From Floundering to Published: How Writing SEO Articles Paid Off My Student Loans

Editor’s Note: What do you do if you LOVE your day job, but just can’t shake the dream of becoming a writer? Simple — you continue to excel in your day job while generating a tidy little side income from freelance writing gigs. In fact, you earn enough side income in just 7 months to completely pay off your student loans (about $5000)! That’s what STRONGside, the blogger behind Live the Write Life did. How do you get these freelance writing gigs, you ask? STRONGside started out writing simple articles for a site called textbroker and worked his way up to publishing in magazines such as Greenville Business Magazine. In this article he shares his experience of working with textbroker and how you too can use it to launch your freelance writing career.

(Note: If you have an inspiring story to share, feel free to contact us, so we can feature you in one of our future stories).

Handing it over to STRONGside now…

inspiring_stories_livethewritelifeOne year ago I had a dream of being a writer. I had no plans to quit my full time job, I just knew that I needed to start writing.

When I graduated from college in 2007 I took the first job that came my way. I graduated with a Political Science degree and since I had no plans to go to law school, my degree was rendered effectively worthless. My first job was in mortgage sales, and I was miserable.

Thankfully, a manager at my office knew that I was unhappy. He ended up taking a new job six months after I started, and he recommended that I apply at the same company. I did, and within one month I had a brand new job in a college financial aid office.

I spent the next two years at this job trying to figure out how I could merge my passion for writing and a day job that I thoroughly enjoyed. That is when I stumbled across a website that would change my life forever.


I discovered Textbroker in January 2011. Textbroker is a text brokerage service that acts as the medium between writers and publishers. As a new writer, you will create an account then submit an initial writing sample. This writing sample will be ranked from 2-5. The higher your initial rating, the more levels of writing that are available to you. The higher the level, the more you get paid.

I was skeptical of this system at first, but I decided to give it a shot. My very first article was 400 words on how to maintain a good credit score. They requested 3 keywords within the text, and it took me roughly 15 minutes to write. I earned $4. Not bad.

With one article under my belt I let it rest to make sure that the article would be accepted without any edits. Sure enough, within 24 hours the article was accepted with no edits.

I dove in head first.

I wrote 20, $4 articles that first week and earned $80. My next step was to make sure that the Textbroker payment process worked. I requested my payment through PayPal and sure enough, 3 business days after I requested my payment, it arrived in my PayPal account.

So far so good!

This was the middle of January, 2011. I spent the next 6 months steadily writing articles through the Textbroker system. All told, I wrote around 1050 articles, which netted me right over $4000.

I had become a writer!

For those of you who are quick at math, you will see that I only got paid one penny per word that I wrote. Any established freelance writers out there will likely scoff at that rate. I completely agree that it is laughable on the surface. However, the main benefit of Textbroker is the easy work. There are generally 1000+ articles to be written on the site. The writing generally takes little to no research, they come with few restrictions on tone or voice, and the publishers main concern is SEO keyword usage.

Because the articles are very easy to write, I was eventually able to write a 400 word article in about 7 minutes. That translates to 8 articles an hour, or $32 using the one penny per word calculation.

When I finally got my writing to this level, I realized that I was making more money writing for Textbroker than I was for my full time job!

Paying off my Student Loans

When I first started writing for Textbroker, I had a goal in mind of paying off my student loans. I was fortunate enough to escape college without being heavily burdened with loans, but I did have about $5000 remaining after graduation.

Just last week I mailed in my final payment on my student loans!

My writing through Textbroker has helped me earn enough extra money to cut out a big expense in my monthly budget. I can now use all of the extra money I earn from Textbroker to attacking my other debts (mortgage, car) and investing it wisely.

Writing for Textbroker has given me financial breathing room, and it has shown me what I can accomplish if I work hard.

The Downside of Textbroker

Textbroker does however, have its faults. Because you are writing SEO focused, keyword rich articles you will likely have to unlearn many of proper writing mechanics. It can sometimes be difficult to switch between a proper style of writing, and the Textbroker style that allowed me to make upwards of $32 per hour.

I would not recommend this service to an experienced writer who has been professionally published and can command $1 per word. However, I would gladly recommend this service to anyone who is considering becoming a freelance writer, or who simply wants to make some extra money!

Fast forward one year, and I do not write consistently for Textbroker any more. I have been blessed with other writing opportunities that allow me to make much more money per word, and allow me to pursue topics that I am passionate about.

I have started my own blog where I write about how to be a better freelance writer, and I have been published in a large run print magazine. I might have moved on from Textbroker but I still go back to my humble beginnings just to write a few quick articles, and make some “instant” money.

If you are a college student, a recent graduate, or a professional and you are looking to make some excellent extra money or possibly embark on a brand new career path, I highly recommend Textbroker!

Editor’s Note:

For me the biggest take away from this article is how humble STRONGside’s beginnings were! $4 per article to me sounds ridiculously low, but he stuck with it. And he went on to write 1000+ articles. That’s just unbelievable.

If he had stopped at that, he would still be making money, but I would not be motivated to share his story here. What makes these humble beginning so incredibly inspiring is that, he used the experience to achieve his dream of getting published in print magazine, and then used it as a launch pad to bring in $4000 in additional freelance writing gigs!

Just goes to show that if you are really passionate about something, you will find a way to make it work, and pay! Let’s keep at it, guys!

What about you? What did you take away from this story? Share in the comments section below. And feel free to contact me with your own story.

About the Author: STRONGside is a student financial services manager by day, and a freelance writer and blogger by night. You can read more about him at Live the Write  Life blog where he has great tips for freelance writers and a job board for finding writing gigs.
Like this post? Receive free updates directly in your feed reader or email.
And please share freely!


  1. Hi
    Seo is so competitive now and a lot of the methods that worked then are now ineffective and can even harm your site and there are so many articles on the subject now so getting people to pay for this service now could be quite hard.

    Great read thanks lee

  2. Alice Stewart says:

    That’s really a decent idea of making money as it requires less efforts and you can do it with your regular stuff. Nice share.

  3. Melanie Rose says:

    This is a sweet story, and this person is highly motivated. Many people would snub the $4 per article payment, but he seized the opportunity and made it work for him. Thanks for a good story and for this nice site.


  4. I have a couple of friends that make money blogging and they also only concentrate on one thing… And one more trait they have is high motivation and self belief in what they write about…. Thanks for the insight

  5. It is so great to know that you have found another way to solve your problem regarding student loan. That is so great. Eventually, there are really many ways to have your student loan be settled immediately. Just take a look around you.

  6. I’m done writing for a website similar to Textbroker. I’ve written 1000 article’s and have made 4k. So yes – it can be a way to help with debt. A few things he leaves out though.

    1) The income is taxable. Sites like Textbroker will report what they’ve paid you to the IRS. So you will need to pay taxes on that income. Trust me, don’t mess with the IRS.

    2) Burnout. It’s very easy to burnout on writing that many SEO articles. To keep up a steady income you’ll need to write at least 4,000 words a day. I know people who do a lot more than that.

    3) Discipline. Writing cheap SEO articles for cash requires focus and dedication. It’s essentially a second job.

    On the postiive side – it can be a great way to get money fast. It’s literally saved my hide when I’ve applied myself and powered through. You can also use that experience to build up client base for private orders.

    Private orders are where the real money is at. Those pay at least $1 per word and you can cherry pick the assignments you want.

Speak Your Mind