"Master Dayton" might be humorous, (I mean if Ph.Ds are called "Doctors," shouldn't MFAs be called "Masters?") but in all seriousness I have made a living freelance writing and after several years I have tons of information I want to share to help out my fellow writers, regardless of age, experience, goals, situation, or background. This blog isn't pretty-but it will help if real freelance writing information is what you want.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Constant Content Review | More on Freelance Writing for Constant Content

More Thoughts on Constant Content Freelance Writing Review

In a recent freelance writing post I went over my full review of Constant Content. If you haven't read my Constant Content review yet, go ahead and click on the link to have a look. I tried to answer as many questions freelance writers would have about the site there. Learning how to become a freelance writer can be hard and intimidating, and I kept that in mind with my Constant Content review, hoping to help you all avoid the mistakes I've made and to give you enough information to make you confident in signing up and getting started.

I'm happy with the first Constant Content review, and it gives enough information to be more than enough for freelance writers just starting out to take advantage and start writing with confidence. That said, there are a few more thoughts and experiences I'd like to share, since my original Constant Content review was pretty long, and a shorter post that's more of a several points summary might be really helpful for some writers.

10 Tips to Succeed at Constant Content

Constant Content Writing Tip #1: Proof read. Writers can charge a lot more for their articles on Constant Content because buyers know to expect really high quality articles when they make a purchase from CC.

Constant Content Writing Tip #2: Don't under charge for your work. This is a classic mistake, and one I made early on. Don't charge $7 for usage on a 400 word article. Even charging $14 is on the very low side of acceptable. In fact, don't be surprised if you sell more articles once you mark up your prices to more competitive levels.

Constant Content Writing Tip #3: Think evergreen. "Evergreen Content" when referring to freelance writing is content that could be desired over and over. Top 10 lists are good evergreen content, as are how to articles. An article about the 2008 election, on the other hand, might get you a sale in 2008, but that's probably it. A Top 10 list of the best vampire movies, however, is a freelance article that could sell over and over again, especially near Halloween every year.

Constant Content Writing Tip #4: Know your strategy. Selling only usage rights does make it easier to set up a passive income stream, but full rights articles sell for a lot more money and are in much higher demand. Depending on your immediate and long term goals, this can affect the prices you set and even what type of rights you're wiling (or not) to sell.

Constant Content Writing Tip #5: Don't be afraid to experiment with high prices. Does charging $59 for full rights for a good 450 word article that required 45 minutes of your time sound like too much? Not every article is worth that, but many are, especially if you're writing on a topic that requires special knowledge (like a solid poker player talking about poker, or a mechanic writing about automotive how to). Experiment to see what works. I thought $150 full rights for a "Worst Video Games" ever list I wrote was a ridiculous amount to charge, until someone bought it the very next day.

Constant Content Writing Tip #6: Write for requests that interest you. Not only are these articles already in demand, but if one person wants them, most likely others do, too. Many of my best sales were requested articles that the original requester didn't buy, but someone else did later.

Constant Content Writing Tip #7: Add the commission into your sales prices. If you want to bring home $20 for an article, don't place a price tag of $20 on the article and concede the 35% to Constant Content. As I said earlier in my Constant Content review, figure the % into your price. If you want to bring home $20, charge $30. Your work is worth it, and you might be surprised how often buyers are willing to pay extra.

Constant Content Writing Tip #8: Decide how you feel about "Best Offer." You have the option of also allowing buyers to make a best offer price. I have mixed feelings. On one hand, you might get to make more sales, especially with "use rights" articles that you have sold several times before. On the other hand, you might get bid down a lot more, which kind of somewhat dulls the point of authors being able to set their own prices.

Constant Content Writing Tip #9: Pay attention to trends and news. With the current economic downturn it's a safe bet that economics, mortgage, budgeting, and other similar financial articles will probably be in demand. Holiday articles may only be good for one part of the year, but if you sell the usage rights then you can re-sell the same articles to new people every year.

Constant Content Writing Tip #10: I've found that movie reviews of recent movies (as in just released in theatres) do very well, and so do movie list articles. Book reviews have done okay for me, as well, but not nearly the same level as the movies.

Those are 10 tips to writing for Constant Content and I hope this secondary Constant Content review has helped answer any remaining questions. So sign up and get cracking!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Make Money Online: Writing & Other Money Making Ideas

Many ways to use writing to make money online

This will be a really quick post. Based on some e-mails and comments I've received, I wanted to make a quick post on ways to make money on the Internet. Writing is what I will concentrate on the most, since this is a very easy way to break into making money online, but there are many money making ideas that can work to make a great second (or first) income that don't involve writing, or not in the traditional sense.

Amazon Associates is a free associate program you can join, and every affiliate can set up 100 "Astores" for free. eBay has a similar program that has done well for many individuals, as well. Many of these programs you need to learn about affiliates, back links, SEO, etc.

So if you're looking to make money online but aren't an overly great writer, there are still many ways to go online and make some extra money even with minimal writing. This post is to confirm that there are a lot of ways to go about this. In other posts I've listed some of the best blogs and sources to learn this information, but I'm going to spend most of my time on the purely writing to make money online sites.

If you'd like more information, feel free to look at my other posts or visit this site on money making ideas to get a real sense of someone who actually is working to get a full time online income and the other ways to go about it.

Next post: a further Constant Content review.

Update: If you want to know what I now consider (2011+) the best program for making money online, then check out my Keyword Academy review.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Freelance Writing | Constant Content Review

Constant Content Review

UPDATE: A lot has changed at Constant-Content since I first posted this website review, as Jade Dragon was kind enough to point out in the comments (by the way, I strongly recommend his blog: it's a good one). The new pay out level is $5, making it extremely easy to make pay out each and every month. Also, your affiliate commission has been moved down to 5% from 10% - although they make even more sales then when this review was written, so I've seen minimal drop off in affiliate income. That's it for now, and I still strongly recommend Constant-Content as a great place for beginning or part time writers.


