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The Writers' Workshop: You Can't Do That!

Updated on November 14, 2012

A LOOK AT ONE OF THE MASTERS

Man is the only kind of varmint sets his own trap, baits it, then steps in it.
John Steinbeck

Isn’t that a great quote? A bit frightening because of the truth in it, but great nonetheless!

I was thinking about that quote this morning as I was preparing an article for publication. My norm is to write the article, then edit it, then check on SEO keywords, insert those, and then publish the article. This is basically the same process I have used for decades with the exception of the SEO keywords, a new animal that seems to attract a great deal of attention from writers of late.

I reflected upon my first few weeks on this site, HubPages, and a couple messages I received after I had posted some personal articles about my life and lessons learned. Those articles were certainly not “evergreen” in nature, and because of that I heard from a few well-meaning writers who told me that my kind of writing just wasn’t going to make it on HubPages, that HubPages was more a site for those who write about topics that “pertain” to the world today. You know, the best ways to raise kids, and how to save money, and how to start your own business….those sorts of articles.

I was even referred to the Learning Center where it is recommended that the type of writing that I do is just not conducive to success on HubPages. I am what you would call a journalist, and there just isn’t a mass market for that style. Sigh!

Well, I am still here, rapidly approaching one year, and I have seen a certain amount of success with my unorthodox style, and I have been well-received, which all leads me to this article.

I was wondering today what John Steinbeck would have thought about SEO. I was wondering about Harper Lee, and Hemingway, and well, heck, Shakespeare! Would they have had the same reaction as I have towards SEO, or would they have jumped on the gravy train and done what was “necessary”?

The Grapes of Wrath
The Grapes of Wrath | Source

LET US VISIT STEINBECK

“The wind grew stronger, whisked under stones, carried up straws and old leaves, and even little clods, marking its course as it sailed across the fields. The air and the sky darkened and through them the sun shone redly, and there was a raw sting in the air. During the night the wind raced faster over the land, dug cunningly among the rootlets of the corn, and the corn fought the wind with its weakened leaves until the roots were freed by the prying wind and then each stalk settled wearily sideways toward the earth and pointed the direction of the wind.”

That passage, from “The Grapes of Wrath,” is just classic Steinbeck. Raw, dirty, weather-beaten, tearing at your guts and bringing your senses to warning status, the master at his best!

I read that, and then I began to wonder; what if Mr. Steinbeck had SEO to contend with? What changes would he make to that one paragraph so that he could assure himself that the search engines would smile upon him? Perhaps complete phrases would have to be re-written to please the computer gods, because certainly that paragraph, as it reads, is destined for writer’s purgatory. It simply is not SEO friendly now is it?

Well, the answer to that question is, of course, that Steinbeck would not make any changes because, quite frankly, it is sheer genius as it is written. The masters who came before us did not concern themselves with Google; they only concerned themselves with writing to the best of their ability. They concerned themselves with their content, and with improving their content, so that when they were finished, they could read their work, and nod their heads, and feel that they had given their best.

I’m trying to picture Steinbeck tailoring his writing to please a machine, a computer, a tangle of microchips and wiring and coding. Better yet, I’m trying to picture Hemingway, sitting in his villa, pouring a shot of tequila, and debating how to squeeze five more SEO friendly phrases into “The Old Man and the Sea.”

Sorry, I just can’t picture it!

CONTENT….CONTENT….CONTENT

There is no substitute for content. You can write the most search-friendly articles ever devised, but if your content is junk the SEO will not save you. I am astounded by the amount of junk I see on the internet today. There are featured articles on major sites, and the writing is the equivalent of a 9th grader trying to quickly finish their homework. Yes, they have inserted all the SEO keywords necessary, and yes, it is now search-friendly, but speaking in terms of artistic value, there is none.

I do not know this to be true, but I suspect there are some computer programs which can “write” SEO articles without the intervention of an actual writer. Just input the keywords necessary, maybe give a determination of the topic that should be written about, and the computer kicks out a 500 word article that is damn search-friendly.

All well in good in the continual search for more web traffic, but if they are actually read by another human being, they will induce instant vomiting. They are junk!

Where is the content? Where is the unique voice that differentiates one writer from the next? What we are seeing is a new generation of technical writers who lack the heart and soul that should exist in writing. What we are seeing is less and less concern for grammar, spelling, and content, and more concern with word-choice based on viewership.

