Most writers, whether they be the hobbyist writer or a struggling free-lancer, dream of racking up thousands of hits a week on their websites. While many websites with may appear to be only mediocre content accomplish their goals and go beyond, other site with well written, even excellent written content struggle and only rack up a tiny handful of visitors to their site.
Just How Do They Do It?
Getting people to visit your site once won’t be nearly as difficult as getting a steady stream of traffic, nor will it be as difficult as being able to maintain user interest enough so that readers will return to re-read your previous content as well as what you may have recently published. There are various methods that writers can employ in order to increase traffic flow to their sites.
Types of Content
Many people enjoy writing poetry, flash fiction, and actual life stories. Unfortunately these types of writing do not seem to generate as many hits as news articles, how to articles, novellas, and things that would pertain to special interest groups. Poetry and flash fiction reader traffic typically comes from the author’s personal friends and family, or from friends on social networking sites. Basically, they came from specific invites as opposed to randomly surfing the web and stumbling across your site from a link that the authors themselves did not post. This is not to say that poetry and other types of more personal writing are without merit, however. Sites such as Booksie appeal primarily to the “personal” writer. Review Stream is a site for various product and service industry reviews. e-How specifically pertains to how-to articles, while sites such as Bukisa, Triond, and Constant Content.
Booksie, Review Stream, and Bukisa
Each of the previously mentioned sites allow their members to write about almost any topic, Booksie is not a site where authors generate revenues. Review Stream is accepts reviews on just about anything, but the content must be previously unpublished. If the user’s review is accepted and published, pay outs can be as little as $.50 or $2.50. Authors receive $.10 for each vote of “Yes This Review was Helpful” that the review receives, but it would seem that many site viewers simply don’t vote. Spelling, grammar, and word count all matter at Review Stream. Four words can literally make the difference between whether an article is rejected or accepted at the $2.50 full rate. Sometimes frequenting authors are allowed the chance to help process other user reviews. When people do so, they earn $.04 for each review that they process, but the “process” earnings are not considered to be a part of the $50 minimum pay out amount. Bukisa seems to have a low rank as an overall website and as far as earnings go, I would call it a waste of time.
Constant Content has been tricky, as they set a high standard of criteria for accepting articles. Clients post their requests public or private for authors. The request remains open for a set amount of time. Authors can sell public request articles for the amount set by the client. For other content, they are left on the site and authors can set prices for usage, unique rights, or exclusive rights to the article. Constant Content does not accept articles with any kind of spelling or grammatical errors, nor do they accept articles written in the first person, even if the client requests a “true life account” article.
Textbroker and MyLot
Earnings at Triond can be tricky, depending on how much time the author spends writing and promoting their site. It would seem that basic news articles don’t really generate revenue, while writing articles of “Top Lists”, some types of how-to articles, and “Most Amazing Lists” seem to do rather well. Other interesting paying writing sites are MyLot, a forum based social network where users earn money simply for making posts and Textbroker. Textbroker is literally a third party company that connects clients with authors. Authors are given a sample writing assignment to complete before they are approved for membership and are assigned a rank based on the over all quality of the sample writing. The higher the author’s rank, the more demanding some of the assignments on the assignment list can be, but the better they pay. The lower the author’s rank, the less complicated the client demands typically are, but the less the site pays. (* As an author’s note, I would like to say that I have had the most success with Textbroker, followed by Review Stream, earning in excess of $450 just from one of the sites alone in a month’s time.)
Time is Money
The saying that time is money definitely applies to writers. The longer that it takes an author to complete an assignment or publication, the longer he or she will have to wait to begin promoting and selling their fares. While the more casual writer looking to make pocket change can slide by with writing and promoting their reads just a few hours a week, those who desire to make a menial living must work very hard in order to succeed. This is not to say rush every piece, however. It simply means that it is best for writers to work during times and in places where they will not face constant interruption and distraction. The longer an author takes to complete a task on one particular site, the longer that it will take to accept and begin another assignment on the same site. It’s also a good idea for writers to pace themselves in order to avoid getting burned out. An author who works a full or part time job and writers to supplement their income may want to spend less time writing as opposed to those who depend upon those earnings to make their living. Taking at least one day off a week is recommended, even for the most casual writer in order to help prevent burn out and eventual writer’s block.
