Websites are constantly searching for new content to bring in traffic and keep established users returning for fresh material. Many of these websites pay for written content. If you can write well, know a little about how SEO (search engine optimization) works and have a computer, then you have the tools to start making money by writing for these websites. Pay can range from practically nothing to hundreds of dollars for a single piece.
So, where do you start? To get paid as a writer, it is a good idea to have a great portfolio. It doesn’t have to be extensive, but it should showcase the very best of your writing ability, preferably across different areas. A great place to create and store your portfolio is on your own blog dedicated to writing. This allows you to keep an updated portfolio showcasing your writing, add in links to published articles, and have a place that satisfied clients can leave you a review.
Along with your portfolio you need a great cover letter template that can be customized for each client. One warning about using a template: make sure you do customize it for each client. That doesn’t mean just plug in their names or website. It means adding details about the writing gig you are applying for. With your portfolio polished and ready, start by browsing the internet as you normally would. What are your favorite websites to visit? Go there, and look (usually in a drop-down menu or small lettering at the bottom) for something that says “Write for US.” Follow the link to learn what their requirements are for writers to submit their work for consideration. Think outside the box here.
Remember that great fishing trip your family took last summer? Write a short sample about it that emphasizes your strengths as a writer. Now go visit websites dedicated to fishing and pitch them your idea for an article about “Teaching Kids to Fish,” or “The Best Gear for the Beginner Salt Water Fisherman.” At this stage, it is all about getting your first few writing jobs. Don’t worry about the lack of pay or how obscure the publication is. Focus on becoming a published writer.
Once you have made your pitch to your favorite websites, it is time to hit the job boards. A simple Google search will reveal dozens. Find the ones that are most reputable, and start sending in proposals. Don’t forget to include samples with every proposal. People aren’t really interested in what you tell them you can do. You need to be able to show them. Be prepared for rejection. It can often take a while to get your first paid article, and that might be at a ridiculously low rate. Don’t be discouraged. Virtually every writer has had to pay these dues before they were able to establish themselves. Once you have an accepted article, and your client is happy with your work, politely ask if they would be willing to write a short recommendation or leave a positive review on your blog. These recommendations and reviews go a long way in helping you appear more legitimate to future clients.
Keep writing as it helps you to continue to hone your craft. Keep updating and polishing your portfolio. Use every rejection as a learning tool. If possible, ask for specific feedback on your writing. Although rejection stings, it is a great opportunity to improve your writing. When a client is thoughtful enough to provide you honest feedback, put your pride aside and take a hard look at what they are saying. Even if they do not want it re-submitted make the edits and corrections they suggested. This will help you understand more about what clients are looking for. Once you have a slew of published pieces and a portfolio that shines, then do some research on the top-paying publications in your niche. Start making your pitches there. Always be professional, polite and persistent. Eventually, you will land the opportunity to write for a website that pays significant money. Once you have that in your portfolio along with a positive endorsement from the editor, you will find that getting decent-paying writing jobs will come much easier. Learn from your mistakes and celebrate your victories.