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
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
If you are in a bind and need to get large amounts of articles done quickly, what do you do? Perhaps this is a common thing for you and perhaps it is not. There are various things a writer can do when large numbers of articles need to be written quickly.
Sort by topic, rather than client. If some of your article topics are similar, write those sequentially or at the same time. Save them to separate folders for each client so you don't lose track. But you can do articles for various clients all at once. This is especially helpful if their deadlines are the same or close.
Do all your research first. Research your topics before writing. This makes it easier to just sit down and write. You get bonus points if you took notes in your article document during research. Medical info and other extensive topics can require a good amount of research for accuracy. Bullet point what you discover under subheadings. Then, when you write the article, you only need to turn those points into sentences.
Group by article type. If you have several list-type articles to do, it can help to do those first. Those may be easier than other formats. Articles with bullet or numbered points can go quickly as well. You also may wish to group them according to word count. When large numbers of articles are due quickly, it's a better strategy to get all the easiest ones out of the way first. This way, if you do fall behind your goal, it happens with less articles.
Write intros and subheadings first. Go through all your article files ahead of time and write all the intro paragraphs and subheadings. This way, you can run through and fill them in faster. If you already have the subheadings labeled, you pretty much know the points you need to make. You then only need to figure out how you're going to say it. This speeds productivity trick. I've written an article with this type of pre-outline in less than 3 minutes.
Write what you know. If the topics are up to you, avoid too much extra research and just write about what you already know. When writing topics you have firsthand knowledge of, it's easy to just spout off info quickly. This is extremely beneficial if you're also a fast typist. It may take a touch longer if you aren't, but it should still help considerably, compared to articles that require extensive research.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
One page at a time - that's the only way to write. Actually, perhaps I should be far more specific: one word at a time. But since it is rather difficult to express complete thoughts in single words, we must use sentences. These will form paragraphs, which hopefully will form a coherent narrative that forms upon the page before us.
Yes, reader, I must involve you in this process. After all, writing is a very intimate, personal experience, and truly good writing should never just be for the self. Yet, some writers clearly do not involve the reader, and this is indeed a tragedy. But I do feel that the act of writing should not produce a sermon unless you are a bona fide preacher. No, it's all about connecting with your audience, your reader.
Some authors are obsessed with the idea of knowing who their target audience is. Now, I suppose in some cases - say in the case of writing a children's book - this is certainly an understandable tactic which you may take to construct your narrative. But I'm not convinced it's always a good one. I think, especially in children's writing, some authors take too many assumptions into account on the part of their reader.
The author's job should be to not bore you, and too many authors, in my humble opinion, bore so many readers. Okay, maybe you'll know this or that when you come to reading my piece and you'll feel like I should already know that you know these things. But there's a simple way around this. It's on me, the writer, to make sure if something is brought up that should be generally common knowledge that it is directly involved with what I'm getting at.
There's something to be had about giving you, the reader, a trail to follow. It's good to make your thought process somewhat intuitive through the writing. A lot of artists get really, really artsy. While there is nothing wrong with that, in theory, really a writer must work to draw the reader into the narrative. Even if you may be unfamiliar with all or most of the individual points, you must be able to find that there is clearly a thought process behind all of it. This is the challenge that all writers face.
So why should you care? I could ramble on forever about the half-million things (somewhat of an exaggeration) that go across my mind on a daily basis. It's actually rather incredible how many things actually are on one mind at any given time. The conscious and unconscious minds are so often not in sync. It's why sometimes we just get distracted and we don't really know how. Somehow, though, the act of writing actually can give one access to this sort of nether space between the conscious and unconscious.
When a writer really applies one's self to the task of constructing a narrative, things tend to appear on the page that seem a bit unfamiliar. At times, they seem out of place within the conscious realm. The human mind is really an incredible machine. There are so many things that it can process that often get shoved aside by the conscious mind. A lot of that is simply because of how cluttered "modern" daily life has become.
It's no secret that meditation techniques can help one write better. There is often just too much clutter in our heads to be able to construct anything incredibly interesting on a regular basis, even for dedicated writers. You can't force creativity. It just sort of has to happen.