LET’S BE CRYSTAL CLEAR ON MY INTENT

My intent is not to say that there is no place in the world of writing for technical writing. I have nothing against the “how to” articles and the “five easy steps” articles and the “top ten list” articles. They are interesting and there is a time and place for them. I have written them myself, and continue to do SEO articles for pay. My intent, rather, is to say there is no place in the world of writing for shabby writing that concentrates more on views than it does on content.

Writing should be an art form; it is, in fact, a genre of the arts, and it should be treated as such. I know some great technical writers who understand proper grammar and their writing voices shine with each of their works. Conversely, I have known some “journal writers” who couldn’t carry a properly written sentence in a bushel basket, and their writing voices sound like six-year olds on a sugar rush.

TAKE PRIDE IN YOUR WORK

And that is the bottom line, now isn’t it? Have enough pride in your work so that when you look at it years from now, you can smile, and nod your head, and feel pride in it.

I have said before, about Steinbeck, that any one of his paragraphs is better than anything I have ever written. Any single paragraph! However, rather than be discouraged about that fact, I gain new strength and determination from it. I may not be the reincarnation of Steinbeck, but I can be the best Bill Holland the world has ever known, and if I accomplish that then I will smile, and nod, and feel pride in my work.

In order for that to happen, I cannot let keywords become the focus of my writing. Once that happens then I have lost control of my own writing, and I will have not only set my own trap, and baited it, but stepped proudly into it, and that just will not do for this boy.

And to those who suggested I could not make it on HubPages with my style of writing, it might be time for you to re-think your suggestion. I have found my voice, and I have found my style. It may not work for all of you, but it works for me, and that, in the final analysis, is all that matters.

2012 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

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    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      Bill, you certainly did make it here and your writing totally speaks for itself. I have to tell you in the beginning on here, I felt that as much as I was enjoying my experience I longed for more and to put more of myself in my writing. I wrote one article on here about my kids and giving some advice. That article got ver lovely comments and went over so well, that was when I started to think more about niche writing. I decided I loved writing more from the heart about my daily world and hoped that others would come and read. That is where my blog was born. I still have a lot to learn, but truly love writing on my own blog about my life in my own style more than anything other writing I have ever done in my life. That said, I read this and very much agreed that all the keywords and SEO in the world truly doesn't make up for good writing and writing that comes from the heart. Great job here as always and have of course voted up and shared all over!!

    • profile image

      AudraLeigh 4 years ago

      Never change for anybody! I like your style...easy to understand and relate to. You are an artist in my book! Great quote at the top...like how it made it through the piece. Have a good day doing what you do so well!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Oh Audra, I have no plans on changing. This is what I do, and if HubPages doesn't like my style because it doesn't bring much money in for them, then oh well. Have a great day my friend, and thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Janine, there almost seems to be an obsession of late among HP writers with SEO......and I read those Hubs and they are poorly written. Seems to be a case of the cart before the horse if you ask me. I have nothing against SEO, but I do have something against mediocre writing. :) Thank you my dear, and I love your blog.

    • CloudExplorer profile image

      Mike Pugh 4 years ago from New York City

      This hub is very inspiring bro, and I have one on the way for ya, which was my long winded original comment here.

      Thanks bro for the inspiration once again as you do quite often for us all, and definitely for me.

      SEO is one thing, but communicating efforts for ourselves, for others or not, is definitely the digital back breaker today or elevator sort of speak for most of us online. (Each time we share for one another here or elsewhere, good grammar or not, it comes back 10 times over)

      Thumbs up and doing much more then sharing bro! keep them coming!!!

    • joanveronica profile image

      Joan Veronica Robertson 4 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

      Hi there, I greatly enjoyed this Hub! And I agree completely with the contents! I hate SEO. That said, I am still trying to learn at least something about it, as I have sadly also learnt that we can't do without it. The algos, the robots, and so on, seem to be the curse of the modern world! Voted up, etc. as always, and will be waiting for the next Hub! Have a good day!

    • weestro profile image

      Pete Fanning 4 years ago from Virginia

      Couldn't agree more Bill, well done!