There are many word processing and web page design/publication software applications that are available both free and for sale in stores and on the internet. Some of these software applications could be:
- Adobe Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro
- Microsoft Office, Corel Word Perfect, or Open Office (which is available free online!)
- Front Page, Coffee Cup HTML Editor, Trellian HTML Editor (Older versions of Trellian are available, free!)
- A desk dictionary or thesaurus, or by using dictionary.com and thesaurus.com
- A spellcheck application and a word count application (these are usually implemented in wp programs)
- A flash drive to store back up copies of everything that is written
- An address book, both a physical one and a desktop/email edition
- A printer – it may be needed to submit proper tax and identification verification forms if required
- A good website host, for those who intend to keep their writing and/or portfolios online
- Google’s Search Engine Optimization Guide
The Importance of Proper Grammar and of Specific Detail
The usage of “proper grammar” covers a lot of ground. Correct sentence structure and spelling are very important. On one review site where I used to evaluate other people’s product reviews, I was a stickler if an article contained too many misspelled words, lacked proper punctuation, and run on sentences. I was also a Nazi for correct spacing between paragraphs and proper formatting of the text within the allowed space. Despite the fact that the actual content of the review may have been an excellent description, if the grammar is especially horrible, I would automatically reject the submission on that basis.
One of the things that occurs often when writing is the repetition of certain words and phrases. It’s even worse when they appear too close together on the same page. Using a thesaurus to look up synonyms is an excellent way to improve ones writing. Learning different writing styles is another way to improve ones writing style. Avoid using slang unless it is to quote somebody or something, unless it is a personal project.
Pen Names / Pseudonyms
Breaking one of my own rules yet again, I feel the need to address this issue somewhat from first person experience. When it comes to writing professionally, I really do recommend the use of at least two pen names or online mo nickers. I personally use three pseudonyms for any submitted writings that I do in addition to my given name. I also use two different online nick names. It may sound absurd, but there is a very important reason for this. Many times, personal projects that I will share online with Facebook friends are rants, short commentaries, or poetry. If I write something talking about how mortgage brokers are fiends in a not so pleasant tone of voice, I would probably use a pen name. This helps to keep all of my works separate. If I wanted to apply for a job with a newspaper publishing company and the hiring manager’s wife is a mortgage broker, I probably wouldn’t want for them to do a web search for my real name and pop that article – he may be anything but thrilled! I also use different email addresses with each separate pen name that I use. This will help to prevent potential employers, business associates, or anyone who wanted to know about my personal background from finding out information about me as easily. In addition, it helps prevent a large amount of spam from getting mixed into my primary email inbox.
Basics Over! Now What?
The basics have been covered, but there are still some important tips and tricks that every writer should know before they set out on their journey into the tough dog-eat-dog world of publication and journalism.
- Always read and then re-read any website terms of service contracts as well as any contracts that may be presented by an agent. Print a copy or two of them before you submit it back to the client. This is done so that you can later refer to the TOS or contract as they were when you signed.
- Pay attention when doing a cut and paste from a word processing program to a website form, as often times the formatting of the word processor
- Save a copy of all of your works to both your hard drive and a flash drive, even if they are articles that you have sold the rights to.
- If you are a ghostwriter and you are trying to build a portfolio or references, always talk to the company, organization, or individual that you provided the service for and ask for their consent first. This is due to the fact that in ghostwriting projects, authors typically give up all of their rights to claim any affiliation, royalties, or other profits from the project.
- Keep a variety of sample writing projects available for potential employers to view. It’s a good idea to keep at least one news article and other general piece of non-fiction readily available. Keep an opinion piece handy, but don’t present it unless someone asks specifically for one. Personality conflicts are easily revealed through opinion pieces and people can be easily offended.
- Sign up for a number of social networks as well as social bookmarking sites. Invest time in adding people to your friends list / network by reading some of their works and commenting about them, as well as by doing an interests search. Using sites and tools such as “Share This” are a wonderful way to increase website traffic.
- When possible, use meta tags and generate key words for your project. Use a variety of adjectives and synonyms as well. Make a manual keyword count or use a keyword analyzer afterwords. This will help you to see how effective your phrasing is, as well as point out the over usage of words and phrases.
- Create several different blogs and accounts on various blog sites and social networking sites. Whenever you publish an article with your byline, create a backlink to the article on each and every one of those accounts.
- Consider implementing an pay to click advertisement program or banner / link exchange on your writing site.
Best of luck and blessed be, my fellow writers!