So here's the first major review of an online freelance writing website where writers can work and earn income. I choose to write this constant content website review because it is one of my favorite websites to sell work freelance writing online. This site hasn't been my biggest money maker as far as making money on the Internet, but it is a freelance writing website that offers a lot of opportunity for writers who are looking to make a little extra money online. In fact, there are several writers who make a full time living writing for Constant Content alone, but so far I've used this place as somewhere to put articles that I want to write or don't have a market for, or articles I plan on writing and re-selling several times (so obviously for these freelance writing articles I would offer only usage rights).

The first thing you'll need to know right off the bat is that Constant-Content.com pays only through PayPal, so if you don't have a PayPal account, roll up a newspaper and hit yourself in the head. Bad writer! Then go ahead and read this post on why online writers need PayPal.

All payments from Constant Content are done through PayPal, so that's a must. Signing up for an author account is completely free, and this site isn't restricted to just American writers. Australian and British authors are welcome to make money writing here, as well, and authors from any country that has PayPal. The major caveat to writers who speak English as a second language is that the editorial guidelines for CC are very clear: they expect solid grammar and English. If it doesn't read like native English, it's not good enough to be accepted on this site.

There's a small but very efficient team of editors on this site. Ed and Celeste are two names you'll become familiar with in learning to submit articles and read on topics on the Constant Content Forum. Obviously no Constant Content Review would be complete without a look at the editors, right? In my experiences Ed is a very professional editor. By professional, I mean just that. He is very good at his job, he takes care in his work, and he will be very direct and to the point on what problems you need to address if your article isn't up to snuff.

That doesn't mean he will hold your hand or be your best buddy. That's not his job. His job is to edit to make sure everything accepted into the Constant Content data base meets the editorial standards they put forth. Some people have complained of Ed being rude, but I've never found that to be the case (and a couple of times I made some bone headed mistakes before submitting articles that were rejected on the first run). He's old school professional: to the point and very direct. As a writer, that should be the type of editor you would hope for.

Write good articles for this website. This isn't an article dumping ground.

When you sign up, you can begin uploading articles immediately. This is a pretty easy process, and very self-explanatory as long as you read the directions and follow accordingly. The easiest mistake to make is to forget to upload the article after filling out all the information. Make sure to avoid this time consuming error.

One of the best parts of Constant-Content is being able to set your own prices for your freelance writing. So often taking advantage of freelance writing opportunities, especially for the beginning writer, means that you often are told how much you're getting paid, and as any starting freelance writer can tell you, way too often it's not very much. Any article you write for Constant Content you get to set your own prices for.

You also get to decide what type of rights you're willing to sell for your work. So instead of putting all that effort into making money writing and coming out with minimum wage (or worse), for ghost writing articles, you can tell a prospective buyer exactly how much you think your work is worth. Or you can even go so far on Constant Content as to decide to only sell usage rights, meaning your hard work freelance writing will be awarded with your name always on the byline.

There are three major types of rights that you can sell to your work as a freelance writer for Constant Content:

Usage Rights: If you sell usage rights this means that the buyer can post your article, but can't change anything. Your name remains as the author on the article, and not a single word can be changed. You own the copyright and can re-sell this article as many times as you can find buyers. This is my favorite types of rights to sell on Constant Content because like many online freelance writers, I like to get passive income from my articles and I like seeing my name in print :) These are usually sold at the cheapest rate since the buyer can't change anything.

Unique Rights: Unique rights are a little bit different. If a buyer purchases unique rights to your freelance writing, this means that nothing is changed in the article. The words remain exactly the same and you are credited as the author, but the purchaser is buying the unique rights to publish your article, which means that although you get the credit, you can never re-sell this article anywhere else, so make sure you mark it up to an amount you can live with.

Full Rights: This is exactly what is sounds like and is why this price should always be far higher than the others. Full rights means you sell full rights. You can charge a lot more for this, or choose to never sell full rights at all, but if you do the buyer owns everything, and can change this article any way they want. They can re-write most of it, or keep everything the same but put their name as the author. Most of the time this means your name won't appear with the work, and it will be as if you ghost wrote the article. These articles are in the highest demand, and sell most often on Constant Content.

It's hard to put an exact price on how much you should charge for each article, but don't undervalue your freelance writing! Depending on the quality of work, and degree of expertise, for 400 words I'll charge anywhere from $21-36 for usage rights, $29-49 for unique rights, and $39 on up for full rights. The $39 is generally for a basic 400 word SEO article that doesn't take much thought, time or research. For larger articles, the price can go up quite a bit. I once sold an 1,100 word article that took me two hours for $150 full rights. That's a very nice hourly pay, and it was on a subject that I wasn't probably ever going to need to use again, so I didn't mind giving away all the rights for that price.

Actually I even wrote that article for a request, and then the requester never purchased the article. This actually happens frequently, and as opposed to being discouraging, should be encouraging. There is a "requests" section on Constant Content where buyers can request articles. Many of the writers who make a living full time on CC do it by writing to these requests. Many times the requester will buy a good article, and many times they request something and never buy anything.

The good news is that this has happened to me many times, so I slapped a high price on the article, put it up for sale, and sold it to someone else a couple weeks (or months) later. The more articles you have available, the more likely someone is going to be looking for what you have to offer.

The rest is writing and figuring out how to get the most out of Constant Content based on your skills. Yes, full rights articles are the most sought after, but can you write articles people will want every year? I wrote an article on "Top 10 Movie Sociopaths" and sold usage rights four times. That's four quality sales for an opinion article in which research, writing, spell checking, and proof reading combined to take about 80 minutes. Not bad at all. The price is lowered now to $15 usage, mostly because after four sales this article is around the Internet and when the sales stopped coming, I lowered the price accordingly.

Another nice thing about Constant Content is you keep building over time. The more articles you write, the more sales you make, the more money you make. If you have enough in demand articles with usage rights on sale, then eventually CC can even become passive income for the determined freelance writer trying to make money online. My best month on CC (and I could be making a LOT more money on this site, but between Guru, Elance, going to grad school, and a full time writing job, and trying out everything on the web to get first hand info for this blog, I haven't given Constant Content nearly enough effort) was over $200 take home on a month where I didn't write a single new article.

