by Richard Rowell, Article Writer for Hire
With the NBA preseason well underway, it seemed appropriate to make a related “Fun with Google Correlate” article. Well, the ordinary weekly and monthly correlations didn’t turn up anything fun. So I decided to go local with the “Compare US States” option, which I haven’t yet explored on this series. I finally picked the Denver Nuggets as my data set, as I currently live near Denver, Colorado. The results were… interesting, if a bit underwhelming for entertainment purposes...
As you may expect, most searches for the Denver Nuggets occur in Colorado and Wyoming. Therefore, the correlations are extremely strong. The first few make plenty of sense. Actually, the only ones that stand out to me are the ones that I want to talk about.
“Mon Chalet” is an adult nightlife club in Aurora, CO. It’s apparently quite a well-known swingers club in the Denver Metro area. While I highly doubt the Nuggets will go about choosing them as their official Nightlife partner, it’s interesting data. Likewise, the search phrase “Denver strip” says plenty about what type of venue people prefer as their Nuggets game after-party.
“Colorado horse” is an interesting search phrase that obviously appears incomplete. It could refer to a bunch of things, but I’m assuming it would be horse racing in this particular case. Colorado is definitely known for horses, in any case.
The last particularly interesting search phrase of note is “Greeley Colorado.” Greeley is best known for a couple of things. It was originally founded as a utopian experiment colony in 1869 and called the Union Colony. Eventually, it just became a city of 100,000. The other major historical note about Greeley is that it was once the site of two POW (Prisoner of War) camps during World War II, one for Germans and one for Italians. It’s also the home of the University of Northern Colorado.
I’ll be honest. I didn’t know anything about Greeley until this Google Correlate exercise. The things you learn from keyword research.
While these aren’t the most exciting conclusions, it does show how these local correlations can be particularly useful. If you’re writing about the Nuggets, maybe it’s not such a bad idea to write a piece here and there about the local nightlife - there’s a ton of it. And why not educate people on Greeley, CO while you’re at it? The city seems to have a pretty interesting history, as do many things in Colorado for that matter.
Any terms you’d like me to analyze using Google Correlate? Let me know in the comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You never know what gems you may uncover.
by Richard Rowell, Article Writer for Hire
After discovering some decent niche search terms for Boston Red Sox bloggers and some revealing (or not) hints about Major League Baseball's demographics, I figured I'd look at the NFL for similar edification and amusement. Alas, I didn't find much, certainly not enough worth writing about. However, in turning to examining my other major article writing niche, the mega popular trading card game Magic the Gathering, through the Correlate lens, there's some interesting data we have to look at. Some of it makes sense. Some of it doesn't.
Some of this is downright bizarre. We have to break this down.
“Discount auto parts”
Here's some useful info. Apparently, most people searching Magic the Gathering also have cars that they need to repair and on the cheap. Gotta be able to drive to those game stores and other tournament venues.
Come to think of it, I've seen a good number of Magic players wear trucker hats. There's a market for these and baseball caps for magic players. This is another good data point.
“Google search bar”
I'll admit that there are so many cards, decks, and cool combos in Magic the Gathering that I find myself using Web search quite a bit. Apparently, some Magic players feel it's necessary to add a Google search bar to their browser despite most browsers already having one built in already. What this does tell us though is that Magic players make a ton of searches and want to do so as quickly and efficiently as possible.
“Duelist of the Roses” and “Dark Duel Stories”
As someone who used to play a ton of the Yu-Gi-Oh! trading card game, I can tell you a bit about these games. I didn't particularly care for the Playstation 2 game Duelist of the Roses. However Dark Duel Stories for the Game Boy Color was an awesome game. Sure, it didn't always conform to the rules of the actual card game but it integrated some of the goofy mechanics that were featured on the anime version of the game. I personally preferred Eternal Duelist Soul for the Game Boy Advance, but I get the appeal of these two games for trading card game lovers.
These are pretty interesting data points, in particular. Many Magic players played Yu-Gi-Oh before getting into gathering the magic. It also reminds me that Wizards of the Coast, parent company of Magic, really needs to put out video games that actually reach the level of playability and fun that the Yu-Gi-Oh ones have. People still play those older games as these search terms show. Magic Duels, Wizards’ latest video game effort, has had some serious issues and requires a lot of micro-transactions to build any decent decks. Yu-Gi-Oh games were always self-contained and you could often get cards you actually owned by inputting pass codes that were actually printed on the cards. Konami had Wizards beat there. Something to think about.
“Legacy of Goku” and “Legacy of Goku 2”
These classic DragonBall Z games for the Game Boy Advance were never ones I played a lot, but they still have a good following. A bit of a trivial data point, but still an interesting one as far as demographic info is concerned.
I'll go out on a limb and assume the Fairyland correlation here is for the French symphonic power metal band. Most likely it's not this www.fairylandgame.com - although that looks cute if you have kids and are looking for a fun, safe game for them to play (I don’t really know, I haven’t tried it - yet).
Again, I'll assume this correlation is for the Guitarist from the Japanese band Dir En Grey. I’m not familiar with his music, but it’s another interesting data point.
“Mitsubishi Galant” and “Montero Sport”
When I think of Magic players, I don't really think of them driving Mitsubishi Galants and Montero Sports. But they have to be getting the discount auto parts for something, right?
This term probably refers to the Ping S56 irons for golf. I doubt it's the chainsaw chain or hazardous material.
Searching the Monthly correlations turns up a couple more gems.
“Go kart kits“
A lot of Magic players are hobbyists, so building go karts is one that makes sense. This isn't really weird, just interesting.
Apparently, there are a bunch of aspiring independent insurance agents playing Magic. That's one way to fuel what can be an extremely expensive hobby. Or players are looking to take out insurance policies on their vast collections. I’m not sure which...
Multiband is a communications company. Apparently a lot of Multiband customers and or employees play Magic the Gathering. Or they're the unofficial provider of directTV for Magic the Gathering enthusiasts. This is definitely an odd correlation.
“Bureau of automotive repair”
This is primarily a California thing, so obviously tons of Magic players live in California. One possibility this correlation offers is that a lot of car repair enthusiasts play Magic. The more likely scenario is that the owners of all those Mitsubishis are filing complaints and buying those discount auto parts to do over the repair work themselves. It all makes sense now.
So what have we learned about our average searcher of Magical Gatherings? We'll call them Steve and Stephanie.
Dream job: Independent insurance agent
Entertainment provider of choice: DirectTV (preferably through Multiband)
Favorite fashion accessory: Trucker hats
Favorite nostalgic video games: Yu-Gi-Oh! Dark Duel Stories for Game Boy Color, Yu-Gi-Oh! Duelist of the Roses for PS2, DragonBall Z Legacy of Goku and Legacy of Goku 2 for Game Boy Advance.
Favorite pastimes besides Magic: Building go karts, Car repair, Golf
Favorite search engine tool: Google search bar
First world problem in common: Filing complaints with the California bureau of auto repair
Golf club of choice: Ping S56 iron
Music of choice: Dir en Grey and Fairyland
Vehicles of choice: Mitsubishi Galant and Montero sport
How useful is all this information? Besides the video games and musical choices providing somewhat useful demographic info, the rest can be used as you see fit. For my purposes, that's amusement.
Any search terms you'd like me to run through Google Correlate and get my analysis? Warning some will be far more boring than others. If it’s fun enough, I’ll make a whole article about it. If not, I’ll be sure to let you know what interesting things you can get out of the data.
by Richard Rowell, Article Writer for Hire
Google Correlate is a fantastic data mining tool for businesses and major organizations to track search trends around their products, services, or causes. But it’s also a fun tool for article writers and bloggers as a way to get topic ideas and to get a pulse on what those searching for their niche are most often interested in. Lots of times this data is pretty straightforward. Let’s take a look, for example, at my hometown baseball team, the Boston Red Sox, through the lens of Correlate.
As you can see, these searches are ones you’d expect to correlate with those searching for the Boston Red Sox on google. There’s nothing particularly out of the ordinary here, except that if you run a Red Sox blog, you should be producing content on occasion about “Red Sox T Shirts” (86.9 percent correlation). Sox fans love their t-shirts. If you need a revenue stream for your blog, it would be a great idea to aim your affiliate programs that way.
However, if we expand the search to monthly time series, we get far more interesting results.
