Tips for getting started on writing articles for money?

by Kyle Stankiewicz 21 replies
Hello Warriors, I have been trying my hand at making money through writing articles online. I set up a few fiverr gigs as well as my own website with a portfolio and a list of services that are purchasable on-site with paypal. My current strategy is writing for cheap now just to build up my portfolio, and then raising my prices when I have some respectable material under my belt.

The problem I have is getting the ball rolling. Portfolio sites for writers really have no room trying to place with SEO, do they? For that reason I haven't bothered with it. My gig on fiverr was purchased 11 times, but only by the same person who always buys celebrity news articles which aren't very impressive portfolio material. No one on Elance trusts me enough to give me one of the decent jobs on there without any experience shown despite my high Elance test scores. I was wondering what methods would be effective in marketing myself as a new writer besides what I have been doing. Would you perhaps suggest joining a particular forum? Would the Warrior-for-hire section be effective and earn back the $20 that it costs to post?
#main internet marketing discussion forum #articles #money #started #tips #writing
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  • That's odd, I saw your gig on Fiverr. I was going to hire you but I saw you wrote an ebook on hypnosis and I've already got that covered with another writer.

    Take a look at our blog and if you put together a short post (maybe 250 words) about the hilarious trials and tribulations of celebrity gossip writing, I'll publish it with your byline. You can link to your Fiverr gig and your site. Deal?

    fLufF
    --
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    Fiverr is looking for freelance writers for its blog. Details here.
    Love microjobs? Work when you want and get paid in cash the same day!
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    • Profile picture of the author Kyle Stankiewicz
      Wow, small world indeed! Just yesterday I sent an email to that BestofFiverr blog with an article proposal. I am open to whatever you need for your site, contact me either on fiverr or via the email on my website in my signature, I don't think I can PM on here yet. I appreciate the opportunity!
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  • Profile picture of the author Matt.McLaughlin
    I am sold, you just proved you can write English with good flow. That is, I read what you write without those subtle oddities that grab my attention.
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    My Popular Fiverr Gig - 8000 Visitors from my Double Opt-In List (rate of about 2000 per day) Great Reviews!
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    • Profile picture of the author Tina Golden
      At the rate you're offering, you will be turning away work quickly in the Warrior for Hire section - believe me, you'll make a profit.

      I would highly recommend that you state a limit as to how many articles or how many customers you'll take at that rate, though. Just by your post, you are very likely undercharging by at least 50%.
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      • Profile picture of the author Kyle Stankiewicz
        Originally Posted by Tina Golden View Post

        At the rate you're offering, you will be turning away work quickly in the Warrior for Hire section - believe me, you'll make a profit.

        I would highly recommend that you state a limit as to how many articles or how many customers you'll take at that rate, though. Just by your post, you are very likely undercharging by at least 50%.
        You seem to be right, just by creating this thread I have had two quality offers that may gain me more customers in the future. Take note writers, just from a post in this section I will likely earn more than enough to make a post in the Warrior-for-hire section! This forum really is a godsend.
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  • Profile picture of the author Karen Connell
    I began by posting an advert in the 'for hire' section on WF when I first began writing content.

    If you can write good, well researched articles or reports you should easily be able to recoup your investment.

    Maybe offer one or two articles at 50% off in return for a testimonial.

    Don't offer free ones though - if you are good, you don't need to.

    Good luck

    Karen
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  • Profile picture of the author Alexa Smith
    Banned
    Hi Kyle,

    Well, look ... here's the thing: I haven't been running my writing service for well over a year, and haven't been looking for new clients for about two years, so my information and impressions may be out of date or inaccurate, because markets do change (especially this one, I suspect).

    However ...

    I suspect that there are two things you can greatly improve, here:-

    (i) Your website makes you look like a "foreign writer" ... I can imagine some prejudiced/ill-informed people looking at your website and thinking "Well, this one looks like he might from Kazakhstan or somewhere ... maybe not".

