This is the second part of a 2 part article discussing ways that you can make money online, and ways that you can can make money from your writing. Click here to read the first part.
6. How to Make Money Online: Crowdsourcing
More and more people are awakening to the idea that not everything in life is fair, nor is wealth evenly distributed throughout society. Nowhere is this more true than for creative-types, where a young artist can become overnight sensation on Daddy’s dime versus those who’ve been subjected to the starving artist routine for longer than they’d care to admit.
One method of making things right is setting up your own crowdsourcing campaign. Kickstarter is among the most popular of the crowdsourcing websites, but there’s also GoFundMe, IndieGoGo, Patreon, and more.
Pulling together money from your friends, family, fans, and just randomly benevolent people of the Internet might seem unseemly or too close to begging, but it all depends on how you look at it. If you have a project that you want to produce but lack the funds to create it, this can give you just the boost you need to produce that work. Best of all, the demand for your idea is already there, as most of these “patrons” want a copy of your upcoming work. Then again, you may feel that you’ve been underpaid for too long and it’s time to get even with the world for all those years of eating ramen noodles and drinking cheap beer. It’s all about your motivations…
Each of those aforementioned crowdfunding websites has their own specific parameters, so be aware how each one functions. Kickstarter, for instance, refunds contributions for projects that don’t meet a 100% funding goal within 30 or 60 days; IndieGoGo lets you keep what you’ve raised. Both take a percentage of your budget, as well as transaction fees, so factor this in when deciding on your approach.
It helps to have a proven track record to ensure that those who “invest” their money on you and your endeavors won’t have their contributions squandered. People want to see you succeed, so only set up a campaign if you can be reasonably sure of its feasibility. Budgeting is also a concern, as contributors don’t want to see you blowing their cash on your next vacation, so form a thorough plan on how their money will bring you closer to your goals.
5. How to Make Money Online: Virtual Assistant
If you think about it, the term “freelance writer” is fairly vague. The skills you use as a writer, whether it’s getting your query successfully accepted, conducting interviews with sources, or researching topics, prepare you for other jobs out there. One job that has a smooth transition for freelance writers is a “virtual assistant.”
This job is almost exactly as it sounds—you’re a personal assistant, but in the “virtual” realm. In other words, you may not be face to face with your employer, but you’re been paid to carry out their bidding.
Depending on the client, your job may be more focused on administrative tasks, like creating Excel documents or making sure the meta tags are added to each page of content. Others increase your responsibilities, at which point your assistant role morphs into a managerial role. And some even let you make financial decisions on their behalf; there’s no one model for being a virtual assistant.
Essentially, a client hires you as an extension of themselves and delegates responsibilities that they may not have the time or resources to deal with. Your job is to help the business carry out these tasks and make it more efficient. Hourly positions are the norm. Expect to have some work-verification going on with software that logs the time you’ve spent work with screenshots.
4. How to Make Money Online: Catfishing
You’d be surprised what some people are willing to pay for.
Catfishing, as defined by UrbanDictionary.com [www.urbandictionary.com], is “the phenomenon of internet predators that fabricate online identities and entire social circles to trick people into emotional/romantic relationships (over a long period of time).”
The truth of the matter is that work in this vein does exist. It may not be the most ethical or inspiring, but it is money, right? Your role is essentially to seduce members that your client finds desirable. Your writing skills certainly help craft compelling messages and back up the “seduction process” with research, but no two catfishing gigs are alike.
There’s more in-depth information and amusing anecdotes of how you can work as a “catfisher” for clients here.
3. How to Make Money Online: Mechanical Turk
Ok, I’ll admit. When I didn’t know any better years ago, someone recommended that you could make money on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. I pictured thousands of dollars rushing into my bank account while tackling the “dirty work” that clients were too stupid to not do themselves.
Boy, was I wrong.
If my memory serves correct, I averaged $6/hr when work was available, which was not often. Instead, it was a mindless way to use your writing skills. There’s certainly clients who DRASTICALLY undercut rates and pass the work off as their own. Some asked for 300 words on a particular topic for $0.75 that must pass COPYSCAPE verification software, as well as other stringent guidelines from cash-strapped colleges, outsourcing newbies, and sadistically cheap business owners.
So, why do I mention this at all?
My point is that you could make money from this site, but I think it’s more demonstrative of what some critics call “a race to the bottom.” That is unless you’re truly desperate. I’ve heard stories of stranded backpackers in India and other poor countries eking out a modest living while working to fund a bus ticket or meals, putting in long hours at Internet cafes to liberate themselves from whatever fix they’ve gotten into.
2. How to Make Money Online: Craigslist
For a website that is often the source of cheap goods, rentals, and no-strings-attached sexual encounters, Craigslist can be a useful way to find jobs and bring more clients into your fold. No, really!
You will have to sift through predatory entrepreneurs who look for your earth-shattering brilliance at bargain-basement prices. You will have to ignore misspelled advertisements. You will have to use your discretion, but believe me, I’ve found long-term contracts from Craigslist.
My rule of thumb is to trust my gut—if the person who is writing the ad seems legit, I’ll shoot off an email. If it looks amateurish or demands too much, I still shoot off an email, but I won’t spend the necessary time that I would on the sure-thing clients.
The most successful approach I’ve used for Craigslist ads is to always work with a sample article or desired work. This minimized the risk for me, as I’m building trust but also don’t want to get ripped off for assignments. Then, once the initial work is finished AND paid for, I move on to getting bulk work from the client. If they offer more work, but delay on the payment for the first assignment, I hold out with no exceptions.
1. How to Make Money Online: Cold-Emailing Businesses
You can take matters into your own hands if you’re willing. Instead of responding to advertisements, you can “cold-email” a business. Like a cold-call, you are soliciting work from a business without having a formal introduction. It’s all down to your sales ability.
Typically, I start the email from a template, but tailor it to each business. Strive to make your email look personal, but professional. This includes relevant information about their business model and competition, but written in a way that shows that you’re not just spamming them.
For instance, one client I worked with was a California-based business that functioned as a start-up incubator. By framing my email and highlighting what I could bring to their business (i.e. increased traffic, higher SEO rankings, knowledge of start-ups), I was able to work for them without a single advertisement placed by them for what they needed.
It helps to have a signature tag with relevant links beneath your name, like phone number, LinkedIn profile, and so forth. A personal website for your services is also a must—it shows that you are operating as a professional, not as a fly-by-night operation.
Of course, avoid attachments that get automatically filtered to the Spam folder of their inbox.
Frame your proposal in terms of their business vs. their competitors. Savvy business people know that their inbound marketing content (ie. white papers, how-to articles, sales copy).
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This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to finding ways to make money online as a writer. As our world relies more and more on the Internet for finding work and employees, writing jobs will diversify and specialize beyond traditionally-held occupations. Keep your options open.
Just remember that if you see text somewhere, someone had to write it—so why can’t that be you?