Saturday, November 14, 2009

Mini-Guide: Getting Started as a Freelance Writer

When I came back from Brussels, desperately aware of my personal financial crisis, jobless in a stifled job market, I scoured the internet searching for an opportunity, any opportunity, to make money. After a little trial and error, intense research, more trial and error, followed by frustration, I found a wealth of opportunity, surprisingly easy to infiltrate, right at the tip of my fingers. All it took was looking in the right places.

One word to the wise on finding work online: be careful of the gimmicks. Never, ever pay to work.

I’ve summarized below some of the sites that I’ve used over the last few months with links to a few of my favorites.

Demand Studios
Hands-down the best online freelancing opportunity is with Demand Studios, DS as we writers lovingly call it. While DS has one of the most stringent sets of standards for writers and editors, it is clearly worth the application process. With consistent work and on-time payments at a fair rate, Demand Studios is a great place for a serious online SEO content writer to work.

Constant Content
Another amazing website to work for, Constant Content, allows freelancers the freedom to choose what they want to write, and, even better, set the price for their work. The site has editorial standards and a very supportive community of writers.

Associated Content
AC, a slightly controversial website, pays less than Demand Studios and has little editorial oversight on the quality of its content than DS and CC. Did I also mention that it pays less? AC pays primarily based on a revenue share model, meaning that you get most of your revenue from the number of clicks your articles receive, which can be very frustrating if you're new to the site. However, Associated Content allows a lot more freedom in terms of the types of content that the site will post.

Other revenue share sites include: HubPages, Suite101, Helium

Freelance Marketplaces
There are also several freelance marketplaces that allow writers to bid on projects. Typically, these sites require quite a bit of time to develop a reputation and bid on projects. Also, because the pool of freelancers is so large, with workers around the world bidding on the same projects, the pay through these sites is typically less than adequate. The other downside to online freelance websites is that many times, in order to get a payout, the worker loses money in payment processing.

Some of the freelance sites are: Elance, RentACoder, Guru

Blogging and Website Development
Using Adsense to monetize a self-hosted blog or on a free blog hosting site like Blogger is also an option to generate money online. While the Adsense pay is typically much less, for the most, part than actively writing for DS, AC or CC, blogs feel a lot less like work and a lot more creatively malleable.

For self-hosted sites, affiliate marketing links and advertisements are also options. While many serious online workers, swear by website development and blogging as revenue streams, for the freelancer who is more of a writer than a web developer, the learning curve is a bit steep, not to mention the time investment for a financial return is a bit difficult to manage when finances are tight.

A Million Options
There are a multitude of freelance options online, many more than can be summarized in one blog post. If you’re just starting out, take advantage of learning from the structure that editorially mediated sites, like Demand Studios or Constant Content, offer before stepping out into some of the more fluid, time-intensive options. Once you get your feet wet, you’ll quickly find, that the web has a lot more not-so-secret hidden opportunities than you thought.

Good luck in your online endeavors!

1 comment:

  1. Very imformative; I've thought about freelance writing, many times. I think I need to stop thinking about it and do it :)