Writing for Web sites that pay (Part 1)
Published: October 2, 2007
|Professional freelancers see the writing on the wall. Opportunities to write for pay are opening on the Web. But there's tarnish on the silver lining. Most publications do not pay as much for Web site content as for print content. That may change as publications expand their sites and focus on Internet readership. There are some exceptions to the current pay standard.|
Freelancer Kathy Sena landed an assignment that paid her $1,000 per month to blog. "The editors at WomansDay.com were looking for someone to do a daily weight-loss blog," she says. "They sent an e-mail to some writers who had already written for the magazine, asking them to apply for the gig."
Sena says writers were asked to write a sample blog post. She had an ulterior motive for wanting the assignment. "I had always wanted to lose about 20 pounds. I decided the public pressure might be just what I needed." Her personal goal resulted in professional success. "I blogged every weekday from May 1 through July 30."
While $1,000 sounds like a lot of money, Sena acknowledges the per-word rate was low. "But it was a great experience," she says. "I learned how to use TypePad. It was good exposure for my writing. And I lost about 15 pounds!"
Like many others, Sena found herself hooked on blogging. "I decided to start my own parenting blog, given that I cover parenting and kids' health issues for many magazines." She says blogging "stirs the creative juices." And she's also sold additional work. "I started writing a post about Barry Bonds and the home-run record." She turned her blog post into an essay, succeeding in selling it as an opinion piece to the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times. Then an editor saw a blog post she did on college savings plans. That editor contacted Sena to assign an article.
In addition, Sena was interviewed by a radio station for a back-to-school health-tips segment. Ever the entrepreneur, she turned that interview into her first podcast. "You just never know what opportunities will arise from putting yourself out there on a blog."
Sena didn't secure the initial assignment from Woman's Day as a beginner, however. She's freelanced full time for the past 13 years, landing her work in Newsweek, USA Today, Family Circle, Shape and many other high-profile publications.
Sena built a portfolio of impressive work, and with strategy and planning, any serious writer can do the same. As publications increase presence on the Internet, opportunities will certainly expand. Now is a great time for any writer to begin establishing a track record that with hard work will lead to better fees and a wider readership.
Markets that pay for Web content
Be sure to read the guidelines at each site. It's equally important to study content on the site. There are no standard guidelines for Web content. Be sure to read your contract carefully, and if you're not comfortable with the terms, try to negotiate changes in an agreeable manner.
Personal stories; detailed guidelines; pays $100-200, plus additional for audio if accepted. Do not submit without studying guidelines and samples on site.
Small up-front payment for pieces if writer retains rights; additional performance bonuses for traffic generated by your content. Do not submit without studying FAQ, guidelines and rights explanation. Large media sites often link to content.
Moderate pay for guides; pay increases as readership increases. Follow the "Be a Guide" link on the home page for the site. Open topics are listed. Prospective guides build a site for no compensation and may be competing with other prospective guides. Difficult to achieve, but this long-established site can be a steady client if a prospective guide succeeds.
Submissions link is at the bottom of the home page. Pays $200-$500. Guidelines are very specific; study site content and guidelines before submitting.
Good Old Days Online
See contributor guidelines link at the bottom of the home page. Prospective writers may request an editorial calendar. Prefers to buy all rights, but guidelines state editors will negotiate. Modest pay rates.
Links to work by Kathy Sena
The Daily WD
Sena's Woman's Day blog; a great case study for any writer who wants to blog.
Professional site for Kathy Sena; great example of a freelancer who built a successful career.
--Oct. 2, 2007
Next time, "Writing for Web sites that pay (Part 2)" explores digging for and targeting a market, and tailoring your pitch.