How to make $50 an hour writing online

How to Make $50 an Hour Writing Online

By Rob | April 20th, 2014 | 31 Comments
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After deciding that it was time to withdraw from the PhD program, I realized that I needed to start making money – and fast. One of my biggest hesitancies with pulling out of the PhD program (where I received a living stipend) was finding another way to pay my bills.

As a proud product of our generation’s educational system, I am over-educated and under-experienced for the vast majority of jobs. With an MBA and minimal work experience, I knew that few people would be enthusiastically throwing job offers my direction.

Therefore, I could either be one of the 48% of college graduates who pick up a job that doesn’t require a college degree, or I could sit and wait, unemployed, until a decent match came along – leaving me in a financial disaster. Which option should I chose?

Well, I decided to chose option #3! Instead of waiting for someone else to hire me, I would hire myself.

Think about it: if you can’t find someone to hire you for your dream job, then why not hire yourself?! You already know how magnificent your resume and references are. In fact, you’re at the top of your list!

How I Started Making $50 an Hour, and How You Can Too (Even Without a College Degree)

After spending a few weeks frantically searching and praying for work, I realized that a worthwhile job is not going to pop up over night. Furthermore, if I unproductively sit and do nothing for several months, it will be even more difficult for me to successfully land a job that interests me.

So I began brainstorming. Starting a business is always fun, but the startup costs and risks make it difficult for those who need to pay bills now. Therefore, I conclude to resort back to writing.

Throughout college and my masters program I had earned a total of about $1000 writing online as a hobby – mostly through the revenue sharing site, HubPages, and the $5 micro jobs site, Fiverr. Although this was a fun way to earn extra money while in college, I was really only making $5-$10 per hour from my writing on these sites – not making it a feasible option for my current position.

But out of necessity and desperation, creativity and hard work are born. I’m currently earning between $25-$60/hour by writing for a variety of clients online – and I see it only increasing from here. This is how I do it – and how you can too.

Step 1: Develop Your Online Writing Abilities

Before you can make money writing online, it is essential to have an understanding of how online content works. Blogs and online articles are significantly different than academic, business, or traditional newspaper writing. In other words, besides for the grammar tips, most of what you learned in college will not be relevant for online content writing.

To learn more about how to write for the web, look at other articles here on my blog, on my HubPages account, and across the internet. Some of the basic tips to keep in mind include:

  1. Make Your Titles Search-Friendly: Website content is unlike a book in the store or article in a magazine – where people will see it on the newsstands or in the bookstore. Online content is found through search. Therefore, include common search terms in your title. Many of the most read articles online have terribly boring titles – but that’s because they use words that people include in their searches.
  2. Make Your Content “Skimmable” with Section Headings: Internet readers skim (as you may be doing with this article). Therefore, make it easy for someone to get a general understanding of your article with the titles and section headings. This makes it easy for someone to skip what they know and only read what is useful to them.
  3. Use Lists: Just like with section headings, lists provide an easy way for people to grasp the core of an article without reading everything.
  4. Make the Writing Friendly: Academic writing has the sole purpose of putting people to sleep – don’t do that with internet content. Write something that you would want to read.

I recommend that you go to the library and check out a book or two on writing. Make sure that your grammar and sentence structure is decent, and then spend some time analyzing your favorite blog posts and online articles to see what you enjoy about their format and style. This will help you develop your own writing abilities.

Step 2: Become an Expert in a High-Paying Niche

Not all online writing jobs are created equal. Although you can find many writing jobs for celebrity reviews, music news, and travel topics, most of these jobs will offer a much lower payout per article for an inexperienced writer (as little as $5 per article).

If you want to find writing jobs that pay $25-$100 per post, you will need to become an expert in lucrative niche (which is easier than it sounds).

To find a high-paying niche you will need to find businesses that are highly-competitive, but make good money. One great way to find expensive topics is through using the Google Keyword tool – the tool businesses use to see the cost of buying ads on Google. Every time that you click on a Google ad, a business pays between twenty cents and $200 for that click. For business who pay $50+ per click, it is more useful for them to pay someone that amount for a blog post that will appear in search results then for a single click on Google.