This is more like it! Now we’re finding some interesting niches here. “Live Red Sox” (89.2% correlation) seems to hint at people searching for places to stream Red Sox games live or get live updates. This niche is pretty well covered already by NESN’s Red Sox Gameday Live and Masslive. If you like to provide real-time game updates on your blog, there’s a bit of interest in it. But it’s not a huge search term (average 20 searches a month), but it’s better when the team is actually doing well (which it’s not in 2015).
“Red Sox bar” is an interesting term and a good one. People like to go to the bar and watch the game, and it turns out there are Red Sox bars all over the US. It’s not a mega popular search term (average 50 monthly searches), but it’s higher during the season. This seems to be a good niche for Red Sox bloggers to write about.
“2004 Red Sox” is a particular interesting term. Turns out even after 11 years, the first Sox championship in 86 years still gets a lot of interest. It gets over 1000 monthly searches on average. The nostalgia is still strong, and it’s probably not a bad idea for Sox bloggers to tap into the good memories once in awhile, especially when the team has struggled as it has for the past couple of years.
Lastly, “love that dirty water” refers to the Standells song, “Dirty Water,” which is played at Fenway Park when the Sox win. It’s funny because the 1960’s song actually mocks Boston and how polluted Boston Harbor and the Charles River were at the time. But Red Sox fans have made it an anthem now. There are probably some topics to be written about the connections between Dirty Water and the Red Sox, but there’s already a good article in the Boston Globe about it.
So there’s some useful data here. What if we expand our search to Major League Baseball as a whole?
There are a few things to discuss here. First of all, it would appear that the Yankees and Cardinals seem to get the most search traffic over time. Right now, Royals Baseball is blowing them away, predictably, as they’re continuing to shock the baseball world by running away with their division. But the Yankees and Cardinals are clearly always the “safe” choices.
It’s also little surprise to see things like “baseball terminology,” “baseball trivia,” and “baseball history” among the top correlations. But there are some weird things here.
First of all “insects” and “identification” are in here. I was never aware that the average Major League Baseball fan was also an aficionado for insect identification. Apparently, baseball fans like to join rowing clubs, too. And enjoying ultimate frisbee and baseball would seem to go hand in hand.
I jest, but it gets even weirder when you get to the monthly correlations.
White cedar? Purple Ash? Franklinia? And Clerodendrum? So apparently Major League Baseball fans are tree and plant lovers as well. Apparently, the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia are also MLB fans’ #1 choice for a vacation destination. Yes people love to take road trips to visit their favorite MLB ballparks. But these correlations are extremely strange. If you look at the charts, you’ll see it’s no fluke.
OK, here’s what sense I make of this. Rowing clubs would seem to have a similar amount of interest at the same time of year that baseball season is in full swing, although interest in rowing clubs seems to be declining somewhat in relation to baseball. The best times to be poking around to find cool insects and observe beautiful flora (especially in the Blue Ridge Mountains) would seem to coincide, as well. To add to this mess, concrete mixing is yet another correlation not too much farther down the list. What does this all mean?
This seems all pretty silly, but what it does is show us that many MLB fans have a great appreciation for nature (and concrete mixing). That’s pretty cool information, actually. (Even concrete mixing makes sense - the months of the baseball season are the best times to mix concrete.) Thanks, Google Correlate! So now we know some things we didn’t know before about the average MLB fan!
Joe & Jane Average
Favorite Baseball Teams: New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals
Favorite Flower: Clerodendrum
Favorite Hobbies: Insect Identification and Rowing Clubs
Favorite Trees: White Cedar, Purple Ash, Franklin Tree
Take note, MLB - this is important demographic information!
Oh what fun can we have next? What about the NFL? It can’t get any sillier, can it?
Awhile back, I had a bit of a pondering session. I tend to have these every so often, and they are often the basis for what I end up writing that day. I ended up thinking about how winning isn't everything. Some of us, myself included, have often gotten into the mindset that winning should be the end goal of everything. But that can be incredibly counter-productive. It can lead to a lot of needless aggravation and setting unrealistic expectations.
Not every piece of content that you produce is going to succeed. That's just a given. You could spend hours crafting a beautiful essay, and five people ever read it. You sit there and wonder. With all of your social channels, with all of your promotional tactics, with how strong your page rankings are in Google, how could that happen? There are so many factors that could be completely out of your control.
Through my various ventures, I've come to realize that success can't be measured in only in sheer numbers of successes and failures. It should be measured on what you learn from those successes and failures. You always learn more from a failure. The human brain is always going to lean towards what's worked before. Human beings like success. Life's little victories are what we live for; are they not?
Sometimes you get so involved that you get too close to something. You start setting the bar for victory so high that you lose sight of the big picture. It's so easy to do this and I had to once back out of a venture that was setting itself up for failure by not stepping back and looking at the big picture. The problem is when people just keep trying the same thing over and over again. Some people become convinced that they're simply not putting enough hours into it, that the team isn't working hard enough. Unfortunately, human beings only have so much time and energy to give. Nothing is infinite.
How Could I Fail? You May Have Done Nothing Actually Wrong. But, There Was Something Missing...
There are so many times that we bang our heads against the wall thinking how could we have possibly failed when it worked before? It is incredibly likely that you didn't even do anything wrong. But you may have missed something. Yes, you can in fact do everything right and still fail because there's something you missed. in life there's always something new to learn. There's always a new channel to pursue. There's always a new niche that's opened up or about to open up. It's a matter of remaining vigilant. You need to stick to your guns. Use failure as a learning opportunity and a stepping stone, not a world-class bomb.
What made me realize this was stepping back from something that I had worked at for almost a full year. It was very difficult to finally back away. But the progress simply wasn't there and the effort was burning out. Now stepping back, I realize it wasn't that we weren't winning. We'd lost sight of the big picture. There simply was not the depth of field that was anticipated. Because of that, we were grasping at straws trying to make connections that didn't quite fit. We tried to shove not-so-round pegs into round holes.
Now I've been working on my own projects. I did have some setbacks with my website consistently crashing. There is so much uncertainty when you run into egregious site outages and your promotion efforts are wasted. I started simply losing my mind because what I had built up to become a 2000+ visitor a day site was now falling apart before my eyes. It has been my greatest success of my life. Now, I felt that my magnum opus was going to commit suicide before my eyes.
I started thinking what if it's not this and it's that? I started dreaming up worst case scenarios, that everything I had built simply couldn't stand. The nameservers my domain was hosted at were just really sucky, it seemed. Fixing it involved spending a bit more money that I didn't really have yet, as the site just began to actually start bringing in revenue. But that's the thing. Even with all it's problems, it did eventually provide just enough revenue to cover this new upgrade. As long as the site stayed live, it did manage to pay for itself. Sadly, it pretty much died after that. The site was cannibalized for future projects.
So what I realized is that I must simply use this as a learning experience. My site apparently did well enough that apparently something about the hosting wasn't enough to keep up with my growing audience. It couldn't handle the interest that the sheer amount of content that my brother and I were trying to deliver daily through our site. There was still the possibility that something in the installation of my Wordpress was messed up somewhere. I figured that it may involve rebuilding the entire site. Even though the site ended up being shut down, most of the content was integrated into another site. It was mildly inconvenient for our audience for about a week. But that content still gets views. It just doesn't earn like it once did anymore. The traffic has to be built back up.
Growing Pains are Just Reality
Any great success MUST have its growing pains. That's unfortunately just how it is. You have to struggle before you succeed 99 times out of a hundred. It's those struggles that you need to learn from and not let you crawl back into a hole. Content marketing is VERY hard. I have had countless failures where I wrote some pieces I thought were brilliant, but NO ONE ever read them.
I've learned a lot about promotion and that if you don't rise above the noise, you simply won't be heard. I have gotten far better at finding the niches that seem to get conveniently missed by others, and that's where my latest success has come from. That's what content is all about, finding your niche. Yes, occasionally you could have something go viral. But that is definitely an EXCEPTION, not a rule.
What I am saying is not anything new. Plenty of advice out there says you need to learn from every piece that you write. If it doesn't do well, there IS a reason. Just remember that you may have done nothing wrong. You simply may not have known what else you need to do to make it right. But winning isn't everything. Consistency is EVERYTHING. You need to stay on course and keep hacking away at something. Then, take time to reflect. Try and take away something positive from every misstep as well as every success.
