I have to own up to something; there are times when feel like I’m one of the biggest prima donna’s in the world. I don’t mean an opera singer (or necessarily any Italian or singer for that manner, but it was the first definition in the dictionary) that has to be the center of it all. I actually don’t even mean having to be the center of it all. I mean the second definition from Merriam-Webster: “a vain or undisciplined person who finds it difficult to work under direction or as part of a team“. That’s a shame, but also a necessity; let’s talk about it.
I got this!
Most of you know I do a lot of writing. Writing is basically a solo occupation, whether you’re writing for yourself or someone else. Unless you’re a script writer of some kind it’s just you and your resources; that’s pretty much it. Continue reading Are You Sometimes A Prima Donna?→
A couple of weeks ago I thought about trying to write for one of those sites that accumulates posts on a lot of different topics; nope, I’m not even going to tell you the name of the site because I don’t want to even give them the hint of new writers they can take advantage of. Anyway, that’s not quite how they had advertised themselves. What I saw was them looking for someone who could write on specific topics that I know pretty well. Once I went to look I saw that’s not what it was at all. Still, I thought I might be interested in giving it a shot to make a little extra chunk of change.
That is, until I looked at the requirements for the site. In essence, it was formulaic, not unlike years ago when I was trying to write for Demand Studios. In essence, they wanted all this stuff instead of just an article, and they wanted at least 1,500 words for the honor; ouch!
What kinds of things did they want? Well, in general, for some folks it might not seem like all that much of a big deal. However, for me it was, and I decided that they didn’t just want articles, they wanted a lot of extra stuff that, for what they were going to pay, it just wasn’t worth the effort.
Is it worth the effort on your blog posts? For me, rarely. For you… let’s look at some of these things to see.
They wanted multiple subtitles in the article, at least 3. Here’s the thing, at least from my perspective. Unless one is writing a list post of some type, like this one, or a monster post, you’re not always going to come up with at least 3 subtitles. Goodness, some of my articles don’t have a subtitle at all. Sure, I know newspapers do it all the time but how many of us want to write like we’re reporters?
2. H tags. For those who aren’t familiar with this, H tags are code you use before specific sentences that tell search engines what you’re supposed to be writing about. In essence, they look at what’s in the H tags and then match it up with your content; that’s the easy version of it all.
You can have H1, H2, H3 and, if you’re feeling really happy about things, H4 tags. You can even have multiples of each of these tags in your article. Frankly, that gets a bit goofy and, in my opinion, it can look like you’re trying to game Google.
Here’s the thing. Most articles use H1 tags for the title. That’s because that particular tag changes the size of your font. You can use other code to reduce it but if you’re using it for your title then you’re good. On WordPress blogs, the software automatically adds H1 tags so you don’t have to bother with it, although some people like doing it twice; ugh.
In any case it’s not really natural to writing, and if you don’t know coding all that well you could royally mess things up. You’d probably use H2 – H4 tags for your subtitles. Still, it’s another element that’s not really part of writing, which makes the process bothersome.
This one is interesting. We all know (lots of folks, including me, have written about this) that images can help enhance a page. For these people, because they wanted the articles long enough, they wanted you to find at least 3 images for each post, and you had to make sure they were allowed to be used. No problem in doing that except that it’s always hard finding the proper images to use when you’re doing something for someone else.
For instance, on my blogs, if I use my own images people just have to deal with figuring out how, or if, the image fits what I’m writing about. For these folks, they want it spelled out in a way that shows the image is related; that’s time consuming and, once again, not really part of anyone’s writing style. If you know how to create images and such maybe you’re ahead of the game; I’m not close to being that creative.
4. Authority links.
These folks requested at least 3 links that could support what you’ve written about. There’s two problems with doing something like this.
One, they want links from sites ranked pretty well. How many people know how to find links that are ranked well? Actually, it’s not overly difficult to determine link strength because when you do a search on Google they put things in order based on your search terms, thus they’ve determined the high links for you. The problem is that just because a link ranked high doesn’t mean what’s behind the link contains what you need. Thus, you might have to look through a bunch of links to find what you need to confirm what you wrote.
Two, what happens if you happen to be an authority on the topic you’re writing about? In that case you probably never considered looking for links because you knew what you were talking about. Now you’re in unfamiliar territory, looking for something that validates your knowledge.
What if it doesn’t exist? That’s what I ran into years ago with Demand Studios; I was writing on health care finance stuff, one of my specialties, and none of the confirming information was online because insurance companies like Medicare didn’t put that stuff online. The only way you’d know it is if you were in the industry. Ugh!
Now… you decide to try to do all that and you’re successful and submit the article. Now you have to go through a waiting process while someone goes through to see if you’ve done everything right, and of course checks your article out for typos and language and all that other stuff. If they turn you down you have to fix whatever they don’t like… with the caveat that since that happened you can still submit your articles but you have to wait at least six months before you can apply to get paid for it.
If they approve you… you’ve just earned $20. Yup, that’s right, $20.
