We’ve talked a lot about how to get financial help, food help, and other means of assistance. But one of the most effective ways to help yourself of a financial pinch is to improve your own income opportunities, either by finding another job, a higher paying job, or some method of supplementing your income.
While finding a new, better job is well and good, for many single moms with little money and family to take care of and no chance of getting a higher education, it’s a difficult path. While I don’t want to say impossible (because it’s not), the road to a better career job through job training / higher education won’t be easy. And I fear that most single moms reading this article won’t pursue that path.
However, one legit way of bringing in some extra money — WITHOUT going back to school or learning a new skill set — is to become an article freelancer on the web.
You can be a freelance article writer and make a living out of it.
Why Article Freelancing?
Freelance writing has always been among the premier home-based businesses of all time. Whether you are looking for a way to supplement your income or you are a single mother trying to start a business from home, you can always choose to be a freelance writer and work hard to make it big.
Freelance writing has always been a reliable source of income for wordsmiths around the world, and it can help stay-at-home moms grow financially – and as a person too, since you would be writing about various topics that will expand your knowledge base. You can find plenty of good opportunity in this business and your clients may include newsletters, magazines, book publishers, gaming companies, greeting card firms, online blog owners, online marketing firms, and corporate clientele. You just need to be an excellent writer and there will always be something available for you.
You Need to Be a Decent Writer
Now, I want to stress that the one skill you need to have is the ability to WRITE, and write well. If you are not a good writer, then you prospects of landing consistent work online won’t be very high. You don’t have to be a professional writer, or even brilliant at writing, but you should have a basic command of the English language and be able to write well form, grammatically correct sentences.
Fortunately, writing is as much as a skill as it is an ability. Through practice and effort, you can hone your writing skills to become a better writer.
Before you jump to any conclusion about how impressive being a freelance writer is, stop! There are opportunities, but they are readily available to seasoned writers. When you are just starting out, you may not get impressive offers. You may have a hard time finding a job and once you get it, it may pay nothing more than peanuts. Some people start looking in all the wrong places to get a job, while others just do not have what it takes to be a good writer. What it means is that before learning about how to be a freelance writer, you need to gauge your skills and determine if you can really work as a home-based writer.
What Is Freelance Writing?
By becoming a freelance writer, you will be engaging in the practice of writing for money. You will be responsible for producing whatever written text your clientele requires. You may choose to work for private clients or be part of online freelance companies where they help you connect with clients around the world. The best thing about freelance writing is that you will be able to work as per your own schedule, as long as you do not miss your client’s deadline.
Know Your Talents
Before going any further, take your time to determine if you really have writing talent. There are so many opportunities available for article writers, but the competition is fierce. It means you need to be very good at writing or else you won’t be able to survive for long. Consider the following points to determine if you should really be hoping to establish a career in writing.
- You need to have work experience that you can translate to writing.
- You need to have a ‘natural’ talent for writing.
- You need to have information about syntax, punctuation, and grammar.
- You need to spend hours upon hours to turn in work in a timely manner.
- You need to handle projects coming in with a short deadline.
- You need to have an analytical approach and know how to research before writing.
Without having these skills, you may have to bag the idea of working as an article writer. It is hard to find good writing jobs, and whenever they are available, they require you to produce high quality work with no grammatical error. They may even require you to work at a short notice and submit a finished piece within a few hours. When you have so much else to take care of in your daily life, you will never be able to make timely deliveries, and this could even cost you a good job. Understand that having an interest in writing is only going to take you so far – you have to be disciplined, know where to go to conduct extensive research, and be able to produce flawless work in short bursts of time.
To be absolutely sure if you should really be choosing writing as a career, you may want to know about personality traits of top freelance writers. Some traits are common in all of them. For instance:
- They are always self-directed and self-disciplined.
- They are all tenacious and do not quit easily.
- They can multitask effectively.
- They are flexible and return to their task even when they are interrupted.
- They are always in a position to roll with their clients’ needs.
- They are self-aware and confident.
- They handle stress well and stay positive even when things do not go as they might have planned.
If you also have these unique characteristics, you have certainly selected the right career path. You can succeed as a writer and still manage whatever responsibilities you have in your personal life. However, you will find yourself in a tight spot if you cannot multitask and find it difficult to return to what you were doing once distracted. Since you are working from home, you will always have distractions around you in the form of your little angels. You would have to attend to their needs and take care of your deadlines as well. Once you know you have what it takes to be a good writer, you will have to claim a space online and start looking for the best writing gigs.
Publishing a Website
Having a website designed to sell your writing services is certainly not necessary in the beginning, but it is still a good idea to set up an online space where your would-be clients could go and check your portfolio. You can upload some samples of your work and even share your credentials. This certainly leaves a positive impression on your visitors.
