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A Few Ways to Make Money Freelance Writing and an Update on Cote d’Ivoire

Over on How to Draw Camels, 100% of profits are now going towards social enterprises in West Africa. Originally, it was 50%. I planned on using half the money to assist with travel expenses. But it wasn’t like I was raking in cash selling camel drawing ebooks, and now I am making enough money elsewhere. Most of my income is from freelance writing. I am not going to be rich anytime soon, but it is more than adequate for my upcoming travel plans.

Travel Writing for Online Magazines and Websites

These typically pay $25-30 an article. The format varies: narratives, tips, city guides, stuff to see, etc. Matador and The Expeditioner are two prominent sites that pay for travel writing. For more, I recommend signing up with MatadorU’s email list and downloading one of their free reports. MatadorU is an online “new media” school for travel writers and photographers. It looks cool, but I’m not ready to part with $300 for it. In any case, you can get their email list (tips on travel writing) for free along with a list of 15 websites that pay for travel writing and photography.

I have also been approached by people who visit this blog, mostly to write West Africa content. It helps if you have a specific knowledge that is not widely shared. A story about museums in Western Europe will be a hard sell. If the destination is not unique, find a unique angle.

Demand Studios

Demand Studios pays $15-18 for 300-400 articles. You submit a writing a sample and bio and once you are approved you can search for titles. Sounds nice, right? Pick a title and get started. This quickly lost its appeal when I realized almost all of the titles were completely bizarre and/or insane. For example: “How to Change the Rack and Pinion Steering on a 1994 Dodge Ram.” What?

Demand Studios produces content for sites like eHow.com and their titles are generated by what people are searching for in Google and other search engines. A lot of the easy titles have already been claimed. I sent them an email letting them know that I could actually contribute to the site if I could access travel related titles. A week later I became a travel contributor. It’s still in the beta stage and they are limiting the number of writers, but if you sign up for Demand Studios and want to do travel writing, send them an email and let them know where your skills lie.

Many of the titles are still bizarre. I wrote an article called “How to Swim with the Dolphins at Epcot.” I have never swam with the dolphins at Epcot. I went to the Epcot website, read about the dolphin exhibit, and then wrote the article. It took me twenty minutes and I was paid $18. There are also a number of more reasonable titles like “Things to do in ____________” or “How to get a Visa to ___________.” After you submit an article, an editor reviews it and sends it back if corrections are needed. They send payments via PayPal on Tuesday and Friday of each week.

I don’t plan on writing for Demand Studios on a long-term basis, but right now it’s an easy way to make money while I work on other things and get ready for my trip.

Other Freelance Writing Websites

I don’t use Textbroker, but it is another option for freelance writing. They pay 1-5 cents/word depending on the quality of your writing. From what I understand, the assignments often involve very specific instructions. Elance is another site for freelance work. The amount of pay depends on the job. Anyone use either of these?

Revenue Sharing Sites

Write an article. Website puts advertisements in the article. You share the revenue from the ads. This could be 50/50 (as it is at Hubpages) or more (Infobarrel gives you 70% of ad revenue). To actually make money on these sites you need to write a lot of articles and they need to be about topics that people are looking for on search engines. I like the idea of these sites, but they have not been a priority because they take time (and a lot of writing) before you can make enough money to make it worth it. Squidoo is another revenue sharing site. Anyone have success with these?

Freelance Writing for Newspapers and Magazines

I have been pitching a number of newspapers and magazines in the last two weeks. I would love to have a semi-regular assignment with which I could write about this upcoming trip. A few conversations have been promising, but nothing guaranteed yet. I will let you know what happens.

There are a lot of other options for freelance writing beyond travel writing and what I have mentioned here. Let me know if you have experience with any of the above or if you do any kind of freelance writing yourself.

Cote d’Ivoire Update

Gbagbo has been captured. This is a big deal. Right now, many in Abidjan are celebrating. But Cote d’Ivoire’s future is still murky. Elizabeth Dickinson has a good summary of events here. I wrote about many of the challenges in this post.

I thought Ouattara’s speech the other day was excellent. He said that he was going to restart the economy and restore basic services, but most importantly, he said that those who committed acts of violence towards civilians would be brought to justice, including his own forces.

The latest report from Human Rights Watch implicates Ouattara’s forces in much of the violence that took place in Western Cote d’Ivoire (report here). Villages were burnt to the ground, people were executed in front of their families, women were raped. There are reports that the region remains insecure. Tens of thousands have fled to Liberia.

In time, we will see whether Ouattara’s actions reflect his words. Even with tremendous leadership, the road to reconciliation and peace will be long. Hopefully, it starts today.

Music: Tiken Jah Facoly – Ma Cote d’Ivoire

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{ 20 comments… add one }

  • Katie April 11, 2011, 3:38 pm

    After getting accepted to write for Demand Studios I thought I was on my way to making some money. Unfortunately I don’t know how to build a pizza oven out of a 1952 Chevy Bel-Air engine. Oh well.

