Writing, Blogging and Selling to Make Money Online
If you're interested in making money by writing or selling online, the first thing you need to do is find legitimate gigs that actually bring in money. One of the biggest challenges to making money online comes from the need to distinguish legitimate opportunities from scams. Using the Better Business Bureau and search engines to check the reputation of companies offering possible freelancing or other online money-making gigs can save you time and hassle. Basic guideline: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Nonetheless, there are some time-tested, reputable, legal and decent ways to make money online -- even a full-time income. A few of the big players include eBay, Amazon and Craigslist for people who want to sell online, whether you have collectibles, niche items, books, music or something else. Smaller auction sites such as Bonanzle offer an alternative to eBay.
Etsy offers a showcase for handmade goods and Cafe Press or Zazzle will make merchandise with your designs. These venues provide exposure for artists, crafts people, photographers and marketers to sell online.
For writers, online agencies, publishers, websites and private clients can provide ongoing money for article writing on a range of topics. Blogging and creating websites offers the opportunity to control your work and have more choices about income sources -- without giving up most of the profits to others. A major advantage to being an online entrepreneur is that most of these gigs require no start-up funds. You can be self-employed and work from home as an online writer, webmaster or seller for little or no cost.
April 2012 Update: In light of a number of rev share and content companies cutting writers or stopping payments to contributors, be sure to read all agreements carefully and proceed with caution. Look for the Terms of Service (TOS) for each site. Watch for changes in the TOS. In some cases the companies can stop paying rev share and keep your content -- and the agreement you're required to sign up with gives you no recourse.
Post-Panda, there aren't as many content farms slamming out articles that try to outrank better material that's already on the web. The few content farms still trying to game Google are hurting, and the "opportunities" they offer writers tend to be poor.
Copywriting offers a legitimate means for making money writing online. You need strong editing and writing skills to get and keep copywriting assignments online. There are countless writing websites, jobs sites and blogs with ongoing listings of writing opportunities. The trick is, you have to actually apply for these gigs.
Always do an Internet search before supplying any potential client or agency with your information or a sample. I don't respond to ads that don't identify the company. That's just me. There are enough writing opportunities around without sending my information to anonymous people who might not even have legitimate writing gigs. Again, read all agreements and TOS and make sure you understand what rights you're selling and what the payment terms are.
Bear in mind that when you're writing for money online work-for-hire means you give up all rights in the work -- this means you can't post it on your website or offer it to other clients.
Updating your equipment and software improves productivity
Finding and Checking Out Online Writing Opportunities
The "water cooler" discussions on the AbsoluteWrite website offer a great way to find and check out prospective writing gigs of all kinds, and the diverse and well-written NoJobforMom.com gives specific details on write-for-money opportunities, including getting started in blogging. The fabulous Felicia welcomes people of all kinds, even those of us who aren't moms or even female.
Discussion boards on content sites offer a valuable source for networking, learning tips on succeeding at writing for a specific content site and avoiding common writing pitfalls.
It pays to take a few minutes to run the name of any company you're interested in writing for through your search engine to see what other writers and clients say about it. Negative reviews don't mean it's not worth it, but you can look into potential problems. It's common for rejected writers to post attacks about large content providers, so when you read complaints -- consider the source. The Better Business Bureau, established blogs by professional writers and websites where writers maintain identities over time are better sources for writing site reviews than short-term blogs or anonymous posts.
Quick Tips: Save Time Freelancing
- Read all the material the client gives you before you start your first assignments. Knowing the style, voice, word limits and other requirements of the client will save you time and help you produce professional copy with your first submission. Following the rules also reduces rewrites and increases your chances of keeping your access to assignments.
- When you start writing for a new client, it's best to allow more time to finish the first assignments. I like to get feedback on the first articles before I speed up. In some situations, such as creating a great first impression at a new online writing gig, slowing down and mastering the basics saves more time than writing at top speed.
- Proofread each submission. Read the copy word for word, including subtitles, photo captions and reference titles. Spell-checkers and grammar checkers don't catch mistakes such as using it's for its or their for they're.
- Communicate with your editor. Always keep notes to the editor brief and polite. If you don't understand something, ask. This looks better than winging it and submitting a mistake. In my experience, editors will fix minor issues without a rewrite -- this courtesy saves time and money. Creating this mutual respect takes little time and can make your work for a client smooth and pleasant. It's also a powerful habit for all areas of life -- approach other people with respect for their time, consideration for their work and gratitude for their skills and talents. Namaste.
Write Faster: Productivity Software
To manage online ventures and make money at them requires organization. Having a desk and work area dedicated to your business helps. Software for your work can save you time and keep things flowing smoothly.