This isn't just true in content marketing. It's true in life. I've discovered that in my own life that I became WAY too obsessed with winning. Even in my hobbies. In everything. I like to say I learned awhile ago to bask in life's little victories. At times I've been rarely satisfied with the little things. But you have to be. The little things are what matter. Even if a piece only reaches one or two people, one or both of those people could have their lives improved by it.
Consistency is everything. Winning is nice, and the more you do it obviously the better. I'm glad I've learned this lesson well through my recent failures and my one fair success. Now it's time to build off that past success to keep succeeding.
There have been several times in my life in which I didn’t write much of anything for weeks or even months at a time. Life can come and sweep you away to more urgent things. But for a writer, having to write is urgent even if you don’t really have time.
Recently, I was thinking about how to get jump-started after long absences from writing, on the web or otherwise. Here are a few things to help you get back into writing after a long absence.
Ease Back into Writing
The number one thing to do when you’re returning to anything after a long absence is to ease yourself back into it. There’s a good reason why it’s suggested to work part-time first when returning to the workforce after long periods of not working.
Laura Whitelaw at Selfgrowth.com offers the advice to write down what you hope to achieve when you resume working. That’s excellent advice. The best way to start writing again is often to just begin by writing about what you are hoping to write about. That can help jumpstart your brain and get it moving on a good track.
Focus on What You Know
If you’re writing for money, especially for the web, it’s good to focus on what topics you can write at the highest level and jot these down. Having vague topics and ideas is perfectly fine. Writing these down regularly is good for anyone, even people that don’t write for a living. You never know when you might use them.
Whitelaw also mentions updating your skills at a local community college. This is also particularly good advice for writers if it’s something that may work for you. Online workshops are also a good idea if you can afford them. There are free webinars and workshops all over the internet, too.
Study.com has some online writing courses that offer credit. But along with their own offerings, they have a list of 10 universities offering free online writing courses. Of course, you may not have time for all that. Jst reading up on the topics that you want to write about is fine.
Refresh Your Online Presence
When you do get writing again, make sure any writers’ resume or “about me” sections you have online are up-to-date. Even if you’re not actively applying for any positions, you never know if someone may have interest in hiring you for your skills.
Donna Fuscaldo at Bankrate.com offers a couple of good tips when it comes to resume-writing after a long work absence. Her idea of a writing a functional resume, where you list your skills first, is an awesome idea for writers. Again, you never know who may need content in a given area.
Fuscaldo also mentions being upfront about everything you’ve been doing. Say you haven’t written much but have attended trade shows or other events related to your writing topics. It’s good to mention these. It’s also fine to say if you took a break from writing to attend to family matters. That simply happens, and helps explain long absences.
Also, every experience that you have is important to writing. Keeping anything that lists your experience when it comes to writing up to date is essential. Web writing resumes, in particular, need to be updated more often even more than traditional resumes, because of how fast the writing game can change.
What Else Have You Been Up To? What Have You Learned?
While it may not be absolutely necessary for writers so much, listing work outside of writing is not a bad idea, paid or not. Anything you’ve done that has given you practical experience that affects your writing is a good idea to mention, paid or not.
Looking credible is extremely valuable. It's become even more important in a writing world where the competition is continually growing ever fiercer. It also helps you in case someone just happens to be looking for someone to help them write about topics you’re an expert in. Backing up your expertise can only help you obtain potential work. It can also help you gain a better overall following.
Have you ever been away from writing for a long period and have found certain ways of getting yourself “back in the game?” Be sure to let us know!
Kids on summer vacation from school and you still have a job to do? A job that requires you to work while they are at home in your midst? It may seem scary and impossible. As a veteran homeschool teacher and work at home mom, I have learned a trick or two. You can maintain a work at home job when the kids are on summer vacation.
Keep busy items on hand. Working at home in the presence of the kids requires creativity on the parent's part. Of course you will need to play with the kids and give them attention. But there is no reason they shouldn't also have some playtime independent of you. In fact, it’s probably good for them. During those times, they can play with what I call busy items. This would be any item that the kids are very interested in and can play with for long periods of time. Craft supplies, puzzles, building blocks, crossword (and other pencil) books, and favorite stories are just some ideas. Whatever keeps your child busy will be ideal for this time. When it is your child's busy time, it's also your busy time with work.
Take family field trips and schedule activities. This may seem like a distraction to your work from home job. But if you don't take care of yourself and your family, you are not going to perform as well at work. Take time out for fun so that the kids know you care and so you can get in a break. When you can have fun days mixed in with the work days, it helps create balance, leaving you and the kids less frustrated during work time. You can also schedule activities for the kids, such as team sports, dance, and other things they may be into. Be sure to schedule both activities you can participate in with them, as well as those they do independently. Work harder at home when the kids are away and enjoy them when you can have fun together.
Schedule what you can around the noisiest times. You know what times the kids are most likely to be full energy. Try to schedule family fun into that slot and your work in another. Chances are that if you try to work through the noise, you'll get less done. You might as well save the work for later if you can. As I always say, 10 minutes of focused time is more valuable than an hour of chaos. Fit your work in where it makes sense, if your work at home job is at all flexible. Because I am a writer, I can write at any time. Sometimes I find myself writing during graveyard hours because it just didn't happen that day. If you have to, try changing your hours so that you are not working at all when the kids are home or awake.
Call in a mommy's helper. If all else fails, hire someone to help you out. My oldest child is a teenager, so she can do this when necessary. Just have someone around (perhaps an older child or a good friend) who can supervise the kids while you work. You can still be the main supervisor, as I am in my house. But the mommy's helper can help with things like keeping the kids busy, preparing lunch, cleaning up small messes, answering the phone, and more. Even though you are paying this person, when it's an older child, be careful not to work them too hard. You should still be the main supervisor. But having a mommy's helper can really take away a good amount of the stress and frustration so you can get your work done.
Just let it flow. This is probably my life saver tip. Sometimes it helps to just relax and let things go however they go. My work at home career is pretty flexible, as far as time. There are deadlines at times. However, I find that I get things done best when I don't over plan or over schedule. I just do the work when I can and let things flow. Sometimes I want to work when the kids want to have fun. If I don’t have a deadline, I don't worry about it. I just have fun with the kids, such as when we take our nature walks. I complete the work when we get back. There are times when work has to come first. But the kids should also know they matter. For me the key to keeping it all together is letting go of all the worry. My mind is freer, I get more work done, and my family is much happier.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Are you looking for a way to speed up your writing productivity? Think you've tried everything in the book on working faster? Perhaps you've even considered the possibility of networking household devices together for this purpose. Does using multiple computers speed writing productivity? Perhaps my experience with this method will help you decide if it will work for you.
Why Should I Set up Multiple Computers?
Setting up two or more computers may help speed up productivity for some article writers. You might delegate all internet activities to one and all the writing to another. This can help save the time it takes to switch back and forth from web pages to writing documents. It may seem like a small amount of time. But if you write articles for a living, that time really adds up. Even if you are not doing any web research at the moment, you could still make use of multiple computers. Splitting writing documents between two or more computers might be easier than flipping back and forth between documents on just one computer.
How to Set Up Two or More Computers for Article Writing
When setting up multiple computers to increase article writing speed, there are several factors to consider. First, be sure the computers are in very close proximity to each other. The computers also need to be angled in a way that makes it easy to transition from one to the other. For instance, if one computer is facing toward you and one is facing the complete opposite direction, you will need to move your chair or computer every time. If you will need to move across the room to switch computers, this will not be convenient either. It may even waste time instead of saving it. You can even network the computers that share the same operating system to save you from transferring files by disk. If the computers do not have the ability to share a network, you can also use cloud storage, such as Google Drive or OneDrive. A USB flash drive is also a very fast option for sharing files back and forth.
Tips for Using Multiple Computers
Results may depend on the person. Some may get stressed at the thought of multiple computers. Others, like myself ,may naturally fall right into it. Signs that it may work for you include the ability to quickly navigate one computer between documents and websites, being a multitasker, and having the ability to work in changing situations. Signs it may not work for you include having little knowledge of operations on just one computer, getting stressed easily, and not being able to perform in varying situations or under pressure. Like anything else, it will only save time for the person who feels comfortable doing things this way.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
by Amy Kampstra, Contributing Writer
An independent and voracious reader tends to be a better author. That may be partly why bonafide word addict, Sarah Winter, effortlessly weaved together a spicy, character-driven plot in her romance novel, Snowbound.
