Saturday, March 26, 2011

Does Publishing Often Increase Overall Page Views or Ad Revenue?

Many online writers will tell you that the secret to success on nearly writing site is to publish often--but I've always been a bit leery of this advice. I have always assumed that producing one or two quality pieces a week outweighs publishing quick easy pieces everyday. I've decided to put it a test.

Some of you may be aware that I also write for Yahoo! Contributor Network, formerly Associated Content. I've done well there, but I wouldn't exactly call it a great success story. It's fun and I get to write whatever I want and make a few dollars in the process. My real earnings from my writing come from other sources.

As part of their featured contributor program there, I published in both gardening and education and averaged 8 or 10 articles a month. Sometimes they were successful and sometimes they weren't.

A series of events, namely having written many lists for List My Five that have failed to take off and bring in any sort of real money, started me thinking about my options. I decided that instead of allowing my efforts to go unrewarded I would use those lists as a outline for a more in-depth articles and publish them on Yahoo! Contributor Network.

Not only would I be putting my work to good use, it would give me the opportunity to test the theory that publishing often brings in more overall readers than just those who visit the newly published article.

Its too soon to tell how this will impact my overall page views at Yahoo! Contributor Network. I can say that shortly after I decided to publish often, an old article got linked to another site and I've seen a dramatic increase in page views. It is likely a coincidence as the article is seasonal, but I'll hold out on forming an opinion for a while.

If you are interested in the results of this test, check back often. I'll try to update my progress once a week.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Should Online Writers Follow the Page Views or Follow Their Heart?

Many online writers begin with hopes of making it big, but their dreams are soon dashed by a lack of page views or making mere pennies for their efforts. The reaction of new writers typically falls into two groups. Those who give up and those who give in. I was one of those who gave in. 

Now, you may wonder exactly what I mean by that.  It's simple really, I choose the path of chasing page views and doing everything I could to draw readers to my articles. I did my research, watched what other writers did and learned a thing or two about SEO and keywords.

I started making more revenue from my writing and my page views increased and that was good enough for me--for a while.

But,  I soon found myself writing about topics that really didn't interest me, or at least topics that didn't fuel my passion. I was making money online with my writing, but something was missing. That elusive thing that compelled me to write in the first place was gone.

I knew I had to make some changes, but I wasn't sure how. It was then that I noticed that some of my most successful articles were those that I wrote on a whim. They weren't those that took the most research, they weren't the best SEO'd, they weren't even the most popular topics. They were those that brought out my passion for the topic.

I'm not going to lie to you. I still do my research and I still strive to write about topics that will be highly searched and I still use high paying keywords when I'm writing for revenue share. It does, after all, make sense. But, I also write some articles on a whim about things I am passionate about. Sometimes they are very successful at bringing in readers and earning the proverbial dollar, sometimes they aren't. But, they allow me the pleasure of writing about things that are important to me--and that brings me personal success as a writer.

I'm not suggesting that you throw caution to the wind and ignore SEO by just writing anything that comes to mind. SEO is important to being found on the Internet. Keywords and search volume is important. What I'm suggesting is that you lighten up a bit and step outside the prescribed method of writing successfully for a online audience and enjoy the process of writing.

These are some of the ways I have discovered to do that.
  • Start a Blog ~Although monetizing your blog is an option, not everyone chooses that route. One of my favorites is not monetized. I find it keeps me focused on the content of the blog and allows me to share my passion without concerns about page views and keywords. 
  • Write About Your Interests~ Writing about topics you know will be popular is fine, but mix it up a bit with topics you find interesting. You may be surprised to discover a niche that you never guessed would be popular. Even if you don't, you'll enjoy the satisfaction of knowing you are writing with passion.
  • Take Risks~ The truth is, to a great degree, we never know what will be popular with readers. Get in the habit of taking a risk with some of your work. The worst that can happen is that no one reads it.
  • Have Fun~I'm a firm believer that writing should be fun. When we lose that playful quality, we lose a little of our self  as a writer. Choose fun topics to keep your writer's spirit alive.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Should New Online Writers Settle for Low Pay?

