As with most professions, freelance writing takes skill, but the main difference between success and failure is how you sell yourself. There are many people who can do what you do. Unless you have built a brand of your own, based on a unique perspective or skill set, there are probably thousands of people in the world who can do your job with as much or more skill. The difference is marketing and communication, both of which can distinguish you from others in your industry, if you know what to do. [Read more…]
Being a full-time or even a part-time freelance writer or blogger can suck up a lot of your time. Not only is it something that can be time-consuming, it’s also very tedious after a while as well. Just the thought of continuously writing for hours upon hours per day is enough to make a person cry!
However, as someone who has personally written and published well over 3,000 articles over the past several years, I know what it takes to keep at it strong! In this reference guide, I will provide you with a few useful tips and tricks for getting the job done, while also making some money in the process.
1 – Launch a Blog or Side Project of Your Own
Most freelance writers will only write for clients and look at making money on a project by project basis. The option is also there to create a website of your own, while also putting your time, work and effort it’s a long-term business model as well. If you are already a great writer, why not build something amazing with the skills you currently possess?
Starting a new website or blog is easy and there are plenty of low cost hosting solutions out there for you to choose from. This means you can start a new website or blog, while also having a great domain name for just a few dollars per month. With a site of your own you can also write about whatever topics you like, while also adding content on your own schedule.
In this beginning, this will likely be a slow process, as it takes a lot of time to create a big site that ranks in the search results and receives traffic, but it will also make you a much better writer in the process. This can also help you learn more about SEO, which is a much-desired skill from companies when hiring freelance writers.
To learn more about creating a blog and how to pick a niche topic and even make money with your site, I recommend you take a look at this blog monetization guide.
2 – Eliminate Distraction and Keep Your Mind Active
As mentioned at the beginning of the article, it can be very tough to simply write, write and then write some more. When it comes time for you to start writing, I highly recommend that you try and remove as many distractions as possible. This includes turning off the television, not going on social media and shutting off all notifications on your phone. Just a few interruptions during the course of writing one 500 article, could quickly turn a simple 15-minute project into more than an hour!
It’s also important to free your mind and bring a relaxed environment around you when writing. Some people like to listen to music, but I prefer classical or any type of music that doesn’t include words. This simply makes it easier to write while not hearing someone else’s voice to distract me.
Another quick tip is to find ways to break apart your day and simply get away from the computer and writing. This will also give your eyes a much-needed rest as well. Something as simple as walking your dog every couple ours or getting offline and doing some coloring can make a huge impact on your productivity and how your brain works. You can actually view this infographic on the benefits of coloring, which has some surprising data on how a few minutes of coloring per day can help relieve stress and improve creativity — all big contributors to how well you write content.
3 – Turn Your Best Clients into Longterm Clients
Lastly, my third tip for getting the most out of your content writing is to try and turn your existing clients into long term clients. While you might be looking at your freelance business on a project by project basis and how much you can make per article… there is a lot of wasted time and effort in between each new client. It’s much more beneficial to secure long term clients and have recurring income coming in month after month. This will also help with your writing productivity and structure as well, as you will know exactly what the client wants.
I pointed out earlier that freelance writers are in great demand, and that there are also plenty of them to go around. The better you can portray yourself, your skills and professionalism, the more likely you are to secure more profitable and longer term deals. When possible, try to negotiate with your client on a monthly bulk order at a discounted rate. This will allow you to keep more focus on your best writing, while also having guaranteed money coming in month after month. You can follow each of the steps laid out in this freelance writing infographic to give yourself an edge against the competition.
Make 2017 Your Best Freelance Writing Year Yet!
With over a billion active websites on the internet today, content is something all of them need. However, just because content is being created and pushed out to the masses, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s that good or provides value. Just like there is a massive amount of websites that need content, there are also plenty of freelance writers out there to provide it for them. That’s why it’s extremely important to make sure you are not only delivering the best work possible but to also standing out from the crowd.
While many salaried workers envy their freelancing counterparts, being an independent contractor has unique downsides. One of the most difficult parts of being a freelancer is procuring healthcare at an affordable rate. Unlike people who are working for a company that offers health care, independent contractors are unable to procure group rates when buying insurance.
