If you have read parts I and II of this series, then you know that I am beginning a freelance writing career on Yahoo! Contributor Network (YCN), formerly known as Associated Content (AC). You know that I chose YCN because they publish content quickly and for free. You know that my goal is to publish 100 pieces of content by the end of 2010, so that I have a current portfolio of content to show to prospective employers. What I haven’t told you is that the best thing about YCN is the network of contributors. I use this network to learn about how other contributors are making money on YCN. I do this by reading the articles that other contributors write about their YCN successes. There is a lot to be learned from these articles. There is no reason to reinvent the wheel, when other contributors are there to help me up the ladder of success.
It seems that the key to success is mastering Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is defined by Wikipedia as “the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines via the “natural” or un-paid (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results.” In simple terms, this means that you have to figure out a way to include frequently searched for terms, or keywords, in your article. Search engines like Yahoo and Google find content on the internet based on these keywords. The more popular keywords that you include in your article, the more page views it will get. While my ultimate goal is a body of quality work to use as a resume, I plan to take advantage of the paid performance incentives that YCN offers. That means I need to write about popular topics, and include an appropriate number of keywords in my articles.
Keywords are great, but don’t make too much of a good thing. If an article is keyword dense, meaning that it has too many keywords for the number of actual words, it can be considered spamming, and it’s probably not very good writing. According to Crystal Ray, another YCN contributor, an article should be made up of one to five percent keywords. Get as close to five percent as you can, but remember that the reader wants to read about the keywords, and not just read the keywords themselves over and over again. Ms. Ray goes on to state that she uses this free online keyword density tool to determine if her article contains the appropriate percentage of keywords.
Another YCN contributor, Nina Rotz , also writes about SEO, and how she uses it to achieve her goals, which are remarkably similar to mine. In her article, she explains that the keywords that are included in an article should be relevant to that article. In other words, don’t add irrelevant keywords to an article in an attempt to boost page views. Ms. Rotz also talks about clout level, which is a great feedback provided and motivator. Clout level increases as your content receives more page views. The higher levels of clout pay higher performance incentives. I’ve been a contributor since the end of October, and I just achieved clout level five. It’s exciting to see the clout number go up, and makes me want to write more and more articles and get them published fast.
It is apparent to me that I have a lot to learn about becoming a successful freelance writer. It is also exciting and reassuring to know that I have a wealth of excellent (and free) resources right at my fingertips, and all I have to do is read the content of successful contributors to get all the help and advice that I need. I will continue to read the work of other contributors as I hone my writing and SEO skills.