So you decided to try freelance writing to create passive income.  Congratulations!  Now what should you write about?  Assuming you are interested in making money, this is a critically important question.  

It might be fun to publish poetry or short stories, but unless you get a book deal the chances of making money online with non-commercial material is slim. As a passive income writer your focus should be on commercial writing that pays.

Work backward to figure out what to write.  Instead of thinking about what you feel like writing, start from what kind of reader you want to attract and what they need, than work from there.  This is just a form of marketing theory applied to freelance writing - good companies figure out what the customer wants and provide it.  As a person in the writing business, you need to also figure out what the reader wants and provide it.

Step 1:  Decide Who Your Readers Will Be

There are many reasons people decide to read, some more profitable than others for the writer.  These are 4 of the big reasons people go online and search.

For Entertainment:  The hottest celebrity news or the desire to read poetry are fine examples. These readers are looking to pass the time, have fun, share jokes on Facebook, or relax.  They have no intentions of looking at ads or bringing out their credit cards.  

For Information:  Students trying to complete an assignment and housewives planning Christmas Dinner are looking for information and it is fine to provide that information. You can get some readers to your work by providing tutorials, recipes, driving directions and all other kinds of information.  Whole web empires have been built around access to information (MapQuest, Google Search,  The web exists to provide information so dive in.

Some of these readers are more likely to take profitable action than others.  Someone searching for information on how to get to Ft McMurray is more likely to follow links and ads than someone looking for a fantastic cabbage salad recipe.  

To Solve a Problem: Readers with problems to solve are more motivated.  They are not looking for craft projects, they are looking to get more comments on their blog or find an alternative to Google Adsense.  They might be struggling with how to build a niche site or make their own job

These problems could be health problems, money problems, car problems, job problems, or anything from serious to annoying.  The key is to provide a solution to the problem and you will attract readers.  If the problem is serious, and it requires buying something, than all the better.

To Buy Something:  Some precious readers go online with the intent of buying something (or at least seriously considering buying something).  These readers are interested in reviews, information, prices and most importantly WHERE to BUY.  

Step 2:  Cater to Your Readers

Assuming you want to make money, you should seriously consider focusing on catering to the readers who need information to solve a problem and/or want to buy something.  These readers are most likely to take action when they reach your webpage.  The intersection of gold is readers who have a serious problem, don't know how to solve it without information and ultimately need to buy something to solve that serious problem.  Write articles that help these golden readers and you will be successful.

To reach the readers that have a problem and need to buy something to solve it, look for products that you can link to and than provide amazing helpful content around that product. This might be in the form of:

  • How to Guide:  Show how to use the product in detail so that the reader is confident in their purchase.  Include a way for the reader to buy the product.
  • Product Review:  Explain how you bought the product, evaluated it, what the results of the evaluation are, and what you think of the product.  Include a way for the reader to buy the product.
  • Comparison Review: Line up similar  or competing products side by side and compare the features and benefits of each product against the others or against a wish list you created.  This can be a powerful way to attract readers, and if you do it correctly by providing the right affiliate links the reader will buy through you regardless of which option they choose. 

Step 3:  Monetize the Traffic

There are many ways to monetize your web traffic including contextual ads, display ads and affiliate links. If you are working on a site like Infobarrel, this work is mostly done for you, but you still need to pay attention to getting the right keywords to trigger the right ads.  

You also should consider directly linking out to affiliate sites where appropriate.  Amazon is a good safe bet, but there are other affiliate networks and direct affiliate opportunities to consider linking to. Just use affiliate links carefully (in context, not pushy or trying to sell them) to stay well within the rules of your revenue sharing website. 

Too often you can find otherwise great article that helps with a problem and even convinces you to buy a product that solves the problem, but there is no link to the product anywhere to be found.  If you have been guilty of writing articles like this, than go back and fix those articles today.  Your readers and your pocketbook will thank-you. 

Some examples:  

This article answers the question What is rice bran oil? and is focused around information that is not widely available about a product that some people want to buy.  

This article answers the question How to Get to Fort McMurray?  The answer involves, most likely, flying which means buying a plane ticket most likely online.  

More Help:  

This article I wrote explains how to create an effective product focused article in step by step instructions.  Hopefully you will find it useful as you discover how to build a passive income from freelance writing online. 

Happy Writing!  

Anything I missed?  Was this a helpful article?  Your comments are more than welcome below.  (joining Infobarrel is required to comment. It's free! and it pays)