#065: Carol Tice on 5 Profitable Article-Writing Opportunities

Article writing is one of the most fun and lucrative ways to make a living as a freelance writer.

The variety of work is significant. For instance, you can write blog posts for a client. Or you can focus on the growing trend of brand journalism. Or maybe specialize in writing placed articles.

In this episode, veteran freelance writer and founder of makealivingwriting.com, Carol Tice, details five ways to earn a great income writing articles for clients.

She describes each opportunity in detail. She explains who’s hiring writers in each category. And she discusses the earning potential for these projects.

The notes that follow are a very basic, unedited summary of the show. There’s a lot more detail in the audio version. You can listen to the show using the audio player below. Or you can subscribe in iTunes or on Stitcher to get this show delivered straight to the Podcasts app on your smart phone, tablet or iPod.

What are we talking about when we talk about article writing?

Article writing and blog posts used to be different. Articles were tightly focused, well-researched pieces that included quotes and multiple points of view. Blog posts were opinion pieces with little research or corroboration.

Today, the article writing form is taking over blogging and content marketing.

What’s going on with blogging?

Blog posts are getting longer and longer. Top blog sites want word counts of 1500-2000 for guest posts. Companies are looking for writers who can pitch article ideas to big blog sites on their behalf and then ghostwrite the article for them.

This niche is half writing and half public relations. It can take a lot of pitches to get one yes. If you go into this niche, make sure you get paid for your PR time.

Can you make a living doing the writing component only?

Yes. Some companies hire a PR professional to do the pitching and then you do the writing.

Beware of writing longer blog posts for cheap. You should charge $100 minimum for a short blog post. If you’re writing 1000-2000 words, then charge minimum $300.

Position your work as article writing, not blogging. Blog writing has a bad rap.

Tell us about brand journalism

The best paying article-writing niche is brand journalism. Companies set up portals for discussion on their websites and put up high quality content. They need people to write these articles. They provide writers with the opportunity to write big feature articles.

To the company, it’s marketing material. To the reader, it’s a consumer magazine. The content doesn’t feel sales-y.

A great example of this is American Express’ OPEN Forum.

For more on this trend, check out Epic Content Marketing by Joe Pulizzi.

What’s happening with sponsored posts in blogging?

Sponsored posts are exploding. On popular blogs you’ll see posts with “sponsored by so-and-so.” The sponsor of the post gets to place an ad next to the article.

Many big companies with traditional marketing departments don’t know anything about blogging or newsletter articles. They rely on freelancers to write these articles.

Tell us about writing placed articles

Placed articles are similar to sponsored posts but in traditional media, such as print magazines. Companies raise their profile by having their CEOs write articles for magazines—and these articles are ghostwritten.

A company’s PR firm pitches the idea for the article to different magazines. When they find a home for the article, they call a freelancer to write it. This type of gig has been around a long time but demand is exploding.

A close relative to this is type of gig is the advertorial. Here, the company simply pays for the space in the magazine to run the article. (And the article is marked as advertising.)

What should people expect in terms of earning potential?

Placed articles: $1200 for a typical feature article.

As a general rule, calculate $1 a word. For a 500-word advertorial, charge $500 as a starting point.

Sponsored blog posts are at the lower end of the scale. Carol charges $300 per minimum for these.

Your pitching fee should be in addition to these writing fees.

How should freelance writers position themselves for these kinds of opportunities?

For sponsored posts, placed articles and that type of thing, show prospects that you “get” blogging.

The #1 way to get blogging clients is to write the heck out of your own blog.

For article writing, look for any opportunity to write an article, even for free.

If you have any journalism experience, use it. Companies love people with magazine credentials.

What about opportunities with existing clients?

It’s an easy upsell if you already have clients. Ask if they’ve thought about doing a placed, thought leadership article. Have they thought about putting authority articles on their website? Have they considered doing sponsored posts on websites where their clients hang out?

A word of warning: Companies will approach you with unethical requests. You can’t play both sides in a single assignment. You can’t get paid by a client for writing an article and then paid by a magazine for running it.

Tell us about your course on article writing

You can learn more here (that’s Ed’s affiliate link).

Some of the class details:

  • Instructors Carol Tice and Linda Formichelli
  • 10-week hands-on course
  • Takes you step by step through every element of article writing
  • Student written work is reviewed by working editors