by Phoenix A. Desertsong, The Prose Machine
For me, prewriting has always been a bit of an ironic term. After all, doesn't prewriting involve writing things down? But, really, the act of prewriting is actually helpful for a lot of writers. While I have rarely ever done prewriting in the traditional sense, there's a lot of usefulness to integrating prewriting into your own writing process.
"What the heck is Prewriting?"
In school, we were probably all taught that you needed to do prewriting before starting the first version of a writing assignment. I rarely did this, even in cases that the prewriting was part of the grade. I'd just start writing the assignment and go back and fix it later as I developed more ideas. I became a pretty good self-editor at an early stage. So, I could skip prewriting, really.
But not everyone can write a whole paper straightaway. Even the most seasoned writers sitting down to write something that isn't an assignment can find great value in old school prewriting. How do you start prewriting? You ask yourself some questions.
"What am I writing about?"
What is the topic or theme of what you're setting yourself to write? I usually am able to complete this task in the title of my work or in the first few sentences. But one benefit of prewriting is that not only can you set your topic or theme in writing efore you actually begin writing the actual work, but you can also ask yourself: "is this something I even care about?"
I used to ask myself "will anyone care about what I'm writing?" most times I set to writing. That's a question I'm sure many people ask themselves. The trouble is, writing ewhat you think people want to read often leads you to writing something you're not as invesed in.
Believe me, it's usually fairly obvious to people when someone writes about something they actually care about or are moved by. For some, prewriting is a great way to really decide the direction you want to take with your writing, whether it's for yourself or an assignment. After all, once you put something in writing, it can look a lot different.
And this is one very useful thing about prewriting. You can figure out what yu actually care to write about before writing a whole piece you're unhappy with. Now that I think about it, I could save myself some time by just doing this one part of prewriting. In a way, I already do something like that in my journals, where I often come up with my topics and themes for writing essays. In fact, this very piece came from an idea I wrote in my journal.
Still, formalizing this part of the writing process as the first step in prewriting makes a lot of sense. If you think it will help your writing, by all means adopt this idea.
But this is only the first part of prewriting.
"Why am I writing about this?"
If you're writing something for an assignment, this question seems to have an obvious answer: "duh, I have to write it!" But that's not what this second stage of prewriting actually means. This is when you decide on the purpose of your writing.
Well, the purpose of your writing should not be "a good grade" in a class or "get me paid" for a freelance assignment. No, by purpose, we want to know what this piece of writing is meant to accomplish, what job it has in life. One guide to prewriting has a great list of possible purposes to write for:
Your writing can be for multiple purposes. But typically, you're looking to focus on only one or two of these purposes – although you can do more. It's possible to entertain while also being persuasive, for example. You can narrate and move someone through your words. Really, you can mix and match any of these purposes.
If you do take up prewriting, it might be handy to keep this short list of purposes on hand. That way, you can choose the purposes that best fit what you're trying to accomplish with your writing. Sometimes an assignment will give you a strictly defined purpose. But many allow you to add an additional purpose to your writing. And, of course, if there are no exact purposes assigned, then just go with however you feel you can best write about your topic or theme.
For example, through this prewriting piece, I am informing while also hopefully explaining why I don't necessarily do prewriting myself. I find that I tend to have a purpose to explain and inform a lot in my writing, although I also aim to amuse, sometimes, too. Keep in mind you don't have to try and do all of these things in every piece you write, as you can't have any one piece do everything, after all.
"Who am I writing this for?"
Ah, yes, the ever important question for a writer: "Who is my audience?"
This is the point in the prewriting process where you may have to reconsider the purpose for your writing. Where is what you're going to write be posted? Even if it is for your eyes only, you still inevitably have to think about this.
The whole point of writing is for someone to read it, even if it's only for yourself. More often than not, you're trying to reach a specific audience. Your audience is, sadly, not just everybody. You must have an audience in mind whenever you write something.
Myself, I tend to write for other writers, authors, and bloggers, while also considering other creatives. Does that mean that my work is only meant for those specific people? Not at all. But what it does mean, then, to target a specific audience?
Targeting an audience just means that you need to decide who is most likely to get the most out of what you are writing. Then, if you decide your target audience prefers to read a more amusing piece or more of a narrative, you can adjust your "writing parameters" accordingly.
"How am I going to write about this?"
This is where things get juicy in prewriting. Some prewriting guides have choosing your piece's genre before figuring out your audience. But you kind of want to know your audience before deciding how you want to write about it. After all, you haven't actually started writing your actual writing yet, so you can go back still and adjust things.
By genres, here's what sort of things you could be writing:
Some themes are better written about through the narrative of a short story, for example. Other times, you may want to write something biographical and descriptive about someone who dealt with a certain topic or theme throughout his or her lifetime. Myself, I tend to prefer the essay, because it's versatile. I also use poems a lot to express certain ideas. But I've written all of these types of things in one form or another.
When it comes to genre, unless it's assigned, I always recommend to write to your strengths sometimes and to your weaknesses at others. Really, you should dabble in every kind of writing that you can.
The reason for this should be obvious. The more you grow as a writer, the better all of your writing will be, even if your forays into other genres seem to fail miserably. The very act of putting together a piece you wouldn't usually write makes new connections in your brain.
