Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Posting My Prices On My Website: Why I Did It

I never used to do this. Conventional propriety says we shouldn't. But I went ahead and did it anyway: I put 'em out in public, where everyone can see them. Yep, there they are, right out in the open, waving in the digital wind: my prices.

Most of the advice I've been given about price posting says it's a bad idea--because every project is different, and the price you put up may be different than the one you quote a client. The prospect, expecting the "low low price" advertised on your marketing materials, is shocked (Shocked!) to discover that you're quoting something higher. Chaos ensues; the client takes off like a spooked deer; you don't get the job. Whereas if you'd just kept the price hidden until the very last moment, after you've had time to beguile him with your smooth sales talk, he won't care what the price is--he'll just want to hire you.

But I've never been comfortable with the idea of making my prices a big state secret. I've been in actual meetings with clients before, where we've talked about everything but price, and then of course there's this awkward pause...and of course, you know why the pause is there, but you can't talk first because negotiating strategy says you should never be the one to bring up price first; so you're sitting there thinking about how the client is probably mentally laughing at you, thinking she must've read Negotiating 101 and isn't going to bring up the price first; what a dope! and you feel like a dope, and eventually you say something genius like "um.... ichargeseventyfivebucksanhour.... is that okay with you?"

Well, maybe that's not always how it goes for you. But that's how it's gone for me.

Anyway, so when I decided to redo my website, I also decided to put my prices up and see how it went. Here are the reasons I decided to do it.

It disqualifies clients without the budget. I'd just as soon put my price range out there, because in my experience it disqualifies clients who aren't prepared to pay what I charge--without wasting everybody's time.

Because if I were a client, I'd want to see the prices. I know that good writing is worth the money, and I wouldn't choose a writer based on price over quality. But if I could at least get some idea of everybody's range before going to the trouble of explaining my project to several different writers, at least I'd have some idea of who's more likely to charge something I can pay--and who's out of my league.

Because it leaves out that awkward pause. It may work for others, but it's just never worked for me to leave the pricing to the last minute. Occasionally, the client i've been talking to feels that my price is way out of line. Sometimes they try to haggle. But leaving the price til the last minute allows the client to go in with his own idea of what the price should be. And it smacks of smooth talk--it gives an impression that you're "negotiating," in my opinion. When I have my price range out in the open, it looks official--and the client isn't expecting something else going in. Things go much more smoothly.

Since changing my website, I've had nothing but good experiences from having my prices out in the open. I think I might continue to do that, at least for a while. So far, keeping everything direct and up-front has served me well--and I hope it continues to.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Listening to Your Instincts: A Freelancer's Guide

When I first started out as a freelancer, I didn't know which clients were going to be a joy to work with and which were going to be--well, less than a joy. There may have been some obvious signs--everybody knows not to do work on spec, right?--but the more subtle clues eluded me. Still, I did experience some feelings of uneasiness at the start of some projects but not others. When I look back on the projects that have turned out well and those that haven't, I've noticed that those little pangs of uneasiness usually crop up right before a train wreck. Here are a few of the things which, looking back, were signs of bigger troubles to come:

There's a problem with your terms. Whenever I take on work with someone who contests my terms, I do it against my better judgment. And it usually doesn't work out well. Assuming your terms are the usual--50% up front, no copyrights until full payment has been made, a well-defined exit strategy, etc.--a client who doesn't like your contract may not trust you, may have plans to shortchange you in some way, or may not respect you as a businessperson. Either way, it's a sign to run for the hills.

The client wants you to come down in price--but not on quality. When I look back at some of the projects I've had that didn't work out as well as I'd hoped, they almost all started with some dispute on price. This isn't always true--I have several wonderful regular clients who occasionally need some back-and-forth on price--but the difference is that these clients know I set my prices a certain way for a reason. If they want a reduction, they understand they may have to make some changes to the scope of the project.

