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Sunday, January 8, 2017

Making Money with Online Writing

So, a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I started to write. The first thing I wrote was a 1,400 page book. The initial idea at the time was to do a magazine article but the article size kept getting bigger and bigger. Eventually, I signed a deal with a publisher and the book was born. That was 1995 and I've been writing ever since.

The book writing has died down of late. Technical book sales just aren't what they used to be. When I first started writing, the software development team for a company might have been ten people and companies would buy the top three books in a subject for everyone. Nowadays, team sizes are down and a company might buy like three copies of the top book only for the whole team. What used to be thirty sales became three. This put a big damper on the book writing income.

Besides the blog, I still do a bit of paid writing. You won't find my name on most of it as it is typically ghost written. But, it is still paid. By ghost written, it isn't like a book where someone puts their name on my writing. Instead, I go through a job board. People post wants. I write them in my spare time and turn them in. I don't know them, they don't know me. If things go well, they might ask me to write again, but still nobody knows each other.

Why do I bring this up? Because anyone can do it. Instead of answering surveys or doing small tasks on Mechanical Turk, you can make money writing, in your spare time. You don't need to worry about setting up a website to blog, all you have to do is find a place with writing assignments and do them. You won't get as much money to start, but as you build up your portfolio, the rates increase and you can make some respectable side income.

There are multiple sites to grab writing assignments. The primary sites I use are Upwork and WriterAccess, where I get most of my writing income from the latter. Upwork is like the wild west. There is no checking of who is offering the assignments. On the other hand WriterAccess has a whole team for finding assignments. And, once you become rated highly, they will contact you to do jobs where they feel you might be good match.

What do I write? Here's the kicker... I write what I want. As a writer at WriterAccess, you have a ranking, from two to five (or six once you've been there a while) based on your writing ability. You start at level two. If you test at level one, that basically means you don't have the skills to even get started with them. Most people with any writing ability should be able to start at level two. Once you're approved for the site you'll see assignments that were posted. The higher the assignment level, the higher the rate. A level three writer might choose to do level two work and earn less but, if there is level three work available, a level two writer can't grab it. Only someone ranked three or higher can. 

After you grab an assignment, you can start writing. Once you've written the work, you submit it. An editor will review it before it is sent to a client. The client might ask for revisions or accept it. Once accepted, that is when they count the number of words in the article to figure out exactly how much you earned for writing the article. Articles have a minimum size requirement and max. While you can write more than the max word count, you'll only be paid for the max.

The range of topics I've written about is varied. If you do well with a topic, the client might endorse you for the topic. Thus, later clients will see that someone thinks you know what you're doing in the subject and might pick you to help them with some writing. I currently hold endorsements for blog posts, newsletter content, beauty, career, and real estate. Yes, beauty believe it or not. I grabbed a couple articles for a beauty salon. They were short bits about the services they offered. I knew nothing about them but I did the necessary research to learn what they were and was able to describe them well enough for the client that they liked the writing enough to endorse me. Some other topics I've written about include product catalog descriptions, top ten lists, buyers guides, and more technical subjects that paid a higher rate.
The rate is the important thing. I'll look at their job board when I have some free time. If there are articles available that pay a higher rate, I'll try to grab those assignments first. If there aren't though, and there are lower paid articles available, I can decide for myself if I'm willing to take the lower rate. Sometimes some money is better than none, so I might grab some lower paid articles if there is nothing else available and I don't have to spend much time on what I might call grunt work. Product descriptions might only pay $1 each, but if you can whip them out quickly with little to no research, you might be able to get through 10-20 or more in an hour. That's money I wouldn't have had otherwise if there weren't available articles that paid a higher rate. Of course, WriterAccess doen't always have articles that need writing. That's when I visit Upwork.

If you're trying to make some spare side cash in the new year, give writing a try. Don't get disappointed by the low starting rates. We all had to start there. Write enough and do a good enough job and the rates will natuarlly increase. The most I've gotten on an article for WriterAccess is just over $400. The lowest is actually for something I did this past December for just 88 cents. The payment midpoint for the 250-ish articles I've written for WriterAccess is just about $20.

Do consider doing writing as a way to generate some extra income in the new year. There was a time when money was a little tighter for my family. If an unexpected bill came up, my solution was to find an article or two or three to write. It wasn't always easy (or quick) to find the articles to write, but the extra income from the writing kept us afloat. Eventually, if you're good at it, you can get ahead of the game. It is much funner to write articles of your choosing then to fill out online surveys for pennies at a time for your time.
*Read my Disclosure


  1. Good article. I didn't know about these sites. Thank you for the information.