Many factors go into determining work and payments from business owners and other clients. These can differ depending on several things. While following this guide may not guarantee that you will receive more work with higher payments, you may see greater opportunities by adhering to the following suggestions. The key is not necessarily to increase every single payment, but to maximize the opportunities available, as well as maximize your long-term benefits from said work.
What types of content are eligible for payment?
All of it! Whether you are soliciting jokes, articles, blog posts, recipes, web page content, product descriptions, photography, or any other creation, it deserves payment if it’s quality material. The key is to submit to the most appropriate venue for best results.
Focus on a specific issue
When you have a tight focus on one topic, readers are more likely to be looking for your content. Think about the things you look for when searching the Web. For instance, instead of general tips on pet adoption, you may want something geared specifically toward the pet you are considering adopting. “Where to adopt a poodle in Denver” should perform better than “How to adopt a pet,” as an example. Write your articles on specific subjects that will be relevant and useful to readers looking for that topic.
Follow assignment details
If you are hired for an assignment, be sure you follow the exact instructions. That means if the instructions say something different from any advice herein, defer to the assignment. When editors and business owners see that you can follow all assignment details reliably, they may be more likely to offer you future opportunities. Remember that, while you should be creative, the content you’re creating is not for you. It’s for the person you are creating it for. Therefore, it should be the way they want it. It’s good to suggest corrections of facts that might be wrong or improvements that might help the client or their website. But again, if they do not agree, unless you are breaking the law or doing something you are strongly against, just do things the way the client wants.
Do your research
When you need to back up your content with facts, be sure these facts are from reliable sources. Also, make sure to cite those sources properly, according to submission guidelines and any additional assignment guidelines. Using multiple highly-trusted and relevant sources also helps to build credibility. Wherever possible, use sources from your client’s website, in addition to the others. This helps them build more relevant inbound linking.
Examine the intended website
If you are submitting to a new client, study the website you are interested in writing for. Think of topics that could work well there but are not yet covered. Having an idea of what could potentially align with a particular property can give you a greater chance at getting accepted. Being unique is key. That means that you don't want to submit something you already see covered on the property. Instead, try submitting something that works well alongside existing content, provides a new angle, or has not been covered at all but could appeal to that property's audience.
Consider the audience behind the topic
Are you writing about parenting? What stages? Think of the age of the kids you're writing about - and then think of what ages the parents are likely to be; they are your most likely audience, and you should cater your content to them. The tone and style used in your article should be something readers can identify with. For instance, if you are writing an article for kids, using complicated business terms is not going to keep them reading. Acceptances of paid submissions are more likely on content that shows attention to detail in this and other areas.
Personalize the experience
When you write an article or blog post, readers should see the real person behind the story (unless your client is not interested in first-person accounts). At the same time, you don't want to ramble about something that has nothing to do with the subject matter. Find that perfect level at which the article provides the information needed with relevant personalization where it fits in with the main point of the article. For instance, if I'm writing an article about picking the perfect daisies, instead of telling a long story about a time when I picked daisies, I would mention how I determine which daisies to pick. I would do that in a way that readers can tell I am knowledgeable and passionate. But it would also need to be something readers can benefit from to answer their questions. When you can use your own unique experience and style, readers can relate more easily. But at the same time, you don't want to say so much that they get bored and click away.
Focus on evergreen material
Focusing on evergreen material is one way to maximize your earnings, as most business owners can use long-lasting content. Evergreen content is that which will draw a reader's interest for long periods of time, such as unique ways to solve common parenting issues. Evergreen slants can also be applied to trending topics. Some editors may value those topics that have a longer shelf life. This is not to say that other content will not be valued, as articles with a shorter shelf life can be useful as well. They each have their own place and are both great ways to maximize your work in different ways. Getting the most out of paid opportunities often involves taking advantage of more than one way to earn.
Pay attention to spelling, grammar, and style
Category and vertical style guides are used for many assignments that offer pay. For the best chances at getting those assignments accepted, be sure to follow them closely. This also goes for any and all other instructions mentioned within the assignment details. Proofreading, even after using spelling and grammar checkers, has always been a lifesaver for me when writing for any venue. Yes, I am a great editor. But, I am also human, so it’s best to double and triple check. Read silently, out loud, and even have a writing buddy take a gander. Programs can miss little things, such as skipped words or typos that are actual words, but not words you intended to use.
Optimize your content for the Web
Studying The Yahoo! Style Guide is a great way to learn basic html, grammar, editing, formatting, and style as it all pertains to writing for the Web. Most content that is submitted to potential clients must be publish-ready. While some venues may have an editor, never rely on editors to fix poor writing. If your writing needs to be thoroughly edited, it is much better to study up so that your submissions are more likely to get acceptances than rejections. You can then submit at a later date when your skills allow you to submit content that is more in line with the platform's needs.
Good Web content displays certain qualities. Apart from being interesting, it must be easy for a wide audience to read. It also must be easily found by search engines. Keep your articles concise and informative in an easy-to-scan format. Web readers often look for something that answers their question quickly and accurately in an engaging manner. For more on writing for the web, again, The Yahoo Style Guide is an invaluable resource.
Maximizing payments on your content is about taking advantage of the many ways to earn. It's also about covering your bases all-around. A solid article is not just well written, but also speaks to the intended audience, giving them exactly the information they expected and needed in a clean, easy-to-scan format.
by Richard Rowell, Write W.A.V.E. Media Staff
Many content creators have been doing collaborative content for some time now. The greatest reason for this is that combining audiences can do a lot of good for all collaborators involved. But collaboration isn't just good for exposure and traffic. It also brings together different perspectives and talents in ways that you may never have before anticipated.
What’s so great about collaboration, though, is the fact that many times, you’ll end up with something unexpected.. Sure, sometimes a collaboration will start out well-intentioned and end up being a disaster. But when the chemistry is there between creators, something special can happen.
It’s sort of like a duet with musical artists from disparate genres. Different types of content creators can come up with some pretty unique stuff by using the best of their talents to complement one another. Writers connecting with videographers can bring their words to live. Bloggers teaming up with copywriters can find the missing bits to taking their marketing to the next level.
There are many cases where like-minded content creators can do a lot of good together. But by mixing and matching creators from different fields, the power of collaboration becomes that much greater. You have to be open to some interesting, sometimes completely unexpected partnerships, because it may be the collaboration that makes one or both of your lives a whole lot better.
Never underestimate the power of collaboration. That math professor may have a passion for gaming just like you do and add a new dimension to your blog that your audience might appreciate. Maybe you’re a vlogger with a strong core audience, but you found a blogger who wouldn’t seem to be a natural fit, yet found a way to connect to a brand new audience you never thought was there before!
So if you ever find yourself struggling on your latest project, you may find someone out there who’s willing to add their own talent to the mix. Not all collaborations end well, of course, but even those that don’t can teach all involved a lot. Those collaborations that do succeed, however, are to be treasured. Never be afraid to collaborate if the terms make sense. It’s always good to try something new and people love to be surprised.
Have you ever collaborated with other writers or content creators? Have they failed or succeeded? How would you suggest going about your first (or next) collaboration?
See our Writers Helping Writers page for all the ways that the Write W.A.V.E. Media Network is helping writers and other content creators for free!
by Barney Whistance, Contributing Writer
It's hard to imagine the time when we didn’t use apps. They have just been around for the last 5-7 years, but their effect has been so powerful, engulfing, mesmerizing, easing, soothing & above all connecting that they have changed the way that we live and interact with each other. Their power has been so immense that now anyone who is not using them skillfully is bound to lag behind others in terms of productivity and social interactions. Apps have invaded and violently changed how we function in different spheres of life from working out to finding locations to playing games, apps have it all covered. You name the function, there will be thousands of apps trying to work out a way to increase productivity or give you more options for solving or helping that function that was previously possible. People used to give a name to eons that were known on the technology humans were using at that time like the stone, bronze & iron ages. I call the time we live in, “The App Age”.
But why have apps been so successful and powerful and why have we been accepting towards them? We as humans are normally highly resistant towards change but this was a change that wasn’t shown the resistance of any kind. There are some factors that work in the favor of apps which are linked to our functioning as humans. The psychological hit often accompanies acceptation. Let’s explore the factors which bestow apps their massive popularity and power!
Optimizing the Power of Attention Span!
We as humans have quite limited attention spans and if we get distracted too much and switch on between different things, we tend to start skimming very easily. Apps are powerful mediums to catch and optimize attention spans as when you are engaged with an app it's quite a move to close it down and move to on another one. You have to come back out it once you are in it, that’s the best use of our psychological factor of remaining in touch and exploring.
We all have our smartphones and handheld devices with us all the time and apps can be accessed from them very easily, anywhere. We can use them on the go, while on the bed, in the loo, just about everywhere imaginable. This convenience fans the power of addiction. Through apps, if we like something, we can stay on it for as long as we want to.
Apps are highly useful when it comes to getting things done in a faster and much easier manner than ever before. Our emails are now on our phones and we can respond to our emails faster than we could previously. No late reply and acknowledgments know. We can get connected to our employees and work in a virtual workplace even if we are not physically present in the office, this duality makes it easier to get more things done in the same time period.