Clients who want to haggle right off the bat are not only draining and stressful to interact with: they'll also nickel and dime you to death, creep their scope all over the place, and change their minds while expecting your prices to remain the same. Now, if a new prospective client tries an aggressive haggle right away, I rarely decide to work with him.

The client doesn't know what he wants. This can be a tough one: the client who doesn't have any idea what he wants, but he knows what he doesn't want when he sees it: and what he's seeing is almost always your first draft.

Once I worked with a client who had absolutely no idea what he wanted in terms of tone. I interviewed him to get a sense of his needs, and his directions were conflicting. I asked him to send examples of what he liked and didn't like in similar projects, and he got back to me days later to tell me he couldn't find anything to send. I should have gotten out as soon as possible. But I needed the money, I didn't have a lot of experience, and I had high expectations for myself. I did my best--and the project quickly turned into a big, slavering monster. He didn't like a single word I wrote, and every time I sent him a draft, he would say something like "that's not what I was looking for--let's try a whole new approach." Finally I started to put my foot down about scope changes, he got mad, and, wasn't pretty.

Anyway, now I'm hesitant to work with clients who don't have a clear idea of their own expectations. No matter how good you are as a freelancer, you can't be expected to read minds. For the relationship to work, the client needs to bring something to the table as well.

There's a style mismatch. Sometimes a prospective client wants something outside your stated specialty. Much of the time, I relish these jobs--it gives me an opportunity to test my abilities and try something new. But sometimes what they want is just too much of a stretch.

I'm not wild about writing with an over-salesy tone. I'm good at it--I took the AWAI course on sales letters, and several times my reviewers told me my work was the best they'd ever seen from a student. But I don't find that type of writing enjoyable. So now if someone wants a hard-sell piece, I generally refer them to someone better suited to it.

Most of us have our strengths and weaknesses--and if a prospective client's project fills you with dread, you don't have to take it on. You're the boss, after all.

The client wants your Instant Messaging ID. Every so often, a client will want to keep in touch with me via Instant Message. The problem with IM is that it comes along with an expectation: that you'll always be on and available. Most clients who want my IM name have wanted it so they can see me in the corner of the screen at all times and "keep in touch." Occasionally, they'll check in unannounced. One client actually got mad at me because I wasn't at my computer when he IM'ed me--and it took me about ten minutes to respond. Now, I don't make myself available over IM.

The wrong tone in the initial contact. Once I was out of town on a weekday. I checked my mail that evening when I got home, and there in my inbox was a message from someone who wanted to hire me. The message went like this: "I need someone to rewrite our website copy. I've tried to call you three times on the number listed on your site. Please get in touch ASAP." She called me three times? I was a little apprehensive about this one: she sounded like an overanxious hoverer and not much fun to work for. I took the project against my better judgment--and boy, was I right.

It takes time to develop a freelancer's instincts. And it can be interesting to sit down and list the things that give you pause with a prospective client. But it might be worth it to define what makes you think twice--and why. This may help you sort the future train wrecks from the pleasant projects.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Who's Your Alter Ego?

I have a second life.

By day, I'm a mild-mannered freelance writer. I'm a clued-in business writer, cool and professional, working first and foremost for my ciients. Nobody would ever suspect that I have an alter ego: poet and novelist-in-progress. You can even see some of my literary stuff here [warning: slightly adult theme] and here. I'm getting involved in Philly's poetry and literary community. If you happen to be in town in December, you can catch one of my short stories showcased in Interact Theatre's Writing Aloud series.

I'm also an (aspiring) novelist, with about five unfinished novels kicking around my hard drive. Someday, I'd like to write YA fantasy like The Golden Compass or magical realism like The Lovely Bones. I'm even planning to make an attempt at a romance novel someday. I would love to be just like this lady.