You can learn a lot by writing what you're weak at, because you could eventually find new strengths. After all, writing is first and foremost a skill. The more you develop your skills in different sorts of writing, the more you can do.
"OK, it's brain dump time!"
Once you have decided on the topic or theme, the purpose, the audience, and the genre for what you're writing, it's time to throw down! It's planning time! Planning my writing is something I rarely do, although I do brainstorm from time to time when I feel compelled to do so.
However, depending on what you're writing, there are lots of ways to collect your thoughts and ideas for the sake of prewriting. You can sit there and think and take notes on whatever floats through your brain for hours. Then you end up daydreaming and fantasizing and go write some poems or start some story that will go nowhere, instead. Yeah, I've been there and done that. But there are other ways.
Researching is actually pretty helpful. This is a part of prewriting that I actually have done a air amount. Reading on the topic or theme you want to write about is helpful for many reasons. Not only does it give you a ton of ideas to start from, but you also know what's already out there.
You can also interview someone. This is easier than you'd think. People love to talk. If you ask someone who you consider an expert on a subject, and you have a few good questions you're looking to answer, you'll likely get a positive response!
In fact, an interview itself makes for some good writing, in addition to what you're already writing! Plus, interviewing is an awesome skill to develop. But the greatest benefit of an interview is that you can get an expert source and those are awesome social proof for your work.
Of course, you can also discuss your topic or theme with friends and family. You may get some ideas that you don't expect.
However you pull your ideas together, it's the one part of prewriting that I actually do. You should do it, too. You'll probably end up getting more ideas than you need for the writing project you started with. As you find as a writer, too much is actually a good thing, because you have other things to write about later!
"Pull it all together now!"
The end of prewriting is now upon us! Now you have to organize your notes and put some sense to them. This is where some people engage in the dreaded outline or do some fancy flow chart or spreadsheet or whatever other crap you want to throw in Microsoft Excel. (Or OpenOffice Sheets, as I prefer!)
Myself, I just pick a few good ideas and develop them in a way that makes sense. Most of the time, I do all this organization in my head. Then again, especially with assignments, I will put headings and sections in a document first before the writing gears really start cranking. It's not an outline, per se, but it sort of serves the same purpose.
And yes, writing an outline is perfectly OK. But my own writing tends to be a but spontaneous, so outlines frustrate me. There's nothing actually wrong with them, though. And I've see flow charts and tables work wonders for some people. Really, however you best get organized in writing, go for it!
That's it! Now you're ready to start writing... even though you just did more writing in the prewriting than you'll probably actually do in the actual drafting... But hey, it's more writing, and who doesn't want to do more of that?
How do you prewrite? Or are you like me and mostly just fly by the seat of your pants? Whatever your process is, I'd love to hear about it!
~ Phoenix <3
by Richard A. Rowell, Write W.A.V.E. Media Staff
Reflections on Life?
When I was collecting my poetry, it was suggested to me that I call the collection Reflections on Life. I felt like that wouldn't be the best title to publish my work. I decided instead on From the Pages of Spiral Notebooks, for that's the medium in which my poetry adventures began. However, many of my poems are indeed reflections on life. So, that's an idea that I'd like to discuss.
For Christmas one year, I was asked what sort of books I would want to read. I made a request for poetry related books. While I've written hundreds of poems over the years, I have always found myself rather disconnected from pursuing the art on a regular basis. I've long reserved poetry as a means of expressing thoughts emotions or ideas. At times, I have some jumbled thoughts that seem to loosely fit together, but wouldn't be easily put into prose. Poetry, therefore, became a reflex, as much of my writing has become.
It's quite fortunate then that one of my best friends gave me a book about teaching children to write poetry. It's actually a rather old book, but just as relevant today as it was in the 1970s. It is entitled Wishes, Lies and Dreams by Kenneth Koch. It was a big deal when it was first published and sadly the great lessons it teaches have seemingly been forgotten by many people today.
When I was a child, our classes were sometimes instructed to write stories. My first few stories were absolute nonsense, but yet they were enjoyed. I often dreamed of one day becoming a novelist. But proper plot structure and development are two aspects of literature that have long eluded me. My imagination rarely remains on a single thread for long. My brain is ready to move on soon after I start.
Eventually realizing this, I shifted my focus to writing songs. But without musical accompaniment, they were “just” poems. I was rarely happy with my work. It was often very emotionally charged and often took cues from my dreams and my imagination. Actually, a lot of it was really good as I look back at it. Of course, a lot of it wasn't. But as I've looked back at my older pieces over time, I'm not so sure what I inevitably discarded was so bad after all.
Some years ago, I shifted back to writing stories. I created a great many colorful characters and imagined complex backdrops, both political and natural. But I never could get it all to work in harmony. It was suggested to me several times to work my creative work into poems. But, there was too much of a disconnect between poems and story writing for me that I could hardly attempt it. A few decent poems came out of it, and all are published in some form today. But it never became a regular outlet for me.
Are My Poems Reflections or Distortions of Life?
Going back to the idea of my poetry generally being reflections on life, from certain perspectives many of them probably are. But necessarily, reflections will also become distortions. But, distortions of life does not make for a “sexy” collection title, nor is it an accurate choice for putting a collective take on my works of verse.