I make generally $50 take home a month. I also haven't written a new article on CC in three months, and until the holiday rush is over, I won't be able to give them the attention they deserve. If someone started out with some actual work effort and a steady plan to write for CC, answer requested articles (I also almost never do this - I just write what I want on Constant Content), then it's not out of the question that CC alone could become a full time source of income.

The drawbacks to Constant Content?

Constant-Content does charge a pretty high 35% commission. That is a lot, but it is in range of professional referrals, and you should figure that into your pricing. If you want $15 for that article that took you 45 minutes to write, then charge $21. That easy. Even with that large commission, you also need to consider that this still pays you far more per article than with the far majority of other online freelance writing sites. It certainly beats pennies per month from Helium.com

So the Pros of Constant Content:

  1. You can choose your own topics
  2. You set your own prices
  3. Full time income potential
  4. Some passive income potential
  5. A perfect part time freelance writing site
  6. Freedom of schedule - less stress when life gets too busy

The negatives of Constant Content:

  1. No guaranteed sales
  2. 35% commission
  3. Must live in PayPal country
  4. Must be very solid in grammar and English usage
  5. You can't get your name out or build a reputation outside of Constant Content
  6. $50 minimum balance before you get paid

In my experience, the pros far outweigh the cons, and I look forward to getting a little bit of time next year and shooting for my goal of $5,000 from CC while still keeping up with all my other irons in the fire. I know this is a very doable goal, and for freelance writers looking for more freelance writing opportunities to make money writing online, you need to check out this site.

As a side note: if any of you writers are college freshmen, this is the perfect site. Over four years you have so much time to build up a wide array of articles that you might be able to make a full time living off passive income off CC by graduation, if you're willing to do the work.

One last thing: there is an affiliate program. For every author you refer, you get 10% of their sales, taken completely from Constant Content's 35% cut. This means if you sell an article only 25% goes to CC, while 10% goes to the grateful author who referred you. As a warning: don't get too excited when people sign up. The majority of people in life never put up the effort to get ahead. Out of 61 referrals (and counting) that I have, none have written over five articles, and over 2/3 haven't written a single one. Three have wrote at least one article, as I have three "cuts" for a whopping $3.25 or so. But you keep up the referrals because every penny counts, and because you hope one day a full time Constant Content writer who'll go on to make 30k a year will sign up through your referral link to show their appreciation

So come on, be that writer. I dare you, sign up and make a small fortune and make us both happier :)

I hope this Constant Content review has been helpful. If there are any further questions that any of you have, please feel free to leave your question in the comments section. For all those writers out there looking for freelance writing opportunities and other great ways to make money online, keep up the hard work, good luck, and hopeful this Constant-Content.com review will help you on your way to a full time writing income.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Freelance Writing: 10 Places to Sell Your Freelance Writing Online

10 Places to Sell Your Freelance Writing Online
There are many different places to sell your writing online. Some of these sites are excellent markets for the beginning freelance writer, and places that even give the opportunity to make a full time living if you are good enough. The hardest part for many beginning freelance writers is working up the courage to get writing and selling.

This is true whether you are a person looking to make money writing for the first time, a part timer looking for a work at home opportunity, or a college student looking to make some extra money. By knowing where you can send your writing to make money, that makes it much easier to get started. You don't have to start from scratch to look for freelance writing markets online, because you already did your research and know where they are.

#1 Constant Content. This is one of my favorite freelance writing websites to submit articles to. You can join for free and write on anything you want, then set your own prices. There is a requests section you can answer, which gives you a better chance of writing articles that will get bought right away, or you can just write about whatever you want. Don't undersell your articles: people will pay for value.

What's the main downside of Constant Content for new freelance writers? You don't know when someone is going to buy your work, so there's no guarantee of a paycheck. But the more you write the better off you are. This site is also free for sign up.

#2 Guru. Guru is an auction based site that you must buy a monthly, quarterly, or yearly subscription to. While you need to get into the top 50 to make a full time living off of Guru, this is possible. It takes some time to build up your reputation, but not as much as you'd think. Without any help or guidance I was making over $1,000 a month within three months, and I was making twice that in five months. This was when I started at Guru three years ago, and there are a lot more jobs on there, and more high paying ones, as well.

Basically as a freelance writer on Guru you bid on jobs and then get to work on the ones awarded to you. This site is growing about 50% a year, making it possible for more and more individuals to make a full time living even writing for Guru alone. If you're serious about making really good money writing online, this is a must work site.

#3 Elance. Elance is the other big auction site for writers and also requires you to pay for a membership. Like Guru there's more value in buying a one year subscription up front. It takes some time to build a reputation, and for early jobs you may have to write for less than you'd like to begin building your reputation. But the minimum pay at Elance is higher than at Guru, and the ceiling is higher income wise for writers online than maybe any other website. Some long time writers ranked at the top have even been said to make six digits just writing for Elance. If you want to write and you don't know a lot about Internet Marketing, this and Guru are your best shots at a gold mine.

#4 Hubpages. At Hubpages you don't get paid directly for your writing, but you can demonstrate your writing skills by making web pages in which you can make money from affiliate sales from eBay and Amazon, as well as Google Adsense. Signing up for all three is easy, and diversifies how you can make money online, which is always a good idea.

You can get a lot of publicity for your writing, ideas, interests, and/or business here, which can often be valuable in snagging new jobs. You get to easily design web pages (even without any technical skills at all) that can give great backlinks if you build your own blog network. This area has a great community and fun "change of pace" place. If you're interested in learning more about Internet marketing, this is also a great place to go for that.

#5 Associated Content. AC pays up front for a lot of their work, and you also get passive income based on page views that continues to add up over time. AC isn't great for money straight out, as most pay falls in the $3-10 range (as a side note: there's a lot of demand for short how to videos, so if you have a video camera this can be a great way to make some good income here) but it will get you some steady income both directly and passively.

