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Many people have described writing online as being slowly lowered into a vat of acidic bile, without the benefit of being Batman first. And they're not wrong. But they write off their own motivations as a form of brain damage: An ignorance of the real world, an inability to count money and a desperate compulsion that would result in arrest if it involved showing their genitals instead of simply talking about them. But writing online is the best job in the world, especially since I found out that "cheerleader tester" isn't a real position.

I can (and frequently do) dream. Vigorously.

And that's the first advantage: I couldn't talk about cheerleaders while not wearing pants in any other work environment without getting fired. But there's much more to working online than a complete lack of believability and clothing (although a quick search will confirm that that's how most people work online). But we're talking about writers, who show off their feelings and minds instead of their taut bodies. So what can you look forward to from a career in soul porn?

Comments Are Great


Comments are everywhere. Every article about writing online has to mention this god-awful background radiation, just like Fukushima real estate agents, with the same effect on people thinking of moving there. Given the choice between commenters and an actual zombie plague, many would choose the complete downfall of society into necrotic corpses, because at least then they'd be able to thump the brainless sacks of flesh. It's like Dawn of the Dead, but instead of your brain they want to rip up and shit out its products.


But here's the thing: Commenters really are like radiation, in that they can generate an uninterrupted stream of pure power. The mistake most people make is thinking that comments are direct current, so they only pump you up when they're positive. But they're alternating current: Commenters who say nice things boost your spirits, so you're happy you made them happy, while the ones who tell you you're a dickosauric fagger make you even happier to have pissed them off. Homophobia, racism, multiple exclamation marks, or a username which meant they sat down and thought, "AIDS is hilarious and I want to be associated with it by complete strangers" ... you're always left thinking, "If that asshole hates me, I must be doing something right!"

Alternating Comment

The funniest are people making multiple spelling errors while complaining about your writing. It's like the Hindenburg's captain criticizing your fire safety.

Total Freedom (To Work Harder)


For me, becoming a freelancer was like becoming Dr. Manhattan: It started by accident, I now do awesome things I couldn't do before and pants have become less and less necessary.

Likewise, my wife just stands and watches. Impressed.

But the freedom of a freelancer isn't just to flop around the workplace. Although that is a huge part of it (ladies). If you work online, your friends say it must be brilliant to set your own hours, to which you reply, "Yes. All of them." But the point is that you are only paid to get the work done. If you don't realize how glorious that is, it's because you've never had a job. Every workplace I've ever seen or heard of is crippled by regulations, directives and a webbing of rules designed to prevent lawsuits, laziness and criminals. If you're very good, you might even get some work done in between. This morass of guidelines is aimed at people who can't be trusted to tie their own shoelaces, never mind do their own jobs. Think about it: Would it make a speck of difference if your work was completed from 1 a.m. to 9 a.m. instead of 9 a.m.to 5 p.m.?

When you work freelance, your pay is determined by how hard you work, how hard you work at selling that work and exactly nothing else. If arriving to work in SpongeBob underpants with a cigar ups your productivity, "H" and "R" are just two of the letters you'll use to earn money while smoking with your crotch in a pineapple under the sea. Working online means your commute is about five seconds, longer if you drop in for a coffee or a shot of whiskey on the way, and nobody cares which. Just get the work done and you get paid. Like every job ever was meant to be.

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You Live in a Better World


The world of the online writer is a sci-fi utopiaville. Every public transportation vehicle has free seats, stores are staffed and empty, banks are utterly without lines. There's even the total impossibility of post and government offices open at a time you can go to them.

There are absolutely no other customers, so I'm just going to do your taxes while you're here.

It turns out that every business is open the whole day, not just at lunchtime and after five when all the people with jobs and money are free to use them. Which is a bit weird when you think about it. You'd think cable companies would understand that people who pay for cable must be getting that money from somewhere, and offer installation times like 5 to 7 a.m. and 7 to 9 p.m., but that's because you can think and therefore don't work for those companies. Or you understand that they can't because of the same rules your workplace has.

If you work online, you just use things when other people don't. The time saving alone is an effective 10 percent raise in pay, and an increase in quality of life while doing that. Which is good, because you'll be up until 3 a.m. finishing your work, and have started to resent wasting time on non-word things.

You Love Your Work


Writers have evolved to love their work, which is weird, because rampant breeding isn't something people associate with making jokes about Transformers online. But if you're making money online, it's because you kept at it for zero reward until that happened. Some people want to quit their jobs because they hate them and go write instead, which is the exact wrong attitude for a writer. You write because you love it. You write on top of your regular work, because words might be the true expression of your soul, but your unique spirit doesn't pay the rent.