    • phil April 11, 2011, 3:48 pm

      Hahahaha. I feel like I have seen that title before 😉 Yeah the eHow articles are really maddening. And funny. “How to Make a Cat with Fun Foam.” =)

      If I didn’t get access to the travel writing section, I would have dropped it entirely.

  • Jennifer Barry April 11, 2011, 8:26 pm

    Thanks for the helpful tips, Phil! I have been thinking about doing some freelance writing.

    I am also glad to hear that Gbagbo is in custody, and I hope your friends are all safe. 🙂

    • phil April 13, 2011, 2:47 pm

      Jennifer, thanks for thinking of them. Yes they are safe now, trying to get their lives back in order as are most people in Abidjan. Let me know how the freelance writing goes 🙂

  • Talon (@1Dad1Kid) April 12, 2011, 10:16 pm

    Thanks for some great pointers and sites for me to check out. I love writing, and making some money at it to fund my travels is an extra bonus. 🙂

    • phil April 13, 2011, 2:55 pm

      Glad you enjoyed it Talon, let me know how it works out.

  • Christy @ Technosyncratic April 12, 2011, 11:08 pm

    What I’m most amused by is that Demand Studios is coming up with these titles based on what people search for….. so that means a lot of folks are trying to figure out how to make a cat out of fun foam! 😛

    • phil April 13, 2011, 3:01 pm

      Haha yes, well, the other possibility is that demand studios is getting close to exhausting search terms and they are really hitting the bottom of the barrel now 🙂 Or a lot of people are trying to figure out how to make a cat out of fun foam. I’m kind of curious myself now…

  • Bluegreen Kirk April 13, 2011, 12:14 pm

    I seem to be hearing that quiet a few bloggers make decent money from doing stories for magazines and submission of articles. I guess $25 article isnt too bad depending on how quickly you can write the article or how much you need. In the states you would need a lot of articles to make a living but if you only need 300-500 per month its great.

    • phil April 13, 2011, 2:57 pm

      Hey Kirk, yes you’re right, it depends on where you are living for that to be sustainable. The good thing is that after you build up a byline with those kinds of articles you might be able to go after bigger assignments for newspapers/magazines.

  • Vacation Remix April 17, 2011, 9:07 am

    Thanks for the great read. Keep it up!

  • Dalene - Hecktic Travels April 17, 2011, 9:11 pm

    I had signed up for Demand Studios awhile back and had the same issue…there was nothing that was at all appealing for me to write about. Or that I knew anything about!

    And now, after learning more about them, I have no desire to write for them. Where they pay the writers somewhere in the $10-$15 range, they turn around and sell the same thing to sites like about.com for upwards of $50! Crazy the amount of money they are making off of it, and industry people say that it is not sustainable, as writers are going to be tired of churning out that kind of content for little pay (not many of them can take as little as 20 minutes, I think!)

    On another note, I’ve just gotten through Chapter 1 at the MatadorU writing course and it seems to be pretty good so far! I think I’m going to get a lot out of it. I’m hoping that will kickstart my arse into finding some real writing jobs. 🙂

    • phil April 17, 2011, 11:23 pm

      Dalene, I’m with you, their model is certainly not sustainable. Right now, claim titles in the travel section and I generally select articles that I can do in 30-45 minutes. I consider this a backup plan more than anything else and while it’s soulless, it’s good to know I can make some money if something else falls through.

      Glad to hear that the MatadorU course has been worth your while. It’s something I would definitely like to do when I’m at a point where I can dedicate an appropriate amount of energy to it.

      Thanks for your comment!

      Be well,
      Phil

  • Erica April 19, 2011, 7:08 pm

    I’m currently trying to convince Shaun to do this and he is currently confused on what fun foam is. 😛

    • phil April 20, 2011, 2:11 pm

      That would be a good adventure for a day in Mexico: track down some fun foam. Optional: make cat out of it.

  • Linda April 20, 2011, 5:25 pm

    Very happy to here that your friends are safe.

    And thanks for the tips. I make bits and pieces at the moment, but it’s because of living here, when I move on that stops, so it’s great to know where to look to next!

    • phil April 20, 2011, 8:06 pm

      Hey Linda,
      Thanks for stopping by. Glad to know the post helped a bit 🙂
      B well,
      Phil

  • Adam Pervez April 21, 2011, 10:51 am

    Phil,

    You read my mind! I have been looking into this a bit and this was very helpful. You’ll have to let us know how pitching to the newspapers goes. I’m going to try the same, so let’s see how it goes.

    Good luck!
    Adam

    • phil April 23, 2011, 6:28 pm

      Hey Adam, glad you liked it! Site looks great by the way 🙂 Way to get it up and running!
      Take care,
      Phil

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