Archive for the ‘Online Writing’ Category

Guest Blogging’s Good For The SEOul

Saturday, January 4th, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-01-04 at 11.35.11 AMI have had a blog post published over at The Writer’s Shack. Guest blogging can be a very positive way of improving your ‘brand’ for various reasons. First of all people you would otherwise not be read by get the chance to learn of your existence. They might click the link you leave in your author-bio box, visit your site and decide they  like what you have to say. That could lead to them buying one of your books, then becoming your biggest fan. You never know.

Guest blogging is good for your SEO (search engine optimisation) and site ranking. These days, ‘black hat’ SEO boosting tricks are pretty much a thing of the past and getting ranked well relies on social influence and relevance of content. Being out there on blogs other than your own says you are considered worth reading by other people and so your rank is increased. When what you post has a lot of views then it adds to the social influence and relevance of the blog and by extension those blogs and sites your post links to.

Guest blogging is also good for you because it is giving something back. Your host gets some great content to add value to their blog and entertain and inform their audience as well as a hike in ranking and relevance. Their audience gets a fresh viewpoint and the chance to discover a new voice. Everyone wins. Of course, like guests everywhere, behave appropriately. Consider your host blog and their audience. Tune your post to suit, there is nothing to be gained in upsetting anyone for no return other than a brief moment of smug contentment that yeah, you showed ‘em! As a writer and a professional, keep the objective in mind and don’t burn bridges. Nothing helps your own brand and ranking like a guest blog except being asked to come back and blog again!

 

Unsubscribe From Distractions

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

I spent an hour this morning unsubscribing myself from nearly two dozen sources of clutter in my Inbox. It is amazing how you can wind up being inundated with emails you simply stop bothering to read, or that take up too much time and give little value in return.

I will now receive far fewer emails and have more time for Facebook… Aaargh! Actually I need to spend more quality time on social media promoting my business and services. Social media is the way to go these days so ignoring it isn’t an option.

 

NaNoWriMo

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

I signed up for NaNoWriMo, or the National Novel Writing Month world wide event that kicks off 1 November. Get a 50,000 word novel written in 30 days. Sure, why not? It will be a bit of motivation. I plan on 2,000 words a day over 25 days with the last five for editing.

The novel is titled ‘Twenty Seven Seventy’ which is the postcode for the area I live in, one of Sydney’s toughest according to some. We have our share of dross, but also some good people and I plan to let the novel demonstrate that through looking at five main characters who are drawn together by a single event that changes all their lives. Lives that are pretty typical of the mix of people we have in this post code.

I haven’t done any fiction writing for a while, too flat out with paying stuff so it’s time to write a bit for myself. I have other projects I could apply to the event but I would rather start fresh on 1 November, and keep in the spirit of things. I’m not sure if you win anything other than being a part of a great literary event around the world and getting a novel written (hopefully).

I’ll keep you apprised and I hope I get some feedback from the organizers. I got nothing at all from that Writer’s Digest writing competition I entered a year ago, not even a sorry you didn’t place email. Paid my money but then heard no more which I think is what happens with most of these competitions. I might hold one of my own and see how much I can make in entry fees! The NaNoWriMo is free, by the way. You gotta love that.

Diploma In eWriting

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

While my other site, ‘The eWriter Project‘ is cleared of hackers and robots, I will post this here for now. I was involved in a thread on LinkedIn Group ‘The Freelance Writer’s Connection’ that devolved into discussing the need for a degree to get some online writing jobs. I am going to develop a qualification for eWriters because there isn’t one I can find so far, to date. Not only that, many experienced and talented writers, without degrees (as I was until 2009) or the wherewithal to get one are missing out on writing work because of this lack of a piece of paper. as highly as I rate my MA(Writing) as an achievement and know it has improved my writing considerably, I was still pretty good before that and made a living from my words nevertheless.

This will be another part of my ongoing mission in life, The eWriter Project. I think I can contribute to writing and writers by helping them use this amazing gift we have, the Internet, to improve their lives and add value to the lives of those who read what they write. I hold the alphabet, language (particularly my own, English language, a true world language) and the ability to communicate in so many ways in the esteem of gifts from the Gods, or God if that is your deity. Knowledge not shared, not put to some practical use, even if this turns out not to be a success, is wasted. I haven’t any time to waste. I will never forget I died in 2009 and came back from the brink and as Louis L’Amour said, we might not know the hour of our going, but we can do something about the way in which we go. And the way we live before that hour.

