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Content, Writing and Copyright Forum

    
Becoming a content writer
Webber




msg:3451436
 3:47 am on Sep 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

I have been working on sites doing SEO work and some html for a couple of years. And a while ago I was asked to write some content for someone. Reluctantly I agreed to do a single article. And that is how I discovered my talent. People seem to like my writing. Now I come to think about it, I used to get high scores for my English writing in University as well. I just never thought much about it before.
Now I have written over 50 pages of content for a single site and feel that I have found my 'thing'. I am thinking about using my newly found skill to become a professional content writer.
I just don't know where to start. I do not have much work to show for and am not interested in writing free stuff just to get a name. Besides this I am worried about getting paid or not. Any suggestions?

 

shyflower




msg:3451584
 11:03 am on Sep 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

Look in forums that have a looking-to-hire area.
Place ads in forums that allow ad placement.
Don't work without a contract and always get enough of a deposit up front that will take care of part of any project.
I ask for 50%.

Check freelance services like guru.com, elance, scriptlance and rent-a-coder, but don't undersell yourself. Just because others work for peanuts doesn't mean you have to join the monkey tribe.

Don't do spec work. Especially in copywriting, once the client has the spec, he/she has no reason to pay for it. "Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?"

Address the transfer of your copyright -- which rights you will license and how the transfer will be made in your contract. It lets the client know that you are aware that the content is your property until after the project is complete. In some cases, it lets the client know that it is your property until after it's transferred to them.

If you are looking to work locally, contact web development & design firms and let them know your skills are available. Many web developers outsource the copy aspects of their projects. If you can show them you are a skilled writer, you'll turn them into long-term clients.

Quadrille




msg:3451880
 9:36 pm on Sep 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

The best way to monetize your talent is to create a website of your own.

There is a market for professional copy writers - but there are so many people offering their services that remuneration is pretty pathetic.

martinibuster




msg:3452335
 5:07 pm on Sep 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

...and am not interested in writing free stuff just to get a name...

Word of mouth recommendations can fuel a career. Testimonials from known authorities creates trust in potential clients. That's part of what building a "name" is about. Building a "name" is fundamental to whether you have a steady flow of clients or experience cycles of feast or famine.

They say web design doesn't pay but I know a guy who works out of his house who has clients lining up and waiting patiently for their turn to have him work his magic. All word of mouth, no promotion.

Fortune Hunter




msg:3452356
 6:25 pm on Sep 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

but don't undersell yourself. Just because others work for peanuts doesn't mean you have to join the monkey tribe.

If you have found a way to use these sites without practically giving your services away I would love to hear it. I am a copywriter and started out trying to use the boards you mentioned. I felt like I had a lot of talent and education so I set a standard I wouldn't work below. I wrote up my proposals emphasizing experience, talent, results, etc. but never received a single job that paid anything close to what I would work for, and I am not asking for hundreds of dollars an hour or anything.

I finally found many other marketing methods that worked so much better I never went back to those places. Now that was 3-4 years ago so a lot might have changed since then, but I pretty much figured those places as a place to go scrape up the people so desperate they would work for anything just to have some work.

musicalzoo




msg:3452375
 7:41 pm on Sep 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

I have to agree with the last post. The job boards tend to be flooded with companies or people that outsource and will literally work for pennies an article.

Although- I have found a few good clients from them, that pay to my scale. Many customers of those boards learn that cheap does not equal good, or even readable. I never realized how bad it was until one of my clients forwarded me something someone else had written. It literally looked and read as though a fifth grader (and not an "A" student) had written it.

Since then, I've never felt bad about my prices.

The best thing I have found is having a steady client base. It takes time to develop one, and you NEVER want to rely solely on it, but with one, work is fairly constant and I can pay the rent! ;)

jimbeetle




msg:3452398
 8:43 pm on Sep 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

The best way to monetize your talent is to create a website of your own.

There is a market for professional copy writers - but there are so many people offering their services that remuneration is pretty pathetic.

I second that. Instead of being paid once for a piece, consider each article you write for a site of your own inventory -- that if correctly monetized -- keeps on giving.