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

      Bill, I am glad to see that I am not the first to say 'don't change' because there is plenty of room for your kinds of hubs; I've read all of your hubs and learnt so much from them along the way and most of all, I have enjoyed reading them - 'enjoyed reading' these are the key components - if you write dross, people browse for something else,simple as that. I need some SEO advice though - traffic falling. I might not be here for the money but it would be nice to have a bit more traffic :o)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Julie, first of all, thank you....as far as traffic, remember that this is a contest month. I have been here now for three contests and I have seen my views fall each of those months. The first week of this month my views almost dropped off of the map, not to be found by even radar. LOL.....anyway, thank you so much for reading all of my hubs. I am flattered and touched by that gesture. Again, don't panic about the views; I suspect it is the month and nothing to do with you.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Pete! I owe you a visit and will take care of that shortly.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Joan, we walk a fine line with this SEO stuff. Yes, if we want views, SEO is somewhat necessary; however, what I am seeing of late is more concern with SEO and less concern with writing well, and that I cannot accept. :)

      Thank you my friend; I hope you are well.

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

      Bill, I hadn't given the review contest any thought re: traffic so you have cheered me up a bit now. I will never get rich on HP, I come here because I like to write but it is still nice to be read :o)

    • Dee aka Nonna profile image

      Dee aka Nonna 4 years ago

      I have received some wonderful comments and some not so great. Mostly I am just ignored but I think writers write from their hearts and when that happens it speaks other hearts. Great job with this hub. I enjoyed it as I enjoy all of what you write.

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      I am so glad to see that you're style is rated much higher than predicted! I have had some issues writing content that isn't keyword friendly and so e times those are my BEST articles!

      Do your own thing - the numbers prove how we'll loved your hubs are!

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      I love the quote you started with. People are so guilty of that. I am always amazed at some of the poor content, grammar and spelling errors...I know I have to proof a dozen times to catch all I can. All well said here..and I know I still am in doubt about keywords, seo etc.. but I find writing good content that is interesting to many is where it is at. Always love your writing.

    • SkeetyD profile image

      SkeetyD 4 years ago from Barbados

      I have felt so depressed recently when I look at everybody on HP and they have 10,000 views and more and I barely have 1,000 views and I have been here for over 4 years. But when I joined HP, I published one article every 3 months or so. Then I went through some health issues and I didn't have the energy to write. But over the last year or so I have found the energy and zeal again! This hub makes me feel better about my content and my journey on HubPages. Thank you billy!

    • Radcliff profile image

      Liz Davis 4 years ago from Hudson, FL

      Isn't it funny how you can read a piece of writing and have an instant feeling, like "this person has a good heart", or "this one is in it for the money", etc.? I don't know where those feelings come from, but I keep it in mind every time I write. If you start writing something just to get your name out to the interwebs, you're not doing it right. Thanks for discussing that so eloquently, as usual!

    • mperrottet profile image

      Margaret Perrottet 4 years ago from Pennsauken, NJ

      Interesting that you mention that the quality of many articles resembles "a 9th grader trying to quickly finish their homework". I took a Yahoo Academy course on writing SEO friendly articles, and they tell you to keep your writing to a 9th grade level because that is the grade level of most internet readers. Sad, isn't it. You are a great example of quality writing, and I completely agree with your methods - quality, not SEO. When I browse through Hubs trying to pick out something interesting to read, I inevitably find myself reading your hubs, and I'm never disappointed. Always quality - always interesting.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 4 years ago from USA

      Very well said Bill. I have a feeling people probably did tell Steinbeck to stop writing depressing things and gave him advice on how to write to please the masses. I'd like to hope that there is a balance. That you can write something from the heart that does get readers and views. Voted up.

    • CloudExplorer profile image

      Mike Pugh 4 years ago from New York City

      It's up and ready budd, enjoy the response, its been done in good faith and in keeping with your powerful stance here as a super hubber that you surely are Bill, besides being super supportive, and a super friend of mine.

      Congrat's once again on achieving an outstanding unique approach to making much more effective communications, and through the art of using your truest writers voice.

      I really feel that all of your articles I've had the pleasure to read, are truly saying something, that many writers online are not and hence the love shall continue to pore in bro, and as you may even remain unconscious to the fact of its true impact on us all. "Keep up the great work"

      Your budd the Cloud dude!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mike, thank you! My main concern is that people are letting their grammar and style lag and concentrating on being search-friendly. That may work for one article, but it won't take long for poor writing ability to be discovered, and then as a writer, you are dead in the water.

