I received an email from a reader saying "In a previous post you mentioned being able to churn out 5 or 6 short articles in an hour. How? I have the hardest time because I have to research the articles. I do find myself spending about an hour or two for a $5.00 article. It doesn't seem worth it."
Freelance writing really can be a very lucrative career. It's possible to earn a great income from the comfort of your own home. Unfortunately it's also possible to reduce your income drastically by accepting the wrong types of assignments or by not organizing your day or your writing assignments for maximum efficiency.
Let's look at some ways to increase your income and reduce the amount of time you spend researching and writing.
Researching for Assignments from Content Mills
Content mills are those sites that offer writers with a steady stream of article work. They don't pay very highly - generally between $5-$15 per article - but they are a nice inclusion for any online freelancer needing a bit of consistency with cash flow.
When you accept writing assignments from content mills like Text-Broker or Demand Studios or even from Need-An-Article then you're not always going to be thrilled about the subject matter. You may need to search around on Google or through Wikipedia to find enough information to write a logical article.
If you find yourself spending an hour or 2 researching to find enough information to write a $5 article, then you need to ask whether you should have accepted that assignment in the first place.
Understanding What Content Mills Want
The biggest difference between an assignment from a content mill and an assignment from a private freelance client is the level of quality they expect. The people who order articles written through content mills are mostly seeking keyword-focused articles that center around the general topic they requested. These articles are only to fill up websites and attract search engines. This means they're not after in-depth articles. They want information that covers a topic.
To understand a little more on how I write according to the differences between content mill work and my own work for private clients, check out this post from last year:
Cutting Down On Research
One option I use to reduce my research time in these situations is to verify how many articles on the same or similar topics are available. If I can see more than 5 articles available then I'll happily spend 10 or 15 minutes researching for enough topic points to talk about. Obviously I'm going to need 5 topic points for 5 intended articles.
(tip: if you can't limit your research quickly, then set an alarm and stop when it rings)
Remember - if this research is for an assignment with a content mill only paying a few dollars then you can't afford to be spending hours looking up the information you need. Find a few pointers to write about and get writing.
Writing 5 or 6 Articles an Hour
If you've accepted an assignment for 5 articles, then research the basics before you begin writing. Write the article topics one beneath the next. Then make notes about your research as you work beneath each title.
For my own style, I tend to write all 5 at once, making notes I want to remember about each subject title. When your research is done, go back through your notes and add sentences to expand on your meaning and say what you want to say.
By the time you've expanded on your notes and clarified your meanings, you should easily have several hundred words. You're almost there.
Re-Use Your Own Research
After you've written the article you needed to write, ALWAYS save your articles to a separate folder. Because content mills buy all the rights to those articles, you can't sell them again anyway - but you can re-use the research within those articles whenever you want. Make sure you label the article according to the topic it covers so you can find specific topics easily.
Hint: NEVER re-use the same words you've already used. Someone else has already paid you for the use of those words. You can re-write, re-slant, re-hash and re-edit your original work all you like - just be sure you never use the same words twice or your favorite content mill will suddenly decide they have no more work to offer you.
Don't Take It Too Seriously
While it is still important to write legible, logical articles for content mill assignments, they're not masterpieces and they're not being entered into the category for a literary award. These articles are web content.
Of course you should still be careful to keep your spelling and grammar correct. Your facts should also be correct and your writing should convey the information you want the reader to know.
Then you need to learn to save the file to your separate folder, close the word processing program you're working on and begin the next assignment. Immediately.
Don't be tempted to go back through every word painstakingly editing each sentence until it gleams. Save this kind of attitude for the high paying markets who are paying for your time and effort.
Content mills provide much-needed cash flow for freelancers needing a bit of extra cash in between waiting for the bigger markets to send out their checks. Keep this in mind next time you're tempted to spend any longer than 15 or 20 minutes writing an article for $5 or $10
I hope this helps