A writing advice site I visited suggested that informational writing (writing articles) doesn’t pay. The post was a plea for writers to avoid the temptation of writing for content mills. I agree that writing 500-word blog posts for $25 is no way to make a living. However any kind of writing can pay well provided you pick the right customer. It can get confusing:
The lowest-paying work is correspondence and filler copy. If what you write is for one-time use, the entity who commissions your work can’t afford to pay much. Examples: short articles meant to drive SEO, ongoing low-stakes ghostwriting, like the “president’s statement” for a weekly nonprofit newsletter. A lot of this work isn’t assigned to freelance writers at all; it’s delegated to administrative employees.
Leveraged copy pays a bit more. I currently write fact sheets that are used by a company’s reps as leave behinds for sales calls. The company can’t measure a direct ROI for these pieces, but each one hypothetically contributes to tens of thousands of dollars in sales. This work commands a respectable hourly rate.
What pays the most? Direct response copy that generates revenue that can be measured, marketable entertainment copy like journalism or fiction from name writers, educational or informational copy sold to people who need the information.
Be strategic: If you love informational writing, you don’t have to grit your teeth and write junk … er, direct mail. Consider positioning yourself as a teacher and developing a product. Understand that your customers are students or sponsoring entities that enroll students. Or produce white papers for large corporations and skip trying to sell blog content to strapped small business owners.