The goal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is to provide everyone with insurance for a fair price. On October 1st the marketplaces will be opened up, providing new options for Americans. If you have yet to sit down and really learn what is going on with this piece of legislation, now is the time. Below you will find some of the essential knowledge that you need to understand the ACA.
1. The Basics Of The Marketplace
The marketplace is built to accommodate people with all different levels of income. The premiums for the plans offered will have a cap based on a percentage of the insured party’s income. The income itself will be seen in relationship to the Federal Poverty Line (FPL), falling between 138% to 400% of the FPL.
The plans will be categorized by a straightforward tier system, with the lowest amount of coverage being offered at the more affordable bronze level. For consumers willing to pay a higher premium for more coverage, they can choose from the silver, gold or platinum levels .
2. Medicaid: An Option Beyond The Marketplace
In the past Medicaid‘s availability was limited, only covering those with an income 100% of the Federal Poverty Line and below. However, the federal government has expanded eligibility for Medicare by allowing people with an income up to 138% of the FPL to take advantage of the program. Another big change is that single childless adults are now able to be covered by Medicaid.
You should know that it is ultimately up to each state to decide what they will do about Medicaid. States have accepted the federal Medicaid expansions in varying amounts, however, some have rejected it entirely.
3. The Penalty For The Uninsured
The ACA has mandated that all individuals need to have insurance. Those without insurance will face a fine. While the fine will start out at the reasonable sum of $95, it will be raised over the next several years. By 2016, the fine will be tied to inflation.
As the sole-proprietor of your business you will be seen as an individual, in turn making you subject to the individual mandate.
4. What You Are Guaranteed
The government has created a list of essential health benefits which every plan sold at the marketplace is required to cover. You can get a full list of the essential health benefits by visiting the entry on the glossary of healthcare.gov here.
The ACA has also made sure that people with pre-existing conditions cannot be turned down for that reason. People who need healthcare the most can rest assured that they be covered.
5. Tax Credits Keep It Affordable
To make health insurance more affordable for Americans the government is offering tax credits to individuals with a lower income. It is possible to receive multiple tax credits as well based on a number of factors, including marital status and the number of your dependents. If you are younger than 65 and make between 100% and 400% of the Federal Poverty Level, you will receive a tax credit.
For those looking to get an idea of what their tax credit will be, the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Subsidy Calculator Site here can help you out.
Preparing For Change
The ACA gives freelancers, who live with the risk of being without work at anytime, the guarantee that they will have medical care. Similarly, every American can rest assured that they will have access to affordable care.
Michael Cahill is the Editor of the Vista Health Solutions Blog. He writes about the health care system, health insurance industry and the Affordable Care Act. For more information and examples of how the ACA may impact you, visit the Vista Health Solutions health insurance marketplace page. Follow him on Twitter at @VistaHealth.
If you’re like most writers, you enjoy the part of your job that entails putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). You’re probably, however, somewhat less fond of marketing. Many of us squirm at the idea of cold calling or attending networking events.
That’s why it’s so important to have a strong professional website. Once it is up and running, it can bring you a steady stream of referrals with little or no further effort you your part.
These are features that will help your website attract customers [Read more…]
Freelance writing is now one of the sources of income for many moms dads and others alike. As a freelance worker, they are free to serve as many clients as they can. They build reputation by submitting works on time and providing high-quality work. The reputation built will then result into new job offers or job referrals from satisfied clients and writers will have increased income.
As a writer, you can collect positive reviews from your satisfied clients. However, many potential clients today, go beyond profile reviews. They have now started to dig for more information about you. Below are the tools you can use to monitor your online reputation as a writer. [Read more…]
February brought most of us in the States snow storm after snow storm, Valentine’s Day and some really informative posts from the FWJ crew. Here are a few of the most popular:
Applying for a Freelance Writing Gig Without Looking Desperate by Jodee Redmond
In this post Jodee cautions against oversharing when looking for writing gigs.
Is Your Blog Dressed For Success? by Gayla Baer-Taylor
First impressions are important. Gayla shows you how to make sure your blog turns heads.
I’m a Ghostwriter (Get Over It) – by Jeffery Reyes
In this terrific guest post, Jeffery hits on the many misconceptions people have about writing professionals.