This is when I realized that in my future poetry I should take cues from Koch’s work with Grade school children. Poems should be of the stuff of wishes, real or crazy. Poems should be the stuff of lies - innocent, pretty, or gross. Poems should be the stuff of dreams, free to associate even in the most seemingly absurd ways.
The work of a young poet should begin with “I wish” or “I dream,” Koch says. This way it's easy to make comparisons with seemingly disparate things to form vivid images. It's much too easy as an adult to let conventions and fear of rejection color our work, or worst of all force it into some sort of blandness.
Poetry is a creative art just like drawing, painting, sculpting or crafting. Poetry is doing all of these things in fact, but with words. And the last thing you want to do is over-complicate poetry.
The best part of poetry is that it offers a sort of freedom that no other art form I've found can offer. It should be an accessible art for everyone. It should be free to express and begin and end only with a simple idea. Complexity can come with time and practice, but poetry is not meant for dissertations, after all.
As I continue to delve more into reading about how to teach poetry, I certainly will have much more to say on the subject. But most of all, I need to rediscover my love of the craft. Perhaps to be a poet is my true calling. But my aim has and never will be to have my verses be the stuff of legend. I just need to say what should be said.
For even in the lies of poetry, there is always a hint of truth.
by Richard A. Rowell, Write W.A.V.E. Media Staff
It’s long been believed that by being an active reader, you can become a far better writer. While that is certainly true, it is only one major component to becoming a “formidable writing professional” as I have tried to be in recent years. Of course, really, the most important part to being a good writer is simply pursuing the act of writing as often as possible.
There are many folks out there who seem to believe that he or she is simply not cut out for creating good, solid writing. Yes, there are those that are simply very talented at writing. However, writing is far more about developing skill. Even those with great talent don’t necessarily hone their skills nearly to the degree that they could. But mostly, writing is about your passion. If you care about something, and want to know more about it, then you should definitely write about it. It’s hard at first, but after awhile, you’ll begin to have a lot of fun!
Myself, I’ve been writing for quite some time. But as much of a bookworm as I was in my childhood, it took many years before I actually could call myself a writer. It took lots of practice. I would copy interesting quotes from things I would read and then commenting on them. I would simply write for the sake of writing. It got to the point that writing became a reflex. Whenever something was on my mind that I didn’t know exactly how to talk to someone about, I would write about it.
Putting words on a page has always been easier to me than public speaking. That’s true of many folks. The opposite is, of course, just as true. It took me a long time to find my voice through writing, though. I must say, it’s not quite the voice I speak with. Is that a bad thing? That’s for you to decide.
Reading is definitely important. I don’t need to stress that, since so many others have and there’s no point repeating such a truth. What I do need to stress is that even the most talented writers do not write near-perfection every time he or she sits down.
Everyone’s creative process is different. Some are easier to follow than others. My personal process isn’t so easy to follow. I’ve always hated doing outlines. I just tend to draft a piece in a semi-completed form before going back and revising it to make it more coherent.
I’m very much about voice in my writing. Sometimes, I perhaps get a bit too rhetorical or state things in somewhat peculiar ways that may not always get my point across. That is because writing is a skill you can never stop developing. If one does not grow as a writer, he or she will grow stagnant.
If a writer does not strive to write as often as possible, when it comes time to write something, it will most likely be a struggle. It’s especially a struggle when you’re trying to write about things you don’t care about - even if it will make you money. Let me tell you, my voice sounds cold and uninterested in a lot of things I’ve written before for money. Others thought they were good. But I knew that they weren’t.
There have been times where I will churn out a great deal of words in a short amount of time. I may not be proud of a great percentage of that work. Still, the exercise is nonetheless extremely valuable.
One thing that I have also done to a good degree is help others with their own writing. This is perhaps even more valuable than simply brainstorming ideas. Not only are you bringing another perspective to others’ work, but you’re also gaining insight into other perspectives, as well. You’re also helping them to find just what it is that permeates their writing, picking out their strengths and helping them to smooth out the flaws. Always be carefully critical, the way you would want someone to help you along. So much of writing is just practice. Writers are more like doctors than we realize sometimes; we’re constantly practicing!
I’d love to say that everyone has a hidden talent for writing and just needs to develop the skills. But I do know that writing is a skill that many people who don’t consider themselves writers can actually develop. Through persistence and patience with their own development, anyone can learn to write fairly well.
Writing is an art form, of course. We are artisans, much like sculptors and painters. Words are our material and the pages (or digital mediums) are our canvas. That may sound a bit clichéd but I think that is the best way to express that idea.
Even highly skilled writers such as myself grow stumped on how to put certain things. Every writer does. This is why collaboration is so important. It’s important for writers to help each other out.
When it comes to writing for assignments, there’s nothing wrong with being someone’s ghost-writer. There’s nothing wrong with giving a starving writer an assignment to get an idea expressed and out into the open. But when you are writing for money, take assignments that you believe in and truly want to write for the sake of writing it.
Once writing becomes about money, you can lose focus and just write what you think people want or what the assignment says. I believe that more people should try ghostwriting, but as a way to develop their own skills. Always keep that in mind.
I’m always happy to edit and clean things up for people. But people need to learn that they need to just write from the heart. I once read something that the best content comes from the most unexpected places. It’s a trend that needs to grow.