    The reality, I suspect is very different? I think you're actually American, albeit that your family name is perhaps of Polish origin? (I'm guessing all this). It seems to me, from looking at your published work, that English is clearly your first language, anyway ... but you don't say so anywhere on your website ...

    In the market in which you're competing, and especially at the prices at which you're choosing to compete, that's a big thing, and quite a selling-point, because it's not true of many of your competitors - and potential customers do care about that (because many - albeit not rightly - associate "foreign writers" with bad English, poor grammar and spelling, limited vocabulary, and so on).

    You need to clarify that on your website, I think.

    And I think your user-name here, and your domain-name, may not be helping you at all, and you should think seriously about changing both of them (very easily done, for your username here, by the way). Sorry, but "kyle-writing-services.com" (or something similar) is a much better name.

    (ii) I suspect you may be competing in the wrong markets.

    What you earn, writing articles for people, isn't primarily about your writing skills (yes, you have to have those, too, of course): it's mostly about your marketing skills. I don't mean for writing for marketers - I mean for yourself: to market your own professional services as a writer.

    In the market in which you're competing, writing articles for $5 - $10, I suspect there may be more service providers than customers. Well, almost.

    The customers for $5 articles aren't necessarily able to tell the difference between your work and the work of someone who's charging $20/$25. And you might have more customers at that price. (Yes, seriously).

    Your market positioning is inappropriate to your writing skills, in other words. Your question about whether you'll earn back the $20 you'd need to advertise in Warriors For Hire, or whatever it's called, shows this. You're aiming at the wrong market.

    It's all about the markets in which you choose to compete.

    If you choose to compete in the low-price markets represented by Odesk, Elance, Getafreelancer, Fiverr and so on, you're effectively labelling your work "Low Cost Writing" and you're choosing to compete with people who are living and working in countries where $5 is a full day's pay.

    Many people with genuinely valuable writing skills start off with very low-paid projects, thinking that this will help them to move on to higher-paid projects. It usually doesn't, at all.

    It's really important, I think, to avoid at the outset the mistake of imagining that it's sensible to "start off by writing for low prices" with a view to raising your prices after clients have seen what you can produce. When writing for online markets, it simply doesn't work that way: when you write for low prices you attract clients whose primary motivation is to pay low prices, and you lose almost all of them when you increase prices later.

    You might find some of these resources helpful/interesting, Kyle:-

    Jennifer Mattern's blog

    Carol Tice's blog

    Freelance writing jobs (minmum payment requirement of $50 per article to be listed there)

    Free report on how to attract new freelance writing clients during a recession

    The Renegade Writer Blog

    The "Irreverent Freelancer" blog

    The Well-Fed Writer: Lucrative Commercial Freelance Writing - Land Lucrative Freelance Writing Jobs

    Words on the Page.

    Edited to add: all the responses above appeared while I was typing this long reply - so I've replied without having read any of them - sorry.
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    • Profile picture of the author Kyle Stankiewicz
      Originally Posted by Alexa Smith View Post

      Hi Kyle,

      Well, look ... here's the thing: I haven't been running my writing service for well over a year, and haven't been looking for new clients for about two years, so my information and impressions may be out of date or inaccurate, because markets do change (especially this one, I suspect).

      However ...

      I suspect that there are two things you can greatly improve, here:-

      (i) Your website makes you look like a "foreign writer" ... I can imagine some prejudiced/ill-informed people looking at your website and thinking "Well, this one looks like he might from Kazakhstan or somewhere ... maybe not".

      The reality, I suspect is very different? I think you're actually American, albeit that your family name is perhaps of Polish origin? (I'm guessing all this). It seems to me, from looking at your published work, that English is clearly your first language, anyway ... but you don't say so anywhere on your website ...

      In the market in which you're competing, and especially at the prices at which you're choosing to compete, that's a big thing, and quite a selling-point, because it's not true of many of your competitors - and potential customers do care about that (because many - albeit not rightly - associate "foreign writers" with bad English, poor grammar and spelling, limited vocabulary, and so on).

      You need to clarify that on your website, I think.

