Writer & Eternal Student

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Lessons Learned as an Online Freelance Writer

Published: March 25, 2010
This was initially published on my now-defunct No Job for Mom blog.

There are tons of self-help books, ebooks and blogs on how to become a successful freelance writer. I’ve read a few of them and I guess I’ll never make it big as a freelance writer.

Maybe it’s my age, maybe it’s because I no longer feel the need to prove myself, or maybe it’s because it took me too many years to find my authentic self. Whatever it is, it’s amazing that I earn anything online.

Dredging up History Again

Once upon a time, when I first started this online writing stuff, I wrote for upfront pay. As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, I wrote 300-word articles for $5 each. A mere pittance, but my lack of confidence, inexperience with the new internet media and being brand new to freelance writing all contributed to my accepting such a low pay rate.

It All Happens for a Reason

In my first freelance writing gig, I was given a few keywords and was instructed to write 300-word articles incorporating the keywords. They didn’t use the term ‘keywords’ but now as I look back, I realize they were keywords (Back then I didn’t even know what SEO was).

I had to complete the articles in batches of 5, submit them, and once they were approved I received $25 in my PayPal account. They paid once a week. After the first two batches, they decided to give me a huge spreadsheet of keywords and asked me to submit articles in batches of 5 as often as I could.

Oh Those Boring Keywords


Initially, I was thrilled because someone was willing to pay me to write in a non 9-5 environment. After a few batches, they increased my pay to $6 an article. I continued to spit out 5 articles at a time (the topics were boring so I only wrote 10 articles a week). They liked the work and asked if I would write more, but I pretty much told them that the topics were so boring that I couldn’t stomach more than 10 a week.

Lesson# 1: If I don’t like it, I’m not going to do it, no matter what the price.

Spin, Spin and More Spin

During this time I learned about spin. No, I’m not talking about the spin that newscasters and politicians put on a news story. I’m talking about spinning the same tired keywords several times to make anywhere from 5 to 10 completely different engaging articles. I hated every minute of it but I learned another lesson.

Lesson #2: No matter how unpleasant, I learned the knack for spinning tired keywords over and over again (kind of like reinventing leftovers).

1, 2, 3 Which Shall it Be?

Before landing the ‘lucrative’ $5 gig, I had my own websites. I never made money with them because I didn’t know about Google AdSense and placing ads on the sites.

Since the sites were mine, I wrote in a very relaxed fashion, usually first or second person. I wrote about anything and everything that was interesting to me. I’s and You’s were all over the place. That came to a screeching halt when I signed up for Suite 101. At first, I wrote in the second person but later found that they required third-person articles.

It took me longer to write in the third person, but I did it and continue to do it. I figured that if I could write about tired keywords for $6 and spin the same keywords until they begged for mercy, I could also adapt to writing in the third person.

Lesson #3: If there were a 4th, 5th and 6th person perspective, I’d master that too.

More Boring Keywords

My stint with Suite landed me a somewhat lucrative writing assignment. All I had to do was write 10 articles a month on the topic of insurance and I would earn $80 per article. That’s an additional $800 a month writing on insurance.

Oh no! Not again!

My desire/need for money said “Do it, do it,” but my stomach said “Just say no.” So, what did I do? Well, my mind said yes and my stomach said no. I ended up having to bow out of the assignment because every time I sat down to write an article I got knots in my stomach (the same knots I got when I wrote the $6 articles…as a matter of fact, they were the same knots I had in my stomach when I had my last high-paying 9-5 job).

Lesson #4: Same as lesson number 1. I guess if I had truly learned my lesson back on # 1 I wouldn’t have to list lesson # 4.

Residual to the Rescue

Residual writing saved me. The ability to earn a residual income has done much to eliminate the stomach knots. You see, I have a strong case of job-aversion-itis and am mentally unemployable.  That means I have a difficult time with deadlines and writing on topics that are forced upon me.

Up-front pay is wonderful, and when I can stomach it, I do it. However, in reviewing my many years of work experience, I find that I seem to be allergic to jobs, deadlines and those awful money-making keywords. It’s amazing that I make any money at all online as a freelance writer. I guess if you stick with anything long enough, the money will come.

Lesson # 5: When you set it up correctly, you’ll be able to work with nature, not against it.

About the Author: I am Felicia A. Williams, a wife, mom, grandma, writer and eternal student.

Last Modified: 25 November 2020

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