How to Influence Editors and Make Friends – By Terreece M. Clarke
Some writers get all the breaks? Actually, those writers position themselves for breaks by delivering professionalism.
Why You Want to Keep Your Copyright – By Jonathan Bailey
“In short, having copyright in your freelance writing projects not only gives you a guarantee that you will always own your work and a means to enforce the terms of the contract, it also gives you peace of mind.”
A Radical Response to Piracy – By Robin Parrish
Robin explores the silver lining in having your book pirated.
5 Common Ways Freelance Writers Get Scammed – By Jonathan Bailey
Jonathan hips writers to a few of the common scams that are out there.
Non-Errors in the English Language (Part 1) – By Noemi Twigg
Noemi points out some of the common errors that aren’t really errors. Whew!
Freelance Writing Success: Are We There Yet? – By Jodee Redmond
Defining freelance writing success your way.
Job Security in Freelance Writing – By Jodee Redmond
Can you really make a living as a freelance writer?
Did we miss one of your favs? Tell us below!
Photo courtesy of stock.xchng
Last week I wrote a post critical of revenue sharing sites. I maintained that, generally speaking, writing for sites like Associated Content, Bukisa, ListMyFive, Infobarrel and the like yielded a poor return on a writer’s investment of time and energy.
Some commenters argued that revshare sites were a credible “first step” for new freelancers. A few maintained that it was possible to generate a sizeable passive revenue stream via revshare contributions. I’m still convinced that my position is correct in most cases and I may eventually get around to answering some elements of those objections in future posts.
This post, however, will address another set of comments. More than one reader remarked that it would be nice to hear about some alternatives to revshare operations. I thought that was a more than valid request. While a pure critique may have value, it’s almost always better to combine one’s attack on one option with a workable alternative.
So, if you think I might just be right about the limited utility of revenue sharing sites, here are a few things you might want to do instead. Consider these options the next time you’re about to tap out another article in hopes of capturing a percentage of someone else’s ad revenue.
Build and Improve Your Own Writing Property
If you don’t have your own website, you should. If you’re serious about establishing yourself as a credible freelancer, you should have some presence on the web. Obviously, the quality and scope of that presence will be even more important if you plan to focus on ‘Net-based markets. Your site is a means by which people can find you, learn more about you, discover your skills and contact you. It’s important.
Consider spending some of the time you’d otherwise dedicate to revshare contributions to building or improving your existing website and related elements of your online presence. Admittedly, these efforts don’t directly generate revenue. However, they do create the foundation you need to secure better gigs. In the longer term, it’s a much better investment than revshare work.
Build and Improve Your Own Other Properties
Instead of funneling your awesome articles to a non-appreciative revenue sharing site, keep ’em for yourself. Build a site or blog dedicated to whatever non-writing topic that happens to trip your trigger or in which you have expertise. If you’d love to be a subject matter writing specialist, hone in on that subject area.
You can buy a domain for under ten bucks. You can get hosting for under five bucks per month. It’s free to install and use WordPress if you’d like. It’s a teeny tiny investment that can really pay off. Even if you’re not interested in aggressively promoting and monetizing the site, you can still point potential clients to your work, making it a showcase for your writing skills and knowledge base. If you do put forth a little effort, you can probably start earning just as much from your posts to your own site as you can with your revshare submissions.
Spend the Time Marketing Yourself or Pursuing Paying Gigs
Tom Chandler, the head honcho at The Copywriter Underground, recently commented on a post at my site. The rant in question objected to the way people automatically tend to make assumptions about one’s position on all freelance writing issues based on one’s position with respect to a single topic. I illustrated my complaint by referencing some of the comments left at my anti-revshare post. In his comment, Tom made a point about the world of lower-paying gigs that certainly applies to writing for revenue sharing outlets:
I firmly believe that investing the same time spent writing $10 articles in new biz development (cold calls, client searches, etc) offers better ROI down the road.
He’s right, too. In most cases, the return on smart self-marketing has the potential swamp the value of revshare contributions other lower paying gigs. If you’re ready to give up on collecting fractions of Adsense clicks, you might want to spend your time working to secure more substantial opportunities.
Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that I think lower-paying options are a mistake for all people under all circumstances. That will probably become clear as I keep moving through my list, but I just wanted to point that out.