Many new writers make the mistake of accepting a dollar or two for their work thinking that at least they are making something for their effort and are often encouraged to do so by other writers. I disagree. The price you are willing to accept for your writing services now determines your long range success in several ways.

  • Psychological Impact
What you accept for a fee for your online writing effects your perception of your worth. If you begin with the idea that you aren't good enough to earn more, your self-concept will happily oblige. The messages you send yourself about your writing skills, your ability and your worth as a writer determine your success. You subconscious mind has the marvelous ability to accept whatever you tell it is true, by sending it the message that you are only worth a dollar or two, you create  a vision of your success as a writer. For more insight into the effect your thinking has on your success in life, visit my blog In the Directions of Dreams.

  • No Incentive to Improve Your Writing Skills
When you accept low paying gigs, you are typically competing with writers who lack the skill and sophistication to move on to more challenging work. When you compare yourself to them, you may begin to believe that your writing skills are advanced. This lulls you into thinking that you do not need to work on improving your craft and halts your growth as a writer. Without growth, your success as an online writer is questionable.

  • The Writing Market
Let' face it. There are many out there who lack the skills or commitment to write their own web copy and they want you to do it for them for nothing . Your hard work makes money for them. They may pretend it is all they can afford -- but they are really laughing all the way to the bank. These people take advantage of new writers who have no concept of their worth. The overall effect is lower rates for all writers because there is always someone willing to do it for a minimal fee.

So What's the Alternative?

You are probably thinking that you don't have any alternatives. That without experience and references you won't be able to earn more than a dollar or two from your writing. If you are like some writers, you may even develop the attitude that $2 is more than you had yesterday so it's worth the taking the low pay and working your way up. There is some value in that, but the truth is--many writers don't work their way up. They get stuck in the same place making the same wage because they have convinced themselves its all they deserve, or because they fail to develop the skills necessary to grow as writer. Don't let that happen to you.

Two simple alternatives come to mind. 
  1. Start a blog about something you are passionate about. You can certainly monetize the blog with Adsense or another ad program and probably make more than a dollar or two on your posts -- but at this point the money isn't the big issue. Gaining writing experience is. 
  2. Write for revenue share. When you write for revenue share, you retain all rights to your work and are typically free to remove it if you wish. This keeps you in control of what and when you publish and allows you to edit your work as you gain experience.You will likely make more than a dollar or two for your work over time without giving up your rights to the work.
We'll talk further about setting your rates as a freelance or online writer in the next post -- but for now, concentrate on gaining experience and avoid being taken advantage of. You are a writer for a reason. Don't compromise your career as writer by accepting the first gig that comes along.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Do Links to Quality References Improve Google Ranking?

Many online writers hesitate to reference their sources for fear that it gives the impression they relied too heavily on the ideas of some one else--but they've got references all wrong. Providing quality references to your work builds your credibility as writer and gives the reader further information. However, that's not all it does. Linking your work to credible sources in the reference section or in the text of your article provides Google with a path to follow.

When Google follows the path to a reputable site and discovers that the information on the site is similar to yours, you get a the perk of being associated with the site. It's not quite as powerful as getting backlinks from the site itself, but many insist that it  boosts the value of your work. Vaughn's Summaries notes this practice in his chart of actions that effect the SEO of your site or article, but do keep in mind that the chart was developed before the new Google Algorithm was implemented.

Although there are some that will argue that the quality of your outgoing links has no positive effect on the ranking of your blog--while poor quality is likely to hurt you--the absence of those links appears to be a determining factor in the new algorithm.

Google repeatedly announced its intentions to penalize content farms, yet its new algorithm came as a blow to many writing communities.To the surprise of many, Demand Medias' eHow did not suffer the negative impact of Google's Farmer Update and them asking why. The answer may be more obvious than you think. Demand Media requires links to quality references with a preference for edu and gov sites.

As online writers, we would do well to follow suit providing quality links to our work whenever possible--not only do we provide the reader with further information we just may gain favor with Google, as well.

*Finding reputable references is quick and easy with