Surprisingly, they’re not just copy and pastes of each other. A large chunk of the 2 million pieces of content published everyday are 100% original or close to it. I’m sharing with you this mind-blowing statistic to inform you of just how immense and seemingly endless the demand for online content writing is.
The shocking truth about writing articles for money
I know you’re probably thinking, “But I’m not a writer. I didn’t even go to college. I barely finished high school. How can I write articles for money?” Here’s the shocking part. A large chunk, I would say slightly south of 50% of online content is not all that good. Seriously. If you have been clicking through Google’s search results, can you say that all the items that you read are flawless, smooth and perfect? Of course not.
In fact, a significant number of articles that rank really well could use quite a bit of proofreading, or even flat out rewriting. Some of this content is flat out lousy, yet there they are, showing up on the first page of Google. In fact, in many cases they are number one. There is demand for online content, and you don’t have to be the very best writer to make money from this demand.
How do websites make money from content?
Why is there so much demand for online content? After all, there is YouTube. There’s SoundCloud. There are all sorts of document upload sites. There are slide show sites. There are tons of image platforms, but at the end of the day, text content is still king. How come? What gives? It really all boils down to SEO, Search Engine Optimization.
A lot of these materials have content context. Google can understand the context of these pages and is now able to figure out what the themes of these pages are. Depending on what searchers type into Google, Google will retrieve content that fits the context of these searches. Put simply, a large chunk of the demand for online text content boils down to getting traffic from Google.
Again, you don’t have to be some sort of master writer to get hired to write this type of content, but I want you to wrap your mind around the idea that written materials is the most popular form of online content. These materials are not going to write themselves. While there are sophisticated pieces of software out there that try to auto generate content, almost all of them produce complete garbage. The ones that don’t are barely readable.
That’s why the online development industry is not going to go away anytime soon. It is constantly looking for people like yourself with halfway decent English writing skills to produce content. There is a tremendous amount of demand for online writers.
Can I write online content even if I speak English as a second language?
The short answer? Absolutely. Let’s put it this way. If the vast majority of English language content that you can find on the Internet was written by native English speakers who live in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand or Australia, the publishers behind those pages would have gone bankrupt a long time ago. It’s a simple case of economics.
In the United States, for example, the federal minimum wage is $7.50, that translates to a $60 daily minimum wage. On top of that, the employer would have to spend money for insurance and other related costs, like retirement costs and payroll taxes mandated by law. It would be safe to say that the actual cost of a minimum wage employee in the United States is somewhere around $85 to $90 0r more per day. That translates to roughly 4,500 Philippine pesos.
The minimum wage in the Philippine is less than 600 pesos per day. Even if you were to triple this to account for the college education and previous writer training and experience of your freelance writer, it’s still way below 4,000 pesos. Even if you were to pay somebody 2,000 pesos per day, you still come out ahead.
This is the raw economics behind global content production and development. A significant portion of all the written content that you come across on the Internet on a day to day basis was not written by Americans, Kiwis, Aussies, Canadians or Brits. A large chunk of the content out there, both on regular websites as well as on social media were written in places like Pakistan, India, the Philippines, Kenya, Nigeria, and other developing countries where millions of people speak English as a second language.
This is a tremendous opportunity, because it creates a win-win situation. American publishers and other publishers from other countries stand to save quite a bit of money on content generation costs. Experienced writers, on the other hand, from many developing countries earn way more than the typical job they could have gotten with a college degree. It’s a win-win situation.
Don’t let the fact that you’re not a native English speaker who lives in the United States hold you back. There is a large income pie out there. You can claim your slice if you’re willing to word hard and develop your skills.
What kind of English writing skills do I need to write online content?
Just like with any other market, the online content development market is segmented. At the top-end are companies that focus on hiring only journalists or academics in the United States. This is Top Tier Writing, and they pay the most money. They’re also very selective. You really have to write flawless English, and you must be an awesome researcher to even get an assignment from such agencies.