I hate to reference a cliché. But my prefacing tidbit "one page at a time" is very much like "one day at a time" in that you have to take each challenge as they come. Even if you are not by profession a writer, you are in fact a writer in the sense that you are the scribe of your own life's story. You may say, wait a minute, how can I be the author of my own life story if so many things are out of my control? Now what I am getting at here is not trying to write yet another self-help book or tell you that there is some special secret to being this amazing writer. No, I am simply saying that many different aspects of life are not as disparate as they at first seem.
You may think, life is non-fiction and fiction is a way to escape that often grinding daily existence. Well, to be fair, there is a very startling similarity between fiction and non-fiction. Fiction is often compelling because of how colorful the settings and characters can be. But in non-fiction, that can also be true. You may say you like fiction because what you're reading you may be convinced couldn't really happen.
Truth is, anything is possible. Nothing is truly impossible, only astronomically improbable. So when you hear "nothing is impossible" it's not false, but it's only a half-truth. No fiction is totally made up. Fiction is, at the very least, a half-truth. We integrate plenty of fiction into our own lives. Say you're telling someone a "real-life" story and you don't have your facts straight. It's not completely true, so guess what? It's fiction.
So am I saying that life is just a world of half-truths with more fiction than fact? No, but in my daily life, it sometimes certainly seems that way. Many people I see function in such a way. We live in a world full of so many possible avenues of escapism. As soon as we step outside of what is considered "serious" there is a lot of grey area that you can play with. This is the writer's playground.
There are cold hard facts of life that need to be accounted for, yes. But what if we play around a bit and pretend that these cold hard facts were instead fiction? How do you rearrange things in such a way to make them more interesting? It's all about making your reader look at things from a different perspective. From a certain perspective, all of our lives are just a fiction that we create in our own minds. Perspective is the key word here.
If you're ever stuck, remember perspective. Don't take everyone's perspective into account. Yes, ask yourself if the reader will care. But at the same time, you have to make your reader care. If your reader doesn't care, then what's the point in writing it?
Keep perspective in mind. Twist things just a little bit to make it more interesting, without losing sight of the heart of the matter. You may find out some things you wouldn't have otherwise. And so won’t your readers.
“If the writing is honest it cannot be separated from the man who wrote it.” – Tennessee Williams
Here’s a fun little topic to tackle: what makes for honest writing? I try to be as honest as possible when I set to compose anything. It’s just not always easy, especially in trying to sound original. I think sometimes being brutally honest actually stifles creativity.
The God-honest truth isn’t always the best thing to put straight into print. There’s letting things off your chest, and then there’s saying too much. It’s not always easy to put things as succinctly as you may want to.
Your goal may not to be delicate or succinct at all. It’s still often difficult to say what you mean to say without somehow saying something you didn't. It’s too easy to read between the lines and try to find double meanings to certain words or phrases.
Sometimes in the editing process, you second guess yourself. You may expound on something that you probably shouldn’t have bothered spending too much time on. It’s what makes writing such a frustrating craft.
The idea of being so honest in writing that it becomes inseparable from the author who penned it is I suppose a sort of ultimate goal for all writers. The trick is to be honest, but not absolutely exhaustive in that honesty. You give away a little at a time, and that’s what can make writing so therapeutic.
For those minds as busy and often overloaded as mine, it’s a sort of necessity to be just a little honest with a thing or two. You can dress it up a bit and make it less threatening; it doesn’t make it any less true, really. But having a few secrets has to be healthy, right?
Writers seem to have more reason to be mysterious than most. The more mysteries the author has, the more material to be used in the craft. At least, that’s how I like to look at it.
"Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers." – Isaac Asimov
Have you ever found yourself not sure what to write for your blog? There may be days when you sit by yourself and brainstorm a few things that you’ll probably write about later. Likely you won't use everything that you wrote, but you may find something that you were thinking about could make a useful blog post.