Increasing Brand Power
Because brands can now have dedicated apps, they can now send their updates and promotional deals right to the hand of the consumer itself. Now that’s direct marketing! This has fanned the economy and increased sales for nearly all brands who have utilized app power to a greater extent than others. It's now more sensible to get a customized app than spending money on advertising through conventional means as the ROI is much higher on this one. Apps can also be linked back to company websites which can offer troves of information to all those who want to learn more. Redirecting traffic increase conversions into sales.
Harnessing the instinctive drive to communicate
We humans are social animals. We love to devour any tool meant for increasing our interaction with others. From Facebook to Snapchat, everything is apter as apps than as websites. The possibility of constant revisits and ability to keep a conversation alive has turned apps into a social behemoth. It's not just people, companies are also jumping the bandwagon by getting customized social media campaigns for themselves.
With the number of apps now in the millions, apps are set to further revolutionize the way we live more yet and the more ability you have to harness its power, the more you will be able to get what you desire.
Barney Whistance is a passionate Finance and Lifestyle blogger who loves to write about prevailing trends. You can find him using Twitter and LinkedIn.
by Richard Rowell, Article Writer for Hire and Gaming Blogger
Really, I am much too fond of Google Correlate as a research tool. While most of the time, this tool comes up with related searches that actually makes sense, other times it seems like you can actually create a profile of the type of person who searches certain terms.
Recently, in my constant research of trends in the mega-popular trading card game Magic the Gathering, I noticed that a particular card has been quite popular among my audience: Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker. I also noticed that cards that are played alongside this Legendary Creature are also big sellers on Amazon. So I thought, well, in my research about Mirko Vosk, why not learn more about who actually plays him in their Magic the Gathering decks?
My research gave me some interesting insights, at least, as far as their Google search habits are concerned. I checked both the weekly correlations and monthly correlations. The basic difference between these two is that the weekly ones tend to be more focused and the monthly are much more broad search habits. For example, in the weekly correlations, we find people searching other cards in the same expansion set, Dragon’s Maze, as Mirko Vosk. The monthly results give us a bigger idea of who is searching Mirko Vosk on a regular basis.
Being someone who is very much into marketing and understanding my audience, this is my profile of Joe/Jane Average who plays Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker in Magic the Gathering
Favorite Trading Card Game: Magic the Gathering
Other Favorite Magic Cards: Lavinia of the Tenth, Master of Cruelties, Tajic, Blade of the Legion, Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts, Varolz, Scar Striped (all cards are also from Dragon’s Maze)
Favorite Songs: “Horizon” by Singularity, “Like I Am” by Rittz, “Laila Teri Le Legi” from the Indian film Shootout at Wadala, “Nasty” by Logic
Favorite Cellular Phone: Samsung Galaxy S4
Favorite Exercise Plan: 30 Day Squat Challenge
Favorite Face Makeup: Smashbox CC Cream
Favorite Image Search: “4 Pics 1 Word Red Carpet”
Favorite Mobile App: 4 Pics, 1 Word
Favorite Video Games: AdventureQuest Worlds (PC) & Dead Island Riptide (PS3)
What can we learn from this?
Keep in mind that Dragon’s Maze was released in 2013 so it may explain the timing of some of the search terms that led me to these conclusions. It’s still fun to see this information. The most surprising search term for me was “Smashbox CC Cream,” which is face makeup. It would suggest to me that there are a good number of female Magic players who play Mirko Vosk in their deck. It also shows me that there were a segment of the Magic playing population who actually liked Dragon’s Maze as a set - it was widely panned by most of the MTG community. As we’re learning over time, Mirko Vosk and a few of his compatriots, like Tajic, Teysa, and Varolz, have turned out to be pretty solid creatures.
We also see that Mirko Vosk players like to stay in shape, as evidenced by the 30 day squat challenge. They also prefer Samsung Galaxy to other cell phones. They also play a lot of AdventureQuest Worlds on the PC. I’ve never played Dead Island Riptide, but I remember people talking about it a few years ago and apparently it was pretty popular.
I don’t remember ever seeing the “4 Words, 1 Pic” game, but I wasn’t paying attention to mobile apps at that point. It’s available on Android and Windows Phone from what I can tell It actually looks pretty fun.
Does this information actually help us to write about Mirko Vosk as a valuable piece in a Magic the Gathering deck? Not really, but it’s still fun.
Read more of Richard’s Magic the Gathering and other gaming content at Gaming Successfully.
by Barney Whistance, Contributing Writer
In the world of content marketing and SEO, there is a growing group of professionals that realize that quality content has become king.
When the internet first revved up and search engines like Google created their algorithmic programs, strategic keyword mentions were enough to get a website high ranked and well-noticed; now all that’s changed. As the filters grow more refined, and social media sharing explodes, we’re learning that it’s not the words we use, but the meaning and value that we create for our others that gets our organization or company noticed.
This means that it’s important to take the time to craft elaborate content webs stretching from printed materials, to guest posts, to featured articles and interviews on high-ranking news websites and blogs, to our own website content, blogs, and social media posts. First and foremost, content needs to tell our organizations’ story – and for that, enter the experienced storytellers.
The next wave of online marketing and writing will become more nuanced, more elaborate, and also, yes, more creative – making it easier for creative writers to find professional well-paid jobs as corporate content writers.
As you set off on this new journey, it’s important to keep a few pointers in mind about creating these new content webs filled with original and provocative content that will keep your readers coming back for more. Here are eight tips for creating valuable and engaging content to your readers:
Read and relate. Make an effort to read books, magazines, quarterlies, and other periodicals on a regular basis. Summarize your readings and document your ideas. When you share your thoughts with others you clarify your own passions, spread your new-gained wisdom around, and introduce your readers to interesting concepts and ideas.
Join a Mastermind group. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase that two heads are better than one? Well, try three, four, five, six or more! When you brainstorm with others on a regular basis by forming a team of trusted advisors, you boost your creativity and launch your ideas forward or create a website or an app for your brand. You’ll also get great feedback on new concepts as well (before you share them with the world).
Invest in developing yourself. Conrad Hall, the American cinematographer born in Tahiti, French Polynesia, once said “You are always a student, never a master. You have to keep moving forward.” Developing yourself means that you will have more of yourself and your unique insights to share with others, so if you always invest in yourself you will never stagnate and run out of new ideas.
Question assumptions. Pulling apart your own assumptions, and those of your clients and advisors, will help you gain new insights and formulate new and innovative solutions to existing problems.
Play devil’s advocate. If there is a hot topic to be discussed, don’t jump on the bandwagon too quickly. Discuss both sides of the issue and demonstrate that you have a thorough understanding of all points of view. Most of the time we’re here to educate our clients. We should want to help them make reasoned and informed decisions that will help them improve their business - not just tell them what to do.
Use the power of story. Terrance McKenna said “The engineers of the future will be poets." When you use a personal or professional story to illustrate a concept or idea it lends personality to the message and makes the delivery more effective.
Conduct interviews. Interviewing others is a great way to both learn and explore new ideas and also harness the marketing potential of those new connections. It’s also a great way to develop audio and video content for both your website and that of the person you’re interviewing.
Utilize social networking. Join smart and effective online communities to keep a pulse on current trends, gain inside industry knowledge, and be of help to others.
Each piece of content we put out on the web is potentially valuable real estate. However, more than seeing them as their own unique entities it’s important to craft and create value in both the meaning and message of the content we create, as marketers and as writers.
So you want to become a better article writer? Here is my simple three-step process to do just that!
OK, there you have it. Now go forth into the world and write your heart out!
Right, there’s a bit more to it than that. Isn’t there? Obviously, being highly literate definitely helps anyone. But as an article writer, constantly taking in new ideas is very important. Too often, we as writers just get stuck for what to write. The funny thing is, you never actually run out of things to write about. It’s just that any writer can get stuck on how to write about what they want to write about.
Appease the Skimmers
Especially in the online world, most readers do exactly what we writers don’t want them to do. That is, they skim. So, what do you do to appease the skimmers? People like sub-headings and little blocks of text that drive home important parts. Sometimes when reading an article online, those little blocks of text even allow us to share this bit of wisdom as a 140-character tweet. Then, you can make a button for anyone to share it with the world. It makes you look so smart!
Basically, something like 80 to 90 percent of online readers aren’t going to read every single word you write. It’s not quite that way for ebooks and traditional paperback and hardcover books. But even then, you still have to make your reading easily digestible. Whether it’s a good thing or not, most readers just don’t sit there and digest writing one word at a time. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.
You’ve probably heard the saying, easy reading is hard writing, or something to that effect. No one is quite certain who said it first, but it’s true. If you’re writing online, it’s even harder. Why’s that? Because it’s harder to stand out among all of the millions of articles being published daily. So what you have to do is please both crowds: the skimmers and the close-readers. Yes, the majority of your readers will probably be skimmers when it comes to search engine traffic. But for the serious, critical members of your audience, your attention to detail will not go unappreciated.
You Can’t Make Everyone Happy. Just Make Sure They Can Learn Something.
While it’s important to find that balance of making your writing easy to skim, but also detailed and engaging enough to be search-engine friendly and useful to anyone who reads it, no matter how closely. Essentially, you want every reader that comes across your writing to take something away from it. This doesn’t mean making everyone happy. Don’t spend every last second furiously checking a thesaurus. And don't get stuck rewording the same sentence a dozen times until it sounds “perfect.” Make your points as well and as concisely as you can and move on to the next topic. Don’t get hung up.
