"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.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

How I Turn Demand Studios Rejections Into Passive Cash

Rejected Demand Studios Articles Can Make a Mint if You Know What You're Doing

One of the most important aspects of creating a successful freelance writing career is knowing how to get the most out of your articles, and knowing how to ride through the rough spots. I've made no secret of the fact that I'm a fan of writing for Demand Studios as a way of supplementing a writing income, especially for beginners, part-timers, or college students. Even if you're not particularly skilled at typing or researching, you should be able to write at least one article an hour, which translates to $15 an hour at a minimum. If you're very good at quick research, typing, and writing to format, there's no reason you can't make a lot more. When I'm really distracted I make about $22.50 an hour. When I'm not distracted, I make $30-$40 an hour. If you're other option is unemployment, or if you're a college student saving up an emergency fund, that's not bad scratch.

But I'm not a sunshine pumper, either. I try to be as honest as I can about what a freelance writing career is like, and to give the pros and cons of various freelance writing resources that are available online. Because of that, I'll also fully admit that Demand Studios can be a complete and total pain in the ass. And by "can be" I mean "eventually will be." You can count on that just like death and taxes.

Normally revision requests from the copy editors are reasonable, and early on it's a little bit more of a headache as you learn the guidelines and nuances of each form. But sometimes there are just completely off the wall or unreasonable requests from the CE that make it abundantly clear that the article is no longer worth your time. For me, this falls into the 8%-11% range, depending on the month. That includes articles rejected after revision (>1% in my case) or articles where I abandon the rewrite because it's either impossible or not worth my time (7% all time, about 12% in recent months).

To give you an idea of what my overall stats for Demand Studios are:

Approved No Rewrites: 74%
Approved Rewrites: 18%
Abandoned Rewrites: 7%
Rejected Articles: 1%

And that's from over 700, almost 800, articles so it's a pretty solid base of comparison. So the question comes up, what do I do with the abandoned rewrites? I hate wasting time and research, and 65 articles adds up to quite a bit of writing and research that I'm not getting paid for. Rejected articles the text stays there for you to copy, but abandoned rewrites disappear, so make sure to copy and paste your text into a notepad or word file so you don't lose it. There are a few strategies you can use when dealing with an abandoned rewrite or rejected article:

  1. Throw a hissy fit, refuse to work anymore, and not make any money (not recommended).
  2. Just move on with life and forget about it (fully acceptable, but still wastes that time and effort you made on those articles)
  3. Use Demand Studios' keyword research on the article and take your information to your own blog, InfoBarel, Xomba, Squidoo lens, or HubPage. (CHA-CHING!)
The ONLY obligation you have as a writer based on the Demand Studios contract is to NOT use the EXACT title of the article. That's it. All that information and research belongs to you, so if you want the most out of your article rejections at Demand Studios, look at it as a chance to build up your passive income.

We can sit here and argue about how effective Demand Studios really is in finding profitable markets and doing keyword research and all that jazz, but the point is that DS is willing to pay $15 or more for these articles because they believe there is money to be made. So if they're not willing to pay you for your work, then you mine as well profit from it yourself!

Some recent examples for me:

Speargun Regulations becomes Speargun Fishing Regulations
Russian Restaurants Near Worchester, MA becomes Worchester MA Russian Restaurants
Flathead Catfish Fishing Tips becomes Flathead Catfish Tips or Tips for Flathead Catfish Fishing or Fishing Tips for Flathead Catfish

See the difference? This is all legal based on the agreement - just change the title of your article or HubPage to use the same keyword but a different order. Then you can expand on your article without having to worry about all the really annoying restrictions that DS puts on the articles and how sources have to be cited, and you can use that blog of the guy who has been a professional fill-in-the-blank for 20+ years as a source that you couldn't use for DS because it's a blog, and therefore unreliable as a source.

