I've been exploring some nonfiction writing options and am hopeful that I can get a few writing credits under my belt. Here's my take on Yahoo Contributor Network, Examiner.com, and SEO copywriting thus far.
YCN and Examiner.com publish articles on websites. They are interested in all sorts of stories and contributors. If you garden, celeb watch or have an interesting take on politics, and can sum it up in around 400 words, you can write for either of them.
Yahoo Contributor Network
Yahoo Contributor Network has some really great free trainings that I've been taking advantage of. The trainings are broken into three models and you up your creds by completing the modules and earning badges that go on your profile page. Badges can also be earned through article publishing efforts.
YCN is more forthcoming about their pay rates then Examiner, (click here to see YCN's pay rates).
There are two things I really like about YCN: articles can appear on many of the yahoo websites, and they allow you to write about whatever topic you so choose. Their only request is that you keep your bio information current so that your creds match up with your articles.
YCN also offers assignments on topics of their choice to contributors.
I've recently signed up to be an examiner with Examiner.com. Feel free to check out my education articles on the site.
Contributors are expected to provide a local spin and must select one area to write in and prove themselves before taking on other areas. For instance, I currently write about local education and would need to apply for another column, after becoming established, should I decide to write about celebrity fashion.
The collection of news, celebrity reports, and all sorts of other local articles on Examiner is pretty interesting. You'll kill an hour checking out slide shows without even realizing it.
If you are a writer looking for credits and exposure I think this avenue is worth a go. I cannot promise it will pay; the community forum is full of comments about pay taking a dive last month.
Examiner also has free training modules and keeps track of your completion, but the material is not as in depth as YCN and most of it doesn't include an end of course assessment.
Examiner contributors also earn badges, but they are earned through article publishing efforts.
Both publishing outlets are user friendly. IMHO, YCN is easier to find items on and I have noticed a lot of complaints on Examiner about buttons, gadgets, and stats going missing during updates.
The last nonfiction avenue I am currently pursuing is SEO copy. SEO copy is writing copy for websites that uses relevant keywords--in a professional manner--to coax a website into the top ten findings of search engines.
There are tons of free resources and inexpensive books on the topic. It looks like a challenge, and I'm all about those.
What I like about SEO copy is that, when used properly, it helps to make searching the web easier. SEO copywriters are helping you to find what you look for every time you Google. I Google a lot so I relish the idea of giving back to a community I know I am part of.
I'll post my progress in each of these avenues on the regular. Be sure to check me out at YCN and Examiner.com. Links to my work are on the right column (the YCN button is violet and the Examiner button is orange) and included in this post.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about getting started or have some experiences you would like to share.