Earning money writing articles?

4 Jun

There are a lot of places online that promise big bucks if you will just write for them.  There are a lot of people out there on the web that will copy your online content and post it on their blogs and websites without contacting you too.  Intellectual property laws are so incredibly difficult that most of us cannot begin to understand the nuances of them, but we all should understand the feelings of anger and frustration when someone takes our material and uses it without permission, payment or even acknowledgment.

I do write for Examiner.com and have for over a year now.  The pay isn’t wonderful, I absolutely cannot fathom their pay scale, which is some mysterious mathematical calculation involving page views, length of visit, subscriptions and which way the smoke blows over Why, Arizona.  Why Why? Why not? But…they do pay, and you continue to make your few cents per article as time passes as well, although obviously, older articles aren’t going to pay as well.  I write food articles, and the one policy that I really don’t like is the addition of other writers with the identical title.  I also had received a letter from them, inquiring whether I would be interested in taking a second topic-since there was an open pet topic in New Orleans, I was.  However, my interest level zeroed out on the request for a signed form authorizing a credit check.  I’m not an employee of Examiner.com, and as essentially a freelance contributor, I feel that is an unreasonable request.

But economic times are tough, and writing is something I do well, and I can be quite prolific.  So, the logical thing was to start searching for other venues that might add to my very small income from writing and make it a much more profitable, or potentially profitable source of income.

When I hear of or receive an advertisement for a company seeking writers, the first thing I do is check to see what is being said about them online.  I want to know if their current writers are complaining about anything, and if they are, what their complaints are.  I understand that no one can please everyone else, and that there are always going to be complaints, but even so, we need to take a look at them.

Remember to keep your rights to your material, unless the pay is comparable with traditional sales of articles to warrant giving up your rights to publication.  Selling an article that cost you $20 in tickets and 3 hrs of writing time, plus the 5 hrs of research time for $5 (or less!) is not an economically viable equation.

One that came to my attention lately was All Voices.  It’s apparently new, and the continually fluxing pay scale, which still ranks lower than Examiner’s, has aroused some concerns/complaints from other writers.  In checking their material, I didn’t find it particularly extensive, was not impressed with the half dozen or so articles I read, and they lacked categories that would accommodate the topics I normally focus on: paranormal, cooking, camping, and pets.  It isn’t that I don’t have the ability to write on additional topics just that is where my current articles are focused and I’m much more knowledgeable on these topics, so I have a good base to build on.

Another is Triond.  This one hasn’t gotten good reviews from most writers.  The pay threshold ($50) is a bit higher than most others, and they also require that the material has not been published elsewhere.  This isn’t a requirement with Examiner.com, although the majority of the articles I have published with them have been “firsties”.

Other than these, the rest have appeared to be scams entirely, using the typical work-at-home routine. For those wanting to venture into freelancing full time, there are a number of resources and articles out there—Google and see!  Some gems I have found were here:

Five ways to bullet proof  your copy

How to let go of the fear of starting a full-time freelance writing career

Writinghood (blog)

Other ideas to consider? If you have been long out of school and not writing frequently, it’s a skill like any other, and it gets rusty from disuse.  Consider signing up at your local community college for a creative writing course as a brush-up and inspiration.  You will also get some critical advice that isn’t trying to “be nice.”  Face it, we all have our flaws, and none of us want to hear about them, and in writing, we expose a bit of our souls at times.  It’s very hard to take criticism, and our family & friends instinctively know this.  Use the classroom as a sounding board, try new things, and develop the technical skills you need.

Often, community colleges may offer a single day seminar or class on a specific writing style or technique.  Sign up, even if its not directly related to what you are wanting to do.  You never know, you might learn something, meet interesting people and  find kindred souls.  If nothing else, it never hurts to get out of your usual comfort zone.  These classes are often much more expensive for the single day event than a regular class would be, and they are more intense.

The library. Many of us hate to go there, especially after the convenience of the internet, but for research, it can’t be beat.  Not everything is available online, and not everything online is accurate.  Become good friends with the people who handle inter-library loans, especially if you are in a rather obscure area of expertise.  You will be seeing a LOT of them!

Other writers. Some seem to regard other writers as the enemy and potential competition, but in most cases, nothing could be further from the truth.  Having a network of other writers is important, for all writers share the same issues and complaints about editors, pay, copyrights, royalties, writer’s block, etc.  Direct competition rarely occurs, so it should be a non-issue.

The other source of information is Writer’s Digest.  It’s been around a long time and its the industry standard.  If in doubt, refer to their website, magazine, or book.  Period.  Every writer should have all three at their fingertips.  If you can’t afford it, a not uncommon writer issue, use the library’s copy.

To take a quote from the movie Throw Mama From The Train, “writers write.”  That’s it, writers write, like runners run.  It’s second nature.  I THINK better when I have a keyboard under my hands, just as writers before me thought better with pen and paper in theirs.  It has been so long since I have regularly written much of anything by longhand that it feels awkward and odd to do more than a brief note or my signature.  I actually hate it when, for whatever reason, I have to write something by hand.  I write and I see things in a different way, it allows me to jump to a different perspective, it makes me think about an idea and then translate it to something that makes sense to the reader (or so I hope!) Nothing makes me happier than hearing someone say, “Oh, I could really SEE what you meant!”

So, write on…and find your voice and your audience.

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