Remember that developing any sort of useful, applicable skill is an art form. Creativity, in whatever form it may take, is art. Like with any artists, many writers become discouraged when the words just aren't fitting together. It’s hard to break out of ruts when you get into them. But even when you’re in a rut, you still have to keep writing.
It's OK to take a break for a bit, but never leave writing completely behind. Even if you sit down again and you write crap, you’re at least producing something. It's better than simply letting thoughts spin around your head without any useful application.
Writing is most certainly more skill than some realize. Talent is certainly a component, but inevitably it’s skill that wins out. But it’s mostly the passion you put into it. Without the passion, the writing will feel stale. The passion is what keeps the writing living, relevant, and good.
by Richard A. Rowell, Write W.A.V.E. Media Staff
I just want to write something important. To me, that’s not writing just another New York Times bestseller. It doesn’t involve taking advantage of a fad. I’m not seeking a cult following. There is a deep desire within me to write something not only significant, but undeniably unique.
I long to write something that could be the epitome of whatever creativity I possess. Is this asking the impossible? Can you write something undeniably important? There is always the possibility that by reaching for what at first you deem impossible, you could get yourself very, very close to that seemingly unattainable goal. So why not aim for it?
Even as the world gives you reason after reason to be bitter, it’s vital to do whatever I can to put things into a positive light. It’s important to be constructive. This is why it’s very important to understand the true power of creativity. I know that too often I don’t exercise my mind correctly to unleash my true creative potential. I believe this is true of most of us.
Throughout my education, people have been too impressed with many examples of my academic work. That’s not to say it’s all been relatively worthless busy work junk. Still, I look back at my academic offerings and feel tremendously disappointed from what I produced in the name of education. I believe I can tap far more from my abilities. So where do I dig up the fuel, the drive, and the motivation to pursue challenging myself in new and creative ways?
Not only do I wish to master merely the act of being creative, but also better comprehend the nuances of the greater concepts that creativity involves. I don’t want only to inform or educate in a basic sense. I want to expand minds in a significant, meaningful way beyond the simple facts, figures, or concepts I’m writing about.
Before any of us can truly learn how to learn, we must understand what creativity truly is. Creativity means never simply squashing your dreams, no matter how childish they may seem. Never be afraid to tackle big ideas. Reality is always going to be fascinating, and often more horrifying than anything any fiction can produce.
Never be afraid to create something. It doesn’t matter how slowly you build on your ideas, as long as you do it consistently. Add a dash of passion to everything you do. That’s true creativity at its finest.
by Richard A. Rowell
I tend to write in bursts. I'm terrible at being creative on a schedule. Is it even possible to be creative on a schedule? It probably is, but that has never been a real thing to me. I just create whenever I do.
There's nothing really inherently wrong with that. That's why I don't want to have any expectations tied to any of my creative work - because I'll always find some excuse as to why I fell short. It's pretty much my own expectations, really. They're rough enough. I don't need someone on top of that asking me if I'll have something ready by so-and-so date and time. That's why I am so personal about my creative stuff.
I'm not an "official" poet, even though I've written hundreds of poems and most of my poetry is published online. The reason why is actually pretty simple. If you're a "poet," people will ask you, hey, can you write a poem about so and so? Can you come up with some corny verses about such-and-such? Not only do I find that demeaning, but I'm not an "on-demand" poet. Some people can do that crap.
I usually will just be laying or sitting around and a verse pops in my head. Then another, and another, yet another. I usually write 3-5 poems at a time. Sometimes even as many as 10. I think my record is a dozen in a day, but I'm really not keeping track. Heck, if I were that prolific I'd be a millionaire right now just self-publishing little collections and selling them for a dollar or two a piece. Alas, I am not. I don't really care about that part anyway. I don't care if my poems make me a cent, really.
The problem is I do care if some of my more serious writing earns nothing. Sometimes my only motivation to write about certain topics is purely for financial benefit. I've been fortunate enough to get on rolls with assignments most of the time. Even if I'm uninspired to begin with, I can usually run with an idea. But when I have to force it, well, you can imagine how it turns out.
So what gets me on a roll? Just a thought. It just has to be the right thought. There's really no secret sauce or anything like that. You just run with it when it comes. If it's a lot in one day, okay, well, just go ahead.
It's often suggested to not batch too much together. But if you're writing stuff that's going to be just as relevant ten years down the line as it is now, go right ahead. Some people work better on schedules than others. There's no right or wrong way to work as long as you find what works for you.
So hay, I'm on a roll...
Sorry, I just had to.
But while I'm at it, I'll just keep at it.
by Richard A. Rowell
It’s quite enlightening to realize others recognize fine skill in composition. It’s even better to find those that appreciate the fine details woven through even the most basic of stories. Writing is not simply a form of communication or just used for recording purposes. It can be such a wonderful way to tell the world so many things.
Some use writing simply as a way to satiate their ego. Perhaps that is why I write, sometimes, to satisfy my own ego. Of course, it’s true that I am the all-powerful narrator in my writing. I can say, do think, and feel anything I wish for anyone or anything depicted through my words. It is a beautiful, liberating feeling. It can be highly intoxicating, too.
I can write forever on pages and type forever onto various digitized media. But when it comes to sharing these words, I am often at a loss in proceeding to do so. What I do hope is that there’s something to gain by having my thoughts mirrored into words. Namely, I hope it can be better understood that everything I do in the course of my day out in society is an experiment.
