Writing for Web sites that pay (Part 2): Digging for markets
Published: October 16, 2007
|Blog jobs are popping up like puddles after a nor'easter. Sometimes, you can directly pitch a Web site with your own custom idea. There are also many job listings from networks and communities. |
Networks like 451press pull together hundreds of bloggers who maintain individual topic pages on just about anything that walks, talks or breathes on the planet. Communities like Helium and Associated Content solicit individual articles on most any subject you want to write about.
These communities and networks are flourishing, and while they do pay writers, there is no standard. Your pay will often be directly indexed to how many readers you attract, and sometimes, how those readers rate your writing. In addition, rights often vary. Some may even ask for the right to feature your content in perpetuity. It's also important to compare other writers in the network or community. Ask yourself if this is a place that benefits you in terms of the company you'll be keeping.
If you're bitten by the blogging bug, consider pitching your talents to individual Web sites that either promote or expand print publications. Most magazines and newspapers are beginning to offer additional content on the Web, content that is often not included in the print publication. These sites offer a writer opportunity to sell expertise and life experience.
In past columns, we've talked about the importance of refining a blog topic to a very specific subject. For instance, if you're an expert on parenting, you might consider a subject like "Books for Toddlers." If you're a car buff, there's a lot of possibility in a topic like "Car Clubs." You want to pick a subject that won't be quickly exhausted, but at the same time provides information that can't be found elsewhere.
If you have a working relationship with an editor at a print publication, one foot is already in the door. If you don't, craft a pitch that shows the editor what benefit you can provide for readers and why you're the best person to provide the benefit. Have at least two clips that can be accessed via an e-mail link or that are short enough to paste into the body of an e-mail. Some magazines have specific guidelines for submitting; be sure to study and follow them. Most sites accept e-mail pitches, but there are still some that ask for traditional mail. Check to see if the print editor is also responsible for Web content; this practice varies.
When selecting a target, study the existing site content as well as the advertisements. Both are windows into the readership, telling you who's interested in what.
If you have a passion for a particular subject, do a search to see what's already being written. You can cover an existing topic area, because your own voice and your own experiences will set you apart from others. If you already write a personal blog, pitch a few magazines that cover the topic area. If you can document your traffic, give the prospective editor an idea how many unique visitors come to your site.
If you respond to a blogging job listing and you're offered a contract, be sure to read the fine print. Pay attention to the rights you're assigning. Know exactly how your pay will be calculated and when you will receive it. If a network is only offering you exposure, proceed very carefully because you can't pay your bills with exposure.
Remember, you have the option to build a readership on your own by posting quality content frequently and by promoting your individual blog. If there's no compensation for what you will write, there isn't going to be much to inspire you to continue writing. So if you're just going to write for passion, do it on your own and keep all your rights. You may be able to sell your content as reprints at some point. If you are successful in building a readership, you may be able to sell advertising or participate in affiliate programs if your terms of service permit.
Many Web sites offer blogs; every major media outlet features them. The format is popular with readers and with editors. If you select a potential market and you have expertise and publishing credits in that field, you automatically increase the odds an editor will snap up your idea. Just remember to provide readers a clear benefit framed with a unique voice and slant.
Online directories that list blogging jobs
Jobs at ProBlogger
Lists a variety of blogging jobs posted by editors and network managers. A good resource, but proceed with caution. Pay scales and rights vary from network to network.
Weblogs at about.com
Weblogs at about.com; weekly job postings; wide variety in pay scales and subject matter.
Lists paying jobs, both for Web and print. Site also features a "Warnings" section. Established resource for writers.
--Oct. 16, 2007
My next column takes a look at advocacy. Are you passionate about a subject like politics, the environment, animals or health? I'll explore ways for you to share your passion and resources that can help connect you with like-minded readers.