For many freelance writers I know, creativity is the driving force behind our writing. Many of us are novelists, playwrights, screenwriters, and poets at heart. When we get into copywriting, it's out of a determination to be a working writer--come hell or high water. When I first started freelancing, it was my hope that owning my own writing business would step up my marketing game and teach me about the business side of being a writer. So far, I've learned a lot in a short amount of time--enough to know how much more there is to learn.

When I first got started, I talked to a few other people who were freelancers. The prevaiing advice was this: present yourself as a businessperson first, and a writer second. Clients want to get a sense that you are a rational, clearheaded businessperson with a solid understanding of how to sell their company. They don't care that you can look at plums and see bats; that you can write a killer line of poetry; that your characterization skills are intense. The "creative writer" label devalues you in your clients' eyes.

So for a while I hid it, never mentioning to my clients that I had another writing personality than the one I showed. Until I got a request from a new client: poetic descriptions of children's toys for their catalog. It occurred to me that in some instances, creative writing skills are a plus to clients.

Now, I'm starting to reject the idea that creativity and business savvy are mutually exclusive. There seems to be a stereotype about creative people: we're disheveled, disorganized geniuses who can't promote ourselves. But when I read about the lives of many successful creative people, I find that self-promotion is just another one of their talents. And I look around at all the other gifted copywriters out there, and I wonder how many of them have secret lives, too.

So for those of you who are copywriters by day--what are you by night? Do you labor over a screenplay, make the rounds at theatre auditions, or craft short stories? Who's your alter ego?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

How to Hang On to Your Best Clients

I just saw this article on "clients from hell". There's something cathartic for me about reading other freelancers' experiences with problem clients. It's fun, it gives me a laugh, it tells me that it's okay--everyone has these experiences from time to time.

I can see I'm not the only one who feels this way. Clients do get kicked around a bit on the blogosphere. But one of the things I like most about reading others' horror stories is that it reminds me of how lucky I am. Because, yes, I've had some horror stories of my own--but I've also been blessed to work with a lot of terrific people. So this post is for them: How to hang on to your favorite clients.

The super-informative client. This guy knows exactly what he wants and how to communicate it. He shows you samples from other sites, reviews his own previous copy and discusses what's good and bad about it, knows his audience very well, and answers all your info-gathering questions in detail.

This client puts the time in on the front end so that you'll get it just right on the back end. Keep him happy by listening more than you talk. He's not looking for a freelancer who takes an idea and runs with it. He's already got the idea, and he knows what works for his audience. You just have to put it in motion. Deliver what he asks for without drama, and he'll come back to you time and again.

The really-great-with-money client. You know you're a freelancer when you get excited that someone pays you right away. This client is fantastic with the money. You need a deposit? It's in your PayPal account within the hour. You've just delivered the final draft? The remainder is in the mail before you send the invoice out. In a world where payment can be weeks or months late and your cash flow can slow down to a trickle while you wait, these clients keep you floating.

These clients are conscientious, and they know what's important to you. To make them happy, give them the same treatment. Respond quickly to their emails. Get your copy in before deadline, if you can.

The no-fuss-no-muss-no-bother client. This client is easy to please. She always loves the first draft on sight. She never has a problem with your terms or contract. Everything goes smoothly when you work with her.

I'm lucky in that I have a nice collection of no-fuss repeat clients. Even if they don't start out that way, a client can become no-fuss over time as you get used to each other. To keep these guys happy, try to be a no-fuss freelancer. If they hire you regularly, think about charging them monthly instead of billing them for each project.

The regular client. Here's the client who pays your rent every month. He gets in touch at the beginning of each month, regular as clockwork, with a nice, easy, lucrative job. He knows your style and always sends projects your way that draw on your strengths. Collect a few of these and you may be tempted to kick back and let your marketing slide--that's the only down-side.

You never know who's going to turn into a regular client. Do your best for each one every day, even if the job you've picked up is a tiny, last-minute project you could do in your sleep. My favorite regular client's first order from me was four quick 600-word articles, and I had no idea he would become such a big part of my business.