      And I think your user-name here, and your domain-name, may not be helping you at all, and you should think seriously about changing both of them (very easily done, for your username here, by the way). Sorry, but "kyle-writing-services.com" (or something similar) is a much better name.

      (ii) I suspect you may be competing in the wrong markets.

      What you earn, writing articles for people, isn't primarily about your writing skills (yes, you have to have those, too, of course): it's mostly about your marketing skills. I don't mean for writing for marketers - I mean for yourself: to market your own professional services as a writer.

      In the market in which you're competing, writing articles for $5 - $10, I suspect there may be more service providers than customers. Well, almost.

      The customers for $5 articles aren't necessarily able to tell the difference between your work and the work of someone who's charging $20/$25. And you might have more customers at that price. (Yes, seriously).

      Your market positioning is inappropriate to your writing skills, in other words. Your question about whether you'll earn back the $20 you'd need to advertise in Warriors For Hire, or whatever it's called, shows this. You're aiming at the wrong market.

      It's all about the markets in which you choose to compete.

      If you choose to compete in the low-price markets represented by Odesk, Elance, Getafreelancer, Fiverr and so on, you're effectively labelling your work "Low Cost Writing" and you're choosing to compete with people who are living and working in countries where $5 is a full day's pay.

      Many people with genuinely valuable writing skills start off with very low-paid projects, thinking that this will help them to move on to higher-paid projects. It usually doesn't, at all.

      It's really important, I think, to avoid at the outset the mistake of imagining that it's sensible to "start off by writing for low prices" with a view to raising your prices after clients have seen what you can produce. When writing for online markets, it simply doesn't work that way: when you write for low prices you attract clients whose primary motivation is to pay low prices, and you lose almost all of them when you increase prices later.
      Wow, thanks for the advice Alexa! You have been a fantastic help and I plan on implementing much of what you said very soon.

      PS: Yes, I am guilty of Polish descent

      By the way, I am no longer going to require that my name be credited for the articles that I write, for those of you who are still interested in my services. I am in the process of editing the details on both my website and fiverr gigs. As per the advice, I will be raising my prices to $.02/Word as well. I cannot PM anyone back, so contact me via email. (Kstanki2(AT)gmail.com)
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      • Profile picture of the author mounds
        Lots of gold in this thread.

        I'm in a similar position as you, kazarak. I started out writing for ridiculously low rates ($0.01/word) and I'm slowly upping my rates. I cleared my queue today and I'm rethinking my strategy a bit.

        For one thing, it's psychologically-impairing to write for those rates. You get some steady clients, increase your rates and *poof*, all of your clients are gone. That brings on a lot of doubt. Doubt in my abilities and doubt that people will actually pay more than $0.02/word. I like what Alexa Smith said about watching which markets you compete in.

        Another thing is that I can make about $10 an hour, writing at $0.02/word. That's a lot of work for not a lot of money. All those hours spent banging away on a keyboard are hours that I'm not spending with my wife, walking my dogs, doing home maintenance, working on projects with more potential, or enjoying my hobbies. Those hours are sold, never to be seen again.

        Lastly, I consider why I got into this in the first place. I found out recently that my wife and I are expecting our first child. I wanted to establish something before the due date so that if I ever did need to make some extra cash quickly, I would have options. $0.02/word doesn't quite fit the vision I had.

        I don't know about you but if I'm going to sell my spare time, it won't be for less than $25/hour (around $0.05/word). Time to create a portfolio and pound the pavement once more.

        -Tim
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        • Profile picture of the author Kyle Stankiewicz
          Originally Posted by mounds View Post

          Lots of gold in this thread.

          I'm in a similar position as you, kazarak. I started out writing for ridiculously low rates ($0.01/word) and I'm slowly upping my rates. I cleared my queue today and I'm rethinking my strategy a bit.

          For one thing, it's psychologically-impairing to write for those rates. You get some steady clients, increase your rates and *poof*, all of your clients are gone. That brings on a lot of doubt. Doubt in my abilities and doubt that people will actually pay more than $0.02/word. I like what Alexa Smith said about watching which markets you compete in.

