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Writing Online for Money

Updated on February 23, 2010

A penny for your thoughts

I have had personal experience and limited success (over $1K) writing for others online and getting paid for projects--mostly oDesk and Freelancer so far. Eventually the project dries up and you are forced to bid for more tasks. I recently took one on as a personal challenge and more for the curiosity than for the pay. It was a personal test to see if I could get the job. Well I did and it turned out to be 11 articles (400 words each) about the good old boring SEO stuff that people like to pay small sums of money for. This one got me a net $22 US which makes it pay about $2/hour. I never asked the other guy what he would be willing to do for that little sum of money.

He actually had the nerve to ask me to rewrite one of the articles because he didn't understand that I was challenging the future of his site. It didn't use graphics and I felt that no one was going to visit it for long because it was very cold and quite boring. Creating a website without good use of graphics is very much like driving a Porsche 911 in 1st gear. It will get your there. It is functional, but it is incredibly boring and the user will jump at the chance to put the pedal to the floor in a Mazda 3.

I wrote the following as the 11th article because, quite frankly, I was bored with the first 10. They were all about a website that didn't really offer anything of real value to the user or contributor so I had a hard time making it sound useful and original. He did like most of the articles and the quick turnaround which was within 24 hours.

Why Write?

Anyone who writes to earn money will tell you that it doesn’t pay very well. Most writers don’t need a weight-loss diet, just a more nutritious one. Writing generally isn’t a good match for money earned to time spent doing the assigned task. Most job providers assume that their rates are fair and equitable and don’t understand why few people get very interested in doing the work for the money offered. It is a world where quality work doesn’t get rewarded. It just gets you the job.

So why would one bother. It all relates to loving to write, enjoying the challenge of writing about all subject matter. It’s a little like playing Internet games but the reward is your finished product. It is also like building a larger resume for the better paying jobs that are out there for quality workmanship. It is the hope of the writer to find that better job and be rewarded properly for their efforts.

But a writer is a dreamer by definition. His head is in the clouds creating images with words. He dreams of getting his just rewards for his efforts. He dreams of being another Tom Clancy, Michener, another master of the “pen”. Of course, few writers know how to use a pen and most of them write illegibly. Proofreaders are ever thankful for the invention of the word processor as the logical replacement for the typewriter. It is true that you can still mess up a word processor by spilling coffee in the keyboard. It seems that the key contacts don’t react well to a bath of cream and sugar and cold coffee.

So they continue to write because that is what they do well. If it turns out that the writer feels that they are not getting equitable pay, well then they just don’t write for that person or company anymore. They write for their own enjoyment on one of the many websites designed to do that until the sites rules make them change to another. The writing is always there. The trick is finding the location of that writer’s most recent work because when a writer isn’t happy about a relationship, they just go somewhere else.

A writer is always looking for a place to express their talent. For most it is a never ending process. Writing isn’t a tangible product like a hammer, coffee mug or bag of sugar so it is hard for many to put a proper value on the product. What price tag could you put on your thoughts? That is what is being sold here. Maybe that’s where the phrase “a penny for your thoughts” was first conceived. It was a contract offer made to a writer a long time ago. So it is true, some things never change.

After receiving payment, I did the evaluation of the job and basically said I would refuse any further work because the pay scale was insufficient for the work required. It usually takes about an hour to research, write, edit and proofread a quality article on just about anything that is 400-500 words in length. The guys offering the $1-2 per article just don't have any idea what it takes to write something useful. If you want to make peanuts, there are a ton of those types of jobs with very few takers. Hold out for at least minimum wage.

And he offered me another job--8 articles, 800 words in length for $36. He felt that it should only take one a half hour to write 500 words. So using his numbers and doing the math you earn about $5.50+/hour for the writing but there is no time allowed for research and proofreading. The subject matter was pregnancy and some of the titles were "The Joy of Pregnancy", "The Trimesters", "The Complications of Pregnancy". I'm a guy!! What do I know about pregnancy. The truth is that most of these jobs shouldn't be called writing. They are nothing more than copy generation. It is no wonder so much of it gets plagiarized by the submitters.

Welcome to the latest Internet "sweat-shop". They don't deal in cheap clothing, just a bunch of words masquerading as an article.


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    • RVDaniels profile image

      RVDaniels 7 years ago from Athens, GA

      Try Demand Studios- I know- it's an article mill but it is a mill that pays $15-$20 per article.