High-end commercial content agencies. What makes Tier 1 agencies so expensive is the fact that they don’t just hire anybody with excellent English skills. You have to be a specialist. You actually have to have inside knowledge about the topics that you’re writing about. For example, if you are going to take on a foreign exchange assignment, they expect you to have inside knowledge of how Forex markets work. This is very expensive content precisely because it depends on a high level of expertise.
Tier 2 writers, on the other hand, are generalists. They’re not actual experts in any one area, but they can write really well. They also have great research skills, so they can find all sorts of secondary information, organize this material, and come up with original materials that look like they were written by experts.
Tier 3 are commercial agencies that aim for a moderate level of quality. Their main emphasis is search engine optimization. This is where most online content development agencies fall under. They’re not looking to produce cutting-edge custom research materials. They leave that to the Tier 1 players.
They’re also not claiming that they produce the best-written materials. Some of their stuff has typos. A lot of their sentence construction could use a little tweaking. For the most part, their materials are conversational and are in high demand among consumers. This is where most agencies focus on.
Bulk content agencies. Bulk content writers are people who specialize in taking a keyword and organizing an article around it, so the keyword looks presentable, and the article as a whole is believable. They do this very quickly so you could bet there are some rough spots in terms of sentence construction, as well as grammar issues in the article.
Tier 4 content companies focus on volume. They don’t charge much money per article, but they make up for it through massive volume. Their writers can expect to produce at least 3,000 0r more words per day.
Low quality, low volume. The name of the game for Tier 5 agencies is to target as many keywords as possible for the widest range of clients. They don’t really care so much about high value, high-quality information. Instead, they just want to hit as many different keywords for as little money as possible. This means a high output and a low price.
Which Tier Content Development Companies should I apply to?
Depending on your technical background, work experience, and whether you have an advance degree or even a college degree, you might want to check out the different tiers. It would be obvious to you which tier company you’re a natural fit for. For example, if you have worked as an investment banker, and you’ve written several articles in an MBA program, you can easily qualify for a Tier 2, or maybe even a Tier 1 content agency. You have the background for it. At the very least, you have a college degree, and you also have industry experience. The fact that your stuff got published means that you can communicate well enough in those specific industries.
On the other end of the spectrum are people who don’t speak English all that well. However, they can write in English, and for the most part, their materials are passable. There are a few typos here and there. Their sentence construction could use quite a bit of work. They also use expressions that are not familiar to people who speak English slang.
Still, their materials are in English, and with enough tweaking can be clear and easy to understand. These individuals should focus on bulk filler SEO keyword content. The lowest tier doesn’t pay all that much, but considering the volume that they can give you, and the fact that you can sign up for volume work means that you can at least make twice or even three times the minimum wage in your home country.
How do I make more money as an online content writer?
To make more money in any kind of work, you really have to focus on two things. Either you increase the quality of your work so that whoever is reselling your work or using your work can pay you more. Because the market is willing to pay more for the quality that you produce. This is usually pretty hard. It takes a long time to get good enough to command higher rates.
The other approach is more straightforward. In fact, with enough motivation, this can probably be quite easy for you. I’m talking about volume. A lot of native English speakers who write can comfortably produce 2,000 words per day. If you’re only getting paid $5 per thousand words, this translates to $10 per day.
Depending on where you live, this might be below the minimum wage or more than enough. The good new is you don’t have to stick to 2,000 words per day. You can boost your daily output to twice that. Again, this takes quite a bit of effort, but it can be done.
How do I increase the amount of words I write per day as an online content writer?
#1: Read a lot
I’m talking about reading as close to 100,000 words per day. Now it might seem pretty scary, but you are actually reading at a clip of several hundred words per minute. You just need to focus more to jack up that rate. You have it in you to read faster than a thousand words per minute. Again, it takes practice. It also takes interest.
