"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.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Associated Content Review

Freelance Writing Reviews: Associated Content Review

There are many different online freelance writing sites, and Associated Content is one of the better known ones. AC has been around for several years, and there are some definite advantages to writing for Associated Content, although it's not a site I would put all of your efforts into, mostly because the chances of making a full time living from AC alone are nil to none, but that doesn't mean that AC can't be a solid stream in a multi-stream plan for writing income.

There are a lot of writers who say that they don't like Associated Content at all, and that's fine, everyone has a right to their opinions, but I find I like AC as a working supplement to my main writing sites and my main writing projects. The first thing you need if you're going to write for Associated Content is a PayPal account. Opening a PayPal account is easy enough, and we shouldn't have to go into many details beyond that. If you're completely new, then follow the link and that will help.

Associated Content offers several different rights for articles, and they occasionally also have "calls for content" that writers can fill and get paid for. If you have a digital video recorder, there are also video requests and this can be a great way to get some investment back for that camera and be a niche you can help to fill, as there is less competition there.

Up front payments generally range from $3-5 in my experience, which isn't a lot but you have a lot of freedom in what you write, and there is also a PPV (page per view) bonus that gives you a chance to make passive income, which is always a huge bonus for any freelance writer, in my opinion. For every 1,000 page views you get a bonus - whether anyone clicks on any of the site's advertiser's or not. This starts at a $1 per 1,000 views and moves up in increments based on your "level" until 10 where you get $2 per 1,000 views. This passive income is a nice benefit of AC, and applies to articles that are even "Display Only" rights.

Exclusive rights are said to pay the most, though I've never noticed a major difference, and no matter how much I like a site, I can't justify selling exclusive rights of an article for an extra 75 cents or something equivilant. Go for the non-exclusive rights, which allows you to re-use and re-publish the article down the line to earn more income. If you're a freelance writer, you learn to sell and re-sell as much as possible.

If you have a good base of articles based on evergreen topics, then you can do quite well. The best way to probably approach AC, based on some very recent adjustments I've made, is to go for articles that coule get a lot of traffic, but don't necessarily convert well for product sales or Adsense (because here is traffic you can get that has far less competition). List articles also do well. Getting $4 up front isn't bad, but getting $8 a month from here to eternity for a single article you wrote years ago is even better. Like this article on post apocalyptic films, which nets me about $8-9 a month, every month, and I wrote it in September of 2007.

I'm confident in sharing that because for one, it's an article I've been able to get some very good keyword relevant backlinks for. What does this mean? It means it will stay near the top of Google for those search terms. It's also an AC article and not a blog, meaning a liar can't call Google and get it "Google Slapped." If that sounds scary, it's something you'll have to learn about later, especially if you get Adsense, but don't let it paralyze you - early on it doesn't mean anything and you can make a full time living writing online without Adsense.

But I digress. The point is, for an article like that, it's $8 a month for an article that took all of two hours for me to write. And it could have been quicker if I wasn't watching "The Simpsons" at the same time. So 16 months since it was written times we'll say $6 a month (just to make the math on the safe side and to take into account when my PPV was lower), and that's $96 ($100 with up front payment) for an article that took two hours to write.

So instead of having one single article a month that makes $8 a month without any more work, what if you had 20? 50? 100? 250? Will it take time? Definitely. And work. Everything in life worth doing takes both. Once you get that many articles with Associated Content that get traffic, the articles continue to work for you.

There are literally tens of thousands of search terms that get a thousand or more searches a month online and have virtually no competition because there's no advertising competition, no product that converts to sales, etc. So most online entreprenuers who are in to Adsense drop it and move on. Associated Content has Google's respect. Write an article, and with a minimal amount of gathering backlinks (and sometimes this part is even unnecessary) if you've done good keyword research, your article will be on the first or second page of Google, sometimes even at the top.

Some seasonal articles do very well for me, as well. A couple of mine tend to get around 10,000 views in two months, but only during November-January.

Aside from the PPV and passive income that comes with it, I've also received freelance writing assignments from people contacting me after seeing one of my Associated Content articles. This has actually happened several times, and has earned me some pretty good side cash via PayPal. This is another benefit of AC: the readers and the attention it can bring as you try to build your freelance writing reputation.