The fun-and-unpredictable client. This one always has something interesting and creative for you to do. Whether it's writing poems to describe the products on their kid's pottery party site, song lyrics for their wedding, or a rant on printers to make into a viral video--they've always got something new and fun up their sleeve. You love seeing an email from her, because you never know what's coming next.

To keep this client happy, be willing to stretch outside your comfort zone a bit. Video scripts may not be your usual, but the client has faith that you can do it--and you may just find you love it. But you also need to know your limits. If she wants something you know you can't deliver, refer her to a good specialist.

The super-complimentary client. This client always makes you feel like Super Copywriter. She loves what you've done. You're brilliant. You're amazing. The best writer they've ever worked with. After a project with this one, you feel like you can conquer the world.

This client obviously loves you already--so keep doing what you're doing!

Monday, September 17, 2007

How Often Do You Post?

It astounds me sometimes to see people posting to their blogs every day in addition to running their writing businesses.

I’ve been looking around at other writers’ blogging habits to figure out what the norm is. There are plenty of people who post quality content every day; some blogs I read regularly, like The Article Writer Blog, Writing Thoughts, and ChrisBlogging, have all managed to find ways to deliver on-topic content on a more-or-less daily basis.

Not every writer does, however. Some manage to get around the “thou shalt post every day” creed in creative ways, like the guest posts over at InkThinker. Others simply post on a regular non-daily schedule. Bob Bly posts once a week on his blog, and for goodness’ sake—if it’s good enough for Bob Bly, it’s good enough for me.

I feel Matt Ambrose at the Copywriter's Crucible said it best, however: when it comes to blog posts or articles, quality matters. If you really want to impress your prospects with your knowledge and expertise, your blog posts need to be in-depth, well-written and well-researched: not just parrotings of the latest news and developments. I worry that, at least for me, posting too often could mean a degeneration in content. Matt posts once a week, and he always comes up with something worth reading.

I think some writers can deliver great posts on a daily basis, but for those who can’t, it’s better to stick with a less-frequent schedule—as long as it’s regular. For me, I think I’ll stick with two or three times a week. I’d love to hear from other bloggers on how they decided on their schedules, how their traffic is affected, and how they manage to stay consistent.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Sticky World of Price Negotiation

In an ideal world, there would be no price negotiation. The price a writer offers and the price a client wants to pay would match up every time. But even with ongoing clients who are used to my prices, I do sometimes go through some back-and-forth on cost when it comes to new projects.

I used to get stressed out every time I had to deal with a negotiator. But after doing it a few (hundred) times, I realized that most people are reasonable. Most of the clients I’ve had who’ve tried to negotiate this way didn’t understand why I set a certain price. If you know what to say, you can get them on your side.

It’s not just about the length. Sometimes a client will think that 500 words is 500 words, no matter what the project is. But I charge different rates for press releases, online articles, print-quality articles, web copy, et cetera. Sometimes two 500-word articles will be priced differently depending on the subject, the audience, and the amount of research involved.

I’ve had good results explaining that what keeps costs up isn’t word count: it’s time. It takes more time to craft a print-quality article, because of the research and interviews involved, than it does to write an online how-to. It takes longer to write an article for an expert audience than for a general audience. When a client understands that your pricing is based on a time estimate and not a word count, he may be more likely to come around.

Value makes a difference. Direct mail copywriters sometimes charge thousands for a simple eight-page document. Part of the reason is the time and research it takes to craft a well-honed sales letter. But a big part is the money the client stands to gain from that letter. If your work could earn a company millions, you should be charging more than a few hundred bucks for it. Even a few thousand is a drop in the bucket.

Like most writers, I’d charge more for a website’s landing page than I would for a newsletter article. That landing page, if done right, could boost a company’s bottom line significantly. It’s a high-earning piece of writing, and it needs to be priced according to its value.