So do yourself a big favor. You know that kinds of things that you like to read, so focus on those. If you like reading young adult fiction, knock yourself out. If you’re into thrillers and suspense novels, download those kinds of books, If you’re into fantasy or politics and economics, look for that material and read a ton of it. I say you should get your reading speed up in a span of a week to a couple of weeks. Get it up as high as possible
#2: Pay closer attention to what you’re reading
When you’re reading very quickly, it’s very easy to think that you’re just trying to power through all these concepts. When you’re starting out, you probably are not paying all that much attention to these ideas. But as you read book after book, article after article, post after post, you start developing an eye for patterns. You start developing a sense for the larger context or meaning of the materials that you’re processing with your mind. Stop and choose to be aware that this is going on.
The next time you read, try to maximize this sense of cohesiveness and appreciation for “the big picture”. At first, it would seem like you’re just slowing things down, but pretty soon you will reach a point where you’re reading a lot of materials and processing through thousands of words while at the same time, focusing on the big picture, and before you know it, you’re able to string these concepts together.
#3: Pay closer attention to presentation
By “presentation,” I’m talking about how a writer presents the ideas that he or she is trying to get across. All of us can think. All of us can come up with concepts. All of us can appreciate concepts. Either we create it ourselves, or they came from other people. No problems there. We all have this basic human ability. The problem is, we differ on how we communicate that ability.
This is where patterns come in. When you read a tremendous amount of written content, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, you start seeing patterns. Really good writers know how to string their ideas together so they flow like water. They use certain phrasings and certain positioning with their words, so they get their message across loud and clear.
Here’s the good news, you can do the same. How? Pattern recognition and pattern replication. Monkey see, monkey do. I’m not saying that you should plagiarize the writers you like. What I am saying is that you should learn from them.
#4: Practice writing quickly
Rip out a piece of paper or open a new Microsoft Word file, and just think of a concept. It can be a keyword, or it can be a key phrase. For example, you can write down “keyword buy baby tennis shoes”. Off the top of your head, just write down all the ideas that come to mind. Do not edit yourself. That would be a fatal mistake.
Instead, exercise your ability to mine and purge your mind of all the concepts that flash into existence the moment you zero in on a key phrase. Again, all of us have this ability. What you’re trying to do is to get all that stuff out of your head as quickly as possible. Right at the moment they materialize, just type your fingers raw getting all that information out.
#5: Learn how to quickly edit yourself as you type
Now here’s the trick. The previous step is actually the hardest part. This is the part where you win. Most people can’t get to that stage because they can talk about what they’re feeling, they can think about the things that they’re thinking, but that’s pretty much it. They can’t boil it down to black letters on a white page. You can, because you put in the hours with the previous step. Now in this step, you’re going to organize your output.
I’m not talking about editing, so stop sweating. Stop freaking out. Instead, the editing is not going to be done when you’ve already gotten that stuff off your chest. I’ve got some bad news for you. If you’re going to edit yourself at that stage, it’s too late. Seriously. You’re going to be wasting a lot of time. Instead, the editing has to happen in your head.
Usually, when people think of ideas, the ideas just materialize in their mind. It’s like a light bulb going off, and it triggers other smaller light bulbs. In other words, there’s an idea, and then there are subtopics, and subtopics of that. It’s like a giant Christmas tree that can go instantly in a million and one directions. That’s how amazing the human mind is.
The problem is, you cannot convert that giant tree with all its branches into a word document. You’re going to run out of space, and it’s really not going to make any sense because there’s no context. There’s no direction. There’s no unifying theme. You have to edit while it’s still going on in your head. How can you do this? Very simple. Focus on the central theme. What is the most logical extension of that? Pick three.
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There are so many different directions you can go, but pick three of the most obvious. Three is a good manageable number. There’s a reason why a lot of western literature and religious and philosophical traditions obsess about the number three. It’s very manageable, yet it’s very powerful. So pick three, and then from each three, pick another three subtopics, now you have nine. Zero in on them as you write them out.
