Photo Credit: Entrepreneur

The Most Profitable Way to Make Money Online as a Freelance Writer or Content Marketer

Freelance writers and content marketers have a lot of opportunities available to them today, far more than what they had twenty years ago.

In short, the internet has quite changed the way we live, and how we consume information. We do everything from research which restaurants we are thinking about trying out, to what medical conditions we might possibly have.

Not to mention, seeking dating advice or research on what the latest style of clothing or fashion may be.

If you think about it, you likely are one of the many millions of people who rarely does anything without spending some time researching it online, first.

Now, consider how all of that information we all spend so much time Googling about actually gets printed on the internet. Somebody has to write it, and this is why there are so very many freelance writing and content marketing jobs available. If you want to take advantage of it, here’s what you need to know:

The Rise and Fall of Bid Sites

During the infancy of blogging, bid sites were all the rage. In short, they were a way to offer first time writers a seat at the so-called “author table” — even if it was only paying a penny to ten cents per word. It may have not been a lot, but it was something.

However, the only consistent thing about bid sites was that they were inconsistent. In other words, they were a lot like trends, going strong one day, and then washing out the next. And I’m sure many of you can recall back to the old Triond and Bubblews days.

In fact, if many of you are like me, I’m sure you were just as much skeptical of writing for Medium as I was — since they began to roll out their compensation program in order to give back to the writers that contribute to their platform.

Really, only time will tell. Hopefully, they’ve figured out how to get the wrinkles out of such a sketchy system.

Now, there are bid sites like Fiverr that are still going strong, but even that is becoming more and more saturated with overseas contributors. I’m not saying that these Freelancers overseas are not capable of producing quality work, what I am saying is that it’s becoming more and more difficult to communicate effectively with these creatives.

With that said, bid sites are certainly NOT the most profitable way to make money online as a freelance writer or content marketer, but it’s a start.

The Ins and Outs of Blog Writing

One step up from writing for bid sites is where quite a few freelance writers and content marketers found their place in the writing space — blogging. Some ghost write blog posts for other very successful sites while others have created their own blogs, such as…

Make a Living Writing — By Carol Tice

Digital Marketer — Founded by Ryan Deiss

…. ProBlogger — Founded by Darren Rowse

… And the list goes on…

In the early days of blogging, the secret to making money as a blogger was all about how fast you could generate a high volume of steady traffic, and then start selling advertising space on your blog/website — preferably on the sidebar or Above the Fold or Call-to-Action area.

However, if you’re even the least bit observant, you would have noticed that websites (yes, even blogs) are beginning to change their methodologies. In many cases, the sidebar is already long-gone, and because consumers/readers are becoming more and more agitated by irrelevant or unwanted ads, the idea of making your primary income generating source selling ad space on your blog is becoming more and more a thing of the past.

In fact, Medium is probably by far the first publication to really grab a hold of this truth and run with it. In short, consumers/readers are tired of ads, and if you want to really know how to keep your blog in business you’re going to have to change your business model from being an ad space income generating model to a product income generating model (more about that in a minute).

The Most Profitable Income Generating Business Model

Photo Credit: Freelance Writing

The beauty of the internet (in the eyes of freelance writers and content marketers anyway) is that there is a constant need for fresh content. Companies around the globe are in desperate need to keep traffic coming back to their website again and again because that is becoming the primary way of communicating with their target audience about their products and services (notice I said products “and” services, not “or”).

Gone are the days of Interruption Marketing, now are the days of Permission Marketing (thanks Seth Godin). In order for these companies to keep driving traffic back to their websites they need to provide their target audience with fresh content that is informative as well as entertaining. And that persuade readers to engage in a back and forth dialogue that gives companies the permission to continue to market/communicate with them.

However, when it comes to a freelance writer and content marketer, if you’re entire writing business is dependent upon the writing projects you do for clients, you’re building your business on sand rather than on a firm foundation.

The reason I say that is because businesses (the high paying clients of yours) come and go. They either go bankrupt or end up financially underwater. And if this is the case, who do you think is the first to be cut off the payroll?

No, the most profitable way to make money online is not through client work, or writing for Medium. With that said, let me make this perfectly clear: I’m not saying you can’t make a good monthly income writing for Medium, that really all depends. But just like writing for clients, it’s outside of your control, and therefore, unstable income.

The truth is: the most profitable way to make money online is by selling your own products. In fact, I’m of the belief that any article you write for Medium, or any guest post you write for a site different than your own, should be looked at as a marketing strategy or campaign. And you should never base your businesses earning potential on the “income” you make from this kind of strategy.

Instead, what you should do is take the money you make for writing articles to other sites, such as Medium, and re-purpose that money back into your marketing budget in order to drive more and more traffic/readers to that article (or articles).

You see, the idea is to attract more and more readers that are actually interested in the information you are writing so that you are getting targeted consumers/readers to click on your call-to-actions. And then get them to take the first step of opting into your sales or marketing funnel. Which then, ultimately, leads to them buying your products.

In fact, that’s exactly what your high paying clients do with the content you create for them. They take all the hard work you’ve done for them during their ripe years, and then re-purpose that content back into products — but not before giving you the boot just as they begin to enter into their lean years.

A Prosperous Business is One That is Made of Both Products and Services

The truth is: Those freelance writers and blogger’s sites I mentioned above have built their businesses, not solely on the service and consulting side of their business, but also on selling products (both physical and digital goods). In other words, when their clientele income decreases, they focus on increasing their sells revenue of the product side of their business in order to even out the scales.

Not many “experts” will tell you what I’m telling you right now. They would rather leave you in the dark, focusing on trying to sell your services — even in the midst of a winter season — while they are, on the other hand, channeling their energies on creating and promoting new products into the marketplace and leaving you in the dust while they are at it. Doesn’t seem fair now, does it?

Don’t let them fool you.

However, understand too, I’m not telling you to discontinue the service and consulting side of your business. If you’re in a prosperous season in your business right now, then by all means, continue capitalizing on the service and consulting side of your business.

However, don’t neglect the product side of the business for it is the product side that will keep you above water when the service side runs dry.

Now Over to You…

So much has been written about print media dying a slow death, but with the internet opening a new world of opportunities, there are an incredible number of income generating possibilities available to freelance writers and content marketers today.

And what I’ve found is that creating your own products out of the content you create on an annual basis is the most secure way to make sure that you have recurring income coming in during those “seasons of drought” that every company faces at some point or another.

The question is: What product will you create next?


William Ballard, MBA is a highly sought after business strategist and content marketing expert. He is a highly respected master copywriter whose passion is to help struggling firms go from merely surviving operations to truly thriving organizations.

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