Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Top Ten Questions for Online Magazine

Top Ten questions to ask before committing yourself to writing articles for online magazines. How can the writer be certain that the platform is of good quality and is likely to yield sufficient income? From the viewpoint of a Featured Writer of a top online magazine, this is what I would ask.

Make Money Writing Articles

It seems a dream come true. You can make money freelance writing and there are an increasing number of online magazines to write for, such as Squidoo, Suite 101, Hubpages and Associated Content, each one working in a slightly different way. Some are better than others. But how can you make the right choice? Well, from my experience as a freelance writer, I have devised the top ten crucial questions the prospecting freelance writer should ask before committing to any online writing platform.

Opportunities for Home at Home Writers

Are there opportunities for the writer to advance? Some online magazines offer incentives to make more money if you write quality articles of a certain number. Squidoo, for instance, allow your articles to earn an increased portion of the ad revenue share according to how well your articles perform (tier 1, 2 or 3). At Suite 101, you can advance to Featured Writer in a topic of your expertise (if the post is available).

Magazines with Good Ranking

Is the online magazine well-ranked on Google? A good ranking will increase the chances of your articles being seen and read by those Googling for information your article offers. A few adjustments to how Google ranked websites (the Panda algorithm for one) caused a serious de-ranking of some online magazines, particularly Suite 101. Google’s intention was to penalise ‘content farming’ and/or poor content. Sadly, copying and pasting and regurgitating of information brought down the good writers as well as the bad within such online magazines by association. I myself have suffered a serious reduction in earnings because of this algorithm. Having said that, I have learned an awful lot about freelance writing from the writers’ forum. This brings me to the next question.

Online Tutorials for Writers

How good are the writers’ resources of the magazine? Is it easy to navigate, to read reports? Are the tutorials clear and is there good writer support from editors or administrators? Importantly, is the forum helpful and friendly? A well-organised magazine will also look good on the browser, and this is also an important matter. An online magazine that looks professional will help your reputation as a writer. This brings me to the reputation of the magazine.

Reputable Magazines to Write For

An online magazine with a poor reputation is to be avoided. This might include poor writing content, such as typos and/or grammatical errors within the articles. There might be few editors to police this problem. Consistently sourcing Wikipedia or an inferior website for factual information; not including a proper bibliography to add credence to the information offered might suggest laziness. Content farming, copying and pasting blocks of someone else’s writing will only get tagged by Google. A bad reputation will soon spread over the Net and once this happens, it is difficult to clean it up afterwards. Prevention is better than cure.

Copyright to your Articles

Another question to ask is whether you retain copyright to your freelance writing. This might be a sticky point if the writer wishes to use a particular article within a book. Having said this, you can always completely reword the article so that copyright infringement no longer becomes an issue. Read the small print before opting into an agreement with the online magazine.

Freelance Writing Powers

How much powers do you have as a writer? Can you edit your own work? How long do your articles have to be? Some magazines request around 400 words or more; others might only be 200. Shorter articles might increase your chances of being found due to sheer numbers of articles you area able to write. A longer article is likely to have more long-term value, as if it is well-written. Google likes long articles. Think about the time you are likely to spend on each article and the likely returns. A longer article will obviously take more effort than a short one.

Can you use a little slang to make a point? A UK writer writing for a magazine across the pond might experience issues with certain colloquialisms. One editor did not know what an ‘Atlantic low’ was, a term often used in the UK to describe a cyclone, and I had to change the wording.

Write about What You Love

Does the magazine permit you to write only about the things you love, or is there a requirement to fulfill criteria? Beware of writing for money if this causes your writing to suffer. If you write only about what you love, you are more likely to succeed as a freelance writer. Earning money from articles is a numbers game – the more you write, the more you will earn.

Google Juice to your Blog

Does the online magazine allow you to link back to your own blog or website? Creating backlinks to articles that relate to one another can increase the ranking of your own blog and make it easier to stumble upon. Some online magazines request in return that you put their widget on your own blog.

Getting Paid to Write Freelance

Most online magazines pay you by dishing out a share of residual income earned from advertising or affiliate links. These most frequently come from Google Adsense or referral fees from an affiliation. How are you paid? Some pay up front, others pay you as a passive source of income. An upfront fee often means a one-off payment, which might be OK if the writer needs the money fast. However, the passive option in the long run is more lucrative as your articles will continue to earn you income. Look out also for minimum payout, as if it is sizeable, you might be waiting a few months before you earn enough to get payment.

How the Writer is Paid

Make sure monies earned are paid in a convenient way for you, which might be by Paypal or directly into your bank account. Cheques can be a pain, particularly if you are a non-resident of the country you are earning the money from. Do you get paid by vouchers? Are the vouchers likely to be used?

The Best Online Magazine for Freelance Writing

Before taking the plunge into writing for a magazine, conduct a little research. As writing requires a lot of commitment and time, you want to make sure the magazine in worth it. Check out the reputation of the magazine, its ranking on Google, has there been any negative reports about it? (to be differentiated from sour grapes). Does it look good, does it allow copyright retention, does it have incentives for good writing, and are there good resources and helpful forums?

Tips for Writing at Home

The top ten emagazines you can write for
How to make money writing articles
Using keywords in your articles for beginners
Tips for novel writers on avoiding procrastination
Books on writing from home

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