Making money freelancing online can be a wonderful way to add to your main source of income, especially if you have writing aspirations or talents, but it can just as easily be the worst kind of Ponzi scheme out there. Here are a few tips for writing content, online or off, that gets you some extra money in the bank while avoiding all the scams.
1. Unless you have a lot of time on your hands, avoid content farms like Demand Media.
As mentioned, the world of freelance writing, an offshoot of the work-from-home, get-rich-quick-scheme genre, is filled with either outright scams or half-kept promises. If you are looking to make a sizeable amount of money online through writing, avoid content farms, particular big ones like Demand Media. While some glowing reviewers will say that they made thousands of dollars through DM, Associated Content, or Mahalo.com, to realistically reap benefits from such sites you’ll have to write hundreds of articles a month. This means cranking out poor quality writing, something that will come back to haunt you if you are looking for serious writing jobs in the future.
2. Start with free “guest posts” to get your name out there.
Before you can get relatively high paying gigs, you’ll have to have some work to show that you can take on good assignments. In order to accomplish this, you’ll initially have to work for free or very cheap. While some turn to content farms to establish their name and credibility, as mentioned before, these sites are quickly losing any semblance of a good reputation. As such, it’s better to grow your brand through guest posts, which are pieces you submit to different blogs for free (or for a link exchange that directs to your blog). I personally prefer guest posts to start out because you are more likely to be published on more high quality sites if you are offering your services for free. Then, when you send queries for more paid work, you can show writing samples that weren’t cranked out in a hurry the way that Demand Media and others of its ilk requires. For more info on guest posts, check out this article.
3. Do write plenty of cold call emails asking for freelance opportunities.
Although freelance writing online is a huge boom industry now, freelance writing has been around for eons. Learn the conventions of sending query letters and adjust them for the Internet age (i.e. sending emails instead of paper letters, etc.)
4. Don’t pin too much of your hopes on big freelancing sites like oDesk.
In addition to content farms, freelance websites abound on the Internet. The most popular of them is oDesk, but again, as with so many things on the Internet, it sounds better in theory than in practice. Of course, oDesk does offer paid work, but you’ll have to wade through many scams before getting to the good stuff. If you have the patience, oDesk and eLance are good places to find work, but in my opinion, it’s not worth the hassle.
Many media pundits say that, in terms of work for writers, it’s either the underpaid blogosphere, or traditional magazines and newspapers in which it is almost impossible to get published unless you have some serious connections or worked your way to the top after several years. This assessment strikes me as a bit misguided. Of course, it’s difficult to publish freelance work in the bigger name magazines, and it’s difficult to be adequately paid online. Still, there are tons of print publications that aren’t in the mainstream that do pay well. This is especially true of trade journals. If you aren’t averse to researching and writing highly technical stuff, be on the lookout for opportunities in publications having to do with technology, oil and gas, etc. These markets pay well and aren’t nearly as competitive as general interest publications.
These are just a few things to keep in mind if you want to make money through the wonderfully rewarding work of freelance writing. Trust me, it’s very difficult to make it a full-time gig, but it’s a very effective way, if you do your research, to cultivate a creative outlet and get paid for doing so.
The above was a guest post written by Lauren Bailey. Lauren is a freelance writer and blog junkie, who blogs about online colleges. She especially loves hearing back from her readers. Questions or comments can be sent to: blauren99 @gmail.com.