Monday, March 28, 2016

Choose your writing venues wisely

It's more important than you think!

Whether you write for online or print publications, choosing your writing venues wisely simply makes sense. What kind of writer are you? Do you enjoy working at your own pace or following guidance from another? When does your best work happen? What are your goals and interests? Are you character driven, agenda driven or dollar driven? All these factors and more determine the type of writing venue you should be contributing to. Choose your venues carefully to avoid regrets.

Some venues are deceiving.

The general feel of the venue should suit you. However, there is much more to it than that. While you may be a liberal, all liberal sites are not created equal. Some have a more pacifist tone. Others are constantly up in arms. There's nothing worse than starting to write for someone and having to leave abruptly after discovering their sentiments don't match yours as well as you thought.

Don't bash the venue.

Some writers, when leaving a site will bad-mouth it for months. They just can't let their disappointment go. Somehow, it's easier for them to be critical of the business than admit it was simply a bad fit for them.

By doing this, they accomplish nothing but to tarnish their own reputation. Every venue has it's good and bad points. If you find a site that doesn't meet your needs, it's best to leave peacefully. Move on to something that works better for you. Leave your mistakes in the past.

Are you agenda/cause driven?

I don't mean this in a bad way. Many of us have high moral standards. There's nothing wrong with that. Others have causes they promote that don't jive with certain writing venues. For instance, since I'm an animal lover, I wouldn't be writing articles for a hunting magazine. It goes deeper than that, though.

I once wrote for an earth friendly sustainable living magazine. Unfortunately, they occasionally featured articles on raising animals for food, something I oppose as a Vegan. They were also great supporters of the NRA. While I believe in the right to bear arms, I disagree with many of the extreme right ideals the NRA supports.

You can't dig too deep when researching the venues you work for if you want your work to be a reflection of your ideals.

Workaholic multitasking fool or not so much?

Some venues really make you earn your money. Now, don't get me wrong, there are writers that thrive on the maddening hustle and bustle, strict deadlines and constant game plan changes. Others prefer to go at their own pace and create their own topics.

To each his own is what I'm saying here. If you're an adrenaline junkie, go for it. Go balls out for the money with no regard for the amount of work it takes to earn it. If not, relax and write what you love. You might just discover that the money is good on the peaceful side of the fence too.

Suit yourself, not your homies.

Some writers make the mistake of choosing a venue according to the recommendation of colleagues alone. Remember, we all have different needs. Something that works out splendidly for a co-worker, may not be suitable for you. Writing is just like any other job. Choose the right company based on your own needs and interests, not someone else's.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Humble writing reflections on a snowy day

Photo by author. All rights reserved.

Snowy days are perfect for doing major re-writes on old, terribly written and formatted articles. Listening to the wind blow while watching the flakes pile up is somehow very calming. There's no pressure to go anywhere or do much of anything. That fact lends a little more patience to my writing process so that I can deal with all my past mistakes with slightly less frustration.

It's a real eye opener sometimes to see how much improvement you've made since day one of being published. Makes you wonder why they even accepted some of it. Ha! I mean, I really have to dig into some of these. Once I'm done, some of them are barely recognizable as rewrites. That's OK. In fact, it's more than OK. Getting those awful first articles offline and putting up new and improved work is better for my writing reputation.

That being said, I did have some great ideas back then in the land of mental freshness. Just didn't get them across as well as I can now. In fact, sometimes going through my older stuff helps get my writing blood pumping. It's been so long since I wrote some of these articles and posts that I've completely forgotten them.

I also love adding new experience or new slants to my old articles. It really makes them “pop” as they say. Sometimes, if I'm in a particularly peaceful mode, I can get several article ideas from just one old, crappy article. But that's not all.

The funniest thing is, it gets me wondering if, in the future, the ones I write now will seem just as elementary as those oldies but baddies to me. I bet they will. Because, as writers, we never really stop growing, do we?

Anyway, it sure is a relaxing day. Just sitting here waiting out the storm and working on posts long forgotten. Pulling those old relics from the grave and making them new again. Isn't rebirth glorious?

Friday, March 18, 2016

Writing what you don't know

What can you say on a subject you know nothing about?

And there it is. That assignment you've been putting off. You know the one. You know nothing whatever about the subject at hand but it's your job to get it done anyway. Maybe it's a private client. Maybe it's a writing site big dollar offering. Whatever the case, how in the world do you write about something you've never done and know absolutely nothing about? And the answer is, very carefully.

