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"Make a Living Writing is the only blog I read religiously. It's always on top of the news and advice writers need RIGHT NOW to earn more from their writing." —Linda Formichelli, The Renegade Writer

Content Mill Update: What Demand Studios’ Implosion Means for Writers

Businessman With Sales ChartRemember what it was like to write online content in 2006? Back then, there was a ton of opportunity for writers willing to crank out boatloads of hastily written, low-paid content for content mills.

These sites got a ton of traffic off the key words in their posts. Visitors would click the ads they put on those pages, and the sites could make a fortune.

One of the most successful pioneers of this mass-content model was Demand Studios. When its parent company, Demand Media, went public in 2011, there was a brief moment when Demand was worth more than the New York Times.

Those days are long gone. Google soon got hip to the lack of value to online readers of most content-mill writing. It started changing its algorithm to exclude such sites from its search results. (When’s the last time you got a link to eHow on page one of a Google search? Yeah.)

The company’s founder and CEO quit in October 2013, having pocketed his millions from the stock offering.

If you’ve been wondering what’s happened since, let me give you a content mill update here.

The short version: Mass SEO-focused content sites are in a death spiral. If you earn much of your money writing for mills or big revenue-share sites, you need a new game plan.

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How to Follow Up on Article Queries (Without Being a Stalker)

WaitingFor freelancers, waiting is the hardest part.

But editors receive too many unsolicited queries to respond to each one instantly. And some won’t respond at all unless a query catches their interest immediately.

Good ideas also fall by the wayside if they hit editors’ inboxes during deadline, while they’re on vacation, or if they’re out of the office at a conference or because of an unforeseen event, like an epic storm.

Sometimes it pays to follow up on article queries — as long as you do it in a way that doesn’t make you seem like a stalker.

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My 23 Best Types of Blog Posts That Grab Attention

Young shocked womanMost bloggers write about whatever’s on their minds that day. If you’ve tried that, you’ve probably noticed it isn’t very effective in growing your blog audience.

To build your blog into a serious business (or just a great writing sample for getting freelance gigs), you’ll need to change your approach.

It’s also essential to know the popular post types if you’re blogging for paying clients and want the project to be successful, so that they keep paying you to blog for them. More and more clients want to at least partly base pay on traffic, so better results will grow your writing income. And of course, more readers on your blog gives you more chance to get hired or to sell readers your products.

Below are a compendium of my most successful types of blog posts that grab attention and get you more readers, shares, and comments. This list combines the most popular post types I’ve used on this blog, and the types that I’ve used to drive a total of 2 million pageviews on my Forbes blog, posting only 3-4 times per month, over the past 2 years. I’ve also thrown in a few great formats I haven’t used yet as well (but hope to soon!).

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How I Found a Steady Stream of Writing Clients in 9 Months Flat

3d White currency symbol diceI’d freelanced off and on for years. But every time I got close to plunging into it full time, I got scared. I pulled back for the security of a paycheck.

Then, about a year and a half ago, I knew it was time to go for the life and career I’d always dreamed of.

Within 9 months, I built up a steady stream of regular writing clients — three online magazines, two regional publications, and one B2B company — including Sparkle, RENO magazine, House of Gems, and the Jewellery Editor.

I continue to contribute to these publications, anywhere from once a week to once a quarter.

Among them, I average between $1,200 and $1,600 a month, which I supplement with online teaching and workshops. I also generally have at least a couple one-shot pieces to write each month, too.

I’m able to avoid the feast-or-famine cycle that kept me from going full-time long ago. Here’s how I did it:
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So, What Exactly Does a Successful Freelance Writer DO?

Clueless freelance writerBeing a freelance writer sounds like a dream lifestyle to many people.

They think about the upside — “Yeah, working in my PJs, keeping my own hours, and not having a boss. Awesome!”

But most of the people I know who’re focused on those three things end up washing out as freelancers. They never take it seriously, don’t learn about how to run a business, and don’t take the steps needed to get their business going.

Soon, they’re broke and heading back to the day job world.

It takes a lot of work to be a successful freelance writer. And many people don’t even know what work is required.

Those of us who’ve been at this for (cough) decades tend to forget how boggling it can be, when you’ve been an employee all your life, to launch your own solo freelance biz.

Take this aspiring freelance writer, who recently wrote me:

“Basically, I don’t know anything about freelance writing. So, I guess I´d like to learn the basics. What does a freelance writer actually do?

“I know, write. But what about and who for, you know? Thanks!”–Marcia

What does a freelance writer need to do? Here’s my list of the essentials:

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How I Got My First $10,000 Freelance Writing Gig

Happy woman with laptopLike most new freelancers, one of my first questions after deciding to take the plunge into freelance writing was, “How am I going to find gigs?”

I knew I wanted to write for businesses rather than publications, but which businesses should I target? I looked at my experience and selected an industry where I had work experience and that tended to have healthy cash flow. Education — particularly English as a Second Language — was my strongest potential market.

As I began marketing to companies in this niche, I narrowed my strategy to four simple steps that brought me something I’d never imagined I’d get in my first year in business: a $10,000 freelance writing gig.

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