Take a Crappy Writing Job or Two
The alternatives presented thus far don’t directly put cash in the coffers and I know that’s an issue for many people. If you’re ready to give up on the revshare game but aren’t ready to wait to bring in at least some cash, reach out and take a few gigs that don’t pay particularly well.
If you do, you’ll make some money. Not much, but it will be as much as you’d make with revenue sharing contributions in the short run (actually, it will actually be a little more). Plus, it will give you something you don’t get by writing for the revshare sites–a real human contact on the other end of the transaction.
If you’re completely new to the game, the process of working with an individual will help you get experience with client communication, invoicing and all of the other processes that will become a part of your freelance writing business. That low payer may be willing to spend more money with you when he or she sees how damn awesome you are. He or she may spread the word to others who could use a writer. He or she can certainly write a positive review or testimonial you can use in your own marketing efforts. The nickel and dime material you write will show up somewhere, and you’ll be able to point future prospective clients in its direction. And trust me–those articles will carry as much, if not more cache, with future potential clients than something tossed up at AC or Infobarrel.
A few el cheapo gigs can put a foot in the door while dropping a little change in your pocket. The gigs at the shallow end of the rate pool may not be what you want in the long run, but if you need a few quick bucks and something that passes for experience, they’re probably better than an article at Bukisa.
Those low-pay gigs aren’t hard to find. If anything, they might be too easy to find. The Internet marketing forums are crawling with potential clients and Craigslist is overflowing with “I need ten articles about _____”-style clients.
Work for a Slightly Better Mill
Instead of writing revshare articles, you could always write for a content mill that pays you a little more than the potential of future money. It will only take you about thirty seconds to find a year’s supply of articles and blog posts decrying sites like Demand Studios and other pay-per-piece content mills. I’m not interested in answering the complaints. I’m not interested in defending this option, either.
This option and snagging a few lower-paying gigs may not be great ideas for everyone. Some folks may benefit more from some of the other ideas. I’m just saying that it makes more sense than writing for most of the revenue sharing sites.
Volunteer Your Talents
If your goal is experience and an opportunity to create materials you can use to prove your competency to others, consider volunteering your writing talents to make the world a better place. Offer someone engaged in a charitable pursuit a little pro bono copy.
No, it doesn’t pay. Then again, revshare doesn’t usually pay much. You’ll be trading a little hunk of dough for a much heftier hunk of feeling good, I guess. Oh, and pointing others toward this material will undoubtedly work better than showing them your ListMyFive posts.
I was going to put “Try Your Hand at Affiliate Marketing” on the list, but decided it wasn’t a great fit. Even stripped down versions of so-called “bum” article marketing strategies require a great deal of non-writing work. It’s a credible option for those who want to learn how to make it work, but it just didn’t feel like it was part of the same world, so to speak. That applies to a few other online moneymaking plans that involve content production, as well.
Well, there you have ‘em–a few alternatives to writing for revshare sites for new writers. I think they’re all credible alternatives to using your professional skills to supply user-generated content to sites willing to pay you only a fraction of the ad revenue they generate and that have so many other shortcomings.
Last week, I wrote about unanticipated successes. One of the stories I relayed involved an article I wrote while experimenting with a site that pays based on residuals. A few years ago, I wrote a brief no-brainer of an article for a revshare site that has subsequently generated several hundred dollars in earnings.
I mentioned my overall disdain for involvement with most revenue sharing sites in the front-end of my post and thought I’d go into a little more detail about why I feel the way I do. I’d hate to think that my story of an exception to the rule would encourage anyone to dive headfirst into the revshare waters.
Here are four reasons freelancers shouldn’t be contributing to revenue sharing sites–and why there are occasional exceptions to the anti-revshare rule.
Note: Just to be clear, I’m talking about sites that will accept your article submissions and will subsequently pay you based on a percentage of ad revenue the article generates, the number of page views it attracts or some other secret formula. That includes a massive number of sites including Associated Content, Bukisa, Infobarrel and others. While sites like Squidoo and Hubpages may have additional utility to some Internet marketers, many writers utilize them as “pure” revshare outlets, as well. Though some revshare sites (like Associated Content) may offer a nominal up-front payment, the criticisms still tend to stick.
