Thursday, October 1, 2015

5 Reasons to edit your old content

For the last year or so, I've been editing my old content. I have literally thousands of online articles under my belt. Many of my writer friends have asked why would I put myself through such torment. There are a lot of reasons to go back and edit your old online articles and photos. Here are what I consider the top 5.

1. You have changed your evil ways.

As time goes by, we writers undergo growth, just like anyone else. What we once considered vital information, may no longer reflect our lifestyle. For instance, I am transitioning from vegetarian to vegan. I refer to it as changing my evil ways because a lot of the articles I wrote in the past don't reflect my current views. It's important that a writer maintain a consistent voice, content wide. When past articles cease to reflect current views, it impacts your writing reputation.

2. Times have changed.

A writer bases their facts on currant information. Over time, new research may come out that disproves old theories. Your facts may no longer be factual. Links also have to be updated from time to time. Websites “go out of business.” Site managers delete and edit old content. This means your older articles may have links that lead to nowhere, or to irrelevant pages.

3. You have improved your writing skills.

I certainly have. I strive to improve even further as time marches on. When I first began as an online writer, I was convinced my articles were stellar. I was wrong. Just like with any other job, you learn as you go.

No writer should ever stop learning new skills and gaining new experience. As you improve, it's important to go back and take a look at old content to insure it was written skillfully, according to the knowledge you've acquired on the way.

4. Formatting rules have changed.

Every website follows a different set of formatting guidelines. Not only that, as time passes, editors change their ways too. For instance, a few years back, everyone went from multiple page to single page articles. Spacing requirements change. Heading preferences change. Some sites even change writing styles. Some prefer AP, others have their own formatting rules. It's important to make sure your content is up to date with website requirements.

5. SEO rules have changed.

Those creepy little “spiders” that find your content in a search have changed their minds. They want things done a whole different way now. Remember when keyword stuffing and article “spinning” stopped working for all those spammers? Most legitimate writers never did that in the first place. However, some of us did use a few more keywords than we should. Editing old content is a good way to catch and do away with errors and methods which are unacceptable in the present.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

4 Annoying, alienating habits of writers

Writers can never simply read a book. We edit everything by habit.
We writers are a crazy bunch. We can be endearing. We can write you a thank-you note that will get those happy tears rolling like rain. We can also be quite annoying. The habits and experience that we gain while writing and editing our own content can make those around us completely miserable. Hey, at least we know it. That means we can work on it, right? Meanwhile, though, you'll have to put up with us. Here's some of the things we do to annoy our friends and family.

Predicting movie story lines and plots.

Never watch a movie for the first time at home with a writer. We'll predict nearly every plot twist. We often see them well before they happen. We take pride in knowing what will come about in the (seemingly) most unpredictable of movies, shows or plays. Not only that, it's nearly impossible for us to keep our mouths shut about it. The theater silence vow keeps us quiet. Take your writer to the theater if you want to be surprised by plot lines. Don't do movies at home.

Criticizing contrived story lines.

Writers hate nothing more than an extremely predictable story line. The true surprise element is vitally important to us. You will hear us roar when a story ends in happily ever after. That's because we've not only seen it all, we live and breathe writing structure daily. Unexpected story lines are our life. We know that the surprise element is money in the bank. Yes, even when it comes to writing tip articles, like this one. They absolutely must contain at least a few original ideas or approach a subject from an interesting angle.

Editing everything we read.

It's impossible for a writer to read a thank-you note, a letter from a teacher or any other random document without mentally editing it. We notice every little bitty error in every little thing you write. The very necessary, yet habitual, editing of our own work carries over to include yours. Unfortunately, some writers don't keep the knowledge of your mistakes to themselves either. Surely, you've heard of the grammar police? They're just waiting to pounce on you. Not only that, they feel that everyone should be just like them.

Judging others according to their writing talents.

Writers have a habit of basing their opinions of others on their writing finesse. If someone has bad grammar or can't spell, some writers feel it's an indication of stupidity. On the contrary, not everyone aspires to be a writer. Not only that, but out of those who do, not everyone chooses to get their point across using picture perfect writing style. Some of us prefer the Mark Twain style. We write like we speak, regardless of the rules. Shhh, don't tell the grammar police, but some writers are exceptions to the rules!

Can you make a good income writing online?