Let’s look at this more thoroughly. Luckily, I tend to write pretty quickly if I know what I want to write about. So, let’s say that it takes me even 10 minutes to write an article, which this one is probably taking me. To find 3 images their way might take me 15 minutes. To find links might take me 30 minutes. I know the coding part of subtitles but I’d have to figure out where to put subtitles, which means I’d have to be prepared to rewrite some of my copy to match up with them.
This would mean that, if I got paid, I was earning, if I’m lucky, about $12 or $13 an hour. Since this type of writing isn’t the kind where you could possibly pound out 5 articles a day, and since those articles would take time to put together, you end up basically having to work at least 12 or 13 hours a day.
How do you get there? Because writing isn’t just “writing”. You have to come up with an idea, maybe do some research (after all, even if we know our topics we don’t know it all…), rest, eat… rinse and repeat. All that and you could be turned down; ouch!
So, that’s writing for others. What if you’re writing for yourself? I’ve been reading a lot of articles lately by people saying we all should be trying to write these mega posts. Many of those articles are recommending some of the same stuff I mentioned above, only they’re looking for articles of at least 3,000 words; ooooo, I’m dyin’! lol
How many of you feel like you have that kind of time all the time? I mean, writing can be hard enough for some of you; are you willing to go through all that other stuff? Well, maybe if you’re writing only one article a week and don’t have anything else to do, and you’re actually making a living off your blogging it’s possible.
But in general… oy!
Maybe I’m crazy so I’ll ask you your thoughts on all of this. Meanwhile, I’d like to share this little video I did where, believe it or not, I compare Kool Aid to long posts. I know you’re gonna want to see this. 🙂
Three weeks ago I wrote a quick post here giving 10 blog tips that could be read in 2 minutes or less. Seems that was the 3rd most popular post written in the last 30 days; figures right? I figured that I write about more than blogging around here, and that I’d take a shot and see if I could do the same type of thing regarding writing. Embrace your writing like the kid in the picture has. lol Anyway, let’s see if it can be done (of course it can be done):
1. When the mood hits you, write as much as you can. You can always edit, and you might end up with more than one post or article.
2. Watch your nouns and adverbs. Some are okay, but go overboard and you risk the power of your message.
3. Spell check is your friend; use it.
4. Punctuation is your other friend; don’t forget about semicolons.
5. If you believe you can’t think of anything to write think about your last 6 waking hours. There’s always a tale somewhere in there.
6. Write in your own voice. If you try to sound too smart or too perfect your message will come across very stale.
7. When you’ve finished writing, if you need to read it out loud to yourself; mistakes tend to stand out better that way.
8. Long posts are fine but don’t keep repeating the same message over and over. If you said it once, leave it be and move on.
9. Never forget to give attribution to your inspiration, otherwise someone might think you’ve plagiarized them.
10. Don’t over-think. Write the best way you know how, feel your words, and others will feel them as well.
As most of you know, I’ve been talking more lately about writing for others. Indeed, I have been making money writing articles, and I have some blogging clients also.
The thing is, there are two problems with my model. One, I’m not generating the kind of money I thought I’d be generating; two, some of the things I’ve been asked to write about have been, well, kind of impossible for me to write on.
That’s hard to admit to because when I first announced I would do writing services, I assumed there wouldn’t be a topic I couldn’t write on. What I hadn’t thought about was if there’s no information to research on, then I’m stuck. And trust me, not everything is on the internet, it would seem.
So, this weekend, I went to the Digital Point forum to ask a general question about how much research people do on topics that seem impossible to write on, especially when asked about specific keywords and the like. I got some responses, and they seemed, well, a little harsh. Still, I decided to write two of the people private messages to explain to them what I was talking about and what I was getting paid.
Both of them enlightened me. They both said that I’m basically giving my writing away; I was stunned. I did know I was underpaid, but I hadn’t realized by how much I’ve been underpaid. If I were getting paid the rates that I should, research time becomes affordable, and easier because people aren’t asking for stupid stuff.
It was something I needed to hear, and sometimes something we all need to hear. With my main business, or what up to now has been my main business, I knew how to price my services because I understood just how exclusive they were. With writing, I thought I had to compete with the low ball folks and scratch out my living by trying to write so many articles that my mind goes nuts. Nope; turns out that, based on what some of these folks have been doing, and are recommending to me, I could actually make a very good living writing as few as 10 articles a week.
Wow; that would be great! I could still write my blogs, still have blogging clients because I enjoy that, but I could drop all the low dollar writing gigs and concentrate on other stuff all around. Man, life would be sweet doing that.
I share this with y’all because most of us go along doing things that we think is the right way to do it, only to learn that someone else is doing it easier than we are, and succeeding. This doesn’t mean I’m giving up on my affiliate marketing either; I have plans for doing more of that, as well as plans for adding at least two new blogs into my repertoire. It does mean, though, that I’m ready to embrace a new mind shift towards bigger and better things.
A few posts ago, I wrote about Lynn Terry and some of her tips on making money online. Well, a month ago, I had the opportunity to participate in one of her weekly marketing sessions, and I got to ask her a couple of questions during that time.