Throughout the pages, Liam and River are two 30-somethings stuck together in a Wyoming cabin during the blizzard of the century. He is a flourishing movie star from Europe, and she’s a tomboy living in the middle of nowhere after cancer rips her life apart. Is this change meeting merely life-saving or will it allow them to live their lives to the fullest?
Then, Winter didn’t stop with writing the thing! She took the reins, embracing the newness of self-publishing with an open mind, navigating through the steps like a bright reader charting the dark waters of a Stephen King novel.
Yes, self-publishing involves a plethora of tasks that can make any top-notch writer stuff their manuscript in their nightstand and dream about their dream of words in print -- instead of actually going for it.
Whether you love or hate her first novel, Winter vows to accept all positive comments and criticisms with open arms. Yet, she makes no apologies for her first effort. She believes authors need to give themselves permission: to read, write and explore self-publishing.
Heed her words! Winter’s Snowbound (2014) was a quarter-finalist in the most recent Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest.
Amy Kampstra: Can you share a bit about the scope and process of self-publishing for fellow authors that may be considering or even starting their own self-publishing venture?
Sarah Winter: It takes longer to design a cover for the book than to actually have it ready for sale. Createspace is an Amazon company, so getting the book on paperback and Kindle at the same time is part of the process, and choosing your sales channels is another. Through just one simple step-by-step online process, I was able to make Snowbound available through every channel that a traditional publisher can. Self-publishing, once you have a finished manuscript, is easier than I expected.
AK: As a self-published author, how do you market or advertise your book? And, is it more work to write the book or actually market it yourself?
SW: I use social media and have the book listed on every website I can find that doesn't charge to list books that are available for sale. Tweets, Pins, and Facebook posts drive traffic to the sales pages and
to my blog as well. Also, by entering the Amazon contest, my book got exposure to the other entrants through the message boards associated with the contest.
I think the ratio of work on a self-published book is about 15 percent writing, 30 percent editing, and 55 percent marketing, especially if you don't have money set aside for marketing. If you're looking through free marketing options, a lot of time and effort get spent on that. Everything that a publisher handles for you when they sign you to a book deal, you have to do yourself. It's quite an undertaking.
AK: What is the best thing about having your words in print?
SW: Seeing a book on a shelf with my name on it. It's satisfying to have done something even I wasn't sure I would ever do. I can't lie though; royalties aren't bad either even if they don't amount to much.
AK: Now that you've penned your first novel, is there anything you'd do differently if you could do it all over again? For example, the recent buzz is that author J.K. Rowling now seems to have regrets about her choice to have Harry Potter characters, Ron and Hermione, end up together. And, she's written a short story about Harry and friends in their 30s. A) Would you have done something different with your plot or certain characters? B) Is it a possibility that you will resurrect your characters in future projects?
SW: I don't think I've had time to really think about what I'd do differently. I'm happy with the way Snowbound turned out, and don't think there's really anything I would change about it right now. It's always possible I could resurrect them in a new work, but I don't see that happening just yet, either. I've left the cabin for now.
AK: Do you have any goals left for "Snowbound"? That is, are you looking at shopping it around to publishing houses, selling a certain amount of books in a set amount of time, or entering more contests?
SW: I would love to get it published by a traditional house, and I will probably shop it to agents starting next summer, once I have another work released. (I'm shooting for a January release of my second novel).
I intend on entering one of the two in the Amazon contest next year, and hope it works out as well as it did this year.
AK: In retrospect, would you have done something different with the marketing or publishing of your book?
SW: The only different choices I could really have made are ones that are still available to me, even after publishing. I still have the option of getting my work accepted by agents and publishers, so I don't think
I went wrong or made a decision that I regret. I would have set aside some funds for marketing campaigns, but with two young kids there's always somewhere that money needs to be other than paying for promotion.
AK: Why do you write under a pseudonym? Would you advise other authors to do so?
SW: There are several reasons people choose pseudonyms. My motives are really simple. I like the surname Winter, but also it's for a separation of the two versions of me: the mom, wife, daughter, sister, and friend; and the writer. It’s a matter of personal choice and, if you have a pseudonym you want to write under, go for it.
Pseudonyms have been used since publicized writing began for people who are trying to break into a genre dominated by the opposite gender. The Bronte sisters each used male names when they were first
published. Benjamin Franklin wrote under three different women's names, one of them in direct protest to women being punished for having illegitimate children while the fathers went unpunished. Romance author Leigh Greenwood is the pseudonym for Harold Lowry, who served as the president of the Romance Writers of America for two years.
AK: Are more Sarah Winter novels (or other works) on the way?
SW: I mentioned it in an earlier question. I have another romance novel in the works that I hope to release in January just like Snowbound. We'll see how it goes, as I plan to go back to work part-time this fall.
AK: On your blog you've written a past post in regard to authors giving themselves permission to write. Can you tell readers and any fellow writers a bit more about this concept, and do you have any other honest and helpful tips for anyone stuck on penning their first novel?
SW: Giving yourself permission, to me, is just about letting go of your hang-ups. They're your hang-ups to have, but they're also your hang-ups to let go of. It ultimately comes down to a choice: you either give up
your hang-ups or you give up your dream. It's unpleasant to think about those two options, but they're really what it all boils down to.
I don't mince words so for other advice, I say this: stop dicking around and write the damn thing. It's not going to get written by the excuses you make for not getting it done. If you're stuck on page five and make excuses for why [you] don't write for ten years, you're still only going to have five pages of a novel and 10 fewer years to write it in.
Because online article writers can sometimes earn their money based in part or in whole on views, promotion can come into play often. If you are a freelance writer and aren't earning much for your content, not enough marketing or the wrong kind of promotion could be part of it. Here are some easy promotional techniques for online article writers that can be implemented right away.
Sign Up for Twitter and Start Tweeting
If you write online and haven't been tweeting, you may be missing out on a fair amount of exposure. I recommend that all online article writers at least try Twitter. If done right, this easy promotional technique has the potential of putting your work in front of people you may not find elsewhere. The unique dynamics allow people you may or may not know to spread the word about your content quickly and easily. Online article writers should remember not to be a spammer that only posts links. Like any other social networking site, there should be some social involvement. If you sign up and don't like it, you can always cancel your account.
Utilize RSS Feeds
Utilizing RSS feeds is another easy promotional technique. Many content sites have an RSS enabled profile where the work of each writer is displayed. Submitting the RSS feed to RSS directories of the appropriate topic is another way online article writers can promote. The more ways that people have to find your work, the more likely you are to get noticed. You also can post RSS feeds of your content onto your blog or website so that your readers and fans can easily find more of your content.
Frequent readers are probably saying "Oh no, here she goes again with the SEO talk," but it is true. For online article writers, this easy promotional technique is a must. It may seem odd to refer to SEO as easy, but some aspects of it are and implementing it gets pretty simple once you get the hang of it. There also are some simple techniques that even beginners can use. If you don't know what SEO is or are still confused about it, pick up some books and learn more. You might even wish to take some classes. To get started, read Easy SEO Tips For Online Article Writers.
Blog About Your Articles
Your own personal or commercial blog is a great way to promote your work. Blog about the topics of your articles and link to them within your posts. This gives your blog readers something extra and can also lead to more views of your articles. Blogging can be a great way to get targeted readers to your content. Targeted readers may be more likely to stay longer, which could mean more views and more income. This form of promotion has that benefit and also the benefits of RSS and SEO capabilities. The RSS feed helps get your blog posts indexed with search engines. It also creates a way for readers to get instant updates of your posts. Implementing SEO into not only your online articles, but your blog posts is also a great promotional technique.
Start a Facebook Page
Facebook is another great way to promote your articles. Once you have signed up, you can even create a Facebook page specific to your online business. People can sign up to be a fan. If you use both Twitter and Facebook, the applications can be connected so that whatever you post on Twitter also posts to Facebook. This is a great way for busy people to post in two places at once. Just remember to actually interact with people. Otherwise, only posting article links can look like spamming. Also, be sure that your family and friends are aware you’ll be sharing your work. You don't want to overwhelm them all at once.
Some forums allow a signature line to be attached to each post a person makes. Where allowed and appropriate, this can be another effective method of promotion. Simply place the link to your work in your signature. Some forums may also allow you to share actual articles where appropriate. Always follow the rules. Posting where it isn't allowed is a promotional technique that can have opposite results than intended. If you become known as a spammer, your work may instead get ignored.
