If you’re struggling to earn a living as a freelance writer, you’ve probably looked at many opportunities for writing online. The question is, which of them pay well?
You’ve probably noticed that writing short blog posts often brings tiny paychecks. What pays better? The good news is, there are types of online writing where pay is better.
Based on the input from writers in my 1,100-member freelance-writer community, here’s what will pay well in 2019 (in alphabetical order):
1. Case studies – If you’re not familiar, these are customer success stories for businesses. You interview the customer to learn why they chose your client’s solution, how they implemented it, and how it helps their business. Any business that sells something expensive and/or complex needs case studies to make sales. Pay ranges from $700-$1200 for a 1-2 page, single-interview story.
2. Content downloads – Ever read a blog post that has some good info, but then you can get a more detailed report on the topic for putting in your email? That’s a content download – and blog-based businesses are turning to these increasingly as good ways to get more leads. The content of the download varies – could be a list of tools or resources, a how-to guide, survey data, success stories, you name it. Because this is an opt-in product that can be tracked to more sales, companies tend to pay well for them. Think $500-$1,000 and up for 5-10 pages.
3. E-book ‘bait pieces’ – Much like the content download within a blog post, e-books are a proven offer that gets blogs more subscribers. Way more people tend to be willing to opt in if they get an instantly delivered, useful free e-book, compared with just signing up and hoping to get blog posts as they publish. The amazing thing is, many blogs lack that free product for subscribers. Creating a short e-book is an easy project with fun storytelling, and rates are great – think $1,500-$3,000 and more. Some companies are going big and creating longer e-books – I recently wrote a 100-page e-book for a client for high five figures.
4. Longer blog posts – You may have noticed that Google likes 1,500-word posts now, and dislikes 500-word ones. That means opportunities are booming in writing longform posts. Rates writing long posts for good clients range from $200-$500 and up, depending on complexity of material and interviews required.
5. Online magazines – Journalists, attention! In the past few years, many prestigious national print publications have shifted to online-only publication – and that means digital storytelling opportunities for you. Online mags used to be considered the ugly stepsister in publishing, but online pubs increasingly offer better pay, as advertisers shift their spending online. Glamour recently announced it would go online-only in February 2019, joining other recent online converts Teen Vogue, Self, Computerworld, and others.
6. Web pages – Companies need to explain what they do online. Demand for how-to and informational web pages has stayed strong, with rates from $100-$300 per short page, and more for longer. I recently did a project developing online content for a company in chemical marketing, one of the most in-person, old-school, relationship-based industries around. If they’re migrating more of their presence online, trust me, everybody is.
7. White papers – These information products are favored by sophisticated companies that sell to other businesses. White papers usually range from 5-10 pages and discuss industry trends, issues, and solutions…often, slyly leading to the conclusion that the company’s solution is best. Multiple interviews and data research are usually needed. Pay ranges from $2,500-$5,000 and more.
As you can see, there are plenty of better opportunities for writing online, beyond the old standby of short blog posts.
Land better-paid jobs writing online
You may be wondering how you find clients who need these better-paid types of writing. It’s amazingly easy! Because we’re talking writing online, all the research material you need is easily available on the Internet.
Take an industry you like – say, medical devices – and read the websites of companies in the sector. (It’s simple to Google up a big list, in any industry vertical.)
It’ll be easy to identify companies that do case studies, and might need help with them (or that aren’t doing them, but should). Or that have a blog, but no free e-book for their subscribers. Check the copyright date on company websites to spot dusty, outdated sites that could use a refresh.
Then, reach out and let them know what you spotted on their site. Ask if they could use a writer’s help. Identifying your own prospects this way gives you the strongest bargaining position, as the company usually isn’t considering any other writers.
Carol Tice writes the Make a Living Writing blog. Check out her free training on how to break into freelance writing.