Be sure to include some of your best pieces on your website. Even if you have not worked with many clients yet, you should take your time and create some nice pieces on your favorite topics. Understand that the competition in the online world of freelance writing is fierce, and getting a website published and populated with some nice content can give you an edge over your competition. Here are a few things to consider when starting a website to promote your writing business:
- Ensure that your website has a very strong copy. You are selling your writing skills, so your copy should convey the message that you are a capable writer. Tell people what you do and how you can help their business. Explain your unique selling point to help turn a visitor into a client.
- Ensure that your headline is strong. Your headline should be good enough to speak directly to your ideal client. Do not just say you are a good writer; tell them how you can help them grow their business.
- Ensure that your website has a great call-to-action placed above the fold. Not having any button or link to contact you is only going to result in potential business lost.
- Ensure your lead magnet speak to your potential client in the right way. You need it to work to grow your email list that you could then use to your advantage.
Writing and Getting Paid
You can try a number of ways to use your writing skills and earn good money. To know what works best for you, you may have to experiment a bit and understand how online articles make money.
Some knowledge about how articles work online will help you determine what to write, where to place it, and how frequently. It also helps you decide whether you should start writing for yourself and keep 100% of the profits or you should write for other publishers or clients.
While there can be different types of writing gigs, they usually fall into two categories – articles with upfront payments and articles with residual pay. Here is more about them:
With these types of writing jobs, you already know what your earnings will be. You write set number of words for each article and you get a set amount of money – you write an article for a publisher who pays $15for a 500-word article, so you know how many articles you have to write to earn $300.
Ghostwriting also falls under this category. You usually know what you will get for a complete assignment. The thing is that a client hires you to write a piece but publish it under his/her own name. You are usually bound by a contract to never disclose you were the original writer. They even forbid you to include those articles in your portfolio because you give up your rights once you get your money. It is up to your client to decide where they want to publish the article.
The problem with these types of writing gigs is that they do not pay a lot, and you have to write quite a few pieces to generate a decent income. This often leads to writer burnout, especially when you have to spit out article after article on topics you do not really like.
Unfortunately, freelance writing becomes a joyless endeavor the moment you hit that brick wall. You become less productive, which automatically translates into earning less. Many stay-at-home moms cannot afford it, so they keep pushing them to keep the income stream from drying out. Setting a goal and working as per a set schedule, which gives you time for yourself, is important when you are doing these types of gigs. The good thing is that once you have some experience, you can look for jobs that pay more per article.
It usually means you work with a publisher, write an article, and get paid a small amount of money for the rest of your life. The great thing about this type of writing is that if you manage to write enough articles and get residual income on all of them, you can continue to generate income even when you are not writing. The downside is that these types of articles pay a lot less as compared to articles with upfront payment, which means you need a large foundation of articles to enjoy a good stream of income.
To earn money in this way, you can try the pay-per-click method and the pay-per-view method.
- In the pay-per-view method, you get some money every time someone views your article. The rate is usually not very high and is often based on per thousand views.
- In the Pay-Per-Click method, you get paid when someone clicks on an advertisement. It means that your readers would read your article and might click on an ad you have placed on your page. This qualifies you for a portion of the ad revenue. All publishers have their own revenue share formula.
To write quality articles that help you make good money, you need to educate yourself about search engine optimization and keywords. You should know what people around the world are searching and what they would want to read. You also need to ensure that your article is interesting enough to spark people’s interest – they should share it with others and help you expand your reader’s base. This in turn increases your likelihood of earning more money.
When you are a stay-at-home mom, anything that helps you earn money without having to put in a lot of effort is sure to impress you. In case the idea of earning residual income fascinates you, you might as well be thinking why you should write for someone else and not start your own content site or blog. While you can definitely start a blog and try to get some residual income, it takes quite a while to develop a following and start earning money.
That is why it is better to start working with publishers who already have a strong following and readership. These sites may have editors who offer a helping hand when trying to write a piece that grabs people’s attention. You can then use that experience to start your own blog. In fact, you can continue to work on your own blog while actively writing for publishers who pay you well.
However, publishing your own content to your own website is another topic altogether. Without properly knowing what type of content to write, how to optimize that content for search engines, and how to rank your website, you likely won’t make any money like this. We’ll have more on this topic in the future.
Landing Your First Writing Gig
Knowing how the world of freelance writing works is one thing and actually getting your first writing job is a completely different ball game.
There are actually quite a few options but as a beginner, you would have to settle for rock bottom pay. A lack of experience will always lower your chances of landing a reasonably good writing gig. It is even tougher when you are competing with people who have years of experience to back their abilities.
Does this mean you should stop after trying your way forward for some time? No, you should never.
