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Seven Ways to Make Money Writing Online

Updated on October 3, 2014
Source: Morguefile
Source: Morguefile

The digital age has opened new doors for writers. But the truth is, the global market has its pluses and minuses. While the Internet allows you to work for clients across the globe, you also are competing with writers across the globe. That can be a bad thing.

For example, you sign up for a auction site and end up bidding against writers in countries who can live on far less than you can. When the money is tight, employers may choose to hire someone from a foreign country, or someone with little or no experience, and pay less. Because clients are choosing writers among a sea of unknowns, price may be the tipping point in favor of the writer hired. There may be little incentive to pay you what you are worth in your own hometown.

Still, there are times when writing online is a viable option. A beginner has many opportunities to snag work that will enable him or her to hone the craft. Students, stay-at-home moms and dads, retirees looking for part-time work, and moonlighters all can find ways to make money writing online.

In this Hubpage, I’m going to share with you seven ways to make money online. We’ll look at who is a good candidate for these venues, and discuss earning potential.

Dell Inspiron i3531-1200BK 16-Inch Laptop Intel Celeron Processor, Black
Dell Inspiron i3531-1200BK 16-Inch Laptop Intel Celeron Processor, Black

To be a digital writer, you'll need a computer. This one can get you rolling.

 

First, the prerequisites

If you want to make money writing online, you really should own a computer. Or at least have access to one several hours a day. Word processing software also is helpful, especially if you plan to work with editors or write ebooks. The office or commercial version of Microsoft Word is a good choice, for function and compatibility.

You also should know the writing opportunities I describe here are not technically employment. As a freelancer, you are expected to be your own boss. So these venues have created online marketplaces or forums for your work, but they are not employing. That means you must fulfill the legal requirements of a business, including a business license, paying any applicable taxes, and … making sure you are complying with the zoning laws. Just because you own your own home doesn't mean you can run a business there. Your city or county may require a conditional use permit to run a home business, if it allows it at all. It also means there's no paid vacations, holidays or benefits.

Elance

The popular auction site, Elance, lets you set up a profile online for free and bid on advertised jobs. You receive up to 40 connects a month which are used to bid. Each bid cost a pre-designated amount of connects; often times it is one or two.

Like other websites, Elance rewards its paid members. They rank higher in the search results, earn more connects monthly, and can compete for jobs in more categories. They also have a chance to view competitors’ pricing; free providers are bidding blind. Individual memberships are $10 a month; small companies pay $20 a month and large companies pay $60 a month.

Providers are ranked based on their activity level and sales. Should you become less active because you've developed a client base elsewhere, or taken ill, you won't keep that ranking. Your feedback will remain, but your ranking will fall to the level of a newbie -- unless you secure more work on the site.

If you want to use Elance to build a business, you may find it helpful, however. You should take the time to prepare a profile that adequately describes your capabilities, including a portfolio, educational degrees, awards and other designations. Sell them from your profile page. Give potential clients confidence you can do the job, with professionalism and speed.

As a newbie, you’ll be competing against folks with established Elance profiles, who have received feedback from other customers. Without that, you’re basically asking them to take a chance on an unknown provider. You are more likely to snag a simple job for $50 that does not require special expertise. In any event, stick with jobs you can do well -- and that you have proven you can do well through your portfolio. Bid and keep bidding, making sure your rates are reasonable, especially for an unknown. Customers may want a deal. You have to decide if you are willing to give it to them to acquire a client who may return time and time again. Or to get that first favorable feedback.

Persistence is an important part of the game. Keep sending out bids and wait for your break. If you have what it takes, someone will eventually recognize that and hire you. Then you are on your way. But that doesn’t mean work will automatically come to you.

Expect to spend time bidding for jobs. It’s time for which you won’t be compensated. When you do bid, you will definitely be competing with writers from around the world. Proceed with caution and don’t spend your time bidding for jobs that won’t pay an adequate wage. There are plenty of “opportunities” for jobs with pre-set pay rates at a penny, or pennies per word. Don’t waste your time on them. Compete for jobs that will make you a livable wage.

With Elance, you can have emails with opportunities sent to you through email, which makes it easier to screen opportunities.

Through Elance's escrow system, you can do business with clients across the globe, with the assurance funds to pay you have already been deposited in escrow. Frankly, this is the only way I would do business with a stranger located someone outside of my country.

You also may find Elance is a way to keep the jobs coming in during a slow season in your writing business. At these times, you may be happy to have a fill job, even if the rate is less than normal.