So what if you do get hung up? What if it’s an assignment and it keeps getting sent back for revision? Well, if it’s worth your time, then just make the edits that you can and move on. The worst thing that can happen is to get burnt out on one piece. As a writer, that is very bad. Writers need to write. This is why writer burnout happens.
Some clients, venues, and some readers are simply never going to be satisfied with anything. Once you keep that in mind, you’ll understand which clients and venues are worth working for and which aren’t. Micromanaging as an editor may be fine in some cases, but sometimes you just write what you can. You can’t beat yourself up over any one piece. There will be plenty more to be written.
Learn All You Can, Even If You Don't Think You Need It
You've probably heard of always trying to venture outside of your comfort zone in both reading and writing. It's a good idea. Even reading fiction can give you article ideas! Diversifying your knowledge can only make you a better reader and writer. It can also help you to think of topics that you may never had considered before. Also, by reading all sorts of things, it opens you up to more writing opportunities.
Basically, to become a better writer, you need to read and write a lot. Sometimes you just have to write for the sake of putting thoughts together. It doesn't have to always be an assignment. In fact, reading and writing are like intense exercise for your brain. By exercising your brain more often, not only will you become more literate, but a more intelligent and thoughtful human being, as well.
As a writer, research is an integral part of the creative process. There's always something more to know about any given topic. As a freelancer you can find yourself writing on topics that you may not be an expert in. But even if you are an expert in given fields, research is still important. It's not just for credibility or finding a way to reach a certain word count. Research should always be for your own edification.
Sometimes being an expert on a topic means that you should fall back on research in a different way. Is there a question that you may have asked yourself that you haven't seen answered? If you have the freedom of deciding on the exact topic for an assignment, researching those sorts of questions becomes a great focus point. It's likely that others are asking those questions and if they weren't will be glad you asked it and answered it as best as you could.
Whenever you go about writing something outside of your comfort zone, research can sometimes be difficult. Sometimes the research becomes the most painstaking and stressful part of the writing process. But it need not be. The research should not simply be treated as a necessary evil. You never know what your research could teach you that will become useful information later on in life.
Today, I was thinking about how likes, comments and shares on social media could be used as a form of currency. As it turns out, this has already been done before. I found this article today, Will Social Media Posts Become the New Currency? It was written in December 2014 in relation to an app called Chitter, which uses “Chits” as a form of currency. These “chits” are special offers, money saving opportunities, incentives, or coupons available exclusively using said currency. It’s never really taken off, and the app can’t find anything in my area at all. So as far as that goes, it’s a disappointment. But this article begs the question, can social media posts actually become a viable currency of some kind?
I know that many companies offer incentives for re-shares and comments, mostly as giveaways. But social media has become such an important part of so many lives that I feel like we may be undervaluing it. Facebook and Twitter and other social media networks certainly know its worth. So how can we all better utilize it?
Awhile back, I wrote about how we can think of content as stock shares in our website. Contributor Amelia Lockhart wrote about thinking of content as investment, and that even if we only earn pennies a day from it, it adds up. But how about social media investment? Posts that “go viral” on Facebook, Twitter or any other form of social media can do a lot of good. Of course, it’s not exactly easy for a post to “go viral.” People come up with all sorts of formulas for what makes a viral post. But that’s not what I want to get into today. I’m talking about making every post you make worth something.
I really liked Amelia’s idea of a piece of content as a “penny stock.” Of course, a social media post is content, as well. So each like, comment, or share is considered an investment. When that social media update links to something else, it’s an even more valuable investment. Your updates and web-based content should be considered assets, but it’s not always easy to quantify just how much your website or social media page is actually “worth.”
I’m also not talking about “like for like” or “share for share” because honestly that just cheapens the whole concept of social media actions as currency. People always need to ask themselves, what will this do for someone? People really, really like free stuff, no matter what it is. That always does well, right? Well, there’s more to it than that. Photos and videos are some of the most valuable web content because most people are visual.
Every time someone likes, shares, or comments on something, it’s a sort of investment. A share is worth a lot more than a like. Comments are worth something in between a like and a share. Depending on the quality of the comment, some are near worthless and others are very valuable, especially ones that get upvoted. The more engaged people are with a given post, naturally, the better it does.
So how can we make social media updates work better for us? The Chit idea is one that I really like. There are plenty of sites that have tried to reward users for using social media, but it’s really more for market research purposes. As it is, social media sites use our updates for market research and that’s how they make the big bucks. So how do we get a piece of that? Is there a way to barter something like “chits” that can be used for everyone’s benefit? How would a social media currency economy work?
Many writers are paid on a per-page-view basis, usually by the thousands. Naturally, the more social media shares something has means it should garner more views. Obviously, your own shares count for something, too. So how do we quantify this to know what our posts are worth? I’ve written before about figuring out what a website is worth using tools that claim to give you what it’s worth on the website buying-and-selling market. That’s a huge market, by the way. But I like to think on the micro-level.
It’s food for thought. At the moment, though, I don’t have any solid answers on how it would work. But it’s something to think about. I love the idea of a currency like BitCoin driven by social media.
What do you think of social media actions as currency? Are there better ways we can utilize likes, comments, and shares for everyone’s benefit?
There is plenty of advice out there when it comes to Web writing. One of the most common pieces of advice is to keep your writing simple. That means keeping your work's “readability” at a middle school level. Basically, you are “supposed” to write so 5th or 6th graders can easily read and understand it. At the most, you shouldn't be writing articles for mass consumption over a reading level of 8th grade.
Is it dumbing down or just getting to the point?
As someone who has long written at a college level, this is rather difficult for me. It's not so much that I have to dumb down. I tend to be a bit verbose. Some audiences I have written for appreciate a “13th grade” level of writing. That is, high school graduate or college level. But yes, on the Web, being concise and easily scannable is important.
To assist with my dilemma with readability, I've been consulting the Hemingway app. I use it as a guide to see what sentences are simply too complex. I try to break up what I can. This alone often takes me from 12th or “13th” Grade to about 9th. But I did take one article from 13th to 7th recently.
Truthfully, I haven't had to really dumb down anything. I do sometimes go off on some esoteric rants. These the app probably won't help. I don't really take out all the adverbs it wants me to cut. I really like adverbs.
I am working on cutting unnecessary cases of “very.” For some reason, I'm fond of using that word for sometimes rather extraneous emphasis. And yes, I continue to use some higher grade vocabulary words. It's still OK to use a dictionary and/or thesaurus, you know.
Is being too “smart” in your writing a death sentence for your Web writing?
Trust me, you can still be smart with your writing while making it accessible to wider audiences. Actually, breaking down your sentences into smaller chunks is good anyway. Web readers consume so much content today that the easier it is to quickly peruse an article, the better.
Using high level vocabulary and having complex sentence structures just isn't “cool” anymore. I'm all for making my work more accessible to the masses. As Albert Einstein once famously said:
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.”
And, by the way, this article is written at a 5th grade reading level. Thanks to Hemingway App.
It has always proven to be the case that when my writing becomes too predictable, I simply cannot be at my best. Whenever I have a plan going into writing something, if it's more than a simple direction or idea leading me into it, what ends up coming out is a rambling unfocused mess. When I write, the more unpredictable the course of my work takes, the better it ends up being. In a way, I'm a fiction writer writing non-fiction. I always want to keep the reader guessing.
In a world in which answer-driven content has become the most sought after, I feel like a bit of a dinosaur. I want to lead people on and help them to answer questions they never thought to ask. It's not as if that sort of content doesn't work any more. Storytelling still works, of course. But I find myself greatly uninspired reading content that attempts the answer the same questions over and over again. You can find yourself at a point where taking a fresh perspective on something becomes immensely hard to do.
Sure, it can be risky to not have a plan. Most writers would find it ludicrous to not outline where you're going with a given piece. I've rambled on for hours and hours, pages and pages, many times before. Sometimes the words go nowhere good. But other times, I'll get three or four really good ideas that I can run with, and weave them together into a complete piece. I'm one of those writers who just needs to be let loose and edit it all down later. Sometimes I'm overwhelmed with the sheer volume I produce and it can be very tricky to pare it down into anything tangible - even to myself.
Lately, my writing has just been feeling too predictable. I have a topic and I just comment on it, basically. That just has become rather stale. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with being strictly informational and coming to a sometimes fairly obvious conclusion. That sort of writing just isn't for me. There needs to be a fresh take on whatever I am doing. Having a strict topic doesn't always work for me, and for whatever reason I stopped dancing around the edges trying to make new connections. I've found when the words don't come the reason is usually as simply defined as "uninspired." Sure, what may follow many times is a hot mess of nonsense, but it's better than to not have just written it at all.
Do you ever feel like your writing has become too predictable? It's okay to shake things up. Perhaps a bit of misdirection here and there isn't a bad thing at all. Being straight and to the point obviously has its place, and I'm not saying I can't write like that anymore. My comfort zone when it comes to writing seems to be in making the reader uncomfortably unsure of where I'm going. But there's that delicate balance of losing your reader in confusion and making them think through why you're going in the direction that you are. One of the beauties of written communication is that ten people can read exactly the same words and come to ten completely different conclusions. It's also one of the shortfalls and one of the major limitations. No human communication is perfect. Nor do I think it ever should be.
It's high time I stopped being predictable and just let the randomness of life's ebbs and flow dictate where I go when I write. As moods shift and opinions waver, it's possible to stay the course while still having a few twists and turns thrown into the journey.