I look for reactions - causes and effects. The world is like my laboratory and I am studying all that is in it. I may at times write “gems of genius.” But all too often, there are thoughts I have which are so difficult to put into words. They fly by so quickly in this brain, and if I don’t catch them, they’re gone for good.
It’s a writer’s life for me.
by Richard Rowell, Write W.A.V.E. Media Staff
There wasn’t one particular moment when I decided to become a poet. About the time I was leaving junior high I decided that I would try my hand at writing some lyrics. But as they have never been put to music, outside of the occasional ditty in my head, they became mere poetry. Some people say that I do well at poetry. But I have never really considered myself a full-blown poet. Still, that hasn’t stopped me from writing hundreds upon hundreds of verses. Some of them are much better than others. A few were actually worth publishing.
Truthfully, I’ve always leaned towards focusing on writing prose. The poetry comes and goes, often in big spurts. But it’s not something I’ve ever dedicated myself to, as much as I appreciate the art of both conventional and unconventional poetry. Writing verses was once a passion of mine, but I longed to be a songwriter, not a poet. Then again, those two things are probably one and the same in essence. Poetry, too, especially of the unconventional variety, can be so very free-form.
Strangely enough, I’ve never been much good at free-write exercises. My attempts at free-form exercise often become somewhat unfocused essays with muddled theses. Occasionally, I end up making a decent article out of some of them. I merely don’t free-write. I just follow whatever my mind wants me to write at a given moment. So I try not to give much thought to why I should write about this or that.
Perhaps I’m a poet even if I’m not. Poetry by definition is not merely just metrical writing. The word can also mean a couple other things, according to Merriam-Webster:
“Writing that formulates a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience in language chosen and arranged to create a specific emotional response through meaning, sound, and rhythm.”
“Something likened to poetry especially in beauty of expression “
The English language is funny sometimes, with all its many meanings of singular words. But clearly, poetry is more than just rhyming verses. Any form of expression can be made into poetry. I suppose what it comes down to is that I write simply to express something and try to make it beautiful. It may not even really matter what that something actually is. Merely writing something isn’t always enough for me.
The art of writing is so important to me. Simply composing articles to inform and perhaps entertain is not all there is. There’s a clear sense in my mind now that perhaps writing poetry is both easier and harder than most people think. Poetry is about finding the beauty in something, then finding the best way to express that something.
So while I never thought myself a poet, I probably am anyway...
by Phoenix Desertsong, The Prose Machine
Blogging is a highly competitive game - that’s for sure! But if you think you have something new or unique to bring to the table, it’s never too late (or early) to start! It doesn’t matter how young or old you are! I see bloggers as young as 12 (and there may be even younger, especially on YouTube.) Then I see bloggers well into their 60’s, 70’s and even 80’s! As long as you’re a competent writer and have something useful to share, then blogging is well worth a shot!
Starting Young as a Blogger
When you’re younger, you obviously have not only time on your side to build your blog and your personal brand… you have youth itself on your side! This is both good and bad. There are those that will think it’s “cute” or “adorable” that you’re starting so young! It may be hard for some of your audience to take you seriously.
But for those of us who have been in the game for a bit, we have a deep respect for young bloggers. This is because it takes a lot of time and dedication to build a successful blog. And yes, many kids have more free time than most of us adults, but there’s more to it than just time and energy.
You have to have a certain maturity to be a successful blogger - something many adults don’t even have - to be brutally honest. You have to have a plan and know how to take the steps to execute it. Having a blog, even if it doesn’t do particularly well, is a great learning experience.
At the very least, blogging can make you connections, and these connections can prove quite valuable! We’re more than happy as bloggers to build up the younger members of the community, as you guys are the future of our industry! Sounds corny, but it’s true!
Starting Older as a Blogger
Somewhat interestingly, the advantages of time that you have when you’re younger can be the same advantage when you’re an older blogger. I’ve seen so many retirees pour all of the time they would have used in their day to day jobs into their new blogs. The effort really shows and some of them make a decent side hustle from it!
The other advantage older bloggers have is that they tend to have a fairly substantial network of friends, family, and former colleagues to get the word out about their new endeavors. Also, life experience is a huge advantage when it comes to content. While most of us younger bloggers are still learning how to put the pieces of our lives together, retired bloggers can give us perspectives and stories we can only dream of one day sharing.
It really is never too late to start blogging, and it’s so easy nowadays to get started! Also, it’s an awesome hobby, even if you don’t care about actually making money from it. We really love the elder members of the blogging community and we’re always happy to welcome more to our ranks.
For Those of Us Bloggers in the Middle
A lot of us bloggers are twenty-somethings or thirty-somethings trying to make blogging our primary work. Many of us have regular 40-hour or more a week jobs on top of the dozens of hours we dump into networking, promoting, and the blogging itself. Younger and older bloggers definitely have an advantage when it comes to time.
But for those of us in the middle that are turning to making blogging our primary gig, it’s important to realize that blogging is a full-time job in and of itself. If you’re looking to get into the blogging game, realize it’s going to be a 40-hour a week commitment, and often more. And most of that commitment needs to be about building one another up, young, old, and in between.
