Content providers are most commonly writers, but can also be a editors, graphic artists, musicians, photographers, or videographers who provide or edit content for hire. Full-time jobs for content developers are listed on major job sites like indeed.com and monster.com, as well as craigslist.org (which often has more casual and shorter term jobs as well), but for the purpose of becoming a mobile worker, you will probably be more interested in freelance jobs. There are a number of online marketplaces and job board websites which broker job connections for freelance content providers, especially writers.
In this article I’ll mainly talk about the different approaches to getting work as a content provider. There are jobs available developing content for print media, magazines, company brochures and advertising, etc., but I’m mainly going to talk about writing content for the web because that’s the most common type of content jobs available. I’ll try to provide another article later devoted to other types of content, such as photography and video, and maybe other markets, but for now let’s talk about writing for websites. I’ve split the approaches into categories below.
Getting writing work through a freelance marketplace site
There are many web businesses which broker connections between freelance writers and companies needing content. Sometimes you will see these sites negatively referred to as “content mills”. You will also seen them called “freelancer marketplaces” or “writers marketplaces”. Examples of these include companies like upwork.com, zerys.com, and freelancer.com. The broker usually has some sort of evaluation process to evaluate your writing skills and will often assign you a skill level which will determine the types of writing jobs you can try for. This will typically require you to either submit writing samples or fulfill a trial writing assignment which they will appraise. Some of these sites require a membership fee and others are free. They almost always take a percentage of the fee paid by the client, so you need to factor that commission into your net pay. The sites have one or more job boards which list writing assignments available. The method for getting jobs varies: some let you grab jobs and start working on them immediately, others require you to bid on jobs. Once you have passed muster and are accepted to begin applying for or bidding for jobs, normally you will be limited to working on a certain number of assignments, often only one at a time, and you will have one or more deadlines in which you must complete all or part of the work. After you submit the work, the client can request changes or rewrites and you do those and resubmit them. At the end of the process the client either accepts the final version or rejects it. Your pay is banked with the broker and usually paid to you when a certain amount accumulates or is paid to you directly by the client (usually via PayPal). The client can leave a rating of your work and you often can rate the client as well. Normally, the higher your skill level and client rating, the better the assignments you can apply for and the more money you can earn. How much can you earn? At most of the websites I looked at the pay range was about 1-10 cents per word, or about $10-50 per 500-word article. Obviously at the low end that’s a joke. You spend time evaluating the jobs, applying or bidding on the jobs, writing the piece, submitting the piece, possibly rewriting the piece, and getting paid. Most people would require at least an hour to do all these things, even if writing about something they know well where they can churn out the actual writing in 30-40 minutes. If the article takes some research and isn’t about a subject you know well it could easily take 2-3 hours or even longer. At $10 for the article, that’s maybe as low as $3-5 per hour for your labor. Most people who will write for that little either don’t have much belief in their own value or are starting out and just trying to get assignments to build a job history and improve their ratings. Every one of these sites has negative reviews from people who have worked for 1 cent per word and had a client that wanted tons of research and rewrites. The main complaints I’ve seen from these sites is that there aren’t enough jobs available, the pay is too low, the company doesn’t pay promptly enough, unfair distribution of work opportunities and writer favoritism, or the website itself if hard to use or unreliable. Because the number of jobs may be limited at just one site, most writers who go this route join several sites to give themselves more job opportunities. I recommend that you research each company carefully and look at the negative reviews and pay rates before committing to one.
The main advantage of getting writing work this way is that it’s relatively easy to find jobs and get the assignments and get paid without having to spend much time on the non-writing logistics. The main disadvantages are lower pay rates and often writing articles about topics which don’t interest you.
Getting work with a content provider agency
This is similar to the approach above except that you become a “staff writer” for the content service agency and are assigned articles by the company based on your skills and expertise areas. Usually the vetting process is more demanding and you may be more likely to be rejected when you apply to one of these companies. They may want more writing samples and may even want you to have a degree in journalism or English. The advantage is still that you don’t have to worry so much about finding work and getting paid and usually the pay is higher at these companies, mainly because the company charges clients more due to the higher quality of the writing staff they provide (although this isn’t always the case). Many of these companies also provide a smorgasbord of digital marketing services in addition to content creation, such as SEO consulting, digital and content marketing, social media management and consulting, brand building, and so on. Unfortunately in looking at many of these companies the jobs for writers (as well as photographers and videographers) are mainly fulltime jobs working from a particular office, so not mobile at all. I found some that look like they hire writers who could work remotely and that also charge clients enough that the writers working for them could conceivably make decent money, such as expresswriters.com and contentwriters.com. The best way to pursue these opportunities is to visit each website and first look to see if they have a “write for us” link, then look at their rates. If they are advertising blog and article content writing for a few cents per word, drop them. If their rates are more than 15 cents per word, check them out.
Approaching a content or blog website directly
Some websites and blogs regularly use guest writers and advertise this fact. Often the pay-per-job at these websites is better than what you’ll get from the options above. To write directly for a website you need to have expertise in the topics the website deals with. This is also a plus, because you will be writing about something you know and like to write about. If you establish a good relationship with a website you may get repeat work at the website or even become a regular guest writer for them. If you google a query like “travel writers needed” or “health writers needed” you will find numerous links to sites that will pay you to write for them. The downside to this approach is you must query each website individually and provide proof of your writing skills and negotiate pay and payment method and so on. Almost all articles you’ll find about how to make better money as a content writer will mention this approach as the way to go. Another big plus to this approach is that often you will be credited as the author of the articles you contribute which can help build your brand as an online expert on the topics you write about.
Write for a revenue sharing website
A revenue sharing website hosts content by a large number of guest writers. They generate income from advertising and affiliate marketing clickthroughs and a share of this income goes to the writers who contribute content to the website. Often they are affiliated with Google AdSense. Examples are sites like hubpages.com, knoji.com, infobarrel.com, epinions.com. Some sites will take articles on just about anything you want to write about. Other sites want specific items, such as product reviews. Pay is generally very low and I don’t see a lot of articles written about using this approach as a way to make a living. I do see it mentioned frequently as a way to build a name for yourself by having stuff in print online or as a way to get some value from articles that you didn’t find a market for using the other options. If you have a bunch of articles sitting around that you haven’t sold to anyone and they are not generating any income, you might consider sending them to one of these sites.
Set up your own writing business website and market yourself
Another approach is to set up your own website with examples of your writing and market yourself as a freelance writer. Obviously this will require you to have a lot more writing samples available and you will be more likely to get work if you have testimonials from people you have written for in the past, so this approach may work better once you have established yourself as an experienced writer through one of the other approaches first. If you have developed additional expertise in digital marketing, social media marketing, SEO, mailing list campaigns, writing press releases or product advertising, or ebooks, you may be able to present yourself as more of a full service provider and get hired by companies to provide more than just content writing services. Many content writing companies advertise packages which include ongoing writing support such as one or more weekly blog posts or web page articles including keyword optimization and metadata updates to improve SEO. Setting up your own website, advertising, and finding jobs this way can be a lot of work, but it can also be more lucrative than the other approaches, particularly if you can get some regular clients which use your services over and over again. You will want to use all the avenues available to advertise yourself as a professional writer, such as maintaining a profile on LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media sites, as well as participating in professional organizations which network writers, editors, and creative content consumers.