Google Trends often has features that highlight popular topics and related searches about them. Besides all the political stuff that we often want to forget about (you can write about those if you want), trending pop culture stuff is always a lot of fun to watch trending. What's more pop culture than Star Wars? I love Star Wars. You know you love Star Wars. Even if you don't, it's still fun to see what the world is asking about the hottest movie in the history of ever.
So, Google, give us some insights!
According to Google, the top searched Star Wars characters are Darth Vader, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, Luke Skywalker, and R2-D2. These names are completely expected, as is the overwhelming popularity of Darth Vader. Nothing unexpected here.
Yeah, Halloween is technically over but you know that plenty of people are still going to dress up to go see "The Force Awakens!" None of these costume choices are surprising, either.
What order should I watch "Star Wars?" Watch A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi. Pretend the other three don't exist. You don't have to see the prequels to get "The Force Awakens" anyway. As for "who is Kylo Ren" and "Who is Finn," I have no idea. I don't care much for film spoilers. I like to go in fresh as possible. Good questions, though, Google search community!
Wow, that World of Warcraft movie is trying to steal Star Wars' thunder! I'm probably not running out to see the WoW movie myself, but the demographic makes sense. As for the Japanese Star Wars trailer, Japanese is awesome.
Finally some really interesting data! That's right, Hungary has the highest search interest of any country in the world! Australia is a close second. I didn't know Hungarians were such huge Star Wars fans. Apparently, they are. They even have special awesome posters!
And the top US Metro searching for Star Wars is... Salt Lake City, Utah? OK, Disney, you know where to spend your marketing dollars when it comes to upcoming Star Wars films!
All quipping aside, how useful are these sorts of features when it comes to trending topics? Honestly, I find the country and metro stuff the most interesting. This is very public information, so it's not like you have to be some crazy data miner to find this stuff out. It is cool to see what the interest is from place to place, though.
The trending searches are useful for knowing what topics to write about most if you're covering "The Force Awakens" hype. And it's good to know what the top characters and costumes are, as these are going to bring you the most traffic if you discuss these particular topics.
So I think these Google Trends features are cool, especially if you want to play some Twitter Trivia, or whatever it is these kids are playing these days.
by Richard Rowell, Article Writer for Hire
With the NBA preseason well underway, it seemed appropriate to make a related “Fun with Google Correlate” article. Well, the ordinary weekly and monthly correlations didn’t turn up anything fun. So I decided to go local with the “Compare US States” option, which I haven’t yet explored on this series. I finally picked the Denver Nuggets as my data set, as I currently live near Denver, Colorado. The results were… interesting, if a bit underwhelming for entertainment purposes...
As you may expect, most searches for the Denver Nuggets occur in Colorado and Wyoming. Therefore, the correlations are extremely strong. The first few make plenty of sense. Actually, the only ones that stand out to me are the ones that I want to talk about.
“Mon Chalet” is an adult nightlife club in Aurora, CO. It’s apparently quite a well-known swingers club in the Denver Metro area. While I highly doubt the Nuggets will go about choosing them as their official Nightlife partner, it’s interesting data. Likewise, the search phrase “Denver strip” says plenty about what type of venue people prefer as their Nuggets game after-party.
“Colorado horse” is an interesting search phrase that obviously appears incomplete. It could refer to a bunch of things, but I’m assuming it would be horse racing in this particular case. Colorado is definitely known for horses, in any case.
The last particularly interesting search phrase of note is “Greeley Colorado.” Greeley is best known for a couple of things. It was originally founded as a utopian experiment colony in 1869 and called the Union Colony. Eventually, it just became a city of 100,000. The other major historical note about Greeley is that it was once the site of two POW (Prisoner of War) camps during World War II, one for Germans and one for Italians. It’s also the home of the University of Northern Colorado.
I’ll be honest. I didn’t know anything about Greeley until this Google Correlate exercise. The things you learn from keyword research.
While these aren’t the most exciting conclusions, it does show how these local correlations can be particularly useful. If you’re writing about the Nuggets, maybe it’s not such a bad idea to write a piece here and there about the local nightlife - there’s a ton of it. And why not educate people on Greeley, CO while you’re at it? The city seems to have a pretty interesting history, as do many things in Colorado for that matter.
Any terms you’d like me to analyze using Google Correlate? Let me know in the comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You never know what gems you may uncover.
After discovering some decent niche search terms for Boston Red Sox bloggers and some revealing (or not) hints about Major League Baseball's demographics, I figured I'd look at the NFL for similar edification and amusement. Alas, I didn't find much, certainly not enough worth writing about. However, in turning to examining my other major article writing niche, the mega popular trading card game Magic the Gathering, through the Correlate lens, there's some interesting data we have to look at. Some of it makes sense. Some of it doesn't.
Some of this is downright bizarre. We have to break this down.
“Discount auto parts”
Here's some useful info. Apparently, most people searching Magic the Gathering also have cars that they need to repair and on the cheap. Gotta be able to drive to those game stores and other tournament venues.
Come to think of it, I've seen a good number of Magic players wear trucker hats. There's a market for these and baseball caps for magic players. This is another good data point.
“Google search bar”
I'll admit that there are so many cards, decks, and cool combos in Magic the Gathering that I find myself using Web search quite a bit. Apparently, some Magic players feel it's necessary to add a Google search bar to their browser despite most browsers already having one built in already. What this does tell us though is that Magic players make a ton of searches and want to do so as quickly and efficiently as possible.
“Duelist of the Roses” and “Dark Duel Stories”
As someone who used to play a ton of the Yu-Gi-Oh! trading card game, I can tell you a bit about these games. I didn't particularly care for the Playstation 2 game Duelist of the Roses. However Dark Duel Stories for the Game Boy Color was an awesome game. Sure, it didn't always conform to the rules of the actual card game but it integrated some of the goofy mechanics that were featured on the anime version of the game. I personally preferred Eternal Duelist Soul for the Game Boy Advance, but I get the appeal of these two games for trading card game lovers.
These are pretty interesting data points, in particular. Many Magic players played Yu-Gi-Oh before getting into gathering the magic. It also reminds me that Wizards of the Coast, parent company of Magic, really needs to put out video games that actually reach the level of playability and fun that the Yu-Gi-Oh ones have. People still play those older games as these search terms show. Magic Duels, Wizards’ latest video game effort, has had some serious issues and requires a lot of micro-transactions to build any decent decks. Yu-Gi-Oh games were always self-contained and you could often get cards you actually owned by inputting pass codes that were actually printed on the cards. Konami had Wizards beat there. Something to think about.
“Legacy of Goku” and “Legacy of Goku 2”
These classic DragonBall Z games for the Game Boy Advance were never ones I played a lot, but they still have a good following. A bit of a trivial data point, but still an interesting one as far as demographic info is concerned.
I'll go out on a limb and assume the Fairyland correlation here is for the French symphonic power metal band. Most likely it's not this www.fairylandgame.com - although that looks cute if you have kids and are looking for a fun, safe game for them to play (I don’t really know, I haven’t tried it - yet).
Again, I'll assume this correlation is for the Guitarist from the Japanese band Dir En Grey. I’m not familiar with his music, but it’s another interesting data point.
“Mitsubishi Galant” and “Montero Sport”
When I think of Magic players, I don't really think of them driving Mitsubishi Galants and Montero Sports. But they have to be getting the discount auto parts for something, right?
This term probably refers to the Ping S56 irons for golf. I doubt it's the chainsaw chain or hazardous material.
Searching the Monthly correlations turns up a couple more gems.
“Go kart kits“
A lot of Magic players are hobbyists, so building go karts is one that makes sense. This isn't really weird, just interesting.
Apparently, there are a bunch of aspiring independent insurance agents playing Magic. That's one way to fuel what can be an extremely expensive hobby. Or players are looking to take out insurance policies on their vast collections. I’m not sure which...
Multiband is a communications company. Apparently a lot of Multiband customers and or employees play Magic the Gathering. Or they're the unofficial provider of directTV for Magic the Gathering enthusiasts. This is definitely an odd correlation.
“Bureau of automotive repair”
This is primarily a California thing, so obviously tons of Magic players live in California. One possibility this correlation offers is that a lot of car repair enthusiasts play Magic. The more likely scenario is that the owners of all those Mitsubishis are filing complaints and buying those discount auto parts to do over the repair work themselves. It all makes sense now.
So what have we learned about our average searcher of Magical Gatherings? We'll call them Steve and Stephanie.
Dream job: Independent insurance agent
Entertainment provider of choice: DirectTV (preferably through Multiband)
Favorite fashion accessory: Trucker hats
Favorite nostalgic video games: Yu-Gi-Oh! Dark Duel Stories for Game Boy Color, Yu-Gi-Oh! Duelist of the Roses for PS2, DragonBall Z Legacy of Goku and Legacy of Goku 2 for Game Boy Advance.
Favorite pastimes besides Magic: Building go karts, Car repair, Golf
Favorite search engine tool: Google search bar
First world problem in common: Filing complaints with the California bureau of auto repair
Golf club of choice: Ping S56 iron
Music of choice: Dir en Grey and Fairyland
Vehicles of choice: Mitsubishi Galant and Montero sport
How useful is all this information? Besides the video games and musical choices providing somewhat useful demographic info, the rest can be used as you see fit. For my purposes, that's amusement.
