How to Write for Yahoo! Voices
Get Paid to Write and Build Clips
A Good Site for Beginners
When I started Web writing professionally, the only clips I had were print clips and press releases. I needed article clips that had been published online and that showed my skill at writing engaging Web copy.
This was a few years ago, and at that time, Yahoo! Voices, then called Associated Content, paid a decent upfront price for articles. It wasn't unusual for me to get $10-15 per article, and each article was written about whatever the heck I wanted. There were several people who wrote for the site full time and actually made a living doing so.
Since that time, the payment structure for the site has changed dramatically. But, even if the pay isn't quite what it once was, Yahoo! Voices is still a nice, no-pressure site for freelance writers to get a few Web clips to show to prospective clients. Here's how to make the most out of the experience in order to get more clients and make more money.
Yahoo! Voices Requirements
There aren't many requirements compared to many other online publishing sites. The main rules are:
- a minimum of 400 words per article
- no plagiarism
- credit any photos you use
As you can see, this gives YV writers a huge bit of latitude. The writer is in complete creative control over the work as long as these basic rules are observed.
Each article is read by an editor that must approve it before it appears on the site. It is run through a plagiarism tool to make sure that no parts of it have been stolen. If any part of it is found to be plagiarized, the writer is immediately suspended from the site and can no longer submit articles.
How to Avoid the Mistakes I Made
The only thing I had to recommend myself to online clients was a few print press releases and a couple of links to years-old print news articles. I wanted fast clips so that I could put my skills to use in Web content. That, unfortunately, led to a few problems.
I had no problems coming up with ideas for articles. What I did have problems with was the format. Used to print writing, I was also used to having someone look over my copy before it was sent to press. A copyeditor is something that's easy to take for granted, but you won't get one on Yahoo! Voices.
I mentioned that an editor reads the article, but the editor doesn't actually edit your work. He only checks it for adherence to the rules. That's where YV gets its bad reputation for crappy writing. And a lot of it is bad. Really, really bad. Does that have to affect you? No. If you're building clips, you are not on trial to establish the overall quality of the site. You are only there to do the best you can with your topic and to demonstrate your own writing skills.
Unfortunately, without a copyeditor and being new to Web writing, it didn't occur to me at the time to write each piece in Word and then to copy and paste it into the article space. Instead, I wrote articles directly into the YV publishing area, eyeballed it to make sure it looked Ok and then sent it through. The results, for several articles, were disastrous. Misspellings, spacing errors- you name it.
You can avoid this problem by using Word every time you write something for YV. You may have to change the formatting a little once you have copied and pasted the article, but at least you'll know that nothing is misspelled and that all of your sentences actually end instead of trailing off because you meant to add something but forgot. Ahem, not that I did that or anything.
If you want to write for the site for the money rather than for the freelance writing clips, be sure to capitalize on keywords. Use a good keyword tool to find the best words to use in your articles. Yahoo! Voices is actually very well ranked in the search engines and if you use a few good keywords you may do very well with your traffic.
The site pays a residual amount based on the number of people who read your articles, so every reader counts. I have a keyword-conscious article there that has had more than 135,000 views and another with more than 80,000. In contrast, my non-keyworded articles generally have a few hundred views each.
A Useful Keyword Tool
This is a keyword tool that I often use. It's fast, free and gives you quite a few keywords to choose from.
How to Get Paid by Yahoo! Voices
There are three ways to get paid by YV:
Upfront payment: This is an initial payment of a few dollars for an article to appear on the site. If you haven't written for the site for awhile, this is not as high as it used to be. I hear from some freelance writers who still use the site that the typical payment is about $4. The last couple of items I wrote for them got me about $6, but that's not the last payment I will get for these articles because of the residual payments. Not all articles will get you an up-front payment. If you want to be guaranteed an up-front payment, go to the Assignment Desk and choose a job that offers one.
Residual payments: These are the continual traffic payments that are paid directly to the writer for the amount of traffic the articles have gotten during the month. This starts at $1.50 per thousand views and then goes up to $2 per thousand views as you get more traffic. Even if I never write for them again, and I haven't in a long time, I will still receive a payment from them every month as long as I log in at least every three months. If you stop logging in, it will cancel your payments. To make it easier to remember, log into the site every time they send you your monthly payment.
Distribution payments: A distribution payment is a payment for every time the site allows another website to reprint one of your articles. Occasionally a site will come along and ask YV for permission to reprint an article that I've already sold to the site. The site then pays Yahoo some possibly ungodly amount to reprint it. YV then pays me a measly few bucks. It sounds weird, but I'm not complaining about it. The last time I got a reprint payment it was for an article I wrote over a year earlier and had already sold with full rights to YV. Therefore, they weren't legally obligated to send me anything at all for granting reprint rights. It also gave me a nice new clip, complete with byline, on a site that is more prestigious than YV.
What to Write About
You can write about any darn thing you want. You don't even have to write articles- Yahoo! Voices also accepts poetry, short stories and essays. I used to write articles occasionally about random stuff that bothered me before I discovered HubPages and started creating hubs.
If you want freelance writing clips, stick to your niche topics or write about a broad range of subjects to show your versatility. If you just want to get paid to write for the site, choose popular topics that have the best chance of interesting readers. Controversial topics always attract fast traffic, as do current events. For longer-lasting traffic, choose topics related to pets, parenting and medical conditions. Those have been my highest-traffic topics by far.