Write It Sideways

3 Ways to Sell Yourself as an Online Writer

Today’s post is written by Cathy R of The Beginner’s Guide To Financial Literacy. Thanks, Cathy!

In this Internet-driven society, everyone is hoping to make some easy money working online.

With the ever-growing popularity of blogs and online magazines, more people are writing than ever before. The interesting thing is that many of them actually are making money writing online.

Padding the bank account while working from your sofa is certainly an appealing prospect, but if you want to earn money writing online, there are three key things to remember:

1. Write, and Write Well.

Many of the content farms out there are producing a crop of poorly-written, shallow, grammatically incorrect 500-word articles. Having a good grasp of the English language and an ability to write well are not prerequisites for becoming an online writer.

Many writers for these content farms are paid in the vicinity of $0.01 per word—or about $5 per article. If you’re a writer, you know that most good articles of that length take between 30-60 minutes to write, depending on the amount of research required. A wage of $5 per hour seems pretty paltry, doesn’t it?

There are, however, many reputable business/website owners willing to pay good money for good content. An experienced content writer/re-writer can charge anywhere from $0.05 to $0.20 per word. The secret to making $25-$100 per article or landing page is very simple: write well. Your written work will speak for itself.

If you are not yet established as an online writer, and as such relegated to the realm of lower fees, the old adage is true: practice makes perfect.

You can grow as a writer by blogging, taking on lower paying writing contracts for a time, offering your writing services pro-bono as a guest poster on reputable websites and blogs, and by seeking constructive criticism of your work.

2. Build a Reputation

Never underestimate the power of word-of-mouth.

There are few things that influence others as effectively as a good testimonial. If someone were to convince you to switch from your favourite brand of laundry detergent—the one you’ve used for twenty years—they would need to sell you on how well the new detergent works for them. How do you find a good hair stylist or physician? You ask for recommendations.

Whenever you offer your services to anyone, request a brief (one or two sentences) written reference. Use your best three or four testimonials as advertising. Post them on your website, paste them in your resume, attach them to your writing samples.

Speaking of websites, you do have a website, right?

Even a free Blogger or WordPress template, redesigned to highlight your skills as an online writer is better than nothing. While you can certainly find work on freelancing and copywriting job boards, the businesses that are seeking quality written work will often do their own searching.

Of course, being active on job boards for online writers can only help your reputation. It is worth the time to register, set up a profile, and search for contracts. If you don’t have a presence, those seeking writers simply won’t find you.

When you do find work on these types of job sites, be sure to ask that the person hiring you provides a rating for your work. On most sites, both freelance writers and employers are given star ratings (not unlike books, travel accommodations, and so on).

3. Don’t Compromise

Finding online writing work is not difficult, but finding legitimate work can take time. If your goal is to be a writer, as opposed to just banging on keys to make money, you’;l want to avoid illegitimate sources of online writing income.

What makes it illegitimate? Spammers.

We’ve all received a hoax email, a blog comment that isn’t at all related to the post, or a link on our Facebook wall that is clearly not from that friend. It’s spam, and not only is it annoying, it is becoming illegal in more and more countries. You don’t want your IP address traced back as someone who sends out spam messages all over the Internet, do you?

Spending a few hours filling in text for captchas seems like some quick and easy money. But helping those who send bots around the web, creeping and crawling into legitimate websites, is no way to make a name for yourself.

In the long run, no matter what they pay, helping out those spammers will cost you. (When a nasty virus makes its way onto your computer, you can bet that it got there because someone who fancied him or herself a writer spent their time making the lives of hackers and spammers easier.)

Want to sell yourself as an online writer?

Write well: your writing will speak for itself.

Build a reputation: your previous customers are a great testimonial.

Don’t compromise: helping spammers ruins your credibility and integrity, and in the long run it hurts all the good content writers everywhere.

Here are just 10 places to find online writing jobs:

  1. Elance
  2. Freelance Careers
  3. Freelancer
  4. Freelance Writing
  5. Guru
  6. iFreelance
  7. ozLance
  8. Problogger
  9. ScriptLance
  10. WebLens

This list is in no way comprehensive, nor does the author/owner promote any one of these sites over others. This is simply a sampling to get you started.

Have you managed to make money writing for the web? What advice do you have to share with others interested in doing the same? What are some common mistakes beginners should watch out for?

Cathy is part of the team that manages and maintains Australian Credit Cards, a personal finance blog about The Beginner’s Guide To Financial Literacy. You can follow ACC on Twitter to keep up with its latest development. Before she joined ACC, she was a staff nurse at Clark Airbase Hospital and conducted lectures on First Aid, Bio-terrorism and Disaster Management.