Yes, here I go mentioning SEO again -- that magic three-letter abbreviation we hear often. Using easy techniques can help online article writers significantly. If you haven't heard of SEO or if you haven't heeded the advice, you likely are losing out big time. A large portion of Internet traffic comes via search engines. If you expect search engines to find your content and deliver it in search results, you need to talk their language. Here are some simple techniques you can incorporate right away to help increase traffic and bring in valuable readers that stay around.
Focus, Focus, Focus
Focusing clearly on the subject at hand is a very easy way to draw people in. Not only should online article writers focus in on the subject without rambling, but focus should be in one specific aspect of that topic. For instance, the subject of this article is 'techniques for online article writers.' For focus, it was narrowed down to 'SEO techniques,' and more specifically, 'easy' SEO techniques.
A good way to narrow your focus is to search your topic on the site you're writing for, as well as your favorite search engine (mine is Yahoo), to see what already exists. Go for an angle that focuses on something useful or interesting, but focus on an aspect either not covered enough or not covered in the manner you intend on covering it. When I searched on this topic, I found many SEO articles, but none that were as specific or as simple to understand as I'm hoping this is.
Remove Modifiers and Fluff
Ever tried to read an article where the use of words such as "and, at, that, to, but" etc. is excessive? Not only is this bad for readability, but it takes up space and lowers the importance of the relevant words. Obviously, you need these words in some areas, but remove them where possible. For instance, instead of saying "She thought that it would have helped her, but it didn't help, " you might say "She thought it would help, but it didn't." See how much easier that is to read?
Being too descriptive or using too much storytelling can also take away from the SEO and the valuable info. Creativity is good, but don't be excessive. This is useful info to remember when writing the article, as well as during proofreading. Remember that web writing differs from other writing. Instead of saying something like "Jenny hurried across the green, grassy lawn to take a potted flower to her grandmother's house and enjoy a well-done steak dinner, " you might say something like "Jenny rushed home to her grandmother's with a potted flower, to enjoy a steak dinner with her." It still gets the point across, but is not so drawn out.
Latentic Semantic Indexing (LSI)
Latentic Semantic Indexing (LSI) is a technique that can easily be implemented with others. It shouldn't be the only method used, but when used in conjunction with the techniques above (and more as you learn), it's a great technique. Here's a simple way to remember LSI. It's basically the action of using words related to your key topic. There is a more complex explanation. However, we're keeping things simple here.
To find related words, simply use a word cloud generator. Type up a phrase or word that best represents your topic. That will give you results with some related terms. You can do this with various words and phrases. You also can use keyword tools, such as the Google Keyword Planner. Once you have all your related terms, sprinkle those throughout your content. These do not need to be used often and should be natural and not forced or overly used. Ignore the ones that actually are not related and do not make sense within your content. You still need to make sense and provide something functional to your readers.
Web writers often get stuck within the limits of the first way they start writing. For some, this could be submitting to large content sites or communities. For others, it might be different. However, there are many ways to make money in web writing. Here are 5 of the most common ways that are simple to get into.
Start a blog. This is one of the easiest ways to get started in web writing. If you’re a beginner, I recommend doing this before you apply for paid work, as it will help you learn how web writing works and give you some experience and practice. Seasoned web writers may also find this option desirable, as you are your own boss and can easily become an authority in your niche topics, as well as in the online writing world.
Sell your services to other websites. Many web writers choose to sell their content services to other websites. This is beneficial to those websites, as well as to the writer. The website owner gets quality content and the writer gets paid. Some websites will post ads for this on sites like Craigslist. Others might clearly list submission guidelines or post a call for content submissions. If you don’t see this on a site you feel you can provide a service for, look for the editor’s email address or for another way to contact the website owner or editor.
Sell your services to web content communities. Because this can sometimes be the fastest way to earn money, it is a desirable option for some writers. These sites usually do not pay as well as some of the other writing opportunities out there. However, it can be a great way to network and earn some extra side money. There are some web writers that can make a living doing this.
Write and sell e-books. This is becoming a more popular way to make money by writing online. E-books can be short or long. They might be fiction or non-fiction. If you provide what readers are looking for and you are able to get your e-books noticed, this can be a very lucrative way to make money in web writing. These can be sold on your own site or blog, Amazon, Lulu, and other places.
Use your content to enhance your own website. Because the payouts at content communities have gone down for some people, many web writers are choosing to run their own sites. It makes sense that if you’re a full time writer, you should be able to come up with enough content consistently to run a website. If you do this, I recommend Weebly for hosting, as the CMS and Site Editor tools far outweigh those offered by most competitors, in my opinion. It’s also a very flexible host that is very easy to use, from beginner to expert and allows for e-commerce, giving permission to other editors, and more.
You may think you're updating your web writing resume often enough. However, in the freelance writing game, things work much differently than in a traditional 9-5 position. I know you're not updating your resume often enough and here's why you should change that. I speak from experience.
Web Writing Changes
When the game changes, your approach needs to change. That means your writing resume too. That's your main tool when seeking new gigs and opportunities. If you can't change with the business, what do you think that says to your potential clients and editors? Stop using the same stale techniques when the rules have clearly indicated a new approach.
Your Experience Grows
Hopefully, if you're a full time writer, you gain new experience all the time. That should be reflected somewhere in your resume. How do you expect to get new opportunities when you're selling yourself short by leaving off valuable experience? Each time you do a new project, there is a skill or other experience that can be added to your resume. You should also use different writing samples where possible. Otherwise, it looks like you're not in practice, which isn't the best way to present yourself if it's not true.
Resume Requirements Vary
Your resume should be updated and tailored to each individual client every time you inquire about a new gig or role. A resume that is more specific to the exact role or project is more likely to be considered than a standard one that could be used for multiple positions. Also, each project or role will have different requirements and goals. If your web writing resume is the same for every query you make, you could be missing out on certain opportunities that you may have gotten with a few simple changes.
When was the last time you updated your resume? Do you agree with me? Have more tips? Let me know by commenting below.
Whether you've gotten started in freelancing or have been doing it a while, it's important to network with others in your field. So, how do you know which social networking site is the best one for web writers -- and for you, personally? There are many out there and they aren't all the same.
Choose a Site for Networking With Other Web Writers
First, when choosing a social networking site, be sure it's one other writers frequent often. If you join a networking site based around parenting, you may find some other writers. But, you may not get the best results from it if other things about the site aren't geared toward writers. Also, there's no guarantee you'll find other writers there, just a possibility.
Instead, visit writing forums and find out where other writers are gathering. You may even find that networking within a content site you write for is sufficient. If not, find out where those writers network. The networking site you choose does not need to be solely about writing. But you should be able to find a good amount of other freelance writers interacting there.
Should Web Writers Use More Than One Networking Site?
Absolutely! Use as many as you can keep up with. That's part of creating your brand. It is so important for web writers to get their names out there. However, remember when I said "as many as you can keep up with?" Don't create so many online profiles that you cannot keep up with them.
That's counterproductive, as well as disrespectful to others in the network. The whole point of a social network is to...well, network. If you aren't doing that, you haven't found the right social network or you have joined so many you can't keep up with them all. I recommend first becoming active in one that you feel comfortable with and gradually adding others as you are comfortable doing so.
Why Web Writers Need Social Networking Sites
When writing online, it's important to keep in touch with new techniques and also to see what others are doing. Fellow writers can also be great connections for friendship as well as extra business. It helps to discuss various techniques and aspects of online writing often. This way you can test new things often and find out what works.
Different clients like different styles and techniques. So, it's to your benefit to be open about exploring the writing territory. Social networks are also great for promotion and for meeting potential clients. They can add a whole new dimension to your writing career that you may not find elsewhere. It’s very important to incorporate social media into your business plan.
What is the Best Social Networking Site for Web Writers?
The best networking site will vary depending on the individual. The main thing to think of when choosing sites is to find one you enjoy using. If you get frustrated each time you log in or you don't enjoy the features, it probably won't be beneficial. You should be enjoying yourself, even if you have signed up for business purposes. Take the above points into consideration and choose the site (or combination of sites) that best fits with your social and business habits. Web writers, like other professionals, thrive best in desirable and appropriate environments.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
It's no secret that Facebook is a great place to spread the word about your business. For freelance writers, part of that generally involves sharing links to our writing. But is there a right and wrong way to do this? As with any other type of promotion, there should be etiquette involved. To present your work in the best light, you should know the difference between promotion and spamming.
