By Lori Widmer
When I say you can improve your earnings potential by leaving behind content-generating jobs, I hear responses like “But content mills are all I can get!”
I don’t buy it.
Or they say “But you’re always saying these are lousy jobs, but you’re not telling me how to find those other jobs!”
Then you haven’t been reading.
All a writer needs to do is conduct one simple search on any search engine to prove that something better is out there. Yes, you do have to ask for the work, but you had to ask for the work initially from that content farm, didn’t you?
Here’s a simple method of finding work. It takes no more time than it would to eat your lunch.
1. Open your browser. In your favorite search engine, type these words: “Writer’s Guidelines.”
See how many pages came up? That’s because it’s a complete falsehood that there isn’t any work out there for us writers. There’s a magazine, a price range, and a genre for nearly anyone – for free, right there in your search engine results. Go on. Look.
Those of you who think $5, $10, even $15 is all you can get without having to market heavily are missing the obvious. How long did that search take? All of what, five seconds? Well, ten if your connection is slow. Only now you have more than enough opportunity staring you in the face. These jobs pay anywhere from five cents a word to two bucks a word. Already you’re looking at much better pay rates, even at the five-cents-per rate. (If you’re writing 500 word at $10 for your content mill grind and you write the same amount for a magazine, you’ve just earned two and a half times that with a magazine. Plus now you have a published clip from a reputable place.)
2. Pick one. Scroll the list and see what appeals. This will take you three, maybe four minutes to find one that stands out. Open it. Like what you see? Then read the guidelines completely. Another three or four minutes of your time. Browse the online magazine. A few past issues. There went maybe eight to ten minutes.
3. Formulate your idea. I like to do it after I’ve familiarized myself with the publication so I don’t have to keep reworking the idea to match different styles and voices. And sometimes the ideas come from reading the guidelines or the past issues. You do it the way you prefer. This is the hardest part of the process – finding an idea you’d like to write about. This could take you two minutes, it could take you two hours. Depends on you. Can’t think of anything right now? Save this to your Favorites folder and go on to the next one that looks interesting to you.
4. Write the query email/letter. This will take you another five or ten minutes, depending on how familiar you are with writing queries.
5. Repeat. Do this once a day. Find that 20 minutes out of your day to scroll through a basic search and find new markets, better pay, more credible jobs. By the end of a typical month, you’ll have sent out 20 queries and found 20 new work possibilities.
It may take some time for you to craft queries that will land you the gig, but eventually the jobs will come. And you can put the content mills behind you and build a much more lucrative career that you can be proud of.
Lori Widmer has a long history of writing for publications that pay her what she’s worth. She blogs at Words on the Page.