In this week’s Affilorama blog post, we’re taking a little break from SEO and affiliate marketing. Every so often it can be fun to mix things up and talk about a different topic – although I can assure you that we will be right back into affiliate marketing next week.
Instead, we’re going to be looking at freelancing for extra cash. Sometimes you might need some extra money for unexpected bills, or you just want to buy something you’ve had your eye on for a while. Whatever the reason, one of the best ways to raise some extra money is through freelancing. In this blog post I’m going to tell you about a number of different freelancing sites, as well as share some of my personal freelancing experiences and advice.
As a caveat, any freelancing I have done is writing or SEO; that doesn’t mean that these are the only skills in demand online. In fact, if you are good at programming, graphic design, web development, app development, or anything along those lines then you can sell your services as a freelancer. But for the purposes of this blog post I’m going to be talking about freelance writing and SEO.
The easiest place to start writing articles as a freelancer is on iWriter. A few months ago Mark wrote a post about iWriter, but I’m going to add my own experiences in here.
Signing up as an iWriter author is extremely simple, and you will be ready to write in just a few minutes.
Here’s how the iWriter system works:
- Bloggers/webmasters/content publishers want articles written
- They submit a request on iWriter – picking article length, which quality level writers are allowed to complete the job, how much they are willing to pay (there is a minimum level)
- Any writer can then browse these open projects and elect to write articles, on a “first come first served” basis
- As a writer, you get a set amount of time to complete the article – up to 4 hours
- Once you submit your article, the requester has 24 hours to approve the article. If your article is accepted then you be paid and the requester will leave a review of your work. If it is rejected they can still leave a review, but the article returns to the open projects section. If they don’t approve within 24 hours then the system auto-approves your article anyway.
That’s very straightforward, as you can see. However, there are a few reasons why I wouldn’t recommend iWriter as a place to make extra cash from freelancing:
- When you start out the pay rates are painfully low. I’m talking $1.62 USD for a 300-word article. If it takes you 30 minutes to write 300 words, then you are only getting slightly above $3 an hour.
- It takes 30 articles and a rating of at least 4 stars to become a Premium writer – and the pay rates still aren’t much better. Elite writers (4.6 stars +) receive a minimum of $8.10 for 500 words, but I’d still only class that as reasonable pay.
- Too many unreasonable requesters want top-notch content for peanuts. If you’re paying less than $5 for 500 words you really can’t expect much.
- There are just too many writers willing to slave away for a few dollars per article – you will never make good cash by writing in the low-end content mill.
Although I admire the simplicity of the iWriter system (and the fact that there is almost always work if you want it) I can’t recommend it to anyone with a modicum of writing skill, solely because you will struggle to make a good return on the time you invest.
Another popular freelance writing website is Constant Content. Unlike iWriter, Constant Content prides itself on being the home of high quality articles for sale. The sale system is also completely different:
As a writer on Constant Content, you are completely free to charge as much as you want for your articles. You could charge $10 for a 500 word article (very cheap) or, if you think your writing standard is up to scratch, $50 for 500 words. In fact, there are many articles selling regularly over the $50/500 word mark.
You can sell:
- “Usage rights” – Where a purchaser is able to use your article on their site to reprint, but you retain all other rights. The content can be used only once and may not be edited. You can sell the same article multiple times to different users! However, usage rights tend to sell for a lot less.
- “Unique” rights – This is the “middle ground” of the Constant Content system. Here, a purchaser may use your article as many times as they want on any sites or services they own. However, your pen name is still accredited as the author, and the article cannot be given away or sold. An article can only be sold once for unique rights.
- “Full rights” – This is a full transfer of article ownership. You lose all rights over the article, and the purchaser can do whatever they want with it. Generally, full rights articles sell for the most.
For example, I recently sold an article that had a "usage" price of $20, a "unique" price of $30, and a "full rights" price of $45. Protip - generally it's easier to sell an article once for a higher amount using full rights or unique, than it is to sell multiple usage copies of the same article. The only exception seems to be with short articles that aren't worth so much; it may well be easier to sell two copies of the same small (300 words) article for $10 apiece than it is to sell full rights for $20.
As a writer on Constant Content, you can also write for public requests. Say someone wanted an article written on “Labrador puppy training”, they could make a public request and then I could write an article on the topic and submit it as being for a public request. Of course any other writer could potentially see this request and do the same, so there is a bit more of a sense of urgency with request writing. However, request articles are much more likely to be purchased, and you can make some good money if you keep up with requests.
Generally, article purchasers on Constant Content understand that good quality content isn’t cheap. Browsing through the requests tab at the time of writing this, I can see a number of public requests paying at least $20 per 500 words (or equivalent)
Probably the most important thing with Constant Content is to maintain a steady stream of submissions. Writing one article a month won’t do you any good; but if you can maintain say 5 articles a week, you will see sales.
You can sign up for Constant Content here.
One of the biggest freelancing websites, Upwork, is a place where service buyers and sellers come together. I’d liken it to a digital freelancing marketplace. Unlike both iWriter and Constant Content, on Upwork there are jobs for programmers, developers, web designers etc (in fact, these are some of the most demanded skills on the site).
In a nutshell, Upwork works like this:
- Person A wants a job done (for example, 20x500 word articles for a new website)
- Person A creates a job request.