But more often than not, it’s likely that you find yourself uninspired by your notes. Other times, you won’t have any notes to go off of at all for blog ideas. Fortunately, there are some easy ways to make sure that you always have something to write about.
Consider this simple exercise. Towards the end of your day, jot down some of the challenges you faced during the day. Then, tell how you succeeded (or didn’t succeed) in solving them. You'd be surprised how little solutions can make for a short, but sweet post that your audience would find interesting.
Showing dedication to the little things is pretty important to people. It makes you more human to those that read your blog. You want people to be delighted by what they read, and be able to connect to these “little things” sorts of posts. Over time, the little things add up. Before you know it, you have a vibrant and interesting blog. Just three or four little successes can go a long way.
What about the challenges you haven’t solved? Are you still working towards solutions? It's fine to let people know what you're working on to better improve yourself and whatever it is you do. Looking natural is paramount to good blogging practice. In any case, be as positive as you can even when you’ve been dealing with bad days. Keep a bright outlook on things and your blog readers will thank you for it.
You may also want to write down any missteps you took during the day. Now, it would seem that missteps are not the best sort of thing to write about, since on a blog you typically want to be as positive and helpful as possible. But there is a way to spin such mistakes, especially if you find a solution to prevent such a mistake from happening again. You may want to write about what you do to prevent those sorts of mistakes in the future. Be sure not to draw attention to the failure, but instead the solution.
People want to see you succeed, but be sure to admit how you’ve overcome certain challenges. Human beings enjoy success stories. It's easy to be inspired by reading about others overcoming difficulties and challenges.
If you're ever stuck for a blog topic, just brainstorm and let the ideas come naturally. Just let the events of the day unfold in your mind and recount the little victories of the day. You might be surprised with what you find. That way, when you have a dull, uninteresting day, you have a post to inspire both yourself and everyone who happens to read your blog.
So many times I have begun writing on a project and asked myself: why should anyone care about this? A lot of the time, I'll have an idea, then not really care for it myself. I don't discard it. I make a note of it and move on, because I never know where exactly I could find a purpose for that idea. Recently, I've been finding that I need to take more profound steps in my writing. I need to write about things that seem to be often avoided. People care if you bring something up that they don't expect, and sometimes such unexpectedness is met with lots of fear and negativity. But that cannot be a detractor in what a writer decides to write.
There is nothing wrong with writing reviews, or reflective journals, or informational articles. There's nothing wrong with writing light humor or a little piece of flash fiction. There's nothing wrong with writing an adventure novel that exists purely to thrill a reader. As long as each of those pieces of writings fulfill their specific purpose and not just some broad sense of having written something.
However, there is a bit of a paradox here, since it is important for a writer to write even when he or she is not finding a purpose for the words being written. But when publishing something, make sure people will have a reason to care about what you've written. Don't just publish something because it sounds good. I've been guilty of that myself. Publish something that actually will add something to the lives of those reading it. Otherwise, you're just spinning your wheels.
by Richard Rowell, Staff Writer
Awhile back, I decided to give up on SEO. However, this doesn't mean that I don't care about optimizing for search anymore. I decided instead to focus on searcher intent, not the search engines themselves. Trying to write for a moving target like an ever-evolving search algorithm is really counter-productive, except for those that are making a lot of money trying to "crack the code" and get "instant results." However, true sustained success doesn't work that way. Instead, it makes the most sense to find what your audience is searching for and how they are searching for it. But it's not just about finding the trending topics and keyword phrases. There's a lot more to it than that.
There are services that claim that they help you chase the "long-tail" keyword phrases that deliver valuable traffic. Actually, some of these services are quite reputable and there's a lot of research involved in finding these golden opportunities in search. But actually, you can do a lot of this work on your own with just a bit of critical thinking. Think about the questions that your audience have asked you or might ask you. You write about those. Then if you do find something trending, there's no hurt in writing about it, but try to spin it in a way where that information will still be useful down the road.