First of all, exactly what does the paying customer want?

If you're writing for a private client, ask for their input. How many words do they want? What type of format best fits their site? Are there any other special instructions? You want to reflect their style and fit into their venue. So, while it may sound biased, it's also important to know how they want the article slanted. I actually wrote an entire ghost op/ed piece once only to have to rewrite it because my opinion differed from that of the client. Oops!

Note: It was actually a fun re-write. I just imagined the guy raging at me to prove his point and it was done in the blink of an eye. Hey, whatever works.

Check out the website the article will appear on.

If this is a private client, their site will tell you a lot about what they want. It will show you what they didn't say. You may even find out that you don't care for their politics or personality. Normally, that's not an issue unless your beliefs clash loudly. In that case, you may decide not to work for them at all. Better to find out now, than later on, when you're in a heated argument over how things should be done.

There's no getting out of the research.

When you write what you know, as the saying goes, the article practically writes itself. You have all that personal experience and previous research to draw on. It's a snap. But when you tackle what you don't know, extensive research is absolutely essential.

Use multiple sources.

Don't be so quick to believe everything you read. Research from a single source may not reveal the big picture. So, read several articles before even typing a word. Don't just rely on one kind of source, either. Watch some videos. Go to the library for a little history lesson on the subject at hand. You know, that big building downtown with all the books? And then....

Talk to someone in the know.

Sure, you read about it online. You watched a couple of informative videos. You even took your happy butt downtown to the good old fashioned library. You have conquered the Dewey decimal system at last! Isn't that enough? Nope. Now, you need advice from someone who's been there. There's nothing like a little personal experience to reveal the facts. Advice from a professional or expert in the field fills in the blanks and rounds out your article.

Now you're ready to write.

Luckily, this part works out the same as any other article. Choose a title. Write an opening paragraph. Create sub-titles for all your major points. Fill in the blanks. Write a closing paragraph. Link to your sources, etc. etc.

Go back and double check everything you've written.

You will be judged on the accuracy of any information you put out there. This will impact the number of future assignment you're given as well as the pay that goes along with them. You can't possibly be too careful. Be sure to double check those reference links and list your sources in case questions come up later. If the client does not want or require links, they can remove them or request that you remove them easily enough. Better safe than sorry, though. They may want to know where you gleaned your information. This way, they don't have to ask.

Now, turn it in like this....

(Client's name): Here is a first draft of the article you requested. Please look it over and note any changes you would like me to make.

By doing this, you allow the client to inform you of any issues without feeling as if they're insulting your work. However, hopefully, since you've been so thorough, there will be no changes and you can get on with your life.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The misunderstood writer: What to do?

It was satire!

As writers we're sometimes misunderstood or misinterpreted. This can lead to hurt feelings and mistaken impressions. In fact, if we don't word things very carefully, we may end up misrepresenting our own thoughts, beliefs and convictions.

I'm sorry to say that I've been responsible for hurting the feelings of a fellow writer in the past. She took a sarcastic blog post that I wrote quite literally. Ironically, I was making the very same point she made in her retaliation post, just in a satirical way. 

And them was fightin' words. 

In all seriousness, though, I was truly sorry that I offended her. Apparently, my satire was so good, she took it to represent my true feelings. Was it flattering that I could be so convincing? Sure. That doesn't mean I should have ignored her ire, though.

What can you do in this situation? Well, I apologized, quite sincerely, several times. I even rewrote the post. You might think this was unnecessary because it wasn't my fault she took my sarcasm literally. I disagree. Why?

Well, because no matter what my intent, I did indeed hurt her and I am sorry for that. My friendships with my fellow writers are very important to me. So, even though she directly insulted me in her retaliation post, I didn't take offense. I might have done the same if I took one of her articles the way she took mine, especially under her current circumstances. Sure, I could have been rude to her, but I think she genuinely thought I was insulting her choices. 

Plus, we were both making the same point. She was on my side. 

So, there you go. If you are a writer who offends someone, even by mistaken impression, try to look at it from the other person's viewpoint. Try to see what they're saying. And above all, be understanding. We all make mistakes. No point in hurting each other in the process.

Isn't it worth a little rewrite to save a friendship?

Making writing dollars from closed sites

Those old articles are writing gold!

