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At the most fundamental level, the web is a collection of documents. Each document is made up of images, videos, links, and most importantly: words. Words don’t write themselves, and if you have writing talent, you can make money writing articles for the web.
Learn About Writing for the Web
Before you start looking for writing opportunities, it’s important to learn about writing for the web. Writing for internet audiences is not the same as writing for a magazine, book, or printed brochure. When a visitor reaches a website they rarely intend to read a long article. Instead, they want to get the information they are looking for and move on, and are constantly being distracted by ads, and other parts of the website that are vying for their attention.
To write effective articles for the web, keep these best practices in mind:
- Keep it simple. Write short sentences, short paragraphs, and use common wording.
- Break your content into short visual chunks by using lists and headers.
- Always credit your sources with a hyperlink.
- Study George Orwell’s rules for effective writing. They are cited frequently by web copywriters and editors.
- Do your best to use proper capitalization and spelling. Internet is always capitalized, whereas the web is not. Also, it’s website, not web site.
- Use words properly. If you aren’t 100% certain of a word’s definition, look it up.
- Learn how to use apostrophes, commas, semicolons, colons, and dashes correctly.
In addition to learning about best practices, it’s a good idea to learn as much as you can about the business of article writing. Find a few good blogs to follow, and websites to frequent, and you’ll learn how the internet content market works much more quickly.
What Type of Writer Will You Be?
There are several distinct types of web article writers. Your experience, knowledge, and personal interests will help you determine which type fits you the best.
Web content (copy) writers are the most common breed and include writers for blogs, static web pages, sales page copy, social media posts, and more. If you have an area of strong expertise, chances are there’s a webmaster out there looking for someone just like you to write content for their website.
An important subclass of web content writers is the landing page or sales page copywriter. Writing effective landing page copy is an art unto itself, and if you are good at writing persuasive sales copy, you will be able to find many customers interested in your unique talent.
Technical writers take technical topics and write about them in language that is accessible to the average website visitor. They may also write manuals, software documentation, ebooks, and other technical content in digital format.
Business writers have expertise in a particular industry or expertise in analyzing financial information about businesses. They write articles that break down the latest business news, including economic data, financial reports, press releases, and speeches given by business leaders.
Independent journalists produce many of the news articles you read online. The rise of independent journalism has hit traditional journalists hard but has created a new world of opportunities for aspiring journalists.
Consider your experience, interests, and location. What topics are you uniquely suited to write about? Answering that question will help you narrow your focus as you begin looking for writing opportunities.
Put Yourself Out There
You’ll need a professional profile if you hope to compete in the world of freelance writers. At a minimum, you should create a profile on LinkedIn highlighting your areas of expertise, and pointing to any pieces you’ve written in the past – even self-published pieces appearing on your blog. Ideally, you should create a professional website that includes links to published pieces, a short bio, and contact information.
With your professional profile online, you’re ready to start looking for opportunities. There are four places you can find article writing opportunities online: freelancing websites, job search websites, your professional network, and by making direct contact with sites you’d like to write for.
A search of any freelancing website will produce dozens, or even hundreds, or article writing opportunities. Here are three freelancing sites to get you started:
- Upwork: An all-purpose freelancing site where you’ll find lots of writing opportunities alongside many other types of freelance roles.
- Freelancer: A lot like Upwork, but with a more competitive pricing system.
- Guru: A good site for writers with a marketable area of expertise.
Job Search Websites
You will find more opportunities at freelancing sites that anywhere else. However, due to high competition on those platforms, you can also expect compensation to be low in most cases. Traditional job search websites offer fewer opportunities, but the ones you do find will typically pay a little more and offer the potential for a long-term writing relationship. A few sites to take a look at include Flexjobs, Indeed, Simplyhired, and Careerbuilder. Just be sure to include the term “remote” in your search keywords to locate jobs that can be filled online.
Your Professional Network
Let your professional contacts know of your availability to write. This can be done with in-person contacts, as well as online contacts on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and any other social media accounts you maintain. Attending local networking events is a good way to make new professional connections.
Your Favorite Websites
Is there a website you visit every day? Have you ever wished that you could write for that website? Not all sites accept unsolicited article submissions, but many do. Navigate to the “About” section of a site you’d like to write for to see if they provide instructions on submitting article pitches. Even if they don’t, you may find contact information on their site that you can use to pitch an article directly to the website’s editorial team.
Websites are built on written content, and all popular websites are constantly looking for fresh content and new voices. If you have writing talent, the willingness to study the market, and the perseverance to keep pitching until you hear “yes”, you can make money online writing articles.