Any search terms you'd like me to run through Google Correlate and get my analysis? Warning some will be far more boring than others. If it’s fun enough, I’ll make a whole article about it. If not, I’ll be sure to let you know what interesting things you can get out of the data.
Google Correlate is a fantastic data mining tool for businesses and major organizations to track search trends around their products, services, or causes. But it’s also a fun tool for article writers and bloggers as a way to get topic ideas and to get a pulse on what those searching for their niche are most often interested in. Lots of times this data is pretty straightforward. Let’s take a look, for example, at my hometown baseball team, the Boston Red Sox, through the lens of Correlate.
As you can see, these searches are ones you’d expect to correlate with those searching for the Boston Red Sox on google. There’s nothing particularly out of the ordinary here, except that if you run a Red Sox blog, you should be producing content on occasion about “Red Sox T Shirts” (86.9 percent correlation). Sox fans love their t-shirts. If you need a revenue stream for your blog, it would be a great idea to aim your affiliate programs that way.
However, if we expand the search to monthly time series, we get far more interesting results.
This is more like it! Now we’re finding some interesting niches here. “Live Red Sox” (89.2% correlation) seems to hint at people searching for places to stream Red Sox games live or get live updates. This niche is pretty well covered already by NESN’s Red Sox Gameday Live and Masslive. If you like to provide real-time game updates on your blog, there’s a bit of interest in it. But it’s not a huge search term (average 20 searches a month), but it’s better when the team is actually doing well (which it’s not in 2015).
“Red Sox bar” is an interesting term and a good one. People like to go to the bar and watch the game, and it turns out there are Red Sox bars all over the US. It’s not a mega popular search term (average 50 monthly searches), but it’s higher during the season. This seems to be a good niche for Red Sox bloggers to write about.
“2004 Red Sox” is a particular interesting term. Turns out even after 11 years, the first Sox championship in 86 years still gets a lot of interest. It gets over 1000 monthly searches on average. The nostalgia is still strong, and it’s probably not a bad idea for Sox bloggers to tap into the good memories once in awhile, especially when the team has struggled as it has for the past couple of years.
Lastly, “love that dirty water” refers to the Standells song, “Dirty Water,” which is played at Fenway Park when the Sox win. It’s funny because the 1960’s song actually mocks Boston and how polluted Boston Harbor and the Charles River were at the time. But Red Sox fans have made it an anthem now. There are probably some topics to be written about the connections between Dirty Water and the Red Sox, but there’s already a good article in the Boston Globe about it.
So there’s some useful data here. What if we expand our search to Major League Baseball as a whole?
There are a few things to discuss here. First of all, it would appear that the Yankees and Cardinals seem to get the most search traffic over time. Right now, Royals Baseball is blowing them away, predictably, as they’re continuing to shock the baseball world by running away with their division. But the Yankees and Cardinals are clearly always the “safe” choices.
It’s also little surprise to see things like “baseball terminology,” “baseball trivia,” and “baseball history” among the top correlations. But there are some weird things here.
First of all “insects” and “identification” are in here. I was never aware that the average Major League Baseball fan was also an aficionado for insect identification. Apparently, baseball fans like to join rowing clubs, too. And enjoying ultimate frisbee and baseball would seem to go hand in hand.
I jest, but it gets even weirder when you get to the monthly correlations.
White cedar? Purple Ash? Franklinia? And Clerodendrum? So apparently Major League Baseball fans are tree and plant lovers as well. Apparently, the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia are also MLB fans’ #1 choice for a vacation destination. Yes people love to take road trips to visit their favorite MLB ballparks. But these correlations are extremely strange. If you look at the charts, you’ll see it’s no fluke.
OK, here’s what sense I make of this. Rowing clubs would seem to have a similar amount of interest at the same time of year that baseball season is in full swing, although interest in rowing clubs seems to be declining somewhat in relation to baseball. The best times to be poking around to find cool insects and observe beautiful flora (especially in the Blue Ridge Mountains) would seem to coincide, as well. To add to this mess, concrete mixing is yet another correlation not too much farther down the list. What does this all mean?
This seems all pretty silly, but what it does is show us that many MLB fans have a great appreciation for nature (and concrete mixing). That’s pretty cool information, actually. (Even concrete mixing makes sense - the months of the baseball season are the best times to mix concrete.) Thanks, Google Correlate! So now we know some things we didn’t know before about the average MLB fan!
Joe & Jane Average
Favorite Baseball Teams: New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals
Favorite Flower: Clerodendrum
Favorite Hobbies: Insect Identification and Rowing Clubs
Favorite Trees: White Cedar, Purple Ash, Franklin Tree
Take note, MLB - this is important demographic information!
Oh what fun can we have next? What about the NFL? It can’t get any sillier, can it?
Awhile back, I had a bit of a pondering session. I tend to have these every so often, and they are often the basis for what I end up writing that day. I ended up thinking about how winning isn't everything. Some of us, myself included, have often gotten into the mindset that winning should be the end goal of everything. But that can be incredibly counter-productive. It can lead to a lot of needless aggravation and setting unrealistic expectations.
Not every piece of content that you produce is going to succeed. That's just a given. You could spend hours crafting a beautiful essay, and five people ever read it. You sit there and wonder. With all of your social channels, with all of your promotional tactics, with how strong your page rankings are in Google, how could that happen? There are so many factors that could be completely out of your control.
Through my various ventures, I've come to realize that success can't be measured in only in sheer numbers of successes and failures. It should be measured on what you learn from those successes and failures. You always learn more from a failure. The human brain is always going to lean towards what's worked before. Human beings like success. Life's little victories are what we live for; are they not?
Sometimes you get so involved that you get too close to something. You start setting the bar for victory so high that you lose sight of the big picture. It's so easy to do this and I had to once back out of a venture that was setting itself up for failure by not stepping back and looking at the big picture. The problem is when people just keep trying the same thing over and over again. Some people become convinced that they're simply not putting enough hours into it, that the team isn't working hard enough. Unfortunately, human beings only have so much time and energy to give. Nothing is infinite.
How Could I Fail? You May Have Done Nothing Actually Wrong. But, There Was Something Missing...
There are so many times that we bang our heads against the wall thinking how could we have possibly failed when it worked before? It is incredibly likely that you didn't even do anything wrong. But you may have missed something. Yes, you can in fact do everything right and still fail because there's something you missed. in life there's always something new to learn. There's always a new channel to pursue. There's always a new niche that's opened up or about to open up. It's a matter of remaining vigilant. You need to stick to your guns. Use failure as a learning opportunity and a stepping stone, not a world-class bomb.
What made me realize this was stepping back from something that I had worked at for almost a full year. It was very difficult to finally back away. But the progress simply wasn't there and the effort was burning out. Now stepping back, I realize it wasn't that we weren't winning. We'd lost sight of the big picture. There simply was not the depth of field that was anticipated. Because of that, we were grasping at straws trying to make connections that didn't quite fit. We tried to shove not-so-round pegs into round holes.
Now I've been working on my own projects. I did have some setbacks with my website consistently crashing. There is so much uncertainty when you run into egregious site outages and your promotion efforts are wasted. I started simply losing my mind because what I had built up to become a 2000+ visitor a day site was now falling apart before my eyes. It has been my greatest success of my life. Now, I felt that my magnum opus was going to commit suicide before my eyes.
I started thinking what if it's not this and it's that? I started dreaming up worst case scenarios, that everything I had built simply couldn't stand. The nameservers my domain was hosted at were just really sucky, it seemed. Fixing it involved spending a bit more money that I didn't really have yet, as the site just began to actually start bringing in revenue. But that's the thing. Even with all it's problems, it did eventually provide just enough revenue to cover this new upgrade. As long as the site stayed live, it did manage to pay for itself. Sadly, it pretty much died after that. The site was cannibalized for future projects.
So what I realized is that I must simply use this as a learning experience. My site apparently did well enough that apparently something about the hosting wasn't enough to keep up with my growing audience. It couldn't handle the interest that the sheer amount of content that my brother and I were trying to deliver daily through our site. There was still the possibility that something in the installation of my Wordpress was messed up somewhere. I figured that it may involve rebuilding the entire site. Even though the site ended up being shut down, most of the content was integrated into another site. It was mildly inconvenient for our audience for about a week. But that content still gets views. It just doesn't earn like it once did anymore. The traffic has to be built back up.
Growing Pains are Just Reality
Any great success MUST have its growing pains. That's unfortunately just how it is. You have to struggle before you succeed 99 times out of a hundred. It's those struggles that you need to learn from and not let you crawl back into a hole. Content marketing is VERY hard. I have had countless failures where I wrote some pieces I thought were brilliant, but NO ONE ever read them.
I've learned a lot about promotion and that if you don't rise above the noise, you simply won't be heard. I have gotten far better at finding the niches that seem to get conveniently missed by others, and that's where my latest success has come from. That's what content is all about, finding your niche. Yes, occasionally you could have something go viral. But that is definitely an EXCEPTION, not a rule.
What I am saying is not anything new. Plenty of advice out there says you need to learn from every piece that you write. If it doesn't do well, there IS a reason. Just remember that you may have done nothing wrong. You simply may not have known what else you need to do to make it right. But winning isn't everything. Consistency is EVERYTHING. You need to stay on course and keep hacking away at something. Then, take time to reflect. Try and take away something positive from every misstep as well as every success.
