Here are my rantings on internet marketing. I've given some good advice in some articles, and others, well. Take a look for yourself.
In a data age, content is gold and unfortunately writing is a profession that has lost something special because anyone can publish anything they want. We should start embracing our fellow writers, they are the ones that create content from thin air and provide the bait business owners need to gain data.
I have spent quite some time searching far and wide for writers and have gone down every path I could find. This article is a mere reflection of my discoveries with the intention to steer any aspiring writers and journalists reading this into a path that promotes quality in an industry I found to be lacking exactly that.
Please note there is a “too long, didn't read” summary at the bottom of the article.
Writers are needed across the board and the industry is not only declining in quality, but more and more writers haven’t a clue on how to branch out and earn money from their skills. There is a major gap between buyers and sellers in the content industry and no medium is easily discovered.
The industry is flooded with non-native English speakers undercutting local writers, charging a minimum for articles or copy. During my research on the topic, I have managed to find a group of writers that would charge me $15 USD for a 1000 word article. I purchased 10 articles to make an assessment and although the articles were not well researched or written by an expert in the topic, they were good templates to alter. I also discovered that many business owners outsource to those writers, expecting a ready-to-go product, only to be disappointed when the delivered content lacks quality, which generally results in the business owners demanding a refund from the writers, either directly or by raising a PayPal dispute.
Writing is not the only profession in the content creation world suffering, video and audio are also trying to keep above water and you can see this by what people offer for $5. I’m not going to get into that right now, although having a video editing background myself, I'm quite passionate about the subject.
I would like to stress that during my research for this article, I approached three local freelance writers starting out here in Sydney. They were all still studying Journalism and had no professional work published, but were each keen on building a portfolio. I offered them the standard market price converted to Australian dollars ($27.50 per 600 word article) with a minimum of 10 articles a week. Two of them immediately declined my offer – without negotiation – as they could not accept the amount they would be paid. One telling me that Centrelink paid them more for doing nothing. The remaining writer accepted my offer, however, he could not follow any training or instruction and only had one style of opinion-based blogging, and therefore he was dismissed before he could get started.
Often, business owners who are looking to maximize profits will post an outsourced article as it is, then wonder why their ranking positions drop or their content didn't bring extra traffic. This causes ignorant business owners to conclude that writing doesn't bring a return on their investment. As a full-time SEO and Director of Marketing, I can tell you that it is a fact that Google uses your content as a strong ranking signal. If you're publishing “fresh content” that looks spammy and is unreadable or already has millions on rehashed results within the SERPs on the exact same topic, there is no point and you should probably revise your content marketing strategy. Google preaches quality content, so give it to them.
If you're a writer looking to start gaining income, now is the best time to start building up your portfolio. Business owners are finally waking up and realizing that tackling something as technical as SEO – especially in 2015 – is not within their reach. Hiring an online marketing team has become a necessary investment for those that wish to succeed within the online world, and content creators are a vital part of that team. The Panda Update (Google algorithm update based on content) now assesses content as it is indexed and those ignoring the fact that content not only needs to be unique, but relevant and informative, are wasting their money and will eventually drop; meaning: those relying on just organic searches for leads will eventually rely on Adwords to keep afloat, or simply choose to fold.
Although I'm not a professional writer myself, I do know what I look for when hiring a writer and what drives them to produce a quality product. I have studied news media in journalism and have work published in both the online and offline world. I have also owned and operated an online magazine, but writing articles is just a hobby of mine.
If you're looking to become a writer, there are a number of things you must keep in mind.
Topic: All great writers should ideally be experts or enthusiasts in the topic they're writing about. There is nothing worse than an article that bangs on about a particular topic when the entire writer's education on the topic was a crash course via Wikipedia.
Cohesion: All content should suit the publication you're writing for. Study their style guide and read how their internal linking flows, perhaps reference some existing articles on the site.
Focus: This should be common sense, but I've seen many writers taking on multiple projects at once. As a writer, you will have a quality article if you write from start to finish. You can come back to it later for editing with fresh eyes, but trying to write more than one article at once is not recommended.
Patience: If you believe that you are only as good as your previous project, then I would start taking some time with and care for your work. People do pay higher prices for articles that are not completely filled with repetition and stop words. Research your topic and double check facts, it will pay off in the end.
Practise: If you combine focus and patience with practise, you will be on your way to become a professional writer who can handle a deadline. Practise means putting yourself out there and getting published. Get into a research routine and work out your flow, refine your processes to reduce wasted time.
Feedback: Be open to constructive feedback and take your time to reflect on it.
There are several marketplaces where writers can earn money and publishers can buy content. People that are satisfied having a smaller income stream at the start can work on getting publicity or a foot in the door. Having professional work published is taking the first steps to making a good income in the future, just keep a portfolio for presentation. The general writers market is not going earn you $1 per word right away, however if you’re determined and realistic with an entrepreneurial attitude, you will get to that point in good time.
iWriter: This is a pretty standard marketplace where the quality of the content is not the greatest. My general experience is that the articles there are being written by someone that did not grow up with English as their native language. Don't be thrown off, there are some writers in here that are quite good and they make a killing. It would take you no time to build a reputation as a quality writer and start making a good income.