Finders And Grinders

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Back in the olden days, when electric typewriters had golf balls or daisy wheels and the Wang girl was the only person in the office who knew exactly what a word processor was… we had to work a little harder for our clients. By that, I mean finding them, not actually working for them. That hasn’t changed and if anything, might even be a little more involved as the market is currently flooded with laid off American professionals whose only flaw is their spelling (that’s a little Aussie humour, so smile Yanks, your colleagues in the English writing world feel your pain and our time is yet to come, no doubt).

We have gone global in a big way thanks to the Internet and while it has created many new opportunities, it has slammed a fair few doors well and truly shut also. Print media is feeling the pain and so too the thousands of journalists laid off as news media corporations seek new revenue streams other than print media advertising. All of these educated, experienced and talented professionals now have to compete with the barely literate looking for ‘content’ for their junk web sites. These ‘clients’ jumped on the SEO bandwagon that believed lots of ‘content’ with tons of keywords and backlinks would rank their web sites higher than everyone else, many even used software to ‘spin’ dozens of versions of an original piece to spread the love even wider.

This worked for a while but this year Google sent the Panda after them and slapped the sass out of the SEO world. Now quality content seems to be back on the top of the agenda. The damage, however, has been done. Many writers with English as a second language (L2) were able to fill their rice bowls by writing tons of rubbish for a buck a ton. Writers from India, Pakistan and the Philippines in the main were able to get the work on offer and produce a product acceptable to the clients who were able to beat down the price simply because it is a lot cheaper to live in the third world than the first or the new. Fair enough. But now the online writing employment sources such as Elance and Odesk are flooded with writers willing to write for the cost of a chapatti and the thrill of eating for another day. I don’t blame them. If I were one in a billion competing for space, food, air and everything else I would do whatever I had to do to survive and feed my family. So I am not bashing the L2 writer, or even their clients who expect everyone to write for such low reward. Blame is a waste of emotion and energy let alone time and my time is worth more than the $2-5 an hour they seem to think it is.

So back to the thrust of this post. In the old days, I had a boss called Henry. Henry was a likeable rogue and above all else, a survivor. He once told me (in fact he said it many times) that there are two kinds of people in business. Finders and Grinders. Finders find the work and the Grinders grind it out. Finders make more money than Grinders and they never get dirty but it isn’t as easy as just doing the work. If it were there would be more Finders than Grinders and that is not the case, never was, never will be. He spoke the truth.

If you can find the work, you can find the Grinders to do it. Better to take a share of ten jobs than to grind your way through just one in the same amount of time. To get to that position though you need to be able to find enough work for you to grind and keep your nose above water. So on your way to becoming the Finder of the century in your chosen profession, how do you actually find work? Once again, we go back to the olden days. Back when only cars had mobile phones and whenever we were not in our car we had pagers or beepers.In those days not every telephone in the office had numbers to punch, sometimes you got stuck with the old dial phone and that could wear a finger down if you had more than just a few calls to make. That’s why pencils had those little rubber things you could stick on the end and use to dial the number… oh the good old days!

In those days of yore I had two techniques for finding work. The first required a telephone directory, the Yellow Pages. I would choose a category and then ring everyone, one after the other, and make my pitch. I used a script to begin with to keep things consistent and to keep me on track. The objective was not to get work but to get an appointment. Today, with the Yellow Pages online and the speed and ease of email, too many people use that method but try and rush for the jugular. As everything has sped up many tend to think you have to Find at the same speed when the reality is a lot of clients need to be wooed, courted and given time to get their head around the idea of a cold call having value for them.

In those days people got so many cold calls just getting through to the decision maker was an art in itself. Today they get tons of SPAM and the problem remains, albeit slightly adjusted for the 21st Century. The other method that worked a treat and got me out of the office was to pick an area, either an office tower in the CBD or an industrial area and then work it. You would approach the receptionist and let her know you were looking for clients and ask who would be the person to speak to who could make a buying decision and would they be so kind as to give you their name and number and you would be happy to call back and make an appointment. If you got that far you would then say that since you were here would there be any chance So and So is available for a moment so you could pass on your card and let them put a face to the voice that will be calling them officially in a day or two? I had several variations on this to make it interesting for me and to cover any twists in the plot that might happen while you were in motion.

