So there it is. A solution to the never-ending quest to make money online. And what’s more, this is a real way. It’s real work, after all. It’s not a scheme.
Well, that might be the case, and it might not. There are many opportunities to write online; after all, the demand is great, as many website owners don’t have the time to write their own content. On the other hand, competition is fierce. There are a number of types of websites where you can make money online, and I’ll give you a brief outline of their advantages and disadvantages.
Type 1 – – Content Farms
Yep, these are the dreaded content farms, also referred to content mills or even content factories. There are dozens of these online content factories on the face of this planet. These companies allow website owners to post jobs, and writers can then accept these jobs and get paid. Website owners provide the writer with the topic and keywords they want them to write about.
The point of these mills is to produce as much SEO content as possible in order to boost a website’s ranking in the search engines. Large news and business websites that are mainly concerned with quality content would never use such mills. Instead, they have experienced writers who write for them.
A big problem often found with these sites is that the pay is extremely low, many times between 0.7 to 2 or 3 cents per word. Considering that a 500-word article, which includes research, proofreading, and editing, takes an average of one hour, that’s not a lot of money.
Now, some of these content mills accept writers from around the world, and rates may be the norm or even above the norm for many countries. Unfortunately, there are those that only accept writers from the US and still pay such rates.
Unfortunately, their attitude is, “People need to work. They need money to live. We’ll certainly find people willing to work, even if we don’t pay them well. Many people have difficulty finding an off-line job.” When the company has such an attitude, you can be assured that the job posters, or buyers, also have such an attitude, and expect perfect articles for dirt cheap.
Another problem with these sites is that writers are given a rating between 1 and 5, usually based on feedback from job posters. The writer’s earnings are dependent on what their rating is, for example, a 4-star writer may receive 1.4 cents per word while 3-starar writer may only receive 1 cent per word. This means that a nasty job poster can easily give a bad rating on a good article, and as a result, the writer will now earn less money.
On the other hand, many such sites pay weekly, so even if they may not be reliable for a full-time income, they are very useful for some extra much needed cash.
Examples of such companies include iWriter, Textbroker, and HireWriters.
To be fair, there are those content companies that do pay higher, but on the other hand, it is also much harder to be accepted. Many such sites will pay 3-8 cents per word.
Type 2 – – Bidding Sites
There are a number of websites where writers and other freelancers (such as graphic designers) can bid for posted jobs. A requester will post a job, and freelancers can offer to do the job for a certain price.
The problems with this method are obvious. You may not be willing to to a job for below a certain minimum price, but you can be sure that a bright and talented writer from India or Kenya will be ready to do it for a quarter of that amount. After all, the standard wage is much lower there. And who will the job poster pick? Not you, who wants them to pay double the amount they will pay by employing the overseas freelancer. They will choose the lowest bidder.
Another problem with these sites is that they all seem to be involved in shady tactics. Review sites such as Glassdoor and SiteJabber are filled with horror stories from both sides of the fence — freelancers have not been paid for their work, and job posters have not received refunds for jobs that weren’t done for them (with the money remaining in the website’s system).
Such sites include Freelancer, Freelance, Odesk, Guru, and Elance.
Type 3 – – Gig Selling Sites
The main website in this category is Fiverr. However, there are many other copycat websites that are also popular. Fiverr allows you to post a “gig,” saying that you will do so-and-so for such-and-such amount. In Fiverr’s case, all writing gigs are $5, although other gigs can be more. Fiverr also allows you to charge an extra $5 for things like fast delivery and extra revisions. However, Fiverr takes a 20% commission, meaning you only get paid $4 per gig.
This method also has many problems. The problems mentioned in the previous section apply here as well: Freelancers from overseas will do double the amount of work for the same price. You may not want to do more than 400 words for $4, but an overseas freelancer will be prepared to do 2,000 words for the same price.
Another problem is the fierce competition. Some Fiverr alternatives allow you to feature your gig on the home page and in emails, either for free or for a fee, but Fiverr doesn’t have that option. In fact, people searching for article writing gigs will be shown three sections: High rated, featured, and new. First of all, nobody will even see the new gigs unless they click on “new.” Second, practically the same high rated gigs will be shown over and over again. Why would ANYONE hire a new gig seller when they can get their job done by a high rated seller, who certainly has experience and is someone whom they can trust to get the job done?
Indeed, high rated sellers that were lucky to get themselves in the system early enough or just had good luck in getting orders, often have 20-35, or even more, orders in their queue, while new sellers’ gigs languish in the unknown and unseen for months on end. A new seller will be lucky to even get a few clicks on their gig.
So unless someone does something really original and for which there would be a high demand for, it is pretty hard for most people to make any real money on these sites.
Fiverr alternatives include Fourerr, Fiverup, Tenbux, Gigbucks, SEO Clerks, Roundshelf, Mercadillo5, Listing Dock, Zeerk, MyCheapJobs, and more.
Type 4 – – Article Selling Sites
The main website in this category is Constant Content. It allows accepted writers to write articles on the topics of their choice and then list them for sale. Writers get to choose the price. All articles must be reviewed by an editor.
Constant Content itself allows writers to sell either usage rights alone, meaning that the buyer can use the article, but it still belongs to the writer, with an option of selling usage rights to as many people as you wants, or charge more for exclusive rights to an article, meaning that the buyer owns all copyrights.
Articles on Constant Content sell for an average of 5 – 10 cents per word. This is nice, but there’s no guarantee that someone will buy the article, and there’s no guarantee that it will be purchased soon. Articles can certainly never be purchased, and if they do get purchased, it might be a few months down the road. The editors there are also very picky.
There have been other attempts to set up such websites, without much success. Failed/abandoned websites include Daily Article, Article Sale, and Ghostbloggers.
I must not leave out that SeoClerks, which was mentioned as a Fiverr alternative, also allows users to sell not just gigs, but written articles as well. Swarm Content and Dot Writer are new Constant Content alternatives, though Dot Writer has a fixed per-word price.
Type 5- – Revenue Sharing Sites
These are websites that allow writers to submit articles to be published on their site, after which writers can earn revenue through programs such as Google Adsense and Amazon Associates.
A very popular program is Hubpages, where writers publish articles under their name. Hubpages then receives a percentage of the revenue writers earn.
The reason why a writer would choose to do this rather than set up their own website is simple: Not only do they not have to worry about hosting plans, domain purchases, website security and all other hassles involved with setting up a website, there is another advantage: HubPages is a large website, with thousands of articles submitted by its writers, and as a result, it ranks pretty high in the search engine results. A writer who sets up their individual website will have to work for months, if not years, for their website to achieve similar rankings.
However, this does not work for the majority of writers, who simply want to write articles and be paid per article, without hoping that someone will eventually click on some ads on their or HubPages website.
There are other websites similar to HubPages, and Associated Content (renamed Yahoo! Voices after it was purchased by Yahoo!) was very popular before it shut down in 2014.
Being a writer online is tough. It’s certainly possible, but pay rates aren’t usually very high, and it’s sometimes hard to find work. However, making a living through writing online is certainly possible, and many freelancers are doing just that.
I must mention two other ways of earning money through writing online:
- Professional writers can also set up their own website where clients can order their services, and advertise themselves to attract clients
- You can search for jobs on freelance job boards such as ProBlogger
- You can make money through affiliate marketing, which is basically setting up a website to and promote products, where commissions of up to 50% or more of a sale can be made. For the latter option, I would recommend one training platform, which also offers you simple and secure website hosting, where you can purchase a website and set it up in a matter of minutes, as everything is taken care for you.
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