Advice for Beginner Online Writers About Article Writing and Your Online Persona
What is Online Writing All About?
People new to online writing have much to learn. If anyone told you that this was an easy way to earn some fast wealth, they weren't being entirely truthful with you. It's a very competitive field, much like any other intellectual occupation. The competition is meant to cause the best work to rise above the rest.
Just write quality articles, hit publish, and that's it, the money will come.
Don't believe everything you hear would be a measured response to the above statement, thrown around carelessy by other online writers.
There is a chance, of course, that you accidentally nailed your title with a great keyword (I know, what's a keyword?), or that your writing came across the screen of a magazine editor. But, more likely, you'll end up like the rest of us, buried beneath the millions who came before you and the new material on high-traffic topics that's being produced everyday.
If your objective for writing online is to make money or get read by a large audience, you will need to know more than how to write well.
Online Article Strategy
Writing your article is an important step in the process of publishing work that will find an audience. Misspelled words, bad grammar, and poor punctuation will certainly turn readers off.
Writing a presentable article takes some time. Most people aren't going to produce a great article in ten minutes. A little thought before beginning any written work has always been an important step for authors. Read a newspaper column and you'll find research and editing played a big part in bringing it to the reader.
But I need to get as many articles as I can published so I can get noticed by Google.
Yes, and no. On HubPages, for instance, you'll already have formidable publishing clout that comes from the main site itself. That being said, you're still writing on a sub domain of your own. Just like a blog requires some substance before it gets noticed, your account needs some meat to it before search engines will bother sending searchers to it on any regular basis.
That doesn't mean to spam shabby articles in the hopes that your amazingly huge amount of content will get read. That might, or more likely won't, get readers in, but you'll have many of them bounce right back out without reading. Getting views is not the same as having your article discovered by someone who is thankful they found it.
Writing several impressive articles, without knowledge of how search engines find material online, might get you noticed. A more certain way to get your articles found in searches is to not only write exceptionally, but to educate yourself about keywords. So, yes, online writing is still writing, but, actually, it's writing with keywords.
What is a Keyword?
A keyword is the word(s) or phrase that the writer is using as the main theme of their article. It's what the author thinks people will type into the search engine box to find the information in his, or her article. Researching keywords is the act of finding a word or phrase, then determining if your article will rank with, or outrank, other top articles about the same keyword (or keyword phrase).
The following is an example:
You're planning to write an article about baby shoes. You use the Google Keyword Tool to determine the relevance of your topic (screenshot below). 368,000 searches on baby shoes is big, much too large for the beginner. If you look below the topic you searched, you can see other relevant keyword phrases.
Baby shoes on sale has decent searches per month. Advertising competition is medium (the statistic used to measure how much advertisers are willing to pay to have their ads placed on the material pertaining to the topic).
The next step is to punch this keyword phrase into Google's search box, in quotes, "baby shoes on sale". Examining the sites at the top of the search results will give you an idea of what you are up against if you want to gain readers from that search keyword. Generally, corporations that are willing to pay advertising dollars to sell baby shoes will make it difficult for your article to generate search engine dollars. A different approach to the term baby shoes would be advised.
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Getting Over the Concept that Online Writing is Easy
It can be frustrating, especially if you have a great idea, and you are bent on writing about it. Do yourself a favor, and do some reading and learning before jumping into anything where online writing is concerned. You will truly enhance your chances of getting people to read your article. Learn why it's important to have readers stay on your page longer. Learn why your content should match the keyword title of your article. Learn how all this ties into more earnings per view. Keep your article writing limited to realistic goals. There are reasons that the successful writers on publishing platforms purposely stay away from highly targeted topics.
Let's use the game World of Warcraft as an example. This is a highly searched term with massive competition. Most search terms with high competition have professional articles, or sites, dedicated to them. The average online writer won't outrank them. Having a realistic dream of getting 200 views out of 200,000 possible still gets you 200 views. Devising your keyword strategy, before writing your WoW articles, will help you gain steady views over time. Normally, the bigger topic you take on, the more time it will take for search engines to send you regular traffic in answer to search queries. Writing about a big topic like World of Warcraft isn't for the novice online writer, nor is it for the impatient.