When it comes to business blogging, there are many different perspectives on how to create content in an organized and systematic way. Probably one of the most predominant of these methods is about understanding "buyer personas." By this method, popularized by marketing giant Hubspot, a business would go through an entire process of researching where these fictional characters are on the "buyer's journey" and what they are asking search engines at various points on that journey. The common interests and habits of these people are often also considered as supplemental content to lure in people not even realizing they're being led to a landing page to a sell a product that's actually unrelated. While the latter part of that strategy I'm not terribly fond of, understanding the buyer's journey is actually a good idea.
The buyer's journey essentially consists of three stages: identifying a problem, researching and seeking out solutions for that problem, and making a decision on purchasing or otherwise acquiring that solution. Obviously, depending on which of those three stages a potential reader or client may be in that journey, different questions would be asked. This is the part of the "buyer personas" that I like. I don't like to categorize people past the questions they are asking, although understanding your audience through market research certainly doesn't hurt, either, of course. But for purposes of web writing, answering people's questions and positioning yourself as a thought leader on a given topic is better than leading visitors through landing pages. I'm not a fan of "capturing leads" and "marketing funnels." Perhaps, they work but that's not my style.
I'm more interested about the topics themselves, and why people ask certain questions at certain points in certain ways. Possibly, the psychology is more fascinating to me than trying to create this perfect "persona" that you're marketing to. You're not marketing to personas. You're marketing to real life people. I know the persona concept sounds really good and all, and well-researched personas can lead to a lot of successful content being created. But you don't need a big marketing company and a huge staff to be successful in knowing what your audience wants. You just have to ask the right questions and have valuable answers for them.
If you can't answer the questions, it's possible there are other expert sources out there that can. While it sounds counter-intuitive to lead people to other people to answer your questions, as long as that someone isn't a direct competitor of yours, it's actually a really good idea. Some people will remember that you provided the link to that information. That's good for you. All you have to do is be sure to curate the best content that you can. The best way to do it is type a question into a search engine, and if it's not clearly answered without some work, and you have a way to answer it, then by all means do it.
The problem with building personas and all those sorts of things is that if the plan doesn't work, it can take a while to come up with another plan. But if you just naturally come up with content through everyday questions that you can provide timely and useful answers for, you may find that while your "hits" may not be as high as some marketers can promise you, the interaction and organic traffic will be a lot better than you might expect.
Feel like you might be confounding readers with your writing? I know I've had times when my writing even confounds myself. The entire point of writing, of course, is to convey an idea in as clear and concise a form as possible, is it not?
Sometimes, I infuse my writing with a lot more emotion at times than at others. Other times I will even let my sarcasm take over, which can rub some readers the wrong way. At other times, I seem to leave people confounded. Perhaps, it's sometimes by design, but not always.
Sure, it might be okay to leave people a little confused for the benefit of making readers have to figure something out for themselves. But sometimes I just write something because it sounds good. Then, I just publish it. Then, it seems that I somehow expect people figure it out for themselves.
Making people think, I believe, is the core of writing in the first place. But confounding others with your writing probably isn't a sound strategy. Then again, simply stating the facts and stating opinions, however educated, does not seem to be enough to me sometimes. There's obviously plenty written out there about infusing personality and "spice" into writing. But I think the most important thing to do in writing is to expand one's horizons.
This process is two-fold. First, it is through the act of writing and expressing an idea in a written, tangible form. Then, it is through the act of reading, identifying and analyzing, then coming to conclusions afterwards. If it leaves you with more questions than answers that may not be a bad thing.
So confounding a reader may actually be a good thing, sometimes. It really depends on the topic. By having to think about something in more depth you'll remember it better. Then, those ideas will have impact beyond the words on the printed page. Still, be sure it's a topic worth that level of reader commitment. Someone might be looking for a quick answer that could reasonably have one. Then, there's no point in dragging it out.
But there are times that connecting with the reader on a deeper level can be worth it. I've written before about whether web writers should produce more questions or answers. In that piece, I came to the conclusion that articles that engage the reader in a conversation of thought are strictly better than "free information." While it may not be as simple to digest, it's overall better for the reader. Other readers offered up the opinion that writing that really engages your mind is most rewarding. It's especially good when readers can connect with pieces emotionally. Those pieces tend to perform the best over the long term.
