Supply-Side Freelance Writing
A beachcomber, the Internet reminds me of the
islands of Hawaii, where there are constant
volcanic eruptions, paving the way for a landmass
that increases in size every day. In the same way,
the ever-expanding Information Highway's explosive
growth keeps giving birth to new careers such as
those of Internet writers or Internet content providers.
AOL Chairman CEO Steve Case argues that the
battle for content is the Net's biggest pre-occupation
since websites need to update their content pretty
much daily. That is why mergers and acquisitions
will continue to roll on, and we, the content providers
are just as well-placed to harvest from this constant
growth much like railroad workers during the cowboy
It's never easy, though, and I am talking from
experience. If you think that the opportunities will
simply knock on your door, you're living in a world
called Virtual Reality. For even as the Information
Highway expands under your feet like hot lava,
being an Internet Writer is very much like walking
on a circus tightrope.
Writer's Digest claims that John Grisham used to
send out 26 query letters daily in between
attending court hearings before he became a
famous writer. That is also how I began to lay
claim to the post of an Internet content provider.
I am not famous yet, but like Grisham, I have a
plan how to get there.
Indeed, the road is fraught with rejections; but it
is also a numbers game. In other words, the
more pitches you make, the more the chances
of winning. Early on I decided to up the ante for
myself, that is, 30 pitches a day, or more if I
have the time! And I am still doing that everyday.
For the fact is, not everyone will appreciate your
wares. I remember submitting a story to one
famous web site, only to be told that I should
take English lessons! And that, in spite of the
fact that I checked my grammar, punctuation
and spelling before submitting the piece; putting
my best foot forward so-to-speak. But like a
door-to-door salesman, you'll make it soon if
you try hard enough and if I may add, you're
I will leave the part about being a really
good writer to you. I will concentrate
instead on the strategies and work
habits that I espoused to succeed.
Right now I am fully dependent on
my freelance writing business with no
net under my feet! How did I do that?
It didn't happen overnight. The first
time I did my first pitch was about a
year ago, here at Inkspot. The
editor did not approve of my story
but she did so graciously. You
don't find an editor like that everyday.
As I said, I just kept trying, sending out that
endless stream of query letters. One day,
I got a yes response and I couldn't believe it.
I have been writing for more than a decade,
but that was my first ever-successful foray
into Internet writing. I got paid only $20 for
a 500-word piece, but I was happy with that
already. The editor was surprised that I
charged him so little, he even wrote me a
note with the check saying "are you sure
you're charging only $20 for this?" I guess
he had no idea at what stage I was in my
Internet writing career! Nonetheless, the
strategy paid off. I figured that once you
had at least one published story on the Net,
it wasn't going to be too hard to land the
next project and so on. By the way, I got
that first project from a classified ad at
So my advice is just keep firing off those
query letters, and capitalize on your works
published on the Net, making sure you
always include those URLs in your pitches.
It also helps to have your own web site,
which contains your resume, contact
information, and samples of work. That
way, there is one convenient place
where editors sizing you up can go.
Mine was just a simple one, which I
crafted from a free HTML software
and free webspace but it serves its
Now here's how $20 grew into $50 and
$100 and then $200 per story. I just kept
pitching as usual, like a good salesman
and my rate kept going up. Of course, I
was still charging the same for, say, a
500-word simple piece; but for more
complicated ones like the Future of
Telecommunications I ought to charge more
and the editors of those sites did not complain
since I had to do more research.
It helped that I was working as a Customer
Service Specialist at Sprint Canada, one of the
big telephone companies in Canada, so I knew a
lot about telecommunications. How does this
situation apply to you? Well, capitalize on a topic
where you know a great deal about, and impress
the editor with your knowledge!
While you are regularly pitching, you also have to
be surfing the Net as much as possible for opportunities.
My daily surfing task entails checking the status for my
project bids at OnVia.com, Ants.com, and ELance.com
once you set up a free account with these sites, you are
regularly updated by email on the status of the projects
that you applied for. Imagine how much time you'll save
with these tools!
You ought to keep surfing because you'll never know
what turns up. My favorites are WriteforCash.com and
the freelance job opportunities at DotcomMommies.com,
HomeWorkers.org, and WritersWeekly.com. Remember
that these opportunities are gone instantly, so apply fast.
If you don't, most likely there'll be at least a hundred other
writers ahead of you as a rule of thumb. It would also help
to have a well-crafted form letter for this purpose but I don't
recommend this approach for pitches.
Finally, establish a way of tracking your deadlines in your
Filofax to maximize your billable hours. If, say, your target
is to earn $2,000 every month from freelancing, you have
to consider check cut off dates from the websites you work
for. WriteForCash.com, for example, pays the first week
of the next month after the month that you completed the
work and they also have a 30-article limit.
Making the most of these constraints mean that if you're
paid $20 for each of the 30 articles, the most that you can
earn in a month is $600 (i.e., 30 x $20/article)which means
you still have $1,400 to worry about for your monthly
freelancing. Also consider that you won't get your $600
check within the month that your articles got accepted.
Here are more examples for anticipating your freelance
income. If you write for WriteforCash.com it's not
impossible to realize earnings of $400 per month
if you write efficiently.
Always do the math and you can never go wrong.
Never waste you time on non-revenue generating
activities such as sites that either don't pay or pay
very little unless you are doing this to help advertise
your craft or you have extra time in your hands. If
however, you can't find sites that will pay you $100
per article or higher during any given month, aim
your guns towards the small fry for the time being
in order to cover your projected shortfall. You will
notice that no month is the same as you obtain
your earnings from many different sources, big and small.
Of course, it never hurts to have some regulars up your
sleeves the likes of Sloot.com where I cover the
telecommunications beat. Though I am not allowed to
discuss my rate here per article, I must say it's a
pretty good rate and the editor that I work with is so
professional. Work on developing these contacts which
will provide you with a regular income stream.
How to get these regulars? I must say the strategy
requires a combination of good old detective work
(translation: surf a lot) coupled with effective niching,
which is concentrating on the kind of writing that you
do best (i.e., How To's; poetry; Children's books, etc.).
You have more chances pitching for subject you are
an expert at rather than a subject where you currently
have zero knowledge.
Look carefully into the details of your pitch. Make
your query letter look as professional as possible,
which means you have to know the name of the editor;
include your full contact information; and, make every
effort to make your own voice come through
(translation: your own style of writing, including the
way you would express yourself if you wrote the article
you are proposing).
Let me end with what I consider the most important
tip in pitching. Do your homework; always look for
the writer's submission guidelines found in nearly
every site that needs help with their content. I learned
this the hard way. Plus, always read sample articles
to familiarize you with the kind of content needed.
If you write regularly, you do reach that point where
it feels like somebody is whispering you the words
to write. But if you put a sense of strategy into the
task, you may be hitting the beaches in Hawaii more
often than you think!
About the Author
Archie Sicat is a professional Internet content
provider. He currently does webmastering for
http://www.CustomerServiceSchool.com and is
connected with http://www.ezinfocenter.com/2854390.