So write for Demand Studios, and make a lot of money doing it, but when a rejection comes along or you think a rewrite request just (for whatever reason, and there are many) just doesn't work, go over to HubPages, open an account if you don't already have one, and put your articles up there. Throw on some Amazon and eBay modules that can earn you affiliate commissions, add your AdSense code, and enjoy the extra passive income you can earn from all of these sources. If you don't want to put up a whole HubPage around a subject, consider editing the text to make a good InfoBarrel or Xomba article. Each of these still gives you the opportunity to make some AdSense income from your work, which is far better than just throwing that time away.

Personally, I make a HubPage out of most of these articles, as I find the topics are ones that a HubPage can rank well for, especially when I double the text, add some links, and set up a good hub around the topic. In fact, it's almost a guarantee that you will outrank whatever article they eventually approve on the topic, even if you do an absolute minimum of backlink and SEO work. This is why I don't let unreasonable rewrite requests from Demand Studios get me down anymore. If I receive one (especially when it's obvious I know 100x more on the topic than the CE calling me out), I simply go to HubPages, create a new hub, and then gather some basic backlinks later on when I'm working on building my passive income.

Some of those hubs have made a little bit of income for me, several have made nothing. And one or two have done very well and consistently bring in per month about the same amount that DS offered me upfront for those articles. Just like with any online venture, some work really well while others bomb completely. But at least this way my words don't disappear into oblivion and all that work goes unpaid. It's making the most out of a given situation, and even better in my case it means that 10% of my freelance writing time ends up becoming passive income work that will keep working for me long after the initial pages are up.

So for those of you writing for Demand Studios because you need the money, and who are frustrated by the rejections or the rewrite requests that are too ludicrous or time consuming to even consider, then build up your passive income. If you haven't been building any passive income before now (bad writer - hit yourself on the head with a newspaper), this is the perfect time to open an account on HubPages, get approved for Amazon affiliate, eBay affiliate, and Google AdSense, and start building passive income. Even if this wasn't your original intention, if you write 50 DS articles a week and abandon even 5% of the articles (way less than I abandon, btw, and I make what amounts to a full time living from DS) then after 50 weeks of writing over the year you would have 150 HubPages earning passive income for you. It doesn't take long for just a little bit of backlink work to turn that into an avalanche of passive income.

So that's my advice for you guys today. It's a great way to write for Demand Studios for freelance writing income now, for building passive income for the future, and to set yourself up in a way that the occasional rejection or really unreasonable rewrite request won't get you down - but can actually end up exciting you as it gives you yet another 300+ word head start on your next passive income page.

So keep writing, guys, and as always I look forward to hearing from you! Keep following the dream.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Residual Writing Income Journey: Reflecting on Two Years

Two Years of Passive Income Writing Online

I've been trying to think of something to write my next freelance writing blog post about, and while hemming and hawing over which direction I should go next or what idea on a list of blog post ideas, it completely escaped me that the end of June marked my second year of writing for passive income. My writing for residual income started back in June of 2008, with a very inauspicious beginning as I wrote six blogger blog posts, put on some AdSense, and started link building. I looked around at websites like Squidoo, HubPages, and eHow, and started focusing on the pay per view aspect of Associated Content. But I have to be honest, it didn't start out strong at all!

The main reason was I had a great full time job in Austin, Texas, and at the time I made the most money I ever made, was in a great living situation, and really dug the town. I was spending most of my free time starting to think about where I really wanted to go in the future, if maybe in Austin I finally found a place to settle down (my apartment in Austin was the first address I had stayed at more than 12 months since I was 17 - a total of 10 years at the time), and working hard core on my fiction and some creative projects.

Because of all these things, my efforts towards passive income probably amounted to about two Squidoo lenses, a single HubPage, one how-to article, and I made 33 cents on AdSense. That's it. As the months went by I tried to put in 15 hours a week on passive income of some kind because even though it wasn't necessary, the thought of earning extra travel money seemed nice. The thought of trying to earn full time passive income didn't even occur to me at the time. Looking back, it was very safe to say I was too comfortable, and in retrospect (and granted, that's a big one since my job was eliminated mid November of that year) I wish the full potential of what passive income could be had hit me back then.

