The wording of the title explains exactly what my point of that article was. Using these sites will enable anyone to start writing almost instantly on the internet.

This kind of tactic is great for someone who just wants to throw words onto a screen and make some money. Are these people considered freelance writers? Yes. Do I consider these people freelance writers? Not necessarily. Those sentences right there will anger many people reading this article, but I do not apologize for my views on this topic.

For as long as I can remember, the only thing I have ever wanted in life was to be a writer. In the pre-digital age, becoming a writer consisted of a lot more perfection of your craft. Writers would have to write well-written articles and submit them to print editors for acceptance or rejection. This process was time-consuming and required very thick professional skin for the beginning writer.

Now with the boom of user-generated content sites and blogs, anybody can be a published author. While this may seem like a great thing for writers across the board, it is actually very detrimental to the art of writing. The written word is a beautiful symphony of phrases and sentences that, when played together, bring the reader into the mind of the writer. That is not always the case with today’s internet freelance writer.

Most of the sites, including those that I have mentioned, are looking for SEO-friendly articles. Search engine optimization refers to a style of writing that is meant to increase traffic to your articles. A writer does this by carefully choosing certain keywords that people would be typing into search engines. The use of these keywords has to be repeated and used a certain percentage of times throughout an article. There is a little (though not much) more to SEO writing than just keyword selection, but I am not going to dive into detail here. Just type SEO into any search engine or user-generated content site, and hundreds – if not thousands – of articles and websites will instantly pop onto your screen.

There is nothing wrong with SEO-style writing if that is what you want to do. But certain aspects of SEO writing are an exact contradiction to proper writing etiquette. Repetition is very important in SEO writing. As a writer, I have spent a lot of time expanding my vocabulary and learning how to not repeat the same words and phrases, so as to not bore the reader. It is possible to write well-written SEO articles that can both bring traffic to a site as well as prove that the written word is not dead. Unfortunately, these days, those writers are valued little more than those that just focus on SEO content, without any passion behind them.

This has led internet sites, such as Associated Content, to considerably lower the pay for writers in general. This especially hits writers that enjoy spending time creating a symphony of words for their readers’ enjoyment. If a writer submits an article that is not SEO optimized, they will be lucky to be paid more than five dollars for it – if the site even pays for it at all. Why is this? It’s because SEO writing is not a talent, as much as it is a learned skill.

Remember that search on SEO articles you did earlier? The majority of those sites will teach you how to write SEO content, but very few of them will take the time to teach anyone how to write well. That is because writing well is not a talent that just anyone can learn. Just as with any art, there is a natural raw talent that a writer must possess. The proof of this difference is in the sheer number of ‘How to’ SEO articles that exist on the internet. I have five articles from Associated Content open right now. Each one of these articles says the exact same thing, only using some slightly different keywords. It is possible to find articles and sites dedicated to improving natural writing ability, but these sites are few and far between.

The obvious question that I get asked at this point is, “Why not just write a bunch of SEO articles and get paid?” My answer to that is always the same, “Because I am a writer.” Another opinion that will upset some people, I know, but it is the truth. That is not to say that SEO writers are not writers or do not write well. As a whole, the SEO writer is not focused on perfecting the writing as much as they are on perfecting their search engine results.

Of course, I want the whole world to read my writing and hopefully experience something as they read my words. I want this to come from how well I write and not from what the Great Google in the Sky thinks of my writing. Because of this new style of writing, and the fact that anybody can be taught how to do it, freelance writing, in general, has dropped considerably in pay.

It used to be that freelance writers would be compensated for their talent and work with a pay scale that reflected that talent and work. These fees would vary considerably, but expecting to get twenty-five dollars on the low end for a well-written article was completely realistic. Finding that kind of price now is very hard to do. Most sites will pay around five dollars for an article, maybe a little more depending on how well the topic is trending on the internet and the author’s use of keywords. This pay scale is reasonable for a skill that anybody can be taught.

When a writer pours his heart and soul into a project and spends a lot of time making sure the flow is perfect and the wording is as beautiful as any other piece of fine art, that writer should be paid for that work. That is not the case with most of today’s writing sites. If a writer spends a lot of time, crafting a perfect work of art, but does not pay attention to the taught skill of SEO writing, they will be lucky to get paid for it at all.

Freelance writers do not only write on these user-generated content sites, though. There are freelancers that do get paid a real writing fee for their work, but again, these are few and far between these days. If a writer suffers through the trenches of this writer’s despair long enough, they are bound to make a few contacts that can turn into clients. These clients, for the most part, are still willing to pay a lower fee and want SEO-heavy content.

SEO writing was also born out of not wanting to pay for advertising. Why spend a lot of hard-earned money to build a name for yourself (as Yahoo has done in the past) when you can pay Tom Writer five dollars for something that says the same words over and over again (as Yahoo does now on this site)? From a business standpoint, this makes perfect sense.

This type of attitude must be working. Why else would there be so many of these sites popping up all over the place? Because it is cheap and easy and that is all internet companies like that want. They make a dollar at the expense of writers and readers alike, never once caring about the true value of these people. When SEO writing is dead, which is not that far off, what will happen to all of these writers that have spent so much time perfecting the skill of SEO?

Most of them will return to their day jobs, looking at their writing career as just another job. Others will still struggle to still keep up their writing careers but ultimately fail just as SEO writing has done for years. There is still one group of SEO and internet writers that will emerge after the inevitable SEO crash. These are the true writers. Those that write for the love of writing, and not to count word usage and save other companies advertising expenses.

These are the writers that have honed their art. They have practiced their whole life, every day getting a little better. Sure, knowing SEO is helpful, but this insistence on SEO-heavy content will backfire someday; just as every internet fad since the Dot-Com boom has done. When it does, the ones left to clean up the mess and bring the internet out of the Dark Ages and back into a modern Renaissance will be the ones who possess that natural, raw writing ability.

Other articles from Joshua Cook on the Yahoo! Contributor Network:

  • Start Writing Now With Three Sites
  • Business and Professional Writing
  • No Place Like Home: A Zombie ACRES Story