You also can make money, or earn connects, by referring others to Elance. If you’re interested, please sign up using my link here.

One of the good things about Elance is: You don't have to wait for Elance to pay you on a payout schedule. You are able to transfer funds out of your Elance account to your bank account, whenever you choose.

Constant Content

If you don’t like pitching your writing, you may find a home at Constant Content. The website lets you choose what to write, when to write, how much to write, and what to charge. Constant Content will market that work.

That said, it comes at a price. You will keep 65 percent of your earnings. Constant Content keeps the rest.

Your work will need to be pre-approved before it can be posted on the site. So if you are inexperienced, you may fail to pass their quality check.

Constant Content seeks to provide unique, quality content. This means you are free to be you – and write about whatever suits your fancy. Constant Content will let you know what has been selling lately and what keywords visitors are seeking. You may be able to participate in writing teams. Customers also may contact you to offer you work, or a lower-than-advertised price on your content. You can accept or reject the offers.

You have the ability to sell usage, unique and full licenses; unique and full don’t allow you to resell your article.

Constant Content pays its writers promptly up to twice a month, with a minimum payment threshold set at $5.

Source: Morguefile
Source: Morguefile

Hubpages

This list wouldn’t be complete without Hubpages! Like Constant Content, you choose your topic. You write the content for Hubpages and publish them, earning a portion of the ad revenue and sales generated from your Hubpages.

Needless to say, this is not the same as a steady paycheck.

Hubpages can work for you if you are looking to supplement your income, want to work without pressing deadlines, and are willing to take the time to prepare Hubpages with unique, sought-after content. It also can help you gain a reputation as an expert in your chosen field, drawing traffic to your website. It’s also a great place to learn about writing – and marketing -- online.

At Hubpages, you are free to experiment with the Amazon and Ebay modules, as well as Google’s Analytics to evaluate your web traffic. You can learn about Internet marketing through the Amazon and Ebay modules, which enable readers to buy right from your Hubpage.

If you are new writer, you can hone your craft. More experienced writers may want to break into a new specialty field. And if you like writing about a variety of topics, you may enjoy having the ready tools to prepare Hubs – without having to invest in your own domain and web hosting. It is simpler and easier and cheaper than putting together one or more websites yourself.

You may discover, however, that what you like to write about it not popular, and does not generate much traffic. If you don't know much about search engine optimization, which helps drive web traffic, you may find readers aren't finding you. In that case, Hubpages will be mainly a learning experience.

Participation in the community is an important part of the experience, and it affects your score on Hubpages.

If you’d like to signup for Hubpages, please use my referral link.

Amazon

Amazon sells a lot of ebooks every day – and your ebooks can be among them. If you like writing books, even short books, you may want to consider becoming a digitally published author.

But let me caution you. There are lots of folks trying to make money by writing books online. If you’re interested, do your homework first. Make sure people want to read what you want to write. Make sure there is a demand. If you can’t sell it, you’ve wasted your time.

In general, the price of ebooks has been falling. In an attempt to attract readers, many authors and publishers have held giveaways. They spend hour after hour talking up their book or books via social media. Sometimes, that’s to promote their giveaways through the KDP Select program, which grants Amazon exclusive rights to sell you ebook for a period of time. The end result is that there are quite a few ebooks available for free, at one time or another. Some readers probably figure they don’t need to buy ebooks.

Then there are the folks that really would rather be watching a movie, or television, or playing video games. They might never think of picking up a book.

So if you still want to write ebooks, figure out how to sell them ahead of time. Just because your book is listed on Amazon doesn’t mean you’ll make any sales. You may find sales are very sporadic unless you conduct a very time-consuming marketing campaign.

As an author, you are expected to market your book. And if you are self publishing on Amazon, you’re also in charge of the perfecting that manuscript. You or someone else will have to check for typos and make sure your message is clear and concise. Your ebook cover needs to attract attention and convey the right message.

Being a self-pubished author isn’t easy. You wear many hats. If you are able to attract a following, you can make money every month from Amazon. They’ll pay you whatever they owe you at the end of the month. If you aren’t marketing, don’t expect much money in random sales.

So who is a good candidate for Amazon's digital publishing platform? Someone who is savvy about marketing and knows how to write what people want to read. And, because there are no income guarantees, they should have another source of income.

Smashwords

If you want to be an ebook author, you’ll want to know about Smashwords. Like Amazon, it’s free to list your ebooks and sell them. But Smashwords also offers distribution to stores like Apple, Barnes and Noble, and more.