So Associated Content shouldn't be the mainstay of your online freelance writing efforts, but when used correctly and in conjunction with other websites, this can be an effective stream of income. Happy writing.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Freelance Writing Assignments: How to Find Freelance Writing Work

Finding Freelance Writing Assignments

One of the most intimidating things for beginning freelance writers is finding those freelance writing assignments or writing gigs that will start paying off and allow you to jump start your online (or offline) writing career. Finding freelance writing assignments really is not that difficult, especially with the resources that are available nowadays on the Internet. Writing gigs are easy to find, especially if you're willing to do the work to look for them.

Finding freelance writing assignments can go one of several ways. One option that can be particularly useful for beginning writers looking for freelance work is to join an auction based freelance writing site like Elance or Guru. I've heard about oDesk, and a couple writers did well early, but the free sites invariably lead to writers or would-be writers, bidding so low that no one can make a serious living. Elance and Guru have fees to join, but then writers have 100 bids or more a month to work on winning freelance writing assignments.

One of the hardest parts of getting a good number of freelance writing gigs is finding them. One of the nicest things about those online auction sites is that there are plenty of writing assignments right there for the taking, all you have to do is bid on the ones you feel qualified for, and the winner gets the work.

This is part of the reason why I'm a big fan of the Guru and Elance freelance writing auction sites. It's easier to get a start in these places because you have thousands of people and companies who need writers offering jobs. It can be hard starting out early on to build a reputation and get that steady work flowing, but you do get an avalanche effect. You get one job. Then three. Then five, and then sixty-eight. It really does take off like that if you have a good query, a couple good sample articles, and even just a few finished jobs with positive feedback.

When you don't have to search for freelance writing assignments, you can spend more time writing, which is more time spent making money. Nailing those freelance writing assignments isn't solely based on writing ability: it's also based on your ability to pitch yourself as a writer. Since you have to make a pitch for every freelance writing job you apply for (Guru allows you to save several query templates), you get very good at pitching yourself and learning what your strengths and weaknesses are in pitching yourself as a capable writer.

If you simply do not want to pay for memberships to these sites (both of which have multiple authors who make a full time living writing online on those sites alone) then you still have to practice writing quality query letters and pitching yourself in order to nail down enough freelance writing gigs to make a full time living as a freelance writer.

There are many freelance opportunities out there, including online magazines that pay, print markets that pay, and many others. You know those 100 page technical manuals that come with an HDTV or appliance? Technical writers. Did you work sales for years over the phone? Copywriters can make a TON of money writing online sales letters for companies. Are you good at writing articles? Then you really should consider Guru and Elance, where freelance content writers are in constant demand.

Finding freelance writing assignments means playing to your skills and going to where the work is. If you're a brand new writer, don't pitch Atlantic Monthly or National Geographic. Look for local trade journals, and if you want to break into print as a new freelance writer, look for "FOB" or "BOB" clips. These are the tiny 50 word blurbs many magazines have in the front or back of the magazine. This is the easiest way to break in, and if you want to write longer pieces, look at trade journals where you can show off your knowledge and writing skills and still get paid for writing for magazines.

If you are set on writing for print magazines, buy Jenna Glatzer's book: "Make a Real Living as a Freelance Writer," and read it over and over again. It's the best book out there for breaking into the magazine market.

Otherwise if you're online and are serious about being a full time freelance writer, or even building a solid part time income with freelance writing assignments, then spend the money on a year long subscription to Guru.com or a month by month to Elance.com. There you can find work that pays while you learn the marketing and pitching skills necessary to make it as a full time freelance writer.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Freelance Writing Blog Update: Some Quick Freelance Writing Tips

3 Freelance Writing Mistakes That Might Be Killing Your Profits!

Freelance writing can be a great job that offers a flexible schedule, freedom of time and place for work, and for those writers who learn and adapt, a really good living, as well. One of the problems that many beginning, and sometimes even experienced, freelance writers run into is that pure writing ability isn't the only measure of who makes the most money writing and who makes the least. In other words, there's a lot more to being a writer than the actual writing.

There are many mistakes that good writers make that holds them back from really making all they could with their freelance writing work. The following are three of the main mistakes that freelance writers make, particularly online writers.

