by Greg Hanson
Establishing a new local church is a challenging endeavor. Often, it must be done in the face of a serious lack of financing. When the church cannot afford to pay any or all of the pastor's salary, he or she must find another source of income. (Unless, of course, the pastor married into money or is independently wealthy.)
Common "tentmaking" opportunities range from driving a bus to working in a fast food restaurant to selling merchandise in a retail store. However, if you are a skilled writer with a firm grasp on the rules of grammar, freelance writing can provide income by tapping into your existing expertise. Perhaps more significantly, it be done on your own schedule.
There are several venues available for selling your writing. If you have the necessary contacts and can invest the time in pursuing your options, you can sell articles directly to magazines and newspapers. For most freelancers starting out, though, the Internet is the venue of choice.
Many online writers use Google AdSense to earn income. Essentially, this involves you setting up an account to allow Google to place advertising on the same page as your article. Each time a visitor clicks on one of the ads, you earn a few cents. The subject matter of your article, the extent of the information provided, and the quality of the writing all play a role in attracting traffic. The amount of traffic affects the number of clicks, and the number of clicks is what determines your income.
Online article publishing sites such as Yahoo's Associated Content and Bukisa allow their writers to use a personal Google AdSense account in connection with their articles. The problem, though, is that it can take a long time and a lot of articles before you begin to earn any significant amount of income through AdSense. This method is perhaps best for the hobbyist who is writing more for pleasure than as a source of income, or whose writing ability cannot meet the standards of more stringent editors.
Many bloggers have converted their blogs into cash through a combination of AdSense, sponsors/advertisers, and affiliate marketing. The potential for success is real, depending on the demand for the content. However, it is also possible that it never develops into anything substantial. The main obstacle is attracting enough traffic.
Perhaps the best option for most online freelancers who can write at a high standard is to sell the rights to their articles through Constant Content. Constant Content allows writers to submit articles and set their own prices for full, unique, or usage rights. The lowest price allowed is $7, though some highly technical articles sell for hundreds of dollars. Most articles sell for between $25 and $55 and consist of 400-700 words.
Whatever the selling price, the writer receives 65 percent of it when it is sold. The rest goes to Constant Content and, if applicable, the person who referred that writer. [Full disclosure: the Constant Content links in this article include the referral link for Greg Hanson.] Even with 35 percent taken off the top, the potential income per article is more than can be found practically anywhere else on the web.
The key to success on Constant Content is to write completely original articles (i.e. no plagiarism) and proofread your work thoroughly. The editors at Constant Content will not tolerate errors and will reject articles for simple spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes. If this happens too many times, the writer may be banned from the site.
Many writers who sign up with Constant Content drop out after a few feeble attempts, often without even getting an article past the editors. While the site's high standards can be frustrating for writers, though, it is also why article buyers are willing to pay premium prices. Those who stick with it and build up a portfolio of articles can earn hundreds or even thousands of dollars per month.
As a pastor, you likely have knowledge covering a wide range of topics. Based solely on your professional experience, you may be able to write informed pieces on relational issues, finances, marketing, technology, parenting, music, entrepreneurship, management, leadership, charities, fundraising, weddings, funerals, religion, and volunteering. Expanding that list to include your personal interests may add topics such as entertainment, sports, cooking, travel, and fitness.
The downside is that Constant Content does not accept opinion-based or editorial style articles. Though you may be writing from a Christian perspective-perhaps even converting your sermons into articles-you have to be careful to not come across "preachy." Phrases such as "according to Christian doctrine," "most Christians believe," or “an old Hebrew proverb says” can help you get around this issue. You can also write about biblical principles without overtly quoting from the Bible.
Another mistake that writers make when writing for Constant Content is writing in the first person. In other words, you should not refer to "me," "myself," or "I" in your writing. Unless specifically requested by a prospective customer, first person articles will be rejected by the editors.
You can choose your own topic to write about and then submit it for approval. Alternatively, you can select a "public request" from the list on Constant Content and write an article specifically to fulfill that request. Ideally, you will eventually attract some "private requests" from customers wanting to hire you to write on specific subjects.
If you are a church planter (or any pastor, for that matter) who is looking for a source of income to replace or supplement what you are paid from your church, consider freelancing through Constant Content. You probably won't get rich from your writing, but you can earn a respectable income.
© 2011 Greg Hanson / PowerPointPastors.com