How to Make Money From Nothing by Writing Online
Should You Become a Writer?
It took me 17 months to write 100 articles on HubPages and accumulate 60,000 views, but what does that really mean?
In the real world, it means absolutely nothing because I can't live off those stats, but at least it's taught me something. I know I have the ability to become a writer even if it takes years to do so.
But what about you?
Would you be able to grind out dozens of articles over a year's time and live with getting almost nothing for it...would you continue writing if it took months to generate any views or recognition....are you a writer?
Hard Facts About Freelance Writing
Any given day there are millions of writers trying to stand out from the crowd, but only the top dogs can make a living from it.
Freelance writing is extremely difficult in today's saturated market.
Online writing isn't a get-rich-quick scheme, it's not something you can do sporadically, and you can't give up your day job to do it.
The amount of time and effort that you have to sacrifice to generate one article that no one may read is unbelievable, and it doesn't end there. I don't think there is any job more difficult to break into than content creation particularly when you're starting out.
It's not for the weak and unmotivated, and that first year can be a nightmare.
Surviving the First Year
Your first year of writing will be filled with depression, self-doubt, zero recognition, and little-to-no money.
This isn't the case for everyone but unless you're an expert at SEO and a gifted writer, then it's going to be very rough. I think the hardest thing for new writers to accept is that they'll be getting no money for the work they put it.
You won't have any way to monetize your website, articles, or blog because companies like Google don't take-in people so easily. You need to develop an online reputation and build up your portfolio before you even have a shot at monetizing.
Remember these three rules towards monetization:
- Write full length, original articles that are not plagiarized
- Make sure every article has little to no grammar mistakes or misspellings
- Be consistent with your writing and establish several niches
Search engines reward those who write lengthy, original articles that contain few to none grammatical or spelling errors. They also love it if you write consistently on a niche topic.
If you'd rather scope out writing gigs, then you'll still need tons of experience unless you're satisfied with earning no more than a couple of dollars per article.
Reputation and experience is the key to a successful online writing career.
Year Two: The Snowball Effect
As a writer in my second year, I've discovered something amazing known as the Snowball Effect.
When you start small it takes a lot for you to increase in size, but as you start growing, you start to increase much more rapidly. Think of a snowball rolling down a snowy mountain, what happens over time?
In content creation, you usually don't reap the benefits of your work until the second year.
If you do the right things as described in your first year, then you'll see progress.
This progress may happen very suddenly as it has for me. For the first 14 months that I've been on HubPages, I've never earned more than a few dollars a month, but then something began to change.
In the following months, I witnessed an exponential earnings increase as my viewership began to soar, and it felt crazy.
I've read articles about writers who've discussed how quickly things began to turn around for them, but I never believed it until I myself witnessed the same sudden growth.
This effect also works with the number of gigs you obtain and the subsequent pay increase per job.
How to Survive the Statistical Ups and Downs
So you've been writing for well over a year and things are looking up, but then you start to see your views rapidly descend and/or jobs dry up.
What's going on?
I call this the statistical roller coaster and it sucks.
You think things are going great, you see your stats rising, you see your earnings rise, but then things start to drop and you panic.
You won't notice this for the first year because your views and income is going to be very low, but you'll definitely notice once everything appears to be increasing. The results of this up and down ride can make or break a writer.
I've seen writers that have survived the first year only to quit going into their second because they don't understand what's going on. Such an up and down battle can be extremely demotivating and demoralizing after putting in so much work/time.
What all creators need to realize is that there'll always be ups and downs, but you have to keep going. You can't let a sudden decline affect what you're doing otherwise it'll destroy you.
In fact, during these hard times, I recommend branching out with your writing. Maybe you can start writing a book or learn technical writing. Each venue will unlock new skills that can improve your writing talents, and if you're lucky, it could even lead to additional revenue.
Should You Write?
I've talked about the hardships of being an online freelance writer, but what about writing skills and passion.
Can anyone be a writer?
The cold truth is no; I don't think everyone is capable of being a writer.
I'm not saying you're not talented enough to try because anyone can learn to write and use proper grammar, but not everyone has the drive to do it.
You cannot be a writer if you don't have the passion for it. You can't be a content creator if your sole focus is money. I've seen so many people try to do this for a week or month and they quit instantly.
They thought all they had to do was write a few articles and get paid, but then realized it wasn't so easy and they stopped. There are much easier pathways than writing for those who want to get paid quickly.
So no you shouldn't write if you don't really want to do it. Do something that you're passionate about.
Year 3+: Exploring the Next Steps in Writing
I'm now in my 4th year and the pursuit never stops. The ups and downs continue, but a few new doors have opened as well.
If you do everything right in the first two years, then more opportunities will open up by your third or fourth year.
Obviously this won't apply to everyone, but from what I've gathered, a lot of writers received more opportunities in their third year. Some have even been able to make freelance writing a full-time career though that's a very rare feat.
I survived the worst of it, and I want to keep going. I don't want to have wasted all that time and effort for nothing, and I encourage all writers to push through.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but only if you're willing to traverse through the darkness.
P.S. Thank You
I want to thank everyone who has ever read any of my articles; I'm truly grateful and amazed that over 6,000,000 people have clicked on them. The fact that I could share things with so many people is what made me want to write in the first place, so thank you so much.
September 2017 Update
Since I've written this article, I've garnered over 3 million views from my initial 60,000.
I'm writing this not to gloat about my numbers, but to show creators what's possible if you put in the time and effort over 1-3 years.
Also the Snowball Effect is in full force as it initially took me 11 months to hit 10,000 views vs. 100,000-200,000 per month afterwards.
I hope this will encourage others that there is hope even if you produce 50-100 articles or videos in the first year that get little traction.
Sooner or later someone will notice.
September 2019 Update
As of mid September 2019 I'm at 6+ million views versus 3 million from 2017 with nearly 200 articles on the Hubpages/Maven network.
There was a surge in views in 2017 to mid 2018 but things have subsided since then. A lot of that's due to the decrease in popularity among some of my most viewed articles as well as numerous Google algorithm changes that favor certain articles over others.
On the other hand I've begun writing for a new niche that's allowed me to test new products and write reviews for them. I received multiple emails from successful companies that provide me with cool, innovative items in exchange for thorough reviews.
It's a fantastic outlet because I get to do what I enjoy with added perks.
My passion for writing went through trials and tribulations but after getting back into the groove, I've never been happier to continue writing.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.