Well I managed to get around to this quicker than expected and (though I’m not going to keyword optimise this article in the slightest) I’ll count it as one of my ten for the month. I know most of us are here to earn a passive income but in the interim freelance writing work is a great way to fill some time and to earn a decent living online. I’ve been writing online for almost two years now and am very pleased that I earn a very decent living. I thought I’d take this opportunity to share some advice for people who are looking to start writing online.
Where to find work!
This is the most important thing for anyone starting out and at first you might struggle to find good places to write. As you get into it you’ll find that there are hundreds of places offering paid writing work. However, I thought I’d go through some of the best (at least in my opinion) and some that I’d personally avoid.
Digital Point forum
I’m biased towards DP because this is where I’ve started out and where I have since gained many of my long term clients. However, DP is generally a CHEAP marketplace with hundreds of writers offering their services for BELOW $1/100 words. This makes it quite competitive and sometimes it can be a struggle finding great clients. However, if you persevere there are many hiding in the woodwork and over time you can build up a good reputation. Take care of your iTrader (internal work ranking) and it will become much easier to get clients.
I haven’t used oDesk myself but a few freelancer friends swear by it. There are odd jobs here but most of the work is paid on an hourly rate. You set your hourly rate and oDesk fees are added to it (so you don’t lose out on money). You then download oDesk’s software which tracks your work progress when you log in. If you’re a hard worker then you really get to show your clients how hard you work and the effort you put into each piece. Once you have a reputation work isn’t hard to come by and I know at least one person whose hourly rate is $25-30. I’d really recommend this one.
The Warrior Forum
Everyone knows about the Warrior Forum and it’s a great place to offer your services. People are always looking for great deals on here and you can often find more upmarket work on the “members looking to hire you” thread. The only problem with WF is that there are no rating systems and work is infrequent. However, it’s a good place to check on from time to time or to run your own sales thread when you have a decent portfolio.
Another good forum to find work on. Has a good community and bad providers quickly get booted so it’s a nice place to work. Jobs aren’t as frequent as on DP but still worth checking.
Constant Content offers a lot of high paying opportunities to sell your work but you have to upload articles and set a price for them. You can take on requested work but generally you put an article up and set a price. Prices are much higher than other job boards and quality is high - the only downside is you can't guarantee how much you will sell!
Elancer is one of the biggest and most well-known freelance sites on line but in my opinion its rubbish. You are limited on the number of jobs you can apply for, the competition is ridiculous and there are too many people willing to write for peanuts. You also get charged and I don’t like that ever. One to avoid.
Hopfully this will give you a good few places to start looking for work and once you’ve got the ball rolling your work will take care of itself – as long as you provide a good service of course! As I’ve said before word of mouth is the best marketing for writing and you’ll be amazed how often new clients will appear that way.
What work to apply for!
This might seem a really stupid thing to need explaining as most people’s initial reaction is – higher paid work obviously. While this is true when you start out getting high paid work can be a problem. Also if you are looking at building a writing career online you need to think about WHAT kind of client you’ll be working for.
For example someone who wants 10 budget priced articles on a topic probably isn’t going to be interested in buying quality articles in the future. So there is little point in writing the budget articles well and then not securing long term higher paid work. However, if someone is looking for a poster for their blog they may be able to offer long term work at a higher price. Likewise someone who wants 100 articles on a specific niche and is prepared to pay over 2 cents a word is likely to be someone with long term work or a corporate buyer. Corporate buyers are the BEST buyers bar none. They will always pay top rates and you can often negotiate with them for even better rates of pay once you’ve shown them the quality you produce. (I have been given 3 raises this way and one I didn’t even ask for!).
While there are always exceptions to these scenarios and examples I’ve given you’ll soon develop a feel for what might be a promising client and what is likely to be a flash in the pan assignment. The difference is that you should put in more effort (only has to be slightly) on clients that you consider to have LONG TERM potential.
How to market yourself
A lot of people I know who want to start writing online struggle with marketing themselves and approaching clients. If you see any of the forum boards that offer work you’ll see lots of threads that read something like this
Writer for hire, 5 year’s experience. I can provide you with top quality, well researched, grammatically correct, SEO optimised copyscape passed content for only $10/500 words. My articles are better than the rest so check me out to find out why.
Ok that’s just an idea of one but I see them all the time and I wouldn’t hire a single one of them. Individuate yourself, stand out from the crowd and don’t sound like you’ve learned some phrases by rote and are repeating them. In the example above – grammatically correct should be implied, copyscape passed shouldn’t even need mentioning and well researched itself should be a given (you’re not a run of the mill writer are you). SEO optimised is something you can offer but different clients will have different conceptions of what this actually entails. So work hard to differentiate yourself and add in details that potential clients will find relevant.
I have developed an expert knowledge of SEO through writing for and promoting my own websites.
I can write in a professional style with appropriate business jargon.
I am a father/mother of 3 so have first-hand knowledge of x,y and Z.
Don’t pigeon hole yourself but market your strengths. Secondly (or whatever number I’m on) always offer clients a range of options. For example;
When I’m dealing with a new client I will always high ball my offer. So if I think I would ideally like to be paid $15 an article I will come in with $20. Then I can negotiate down to $15. However, when the client says “that’s a bit too expensive can you do them for x” I will say “ well I’m happy to do them for x but it means I’ll be able to spend less time on them. As long as you don’t mind less research and quality that’s fine” – Now if you’ve found the right client you’ll end up somewhere between $15 and $20.
Ok I realise I’ve done my usual trick of rambling on slightly so I’ll stop there for today. If people are actually interested and find any of this useful please let me know and I’ll write a second issue for you with some more tips, tricks and strategies – and some more places to find work if that’s what you’d like.