Some freelancers make writing online work very well for themselves, pulling in $50 an hour or more every single day working day. Others struggle to make $20 an hour.
Sometimes, it’s a difference in skill level. A good part of how you’re compensated, though, depends on the area that you specialize in. If you happen to have the expertise and qualifications necessary to write on subjects such as the law, personal finance or popular medicine, you’ll find well-paying opportunities far easier to come by.
I’ve written on personal finance, and I was lucky enough to find magazines that did want my work, and were willing to pay well as long as I came up with interesting new ideas for things to say. When I wrote on other areas that I had experience in, as well — parenting, computers, fitness or gardening — I found that good rates were generally harder to come by. What you write about, then, certainly does have an effect on how much you make.
The truth is, though, that it certainly is possible to command an excellent price for your work no matter what area you specialize in, as long as you’re willing to look for the best outlets for your writing. Here are a few ideas on how to look for the best freelance writing companies are for your writing, and ideas on how to look for something in your specific niche.
Applying individually to the best paying magazines
It’s important to remember that there are practically thousands of online magazines and other publications that pay freelancers for their articles. Since these outlets are heavily targeted by freelancers, though, it can be difficult to get them to pay attention to you. You should keep trying, though. Once you get in, you’ll be able to get their attention far more easily in the future, for steadier work. The following pay particularly generously, usually in the region of 25¢ a word and up.
EarthIsLand.org: An online environmental magazine that focuses on areas of concern that haven’t yet it to the public spotlight.
TheNation.com: A liberal magazine that pays for original articles to do with the feminism, civil liberties, labor rights and so on.
The Sun Magazine: If you’re good with creative writing, poetry and interesting interviews, The Sun pays as much as $2 a word.
VQR Online: Another well-paying poetry and essay website.
Contently.net: A clutch of high-end magazines on a variety of subjects. All of them accept freelance material, and pays very well.
Listverse.com: The site publishes interesting list-style pieces of the kind that go 10 Things You Never Knew About the White House and its Dark Past.
ScaryMommy.com: A great pregnancy and parenting site that pays for freelance work.
TravelBlog: Wherever you travel, Viator pays you to write about it if you have the knack.
Great Scape Publishing: This one goes even further than Viator — they teach you how to get paid to travel, so that you can then write about it.
Transitions Abroad: This site is about showing people how they can travel overseas to volunteer, work or study. If you have something important to say, they’ll pay for it.
There are so many other major freelance sites that you can apply for great pay. Tin House, The Toast, The Bustle, The Awl, New West, Nevada Magazine, Slice, Model Railroad Hobbyist, Unschooling, VRay, Women on Writing, Knitty, The Introspectionist, A Fine Parent, Big Gray Horse and Luna Luna are some of the top names.
Go with the famous names
If you manage to get a piece on the New York Times, The New Statesman, Boston Globe, Salon or Slate, it could do wonders for your career. You should consider such an opportunity the way you would winning the lottery. You need to be constantly on the lookout for an excellent new angle to write about, and write thoroughly researched pieces when you do. You’ll probably be rejected a hundred times before you get accepted to any one of these.
When you do get in, though, you can expect big things to happen. You’ll find that your network expands tenfold, that you are able to command a far higher price than you ever did for you work before, and that you get paid more quickly.
Whether you get accepted or not, you can be sure of one thing — trying to get on these publications will force you to up your game greatly, something that will definitely have an influence on your chances at success.
Target a corporate blog
Many freelance writers tend to consider writing for corporate blogs a form of selling out. There’s nothing about corporate blogs that is any different from a good magazine, though. Both publish good content; the only difference is that while a good magazine uses content to draw advertisers, a corporate blog uses content to draw customers.
You don’t necessarily need to go to a major corporate blog like the American Express OPEN Forum. Instead, you should try any company that doesn’t seem to be doing its content well, or that doesn’t have a blog, at all. You should cold call them, and discuss the possibility of doing their blog for them. It could turn out to be a steady gig; corporate blogs usually pay very well.
Being active on LinkedIn, and constantly participating in conversations with fellow professionals in your niche, can also be an excellent idea to get in touch with companies in a position to hire freelance writers. You should also sign up to services such as Thumbtack and Cloudpeeps, both of which are freelancing websites that specialize in corporate blogs.
Going with the best bid-to-win websites
At one time, I stayed clear of the freelancing websites that had freelancers bid for work, with the lowest bid winning. I hated the indignity of hustling for work, entering a race to the bottom. It doesn’t need to be this way, though.
If you’re confident in your abilities, you can simply go with clients who pay well. About one in five clients on these websites are the marketing departments of major companies that pay $1 a word or more. You need to make sure that you target only well-paying projects like these.