A great market is professionals. Lawyers, doctors, real estate agents, and air-conditioning installation experts all make a lot of money from their services. Therefore, they are willing to pay a lot for someone to provide useful content to their website that will attract potential clients.

Some high-paying niches and clients include:

  • Lawyers (business, divorce, litigation, real estate, etc.)
  • Consultants and Coaches (business, health, lifestyle, etc.)
  • Medical doctors (particularly Lasik and plastic surgery specialists)
  • Real estate agents and brokers (these do not pay as much as some, but the articles can be relatively easy to write and easily reworded for additional clients)
  • Press release writing for new business products and announcements
  • Professional home installation, repair, and cleaning services
  • Personal finance, banking, and investing services
  • Photography and videography services and equipment
  • Blogging and writing services

Ultimately, the key is to find a niche that is not overly saturated (which usually means not many people know a lot about the subject) and offers a service or equipment that costs a significant amount. Experts in these fields would rather offer their service than spend an hour or two writing a blog post for their website. Therefore, they will pay you handsomely for a well written and researched article.

To become an expert in a field is a lot easier than it may sound. If you are thinking, “I don’t know anything about Lasik eye surgeries”, then you are in the same boat as 99.9% of Americans. However, if you spend one hour reading articles online about this subject, you will already know more than most people.

Although the internet makes it easy to find enough information to become an expert on a topic, I also recommend going to the library and checking out a few books on the subject. Generally speaking, if you read 3-5 books on any subject you will know more about it than the majority of the population.

It is true that many of the highest paying niche’s are not the most interesting. Therefore, I recommend selecting a few areas to become an expert in – some that you do for your own pleasure (and maybe writing about on your own blog), and some that you learn about primarily for the financial return. Who knows, you may discover a new fascination with surgery, real estate, or law.

Step 3: Find Clients Who Need Content

Finding potential clients is actually much easier than it may seem. There are three methods I use for finding businesses and professionals to write for:

  1. Join Online Freelance Websites: I still find the majority of my writing work through one website: Upwork.com. These websites allow anyone to post projects that they want completed (along with a desired rate). I have found both long-term article writing jobs and short 5-10 page ebook writing jobs on these two sites.
  2. Contact Potential Clients Directly: Because I am a leadership and business enthusiast, I’ve discovered that a fantastic way to use my knowledge and gain additional experience is to write for executive coaches and consultants. I email coaches and consultants with an offer for a discounted first article. It’s challenging to write executive consultant-level content, but I enjoy putting in the time. To set up your own personal website, I recommend using WordPress and hosting with iPage – where they will include $100 of Google advertising with your purchase.
  3. Find Websites That Pay for Content: There are many websites that will pay $25-$50 per accepted article – and they state this on their website. Although they generally require higher-quality content then a casual blog, the status of being published on one of these website can make finding additional jobs much easier.

Important note: Getting started in online writing can be the most difficult step – especially as many of your jobs will be as a ghost writer (meaning that your name is not visible in the article). Therefore, I recommend that you create a portfolio of articles to show clients – either through your own website or with a site like HubPages. Additionally, you may have to write a few $10 articles until you build up your reputation.

Go Start Writing!

There you have it – this is how I am earning $25-$60+/hour by writing online. Although my MBA has helped me gain credibility for some projects, I have written about eye-care, legal proceedings, travel, and a plethora of other subjects that have nothing to do with my degree. Therefore, I am confident that anyone can start earning an impressive income by writing – either as a fulltime job or as a part-time hobby.

I attempted to make this article as thorough as possible, but I know that I did not cover everything. Feel free to ask questions or add your own input in the comments below. I will certainly reply.

About Author Rob

Rob blogs at Money Nomad - where he shares strategies and tips for becoming a remote entrepreneur. When not working on his own projects, Rob writes articles for businesses and thought leaders. You can find him on Twitter @rlerich.

