Here’s a question that all beginning freelance writers should answer: Would you rather earn enough money per article to make your car payment or barely enough to buy a cup of coffee?
While the answer to this question is obvious, many new writers still spend countless hours writing for the worst paying online markets on the Net.
Getting started as a freelance writer for online publications and magazines is about 99 percent marketing and one percent writing. Brainstorming great article ideas and writing query letters should be number one on your to-do list.
If you dream of seeing your byline on a popular website, you’ll first need to learn the ins and outs of effective market research and marketing yourself as a freelance writer.
Here are some tips for finding the best freelance writing gigs online:
Know Your Worth
Many people today desire to start a freelance writing business at home. It’s appealing to think that you can earn money in your pajamas. New writers often get lured into writing for mere pennies when with just a bit of planning and patience they could earn $300 or more per article.
I write regularly for online publishers that pay several hundred dollars per article – so there’s no need to settle for the few dollars being offered on the various freelance bidding websites and content aggregators like Demand Studios.
There are also many websites that pay rates from $25 and up per article or blog post. This is still far better than the average payment that writers make from content aggregator sites.
Beat the Crowd
There’s a lot of low-hanging fruit out there just waiting for anyone with a keyboard to snatch it. Instead of spending your time hopping around bidding sites and freelance job boards, dig around and find your own markets.
Researching your own markets has several benefits. First, you won’t be competing with the hoards of other freelancers out there all vying for the same piece of “fruit.” Also, you won’t have to write dozens of articles and risk burnout. And last but certainly not least, you’ll find the online publishers and magazines that pay the best.
Start by searching for writer’s guidelines on the websites that you read frequently. Does your profession have a trade magazine or website that publishes articles? Also, search for writer’s resources such as online forums where established writers are gathered. They often share market tips that could point your toward better-paying markets.
Sometimes researching markets and sending out query letters can feel like the long route to getting published. The truth is, it is the long route. But it’s also the most lucrative route. If you want to earn more than a dollar or two per article, you’ll have to learn to be patient while your query letters are working for you.
You may get instant gratification from bidding sites, job boards, and content aggregators, but you’ll build a more solid business and reputation by practicing patience.
I’d much rather write one article per month and make enough to pay my car note than write countless dozens of articles and not even earn enough for my favorite coffee drink from Starbucks! (Right now my favorite coffee treat is $4.00. I’d have to write quite a few articles for some of the content sites out there to earn that cup of Joe.)
Yes, going the research and query route is often a slow-moving train. But you can take more time to enjoy the journey if you’re not pounding out bids and articles on a daily basis.
Once you land a few assignments from writing queries, you’ll find that it gets easier and easier. You may also find that editor’s will start knocking on your door with regular well-paying writing assignments. That’s the power of research, query letters, and patience.