10 Tips For Getting Paid To Write For Listverse
Do you like the idea of being paid to write? Well, youâve come to right place. In case you hadnât heard: Listverse is on the lookout for new talent. If youâve got an idea and a knack for putting words together, we want to pay you US $100. No joke. Our submissions page is completely open, and anyone can enter. That means you.
Yeah: you. See, unlike most big sites, Listverse doesnât require you to have a degree or previous experience or anything like that. When I submitted my first article, Iâd never written ANYTHING before. All I had was a cool idea, which the editors liked enough to publish. That article led to more and more work, until eventually I was earning enough to become a full-time writer. How great is that? Since then, Iâve been swamped with emails from people wanting to know how to get on the Listverse bandwagon. So hereâs the deal: Iâll tell what Iâve picked up writing 40-odd articles, if you promise to try writing one too. Interested? Then read on:
This is it: the golden rule of writing. Yet, for some reason, it tends to worry newbies. Lots of people read âwrite what you knowâ and worry they donât know anythingâlike maybe you need a degree in âListologyâ before weâll let you tackle certain subjects.
Well trust me, you donât. Not only that, but I guarantee youâve got an idea in you right now. See, the great thing about list-writing is your topic can be as broad or as narrow as you want it to be. So letâs say the only thing you know about is Chinese culture. Great! Write a broad list like 10 Bizarre Aspects of Chinese Culture. Or letâs imagine you love space photography: you could try your hand at something ultra-specific like 10 Astounding Examples of Pareidolia in Outer Space.
Both of those examples got published because their authors followed this golden rule. Whatever youâre into, thereâs a list in there. So come on: what do you âknowâ?
Once youâve found your topic, find an unusual way of looking at it. The more unexpected your take is, the more likely itâll be published. Just this month, weâve had 10 Medicines That Made Things Worse. Something like that instantly gets attention because it turns our notions of medicine on their head. Or try something unusual, like 10 Bizarre Theories About the Earth that People Still Believe. And donât be afraid to be controversial.
Yeah: weâre not shy about controversy. One article that caused a recent storm was 10 Reasons Creationism Should be Taught in Schools. An article like that not only challenges accepted wisdom, it invites the reader to form their own opinion. Which people did: that particular article racked up over 750 comments within days. So look for your angleâthat little twist that will make your article on North Korea stick out from every other article on North Korea. With a good topic and a good angle, youâre halfway there.
All websites have editorial guidelines, and Listverse is no exception. Before you start physically writing, you need to have a look at them. You might be a kickass writer who gets rave reviews on another website, but mimicking their âhouse styleâ on a Listverse piece will just make the editors wonder why you bothered sending it here.
As embarrassing as it is to admit, Iâve been guilty of this. My second-ever article was an absolute train-wreck and should be held up as an example of how not to write for Listverse. Where did I go wrong? Simple: I didnât follow the guidelines and just wrote what I wanted. Big mistake: doing that is insulting to the editors and readers and makes you look pretty dumb. So take it from me: download and read the rulebook before you write a single word. It may be time consuming, but youâll be glad you did it.
Itâs widely acknowledged that the best English is simple English. George Orwell, Ernest Hemingway, Cormac McCarthy and Hunter S Thompson all wrote about big complex things using short, simple sentences. No excessive sub-clauses. No âten dollarâ words. They wrote so any casual reader could understand them, and so should you. Keep it short, keep it punchy and donât overload sections with information. Thereâs a simple reason for this: people are here to kill time. Theyâre sitting at work or the back of some classroom and want to be entertained for five minutes. Thatâs why lists like the 10 Greatest Benefits of Capitalism will break their complex topic down into short, easily-digestible concepts. It allows us readers to feel smartâlike weâre learning something newâand keeps your writing from veering off into academic territory.