A great exercise for this is to use the keyword “buy baby tennis shoes”. Step yourself through the process. Write down the top three things that come to mind when you hear the phrase “buy baby tennis shoes”. Now break down each three into three subtopics. Again, this can be just one sentence each. Reading what you wrote very quickly, which probably just took you less than two minutes, can you see a theme?
Again, you have to do this quickly. Start with the first branch that broke off into three subtopics. What is the unifying theme? Maybe you’re talking about costs. The next three branches are talking about maintenance. The next three branches are talking about fashion, adaptability and versatility.
I know it looks messy, but you already have the beginnings of a solid, well thought out article. In other words, you laid out the skeleton with ribs, and a spine, now comes the meat. The good news is, once you know where the ribs are, you can just improvise and fill that in. If you have read close to 100,000 words per day, I have absolute confidence that you would know how to fill in the skeleton.
#6: Edit your work
Once you’ve gotten everything out, and you fleshed everything, edit your work. Now, editing is not as hard as you think, because you have to just proceed from the skeleton. Does everything fit? Does it make sense? Does this provide value? Of course, you didn’t do any research. It’s not like this is an academic paper where you’re plugging in citations for every sub-section that you’re talking about. But from a common sense perspective, does it make sense? Edit the info first. This is where you play close attention to the meat that you hung on to the bones. Is everything where it needs to be? Does everything fit?
#7: Edit for engagement
This is where the magic sauce comes in. This is the secret that made me a lot of money. I don’t mean to shock you, but I write at least 20,000 words per day. I charge a decent rate per thousand words of my work. On a good day, I can charge $50 per thousand, but usually, it’s lower than that. But I share that with you to give you a rough idea of the income potential you can have with online content writing.
The secret? It’s not enough that your article has info. You have to create engaging content. This means your paragraphs have to be short. Your sentences have to push the reader further down the page. You have to use subheadings that attract attention and deliver value. You also have to use phrases that tease people.
You want them to read the whole thing, because let’s face it; people are in a hurry. Nine times out of ten, the content that you’re producing for a client is going to be read by end users on a mobile device. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a phone or a tablet. It’s going to appear on a small screen. This is why you have to make your text come alive.
You cannot talk like a scientist. You cannot come off like somebody who is talking down to his audience. That’s not going to work. You have to write conversational text, and that’s why you have to massage in as much engagement as possible. In fact, your goal should be to engage the reader so much that they can’t help but share your stuff on Facebook or Twitter.
#8: Start low and slow
When you’re trying to crank up the amount of text you can write in a day, start low and slow. What I mean by that is, you start with the highest quality that you can produce currently. Say you’re currently maxed out at 2,000 words per day, can you increase your output by one percent? One percent of 2,000 words is only 20 words. Surely you can do that, right? But here’s the secret. Those extra 20 words? They have to be high quality.
You’re not just trying to meet a quota here. You’re definitely not trying to fluff up your articles with filler. This stuff has to make sense. This stuff has to add value to the life of whoever is reading it. If you stick to this trajectory, in no time, you would have doubled your output. If you continue and learn from what you’re doing, come up with an efficient system, you might reach 5,000 words per day.
Where to get Online Article and Online Content writing work
It’s actually pretty easy to get writing work online. I suggest that you follow the steps below. These steps will not only teach you how to make money quickly as a writer, but it also teaches you how to step up your quality by getting used to volume work.
#1: Advertise your writing on Fiverr for $5 per thousand words
I can almost guarantee you that if you advertise writing work for $5 per 1,000 words, you will get work on Fiverr. I’m not just talking about orders here and there, but I’m talking about a nice volume of orders. Don’t be surprised if you get flooded with orders because very few people would write at that rate.
If you posted your gig, and you’re still not getting as much work as you would have hoped, raise that to 1,500 words. Keep raising the amount of words that you would write for five dollars. Obviously, you’re not doing this to become a millionaire. That’s not going to happen. What you should be aiming for is not only experience, but also, you should challenge yourself to produce as much volume on a consistent basis. This is on-the-job training.
