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So Many Writing Sites – How Do I Choose?

The Internet is fraught with content sites looking for freelance writers. Some of them pay on a per page view basis and others pay on a revenue share basis. There are still others that use a combination of both. No matter what the payment plan is, there are a few things I check out before applying to become a writer.

First Phase of Online Writing Site Testing

The first things I look at are their numbers. When I say numbers, I’m talking about the Alexa rating and Google page rank. That being said, I need to add a disclaimer. Alexa is not an accurate depiction of the site’s popularity, and as far as I’m concerned neither is the Google page rank. Google gives and it takes away.  I know first hand how that occurs so I don’t use it as a true reflection of a site’s popularity.

If I find that both the Google page rank and Alexa rating is pretty bad, I go to the Who Is database to find out how long the site has been in existence. If it’s a brand-new site, I usually wait until it’s had a chance to grow a little. Back when I first started writing, I didn’t care if the site was new or not, but as I gained experience, I realized that I preferred to write for more established sites.

Another thing I do before I sign up for an online writing site is I perform a quick search on the Internet to see if there are any current writers sharing their viewpoint. I look through forums, blogs and other online content. Again, a caveat; I understand that with any site there will be happy and unhappy writers. I read what’s being said calibrate their opinions and continue on. I tend to like doing my own experiments to get first-hand knowledge of a site before I judge.

Second Phase of TestingArticle Rights

If the site passes my preliminary test then I look at the terms and conditions. After all, why bother reading the fine print if the site doesn’t pass the initial test.

I look for things such as ownership rights to the article, whether not they accept reprints and if I can use the same content for off line publication. For residual articles, I like keeping ownership and full rights. As far as reprinting goes, I’m not a big fan of posting the same thing on several sites. I’ve done it in the past, but that was before I knew much about the internet.

I prefer to reword an article and place it elsewhere than copy and paste it verbatim. That being said, I did and will continue to copy and paste my ‘swept’ eHow articles .

As far as sites that allow previously printed articles, I feel it’s a refection of their standards and wonder if the site will reach the favorable Google heights it should. I always use Suite 101 as an example. They require original articles. That policy, I believe, is one of the factors that helped them to win such favor with Google. While it may be easier in the short run to copy and paste a previously written article to a site, it may not be the most financially lucrative option in the long run. I’m in this online writing stuff for the long run.

Third Phase of Testing

If the site passes phase one and two then comes phase three. I look at how they pay. Some pay via PayPal while others share revenue through Earning MoneyGoogle AdSense and the writer gets paid directly from Google.

I’ve got to say, It took me quite some time to get on board with inserting my Google AdSense number on content sites. I protected my Google publisher code like I protect my social security number. I was slow to get on board with this type of revenue share, but I’ve since evolved and do participate on a few sites that pay via Google. I make sure, however, that the sites are reputable.

The Fourth and Final Gut Phase

After going through phases one, two and three I enter the gut phase. In the gut phase I browse around the site again. This time I’m looking at the site as a reader. I look to see what type articles are being posted to the site. I check grammar, punctuation and topics written about (we all make mistakes but too many in one article is a bit tough to stomach). I allow my gut to reign supreme. If my gut says no at this point, then I’m on to the next. I’ve learned never to ignore the gut (except when it wants to eat an entire Boston Crème Pie).

Anxious Newbie Mistakes

New freelance writers who are just cutting their teeth are sometimes so anxious to place their work on a site that they don’t take the time to see whether or not this site is worth their writing. That’s not a horrible mistake, but the more a person learns about this online writing world of search engine optimization and the ability to make money, writers soon find it is a waste of time to place their well-written content on a site that is not going to reward them adequately. This is especially painful if they don’t retain the rights to their work and cannot place the piece elsewhere.Writer

I often see new sites and appreciate their design, ease of navigation and their intention, but at this point in my career, I choose not to write for sites with good intentions. I tend to go for sites with more of a proven track record.

Signing up for sites that are just getting off the ground means I will have to work harder in order to gain the amount of traffic necessary to earn a decent residual income. At this point in the game, I’d rather not do that. I’d rather work smarter by placing my articles on an established site or three (or four or five or…) and let the site’s reputation do the hard work in generating traffic to my articles. Any social networking or backlinking I do will only be the icing on the cake.

Compare the Established against the Established

There are also established sites that have been around for quite some time but when I compare their pay schedule to other sites, even though they have a proven track record, it’s just not financially worth it to build a base of articles there. I want to work smarter, not harder.

This is just one person’s opinion. I have only been at this for about 2 1/2 years and I know I have a lot more to learn, but if I can save you the time of making the mistakes I made, it’s worth it.

Oh…One More Thing

I also checked to see whether or not the site accepts international writers. Although living in the US it seems I have more writing opportunities available to me than my overseas brothers and sisters do, I still feel their pain.  So, when I come across a viable opportunity that accepts international writers, I like to share.

(EGADS! I was a blabber mouth today. Sorry for the long post.)

{ 17 comments… add one }
  • Deanna October 15, 2009, 9:58 am

    Hi Felicia,

    Great post as always. I know what you mean about placing the same article on several sites. I used to struggle with that. Now, I do place an article on more than one site, generally only one or two other sites, to get more milage out of it. Usually, I let it sit on the first site for awhile and then place it on another later on. I’ve found that an article that gets very few clicks on one site can be the most popular one on another. Or, if it has run its course on one site, it is a fresh new article on another. I have one article on Triond’s HealthMad that has had over 11,000 clicks but hasn’t done anything on another site. You just never know.