Whether you are looking into blogging full-time, part-time, or just as a hobby, it’s all worth it. But as with anything, you get back what you put into it. Think of blogging as starting your own business. It takes the same blood, sweat, and tears. Even if you aren’t doing it as a business, you still have to treat it like one, even if it’s not-for-profit. In the long run, you may not get rich, but you can definitely make a living from it.
It’s never too early or too late to start blogging!
This post has also appeared at The Prose Machine.
If you’re a web writer, there are some things you’re probably doing that you just shouldn’t. Learn how to examine your web content to find the painful truths you can fix.
You need to write for search. This is where many people new to writing for the web often struggle. But it’s really not as hard as one might think. Start with one easy good SEO technique, such as LSI and build up from there. Stay away from blackhat methods, as these may appear to work at first but can be the downfall of your entire site or blog.
Many writers don’t write to their intended audience. Are you writing to yourself or to your targeted readers? Sometimes, that’s the same thing. But occasionally, it's really not. The good thing is you can fix that. Simply pay attention to comments, as well as where your readers are coming from.
Your content needs to be shareable. Read your content back to yourself. Is it something you would share if written by someone else? The title should make someone want to click and read it (but please avoid clickbait). The first paragraph should make them want to keep going. The rest should provoke them to reshare it when finished.
Proper grammar and spelling is a must. If you can’t spell correctly or use way too many commas, do you really think people are going to take you seriously? Study up on your grammar and spelling and use free tools like Grammar.ly to analyze your content before hitting publish. Your readers will thank you by not clicking away due to nonsense.
If you can’t word it right, your audience can’t read it right. This falls in line with grammar and spelling. If your posts are all over the place or are nonsensical, your readers can’t follow along and will just go away. Be sure you are saying what you mean so that people can actually read it and understand in the way intended. Otherwise, you’ll either get misinterpreted or skipped over very quickly.
Do you like trying new products or reading new books? Want to make money or earn free samples for it? Here’s how to start a review blog.
Choose a Platform For Your Review Blog
The first step in starting a review blog for books or other products is choosing the platform you will use. There are many to choose from, such as Weebly, Blogger, and WordPress. I personally recommend Weebly because of the versatility and the fact that beginners can jump right in. If you’re also a pro, not to worry. You can edit the CSS if you want to, but the default drag and drop options make it simple and fun for everyone. In addition to hosting, if you want a dot com domain, you will also need a domain manager. I recommend rcomexpress.com. However, there are lots to choose from.
Build Your Blog
Once you’ve chosen your platform, it’s time to build your blog. This is relatively quick and simple if you’ve chosen one of the more easy platforms. You can choose your template/theme, colors, and so on. You should also be able to choose which pages you’d like and customize each page with the text, images, and anything else you need to. If you’re going to be reviewing products, you’ll want sections for ads on each page. This will help you earn revenue.
Make Sure You Have These Important Pages
At the very least, in my experience, every review blog should have a homepage, a blog page, an about/contact page, and a review policy page. By law, you will need to have a review policy and disclose when you receive products or cash in exchange for reviews. All of the pages and policies mentioned will help your audience have a positive experience with your blog.
Monetize Your Blog For Revenue
Join affiliate programs, such as Amazon Associates, Rakuten LinkShare, CJ.com, and Google AdSense in order to generate revenue. This will allow you to earn revenue with ads that are aligned with the products you review. Sometimes you can align an exact product this way for the best results. Be careful to read the terms of each company and make sure you are following their guidelines if you join. Some may require your blog to be a certain age or have a certain number of posts first.
Start Writing Posts
Once you have made all of your pages, done what you can to monetize, and have something to review, start making posts. The more active your blog is, the better chance you have of people seeing it. At first, it might seem you are talking to yourself. Don’t worry. People will come if you keep writing. Be sure to learn some whitehat SEO techniques to help that along.
Market Your Blog To Companies
Once you have some posts up, you can market your review blog to companies via proper SEO, social media, and by sending pitches out to those who share your interests. It may take some time to build a steady following and you may need to at first review products and books you already own. But in no time, you will start getting more requests than you can handle if you do it right.
Happy blogging! If you have any questions, please comment below or Contact Us and we will do our best to assist.
by Richard Rowell, Write W.A.V.E. Media Staff
Why do you want to blog? Are you doing it just to have an outlet, or are you trying to make money from it? Is it possible to blog for pleasure and blog for business at the same time? It's completely possible. You just have to ask yourself: What does blogging do for me?
You just have to make it worth your time. As someone who's done both blogging for business and for pleasure, I know it's possible.
Blog When it Feels Right
The trap that so many bloggers, myself included, fall into is having to blog just for the sake of blogging. One great suggestion that some people give is to give shout outs to others by curating content that is worth reading. This is fine and all. But really, if you want to really succeed in blogging, just blog when it feels right.
Blog when you feel like you really need to say something. Curating is fine and writing about a trending topic can be OK, too, but you really need to be feeling it? When you’re feeling it, then it will show in your writing.
Blog Because It Feels Good
Sometimes you just have to get something off of your chest. The thing to do with that is to be constructive about it. Sure, go to town absolutely cussing your brains out in your first draft. But then, see if there’s anything good that others might connect with. I don’t really advocate cursing in blog posts, but done correctly, especially on personal blogs, I’ve seen it work. Then again, advertisers don’t really care for that and Not-Safe-for-Work (NSFW) content isn’t for everyone.
