When you first decide your goal is to get paid for your writing, the decision can be intimidating to say the least.
If you’re new to freelance writing or freelance blogging, then that’s where I step in. That’s why I created the ultimate writer’s guide. Let me walk you through the situations that occur when you’re trying to make a side income or a livable income from your writing.
First, I’ll spoil the ending. There will be times when you are going to write for free. Heck, I’m technically writing this blog post for free right now. You have to look at the pros and cons of every situation.
I’m writing for free; however, I’m working on building my blog, my brand and my business. I’m helping others and in return I am gaining loyal readers, and ultimately loyal customers for the future.
On the other hand, there will also be people who try to get as much free (or poorly paid for) content and writing from us hard workers trying to make a living. It can be confusing to know when it’s okay and when it’s absolutely not okay to write for free.
That’s why I created this post, so I hope it helps you greatly navigate the writing world and make money from your writing along the way.
1. The Ultimate Writer’s Guide: Guest Posts
Guest posting is GREAT and you should absolutely take advantage of this if you need to gain exposure to your website, blog or services.
Monica from Redefining Mom helps fellow moms build a thriving online business from their homes. She offers an opportunity to guest post for her site. Once you click the “Guest Post” tab you’ll see the advantages, topics, and requirements for your guest post being published on her website.
Another example is Mary from Persuasion Nation who helps fellow business owners and bloggers market their products and sell to their ideal audience. Her site has a guest post opportunity as well. Her “Write For Us” tab leads you to perks, guidelines and the application form to fill out in order to guest post on the site.
Both of these business women offer a backlink as part of the advantages or perks for you as a writer. A backlink is an incoming hyperlink from one website to another.
For example, when you guest post on another person’s blog or website, you’ll most likely be able to have a bio with a hyperlink of your own blog or website. Sometimes the person will allow you to post one or two hyperlinks from your website in the body of the guest post as well.
Having a backlink on a larger site that goes to your blog is great for SEO ranking in order to gain more traffic to your blog. The more backlinks in existence, the more likely your website or blog will show up on search engines and become more popular.
You will be guest posting/writing for free; however, the exposure to your website, products or services will be great if you choose the right websites to guest post for.
2. The Ultimate Writer’s Guide: Content Mill Sites
In the Winter of 2015 I decided to quit my full-time job serving people with intellectual and physical disabilities to try freelance writing full-time. After graduating with a degree in English and mass communications, I had experience writing for newspapers and magazines under my belt.
I thought: this will be hard, but I really think this is doable.
I googled “freelance writing jobs” and a list of websites came up in which I could build my profile and then apply to various writing jobs. I believe I signed up for Guru.com first, and at the time I had no idea what content mills were.
I literally spent 7-8 hours a day on a couple content mill sites, searching for jobs that were even a little related to what I wanted to write about or had experience writing about. I searched for editing jobs, writing jobs, and copy editing jobs. I applied to hundreds of them.
I received a few very sad responses. I don’t know if it’s just me, but content mills were a huge waste of time and left me feeling defeated at a time when I needed to feel inspired and be moving forward.
Know Your Worth:
Furthermore, I also found a common denominator among all of the sites. These content mills were comprised of hundreds of people who wanted high quality work, but were unwilling to pay adequate money for it.
An example was an individual who posted a job comprised of writing lengthy blog posts with SEO optimization and research. So, the individual wanted about 1,500 words plus heavy research. Guess how much the individual was willing to pay…$15.
That’s one cent a word. Are you frickin kidding me!? If I were to accept that job offer and create a quality piece of writing meeting the individual’s needs, then I’d easily sink in 4-5 hours on the project. I’m sure you can do the math to realize $15 is so not worth it.
Moral of the story when working with content mills over and over again: Know your worth!
If you are interested in trying out your luck with content mills, then this helpful article from Make A Living Writing offers some sage advice and perhaps some options: “Inside 4 new Content Mills: What Freelancers Need to Know.“
However, I think your best bet as a new freelance writer or blogger is to build your writing profile on a website or blog, and browse sites like the ones mentioned in freelance writer and blogger Elna Cain’s post “53 places to land Freelance Writing Gigs Online.” I’d much rather cold-pitch any day than pursue content mill sites at this point in my career.
3. The Ultimate Writer’s Guide: Blogging on your Personal Website
Starting my own blog has been a great way to push myself to learn new things, write on a regular basis, and help fellow women with their writing. I wouldn’t take back the hours upon hours of working “for free.” Nor, would I take back the money I’ve spent building this blog and business of mine.
If you are an aspiring writer and have a small budget to work with, I completely suggest starting a blog today. You can start a blog to showcase your writing examples or to pursue making money from blogging. Either way, your personal website will be something you own and have complete control over.