Jane_Doe




msg:3452441
 11:05 pm on Sep 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

The best way to monetize your talent is to create a website of your own

Absolutely. Write for someone else and you get paid once. Put the articles on your own sites and you can generate passive income sometimes for years and years. It would be ususual for a writer to get paid 4 - 5 figures for a single article or two, but it is quite doable to make that kind of money on popular articles on your own sites with ads and maybe some affiliate programs on them, especially if the articles stay well ranked over the years.

John_Blake




msg:3452645
 11:20 am on Sep 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

A portfolio/testimonial page is a must if you go for that.

dragsterboy




msg:3459227
 2:08 pm on Sep 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

Don't think of it as a business. If you like doing it (I assume that you do because you said you've found "your thing") do it as something that gives you pleasure. And if it turns out to be profitable then get bigger.

Webber




msg:3465663
 6:14 am on Oct 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

Thanks for your inspiration.
I am working on my own site. Mostly because I like to make a site. And besides that I like to do the SEO work. Just to prove that I am good at it! But it will be a while before that is running.

I am just a little worried about the testimonials on the site, since I don't have any. But getting a few jobs here and there should solve that problem, I guess.

I see that the main point is the fee. Nobody wants to spend to much on articles. And writers want what they deserve. Is it right to ask in this forum what are proper rates and what is way below the line?

I check how long time I expect to be working on a piece. It all depends on the research. And then try to calculate a price based on an hourly rate, rather than per word. Because some orders seem to be nicely paid, but when you check the time spend doing research on the subject...

Syzygy




msg:3465743
 9:16 am on Oct 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

...a price based on an hourly rate...

I'm yet to meet a freelance writer who gets paid by the hour. If such paying punters do exist, let me know and it may sway me to turn freelance. I mean, it's taken me the best part of a day just to write this, so think how much 1,000 words would bring in...

;-)

Syzygy

RandomDot




msg:3465789
 10:13 am on Oct 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

Content Writers and Researchers and Copy Writers and Journalists are very different categories. Most of it is the most boring and useless and senseless assignments you've ever done, and everybody seems to expect genius every time:

Here's what it's usually like to write for others:
Assignment: 2000 words, topic: Why Cigarettes are Good for Your Lungs. Timeframe: need it within an hour.

And to be honest, you'll have to write several thousand pages which you edit, are critical about and send to the people who hate you the most and ask their opinion on it (and you listen to what they say) - before you'll get even close to getting fair at doing it...

Try this for instance: Write 500 headlines which is going to sell different products, which you absolutely would not want anybody to buy. Just throw them out your head and do it as fast as you can. You'll be doing that as any kind of writer anyways - you're not going to be able to be selective on anything the first couple of years if you want to like earn money on it.

vincevincevince




msg:3465803
 10:52 am on Oct 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

Write 500 headlines which is going to sell different products, which you absolutely would not want anybody to buy.

Soooo... you're responsible for all the poor Subject lines selling enlargers for parts of the male anatomy?

But you are right, content writing is a hard and boring job unless you are lucky enough to:
a) be writing for yourself (think Adsense monetised, etc.), or:
b) be a specialist in a particular niche

RandomDot




msg:3465825
 11:15 am on Oct 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

Soooo... you're responsible for all the poor Subject lines selling enlargers for parts of the male anatomy?

Naerh, never did anything with breast implants for men - and those who did - I don't think the market was ready for it - just yet. :)

More seriously - Start with breaking your own conceptions of what's right and wrong down to start with - take any moral or ethical or legal standpoint you like and support to the fullest - and take the opposite of your own views and do your best to write catchy headlines about those issues - or actual content or articles - again, what disgusts you the most - can sometimes be the greatest incentive to write about - But it's just a tip - might not work for you. If anything.

oddsod




msg:3465873
 12:15 pm on Oct 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

>>...what are proper rates?

I pay anywhere from two cents a word to about thirty cents a word, for most of the work I buy/commission.

Nobody wants to spend to much on articles...I check how long time I expect to be working on a piece.

