Get Paid to Write Articles
The idea of the freelance writer holds a romantic place in the hearts of a lot of travelers. And, it is possible to make money freelance writing, but the real-world process may look a little different than the ideal vision. As such, we’ll use this article to explain how to get paid to write articles.
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In addition to writing about his and Jenna’s travel and work adventures, Chipp is a CPA and founder of Walutes Capital, a real estate development and accounting firm. Wearing this “other hat,” Chipp offers real estate investment and development consulting services to clients. If you’d like help with your own real estate investing journey, contact Chipp here to set up an appointment!
How to Make Money Freelance Writing
Several options exist to make money as a freelance writer. Realistically, though, the surest way to start getting paid to write articles will likely not involve writing about your passions. That is, say you're extremely passionate about volunteering in sub-Saharan Africa. While you may love writing articles about different projects and stories from your time as a volunteer, you’ll be hard pressed to find someone to - at least initially - pay for you to write a related article. (NOTE: To align your writing with what you love, we recommend starting a travel blog!).
Broadly speaking, here are the three most common ways freelancers get paid to write articles, listed from hardest to easiest in terms of finding success:
Option 1: Get Paid to Write Articles for Various Publications under Your Own Byline
Without a doubt, this is the hardest way to make money as a freelance writer. These writers are typically subject-matter experts in a given field who submit articles to well-known publications (e.g The Atlantic, Time Magazine, The Economist, BuzzFeed etc). That is, these publications pay you to write an article to be published under your byline as a contributor in one of their issues.
To succeed here, you typically need to A) be an expert in something, B) have an established following of readers, and C) be able to write extremely high-quality, compelling articles. Alternatively, you can just be really famous so publications pursue you, but most of us don’t check that box…
Option 2: Write Technical and Instructional Manuals for Companies
The next hardest path for freelance writers involves writing technical and instructional manuals for companies. Midsize to large companies, especially manufacturers, industrials, and those in the financial services often require detailed written products to guide employees through work-related tasks. For instance, a company may have an assembly line to produce some sort of product. While an industrial engineer of some sort likely designed the associated equipment and processes, many companies turn to freelance writers to write those processes down in company manuals. This lets the engineers focus on, well, engineering, while a freelancer handles the writing.
To land contracts in this sort of field, writers typically need some sort of related technical background in addition to demonstrated writing skill. Chipp, for instance, used his background as a CPA to write technical guides for different accounting firms. So, lacking that technical resume, aspiring freelancers may find it difficult to break into this sort of writing.
Option 3: Write Company Website Articles for SEO Purposes
The last option is the easiest to find financial success as a freelance writer - writing website content for companies to drive search engine optimization, or SEO, results. So, we want to focus on this route and will dive into the details in the next section.
SEO, Website Content, and Why Companies Pay Freelance Writers
A “dirty little secret” exists in the world of website content. When you read an article or blog post on a company’s website, there’s a good chance a freelance writer wrote it. With SEO, content is king. The more quality content exists on your website, the more likely you’ll drive organic search traffic.
While companies understand this importance, most just don’t have full-time employees with enough bandwidth to do their day jobs and write articles for their company website. Instead, these companies pay contractors to write articles and blog posts to include on their websites, knowing that this additional content will A) drive traffic, and B) not add to employee workloads.
And, whereas writing the technical manuals discussed above inherently requires in-depth, subject-matter knowledge, this SEO content tends to be broader and more generic in nature. This style allows for freelancers to quickly learn enough background to write content without needing to be experts in a given field. As a result, successful content writers need a certain skill set: the ability to quickly research, absorb, and clearly write about diverse article content.
Getting paid to write articles in Marmaris, Turkey
Get Paid to Write Articles for Company Websites
Okay, so now the question becomes, as a freelancer, how do I find companies willing to pay me to write articles for their websites? Hands down, the easiest way to land these gigs is to take advantage of existing relationships. For instance, say you work at a marketing or advertising agency. Someone in your agency likely leads the SEO department. Letting this individual know you are available to write articles is a short-cut way to getting your foot in the door, as these specialists A) always look for reliable writers, and B) have built-in relationships with client companies’ marketing departments.
Alas, many of us trying to break into the world of paid article writing aren’t fortunate enough to have these built-in relationships. This leaves us with the next best option: finding contract work on UpWork. For those not familiar, UpWork is a website and app that connects freelancers with clients looking for support. The clients post jobs, and the freelancers apply to the ones that best fit their interests and skills.
To break into this world, you can create an UpWork profile as an SEO-focused content writer (or some title along those lines). Then, you begin the process of applying for posted article writing jobs. But, it’s worth providing some expectation management here: the hardest job to land on UpWork is your first contract. Until a client has A) hired you, and B) left a public review on the site of your writing services, you remain an unknown entity.
Accordingly, apply, apply, and apply some more to land that first gig. The first article you write may not be in a particularly interesting field, and you may accept a lower rate than you think warranted, but the important takeaway is successfully completing an article-writing contract. At that point in time, you will have public-facing reviews showcasing you as a freelancer, someone whom potential clients can trust to pay to write articles.
Continue Building a Freelance Writing Portfolio
After landing your first paid article contract, you need to focus on building your freelance writing portfolio. The more articles you successfully write for clients, the more your credibility grows. And, the more your credibility as a writer grows, the more you can charge for future work, and the more likely you’ll find new work.
Similar to a snowball, success as a freelance writer builds on itself, particularly in the world of UpWork. With each completed contract, your history of public reviews grows, increasing the likelihood of someone in a company’s marketing department hiring you to help with their SEO content writing. And, with a significant portfolio of work behind you, you can justify gradually increasing the rates you charge per article (or per hour or per word, depending on the particular contract terms).
Bottom line, you won’t find overnight success as a freelance writer. If you want to get paid to write articles, you need to grind and dedicate some time. For aspiring full-time travelers who want to use writing to fund those travels, we recommend starting this freelance writing process at least six months to a year out from departure. If committed to regularly applying for UpWork writing contracts, this will give you a sufficient runway to 1) land your first writing gig, 2) start building a portfolio of freelance articles, and 3) gradually raise your rates to a level where you’ll be making enough to offset a decent portion (or all) of your travel costs.
AI and the Future of Paid Articles
We’d be remiss to not mention the elephant in the freelance writing room - ChatGPT and other AI-based writing services. The growing success of these programs begs the question, will they replace actual human writers for SEO content writing? Maybe, maybe not.
More realistically, successful content writers will likely learn how to incorporate these sorts of AI tools into their writing services - not be completely replaced. So, familiarizing yourself with the likes of ChatGPT wouldn’t be a bad idea. Regardless of what happens in the future, though, for the time being, companies continue paying freelancers to write articles to drive SEO results.
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