I began writing online for a living in 2007. Since then, I've been asked this question many, many times. What is my answer? Well, to tell you the truth, I usually don't answer, because it usually comes out of the blue with no consideration of other factors. And there are far too many factors that determine the success of online writers. If I were to tell you that you will absolutely have monetary success as an online writer without knowing anything about you as a writer, I'd be lying.

So, my answer is often something like, “well, uh...” Then they cut me off by saying, “That's what I thought.” or something of that nature. That leads people to believe online writing is just another scam or hoax. It's not. Can you make a good income writing online? Well, that depends mostly on you.

Do you have a talent for writing?

Well, now, that should be the ultimate question, shouldn't it?

Do people enjoy reading what you've written?
How is your grammar and spelling?
Do you have a way with words?
Can you turn a phrase, make a point and be entertaining?

Most importantly:

Do you have a genuine love of writing?

After all, you're going to be doing a lot of it.

Are you willing to work hard?

As with most jobs, writing success does not happen overnight.

You have to work very hard to succeed.
You have to learn what type of content sells.
You have to know how to get the search engines to love you, etc. etc.
You have to put in many long days and nights educating yourself.

That's a lot of “have to's.” Are you good at “have to's?”

What is the main reason I hesitate when asked about writing online?

Most people who don't do it, look at it as an easy buck. It's not. Writing is just like any other job. You get out of it what you put into it. I don't know what you plan to put into it or how talented you are at it. Therefore, I don't know how successful you will be at it.

Can you tow the line?

Surprise! Even if you'll be a freelance writer, there are still rules to follow. You may not like them. You may be dead set against some of them. However, if you want anyone to accept your content, you have to follow the rules set down by their website. Once again, it's just like any other job. Follow the rules or go play in another ballpark.

Website owners are constantly changing the rules.

To write for them, you have to bend with the winds of change. Why are they always changing? The people who run them are full of new ideas, just like you. You have to face facts. This is their website. They have a perfect right to run it any way they want. If you can't go with the flow, you will be left behind. Not only that, you have to follow the flow enthusiastically and without complaint.

How's your attitude?

Your writing reputation depends on it. You can't flit from one site to another, grimacing all the way. While it's true that you can write anywhere you desire, you may not be welcome if you have a bad attitude. Plus, there's a funny side fact about these websites. They often employ people who work part time at other sites. So, maybe, if you have a bad attitude, your reputation will get there ahead of your application.

Always leave on a good note.

You are writing online. That means that anything and everything you do online will be seen by your former and potential clients. News flash: They spend a lot of time online too, just as you do. It's their job. So, never, ever, ever bash a website you've worked for in a public forum. Better yet, be happy with your life so you won't be tempted to.

Do you work well independently?

Are you committed to doing a good job, whether anyone is watching or not? Can you sit in front of a computer screen, in your own home, on your own time and stay on task for as many hours a day as it takes to get the work done? You may not make any money writing at all if you don't have the discipline it takes to do so.

Other factors for making money with online writing:

It may take years to build up your income.

Do you have the patience and the financial capability to support yourself until that happens?

Note: This is the reason many writers keep their old jobs until the writing starts to pan out.

You may have to learn to write all over again.

Online writing is very different from print writing. You may have many old habits to break.

Note: You might be surprised at how hard this is. If you're stubborn and set in your ways, it can be quite daunting.

Is your family supportive?

If not, you will have to struggle with their negative thinking, lack of respect and comments like, “When are you going to get a real job?”

Do you have a thick skin?

The comments on your articles can be downright brutal, even on non-controversial subjects. Do you have the strength to ignore the naysayers and hold your head high?

On a lighter note:

If you love to write and you're not afraid to put in the work, writing can be a very satisfying and lucrative career.

So, am I saying you will make a good income writing online?

I'm afraid I can't answer that. I can only tell you that I do. Whether you do or not is completely up to you.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Are you a slave to your writing queue?

Don't let that nasty queue get to you!
Got a bunch of great beginnings and potential rewrites clogging up the old queue? Has it become a gloriously mundane task to keep up with them? Feel like you'll never clear your queue? Well, guess what? It just doesn't matter.

Your queue isn't going anywhere.

Right now, it isn't going anywhere because you're not doing anything with it. So what? So what if it never goes anywhere? So what if you never get through it? Will the world end? Will anyone but you know the difference? Then, stop stressing about it. (I know it would take years just to plug through mine, even if that's all I ever wrote.)

Writing can't be forced.

