How I Earned $1,100 in 36 Hours: Why Knowing How to Write SEO Content Pays

If you’ve hung around this site for a while, you know that I relaunched it in November with a new mission, which is to help freelance writers make money writing … whether it’s for themselves (eg, self-publishing their own line of ebooks), or for others (eg, freelance clients).

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure statement for full details.

Stress-Free Freelancing

I think having multiple streams of income is sooooo important to having a long-term, less stressful freelance career. The world is barreling towards diversity in every way – from the personal (eg, racial and sexual equality), to the professional (eg, freelancing).

Gone are the days where things are predictable, eg, these are “women’s jobs” and these are “men jobs.” And the times where you could get a job at a factory, work there for 30 or 40 years, and retire with a nice pension are quickly becoming a relic too.

FYI, don’t worry, I’m going to get to the specifics of the title of this post. I just wanted to give some background info to put it all in context; so you can see why I’m so passionate about this.

A Gig-Based Economy Is Where the Global Economy Is Headed

We live in a “gig-based” economy. And that’s why I believe so strongly in diversification of income streams – even within the same discipline. It’s the main reason I implore freelance writers to do more than one thing. And, the thing is, if you know how to write, you have the foundational skill that is required to make a go of it.

Self-Publishing: One Tailor-Made Income Stream for Freelance Writers

Fore example, wanna write a book? You don’t have to wait for a publishing contract. You can self-publish it and start earning almost immediately via outlets like Amazon.

$200 -$400 Per Month on Autopilot from Previously Published Boks

I only published 2 new fiction titles this year, yet I still earn between $200 and $500 per month from fiction novels I wrote mainly between 2013 and 2015. Once I get back to it full-time (2017), that’ll increase. 

10 Places to Distribute Your Self-Published Books

FYI, I’ve earned as much as $3,800 in one month from my fiction writing (mostly romance). The bulk of my income these days comes from my non-fiction line of books and my SEO writing ecourse. FYI, following are some outlets to distribute your self-published books.



Draft2Digital (D2D): FYI, here’s a post I wrote that details what it’s like to publish with them. By the way, if you publish with D2D, they distribute your book to the following outlets for you.

You can deselect the outlets you don’t want them to distribute to for you. For example, I upload all of my ebooks to Barnes & Noble myself, along with a few other outlets. So I deselect that outlet when I upload a manuscript to D2D.

I’d been publishing with B&N long before I was even aware of D2D, so I figure why give them a cut of something I can do myself. And this is the beauty of self-publishing: you decide the who, when, where, pricing, etc.

Ok, got off on a bit of a tangent, but hopefully you see how profitable it can be to put your writing skills to use for yourself – and that you’re not alone in forging this path. See?

6 Successful Freelance Writers Who Have Diversified Income Streams

As the following demonstrates, many successful freelance writers do more than just write for clients. They’ve developed other income streams too, eg:

Bob Bly: He’s a well-known direct-mail copywriter who commands five and six-figures for his work. AND, he also has published over 85 books.

Sharon Hurley Hall: Sharon has a background as a journalist. She’s put he skills to use as an academic writer, blogger, ghostwriter and online copywriter. And oh yeah, she has an MA in teaching in higher education. She put those skills to use to do training, teach seminars and develop webinars in content marketing, academic writing, and writing for the web, among others.

Linda Formichelli: The one of “Renegade Writer” fame. She’s gone from being a freelance writer and journalist o operating a full-scale publishing press – publishing books not only on writing, but in four different genres in all, with more coming soon, according to her website. And she also does coaching and gives classes.

Jenn Mattern: She’s the freelancer behind AllIndieWriters.com, a site devoted to helping freelance writers be successful. You’ll find a job board, a forum for freelance writers, a goo-gob of helpful content, and links to tons of helpful tools like this freelance hourly rate calculator. In addition to running the site, Jenn also has published several fiction and non-fiction books.

Gina Horkey: Gina started her freelance writing business as a side hustle while working full-time, and taking care of two toddlers. She grew it from $0 to $6,000/month in just 8 months. Then, she parlayed this success into a full-fledged online business that consists of e-courses, coaching, and affiliate marketing. She routinely earns five-figures per month, and eagerly shares how others can do the same.

Me: I’ve been self-publishing ebooks since 2002; playing around with affiliate marketing since 2008 (I’m FINALLY getting serious about this), and developing/teaching e-courses since 2009. So I”m here to tell ya, it can be done – and with great success.

Earning $1,000 in Less Than 48 Hours: The Power of Learning SEO

As the graphic above shows, I earned just under $1,100 – it came in over about a 36-hour period. I sold three of the SEO writing ecourses that I offered a special deal on, along with some other ebooks.

4 Ways Knowing SEO Has Helped Me Earn More as a Freelance Writer

The reason SEO made this possible is because back in 2007 when I had lost my job and was desperately searching online for freelance writing jobs, I kept running into ads for SEO article writers, SEO content writers, etc. At the time, I had no idea what SEO stood for.

FYI, it’s the acronym for search engine optimization in case you don’t know (People still email me asking what it is).

1. Writing Projects

So I googled it, did some research, and the rest as they say, is history. I parlayed that knowledge into a successful freelance writing career, targeting clients who were clamoring for content like this at the time – in bulk.

In 2007, it was not uncommon to get article articles of 5, 10, 15 or 20 at one time, as clients just wanted keyword-rich text that could help them achieve good Google rank. Of course. The field has matured now and it’s harder to rank, but content is still what drives online marketing.