People talk about trying to make emotional connections through writing all the time. But this is actually incredibly hard to do when it comes to certain subjects. Writing through personal experience is the only way I've ever been able to do it, I think. It's good to go into a piece in mind that others will need to take something away from it. You have to make it worth their time to read.
Confounding readers may sound like a bad idea. But it some cases it may not be. If you feel the need to write something, and aren't sure why you wrote it, write it anyway. Chances are someone else will get what you were saying. That's the whole point of writing after all, to share your ideas. You may not even fully understand them yet.
Here's a question I've been asked a ton of times: "Why can't you write a novel?" For someone whose dream as a four-year-old was to be a novelist - and a mapmaker, and a pharmacist, and a starship captain - this would be a legitimate question as I have not yet produced a novel. My obvious inability to properly compose a novel is a topic I've pondered many times. In fact, I've written a lot of drafts of pieces trying to answer that very question, but I was never happy with what i wrote on the subject. So yes, this is yet another attempt to try and answer that question, but this time, I actually have the answer.
I can't write a novel because I simply cannot write a novel. I can't do outlines, as I never have, and never will. Of course, there are novelists out there who have never outlined, either. There are novelists out there that basically just write forever, then let their trusted beta readers and editors do the rest of the work. But in my case, I simply change directions in plot too often and character development often meanders and stalls. It's not even a lack of focus. I just lose interest in what I'm writing if I spend too much time on it. That's right. I simply cannot hold focus for fifty thousand plus words. I can't even hold focus for ten thousand words, never mind anymore than that. Is it a weakness? Perhaps, it is. Or perhaps, I'm simply not a novelist.
I'm not saying that I will never, ever write a novel. But it is fair to say that my dream of being a novelist is indefinitely on hold. Truth is, I'm not even good at short stories. Flash fiction is perhaps the only creative future that I have outside of poetry - and poems are definitely a specialty of mine. The thing is, I can't combine my poetry with my stories. I've tried that, and it was a disaster. So basically, my future as a creative writer appears to be relegated to simply flash fiction pieces and poetry. I'm finally feeling content with that.
However, that being said, the truth is that writing a novel takes a ton of energy. For whatever reason, I do not ever want to expend that level of energy on one particular project ever. I feel that my energy needs to be divided more efficiently across a wider breadth of subjects. My brain is always hitting on many different things, so why should I force it to do simply one thing? Yes, I have a tendency to hyper-focus, but this hyper-focus when it comes to trying to write a novel is actually very, very bad. If I have to figure out where to take a story next, it is NOT going to follow the original path. It's going to go bonkers.
The interesting thing is if you give me someone else's story that already exists, I'm actually pretty good at identifying shortcomings and fleshing things out. So it's not that I can't tell a story. It's that the stories I try to tell are evolving so constantly in my mind that everything I write up to a point becomes obsolete. And that is so monumentally frustrating that I cannot begin to tell you how much worthless text I will have to eventually go through and pare down into flash fiction pieces. So, at least, I have a plan of what to do with all my failed stories.
So yes, it is very likely that I will in fact put out a book someday. It will be a collection of short flash fiction stories. Some will share characters. Many won't. But a novel will have to be a collaboration with someone else, because I simply do not have the capacity on my own to keep everything going in one direction or follow any logical plot structure. My brain simply does not operate in that way because real life is not that way. I am far too spontaneous to be forced into any sort of literary conventions. So perhaps one day I'll write a novel that is extremely disorganized and completely wacko. Not saying there isn't anything already out there like that, but since I doubt it will sell, I may as well just post my insane creative scribblings at will.
Have you ever considered writing a novel? Good luck. I think I'll just stick to the greatest hits from my Crazy Idea Bin. That should be good enough for me.
The blank page is like a canvas, they say. Actually, a blank page is more like a desert. It can be the most dreaded thing known to humanity. This is why whenever you try to always start with SOMETHING. some sort of opening theme like in a TV show, or a prompt, or something. Always have something to start with. Because just when you think you can't fill a page, you probably will.
