Thursday, August 23, 2012

How to Make Money Writing Articles

There's a lot of crass and simplistic nonsense about writing articles on the Net. Most of this information comes from self serving marketing wannabes who want you to believe that by using their system you will become rich overnight. 
The reality is, of course, quite different.
If you're interested in writing articles for profit, the first thing you must do is forget about the Internet
The pay for Internet articles is either negligible or in most cases, non-existent. The only way to make (a dribble of) money writing articles for the Net is to crank out about ten a day - which some people actually do for a while - but this is not something most writers would regard as fair or fulfilling work.
No, much better is to target good old fashioned magazines and newspapers. Okay, so it's harder to get in, but not quite as hard as you'd imagine if you put your mind to it.
And that's the key. Article writing is more about mindset than talent. A good article writer is not always a particular expert on things, but rather 'appears' to be an expert. Because, as anyone who writes magazine and newspaper articles will tell you, information is only a small part of what the article writer is conveying.
Most of it is about attitude. Take a good look at a few magazine articles soon and study them with this in mind.
If you can emulate the 'tone' of a magazine, you're already talking the editor's language - and getting them excited about your writing, whatever the topic you've chosen.
It's too easy for us to get bogged down in research and relating information when what we should be doing is getting our 'style' under control.
I spent years afraid of writing articles because I thought I didn't know enough about subjects to warrant me writing about them. At the same time I felt that the quality of writing in magazines was so poor I didn't want to associate myself with it.
But, of course, I was completely missing the point!
Magazine articles are written the way they are because that's the way readers want them - easy to follow, simplistic and full of energy. 
I realize now it's actually a great skill to achieve that seemingly effortless style - and rather than looking down on those article writers, as I used to, I admire them and their dexterity.
So where do you start if you want to write for magazines?
Simple. Start reading them.
To be honest, this is the bit I find the hardest. I'm not a big magazine reader. Life seems too short. If you're the same as me, remind yourself you only have to read a magazine a few times to get the 'feel' of the editorial, and learn from it.
Make a note of the subject matter and brainstorm a few ideas you might like to pitch to them. Remember that you're not trying to be original - magazines are happy to publish articles about the same subjects over and over. What makes the articles original is your particular slant or way of expressing yourself.
(By the way, it pays to remember that magazines only exist as a platform to distribute advertisments. To believe anything else - that there is perhaps some 'higher purpose' to magazines - is to delude yourself. This knowledge may help you get some perspective on the real 'role' of articles within magazines. For instance, articles that deliberately flatter and cater to the needs/wants of the target demographic of a magazine are far more likely to appeal to its editor.)
When pitching to a magazine for the first time, I've found it's a good idea to tack on either a complete article or at least samples of your writing. Later, when they know you, just pitching the idea for an article is usually sufficient.
The advantage of writing for magazines is that the pay is good - especially in the US which on average will pay $1 a word for a national publication. But don't be afraid to start small - with local news rags and small-run magazines. These will give you 'clippings' you can copy and include in your pitches to the larger outfits.
Of course, your main goal as an article writer should be 'the column'. This is where you get paid as a regular contributor and are basically allowed to say what you like about your apparent area of expertise (subject to the editor's idea of what is 'sensitive', I've found.)
I write a monthly column for Aurealis, a magazine about Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror. I deliberately set out to get the gig because I noticed their coverage of horror writing and film was minimal.
I sent the editor four of my articles and asked if he'd be interested in me writing a monthly column. I didn't do any of the things they say you should. I didn't send him a resume, a list of credits or even mention the Easy Way to Write. I just told him I was a horror buff and made my letter as amusing as I could. The editor responded positively within a few days.
Now, I get to report on all sorts of things horror related. And basically the column takes me about an hour to write, most of which is spent scouring the Net for subject matter!
Anyway, I could go on, but I just wanted to make the world of article writing seem a little less intimidating to you.
I know that when I started, article writing seemed hard and I was very nervous about sending things out. 
Now I realize that I just had the wrong attitude. Mainly because, contrary to what you might expect, magazine editors are desperate for good articles, or more especially, writers that have simply taken the time to study their magazine and write to order.
Best of luck if you want to try it. For an easier ride through making cash money writing articles for paying markets, take a look at my Easy Cash Writing course.
Keep writing!
 rob at home

 "The answer is not in the knowing. It is in the seeking."
Rob Parnell

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