If you’re writing for a hobby and aren’t actually worried about using the income you generate to pay the bills, revenue sharing sites may occasionally provide you with a little pocket money. If you feel an overwhelming urge to express yourself on a pet topic and think you might expand your audience via use of a revshare site, you might also make a little dough while standing on principle. Who knows?
Nobody knows. And that’s a problem.
Those of us who actually rely upon our earnings to pay the bills should be acutely aware of what we’re making and how much time/effort/etc. it requires. When you fire off an article to a revenue sharing site, you have absolutely no idea what you’ll make.
Sure, you can make predictions based on past experience. Overall, you may be able to project your like per article earnings over any given time. However, making safe assumptions requires a sufficiently large sample size and an adequate period to assess results. So, you’re going to be sinking a fair amount of time into a revshare experiment before you can even do that. And once you have done it, you’ll realize that those averages are just that–averages.
Some articles may perform admirably. Others will turn out to be nearly useless. In time, you’ll begin to think you’re developing a strong feel for what works and what doesn’t. You’ll improve your keyword analysis and selection skills. You’ll learn to write the “right” way for the sites. Then, you’ll discover that the highs and lows are still far removed from the average.
My lucky article may very well earn over a grand before it dies. Others in the same niche with superior keyword optimization (produced at the same time as the lucky one) have earned next to nothing by comparison.
Why do some kick ass while others lurk unseen in the back of the Internet’s junk drawer? It could be just about anything. Maybe someone more serious than your revshare mill of choice decided to go after the same keyword. Maybe your article caught a lucky backlinking break. Perhaps Google just hiccupped and the algo failed (or succeeded, I suppose) to your benefit. The list could go on and on for pages, but all of the potential explanations share one thing in common–they’re out of your control.
So, unless you’re planning on doing a lot of tracking, refining, and writing for the revshare sites, youR likely earnings for any individual piece of work is virtually impossible to predict.
Again, that’s fine if you don’t care about money. If you do, it’s an ugly state of affairs.
SITE CHANGE RISK
When you sell your work in a revenue sharing environment, you’re almost telling the buyer to pay you whatever they’d like, whenever they’d like. You’re also agreeing to trust them to present their site, themselves and your article in an effective manner. That’s a whopper of an agreement.
What happens when your favorite revshare site decides they need to keep more of the cash their content is earning and they opt to change their payout system? You’re at their mercy. Check the terms to which you agreed when making a submission. In a best case scenario, you may have the right to yank the material off the site. Whoopee. Where are you going to sell it now that it’s been out there for months or years and has been scraped by a million lousy sites operated by those who really don’t have a grasp on intellectual property right? Are you just going to try to dump it on another revshare site? Check their terms with respect to material being previously unpublished. Oh, and remember these five reasons why the whole strategy tends to stink in the first place, too.
What happens if the revshare site decides to make changes in their structure, promotion or design and Google isn’t happy with them? Tough luck, Bub. What if those changes result in inferior ad placement and fewer click? Sorry. What if the whole site shuts down or changes direction? You’re back to square one.
When you start performing those incredibly imperfect revenue projections, they don’t account for these “risk of ruin” situations. Once again, unpredictability is a huge problem.
Revshare sites don’t pay much. If they paid a lot, they couldn’t make money for the people running them. That’s not an insult to site operators. It’s a fact. You’re getting a percentage of your contribution to a business that’s based on volume–and unless you’re a two-handed army, you probably aren’t a volume producer.
I know the idea of creating a passive income stream is enticing. The thought that you could eventually just sit back and watch the residuals pour into your bank account is the stuff of dreams. However, it just doesn’t happen absent insane volume.
Every day, I see people talking about how to maximize their revshare earnings. They provide tips for others who’d like to give it a shot. You could write a five-volume dissertation on revenue sharing strategy.
Do you know what I don’t see very often? Credible evidence that anyone is really making a living from revshare article money. That’s not because the big winners are keeping their success on the down low. It’s because the success stories are so few and far between.
Look at your flawed per article earnings projections. Now, do the math. How many of those revshare articles will you need to write to be in a position to develop a truly meaningful (and, we should remember, always at-risk) revenue stream? Big number, right?