So, work on what you're feeling enthused about. Don't worry about those old articles from that now closed website unless there's one that suits your writing mood. Forget about those great beginnings to stories you'll never finish. Write what you want. Write what inspires you. Or, if you're under a deadline, write what gets you paid. That is, if deadlines work for you.

Personally, I don't do deadlines well.

They slow me down. I write what I want, when I want to write it. I used to be a slave, not only to my writing queue, but to a writing schedule and several demanding clients and websites. Sure, it paid the bills. Sure, it was necessary at the time. Or not.

Now that I ignore my queue....

Now that I write by mood, it's actually much more enjoyable. What else? I have full confidence that in time, it will also be more profitable. That's because, when it comes to writing, my mood shows. When I feel miserable and forced, my writing reflects that. I bet yours does too.

So, tell your queue to hop up on that shelf.

Just let it sit there until it serves your purpose. After all, who's in charge here? You or your queue? That's right. You are under no obligation to clear your queue except for the imaginary obligation you've invented for yourself. You don't have to clear your queue unless you feel like it. There, now doesn't that feel better?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Is Facebook ruining your writing career?

Facebook can be a great writing tool. Or not.
Say what? You thought social networking was good for your writing career? Well, most of the time, you're right. There can, however be times when Facebook does more harm than good. For instance, when you spend too much time there.

You could be writing!

Have you ever seen those “Get to writing!” Facebook memes staring you in the face and felt guilty as all get out? That's because it's true. You really could be writing. You could be making money to pay those bills you just complained about in your status. Not only that....

What exactly are you doing on there?

Certain posts, memes and statuses can really turn your fans off. They can ruin your reputation in the eyes of those who disagree with you. Especially if you're a verbal activist like me. It's OK, though. Just make sure you friend plenty of people who agree with your choices and opinions. For instance....

If all your friends are writers....

The majority of writers are going to love your writing posts. They'll probably click on those that interest them. It's important to network with your fellow writers so you can support each other. Just make sure you friend plenty of people who would find interest in and click on your other posts too, not just the writing posts.

Facebook can be a mood killer.

It's pretty hard to write when you're all fired up about some post or another. Unless, of course, you write commentary. Otherwise, though, you could end up with an angry article that no one likes, simply because it's too toxic.

Writers block courtesy of Facebook.

You might also catch such a bad mood on Facebook that you don't really feel like writing at all. You could lose your train of thought by taking Facebook scrolling breaks. In other words, Facebook can give you a self imposed case of writers block.

Your deadline is looming.

You have an article due today. Or maybe your e-book needs editing so you can get it up and start collecting your pay. There is some urgency to getting it done today. You're stressed. You need a breather. So you click that pretty blue Facebook F on your toolbar. Not so fast! You might get too happy, start playing games and having fun, forget the time and miss a deadline.

Facebook can be a great writing tool.

It can help you promote your content and much more. Plus, we all need a break sometimes. Just don't get carried away. You might find yourself losing your writing career rather than enhancing it.

5 Awesome side jobs for online article writers

Writing opportunities are endless.
So, you write articles for a living? How does that pay? Well, sometimes it's very lucrative. Sometimes it's not. What can you do in between article assignments to make a little extra cash? You can write a little more. You don't have to write articles. Write other things. Use your online skills to generate a little extra cash. Here's a few ideas to get you started.

1. Social media management

Managing Facebook and Twitter accounts for local businesses or fellow writers is a great way to make an extra buck. Some larger companies pay the equivalent of a full time salary for these services. They have a business to run. They don't have time for social networking. You do. It only takes about an hour out of your writing day. It's a win for both of you.

2. Writer website building and maintenance

Surely you have a website for your writing business. Did you build your own website? Many authors haven't a clue how this is done. You have a large writing community network. If not, you should. Advertise writer website building and maintenance on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or wherever else you have a social presence. Once a website is built, it takes just a few minutes a day to maintain it.

3. Blog management

Most savvy business owners have blogs on their websites. Unfortunately, they know a lot about their business, but very little about writing . That's where you come in. They feed you current events and topics related to their business. They tell you some personal stories. You blog about what they're doing. It's ghost writing, personalized.

4. Editing

Have you ever gone to a business website, read their articles and sighed? Why not offer your services to beef up their grammar, formatting or punctuation? You do it every day with your own articles. Every website has a contact form. Use it. Who knows? They may have been waiting for someone like you to help them out.