The first question was what she thought about writing articles to put on article marketing sites. The second question was what how she felt in advertising products that one hasn’t really used. She gave me some interesting answers, and I’d like to talk about those answers.
On the first question, she answered that she thought writing articles and posting them at article marketing sites was a great idea. She felt that the traffic one could get from one of those sites could be important traffic; that you’d get links from those sites; and, if someone else decided to pick up one of your articles for repost, with the caveat that they give you attribution, your articles have a chance to give you a lot of publicity in other ways, possibly driving traffic to your site.
I’ve given this one a lot of thought, and though I don’t disagree with her assessment on the topic, I decided that I would check my own statistics on this one. I couldn’t do it for this blog, though, so I did it for my business website. For that site, I have about 20 articles posted in various places, but on two specific sites I’ve got maybe 16 articles posted. Maybe it takes more than that, but hey, it’s a sample. What I see doesn’t give me much encouragement to post any articles to any of these sites. Checking Google Analytics over a 60 day period, my site shows that I haven’t driven a single person to my site via any of these sites. And, before anyone asks, yes, one of those sites is Ezine Articles. Now, some of those articles have been picked up and are in other places on the web (it’s amazing where you’ll find your stuff on the internet), and I’ve verified that none of those places has driven any traffic to my site in the last 60 days either. Now, I’m not going to claim that this is overly scientific, but it’s not quite a catalyst in making me think that article marketing is going to help me much. I’m not saying not to do it; I’m just saying I don’t see it working for me.
On the second question, she said that one doesn’t have to use everything that they market, but that it helps with credibility if you’re writing about products that you’ve at least used some of them or have tested some of them, or that you know something about the people you’re pushing at least some of the time. On this one, I wholeheartedly agree. Building credibility is a big deal; as a matter of fact, my new friend Dennis Edell of Direct Web Sales Marketing also just addressed this issue ((though Dennis won’t believe this, I hadn’t read the article until just now, but I’d seen that he had written an article on it via CommentLuv). And, since he’s linking to another article, it’s obviously a subject many people are thinking about, and works well with my post on sales, to a degree.
I decided to take a look back at some of my posts, things I’ve recommended, items I have on my sidebars, to see how balanced I’ve been. When I first started this blog, I wrote posts on affiliate ads that I was marketing via Commission Junction, which shares most of the bottom ads I put on this blog with the Google Affiliate Network. I talked about Ultra Diamonds with “CJ”, but I’ve never bought a product from them. I also talked about and posted links to the Harry Potter series of books and movies, which I have read and seen all the movies for. Not quite balanced, but it was the first month.
As time has gone by, I’ve gotten more into talking about things I’ve given some type of thought to, and have fully participated in them. The last five products I’ve endorsed, not including the latest, Startup Rebel, which I just started looking at a day or so ago, are eHealth Insurance, Tweet My Blog, Recover My Data, Error Doctor, and FreeCreditReport.com, I’ve used or still use four of those, with the only one I don’t use being eHealth Insurance, but since that was more about an opinion on why people should have health insurance if they don’t, I don’t count that one against me.
And, as a further extension, with the ads I have on the side, which I’m not going to list here again, not including the Text Link Ads (which I may still remove at the end of the month), I’ve used or read every link that’s over there (at the top, since, by this time, we’ve gone down the list a little bit), especially the book I wrote, Embrace The Lead (run over and buy that one now! :-)), and of course Joel’s book, which has helped my website and Adsense revenue jump almost 400%.
As for the individual ads I put at the end of each post, I’m not going to claim that I’ve used or purchased most of them, because it wouldn’t be true. I have visited every website that I put up, though, just to see what it’s like, something I like to do before I decide to market them unless I’m already familiar with the product or company. And, of course, everyone’s familiar with Adsense. Goodness, as I’ve gone back through some pages of my blog to research this post, I realize I haven’t really spent a lot of time marketing as much as reviewing things and giving my opinion; that’s somewhat enlightening to me, so I’ve learned something about myself writing this post.
Anyway, I believe I’ve shown some balance in my recommendations of products through my blog, actually leaning more towards someone who has used, or at least tried, many of the things I talk about. Now, does that boost my credibility? I think so, but only you, the reader, can tell me so for sure. I feel fairly secure in what I’ve written about on this blog, and how I write this blog as honestly as possible, and in my own way addressed the issue I’ve been discussing with another online friend Rich regarding a post he directed me to regarding his belief that if one accepted ads on their site that it would make them less likely to speak their minds honestly. He may be right in general; at least, in my mind, he’s not right as it pertains to me. By the way, he writes some pretty good and heady stuff, so check him out.
So, there you go. How credible am I to you? Trust me, I care. How credible are you to your readers? I hope that, many decades down the line, that I remember how I felt when writing this post, and how I felt while writing this blog. Can one be too old to dream? I hope not, but if so, well, then take this little bitty video with you on that subject (y’all do remember that I’ve said before how much I love the Muppets, right?):