A lot of people have asked me how I got around to my writing career. When I answer that I started writing online, they ask:
How do you do that?
Where can I find work like that?
How does it work?
How do you get paid?
Let me share to you my story.
How I Got Started
I started writing as a campus journalist dating back to my elementary school days, until I reached college. Now, I studied nursing, but I opted to pursue a career in writing because writing has always been my passion. When I was still a college student, I learned from my beast friend [sic], Jan McKingley Hilado, how you can make money online through blogging; that is, Internet marketing.
He organized an Internet marketing workshop, and I helped facilitate it. I created a blog in blogger (this very blog), signed up for a Google Adsense account (where Google pays you per click on advertisements they post in your blog), and started writing. However, being a dedicated graduating student, I abandoned my blog and focused more on my studies.
So fast-forward everything, and we get to the time after my graduation. I came to learn about an online job website called Odesk. And here's where we pick up from the story.
Things You Need for an Online Job
- Internet connection
- A laptop
- Odesk account
- PayPal account
- Unionbank Eon account
- Skype account
Odesk: A Haven for Freelancers and People Looking for Online Jobs
- Sign up in Odesk. It's free, so no need to worry.
- Fill up your profile. It's just like creating a CV for a job, only it's online.
- Take tests. The first and most crucial test you have to take in Odesk is the Odesk Readiness Test. This test will be the basis for Odesk to allow you to apply for jobs posted in their website. (Here's how you pass: Pass Your Odesk Readiness Exam in Minutes! Credits to my friend Mary Narvasa.)
- Link a PayPal account to your Odesk. I'll give pointers in the next section.
PayPal is a website where you can pay and get paid online. Here's how you get paid:
- Sign up in PayPal. Again, this is for free.
- Have your account verified. You do this by linking your credit card. In the Philippines, the fastest way to get verified without signing up for a credit card is through Unionbank Eon. I'll teach you how to get an Eon account in the next section.
- Be sure to have at least a few hundred pesos in your Eon account. PayPal will get a certain amount of money (I forgot how much) to verify your account. Don't worry. They'll refund the money after a few days when your account is verified.
- After you get verified, you're good to go. Also, you can link other bank accounts to your PayPal.
Unionbank Eon is a cyber account that is very useful when transacting online payments. Here's how you get a Unionbank Eon account:
- Go to the Unionbank Eon website and sign up there. They will send you a verification code after a few hours through text. Another option is to apply to your nearest Unionbank branch. However, a friendly teller there told me that online sign ups are faster compared to going there personally, because you can get your card immediately.
- After you get the verification code, go to the Unionbank branch that you have chosen (during the sign up). Have two valid government-issued cards, plus photocopies of each, with you. There is no initial deposit or maintaining balance. But you need to pay the Visa electron annual fee of 350php, which you can pay later on. (To learn more about their fees, click HERE.)
- Get your card. :-)
Online Writing: How It Works
Now that you have an Odesk account and a verified PayPal account, the next thing you will do is apply for jobs in Odesk. This article will delve on online writing, because that's what I do, but there is a plethora of other job options you can find in Odesk like online technical support, telemarketing, data entry, and more.
I usually do content writing and product reviews. What usually happens is that once the employer considers you for the job, they discuss further with your through Skype, so be sure to have a Skype account too. When you get the job, they assign tasks to you daily, weekly, or whatever works for you. The word count ranges from 350 to 1,000 words, give or take. As for the time you spend online, it's all up to you: part-time, full-time, or as needed. It all depends on the agreement with the employer. Here are tips on the types of writing I've done:
- You don't have to be an excellent writer; you just have to be good in presenting facts in a simple way. Note that you are writing website content, and your audience is the general public. Mouthful words and complicated jargon are not encouraged; in fact, the simpler the better.
- Use subheadings but not sub-subheadings. Bullets, like the ones I used here, are very much encouraged.
- Research on what you write. There is so much you can find in Google when you know how and where to find it. You do not want to write an article based on false information. You have to be legit.
- The basic structure of a product review has an overview of the product, the pros, the cons, and the conclusion.
- Be as editorial as possible; do not make it sound like a sales pitch. What you're aiming here is an unbiased view of the product.
- But do not be too harsh. (This is something that I am guilty of.) You do not want to bad-mouth a product. Make it a point to be as tactful as possible, especially if a product is not very good.
- Again, use subheadings and bullets.
Wrapping It All Up
There are also other online job sites other than Odesk. You can opt for Elance, Guru, PeoplePerHour, and Freelancer. But I'm not familiar about their systems. One final point is that you have to build a name for yourself, and from there, you can increase your rate. In online writing, you get paid per word count. Also, when you've made a good online foundation, networking through LinkedIn can be helpful. You'll get referrals from other online-career friends from good employers they know of, and that can protect you too from employers who do not pay you after all the writing you've done (I've had my experiences).
I guess that's about it for now. :-)