Interested in making a little money writing online? If so, you will find all kinds of information out there on how to build a site, amass clients, and create titles that earn you millions. (haha)
But if you are looking for a quick starter guide (from someone who used to be new to online writing, and who has yet to make millions), then look no further.
I've included a free motivational reminder printable at the end of the post too.
The essential rules of writing online can be plucked and boiled down to these two tasty morsels of wisdom:
- There are things you should do
- Things you shouldn't do
Everything in the middle is a matter of personal taste, algorithms, reader fickleness, luck, good timing, hard work, and your own ''want-to''.
If you've got your ''want-to'' fired up, and check out some of the things I've learned about online writing that you probably should do, and stuff you should probably never do:
Creating Content--Do's and Don'ts
You may choose to start out by:
- Starting your own website/blog
- Using a public article site such as Hubpages
- Writing for clients on places such as Fiverr
- Writing for other online magazines/blogs/websites
- Writing for private clients
There are millions of guides written to help you with your writing, and a huge chunk of them will focus on the type of writing you want to do.
You can absorb these for the rest of your life, learning about oxford commas, SEO, and how to make an interesting article without using any fluff.
But in the end, the basics are pretty much:
What You Should Do:
- Write often
- Write as well as you can
- Write from your heart
- Write what you know, even if it is something you just researched this week. (the point is to do the research.)
- Use keywords. They make your article easy.
What You Should Not Do:
- Pretend you wrote it if you didn't (That's called stealing.)
- Write gibberish
- Write some weird ramble that makes no sense and goes in no direction.
- Don't use keywords a million times in an unnatural way.
- Don't repeat yourself. (driving home a point is a lot different than using the same phrase, no matter how poetic or clever, seventeen times in one article.)
- Don't use keywords that have nothing to do with your post. (if your post is about "my summer vacation", then "winter wedding ideas" has no place in there anywhere.
Rumor has it that using false or misleading keywords makes Google mad, and the punishment is execution by firing squad. (There is no punishment yet for trying to be funny.)
Being Your Own Editor--Do's and Don'ts
Once you write something, you will want to publish it. Awesome! There is no limit (usually) on how often you can add to your blog or to some self-publishing websites.
Whether you are posting the content for yourself or mailing it off to a client, you should always re-read your post before hitting send or publish.
It probably needs to be edited.
No matter how good you are, there will be a typo, a misspelled word, or a sentence that doesn't quite flow correctly.
Correct anything that you see right now, and always come back to your older posts frequently to try to improve them. Make friends with your backspace button.
And remember these do's and don'ts:
What You Should Do:
- Use paragraph breaks. No one has the time or eyesight to read 1500 words of text published in a solid block.
- Break up long posts with subheadings. If your whole post was a book, your subheadings would be chapter titles. These breaks make long articles more edible and keep your ideas organized.
- Use a font size that is easy to read on ALL devices. People with vision problems won't stick around if they have to squint too hard.
- Cut out extra sentences or words. It helps to read your post out loud to see if it flows smoothly. If it seems chunky or rambly, give it a bit of a trim.
What You Shouldn't Do:
- Use all capital letters. It might make your post stand out, but it also means you are screaming at people.
- Forget to add a title that at least gives a hint at what the post is about. (Unless you are great at creating mysterious titles that lure people in...)
- Don't use too many abbreviations or slang terms unless you are writing directly to the one group of people who will understand them. It works on Twitter, but it's exhausting to read in a full article or blog post.
- Don't forget to cite your sources. If you are writing for clients, this is not just a courtesy, it is sometimes a requirement. If you are writing on your own site, it's nice to give a name (and a link) to any websites or individuals that you quote or reference by name.
Attracting People--Do's and Don'ts
You have to socialize.
This is the part of writing you don't find out about until after you realize that you don't have anyone to read what you have written. Or when you realize you have to find someone who wants to buy stuff you haven't yet written.
A lot of places don't mention this, because they figure you already know a lot of people. Even if you do, those people most likely won't be your long-term readers or freelance clients.
Socializing is basically marketing what you are doing. You are your own pop-up ad, telling the world to either visit your blog or hire you to write for them directly.
But you can't just pop up and say that. There is a little bit of dancing and seducing that has to be done beforehand.
What You Should Do:
- Promote on social media and via word of mouth.
- Share other people's stuff a lot.
- Make friends and acquaintances all over the world.
- Have conversations without a sale's pitch every now and then.
- Genuinely compliment people you admire.
- Do help people who are newer than you to working online.
- Answer people as often as possible when they mention you email you, or comment.
What You Shouldn't Do
- Spam people. As in, don't fill their social feeds or comments sections with hundreds of links to you.
- Troll. Going around and picking on people or belittling them in any way is harassment, and doesn't make them want to visit your site or buy your product.
- Share personal information. You may be privy to some sensitive information at times. You can't share it, or sell it, or use it to slander its owner.
And...DON'T be condescending. Even if you do know a lot, using your knowledge to be condescending to others makes you a jerk. Most people don't like to support jerks.
Making Money with Online Writing--Do's and Don'ts
So how about the money? That's what we are all here for, right? A chance to earn a living doing something we enjoy.
It can be done, but it takes a lot of work, patience, and research. But you can start with these dos and don'ts of making as a blogger and/or freelancer:
What You Should Do:
- Read advice on monetizing, charging rates, etc. Only after you have read pages and pages of this information will you begin to recognize what works, what doesn't and what is shady.
- Remember to read all the updates and newsletters that come your way from ad networks and affiliates. Rules change often, and something that was okay last year will get you penalized this year.
- Try different avenues of income. Try ads, try affiliate marketing, try microtasks, try direct sales. Try ghost blogging! Try selling services such as coaching and web design. The point is, never put your proverbial eggs into one basket.
What You Shouldn't Do:
- Don't start buying how-to books and courses before you've even started. Gobble up all the free resources and information available first. There is always time to invest in the paid stuff as you need it.
- Don't cheat. Don't even get into the biz with a mind to cheat. If you are that desperate to make fast money, you better start panhandling on a corner now, because that may be where you end up if you get caught duping the system.
- Don't be afraid to do a little drudge work in the beginning. You might break into online writing and make big money right away. Then again, you might have to start from the bottom and work your way up.
- Don't let anyone tell you that you can't do it. You can.
To recap what we have learned:
- Don't cheat
- Don't be a jerk
- Do your research
- Write a lot, everyday
- Make friends
- Help others
- Try new sites and experiences
- Be patient, but work hard.
- Make money and be happy with your new job.
And don't give up on your dream.