Like any ‘new job’ you will need to start looking around and ‘bidding’ or applying for a writing job posted online. You can’t get paid unless you have work. So you need to find that work.
How to Get a Writing Job…
- Bid / apply for as many jobs as you can
- Submit work samples if requested
- Once you land the job, impress the client by going above and beyond — this may result in future work
- Keep building up client lists. In time, you may find you have enough consistent work to keep you busy with a part time, even full time, job.
When you first start out and have no history or previous work to show, expect to put in a lot more time and effort. You can’t be too picky about the jobs you bid for or accept. The point here is to find SOME work and gain some experience and build a portfolio. If you use a freelancing website like upwork.com or freelancer.com, this helps build your profile history and can gain you postive reviews / rankings which may help you win future jobs.
Start small and work your way up. Do NOT expect to land a lucrative writing job right at the start!
Where To Find a Article Freelancing Job
Method 1: Look for Jobs on the Content Mills
To get your first job, you should start looking in all the right places. For starters, you can write for content mills. Content mills are basically sites where freelance writers can sell their work to different customers. These sites help connect writers to clients, and serve as an effective resource for all parties involves. Since there are many people looking for writers, you always have a good chance to land a writing gig.
While you may find content mills quite helpful in finding your first job, you should not expect a professional-level fee. Most content mills do not offer much and have a flat rate, usually around $5/article – some content mills pay around $20/article but they have strict requirements. The rates may be as low as 1 cent a word or even less at times, but you may be able to get enough work that keeps you afloat.
What’s more, it is a good starting point for stay-at-home moms, especially if they have never earned anything through writing. You will be writing a lot, and as a stay-at-home mom, learn how to maintain a balance between your personal and professional life. You would also be writing articles with resources and references, which helps expand your knowledge and teaches you how to conduct your research.
Here are some of the best sites/content mills that you can join to find your first assignment. Yes, the rates may not be that impressive, but you can sometimes strike a good deal.
Method 2: Look for Writing Jobs on the Freelance Job Boards
Alternatively, you can choose to find some writing gigs published on job boards. Yes, these jobs do not pay huge either, but are still better than content mills. Once you gain some experience, you can always move on to other better paying job opportunities. Some of the best job boards include the following:
- ProBlogger: You do not have to pay anything to be part of this job board. While it is a good job board, it is popular too. Therefore, it has become a bit competitive. The good thing is that you can use keywords to search the board and comb through the ads with utmost ease. Not all of those jobs would impress you with their rates, but you can still find some nice deals.
- BloggingPro: This free job site lets you find jobs based on types, including internship, freelance, part-time, contract, and temporary. Many top freelance writers swear by this site and believe that every beginner should spend some time here looking for a good writing gig.
- Freelance Writing Job Board: The best thing about this job board is that it lets you find jobs from a variety of sources. You can check the listings or click the job source to go straight to that site for more information. It is possible to filter jobs using a keyword and date.
- All Indie Writers: It is one great place to visit when you have just started out as a freelance writer. Not only does it provide you with freelance writing jobs from multiple places, including Craigslist, it also provides you with some writing tips to make you a better writer. You can sort through jobs considering price. You can join for free and sign up to the RSS feed to get a notification the moment a new job appears on the board.
- Contena: It is an impressive job board but it requires a membership fee. It works great to curate all jobs online, which you can search by nice or by category. It charges you some fee, but it is certainly worth your time.
- All Freelance Writing: You can find a job board at this site. You can browse it with utmost ease and even filter results using keywords and niche.
- Berkley Graduate School: You can also find a job board at this site. In fact, there are dozens of pages loaded with writing jobs from all over the country.
- Editor & Publisher: You have to check the site’s classifieds section to find a list of job related to editing, writing, and publishing.
- Freelance Writing Jobs: There is a section tagged as “Job Leads” that provide you with valuable writing opportunities. New stay-at-home-mom freelance article writers should certain check it.
- Journalism Jobs: Try this job if you are looking for a job related to writing, editing, and publishing. Irrespective of your experience, you can find jobs that fit the bill. You can easily search by position, industry, and location.
