Earning By Writing Student Essays And Term Papers – The Ultimate Guide
In case you’re not aware of it yet, there are actually students out there, a lot of them in fact, that are willing to pay you if you are skillful enough to do their homework and research papers for them. It’s a freelancing job that you can apply for. And in this post, we will discuss the ins and outs of that job, and what it takes in applying for it.
What you’ll learn here:
- The job of an academic writer
- Skills and tools you must have
- The truth about academic writing
- Academic writing pros and cons
- How to do the actual job
- Salary and application process
- How to get hired easily
What is the job of an academic writer?
Yes, that’s your job description if you decide to hop into that and if you are lucky enough to get hired. The demand for academic writing jobs online stems from the reality that there are a lot of students, (from high school level to masters level) who don’t have enough time to work on their papers.
There are lots of online portals where you can grab writing projects pertaining to those and earn big bucks. We’ll get to that later. First, you have to be acquainted with the following.
Kinds of academic writing tasks
As an academic writer, you will be writing these:
Essays – opinionated writings about any topic the teacher might give to students, who will task you to write it for them.
Research papers – quantitative, qualitative, or any data-gathering tasks. These are often longer than standard essays and are a bit trickier to make.
Literature Reviews – academic papers, books, and articles that you must read, summarize and make a review for.
Journals – student activity logs that you must record and expound. Mostly, you will pretend to be that student client who pays you for the task.
Theses – compared to standard research papers, these are much longer and would require a lot of revisions from the client. Of course, it pays more than the other tasks above.
Because of the very diversified nature of today’s educational systems, there are a lot of academic writing tasks that do not actually fall into any of those categories. Most of the writing tasks revolve around those 5 though. And if you are quite confident that you can make those kinds of writings, then you are already on your first steps towards becoming a profitable academic writer.
Skills you need to have
Like any other online job or any other job for that matter, you need to have some skills so you can be an effective academic writer. The job pays well, but you need to be sure that you have the following skills:
Universities all over the world use English as the most important medium of instruction. To put it simply, you need to be good with it, as well as the grammatical rules that revolve around it. This is the most important skill you should have, and sadly for those who are not good enough with the language, they won’t be very successful as an academic writer.
Knowledge of office apps/software
Since you will be writing most of the time, you really need to be knowledgeable with the likes of MS Word and Libre Office Writer. As someone who’s computer-literate already, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem. However, you also need to have some knowledge of spreadsheet apps such as Excel, and presentation programs like PowerPoint. Many academic writing tasks include making projects that require those software, so it will be a huge bonus if you know how to use them.
Thankfully, search engines like Google have made this very easy. However, academic writing requires you to go beyond standard researching because the professors of those clients you work for would not consider your work to be acceptable if your sources come from Wikipedia or some ordinary blog posts.
To make your research truly valid, you need to cite your sources from credible academic sites, most preferably those that fall to the “.edu” or “.org” categories.
Knowledge of academic writing styles
Unlike blog posts and website content that only require standard word processor formatting, academic papers must be written in a format that can be easily read and be scribbled on for correction by the professors that read them.
The standard formatting for academic writing is double-spaced, font size 12, of typical Times New or Serif Fonts. You have to format your writings in this manner unless the client specifies otherwise. You have to also structure your work in accordance with writing standards such as APA, MLA, or Chicago which are basically, the standards for academic writing.
When you’re new to academic writing, such terms might appear foreign to you. There’s no need to worry though since templates for such styles are freely available online, and most likely, your company’s website will provide them for you. Learning about them will be easy as you will surely figure out soon.
Additional helpful skills to have
It is stated earlier that English proficiency is the most important skill to have in this kind of job. But the truth is, there is also a place for graphic designers, programmers, and video editors in academic writing sites.
This is because some teachers require students to make video presentations, animations, and other tasks that do not really require much writing. There are also computer science tasks that may require coding and database analysis.
So technically, there are slots for every computer-literate individual in academic writing platforms. But tasks related to video, graphics, and computer programming are very rare and if you wait for those types of projects to appear on your choices, you’d be better off working for other platforms that focus specifically on those tasks.
“In working for academic writing companies, you have to be skillful with English first, then work on other skills later on so you can expand your project options, which of course can enhance your earning potential.”