There’s no free lunch. Once I was talking price with a prospective client, and he wanted to get me to come down. He offered a price about $200 less than what I’d stated. I said something like “okay, I can do that if we leave out this, this, and that.” He responded that he wanted a reduction in price—without a reduction in quality. He actually laughed while he said it, I think because he realized midway through how ridiculous it sounded.

More recently, I had a client with a specific budget in mind for a project that involved some time-consuming research. The piece itself was short, but the information he wanted to include was going to take some time to find. I told him that I could meet the lower price only if the information covered was more general, and this worked out for both of us. Reasonable clients understand that to get a writer to go down in price, they may have to make some compromises.

Know when to let go. Some prospective clients aren’t reasonable. They don’t want to compromise their expectations for a lower price, they don’t care about the value a piece offers, and they feel a short piece of writing should be cheap—no matter what. I’ve taken on clients like this in the past, despite my better judgment. Every time, I was battling scope creep throughout the project. Now, when a prospective client doesn’t listen to reason on price, I know it’s time to let go.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Associated Content: Thanks for the Seven Bucks!

As Featured On Ezine Articles

Since my first post on my new article marketing campaign, I’ve submitted three articles to and two to Associated Content. Here’s how it’s gone so far.

Associated Content accepted two articles I wrote on online plagiarism and how to hire an article writer. I submitted these for upfront payment, and they got back to me within about two weeks. They were accepted. Associated Content offered about $3.75 for each.

Obviously, that's much lower than I’d usually charge for this type of work. But I figured I could stand to earn a little more through their bonus system, which pays you about $1.50 for every thousand views you get. So far, I’ve earned about two cents more through the bonus program. Want to help me out? Go ahead and click on those links again.

I submitted one article to EzineArticles about a week ago, and two more yesterday. They’ve just gotten back to me on the first one today. It’s published. I’m now an “expert author,” which sounds pretty good—although I’m not sure whether everyone who submits for the first time gets to be an expert author. But more good news: my article will be featured on their home page, plus sent to their RSS feeds and their Email Alert members. Let the traffic roll in. Thanks, EzineArticles!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Want to Keep Good Writers Away? Say This.

Looking around Kathy Kehrli’s Irreverent Freelancer site (which I highly recommend), I came across a link to a press release from this joker. His press release gives advice for hiring writers on Elance, a bidding site where I sometimes pick up extra work. The advice he offers makes me laugh—because he tells people to say exactly the type of things in their bid descriptions that will drive the high-quality writers away.

It’s inspired me to give some advice of my own to people looking for experienced, qualified, fluent-English-speaking professional writers to craft their website content. So, anyone out there thinking of hiring a freelancer: If you want us to stay away from your job posting, here are a few things you should say.

This is an easy job for someone who knows what they’re doing. This is the first one I look for. It tells me the client either underestimates the job, or doesn’t respect the work that goes into it. It also tells me that if I get hired, investigate further, and find out the job is more work than the client’s letting on, he’ll tell me I don’t know what I’m doing—and possibly, since this is Elance, broadcast that on my feedback. It’s an indication of drama I don’t need.

Heck, you get a free education just listening to us. This is another thing the press release suggests clients say. It comes off as arrogant, for one thing. I've learned plenty of interesting things from client projects, but I'm working for a living, not a free education.

I also had a bad experience with a client once who wanted me to write a lot of very high-level content for a technical audience. He resisted paying me a wage that would cover the research time. His claim was that I was getting a “free education.”

Payment only upon completion. This tells me the client has unreasonable expectations or hasn't worked with freelancers before. 50% deposits are the norm in the freelancing world. Most pros are leery of working with those who don't do deposits, especially first-time clients.

Will be willing to pay up to $5 per article. This isn’t the type of wage that will attract a decent writer. This is a slave-labor-in-India wage. If you want to attract professionals, you have to be willing to pay professionals. An experienced and skilled freelance writer generally has plenty of well-paying clients. What incentive does she have to take on a project offering a third-world rate?

