I first read about this idea a few months ago when a writing friend I hadn’t spoken to in almost 15 years phoned to ask if I wanted to join him in an “easy” new business venture. He said this business allows writers to work in short stints and generate much higher earnings from working half an hour here and there than they might normally be paid for spending several hours or even days on longer assignments.

Naturally I was fascinated and, once I knew what was involved, I jumped in and said “yes, I’d like to get involved.”

Basically, this opportunity involves writing short articles, no more than 500 words each, and preferably around 300 words, the sort of thing most of us can knock out in half an hour tops.

How do you turn short articles into cash?

These are not the sort of articles you have to market yourself, you don’t actually have to contact end users in any way at all, unless you really want to. And you don’t have to be a great writer either, because the articles we’re talking about now are designed more to generate traffic to websites rather than to win some elusive award for literature.

My friend’s business involves contacting website design and Internet marketing companies and offering to produce website content for much lower prices than these companies charge their own clients.

As an example, say the website design company is working on a site for a local coffee bar where part of the assignment will almost certainly involve adding unique content to optimise the site and help it rank highly in search engine returns for various keywords and phrases.

So, if the coffee bar is situated in Hammersmith, London, and it offers really expensive luxury coffees from all over the world, then the various pages at the site might be search optimised for terms like “coffee bar in Hammersmith” or “Italian coffee Hammersmith”, and so on.

So the website will probably be populated with short articles or product reviews, also maps and tourist information, based around words like “Hammersmith” and “coffee bar”, and names of the various kinds of coffee served.

Once the site is finished the design company might continue adding content to drive organic content from search engines, as well as creating blog postings and other means of attracting visitors using short articles as their basic traffic-generating tool.

Some of these firms charge a fortune for their content and other writing services, sometimes using freelance writers, often having their own in-house writers.

My friend checked prices asked by prominent website design services and put together a package highlighting subjects he can write about for those companies, with samples of his work, and prices he’d charge which were way below what those companies ask of their own clients.

Then he posted his offer to 20 potential clients and waited. But he didn’t wait long because next day he received calls from three companies asking him to call in to discuss potential assignments.

And he has never looked back.

Here’s what you need to know to make this easy business work for you:

• This idea tends to work better locally, because your potential clients may wish to speak to you personally and sometimes invite you to meet their own customers to discuss specific writing assignments.

So, your first task is to key something like this into Google.com: “website + design + darlington (or your local area)”

That took me to more than 10 website design companies. Searching for firms in Durham, Newcastle, Sunderland and other northern towns and cities fetched significantly more potential clients for me to contact.

• Look at those firms’ websites and study what they do. You’re going to find some firms offering very basic design services without search engine optimisation potential. You’ll find others offering to design sites from scratch and redesign existing sites, as well as carry out numerous other services such as marketing, email campaigns, pay per click advice, and search engine optimisation.

• We will be working for firms that do, and firms that do not offer search engine optimisation facilities. The reason I’ve kept firms that do offer SEO services, separate from firms that don’t, is because each presents very different opportunities for you, and for me.

That’s because firms that don’t design unique content for their clients usually create a very simple website, including just a few buttons and images, and maybe an email address. It’s all very basic and little better than downloading a free website template from hundreds of different providers online. Firms that create a website and make it search engine responsive are a completely different kettle of fish for us. However, we will target both client types for these main reasons:

  • » Those offering very basic websites are seriously limiting their earning potential, almost certainly because they know how to create websites, but they don’t know how to create content and they can’t afford the hefty fees asked by most freelance writers.
  • » Those who do offer content, and search engine optimisation services to clients, will generate higher profit margins by purchasing quality articles from you and asking a much higher fee for those articles from their own clients.

So in both cases you are going to sell your articles to website design companies for a fraction of the price charged by most freelance professionals.

No, you are not going to work for little or nothing, you are going to earn at least a few hundred pounds a day from this business, and all you need are two or three regular clients. Read on to learn how:

• Look for websites showing designs created for specific clients, it’s usually called their “Portfolio”, and you’ll find some specialising in specific market sectors, such as food and drink, legal and financial services, auctioneers and booksellers, and so on. Go through looking for content on those sites and decide whether you can write similar, preferably better, content than the designer is currently supplying. Discount any designers focussing on subjects you can’t or don’t want to write about and make a note of others working in areas you’d enjoy writing about.

• When you’ve found local firms designing websites around subjects you can write about, go click on “pricing” or “fees”, “get a quote” and similar on their own sites. Look for those asking the highest prices and pitch your offer around half of what those firms charge their own clients. Contact lower-priced website design services also, especially those offering really basic designs, tell them how you can improve their basic service and help them achieve more clients and much higher prices.

So there you have it, just the germ of an idea, and you can learn much more about what to do next by learning how to write really valuable content you won’t have trouble selling. Try the following for starters:

How to Write Content for Your Corporate Website

Writing Website Content and Copy Writing

Is Your Content Good Enough?