      You da man, Mike, and I love your spirit and loyalty. Thanks buddy, and keep doing what you are doing.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Julie, it is nice to be read. I know it doesn't make any difference as far as web views, but it is still nice to be recognized. I feel the same way; that's why I hate these contest months. :) Everyone is busy doing their entries for the contest and they are reading less because of it.

      Anyway, I love your hubs and I'll be by, as always, to enjoy your writing.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Dee, it is an interesting dilemma we all face. We write because we love to write, but still, it would be nice to be viewed and receive some comments. Otherwise, we are in a vacuum of our own making, and that gets a little lonely. Thank you for your kind words.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Kelly, I'm laughing....some of the articles I have written which I consider my best, have hardly been read at all. It is really hard to gauge what will be viewed often and what won't. It's a good thing we are all mentally stable or it would drive us crazy! LOL Thank you my friend; I appreciate you and respect you.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Carol, thank you! First and foremost, I have to be happy with my writing. I do the SEO stuff for my job, and it gives me no joy at all. If I were to write for myself and received no joy, then what would be the point of writing???

      I appreciate you greatly, Carol; enjoy your time on the water.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Skeety, I hate to hear that it depresses you. Writing should be a joy, and you are the first person that has to receive that joy. I'm sorry you haven't received many views; all I can do is encourage you to keep writing, and keep being true to yourself. There are days when we write just for the pure joy of writing; that's what keeps us going.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Liz, you make a good point; I can tell immediately, as you say, whether the article is just for views or whether it is for the love of writing. I think it's a trap if all we concern ourselves with is views; then we are leaning towards the technical side and further away from creative....and for me that just will not do. :)

      Thank you my friend from Dunedin; I always appreciate you stopping by.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      mperrottet, I am not surprised by your example at all. I really believe that most writing aimed at views, or the hope of going viral, needs to be written at that level. We are dumbing down as a nation and that, my friend, is tragic. I refuse to do that; I may not find viral success, but when I read my work I am proud of it.

      Thank you for the very kind words; you have made this writer very happy.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Millionaire, now you have hit on the key point, and that is something to shoot for. Write something from the heart that goes viral. Whew! Is it possible? That is my quest my friend!

      Thank you as always; you are a good person and terrific writer and I appreciate you.

    • Rfordin profile image

      Rfordin 4 years ago from Florida

      I love the mix up you have billybuc. I think it gives us a better insight into who you are personally. You write some for us 'Hubbers and some content for Internert searchers (and some about interent searches which btw is still one of my favs) anyway it all boils down to the best of both worlds.

      ~Becky

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Becky, thank you. I have to mix it up to keep myself fresh and entertained. :) No, seriously, I think we need variety as writers....it keeps our minds and imaginations fresh, and that is always a good thing.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mike, aka Cloud dude....thank you! I have found a combination of factors that works for me. I think every writer needs to do the same....find what works for them. Always work from our strengths; never promote our weaknesses. We each (if we have any writing talent) have our own unique style and approach that makes it "us"....that's what we need to promote. There was only one Steinbeck...there is only one billybuc...there is only one Cloud Explorer. That's as it should be. :)

      Thank you buddy!

    • grandmapearl profile image

      Connie Smith 4 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

      Billy, you've hit the nail right smack dab on the head when you say: 'years from now, look back on your writing and feel proud'. I think that's the true measure of good writing. You certainly have the gift, which is due in large part to your willingness to 'tell it like it is' from your own personal experience. That's the best way for people to identify with you, to make that special connection. That's why you are a great writer!

      Voted Up across the board. Pearl

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      Well said, sir. I try to balance SEO and content in my online writing. But if I have to choose between writing SEO for Google and writing good content for people, writing for people will win every time.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Pearl, thank you my friend. You have become a regular around my site and I greatly appreciate it. I know of no other way to write, Pearl, and I would want to read my stuff if it was centered around SEO. I understand the value of SEO; I just don't understand making it the center of your writing. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Phoenix, thank you for that comment. I hope others come to realize the importance of good writing rather than writing aimed at going viral. :)

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      MizBejabbers 4 years ago

      Well, my friend, do you ever write anything bad? You tell ‘em! You have a natural knack for the interesting, and I’m sure your hubs are drawing traffic because of your talent, personality, and sense of humor, not because of your attention to SEOs.

