February 4, 2011

Newsy update on Internet writing

Previously In a Writer’s Life, we talked about the option of writing for Internet websites, and some of you have since asked for an update. Is it working for me? Not well. Can it work for you? Possibly.

According to other Internet writers, getting Subscribers, Followers, and Hits usually works best when you hit the news. Testing this premise, I discovered, yes, more traffic comes to a webpage tagged with key words of interest such as those found via Google Trends. This past week or so, for example, I focused on what the Bible has to say about Egypt because I wanted to know more and, therefore, suspected other Bible lovers would be interested too. Apparently they were since my devotional got a few more visitors than usual – not many, mind you, but a few.

A large factor, however, in finding regular Followers has to do with the regular subject about which you regularly write. For example, Internet writers who focus on timely aspects of entertainment, politics, or weather will, most likely, have more Subscribers than those of us who talk about such timeless matters as faith, religion, child care, education, poetry, art, and literature unless, of course, someone acts despicably in one of those areas. In such cases, though, shock value often devalues the norm, making it seem as though every priest is suspect, every foster mother an ogre, and every unusual view in a book only a new form of fuel for the burn pile.

So, no, writing about writing for the Internet has not brought tons of hits. Neither has writing Bible-based devotionals. In fact, if I had not been trained to think it tacky to talk about money, I might tell you that dozens and dozens of website postings brought about forty dollars. That would be more, of course, if I had posted this writing frenzy on sites that pay, say, $10 per article, but then that would be it – the final payment, whereas pay-per-view can bring plenty of hits or plenty of nothing.

As a little aside to help you with your own decision, you may want to know that a high level of productivity often attracts other writers from around the world who then request (sometimes demand!) free critiques of their writings, which, to them, means your “taking a quick look” at a 512-page manuscript. In such instances, quickness comes in saying no, but even that takes some of the time you probably do not have.

If you need to be compensated right away for your work, you might be discouraged by this conversation. If, however, money is not a factor, then consider yourself a Volunteer Writer on subjects you enjoy, and you will have an immediate reward. Also, if you need publishing credits, Internet writing will give you an immediate market that conceivably stretches toward infinity.

Other factors may pull you one way or the other, too, but for many of us, keeping on with this work, work, work may make little sense. An exception can come in establishing a far-reaching goal that you work toward with such tactics as writing a bestseller or, more likely, social networking, commenting on relevant blogs with relevant remarks, and backlinking.

For the latter, thread hotlinks of each URL from one site you write or article you post to another and another and another until you eventually weave your own private Internet system, spinning your words, views, strongly anchored values and beliefs way out there into cyberspace. Do not be surprised, however, to find that, when you stop writing for a company and are honest enough to tell them so, they might deactivate your hotlinks but keep all of your work, work, work.

(c) 2011, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved.
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