This is also a site where you could receive enough attention to get more and better work elsewhere (this has happened to me before). You earn passive incomes for views, so your freelance writing continues to earn money well after when you wrote it. My first article was from nearly two years ago, and it doesn't make much, but it gets enough traffic for about an extra $2 a month. This means I get paid $24 a year for an article that I haven't even glanced at in two years, and which still occasionally sells for usage rights off of CC, as well. That's a good deal.

One major caveat: Associated Content, even though they pay through PayPal, does not pay up front for articles from writers based outside of the U.S. This really sucks, even though they still pay the bonus for page views. So if you're in the United Kingdom or Australia, go ahead and knock this down to the bottom of the list (though even if in Australia I'd prefer this over Helium from my experience).

#6 Squidoo. Squidoo allows users to design one page websites on whatever interests them and get paid on a tiered system. Affiliate sales are also an option, as you can sell related products and get a cut, which you split half and half with Squidoo. Squidoo doesn't pay a lot, although some of the top earners do make over a thousand a month here. This is a good way, though, to learn about Internet Marketing, something all online writers should learn to improve their value and if you want the really big bucks, you need to understand this kind of stuff. It also has a great community and is a good change of pace place to write and get more exposure.

#7 eHow. I've only recently joined here, so I haven't been able to fully take advantage of everything eHow has to offer yet (so there's a good chance that it can move up this list and pass some of my other favorites), but I like the potential and other writers I trust have made good income here, especially passive income.

eHow is designed to write a tips based article that tells how to do something step by step. The format makes it easy to write a well organized and good article in a relatively short time. Pay is a combination of page views, score, and "usefulness." The writers get paid monthly, so an article that you write today can still be making you money over a year from now. This is a great place for new writers to get started, with a very friendly community.

#8 oDesk. This website is similar to Guru and Elance, but is free instead of asking for a monthly or yearly subscription fee. There are many jobs on here you can bid on, and some of them pay all right. One downside is that the pay does tend to be lower, and the variety of decent paying jobs here isn't nearly as high as on Guru or Elance, but it is free to sign up and skim through listings and if you have a good command of the English language and your ability to write, then you can trump the competition pretty easily.

#9 Triond. Triond and Helium aren't anywhere as close to being as good as the other sites on this list, but some writers have done well here. Triond puts ads on your article, and you get a share of the revenue whenever someone clicks on an ad. Some writers have done very well here, while others have had a harder time of it. It's not a bad place to "recycle" articles that you have sold and re-sold at other places before.

#10 Helium. Helium's best value comes from the Marketplace and contest section if you can make much progress in either. Some writers love this site, others hate it. The pay can be very low, and the payment method is kept secretive and unclear.

While some writers have done well, and you'll hear a lot of people market this site, my general thought is that it doesn't pay nearly enough and if you're good enough to make serious money here, then you should be making a full time living writing for someone else. There have been several reports of writers not getting paid or getting booted off for complaining about plagiarism. I can't verify any of these stories, but where there's smoke, there's usually fire. I don't recommend this site for new writers, or experienced ones for that matter, but caveat emptor. It's still your choice.

I hope this list helps you get started in the rewarding work at home career of freelance writing.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Writing Allegory: The Beetle and the Acorn

This is a real short post that is (despite initial appearances) still related to freelance writing before going back to more website reviews and ways to maximize your earnings early on, in the lean months, when it can be hardest to get you going with some decent paying jobs.

The other day I was enjoying one of the advantages of being a full time writer: which is being able to shift my schedule around any way I want. Since the really oppressive heat of the Texas summer (complete with drought this year) was finally gone, at noon I decided to go for a four hour hike on one of the great trails here in Austin. I would do all my freelance writing work when I got back.

While taking a break, I saw a beetle moving to try and push an acorn up what, for him, was a very steep rock face. It failed several times, but tried again with renewed vigor and a new tactic every time. Watching him wasn't only a great way for me to practice living in the moment (a practice I strongly reccomend), but his struggles with getting the acorn to the top was an extremely apt parable for all of the following: freelance writing, Internet marketing, & making money online.

You can view the page where I wrote about the specifics here:

It's worth a read to get the point of what to expect from a career in freelance writing, and the dedication and ability to adapt that you'll need to really succeed. I hope this little story helps, and the next post will be a long list of places you can write to make money online with very brief reviews, and then I'll start going into some really in depth and comparative reviews shortly after that.

Keep writing, and I'm pulling for you.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Writing Online for Money: Active Income Vs. Passive Income

Different Beasts: Active Income Vs. Passive Income

This freelance writing/making money online post is going to be a long one, because the subject of making active income online versus making passive income online is something entire books could be written on. In fact, there has been. When you're looking to make money online, there are many different ways to go about it, and this is even true of a niche like freelance writing.

First, some basic definitions: active income is the regular way most freelance writers get paid. You writer an article, you get paid, and then that's it. You might sell articles on Constant-Content or Associated Content and get paid once (although if you have usage rights you can ((and should)) recycle and re-sell these articles), or a few times if you re-sell these, but that's not the same as passive income.

Passive income is income that keeps coming in consistently from work you may have done a week, a month, or even years ago. Adsesne is easily the number one example of how to make money with passive income. A good niche blog that you write, rank well in the SERPs for, and then put Adsense on could be completely "finished" in say October, then continue to earn you Adsense money daily even though you don't have to put in any more work.

The idea of passive income is very appealing for obvious reasons. It is easier to make active income while freelance writing, at least if you need money immediately. If passive income was easy, everyone would be going that route. The thing about passive income is that you have to go into not only writing, but into Internet Marketing, if you want to master the art and science of passive income, and you're going to have to learn a lot and work your butt off to see any tangible results at all, much less start getting to the point where it is a consistent steady full time level of income.

As far as making an annual income, it is easier to write online for active income: following the old trend of writing articles, getting paid, then repeat. This is the model of work most people are familiar with since being a full time freelance writer means you probably planned on working every week, building the portfolio of clips, and treating writing as you would any other home business.