      I haven’t written very many hubs in my year on HP because I just don’t have time. I began by taking their hints and tips to heart and writing the way they said to write. However, I found that most of those hubs are the ones that have been sh**canned under HP’s latest policy. My remaining hubs, and the ones with the highest scores, are the ones I’ve written from my own heart strictly for fun. I have no idea how to write SEO and at this point, I don’t have the time or the interest to learn.

      RE: Writing like a 9th grader. My college journalism courses taught to write on the 8th grade level. That meant write so it can be understood by the average 8th grader. Thankfully, it doesn’t mean write like an 8th grader writes. I hope that puts anyone’s mind at ease on that subject.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Absolutely, Billy. Never abandon your style for what suits anyone else. If given enough time for research, I can write about ANYTHING, and I do. Rock on!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Deb! I hope life is good in Stillwater...have a great day!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      MizB, thank you! I love the line about the 8th grader, and it is very true.

      I am a writer my friend; this is what I do. The first person, and the last person, who I have to please is me. If I am not happy with something it does not get published, and the only way I'm happy with it is if it meets my standards. No other standards count. :)

      I appreciate you stopping by; I just read one of your hubs and it was marvelous.

    • profile image

      PWalker281 4 years ago

      It's not just keywords, Bill, at least as far as HubPages is concerned. It's also being "overly promotional" or writing "dubious" content, whatever that means, or writing content that won't offend the advertisers.

      As you know, I've had several well written hubs unpublished here for violating rules that have nothing to do with quality content. It's extremely frustrating when good writing gets the ax because of them.

      I'm glad that you aren't bowing to the opinions of people who often wouldn't know good writing if it walked up and smacked them in the face. Keep on sharing your unique writing voice. As your success here attests, you'll always have readers who appreciate what you have to say.

      Voted up and shared.

    • rfmoran profile image

      Russ Moran 4 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Bill, as usual you nailed it. SEO sucks, but from an earning point ov view it is essential long term. You are one of the most popular writers on HP and for good reason. In "this" market you have carved out a niche of followers, like me, who look forward to reading your work. There's also another way, which is social networking. I love twitter. I have over 8,000 followers, and the traffic I get by tweeting about my hubs now surpasses the traffic I get from Google. And it's PUSH marketing, meaning that people come across one of my tweets and click out of curiosity - they're not SEARCHING so keywords mean less. I would be a lot more prolific on this site if I didn't worry about keywords in titles. Voted up, useful and awesome.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Rfmoran, great comment! I spend very little time on Twitter; maybe I should re-think that approach. 8,000 followers? Holy cow, man! That's great! As for SEO, I play with it when coming up with my titles, but after that I don't give it much thought. I think I'm getting too old to care; I just write and let the chips fall where they will. :)

      Thank you for the kind words my friend!

    • profile image

      Sunnie Day 4 years ago

      Hi Billy,

      Such a great hub with so much truth. I have tried to write a few "how to articles" but I am just not good at it...I consider myself a creative writer but I am still stumped as to what that is exactly, it is just a category I picked..haha I love your writing and please always continue to write from your heart and what moves you. I just got paid from yahoo upon reaching a certain number...$3.50 cents...I was so happy..:) bottom line is to enjoy writing and writing about what you love. You do both of these things..

      God bless,

      Sunnie

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      PW, don't even get me started on HP! It is random at best and there is no recourse at all. A couple of my friends were banned for being too explicit.....and that, to me, wreaks of the 1st Amendment violations of the 40's and 50's. HP doesn't want their name tarnished by creative writing. Oh well! Last time I checked, the top 100 works of all times had no SEO on it at all. :)

      Thank you my friend; I'm glad you are still around.

      Aloha to you!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sunnie, God bless you as well! This contest that is happening now...the review contest...I tried to write two reviews and they were boring and uninspired. I just can't write that stuff. I'll just keep doing my thing and we'll see what happens down the road. All I know is I love writing. :)

      Thank you for your kindness!

    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 4 years ago

      Hi Bill, I guess we are ALL on the same page, don't change your "Style" that's what makes You Unique...Actually that's what makes Most Writes Unique, their own Style. Hub pages, I feel can dictate more when you are writing to make money here. I chose just to write, I felt it would be less complicated. And also I'm just NOT a Contest Person.

      Anyway, well written Hub my Friend...You Guy Go, You Go!

    • profile image

      chrisinhawaii 4 years ago

      There you go, Bill! Stick to your guns and just be Bill Holland. I love it!

