If you want to know how to actually do it, there's a tl;dr at the bottom. Laziness, I tell ya.
I keep seeing threads pop up around the interwebs from people who are curious about whether freelance writing is a legitimate opportunity, if it's still viable in today's landscape, and if you can actually make any kind of money doing it.
The answer to all of those questions, in short, is yes. You can make money writing for other people, and make a lot of money. The entire internet is based around content. It's like asking if cars still need oil changes. They'll always need oil changes.
Follow along with me for a few minutes and I'll show you how I made $40,000 in 3 months. And I won't ask you for a thing.
When I first got started in 2007, I began researching ways to bring customers into a PC repair business I wanted to start. This led me to stumbling on a dude that called himself "Grizz" and lived in the Canadian mountains at a fishing lodge. Whoever the guy really is, he opened the door to me learning about SEO, and I'm forever grateful. I digress.
Grizz taught me how to write content on small websites and rank them in the search engines. He also recommended a guy who was running a program called "The Keyword Academy" which turned out to be huge for me. Inside of this program was a private forum (exactly like the one's you're already using!) that I used to communicate with other members.
At the time, I was an assistant manager at a furniture store, making damn-near minimum wage, and hating just about every aspect of my job. I knew that I needed to get out, but couldn't really find the opportunities to do it.. Thankfully, The Keyword Academy opened up a services subforum that gave me a spot to advertise my writing services for a fee.
Like today, in 2007 SEO was incredibly slow. Even if it was simple, it took a couple weeks, at least, to see results. This waiting period led me to testing a lot of different things.
I would relay those tests back into the forums, helping other people out whenever I got the chance. These interactions kept me in front of people, who were also able to see that I could provide them content.
One of the tests that were ran was through a service called "Unique Article Wizard". This service allowed you to take 3 similar articles and combine them together into one legible article that could then be shot across the internet 100's of times, or more. After using this service, people would quickly hate writing because it was so tedious. That was my opportunity.
I created a service that would write 3 articles and include the spinning syntax that Unique Article Wizard needed to turn them into one article for only $20. This was a bargain because the best deal you could get for UAW packages on the internet was $15 each, and they were put together by writers with poor grammar and a grasp on the English language.
Members of The Keyword Academy began eating these article packs up. They couldn't get enough -- neither could I. Especially since I was still waiting on my first check from AdSense. It took almost 6 months for me to receive my first $100 from them. This waiting period is where I took advantage of being able to churn out so many articles for other people.
Once I got my first PayPal payment, I went to work the next day and turned in my 2 week notice. I hated everything about my job, and was already sold on living the "digital lifestyle" so I knew I wanted out.
Already having money in my PayPal account meant that what I was doing was legitimate, even if everybody around me talked trash about doing SEO and ranking websites to make money.
Over the course of the next 3 months, I brought in more than $40,000 in payments for UAW article packs, and other writing and SEO services. It wasn't easy, by any means. The stars aligned to give me an avenue to bring in customers (The Keyword Academy Services Forum) and I was fortunate enough to see the opportunity and capitalize on it.
It took a lot of hard work to make that much money. I had my back against the wall because my daughter was less than a year old, and I'd just given up a cushy (even if it was painful to show up) job to chase a dream that nobody around me believed in. Thankfully, I believed in myself enough to run with the opportunity.
After 4 months of churning out content, I was beginning to become burned out. The tests that I had run before I actually quit my job were beginning to payoff, and I saw $1,000+ AdSense checks coming my way within a few month's time. I knew that I could stop writing for other people, and transition into running my affiliate marketing business.
I cherry picked three clients who, together, gave me $2,000 a month in work as a security blanket and told the rest that I could no longer write for them. This was only possible because I took care of every single customer, like they were the life blood to my future -- because they were.
I reinvested the income back into my business, took on a business partner, and began growing my portfolio. The huge strengths I had were the ability to turn out large amounts of content, offer it at a price that was competitive, under-promise, and over-deliver, and be responsible enough with the money to put it back into my business instead of blowing it.
What I Would Do Differently Today?
Not a damn thing. I'd jump onto popular forums and put a link in my signature to an advertising thread where my services were listed.
I would specialize in one type of content, or focus on one specific type of customer, and target them as heavily as I could.
I would provide as much valuable information to the forum as I possibly could, while using each post as a personal advertisement towards the level of writing quality the customer would be getting. The law of reciprocity, or giving without asking for anything in return.
I would protect my reputation as a writer at all costs, and not take on every job that comes my way -- only jobs that interest me and paid my standard rate or better.
I wouldn't work 18-24 hours per day, and instead split the $40,000 workload over the course of a year -- after all, you're working for yourself, from home. It doesn't get much better.
Ok, I lied. One thing I would do differently is create digital products that could be sold, such as eBooks, and text based tutorials / courses and market my site along side my services instead of spamming 450+ sites, but that's hind sight.
Other than that, I wouldn't change a single thing.
Get in front of the people, where the people are, and let them know you're a competent writer. You'll have more work than you can handle, even in today's digital landscape.
You've got thousands of customers waiting for you, right here, who will gladly pay your rates.
Just so it's clear, this isn't an advertising thread. I don't offer writing services.