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Last week, I blogged about “The Most Successful Freelance Writing Niches” – the first part of a four-part blog series meant to help you make money writing from home as a freelancer. But finding the perfect niche to launch your freelance writing career is only the first step to success.
(If it was the only step, there wouldn’t be four blogs in this series, now, would there?)
The next step is finding the highest paying writing jobs – and part of that is writing the type of content that is most profitable.
When you start looking for freelance writing jobs, you will see listings for a multitude of content types – from long-form blog posts to short blurbs. This is where your search may get challenging because if you are a beginner, you most likely have no idea what kind of content fits your writing style and talent.
And that’s okay!
Every freelancer has a secret weapon in their writing arsenal. And trust me, our weapons are not all the same.
To save you from wasting your time writing content that just doesn’t make money, I’ve compiled a list of the best money-making content types for freelance writers. Use this list to learn more about the types of content that freelance writers produce so that you can make an informed decision when accepting jobs.
Long-form content, according to HubSpot, is “a piece of writing that is between 1,000 and 7,500 words.” (This blog is an example of long-form content.) Lengthy content is intended to cover more complex topics that need truly in-depth explanations for the reader to understand the subjects.
This type of writing is SEO gold. Why? Because it is long.
Bloggers and companies are willing to pay you very well for quality long-form content because:
- Not only does long-form content bring in more readers, but it also generates 9 times more leads than short-form content does.
- The time that visitors spend on a website or blog matters to Google. Longer content keeps the audience on a site for a more extended time, which tells the Almighty Google that the site is relevant.
- Long-form content allows a reader to get all of their information about a topic at one time; there is rarely a need for additional searches.
- Piggybacking on the last bullet point: Long content can include more backlinks, which can make a site rank higher in search engines and contributes to the reader finding all their information in one place.
When you consider all of this, plus the fact that long-form content can include more SEO-optimized keywords and can lead to a higher click-through rate for websites, you can finally understand why longer content is so valuable.
However, long-form content takes time to write, and many bloggers and businesses do not have the time to devote to it – so they hire out.
But here’s the catch: Not everyone can write high-quality long-form content. Blogs and online articles have focused on short-form content for years for a reason – readability matters. Many writers struggle with formatting when it comes to long-form content.
As always, you must think of your audience when you are attempting to write truly valuable long-form (and all other forms of) content. RyRob reports that “52.2% of all website traffic worldwide was from mobile devices in 2018.” Do you know what a 7-8 line paragraph looks like on a cell phone?
It looks like AN INTIMIDATING WALL OF TEXT.
So, you have to be excellent at maximizing the readability of your long-form writing to be successful at it.
Use the following tips to improve the readability of your long-form content:
- Just because the topic may be complicated does not mean the language needs to be! Online writing should be written at a 7th or 8th grade reading level. So, avoid using complex vocabulary. If your reader cannot understand your words, they will not read your article.
- Keep your paragraphs short – no more than 4-5 lines. Remember, reading a blog on a mobile device turns paragraphs into discouraging walls of text and will cause a reader to lose interest.
- Speaking of paragraphs – they aren’t the only way to present information. Use bulleted lists (like this one!) and tables or charts whenever possible. This formatting can break up your text and keep a reader’s interest. They are also skimmable, and readers love skimmable content!
- Stick to simple and short sentences whenever possible. If a sentence drones on and on (even if it is grammatically correct), readers tend to skip over most of the sentence.
- Engage your reader with questions, anecdotes, and humor. The best long-form writers understand that an article must be interesting to captivate an audience. So, throw a bit of yourself into the article!
- Proofread. Proofread. Proofread. Nothing will deter a reader faster than bad grammar. Your aim is to write content that can be a trusted resource for your reader. If you cannot deliver writing that is grammatically correct, you lose credibility.
Long-form content writing can be incredibly lucrative for freelance writers, but you must remember that quality always trumps quantity with online writing. It’s easy to write 3,500 words, but it takes talent to write 3,500 words that people actually want to read.
Ghostwriting is an excellent way to make money writing online; however, it has one significant disadvantage: your writing is not your own. With ghostwriting, you are hired to create content for someone else, and you release your rights to the written content once you deliver it to your client.
Put simply – you don’t get a byline.
But you can make a great living by getting paid to write about anything. Look at these numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics from 2018:
- Ghostwriters in the 90th percentile annual salary earned $83,500 or more.
- Ghostwriters in the 10th percentile annual salary earned $43,130 or more.
- The median annual salary for ghostwriters was $62,170.
One thing to consider when you look for a ghostwriting job is that those with degrees will typically earn more than those without degrees. Since ghostwriters often charge by the hour, their qualifications and experience determine what they can charge.
Therefore, if you are a beginner freelancer with no experience or degrees to back up your talent, you may be stuck charging less than what you’d like. But remember – any writing job you take will equate to experience that can help you charge more in the future.
There are numerous websites online that you can use to find ghostwriting (and other freelancing) work, and they hire for loads of different projects, such as:
- Blog posts – both short-form and long-form
- Short stories
- Video scripts
Perhaps the most significant determining factor in how much you make as a freelance ghostwriter is how you charge. Do you charge by the hour or by the project? Does the client have a set price, or are they willing to negotiate?
- For longer jobs (e.g., books), ghostwriters generally charge by the hour or the project.
- For smaller jobs (e.g., blog posts), they charge per word or per page.
Ghostwriting does take away your chance of being published under your name and often cannot be used in your portfolio.
However, it does get your foot in the door with online writing, gives you much-needed experience to pad your resume, and allows you to build a freelance writing career.
Long-form content requires a freelancer who can keep readers genuinely interested for thousands of words while explaining complex topics in-depth. Ghostwriting requires a freelancer who can adapt quickly from project to project, mimicking the voice of their clients.
