As a freelance writer, your goal is to get people to pay you for the content you submit. Usually, the way that works is a client has a project, you come to an agreement on price, you do the work, and you get paid. Easy.
However, some websites rely on a different model. They pay writers a flat rate (usually around $100) to submit articles they may or may not use. For a lot of new freelance writers, that may seem enticing, but it doesn’t always work out in your favor.
In this article, I’ll introduce you to a few websites that pay writers flat fees per submission. We’ll discuss what kind of work they expect you to do and whether it’s worth it for you. Let’s get to it!
What Are Pay-Per-Submission Articles
You’ve probably run across several pay-per-submission articles without knowing it. They tend to be pop-culture heavy sites that rely on listicles to bring in most of their traffic. Some of my favorite examples include Greatist, Listverse, and Cracked:
For a lot of people, those are their go-to sites when they want to kill some time. One thing they have in common is they all feature work from a broad range of writers.
That’s because all three websites I mentioned pay writers for articles they submit. Some of them, such as Cracked, have a very thorough editorial process they require every post to go through.
Those are just three examples off the top of my head, but the web is filled with websites that use similar models, such as Tuts+ Code, The Travel Writer’s Life, Photoshop Tutorials, and many more.
One of the first things I did when I decided to try my hand at freelance writing was to pitch as many of those sites as I could. I saw it as a reliable way to make an income, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Why Pay-Per Submission Articles Aren’t Worth It for Freelance Writers
I celebrate any website that pays writers for their work, but I’m not a big fan of the pay-per-submission model because of three reasons:
- You’re expected to submit full articles. Most of these sites will ask you to submit full articles that adhere to their standards.
- They reserve the right to turn down your work. It makes sense these websites wouldn’t want to accept all the submissions that come their way. However, since you’re expected to submit full articles, that means you can end up wasting a lot of time for no money.
- The rates tend to be low. Most of these websites tend to pay writers anywhere between $100-200 for their work. That might sound like a reasonable rate, but more often than not it doesn’t justify the amount of work you do.
The websites I got the chance to write for (I won’t be naming any names) usually had my work go through a lengthy editorial process. From the moment I set out to write, I might spend hours or days researching topics, sourcing images, and getting a full article ready.
Then came submission time. You send in your work and cross your fingers that an editor will say yes. If that happens, you often have to wait weeks or months before your work gets published.
Most of these websites won’t pay until your work is live, so during that entire process, weeks or months can go by without you seeing a single dollar.
Overall, the only upside to this type of website is it can enable you to get an additional byline on your portfolio and get paid while you’re at it. As a tech writer, for example, being able to say I wrote for Tuts+ Code or Smashing Magazine could open up a lot of doors.
Where You Should Be Looking for Freelance Writing Work
Pay-per-submission websites can be useful for a little bit of extra income or to pad your portfolio. However, you will never build a sustainable income as a freelance writer if you focus only on this type of site.
What you should be doing is looking through freelance writing job boards every day and sending pitches to any openings you’re qualified for.
When I was starting out, some of the writing credits I got from pay-per-submission articles helped me land a few writing gigs. The key is that you should focus only on websites that fit in with whichever niche you want to write for.
For most freelance writers, finding those first few jobs is the most difficult part. You may not have anything to show in your portfolio, so you’re asking clients to place their trust in someone with no experience.
My recommendation is – write some original pieces you can show off in your portfolio. Four or five articles can often be enough to show prospective clients you know what you’re doing. Writing those is a far better use of your time than pitching random websites for one-time opportunities.
As a rule of thumb, pay-per-submission websites aren’t worth your time. They can be a nice way to earn an extra $100 every now and then, but they can never replace real freelance projects.
In most cases, those types of websites will ask you to submit finished drafts for approval. You don’t have any guarantee they’ll take them; and if they don’t, you don’t get paid for work you already did. That’s time you could’ve spent finding more reliable work opportunities.
Do you have any questions about how to find freelance writing jobs? Let’s talk about them in the comments section below!
Image credit: Pixabay.