But really, you should blog because it feels good. Don’t turn into something that you have to do just for the sake of making some pennies. Yeah, sometimes that might be all you get. Believe me, I’ve done the homework and I know that most successful bloggers live off of a handful of blog posts. Whatever the rest happens to earn is just gravy.
The idea is to show passion in your blogging, because otherwise, it looks like you’re just making a money grab. Believe me, I’ve fallen short in this category way too many times. That’s why I’m writing this bit in the first place! You have to keep up the passion or it just won’t work anymore.
Blog Because You Can Make a Difference
You should ask yourself when you sit down to blog: how can what I write make a difference? You may be surprised just how much one article or blog post can do in someone’s life. A lot of people Google things just to see if someone else out there is thinking about something that they are. Chances are with the billions of people online today, you’re not alone in what you’re thinking. This is a good thing. People talk about how unoriginal most bloggers have become. It’s true. So you have to stand out. Blog because you can make a difference in some way just by putting your thoughts out there. Keeping them inside your head doesn’t really do you a lot of good if something useful and constructive can come out of them. If you happen to make a little money along the way, that’s good, but it should never be the end goal - despite what a lot of people say.
In the end, don’t blog for business, even if you’re blogging for a business. Blog for pleasure, but also blog when it feels right, because it feels good, and because you can make a difference.
So my fellow blogger friends, do you prefer to blog for pleasure, blog for business, or a little of both? Why do you blog? How you do think you could blog better?
Most web writers will get questioned about their price at least once, but usually quite often. Who doesn't like a bargain? But your writing's worth is dependent upon what you make it. Here's why.
Discounts Are Fine, To A Certain Point
It's fine to have sales or deals for new or regular clients. But you still should keep the worth of your writing in mind. The lower you are willing to go, the less valuable people will see your content as being. Give discounts, but don't go so low that it's not worth both your time, as well as the value the client will get from it.
The Proof Is In Your Work
Quality web writing is getting more difficult to find. More and more people are discovering they can put their words online. This is a good thing, as far as communication. But those looking up specific information need accuracy and quality. This is where you come in as a web writer and prove to your client that your work is worth top dollar. Sometimes it takes that client paying a low quality writer less and finding out the hard way that they should have continued coming to you. I’ve had clients return after doing this more than once. It’s like the old saying goes “You get what you pay for.” Some people charge less than they’re worth, but in many cases, quality writing will cost more because of the time and energy put into creating a quality piece.
Word Gets Around
Remember that business owners talk to each other often. This includes many topics, but who they hire for writing and other services essential to success is very common. If you charge one client a fee that is significantly less than you usually charge, other business owners will learn this and expect the same deal. The reason for the deal often doesn’t matter. Keep things consistent and accurate where your prices are concerned. You want the word to get around regarding your quality, instead of your low price.
Price According To Actual Value
The lower your price, the less value is likely to be given to your content. Remember that word gets around. So, whatever one business owner feels it’s worth may be what others are saying as well. In order to keep your value high, you need to keep your quality high and price your work accordingly and consistently. Obviously, there is some customizing involved in most web projects, based on topic matter, research, word count, and so on. But try to be as consistent as possible and consider the value of your time, as well as what the client will potentially get from said work.
Your work is worth what you make it worth. So, be sure to price it accordingly, limit the bargaining to a reasonable point, and show your clients what your worth via quality.
We live in a world where so much information is available at our fingertips. Yet despite the vastness of the internet, there's still a chance to write unique content that covers a topic no one has happened to publish online just yet. But what is the best way to ensure that you're setting out to write truly good and useful content? You'll want to think of each piece you create as a new tree in an evergreen forest of content.
Some pieces will never become more than saplings. They simply won't take root and will wither away. But from the dust of those failures, other saplings will gain a foothold and slowly grow. Once in awhile, one tree will shoot high above the rest. But while it's great to be awesome at the tallest tree in the forest, every tree is important.
Evergreen content is made up of timeless elements. There are certain universal questions that people will always be looking to answer. Sometimes, people will look for a better answer. Your evergreen trees must be able to adapt to the shifting winds of search queries and potential shifts in the online climate. The deeper your roots go and the better connected the forest is, the more sustainable it will be.
Organic search traffic brings your trees the nutrients they need. But you must water them a lot in the beginning. You must identify which trees are your strongest and be sure to invest time and energy into them. The stronger they are, the better the other smaller trees around them will do. You have to remember that your evergreen forest of content is an ecosystem all its own. It feeds off of the surrounding ecology, but it needs to sustain itself, as well.
Sometimes, you may pay someone to water and tend to your forest. You want to only hire tenders who will treat your forest with great care. You don't want to let in those who will litter or otherwise disrespect your forest. While you can't always prevent this from happening, you can always take care to focus on those who will understand how precious it is to grow a beautiful forest that can be enjoyed for countless years to come.
The last thing you want to happen is for a fire to start and burn down your forest. While rare, ecological disasters happen. Whatever you do, be sure to keep the seeds from your top content trees safe, in case you need to start over again. The beautiful thing about evergreen forests is that with the proper care, even a damaged or ravaged forest can one day thrive again.
