As a freelance writer, I stopped submitting content “for pay” to write-for-pay sites like eHow (aka Demand Media Studios), AssociatedContent.com, Helium, et al a couple of years ago. I still submit – but for no upfront payment. And, this is something I think every freelance writer should do if they choose to use these sites – once they reach a certain point in their career.
Seems counterintuitive? It’s not.
Following is why I submit free content all the time to sites deemed content farms — and how it has helped to keep my online earnings secure and stable over the last few years (and for many more).
This month, I received emails from two write-for-pay sites I regularly submit content to – eHow and HubPages. Both were alerting me to changes going on at their sites, which affected my content. Following is what happened at each site.
How Changes at eHow.com Caused One Freelancer to Lose Over $16,000 Per Year in Residual Income
eHow ended their Writers Compensation Program (FYI, today is the last day to accept/deny offers, so check your inbox for their email and respond). The post in the link explains what this was all about. A lot of freelance writers lost a lot of residual income. One freelancer wrote:
eHow closing down the compensation program and paying us out does have a serious effect on my residual earnings. Instead of earning $90 a day, my daily earnings have dropped to $45 a day. That’s a major drop.
That’s over $16,000 per year if you’re calculating ($16,425 to be exact ($45/day x 365 days/year)).
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Imagine if you’d built your whole (or a good portion of) your freelance writing income around writing for eHow; which, apparently, a lot of freelance writers did if you read the comments section of this last linked-to post.
I lost residual income too, but just a small monthly payout because I only had 20 articles there.
How Changes at HubPages.com Caused Many Freelance Writers to Lose Money and Website Rankings
HubPages has made changes too. I received the following notice from them in early May. The email stated, in part:
Dear Yuwanda Black,
Thank you for being a part of the HubPages writing community. We are trying to improve your writing and earning experience on the site, and would like to ask you to make a few changes. Please address the following issues that we have identified with your Hubs at your earliest convenience (in order to help you prioritize, we have listed Hubs with the most traffic first).
Too Many Promotional Links
The following published Hub has too many promotional links. You are allowed up to 2 links per domain, per hub. Hubs with too many promotional links may be unbpublished [sic] at any time.
Links To Prohibited Affiliate or Commerce Sites
The following published Hubs include links to affiliate or commerce sites which are prohibited under the updated HubPages rules. The most common cause of this is the use of the ClickBank affiliate program. Please review these Hubs and remove any violating links; uncorrected Hubs will begin to be unpublished starting in about 2 weeks.
Why I’m Removing Most of My Content from HubPages
Over 70 of the almost 170 hubs I had on HubPages were affected in some way. Instead of “fixing” them to comply with HubPages’ new rules, I started migrating them over to some of my other sites.
Why not just fix them and leave them there?
Because the reason I wrote all of these hubs was to drive traffic to my sites and/or to promote affiliate products – many of which come from Clickbank. So not being able to have links in the hubs does me no good. And, I don’t write to give away free content (at least not unique content).
Many of these hubs are unique content that I wrote specifically for HubPages. Hence, when I remove them from the site, it is once again unique content that I can post to my niche websites (I have several).
There are freelance writers on HubPages who have a few THOUSAND hubs with affiliate links. Can you imagine if you never developed your own website and submitted content just to HubPages — counting on the income from your affiliate links?
This is why many freelancers have seen their income drop to practically nothing overnight.
Why Many Write-for-Pay Sites are Making Changes – And Why It’s a Good Thing for Freelance Writers
In short, it’s Google. Specifically the Google Panda Update.
When the search engine giant made this algorithm change, it sunk the rankings of some sites like stones in water. So, now they’re scrambling to change their guidelines to get back in favor with the Big “G” (ie, see the post SEO Copywriting Tips: 23 Questions Google Says SEO Copywriters Should Keep in Mind When Creating Content for more clarification on what Google is looking for in content nowadays).
While it’s a pain in the butt if you’ve built your freelance writing income model around these sites, it’s a good thing overall for content providers. Following is why.
A lot of the crap content and crap sites will go away. Not all, but a lot. It’s getting harder to rank well (or at all) with crap content, so many of the schemers, scammers and content thieves will disappear. This means those of us who are in this “make money online” thing by creating insightful, unique websites with good content will have an easier time ranking well (not easy, easier) – and making money.
Why Now’s Never Been a Better Time to Give Content Away
The reason I submit content for free to many sites is just for backlinks to my own sites. I call these websites my “backlink builders.” Sites like eHow, et al get great search engine juice – so if one of my articles appear on them, in many cases, it has a better chance of getting found than if it was just on my site.
So I still post to sites like these, but not unique content. I will submit the same article to article directories, and to sites like AssociatedContent.com (my favorite backlink builder site). I very rarely have in the past two years – and will never submit unique content to any site again — unless . . .
Freelance Writers: How to Get Around the Duplicate Content Penalty When You Submit Content to Write-for-Pay Sites
If sites like AssociatedContent.com stop accepting previously published content (and I see this coming down the pike in a few years), then I already have a contingency plan in place.
I will rewrite unique content that appears on my own sites. For example, most of the original content I post to my own sites tends to be long – anywhere from 800-2,500 words or more.
I can easily craft a 400 or 500-word unique article from these longer posts to publish on my backlink builder sites. I do this from time to time already as a matter of fact.
Freelance Writers: How to Use Sites Like eHow to Make Money from Your Own Website(s)
The point I want to make is, if you’re a freelance writer and want to make your living online, stop giving your unique content away for a few pennies. Use sites like eHow, et al to advance YOUR sites. This means taking the long-range view. As in:
Start developing your own products and services to sell from your site: Write ebooks and/or create seminars and workshops. I started doing this a couple of years ago. To date, I’ve written almost 25 ebooks and have developed and teach several e-workshops and e-seminars/classes.
And, I promote all of this via article marketing, ie, submitting free content to sites like AssociatedContent.com, EzineArticles, etc. to get backlinks to my own sites.
Build an authority site: Do this by creating in-depth content that can only be found on your site. Then, monetize it with Google AdSense, or private ads, or by promoting affiliate products, etc.
This is the way to make REAL money online because you never have to worry that if a site changes its policies, your income will be affected.
One Very Important Thing Every Freelance Writer Should Do Immediately to Start Making Money Online
Collect site visitor information. This means starting a subscriber list. The reason is, your subscribers are your bread and butter.
Think about it, if someone likes your site/content enough to part with their contact information (eg, an email address), then they’re “investing” in you, which makes them more likely to buy from you. And, once someone purchases from you once, they are much more likely to do so again.
How to Make Money Online as a Freelance Writer Nowadays: Diversify and Start Your Own Blog/Website
And these, my fellow freelance writing friend, are the lessons I take away from the recent happenings at eHow and HubPages. They’re ones I think every freelance writer should heed.
This brings to mind the great Billie Holiday song, “God bless the child (that has his own).” Never have truer words been spoken as it relates to freelancing writers and making money online these days.
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P.P.S.: Want to start a successful career where you have the mobility to live and work where you please? Visit our freelance writing bookstore for a ton of opportunities (freelance writing and internet marketing) to get you started.
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