DotWriter: This marketplace is very similar to iWriter. The concept is the same and the people are the same. People do make a lot of money in these platforms, but it does take time and networking.
Ghostbloggers: These articles are slightly higher in quality and will cost more to the buyer. You will have some competition in this platform and you will need to have insights on the subject you're writing about. Most articles I've discovered were not filler content, but something we call authority content. I have seen some top-notch articles sell in here over the $100 mark, so if you specialize in a particular topic then this would be the marketplace you should be writing for daily.
Constant Content: This would be the most popular marketplace since they spend some money via CPC (Cost per Click) advertising. When you get advertising costs, your prices also go up, so I'm not sure you're really getting what you pay for, yet it's still a good place to sell your articles if you want to get published.
Zerys: This marketplace means business and is one of the go to places for marketers and agencies. People like myself can easily post a job and a writer can choose to take it on. This could be your gateway to a steady income, and if you're delivering quality content you will get constant work.
When you're selling or buying an article, you must take word density, readability scoring and duplication into account.
Word Density: A quality article will have great keyword density (no keyword should be higher than 2%) with no duplication found. A great tool for assessing your content is keywordanalyzer.org Word Density is used to avoid keyword stuffing. Writers should think about queries when writing, not keywords.
Readability: Your readability score should depend on the target audience you're writing for. If you are writing simple content, let's use Buzzfeed for an example, then you might want to look into having a score targeted toward high school teenagers. If you are writing for Forbes then you may want to have a higher score that targets academics. A great tool for calculating your score is read-able.com
Duplication: To avoid duplication in your content you will need to sign up to a platform called Copyscape. You can paste your article into Copyscape and it will search the web for duplications. An alternative to Copyscape is plagium.com
You will hear all sorts of stories about these platforms if you're a buyer. The truth is that if you're lazy, with your interviewing and communication, then you do have a chance of getting screwed or paying a lot for little work. From a seller’s perspective, you're going to need to know your audience here and do a bit of sales talk.
Freelancer: This platform is known for its branding and meetups. They are great at what they do and support start-up entrepreneurs. At the end of the day, they are out to make money and leech from those that want the same thing, so it's up to you if you want to pay the premium to have a profile and sell your services.
oDesk: I use this platform a lot for hiring staff. You can find almost anyone in here from writers, copywriters, public relations staff, virtual assistants and developers. I have my own group of writers in here and will often give them work if I'm on a big project with a deadline. This is known as one of the easier platforms to get into, which attracts a lot of lower quality services, so a lot of filtering is needed.
Elance: This platform is directly related to oDesk and offers very similar services. The main difference is that it's a more mature marketplace. If you're discovered in here as a quality seller and you have amazing reviews, then you're not going to struggle to gain work and you can most likely make this your full-time job.
If you're starting to gain some revenue from writing, your next steps should be starting your own website and having your own desk in a creative environment.
Your website and server are your virtual home, they should contain everything you need in order to run your business with a good level of automation. Project management software with invoicing capabilities and file download options with a payment gateway is a great place to start.
The freelancer dashboard is a popular system that sells for only $35 USD with no extra fees and free upgrades. You will need to have someone install this into your server if you're not familiar with setting up SQL databases. This is a lot cheaper than using a monthly subscription service that could cost you up to $50 per month. Click here to see a preview or buy the freelancer dashboard
A great free solution for freelancers is WaveApps where you can connect your bank accounts and PayPal accounts. You will attach a tag/category onto a payment received or payment sent that will make your end of financial year books a breeze for your accountant.
Alternatively, you can just use Microsoft Excel if you're not comfortable with a third party having your financial information.
There some great co-working spaces in Australia and I'm going to give you a very basic list. If you want to find more, simply Google “co-working spaces” or ask around in freelancer communities where they work.
If you're looking to gain an income using your writing skill, you need to start somewhere. Find your interests and become an expert, stay focused and practise your craft. Join marketplaces and hassle to get published then start earning pocket money.
Once you have some work online then scale up to freelancer platforms and gain more work, using your existing work as examples.
When you're making a minimum wage, re-invest some money into a server, project management software and accounting software.
If you get to a point where you have a lot of work published and you're making good money, join a co-worker space and get a full-time desk. Start networking with other entrepreneurs and get into a start-up as their content writer.
It will take some effort and sleepless nights, but when you're making some hard cash then I truly hope you buy me a beer. It took two days and seven episodes of Madmen in the background to put this piece of content together.
I'm a digital marketing and SEO consultant based in Sydney, Australia. I drink a lot of coffee and spend most of my time working on clients websites and improving their search visibility.
Sydney's Technical SEO ConsultantNick Cavarretta