Freelance writing can be a great way to make extra money in your spare time. If you are passionate about writing, and writing is something that comes naturally to you, why not use it to finance your next major purchase or just pay off some bills? There is a demand out there for well-written and interesting articles on subject matters relevant to the public at large.
Where can you begin? Well, let me tell you about my own writing experiences. Back in January of this year, I stumbled upon an e-mail message telling me that I could make money by starting my own blog on a site called WritingUp. I went to the site and checked it out. Sure enough, people had generated blogs about numerous topics, and some people claimed to have made hundreds of dollars by posting useful discussions and articles to their blogs. The site makes money through a partnership with Google Adsense, an ad program that places ads relevant to the discussion topic onto the blog page. You can also post additional ads by directly copying and pasting ad source code from Adsense into your blog. The theory was good: people would be drawn to read your content, and would also click on the ads. For every ad click, WritingUp would get paid, then you would get paid, then WritingUp would get paid, and so on.
Unfortunately, blogs can be a slow-going business. It takes several months before your written material makes an impact and is viewed by a large number of people. Furthermore, whenever I read other people’s blogs, I never felt compelled to click on the related ads. This made me wonder: if I’m not clicking on other people’s ads, then who’s clicking on mine?
The final proof in the pudding came when I looked at my earnings: for having posted at least 7 decent blog entries, and for having received at least 150 views, my earnings stood at a piddly 26 cents. Needless to say, I was not pleased, especially since the minimum payout is $25.
Luckily, during my time on WritingUp I read a blog entry about a freelance writing site called Associated Content (AC). Here, the idea was more simple: write interesting articles, submit them for payment, and get paid. No hassling with ads or page views (although this site now also pays per page view, in addition to the article itself). AC makes its profit from people clicking on ads while reading the articles. Therefore, AC is, in a sense, a souped-up WritingUp, with a population of people writing fresh content to its blog-like site and sharing in the revenues generated from ad views.
I posted my first article and waited about a week. The article was accepted, and I received $10! I quickly posted another article, and then some others. Almost all of them were accepted, and I received my payment in about a day’s time. Before long, I had built up to $100. My only close call was when I posted an article which, ironically enough, was based upon a prior article to WritingUp. I received notice of plagiarism, and was warned not do it again. In all honesty, I had completely forgotten about the WritingUp blog entry, and also about the unexpected, yet very real, phenomenon of self-plagiarism.
After a month had gone by, it seemed that the payment per article decreased. This was also around the time that AC started paying in fractions of dollars (i.e., $6.09, not $6.00). Personally, I think that a change in management took place, or perhaps a late night brainstorming session brought in additional ideas to the crew of AC. Whatever the source, several changes came on the scene, such as in the payment amounts, the performance bonus (mentioned earlier as payment per page view), and more content requests (reviews, How-To’s, etc.).
I liked most of the changes, but was also becoming increasingly curious about another freelance writing site, called Constant Content (CC). This site was rumored to pay quite a bit more per article than AC, although its standards for accepting an article were also much higher. The reason for the higher payment is because CC acts only as a facilitator of sales between customers and writers. Writers set the prices for their articles, and the customers either do or do not agree to pay those prices. Customers can also post private content requests and the monetary amount that these content requests will be paid. Interested writers then produce this content and submit a query e-mail to the customer. If accepted, the writer receives the agreed-upon payment. Every time a writer gets paid, CC takes a cut of the profit (about a third of the writer’s earnings). Therefore, there are no ads on CC.
My first submission to CC was actually an article rejected by AC. CC eventually accepted the article, but not before rejecting it three times on account of grammatical errors. Correcting the article, and re-reading it about ten times, certainly ate up a good portion of my AC article writing time. However, CC’s final acceptance was very satisfying. I also submitted a private request article, which was rejected just once on account of grammatical redundancy and errors.
Both articles made money within two weeks of submission, the first one for $20, and then $25, and the second one for $45. My final cut was $58.50. So, CC ended up taking about a third of my profits. Still, I would never have earned this much money had I submitted the articles to AC. Best of all, just because my articles received bids did not mean that they would be gone forever. CC, unlike AC, allows writers to price their articles in terms of publishing rights. The customer can buy the article for usage only, meaning that the writer retains full rights to the article and can re-publish. Unique purchase means that the customer owns the article as it was originally written, and no one else can purchase it again (it is removed from CC). Full-rights purchase means that the customer owns the article outright (it is removed from CC), and can also make changes to it as he or she deems appropriate. In my case, I did eventually end up selling both articles completely, but I could have refused this option and maintained all my articles on a use basis only (thus making money forever).
While I was pleased with my sales on CC, I had other (mostly news-related) articles that had also been rejected by AC. I knew that CC was not going to accept these articles. Therefore, having heard about the Helium Web site from AC, I ventured into that corner of the Internet world.
Helium works a bit differently from AC and CC. Here, writers earn money by being rated on the quality of their content by other writers and readers. Articles on similar subject matters are placed next to each other and the viewer is asked to assign a “grade”- the content of one writer is either the same, slightly more, more, or by far better, than the content of another writer. Minimum payout is set at $25.
I submitted my AC article stillborns to Helium and waited. Checking back in 3 weeks, I was disheartened to find out that, while some of my articles had floated to at least the upper third of the article pile, my earnings stood at a grand total of 23 cents. Furthermore, the only halfway decent earner was an article about sex. I simply did not want to earn more money by going into pornography. So, I continued looking elsewhere.
I had heard about a site called myLot for a few weeks, thanks to it being mentioned in the news and on AC. When I went to the site, I found out that it worked like a mega-blog site. People could start and post responses to discussions, and there was even an area for starting your own personal blog. Anything you did, from posting pictures to opening up the floor on why people are self-centered, earned you about two cents. So, if you spent an hour chatting with other people on mLot, you could earn around a dollar for that time. Minimum payout is set at $10.
Initially, I started out earning from 50-60 cents per visit to myLot. It was kind of fun to just type in responses and see them post right away. However, after so many hours had been invested, I grew tired of the topics. For example, what do you post to a discussion topic titled “Do you wear slippers?” I also noticed that some people would type anything in order to get paid. Other people would post decent discussions and responses, but their grammar and spelling were horrendous. I understand that myLot is an international community, but if I can’t read what is being posted, what’s the point?
In any case, my earnings with myLot now stand at $7.29. I’ll continue posting until I achieve the minimum payout. After that, I may just take a hiatus from myLot.
To summarize, if you are good at writing, and really enjoy getting your subject material, try writing articles for AC. If you have the added patience for in-depth editing and set subject material, try CC as well. Both of these sites will reward you with the greatest amount of money. If you just want to make some extra pocket change, and do not feel like drawing up material with references, then try myLot, Helium, and WritingUp.