How is this? Start with today's date, then just list some things that are on your mind. If your inspiration can't be sparked by something that you just wrote, list some of your favorite things, and see if you have anything to write about them. By this point, you've probably already filled a page and come up with writing ideas for about a week. Considering this sort of brainstorming is how I practiced writing on a daily basis for years, I can say from personal experience that it works.
However, I don't really participate in brainstorming sessions anymore, nor do I use many prompts. Why is this? It's because sometimes it's okay to just let ideas come to you as they will. Unless you desperately need to fill a need for some assignment, not filling a page is not some crime. Just jot down things in a notebook or some organization program like Evernote or a memo pad app of some sort. That way when you're starved for ideas later, you still have them. Then you'll fill many pages just from that single note.
Still, I've found more often that not, as long as you go into any writing with a purpose, you will fill that page. It works similarly with art. In photography, just point at whatever and shoot. In drawing or painting, just doodle for a bit and work from that. You'd be surprised in these supposedly dark moments of lacking inspiration that you'll find the beginnings of some of your best creative work ever.
Words will come to me whether or not I want them to. It is what I do with them that matters, to give them a meaning and a purpose. Then it is up to whomever reads them to decide if they are worthy. Words are just thought fragments, loosely translated into a common tongue never quite perfect. Limits to vocabulary hinder true perfect expression, but with care and practice, one can succeed in mostly getting a point across. At times, it is only with great difficulty, and often never on the first attempt.
Then, two similar but disparate ideas intermingle, distracting from the original thought. Confusion sets in, creative chaos ensues, and frustration builds. Then writing blocks emerge seemingly for no reason. Fear of losing that writer's touch begins to swell. The words must then be forced out, as thoughts are still there, but stubbornly refuse to be translated. Perhaps, those thoughts are not yet worthy of being shared. Or perhaps, there is a lack of the skill necessary to share them properly and precisely? Such awkward moments cannot be avoided when you constantly deal in words. Sentences and phrases never seem quite perfect, but then it is decided that they are good enough for now. They can be altered later.
The words will come, and they must. So I just let them come. I'll figure out what to do with them later. Then, it's up to you to do with them what you will. I am only a delivery boy. It's your choice what to make of these words I bring you. I hope they do you some good. Hopefully they won't befuddle you too much, and if they do, maybe they'll make you write something, too. If I inspire any positive action, or any action at all, then the words have done their part, I've done my job, and the world goes on.
And then I get writer's block again. Sigh.
The words will come.
As a mentor of my writing peers, I am often asked to discern the difference between a blog post and an article. When submitting work to clients and content sites, how do you know if your writeup should have gone to your blog instead? Blogs can certainly be professional and articles can definitely be conversational. However, even though you can publish an article on your blog, it's not very wise to submit something that should have been a blog as an article. In some cases, it may even hurt your career. So what's the difference?
What is a blog post?
A blog post is written text on any subject or event and can be fact or fiction. Poetry can even be used as blog posts. There is generally no word count limit for a blog posts, unless specified by the blog owner. Some people use blogs to tell others about daily events in their own lives or in certain industries, sports, or causes. Others may use blogs as a form of self-expression. For instance, someone going through an illness may update the blog on their progress or their feelings throughout their journey. Another person might blog about their children or their favorite sports team. Personal blogs are often (but not always) based more on opinions then they are on facts. Business or professional blogs may read more like articles.
What is an article?
An article is a text writeup that is generally non-fiction. Although some styles can be fiction, such as a satire piece. Usually if an article is meant to be satire, it will be specified. People generally read articles as a trusted source of information. They also expect to find enough details to answer what the title implies. News stories are one form of article. How-to guides are another. In both cases, the information should be clear, to the point, and appropriately detailed. Articles are generally longer than blog posts, but not always. An article should be an appropriate length to get the point across without too much or too little information.
Can an article be a blog post and vice versa?
