Freelance writing is a competitive and often changing business. While no experience is needed to gain work as a freelance writer, experience and qualifications play a major part in the amount a writer can earn for creating content. While freelance writers can still sell pieces to newspapers and magazines, it is becoming increasingly easier to secure fruitful writing gigs from the Internet instead.
That said, the freelance writing landscape has changed a lot over the last two years as opportunities have come and gone. But the basic avenues for earning money through writing online remain the same even if some of the players have changed.
Here we have highlighted the three best writing jobs online in 2012: bidding sites, content mills and finding private clients.
The most well-known bidding sites for freelance writers are eLance and oDesk. This type of site does not focus solely on writing jobs, but instead on any type of job that can be outsourced. The benefit of such a site for freelance writers is that it brings the entire global marketplace to the writer. Of course, this also means that freelancers are competing with other freelancers from all over the world.
This is where the disadvantage of bidding sites comes into play. For example, a freelance writer living in Seattle, Washington likely has a higher cost of living than a writer in the Philippines, which means that it can be difficult for the Seattle-based writer to match the lower rates of the Philippines-based writer. As a result, it can be difficult to bid on and actually win job contracts on these bidding sites.
Writers can usually join bidding sites for free and bid on some jobs each month without having to pay a fee. In order to increase chances of a winning bid, the writer needs to have a profile filled out on the bidding site and offer samples of work, if any is available. Bidding low does not guarantee that you will be awarded the job, but it can help.
Traditionally, the major players in the content mill field have been Demand Media, AOL’s Seed and Break Studios. Most of the content mills were hit pretty hard by the Google Panda algorithm update and gave ceased or scaled back production. Of the three, Demand Media is the main one still hiring but work there is scarce at the moment and requirements have changed. Demand Media also requires some experience or a degree in a related field. The average article pays $15, with some articles paying up to $25. Demand Media pays twice weekly.
Textbroker and Writer Access have also emerged in this market. Both require that new writers submit a sample piece, which is then rated on a scale between one and five. Once rated, writers are able to take articles to write. No experience is needed for either. Textbroker pays considerably less, which makes it a good option for writers looking to build up a portfolio. Rates at Textbroker can be as low as $0.005 per word. While many of the articles available in Textbroker are small 150 word backlink fodder, some longer blog post style articles can be found.
At Writer Access, there are very few articles posted for anyone to claim. Instead, clients in need of content post a casting call to the site and let writers apply for the job. This gives writers the ability to pick and choose clients and subjects in which they are interested in writing about. The pay rate at Writer Access ranges from around $5 for 200 words to around $30 for 500 words, with some clients paying even more. Textbroker offers weekly pay, as long as at least $10 has accumulated, while Writer Access only pays monthly.
While technically not a content mill, freelance writers can also make some quick cash by posting gigs on Fiverr.com for content creation. People only pay $5 on the site, which means that writers can only make around $4 for the offered service.
Maintaining your own website is one way that freelance writers obtain private clients. Of course, employing this method means that you have to wait for people to find you. Craigslist is a good source for private clients; however it is also a good source of scammers. With clients found on Craigslist, as with any other private client, it is a good idea to draw up a contract before doing any work so that if you are not paid, you can take further action.
Another way to find private clients is to visit forums where people hang out who need content, specifically website owners and internet marketers. Examples of such forums include the Digital Point forum and the Warrior Forum.
Outside of these three main avenues for writing income are revenue sharing sites like Hubpages or content marketplaces like Constant Content. The advantage of these opportunities is that you can create content at your leisure and post it either for purchase or revenue-sharing (Adsense, Amazon sales, etc).
Writers interested in writing on specific topics, who can wait for possible payment, can use the Constant Content website. On this site, writers post completed articles and set a price. Once posted, the writer has to wait for someone to come along and purchase the article. Posted articles can sell in the same day or six months later, or not at all.
If you are brand new to writing online and are not sure where to start, I would recommend you check out a place like Textbroker to get your feet wet. The advantage there is that you can pick up article topics you feel comfortable with before trying to write on unfamiliar and more difficult topics as might happen with a private client.
It is also great practice to start an account at HubPages or Wizzley and try your hand at revenue-sharing. By getting involved with the forums on those sites you can start to educate yourself on how to write online content, a skill which will help you write better for clients in addition to yourself. Ultimately, most writers find they can earn the most money online by writing articles for their own blogs and websites but that is better left as a long-term goal for now.
For more information on getting paid to write online, check out the freelance writer’s section of WAHM.com.