Post more than just links. The number one mistake I see people making on Facebook is not having any engagement with people. They seem to just drop links and not converse with others. You don't have to be on there all day. But at least interact if you're going to drop links. Most likely, people are not going to click the links anyway if it's obvious that is the only reason you are there. If dropping links is all you're interested in, Facebook and other social networks are not the place for that. The whole point of Facebook is to socialize.
Do not tag people in link posts, unless the link is related to them. Facebook tagging etiquette is important. When you tag someone in a Facebook post, it appears on their profile, as well as in their news feed. It also appears in the news feeds of their friends. Absolutely do not tag people unless a post is related directly to them or they've asked you to. Tagging people in all of your links is considered spam and will get you a fast ticket off Facebook. It may also cost you some friends. Is tagging your link really worth losing friends and your Facebook account? When people tag me in their articles or other promotional links, it makes me not want to click the link or share it with others. I generally will remove the tag. In special circumstances, it may not bother me, such as if a friend is obviously having fun or just wants me to see a specific article. But habitual link taggers are spammers in my book and will not receive any clicks from me.
Use a fan page. If you know you are going to be writing often, the best thing you can do is set up a Facebook fan page. There are many reasons why. But one reason is to limit exposing family and friends to every single link to all of your work. Some may appreciate it. But not everyone does. By setting up a fan page, those who want to receive all your links can follow your fan page by 'liking' it. This doesn't mean you shouldn't post any links on your profile. But if you publish often, it's just common courtesy not to post all your links on your profile. Some may consider frequent linking to be spam.
Hide links from friends that aren't interested. Do you have friends who don't want to see every link? Create a custom list and hide your link posts from those people as you post them. To do this, simply select the lock button in the status comment section when you place a link there. Choose custom from the menu. Then, type the name of the list in the field where it asks who to hide the post from. Then, hit send. It sounds complicated. But it's actually very quick when you are doing it and it keeps your friends happy. I no longer do this, as most of my friends are writers and want to see all of my posts. However, it is very useful for people you want to keep on your list that don’t want to see those posts.
Don't post links on fan pages or in groups without permission and relevancy. When I log onto Facebook and check my personal fan page, the last thing I want to see is links to irrelevant websites. On the other hand, I love checking my niche Facebook pages and groups and seeing links posted in those places that are relevant to the topic. Be mindful of where you should promote your links and where you shouldn't. Not taking heed of this could cause a loss of readers instead of drawing new ones. Relevancy attracts readers while spam alienates them.
Writing, Financial, and Personal Goals Can Help Keep You Motivated
Are you having trouble staying motivated to write? Goal lists may be your answer. Keeping sight of various milestones helps some people see the bigger picture. Should you use goal lists to stay on task with freelancing?
Goal Lists May Help Freelancers Stay on Track
In freelancing, we are in charge of ourselves. No one can tell you what to do. In many ways, this can be a good thing. But for some, it can also lead to slacking off. Setting goals and writing them down in lists may help freelance writers stay on task.
Benefits of Using Goal Lists as Motivation
When using lists of goals as motivation, one benefit is always having that information available. If you keep it in your head, as opposed to writing it down, you may lose sight of some milestones. A physical goal list keeps everything front and center. On those days when you don;t feel compelled to d anything but slack off, take a look at the list of things you need to get done.
If there are bills that need to be paid and that next freelance project will pay them, that can get you moving real quick. Most freelance writers would rather pay the rent than live on the street and a goal list is a good reality check. As you accomplish each goal, you can check it off. Seeing such progress can lead to even more motivation.
What Type of Goal Lists Should I Use?
Make one or more goal lists for everything you need to accomplish as a freelance writer. Short term goal lists can include daily or weekly article (and other writing) projects. They may also include bills, items you promised the kids, home improvement projects that need funding, and more. Anything you need to accomplish in writing and anything you need to pay for can go on your goal lists. Long-term goal lists might include things you are working toward paying off, such as credit card debt, student loans, or a mortgage. Each time you make a payment, subtract it from the total.
Where is the Best Place to Keep My Goal Lists?
Goal lists should always be front and center. Stick them somewhere your eyes wander to all day. I like to tack my short term goals right on the computer, using a sticky note. When writing, I am looking at the computer all day. With the goals right there staring back at me, it's easier to keep my mind focused on them. I like to write long-term goals and on a magnetic dry-erase board on the refrigerator.
This is very beneficial if you have kids because everyone can see the goals. It teaches the kids financial responsibility and it gives them something to be excited about. This is especially true for goals pertaining to them. Freelance writers with families may wish to keep all or just some of their goals front and center, as I do.
What's on your goal list? Do you have other ways to stay on task? Share your thoughts and questions in the comment section.
What Should I Write to Maximize My Earning Potential?
As a website owner and advocate to freelance writers, I get asked often which topics are the best to write. What brings in the best audience? What topics pull in more page views? What topics does Write W.A.V.E. Media (WWM) want to see? Overall, which topics make the most money with ad revenue and reprints?
If I Write About Celebrities Will I Make More Money or Get Featured?
Yes and no. Celebrity content can be popular, but so can seasonal content, news, parenting tips, and a whole host of other topics. It's not about the topic, but how that subject is handled by each writer and whether or not what that person writes is applicable to the intended WWM site. Also, writing about any particular subject matter is not a guarantee to getting featured on the front pages of those sites. All content is promoted, regardless of front page featuring. What will get you featured is quality content and professionalism.
Which Topics are Most Profitable?
The thing is, I cannot give the same answer to each person on this. Why? There is not just one topic or type of article that does well. The fact is that what earns the most money will be different for everyone. Also, there are appropriate destinations for a variety of topics. There is no need to hone in a specific topic for all WWM sites -- and in fact, you shouldn't. There are plenty of locations for a wide variety of topics. Write only to those you are interested in.
There is no magic topic. What makes the most money for each person is whatever they write best - those where their skills and writing personality will shine through. This is because when you write to a topic without any knowledge or interest in it, a reader can see right through it. But when you write about something you have a passion for, readers can feel that too. It gives them something to connect with and they will keep coming back for more.
Establishing Your Niche Topics
To figure out what topics work for you, think about your passions. What do you enjoy writing about? Is there a topic that won't let your fingers stop typing? That's the topic that will do the best for you. Gear that topic toward its intended audience and write on unique slants that are not overdone.
Start out by writing about things you go through in your day to day life. Did you teach your child his letters with a unique method? Perhaps that method will help another parent. Write about it. If you enjoy it and do well, that could be your niche topic for turning a profit.
Drawing and Keeping Interest as an Online Article Writer
If you expect to make money in online article writing, you need to develop an audience. First, you need to draw readers in via promotion, SEO, and the like. But once they are there, you need to figure out how to keep readers interested. Otherwise, they'll just click away and possibly never come back to read you or your articles. So, how do you keep web readers interested in your articles?
Be Unique for More Interest
If your articles sound like everyone else's, readers will think so too. You need a unique flavor and angle that no one else has covered. Being unique keeps people interested. Give them something different to read about. For instance, if you're writing about a medical condition, just a description of the condition is something that can be found anywhere. Add in your personal experience with it in a specific aspect, that will give the reader some extra information and entertainment.
Keep Readers Interested With Passion
If you don't care about what you're writing, that will most likely come right through. When you write, you need to show readers that you are passionate about conveying the facts or thoughts. It's possible to do this even in news or other topics that you research. Choose only subjects that interest you or subjects that you know about. Writing what you know or have an interest in helps the passion shine through in your writing.
Use Your Expertise to Draw Interest
Drawing even further on writing what you know, be an expert in your chosen topic each time. This doesn't mean you need to stick to one niche. It's alright to write on a variety of topics. But each writer should have certain topics that they write about often. Also, within each article, where possible be sure the reader understands your expertise. Make that clear in the first paragraph. For instance, begin a sentence with the phrase, "As an educator of 30 plus years" or some other experience indicator.
Be Yourself to Keep Readers Interested
Relax and just be yourself. You do not need to write like everyone else. Your own voice should come through your articles. This is possible whether you write in first, second, or third person. Of course, in third person, you can't say 'I' but the style in which you write can still be uniquely yours. When you just relax and be you, readers may take more interest because the writing won't feel so forced.