Now, ask yourself how much you could make per article if you wrote them for a reasonable payment. Multiply that number by the total you’d need for your dream passive income stream? One last question: Would you rather have that amount of dough in your coffers months or years earlier or would you prefer to roll the dice on the value of your high volume output?
That shouldn’t be a hard question to answer.
The revshare hint-givers will tell you that you need to promote your articles in order to encourage the page views necessary to generate a reasonable income. When you’re playing the revshare game, you’re not just a writer. You’re an Internet marketer. Unfortunately, you’re marketing someone else’s product for a potential share of advertising revenue.
I don’t know about all of you, but my workload is heavy enough without becoming a backlink builder for a third party in hopes that it might make my little article slightly more valuable.
When I look at some of the strategies I see people using to promote their revenue sharing articles, I scratch my head in utter amazement. If those individuals built a simple landing page for a product with an affiliate program and promoted it with equal vigor, they’d make much more than they do helping the revshare mills.
Even if you put that alternative aside, anyone playing with revshare must account for the time and energy expended in the promotion of their content when determining whether process is anything other than silly. That means taking opportunity cost into consideration. What could you do instead of promoting your content and would it be more or less valuable than what you’re doing? Just about anything is going to be a better deal, by the way. That includes walking your neighbors dog for the change he found under his couch cushion.
EXCEPTIONS TO THE RULE
Sometimes there are moments where a revshare article may make sense. However, most of them don’t apply to folks who consider themselves to be writers exclusively.
In some cases, they can be used as a means of backlink development. They serve as a paying version of article directories like EzineArticles.com. Of course, that is limited only to those sites that don’t over-restrict your ability to successfully link out to the site(s) of your choice. One should also do that only if they can find a series of revshare sites that don’t insist on completely original content–those links, after all, aren’t that valuable considering the sites upon which they appear and the likely Google mojo of your article’s page. This exception would also include those who are experimenting with variations of “bum marketing” and other article-driven marketing strategies.
In other cases, one can use a series of revshare articles as a means of adding to an overall presence on the web. It’s not that valuable for a freelance writer, but some businesses may find it worthwhile to improve the number of search results featuring company names or non-competitive business-specific keywords. That would also apply to those who might use the revshare outposts as a means of pushing back other search results as part of an overall reputation management plan.
There are rare cases where one may have surplus content due to a client’s order cancellation or some other bit of weirdness where dumping the stuff on a revshare site or two would be a better option than letting it rot. However, there are usually better options available–even for those who aren’t interested in using the content to create their own sites.
There may be situations where the revshare component of providing an article to a website is secondary to the exposure it may provide. If a top-notch site that attracts the specific audience you’d like to reach is willing to toss a little coin at you, that wouldn’t be the end of the world. However, if it’s not the kind of place for which you’d write GRATIS anyway (i.e. a wonderful guest-posting opportunity at an authority site in your niche), the revshare probably won’t be enough to tip the scales.
IF YOU INSIST ON DOING REVSHARE WORK
If, for some unfathomable reason, you just can’t bring yourself to give up on the idea of writing articles for revenue sharing sites, at least try to participate in the most sensible way possible. That would mean:
- Spending very little time writing each article
- Streamlining your keyword analysis process
- Targeting the best revshare sites
- Looking for opportunities to use the content in multiple revshare settings
- Automating the bulk of your article promotion efforts
Even then, in the immortal words of WOPR, “The only way to win is not to play.” At least that’s the way I see it.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Writing for revenue sharing sites is not the road to riches. It’s not the road to a middle class existence. It’s not even the road off food stamps for most people. There are better ways to make more money.
This is coming from someone who has experimented with the option and who often finds himself on the opposite side of the “fair rate” debate with those who argue against the so-called exploitation of writers. In other words, if I’m telling you it’s a bad idea… Well, I really think it’s a bad idea.
I can’t wait to hear from those who do the revenue sharing thing to tell me how I’m wrong. I would love to find out if they’ve “cracked the code” and make a solid living from a revshare passive revenue stream. Really. All I can tell you is there are plenty of folks talking about how they’re working toward that goal and not too many who have reached it.
To me, it’s all a matter of making the smartest possible choices with the most important finite commodity you have–your time. On an hour-per-hour basis, it looks like there are much more lucrative things one could be doing.