Method 3: Write for a Specific Website
You can find several sites that pay you well for using your writing skills. Some of these sites require writers to write in any genre, while others are niche sites and want you to write about specific topics, such as gardening, sewing, etc. Here are some popular choices:
|1. B. Michelle Pippin||2. Everyday Feminism||3. DailyWorth|
|4. Doctor of Credit||5. IncomeDiary||6. Guideposts|
|7. Modern Farmer||8. Brazen||9. Essig Magazine|
|10. Eureka Street||11. Work Online||12. The Toast|
|13. Mirasee||14. LightHouse||15. A Fine Parent|
|16. Cosmopolitan.com||17. eCommerce Insiders||18. Narratively|
|19. The Motherlode||20. The Atlantic’s||21. Lies about Parenting|
|22. Babble||23. Bitch Magazine’s website||24. WPHub|
|25. Adoptive Families||26. Dame||27. The Motherlode|
|28. Gothamist||29. Saveur||30. Fund Your Life Overseas|
|31. Scary Mommy||32. BlogHer||33. Refinery29|
|34. Treehouse||35. The Mix||36. Writer’s Weekly|
|37. Knitty||38. Upworthy||39. Penny Hoarder|
|40. The Tablet||41. Linode||42. Compose|
|43. WordCandy||44. WOW! Women on Writing||45. Make a Living Writing|
How to Make Sure You Get Paid
There are so many other sites as well. Just keep in mind that not every site or client you come across is legit. Some clients would want to take advantage of the fact that you are just starting out. They would use your services and never pay anything.
Here are a few tips to help ensure that you do get your check on time:
- Be sure to find out as much as you can about the site or client. You can use online resources to research more about your client. Confirm they have a good rating and enjoy a good reputation in the writing world.
- Get a contract before you start a job. You are less likely to get a client from content mills to sign a contract, but you should still insist. This helps define rights, kill fees, and payment terms.
- Do not work for sites that require unpaid samples. These unscrupulous clients take your samples and use them on their sites without paying you a penny.
- Know who gets the rights once you have submitted the work. Sites like Suite101 keeps you from using the articles you have written for at least a year.
- Avoid working content sites that have just entered the market. New freelancers will be better off finding work on popular and reliable sites.
- Encourage your clients to make payments in advance. Different sites have options where you can ask your client to make a payment but release it only when they have received the work in full. This usually serves as a guarantee that your client has the money and will pay.
- Keep a record of all correspondence to and from your client. You can always use this information in case there is a dispute about the expected payment amount or date.
- Be sure to send them a reminder when your payment does not arrive. It is possible that they have forgotten to pay and have nothing bad in their mind. You should give them at least 10 business days before making a move.
A Few Final Tips to Be Successful Online
Even when you know where to go to find some impressive writing gigs, it is still important to be disciplined and know how to be successful online. The idea of working from home is really interesting for stay-at-home moms, but it is important to keep some important tips in mind. Here is what will help you find freelance writing success:
- Know Your Worth: You need to be confident and know your worth when accepting an online writing gig. Some clients are so unreasonable and often want you to work for peanuts. It is fine to do a few of these just to get you started and get some experience, but be sure to look for better opportunities and select job only when you are comfortable with the terms.
- Get Familiar with the Terms and Conditions: Many new freelancers often find them in trouble when they complete the work and do not get paid because they have not following certain terms and conditions. Do not assume anything; ask whatever seems confusing.
- Avoid Analysis Paralysis: It is important to analyze every writing opportunity, but avoid over-analysis because it is only going to paralyze your senses to an extent that you might end up losing a good business deal.
- Do Not Let People Discourage You: If you want to succeed online, you have to learn to ignore the naysayers. Do not believe when someone says there are only scammers over the internet. Know that many writers are earning a great deal of money just selling their writing services online.
- Connect with Other Writers: You can find several online writers’ groups where you can connect with new and seasoned writers. Yahoo Groups, Meetup.com, and LinkedIn are some nice places to get started. These groups help you find new job opportunities and even help clear any doubt you may have about grammar, a client, or anything related to writing.
- Have a Marketing Plan in Mind: Working without a marketing plan is never going to take you far. A solid marketing plan is what helps keep you in online business. You cannot just stop once you get your first client. To keep marketing your services, be sure to start guest posting, get on Twitter and LinkedIn, connect with others on social media, leave comments on blogs, and start a blog or writer website.
Keeping these rules in mind will help keep you moving in the right direction, but it all comes down to how impressive your writing is. Even when you know you are a good writer, you may still have to learn the art of writing quality content for the internet. Here are a few tips to help you write great articles:
- Always write tightly focused articles with highly impressive headlines that grab your reader’s attention.
- Avoid articles with long drawn out intros –they are not for the online market and work better in novels.
- Ensure that your article has short paragraphs with a different point covered in each paragraph.
- Keep your writing simple – the best place to show a large vocabulary is a journal, not an online article.
- Avoid using repetitive words and stick to descriptive words when possible.
- Develop an understanding of keywords and search engine optimization.
- Learn how SEO rules change constantly to tweak your writing accordingly.
- Write search engine friendly articles by avoid overusing keywords; write for readers too.
The crux of the matter is that you will have to learn a lot about how to get started, how to find right jobs, and how to complete those writing jobs considering what works best in the online market. It can be confusing, but you should keep yourself motivated because you will learn it all while working on different assignments. So, stay connected!