I sometimes itch to write articles. It is one of my best impulses. The ideas simply appear. For example, I wondered how Mexico is preparing for the rumored Mayan end-of-the-world on December 21, 2012. I not only found several sources that told me; I wrote about it. And posted it. I even found a good illustration/photo for it on Wikimedia Comons. It was my 60th article on the "content farm" called Hubpages.com.
Before, I would have had to pitch the idea for months until I found a publisher who'd then tell me how he or she wanted it written; by then I would have lost that impulse that comes from sudden curiosity. And this sort of story is time-sensitive and I really don't have the months to waste finding a publisher. Then there's the money issue. What would I be paid for this? Every freelancer knows the answer: Nothing, or Not Much. Let's say $200.
So I wrote and posted the article on HubPages where, as long as it remains posted, it earns residual money from Google Ad clicks. My articles there -- all impulse sorts of things I love to write but I'd have a very hard time selling -- earn me about $100 a month right now. That's three times what I was offered for my last article. Yes, times are hard, but they have always been hard for writers -- for whom any money at all is better than what they were making. Yet the very best part is the liberty. We're as free as the old-time columnists were to write what we want. If it's good, people will read it.