          Another thing is that I can make about $10 an hour, writing at $0.02/word. That's a lot of work for not a lot of money. All those hours spent banging away on a keyboard are hours that I'm not spending with my wife, walking my dogs, doing home maintenance, working on projects with more potential, or enjoying my hobbies. Those hours are sold, never to be seen again.

          Lastly, I consider why I got into this in the first place. I found out recently that my wife and I are expecting our first child. I wanted to establish something before the due date so that if I ever did need to make some extra cash quickly, I would have options. $0.02/word doesn't quite fit the vision I had.

          I don't know about you but if I'm going to sell my spare time, it won't be for less than $25/hour (around $0.05/word). Time to create a portfolio and pound the pavement once more.

          -Tim
          Thanks for your insight, Tim. As we speak I am in the process of emptying my queue and revamping my portfolio and website. I decided that if I want to pursue writing as a source of income then I will have to charge prices that reflect the quality of my work. I think it's time that I pack my bags and get out of services like fiverr and simply rely on networking to get some steady customers buying through my site at $.03 a word, because you are absolutely right about how the $.01/word line of work can hurt you in several ways.

          After taking Alexa's advice and going through the name/domain name change, I will type up some quality examples and put myself out there a bit more.

          I would follow suit and charge $.05 a word, but I am a bit tentative on making that big of a jump. Should I work my way up from $.03, or just start at that benchmark?
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          • Profile picture of the author mounds
            Originally Posted by kazarak View Post

            I would follow suit and charge $.05 a word, but I am a bit tentative on making that big of a jump. Should I work my way up from $.03, or just start at that benchmark?
            Guess it depends on how well you can quell your own biases. If you can pitch it while keeping a straight face and you're willing to pound the pavement until you figure it out, why not? I've had a couple established writers tell me to simply do it.

            Another thing as well... you might build up a nice client base at $0.03/word but will they accept $0.04/word?

            -Tim
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            • Profile picture of the author Kyle Stankiewicz
              Originally Posted by mounds View Post

              Guess it depends on how well you can quell your own biases. If you can pitch it while keeping a straight face and you're willing to pound the pavement until you figure it out, why not? I've had a couple established writers tell me to simply do it.

              Another thing as well... you might build up a nice client base at $0.03/word but will they accept $0.04/word?

              -Tim
              Point taken. I was under the assumption that the $.05 price range was reserved for comprehensive and technical projects, not stuff like articles, blog posts etc.

              For now, I think I will settle. I am comfortable making $30 or so for a 1000 word article. I would certainly make enough to support myself with a steady income of orders. As far as future clients go when I raise my prices, if I happen to lose some then so be it. There are more fish in the pond, especially with all that experience under my belt.

              This has been quite the informative and productive day, my site is ready for orders at a stable price point now and once I receive payment in a few days for the work I've done so far, I will be getting a new domain and making a post in Warriors for Hire.

              I can't thank you guys enough, I have been struggling to make money online for months, and now that I've found my preferred method, you've helped me to maximize it's potential and improve my professional online presence.
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  • Profile picture of the author MissLauraCatella
    Hey Kyle,

    Alexa's advice to you is golden. And it's something I wish I had learned when I was first starting out.

    For someone with a good service and quality skills such as yourself, making more money is as simple a matter as charging more. Trust me. It IS that easy.

    If you're looking to build your portfolio, you'd serve yourself just as well by writing content for or to promote your own website. Share tips on writing effectively online, maybe... Whatever it is that you're into. This will help you position yourself as an expert, instead of slaving by writing $5 articles.

    As Alexa touched on, your rate coincides hand-in-hand with the quality of the client you'll attract.

    Those looking for the cheapest possible rate tend to have a very low level of commitment to the project you're working on, and your articles may never even go live and you'll never get the praise and exposure you deserve from them.

