Making Money as a Freelance Writer- WITHOUT Selling Your Soul to a Content Farm

by Marina Salsbury · 24 comments

Don't Sell Your Soul to Content Farms
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This is a guest post by the lovely Marina, on a few ideas she’s used successfully to make money as a freelance writer.

The caveat- she does it WITHOUT selling her soul to a content farm, and guess what?

You can too, yo!

Please drop any thoughts or questions in the comments area below. 

On June 16, 2011, TheFasterTimes.com posted an article by Oliver Miller, a self-described “content slave.” The article details how he had been recruited as a content writer for AOL Television. For $35,000 a year, he would get to write about TV shows. It sounded like a dream job.

It wasn’t.

Forced to write reviews for hour-long television shows in only twenty-five minutes, he was being paid to lie. He quickly discovered that the content didn’t matter.

All he had to do was meet a word count, fit some high traffic keywords into the title and article, and publish. Quantity was king, and he soon found himself working 60 hour work weeks, late into the night.

Oliver’s situation is far from unique, and AOL in particular isn’t really to blame. In fact, it’s the way that most of the content on the internet is produced.

Escaping the Content Farm Hell Hole

The Internet and digital media have revolutionized the way that publishing works. Today’s freelance writers (most of whom are talented and hold a masters degree or PhDs) have more opportunities than ever before, but they are also at risk of getting sucked into the content farm industry, which focuses nearly all of its efforts on search engine visibility.

This strategy emphasizes quantity over quality to an extent that has never been seen before, and it is not the road to success as a writer.

Thankfully, finding a true career as a writer in today’s society doesn’t necessarily require appeasing the gods of publishing either. E-books, blogs, and social media offer you the opportunity to act as a true entrepreneur and find your own audience. Here’s how.

The E-Book Revolution

In 2008, e-books took up 0.6 percent of the market. In 2010, they hit 6.4 percent. Fifteen self-published authors have hit the top 150 list on USA TODAY’s top-sellers.

New tools make it easy to transform a Word document into an e-book for the Kindle, Nook, iPad, or eReader. Furthermore, freelancers will be able to market their literature through a vast collection of social networking tools.

But freelance writers shouldn’t give up on traditional publishing, either. Amanda Hocking, author of the Trylle trilogy, achieved her success through self-published e-books.

This didn’t cause her to hesitate before signing a $2 million contract with St. Martin’s Press. It takes a lot of work to market your own content, and most writers would still rather focus on writing.

Finding an Audience

Publishers don’t just publish books. They market them. They find ways to get those books on the shelves of grocery stores and Barnes & Noble.

If you’re going to cut the publisher out of the equation, it means you’ll need to do some marketing of your own. As much as you’d like it to, content very rarely sells itself.

Here’s how to make it happen.

1. Start a Blog

Your blog is your brand. You’ll need to develop an audience before you can sell a book to them. A successful blog is one of the best ways to do this, especially if you’re looking for a local audience.

A successful blog has a clear goal, amazing content, and it’s all about the readers. Just as importantly, it is built on a solid foundation of relationships with other professionals.

2. Advertise

If you have any money at all, you can advertise. Google ads, Facebook ads, affiliate ads, and others allow you to advertise on any budget.

For many authors targeting a niche market, ads will be cheap to come by because they are bid-based instead of being priced on a flat rate. You’d be surprised how many people you can reach if you advertise in low-competition markets.

3. Use Social Media

Start profiles on Facebook and Twitter, and start building genuine relationships with like-minded people. Don’t just push your product/idea; engage with your following.

Learn how to incorporate your interests into how you interact with others. Leveraging these relationships is one of the most powerful ways to build an audience.

Final Thoughts

If you focus about half of your time developing your writing skills, and half your time as a marketer, you will find the success you are looking for. Use all the tools available to find a loyal audience, and you will find it much easier to build a writing career.

Okay lover. If you liked this post do me a solid and share it with your pals. You can use those handy icons to the left there or below, to do so without breaking a sweat. Peace.

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