I'm a unique free spirit, in that I can only afford things that are free.

Some people get hired straight into writing because they were smart enough to do the "find out what you really want to do and work at it utterly" thing in college, which is what college is for. The rest of us simply work two jobs, where the second is unpaid for a long time.

This means that you're pouring all your free time into writing, work that matters to you, instead of spending it in an endless parade of distractions to forget the next day's early start. You keep doing this until you're earning as much from the writing as you were from your old job, then you reward yourself by taking a 50 percent pay cut by going full time and betting "I can work twice as hard as I have been doing just to earn as much as I was." Anyone who doesn't truly enjoy the job is naturally selected against very quickly. Which means that if you make it, you're slightly more immune to online problems than most.

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No (Relative) Lack of Security


The biggest problem with freelancing has always been a lack of job security and the knowledge that you can be completely screwed by random employer decisions. So holy shit, real world, thanks for equalizing that problem, but you really shouldn't have. Employees who've been making themselves less dispensable than the company's oxygen supply for 20 years are suddenly finding themselves fired because of "the economy."

Screw those assholes, I'm taking my air generator with me!

I am not happy about this. It's punched several of my friends in the balls so hard they need to carve their underpants from ice every morning. Some friends worked hard for years to get a very nice contract and were then hauled into the office and told, "That really is a nice contract you have, but if you don't want to be fired the second it ends you'll sign this new one, which bends you over a table right now. Here's a pen."

They would have preferred a crotch shot. Daily.

I truly wish things were still going well for everyone else, because writing for a humor website is far easier when people aren't throwing themselves off tall buildings. But right now the idea of risking job security to follow your dreams has less downside than a Mobius strip.

Special Note: Get some medical insurance. Seriously. Don't screw around. Save money from your regular job, marry someone with a good plan, find someone who looks exactly like you, has a health plan, but doesn't get sick much, something. If insurance is too expensive, keep working and writing and working at selling writing until it isn't.

Honest Feedback


If you gave a real writer a choice between honest, intelligent feedback or oral sex, they'd choose the feedback. Because they can get oral sex by themselves, and if it happened all the time they'd never get any writing done. If that sounds like misplaced priorities, well done on not being a writer. (Although I can confirm that "both" is still the best choice.)

You can't get honest feedback in the real world. Anyone you're showing your work to already knows you, and knows you're just starting out, and that you've put weeks of work into that piece. (If you haven't, don't be bothering your friends and family with that first-draft crap.) No matter how much you insist they should be honest, they know they have to deal with you for the foreseeable future. They ARE NOT going to tell you how bad it sucks, launching into a detailed blow-by-blow of exactly why, because that's something people only do to people they hate.


I found one person prepared to give honest feedback when I sucked and praise when I didn't, so I married her. But since she's taken, now you you'll need the Internet. (Once you're working as a writer, this can change. My friends now know that honest feedback really helps me. And since I aim to write for devastatingly handsome and witty people, they're the perfect test audience. Hi guys!)

This is Commenters Part 2: The Trollening, because like any unnatural monster, they come back at the end when you thought you'd already dealt with them. And again, they're brilliant. People online have absolutely no interest in you as a human being. Many seem incapable of thinking that way, so they're honest. If 99 percent of all comments are hateful and stupid, it's only because 99 percent of people honestly are, and instead of being a nightmare, it means the 1 percent that remains is genuinely valuable.

Because when someone comes out of the Internet woodwork to say something positive, that's worth infinity million. They had no reason to claim they liked your stuff. They'd already read it and enjoyed it, and instead of darting to another site like a comedy one-night stand, they took several online seconds (which could have been spent on porn or talking to people they actually know) to tell you that. And when your work wins out over fake genitals and real people, that's praise.

In places like the Cracked writing forums you get even better feedback, genuine critiques from people with no interest in shouting "cocksucker." (I find that most people who shout "cocksucker" only wish they were friends with one.) You can get started right now, write now, and get intelligent feedback from other people for free. If you feel like being generous, you can become a better writer by returning the favor and reading their material, learning even more and telling them what you think.

Writing online means getting paid to learn about amazing things and then telling people what you think. It's the best job ever.

If you're thinking of writing online, you should also prepare with The 4 Worst Things About Writing For The Internet and The 8 Most Obnoxious Internet Commenters. Then sign up on the Cracked writer thread anyway, because you kick ass.

Luke McKinney got started when a he put a stupid poster he made for his workplace online, and a Cracked editor noticed it. His life has constantly improved ever since. He also tumbles and has a website.

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