Writing Without Keywords and SEO
A Few Words from an Old-timer
This is for all of you who are frustrated with keywords and SEO strategies. This is for all of you who want to believe that quality writing will always have a place in the literary world, and talent will always overshadow glitz and glamour.
This is for my good friend Joe, or hawaiianodysseus on HubPages.
I don’t think Joe will mind if I share with you a comment he recently left on one of my articles. He said:
“Bill, you had me at paragraphs one through four...hitting a strong nerve because I'm at an impasse with HubPages . You know, the thing we eventually smack into head-on--talent vs. SEO adeptness. That's why I need to make some significant changes in how I approach my writing, especially in how to give my product the best possible chance of earning an income for me. How to do that without compromising the old school way of writing and marketing that writing...I'm paying attention to what you're saying, Bill, more so than ever. Thanks, my friend. Aloha, and have a terrific new week! Hope your recreational time yesterday put a tiger in the tank!”
I hear you, Joe, and I’m on it!
Faster than a speeding bullet; more powerful than a locomotive; able to leap tall buildings at a single bound….look, up in the sky, is it a bird, is it a plane….no, it’s Superman!
Not really; just your old friend billybuc, who has finally had enough with this SEO nonsense and has decided to speak out on this rather controversial subject. Kick back, grab yourself a cold one, and allow me to discuss the current state of writing, and then offer a few suggestions that you might find interesting.
The Quandry As I See It
Times have changed. Now, I’m not one who rallies against change. In fact, I usually embrace it and find a way to work with it, as I have found in the past that trying to hold back a tidal wave with a dike made of paper is a rather foolish waste of my time.
I am only one man. There is no doubt that, as a lover of old-style writing where quality is valued over content, I do not like keywords. I think the insistence on being “SEO friendly” has watered down writing in general and made many good writers mediocre writers. I think the desire to bow down to the Google gods has brought far too many literary artists to their knees in supplication, and we all know how hard it is to do our best work while kneeling.
Still, I get it. The world has changed, and being SEO successful is certainly one way to make money. Sites like HubPages will reward those who master the keyword game, as keywords bring views and views bring revenue from advertising and clicks mean money, baby, and money rules!
So I understand where Joe is coming from. I wrestled with this gorilla for a few months, trying valiantly to insert keywords throughout my essays in hopes to attract the nebulous masses who would then, passively, make money for me with their mouse clicks.
But it just wasn’t in me. When the smoke cleared and the landscape lay clearly before me, I realized that I am a writer, and I am in love with the written word. I love the flow and rhythm of words. I love sending the message and having that message ratified and stamped with approval through tears, laughter and genuine appreciation for whatever “gifts” I might have. I found that I could not sacrifice quality for techniques, and quality suffered when I was inserting words just for the sake of views.
So I needed a new game plan….and I suspect that Joe, and many like him, need one as well.
Do you write about your passion?
Following Your Passion
I have two passions when it comes to writing. I love to write personal essays about life and the human experience, and I love to write articles that help other writers to spread their wings and fly.
Since I refuse to play the SEO game (much to the chagrin of HubPages) that leaves me with a decision to make: how do I follow my passion and still make a living in writing? You see, I believe that there is still a place in this world for quality writing that tugs at people and engages their minds, hearts and senses. It then becomes my job to find some way to follow that passion and still make enough money to pay the bills, because bill-paying is a reality that cannot be ignored, right?
This then becomes the task of all writers, like me, who refuse to play the game.
So I will ask two questions of Joe and others like him:
- What is your passion?
- How can your passion make money for you?
I am not one who believes that all writers must write about their passion. Many writers make a good living writing about an array of topics. For them, writing is a passion in and of itself, and there is no reason to divide it into sub-groups.
I am really talking to those of you, like Joe and myself, who are hampered by the SEO rules and need to break free and join the writer’s of old, at least in spirit. How do you do that without keywords and the Google blessing?
I do think it is important to find your niche and to establish yourself as an expert in that niche. I have declared two niches, namely personal essays and writing tutorials, and I am determined to make it in those niches without using a single keyword.
Which brings us to the all-important question: how do you do that, billybuc?
I’m Glad You Asked
I’m going to start this off with some rather distressing news. Other than your family and friends, nobody cares about you on the Internet. I know, I know, you are shocked, but seriously think about it. Most people are on the internet and on social networks because they either want to be entertained, informed, or find the answer to the all-important question “what’s in it for me?”
Let me put it another way. If you are passionate about something that nobody else cares about, then writing about that passion is going to be a very tough sell. So what do you do? How do you make money writing about something not even your mother cares about?
Find a way to bring your passion together with what other people care about….or….give people a reason to be interested in what you are writing about…..or…..sell your passion in a way that many people will want to buy it.
Folks, this is Marketing 101. If I am in love with my product (my niche), and I want to make money with it, then I have to market it to the readers of the world, and I have to give them a reason to want my product. I have to broker a marriage between my passion and their needs or desires. Get it?
Do you have a central hub and spokes?
From a Central Hub Comes the Spokes of Your Wheel
Once you have established your niche, one that holds interest for you and a good number of readers, you then need to establish the hub of your wheel. Simply stated this should either be a website or a blog. The goal then is to attract as many people to that site, and you do this by building your spokes.
Social networking. Guest blogging. Magazine articles and newspaper syndication. Any other source that can refer back to your hub, or blog/website.
This is where niche-pounding takes center stage. Join writer’s groups like HubPages, and become active in online forums. Do readings at the library or bookstores and hand out business cards that refer to your website.
Naturally, if making money is one of your goals, there must be a way to earn income from your website/blog. This can be done either through advertising, selling related products, or asking for donations.
If you were to visit my novel website you would find other products for sale that are related to the novel. This is just one example of how to earn income following your passion. Others have monetized their blogs so that when ads are clicked they make money. Whatever floats your boat is my motto.
Looking at the bigger picture, just getting people to my website or blog is a winning situation because it builds my name recognition and again, my name is my product.
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Expand Your Platform and Constantly Adjust
I recently signed on to do a guest blog, once a week, for GRIT, a magazine about rural living. I am doing it for free. Why would I do that if one of my goals is to make money? The answer should be obvious: I get a byline for each blog posting, and I also get links back to my blogs and websites. My main goal is always to drive people back to my own site.
For those of you wondering what rural living has to do with my passion for personal essays about life, I negotiated with the editor of GRIT to allow me to write about the joys of simple living in a rural setting, so it is a win-win situation for me and the readers.
The point I want to drive home is that this is a changing literary world we live in, and as writers we must be willing to change. If our goal is to follow our passion and make it profitable, then it is up to us to constantly look at new avenues and methods.
Let me put it another way. I started out writing on HubPages to make passive income. That did not happen, so now I write articles on HubPages but really they are just magazine articles waiting for the day when I submit them and some editor buys them. Do you see the significance of that shift in thinking? HubPages wasn’t earning me money so I adjusted and use the same articles to earn income somewhere else. I honestly don't care if HubPages makes money, and I'm quite certain they don't lose sleep at night wondering how to make me money, so I use them as a holding tank for my articles until I need those articles for another purpose.
You are your product. Your name is what you are selling. Once you have done the selling job and gathered up some followers, then your ability as a writer will determine whether you make money in this writing world.
I have no idea when my big break will come, but I am confident it will come. I can hasten that arrival by doing everything in my power to make my name known to as many people as possible. Who knows when the next contact I make will be the contact I've been waiting for?
Writing + Marketing = Success!
And you can take that to the bank!
2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”