Thankfully, at least I ordered an audio book that had a huge impact on my life. Ironically I ordered the audio by accident, but I'm glad I did because the audio version of Timothy Ferriss's The 4 Hour Work Week became my constant background noise around September, and my efforts towards passive income grew.

That 33 cent month in June with AdSense became $40.77 by the month I was laid off, and I was already making that much on eHow, as well. Obviously a lot has changed in two years. I try to spend at least a quarter of my time on passive income work. After two hard years of work, and even seeing a six month span where freelance writers couldn't find work (and I had never even heard of a market like that) or struggled to get by, I know that working on articles, websites, and blogs that keep working for me even when I log off is the way to go and the way towards financial security. If it wasn't for the ridiculous amount of student loans I have to pay off (fat lot of good college did me), I would spend 75% of my time on passive income. Yes, it's that important.

So where am I after two years? I'm a heck of a lot closer to a full time income than 33 cents a month, that's for sure. There have been very few times over the last two years when I've been able to give the attention to passive income that I wanted, and because of a ton of bills to educational loans, medical bills, and credit cards (look at #2 to explain how this happened) the actual freelance writing has to come first. I'm not making enough in passive income yet to be to the point where I can work on what I want, but here are some numbers from June that have me very optimistic that things will work out:

Some passive income from June:
eBay: $29.62
Amazon: $40.75
AdSense: $237.52
eHow: $162.16
Squidoo: $75.14
ejunkie: $25.00
Constant-Content (referrels): $83.60
Associated Content (PPV): $36.92

This all adds up to $690.71, which is still a long way from full time, but living in the Midwest that's an awful lot of money for no work. And by no work, I mean that's a lot of money to get paid for not having to do any new work, because writing for passive income is very labor intensive. There are also some other affiliate programs building towards pay out that aren't included on that list.

What's most encouraging to me is that this year I've seen a huge jump in passive income, and I'm fairly easily seeing 10% growth a month right now. I also know that I've done more work in May, June, and July then in the past 12 months before that combined. This means that in 6 months when all this work starts paying off, things are really going to start getting pretty freaking cool. In fact, with the way the passive income is growing, it's going to free up more of my time from full time freelancing to do more residual income work, which will make more money, which will free me up even more, and the writing momentum and compounding continues!

This month has been an absolute bear as far as work goes, and the end of summer isn't going to be getting any better for me. I guess I want to finish this freelance writing blog post about passive writing income online with just some tips I'd give to anyone else who is looking at the same options, or just beginning to realize what earning 2, 3, 5, or even $10,000 a month in passive income would mean as far as security and a complete lifestyle change.

  • Be ready for the long haul. Building passive income is very labor intensive, and you often hear that you don't see the full impact of your work until 6 months after it's done.
  • Be persistent. Writing 300 words every single day and making it a habit is much better than a stop and go, stop and go approach.
  • Always make AdSense a major part of your passive income plans (and make sure you understand all of their terms and conditions).
  • Diversify, but not so much that you end up feeling slogged down.
  • When in doubt, put most of your effort into making your strengths even stronger, not into fixing weaknesses.
  • Don't underestimate what being an Amazon affiliate can mean in December.
  • If you feel lost, spend six months making one HubPage a day, then spend the next six building links to all of them.
  • Always keep learning.
  • Find the goal that will keep you running through obstacles during all the hard times.
  • Expect that most people won't understand what you're doing.
  • Celebrate the small victories. This is critical to making it full time.
So that's some degree of reflection on where I've been and where I'm going. The coolest thing about passive income is that once you finally get stuff moving, it tends to avalanche in your favor after a certain point. So I'm going to post this, get back to work, and take a little bit of time to enjoy the ride. Keep at it, and don't give up! It's worth the work.