31 thoughts on “How to Make $50 an Hour Writing Online

  1. Thanks for the comment Ryan! And I’ve just checked out your website. It’s great! You’re definitely a pro at writing online and traveling the world. I look forward to learning more about your successes and experiences – you’ve got a new follower.

    Combining a decent living with a low cost of living is a great way to travel the world and save money simultaneously.

  2. You’re completely right. It’s all about the niche. One of my first writing jobs was from a divorce lawyers firm. They asked me to write for them and I just threw out a number ($40 per post that takes me about 30-40 minutes to write) and they accepted. I actually think I could’ve gone higher.

    Writing for blogs on the other hand is a lot different. You’re not going to get paid nearly as much. To make good money as a freelance writer you need to be writing for businesses that provide actual products or services.

    1. Thanks for the input Alexa. And, as I’ve experimented, I definitely have to agree with you – the only way writers make money is when someone makes a purchase. Although affiliate offers pay out once you have a large following, as you mentioned, writing for businesses that sell a service is certainly the easiest way to make an income writing.

  3. Hi Rob,
    Thanks for the great article!! I am a “retired” nurse (actually really disliked practicing) and now work in advertising (which I love). Do you think it would be possible to use my nursing degree to some extent to write articles in the field?

    1. Absolutely Lesli! In fact, some of the highest paying writing jons are in the healthcare field because of the education required to write the content. If you enjoy writing, specializing in a medical niche could end up netting you close to $100 an article.

      Of course, you will need to start off small – and may have write a few articles for $10+ to get started. However, if you remain committed, you could do very well. It’s a great way to make the most of your past experiences!

  4. Honestly when i just started blogging i didnt know what i was doing stil havnt start using SEO yet and visitors are barely crawling in but i manage to keep my blog standin.. joined alot of sites to earn money but none is working out.. just read all of this and im going to follow exactly what you said Thank You ☺

    1. Great job pursuing your passion for writing. You’ll keep learning as you go. I’ll have to check out your blog myself!

  5. Hi Rob, I want to add emphasis on how online jobs are becoming our future jobs. I work part time online as a website designer it give me enough dollars for my requirements, for a free lancer, and as a lecturer full time that has also good salary for me to cater for the basic need of my whole family of four, Apart from this I do community statistics and predicts on different views of the society in future and solve oncoming problems, I invest a lot in vast number of businesses and keep me well.

    1. It’s true – online work is becoming more and more prevalent. Which means that there are a lot more opportunities for those who want the flexibility of an online job. Best of luck with your continued ventures.

  6. Many times i was thinking we can make enough money through writing but after reading your article. I think i can make extra money through writing. Thanks for sharing this article.

  7. Thanx a lot Rob u just helped me do the most difficult thing, taking the FIRST Step. You are a marvelous writer with excellent and easy to learn and understand writing style. thumbs up !!!

    1. Thanks so much for the compliment Omar! I wish you the best as you get started with your freelancing career and feel free to reach out if you have any questions. And, once you’re doing well, let me know – I love to hear other people’s success stories.

    1. It takes some effort, but if you commit to freelancing, and commit to constantly improving your writing, you can certainly do it! My recommendation for starting is to develop a few writing samples and post them online. Then send links to that work to people when applying to writing jobs. Hope that helps!

  8. Thank you so much for the tips.I live in New Zealand and am on a sickness benefit due to a lung condition and I would love to work from home like that!

    1. It’s certainly possible! Find a focus and start small. If you are willing to learn, practice, and persevere, I have no doubt that you could start making a decent living freelancing. And always feel free to stop by and ask a question if you get stumped. 🙂 Good luck!

  9. Hello Rob!
    I have an idea for a focus that might lead to other opportunities than just writing down the path. Is there any money in writing for colleges and universities? I imagine there is. I have a background in education and a B.A., which means I have spent my time on campus.

    I’m tired of substitute teaching/being unemployed. I could start out with a Hubpages account to give advice on selecting schools, campus survival tips, and maybe higher education reviews as well.

    1. That’s not a bad idea at all – there are a lot of schools that offer affiliate programs as well. So I’m sure you could monetize this sort of site (or write for someone who does).

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