Pay Attention to Your Readers
When readers leave comments or send messages about your content, pay attention to what they say. When people blog about or otherwise mention your content, keep your ears open. Pay attention to the feedback and write related articles based on that. Sometimes, in addition to sharing experiences or thoughts about the article, people will ask questions. Answer those with another article and let them know via the comments or any other way you can contact them.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Choosing your words is essential. As a writer that seems obvious. Then again, sometimes, I’ll be thinking about something and my lips will start moving or my fingers will just start typing. I often don’t give myself time to necessarily explain myself and I start rambling and go off on tangents. Sometimes, this is pretty dangerous stuff. At times, it just ends up amusing someone. Other times, I’ll say something that someone will take the wrong way and then I have to figure out later where I went wrong. It’s really just better to choose the right words in the first place…
This isn’t to say that it’s always possible to not be misinterpreted. It doesn’t mean readers won’t read things into your work that you didn’t intend. Such is the nature of any audience; it is often going to have members that you did not intend. Those misinterpretations can lead to a learning experience for both you and the reader, and it’s best to treat them as such, even if you are the only willing party to actually learn from the experience. But sometimes both parties can be the best for it.
What’s one of the best ways to limit misinterpretation? Don’t be the one always trying to give the answers. You should ask yourself: Should I be asking more questions? There is always so much more to learn. Better yet, it rarely hurts to find new ways to phrase and rephrase things. Perhaps there are ideas that I have not yet perfectly conveyed, that is, if any idea can be perfectly conveyed in any simple thing as a word or words.
As a writer, the best you can do is the best you can do at the moment that you write something. Every writer is going to write a stinker here and there, and simply not publish them. But even published works that gain a good audience are going to have their flaws. It distresses me when I see one of my works in print, even one that was well received by the intended audience, and I’m simply not happy with it how it is. If you’re not happy with a work, chances are you’ve learned something that you will want to address in the future.
Sometimes you have to be your own worst critic. So welcome the critics when they come. At times, the critics will simply have their own opinion through no fault of your phrasing or word choices. But before you publish anything, make sure that the piece is the best thing you can produce at the moment. Make sure your words are saying what you intend them to say in the best way you know how. You can always learn from the mistakes, but the better you do in the first place, the more your writing will be the better for it.
When first starting to write for online venues, many writers are unaware they need to edit. Sometimes there is an editor, but oftentimes this is not true. Therefore, it is safest (and most of the time your responsibility) to self edit your articles before submission.
Writing for Content Sites
Most content sites require self-editing. Some do have editors on hand that may make changes. But for the most part, the work you submit should be ready for publication. Many content sites only have people who review your work to determine if it's fit to publish. They don't have time to edit your work, nor will they do so.
They'll just decline it and move on to the next piece. Also, on some of these sites there is the option to self-publish without review. Even though some may allow you to edit afterward, you should always edit before hitting that publish button. This avoids having readers (and potential clients) see those initial typos and errors.
Writing for Private Clients
When writing for private clients, it's pretty much expected by most that your work is ready to use. When someone hires you to write content, they don't want sloppy work. They want something they can just pay for and use right away. That's why they chose to hire a professional. That's you.
By making sure you self-edit everything, you will keep clients happy. Happy clients often return to the same writer and may even recommend that person to friends and business partners. By not proofing and editing your work, you are potentially hurting your writing reputation and career.
Maintaining a Good Writing Reputation
Sure, typos are going to slip through sometimes. But, as a professional writer, you should always do your best work. Even when you know there is an editor, you should submit clean copy that can be published as is. This way, they may not need to correct as many errors. Yes, that means more work for you - in more ways than one.
It may initially be just a little more effort on your part. But in the long run, it can create more opportunity. Also, self-editing is a requirement in some situations, as mentioned above. Writers who are completely or mostly self-sufficient will likely earn more gigs and clients than those whose work requires more tweaking before publishing.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Are you a writer looking for a wider audience? Have you tried Facebook? I'm not talking about accepting friend requests from multitudes of people - unless that's your thing. Try creating a Facebook fan page. This is a public place where followers can go to get your updates without you having to give out too much information. From personal experience, I believe all writers should have a Facebook fan page.
What is a Facebook Fan Page?
A Facebook fan page is a page on the Facebook site dedicated to a media professional, celebrity icon, or other business entity. Facebook has built-in options to choose from, including "Writer". For an example of what a fan page for a writer may look like, check out mine: Lyn Lomasi; Web Content Specialist & Writer's Advocate. The Facebook fan page looks and works similar to a profile page. However, there is no need to accept friend requests, as people can only "like" your fan page.
How Can I Get a Facebook Fan Page?
Anyone with a Facebook account can create a fan page for themselves or their business. It's free and easy to set up. Just like many features on a facebook profile, page features are labeled and fairly easy to figure out. On Facebook, when you are signed in, navigate to Facebook Pages. Once you get on that page, click "create page". You may be asked to allow the application or agree to some terms. Facebook gives the instructions after that point. If you still can't figure it out, find a techie writer friend like me to ask for help. Feel free to ask me on my fan page, in fact.
Why Do I Need a Facebook Fan Page?
There are many reasons that a Facebook fan page is a good idea for writers. Whether you write fiction, non-fiction, poetry, or prose, benefits apply. This is also true whether you are an online writer or produce content solely for print publication.
- - Cornering Promotion - Some don't like the idea of promoting their links to their Facebook friends. On the other hand, some friends don't like it either. A Facebook fan page can help you corner that promotion to a location for those who do want to view it. You may find that many of your friends will "like" your page to keep up with it.
- - Limiting Your Facebook Friend List - Do you like to keep your Facebook friend list low or limit it to just personal friends and family? By creating a Facebook fan page, you can do this more effectively. You don't have to turn away clients who want to interact, but you don't have to friend them either.
- - Creating an Online Presence - Many use Facebook fan pages as a means to help create an online presence. It's a public page. Therefore, it will most likely be crawled and indexed by search engines. If your Facebook profile is private, your promotion there is only limited to people you already know. You can reach a wider audience with a public fan page.
As you can see, there are many reasons why a writer should have a Facebook fan page. The networking and business opportunities alone are reason enough to jump in and try it out. It also can be quite fun interacting, just like on your Facebook profile. But be sure to keep your Facebook fan page fresh.
Don't have your Facebook fan page yet? Can you give me a good reason why? If not, go make one!
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
If you freelance for a living, there may be days where you just don't feel like writing. On those days, it's hard to get into a rhythm and you may find those days turning into weeks and so on. It can be discouraging when you don't have the same inspiration you once had. But you can get it back by taking advantage of timing.
Don't feel like writing? Don't. This may seem counterproductive. But, try it. If your brain just does not want to write and you have no inspiration, sometimes you just can't force it to produce quality work. If you have a deadline, try taking a walk and then coming back to it. Otherwise, take the whole day off and just have fin. Don't think about writing. Sometimes your eyes and your brain just need something else to focus on besides words, thoughts, and the computer screen. Whatever you get out and do may actually get your brain working on things to write about.
Take advantage of inspiration. When the inspiration does take over, let it. Just keep writing. Unless you have something important to do, don't let those moments pass you by. As I write this, it's 3 a.m. and my brain is still in inspiration mode. I'm not saying you need to stay up that late if that's not feasible for you. I happen to be wide awake and I do write during the graveyard shift sometimes. So, it's no big deal for me. The point is to take advantage of those moments when your brain and fingers are being extra productive, whenever those moments occur for you.
Schedule writing when you'll actually be free to write. This can be a big issue for many freelance writers. Friends and family often don't think of what we do as a job. They think that because we do this at home, we can drop everything and go wherever they want at any time. If you just cannot get it through to your family and friends not to interrupt you at a certain time, try rescheduling your writing around that. I know that you should not have to accommodate them. But it might make things easier for you. Inspiration flows more easily without interruptions.
Take note of your most productive times of day. Whenever inspiration hits you, write down the time from beginning to end. Do this every time for a month. See if you can find a pattern and switch your writing schedule to write at that time on your work days. Some people write the best in the morning, some in the afternoon. Then others, like me, write the best very late at night on into the morning. Writing at your magical time will help boost your productivity and inspiration levels.
