Earn $800 a Month as a Freelance Writer for About.com

Getting started in a freelance career is both exciting and a bit scary; most people wonder how on earth they will pay their bills until they become established in their new career. A simple solution is to land a gig that pays a monthly salary. This is Where About.com comes into play.

Interactive Corp, the same people that own a host of other sites including Newsweek, also owns About.com. About itself was created in 1996 making it one of the oldest information based websites on the Internet. You have probably visited dozens of About web pages over the years. Now is your chance to write for them.

Depending on the specific topic, you will be given a flat salary of between $800 and $1000 per month. You will maintain the About website for your topic and write 8-10 articles per month.

Getting started with About

Getting started is actually quite easy: Visit the About.com website and scroll all the way to the bottom. You will see a link to write for them; click on it. This will take you to an information page that gives you three choices.

Guides – Guides are those who maintain the overall topic into which your specific niche falls. For example, if you are a writer on Romania, the topic it falls under is Eastern Europe. The Guide would manage all of those writing on the various Eastern European nations as well as writing articles about Eastern Europe.

Topic Writers – This is what most people are looking for in terms of a writing gig. You write 8-10 articles per month on your specific topic. You also maintain the website for that topic.

Video Producer – This is for those who create and publish videos to the Internet. The pay can be higher here but it’s known for being time consuming.

After you decide which job to apply for on this site you will see a drop down menu to the right of the page; click on it, select your choice and hit the submit button. This will take you to a page with a list of all available open positions.

Once you select an open position click on it and you will be given more information. This information will include qualifications as well as the target audience of the site. If it suits you, select ‘next’ to open the page with the writing agreement. Agree to it and you will be taken to an application page.

The About Application

This is an extremely basic application. They want your name, address, phone number and email. You have to click a box stating that you are over 18. You also have to submit a 500-word or longer article about the topic for which you are applying.

I cannot stress this enough: Make sure the sample is a great one; good isn’t going to be enough. There is a lot of competition for these positions so be certain to submit the best article that you have. Then you will wait.

There had to be a downside to About and it’s the waiting time. There are many people who have waited for 6 months before hearing back. Naturally there are those who hear back in a week. Either way, be prepared to wait.

The reason for the waiting process becomes clear once you hear back from them. About is looking for between 3-5 candidates to train. They will accept the top candidate.

The About Training Process

When you hear back from About you generally have 24 hours to let them know that you are still interested. Then your training begins.

You will be given access to a testing website and given the information on how the site works. Then you have to build it and upload three articles in various formats. You will be judged on not only your writing skills but also on how well you have designed the site, your inclusion of photos and your grasp of writing for the Internet.

The evaluation of your site is in 3 stages. You have to complete each one to get to the next level. Each passage for you means that one of the other candidates has been eliminated from the competition.

Specifically, About is looking for Internet writing ability, the desire to educate the public about your chosen topic, passion for the topic and the ability to engage the reader while maintaining the website.

If you are selected as a topic writer, the initial three articles you wrote will be counted as part of your required 8 for the month. If you are not selected then you retain ownership of the articles.

Writing an article

While the About writing platform does have a decent auto save feature, it’s not quite good enough; it only saves every 3 minutes or so. I prefer to write in Word and then copy and paste into the writing area on About.

Article length is around 800 words but it’s more important to do justice to your topic than to reach an exact word length. Being longtime professionals in the media business, About is more concerned about quality than quantity and they recognize that some articles are by necessity longer than others. One word of advice however is that the attention span of the average reader is no more than about 1500 words. It’s generally a good idea to write the entire article and then split it into two or even three parts all published at the same time.

There are several article formats to choose from when you begin writing an article and you can rest easy knowing that your chosen format is available; all formats are available. So if your article is primarily a list, it’s covered. If it’s mostly photos they have that as well. It’s extremely well done and easy to use.

Creating the Website

You can relax as far as building the site goes; most of it has been done for you and what hasn’t been done is more writing than website design. You will need to select your subtopics, headings and that sort of thing but the basics have been done for you making the process more about writing than anything else.

The format is single page. On your creation dashboard you will simply plug in things such as the names of navigational tabs and hit ‘enter.’ For each tab you will need a brief description of what is found on that page. For example: The tab titled ‘Travel’ for the Romania page, You would write that it’s the location for all information necessary for travel to Romania. Then when you write articles about visas or other required documentation, you would have it placed on that page specifically. It’s really simple and a quick visit to any About page will give you a great visual.

The Editing Process

The editing process exists even after you have the job. While you publish at will, the articles will be examined and there is a great deal of give and take. The Guides and editors are very friendly and often help you by asking for a specific topic to be covered because what they read triggered a question. There are times when the emails are flying back and forth furiously and other times when no one sends an email at all. It depends on the topic, current events and a host of other factors. It’s a great gig when you land it.

This is one of the most painless sites when it comes to editing. I’ve never even heard of anyone having trouble with an editor. The editors may make style suggestions or may ask questions but that’s about it. This is one of the few sites where writers and editors generally have a great relationship.

Using Photos

You are not only free to use photos but you are encouraged to do so. Photos help break up text and make your article more interesting. It is imperative that you only use photos that you are allowed to use. About has a great library and provides writers with access to that library so that they may use those photos in their articles. You may also use your own photos. Do not use the photos of others without their permission. About verifies every single photo attribution.


You are expected to promote your site. This makes even more sense when you realize that there is revenue share in play. It’s in your best interest to promote your site as much as possible. You want as many people viewing your page as possible and you want them as engaged as possible. Not only does it ensure you will be kept on as the topic writer it also opens up new chances for revenue. Often About will request more articles per month for a popular site. It’s also possible for your articles to be picked up by About partners and you might even make it into their print publications!


If you guessed that payment was via Paypal you were correct. About pays monthly, usually by the 15th.


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