How to Sell Articles Online

attractive woman writing on laptop

Whether you're an aspiring writer or you're America's next Hemingway, you can turn your writing into income by selling articles online. Traditional publishers still will buy news and feature articles. And with content marketing growing in popularity, more media outlets and businesses are looking for quality, professional writing -- and they're willing to pay for it. You just need to know where to start.

Determine Your Expertise

A simple tip for selling your writing online: write what you know. This may sound trite, but when you're writing about something you know and love, your enthusiasm and expertise will color your writing and help you create informative and entertaining articles. Look back on your education and work history to determine what knowledge you already have in your toolbox. Perhaps you worked as a marketing rep for a pharmaceutical company. Why not write about the world's most cutting-edge treatments for heart disease? Or maybe you've played competitive basketball since elementary school. Tackle a piece about how participation in organized sports leads to kids getting better grades.

Determine Your Rights

Unfortunately, selling your writing isn't all about "the art." You'll need to think about the business side, too. Decide if you're willing to sell the rights to your article, meaning that the buyer of your article has the sole right to distribute and publish the piece. Or, you can sell an article and retain the rights, meaning that you're free to sell and distribute the piece as you'd like. Typically, you’ll get paid less for selling an article while retaining the rights than you will for selling the article and the rights concurrently. This may take some negotiating, so polish up your skills.

Determine Your Rates

Setting your rates can be tricky. You won't need to worry about this if you're selling articles to a content outlet that presets its rates, but if you're contracting for freelance work, your going rate will be the first question potential buyers will ask. According to the Editorial Freelancers Association, the hourly rate for journalistic writing is $40 to $50. Ultimately, your rates will depend on your expertise and the buyer. If you've written for major publications, you can probably charge at the higher end of the spectrum. If you're just starting out, take some jobs at the lower end to build a client base and a portfolio.

Market Yourself

To sell articles online, you need to attract content publishers. Create an online portfolio of writing samples along with a breakdown of your experience. Then, seek publishers of content that fit your expertise. Say you specialize in restaurant reviews and culinary arts. Contact editors from online gourmet food websites and blogs, pitch them an idea and offer a link to your online portfolio. Your social networking profiles -- especially LinkedIn -- can help you find new opportunities as well. Your profile should have detailed information about what you know and your writing experience.