And because it is more nuanced – eg, themed SEO content is the way to go these days – and longer copy is required, SEO content providers can (and should) charge more. I do.

2. Ebooks

I got so busy within those first couple of months as a SEO writer that I had to hire help. Again, the niche was new and literally exploding back then. I was a happy camper. For every 25, 50 or 100 emails I was sending out, I was getting two, three or four bites, and one or two actual jobs. And once I got in good with a firm, they tended to recommend me to others within their organization.

I couldn’t believe it, I wasn’t struggling to pay my bills anymore. Work was flowing in. And back then, I was charging a pittance – $25 for 500-word articles, and $15 to $20 for blog posts of 250-400 words. But again, I was getting article orders of 5, 10 and 15 at a time. I was pulling in $1,000 to $1,500 some weeks.

When you’ve lost your job, have tried unsuccessfully for months to find another one, run through savings, borrowed from friends and family, and have a mortgage and other “suburban life” expenses staring you in the face every month, work is a godsend, even at those rates. And let me tell ya, I worked my butt off – evenings, weekends, holidays.

But I look back and see that it wasn’t for naught. Not only did I pull myself out of a financial pickle, I wrote an ebook about my success because I wanted to this new hot niche with others. That led to ideas for other ebooks in this niche.

3. Ecourse

Then, people wanted more hand-holding. They started requesting a class. So I developed an e-course on SEO copywriting. This was in 2009. It’s updated every three to six months (depending on the changes Google comes out with) and to this day, I still earn from that.

4. Online Marketing Basics

But perhaps the biggest way of all learning SEO has helped me to increase my earnings is it taught me the fundamental basics of how to market online. I learned how search engines work; what to do and what not to do; how/why to stay up on this emerging technological field.

To market effectively online these days, you must know SEO – at least the basics. I’ve said this plenty of times, but if you don’t know it and you’re trying to market something online, it’s like marketing in the dark. You’ll waste time, money and fall flat on your face, even if you have a really good product or service.

SEO Is Not a Fad

I’ve been a SEO content provider since 2007. I can’t believe it’s been that long, or how the need for this skill is even more in demand than ever, thanks to the rise of content marketing.

I have a proven track record in the field, which boosts my credibility, which leads to more writing assignments and more ebook sales and more e-course participants. So yeah, knowing about search engine optimization has been a blessing for me on many levels. But if I’d never taken the time to learn it, who knows where I’d be right now. Hence, my final suggestion is to seize opportunity when you see it.

How to Tell a Fad from a “Here-to-Stay” Phenomenon

I realized pretty quickly when I first started learning about search engine optimization that it was going to be a staple in online marketing moving forward and that it was a skill worth investing in. How did I know?

I saw how people had come to rely on the internet more and more for things we used to, for example, use travel agents for (eg, book airline tickets); rely on commendations from friends and family for (eg, to find restaurants); or learn a new skill (enroll in an online course).

People were no longer actively reaching out. If they wanted to know or get something, they were “hitting the web.” And businesses go where their customers are. This is why they were pouring money into “SEO articles” so they could get found when would-be customers surfed the web.

Follow the trail of those who have the money, and look at societal shifts. This will tell you if it’s a fad or here to stay.

Ready to Try Your First “For Me” Writing Project?

In February, I’ll be releasing my first email course. It’s entitled, “How to Develop & Launch Your First Email Course.” It will be $77 upon launch, but you can get it for just $27 by signing up to receive it early (details below).

Email Course: How I Landed a $24,000 SEO Writing Contract

And don’t moan and groan. You have something you can teach via a simple email course. For example, I know one freelance SEO writer who landed a $24,000 contract. An e-course detailing how they did it might include:

  • How to Prepare to Land Large Jobs (Writing Samples, What to Put on a Website, Freelance Talent to Line Up, Etc.)
  • Skills Needed & Whether You Should Specialize
  • Proposal Used
  • Marketing Methods
  • Pricing the Job to Get It
  • How to Parlay This One Success Into Other Gigs

It’s really just a case study of how they landed the gig; exactly what they did pulled together with first-hand insight. They could easily charge $37, or$49 or $77 for a course like this.

Email Course: How to Quickly Land High-Paying SEO Writing Jobs by Cold Calling

I know another freelancer who kills it cold calling to get SEO writing jobs. Same thing. They could put together an ecourse detailing exactly what they did, along with some cold-calling scripts, who to ask to talk to, what they’ll likely say, how to respond, and voila — an emailed ecourse.

Keep it updated – and it could earn money almost passively for years. And that’s the power of putting your writing skills to work for yourself my friend. Happy writing!

P.S.: Coming Monday – Freelance Writing Jobs: 17 Outlets That Pay $500 or More (yeah, they exist).

Want this upcoming post, and more like it, in your Inbox?

P.P.S.: Learn to Earn! Start Your SEO Copywriter Training for Free.

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    1. Joe Salembier says:

      Yuwanda, Congrats on a great
      tutorial. But there’s a typo –
      look in the “Fad”section….the word “when” is misspelled.

      Also, I’m a novice. Do people
      print your ebooks or are they strictly a digital reading
      experience. I’m getting set to publish a small series of haiku poems with fantastic illustrations. Not sure what the interest level will be. Cheers

      Thanks. Joe Salembier

      • I only publish ebooks, so that’s how they’re delivered. As for how they read them, I’m not sure. I assume most use ereaders. I have no experience with that genre (poetry), but I do wish you good luck. And thanks for the heads up about the typo. Fixed it! 🙂