Everyone is different, so this is an idiosyncratic list of some favorite tools I've discovered during this adventure. I've been a full-time freelance writer for almost two years and before that I sold on eBay and Amazon and had a few offline selling ventures. Except for Dragon, I use the free version of all of these. I have no financial connection with any of these companies.Most of them are available for download at CNET.com or directly from the vendor.
Jarte: A tabbed word processor. This is handy for keeping a list of assignments for each day and working on multiple articles at once. I use a separate tab for each project and keep files of subjects I write about often, organized into subtopics. This speeds up finding references.
WorkRave: A timer that includes eye exercises and stretches. A great way to organize work sessions and help prevent eye strain, repetitive stress injuries -- and computer bod. I set it for the Pomodoro intervals -- 25 minutes work and 5 minutes break. Then I take a longer break every three rounds.
Pomodoro ebook and Focus Booster -- Focus Booster is another good writing timer, but it runs on Adobe Air, so it takes more memory than other timer software I've used. The Pomodoro ebook from the Pomodoro website is worth reading in full. It taught me how to stay focused and avoid distractions and procrastination -- two of the worst time-sucks when you're self-employed.
Firefox with the Lazarus app: Firefox from Mozilla is my favorite browser. Lazarus is an add-on that resurrects text in case of a glitch, or a browser window gets closed or other mishap. It has saved uncounted hours of work and money for me. It also saves forum posts and other text box content.
Opera browser: I use the speed-dial feature in Opera for the research sites I use the most. It also has an info feature on one side that makes it fast to copy and paste website titles and URLs. I research in Opera and write in Firefox, usually with dual monitors.
PolishMyWriting.com and AftertheDeadline app. for Firefox: This text editor spell-checks and catches grammar and style bloopers, even things like whether a term should be one word or two or have a hyphen or not. It catches passive voice, jargon and makes style suggestions. It helps to learn to use it by entering completed copy on the website. It gives you an explanation for underlined words or phrases and offers suggestions. Once you get used to its color-coded lines, you use the app to spell-check, grammar-check and style-check right in the text box. It works in the Hubpages template and other text boxes.
Dragon Naturally Speaking: This is the only software I bought specifically for making money from home. Dragon is voice-recognition dictation software. I bought the Home Edition and it came with a headset. A worthwhile investment. It requires some training -- as you use it, it learns your writing style and vocabulary. Now I get to speak my articles, so I'm not stuck typing everything.
You don't need to use all these tools for faster writing all at once. You could start with a kitchen timer and a word processor and try other productivity software and tools as you go along. Potentially, the more you're writing, the more you're selling.
If you appreciate this hub, please vote it up and pass it on. Good fortune to you with your online income adventure!
January 2013 Update:
I haven't had to work for anyone else in years. I write for money in several topic areas. Despite the hassles, I've managed to diversify. My rev share income from three different platforms continues to grow. After publishing hundreds of articles under my work-for-hire pen name, I'm looking forward to leaving that part of online writing. It may take awhile to increase my income from independent projects enough to free myself from cranking out copy yet I've reached the point where that's the goal.
Based on the complaints I see in all the forums I check, maintaining steady and in some cases growing traffic in the wake of the ongoing Google changes is an accomplishment. Google included my blogs in its affiliate ad program, so I'm experimenting with a new potential income stream. The traffic growth on my blogs is encouraging; I'm taking it as a sign that I'm ready to move forward to my own domains and books.
April 2012 Update: I'm still making money by writing online. Most of my income comes from private clients and writing copy for websites through agencies. It's been more than three years since I started publishing online and I started the online copywriting adventure shortly after that.
It's still possible to make a living writing online, although it's competitive. It's crucial to diversify and develop multiple income streams. I'm working on creating more income sources and moving away from writing for clients.
There may be a future in freelancing non-fiction articles, but as I watch one of the biggest content farms acquire contracts with numerous online publishers -- offering them formulaic "McArticles" at cheap rates -- I expect the opportunities that pay writers a decent rate to diminish. I'd be delighted to be wrong about that. In the meantime, I'm working to replace my online copywriting adventure with sources of income that don't require writing to client specifications.
Branching out into blogging and niche sites has been gratifying. The income growth is slower, yet I'm seeing steady progress. I enjoy having control over layout, ads, images and every other aspect of what I do -- a refreshing change.
I'm beginning to see steady increases in Adsense earnings from other projects.
I'm grateful to everyone who has taken the time to offer tips, point me to resources -- and to the readers who make this worth doing.
I hope you create success for yourself.
Trent Adams, aka HikeGuy, California
Copyright 2011, 2012, 2013 Travis Arts, all rights reserved. Protected by Copyscape.