We can’t pay you, but you’ll get lots of exposure. I do sometimes write for free, if I think the exposure I get is worth the time. But in general if a business doesn’t have enough money to pay freelancers, chances are it can’t offer much in the way of exposure, either.

There are plenty of excellent writers out there who can do a lot for your business. But most pros tend to be at least a little selective. And these phrases are guaranteed to drive the good writers away. You may get third-world labor, moonlighters who don’t make a living at it, or even brand-new writers trying to break in and build a resume. But you won’t get high-quality expertise. To do that, you have to respect the writer as a businessperson and pay a reasonable fee.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Keeping Control of My Website Content

I had an interesting request from a client a while back: to post the keyword articles I was writing for him on my website, in my samples section, with a link back to their company. Usually, I have no problem at all with this and am happy to do it. This request was unusual, however, because the client wanted it worked into the contract. Payment was due after I sent him a link to the place where I’d posted.

I’m a little skeptical of arrangements where I’m compelled to post things on my site. Especially where keyword articles are involved. The problem with keyword articles is that sometimes the keywords or key phrase used can sound a little awkward. From my understanding of good SEO principles, your keywords should be integrated into your copy as naturally as possible, and key phrases should be broken up rather than repeated endlessly. But keyword writing can still clash with good writing practice, especially since good writing means varying the words you use. Even with good, natural keyword integration, the article may not be the best it could be.

Usually, I include keywords at client request, integrating them as naturally as possible. But sometimes an article would be better, theoretically, without a reference to “North Carolina Chevy dealerships”—especially if the article itself is on another topic. This happens sometimes, especially with clients who have multiple websites and are trying to link between unrelated sites. For example, I just wrote a series of articles for a client’s dog training site, and he wanted anchor text for links to his site on wedding favors worked in. So I had to figure out how to work references to wedding favors into articles about how to potty-train your puppy. How’s that for awkward?

Whatever works for the client works for the client. But when I’m showcasing my own writing, my priorities are different. The idea is to make myself look as good as possible, and sometimes keyword articles don’t serve that purpose. For an article like the one above, I’d probably have to edit out the wedding favors references to make them good samples of my writing. And when it’s worked into your contract as a condition of payment, changing the anchor text can be tricky. The client may want that anchor text there—in fact, he may have wanted you to post that article for the sole purpose of that anchor text. If he doesn’t like how I display my samples on my own site, I might not get paid.

So I’m usually happy to put samples on my sites and link back to the client. But I like to choose the anchor text, and I like to be able to edit if necessary. It’s my website, after all. And it’s my business.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Why I'd Like to Kill the Kill Fee

I got an offer from a prospective client to write a feature article for their website. The pay was good, the topic was interesting, and I was looking forward to accepting the project. The problem? My copywriters’ business terms clashed with their magazine perspective.

My business terms are not unusual among copywriters: 50% up front, 50% at completion. Most business and online clients expect terms like this. But newspapers and magazines are a completely different animal. They rarely pay an up-front deposit. And they nearly always have a kill fee.

As a professional, the kill fee is particularly galling to me. It works like this: the publication will pay 100% of the fee for your article. Unless your article doesn’t go with their theme for this month, or the editor decides there’s not enough room for it, or they just don’t feel like using it. Then they only give you 20%.

In what other profession is this an acceptable business policy? Can I decide to pay my hairdresser 20% of the price of the cut if I don’t like it? If I don’t like the food at a restaurant, do I get to pay 20% of the bill? No! I pay the whole bill. Plus tip. Even if it’s puke.

Even in other service industries like search marketing and website design, you don’t get this kind of treatment. If I hire someone to redo my website, then decide I don’t want to be a freelance writer after all, I still gotta pay the designer. I can’t call him up and say, “sorry, Jim, real nice job you did, but I’m switching careers and, well, you know how it goes. How’s 20% sound?” It sounds like a trip to small claims court, if Jim has any cojones.