I wouldn't pay for text like that. OK, I appreciate this is a forum and none of us are too particular with hurriedly scribbled forum post. To get the best rates it may be worth demonstrating your professionalism in every post you make in any of those writer forums you end up frequenting.

Webber




msg:3465984
 2:30 pm on Oct 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

To get the best rates it may be worth demonstrating your professionalism in every post you make in any of those writer forums you end up frequenting.

Thanks for the advice.

I see that it can be quite boring (like writing 500 product descriptions for very similar products) and even unethical. And that is really not what I am looking for. I realize now that I have been really lucky so far to write about subjects that I like and get paid reasonably well for it. Besides that, I am not trying to get rich with content writing. I'm not even trying to make a living out of it. I just enjoy doing research and write, and get paid for what I do.

RandomDot




msg:3466056
 3:36 pm on Oct 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

If that's what you want to do, research and write what you want to write - and you want to stand your own ground - i'll advice you to make your own website and content - and then some advertising or subscriptions or sell a product (books, collection of articles on topics, what you got and can produce) in whatever form to match the content you write to gain revenue from it. If you specialize in specific topics it can be well worth it to contact advertisers directly and negotiate a deal. Don't sell your visitors too cheap - unless you're that hungry. That would be my advice in that case... if you really want to write and do it your way.

Of course - it's not always paid so well - other times it's paid better. Again, most people wouldn't pay for something if they didn't expect to earn more on it over time than they originally paid for it. That's business. :) Unless you're in the entertainment industry - then you might consider checking out the different markets and which one suits you the best -

martinibuster




msg:3466078
 3:52 pm on Oct 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

Nobody wants to spend to much on articles. And writers want what they deserve. Is it right to ask in this forum what are proper rates and what is way below the line?

That's where the word of mouth comes in again. As in web design, those with word of mouth do better than those that don't.

shallow




msg:3466966
 1:12 pm on Oct 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

I pay anywhere from two cents a word to about thirty cents a word, for most of the work I buy/commission.

How do you determine when to pay two cents, or 30 cents per word?

I'm contacting a few people, who are non-pros, to write (non-technical) articles for my site. I'd like to pay them and want to be fair.

I wrote a very long article for a huge site last year; it took me days. It also included several illustrated photos that I took. I was paid $60.

I was a part-time free lance writer decades ago, so long ago that I don't recall what I was paid. I do recall that some publishers paid by the word, others per article, no matter what length.

oddsod




msg:3466984
 1:29 pm on Oct 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

I wish there were an easy formula but there isn't. It's subjective; I negotiate rates on an individual basis. I do also have a rate for screenshots and a bit more for photos. I pay per hour for illustrations created and trust the author/s to bill me fairly. The ones that don't end up losing work or losing my business altogether.

I believe most people pay by the word.

shallow




msg:3467935
 1:44 pm on Oct 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

OK, I just hired two people to write two articles.

What I want to do is ensure that if I ever sold my site, the articles would transfer to the new owner. [note to oddsod: yes, selling it is always in the back of my mind. ;) :P ]

Does First Serial Rights protect both the authors and me?

oddsod




msg:3467955
 2:00 pm on Oct 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

There are a variety of contracts but nothing protects you 100% in this borderless international world that operates under multiple legal (and illegal) frameworks. Creative Commons is one way to go and you'd be surprised at how well it works for most content sites if you make sure your copy gets first crawl and first IBLs.

Syzygy




msg:3468100
 4:43 pm on Oct 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

It's advisable when commissioning any written content to ensure that during the discussions and negotiations with the author(s) it is made crystal clear that copyright to any works paid for will belong to you (the one doing the commissioning).

In essence, the content writer should be providing material to you strictly on the basis of "work for hire". When you've paid for it, it's yours.

What you do with the content and the copyright thereafter is entirely down to you.

Syzygy

shallow




msg:3470960
 3:19 am on Oct 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

>> In essence, the content writer should be providing material to you strictly on the basis of "work for hire". When you've paid for it, it's yours.

Excellent point too!

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