Freelance Writing Mistake #1: One article means one sale. This is a huge mistake that far too many writers make. If "The Atlantic Monthly" is paying you $5,000 for a single 1,000 word article, that's one thing, but most freelance writers aren't making that money. Since you do so much research for one article, learn to write and re-write that article to spin several original articles out of one assignment. Why write one "how to" blog post, when you can re-write that same information for a new article on eHow, one for Constant Content, and another for Associated Content. Great freelancers learn how to get more money for the same amount of work.

Freelance Writing Mistake #2: Staying loyal to one website. I've seen this advice given to beginning online writers, and it is terrible advice. First of all, look at mistake #1. Second, if you're on a site that pays absolute peanuts for your writing, you are far better off leaving them for better paying markets where you can earn what your writing really deserves.

Freelance Writing Mistake #3: Not being flexible. Having a niche is great. I've done very well writing poker articles, something I'm familiar with since I'm also an amateur player. But if I was only a poker writer, I would also be a very poor writer. The more types and styles of writing you are willing to learn, the more jobs that are open to you and the more money you can make as a freelance writer.

Those three mistakes have prevented some very good writers from becoming full time freelance writers, and has limited the profits of even some full time freelancers. If you are looking to be an effective freelance writer, make sure you're not making these three common mistakes and your bottom line is sure to improve!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Freelance Writing: Make Money Writing Video Game Reviews

Make Money Freelance Writing: Write Online Game Reviews for Profit

One of the best things about freelance writing is that there are literally tens of thousands of subjects and topics that people want articles for, and there are just as many different ways of making a living as a freelance writer. One way that gets searched for online a lot is to make money writing video game reviews. I figured since this blog already ranked #1 for a lot of the "writing video game reviews" type of keywords, even though there wasn't a post on that topic yet, now was a good time to actually write a blog post on this topic. At least then there would be some information directly related to these questions, and I imagine as gaming isn't going anywhere, the desire to make a living writing about games will only continue to grow.

So how do you make money writing video game reviews? The answer to that isn't completely clear cut, since what most people have in mind when they think about this is very different from the reality of what options you have when it comes to gaming articles. The actual ways there are to make money online (and off) writing about video game are two very different things. This isn't a blog that is going to focus on this one topic and stick on it. It's not about gaming, and at no point do I see making that shift.

However it's important to know that the desire of gamers who want to write far outnumbers the demand for online articles about video games. If you imagine somehow making a full time living off of just writing video game reviews, you're setting yourself up for major disappointment. Unless you work for one of the big name websites or print magazines, that's not going to happen. But you can make money from writing video game reviews, and I will go over some of the options you have if this is the writing you really are interested in.

Freelance Writing Option #1

Write articles and post them on Constant Content. Here you can pick the rights you're willing to sell your articles for and to set the prices. Full rights sell the most articles, and make the most money, but if you're looking to build up a name or reputation for yourself, then usage rights is probably the best choice. Here you can upload a lot of articles, set the prices high, and then if you're worried just check the box that allows buyers to make a counter offer.

This works best for reviews of brand new video games and systems, and is also for comparative video game articles like "Why Oblivion Destroys Fable II" or "PS3 vs. XBox 360, Which System Is Best for You?" If you write game reviews like this, there is a good chance you can find a buyer as opposed to being one of thousands of reviews on a specific title, and at that point why would anyone want your opinion over the major websites that are already established? In my experience the best articles (when it comes to actually making money writing about video games) are list articles. "Top 10 RPGs of All Time," "Top 10 XBox 360 Games of 2008," or "Worst 20 Nintendo Games Ever," are three examples of good list articles that have a decent chance of finding a buyer.

In general, I've found the newer the game, the more likely it is to sell as a "true" video game review that most people are used to reading, and maybe writing. A freelance writer, especially a freelance writer who is looking to tackle such an oversaturated topic, need to be able to think outside the box and diversify.

If you are writing game reviews for Constant Content and only selling usage rights, then after those articles are accepted and put up for sale in the CC database, consider publishing the articles on Associated Content for both up front pay and a Pay Per View (PPV) bonus, that ranges from $1.50-$2.00 for every 1,000 views. Having articles on AC can also catch the attention of individuals who might be looking for freelance video game writers, and they might contact you for more work.

This hasn't happened to me on Associated Content for writing video game reviews, but I have gotten jobs for sports writing, book reviews, and other writing gigs based on my AC articles, so make sure your articles are up to snuff, because you never know who might stumble upon them.

