How to Get Started with Article Writing Sites

The freelance writer is a man who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps.
-Robert Benchley

Online article writing sites are great ways for part-time freelancers and parents working from home to grab extra work and stay relevant while handling competing responsibilities. However, you've probably found that not all sites are created equal.

Working for pennies isn’t worth your limited time. Content mills and sites where you bid on jobs such as, odesk, elance, Demand Media and others don’t value the time and expertise writers bring to the table.

How To Get Started

Apply to 2 or 3 sites best suited to your experience and availability. Some are good for certain niches, while others are good for beginners who want to expand their portfolio. You can sign up for sites that look for proofreaders and copyeditors as well. Scripted, contently,  and are a good place to start. They take writers in a range of specialties.

The application process can take an hour or more, and then you wait to hear whether you're accepted. Because it can take time to build up and get consistent work through these sites, it's best to apply to more than one.

Keep a list of your best samples or write new ones. When you apply to these sites you have to demonstrate a basic understanding of English. Then, you have to share your work. Some give you a prompt and ask you for original writing, but most want you to share links to published work. Providing links is best. Otherwise, you are providing original work for free.

If you don't have any samples yet, now may be a good time to start a blog. Write posts on topics related to your preferred niches(s) that you can link to in your applications.

Don’t undervalue yourself. You're freelancing because you want extra income or more time at home with your kids. If payment seems to low (I recommend staying above $0.10 per word), don't take it. The exception is if the site seems reputable and you can produce an article quickly. You may be willing to accept a couple low-paying articles to get some samples under your belt, but quickly move on.

Evaluate the level of writer-client interaction. Communication with the final client varies. Some sites list mostly one-off jobs. You write the article, submit it through the site, and you’re done. You never interact with the intended company. Other sites work more like agencies, where you work on a long-term program with one client and an account manager. These are my preferred set-ups, because they tend to value your experience. Sites like skyword work like this. Many are a hybrid.

These sites are just one egg in your basket. You'll also want to pitch articles to individual publications or applly directly to some businesses. Starting any freelance business takes a lot of trial and error to find the best work/life balance for you.

Have you tried any of these sites? Please share your experience and even rates to help others.