    • Dim Flaxenwick profile image

      Dim Flaxenwick 4 years ago from Great Britain

      This hub was awesome. I am so grateful that you wrote it.

      After 3 years on hubpages, one chidrens´book published and one E.Book of Poetry, I STILL cannot get to grips with SEO.

      I have a mental block about how to use it.

      I found this hub so, so encouraging, as I still make a feeble attempt at understanding how to use search words.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Dim, so nice to see you! I doubt you know this, but I respect you greatly, and consider you a writer first rate here on HP. As for SEO....well, it is a creature I am trying to find peace with. Enough said about that. :)

      Thank you Dim, and if this helped you then I am happy.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Chris.....aloha my friend! I shall, indeed, just be Bill Holland. I kind of like the guy, so I'll hang with him for awhile.

      Thank you Chris! You are appreciated!

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Just a thought, but is conforming to SEO that much different than conforming to a style book? When I worked on a small town paper years ago I had a publisher who had us rewrite anything that was submitted to the paper. It gave a consistent style to the paper. Many papers back then would just print anything the way it came in.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Barbara, I tried twice on this current contest and quite frankly, I wouldn't have awarded me anything for my efforts. LOL This is what I do...this right here...for better or for worse, this is me. :)

      Thank you Barbara! Loved your latest hub!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Dahoglund, it is an interesting question you ask. I think that anytime we write for money we are conforming; there will always be a certain required structure when someone is paying us....stands to reason to me. As for a style book....hmmmm....I'm going to have to give that some thought.

      Thanks for the visit and the quiz. :)

    • Louisa Rogers profile image

      Louisa Rogers 4 years ago from Eureka, California and Guanajuato, Mexico

      What I like about your writing is it's the the real thing. You don't seem to get caught up in shiny stuff, you just tell the truth as you see it. I couldn't tell you had any keywords in your writing! By the way, I think your how-to hubs are also good.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 4 years ago from sunny Florida

      The real deal...that is what brings me to an article. I am not necessarily looking for the best grammar if straying from that gets the point across better. It just depends on the topic. But generally, the correctness of the grammar is important to me for obvious reasons...it's the old school marme in me.

      I hub hop often and am surprised at what is allowed to be published. I am not the best writer on HubPages so I do not mean to be casting stones. What I mean by that remark is some of the hubs have one paragraph and one picture. And there is no substance to the article. And sadly I hop. On the reverse side of the coin, I find very well written and interesting hubs there as well. So I do not leap frog over them till I have read and enjoyed and learned.

      On the internet in general, it is scary how much is out there that is poorly written and lacks truth or credibility. I fact check and fact check when researching before I include anything in a hub.

      The point about content is well taken. Make it meaningful, interesting, and to the point and they will come and they will read.

      The real deal..that is what I find in at Billybucland. Keep it up, my Friend. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Louisa, the keywords thing is a bit tricky. Keywords are words related to the subject matter. They are usually easy to insert into the body of the work, and then Google does the rest. Google identifies those particular words or phrases and when that happens you move up the Google list when searches are made....and for anyone interested in numbers and views, you need Google. :)

      Thank you my friend; this is my voice, for better or for worse. :)

    • Louisa Rogers profile image

      Louisa Rogers 4 years ago from Eureka, California and Guanajuato, Mexico

      Is it just as useful to put the keywords in the writing itself, or better in the titles and sub-titles?

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Louisa, one in the title and four or five in the body...I have been putting keyword in the sub-titles of late...it's just easier for me that way. :)

    • mpropp profile image

      Melissa Propp 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Good for you Bill! I don't know who would be crazy enough to try and tell you that your writing wouldn't work on this site...but then again, by the time I joined HB you were already very well established. And that in itself is pretty amazing considering you haven't been here a whole year yet. AND I saw that you were on the top 100 hubbers list, which is NO small feat. You have a lot to be proud of and you encourage many many others to keep trying. I applaud you!

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      Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

      Well professor, how does it feel up on that stage? You told 'em, didn't you? I am so glad you wrote this hub. I have never liked being told what to do and for someone to tell me what to write just tightens my cheeks! I read every word you write, because of who you are and the way you communicate. And, because you have found your voice and you won't temper it for the pennies a hub earns. I strive every day to find that and I think I'm on the road to finding my voice. It feels good and although I will do a little keyword stuff, I will not write for it. Some things just can be reduced to tags or SEO without losing the human emotion. And that, is the one thing, that all humans have in common, whether they can express it or not.