5. Writing e-newsletters

Some companies put out monthly or bi-monthly newsletters to keep customers interested and informed. Your word program likely has newsletter templates that will allow you to easily format them. Email the finished newsletter to your client. They forward it to their contacts. Charge a per-word fee. It's that simple. Advertise this and other extra services you offer on your writing website and social media pages. You never know until you try!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Scheduling considerations for online writers

There are so many factors to consider when making a writing schedule!
A time schedule while writing online may sound strange or silly to those new to the game. Writing online seems like a very easy going lifestyle to those who aren't in it. Those of us who have been at it for a few years or even a few months know better. There are so many factors to consider when making a writing schedule!

Schedule in plenty of time for family, friends and other activities.
Online writers sometimes have to schedule around friends and family to fit in their writing. Writing online takes a lot of PR work. Promoting your work for increased page views can take up a lot of time all by itself. Don't forget to leave time for your personal life. Sometimes clocking out is just as important as clocking in. What can an online writer do to schedule time to write and still fulfill other obligations?

Leave time to support other online writers.

Read what they have written. Since these people read your articles, it's only fair to read and promote theirs.

Social networking is vital.

Writing online often means being paid per click or page view. It's very important to schedule time to promote articles through social networking. Still, the true value in social networking lies in creating friendships with fellow writers.

Education keeps online writing quality in check.

The online writer must schedule time to learn more about producing articles that are well written and search engine optimized. Quality writing is the only writing that sells. Each day the online writer must schedule time to learn more about their craft. Online writing is just like any business in this respect. Writers must hone their skills if they wish to remain a member of the online writing community in good standing.

Creating your actual writing schedule:

When making up your writing schedule, consider the most important person in your day. It's you! Your writing habits, strengths and weaknesses all determine how you spend your writing day. For instance, I work better in the morning, early in the week, whereas, some of my writer friends work better in the midnight hours or under deadline pressure.

Some other considerations:
  • Where and when do you prefer to write?
  • Where and when are you most productive?
  • Do you work better alone or with plenty of company?
  • Is there a certain activity that invariably distracts you from writing?
Scheduling isn't just about you.

When my partner's home, I'd much rather spend time with him than write. So, I do my work when he's at his job. This has the added bonus of giving us both the same days off so we can spend more time together. Is there anything more annoying than having someone you're trying to spend time with occupied online? I think not. So, when you schedule your writing hours, keep the people who care about you in mind as well.

Overcoming writing obstacles

Your methods can be sand traps.
Writers often complain about common obstacles they encounter in their day. We have a flair for the dramatic. To hear some writers talk, you would think there was no way for them to jump hurdles placed in their path. My Mom always said, “Where there's a will, there's a way.” Didn't yours? How can you make common writing obstacles disappear?
Writers block is time oriented.

Why are we always hearing about writers block? Because it's real. Jump this hurdle with a realization. Time is your best friend when it comes to writers block. To overcome it, you need only wait. While you're waiting for it to pass, instead of letting the frustration get to you, enjoy the rest of your life. There's a big world out there waiting for you to embrace it.

Finding your muse is amusing to me.

Take note that the theory of muses came from Greek mythology. Note the word myth lurking there in the shadows. Can any one person or thing be your only inspiration to write? If you have the idea in your head that you must wait for the perfect inspiration in order to write an article, you won't likely produce many articles. Muses are myths. Treat them as such.

A lack of tools can be a frustrating obstacle.

Thinking outside your parameters when facing imagined barriers can help. What if your internet is down? What if you can't afford a computer right now? People wrote without computers for many centuries before technology gave us this tool. Many great authors worked by candlelight. Write articles with pen and paper until you can get to or purchase a computer. When your tools are ready, you'll have plenty done in advance.

Opinions are just that.

Know when to ignore negative comments on your online articles. Many writers let the opinions of others set them back. Some even give up entirely. While it's important to listen to the experts, it's more important to listen to and be true to yourself. Take opinions for what they are (one person's viewpoint and nothing more).

Your methods can be sand traps.

What's that saying? “If you always do things the same way, you will always get the same results.” Don't get stuck on one method of doing things. Branch out. Learn. Grow. Above all, keep an open mind. Want to be successful? Hang out with successful people. Substitute your worn out methods with their effective ways. Looking to overcome writing obstacles? Be willing to change and grow. Don't get stuck on an obstacle, just because someone tells you it's normal to do so.

