Monday, October 8, 2007

Five Reasons to Embrace the Humble Keyword Article Gig

I do a lot of keyword article churn-outs. Yeah, I know; these are the bottom of the barrel when it comes to writing work. Not sexy and glamorous like a high-earning sales letter. Not creative and inspiring like writing a novel or a poem. Plenty of writers turn up their noses at these gigs, but there are a lot of reasons why you should embrace them. Here are just a few:

They're lucrative. When most people think of keyword articles, they think of those joke gigs that demand hundreds of articles for $3 apiece. And if you do it that way, you definitely won't make much for your time. But there are clients who want good work from good writers, and are willing to pay a decent wage. I figure half an hour to two hours per page for this work, depending on the topic, and then price accordingly. Sometimes I quote a normal price to a client who's expecting the third-world price. But once I explain that these articles will include their name and links and will reflect on them professionally, they're sometimes surprisingly willing to pay reasonable prices for work that will make them look good. And once they see how much traffic, recognition, and business a set of well-written articles brings them, they're usually willing to come back for more.

They're regular. Article marketing is a volume game. The more articles you have out there, the more traffic you get. Keyword article clients are not just looking for a one-shot project. They have ongoing writing needs, and if they like you, they'll put in a nice big order each month. Impress a few SEO's or affiliate marketers, charge reasonable rates, and there you go: the closest you'll come to financial stability as a freelance writer.

They're no sweat. Most keyword and article marketing pieces are simple how-tos. There's no need to track down experts to interview--the article is coming from the point of view of the client, who is presenting himself as the expert. You don't have to come up with an elaborate "angle." You're not looking to make something newsworthy, convert visitors to buyers, or win advertising awards; just inform people and help customers. If you have a lot of high-pressure client work that demands lots of creativity and sales savvy, a few keyword articles may just be a breath of fresh air.

You don't have much competition. In the article writing business, your competition is often the low-budget third-world outsourcer. Yes, they will undercut you on price--and that will work to your advantage. Position yourself as the reasonably priced, skilled alternative for articles that stand out in the crowd, and you're sure to get plenty of work.

When it comes to web article writing, it's not hard to look good. Fill your articles with useful, well-organized information, write well and include catchy headings and subheads, and add some value with your knowledge of keyword optimization and web-writing best practices, and you'll be irreplaceable to your clients.

You always learn something new. I don't know how some writers can limit the topics they write on. I'll write on anything I can research and learn about without needing an advanced degree--because I love learning new things. A lot of writers groan about having to write thirty 500-word articles on something like "real estate," but I see this as an opportunity to become a pseudo-expert. When you have to write a lot about something, you have to get into the minds of readers to figure out what they would want to know about the industry. You don't just learn about the topic; you also learn about controversy and questions in the industry, how customers view it, and how its businesses operate. If you like business at all, it's fascinating.

I now know a lot about a number of random topics. At home I'm the resident expert on Do-Not-Call legislation because of a previous client project; I make telemarketers cry. I know more about residential fire sprinklers than some firefighters I know. Want to know how to buy conflict-free diamonds, the difference between HD and Blu-ray, or the history of hot air balloons? I'm your girl.

Sometimes the knowledge you pick up from article marketing campaigns is interesting but random. At other times, it's useful. Nearly everything I know about SEO comes from writing articles for SEO clients.

Next time you get an offer for a batch of articles, don't brush it off. Instead, make a reasonably priced offer and see what the client says. Not every article marketing client is looking for cheap writing--many really do care about quality. If you impress the client, you could get a nice, easy, lucrative gig that pays your rent every month. And you'll soon be able to dazzle friends and family with your in-depth knowledge of...oyster breeding habits. Hey, you never know.


Anonymous said...

Hi Jennifer. You have done a great job with this topic. I especially related to the part where you realize that you can always learn something new!

Keep up the great work.

Jennifer Williamson said...

Thanks, Daniel!

Anne Wayman said...

Hi Jennifer... I too have made decent money with seo articles... good points.

Anonymous said...

You are so right about SEO articles. I cranked out nearly 100 of them for a specific web site. The company paid me by the article and at first I was a bit hesitant. It worked out to be a good hourly rate, though, because it didn't take long to do the articles once we established a format.

Jennifer Williamson said...

Yeah, I think I was hesitant too the first time I took a job like this. But I actually found I liked it and could make some decent money from it. Now I'm always up for these gigs.

Yuwanda Black, Inkwell Editorial said...


You've presented a very rational piece on why writing SEO articles should not be looked down upon. I find freelance writers usually fall into two or three camps: Those who look down upon anything that pays less than what "they" consider a decent rate; those who will work for peanuts; and those who will consider each project on its merits -- long-term income generation, ease of work and what it provides to them personally.

In my 14+ years as a freelance writer, it's those who fall in the last category who have the easiest time making a full-time living as a freelance writer.

Great post.

Anonymous said...

This is a wonderful post, Jennifer. I think the balanced approach that you suggest is one of the best ways to have a successful freelance writing career.

Jennifer Williamson said...

Thanks for the response! I agree that balance is key. For me, the perfect balance is one or two long-term projects, and a whole bunch of small but high-paying projects interspersed. I agree that no freelancer should rely on only a few long-term clients--you're in trouble if one drops out, and this has happened to me before--but it's nice to have some regularity, as long as you don't let it make you complacent.

I've found generally that conventional advice on never doing certain work or taking certain rates is usually well-meaning, but isn't the right answer for each situation.

discount realtor said...

Are there any reputable companies that you can recommend regarding SEO article writing? thx

Brian V. Hunt said...

Great article, Jennifer. Any tips on pricing these kinds of gigs? Do you look for these gigs or do they tend to come to you by referral?