I always say this because it’s 100% true, there is no need to reinvent the wheel!
People are making money online every single day, and there is no reason why that cannot be you! There is no reason why it can’t be you sipping on a hot cup of cocoa on a rainy day, snug in your bed while you work.
Just follow these simple steps, and soon it could be you laughing all the way to the bank. In this article I debunk who wants content, the sort of content you are likely to be asked to provide and walk you through what you need to know to get your work picked up by editors.
Who pays for posts/pictures etc?
Most people will say only blogs and online magazines pay freelancers for content, but truthfully, there are so many places to get paid for your work. Some website owners may want content to shore up their primary content, you could even get paid for something that will wind up being part of print media.
When I started writing online, some of my most frequent customers were real estate agents that wanted content for their websites.
Don’t limit yourself to just online magazines and blogs. One of my friends found an opportunity to create modules for an online university, and another scored a column in a newspaper that specialises mostly in print.
This could happen for you too!
Area specific or not?
There are so many types of publications that you could do paid work for. They cover a whole host of subjects, such as:
Cooking and baking
Hair and beauty
Saving and frugal living
I could go on and on with this list, but, you get the gist, right?
Their diversity is also reflected in the market that they target. Some publications cater for a global audience, while others are designed for a specific community, city or country. They generally do let you know what they’re about and who they are designed for.
What do they pay for?
This is by far my favourite part of this blog post! To get paid online, you may have to hand in one of these at some point. I’ll explain the basics of what each of these entails.
Some publishers pay extra if they use your pictures in your articles. Other publishers will pay just for your pictures, without the need for an article. Some online publishers will pay for galleries created around a topic that they approve. It goes without saying that your pictures should be high resolution.
In journalism, especially television or radio, a roundup of news is a summary of the main events that have happened. So when an event, or a series of events happen near you or online and then you write about them…Voila!
I rather like this one because I feel like it tends to have more emotion coming through. A personal essay, in case you didn’t know, is a piece of writing that serves to describe an important lesson gathered from a writer’s life experiences. The essay often describes a significant event from a first-person perspective, and can be done in various writing styles, like a formal essay or as creative nonfiction. Some publications prefer just this, rather than made up stories.
A case study is an in-depth study of one person, group, or event. In a case study, nearly every aspect of the subject’s life and history is analyzed to seek patterns and causes of behavior.
Case studies can be used in a variety of fields including psychology, medicine, education, anthropology, political science, and social work. There are many ways that you can use this when you’re sending your pitch to an editor.
This is self explanatory, you base your work on a playlist that you either create or are given.
Opinion pieces / Comment pieces
This is an article in which the writer expresses their personal opinion, typically one which is controversial or provocative, about a particular issue or item of news. Your writing should be able to spark debate surrounding the topic of choice.
A critical essay is a form of academic writing that analyzes, interprets, and/or evaluates a text. Critical essays give a well rounded view of the meaning and significance of a text, rather than making a judgment about its content or quality as would be done in an opinion piece.
The joy of reviews is that they can be about anything at all, and can be positive, negative or have elements of both. A review is a critical appraisal of a book, song, film, product etc. published in a newspaper or magazine, or any other platform.
Reviews should be based on honesty and truth, otherwise their purpose is defeated. Users need to have a true opinion of whatever is being reviewed in order to see if it is worthwhile to pursue it.
This is one of the best paying pieces for a freelancer, and quite possibly the most intensive and demanding. This is why some publishers pay up to $5 000 for one feature. A feature is a newspaper or magazine article or a broadcast programme devoted to the treatment of a particular topic, typically at length.
A lot of research, sometimes on the ground, is required. Topics for features are generally supplied by publishers in their call for submissions.
Trend stories used to be a subsection of journalism reserved for light features, like new fashions or a television show that’s attracting an unexpected audience. But not all trends are pop culture-oriented and depending on where you’re reporting, trends in your town may vary wildly from a city in another state or country.
Research will be your best friend if you are intent on writing trend pieces. Reading old stories published by the blog, magazine or whatever it is that you are writing for will help you to determine the type of people that make up the target audience, as well as where they are from predominantly. You don’t want to write an in-depth article on club dresses for a religious magazine.
Know your audience!
A detailed article is a piece of writing about a particular subject that is included in a magazine, newspaper, etc with numbers, statistics, strategies, tips and real examples.
It’s all about current affairs with this. You will be writing a report of recent events or previously unknown information.
