Writing for the web promises instant earning opportunities for people who are tolerably good with words, and can make you a published author literally in minutes. Many people, including myself, earn full-time wages through internet writing, and it is a good source of earning if it’s done right. It is not easy money. Let me repeat that. If there’s anything that web writing isn’t, it’s a fast-track to internet-based riches. Frankly, if you just want a job, you’ll probably put in a lot less work for a lot better pay by simply applying for a 9-5 with a local employer. We motivated (and somewhat insane) writing entrepreneurs, however, wouldn’t trade it for the world.
You have to know your “why”
If you want to make money by writing for the web, that’s awesome – but you need to have a clear idea why this is what you’re going to do. I’ve been writing for 10 years now, and fight the temptation to call it quits at least once a month even though I love this work. It includes long, thankless hours of drudgery and financial instability for the household, especially in the beginning. While it can be a creative outlet, it’s never only that if you want to actually pay the bills. You’re beholden to your clients or your website’s audience, and you will write what they want, not what you want. If you can’t live with that, then maybe web writing should be your hobby after you clock out of the day job.
It’s a competitive world out there
Writers do make a livable wage, even in the United States. It just might not seem like it. If you get on freelance marketplaces such as Elance, you’re going to see people willing to write for anything from $.50-$500 per page. When you’re new, these low-ballers may seem to make it impossible for you to find gainful work. As a writer, you have to constantly look for your competitive edge. You have to know what you offer to these clients that the people in lower cost of living countries can’t, and make sure your potential clients know it too. Don’t undervalue your work, but do everything you can to make it worth what you need to earn.
This isn’t your average book writing
Even if you have an excellent mastery of the English language, that doesn’t automatically mean you’ll make a great web writer. One of the biggest mistakes I made when I first started was to approach the writing like a book. Yes, it featured correct grammar and good content, but the format was just too wordy for the internet. Readers just want the meat – they’re there for information, they want to get it fast and then be on their way. Cut out creative wording, keep your sentences short, and just deliver the value your headline promises.
You’re never just a writer
Trust me, we’d all love to just sit down and write to our heart’s content every day. If you make enough to pay for a content manager, agent and publicist, then you might be able to do just that. Unfortunately, the vast majority of web writers have to be all those people in addition to being a writer. You have to build your portfolio and your personal content library, then find clients or build websites, and then find people who’ll actually read your work. You may need affiliates or advertisers to help pay the bills, and then of course keep the content up-to-date. When all that’s done, you have to wander the internet looking for plagiarists to protect the value of your own writing. Remember – you’re not a writer, you’re a content curator, and there’s a lot more that goes to it than putting words together.
Overall, web writing for money is awesome work, but only for a specific kind of person. You have to really want the independence and the power to build your own career. Above all, you have to be disciplined about work time, and about doing what needs to be done every day. In the beginning, you might work for minimum wage or less in a constant feast-or-famine cycle. Motivation, discipline, and a willingness to adapt are the keys to true long-term web writing success.