And if that wasn't what you were thinking when the idea of becoming a freelance writer started to sound appealing, be careful. It's not an easy job. Being a writer requires extremely hard work, long hours, a lot of work on your craft, tight deadlines, and the occasional four day weekend you can take on a whim is balanced out by the 18-20 hour days as you close in on a deadline.

And before I get angry e-mails, let me make one thing clear: passive income doesn't mean three months of work and then you're done forever. If you get big enough with enough sites, then your work load is certainly diminished, but it's still not the end all be all of everything going on. You will still need to collect back links, especially if you are in a competitive niche, you will definitely need to make sure to re-purchase your domain names every single year, and you will need monthly hosting to make sure your websites are up and making you income.

Aside from Adsense blogs, other common forms of passive income that are more common include affiliate sales (often Amazon, eBay, or other affiliate sites), BANS (Build A Niche Store) websites, and there is even some passive income with sites like Associated Content, where you still get paid for page views (traffic). While this won't ever be the same level of passive income as these other sites, and should never be assumed that it will become a full time income. I have about 200 articles on AC, and aside from the money paid in the past, I tend to get $20-25 a month even if I don't log on at all for months at a time.

Yeah, that's not a lot by any stretch, but I'm still getting a few hundred dollars a year for articles that were written up to three years ago. That's not a bad deal, especially since 90%+ of my articles on there have been recycled multiple times, and yet they still earn me money instead of staying completely unused in a file cabinet or long deleted Word file.

Websites like HubPages and Squidoo can also help build a good passive income. These sites tend to blur the line between Internet marketing and online writing for money, and both have some great advantages. If you're a beginner, I recommend both these sites heavily because they have great forums and communities where you can get help and support, and they allow you to learn your craft. It is much easier to get a Squidoo "lens" or Hubpage "hub" (both are basically one page websites) ranking higher in the search engine rankings than a blog or start from scratch website, and Squidoo will record every long tail keyword phrase that someone types into a search engine to find your website (VERY useful in learning how keywords and Internet search rankings work). Both let you design pages for free, and both give opportunities to make income.

While the income from both sites are generally modest, the top "Lensmasters" at Squidoo, like the very top "Hubbers" from Hubpages, make in excess of over $1,000 a month. Squidoo requires a lot more updating and maintenance than Hubpages, but both give you a chance to make money online writing, establish web pages you can use for backlinks, and learning the basics of getting traffic, making sales, and becoming comfortable doing so.

As someone who tends to be severely technologically challenged, I can attest to how helpful these two sites have been in helping me to learn how online commerce works and to get far better at online marketing than I ever was before.

Right now, I will openly admit that I am far better at normal freelance writing for money online than passive income with Adsense. Why? Because I didn't discover Griz's blog and the possibility of Adsense online until June. What has been encouraging to me is how quickly I have to learn on the fly from reading these blog posts, and yet without being able to put in the full amount of time I've wanted, I'm seeing consistent and amazing growth in my monthly Adsense income.

Does it take a whole lot of work? Absolutely. Are more people who want to become a freelance writer thinking about "active income" and writing job by job? Absolutely. That doesn't mean you shouldn't do both. Diversify. Write for rent and paying off debt and date money job by job now...and read the blogs of make money online experts and look at setting yourself up for the long term. If you want to learn how to be a successful freelance writer, then it makes sense to learn both

If you're a freshman in college reading this, you should be drooling. You have four years to write and save money (or have extra spending money or both) and you have four of the best years to work on setting up the passive income. If you're far better than me at computers and online stuff (and if you're a freshman at college it's almost a certainty you are) then who knows? Follow the advice of the experts and you might not have to find a job after college, because you might be set with your own business.

And just to help you avoid scammers at all costs, here's a list of make money online experts, the guys I'm learning passive income techniques from, and the guys all of you should be learning from:

The Keyword Academy Program

Internet Marketing with Courtney Tuttle

Blogging Zombie (Justin seems as nice a guy you could ever ask for advice)

Lissie's Internet Marketing Blog

That's it. There are groups of bloggers who argue back and forth about what's scamming and what's legit, and it's pretty easy to get taken in. But what these four guys teach is invaluable, and these are the best of the best who (amazingly) share tons of knowledge for free, so eat it up!

If you are learning how to become a writer and how to get paid for writing online, the active writing isn't hard. If you want huge money writing, learn about passive income from these guys. I'm seeing enough results from my own work to know I'm catching on and the consistent growth in earnings tells me all I need to know: these guys are for real. Even if you're a writer not interested in marketing, it's good to learn from what these guys have to teach.

Earning active income online is easy, and I'm not going to go into it nearly as much for that reason. The other reason is that I've already mentioned making money on Associated Content & Constant Content in another post, and more posts will be aimed specifically at the people looking to become online freelance writers for sites like Guru & Elance, Constant-Content, and Associated Content. There's a lot of money to be made online, and I want this blog to be especially focused at helping brand new freelance writers get going. Those first dollars mean the world to the writer who makes them for the first time, and I hope this blog can contribute to many future success stories.

Good writing, and keep up the hard work!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Top 3 Most Lucrative Fields of Freelance Writing

Three Most Lucrative Types of Writing for Freelance Writers

Making a living as a freelance writer can be difficult. Especially for the beginner, where online content and article writing is the easiest place to break in, but as such they also tend to pay peanuts until you can establish yourself.

Assuming you're in for the long haul and are serious about becoming a full freelance writer and not just part timer, then one of the early things you need to do is figure out which direction you want to go. There are some very lucrative freelance writing gigs as a professional ghost writer (especially for celebs) or as a feature writer for popular magazines, but you need a very extensive portfolio and some very good connections to consistently land that level of gigs.