Equipment you must own
Since standard documents do not require extensive processing power, a typical desktop computer or a laptop would be ideal enough. They don’t need to have big RAM or storage capacities since text-based documents require very low resources.
If you can’t afford to buy a laptop or desktop, you may just purchase a tablet instead – it should be good enough as long as you plug a keyboard into it. There are writers who use their smartphones for the job, though it would be extremely difficult and unwieldy.
If you want to get serious as an academic writer, a laptop or a tablet is something that you should invest in since this is your livelihood we’re talking about.
For your internet connection, an average-speed one should be enough. Since you will only be communicating with your employers or clients through chat or email, 5 Mbps of speed should be more than enough.
The nature and realities of being an academic writer
Now, let’s get to the more serious part. Upon taking the job of an academic writer, there are harsh truths and realities that you need to be aware of. You need to digest these so you can weigh your options carefully, so you can see for yourself if you truly want the job or not.
You have to know that online academic writing sites are declared by some governments in the world as “essay mills” – online companies that manufacture essays for students courtesy of the writers they hire. To simply put it, you’ll be making research papers that are supposed to be done by others.
The FBI, as well as some government agencies in other parts of the world, declare essay mills as illegal – this is something you should think about deeply.
Are you willing to work for a company that pays you to make some students appear to be studying and researching so hard, yet it’s actually you who did those papers for them?
If such a thought highly violates your ethical and moral principles, then I have to suggest that you might want to consider getting another writing job such as content writing for websites, or ebook writing – these are equally good-paying jobs without the ethical compromise you’re worrying about.
But there are many professors today that already acknowledge that the existence of essay mills is something that can’t be totally avoided and that some students do resort to employing their services. Some of them actually consider the outputs generated from essay mills, as long as students only use them as learning supplements.
If you’re considering becoming an academic writer, proceed with reading this guide. If you want to be a content writer instead, read this.
You must also weigh it down a bit further with the following pros and cons.
The pay you’d get as an academic writer is usually higher compared to most typical content-writing jobs. Unlike web article writing or ebook writing which are paid according to word count, academic writing is based on task difficulty or urgency.
This means that even though the paper you’re writing is just very short, it might still be paid with a high amount due to its short deadline. Another is that it could be a very difficult math-related problem that a math whiz like you might find very easy. These are some of the major advantages of academic writing, though some may view it as a disadvantage.
From my experience, I can say that academic writing requires a higher level of difficulty compared to content-writing or ebook writing. One reason for this is that with the former, you’re required to submit your work strictly on the allocated deadline.
Unlike most content-writing tasks which can be submitted at any hour, as long as it still falls on that particular day, academic papers must be submitted on the exact hour or minute. Failing to do so would result in penalties.
Some companies are so brutal about this rule that they might even let you pay the exact total amount of the project itself if you fail to meet the deadline. So for instance, if the project is supposed to make you earn $20, you’ll be deducted with that amount from your earnings if you don’t make your submissions on time.
There are also other penalties that you’ll suffer if you fail to meet the requirements of a certain project. Some clients are not very good at describing what they really want. And when you proceed with making the project to the best of your understanding, you may still get fined… because of the clients’ shortcomings.
So yes, you could be penalized due to the clients’ mistake – this is one of the most painful truths about your job as an academic writer.
Another downside you might really hate is the “repetitive revision” that your employer or the client might force you to make. There will be times when you will be penalized simply for not responding to a revision request because you could be asleep, or away from your phone or computer.
Some revisions only require you to make very minor changes, while some require that you redo an entire research paper – failing to do so, or refusing to comply would result in severe penalties, though the cost of your fines varies from company to company.
So is the job really that bad? Apart from the legal issues that essay mills are supposed to face, I can say from experience that I’m earning more than I was penalized for. The financial rewards are quite good. Though, the emotional and mental pressure might be something that only very few writers are ready enough for.
How much will you possibly earn and how will you be paid?
Since payment is dependent on the company you work for and the types of projects that you’re given, there is no exact amount to declare for this. However, based on my experience, a single page, which usually contains 300 words, double spaced, could make you earn around $10. That should give you a rough idea of how much you’ll earn, which is of course, dependent on how hard you work.
