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5 Lessons for Online Writers
Online Writing Tips
How I Learned These Lessons
I wrote over 900 articles for Bubblews, a site that paid writers per view, per like and per comment, before they shut down in November, 2015. I made several hundred dollars over the course of their run, but wasn’t very active towards the of 2015 as I began to see the writing on the wall.
Bubblews was the second online writing site to fold out from under me. The first was Yahoo Contributor Network (YCN!). I learned different things writing for each site, and, unfortunately, I’ve learned different things as they’ve both shut down. Hopefully the following reflection can help other writers learn these lessons without having to endure sad experience of their own.
Keep Copies of Your Writing
First, keep a copy of your work. You never know when you might be able to republish an article (assuming your agreements with the previous site allows it) or use the information for a new article. You’ll never know when you might want to refer to what you’ve previously written and you may not have notice before it disappears. Luckily for me, YCN! did a great job of contacting their writers and gave us time to download our articles. Unfortunately, Bubblews wasn’t so kind. They simply pulled their site from the web overnight, and took all the articles with it.
Second, get contact information of people with whom you’d like to stay in touch, or find other ways you can continue to network with them, along the way. Don’t just assume that your platform will always be there to keep you in communication. Writing sites like bubblews, which encouraged writer interaction on shorter social media style posts, encourage friendships between writers. It’s sad waking up one day and realizing that you have no way to contact your friends as your writing site is gone and you don’t even remember more than their screen names. Not only could you be losing friends, but you’re losing networking potential as well.
Keep Your Own Copy of Your Agreements
Third, keep a copy of the writer’s agreement. If you’re writing for more than one site it can be hard to keep the details about what you can and can’t reuse in the event of the site shutting down. In addition, you’ll want to know what promises the site has or hasn’t made about future payments.
Keep Any Study Material Provided
Fourth, take printscreens of any educational material on the site that you might want for future reference. Most writing sites have their own style guide and suggestions for success. However, if you find something that you think might help you in the future, you might consider snagging it in case it disappears one day.
Get to Know the Admins
Fifth, get to know the admins of the site. Do they usually do a good job of keeping the writer’s informed? Do they have a plan for years to come? Are they showing signs of monetary distress? Changes aren’t uncommon to a writing platform. However, if you start to see a significant change in the way the platform communicates with their people, or you know the platform is hurting for money and doesn’t really have a sturdy plan for the future, it’s definitely time to start investing elsewhere.
While I enjoyed the money I made writing for bubblews and I enjoyed the friendships I built, I’m not surprised to see them go. They lost many of their good writers when they made payments impossible to achieve and the lack of communication from the staff didn’t inspire confidence in the platform’s future. Hopefully the lessons I learned there will serve us well as we move forward in writing for the web.