Write Articles for Money: The Secrets to Success

shutterstock_105123122As I sit in my pajamas at my kitchen table writing this article, I have to wonder why I didn’t start doing this sooner. I mean, writing – at my leisure – for a solid paycheck sure is the envy of my family and friends. So how do you land a gig like this? It’s easier than you think you just need to know where to look… and where not to look. The internet is full of legitimate websites offering legitimate jobs but you’ve got to watch out for the scams. You’re thinking yeah, I know because you’ve already run into several too-good-to-be-true article writing positions. Let’s go through the best places to find real jobs and how you can start building a career working from home. Check out the course How to Become a Freelancer.

I will bold terms that may be unfamiliar to you. Scroll to the bottom of the article to read the definitions.

Your Portfolio

My boyfriend laughs because I use the word “portfolio” approximately 21 times a day. “Oh, this will be the perfect piece to add to more portfolio,” “I can’t wait to update my portfolio,” “My portfolio is really coming together,” and so on. I may geek out over expanding my sample writing collection but it’s not without good reason. The portfolio, in my experience, is your ticket to winning jobs. The more experience you have (like any career) the more likely the client will choose you to write for them. A portfolio is simply a collection of all the work you feel is worthy of being on display. This can be a course description, a blog article, a brochure you created, copy for a website, a product description, a research paper, an e-book, creative writing…you get the idea. Learn how to become a copywriter and work from home in this course.

So what if you don’t have any writing samples? I’d say it’s time to get to it. Research anything of interest to you and write a short article about it. When you peruse the internet there are hundreds of thousands of articles posted each and every day. The topics range from current affairs to how to talk to a blade of grass – so anything you can think up is fair game. Let’s say you choose to write about “how to make a candle”. Use your preferred search engine and type in the keyword to see the results. You can use other articles about your topic to guide you as you put together your own unique piece of work. Unless of course, you’re a candle making pro, in which case you don’t need to research – just write from experience (this is recommended).

Note: you do not need a portfolio to begin writing articles for money. However, having a portfolio will increase your chances. Learn how to break into freelance writing with no experience in this course.

How to Compose a Piece

Alright, Mozart. How do you put together your first writing sample? This is pretty easy.

1. Create an engaging and simple title. List headlines are popular these days (5 Best Non-Profits to Donate to in 2014) and so are threat headlines (The Shocking Truth About Freelancing), how-to headlines (How to Write Articles for Money) and piggyback headlines (The World Health Organizations Guide to Eradicating Polio).

2. Introduce your article with a good lead in sentence. You want to draw the audience in and validate why they are spending 2-minutes of their life to read it.

3. Compose the bulk of your article. Your writing style is totally up to you. Some prefer a very dogmatic approach to writing, following all rules and regulations and not showing personality. That’s fine. Don’t be afraid, however, to spruce up the text a bit with your wit and charm to make it more interesting for the reader. As always, check for spelling and grammatical errors.

4. Conclude your article with a wrap-up paragraph.

5. Throughout the article it’s good to periodically state the keyword. Don’t force it so the reader knows this is what you’re doing. Add it as naturally as possible. This is good because it helps search engines optimize their search to include your article, this is called SEO. Learn everything you ever wanted to know about SEO in under an hour in this course.

Okay, so with your sample article in hand – what’s next? Learn how to market yourself as a freelancer in this article.

The Search

As mentioned before, it’s important to seek out legitimate writing opportunities and steer clear of scammers. This isn’t always the easiest thing to do as so many illegitimate “companies” try to find writers that will pay into a program in order to make money. The saying goes you have to spend money to make money – but this isn’t true for freelance writing. There are a number of third-party sites that connect freelance writers to clients who need writers. These are good sources to use when trying to find a paying writing gig. You can also go directly to the client and submit an inquiry about writing for them.

Let’s visit some of these options, starting with third-party freelancing sites.

  • Elance/oDesk

I may be a bit biased, but Elance.com is hands down one of the best freelancer connection sites on the web. The amount of work posted every day is incredible and you can find gigs in writing, translating, technical support, web design, administrative support and more. It’s free to join, all you have to do is fill out your profile and start searching for jobs. You can choose to pay monthly for more features like, seeing competitors bids on jobs your applying to, increasing “connects” (you use these to apply for jobs), and adding additional job categories (what you specialize in). However, this isn’t necessary and you can land jobs without paying. Elance pays freelancers through an Escrow account which makes all work secure and ensures payment for the work you do. They have extensive support documents walking you every step of the way to getting your first job. Creating your profile takes a little time but don’t get deterred – the time you spend making a top-notch profile will pay off. Trust me. I spent three weeks applying to jobs every day before I was accepted for one. Be patient, stay committed and you’ll be writing articles for money in no time. Elance bought oDesk and will be incorporating the oDesk freelancer and client base into Elance’s platform in coming months.

