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Advice for Beginner Online Writers About Article Writing and Your Online Persona

Updated on July 24, 2016

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.


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    • Jason Marovich profile imageAUTHOR

      Jason F Marovich 

      3 years ago from Detroit

      Thank you, smcopywrite!

    • smcopywrite profile image


      3 years ago from all over the web

      definitely worth the read. This has info directed as novices, but veterans are also able to benefit from some of the advice. Great piece of work.

    • Jason Marovich profile imageAUTHOR

      Jason F Marovich 

      5 years ago from Detroit

      @darciefrench and @Jennifer Mugrage: You're both very welcome! Thanks for reading.

    • Jennifer Mugrage profile image

      Jennifer Mugrage 

      5 years ago from Columbus, Ohio

      This is extremely helpful. Thank you.

    • darciefrench profile image

      Darcie French 

      6 years ago from BC Canada

      Many thanks for the tips! I used to write on squidoo and was quite successful SEO wise under certain key words. These days I write more for my own pleasure :)

    • Jason Marovich profile imageAUTHOR

      Jason F Marovich 

      6 years ago from Detroit

      Thanks for reading and commenting, aesta1!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      You are right. Many of us don't realize the amount of research necessary to succeed in online writing.

    • Jason Marovich profile imageAUTHOR

      Jason F Marovich 

      7 years ago from Detroit

      I'm happy you found my article informative, thefedorows. Thanks for reading.

    • thefedorows profile image


      7 years ago from the Midwest

      Wow! This is a VERY well-written and informative hub. Thank you! I am going to check out the google key word tool. I did not realize that existed before reading your hub!

    • Jason Marovich profile imageAUTHOR

      Jason F Marovich 

      7 years ago from Detroit

      @justmesuzanne - I'm glad you found this article helpful. Thanks for reading.

    • justmesuzanne profile image


      7 years ago from Texas

      Solid information! Voted up and interesting! :)

    • DeborahNeyens profile image

      Deborah Neyens 

      9 years ago from Iowa

      This is great advice and presented in an understandable manner. Online writing is not easy. I take so much tme researching and writing each of my hubs. It sometimes doesn't seem worth it with the small payout compared to all the time put into it. But then I remind myself I'm not here for the money; I'm here to do exactly what I'm doing - gaining experience, building a following, and writing every day.

    • LindaSmith1 profile image


      9 years ago from USA

      dungeon: It is also important to look at URL at those listings on first page. Sometimes it may be a site like Wikapedia, or an article, or lets say walmart, but they are listing various pages of their site.

    • dungeonraider profile image

      Jason Marovich 

      9 years ago from United States

      @Linda - Thank you. Online game articles, in particular, will normally find competitors with highly structured, high PR sites. That means a change of tactics is in order. Looking at a popular keyword should lead to more questions, not provide an immediate resolution.

    • LindaSmith1 profile image


      9 years ago from USA

      Dungeon: Good explanation. You should use that and write a hub on it. Learning how to properly use Google Keyword too, and to understand page rankings is not as easy as it seems to be, You just don't go to google keyword tool to see if people are searching it. You also need to know the PR of your top 5-10 competitors Check pr for top 5 organic sites. Add total PR for all 5 and divide by 5. If 3 or below you are on the right track. This works good for niche too.

    • Jason Marovich profile imageAUTHOR

      Jason F Marovich 

      9 years ago from Detroit

      @Wesman Todd Shaw - I have to agree. Especially for beginners, there is no reason to start at the top of income potential. Aiming too high and getting stymied by the lack of views is a sure way for beginners to find themselves frustrated and disenfranchised with online writing.

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 

      9 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      High competition is something to avoid, as regardless of how great your article is - there will be hundreds or thousands of people competing and constantly trying to "one up" your article.

      BUT...if you happen to be a true authority in a high competition niche - then go for it, your knowledge will shine through the muck of the keyword chasers.

      I'm not Mr. Money Online or anything....but this sort of dilemma, and the questions asked by why I personally refuse to research keywords.

      I know that if I know about something, then it doesn't much matter what the competition is - I'm confident in me and my writing skills; and I think that everyone who writes about what they know will enjoy the same confidence.

    • Jason Marovich profile imageAUTHOR

      Jason F Marovich 

      9 years ago from Detroit

      @randomcreative - Thank you for reading and commenting. There's a reason why so many experienced people keep stressing that point, as you have now. Focusing on keywords that aren't 'over done' or targeted by professional web site developers, can bring expedient success. Success breeds confidence, an overlooked component of being an online writer.

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 

      9 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Great tips for all online writers! It is so true that it is important to find a niche and to write about topics with little keyword competition. Some of my most unique articles receive the most views because there is simply nothing else out there like them.

    • Jason Marovich profile imageAUTHOR

      Jason F Marovich 

      9 years ago from Detroit

      @Maralexa - I let my alter ego handle your question. Thank you for your kind encouragement and questions. The best advice you can get concerning advertising competition for keywords will come from a big advertiser. High competition for diamond rings means just that - advertisers are willing to shell out and compete to get their advertisements on exceptionally conceptualized content about diamond rings.

    • dungeonraider profile image

      Jason Marovich 

      9 years ago from United States

      Failure to understand your keyword, or why you should write about it, can definitely be a root cause of why articles sit there without getting organic views.