The bottom line is that it worked. It was slow, laborious and labour intensive, or if I were an American, labor intensive, but effective. Above all else it gave me a chance to see the client’s premises and make first contact with the gate keeper. I always treat everyone with respect but especially those who have some influence in whether I eat or not. I made it my business to be nice without being patronising and to learn their preferred name, use it and involve them in my business. Funny how people move around in any business or industry and over the years I would run into the same gate keepers and the same decision makers from time to time though working for new firms. Now and then I would change industry and revisit them with new services or products and it was an easy start.

You can apply these ideas to your freelance writing business. You don’t have to write for the world, or someone on the other side of it, just because you can. Why not reach out to the local business community and see how you can add value to them. Put your face in front of theirs and give them what nobody else can, especially not over the internet; your personal attention. People buy based on emotion and relationships and the internet has alienated us from our clients in a big way. It might seem more efficient but in the long run it is not conducive to building a relationship that will last. It is easier to drop a faceless contractor you have never met in person than one you have and when the crunch comes, you need every advantage you can lever to stay in business. Remember two things:

1. There are Finders and there are Grinders and if you can’t Find for yourself let alone others, you can’t Grind.

2. This is it, your life. It is not a dry run or dress rehearsal, this is the real deal and you only get the one crack at it.

Online Writing Online

Monday, September 26th, 2011

My distance education version of ‘Eat Your Words – How To Make A Living As An On line Writer’ has its first enrollee. The course will commence with Term 4 on the 10th October which will give me time next week to finalise the lectures and other materials for that course and get it rolling. I am keen to get the course up and running as it is only once you have run it at least once that you learn where the holes are and  what needs fixing. I hope to give the student as good an experience and course on line as they would receive were they to attend the face to face version .

Distance learning, eLearning or whatever you wish to call it is here to stay and it is the way of the future. I was considering moving to a small country village like Collie or Culcairn the other day and took comfort in the fact that, so long as I can get online from wherever I might be, I can make a living and help other eWriters, too.

You Know You Are Making It When…

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

You know you are making it when they start to help you promote your books. In this case one I am the publisher/editor of, not the writer.  Lulu.com, my printer of choice, just sent me a coupon to promote the third in the Hilda Hopkins Machine Knitting Serial Killer series, saving 15% off the cover price! This is a great book with the infamous Hilda jumping from a train to escape the Law and landing on her feet once again, this time as maid to a Mistress of BDSM! The mind boggles yet the book is very much a PG rated volume any parent would comfortably give their teen to read.

The first in the series, ‘Hilda Hopkins, Murder She Knit’ and the second, ‘Hilda Hopkins, Bed & Burial’ are ripping yarns in the traditional English detective/murder mystery genre but with a twist. That twist is put there by the machine knitted garrotte used by Hilda once she puts her victims to sleep with a nice cup of tea… laced with a little something special, of course. She always knits an effigy of her victims, so they can be remembered of course.

I am editing #4, ‘Hilda Hopkins, M.I. Knits’ at the moment. This time Hilda answers her country’s call and becomes a secret agent assassin, shopping trolley and all, for Her Majesty’s Government. Who knows what she will get up to in #5, not even Vivienne Fagan, the writer. Vivienne has an inside line on the secret agent gig as she was in military intelligence and then worked for the ‘Home Office’ herself for 30 years but she won’t say more than that. She could, but then she’d have to get Hilda to serve you tea…

Buy a copy and enjoy, and get the other titles while you are at it! Before they become super valuable first editions of the next Agatha Christie-J.K. Rowling. To use the coupon click on the link Hilda Hopkins Machine Knitting Serial Killer and insert AUGUST306 into the panel marked Discount Coupon Code when you hit the checkout. Offer ends September 15, 2011.

Places That Pay You To Write

Friday, August 12th, 2011

On my other website, the eWriter Project, I have a page with a list of 28 places where you can find paying work as an online writer. I have also linked a blog post there to a list of 40+ writing sites that also pay and none of these include places where you have to bid for the job or just leave articles there and hope someone comes along and buys them. That list has been vetted and checked by the writer who compiled it, Julie Scott and she asks just $2 for her hard work. I have bought two copies of the list so far and sent one to a friend who has recently found himself, like too many American writers, out of full time work.

I could have sent him a copy of my copy but that, to my mind, would be unfair and cheating Julie of her fair reward. $2 is not much but it will add up as more and more of us get the list and use it to make a lot more than two bucks. I also see it as a way of acknowledging her initiative in compiling the list. Well done Julie. She could have asked $9.99 but at $2 I think it is a fair reward for the work and a price even someone who is unemployed and broke should be able to hunt up.

