Where to Start – My Beginning

I spent a while researching various websites looking for a place to begin writing online.  I didn’t want to pay any membership dues, especially since I had no writing experience to place on a resume.  Many freelance bidding sites require fees in order to view or bid on projects.  For those with extensive experience and an impressive resume, the fees may be worth it.  However, you shouldn’t have to pay to work.  At least, that’s my opinion.

I finally stumbled upon Associated Content or AC for short.  Helium quickly followed.  However, if I had to choose between the two I’d pick AC in a heartbeat.  The main reason being AC offers upfront pay for approved articles.  For anyone looking to explore freelance writing, especially web writing, it would be worth your time to check out both of these sites.  (Please see the end of the article for links.)  Now, for a quick overview of both sites.

Associated Content

  • Allows writers to submit content on almost any topic, including poetry and short stories.
  • Offers upfront payments, usually between $3-$8 for non-exclusive approved articles and higher rates for exclusive.
  • The page view bonus program offers $1.50 per 1,000 page views on every article.
  • Pays through PayPal, but only for US Citizens.
  • The community forums are extremely helpful for expanding your talent and career.

Helium

  • No upfront payment for most articles, but pays for page views.
  • The Marketplace allows publishers to request titles from Helium writers.  The pay is set by the publisher, but normally ranges from $10 to $60 for a 400 word article.  However, these titles are available to all members and the publisher may or may not choose your article. 
  • Articles are all non-exclusive.
  • Helium contests allow writers to submit content to a set group of titles for a chance to win $10-$60.  The winner is based upon the ratings for each submitted article.
  • Promotions occur several times a year that allow users to receive up to $3 per article submitted during the promotional period that fit the specific requirements for that promotion.

Before submitting to either site, please read the terms of service, FAQs, help section, and any information in the members sections to fully understand the site.  This will help you make the most out of both sites.  These two sites have helped me get my writing career off the ground.  I now have a writing resume and plenty of other gigs. 

Join Associated Content  (if you don’t wish to use the referral link, use this link.)
Join Helium

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You Can’t Always Do It Alone

Becoming a writer is a big change.  It’s not quite the same as a 9 to 5 with a supervisor standing over your shoulder telling you what to do and giving you feedback.  Some writers actually do work in groups, while most work alone.  However, you should know that you can’t always do it alone. 

One thing I learned quickly was that I needed support.  Not financially, but moral support.  When I had writer’s block, a job fell through, or just a rough spot in general, I needed someone to talk to, someone to encourage me to keep going.  Otherwise, I can honestly say I would have quit within a few months without someone reminding me why I was even trying and that I could succeed.

So where can you find encouragement or just simply someone to vent to?  The obvious choices are friends and family.  However, these aren’t the only choices.  Check locally for writer’s groups.  For instance, several places around my area bring in established writers for other writers to come and meet.  This allows local writers to meet others and establish friendships with people who truly understand the business. 

There are also online writer’s groups.  Even if you’re speaking with someone you’ve never seen, just having someone to talk to can make all the difference.  Many times, I’ve been inspired by hearing how some writer I’ve never seen made it through a rough patch.  On Associated Content, there is actually a forum dedicated to helping AC members have local AC parties or hook ups.

***I feel obligated to say, even though I know you’ve probably heard this at least a zillion times, please be careful when talking to people online, or strangers in general.  Be careful about handing out personal information to anyone you don’t know.  Whether online or in person.  Also, if meeting someone you’ve talked to online, be sure to do it in a public place with friends or family with you.

Regardless of how confident you may be, you will need some type of support.  Whether it’s just casually talking to other writers or venting about a rough day, find someone to talk to.  You wouldn’t believe how much stress this prevents.

I Want to Write – Where to Begin?

Sometimes the hardest part about being a writer is simply getting started.  Odds are, you’re not going to find immediate acceptance.  As with everything, you will run into brick walls, but the object is to keep working until you find a way around or through the wall.  You will more than likely hear quite a few “nos” as you try to submit your work, no matter what you may be writing.  However, depending on where you start, you may be lucky enough to hear a yes the first time.

So what should you do when you first get started?  Jumping straight in is probably not the best move, not unless you’ve had prior experience.  Here’s a list of things to consider before beginning your writing career.

  • Consider writing online – This could include blogs or content writing sites.
  • Join a writer’s group – There are many websites that provide a community of writers of all levels with feedback from each other.  Take the time to submit a few pieces to see what more experienced writer’s think.  Take each comment with a grain of salt.  Newbies may provide decent feedback, but truly listen to those who’ve been in the game for a while.  Look at their works and see how yours compare.
  • Find a niche – This doesn’t mean that’s all you can write, but it gives you a starting point.  For instance, I wrote a few editorials and technology pieces to get started.  Choose something you’re truly interested in so that you don’t spend all your time on research.  As you perfect your craft, you can expect higher pay rates, so doing some research is worth your time.  However, when starting out, pay rates can be little to none, but it’s a valuable learning experience.
  • Subscribe to “tips” newsletters – Most newsletters are free and can provide just as much information as expensive books.  Don’t get me wrong, some books are worth it, but when you’re just starting out, you’re probably going to want to save as much as possible. 
  • Learn SEO if writing for the web – I made the mistake of knowing absolutely nothing about SEO until recently.  Is it absolutely vital?  No.  However, it will help you out.  For instance, if writing for content sites that have page view bonuses, SEO can work as your own built in promotional tool instead of spending hours on trying to post in forums and social networking sites trying to gain views.
  • Be emotionally prepared – Realize you have a lot to learn and be willing to keep trying.  If you give up at the first rejection, you’ll never make it.  It can be hard emotionally to work for hours and be told your work isn’t quite up to their standards or it’s just not what they’re looking for.  Swallow your pride and learn.
  • Set a schedule – This isn’t just for your writing time.  Schedule in time to learn, promote, talk to others, and of course, write.  Don’t expect writing to be some easy job that requires little to no work.  This is a job.  Granted, writing may be a fun hobby that you want to turn into a career, you still need to look at it as a real job.  Jobs require work in order to be compensated.  The only difference is this is a job you love and enjoy.

Think over this list before you get started and learn as much as possible.  Spend about a month truly exploring the possibilities.  This will help get you excited about your new career.  The most important thing you can do when getting started is stay positive.  With some hard work and a great attitude, you’ll be starting your new writing career in no time.