    You don't have to spend time haggling with the penny pinchers if you don't want to. Good luck
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  • Profile picture of the author Karen Connell
    One more thing about your website:

    I'm not sure that it's a good idea to insist on being credited for every article that someone purchases from you.

    "...I require that all written work by me that you publish be credited to my name, Kyle Stankiewicz."

    I was going to place an order but that one statement made me look elsewhere.

    I'm almost sure that clients usually buy all the rights to the articles. However, I stand to be corrected.

    Karen
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    • Profile picture of the author Alexa Smith
      Banned
      Originally Posted by Karen Connell View Post

      "...I require that all written work by me that you publish be credited to my name, Kyle Stankiewicz."

      I was going to place an order but that one statement made me look elsewhere.
      Oooh, wow ... I hadn't noticed that!

      Yes - you definitely need to change that, Kyle: clients buying articles expect "all rights". Article marketers will almost all want to put their own niche pen-name on the articles.
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  • Profile picture of the author JeffTonkin
    Here's how I did it, so I can't say it would work for everyone... but just TRY everything you read about.

    I'm sure you've already read about many methods of making money, well TRY ONE.

    I kept trying methods until I found one that works.

    Once you do that, you expand on the method that works.

    Presto, money online.

    I could have charged money for that. lol
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  • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
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    Originally Posted by kazarak View Post

    Would the Warrior-for-hire section be effective and earn back the $20 that it costs to post?
    Warrior for Hire would probably bring you a lot of work. I just bookmarked your site because I hire writers and your writing samples are good.

    Funny, I read the Wakey news before and I liked the writing. Great Google News site. Sold for $11,000 on Flippa.
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    • Profile picture of the author Kyle Stankiewicz
      Originally Posted by sbucciarel View Post

      Warrior for Hire would probably bring you a lot of work. I just bookmarked your site because I hire writers and your writing samples are good.

      Funny, I read the Wakey news before and I liked the writing. Great Google News site. Sold for $11,000 on Flippa.
      My apologies for the double post, but really? $11,000? To think I was getting $4 an article from someone swinging around that kind of money... :p
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  • Profile picture of the author DeborahDera
    For starters - yes, you should bother with SEO on your own portfolio site. There are plenty of people looking for writers online everyday. You need to do keyword research for your own site just as you would for any other project.

    As far as Elance is concerned, do you have anything in your portfolio on the site? If portfolio fodder is an issue, you may want to consider writing a couple of SEO articles for use in your portfolio and applications. It will take a bit of time but it will give you some work to show potential clients.

    Originally Posted by kazarak View Post

    Hello Warriors, I have been trying my hand at making money through writing articles online. I set up a few fiverr gigs as well as my own website with a portfolio and a list of services that are purchasable on-site with paypal. My current strategy is writing for cheap now just to build up my portfolio, and then raising my prices when I have some respectable material under my belt.

    The problem I have is getting the ball rolling. Portfolio sites for writers really have no room trying to place with SEO, do they? For that reason I haven't bothered with it. My gig on fiverr was purchased 11 times, but only by the same person who always buys celebrity news articles which aren't very impressive portfolio material. No one on Elance trusts me enough to give me one of the decent jobs on there without any experience shown despite my high Elance test scores. I was wondering what methods would be effective in marketing myself as a new writer besides what I have been doing. Would you perhaps suggest joining a particular forum? Would the Warrior-for-hire section be effective and earn back the $20 that it costs to post?
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  • Profile picture of the author Asante
    Kyle, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your experience here. To a beginning freelancer/article writer like me, this read was invaluable. Thanks-a-million!
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    Asante George
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    AsanteGeorge.com

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  • Profile picture of the author doingwrite
    I was steered towards this thread by a recent post by Alexa. Thank you all. I, too, am am trying to build my writing clientele. Tried fiverr. Ugh. Never again, but I must say I did get one outside client from that gig who has paid me $100 for a 2,000 word article. I am close to establishing myself on the Warrior for Hire forum, and my plan is to offer a great deal for testimonials. The information on this thread and others mentioned is invaluable. Thank you.
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