Some professional blogs read more like news articles. This is fine and even respected. However, blog posts should not be substituted for articles in most cases. For instance, your blog post about your terrible breakfast does not belong on an informational site. However, if you would like to give your blog a more professional feel, by all means, post articles instead of treating it like a personal journal.
What about personal experience articles?
Personal experience can bring a unique angle to an article - provided that's what the client wants. However, personal experience does not mean you have to dish on the latest family drama to get the point across. If you must do that, at least leave it to your blog. In an article, it's only necessary to share enough of the experience to get the point across. Share what adds to the informational aspect of the article. But don't share as much as you might tell your best friend.
Discerning whether to use your writeup as an article or blog post.
When making the decision whether to post your writing to your blog or to sell or publish it as an article, there are several things to consider. Does the article provide the reader with useful and unique information? Would you want to read it as a solution to an issue or a source of information? Is it factual without unnecessary rambling? While your blog readers may want to hear every minute detail, the average web reader would rather skip to the point. If people want a blog post, they visit a blog. But if they want facts, instructions, or info, they look for an article.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network.
Lyn Lomasi, Staff Writer
Web writing can be like other forms of writing. But it also can be quite different. There are many things to learn if you want to succeed in this business. As an experienced online writer, I've learned a great deal about what works and what doesn't. Here are 10 things I feel every web writer should know.
People will talk negatively about you. Whether it's your neighbor, your significant other, or even one of your peers. Someone will have something to say. In order to succeed in online freelance writing, you need to grow a thick skin. Keep doing what you do best and prove your critics wrong. Rather than defending yourself with more hate speech, fight back through your work. Let it speak for itself.
Success in web writing takes work. Just because you can form a sentence does not mean you will instantly earn millions. Just like any other career - that's right, "career" - you need to put in effort to be successful. Some people will earn their way to the top faster, but regardless of speed, they all have to work in order to see results. The more you put into it, the more you get out if it. Taking shortcuts might seem to work at first, but it could all blow up in your face when you least expect it.
Online writing is not for everyone. Love to write? Good. Have talent? Good. That's part of the equation. But it's far from the entire puzzle. In order to make money, online writers need to be able to write just about every day. If it takes you weeks to get through one school paper, don't expect to immediately succeed in web writing. Some components are very similar. Can you produce quality journalism in a short time-frame? Do you enjoy the act? Then, you might be ready.
There's more to web writing than just writing. In online writing there is not always going to be an editor to look over and correct your work. Many times you will need to edit your own work. You also may need to promote yourself, be social with readers and fellow writers, and much more. Success in online writing comes from being flexible and having a variety of talents that complement each other.
Success comes from being unique. If you see another successful web writer, it's a good idea to study their techniques. However, it's bad idea to try to mimic their entire style. Why? They most likely succeeded because of being unique. If you are mimicking their style, you could be seen as a copycat, which will get you nowhere. Instead, follow their techniques and advice. Develop and apply your own style. Otherwise, the online world will chew you up and spit you out.
Learn while you earn. There is no one person who knows every single thing about online writing. Successful web writers learn something new daily. Study often and apply the knowledge, both in the beginning and throughout your career. You can never know too much. Things are always changing and evolving, especially in online writing.
Online writing is not the same thing as print writing. While both industries require quality, that definition varies for each. Web readers like to look up a topic and read something in simple terms to quickly answer their issue or interest. It takes great skill to simplify writing for easy scanning. This does not mean you need to sound uneducated. But it does mean you need to make your text easy on the eyes and easy to find. Think of the phrases you use when you search for similar things online. Obviously, you are more likely to search "homeschool tips" than "advisement for home educators". Your content should read the way you would search combined with what makes it easier for people to read.
You're obligated to your client, not the other way around. When working with others, especially long-time clients, it may be easy to feel like they owe you certain things. But the truth is, the client hired you. Their only obligation to you is proper payment for your dedication and hard work. Hopefully, they will also be respectful. But don't ask your client for extra privileges. Your client is not obligated to please you. If they want to give you something extra, that's perfectly fine. But, don't expect it and certainly don't ask for it.
