Freelancing for Extra Cash

By Samuel Frost
Freelancing for Extra Cash


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:

  1. Bloggers/webmasters/content publishers want articles written
  2. 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)
  3. Any writer can then browse these open projects and elect to write articles, on a “first come first served” basis
  4. As a writer, you get a set amount of time to complete the article – up to 4 hours
  5. 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.

Constant Content

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!

Dan Miller 12 years ago
Freelancing would be something good to add to your portfolio. A resume might be needed for some of us self employed folks, if we want to or have to seek a regular job ever.

Affiliate marketing, for example, could become an over regulated industry in the future...
Samuel Frost 12 years ago
Definitely - being able to show you've got freelancing skills would be a valuable addition to your CV or career portfolio. It shows you can be flexible and set goals for yourself.
Ramari Tauroa-Tibble 12 years ago
Thanks for sharing Sam, great article :-)
Samuel Frost 12 years ago
No problem! I'm glad you liked it.
Grady Pruitt 12 years ago
Great post, Sam!

I know there are a few here at Affilorama that can do graphics. In addition to eLance, you could also use stock photo sites, like iStockphoto, to sell your images. (Great for those into photography as well!) I haven't tried this (yet), so I can't speak from experience, but it could be a way to earn some money if you can create (or take) great images.
Samuel Frost 12 years ago
Yeah selling your photos/images on sites such as iStockphoto or Photodune is a great idea if you're into that kind of work.

There are a lot of different stock image sites that will accept your work.

Another thing for writers too is to sell your reports, long articles etc on the Amazon Kindle store (this will be a future blog post in fact!)
Harry @ GoalOnTrack 12 years ago
Great quote from Seneca. It's so true! For some great goal setting tips and tools, please check out my blog.
Kari Farmer 12 years ago
Just noted a few mistakes. As a writer you get a set amount of time to complete the article, but it depends on the length of the article. I think it is 3 hours for a 500 word article and 5 hours for a 1000 word article.

Also, the requester has 72 hours to approve your article not 24 hours. This means that they can drag it on for 3 days and then reject your article. But if it is not approved in 72 hours then, yes, it is auto-approved.

I agree, the rates are low – even for an elite writer. They can leave you a tip, but the people on iwriter seem to be looking for high quality content for a super low price – so tips are far and few between. And not only are the earnings low, but if you spend 3 hours writing an article and you get rejected, then it is a HUGE waste of time.

One note is that the requester's can reject your article for any reason. If they don’t like your grammar, spelling, writing, tone, looks...whatever, and I find that they often do reject. It’s all about the requester’s preference and there is not always clear instructions left on their vision.

Plus I find a lot of people review you as GREAT and then give you 4 stars instead of 5. Since your star rating determines how much money you can make this is insanely unfair and frustrating.

Samuel Frost 12 years ago
Hi kfarmer,

Thanks for pointing out those mistakes! I was aware, however, that you get different lengths of time to write an article depending on the article length (I just forgot to mention it in the blog post - sorry guys!)

I'll need to look into the length of time your articles can be under review a bit further - I recently requested some content on iWriter and had only 48 hours to accept/decline it.

And yes, it definitely seems as if iWriter is almost entirely geared towards people buying content, as opposed to those selling it. The low pay rates and the ability for content buyers to reject articles on a whim is very frustrating.

The star rating system is poor too. When doing my writing trial for this blog post I wrote 5 articles, and had 2 reviewers say their articles were "perfect" yet only give a 4 star rating.
Pat Gunning 12 years ago
Terrific post for anyone new to the industry.

Finding freelance jobs can be a daunting task... One way to get started as a new freelancer and find work quickly is at micro-contracting sites like NetTradR, where you can post your work offer for free and utilize their traffic to find clients. This is a proven to be workable technique that many freelancers are migrating to.
Samuel Frost 12 years ago
Thanks for the kind comment!

I'll have to have a look into NetTradR...