You must bear in mind though that project price is dependent on its difficulty and the time it takes to finish them. Projects that require urgency and those that must be finished quickly offer higher payments. There are 1-page, urgent projects with words fewer than 200 that could make you earn $20-$30.
If you did really well on a certain project, especially those urgent types, bonuses could be added to your account which will be dependent on the size of the project, or how pleased the clients are with your work.
Payment is typically through Paypal or Payoneer, so you have to signup for an account for any of those. Skrill or wire transfer to banks could also be optioned by your employer.
The application process
So you’ve already understood what it takes to be an academic writer. Let’s get into the process you’ll undergo as you apply for it.
Filling out your personal data – This is usually the first of the standard procedure. Just like in signing up for any email or social media account, you must also do this.
Submitting your resume – This is where you will upload a word document that contains information about yourself. It may or may not contain your photo, or a separate picture file might be asked of you.
Submitting other pertinent documents – this could include documents that can prove your educational attainment: your diploma, transcript of records, educational certificates, or certificates of seminars attended.
Taking a grammar test – You will undergo a time-pressured, multiple-choice test, though it might also include pattern recognition and fill in the blanks, depending on the company.
Submitting your sample essay – This is where you will make a short essay about a topic given to you. Some sites mandate that you finish it in one sitting, while others allow you to submit it the next day. You may type it in the box they provide or copy and paste it from your word processor, or you may upload the file.
Waiting for the results – Some companies tell you immediately if you are qualified or not, but mostly, they will tell you in 3 days to a week. Normally, you can reapply after a few months, though there are others who just offer a one-time chance. You can just sign-up with a new email of course, or a new identity unless they require real pertinent proof of your identity.
Starting the actual job
You will be notified through email if you’re hired or if you’re application has been rejected. Some companies will actually call you via phone or through Skype to confirm that you can already start taking some projects.
It is highly possible too that you won’t get any response at all. If you haven’t heard from that company you applied to in more than 2 weeks, you should consider yourself rejected. This is the reason why applying to multiple companies while waiting for confirmation from the others is a wise move.
Once you got hired, you will be provided with a few guidelines to study, which could be a PDF file, a PowerPoint presentation, or a video. You will be then ushered into your account’s dashboard. From there, you will be given a list of projects to choose from.
Once you’ve clicked on the “accept” button of a project, you can start working on it right away. Bear in mind that you must finish it on or before the deadline. Otherwise, you will pay the corresponding penalties.
Do academic writing companies require a college degree?
It highly depends on the company you’re applying to. But the truth is, many academic sites might just let you input the name of your school or the school where you’d want them to believe you came from. Yes, this is one trick you could pull off, assuming of course that you are very well-versed with a certain academic topic.
Some academic companies are very strict with their hiring policies that they would require you to upload a clear, legit-looking image of your diploma and certificates, while others don’t require any document at all, as long as you can prove that you’re proficient enough with the skills they require.
Tips on passing academic writing tests and increasing your chances of getting hired
1. You should work on your vocabulary and English command skills – Like a warrior getting ready for a fierce battle, you should also prepare yourself for the tests that will be presented to you.
The easiest and most enjoyable way to do this is to watch movies with English subtitles or listen to podcasts on topics you are so fond of. Or you can choose to read well-written books – this is the best and ultimate way to enhance your vocabulary.
2. Try your luck on multiple platforms – There are literally dozens of them online, some of which are not indexed by Google yet. Some of them however can be found in online forums and social media sites. Be patient in scouting for them.
You may choose to make simultaneous applications to them since most of the tests appear very similar anyway. Over the course of time, you’ll get the hang of it and you will find the next ones ahead easier.
3. Don’t apply to more than one company in one sitting – Overdoing anything is never healthy. And in your quest in becoming an online academic writer, the best way to do it is to apply to one company a day.
You can make it twice if you want, once in the morning and once in the afternoon, anything beyond that is extreme. It will not only be exhausting but will decrease your chances of getting hired as well since the easy ones appear hard to you because you’re already burned out.
4. Never stop learning – The fact that you’ve read this far makes it clear you’re passionate about being a writer. If you failed during your first tries. Rest a bit, but don’t stop reading and learning. You can’t be a good writer if you don’t read. So invest a lot of time in educating yourself consistently.
So, have you finally decided to take your shot in applying as an academic writer? If you have, visit this page so you can start applying already.
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