      Here's how I approach the information displayed on Google Keywords, this is an example:

      Dungeons and Dragons is the keyword phrase I typed into Google Keywords to get these two related keyword phrases:

      keyword phrase: dungeons and dragons miniatures

      Competition: Medium

      GMS (Global Monthly Searches): 27,100

      keyword phrase: dungeon and dragons

      Competition: Low

      GMS: 550,000

      That's data compiled from the columns you normally see when typing in a keyword on Google Keyword Tool.

      As you can see, "dungeons and dragons" is searched by far more people than "dungeons and dragons miniatures". Those figures include foreign language content that pertain to each keyword phrase. That might be important for your keyword. It is for Dungeons and Dragons because it's played in many countries.

      The competition for "dungeons and dragons" is low. The competition for "dungeons and dragons miniatures" is medium. What does that mean to me?

      Advertisers aren't particularly fond of advertising on content pertaining to the keyword phrase "dungeons and dragons". Advertising on "dungeons and dragons miniatures" is more likely to provide sales for advertisers.

      It would be easier for me to get clicks that convert to sales if I wrote an article about "dungeons and dragons miniatures", rather than "dungeons and dragons".

      There is more to it than that. If I disregard the other content available when searching the keyword phrase, I have no idea how many good articles have already been written about dungeons and dragons miniatures. That's why I go and punch in the keyword phrase in quotes on the Google toolbar.

      There are also many other variables that could go into this. What appears to be a subject not worth writing about, in terms of what you see on Google Keywords, might not be so. Think about your keyword in terms of "are you getting the information you want from your search." A sales site might be on top, but the topic might still get you views, if searchers are seeking particular information (what are dungeons and dragons miniatures?), they aren't looking for a listing of miniatures for sale. They'll look further down the search listings.

      I know, I wish it were as simple as looking at the keyword tool math, but, honestly, it isn't.

    • Maralexa profile image

      Marilyn Alexander 

      9 years ago from Vancouver, Canada

      I think I understand that becoming a successful online writer involves 1. writing good articles in niches attractive to enough readers to be noticed and create a following, 2. writing excellent articles on topics attrative to advertisers who have something to sell to 'exactly' the readers my articles attract,3. creating a persona of 'expert' and trustworthy writer to attract readers and keep them coming back, and 4. to find the best key words and phrases that readers would use to find the information contained in my article so that advertisers want to advertise around my articles. Phew!!!

      Not one of those steps is easy! But finding good keywords and phrases is still confusing to me. I can't seem to get my head around what the category "competition" really is. I can understand what the monthly searches are all about. But if the "competition" is NOT other writers/sites competing with me and my hubs, but really the advertisers competing for placement around the best writers/sites, then why do I look for less competition rather than more?

      Are you suggesting that medium and even low competition is better than high competition? Then wouldn't I be looking for low competition where there are advertisers willing to pay more dollars for their advertising?

      Is there a way to find out what top ranking sites/articles are using for their key words?

      As you can see, I am just like Arlene in that I have so many questions. And I feel a little stuck at the moment.

      By the way, I noticed how you tied your article together with keywords at the beginning,the middle, and the end (nicely done)!

      Thank you. Up and bookmarked.

    • Jason Marovich profile imageAUTHOR

      Jason F Marovich 

      9 years ago from Detroit

      @Arlene - That's where I'm at, too. I started online writing for search engines without keywords in mind. For me, personally, those articles never gained traffic. Using keywords in my title and throughout my article, brings more views from search engines. At that point, it's up to me to give the reader an article relevant to what they were searching for.

      @Wesman - I find that writing about topics I have no real interest in (or have experienced) comes through in my author's voice. No amount of SEO is going to make such an article interesting to a reader, thus defeating the whole purpose of writing the article in the first place.

      Thanks, both of you, for reading and commenting, I appreciate it.

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 

      9 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      I followed Arlene over here.....Yes, I'm her stalker :-/

      I think that the first and foremost thing that someone should know about this business is that information sells.

      Each and every single last one of us as an individual knows something that someone else, probably millions, either needs to know, or wants to know.

      The goal is to provide that information, write it well, produce an attractive web page with that info, and let it fly.

      I personally think that chasing keywords is an abomination....but folks who are chasing dollars can just up and go for that - nothing can stop them, and nothing should. They'd have to be absurdly brilliant to pull it off successfully.

      I look around my mind, and think about what I DO know, and then I write about that. From there, my enthusiasm for the things that I know about carries me towards a successful article about ...whatever it is.

      If you decide to just up and write about the latest Kindle, or gadget that's're facing more competition than you can truly comprehend - so you'd best dang well know what you're talking about, and have some very personal experience with those things with which to engage the reader....or you'll just come off looking like an article spinner who's chasing dollars.

      Nobody much likes dollar chasing spinners - I assure everyone that that's true.

      This gig ain't easy at all, but it's a fine secondary occupation for those with the luxury to pursue it.

      my two cents....

    • profile image

      Arlene V. Poma 

      9 years ago

      Thank you for explaining the Google Keyword Tool to the point where I'm asking questions and learning how to use it. Bookmarked, Voted Up, and all the rest. AWESOME!!!


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