So, am I wrong on this? Let me know. I can’t imagine that I’m too far off-base, but I’m more than willing to entertain arguments to the contrary.
FYI: Per commenter request, I’ve put together a list of alternatives to revenue sharing sites.
So, you want to write web content for more than one-third of a penny per word. Or you’re doing the Demand Studios thing and would like to branch out. Maybe you write for some of the other content mills and think it‘s time to cut out the middle man/woman. Maybe you’ve been working the bid boards and are tired of giving them a cut. Maybe you haven’t received so much as a “thank you” for anything you’ve written, but you’re ready to get things rolling and you want to deal with real-life clients who’ll toss work your way on a regular basis.
You’re not alone. I know that because I get emails asking, “How in the hell can I get decent clients?” on a regular basis. I know that because I see folks quizzing discussion board participants with variations of the same question. [Read more…]
I was planning to write an incredibly long, detailed post about the not-so-wonderful world of writing for websites that operate on revenue sharing models.
Part of that post was going to discuss a throwaway article I wrote several years ago for a revshare site on a lark, just to test the waters. Due to a lucky combination of good timing, optimization for a virtually unexploited long tail keyword in a big money niche and what one can only describe as stupid luck, I’ve made approximately $600 from that article over the course of five years. It took me approximately five minutes to find the primary keyword (there’s that luck) and about ten minutes to write the simple article.
I’m not underpaid, but I generally don’t make $2,400 per hour for lousy little pen-named articles designed for content mills. I still chuckle every month when I see the mill make a deposit into my checking account.
Anyway, I wanted to mention that article because stories like those are one reason why so many people hop into the revshare world. Unfortunately, they’re flukes. Anomalies. Luck breaks. You can’t count on them. They don’t happen too often. I was going to put that particular article’s numbers up against the other four I wrote in the same week for that site long, long ago to illustrate the point.
I was plodding through the post about revenue sharing while listening to George Harrison’s Concert for Bangladesh and just as I started detailing the story of the miracle article, I found myself half-singing along with Ring Starr’s “It Don’t Come Easy”.
It don’t come easy,
You know it don’t come easy.
It don’t come easy,
You know it don’t come easy.
Got to pay your dues if you wanna sing the blues,
And you know it don’t come easy.
You don’t have to shout or leap about,
You can even play them easy.
Well, in my case it did come easy. I goofed around as an experiment and made a big ol’ chunk of cash from writing that I’d objectively value at approximately nothing.
Some days, Starr’s lyrics do ring true for a self-employed writer.
However, there are times when it does come easy. The cosmic tumblers click into place and weird little miracles appear.
Accentuating the Positive
Instead of writing a post about the way things don’t come easy in the world of revenue sharing, I decided to write a post about the times things do come easy. I figured it might be nice to celebrate the crazy flukes and accidental victories instead of focusing on the ugly grind of making a living with a keyboard.
Here are my favorite easy moments… In no particular order:
The $600 Revshare Non-Masterpiece: This is the article mentioned above. A nearly effortless bit of experimentation continues to pay dividends years after its creation. There really is no logical explanation for why this article continues to earn and earn every month. Somehow, it continues to fly below the radars of those who work in the niche and Google, pumping out steady earnings for the content mill and me.
The Three-Page Report that Made Over $5,000. I was driving down the highway and a simple idea crossed my mind. Bum marketing (a simplified form of article-based affiliate marketing) was a hot topic in the Internet marketing world. I realized there was a very easy way to boost the value of the articles and to insure at least some up-front cash value for them. That relatively small cash payment could serve as something of an insurance policy for those who were writing free articles for directories in hopes of generating affiliate sales.
I came home, sat down and outlined the exceedingly simple process. I added introductory and concluding paragraphs, converted it into a PDF and posted it for sale as an information product on a popular IM forum with a little off-the-top-of-my-head sales copy. I set up a PayPal button and a quick automated download process for anyone willing to buy the guide. From top to bottom, it took about two hours.
The next morning, I woke up to over $2,000 in sales. Within three days, I made $5,000 off that simple idea. The almost equally awesome part was the fact that the folks who bought the report actually liked it. It didn’t take long for the concept to escape the confines of my hastily produced ebook and sales ground to a halt shortly thereafter. I wasn’t complaining.