In the past, I've written for some very popular venues that made me a lot of money. It really was scary when each of them closed. At first all I could think about was how much monthly page view money I was going to lose. But then, some other things occurred to me.

I was now free to publish those old, released articles wherever I wanted and keep making money. How awesome is that?

Further more, I could take a lot of my old, less worthy articles and turn them into writing gold. Because now I have more experience. I can write better articles now. Or, in this case, turn a bad article into something better.

And all those silly, embarrassing blog posts? Well, some of them were actually quite good, of course. But even if they're not, it's OK. Because the ideas were great, or at least fairly decent. With a little tweaking, they have a great deal of potential. So, even if I don't use one word of those old blogs, I can use the ideas to generate new money.

Plus, here's something else on the same line of thinking. Do you know how hard it is to come up with those article ideas? Sometimes it's the hardest thing about writing for a living. There's so much information out there. It's really difficult to be original. Well, guess what? I now have hundreds, possibly thousands of article ideas to draw on, just sitting there in my queue, waiting to be rewritten.

So, now, when a website I write for shuts down, I don't grieve for long. Instead, I make a profit from it. You can do the same. As long as the website you wrote for is OK with it, those articles are fair rewriting game. It's perfectly legal. They're yours now. So, why not use them to your advantage?

Monday, March 7, 2016

Are there benefits to writing through exhaustion?

Seriously? How can writing while fatigued possibly be productive? It may sound ridiculous, but my writer friends will understand this article slant very well. In order to make money writing, we have to write a lot. Burning the midnight oil is a given. It can be tiring. It can also be very inspiring. Plus, I'm one of those people who looks for the good in everything. So, here's the benefits of writing when you should be sleeping.

Dream-state promotes idea generation

Have you ever drifted off into dreamland while writing? I certainly have and quite often. What's the greatest thing about dream-state? Inspirational, unique thought trains, of course. Now, you may not want to include those purple unicorns in your article. On the other hand, you usually dream about whatever you were thinking about when you went to sleep. At least, I do. It may be a twisted dream and that's OK. It takes you out of your normal way of thinking and often generates new ideas.

More motivation to get it done

When you're tired, you pretty much want one thing. You want to lay your head on your pillow, cover up and say nighty-night. Unfortunately, you have a deadline. When I'm tired, I work faster so I can say hello to my pillow and my comfy bed. This inspiration may not work for everyone. Also, there may be editing to do in the morning. Still, having sleep as a reward makes me more likely to get it done.

Great for outlining

There are times when I'm just too tired to write or sleep. I need something to do. Preferably something that isn't too involved. That's when I write my outlines. Once again, that half dream-state really helps. Most of my articles are of the “how to” variety. That means I need a first paragraph and several tips in the form of subtitles. Drifting into dream state releases my subconscious mind. That allows me to come up with new and original ideas on the subject at hand. Plus, writing outlines isn't so involved that it requires deep thought.

Less stressful

For some reason, we writers find working as night owls less stressful than working during the day. There are fewer distractions from family members, for one thing. Late at night, they're pretty much all entertaining themselves or fast asleep. The housework is done. For those of us with regular jobs, the work-day is over. All we have to do is relax and type away. Being a little tired seems like a small trade off compared to dealing with the hustle and bustle of the day.

Naps bring even more ideas

There are, of course, those times when we give in to the sleep fairy. That's OK. Guess what? We wake up refreshed with a laptop in front of us. What better time is there to dash off a few lines or create a whole new article? Everyone's definitely in bed now. That leaves us alone with our thoughts and a blank page. What more could a writer ask for?

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Beginners Online Article Writing Guide

This post is mainly for the beginning article writer with little or no experience writing online. I decided to write it because when I first started as an online article writer, I had no computer experience and no idea what to expect. I had a vision of sitting at the computer, joyfully tapping away at the keyboard all day, sipping lattes and watching little birdies flit around outside my window. I suspect that may be how many beginning writers envision this career. 
Unfortunately, it's just not that idyllic. There's much more work to online article writing than that. Just like any other career, it's not easy money. You have to work hard and educate yourself to succeed. You also need the proper tools.
Basic supplies - You'll need a good reliable computer and internet connection. Your computer should have a word processing program. If you can't afford one, download one for free. Always write and save your articles on the word program. Copy and paste them into the writing template on the site you're writing for, rather than writing directly in the site template. This way, you have a copy of your work in your word program in case of website problems. You should also periodically save your work in GoogleDocs or on a flash drive in case of computer issues. Some writers do both.