    I know of one writer who places her articles on practically every single sight as well as sells those articles for Use Rights only on Constant-Content. Surprisingly, the CC ones sell well, even though the articles are everywhere. I wouldn’t recommend for everyone to do this, but is seems to work for her. As for me, I’m still navigating the waters looking for the right combination of sites and earnings. It’s a big learning process!
    .-= Deanna´s last blog ..LoveToKnow.com Update =-.

  • Grandma October 15, 2009, 12:16 pm

    Enjoyed the long blab – oops – blog, Felicia.

    When something is placed onto the Internet it seems like it would be next to impossible to stop anyone else from copying it, selling it, or using it all they want. It is something that bothers me. You spend time and talent creating something and then some other “writer” or other person comes along and changes a word or two and then calls/sells it as their own creation.

    This may be due to the acceptance of cheating and lack of ethics widely seen these days. It still bothers honest people.

    If you sell something for one time use or other rights, what is to keep anyone from using it more times than they are “licensed” for? If you sell an article for any type of rights it is apt to appear on other websites when someone else rips it off. There would be no control over that, I think. It is disappointing to think about these possibilities.

    Maybe the old days are gone forever?

    • Felicia October 15, 2009, 2:41 pm

      Grandma, you’re right. That’s the one downside of writing on the internet, content theft.

      It’s a shame that we have to worry about such stuff.

  • Cyn October 15, 2009, 1:31 pm

    Hey, Felicia, we’re a lot alike. 🙂 I follow much the same checklist when I start writing for any site. I’ve learned to take member complaints with a grain of salt, though.

    I stayed away from one site I write for for nearly a year when I first heard about it, because a lot of people on a forum I visited said it was a scam. Ends up, it’s not, and I’ve earned a LOT of money there.

    One thing I’ve found interesting is that there is not one site that everyone agrees is “the” site to write for, as far as income goes. Everyone has a different opinion, experience, and level of success/income with every content site out there.
    .-= Cyn´s last blog ..Article Removal: Three of My Readers Think eHow is a Scam =-.

  • Crystal October 15, 2009, 8:02 pm

    As usual, Felicia, a well thought out and very useful post. I really appreciate your willingness to share the details of your thought processes and the decisions you ultimately make.
    .-= Crystal´s last blog ..One of the Many Joys of Retirement =-.

  • prerna October 16, 2009, 2:31 am

    Love the list Felicia.. Might be linking back to this for my next blog post.. Hope that is alright?? I think it is so important for new writers to do a thorough check before contributing.. I made plenty of mistakes when I started 6 months ago and though now am careful, I still tend to slip up when faced with a new writing opportunity, since these are relatively few for non U.S writers.
    Apologize for the long comment.. Blessings!!
    .-= prerna´s last blog ..Being a Mom: A Book Review of What to Expect The First Year =-.

    • Felicia October 16, 2009, 7:50 am

      Prerna, I love backlinks. Of course it’s okay to link back to this. Glad is was helpful.

  • brittany November 12, 2009, 10:24 am


    I am very new to writing online. Is it okay to give companies like ehow my ssn?

    • Felicia November 12, 2009, 10:41 am

      Hi Brittany,

      eHow is a reputable site and it’s okay to give them your SSN. However, if you feel uncomfortable, you can apply for an Employer Identification Number and use that instead.

  • Glen June 18, 2010, 1:33 pm


    I cannot thank you enough for all the wonderful insights that you have on this website! I’ve just started freelance writing as a “job” since I just got out of high school and didn’t want to waste precious time behind a fryer. This is definitely a great way to evaluate writing sites, and I’ll be sure to come back to it as I “get more baskets”, if you will.

    However, I seem to have done a rather silly thing. I found an article you linked to of an index of 10 or 15 residual income article sites. The information was very-well researched, and reassured me that my choice to start with InfoBarrel and HubPages was a good one. I can’t remember where it is, though. If you or anyone could provide the link, I would be most appreciative.

    Again, thanks for this incredible vat of information! You’ve got yourself another dedicated reader in me.

    • Felicia June 20, 2010, 9:23 am

      Hi Glen,

      Sorry I can’t be of much help. I’ve got quite a few articles online and here on the blog about freelance writing. At my age I have a hard time remembering where I put my keys, so finding where I placed an article is even more of a needle in a haystack. Did you try the NJFM search function to see if its here?

  • Peter Owen December 8, 2010, 12:44 pm

    I recently got accepted by Suite 101 and am new to freelance writing. I want to get the recordkeeping chores right from the start so I don’t lose info later.
    Do writers keep a copy of every article on their own pc? If so, in a simple file ie Suite 101 Articles file or do they sub-category every article?
    Do they keep a spreadsheet of articles or some other indexing method?

    • Felicia December 8, 2010, 5:56 pm

      Peter, I do recommend keeping a copy of everything you write, but how to keep it is a matter of personal preference.

      As I write a new article, I save it in the appropriate folder. When I first started out I kept a spreadsheet of all of my articles, but have since abandoned that practice. Instead, I keep a spreadsheet of my earnings.

      • Peter Owen December 8, 2010, 7:51 pm

        Thx for the response.
        One more question – I plan to sign on to some other writing sites as I assume most people do. How do you decide which sites to put which articles on assuming they are all general topic sites where you write about whatever you want?

        • Felicia December 9, 2010, 7:12 am

          Peter, download the free copy of my ebook (purple tab to the left). I address that question and much more in the book.

      • Ira December 9, 2010, 6:02 am

        haha felicia you are so prolific I could imagine you having 100 external hard drives lined up in your home office.

        “Let’s see.. there’s my Suite drive… there’s my Blogs drive… now where did I put that Bukisa drive? Oh yes, I never did keep a drive for that… oh pooh! Where are my files then??”


        • Felicia December 9, 2010, 7:14 am

          Ira, you’re too funny. Your last statement hit the nail on the head. 🙂

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