I’ve been writing all my life. I write first for myself, next for my reader, and third for money. For a writer, the Internet can be a glorious place. There are webites everywhere where you can share your work, get feedback, and connect with a virtual writing community. Like many writers, I tend to be a bit of a loner, so anytime I can walk into a room, either real or virtual and feel like there is someone at least attempting to understand me, it’s a good thing.
My first venture into writing online was when I was writing the first draft of my novel, No Sensible People. I wrote it on a diary site, beginning in 2002. I tried Writing.com, but left when I felt too much like a needle in a haystack. From there, I went to Fanstory.com. I actually paid to participate there. I got a lot of good feedback, and it even led me to some offline friends. From there I moved to Gather.com, where I could earn gift cards, and now can earn money — although it takes a long time for it to build up. I joined other sites that pay, and the best potential for me has surfaced as Helium, Gather, and Associated Content. At Helium, I like that they have an anonymous rating system that keeps writers on their toes to produce quality work. If you aren’t ranked near the top, you don’t get your performance payments. At Gather, I have a history and connections that I don’t want to give up. There is quality work on the site, but it’s mixed in with a lot of random silliness, and often it is very much a popularity contest. And at Associated Content, I have given up and come back to. It’s all about page views, and mine have not been good.
The dates on my Bios and Profiles show that I’ve been around awhile, but in many ways I am still a newbie. I’m figuring out how to craft titles, schmoozing on Facebook and Twitter, and I’m trying to spend time in the social areas, i.e., forums, groups, etc. But that piece is hard for me, because I’d rather be writing. But every job is a mixed bag of sorts– there are parts you like more than others. And I think I’m close to figuring out what will work for me so I can stck with it. I’m developing my own list of “Dos and Don’ts” — mostly for my own reference, but feel free to steal for your own personal reference.
1. Set a daily writing goal. Whether thos is based on time writing, number of pieces, type of pieces (a poem vs. a researched article) or even the conscious decision to give yourself a break. Give yourself something to hold yourself accountable to. You may also want to give yourself a time you want to declare your goal by. I’m going to say by 8:30 a.m. I will decide what I want to accomplish for the day.
2. Give yourself a reward system. In the beginning, payment for online writing is a grueling pittance, and it’s easy to throw up your hands and walk away. Having little rewards, a good cup of coffee, permission to play a game, or take a nap can give you something to look forward to when the money and “fame” alone aren’t quite worth it.
3. Get involved in the Site Community. Ask questions in the forums. Befriend the top people on the site, as well as some that don’t do as well. The principle of “I’ll scratch your back, you’ll scratch mine.” Is in play. It may not be written in stone, but it’s implied.
4. Utilize Facebook, Twitter, and other bookmarking sites. Have at least one of those sites be a free for all of sorts where you collect as many “follows” as possible. Mine is Twitter.
5. Look for trends to write about, at least sometimes, but don’t forget to write what you like too. At the moment Google Trends lists “clavicle” at the top of the list. (Mostly relating to Tony Romo breaking his clavicle during the Monday Night Football game.
6. Be original. Don’t just reword whatever story is on the AP (Associated Press). Look for a new angle.
7. Check the news. If you see the same topics coming up frequently, it’s a good idea to learn more about them.
1. Check your earnings or submission acceptance constantly. This will drive you mad. Whether you make ten cents or two cents or nothing in the next hour is not earth shattering news, and while you wait for the page to load you could be doing something important. Set aside a few times a day to check if an editor is asking for revisions, but keep the payment checking to once a day.
2. Panic when things don’t happen as quickly as you like. There is a 99% chance they won’t. The whole addage that patience is a virtue applies in full force here.
3. Give up too easily. If you are a good writer, and know it and can consistently produce quality work the rest will fall in line.