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Writing Online: Is it Really Worth it?

Updated on July 22, 2014

The Holy Grail

This is online writing in a nutshell:

You sit at your computer for hours, reading, researching, writing, and rewriting. You publish a great piece that is unique, fresh, and interesting. Then you head over to another hub, blog or website and post comments, links, and likes, hoping that people will come by and read all your hard work for free, so that you might earn a few pennies through AdSense.

It can take a serious amount of time and work to earn a very small amount of money by writing online. Only a handful of people manage to make more than enough for a little extra pocket money each year.

So what is the point? Why bother? And the biggest question... why are so many people doing it?

Always Read the Fine Print

Most of us have explored our various options around the web. Before I started writing here, I was unemployed for a period of time, and through desperation I tried a few different options. This is what I found.

Can you earn money at Helium? Sure, but you have to maintain at least one rating star, and those are some tricky little devils to get and hang onto. You have to compare two articles against each other to help the high quality articles rank above the crappers. The hard part is that you have to do it constantly, because the rating stars "twinkle out" inexplicably, even if you don't slack off. And then there's the crazy, mysterious system they have to determine whether or not you get those precious little stars. Rate too many articles at a time, and the system considers that low quality rating. Choose the article that is not the popular favourite, and your percieved rating quality goes down again. Aint nobody got time for that.

There are other issues that make it difficult to earn at Helium, but there are also loads of other hubs that talk about them. Maybe I'll do a whole hub on it someday, although that might end up being a rant.

Don't get me wrong though, I did like the site, and I used it for a while. Why? Because it can be good practice and cure for writer's block. The titles are ready-made for you to choose from, there's clearly visible competition which is motivating, and there is potential to earn actual money in the Marketplace.


I don't have any experience here, but from what I gathered by browsing over the site, you have to be a pretty serious freelancer to bother with it. It's definitely for bloggers who want to write about whatever their hearts desire. From what I've read about it, it can be a hassle too between difficult clients and awkward payment situations.

Update: After writing this, I actually did get some experience at Elance. I worked with a few different clients and actually earned a decent amount of money. Most of the writing projects involve ghostwriting or "spinning" articles, and many of them are just looking for mass amounts of search engine friendly content for websites. There are also some transcribing, translating, proofreading, and editing opportunities as well.

Elance is project based, so you bid on jobs posted by clients, and if they like you they will hire you for the job. They pay Elance, and Elance will then pay you. It can be very difficult to get a job, however, as there is quite a lot of heavy competition from people who will work for almost nothing. I would say it's worth a try, but don't expect it to be easy cash.

I wrote a perfectly legitimate and helpful review of a brand new product I'd recently purchased and was slammed with a rejection message in all capital letters. It was something to the effect of: "WE ARE NOT INTERESTED IN YOUR REVIEW. IT IS NOT HELPFUL OR VALUABLE."

So that was the end of that.

Blog Sites in General:

Basically the same as this site; you certainly can make legitimate money from AdSense, however you need to be on the site for at least a year, and you need to write fresh, interesting, and useful articles for people who will only actually read 20% of what you've spent so much time on, and most times will only "view" your page for about four seconds.

The Holy Grail

I guess overall, making money online is kind of a Holy Grail. Many thousands of people see it happening to other people, therefore it must be possible, right? And technically it is. I've been at HubPages for a few years now, and after the first two years I started earning about $50 USD per year. It's not much, but it is a nice little treat, especially during busier times when I have gone months on end without touching my HubPages account. That's one really nice thing about online writing: even if you have long moved on to other things, those articles will continue to earn money as long as they are online and getting traffic.

But that's the big catch if you want to earn from this. You need to have a lot of traffic and it needs to be constant. Personally, I've only ever clicked on an AdSense ad once. (That ad was HubPages, believe it or not!). Each click earns so little that I need tens of thousands of people looking at my hubs in order to earn that $50 per year. Somehow though, it does happen.

We've all been told it's not easy; you have to stick with it, be patient, and work hard. It's true. Pay attention to what kind of topics and what kind of writing makes it to the top ranks on this site, and try to emulate what they are doing. Stick with it, write a lot, and write well, and you might earn a few dollars. Just don't quit your day job.


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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I made about $350 sending in 14 articles to Mediapiston. At the time, it was a great experience. However, it was a lot of hard work and in total I was probably earning about $3 an hour. It is also infuriating when you have an unrealistic timeline to work towards, so you have to send in an article that hasn't been edited properly, then you get blocked off the site because of sending in articles that haven't been edited.

    • agvulpes profile image


      8 years ago from Australia

      I agree with Nick B ! Making money on the internet is not just about writing. It is a whole new ball game and writing will only get you to first base. (If your lucky and don't get run out first) Patience is a great virtue and having a good home base is also a great help.

      I believe we have one here in HubPages!

    • Nick B profile image

      Nick B 

      8 years ago from Normandy, France

      I was attracted by the 'paid to write' thing here, but there's a lot more to it than that.