This isn't just true in content marketing. It's true in life. I've discovered that in my own life that I became WAY too obsessed with winning. Even in my hobbies. In everything. I like to say I learned awhile ago to bask in life's little victories. At times I've been rarely satisfied with the little things. But you have to be. The little things are what matter. Even if a piece only reaches one or two people, one or both of those people could have their lives improved by it.
Consistency is everything. Winning is nice, and the more you do it obviously the better. I'm glad I've learned this lesson well through my recent failures and my one fair success. Now it's time to build off that past success to keep succeeding.
There have been several times in my life in which I didn’t write much of anything for weeks or even months at a time. Life can come and sweep you away to more urgent things. But for a writer, having to write is urgent even if you don’t really have time.
Recently, I was thinking about how to get jump-started after long absences from writing, on the web or otherwise. Here are a few things to help you get back into writing after a long absence.
Ease Back into Writing
The number one thing to do when you’re returning to anything after a long absence is to ease yourself back into it. There’s a good reason why it’s suggested to work part-time first when returning to the workforce after long periods of not working.
Laura Whitelaw at Selfgrowth.com offers the advice to write down what you hope to achieve when you resume working. That’s excellent advice. The best way to start writing again is often to just begin by writing about what you are hoping to write about. That can help jumpstart your brain and get it moving on a good track.
Focus on What You Know
If you’re writing for money, especially for the web, it’s good to focus on what topics you can write at the highest level and jot these down. Having vague topics and ideas is perfectly fine. Writing these down regularly is good for anyone, even people that don’t write for a living. You never know when you might use them.
Whitelaw also mentions updating your skills at a local community college. This is also particularly good advice for writers if it’s something that may work for you. Online workshops are also a good idea if you can afford them. There are free webinars and workshops all over the internet, too.
Study.com has some online writing courses that offer credit. But along with their own offerings, they have a list of 10 universities offering free online writing courses. Of course, you may not have time for all that. Jst reading up on the topics that you want to write about is fine.
Refresh Your Online Presence
When you do get writing again, make sure any writers’ resume or “about me” sections you have online are up-to-date. Even if you’re not actively applying for any positions, you never know if someone may have interest in hiring you for your skills.
Donna Fuscaldo at Bankrate.com offers a couple of good tips when it comes to resume-writing after a long work absence. Her idea of a writing a functional resume, where you list your skills first, is an awesome idea for writers. Again, you never know who may need content in a given area.
Fuscaldo also mentions being upfront about everything you’ve been doing. Say you haven’t written much but have attended trade shows or other events related to your writing topics. It’s good to mention these. It’s also fine to say if you took a break from writing to attend to family matters. That simply happens, and helps explain long absences.
Also, every experience that you have is important to writing. Keeping anything that lists your experience when it comes to writing up to date is essential. Web writing resumes, in particular, need to be updated more often even more than traditional resumes, because of how fast the writing game can change.
What Else Have You Been Up To? What Have You Learned?
While it may not be absolutely necessary for writers so much, listing work outside of writing is not a bad idea, paid or not. Anything you’ve done that has given you practical experience that affects your writing is a good idea to mention, paid or not.
Looking credible is extremely valuable. It's become even more important in a writing world where the competition is continually growing ever fiercer. It also helps you in case someone just happens to be looking for someone to help them write about topics you’re an expert in. Backing up your expertise can only help you obtain potential work. It can also help you gain a better overall following.
Have you ever been away from writing for a long period and have found certain ways of getting yourself “back in the game?” Be sure to let us know!
Kids on summer vacation from school and you still have a job to do? A job that requires you to work while they are at home in your midst? It may seem scary and impossible. As a veteran homeschool teacher and work at home mom, I have learned a trick or two. You can maintain a work at home job when the kids are on summer vacation.
Keep busy items on hand. Working at home in the presence of the kids requires creativity on the parent's part. Of course you will need to play with the kids and give them attention. But there is no reason they shouldn't also have some playtime independent of you. In fact, it’s probably good for them. During those times, they can play with what I call busy items. This would be any item that the kids are very interested in and can play with for long periods of time. Craft supplies, puzzles, building blocks, crossword (and other pencil) books, and favorite stories are just some ideas. Whatever keeps your child busy will be ideal for this time. When it is your child's busy time, it's also your busy time with work.
Take family field trips and schedule activities. This may seem like a distraction to your work from home job. But if you don't take care of yourself and your family, you are not going to perform as well at work. Take time out for fun so that the kids know you care and so you can get in a break. When you can have fun days mixed in with the work days, it helps create balance, leaving you and the kids less frustrated during work time. You can also schedule activities for the kids, such as team sports, dance, and other things they may be into. Be sure to schedule both activities you can participate in with them, as well as those they do independently. Work harder at home when the kids are away and enjoy them when you can have fun together.
Schedule what you can around the noisiest times. You know what times the kids are most likely to be full energy. Try to schedule family fun into that slot and your work in another. Chances are that if you try to work through the noise, you'll get less done. You might as well save the work for later if you can. As I always say, 10 minutes of focused time is more valuable than an hour of chaos. Fit your work in where it makes sense, if your work at home job is at all flexible. Because I am a writer, I can write at any time. Sometimes I find myself writing during graveyard hours because it just didn't happen that day. If you have to, try changing your hours so that you are not working at all when the kids are home or awake.
Call in a mommy's helper. If all else fails, hire someone to help you out. My oldest child is a teenager, so she can do this when necessary. Just have someone around (perhaps an older child or a good friend) who can supervise the kids while you work. You can still be the main supervisor, as I am in my house. But the mommy's helper can help with things like keeping the kids busy, preparing lunch, cleaning up small messes, answering the phone, and more. Even though you are paying this person, when it's an older child, be careful not to work them too hard. You should still be the main supervisor. But having a mommy's helper can really take away a good amount of the stress and frustration so you can get your work done.
Just let it flow. This is probably my life saver tip. Sometimes it helps to just relax and let things go however they go. My work at home career is pretty flexible, as far as time. There are deadlines at times. However, I find that I get things done best when I don't over plan or over schedule. I just do the work when I can and let things flow. Sometimes I want to work when the kids want to have fun. If I don’t have a deadline, I don't worry about it. I just have fun with the kids, such as when we take our nature walks. I complete the work when we get back. There are times when work has to come first. But the kids should also know they matter. For me the key to keeping it all together is letting go of all the worry. My mind is freer, I get more work done, and my family is much happier.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Are you looking for a way to speed up your writing productivity? Think you've tried everything in the book on working faster? Perhaps you've even considered the possibility of networking household devices together for this purpose. Does using multiple computers speed writing productivity? Perhaps my experience with this method will help you decide if it will work for you.
Why Should I Set up Multiple Computers?
Setting up two or more computers may help speed up productivity for some article writers. You might delegate all internet activities to one and all the writing to another. This can help save the time it takes to switch back and forth from web pages to writing documents. It may seem like a small amount of time. But if you write articles for a living, that time really adds up. Even if you are not doing any web research at the moment, you could still make use of multiple computers. Splitting writing documents between two or more computers might be easier than flipping back and forth between documents on just one computer.
How to Set Up Two or More Computers for Article Writing
When setting up multiple computers to increase article writing speed, there are several factors to consider. First, be sure the computers are in very close proximity to each other. The computers also need to be angled in a way that makes it easy to transition from one to the other. For instance, if one computer is facing toward you and one is facing the complete opposite direction, you will need to move your chair or computer every time. If you will need to move across the room to switch computers, this will not be convenient either. It may even waste time instead of saving it. You can even network the computers that share the same operating system to save you from transferring files by disk. If the computers do not have the ability to share a network, you can also use cloud storage, such as Google Drive or OneDrive. A USB flash drive is also a very fast option for sharing files back and forth.
Tips for Using Multiple Computers
Results may depend on the person. Some may get stressed at the thought of multiple computers. Others, like myself ,may naturally fall right into it. Signs that it may work for you include the ability to quickly navigate one computer between documents and websites, being a multitasker, and having the ability to work in changing situations. Signs it may not work for you include having little knowledge of operations on just one computer, getting stressed easily, and not being able to perform in varying situations or under pressure. Like anything else, it will only save time for the person who feels comfortable doing things this way.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
by Amy Kampstra, Contributing Writer
An independent and voracious reader tends to be a better author. That may be partly why bonafide word addict, Sarah Winter, effortlessly weaved together a spicy, character-driven plot in her romance novel, Snowbound.
Throughout the pages, Liam and River are two 30-somethings stuck together in a Wyoming cabin during the blizzard of the century. He is a flourishing movie star from Europe, and she’s a tomboy living in the middle of nowhere after cancer rips her life apart. Is this change meeting merely life-saving or will it allow them to live their lives to the fullest?
Then, Winter didn’t stop with writing the thing! She took the reins, embracing the newness of self-publishing with an open mind, navigating through the steps like a bright reader charting the dark waters of a Stephen King novel.
Yes, self-publishing involves a plethora of tasks that can make any top-notch writer stuff their manuscript in their nightstand and dream about their dream of words in print -- instead of actually going for it.
Whether you love or hate her first novel, Winter vows to accept all positive comments and criticisms with open arms. Yet, she makes no apologies for her first effort. She believes authors need to give themselves permission: to read, write and explore self-publishing.
Heed her words! Winter’s Snowbound (2014) was a quarter-finalist in the most recent Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest.
Amy Kampstra: Can you share a bit about the scope and process of self-publishing for fellow authors that may be considering or even starting their own self-publishing venture?