I understand that a lot of freelancers got their start in the print world and this is how it’s done there. But here’s how I see it: I did all the work for the piece. I should get all the pay. And if the client needs to cancel for any reason, that's what a cancellation schedule is for: I set up a structure in my contract that specifies that I get paid based on the work I've put in. And if I've done 100% of the work, the "kill fee" should be 100%.

As a client, you need to know before you commission a job whether you can use it or not, whether there’s room that month, and whether it goes with your theme. And for your disorganization, you ask me to pay 80% of the wage I should have earned? I don’t think so.

Copywriting is definitely a different world from magazine and newspaper freelancing. And one of the reasons I decided to go into copywriting and not print was that the typical business terms were much more humane. As a copywriter, I’m treated as a businessperson by most of my clients. As a print freelancer, I’m treated like a clueless writer.

So let’s keep the magazine terms out of copywriting. Say it with me, folks: 50% up front. 50% upon completion. And that’s the end of it.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Inside an Article Marketing Campaign

Since starting my freelance writing business, I’ve written hundreds of articles for clients’ article marketing campaigns. But I’ve never run a campaign for my own business.

Why? For me, time has been an issue. To be successful, you have to write hundreds of articles—for no or very little initial pay. From a working writer’s perspective, it’s tough to choose a deferred-pay marketing project over paying projects for others.

But I’m ready to take my online marketing efforts to the next level, and article marketing is part of my plan. Not only will running my own campaign bring me added exposure and traffic, it will also make me a better resource for my clients. Hopefully, it will prove to be worth the time.

I believe in setting doable goals. There are marketers who write hundreds of articles for their chosen directory. I’m starting with something more manageable: ten articles for each of seven article directories. These include: When I do research for client work, content from EzineArticles nearly always comes up. This tells me they are fairly trusted by search engines, and that means links from them will be valuable. Plus, they’ve been around a while, and that tells me my links on their site may be around for a while, too. They don’t come up for me as often as EzineArticles does, but when I look at marketers’ lists of favorite article sites to submit to, this one is always included. Worth a shot, right?

Constant Content. The upside to Constant Content is that it pays. The downside is that it has small potential as a traffic generator. It’s a website that allows users to buy content from writers. Writers choose the price to sell for, plus the rights they’re willing to offer. But it doesn’t index your articles with search engines, and it won’t allow you to include links to your business. Will it generate any new business or let me sell my articles for a decent price? We’ll see.

Associated Content. This site theoretically provides the best of both worlds: pay and traffic. They pay an up-front fee, plus bonuses based on the amount of traffic your articles attract. According to some initial research I’ve done, the up-front pay is meager: something like $3 to $10, depending on how many views they think you’ll get. But the added bonus might make it worthwhile—and it might attract some traffic my way, too. However, their guidelines warn against “excessive self-promotion” and ask writers not to include a resource box. They aren’t specific about how many self-serving links you can include, so this site may not be as useful for traffic as it could be.

IdeaMarketers. They seem to be a bit more business-focused, which is why I'm giving them a try. It's a free site, but it looks like you have to pay to get on their home page—which makes me wonder if good exposure here has to be bought. I’ll let you know how this one goes.

GoArticles. This site has been around a while, and they also come up frequently for me when I do searches on client topics—all good signs. They let people lift your articles from their site, but they require that the resource box and links be included—which would be great for traffic, but I’m not sure how they police this.

ArticleAlley. They’ve been around since 2004. One of the things I like about Article Alley is that it’s part of a network of article sites, including A1 Articles, Women’s Articles, and Article Heaven. If the editors feel your content is appropriate for one of these partner sites, they’ll post it there, too—complete with links.

I’ll be submitting in the next few months between client work, and I’ll keep updates on my user experience for each site. Hopefully I’ll have good news to report!

Have you had experience with any of these article directories—or have new ones to recommend? If so, I’d love to hear about it.