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Writing Online for Money


Subscribers to my "Unusual Ways" newsletter and others often ask me about writing online and whether it's possible to amke money doing so. Here are some of the more common questions on this topic, along with my answers. (Note: this was written in 2009, and some aspects of writing and making an income on the internet will have changed by the time you read this.)

How do you make money writing online?

There are many ways to do it, but I personally create websites and then promote them using articles that I wrote and distribute through online article directories. The actual revenue comes from pay-per-click ads and affiliate programs that I promote, as well as ebooks that I sell.

How does giving away articles in directories work?

At the bottom of every article I write is what's called an "author's resource box" or "about the author box." This is just a final paragraph that has my name and sometimes a fact or two about me, and always a link to one of my websites. Readers click on the link and visit, and that's when I get to make money with some of them. There is also "optimization value" in having all those links out there, meaning the search engines consider the site more important and so display it higher up in the results. That means the articles help people find my site directly in the search engines as well.

What do you do to get readers to click on your links?

It helps to have a "tease." For example, after an article about ways to increase your IQ I might say, "Discover ten more ways to increase your IQ at..." You can also offer something for free. I have free courses and free ebooks that I use for promoting various sites.

Were you a writer before you started your internet business?

I was never paid to write, but I had an interest in writing. If you find some of my articles from a few years ago you'll notice that my skills have been greatly improved. But even those first ones brought in the readers. the main thing is to offer useful information and convince the reader that they'll find more on your site. You really don't have to be a great write to make money online.

Are there other ways to make money with your writing?

There are many ways, but writing online for money takes two basic forms. You either write for others or for yourself. Writing for others can be an easier way to get started. There are places that will pay you to post on their blogs, for example, and you can bid on writing projects on sites like Elance.com. You might even get hired as a permanent writer for one of the bigger blogs that can afford to do that.

But I like the second strategy, which includes any of the ways in which you write for yourself. These include writing and selling ebooks, writing website or blog pages (and then promoting them with articles), and creating courses or newsletters. The advantages include more freedom and no limit to how much money you can make. When you write for others you can only make so much depending on how fast you write and how many hours you can work. When you get a site going well you can leave it to pump out the revenue while you start another.

How much of the time in your business is spent writing?

Not enough. I don't delegate very well or I could spend more time writing. As it is I probably spend about half of my time writing and the other half doing all sorts of necessary tasks to build and maintain our websites. If I didn't have my wife running the business with me I would be in real trouble.

How much can you make writing online?

As mentioned, it depends on whether you write for others or build a true business of your own. We're making four or five times more than I ever made at any of the many jobs I've had in the past, and our business is still growing despite the current recession. Writing for others limits your potential earnings, although you probably do get to spend more time writing instead of learning and doing marketing and website maintenance.

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