How To Make Money on the Internet, Part 2: How to Write For an Internet Audience
How often do highschool and university students complain that school is not preparing them for real life? How many grains of sand are on a beach? Sometimes, the reason “everybody” says something, is because it’s true.
I’m not talking about doctors — I’m sure med school prepared them for their lives. And advanced physicists probably do use all those equations you remembered for exactly one hour — the length of time it took to finish the test — back in high school.
I’m talking about us writers.
I majored in English, and Philosophy, and minored in Poli-Sci. I took a few Religion classes along the way. I was taught — well, not really, my highschool teachers taught me how to write essays — ok, I learned how to tailor essays for different purposes and audiences. And I’ve always had a talent for writing (according to people other than my mom, I swear.)
So how hard could it be to make a few bucks writing online?
If you belong to any writing websites, whether they pay upfront, based on views or adclicks, or a combination of the above, I’m sure you’ve noticed something:
there are a lot of truly bad writers making quite a bit of money writing online.
You talk to people in the forums who make over $1000/month on various sites, or even make a living wage doing it, and you cruise over to their articles to find out what they’re doing right. And you see things that would make every English teacher you’ve ever had spin in their graves (assuming they’re dead, of course. Mine aren’t, so it would probably just make them vomit.) Terrible spelling, grammar, and punctuation, subject/verb disagreements, and a host of people writing for English websites who clearly do not have a strong grasp of English. What is going on here?
I learned, rather quickly, that people on the Internet are not looking for what my professors were looking for. Pretty much exactly the opposite, in fact. And that makes sense, if you think about it. The average internet user didn’t spend a bunch of time getting a Ph.D in English — he or she just wants some information, or to be entertained. The average Internet user doesn’t give a (insert curse word) about my million-dollar vocabulary — in fact, since it slows down the read, it’s just annoying!
If you want to make money writing on the internet, here’s what you need:
Short, punchy paragraphs.
Headings and lists wherever possible.
Short, punchy sentences.
Lots of information, few adjectives.
Although grammar and spelling don’t seem to matter as much, they still count somewhat. Of course, the ability to organize your thought/arguments logically still matters — that’s one thing your professor got right.
Also, making money writing online comes down to SEO — Search Engine Optimization. How many gazillion websites are out there? You might think yours is special, but it’s probably not, and even if it is — what does that matter if the only person who reads it is your mom and best friend? Learn what search engines are looking for (and then do me a favour and tell me, because I’m still learning that part myself) and stuff your writing with it. Pimp yourself out on every social forum and site you can tolerate.
It took me awhile to realize what people on sites like Helium were looking for (leave a comment if you’d like an invite to write for them, btw, I make a tidy little sum each month there) but once I started to clue in, surprise! Money started coming my way.
Good luck, and remember, us writers have to stick together!
Less “Look, I’m Shakespeare!” More “Here’s the info you came for.”