I hear many writers refute the idea of writing free content. While I agree, in the simplest terms, it is “something for nothing”, the benefits of free content actually outweigh the down-side of writing for free. Is it really for nothing?
The competition for content is fierce. Every Web site owner wants content and hundreds of writers want their content visible on the Web. There are so many free Web sites that you can literally advertise your goods, services, and knowledge globally for years without spending a penny.
Of course, there is a cost involved in writing free content---time. However, the cost in time units is only a fraction of the money that would otherwise be spent in getting the kind of coverage available by supporting content sites with free articles.
The idea is not to spend all day writing free content. Generally, once you’ve completed your articles for paying markets, take an idea and generate one free content article. I usually select a topic about which I can generate an article in a few hours. Don’t spend more than two hours on the article over an entire day---use it as a gap-filler.
The point is to be able to generate a short article that provides a general overview of your knowledge or work---don’t dive too deep. If someone likes your work or idea, let them come to you and pay you for a more, in-depth version. Call it “testing the waters.”
One of the benefits I’ve found to writing free content is in exercising my brain. I get a chance to generate a short article about something I know without the added pressure of acceptance and deadlines. This is where you get to write for the fun of it and be able to produce industry contacts and resume fodder.
Yes, resume fodder. If some popular site picks up your article, you can use it on your resume. Make sure that you write something that pertains to your areas of expertise. If you post something like “101 Fun Things You Can Do With Toilet Paper” and it’s picked up by an unknown MLM site, I’d think twice about adding it to your resume.
Many major sites are monitored and rated by some of the larger corporations and industry experts. If you article catches their eye, you could end up with a client that you would have otherwise never had the chance to work for. The wider the audience, the more additional work you can acquire!
Writing a free content article is simple and follows a similar professional approach as an article for a standard, paying market. A few pointers are:
Keep it under 1,500 words. Some professional organizations might pickup your article for a paying market and they usually only accept between 500 and 2,000 words. Also, if you can write an in-depth topic in fewer than 1,500 words, that usually demonstrates that you have a handle on the topic.
Take free content articles seriously. Be professional and write about something you know professionally. Stay away from the MLM articles and avoid meaningless writing.
I’ve seen some authors use the same free content from other writers and just modify it a little to suit their needs. Do you own work!
Make sure that you byline provides enough information to identify yourself and provide contact information. This byline is your business card!
As I’ve said, I sometimes see that same article used by numerous writers. Sometimes, unethical people steal other’s work so that they can look good in the public eye. Take it as a compliment, but protect yourself.
Protecting free content is no different than protecting paying market content. One place to go is MediaRegister (http://www.mediaregister.com). They will register your work online for a minimal fee. This way you can distribute your work and protected it from the little thieves of the Internet.
Free content articles can provide you with enormous amount of exposure on the Web. In some cases, you can obtain exposure that you would have otherwise missed!
Edward B. Toupin is a freelance consultant, writer, and published author living in Las Vegas with his singer/actress wife. He currently handles technical writing tasks for various companies in New York, Chicago, and Denver as well as imagineers and markets feature-length screenplays. Edward provides quality Web site design, development, and marketing as well as writing, document design and planning, and e-book publishing services. You can visit his Web site at http://www.toupin.com or contact him at email@example.com. For information on the latest e-books, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright 2001 by Edward B. Toupin, All Rights Reserved