Those areas also have fierce levels of competition for a limited amount of work, and if the field has several professional experts, then you're just out of luck. For the rest of us, there are three specific types of writing that are the most consistently lucrative and accessible:

  1. Business Writing
  2. Copy Writing (also known as Sales Page/Sales Writing)
  3. Technical Writing

These three areas consistently pay more money to rank and file writers than any other area of freelance writing. This makes sense because all three of these types of writing have you working for businesses and/or corporations, meaning you're writing for clients with large amounts of money who need a job done, and are willing to pay to get it done right. But now more about each:

Business Writing: This can be for press releases, white papers, business reports, prepared speeches, articles, pamphlets, advertising, or any other type of needed writing. Business writers can plan on making a very good hourly rate, and even entry level freelance business writers can often charge $15-$20 an hour while building a business relationship.

Copy Writing: This is perhaps the most lucrative writing if you're good at it. Copy writing is writing sales pages for web sites, e-books, or other products. Even moderate level copy writers can make $60,000 or more a year, and the best in the business make millions because they not only charge huge for jobs, but they also get a percentage of everything that sells.

Technical Writing: This is another area that can end up paying $20 an hour, and when you prove yourself, the hourly wage can even jump as high as $40-50 an hour. Technical writing is often working closely with a corporation. Ever have a 90 page instruction booklet on an entertainment system that didn't seem to make sense? That's a technical writing job opportunity. It's not fun writing, and there's a lot of long hours and revising, but you get paid what you're worth.

These three areas continue to look for new talent, and wages for good freelance writers will go up. Freelancers have an advantage in that companies don't have to pay half of their Social Security tax, provide insurance and benefits, or feed into a 401-K, meaning that freelance writers can often charge more because of the savings that the companies get off the top.

So start training and jump in! Companies are always looking for good freelance writers, and some are even willing to hire freelance writers on full time to ensure good work. I know, that's how I became lucky enough to land my full time gig!Best of luck in writing, and if you're looking for the accessible lucrative writing areas, these types of your writing are your best bets.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Freelance Writing: Getting Started & Reviews Coming Soon!

Beginning Freelance Writer Advice

I thought about making this post about how I became a freelance writer, but that can wait. I want this blog to be about you, the readers, and not about myself. So although this post will be brief about how to get started as a freelance writer, and I'll go into more detail on all this information later, the following should help you get going immediately if your goal is to write for money online.

These are some of the original websites I've found, and while they're not going to make you rich, they welcome new freelance writers and will give you the opportunity to get started writing for free. There are definitely good auction based writing websites like Guru & Elance, but since those require monthly fees, I'm going to wait until later to review those.

This post is all about getting started writing right away without having to put any money up. This can be great for college students making money, disabled individuals who need side income, or part time writers, and is a good way just to get moving and started. Even a little extra spending money here and there is nothing to complain about.

I'm also going to mention some popular online writing websites that I generally would encourage beginning writers to avoid. Some of these are highly thought of by many online freelance writers, but I'm not sure why. Avoiding websites that require a disproportionate amount of effort to pay off is just as important as finding the good websites.

First of all, if you haven't read the post on why every starting writer needs Paypal, click on that link and read the post. The rest of this is assuming you have already opened a Paypal account, and now you're ready to see it start filling up with some well earned money :)

Remember, these all are just very brief descriptions of these sites. I'll post more extensive reviews on these freelance writing websites in the future.


This is one of my personal favorite sites not because it makes me the most money, but because I have control over what I write and how much I charge for it. This doesn't mean that Constant-Content can't be a major money maker of a freelance writing website. It can be, and there are several authors who make a full time living off Constant-Content alone. And this isn't they live in a hut in Thailand for $80 a month full time living, some of the top authors here have shared that they've made over $30,000 in a year before.

Constant-Content is a place where you can sign up for free. Authors can choose to answer requests and write articles on those topics in hopes that the employer chooses their articles, or they can write on anything they want. Prices are set by the author, and you can set different prices for usage, unique, or full rights, and you can choose to not put the full or unique rights for sale.

The plus side to this is obvious: instead of getting a pittance of $3-8 for a 500 word article online, you can write an article and set the price at $25 for 500 words. If the article is well written and on a solid subject, there's a very good chance you can sell it for that. If the usage rights are on sale, some articles can be sold multiple times. I've had one "Top 10 Movies..." article sell four times for $30 a pop. Not bad for an article that took 75 minutes to research, write, and spell check.

The drawbacks? Constant-Content charges 35% commission. That is a lot, but you should be able to work that into pricing and still make far more per article than with most other online sites. The other is that there is no guarantee of sale, although I've been amazed of really micro niche articles of mine that have sold that I put up simply because I thought they were unsellable.

Pros of Constant Content: Choose your own topics, write at your own pace, set your prices, more per article, there is full time income potential, some passive income potential.

Cons of Constant Content: High commission, no guarantee of sale, must be very good with grammar and organization in writing (Ed's a tough ((but fair)) editor), only pays via PayPal, can't get your name out.

The more articles you right for CC, the more likely you will form a passive income, meaning that enough articles will keep getting bought for usage rights that even when you take a month off from this site, it can still earn you money. There is a referral system where you get 10% of the sales of anyone you refer, and it comes out of the website's 35% cut, which is why I approve of it (I'll never approve of, or use, affiliate links that penalize the person signing up).

Associated Content

This site was an early favorite of mine. I go between liking it and cooling on it, but I find this is a great site for new freelance writers to get started on. AC will pay anywhere from $3-10 an article up front, then also gives a "views" (PPV) bonus of $1.50 for every 1,000 page views. This works out to earning a penny for every 6 readers who visit your article. You also get a "distribution bonus" if an AC partner decides to use your article. AC has "calls to content" that you can answer, but that gives them exclusive rights. You can also sell them non-exclusive (usage) rights, or past articles published online can be put up as "display only," which means they won't pay you up front, but you can still get the PPV bonus and more exposure.