Take time off. I know this from personal experience. The weeks that I take one or more days off to have fun with the kids are more productive than those I take less time off. Why? When your body is tired, it also has an effect on your mood. Most freelance writers will agree that it's much easier to focus when you are in a good mood. For me, outdoor adventures and homeschool field trips with the kids will do the trick. As long as we are doing that every week, it keeps our family happy and it also keeps me ready to write.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
by Lyn Lomasi, Staff Writer
As a mentor among my online writing peers, I often get asked which route to go when it comes to freelancing. People want to know if they should take on private clients, write for content sites or contributor communities, or start their own niche sites. I have tried several different strategies. What's best for online article writers? I recently made the decision to slow down on certain work with private clients and dedicate myself mostly to my own venue, which also happens to be a contributor community. I am the happiest when mentoring peers and providing content for the Write W.A.V.E. Media network. I see the most income for the least amount of stress when I focus solely on projects that help others and make me happy, as far as writing goes. While this works for me, the best choice will vary for each person.
Know your work habits.
In any online writing, you need to be able to work independently. But if you are working for clients or content sites, you may need to pair that with teamwork. If you don't work well with others, you may want to go solo and write for your own blog or domain. But even then, you might still need to deal with people in one way or the other. If you like to be the only one to correct the work and will accept no changes to your material, you're better off writing for yourself. But keep in mind that even if you don't have to bend for editors, you still need to consider what your readers want.
Pay attention to your writing style.
What style and voice is present in your work? Can you change it up some to fit what clients want? If not, you may be better off either finding clients or content sites that align with your style or writing for your own venue. Check out contributor communities and content sites to see what the top writers are doing. Does it look like something you'd be interested in doing? If not, move on to the next or create your own venue that matches your style. When writing for private clients, I learned that analyzing their needs based on their audience and existing content helped me provide the best content for them. If you'd rather write freestyle without analyzing things, your own website may be the best option, providing you will still cater to the audience.
Consider your schedule.
Managing time and deadlines will be of more importance when writing for content sites and private clients. You'll need some sort of schedule when writing for yourself. But it will likely be more flexible that way. Some private clients may prefer to speak with you about projects during certain hours. Usually it will be normal business hours. If you cannot commit to that or are unavailable during the day, content sites, contributor communities, and your own domains may be the better option. Most contributor communities do not require you to be available during specific times. There can be deadlines if you claim certain assignments, but it is up to you at what time you write the material.
Think about your goals.
Are you looking to get your byline featured across multiple sites? Would you rather keep your name to its own venue? Do you not want your name out there at all? What are your revenue goals? Writing for private clients can sometimes involve a great deal of ghostwriting, which means your byline will not be featured with the content. Content sites generally feature your byline with the content. Some also offer opportunities to be featured on high quality web properties. It could take more time to build up a reputation on your own venue. But if that is what you prefer, the hard work can pay off, if done right.
The best fit for you is the closest to covering your main desires.
Consider all of the above, as well as any other factors that are important to you. Then, decide which option most fits that mold. You could be like me and choose a combination of two methods, choose just one, or go for something else together. Regardless of which choice you make, be sure it is one that aligns with your individual goals and dreams for the future. Remember that not everyone will have the same needs. Just because one plan works for your friends does not mean it will do the same for you. Align your writing career with your unique plans for the best results.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Have you ever clicked to read an article but clicked back away because of the way it looked? The info may have been good. But the organization likely scared you away. That’s how your readers may feel too if your formatting is ugly. Ugly formatting scares readers away.
Split up sections. Have you ever tried to read a post that consists of what looks like one giant paragraph? Don’t do that to your readers. This a very classic and common example of ugly formatting. Find a way to split up your thoughts into sections. This way readers can easily find and understand all of your points.
Use bold headings. Bold headings are one way to avoid ugly formatting. It helps to split up thoughts in an organized way. You can put these headings above each paragraph or as sentences, like I’ve done here. Either way, it helps make things look neat so that readers can easily scan over what you have to say.
Use bulleted points. Bulleted points can organize an otherwise out-of-control paragraph or section. Try this trick to avoid having ]ugly formatting. If your thoughts seem all over the place, this is a simple way to pull it together. Separate thoughts that go together into sections and use bullets to illustrate the points.
Avoid run-on sentences and unnecessary statements. Extra information that doesn’t need to be there can add to ugly formatting. If your content is all over the place with thoughts, it will be all over the place with organization. Make statements clear, concise, complete, and relevant. Cut down on anything that doesn’t need to be there to make your point.
Be consistent. If you’re going to use bulleted points or bold headings, keep your sections as consistent as possible. Organization gives a better reading experience. It’s okay to have one section that uses bullets when another doesn’t. But be sure it’s done in a neat fashion. For instance, sections with a bolded heading should be about the same size and number of words each.
It's time to pay the bills but your freelance writing hasn't pulled in nearly what you need. Staring at the figures in black and white may make you cringe if you're a freelance writer who hasn't quite reached your ideal goal. Maybe you haven't even touched the surface. But don't give up hope. Perhaps you just need to change your strategy. If you have all the tools and talent, but still can't quite get there, try making your goals more attainable. It's easy to set goals and expectations too high or make the possible impossible by over analyzing. If you aren't meeting your goals in freelance writing, it's time do a complete overhaul of your strategy.
How high are your goals? It's good to set goals. But don't set them so high they are near impossible for you to reach. For instance, if the most you have ever written is 10 articles in a day, don;t commit yourself to writing 20 right away. Instead of saying "I am now going to write 20 articles every day," make your goal that of gradually increasing the amount of work you can handle. This makes the goal more attainable. You might even reach the initial number you had in mind. But you can do it with less stress and pressure.
Which numbers are you focusing on? When I first started out in freelance writing, I tried to figure out a workable income by making goals in terms of article numbers. While this can be logical if you make the same amount for every article, it makes no sense when it's variable. It can also get quite stressful for those who cannot produce a large number of articles every single day. In online writing, the amount made per article can vary significantly, depending on the venue, how pay is determined, and whether or not views will be calculated in the equation. To be sure my writing days are more productive, I had to change my daily goal strategy to make it more attainable.
Now instead of article numbers, I have a goal of how much money I should make in upfront payments each day. This keeps me on track and it also gives me some easy days with less articles to write when I have assignments that pay a little higher. Think about the way you make your freelance writing income and decide which numbers are the important ones to focus on. If what you are currently doing is something you consistently aren't reaching, think outside the box and adjust your focus.
Do your goals align with your schedule? It's easy to set a goal. But if that goal doesn't fit in anywhere it's going to be difficult to make it work. Determine goals not just by what you are able to do, but also by the time you have to get things done in. If you know that you have two free hours in the morning and four at night, break up your writing between those times. If you make goals that fit well with your schedule, they will be much more attainable.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Tips From a Workaholic Supermom
Creating a writing schedule that works is all about making something you can stick to. Is your writing schedule working for you? Or do you wish you could get more done? Just want to try something different? Try prioritizing in various areas and losing extra commitments.
Figure Out How Much Time You Need for Work
If you have a goal of 10 articles per day, figure out how long it will take you to write them. Be sure you will have at least that much time to work with. If you prefer, the time can be spread out throughout the day as long as it fits in somewhere. If you don't have any idea how much time it takes you to work, you may not reach your writing goals. Scheduling the proper amount of time can help gauge writing productivity.
Determine if You Need Set Hours
Some people do not need set hours. For instance, if you are generally at home all day, setting particular hours may not appeal to you. Doing a little work here and there may be a better option. Yet others will need an exact time. This may be due to personal preferences. It can also be a way to let family and friends know you take your writing seriously and do not wish to be interrupted.
Schedule and Prioritize Other Tasks
Instead of, or in addition to, scheduling the writing, try scheduling other tasks. This way, you know exactly how much time you have left to work with. If it's not enough, cut out things that are less important. Create your task schedule in order of importance.
Don't Commit to Things You Cannot Do
I know firsthand how difficult this can be. But do not take assignments you cannot do. Also, do not take a larger number of assignments than is possible in the allotted time. I'm well-known for writing large number of articles at once. Some writers can do this and some cannot. Also, just because you have in the past does not mean you can work this way all the time. Know your happy medium between having enough work to pay bills and having so much work you can't sleep. Take it from one who knows.
Make Sure You Have Breaks
If you don't make room for breaks, your schedule will ultimately fail. Everyone needs rest. Yes, I do have to remind myself this as well. An effective writing schedule will include adequate rest time so that the writer is energized when it's work time.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
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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