You may find the bulk of your sales comes through these distributors, rather than Smashwords’ own store.

Smashwords gives you detailed instructions about how to set your ebook up for distribution, so you’re not left clueless. If you write your ebook in Microsoft Word software, it’s easier to format it. They also let you give away your book to select customers through a coupon code.

Smashwords is a good deal for writers who like to work for themselves and who have another source of income. It's good for those with creative spirits who are looking for free digital distribution.

LinkedIn and other social media

LinkedIn is centered on jobs and job contacts. When you establish a presence there, you promote yourself with potential clients. Through connections with former work colleagues, classmates, and others, you establish a base of folks who just may need a writer.

Make sure your profile is complete, and join groups where you can let others know what you offer. Participate in the discussions, offer good advice, and you can establish yourself as an expert.

There is an acceptable time and place, but you will find occasional opportunities in discussions to briefly list your job availability and contact information.

LinkedIn is a place where you can put out feelers and let others know you are in the market for writing gigs.

When you’re using social media, you must careful to avoid spamming others. What's spam? In a general sense, it's any unwanted/unsolicited content. If you post a job solicitation in the wrong place, it may not be welcome. So be careful and try to be a contributing member first.

Your website

Digital publishing enables you, the writer, to place your work in front of readers – without traditional gatekeepers. In reality, you can bypass all the venues and set up your own website, on your own domain.

It’s then encumbent upon you to figure out how to make it pay. You can use a number of strategies.

* Sign up for Adsense and run Google advertising on your site. The money you make depends on your traffic; you need to accrue $100 before you get a payment.

* Sell ads on your website. The kicker, of course, is that you have to have enough traffic to entice advertisers.

* Charge to view your articles. Or charge a membership fee.

* Run an online store.

* Join affiliate programs and advertise them from your website. You’ll collect a sales commission.

So who's a good candidate to make money off of their own website? It helps if you are a good marketer, have a knowledge of search engine optimization, and know how to write content people want to read. It helps if you are established as an expert in a popular field; or you are helping meet an important need. Additionally, it helps if you know how to put together a professional-looking website, or you pay someone who does.

Conclusion

The bottom line with all of these opportunities is that you are self employed. You are a freelance writer. It’s not the same as working for newspaper, magazine, public relations agency or ad firm. There’s no steady paycheck. No health insurance. And no paid vacations.

But you are the boss. You choose the hours you will work. The number of hours you will work. Whether to work at home or in an office. You choose the clients to accept, or reject. You charge your rate, bearing in mind what the market can bear.

That said, the market is not necessarily bearing as much as it used to in the writing field. Experts in other fields are writing books, and blogs and articles about their chosen field -- to broaden their market and boost their income.

To stay in the game, you need to be adaptable. Continue to learn and grow in your craft. Be willing to experiment. And do your homework. Make sure you are in compliance with laws in your area.

Cheryl Rogers
Cheryl Rogers

About the Author

I've had an online presence since 2003, when I put up a website to share Scripture songs God had given me. Through the years, I've tried many different ways to make money online while raising our family and caring for my mother.

There were times when I studiously avoided tight deadlines so I could be free for family commitments. In those times, I preferred Constant Content where I could write when I had the time -- and sell anytime. Other times, I could realistically expect to devote more time to writing and meeting a client's deadline, so I ramped up the workload through Elance.

That online presence through my own website and the social media, including LinkedIn, helped keep my name in front of colleagues, and potential employers reguarly. And when inspiration came for an ebook, I invested the time to write, edit and self publish on Amazon and Smashwords -- as well as on my own website.

Today you'll find me on Elance, Constant Content and Zazzle. I have my own website at www.newchristianbooksonlinemagazine.com, where I share the latest kingdom-building literature.

I also have 19 e-titles available through Amazon and Smashwords. They're not long ebooks. Some were rather quick to produce. But, as a journalist, I've been trained to be short and to the point. So I've done that with my ebooks.

I know there are others who, for one reason or another, choose to make a living writing from home rather than seeking full-time or part-time employment.

No doubt, we'd all prefer the salary and benefits that come with full-time employment. But our situations may demand we work sporadically, or from our homes. The digital age gives us an opportunity to do that.

Do you make money writing online?

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What are your favorite writing venues?

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© 2014 Cheryl Rogers

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    • Charles Cars profile image

      Charles C. 2 years ago from Fairfield, CT

      This is a great article with many tips. Some of them I have already tried. I need to learn the part about Google's Ad-sense.

      Its a great article anyway.