It’s as simple as heading over to WordPress and opening an account today to create a beautiful website and blog.
4. The Ultimate Writer’s Guide: Paid-Per-Page-View Opportunities
For those of you who aren’t familiar with differing forms of compensation when it comes to freelance writing, then this option may be new to you.
“Paid per page view” opportunities are common among websites who aren’t yet financially able to pay their writers a set rate for writing. Since the website still wants to pay their writers (love these websites by the way), a system is set up based upon page views.
For example, the website can track the performance of a writing piece for 30 days once it’s published using Google Analytics. The writer may be payed based on how many unique page views the piece received. Below is a screenshot of a website that uses the “paid per page view” model.
As you can see in the example, if a writing piece receives 250 or less unique page views, then the writer receives $0. The more unique page views, then the more likely the writer will be paid more. One doesn’t really get compensated very much until reaching 3K or more page views.
The pro with this payment method: You’re likely to get paid at least the minimum amount and/gain some exposure with a bio and backlink.
The con with this payment method: It’s not a sustainable way to make a freelance writing income. Whether you get paid well for your piece is largely dependent on the website’s promotion of the piece, the website’s social media methods, and even the advertisements running on the page.
Also, if you work really hard on the piece and it flops, then you most likely won’t be able to re-publish it on a different site or your own personal site if the website legally owns the piece.
A few tips to keep in mind for paid-per-page-view opportunities:
- The authenticity of the website
- How much traffic the website receives
- The specific audience of the website
- The social media presence of the website
*Tip: If you’re unsure about the website, then you can reach out to the editor or owner to ask questions before submitting a piece of writing. They’re usually more than willing to answer your questions or tell you more information about the website.
5. The Ultimate Writer’s Guide: Unpaid Contributor Network
There’s been a publishing opportunity for freelance writers floating around for some time now: the unpaid contributor network. Examples of this type of publication include: Washington Post’s “Talent Network”, Entertainment Weekly’s “The Community”, The Odyssey, and the most recently terminated Huffpost contributor blogger program.
Ever since I started freelance writing and joining more Facebook groups of fellow bloggers and writers, there was always the question of whether or not publishing content on Huffpost was worth it.
I know my strong opinion: hell to the no.
However, most beginning writers loved contributing to Huffpost and recognized seeing their words on a large publication website as “great exposure and a great opportunity.”
There’s obvious reasons as to why the unpaid contributor networks are fading away, including little editing before the pieces are published, not publishing the best content, risk of obscene or false pieces being published, etc.
Nonetheless, the number one thing that bothers me most about unpaid contributor networks is the UNPAID aspect. Why should a huge publication get your blood-sweat-and-tears words for free and make a profit off of them if the piece is popular?
Answer: They shouldn’t!
Yes, your words are important and your story is important. However, knowing your worth is important, too. If you know you’re a damn good writer, then I’d think twice before giving away your words for free. Especially to a contributor network.
6. The Ultimate Writer’s Guide: Something You Write on Social Media is Requested to be Shared by a Bigger Site
I’ve mostly seen this situation occur on good ol’ Facebook. Ugh. Sometimes I love the site, most of the time I’m pulling my hair out scrolling my newsfeed (but that’s another story).
In one of the lovely Facebook writers groups I’m a member of, I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing a few of the fellow mom writers pages explode with traffic and followers. These womens’ words are amazing and are really reaching their intended audiences.
So, what happens sometimes when a video or microblog or meme on Facebook goes viral? A person or bigger site steals it or asks permission to share it on their page. I’ve heard about both situations occurring, and I don’t know which ones worse.
This goes back to the issue with publishing on unpaid contributor networks. Big sites think they can have writer’s words for free in exchange for “exposure.”
The problem with allowing permission to share your words on a big site’s Facebook page is you’re only getting a tag of your Facebook page in return. Thousands or potentially millions of people may see your words, but the only page they’ll focus on is the big site’s page. Not many will even click through to your smaller site.
There is no doubt, this bigger site has paid contributors, paid editors and paid social media as a part of their staff. Why shouldn’t you get paid for your writing?
One writer wrote an amazing microblog on her Facebook page that ultimately went viral. A bigger site came along and asked to share the microblog on their page.
Know. Your. Worth.
It’s okay to say no. It’s okay to say no, unless…
This strong, glorious writer respectfully told the site no, unless they would like to pay her.
Guess what!? They fricken paid her!
Moral of this point: Don’t limit the worth of your words, of you story, of yourself.
Well, I hope this ultimate writer’s guide helped you immensely. Whether you’re a freelance writer, blogger or aspiring writer/blogger, I believe navigating this world of getting paid for your writing can be extremely difficult at times.
If this post helped you at all, then I’d love to hear from you in the comments! Please share this post if it resonated with you.
Jessica Kromer – Purposeful Writer