Website flippers and the freelance writer

Doing research on an assignment brought my attention to a type of business called “website flipping.” It’s something like “flipping” a house for resale. A buyer acquires a site which seems to be underperforming and improves it to increase its revenue. The goal is to sell it at a profit after it demonstrates its value.

This is a legitimate practice, and it opens opportunities for the freelancer who understands it. Content is central to increasing a site’s value. Let’s say the site is about tree farming. The flipper isn’t in the tree farming business and may not know anything about it. When you need content about tree farming, who ya gonna call? Ghostwriters!
Read the rest of this entry »



With this post, I’m starting to revive my posting on this blog by talking more about my work as a freelance writer. I’ve been writing full-time for about a year and a half and making good progress in reaching better markets. My technical posts will continue to be in Mad File Format Science.

One of the first things I discovered is that writing on spec isn’t a good way to make a living. For a while I was writing for the Foundation for Economic Education, which accepted most of my submissions. They still list me as being on their Faculty Network, but I’ve stopped writing for them because they’ve stopped paying for articles. I’ve submitted some proposals to Reason, but without luck so far. Maybe I’ll get in eventually, but it’s not an easy way to get a regular income.

Fortunately, I have ample skills for writing about tech topics, and I’ve found a lot of work by request. Read the rest of this entry »

The strange world of “content marketing”

In my work as a freelance blogger I try to put worthwhile content into every piece I write. At least some of the readers should come away from it understanding something better than they did before. It may contain promotional material, if that’s what the customer asks for, but it has a solid core of useful information. That’s my understanding of “content.”

In the marketing world, though, it means something else entirely. The biggest market for freelance writers on the Web is “SEO writing.” That means writing whose main purpose is to provide “content” that search engines will rank high. The expertise for this isn’t knowledge about the subject matter but expertise in planting the right keywords and otherwise constructing the article to match Google’s current idea of what a relevant article is. It’s clickbait, only more sophisticated.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in General. Tags: , . Comments Off on The strange world of “content marketing”

Websites to sell your writing

The Internet features a lot of websites where writers can connect with customers. None of them pay as well as finding your own clients, but some do offer decent pay and deal fairly. Others have serious problems of various kinds. Here are some notes from my experience:
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in writing. Tags: , , . Comments Off on Websites to sell your writing

Cruise on a ghost (writer) ship

Yesterday evening I went on a Boston Harbor cruise with some fellow ghostwriters — a haunted cruise, obviously. The host was WriterAccess, which I do some writing for. It was very nice to put faces on what’s normally a faceless operation, and to talk with other writers on how they use the site. I learned a few things as well as having an enjoyable evening.
Read the rest of this entry »

Note on Foundation for Economic Education

The website for the Foundation for Economic Education recently got a complete update. The page on article submissions shows a different structure; there used to be separate categories for Freeman articles and shorter pieces for Anything that’s Peaceful, but that’s gone.

The biggest change, though, is that there’s no longer any mention of payment. FEE has bought many articles from me over the years and even named me to its Faculty Network, but I don’t know if it’s paying any more.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in General. Tags: , . Comments Off on Note on Foundation for Economic Education

Writing for pay and for free

On my way to becoming a successful pro writer — not a glamorous writer of best-sellers, but one who makes a living working with words — I’m discovering a few things that are worth sharing. One is that it’s important to be clear on when you’re writing for pay and when you’re not. All of us write for free a lot of the time; no one’s paying me to write this post. We write for free to express our thoughts, to communicate with friends and businesses, to publicize ourselves, and to help people out. But we have to know which situation we’re in; the middle ground of vague promises offers only frustration.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in General. Tags: , . Comments Off on Writing for pay and for free

When the passive voice can be used

Self-proclaimed experts on writing often express contempt for the passive voice, whether they understand what it is or not. Language Log has a good discussion of what it is and where it’s a perfectly good choice. It covers obscure cases that most people don’t know about.

Rather than offering my own defense of the passive voice, I’ll just list some of my own favorite uses of it.
Read the rest of this entry »

Writing for money

Lately, as some of you know, writing has been my main source of income. I’ve had some single-article sales, including a number to the Foundation for Economic Education and one to In between, I’ve been writing for a number of content sites. They don’t pay as well, but they always have work to offer, so I can keep busy while looking for the better-paying gigs.

BlogMutt is the most enjoyable one to write for, though not the best paying. Clients post topics they want articles written on, and I pick from those topics. The acceptance rate is well over 80%, and there’s a lively and friendly forum for writers. I’ve sold well over a hundred articles there.

Constant Content operates on a different model. While there are some calls for material, the usual mode is that writers create articles and put a price on them, and editors review them before they become public. So far I’ve sold one article that way. Articles go through an editorial process that takes a long time, so not much of my material has become available yet. Per their rules, I use a rather transparent pseudonym.

I get the impression it’s not well run. Three of my articles are visible and one has made a sale, but five others have been in the queue since last week. This morning I got a message that one of them was deleted, with the message, “Please paste the entire article in the content editing box. Only your first paragraph is showing up.” The whole thing is gone, so I have no way of figuring out what went wrong, and I’m instructed not to resubmit it. I posted to their forum, which I registered for a couple of weeks ago, asking about this situation in a comment to a post on a similar situation. It was put on moderation. I haven’t seen any new posts to the forum in a while, so it’s probably broken. Right now I’m waiting to see what happens to my other submissions before I send any more.

WriterAccess takes yet another approach. There are calls for articles, and people submit proposals. One proposal of mine has been accepted so far, and I’ll be working on it today. I found the form for responding to the request confusing, but the help desk gave me a very prompt and useful explanation. Hopefully this will work out well.

I wrote a couple of articles for one blog on vague promises of payment out of ad revenue. It never materialized, and the person running it berated me for not publicizing the blog enough. Needless to say, I’m not writing for them any more. Being an unpaid writer happens occasionally, but being an unpaid writer and publicist is out of bounds.

The work suits me well, since I love writing, doing research, and disseminating accurate and useful information. I’m still learning the business and working on my technique. There are a number of writers, especially in the filk community, who have helped me by setting an example and offering advice to writers. If I’m going to name just one, it’s Debbie Ohi.

If you’ve got leads for me, I’ll be grateful. Take a look at for details on what I do.

Posted in General. Tags: , . Comments Off on Writing for money

Two articles on

Recently I signed up for a month’s free trial on, a libertarian site requiring payment to participate. It has some good articles, which you can read without paying, along with the inevitable noise, and it went to free subscriptions a few days ago, so the question of whether it’s worth they money is now moot.

I’ve posted a couple of articles there, to see what reaction they’d get; the answer turned out to be none. Here they are, for anyone interested:

Update: Just to clarify, I signed up with for the professional purpose of making contact with publishers and other writers. So far it hasn’t done anything for me that way, but I’ll give it a while longer.

Posted in General. Tags: , . Comments Off on Two articles on