You are a trusted source of information. Do your research. When people read articles that contain the information they need, they expect them to be accurate. If you can't do the proper research, don't take the assignment. If you continually provide accurate and detailed info, your readers will respect you more. On the other hand, if you do not, you can completely damage your online writing career.
Web writing is a career. While some may enjoy this as a hobby, it can indeed be a career and many people, like me, do this for a living. If you want to succeed, treat it like the career that it is. Not doing so can lead to failure very quickly. Be sure to also make it clear to family and friends that this is your career.
One of the hardest things about blogging is getting people to come back for more. You can build up a huge initial audience. But over time, even if you keep up with continuous content creation, that doesn’t mean that people will come back and interact in ways that you might expect. You can provide the greatest information in the world. It could even be exclusive. But with this strategy, most of the time, you’ll get an overwhelming majority of “hit-and-run” visitors. Yes, they may click on an ad. They may check out a product or two that you are promoting or selling. But very rarely do you convert this traffic into actual revenue. Curiosity is great, but it doesn’t make you a living. In fact, big page view numbers can lead to little more than frustration.
There is hope, however. You just have to ask yourself a deceptively simple question.
What’s In It For the Readers?
Ryan Deiss of Digital Marketing once published an article about how he and his team built up a blog from zero to $6 million in sales. The website is called SurvivalLife.com, and it’s about survival and preparedness. Yes, it does promote products but in a passive way. They have become a huge resource in the survival and preparedness market, but it’s not just because they have a network of blog contributors and a team of blogger experts. It’s because each article offers something beyond just the article. Having ad networks and even things like Amazon Associates is nice, but they don’t work for everyone. But having a mix of affiliate and in-house offers is better if they’re well-targeted, unlike a lot of those pay-per-click ads.
Ryan says that becoming an authority is so much better than being an “ordinary” blogger for a number of reasons. But one of the reasons is that, as he says:
“You don’t need a product, sales copy or even an idea… you just need to have a passion in a market where great content and fascinating experts already exist.” – Ryan Deiss (http://www.digitalmarketer.com/6-million/)
It’s all about the passion. There’s more to it than that, obviously. You have to really dedicate the time and energy to become the sort of “insider” that he talks about. In fact, he says you don’t even have to be a writer to become an authority. Earlier on in that same article, he mentions Oprah, who has built an empire by simply associating with experts in multiple fields. She makes big time revenues off of those affiliations because those are real sales that she’s generating by the interest in those experts because of the trust that she has built over the years.
Obviously, I am a writer and sure, sharing other content is great, especially when it’s by other experts that I trust. However, I don’t necessarily subscribe to Ryan’s idea of “The World Doesn’t Need More Information.” But what I do agree with is that if the information already exists, and is already well-written and presented, then you should share it with the world without trying to rewrite it “in your own words” as they say.
This doesn’t mean you can’t still be part of it. This doesn’t mean that you can’t share personal experience. What it does mean is that you have to always bring it back to making it not about yourself, but about what your audience is looking for when they come to you. Don’t just throw more of you at them, but offer up other authoritative content that you love, no matter where it comes from. This sounds counter-intuitive, but people will remember where they heard something from if it’s valuable enough. Why do people go back to major media outlets or remain loyal to brands? It’s because people create emotional attachments to things that provide them with what they’re looking for if it delivers on a consistent basis. It doesn’t all have to come from your mouth, but you just have to keep the good content coming, no matter what the source.
Sometimes, it turns out that the best approach really is to become an expert by showing how you learned to become an expert in that field. By doing so and showing the process, you teach others how to become an expert in their own fields. The idea is to lead by example, even if you’re not the greatest writer in the world. It’s about sharing and caring, as silly as that sounds. Remember, as it has so often been said, it doesn’t matter so much what you give someone, but rather how you made them feel in doing so. Once you have the emotional connection and you continue to deliver on that connection, you’ve made a fan for life. And it doesn’t matter how many of those you get as long as they’re genuine because they will be the ones that not only will grow your business, but also be friends for life.
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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