All facets of professional writing tend to be underpaid for two main reasons: Most people that call themselves "writers" are by no means professional; and those that are don't know how to value their time properly.
So, how much does a content writer get paid? Anywhere from $0.001 to $2+ per word. Do yourself a big favour and don't sell your time and skills for anything less than US $0.10 per word. This should be the minimum wage in terms of professional writing, whether it is for a blog, a landing page or a brochure.
As your niche skills and job-hunting become better and better, that number can only go up. To date, according to PayScale, the average content writer gets paid nearly US $42,000 per year. That's about $160 per day, taking weekends off.
While content writing alone won't make you rich, it will pay the bills, buy groceries and allow for some household savings. For many of you, I know that the simple dream of a decent income for work at home ties in perfectly with this kind of career!
In terms of an hourly wage, I suggest starting at a minimum of US $10 and moving up as you become more confident in the work. (For comparison, I currently charge $30 per hour. With some practice and fine-tuning, you can get there too!)
As the digital world that is the internet turns into a massive, all-encompassing part of our lives that will probably (one day soon) be accessible via implanted chips in our brains, you've probably heard the term "freelance writer" a lot more frequently. But what are these people, and the profession, all about? According to popular opinion...
THEY'RE ACTUALLY UNEMPLOYED
Um, no. Writing as a freelancer is a real thing - a real job that pays money. Nevertheless, people who don't understand the industry tend to think of the term "freelance writer" as a throwaway, an excuse not to look for a "real" job. Even a good friend of mine once said, "You don't really work, though, right? I mean you don't do anything during the day."
WHAT?! (You know who you are. I forgive you :P) During the day I work on 1-4 writing assignments and turn them in to my clients FOR MONEY. Why is this difficult to understand? How do you think I pay the rent and feed Homer the Freelance Cat?! Anyway.
(or) THEY HAVE A BLOG, AND IT'S KIND OF LIKE A DIARY
No, and no. Plenty of people have blog-diaries, but these are rarely on par with professional writing, and moreover, no one wants to read them. As it happens, lots of freelance writers do have blogs (you're reading one right now!) but this is just a small part of the business. Real money usually comes from companies that hire us to write sales letters, web pages, THEIR blogs, articles, brochures, journalistic pieces, etcetera.
Sigh. It's tough when you start out, but isn't every business? Given a little time, every good freelance writer can make enough money so that some actually stays in his or her pocket. The image of the "hungry writer" is traditionally fairly apt, but these days there's no reason to go around skipping meals. Thanks to the internet and online commerce, there's plenty of work to go around!
THEY DO THEIR JOBS WHILE SIPPING COCKTAILS
Not after the first couple of botched jobs, anyway ;) Seriously, this isn't a vacation. Writing requires a lot of attention to detail and valid research. If I waste time writing garbage or skipping my daily to-do list in favour of margaritas, beer or the beach, no one pays me. We writers have to work hard and often to make our monthly quotas.
THEY ARE NO MORE TALENTED THAN THE NEXT GUY
Thanks a lot! I live in Mexico, among a lot of other Canadian, American and British expats that need to earn money in creative ways in order to stay here. It's a given that when you meet a vacationer, he's going to ask you how you make a living. What do I say? "I'm a freelance writer!" What do others say, when the truth is that they've been here 6 months, run out all their cash and still not been able to figure out an income? "I'm a freelance writer too!" Oh, how I loathe this. People hear me talk about my job and seem to think "Oh, that sounds so easy! I'll just do that."
Where are they now? BACK HOME (or irritatingly omnipresent, living off of some relative's pension while becoming an increasingly less-functional alcoholic. Ugh.)
Don't take this profession or its professionals lightly! It's a real job and someone's got to do it.
It's so easy, and lots of fun. Flip through the "for free" sections on these listing sites, and pick up any items with potential. Wash, polish, sand and stitch until the item is beautiful again, and resell it!
5. Selling upcycled items on Kijiji or Craigslist
Sure, there are plenty of get-rich-quick schemes floating around the interwebs, but here at The Freelancer Society we know that there are even more ways to genuinely make money online. Here are our favourites!