Sarah Winter: It takes longer to design a cover for the book than to actually have it ready for sale. Createspace is an Amazon company, so getting the book on paperback and Kindle at the same time is part of the process, and choosing your sales channels is another. Through just one simple step-by-step online process, I was able to make Snowbound available through every channel that a traditional publisher can. Self-publishing, once you have a finished manuscript, is easier than I expected.
AK: As a self-published author, how do you market or advertise your book? And, is it more work to write the book or actually market it yourself?
SW: I use social media and have the book listed on every website I can find that doesn't charge to list books that are available for sale. Tweets, Pins, and Facebook posts drive traffic to the sales pages and
to my blog as well. Also, by entering the Amazon contest, my book got exposure to the other entrants through the message boards associated with the contest.
I think the ratio of work on a self-published book is about 15 percent writing, 30 percent editing, and 55 percent marketing, especially if you don't have money set aside for marketing. If you're looking through free marketing options, a lot of time and effort get spent on that. Everything that a publisher handles for you when they sign you to a book deal, you have to do yourself. It's quite an undertaking.
AK: What is the best thing about having your words in print?
SW: Seeing a book on a shelf with my name on it. It's satisfying to have done something even I wasn't sure I would ever do. I can't lie though; royalties aren't bad either even if they don't amount to much.
AK: Now that you've penned your first novel, is there anything you'd do differently if you could do it all over again? For example, the recent buzz is that author J.K. Rowling now seems to have regrets about her choice to have Harry Potter characters, Ron and Hermione, end up together. And, she's written a short story about Harry and friends in their 30s. A) Would you have done something different with your plot or certain characters? B) Is it a possibility that you will resurrect your characters in future projects?
SW: I don't think I've had time to really think about what I'd do differently. I'm happy with the way Snowbound turned out, and don't think there's really anything I would change about it right now. It's always possible I could resurrect them in a new work, but I don't see that happening just yet, either. I've left the cabin for now.
AK: Do you have any goals left for "Snowbound"? That is, are you looking at shopping it around to publishing houses, selling a certain amount of books in a set amount of time, or entering more contests?
SW: I would love to get it published by a traditional house, and I will probably shop it to agents starting next summer, once I have another work released. (I'm shooting for a January release of my second novel).
I intend on entering one of the two in the Amazon contest next year, and hope it works out as well as it did this year.
AK: In retrospect, would you have done something different with the marketing or publishing of your book?
SW: The only different choices I could really have made are ones that are still available to me, even after publishing. I still have the option of getting my work accepted by agents and publishers, so I don't think
I went wrong or made a decision that I regret. I would have set aside some funds for marketing campaigns, but with two young kids there's always somewhere that money needs to be other than paying for promotion.
AK: Why do you write under a pseudonym? Would you advise other authors to do so?
SW: There are several reasons people choose pseudonyms. My motives are really simple. I like the surname Winter, but also it's for a separation of the two versions of me: the mom, wife, daughter, sister, and friend; and the writer. It’s a matter of personal choice and, if you have a pseudonym you want to write under, go for it.
Pseudonyms have been used since publicized writing began for people who are trying to break into a genre dominated by the opposite gender. The Bronte sisters each used male names when they were first
published. Benjamin Franklin wrote under three different women's names, one of them in direct protest to women being punished for having illegitimate children while the fathers went unpunished. Romance author Leigh Greenwood is the pseudonym for Harold Lowry, who served as the president of the Romance Writers of America for two years.
AK: Are more Sarah Winter novels (or other works) on the way?
SW: I mentioned it in an earlier question. I have another romance novel in the works that I hope to release in January just like Snowbound. We'll see how it goes, as I plan to go back to work part-time this fall.
AK: On your blog you've written a past post in regard to authors giving themselves permission to write. Can you tell readers and any fellow writers a bit more about this concept, and do you have any other honest and helpful tips for anyone stuck on penning their first novel?
SW: Giving yourself permission, to me, is just about letting go of your hang-ups. They're your hang-ups to have, but they're also your hang-ups to let go of. It ultimately comes down to a choice: you either give up
your hang-ups or you give up your dream. It's unpleasant to think about those two options, but they're really what it all boils down to.
I don't mince words so for other advice, I say this: stop dicking around and write the damn thing. It's not going to get written by the excuses you make for not getting it done. If you're stuck on page five and make excuses for why [you] don't write for ten years, you're still only going to have five pages of a novel and 10 fewer years to write it in.
Because online article writers can sometimes earn their money based in part or in whole on views, promotion can come into play often. If you are a freelance writer and aren't earning much for your content, not enough marketing or the wrong kind of promotion could be part of it. Here are some easy promotional techniques for online article writers that can be implemented right away.
Sign Up for Twitter and Start Tweeting
If you write online and haven't been tweeting, you may be missing out on a fair amount of exposure. I recommend that all online article writers at least try Twitter. If done right, this easy promotional technique has the potential of putting your work in front of people you may not find elsewhere. The unique dynamics allow people you may or may not know to spread the word about your content quickly and easily. Online article writers should remember not to be a spammer that only posts links. Like any other social networking site, there should be some social involvement. If you sign up and don't like it, you can always cancel your account.
Utilize RSS Feeds
Utilizing RSS feeds is another easy promotional technique. Many content sites have an RSS enabled profile where the work of each writer is displayed. Submitting the RSS feed to RSS directories of the appropriate topic is another way online article writers can promote. The more ways that people have to find your work, the more likely you are to get noticed. You also can post RSS feeds of your content onto your blog or website so that your readers and fans can easily find more of your content.
Frequent readers are probably saying "Oh no, here she goes again with the SEO talk," but it is true. For online article writers, this easy promotional technique is a must. It may seem odd to refer to SEO as easy, but some aspects of it are and implementing it gets pretty simple once you get the hang of it. There also are some simple techniques that even beginners can use. If you don't know what SEO is or are still confused about it, pick up some books and learn more. You might even wish to take some classes. To get started, read Easy SEO Tips For Online Article Writers.
Blog About Your Articles
Your own personal or commercial blog is a great way to promote your work. Blog about the topics of your articles and link to them within your posts. This gives your blog readers something extra and can also lead to more views of your articles. Blogging can be a great way to get targeted readers to your content. Targeted readers may be more likely to stay longer, which could mean more views and more income. This form of promotion has that benefit and also the benefits of RSS and SEO capabilities. The RSS feed helps get your blog posts indexed with search engines. It also creates a way for readers to get instant updates of your posts. Implementing SEO into not only your online articles, but your blog posts is also a great promotional technique.
Start a Facebook Page
Facebook is another great way to promote your articles. Once you have signed up, you can even create a Facebook page specific to your online business. People can sign up to be a fan. If you use both Twitter and Facebook, the applications can be connected so that whatever you post on Twitter also posts to Facebook. This is a great way for busy people to post in two places at once. Just remember to actually interact with people. Otherwise, only posting article links can look like spamming. Also, be sure that your family and friends are aware you’ll be sharing your work. You don't want to overwhelm them all at once.
Some forums allow a signature line to be attached to each post a person makes. Where allowed and appropriate, this can be another effective method of promotion. Simply place the link to your work in your signature. Some forums may also allow you to share actual articles where appropriate. Always follow the rules. Posting where it isn't allowed is a promotional technique that can have opposite results than intended. If you become known as a spammer, your work may instead get ignored.
Yes, here I go mentioning SEO again -- that magic three-letter abbreviation we hear often. Using easy techniques can help online article writers significantly. If you haven't heard of SEO or if you haven't heeded the advice, you likely are losing out big time. A large portion of Internet traffic comes via search engines. If you expect search engines to find your content and deliver it in search results, you need to talk their language. Here are some simple techniques you can incorporate right away to help increase traffic and bring in valuable readers that stay around.
Focus, Focus, Focus
Focusing clearly on the subject at hand is a very easy way to draw people in. Not only should online article writers focus in on the subject without rambling, but focus should be in one specific aspect of that topic. For instance, the subject of this article is 'techniques for online article writers.' For focus, it was narrowed down to 'SEO techniques,' and more specifically, 'easy' SEO techniques.
A good way to narrow your focus is to search your topic on the site you're writing for, as well as your favorite search engine (mine is Yahoo), to see what already exists. Go for an angle that focuses on something useful or interesting, but focus on an aspect either not covered enough or not covered in the manner you intend on covering it. When I searched on this topic, I found many SEO articles, but none that were as specific or as simple to understand as I'm hoping this is.
Remove Modifiers and Fluff
Ever tried to read an article where the use of words such as "and, at, that, to, but" etc. is excessive? Not only is this bad for readability, but it takes up space and lowers the importance of the relevant words. Obviously, you need these words in some areas, but remove them where possible. For instance, instead of saying "She thought that it would have helped her, but it didn't help, " you might say "She thought it would help, but it didn't." See how much easier that is to read?
Being too descriptive or using too much storytelling can also take away from the SEO and the valuable info. Creativity is good, but don't be excessive. This is useful info to remember when writing the article, as well as during proofreading. Remember that web writing differs from other writing. Instead of saying something like "Jenny hurried across the green, grassy lawn to take a potted flower to her grandmother's house and enjoy a well-done steak dinner, " you might say something like "Jenny rushed home to her grandmother's with a potted flower, to enjoy a steak dinner with her." It still gets the point across, but is not so drawn out.