I like Associated Content for beginning writers because:

  1. Your writing is actually viewable online, which allows you to build a name and reputation.
  2. Even though it's not much, you can get paid up front.
  3. If you're good at getting traffic or marketing, you can make some pretty decent money on the PPV bonus.
  4. Some passive income because of the PPV system. (I love making money off articles I wrote 2 years ago)
  5. I've gotten much more lucrative freelance work because of articles employers saw here on AC.
  6. You can use it in conjunction with CC articles by writing an article for Constant Content, offering only usage rights, then selling the article to AC as non-exclusive.
  7. You can break into writing areas that you love, but aren't an expert at.

To explain #7 better, I make a couple thousand dollars a year sports writing for various websites, some under my own name and some under a pen name. These are fun assignments for me that I love, and most of them I received because I wrote sports articles for AC. I can't break into journalism because of no experience, I don't live in cities with pro teams, but my articles showed my writing ability and sports interest, while giving me clips on specific sports stories.

This allowed me to become a sports writer even without years of clips. This is the cool thing about getting your name out on Associated Content, and although the money isn't great, there are competitions and if you're looking for part time income, you can make some all right change each month here.

Associated Content also pays via PayPal (told you it was important :D)


I know some online writers like this freelance writing website, but I'm not completely sure why. For beginning freelance writers, I DON'T recommend this site. The money is an absolute pittance. Some writers say they make decent money here, but the weekly contests and market place offerings are so competitive that it likely is not worth your time. And if you are good enough to make decent money here, then you're good enough to make a LOT more money elsewhere.

I could suggest this site as a dumping ground for articles, but they don't even pay enough for it to be worth your time. It's not uncommon for good writers to have a hundred decent articles here and only make $3 a month. The payment set up isn't clear, and even some long time writers who have done well there are walking away.

I'm also a believer of "where there's smoke there's fire" theory. When they had a "Write-A-Thon" offering straight up payment for articles, I only loaded 100 because I already had a couple hundred laying around. I did receive payment (a paltry $150), but there are a lot of reports online of suspicious activity by Helium, as well as withholding payments and booting people off without cause.

These could all be suspect, but I am a where there's smoke there's fire kind of guy, so with a number of reports to that line, I would say be careful, and look for better paying markets. Since Helium doesn't pay, doesn't give backlinks, and doesn't build your reputation, don't fall for it.


Squidoo is where you blur the line between writing, web page building, and Internet marketing. This isn't pure writing, but it is free sign up, there is some money to be made here and the lessons you can learn about search engines, Internet traffic, and how online marketing works can be worth far more than what you can make on Squidoo.

Squidoo allows you to make one page websites on various interests by providing you with "modules" which allow you to write, sell things via eBay, Amazon, and literally hundreds of other stores to earn an affiliate commission, or you can add YouTube clips or do a lot of things. Making a web page is easy with this system, and can be a lot of fun.

The community on the forums is amazing, and you get paid for commissions on sales, in addition to getting paid on a tiered system based on what your "Lens rank" is. You can get paid monthly via PayPal or donate to charity. The "Stats" section here is incredible, allowing you to see how many visitors per day your pages get, how many per week, where they come from, and even the exact phrase typed in to find your web page on search engines. This, in my opinion, is one of the best ways to learn about "long term keywords," a critical aspect of Internet marketing and traffic.

Even though that's marketing, it's something beginning freelance writers should definitely learn. An average writer who is a brilliant marketer will easily make ten times the money of a brilliant writer who is a bad marketer.

A handful of people make about a thousand a month on Squidoo. I'm nowhere near that point, but if I do nothing, don't update, and ignore the site for two months because I get buried in work, I still make about $40 a month on passive income. Squidoo is a numbers game, and I recommend it for a change of pace and for great learning on how Internet traffic works.

Some people will love this set up, others won't. This really is a preference taste, although if you're looking for most money versus time spent, Constant-Content and Associated Content are better stops for the beginning freelance writer.

There are other places for beginning freelance writers to write at, but these mentioned are free: 3 I recommend and 1 that I don't. Hubpages and Xomba are other options that I'll cover later, in part because payment there comes from Adsense and affiliate sales and not pure writing. I'm particularly a fan of the potential Hubpages has, but this requires Internet marketing skills, as well.

Anyway, these are decent places to start, so even if I get bogged down in work for a week or two (very likely) or you want to start now but have $0.00 to start out, this can get you going on the right track. Getting to a full time income writing is a little harder, but it is possible, and if you are just starting out as a new writer, these sites can help you hone your skills and understand the freelancing side of things to really get going.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Freelance Writing & Gambling: Thoughts on Writing from Las Vegas

Beginning Freelance Writers & Gamblers Have Too Much in Common

Freelance writers never completely take a break. I just took my first true vacation in three years, and am in fact typing away at 1:35 a.m. after getting back from Las Vegas, which was one of the best vacations I've ever had. Aside from a long list of articles and reviews that I'm going to write for Constant-Content, Associated Content, and other possible venues (some print), it was impossible to not notice some of the similarities between the thousands gambling on slots and the expectations of many beginning freelance writers that causes them to give up way too early on the dream of becoming a full time freelance writer.

In Las Vegas they sell the dream of becoming rich with one push of the button, pull of the switch, or roll of the dice. Many freelancers mistakenly have the same idea about writing, and the same can be said about creative writers, as well. If I just sell that one book I can quit my day job…or if I take that one big trip National Geographic won't be able to say no…I just need that one big break.

Sound familiar? If you think I'm criticizing you, relax. Writing is hard. Freelance writing is hard. We all think that at one time or another, it's simply part of the growth process. The thing is, it's never about the jackpot.

The way you get rich in Las Vegas is the same way you make a great living as a freelance writer. Want to know the "secret?" Here it is: hard work and avoiding wasting money on get quick schemes. That's it.

In Las Vegas you don't make a ton of money gambling…but you can make a lot of money working a high tip job. Some of the better waitresses and bartenders can take home a couple hundred dollars cash a shift. If they don't put that on the roulette wheel or video poker machine on the way out, then over time that money can add up real quickly.