You may have noticed most lists on here are pretty informal. Writers drop in the odd-joke, use occasional slang and basically do their best to keep it sounding like a conversation. Why? Because thatâs what it should feel like: a casual chat with an entertaining friend. A friend you might disagree with, sureâsometimes even a friend you kind of hate. But still a friend: someone on your level who you can imagine talking to in real life. Reading writing that goes the opposite route and becomes too formal is like listening to a lecture. It can be interesting, you learn a lot, but itâs not something you want to spend your spare time doingâespecially if youâve just got back from a long day at college. Listverse should be a place to unwind and learn some trivia; an informal(ish) tone will really help that.
Iâm going to let you in on a little secret: your title is kind of a big deal. As the first thing readers see when they hit the homepage, it can make the difference between them reading your article or thinking âcanât be botheredâ.
So what makes a great title? Simple: itâs something that shocks the reader, grabs their attention and explains the entire concept in around 5 words. Need an example? One of my favorites is 10 Things the Naziâs got Right. How could anyone resist a title like that? It sums up everything thatâs great about Listverse: the promise of obscure information, controversial opinion and a weird take on a well-known concept. Fit a title like that to your piece and youâll be ahead of the game.
So youâve found a topic you know, a great angle, written it up in an entertaining way and given it an awesome title. You press send, sit backâŚ and get a polite rejection email a few days later. What happened?
Well, it could be anything. Maybe your angle wasnât as interesting as you thought it was. Maybe a near-identical article was published three months ago. Maybe it just wasnât right. Whatever the reason, donât take it personally. No, really, donât. Itâs easy to get upset when you spend hours working on something only for someone youâve never met to say ânahâ. Trust me, I know. When I first started writing for Listverse I had about one rejected article for every one published. But hereâs the thing: itâs not personal. Honestly, it isnât. Just because your first submission got declined doesnât mean your second, third or fourth will. The thing is: we want you to succeed. If we publish your article it means we get an awesome piece of content to stick on our front page. So we donât turn down stuff just for the hell of it. If you get rejected, figure out where you went wrong and try again. Then keep trying till you get it right.
The comments section is the curse of the internet writer. If itâs too complimentary, you run the risk of believing your own hype. If itâs too negative, your confidence can take a heck of a beating. But itâs the name of the game: if youâre getting paid to write, you have to take all the stuff that comes with itâand every writer has their own method of dealing with comments.
Personally, I never read them. Ever. I just figured it was easier that way: but that doesnât mean you donât have to. Some writers enjoy getting below the line and having an argument. Others just skim-read them as a way of figuring out what theyâre doing right and wrong. But just remember this: even if all the comments on your article are violently negative, that can only be a good thing. Whenever I cause a reaction in someoneâgood or badâI know Iâm on the right track. After all, whatâs worse: scrolling down to find 600 comments all calling you a jackass; or finding no comments at all?
A final piece of advice: consider leaving a contact email so people can get hold of you. Not everyone does this, but Iâd strongly recommend it. Put simply: itâs one of the best things about the job. Every day I log on to a slew of emails from Listverse readersâsome good, some bad, but all interesting. And hereâs the thing: theyâll say things youâd never see below the line. Over five months Iâve had people write to me about their struggles with depression; their own writing careers; odd opinions about topical events and little stories from their own lives. And I love itâeven if I donât always reply, just logging on to find them there puts me in a great mood.
But best of all are the ones from people your work has somehow affected. I recently wrote an article that touched on the horrific siege at Sarajevo. A few days later I got an email from someone who had been there and survived the massacre telling me Iâd done an amazing job. Getting something like that in your inbox reminds you why youâre doing this in the first place. It reminds you why you want to write. So yeah, maybe consider leaving that email address. Just in case.
So thatâs it: 40 articlesâ experience squashed into one quick list. Now itâs your turn. If youâve ever wanted to be a writer, I want you to follow this link and give it a shot. Just try it, because I promise you will never, ever regret it. Aside from the $100 every article gets, and the knowledge that over 8 million people are reading something youâve written; you may just find that itâs one of the most-rewarding things youâve ever done. So what are you waiting for? Get writing!