The Luckiest Celebrity Blog Ever: I noticed that my wife was watching a TV show featuring a woman I had seen on another show the day before. Out of curiosity, I did some quick Googling and realized that her career was absolutely on fire and that she was poised for a major breakthrough.
At the time, I was experimenting with new keyword mining techniques and generating income via blogs monetized with contextual advertising. A few minutes later, I had claimed a Blogspot blog with a domain name featuring a common misspelling of the celebrity’s name and was setting it up with a number of quick posts that were little more than silly notices of other articles about the celebrity, combined with a brief excerpt of the source material and a link to the original source. It was a very crude homemade news aggregator, in a sense.
The site started making about $1 per day in Adsense earnings, so I kept adding occasional little posts. The celebrity’s star power increased to the Nth degree and earnings went up, up and up. Soon, it was making a solid $10 per day. Then $20. Then $30. I outsourced one hundred additional news aggregation-style posts with some of the earnings, loaded them up and set them to drip feed at a rate of two per week. The investment paid for itself within two months.
That site made a small fortune before people with real resources, strong content and a commitment to doing things the right way realized that a crummy little Blogspot blog was ranking in the top three for a series of high volume searches. The competition didn’t find it hard to knock me off, but that blog put a stack of fat Adsense checks in my pocket before they did. For what it’s worth, the site still generates about a buck every other day and I haven’t so much as looked at it in over two years.
All three of those weird winners share a few common traits:
They happened because I was willing to experiment. If I had been wholeheartedly committed to following THE plan and only THE plan, they wouldn’t have happened. This serves to remind me that keeping an open mind and trying new things can be a lot of fun and a source of profits.
They all defied duplication. Efforts to replicate the results with similar projects invariably fall short of those anomalous originals. I did have some luck with other Adsense-monetized blogs (enough that I still get a check every month from Google) and I’ve sold a few other information products here and there that have been well worth my time, but I’ve never come close on another revshare article. This reminds me that luck matters more than we’d probably like to think.
All three of these happy accidents share one other trait. They happened three or more years ago.
And You Know it Don’t Come Easy
I think that last fact may contain the most important lesson my three examples offer. In the last few years, we’ve witnessed an absolute explosion in the number of people trying to make money online as writers, Internet marketers and everything else imaginable. I think it’s an overstatement to say we’re near a saturation point, considering the web’s continued rapid growth, but the online world is certainly more crowded and competitive today than it was a few years ago.
I really do believe it was easier to mix some rudimentary knowledge with a little skill and a chunk of action to generate healthy chunks of cash back in the “good old days” (which aren’t particularly old at all, truth be told). As I think about other cool little bursts of luck I’ve had, most of them happened during or before 2008. I know I haven’t stopped experimenting with new ideas and I’d like to believe that my skills have improved. I know my knowledge base is more expansive.
So, either I’ve hit a long luckless streak or it’s getting tougher to hit the big time with little effort due to increased competition.
I wanted to go from a somewhat negative post about the doomed nature of 99.99% of revshare writing efforts to a positive reflection on the times when the money rains upon request. Instead, I think this post could still end on a somber note.
These days… Well… It don’t come easy.
Your Glory Days… And a Prize!
Ah, who wants to end on a down note? Maybe it can come easy. Even if it doesn’t, it did at some point and that’s worth a little party, right?
I open it up to you, the FWJ readership. Let’s hear your stories of glory days, your memories of times when things that shouldn’t have been successful turned into moments of accidental greatness.
Maybe it was the unedited, typo-riddled query that still landed you a plum contract. It could’ve been the time you sent off a piece of work you personally hated that the recipient loved so much you developed a profitable on-going relationship. Perhaps you had a magic revshare moment, too.
I don’t know what’s happened to you, but I have to believe you’ve had times when it all came easy.
Tell your story.
Oh, and just to encourage participation, I’ll tack on a prize. The best story wins a free copy of The Concert for Bangladesh on DVD. You get Harrison, Clapton, Preston, Dylan and even Ringo in their full bearded 1971 glory!
Let’s hear your tales of mysterious moneymakers, accidental brilliance and those unexplained moments of magic when very little effort resulted in a massive payoff of some sort.