advertising site.
Be Your Own Client
If you don’t like the idea of writing for clients, but still want to write online articles, you can always create your own web site (or buy an existing one) and generate online content that will:
- enable you to earn money through advertising (Google Adsense and/or paid adverts related to your content),
- promote products for other people for an agreed commission or kick-back (affiliate marketing),
- sell your own products online,
- promote your own writing talents.
It’s your choice.If you found this helpful, please share it below. Thank you!