Getting paid -
You 'll need to have a Paypal account to be paid for online article writing. This is the way most online article writers are paid. Some venues will give you an upfront payment for online articles they have a demand for, plus a page view bonus. Some pay only upfront payments. Others pay only for page views. Payments vary depending on the website and the type and quality of your article. As a general rule, private clients pay a lump sum, one time payment based on word count and content quality.

Plagiarism - Plagiarism can and will get you barred from ever writing again on most websites. Think about how you would feel if someone copied or rewrote your articles. Producing original well written, insightful articles will gain you respect in the writing community. Rewriting the work of another will have the opposite result. Be the type of writer others look up to.

Pictures for articles - Online article writing usually involves posting pictures for your articles. Wikimedia Commons is one good website for pictures. Fiickr is another. Or, use your own pictures to accompany your articles. Be sure the pictures you are using are public domain pictures, or that you have been given permission to use them. Pictures can be plagiarized too.

Re-sizing pictures - Occasionally, you may find that a picture loads very slowly or is not accepted by the publishing template. Re-sizing your pictures to site specifications will solve this problem. Online article writers can go to Pixlr to re-size and edit pictures for free with no registration required.

Educate yourself - If you want to be an online article writer, you must constantly educate yourself. Be aware of things like SEO and LSI. These are the main techniques that will help you generate page views and increase your income. There are many more ways to accomplish this. Read at least one educational article in the field of online article writing daily. The internet is constantly changing. Only those who keep up with new trends, regulations and techniques will succeed as online article writers.

Writing for multiple websites - Why is it important to write for multiple websites? The answer is simple. Diversification works for online article writers the same as for other professionals. You'll have a wider range of experience. You'll be able to see what niche your writing fits into. You'll have multiple income streams. You'll become a well rounded online article writer. Plus, if one website shuts down, you'll have a back-up income.

Private Clients - Once you build a good writing reputation and online presence, you may be approached to write for private business websites. If not, you should do everything in your power to market yourself to appeal to them. Why? Well, to put it bluntly, they pay much better than the content sites where you cut your teeth. You can solicit private clients by marketing yourself on your own author site. You can also add a professional writing page to your Facebook account and/or advertise on sites like Craigslist.

The importance of Email - It's essential to keep up with your daily emails. This is where you'll find some offers of work from the sites you write for. You can also direct potential clients from your website to your e-mail through a contact form. Your email can be used to keep in touch with other online article writers. Most websites for online article writing will send you an email message every time one of your articles, or that of another writer you've subscribed to, is published.

Organizing Email It's a good idea to separate your emails into separate folders. Most online writers receive thousands of emails a day. Separating them allows you to process them more quickly. For instance, you might have one folder for each website you work for, a folder for personal email, a folder for PayPal notifications and a folder for other notifications.

Subscribing to other writers - As you build your online writing career, you'll want to subscribe to the work of other online article writing pros. Reading their work can give you valuable information. Reading other peoples articles helps keep ideas flowing as well. Never copy the work or ideas of another online article writer. It is, however, perfectly acceptable to write your own article on a similar subject with a different angle.

Promote yourself  - Self promotion is not merely acceptable in online article writing. It's absolutely necessary. You'll need to sign up for social networking sites such as Facebook, Google+ and Twitter. Post a link to your articles on these sites every time you publish. This is one way other people find your articles and click to read them. This is how you get paid.

Bonus tip: Consider building an author's website featuring your work and fees. You can even do it for free.

Promote others - Don't just promote yourself. Help out other writers in your community by promoting them too. Post their articles on your social networking sites, as well as on your own author site. This isn't just about one hand washing the other. This is about common courtesy and consideration for other online article writers. Be a good online writing citizen.

Social networking - You'll want to make plenty of friends in the online article writing community. You can do this by chatting, playing online games together and discussing your writing experiences. Social networking helps gain exposure for your work. It's fun getting to know other writers and educational too. In fact, you may find yourself getting lost in social networking.

Prioritize - Be careful not to spend your entire day networking. It's easy to do. Remember, you're doing this to make money. The majority of your day should be spent writing, editing and preparing your work for publication. Try to establish a set routine that will guarantee your success. Play games at the end of your writing day, when all your work is finished.