The same applies to writers. If you work on building a solid base, building a reputation, and hammering away even on those frustrating and gloomy days, then eventually between active income and passive income (and we'll discuss a lot more on this second one in later posts) you will start making a good living by not giving up and not wasting money on rip-off e-books (there are some good ones, but why waste that money when you're getting good info here for free?).

That's the key. Freelance writers who write and are persistent are the ones who learn all the nuances needed to succeed as a freelance writer. The same applies to creative writers who want to get published. In graduate school I heard over and over again: "It's not the best writers who publish, it's the most persistent ones." That doesn't mean you can get away without some level of base talent, but as a writer you need to constantly work and refine your style and get your name out there, get feedback.

Another bit of advice for those who are trying to sell their creative writing for money: go ahead, but it's A LOT harder than becoming a freelance writer. Some websites estimate that as few as 200 individuals can make a full time living writing just fiction. That doesn't mean this isn't a goal worth pursuing, but if you don't mind doing article, copy, or technical writing, it's much easier to make a living as a freelance writer and work on the creative stuff as a side project.

But don't expect a big break. If you put everything you have into a big break, you're going to be disappointed. Get your name out there, find work and do a great job, get paid, and repeat. The average paperback up front payment for a first time author is something in the range of $2,000-$8,000. That's not a big break, and 95% of books never sell enough copies to earn royalties.

So if you are a beginning freelance writer who wants to learn how to make a living as a writer, take a tip from the smart people in Las Vegas: work, save, and repeat. Build a reputation, and in the same way paying off debt in real life tends to avalanche for the better when you have good habits, you'll find as your reputation grows as a freelance writer grows, the jobs, money, and payment per hour avalanches for the better.

You might not have wanted to hear about hard work and persistence, but beginning freelance writers need to know this, and time is on your side. Just keep plugging away, and overtime your situation will just get better and better. More advice will come weekly on this blog.

Best of luck, and happy writing!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Freelance Writing: PayPal is a Must for New Freelance Writers

For any even beginning writers this might be common sense, but the point of this freelance writing blog is to help out anyone who is just getting started, or has started but struggled, or even those writers who want to know how to become a freelance writer but have not even started yet. So let's make sure to cover everything, because being a writer who is not naturally tech oriented at all, I can fully sympathize with other writers who are the same way.

So what's the very first thing you need if you're going to get started from home as a freelance writer? Whether you're a college student wondering if college students can make money or if you're a retiree who is good with words but isn't covered enough by Social Security, or someone on disability struggling to make ends meet: every even moderately decent writer can make money writing online. And I mean any even moderate, average, writer can make money writing ("how much" varies based on skill, work ethic, commitment, marketing savvy, adaptability, & a little luck).

The answer is that if you are a beginning freelance writer, and you're especially looking for writing as a part time or work at home type of gig, then you will want to open a PayPal account.

If you don't have a PayPal account and want to be a freelance writer, then there is absolutely no question that one of the first things you should do is get one! Many of the online websites that pay for writing and offer the best opportunities for beginning writers offer payment via PayPal.

PayPal was designed to make online payment easy and safe, and offers strong security while eliminating the need to have a credit card number typed online. PayPal does not offer service to every nation, so if you're outside the United States I can't honestly tell you which countries work and which do not, so you may need to check up on that.

All you need to set up a PayPal account is a checking account to attach it to, and then you can make payments or receive transactions easily after that. Removing money from your PayPal account directly to your checking account is easy, and I strongly recommend being in the Money Market option which can pay anywhere from 2-4% compound interest, figured monthly. It's like having an online checking account that earns interest.

Aside from taking payments from websites like Squidoo, Associated Content, Constant Content, and eHow, PayPal can also serve other functions. I've worked for many clients who I originally met through an auction site (like Guru.com or Elance), and after working several projects they decided to hire me for consistent work and pay via PayPal instead of through the auction site – helping me immensely by eliminating the 5-9% that many auction sites charge, so I brought more of my paychecks home in my pocket.

I'm going to talk about a lot of writing opportunities on this site, many of which are geared specifically towards these types of beginning freelance writers:

1) Part time writers
2) Student/College Student Writers
3) Elderly
4) Disabled
5) Stay at home Mom/Dad who wants some extra income
6) People on hard times who need just a little more

These are the people I have in mind, but that doesn't mean that the information I give can't be used for full time income. There are many individuals who make a full time living off Elance.com, Guru.com, or Constant-Content.com alone. There are even more who make a full time living off a combination of all this, and that's not even going into writing e-books or making a living with Google Adsense, which is also very doable (though only with a lot of hard work).

If you're just starting out in college, the good news is that thousands of college students make money and many of them are not business, marketing, or technical geniuses (though admittedly that would probably make it easier). I've often said if many of these websites even existed when I went to college, I would have been set. So I want to make sure that any writers, or even students who just like writing, who find this website can take advantage of what's there.

But PayPal is an absolute must for beginning freelance writers. Sometimes PayPal is the only way to get paid, as I've taken jobs in the past for people living overseas (usually involved with the tourist industry) who wanted me to write articles, and the easiest form of payment was via PayPal. In some ways it was the only practical ways for me to get paid.

Even as I made a difficult decisions to hang up full time freelancing (for now) for a dream full time writing job, I still earn over $100 a week via PayPal freelancing a handful of hours (something like 5-6 hours a week).

Having a PayPal account also makes it easy to find good freelancing books on eBay, to receive quick payment from employers, and takes away the worry of wondering when the check will get there, will it clear, what if it bounces, etc. Because you're not waiting weeks or months for a check, you can see the money when it arrives and get e-mail confirmation every time there's any type of movement in your PayPal account.

Once that money's in your account, it's all yours and it is not going to disappear anywhere. PayPal accounts are completely free to set up. To any beginning freelance author, you definitely will want a PayPal account to increase business, and even make some extra off the interest on the side!

So if you haven't set one up yet, set up a PayPal account and keep an eye out for my freelance writing website reviews, which will be coming out every week following. And if you're new and feel really lost, I strongly recommend this review I wrote on The Keyword Academy.