- Upwork members who are registered as having skills in that particular request field (SEO, writing, programming, whatever) can submit a job proposal. You can name your price, estimate how long the work will take, and try to create a killer proposal by providing as much proof of your quality of work and skill as possible.
- Person A then picks the proposal they fancy the most, based on factors such as job pricing, freelancers’ skills, their ratings, and whether they have any qualifications for the job or not.
- Upwork then provides a virtual workroom where you post work drafts, communication takes place, working time can be tracked, and more. This workroom system is quite advanced, and you really need to experience it yourself to get a hang of it. Suffice to say, the system works.
- Payments are processed through Upwork escrow, so the risk of not being paid is very low. You can safeguard even further by setting project milestones, and being paid upon completing them. For example, you might agree to a milestone where Person A pays you $100 after completing the first 5 articles, and then $300 upon finishing the rest.
I like the flexibility to set your own prices and submit detailed proposals that Upwork offers. It’s also great as there are jobs big and small available, with so many different skills in demand. As long as you are consistent in submitting proposals and build up a great profile, you will eventually find work.
However, I have had some bad experiences on Upwork. Interestingly enough, these have come from selling freelance SEO services mostly. One customer claimed he was looking for an SEO consultant, and was willing to pay well for a quality partner. It soon transpired that his idea of an SEO consultant was someone willing to transcribe ten-minute YouTube videos, optimize them, and then build links to the transcribed articles – all for a measly $6 apiece.
The Upwork system is pretty complex, and it would take me more than one post of its own to explain. Therefore, I suggest you check out Upwork yourself and sign up.
There are many more freelancing websites out there, such as:
Bonus tip – Finding your own clients
When it comes to freelancing (especially freelance writing) the best thing you can do is build a list of clients who want your work. Build up solid relationships with people willing to pay what YOU consider good money for your work.
Remember that there are just as many potential customers willing to pay well for quality work, as there are those looking for 1000 word articles for 5 bucks. However, those looking and willing to pay for quality aren’t generally the type to advertise this fact!
Here are some tips for building a list of high-paying clients:
- Using your affiliate marketing skills, find a group of quality sites in your niche. Contact them and offer content/article writing services with a free trial piece. You are much better to offer a free trial article than set your prices low in an attempt to find clients. For example, offer a free 1000 word article, and then charge $5 per 100 words, as opposed to offering an introductory rate of $1 per 100 words. Once you set your prices low, it will be hard to raise them. Keep contacting until you have as much work as you want. Be on the lookout for bloggers/webmasters who want content regularly!
- If using sites such as Upwork, really over-deliver on your work and inform the requester that you are willing to do more work for them in the future. If you are approachable and they like your work then there is a good chance that they will contact you again directly, the next time they want something done.
- Build a personal website that showcases your freelancing talent to the world. Have example work on display, and provide pricing information. Create a contact form where prospective customers can email in their job requests, and allow them to negotiate on price. Be careful not to short-sell yourself however, so don’t go too low on your list prices. Promote your personal freelancing website in forums such as Warrior Forum or Digital Point.
By building a list of clients, you will always be in hot demand. Now as an affiliate marketer I don’t suggest becoming a full-time freelancer (although I do enjoy a bit of freelancing myself, especially writing) However, there is so much potential to make money with freelancing that you’d be crazy not to explore it.
The best freelancers, especially freelance writers, are so highly-demanded that they can almost charge whatever they want for their work. I’ve personally seen writers charge $100 for 500 word articles. But those 500 words weren’t “filler”, or spun nonsense. They were 100% unique, well researched, and impeccably written. Clients willing to pay this much demand nothing but the best, but will happily pay well because they know they can re-use that content in such a way that it profits them better than a thousand low quality articles ever could.
Closing thoughts & goal setting
Coming from an affiliate marketing to freelancing was a bit of a system shock to me. Although it’s easier to be paid as a freelancer (generally, if you do the work you’re going to earn some money) the lack of leverage afforded by freelance writing seemed quite daunting at first. When promoting Clickbank or Amazon products, I know that although a new site might start out slowly, once the traffic and links pick up I can keep earning money repeatedly on the same work.
However, once I learned the ropes of freelancing I discovered that it can be a lot of fun, and there is big potential to earn extra cash in a much shorter time frame than with affiliate marketing. Seeing as I’ve always enjoyed writing, I decided to give freelance article writing a shot. I was pleased enough with the results that I’ll probably keep doing it on the side for a while to come.
One final thing – goal setting is extremely important when freelancing, especially if you are just doing it to fund a new purchase, such as a holiday, car, or motorbike. For starters, set a reasonable goal of earning your first $100 within a month. Next, expand that out to $500 within a month, and so on.
Goal setting is crucial for affiliate marketing. All successful affiliates set goals they wish to achieve, and then strive to hit those targets. The best freelancers do the same! In fact, one thing most successful people have in common is a vision and the ability to set goals.
So whether you want to stick solely to affiliate marketing, or branch out into the exciting world of freelancing, make sure you set yourself goals that will encourage you to work hard.
On the issue of goal setting, the words of the famous Roman stoic Seneca are timeless:
Our plans miscarry because they have no aim. When a man does not know what harbour he is making for, no wind is the right wind.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you've learned a bit about both freelancing and goal setting today. I'd love to hear your opinions and experiences on freelancing - just leave a comment below!