A few vital parting tips and takeaways:

*Keep yourself educated.
*Manage your time well so that the majority of your day is spent writing.
*Give yourself breaks and get adequate exercise.
*Bookmark all the sites you write for and frequently visit for easy access.
*Promote the work of yourself and other online article writers.
*Build a reputation for high quality original and interesting articles.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Beginner tips - Five ways to increase online article writing success

Looking for ways to insure your success as an online article writer? Not sure where to begin? When I first started on this path, I had no idea what I was doing. I could have used some simple, easy to understand tips like this to get me started. I was lucky enough to have someone in the field who could help me. Otherwise, I would have found myself stumbling through technical jargon well beyond my expertise. Here are five ways to insure your online article writing success in an easy to understand format.
1. Fill your queue and your pages.

Fill your queue and pages as full as possible. Write and submit on a daily basis. The more quality articles you have, the more profit you will make. Several other things will also occur when you keep your queue and pages full. Your editors will take you seriously. Search engines will take you seriously. You will build a following.

2. Make outlines this way....

How do online article writers write so many articles a day? The secret is making outlines. Each day at the end of the day, write outlines for your next days' articles. Remember, this is the internet, not a novel. People are looking for short and sweet information on the topic they're searching. Write your headline with their probable search wording in mind. Write applicable sub-headings in bold. List your sources. The next day, fill in the blanks.

3. Educate yourself.

Take the time to read the work of other successful online article writers. Pay close attention to how they write. In particular, read their online article writing advice. You should read at least one article a day on the topic of successful online article writing. Don't forget to network with other writers, just like you would network with your peers at any other job.

4. Follow the rules, all of them.

Online article writing is different than conventional journalism. Some conventional journalists may put down online article writing techniques for their unconventionality. Don't listen to them. You are appealing to a different audience. Therefore, there are different rules you must follow. Some rules may go against everything you've been taught about writing well. Still, if you 're looking to succeed as an online article writer, you must follow the rules, however strange they may sound to you at first.

5. Take time off. Yes, really!

Sitting at a desk all day is stagnating. It's bad for your physical and mental well being. It also gives you nothing to write about. It's bad for your writing! It's essential for writers to make a life for themselves beyond the computer. Get up and moving. Get out and experience things you can bring into your articles. Want to be successful at online article writing? Get a life worth writing about.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Rewriting for the future today

I'm sure that I'm not the only online writer who has had her articles released to her when a website was closed down. Today, I'm busy, going through those articles and rewriting them for other publications. There are literally hundreds of them to sort through. Now, some of them are seasonal articles. That is to say, if I publish them now on another site, they won't be relevant as they were meant to be published in another season. What's a writer to do?

You know, I'm one of those weird writers who like to go through their queue in ABC order. It helps me keep my place. Plus, I just don't feel right skipping over things that need to be done or flitting from article to article with no particular pattern or objective in mind. It doesn't suit me.

So, I just go through the list one at a time, rewriting and publishing as I go.

What do I do when I come to a rewrite article that just isn't timely right now?

Well, I rewrite it anyway. And luckily, the main site I right for, beyond my blogs is Examiner. I say that because they have an interesting submission template that allows me to decide when my article will be published. So, I can get it done and submitted now for publishing in the future. Isn't that great?

You know what else? Say that maybe I have a fall article that I'm rewriting right now. In fact, maybe I have a lot of them. That means that in the fall, even when I don't feel much like writing, my rewrite articles are still being automatically published. I don't have to do a thing. And of course, the same applies to every season.

Isn't that spectacular? I think so.

But wait! What about the seasonal rewrites that aren't going on Examiner? What do I do with them? Well, in that case, I make a folder in my word program. In fact, I have 12 of them, one for each month. They are labeled January ready to publish, February ready to publish, etc. So, at the beginning of each month, I check those folders and get those articles up on relevant sites.

Rewriting for the future really benefits me as a writer with a chronic illness too. It makes it so much easier for me to keep things going when I have bad days or even bad months. I always have those ready to publish or automatically published articles to fall back on.

I highly recommend taking advantage of the option to publish later on Examiner or any other writing site. It can't be beat for those timely articles, whether or not they are rewrites. And if you don't have that option, do try the monthly folder method. It makes a huge productivity difference!