Most experienced online writers will tell you straight off - don't take on highly searched topics unless you are ready to accept failure. Beginners, especially, should aim for keyword phrases with little competition. If you see a professional site as the first result on a keyword phrase with few monthly searches, give it up and try a different tactic. There are plenty of other ways to get viewership on baby shoes, for example. Maybe you have an interesting short story based on an event in your past, or perhaps you've collected baby shoes for years and have an interesting collection. Think outside the box and then find the keyword that you can use to get your article content to viewers who would be interested in seeing it.
Are you starting to see this isn't just writing, or a fast way to make easy dollars? Learning about keywords isn't that hard, honestly. Google itself reveals tips for keyword use. This is just one aspect of search engine optimization (SEO). Backlinking can be useful, if done properly. Never attempt to gain viewership by using backlinks from a site that you haven't researched. If you don't check the site out before posting articles on it, your efforts could harm your chances of getting organic (search engine) views, instead of aiding them. The share option on HubPages, for example, might lead writers to just arbitrarily share their articles on Reddit, StumbleUpon, and Digg. This will do nothing to help you gain quality views. Learning about the sites first, and then submitting articles to the proper audience, will get you the quality views you seek.
Go to a reputable source for answers to your SEO questions, if you intend to learn more. Be warned, the topic is highly contested and filled with various information, some if helpful, some of it harmful. Google, or a site affiliated with Google, is your best bet for good keyword and backlinking ideas. Also, remember that much of what you read about SEO is aimed at people writing on their own domains (their own websites).
The Online Persona: A Writer's Option
One day on Twitter, the usual writers and publishers were going about their business of promoting themselves and other writers. Some of the tweets were promoting written works. But, many were promoting a persona. That is, instead of saying, "A great fiction novel", some were saying, "The electric author, (name here), shares her secrets."
The squeaky wheel gets the oil.
Online personas aren't very relevant to gaining organic search engine traffic. What it can be useful for is to build a following of readers. If it's as impressive as the flawless writing, it could get noticed by someone who might help you get to your ultimate writing goals.
The key to building a credible online persona is to be truthful. If you appear to be selling or deceiving your readers, your writing could lose all credibility with them. Likewise, if you rant on forums as an online persona, without delivering relevant commentary, you will lose credibility with your readers. Being provocative or interesting doesn't mean you have to be annoying or inflammatory.
Niche writers (writers that write primarily about one topic), in particular, will find that developing a persona to reflect what they are writing about can go a long way toward gaining online followers. A person that writes quality articles about the Sixties, for instance, will generally garner a larger following if they have experienced the Sixties themselves. Developing a persona that lives and breathes the ideals of the 60s attracts people that have decided that you not only represent the Sixties, but you still identify with the ideals from that period.
A writer's words are meant to be trustworthy to the reader. The readers of the world have an amazing instinct for smelling out untrue words and sentiments. If you think your online anonymity will shield you from responsibility for misrepresenting yourself in your writing, you will likely be dismayed at your dwindling viewership or search engine penalties. If you are writing as an expert on any subject, have the goods to back up the claim.
Where Do I Want Writing to Take Me
If you're looking to earn a few extra dollars from a few online articles, choose a keyword, use it in your title and throughout your article, and put them up and let Google find it (which it will).
If your desire is to generate a steady income from your online writing, you'll need to do some research. There are, obviously, people that make money writing online. Don't let anyone convince you otherwise. Freelancers already know that making money from writing comes in many forms. Be prepared to write as a writer, first. But, be willing to write as an online writer, and know the difference between the two. There are no guarantees it will work for you. But by investing some time into researching your new craft, you will have increased your chances of making money online.
There are some who will tell you that this is wrong, that your work stands alone on it's merit. And there are article writers that have success as just writers. For most of us, it's going to take more than that - it's going to take many, many hours of sitting in front of your computer and writing and learning.
Success will breed more success, in most cases, and unknown or unskilled authors can still have success getting page views. But it's this writer's opinion that online writers enhance their chances of success by taking the time to originate their persona, an experienced and true voice that comes through in each article they write, and employ it as a way of getting researched, well written articles noticed.