You cannot afford to drop the ball on Fiverr. I don’t want to be blunt, but the moment somebody complains or posts a negative review of your gig on Fiverr, your career there is almost always over. It’s so competitive that even the slightest downward adjustment in your visibility is a death sentence. What does this mean? Make it clear in the description of your gig that you will revise your work.
So if somebody is unhappy in any way, they just need to send you the stuff that you delivered them, and tell you what’s wrong. You will then revise the material, and you have to do it for free. Again, don’t focus on the money. Focus on what you’re learning. Most importantly, focus on the volume that you’re getting, so you are getting paid to step up your daily output.
#2: Advertise 24-hour delivery on Fiverr
By this stage, you’re used to cranking out a lot of volume on Fiverr. You’re using the thinking techniques that I have described in the section above to maximize your volume. That is all well and good, but if your deadline is three to five days, there’s still enough room to slack off. Turn up the heat by offering a 24-hour option. Ideally, you should have another gig where you would write for no extra pay with a 24-hour turnaround time.
Your reason for doing this should be quite obvious. You’re not doing it for the extra pay. You’re doing it because you want to produce a tremendous amount of content in a short timeframe as possible. You’re forcing yourself to be as efficient as possible. This is where all your pattern recognition, and your built-in efficiencies and momentum will fall into place. You’re basically painting yourself in a corner so you can force yourself to come up with a system somehow, to produce this much work in such a compressed period of time.
#3: Offer a higher-quality gig on Fiverr
By this point, you’re probably cranking out a tremendous amount of low to moderate quality materials. You’re doing this in a breathtakingly short period of time. Congratulations. When you’re ready, the next step is to boost quality. You should set up a gig on Fiverr where you will write 1,000 words for $5 but with higher levels of quality. This means you’re actually going to research these materials. The turnaround time should be three to five days. That should be enough time for you to come up with decent quality materials.
I know that the word research is probably freaking you out. Believe me, it freaked me out too, because the moment research enters the writing process, everything slows down. That’s when you realize that you’re actually making very little money for the amount of time that you spend writing materials. It would be easy to think that you’re just wasting your time. It’s not worth it.
Well, here’s the secret. When a client orders any kind of content, you can easily zero in on key questions posed by that content. Once these questions are clear, you could quickly search for them on the Internet, and you will have more than enough articles, then rewrite portions of these articles. By rewrite, I’m not talking about rewording word-for-word. Instead, I’m talking about paying close attention and reading the concepts very quickly, and then coming up with your own summation and explanation of those concepts.
That’s the kind of skill set you’re going to be offering for $5 per 1,000 words on Fiverr. Give yourself enough time to turn this around. Usually, three to five days is good.
#4: Start making low bid offers on Upwork
Create an account on Upwork, the world’s largest freelance platform, and look for writing work. I’ve got some depressing news for you. If you don’t live in the United States or a Tier 1 country like Canada, New Zealand, Australia or Western Europe, or the United Kingdom, good luck getting work on Upwork.
The only kind of work you could get if you are outside of those countries, when it comes to writing work, is work that pays peanuts. But since you are in a learning mode, this is more than plenty. This is more than enough. Find as many of those low-ball offers as possible. Pay close attention to their quality requirements. If their quality requirements matched the quality of the researched writing gig you have on Fiverr, go for it.
Here’s the good news. The rate that you get on Upwork is going to be more than the rate you’re getting at Fiverr. This is a step-up. This is a promotion. Get used to Upwork by starting slow and delivering ahead of time.
The Secret to Upwork
If you want to be successful at Upwork, there’s one easy secret that you should use. Under promise but over deliver. Usually, I would say to the client that I will do the 1,500 words that they’re offering, but when I deliver, I end up delivering 2,500 words, sometimes even 3,000 words. Ninety-nine point nine percent of the time, my clients are over the moon. I just blew away their expectations, and guess what? They spent very little money. So when they need new stuff written, who do you think they go to? Do they even think of somebody else? Of course not. They think of me.