Freelance Writing Option #2

Search everywhere for work, including print markets. It will most likely be very difficult to find people willing to pay for gaming articles of any kind if you don't already have an in or some type of connection that makes your particular take on the topic more valuable or authoritative than the many online that are already provided for free. There are several major video game review websites online, and you can go to each and contact them asking to become a contributing author - and maybe you'll find someone willing to pay you, although this blog is about transparency, and so I have to say it's unlikely that this will work in letting you make a lot of money writing about video games or any type of topic in that field.

A better option might be to check out the many print magazines that deal with video games like PC Gamer, Electronic Gaming Monthly, X-Box, or Nintendo Power. Many of these magazines accept certain types of freelance writing submissions, and that might include video game reviews. You might have to break in with quick blurbs, but eventually that could build up to full blown video game reviews, and at least you're getting paid for writing about video games.

Don't just look for print magazines, either. There are plenty of online magazines that are often looking for freelance content writing. These can range from online versions of well established magazines like Maxim, to completely online magazines that are geared towards being online magazines for men, college students, or gamers. It's not just video game magazines looking for video game reviews, so look around and see what you can find.

Freelance Writing Option #3

This one could make you more money than option #1, but it's also more complex. Another option for making money by writing video game reviews is to start your own blog and/or website. Sign up for Commission Junction and Amazon Associates to become an affiliate, and sign up for Google Adsense. By monetizing your site and building up an exceptional blog/website full of great content and reviews, if you can bring in the traffic then there's a chance you could make a lot of sales and a lot from advertising and advertising clicks. This might be the best way you could potentially make a full time living writing video game reviews.

Before getting too excited, this step will take a lot of time, work, and knowledge - and this isn't a guarantee that it will work. Freelance writing can be hard enough, but this step also involves extensive knowledge of SEO, keywords, Search Engine Rankings, Internet Marketing, traffic, and many other factors. It's a good idea for any freelance writer to learn all of these skills, since these skills all make a freelance writer more valuable, and make it easier and more likely for you to make money online.

The key to this is to set up a site that gets tons of traffic, and ranks highly for the search engines, especially for Google. Social traffic traditionally doesn't translate to sales or Adsense clicks, while search engine traffic does. So getting ranked for the literally thousands of long tail keywords you can get when writing about video games will be the first step, since that will be huge in the process of ranking for all the major keywords that will bring literally thousands of visitors to your site a day.

Once you have those numbers, you might not get paid per article for your video game reviews, but you should be making some pretty good scratch between Adsense clicks and affiliate sales. If you get that kind of traffic, you might find people e-mailing you about advertising and create another income stream.

In Summary:

Writing video game reviews is not the most lucrative way to make money online, but if you are a major gamer and enjoy writing, even doing something simple like writing for Constant Content and then writing for Associated Content might not make you a fortune freelance writing, but it can get you paid for writing video game reviews, giving you some side income for something you would do anyway (play video games). If you write enough to make decent taxable income, then the video games can even become expenses and tax write-offs, but you need a very clear record of how you made money by writing video game reviews.

There are many ways of writing to make money. Writing video game reviews sounds like a dream job, and for those who write for the big time video game magazines, it probably is. But it's not the easiest or most efficient, way for making a full time living writing.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Freelance Writers: Constant Content Update

Online freelance writers, enjoy! Those of you who have read this blog before know that I'm a fan of Constant Content, and an unexpected payment from PayPal at the beginning of the year (I was something like 17 cents short of the old $50 threshold) helped usher in the surprise new change for 2009 and beyond: the old threshold has been cut way down from $50 for payment to $5, making it very easy to cash out on a monthly basis.

I think this is a fantastic change, and one that was probably overdue. This makes it much easier to encourage new writers, and maybe receiving some PayPal payments will be just the kind of encouragment that some beginning writers need to keep with it. I can only think that this will make Constant Content's referral program even better, as referred writers are going to write more, thus earning more for themselves and the people who refer them.

I enjoy Constant Content as a place where I can set reasonable prices for my writing, and I can write about what interests me and what I enjoy. I think with a lower and more reasonable pay out threshold, this will only encourage more quality writing and thus attract more buyers willing to pay good money for individual articles.

So $5 instead of $50. Great deal for online freelance writers, and a great beginning to a happy new year.