Working as an Inbound Marketer SAHM
Since Kniya was first born, I knew I wanted to be a SAHM (stay at home mom). I needed something that didn’t take a lot of time where I could earn a little extra to add to my husband’s teaching salary. I have a B.A. in advertising and design from a university with a great art program.
I worked as a marketing professional for a couple of non profits after college before shifting to freelance illustration and graphic design. But, once my first baby came, I needed something flexible that required less self-marketing and demanding office hours.
Freelance offers the flexibility to work whenever you want for the most part, but it is also inconsistent. Its hard to know how much work you will have in a given week, what new clients you can secure with pitches and how soon a client will pay you after a job.
What is a Content Mill?
My husband found inbound writing gig reviews mentioned online and I was super skeptical. However, there are some really solid companies that pay people like me to write for their clients. They do the work of finding interested companies and connecting them with writers, taking somewhere around a 30% commission. That sounds like a lot, but it is worth it if they actually do the work of bringing in clients, ensuring timely payments and handling disputes.
Sometimes they are referred to as content mills, because they churn out work. It’s easy to get burned out if you pick the wrong one for your writing style.
Signing up to Work as a Freelance Writer
I spent the time to sign up for a few different writing companies, and it is a process for every one. Most required:
- In-depth writer profiles (this acts as your resume)
- A writing test (making sure you are familiar with basic grammar and writing)
- Samples of your work (this goes in your profile so clients can see what you are capable of)
- A completed 1099
- A connected PayPal account (some will send paper checks or do a direct deposit, but PayPal is the most common)
Most companies start you out as a mid-level writer and expect you to prove yourself before they let you move up. This means low pay, so be prepared to work for a while without much of a hourly wage at all. You shouldn’t have to pay anything to join or get an assessment.
Within a few months I had earned higher positions in the better paying companies. The one I’ve really spent most of my time on is WriterAccess, since it was the best paying for me and most writer-considerate. Some content mills are really hands-off and won’t do anything if a client has unreasonable expectations. There are writers that churn out low-paying content and still make good money. I am fairly fast, but not that fast.
Making Money as a Content Writer
The secret is timing yourself after the first few months and trying to get the work that you get the best hourly rates with. Most of the time, having an area of expertise is a huge benefit because it makes you faster and able to offer more insight on the subject. But even if I am writing on a topic I know nothing about (veterinarian office policies, manufacturer press releases or college course requirements for a nursing program), I can usually do the research needed to write accurately.
It took me about three months to start earning a consistently decent amount. Within several months, I was able to make about $900 every other week just spending part time on writing articles between about three sites.
Over time I really worked on my hourly rate, finding the right niche and assignment types that I could produce quickly and at a very high level. I progressed to the highest paying level on most of the sites I wrote for, but WriterAccess pays some of the highest rates out there for a content mill. When I am working full speed, I could average about $60 a hour, which made it incredibly lucrative for doing during naps and after baby’s bedtime.
I’ve written on everything from eLearning software for compliance training in warehouses to white papers on budgeting. Sometimes I help companies plan their content or brainstorm topics that would appeal to their target audience and support their brand. Sometimes the client comes with an outline or content that is already written and simply needs editing.
How to Become a Freelance Content Writer
Companies pay writers to produce content that is valuable to their target market, increasing organic traffic to their websites and proving industry authority.
The work has stayed pretty interesting and relatively consistent. If you are interested in working as a content writer, here are seven tips for getting started:
- Sign up for a few sites to find the ones that work best for you (read reviews since not all content mills are created equal!).
- Be prepared to invest time upfront (you won’t be making good money until you prove value).
- Look for outside education (I’ve taken free ALISON courses and gotten Hubspot Inbound Certified in order to really get into the marketing niche I wanted to fill).
- Be professional at all times – you won’t get far if you are impatient, rude or unprofessional in any way with clients. Even when you are frustrated (and there are some very ridiculous clients) it’s never worth getting snippy or angry.
- Learn yourself, your niche and your style to earn the best money possible for your tendencies and strengths.
- Take deadlines seriously (most sites will severely penalize you for late work and give the assignment to another writer).
- Brush up on your grammar and spelling before any tests (it will hamper your earnings if you don’t do well).