I know I am stating the obvious here but it needs to be said. A news article has to be about an event or occurence that is interesting enough to be reported. In other words, it has to interest the reader and subsequently generate traffic for the publisher.
We all had to write a report for English class in school. Because of that, you know that a report is an account given of a particular matter, especially in the form of an official document, after thorough investigation or consideration by an appointed person or body. For publication, make it interesting.
This includes all genres:
Untold human interest stories
Art cartoons illustration
Publishers may be going for a particular genre, like horror when it’s Halloween time. The genre is usually stated in the call for articles if there is a particular preference.
Call for submission
Publishers in any capacity put out calls for submissions when they are looking for fresh material to publish on their various platforms. You can get a bunch of these in your inbox every single week if you sign up for the This Week’s Paying Online Opportunities newsletter here.
These can be provided or you may be asked to find your own. That decision depends on the preference of the editors. How to topics are quite popular – tutorial type stuff.
How do you find your own topic?
If you need inspiration for topics to write about, there are a number of places that you should check out. Some options include:
Google – under what people also search for
Other blog posts
If you type in the general subject matter that you are interested in writing about on any of these platforms, questions and possible topic suggestions will not be too hard to find. Never be afraid to try, you never know what will open doors for you.
Research research research!
I cannot emphasize this enough. You must have solid backing for your ideas, and that backing comes from doing copious amounts of research. You also need to familiarise yourself with what other people have written about your topic, and then steer clear of that! Dare to be different, write what nobody else has in a way that is different. Trust me when I say that this works. I’ve tried it.
Which ‘voice’ should you write in?
Editors generally will tell you what they prefer. Common requests have been for a voice that is:
Conversational (bloggy, friendly)
Many publishers emphasized that last one and so I have too. Don’t lecture people…nobody needs that! People have to deal with enough judgement out there in their day to day lives, don’t give them more of the same.
Which point of view is best?
1st person is wanted by many, though others don’t want it. Again, publishers usually do let you know what they want to see.
Which perspective is better?
Most publishers give you the option to either write as an expert or as a beginner. The latter is my personal favourite because I try to not take it for granted that everyone already has the necessary foundational knowledge for my chosen topic.
How many words per document?
This is so varied depending on what the publisher wants. Reader’s Digest wants only 100 words. Others want 150 words, 1500 words, 4000 words, not more than 7000 words etc. Follow instructions. All of the publishers are clear on their word limits.
‘Web format‘ is what a lot of online publishers are looking for these days. What does that mean? It means you should include some or all of the following in your write-up:
Intro, body, summary
Short paragraphs 2-3 sentences
1 word paragraphs for visual break
Use bullet points and lists for visual break
Use headings and subheadings for visual break
Put actionable items at the end or somewhere in there
Publishers that want pitches are clear on how to do it. Email subject line given. Usually a pitch is short, just 2 to 3 paragraphs explaining what you intend to write and how.
Some want the full draft. Give the people what they want.
How much could you get paid?
It varies widely, but you could get up to $5000, depending on the publisher. Some pay a certain amount per word, the best I’ve ever seen being $1.50 per word. Others pay as little as $0.01 per word. It’s up to you to decide which pay grade you’re gunning for.
You can use the lower paying offers as practice for when you come across the better offers.
How do you get the money?
Some publishers pay via cheque, Payoneer, Still etc. There are actually a lot of options that make it easy to get your money from wherever you are.
Most publishers prefer to pay using PayPal where transaction fees are generally low.
I’ve written more about this here.
Previously published work
‘Published’ means even on your blog and social media pages. Most say no to previously published work. Some will let you republish your work later, as long as you mention that they published it first. Others will want the rights to your work forever, for a once off fee.
Be sure to check what publishers say about publishing rights, you may be able to use those posts later for your blog or social media.
How to submit the work
Email is a popular choice, where you state what it is you’re sending in the subject line as directed by the submission guidelines that are provided.
Other publishers have a ‘submit form’ on their site.
Lastly, some publishers want to use Submittable. You just have to open an account then you’re good to go.
Make sure that you send your work in the requested format – be it a request to put it in the body of an email, sending it as .doc or html, sending it as a Google Doc etc
Get your bio ready!
Publishers will definitely let you know the next steps to take after they express interest in using your work. If you do make it, most publishers want to put to put a short biography up so that the readers get to know you. You don’t have to give your entire life story, just something that lets them know a little more about you.
And there you have it in a nutshell!
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