This is why most of my income comes from repeat customers. I’m not constantly hanging out on Upwork and Fiverr, or Freelancer.com trying to get new clients. Instead, I get this rising and steadily growing base of people keeps ordering from me time and time again. In fact, I have clients that have been ordering from me since five years ago.
What is the secret? Under promise but over deliver. I’m not just talking about over delivering in terms of quantity. You should also over deliver in terms of quality.
#5: Invest in your writing business
You’re probably already thinking that you’re just a one-man band, and your operation is not that big, so you may be saying, I’m just doing this, so I can pay the rent. I’m writing on the side, just so I can put food in the table. I need the money. In fact, I needed it yesterday. Believe me, I understand where you’re coming from.
But here’s the secret to the game. When I was thinking along those lines, my writing business wasn’t growing. How can it? I would eat up the fruit of my labor the moment it sprouted. Things started becoming easier for me, and I started making a lot more money when I started re-investing in my business.
Re-invest in your writing practice by doing the following:
Take out a Copyscape Premium membership
Every single sentence that comes out from you must be filtered through Copyscape to make sure that there’s no duplicate content. You have to reinvest in your business by making sure your stuff is truly professional, at least when it comes to originality.
Re-invest in Grammarly
Grammarly is just one of many online grammar checking platforms. Still, I recommend Grammarly because it is very robust. It uses a group editing function, so when people correct their work, the rules being generated are actually being stored in a central location. Think of Grammarly as this giant, international interconnected brain that grows and gets smarter as more and more people use the system. Get a Grammarly account.
Go to Seminars
Don’t freak out. By “seminars,” I’m not necessarily talking about seminars where you have to get in your car and show up somewhere and meet with random strangers and listen to speakers talk. You can go to online seminars. There are all sorts of amazing English writing clinics available for viewing on YouTube, start there. Pair the information that you get from such online seminars with your own reading and writing.
#6: Level-up by getting an editor
Hey, we’re all humans. We can only go so far. So do yourself a big favor. If you are just cranking out volume, content, maximize the quality of your material by hiring a professional editor. The good news is, there are editors in places like India and the Philippines that don’t charge an arm and a leg. They are excellent at what they do, but their rates are not going to put you under.
This is a very important investment in your work, because ultimately, you’re building a brand. Before you know it, you get a long list of customers who will come back to you over and over again. Make sure that happens by boosting the overall quality of your work by hiring the right editor.
The final word on making money online as a Freelance Content Writer
You probably heard of the old stereotype of the struggling writer. Your parents have probably told you that one of the most effective ways to starve is just write for a living. There’s a lot of truth to that, but the Internet has changed how people make money with writing. The good news is, as long as you’ve developed a system, you can create an income generating machine with your writing.
First, you’ll write for other people. Maybe you write for very little money, still, you’re trading your time for cash. But once you know the ropes, eventually you can charge higher rates. But don’t stop there. Eventually, start writing your own websites. Start publishing your own books. That’s where the real money is, because once you’re able to learn the skills that you need to write high-quality materials in a ridiculously short period of time, the world opens up to you. You can write books where you write once but make money many times over. You can blog by writing once and making money on ad clicks that happen years from now.
Sounds exciting? Well, you can check out my blog post on Blogging for a Living and Kindle Publishing for Passive Income. Start with those two articles. I guarantee you, if you pay your dues as an online content writer by following the tips that I shared with you in this blog post, by getting into Kindle publishing and blogging, you can take your income to the next level.
I know what I’m talking about because I’ve done this. So do yourself a big favor. Don’t be afraid to start at the bottom, and believe me, when you’re writing a tremendous amount of content for very little money in a short period of time, it would seem like you’re at the bottom. But don’t feel sorry for yourself, instead, look at it as a tremendous blessing because you can choose to learn. You can choose to be more efficient. You can choose to look at the big picture. You can choose to overcome and become a money-making machine with your writing.
I wish you nothing but great success. Read this article once again if you love to write because there is definitely money in it. For more ideas on how to make money from the Internet, check out this post.