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How to Become an Effective Paid Forum Content Writer
Before You Begin
Believe it or not, there are companies and individuals out there who are willing to pay someone to write on theirs or someone else's forum. You could be one of those writers. I've done it as a sideline, made money and enjoyed myself. If you have the following basic qualities and skills, you could do well with this type of freelance writing:
Have Internet access.
Can follow written instructions and adhere to company/client guidelines.
Able to express yourself in writing.
Grammar, spelling and punctuation are excellent but not necessarily perfect.
Capable of maintaining company/client confidentiality.
Why do clients pay for this?
- To build up sufficient content to attract people to their community.
- To boost the existing community and breathe new life into it.
Have the basic qualifications? Do something about it. Go to the search engine of your choice and enter “Paid Forum Posting Jobs”. Your search should bring up a list of companies that offer this type of service.
Focus on the ones that offer it as their specialty. Bidding on random jobs of this type on other freelance sites without experience could be a waste of time. You'd be bidding against writers like me who have experience and a reputation.
Once you've found the sites, you might want to check their reputation, then go to their site and start the application process. Read everything and follow instructions to the letter. You can be the most awesome writer in the world, but if you can't follow their directions exactly, they will not accept your application.
You will likely have to wait for them to make a decision. It might take several days. While you're waiting go to the next company on your list and go through the whole process again. Once you've gotten into one site you'll discover that most of the writers who do well, work for more than one site.
Serving Your First Client
You've been hired. Now what?
When I first got hired by Kickstart Your Forum, I had some trouble claiming that first job. Really good jobs get pounced on by the regulars almost as soon as they get posted on the job board. I didn't have a cell phone where I could set up notifications. I also worked full time and would often find all the positions gone when I got to my computer. Discouraging but don't give up.
Here are three keys to grabbing work fast:
If you have an Internet capable cell phone, you have a big advantage. Set up your account to send notifications to your phone. This way as soon as the jobs post you will get a message. If you're free, you can immediately check the job and if you like it you can claim your spot.
Be ready to step in and take a partial job. People get sick and have family emergencies, worse some people violate company policies and get fired mid job. Being ready to step up to the plate, will get you work and make you a hero in the eyes of company administrators.
Take a long look at some of the offerings nobody seems to want. If you can research your way through the job, it may end up being fun and educational at the same time. Several regular jobs fitting that description became staples for me.
On that first job be yourself on the forum, even if you're writing under a pseudonym (Generally you will be). Use your experiences and knowledge as much as possible. That's the fastest and easiest route to success.
If you're new to this work, don't bite off more than you can chew. Don't take additional work slots unless you're sure you can handle the extra work load. Nobody is going to step up and manage your time for you.
Super Charging Your Output
This is where the fun begins.
One thing I noticed on the first job I managed to grab a slot for was that many posters were grabbing more than one slot for the same job. They were working as multiple users for each client with the full knowledge and approval of the company we were working for. Sometimes the site you work on will impose limits on that sort of thing but in my experience the better writers were encouraged to do so.
If you stay within guidelines and have the necessary creative writing skill, you can and should do the same. I've worked as many as four at the same time and I've seen others do six or eight.
Why should you work as multiple users on the same job? Because you get paid for each of them. If you work as two users, you get paid twice as much. That's all the incentive I needed.
Now I'll show you how to do it right, making the client happy and making your company administrators see you as a big asset.
Karen Desantos (Name Changed)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada born and raised there.
Works in a call centre as a customer service representative.
Late twenties, single (and happy about it), very independent and more outspoken than I am.
5'8" tall, 135 pounds, Mediterranean descent, long dark hair with dark eyes. Attractive but very self-conscious about a birthmark on the back of her calf. Never wears shorts or short skirts.
In real life I'm a man and had to consult my wife on occasion to make sure I was responding and interacting appropriately (research).
Karen started out as a character in a novel I began, but to date never completed. She also had a previous incarnation on multiplayer role playing games, where I was checking the territory my daughter visited regularly and I had safety concerns. Karen made her forum debut on a gambling forum and a health and wellness site at about the same time.
On the first site she played a curious novice while my original user name spent more time dispensing well researched advice and comments. The combination worked exceptionally well.
On the health and wellness site she was able to discuss women's health issues. Again she was a hit and I learned a great deal at the same time. Even picked up some useful tips for my wife whose English isn't strong enough to do this kind of online work herself.
She is a composite personality. A mixture of several women I have known along with my own twisted mind. One of her great advantages was that I had a very clear definition of who she was.
Building Alternate Persona
Create your additional persona in advance. Some people build multiple online forum users on the fly, but I have reservations about that methodology. For me, it leaves the door open for careless mistakes.
I write fiction and creating believable characters is one of my strengths. Not only does preparing characters in advance make it easier to keep track of what you're doing, but you won't be scrambling to make it them ready at the beginning of the job.
Here is a simple plan for creating those persona:
Create profiles of each persona. This will need to include full name, place of residence, employment, basic appearance, basic personality and skills information. More details means a more believable persona. Less details means more ability to tailor the character for specific jobs. Don't be afraid to let the profile develop over time.
Build these characters with skills and qualifications you have yourself. Posting as if you are a doctor or lawyer when you aren't is trouble: Bad for you, bad for the client and bad for anyone who listens to you.
Establish an email account for each persona. Most of the time each user name you use on a job will require a separate email address. Best to have that already in place.
Make sure every single one that you develop is distinct from the others. If they all sound the same, others will notice. Clients and employers won't be impressed.
Keep your list of persona short. At my peak I had created ten different ones. I only ever used six and only half of them saw regular use. A huge list isn't going to accomplish that much more than a handful of well crafted ones that you use regularly.
Once you've done your homework, put those characters to work. I have to put myself in the place of each persona as I use them. I get better at responding as they would rather than how I would by doing assignments through them.
Check my real life usage character sidebar, Karen Desantos, to see an example of what kind of alternate persona I used.
Working with different persona doesn't mean you can be anyone or write anything. I don't write about things that I know nothing about. My persona have work experience I have myself. The issues I discuss are real and I strive to comment intelligently. I don't claim authority I don't have. I'm not a doctor or lawyer and I will not pretend to be that. My characters are ordinary people like myself. I draw most of my material from my own experiences and the rest is carefully researched.
Remember that this is work
Writing forum content can be a lot of fun. I enjoyed most of the forums I worked on. I had a blast interacting with some of the other content writers. Some of those people were more than really good at the job. If you want to do well though, don't ever forget that this is employment (even if friends and family don't seem to think so).
Always do the work you accepted on time and in a professional manner.
Treat the company you are writing for and your clients with respect.
If you have questions or issues make sure you know who to contact and do so as needed.
I have seen people break all those rules. I've had to report unprofessional behaviour from a new poster. They were removed from the job immediately and then banished from the company. We could have lost a valuable regular client over those posts.
Don't bite the hand that feeds you. Stealing clients for yourself or another company you work for is highly unethical.
Like any job if you get sick and can't complete an assignment or have some kind of emergency. Let the administrators know as soon as possible. They might not be happy about it but they'll be less happy if you just decide to pull a no show.
This should be common sense.
If you've read this far, you're ready to put this in practice. I can't guarantee you success. That is in your own hands. Good luck with your freelancing aspirations. This article will give you a boost in the right direction.