And then there is marketing content, which requires a freelancer who knows how to SELL.
It requires a writer who understands how to relate to potential customers in such a way that they feel like they need to have what you are selling.
It requires a little bit of sociology and psychology mixed with an understanding of basic consumerism (think supply and demand) crafted with the precision of a true wordsmith.
Today, entrepreneurs and businesses do not just rely on printed marketing materials and ads on the television. Digital marketing has become increasingly popular across the world. Gone are the days where your advertising goal was a massive billboard on a busy interstate. With digital marketing, your advertising can reach electronic devices everywhere with just a few clicks.
Marketing materials (also called marketing collateral) is a blanket term that covers several types of freelance content writing, including but not limited to:
- Sales pages – These marketing pages stand alone and serve one specific purpose: to sell a product or service. They can be either short-form or long-form.
- Landing pages – These are standalone pages with a single goal that are meant to be part of a marketing campaign. There are two main types of landing pages:
- Lead generation landing pages collect data from the audience (potential customers!). The most common lead gen pages collect names and emails.
- Click-through landing pages are basically a “middle-man” between a website or blog and a sales page. They aim to bring a reader closer to a purchase by providing call-to-actions and a button or link to click that usually brings them to their purchase.
- Product descriptions – These descriptions are written for particular projects and are meant to prove the worth of the product to the customer. (If you’ve ever shopped online, you know the value of a well-written product description!)
- Emails/Email sequences – In the digital marketing world, emails and email sequences can take many forms. For instance, bloggers may use emails to connect with their readers, share new content from their blogs, and promote their website or business. Email sequences are just series of emails that have a common goal, such as a “welcome” email sequence that tells a new subscriber about a company or a “launch” email sequence that tells all about a brand new business in the days before it launches.
- Sales funnels – Sales funnels are a collaboration between many marketing materials to bring a reader from awareness of a company or blog to a final action. Most often, sales funnels focus on bringing awareness to a business or product/service, garnering interest in said business or product/service, calling for the reader to make a decision based on the information given, then calling them to take action – i.e., purchasing a service or subscribing to a blog.
For those freelancers who can write fantastic marketing materials that generate fruitful leads and make sales, there is a huge money-making opportunity in this type of freelance writing – with the bonus of having job security because, when you can consistently bring success to your client, there is no way they will let you go!
Bonus: Good with Graphic Design, Too? Try These Options!
Are you a freelancer who has a knack for writing and graphic design? Don’t waste another moment working for less than you deserve and put both of your talents to profitable use!
If you’re looking to make the most money writing online and have this crazy-fantastic duo of skills, there are some freelance jobs that will pay top-dollar for materials that have both incredible design and high-quality content. (Fiverr is an outstanding place to find jobs like this!)
Just some of the freelancing opportunities available to those proficient in both graphic design and writing are:
- Templates (for Instagram, Pinterest, eBooks, etc.)
- Business materials (i.e., business cards, postcards, and flyers)
The beauty of this particularly lucrative design/writing mix is that there is a high demand for it in both printable and digital formats. Established companies often have too many eggs in their baskets and need to hire out for these smaller jobs. Small businesses want to get the word out about their products and services and need to market effectively.
Frequently, bloggers work from home and balance the daily tasks of life along with the significantly lengthy to do lists that running a blog creates. (Personally, I have to literally schedule my showers in my planner to make sure I block out time to stay clean!)
So, being able to hire a talented and dependable freelancer for these jobs is invaluable to a blogger trying to design the perfect website, build a resource library, and put together email marketing campaigns, among a million other things.
Not a Graphic Design Expert, But Want to Cash In?
Are you well-versed in writing content and copy of all types but not quite advanced with graphic design? You can still get in on this thriving market!
I barely know how to match my clothes, much less put a color scheme together, and I’m terrible at picking fonts that actually complement each other. Still, I do all the graphic design for my website and business thanks to my absolutely priceless Canva Pro subscription!
For only $12.95 per month, I get access to the following:
- Over 60,000 free design templates
- Over 60 million stock images, photos, videos, and graphics
- Over 100 different pre-sized design types
Even more, I can upload my fonts and logos, design custom templates, and do super cool things like resize my images in a single click! (Yes, I am excited! I am normally technologically illiterate!)
You can find more information about how much Canva Pro costs on its pricing page (such as how you can pay only $9.95 per month when you pay for a year all at once!). If you don’t want to take my word for it, you can try Canva Pro free for an impressive 30 days and see how incredible it is for yourself!
I promise you’ll eagerly subscribe once that trial period is over!
If you want to get a jumpstart on learning how to use Canva, you can get your subscription now from my affiliate link below at no extra cost to you!
(Pro-Tip for my parent readers: Canva Pro is fantastic for school projects! I’ve already used my subscription to introduce my 13-year-old son to graphic design, so he could easily create his English Comic Book project – and he absolutely loved using it!)
Go Turn Pennies into Dollars and Sense!
Freelance writing is not an easy profession. It takes a crazy strong work ethic and tons of determination and self-motivation to make it in the biz, but learning how to choose the type of content that makes money is yet another secret to freelance writing success.
Do you know what type of content you’re best at writing but have no idea which niche is right for you? Check out the first blog in this four-part series, “The Most Successful Niches for Freelance Writing.” Don’t forget to follow my blog, so you don’t miss the next blog in this series. I’ll be discussing the best places to find freelance writing gigs!
What’s your favorite kind of content to write? Is it long-form posts? Do you prefer ghostwriting? Have you found success with marketing materials or designing graphics with content? Or is your favorite content writing something completely different?
Tell us in the comments below!