Latentic Semantic Indexing (LSI)
Latentic Semantic Indexing (LSI) is a technique that can easily be implemented with others. It shouldn't be the only method used, but when used in conjunction with the techniques above (and more as you learn), it's a great technique. Here's a simple way to remember LSI. It's basically the action of using words related to your key topic. There is a more complex explanation. However, we're keeping things simple here.
To find related words, simply use a word cloud generator. Type up a phrase or word that best represents your topic. That will give you results with some related terms. You can do this with various words and phrases. You also can use keyword tools, such as the Google Keyword Planner. Once you have all your related terms, sprinkle those throughout your content. These do not need to be used often and should be natural and not forced or overly used. Ignore the ones that actually are not related and do not make sense within your content. You still need to make sense and provide something functional to your readers.
Web writers often get stuck within the limits of the first way they start writing. For some, this could be submitting to large content sites or communities. For others, it might be different. However, there are many ways to make money in web writing. Here are 5 of the most common ways that are simple to get into.
Start a blog. This is one of the easiest ways to get started in web writing. If you’re a beginner, I recommend doing this before you apply for paid work, as it will help you learn how web writing works and give you some experience and practice. Seasoned web writers may also find this option desirable, as you are your own boss and can easily become an authority in your niche topics, as well as in the online writing world.
Sell your services to other websites. Many web writers choose to sell their content services to other websites. This is beneficial to those websites, as well as to the writer. The website owner gets quality content and the writer gets paid. Some websites will post ads for this on sites like Craigslist. Others might clearly list submission guidelines or post a call for content submissions. If you don’t see this on a site you feel you can provide a service for, look for the editor’s email address or for another way to contact the website owner or editor.
Sell your services to web content communities. Because this can sometimes be the fastest way to earn money, it is a desirable option for some writers. These sites usually do not pay as well as some of the other writing opportunities out there. However, it can be a great way to network and earn some extra side money. There are some web writers that can make a living doing this.
Write and sell e-books. This is becoming a more popular way to make money by writing online. E-books can be short or long. They might be fiction or non-fiction. If you provide what readers are looking for and you are able to get your e-books noticed, this can be a very lucrative way to make money in web writing. These can be sold on your own site or blog, Amazon, Lulu, and other places.
Use your content to enhance your own website. Because the payouts at content communities have gone down for some people, many web writers are choosing to run their own sites. It makes sense that if you’re a full time writer, you should be able to come up with enough content consistently to run a website. If you do this, I recommend Weebly for hosting, as the CMS and Site Editor tools far outweigh those offered by most competitors, in my opinion. It’s also a very flexible host that is very easy to use, from beginner to expert and allows for e-commerce, giving permission to other editors, and more.
You may think you're updating your web writing resume often enough. However, in the freelance writing game, things work much differently than in a traditional 9-5 position. I know you're not updating your resume often enough and here's why you should change that. I speak from experience.
Web Writing Changes
When the game changes, your approach needs to change. That means your writing resume too. That's your main tool when seeking new gigs and opportunities. If you can't change with the business, what do you think that says to your potential clients and editors? Stop using the same stale techniques when the rules have clearly indicated a new approach.
Your Experience Grows
Hopefully, if you're a full time writer, you gain new experience all the time. That should be reflected somewhere in your resume. How do you expect to get new opportunities when you're selling yourself short by leaving off valuable experience? Each time you do a new project, there is a skill or other experience that can be added to your resume. You should also use different writing samples where possible. Otherwise, it looks like you're not in practice, which isn't the best way to present yourself if it's not true.
Resume Requirements Vary
Your resume should be updated and tailored to each individual client every time you inquire about a new gig or role. A resume that is more specific to the exact role or project is more likely to be considered than a standard one that could be used for multiple positions. Also, each project or role will have different requirements and goals. If your web writing resume is the same for every query you make, you could be missing out on certain opportunities that you may have gotten with a few simple changes.
When was the last time you updated your resume? Do you agree with me? Have more tips? Let me know by commenting below.
Whether you've gotten started in freelancing or have been doing it a while, it's important to network with others in your field. So, how do you know which social networking site is the best one for web writers -- and for you, personally? There are many out there and they aren't all the same.
Choose a Site for Networking With Other Web Writers
First, when choosing a social networking site, be sure it's one other writers frequent often. If you join a networking site based around parenting, you may find some other writers. But, you may not get the best results from it if other things about the site aren't geared toward writers. Also, there's no guarantee you'll find other writers there, just a possibility.
Instead, visit writing forums and find out where other writers are gathering. You may even find that networking within a content site you write for is sufficient. If not, find out where those writers network. The networking site you choose does not need to be solely about writing. But you should be able to find a good amount of other freelance writers interacting there.
Should Web Writers Use More Than One Networking Site?
Absolutely! Use as many as you can keep up with. That's part of creating your brand. It is so important for web writers to get their names out there. However, remember when I said "as many as you can keep up with?" Don't create so many online profiles that you cannot keep up with them.
That's counterproductive, as well as disrespectful to others in the network. The whole point of a social network is to...well, network. If you aren't doing that, you haven't found the right social network or you have joined so many you can't keep up with them all. I recommend first becoming active in one that you feel comfortable with and gradually adding others as you are comfortable doing so.
Why Web Writers Need Social Networking Sites
When writing online, it's important to keep in touch with new techniques and also to see what others are doing. Fellow writers can also be great connections for friendship as well as extra business. It helps to discuss various techniques and aspects of online writing often. This way you can test new things often and find out what works.
Different clients like different styles and techniques. So, it's to your benefit to be open about exploring the writing territory. Social networks are also great for promotion and for meeting potential clients. They can add a whole new dimension to your writing career that you may not find elsewhere. It’s very important to incorporate social media into your business plan.
What is the Best Social Networking Site for Web Writers?
The best networking site will vary depending on the individual. The main thing to think of when choosing sites is to find one you enjoy using. If you get frustrated each time you log in or you don't enjoy the features, it probably won't be beneficial. You should be enjoying yourself, even if you have signed up for business purposes. Take the above points into consideration and choose the site (or combination of sites) that best fits with your social and business habits. Web writers, like other professionals, thrive best in desirable and appropriate environments.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
It's no secret that Facebook is a great place to spread the word about your business. For freelance writers, part of that generally involves sharing links to our writing. But is there a right and wrong way to do this? As with any other type of promotion, there should be etiquette involved. To present your work in the best light, you should know the difference between promotion and spamming.
Post more than just links. The number one mistake I see people making on Facebook is not having any engagement with people. They seem to just drop links and not converse with others. You don't have to be on there all day. But at least interact if you're going to drop links. Most likely, people are not going to click the links anyway if it's obvious that is the only reason you are there. If dropping links is all you're interested in, Facebook and other social networks are not the place for that. The whole point of Facebook is to socialize.
Do not tag people in link posts, unless the link is related to them. Facebook tagging etiquette is important. When you tag someone in a Facebook post, it appears on their profile, as well as in their news feed. It also appears in the news feeds of their friends. Absolutely do not tag people unless a post is related directly to them or they've asked you to. Tagging people in all of your links is considered spam and will get you a fast ticket off Facebook. It may also cost you some friends. Is tagging your link really worth losing friends and your Facebook account? When people tag me in their articles or other promotional links, it makes me not want to click the link or share it with others. I generally will remove the tag. In special circumstances, it may not bother me, such as if a friend is obviously having fun or just wants me to see a specific article. But habitual link taggers are spammers in my book and will not receive any clicks from me.
Use a fan page. If you know you are going to be writing often, the best thing you can do is set up a Facebook fan page. There are many reasons why. But one reason is to limit exposing family and friends to every single link to all of your work. Some may appreciate it. But not everyone does. By setting up a fan page, those who want to receive all your links can follow your fan page by 'liking' it. This doesn't mean you shouldn't post any links on your profile. But if you publish often, it's just common courtesy not to post all your links on your profile. Some may consider frequent linking to be spam.
Hide links from friends that aren't interested. Do you have friends who don't want to see every link? Create a custom list and hide your link posts from those people as you post them. To do this, simply select the lock button in the status comment section when you place a link there. Choose custom from the menu. Then, type the name of the list in the field where it asks who to hide the post from. Then, hit send. It sounds complicated. But it's actually very quick when you are doing it and it keeps your friends happy. I no longer do this, as most of my friends are writers and want to see all of my posts. However, it is very useful for people you want to keep on your list that don’t want to see those posts.
Don't post links on fan pages or in groups without permission and relevancy. When I log onto Facebook and check my personal fan page, the last thing I want to see is links to irrelevant websites. On the other hand, I love checking my niche Facebook pages and groups and seeing links posted in those places that are relevant to the topic. Be mindful of where you should promote your links and where you shouldn't. Not taking heed of this could cause a loss of readers instead of drawing new ones. Relevancy attracts readers while spam alienates them.
Lyn Lomasi & Richard Rowell are life & business partners. Owners of the Write W.A.V.E. Media network, they are your content superheroes to the rescue! Running their network, tackling deadlines single handedly, and coaching fellow writers & entrepreneurs to be thought leaders is their top priority. While rescuing civilians from boring content and marketing, they conquer the world, living the RV life and making Crafts For A Purpose with their awesomely crazy family while recounting The Nova Skye Story, along with Kymani’s Travels. They also strive to one day cuddle with lions and giraffes. Until then, they’ll settle for furry rescue kitties and doggies.
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