Over four years ago, when I first entered the realm of freelance writing, much of the work I did was geared toward actual hardcopy document publishers. Being new to the writing and publishing industries, I had little experience with where or how to get my work out there and seen by others. Whether book, newspaper, or magazine, I was more interested in those hardcopy sorts of publishers than anything to do with the Internet.
I realized after a long year of mailing queries, articles, and manuscripts to a litany of agents and publishers though, that there were some distinct financial upsides to online publishing.
I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent (and largely wasted) crafting letters, stuffing envelopes, and mailing literally hundreds of letters to various publications. These are hours that I could have spent productively writing, finding new writing jobs and otherwise making money. While this isn’t to say that I still don’t have to perform similar duties with online publishing, the amount of time I spend doing so is significantly reduced.
With all those mailings came increased costs. From the paper upon which to print the letters, articles and manuscripts, to the envelopes, stamps, shipping costs, printer cartridges, and similar supplies, my costs for such efforts ran into the hundreds of dollars each year. Suffice to say, my return on investment for such costs was minimal compared to what it is writing for various Internet publications and sending queries and documents by way of email rather than snail mail.
Motivation might seem a strange addition to the financial upsides of online publishing, but getting your name out there and having some items published can act to provide some motivation to stay at it.
The more I get published, the harder I work since my efforts are being recognized and pay off both monetarily and intrinsically. Just sending dozens of query letters to which I never receive a response can be a motivational killer and can quell the fire that ignites my passion to write. However, seeing something that I’ve crafted out there online for others to read makes my efforts more worthwhile.
Residual Income Possibilities
There is also of course the income side of online publishing. Many regular publishers will pay a flat fee for a piece of writing and that is that. However, with certain online work, I might be eligible for residual payments based upon the viewership of my work as well as advertising income.
There is also the question of rights, and how the retention of the rights to my work in some cases can have long-lasting and significant financial repercussions. While not every online publisher to which I sell will allow me to retain the rights to my work, in some instances I do, and can therefore reap the rewards of that article in multiple ways and in multiple locations. I might publish it in one or two online venues in which I can reap residuals from it’s being viewed by others, then use it on my own personal finance blog or vice versa.
By retaining the rights to certain works, I can put it in multiple locations to keep it earning in each of those locations. And while the income stream might in some cases be small, over time and multiple sites, and with multiple articles, that income can add up nicely.