  • CrowdSource

CrowdSource.com is a little different from Elance in that you have to apply to become part of the team. The application process is rather simple, it only requires you to take a remedial English proficiency test and to provide two short (200-300 words) writing samples based off of a prompt they give you. If you’re accepted, you can begin writing short articles for money right away. They pay weekly and there are bonus opportunities for the more work you do. CrowdSource connects qualified freelance writers to clients looking for unique articles.

  • Scripted

Similar to CrowdSource, Scripted.com requires an application process. Again, this is not a complex application and you don’t need much experience beyond standard English knowledge and the ability to write coherently. They pay weekly and connect writers to clients.

  • Freelancer

Freelancer.com is more like Elance. It is a free service, with no application process, that allows you to create a profile, upload writing samples and search for jobs. Tons of freelancers use this platform to advance their careers as freelance writers. You can too!

  • Guru

Yet another freelance website that connects clients seeking writers to the writers themselves. There is no fee to register for Guru.com, all you have to do is create a profile and begin searching for jobs.

There are more freelancing websites that act as third parties, but these – in my opinion – are the most well-known and reputable services. You can also find jobs directly from a variety of sources including the following:

  • Magazines

If you’re a big magazine person you know that there are a zillion articles written to make up the content of each issue. Some of these writers are staffed contributors who are hired by the magazine to produce content on a regular basis. Some of these writers are temporary contributors who provide freelance services. To get an article submitted to your favorite magazine you can either, 1) look in the front or back of the magazine itself for writer submission guidelines and then apply appropriately or, 2) visit the website and search for “contributor” or “writers” or “submissions” and find the same information. Remember, if you are submitting an article you must follow the guidelines supplied by the company exactly. They’ve listed the requirements because that’s what their looking for. They may not even look at your well-crafted article if it doesn’t qualify.

  • Blogs

Blogs, blogs, blogs. There are so many blogs taking up space on the Internet these days – so your options are relatively endless. If you follow a blog, or know of a blog because your friends post articles from it on Facebook – that’s where you start. You can also search a topic you are especially good at and see if there are blogs pertaining to it on the internet. For example, “travel blogs” would be a keyword to search. Go to the blog website and look for the same terms we talked about above with magazines, “writers”, “contributors” etc. Blog writers aren’t always paid positions, but they can lead into one that is. Having a byline somewhere is going to increase your chances of getting paid gigs in the future.

  • Write Reviews

In addition to blog and magazine writing, some companies will pay people to write reviews of their products. While this is a more challenging job to land – they do exist. When you are looking to purchase a product online you probably spend some time reading reviews from leading sources, right? These reviews have to be written by someone, and not every review site wants to spend time writing these articles themselves. They will outsource the job to freelancers – like you and me. You can also review website functionality and even video games.

  • Create a Your Own Blog

If you’re passionate about something (being a mom, gardening, computer programming, etc.) why not start your own blog? You may be wondering how you’ll make money doing something like that, and that’s a fair question. There are several answers, also, check out this course on How to Get Your Blog Pay Your Bills. (I took this course and loved it!)

  1. Sell advertising space on your blog to companies who align with your topic
  2. Use affiliates to get commissions on products purchased by clicking on a link on your blog
  3. Write articles and re-package them for sale to companies needing unique articles on your topic
  4. Having a blog is a great portfolio and will up your chances of landing jobs elsewhere

And that’s a wrap. Happy hunting! Take the How to Become a Freelancer course for some more tips on redefining “work”.

TERMS

Client – the company or individual who hires you as a freelancer writer

Copy – written marketing material composed to help sell or persuade someone to patronize a business or organization (like on the landing page of a website).

Keyword – a catch phrase or word representing a topic (“how to write articles for money”)

List headlines – numbered lists featuring information about the keyword (“5 Best Ways to Make Money Online”)

Piggyback headlines – headlines that latch on to a popular group or organization in order to claim authority for the topic being discussed (“The Kurt Cobain Guide to Rock and Roll”)

Threat headlines – headlines that relate to the worries and fears of the audience (“The West Nile Epidemic Uncovered”)

SEO – Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website, or content within a website, via search engines.

Blog – an online platform used to write articles about everything from A-Z

Byline – authorship of an article or piece displayed in print below the title of the article