I saw this subject in an Ezine article and needed to write a bit on it myself. If you’re a freelance writer, and just starting out, I am assuming that you are making less than 7 cents a word. This is especially true if you are writing for a content engine. If you’re making more than this, please disregard, and may the gods of clients and marketing bestow the same good graces upon me that you are currently receiving.
The truth is that with most content engines the high end of what they pay is around 2-3 cents a word. Some pay higher and I heard from a freelance writer who did a 700 word “rush” article at ecopywriters.com that he made $ 52 from that article! Bravo!
If you’re a freelance writer like myself-just starting out and working on your game then you NEED content engines to supplement income while you are acquiring a private client base. If you are writing for content engines then your top pay is around 1 or 2 cents per word (I currently make a penny per word at TextBroker and 2 cents a word at Independent Publishing) then you really should try to become more efficient and do those jobs in under an hour-way under hour. I would say you need to be doing 300-400 articles in under 20 minutes, with 15 minutes being my personal goal.
Let’s use my current posture in this freelance writing world as an example. If you do the simple math and I was to write a 300 word article (content rich, well written, SEO standards) and it took me an hour then I would be making $3.00-$6.00 dollars and hours. That just doesn’t cut it for me. Like I said in my last post, I would write for nothing because I love doing it but I’ll be damned if I am going to write something that is going to hit someone else’s website and bring in a lot more money over a longer period of time. I’d rather be doing this and adding good content to my OWN website here.
***I stick firmly to my passionate campaign that freelance writersare paid employees of their client once they take on an assignment and not (I say again, “NOT” — roger?) “compensated contributors.” Every time I see a job on Elance or Freelancer for .0025 per word I get heated. That’s right the decimal point is in the right place-a quarter of a penny!
Here are my tips for writing quick articles that have some substance and will keep the clients happy.
Write What You Know
Yeah, yeah we’ve all heard this before but you need to really make it count with the content engines and even residual earners like Hubpages and Y!CN. When I am on textbroker I go directly to the travel, animals, shopping and sports sections to see what is there for assignments. I also try to look for anything military related. My life and my experience (your’s will be different — or perhaps not — maybe we’re identical) have put me in a position where I can write about those subjects off the tops of my head. I stay from tech and anything that says “write a review of this product” and they want more than 300 words.
I can put out about 300-400 words on the topics that I know in about 15 minutes. Tech makes me so uncomfortable to write about that I would rather be doing anything else. Reviews are hard to do for me because, in my opinion, any review will be almost exactly like someone else’s review. Spec this, shutter rate that, fits well, safety minded, blah blah blah.
If there are none of the ones I am comfortable with I’ll sample a few orders, gauge how much research is needed, and pick the ones that I can do the fastest.
In any case, a freelance content writer should put their best foot forward in delivering content rich, quality stuff that is free of spelling errors and grammar issues. I always try to do that — sometimes I miss some glaring errors.
Type Fast or Speak Clearly
Like I stated, I can knock out a 300-400 word article off the top of my head in about 15 minutes. I know this doesn’t make me the world’s fastest typist but, hey, it gets the job done. If you’re a writer who doesn’t feel comfortable around the keyboard then don’t feel that it is beneath you to take a typing class or two — it can work wonders.
I read a blog the other day, and I can’t remember where, whose author was doing an experiment. She wanted to create some traffic to her site so she decided to post 4 articles on the same subject but completely original to some of residual sites. She said she did this by putting on her head set and dictating the articles through her software program that takes the spoken word and puts it directly into her word processing program. I smiled to myself as I read this because I had never even considered doing something like that! Does it work? I believe the most popular program out there right now is Dragon Naturally Speaking (sp). I have done little research on this software but the idea gnaws at me and I may experiment in the future.
Words, Words, Words
Don’t get carried away with this next tip but be aware of it. When I first started writing articles and blog posts for people I found myself writing a lot of “wouldn’t, couldn’t, you’re, they’re, etc.) I started being aware of my conjunctions and ONLY use them now if “would not”, “could not” and their likes sound too formal.
Again, don’t get carried away with “flourish” just to add more words. The brokers, clients and the readers will see it. It makes for some really fart-smelling reading too. Like this for example:
I am smoking my last cigarette. (6 words, sounds normal.)
Alas, a pack of twenty cigarettes has met its demise as I am currently in the midst of smoking my last cigarette. (21 words and it reads like a pile of vomit smells.)
There will be chances for flourish but it should only be done at the request of the client and for creative fiction if the tone is correct. Otherwise, leave it out. NEVER do this type of thing for the sake of word count. You might make it past an editor (though doubtful) and the client might actually accept because they are desperate to add more content to their webpage, however, it is just plain lazy. If we want to get paid like professionals then we need to act the part.
Time and Distractions
This is a flaw that I am trying desperately to fix in myself. I find myself checking email, Facebook, this blog, and sports scores (it’s not easy being a displaced Boston fan in Maryland!) in the middle of writing sometimes. Sure, we all need a break but that should only be true in the middle of longer compositions. If you are writing a series of small articles then break in between the articles not DURING. And remember, this is your business, so treat yourself like an employee. Breaks are limited and have a time frame.
As far as time goes I find that my best writing is done in the early mornings when Boom Boom (my Quaker parrot) is still covered and quiet. When I say “early morning” I mean early morning like between 5 and 8. I like to smoke and drink coffee when I write at this time because they pop the synapses into gear. It is quiet outside and the morning air is getting into my system through the window at my desk — it really gets me flowing.
My next best time to write is at night. After I have checked my blog stats for the day, after Yahoo! and Associated Content have updated their page views, and definitely after Two and A Half Men (I love Charlie but I’m excited about Ashton being there too!). Boom Boom has gone through his screaming fits by now and I have played with him enough so that he is partially content. At that point, it’s country music or gangsta’ rap and my keyboard. AGAIN: Keep Facebook and email notifications turned off!
My goal as a freelance writer, even at the measly 1-2 cents per word that I am making right now (which would change if someone who read this actually hired me) is to make around $12-$18 an hour. I have been able to do that on many occasions while on others I have fell into the traps of distraction. Just do your best work, give nothing for free, and discipline yourself to making some system — any system — work for you.
Note 1: The more I write for clients and content sites, and the more diverse subjects I have to write about, then the more knowledgeable I get in different areas. I can now write pretty easily and quickly on pay day loans, solar energy, and the goji berry! Yay me.
Note 2: If you’re writing for residual earning sites like Y!CN or HubPages then even these need to be quick. Remember, the more articles you have online the more page views will be possible. Again, quick does not translate into low-quality. Though some of early stuff at Y!CN is questionable but I have learned since then and continue to learn with every article I write.
Note 3: I don’t consider writing Ezine articles as a free service. They drive traffic to your site. Also, even if I write a piece for Associated Content or Hubpages it has the chance to earn through page views so that isn’t free either. What I mean by “free” is to take on a job through Elance or Freelancer for free (which is against both site’s terms but it DOES happen) just to gain credits. If you want to write for free and gain some credits then submit OpEds to local newspapers and have an opinion about something. I’ve done that before, too!
Note 4: I don’t know why I decided to go with a “note” format instead of just putting this information into the body of the article but it was an experiment that I had fun with!