Keywords can still be used to your advantage

Key-wording has changed. However, it still works when done right!
Do we really need to use keywords these days? Why? When I first started using certain words for increased page views, my writing was choppy. The keywords were almost an assault on the reader. The way search engines work is changing. It's rumored that soon, key-wording will be obsolete. Until then, here's a few tips that might help your article be found, without keyword stuffing.
Right now, search engine optimization is impossible without inserting some keywords.

At least, until the rules change again. The idea is to get the search engines to pick out your article among thousands with the same subject. As a traditional writer, I was taught not to repeat words. Therefore the creative use of keywords online seemed a compromise in the quality of my writing. Then, I learned there are ways to use keywords that don't annoy the reader.

If one is careful, it is possible to get those keywords in without sounding too repetitive.

Writing with few keywords can become part of the creative writing challenge. Use keywords once in the first paragraph of an article. Keep other paragraphs brief and to the point. Insert keywords scattered through your content. Use them no more than 4 or 5 times, unless needed for better comprehension.

Keywords are not the only way to get the attention of online search engines.

Using words related to the writing topic is another way. For example in this article, which concerns online article writing, I've naturally used the words article, writing, writer, creative, internet, words, and paragraph. This will tell the search engines that online writing is the subject.

Another thing to remember is to use forms of keywords.

Words and keyword are forms of the word keyword. There are also words such as SEO that have become synonymous with keywords. These will all communicate with search engines to help reveal the subject of the Internet article.

I like to use my creative writing talent to find ways to insert keywords smoothly.

I think of it as a challenge. How can we get that keyword in so that it doesn't slam the reader in the face? SEO can be very frustrating, but I'm starting to get used to it.

Key-wording sometimes involves phrases.

Two or more keywords can be used together. Something such as "creative writing" or "keyword SEO" gets immediate notice from search engines. Internet search engines are logical thinkers. They also recognize spam, so if keywords are too high, it does no good for the writer trying to get his work out there.

Keeping up with the changes.

As search engines improve, key-wording will become a thing of the past. Search engines now recognize articles that are too keyword dense as spam. If you're intending to make article writing a career, be sure to keep up with the latest techniques for bringing your article to the top of the search page.

Inspiration for better article writing through life enrichment

Taking time out to peruse the magazine aisle can provide inspiration.
Inspiration for writing can come from many sources. Friends and acquaintances who subscribe to my work often ask where all that inspiration comes from. Honestly, sometimes inspiration just pops out of my head from nowhere. Sometimes the inspiration for articles came from the very people who ask; my friends. Nevertheless, the best writing inspiration usually comes from simply getting a life beyond the computer. Living life to the fullest is the best inspiration for writing.
Friends and acquaintances.

Maintaining a wide circle of friends can be the best source of article inspiration. Having a variety of people as friends can really open the mind to different experiences and knowledge. Writers and other artists tend to be loners. This can limit the scope of articles seriously.

Reading the work of others.

A well read author keeps abreast of new writing trends and subjects. Use other writers for inspiration, not plagiarism. It's alright to be inspired by the work of others. You may even write on the same subject. Just be sure it isn't the same angle or idea.

Browse the magazine aisle at the supermarket or book store.

See what type of subjects article writers are featuring. There's inspiration for article writing in even the gossip mags and tabloids. These type of articles do sell. It may not win a Pulitzer prize but it will earn page views. We all need money to survive.

Read or watch the news every morning.

If there's a story that moves you, this could be the inspiration for a commentary or editorial piece. Go to online news sites as well. See what people are excited about. Try writing an article on the same subject with a new twist. Research the subject and find the history behind it to enrich the article.

Pay attention when social networking

What are people “buzzing” about? What excites them? What makes them angry? Is there something they have questions about? Do you have the answer to those questions? Social network sites like Facebook and Twitter can easily provide you with hundreds of article ideas in a week. In fact, you may get so many ideas that you can't possibly tackle them all. However, on the opposite end of the spectrum is life experience....

Just get out of the house.

Take a short walk. Go window shopping or to the park or another fun venue. Chances are there will be some type of interesting encounter or experience to begin writing about. Sometimes inspiration for an article can come from a product on a shelf. The human mind works in strange ways, who knows what connections to inspiration it will make while walking around town.

Take a day or two off to clear your head.

Article writing is just like any other job. Inspiration has a hard time finding it's way into a burned out brain. Experiencing new things gives much inspiration to article writing. Take the weekend off and go on a road trip. All the new sights and sounds are sure to give inspiration a hand in your next article. Keep those eyes and ears open and write on!