      In order to get the hits on your hubs, you have to have the traffic and it's hard to get the traffic unless you know about search engines and keywords.

      It's not just the writing if money is at the forefront of what you want from here, but the technical gobbledygook that goes with it.

      However, having said that, there's plenty of scope to hone ones writing skills, for I believe that it's like any other skill--unless you use it regularly, the ability diminishes. The more you practice however, the better you get.

      Just this evening, I managed to get two paragraphs down to two words. I'd never have been able to do that a while ago :)

      Keep up the good work

    • profile image

      Duchess OBlunt 

      8 years ago

      Hi Katelyn, and welcome from one relatively new "newbie" to another. I have made a whopping $17.26 since I started. Maybe that's because I didn't join for the money either. I'm much like lmmartin in that I am in the process of writing - in my case complete fiction whereas hers deals with real life. This is a great place to be for the community. If you are lucky, the money starts rolling in, but it's not something I am worried about. I could relate to your "ranting" and wishing though, as it would be completely awesome to be able to make a living doing what you love.

      Good luck

    • elayne001 profile image


      8 years ago from Rocky Mountains

      It is good to get the ranting out. I understand as I have tried quite a few online and made a few bucks. It would be great to be able to quit my day job and work at home and I am trying to soak in all the tips from the top hubbers. They seem to be making money off of adsense and others. I need to improve my writing first and then it may all fall into place. Aloha!

    • Mr. Happy profile image

      Mr. Happy 

      9 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Welcome to Hubpages by the way.

    • Katelyn Weel profile imageAUTHOR

      Katelyn Weel 

      9 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I agree, and if money eventually comes from it, it's just an extra bonus.

      Thank you for your comment, Mr. Happy

    • Mr. Happy profile image

      Mr. Happy 

      9 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      I put my writing online for others to read - not for money. Thus, if people read what I write then, it is all worth it. I think that applies to everyone.

    • Katelyn Weel profile imageAUTHOR

      Katelyn Weel 

      9 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thats funny, someone just recommended odesk to me last week and I looked at it but didn't bother to sign up. Thanks for the tip

    • Real Estate Lady profile image

      Real Estate Lady 

      9 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      Nice hub, Katelyn. I, too, do some work for Elance. It's few and far between because I won't take the cheapy stuff. But I have made some money there and caught a few return clients as well. Don't bother with Odesk. EVERY gig on there is a waste of time. Anyway, keep up the good work, I really enjoyed reading this.

    • Katelyn Weel profile imageAUTHOR

      Katelyn Weel 

      9 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Hi, Monty. That's really good to know...I've more or less tossed the idea of making money online, but maybe I will take another look there. It's always useful to hear what other people have experienced. Thanks for the feedback and welcome to Hubpages!

    • Monty900 profile image


      9 years ago

      Hi, Katelyn. I'm new here and enjoyed reading your hub (I can really relate to it). You're very talented! I had to chime in because you mentioned Elance. I have written through them for a while and actually have made a decent amount of money. Yes, it takes a few low-paying projects to bring in anything substantial, but it can be done. I've never had a problem being paid. Also, there are projects specifically targeted to bloggers on there. (I've never taken one though, so I don't really know if they'd be worthwhile). If you're still in search of making money online, I'd revisit Elance.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Very informative and well written, katelyn. I'm just enjoying the ambience of exchange with some extremely talented people. And practice makes perfect, or so they say. It's always nice to receive some comments about one's writing and content, instead of a depressing rejection slip.

    • Katelyn Weel profile imageAUTHOR

      Katelyn Weel 

      9 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Well said Immartin! I couldn't agree more, the value of writing here is huge for exactly those reasons.

      I'll be the first to admit I came here because I was attracted by the "paid to write" thing... but I'm starting to see those things you mentioned, and the site really is a gold mine for all reasons other than money. You made a very good point about making a readership for your future books as well.

      Thanks for the response and good luck with your novels!

    • lmmartin profile image


      9 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      Hi Katelyn, you know this is a question lots of writers here ask. In fact one emailed me for my thoughts on it just yesterday. The truth is, even the best rated here are earning a pittance -- maybe enough for a dinner out. We all hear there are people making a fortune on the net, but nobody knows one personally. It sounds like a race for the pot of gold on the end of the rainbow -- said treasure doesn't exist.

      I can't speak for others, but I came here as a writer to develop my voice in this country where soon, I will have novels coming out, and without a public voice, no one will be interested in my stories. But developing the readership that give you a public voice is a long slow process.

      I write here and never even think about money. This is like a Parliament -- a stage to voice opinions, share stories, express concerns. If we start to write specifically to attract that money -- then we are writing ad-copy -- a different skill alltogether.

      I say lets all forget about the potential for money and write because we have something to say, the talent to say it and simply because writers write. I've hooked up with some wonderful talented people here, and that is payment enough.


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