Saturday, October 15, 2011

Best Sites to Break in to Freelance Writing Online

For a long time, I wanted to learn how to write online for money.  I knew that people were doing it, and I was confident that I could do it as well, but I just didn't know where to start.  There are so many places to write online, and so much conflicting information.  Lots of the sites have a "scammy" feel, or at least seem like you could never possibly make a living writing online unless you had some kind of deep knowledge about freelance writing that was hidden from us normal plebians.

As luck would have it, however, I was able to make a valuable contact.  Some of you might know that I am a rat rescuer.  In fact, I am the only rat rescue in southern New Mexico, a fact which keeps me fairly busy, but maybe not as busy as you'd expect.  Anyway, I made a friend through the rescue business; since I'm only able to keep males, she takes females that I rescue.  We've become partners through that and pretty good friends, and once I got to know her a bit better I learned that she makes a living by writing online.  No kidding!

Anyway,  I asked her one day how hard it was to break into freelance writing online, and she nudged me in the right direction.  Once I knew where to look and what to look for, finding my own gigs became so much easier.  Now that I've tried out a few options, I thought it would be nice to spread that information along to you.

Now, lots of full-time freelance writers can make six figures a year.  You won't do that using any of these sites.  But, everybody has to start somewhere, and while you're learning how to write online for money, you may as well start someplace with a low barrier to entry.

Know an online writing job opportunity I don't?  Drop me a comment!  I'm always looking for new projects and ways to diversity my portfolio.

1.) Textbroker
This is the first site I started writing for, and I suspect it will be a main ingredient in my online writing career for a long time.  Textbroker is a web content site for ghost-written content, which means you will not know what company you're writing for in most cases and you relinquish all rights to the content when you submit it.  It's very easy to get started.  You sign up for an account and are asked to submit a short writing sample based on a prompt they provide.  The site will review the writing sample and assign you a preliminary rating, 1-4 stars.  The higher the rating, the more you will be paid per word and the more articles you will have access to.

After you write your first five articles, Textbroker will put your account on hold while they review your work and send you editing feedback.  It could take a week or so to get your first round of edited articles back. They may adjust your rate after these articles.  After this, Textbroker will continue to rate your articles but you will no longer need to have your account put on hold.

The articles are usually between 200-500 words, although some may get around 900 words.  Topics vary from automobiles, shopping, software, and many other subjects.  Most of them are based on SEO and you may be required to incorporate certain keywords a set number of times in order to submit your article.  If a client particularly likes your writing, they can send you direct orders.  You can set your own rates for specific clients for direct orders.  You can request payout twice a month into your Paypal account.

2.) Wisegeek
Wisegeek offers informational articles on a number of topics.  Writers are paid a flat rate of $11-$14 depending on the topic, and you'll see up front how much an article will be worth.  You choose topics from a pool of subjects, so you can write something within your knowledge base.

When you apply to write at Wisegeek, you fill out a basic application and submit your resume and two writing samples.  They respond to the application within three days, after which point you write your first three articles.  These are reviewed and the staff offers you editorial advice; you then write three more articles, proving that you can incorporate the editor's feedback.  Once you do this two more times (a total of nine articles) you will either be accepted full-time or politely paid for the articles you did and rejected from the site.

You're paid for your Wisegeek articles as you write them; payment deposits directly into your Paypal.  In order to keep your site active, Wisegeek expects you to submit about 5 articles a week.

3.) Demand Studios
Demand Studios is run by the same folks as eHow.  It pays $15 for a regular article, or you can choose to receive revenue from ads alone, but you cannot do both.  Much like Wisegeek, you apply with a resume and a few writing samples, and they get back with you within the week.

Once your account is approved, you are allowed to claim five articles at a time.  You have five days to write these before they're released to the public queue.  Finished articles go to an editor who decides to publish them or ask for revisions; you get paid weekly through Paypal for all of your published articles.

4.) Guru
Guru is similar to a few other very similar sites like eLance and oDesk, but so far I like the interface on Guru the best.  Basically, you put up a profile and find writing jobs that match your skills; then you can put in a "bid" for these jobs, applying to the client with your resume, samples, etc.  The client gets to review the bids and decide who to give the job to.

Jobs pay depending on the project budget the client has.  Some of the pay is fairly low, but some jobs can pay quite high and may end up being long-term arrangements.  You get 10 free bids a month; if you want more, you have to buy a premium account from Guru.

5.) Problogger
These are straight-up job boards.  Corporate blogs put up requests for writers and content, and you can view the request and email for follow-up and apply to the job.  Pay is completely variable and you may need to check back often to find something you like, but it's definitely worthwhile to check in once a day.  You never know what you might find here.

There's obviously more than five sites to write for money online, but these five should at least get your foot in the door and start practicing.

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