For those too hard up to even scrape two bucks together, check out the list of 28 sites on my other blog, some of which are on Julie’s list. Good luck.

Tom Clancy And Perry Gamsby’s Latest Best Seller Out Soon!

Friday, August 12th, 2011

OK, I am lying through my teeth here but I wanted to get your attention. I have just returned from perusing my local bookstore and once again I noted how so many books released of late are co-written. Tom Clancy has three other writers, so too Clive Cussler and James Patterson. Eric Van Lustbader is writing under the Robert Ludlum name with a Bourne sequel (call me a cynic but I expect to see it in the cinema soon). So many writers, big names, have ‘and Bob Nobody’ in much, much smaller font on the cover.

I know it is because the big name sells books and the big name is now so well off he or she no longer A) needs to work so hard and B) the publisher needs to make money. They get to pump out inventory that they are pretty sure will sell purely because of the BIG NAME on the cover. Few will notice the little name, or care. The style will be similar to the BIG NAME’s original and at best all they will have done is proof read and make a few suggestions. Given how meddlesome some editors are, completely revising the original manuscript at times, I would not be surprised if the true story was ‘little name and BIG NAME’s regular editor with BIG NAME simply agreeing to have his name on cover and take a cut.

OK, we know it is a business, we know it is all about selling paper but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. Although, I am the first to confess that were I offered a crack at being a little name next to a BIG NAME, I would not knock it back. I am a freelance writer, a literary mercenary. I write for money just like BIG NAME does.

How To Write An eBook In 20 Hours

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

Over on my Online Writing web site I have posted an article about writing eBooks and how it can be done consistently to ‘code’ in just 20 hours for a reasonably sized 12,000 word eBook. This is not the next great American novel, nor is it supposed to be the definitive text for anything. It is a researched, 100% original information product. Basically I allocate 5 hours to research and 15 hours for writing, editing and formatting with an hour or so in there for planning. The web brings everything one needs to know right to one’s fingertips and speeds up the process considerably. This is not a peer reviewed PhD thesis being written but it does require good habits and procedures to keep it legal, legible and legitimate enough to pay good money for.

The reason I wrote this article and divulged some of my many secrets to the world is that apart from not being able to handle all the eBook writing business out there anyway, I feel there is a genuine need for writers to be able to make a living online. The internet has opened up writing as a vocation for many of us yet at the same time it has sealed the fates of many writers who for decades earned their daily bread writing for print media. Media now closed down due to shifting reading habits and revenue streams, most particularly in the USA. Content mills churning out articles do pay for words albeit very little but even they are culling the herd and may be doing this because they are finding it harder to find paying customers. So much free content is offered by people just keen to be published but that is not the big issue.

ESL, or English as a Second Language writers in India, Pakistan, Africa and the Philippines in particular live in economies where $100 a week is a good income and more likely to be a monthly salary. So they can write 150-200 word articles for SEO programs, pumping them out to SPLOGs and blogs just to drive web site rankings and search results for $1 a throw. They can write four an hour and make more than a teacher does in their country. We in the west can’t compete and neither should we. The standard of these ‘articles’ is pretty poor with bad grammar and nonsensical gibberish too often the result. Finding better paying writing work on the other hand requires specialisation and effort. Too many freelance writers fail to spend as much time looking for work as doing it. They work out their rates based on how much they need per hour if every hour of the week they were producing words. Yet they should have an hourly rate that covers the time it takes to find that work and most don’t do this. When asked why, those who even know of this concept cite the market not paying anywhere near what they would have to charge. So either play the game their way or find a new game. I found a new game.

If you can write a 100% original information product, it doesn’t have to be the most in-depth account of the topic available online. It just has to be value for money if a price is placed on it or worth the effort if used as a value added incentive to get someone to opt in to a mailing list. You can also use it as a product around which you build a web site, then ‘flip’ the site and make money on the difference between what it cost to build the site and what you sold it for. If you can write there are plenty of people who can’t and they will pay for your content. You just need to find the right people for the content you have. Remember what I said above. Spend as much time working int he business finding work as working for the business grinding it. It is valuable time but too many of us think we are wasting writing time or doing stuff nobody is paying for. They are paying for your time, somewhere along the track but not in a dollar for minute exchange. You need to think differently or else you are stuck wondering why you can’t even compete for one cent a word articles with people who can’t get their articles, definite and indefinite, in the right order.