4. Review Books on Your Blog
Building a blog is fun, but it isn't an instant cash-maker unless you're able to sell some of your space. The perfect way to do this is to review print and ebooks for new authors! Build up your followers and authors will be happy to give you a free copy - and a small fee - to write a review and share it.
3. Write an Ebook that everyone wants to read
Do some intensive marketing and write on a topic that is hugely interesting, and better yet, lucrative to your readers. Publish a Kindle version through Amazon and you're ready to go.
I've talked about making money with transcription before, and it really is simple to find people in need of these kinds of services. Along with all the underpaid work, there are plenty of law offices, consultants and other professionals that are willing to pay decent rates for a job well done.
No surprises here! Writing is the way I make a living online, and I love it. There are so many niches to occupy, and so many ways to find work that even if I lost all my clients this evening, I know I'd be able to fill my schedule again by the end of the week. For these reasons and more, writing is our number 1 pick for making money online!
However you choose to do business online, it's important to be passionate about what you are doing. Take pride in your work and do everything you can to spread the word and bring in customers. Building a business is slow, but totally worthwhile!
You can find clients easy via Odesk and other freelance networks, as well as by sending introduction letters to busy offices that hire contract workers. I know this because I used to do it frequently when writing work became too tough to come by. Be ready to supply your prospective employer with a sample or two of your transcription work - there's no excusable reason not to have a sample! Make one from a 30-minute episode of a television show if you have no previous experience.
Keep in mind that when transcribing personal interviews, it is customary to delete any "ums," "ahs," and otherwise redundant, nonsensical vocalizations. Use a clear, easy-to-read format that makes sense.
Finding Transcription Work
Simply put, transcription is the process of converting audio into written words. This is a necessary process for many employers, including television and radio producers, legal offices and consultants in various industries. The facts are these: Transcription services are solicited every day, and freelance writers possess the necessary tools and equipment to make money online this way.
Pay Rates Versus Time Spent on Transcription
Here's the tricky part - contractual employers like to hire transcriptionists on a per audio hour basis. That means that for each hour of audio that you write up, you'll be offered a specific amount of money, often as low as $10. It is your job not to accept anything less than $60 per audio hour! Why? Believe it or not, it will take you about 1 hour to transcribe the average audio clip that is 10 minutes in length.
Equipment and Software
Most employers ask that their transcribers have headphones, a foot pedal and some version of transcription software. Is this necessary? Not when you are just starting out, no, but it is if you want to make a career of transcription and earn some good money.
Although you can forego the foot pedal for now, I do recommend that you use a trial version of transcription software, such as InqScribe, to help you work more quickly. Most types of this software are very similar in that they take an audio file and allow you to slow down playback by a certain percentage so that your fingers can keep up with the dialogue. Try out a few and see what you prefer.
Now get out there and transcribe!
Freelance writing has a lot of faces. Sales letters, web content, product descriptions, journalism. But what about blogging? It's a shiny, attractive writing niche that sits in plain sight, but is so often unreachable to those who want to learn its secrets.
So how do you make money blogging? There are two ways: Start your own blog and sell ad space/promote products; or create greate articles to help other website owners gain traffic. The first way takes a lot of time and dedication, since you will need to bring in a significant amount of traffic in order to make any money. In the second case, all you have to do is come up with some great ideas for existing blogs that are hiring freelance writers.
Before you begin peppering the blogosphere with queries, however, ask yourself a question: "Which topics do I really have something to say about?"
Generally, you'll be able to come up with better topics and more in-depth information about topics in which you have some background. Have you worked in a bank or financial institution? Do you have experience in the restaurant business, or are you a successful entrepreneur? Use your existing wealth of experience to focus your writing talents, and approach blogs that focus on similar topics.
Most blogs accept guest posts in return for a byline and links to your own profile or website, but if you look carefully you will be able to find several that offer decent pay for a published piece. Keep at it, and blogging can contribute significantly to your monthly income.