You may not be confident that you can grow more than a small garden of content. Some of it may be made up of only annuals. That's okay to start somewhere. From the death of these plants can spring new perennial life. It's important to be patient. Prune and fertilize as necessary, but never overdo it. If it's meant to survive, given enough water and sunlight, it will.
Building an evergreen content forest will bring new fresh air to the world. Not only that, tending to it will yield fruits beyond the humble beginnings from which you planted. Good, solid contributions are welcome if they complement your forest. It may start as a small garden with a single plot or even a handful of seeds. But it's well worth the work, if you're willing to do what it takes. There will be those out there who will appreciate it if you just build it tall enough.
Do you think you're ready to grow an evergreen forest of content? You may be a lot closer than you might now think. If you need a little help, it never hurts to ask.
There are so many resources out there for web writers. But many of them cost money or are just not what you are looking for. As longtime career web writers, here are some FREE resources we have come up with, based on what we know web writers need.
Freelance Writing Gigs
Who wants to spend hours and hours searching online for legitimate places to submit posts and get paid? Apparently, we do because we did it for you and compiled a long (and growing) list of Freelance Writing Gigs that we update regularly. Categorization is based upon topics accepted. There are even symbols to denote the gigs that are known to pay the highest.
FREE Writer's Profile & Online Resume
The main thing a professional writer needs is a place to display a professional bio, experience, and resume, along with a place for potential clients to contact them. That's where our FREE Writer's Profile & Online Resume comes in. Fill out a simple form to get yours today!
WWM Blogging And Beyond
This is a free Facebook support group by Write W.A.V.E. Media that is open to anyone who blogs, writes articles, writes books, or any other kind of content. We also welcome those who are just getting started or are considering it. No question will be turned away. We also encourage writers to share their work with each other. Join WWM Blogging and Beyond to get writing help and support today!
FREE Writer's Forum
There are a good number of writer's forums out there. But we still decided to make our own Write W.A.V.E. Media Writer's Forum because most of the ones we found didn't fit what we were looking for. Sign-in is super easy. Just use any social network or the forum sign-in. Rules are simple and easy to follow. Posts are public, so if you just want to read in order to learn something quickly, but not sign in, that's fine, too. This is a very new forum with few members. So, if you have questions, please post them, so we can grow together!
Become A Writer!
If you are new to online writing or are wondering how to become a writer, let us help you for FREE!! Our free writer's resource, Become A Writer, has links to all of the free information you will need. Don't worry, this is NOT one of those places where the links are free, but then you have to pay. There is never a fee involved. You should never have to pay to receive work.
Writers Helping Writers
To go even further in our efforts to help fellow professionals, we developed Writers Helping Writers, which is our mission and resources for other writers, like ourselves. Network with fellow writers to help each other succeed by gaining and sharing access to valuable resources.
Guest Post Submissions
Are you ready to show off your work? Maybe you already have before, but you have some non-exclusive posts collecting dust. Put those posts to work for you! Use our free Guest Post Submissions form to get your content posted to our popular network of sites. We are not asking for your content without offering you benefits. So, we want you to be sure to include links to your existing work, affiliate links, as well as ad codes in your submitted content. More perks are included, as well. Details are on the submission page and in the Submission Guidelines. We accept all topics from lifestyle, to hobbies, home improvement, parenting, media, science, technology, news, plumbing, gaming, art, entertainment, book teasers, education, literature, and so much more. There isn't a topic we don't accept, as long as the work is quality.
Media & Tech Blog
This blog offers advice to both writers and business owners, as well as features tips and information related to media and technology. You can subscribe to the Write W.A.V.E. Media & Tech Blog to be sure you don't miss anything or just come check as you please. This info is all free for the taking, so be sure you don't miss out!
Thought Leadership Associates Blog
Thought Leadership Associates was developed to bring together thought leaders to discuss tips and advice related to being a successful thought leader and entrepreneur. Read the info shared on the accompanying Thought Leadership Associates Blog to learn how successful experts do what they do. We take guest submissions for this and all of our blogs if you have valuable info to share.
Writing Tips Blog
That''s the blog you're reading! The Writing Tips Blog from Article Writer For Hire caters especially to our fellow writers, even though the others are relevant as well. Get helpful info, writing tips, motivation, links to resources, and so much more. We might be a bit biased, but subscribing is a must if you want to benefit from all of the info. Subscription to any of our blogs will only get you email notifications for published posts. So, if you're looking for a spammy service, we aren't it.
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.
Have you ever thought about how likes, comments and shares on social media could be used as a form of currency? I certainly have! As it turns out, this has already been done before. One day, I found this article, Will Social Media Posts Become the New Currency? It was written in December 2014 in relation to an app called Chitter. The app still exists as recently as January 2018.
This mobile app 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 couldn'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 - sponsored or otherwise - 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. I feel like we may be undervaluing it. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram 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 Phoenix Desertsong wrote about thinking of content as investment. Her main point was even if we only earn pennies a day from it, the small gains 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.
Phoenix’s idea of a piece of content as a “penny stock” is a solid concept. 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.” 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 up-voted. 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 as end-users 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? Would it be sort of a crypto-currency? There's that possibility. I love the idea of a currency like BitCoin driven by social media.
These days, 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.
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.
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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