I would say the biggest hurdle in freelancing is getting your first gigs or jobs. Even though I've got years of online experience, I still found it pretty daunting! However, once the jobs start rolling in you feel a lot more comfortable with it.
Joyce Knake 12 years ago
Very good information. Writing articles seems a bit daunting to me and I am suprised that articles can be bought so cheap. I'm glad to see a list of where articles can be bought. Thanks for sheding light on this subject.
12 years ago
I do this quite often, may be on weekly basis and I think it is excellent way to make extra money. I am working from home since 1999 and I have good customer base, so I don't need to look for customers, the offers are coming to my email.
Netegritty 12 years ago
Is it possible to get articles written from iWriter and have the writer not resell the same to someone else? even if the writer wants to sell the same article to someone out of iWriter.
Winson Ng 12 years ago
Great Post.. sam, i will share this with my followers... My own experience with iwriter, it can be frustrating writing an article for $2.43 and so i aim being an elite writer, but since you surfaced constant content, it seems to be a better choice...
Elad 12 years ago
I truly believe you can find everything on fiverr. You just need to be patient and you can really get quality services for the cheapest price you can get on the web.
Alisson 12 years ago
I have never worked with the sites you talked about, but I knew about some and except Freelancer I never checked any of them.
Serge St-Prix 12 years ago
First, the pay that I see in many places and how low people are willing to go is not ridiculous, it is absurd. I see copywriters in the US willing to work for $8 (minimum wage) or $10. Where do those people live? 40 hours/week X $10 does not pay a mortgage or rent. Wouldn't it make more sense in that case to flip hamburgers in McDonald?

Secondly, your rate tells me something about you. Are you a $10 or a $500 writer? How do you perceive yourself? Do you value yourself to be a cheap hustler or a professional who brings value into an organization? When you compete on price, you tell me that you are a very poor marketer and you have no value to me. Anybody can put a 300 words together, even a child. But if I hire you as a copywriter, I want a lot more than just putting a bunch of words together. I want marketing. I want you to write in a way that informs or allows a prospect to take action. That is value. That is what makes the difference between a Bob Bly and a cheap hustler writer.
Sanjib Saha 12 years ago
Hello yes i think iWriter give 3 hours time and also the pay is not upto the mark. Vivilia is somethig one can give a try but it has lots of instructions.
Nancy Green 12 years ago
First, the pay that I see in many places and how low people are willing to go is not ridiculous, it is absurd. I see copywriters in the US willing to work for $8 (minimum wage) or $10. Where do those people live? 40 hours/week X $10 does not pay a mortgage or rent. Wouldn't it make more sense in that case to flip hamburgers in McDonald?

Secondly, your rate tells me something about you. Are you a $10 or a $500 writer? How do you perceive yourself? Do you value yourself to be a cheap hustler or a professional who brings value into an organization? When you compete on price, you tell me that you are a very poor marketer and you have no value to me. Anybody can put a 300 words together, even a child. But if I hire you as a copywriter, I want a lot more than just putting a bunch of words together. I want marketing. I want you to write in a way that informs or allows a prospect to take action. That is value. That is what makes the difference between a Bob Bly and a cheap hustler writer.
admin21 12 years ago
HI Sam
Thanks for the post, you inspired me to think outside of the box.

I've been doing affiliate marketing now for almost a year now and I have made only about $10.

I signed up to Elance and was employed within 3 days. I've made $130 for 10hours work.... ok its not much but its a lot more than my efforts with affiliate marketing.

I'm not giving up on AM but this pocket money is helping me to automate a few steps.
marketer 100 12 years ago
Fantastic article, fiverjobiste are looking for members to write articles for their marketplace, Check their blog for more information.

Anyway i love a quality article, its about time we see more of this quality on the net.

There is too much garbage arougd these days, Admin 21 how many articles did you write for the $130 social marketing is now the kiddie, i am looking to set up my own social media website with article writing service etc.. So may be you could show me some of your work.
Shiv Jaiswal 12 years ago
Thanks SAM, I am doing freelancing since 3 year but never thought about affiliate programme . I thought that it's a big and hard task. But you explained it very easily.
Aniket 11 years ago
This is a wonderful post! Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us! I hope to read more of your post which is very informative and useful to all the readers. I salute writers like you for doing a great job!