LDStorymakers Class on Nonfiction Writing Notes

One Weird Tip for Getting Paid to Write Corporate Blog Posts

I’m going to start with the links that might lead you toward paid nonfiction writing. After that are the main power point slides. Finally, I have quotes from seven people who make their living writing nonfiction. I hope this class helps you!



Power Point

Here are interviews:

Carrie Snider

(Carrie majored in journalism at BYU and wrote for several newspapers, including the Deseret News during the 2002 Olympics. She currently writes for Pfizer, a dating blog, a business blog, and she interviews authors for her website.)

To get into nonfiction writing, there are two basic avenues:

1. Use or other freelancer sites. Do the cheap article/blog post/ebook work just to get your foot in the door. Build your portfolio and get good reviews from clients–that will lead you to better work and better clients.

*Be wary of clients on freelancer sites who want you to just “spin” an article for dirt cheap. Basically you are changing an existing article enough so it passes without being forged. Skip it!

2. Write what you are passionate about, like music or yoga or science. There are already websites or blogs in those niches. Contact websites directly and offer to write a free article for them. Then work your way up from there. If they say no, sometimes that just means “not right now.” So try again later.

Eventually, build a website with your portfolio with links and/or examples of your writing so you can show your clients (either via Upwork or direct contact) that you have experience. This will help you land more jobs.

Don’t turn down nonfiction work just because you don’t have experience doing it yet. I have learned a lot by writing for the business sector. It’s not my forte, but I’ve had so much demand from it because not many venture into it. Business writing has its own lingo and level of professionalism. They always require more revisions. It has helped me looking at my writing differently.

I think with nonfiction, it’s 50% ability and 50% confidence. Many people could write well for different niches, but they don’t think it’ll be accepted, so they don’t try. Trying it half the battle. What do you have to lose?

Rachel Huffmire 

(She gets work through writers domain, writes by assignment and earns $15. You can find her on Facebook at Rachel Nicole Huffmire.)

Some things I’ve learned from my articles that have been accepted is that they like very clear topical organization (clear flow of ideas, paragraph headings, etc…), they love cross referencing (to show you’ve done your research), and plenty of personality. I had to take really rigorous grammar tests and submit sample work to get accepted, so if writers think grammar is for editors, it’s not…

I’ve had some articles returned with a request to revise because it came across as too negative (I was being a little skeptical) so honest positivity goes a long way.

Freelancing has been great because I am learning skills needed to make it in the industry on a small scale. I feel like I’m less likely to be overwhelmed in the big leagues because I’ve already had experience. WritersDomain ranks each of my articles on a 1-5 scale which gives me insight into what I do right and wrong.  They give me 8 hours to write each article and 24 to conduct edits, so I’m learning how to finish under a tight deadline. I don’t get to choose my topic, so I’m learning how to conduct quick research, and write about things I don’t necessarily know a lot about. They have asked me to edit my work occasionally, giving really specific feedback on what they’re looking for, so I also get experience working with editors.

All in all, it is great experience and gives me something to put in my queries under experience.

Rebecca Edwards

So, it’s a pretty straightforward story. I had worked off-and-on as a journalist for various local magazines, but then I decided I wanted to find more ways to actually make money writing. I don’t monetize my personal blogs, but I saw an ad on Craigslist for a pop culture writer, which is what I really liked to write about. I answered the ad and sent them some samples from my published work and my personal blog.

That ad happened to be for Clearlink, which is sort of a clearing house for web content for multiple companies across the country. I have worked for them for the past six years, quadrupling the basic rate I’m paid for a post that ranges from 500-700 words. As I proved myself to them and started to get more requests from their clients I got raises and bylines.

I have been set up as an expert contributor on five blogs for them, with my byline and bio. I also write a LOT of ghostwritten stuff – much of which has been special requests that show up on KSL, Huffington Post, Chicago Tribune, and the Boston Globe. My editors are cool to almost always send me links and verification that the ghostwritten items are mine so that I can use those pieces in my portfolio and on my resume.

Now, I pretty much only do series and requested work for Clearlink – although I am one of their top-tier writers, which means I get first pick of a lot of content. I also work for some local startups writing their web content and blogs, and I also write for two other content providers that are like Clearlink, but smaller and more local.

I was recently at a writer’s conference in Kauai and while I was there, I was approached by two new companies (UT local) that found me on LinkedIn and asked if I was available to help them with web content. Since I’ve been writing full-time (the past two years) I have received a lot of inquiries on LinkedIn – and all of them are not solicited by me. I do, however, try to keep my profile updated and have started sharing links to some of my work and blogs on there.

I know that most content providers like Clearlink are often on the lookout for new talent and I have recommended several writers to them. It’s definitely not always fun work, because you have to write what you’re being paid to write, but I’ve really had a lot of fun with it and have been able to make pretty good money doing it. Some of the funnest things I’ve done are the pop culture blog I had for around three years (the website is now defunct) where I got to pitch and develop most of my content, repeat series for different companies like ADT security, Vivint, AT&T, DirecTV, DISH, etc., requests for Huffington Post on pop culture and millennial issues, and product reviews where I get to test out the product and keep it.

It’s not for everyone, and you work a lot if it’s your main income – especially at first. When I first started I typically wrote about 3-5 blogs a day. Now I do 3-5 blogs per week unless there’s some topic I’m really excited about or a special series or project. And – the best part is – I’m making more to work less, which has given me the time to devote to working on two memoirs and a short story that I’m hoping to publish.


Sarah Quinn

Yep! I’m paid. I’ve done work for a dozen or so clients through Upwork and then Jerrick Media took me on as a per-piece writer for beta testing their Vocal platform.

Charlie Pulsipher

I am a copywriter and content strategist. I got this job thanks to my books actually. I brought them in as part of my resume to show that I write and I follow through. Mainly networking with creatives. I heard about the job from a graphic designer I knew. Yes, and not being afraid to tell people you’re a writer. When a writing type job opens up, you want them to think of you first.

Dene Lowe/Laura Card

Dene got her start volunteering for a community county journal. She wrote and did lay-out, which translates these days to doing design. She advises writers to network. Get people’s names and contact info. Get your name out there as a writer–publishing credit if you’ve got it, but mostly your interest in it.

She went on to become a journalist and got her PhD in English. She works as a professor. Her students say their writing skills are most in demand when companies need annual reports written.

Rachel Sanders

I actually first got into writing blogs in a college English course; our professor had us start blogs and critique each other’s work via comments. We changed topics each week and also focused on different writing styles throughout the course. I don’t think my college blog is live anymore, or I would send it your way. 🙂 But that’s where I got started! I’ve written blogs for almost every job I’ve had since, even if my job wasn’t specifically a writing job.