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How to Make Money Licensing and Selling Content Without Freelancing

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If you have a knack for penning your ideas, I have a potentially profitable side hustle for moms to make extra money writing articles. You can license or sell the content you create on platforms like Constant Content or in content groups on social media. This includes pictures, printables, planners, and a bunch of stuff. But for the sake of being able to provide the most value and details in this article, I’m going to talk about my favorite thing – writing.

How I Learned This Particular Side Hustle

When I was pregnant with my daughter Eva back in 2013, I was on the hunt for a way to automate my income so I always had something coming in when the new baby came. That’s when I first became aware of Constant Content, a platform where writers could go to license or sell their content outright.

I was THRILLED about that because as a writer, I had amassed a bunch of articles that I’d written for clients who ordered articles and either didn’t pay, or they didn’t like my work (pearls clutched, I know) and canceled the job. So, I ended up with a surplus of content that I’d written on everything from dental procedures to cures for a damp basement.

I posted them to Constant Content, and they began to sell. I still get the occasional email from Constant-Content that I’ve sold or licensed an article and I haven’t posted new content there in about 7 years. #gasmoney

So, this side hustle idea is a bit like the Food Photography idea I talked about in an earlier post because you’re creating the content first then selling it, as opposed to being hired to create something. I like this way because you could create a batch of content and continually post to platforms that will allow you to bring in income without having to spend time fine-tuning proposals and searching for gigs.

How Content Licensing Works

Think of this job as being a writer, but with a slightly different focus. While a traditional writer may focus on earning money for her writing (because she’s going to write anyway), someone who licenses content focuses on writing to earn money (because she needs an income stream and this is as good a stream as any).

To be successful with this side hustle, you’ll have to understand who you’re writing for and what the main pain points are. Your goal is to content that is so valuable, you can earn residual income by licensing each piece of content you create multiple times.  

As a creator of content, U.S. Copyright Law gives you the legal right to do whatever you want with the content you create in the form of Exclusive Rights. Exclusive RIghts include the right to share, publish, make derivative works of (like modifying and remixing), sell, distribute copies, transfer ownership of your work. So, as a copyright owner, you can transfer, lease, or sell some (or all) of your rights to the content you create.

For instance…

Let’s say you’ve written an article. You could decide to give a website the right to publish one of your articles for a competitive fee. The website doesn’t own the piece of content, so the editors may be able to tweak the writing a bit, but they can’t turn around and re-sell your article. They only have the right to publish the piece, not sell it… maybe even not modify it much.

A second scenario… you may allow Website A to publish the piece under a non-exclusive license. Three weeks later, you can still allow Website B to publish the same piece as well, for a separate fee, also under a non-exclusive license.

Or… you could write on a topic you know is trending and sell the article outright to a publication. In that case, you would transfer full content rights to the publication. Once you get paid, you relinquish your rights to the article and move on to the next project.

Here are the three most common ways to license content you own:

  1. Pitch article ideas to local, regional and national publications then create the content once you have a contract from one of those publications.
  2. Create content around hot topics or controversial topics then market the content to publishers and content marketers, selling them either full rights or license usage (partial)  rights to your content
  3. Create white label / private label rights content (these are articles that give blogs and brands non-exclusive rights to do whatever they want to the content) then license that content to multiple publishers, giving them permission to publish the content as-is, change it, share it, display it or resell it as they wish.

If writing is not your strong suit, you can hire ghostwriters (or be hired as a ghostwriter yourself – I wrote an article on this, too) to create articles and content for you. You can usually get website-ready ghostwritten articles of 800 to 1000 words starting at about $10. Just make it clear in the job posting that the job is a work-for-hire and the ghostwriter retains no rights to the content.

In a scenario like this, you can resell or license the content the ghostwriter created for you and earn residual income off the sales for years to come.

Skills Inventory for Selling Articles

Writing abilities, persistence, organization skills, a writing voice. One skill I’ve found that’s REALLY helpful is the ability to mimic the tone of whatever publication you’re targeting. So, how you write for Forbes is different than the tone you would use if you were contributing to The Shelf (my favorite blog – not just because I’m the editor) or Twins Mommy (one of my other favorite blogs).

Physical / Virtual Inventory

Computer, internet connection

Launch Cost

Okay. This varies. If you’re not a writer, you will need to hire someone to write the articles for you.  If you write, you’ll need to make a time investment.

Marketing Your Articles

Create your own writer website. Contact editors of publications that publish content in your niche… if you specialize in writing on a certain topic. Gonna be honest here – you’re actually better off sticking to a topic you know and have experience UNLESS you’re selling full rights to your articles.

Somewhat Important Aside: I say that because Google’s E-A-T update (not a new idea, but it has growing importance) focuses on showing results from creators who can demonstrate Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness in the topics they’re writing about. This means if you can build a reputation for creating bylined content about a specific thing (in my case it’s digital marketing and working from home – my two jams), that will probably benefit you when it comes to getting found on Google. There’s a great article about Google’s E-A-T update on Search Engine Journal, in case you’re interested

You can also use content-selling platforms like Upwork and PeoplePerHour (my two favorites) to find brands that are actively searching for content on specific topics. Constant-Content.com is the one platform I use to sell articles, and despite not posting content for the last few years or so, I occasionally get royalties from the articles I posted with usage rights only. But there are similar platforms like WriterAccess.com and TextBroker.com that allow you to sift through and grab writing assignments you want to complete. But if you’re deadline -adverse… Constant Content.

Here’s one that I also love – there are Facebook groups where you can sell articles. You, of course, have to apply to get into the groups, follow the rules and best practices, and read the room, so to speak, when you get in there so you know what KIND of content to sell – whether that’s an article on a new diet, or homeschooling, or recipes…

I can recommend a couple of active Facebook groups: Blog Content 4 SaleSell Your Content & ServicesVA for Hire and Pinterest-Friendly Content for Bloggers.