      I'm sharing this one everywhere! I'm so glad we're friends.

    • Scribenet profile image

      Scribenet 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Judging by all our comments...you have hit a nerve! I also agree one has to write what one is compelled to write. Not one person can say what is right or wrong.

      Sure all the other technical stuff is important, but as writers we need to feed the part of us that compels us to write in the first place. That is the "fun" part and the readers will always pick that up... once they find you.

      If we just write for popular demand, insert all the popular keywords, we will probably never find a writing "voice"...just spend time re-writing what hundreds of others have already written hundreds of times over.

      Personally speaking... that is boooring to write as well as read!

      Original ideas and material make for good reading!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      PS my friend, I understand exactly what you are saying. I really try not to be critical, but there are some hubs that are, shall we say, lacking in something. :) I am no Hemingway, but at least I have set my sights a little higher than one paragraph or poorly written prose.

      Anyway, I enjoy reading new Hubbers and encouraging them. Who knows what diamond in the rough one will find?

      Thank you my friend; I try to entertain and cajole, prod and inspire. If I do that I am a happy writer.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      mpropp, what a lovely thing for you to say! Thank you so much; it's been a lot of work, but writing is work I love, so I have enjoyed every minute of it. I have goals in mind, things I want to accomplish, and the only way I know how to do that is to write....and so I write. :)

      Thank you again; I greatly appreciate you my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Linda, I am equally glad we are friends. I love finding a kindred spirit in HubLand, and I love having a fellow soldier to go into battle with. We have a lot of wrongs to right, and we have the tools to fight with, so I look forward to the fight my friend.

      Thank you Linda!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Scribenet, this came from finally getting fed up with all the talk about SEO of late....I swear there are writers who are obsessed with it. I fell in love with writing long before the computer was even a household tool, and my love for writing has only increased since then, and SEO had nothing to do with it. I cannot judge other writers, but I can speak up when I think they need a reminder of why they write in the first place. :)

      Thank you for the visit!

    • Julie DeNeen profile image

      Blurter of Indiscretions 4 years ago from Clinton CT

      Billy, by the length of these comments, I would say you struck a chord. I loved it!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I have no idea what SEO is and care not. When i choose to read a hub, i'm looking for heart. I can tell in a flash when a hub is written strickly for profit. I know you write for money, but you put your heart into anything and everything you write. I like that. Thank you..

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      I agree, we should not churn out anything until we are satisfied that the content is well-written. Each writer has his or her voice and concerns and should have the freedom to express it. Thanks for sharing this, Bill, and I share it as well.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Bill, your style certainly works for me. This whole SEO thing still has me confused and maybe that's a good thing. I write about what interests me and pretty much leave it at that. I don't do any SEO research although maybe I should. At some point I will do my homework and ask questions and start incorporating this into my hubs. Until then I will continue to just putter along at my own pace writing about what I know best. I for one really enjoy your writing and look forward to hearing your voice.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Michelle, I love it! I'm seeing a lot of people all concerned about SEO and they really need to concentrate on writing abilities. :) Thank you for the share; greatly appreciated.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Hi Ruby! I feel like you are a regular dinner guest. :) Thank you! Yes, I suppose anyone who writes for HubPages is writing for money to a certain extent, but like you, it doesn't take long to spot the ones who only write for money and have no heart and soul invested in it.

      Thank you for the visit; I hope you enjoyed what we had for dinner. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Julie! I'm on a crusade to clean up the writing and improve content in the writing world....it's the teacher in me straining to break free. :)

    • CrisSp profile image

      CrisSp 4 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      I couldn't agree more on this Bill. Like you, much as I would like to earn those $'s, I couldn't do it entirely for the sake of SEO. Maybe, I am not that business person but when I write, I write from the heart and from what I feel and what I know. It could be fun stuff, sorrowful or simply sharing my experiences. I am vulnerable that way and maybe, that is why I don't have a niche. It's good enough for me to express myself and my thoughts in a way that people can relate...I guess, most artists are that way.

      I am a writer. I am an artist. I am a happy camper! ♥

      Thanks Bill!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Bill! What's interesting about your topics is that they are already SEO friendly without you having to do anything. Anyone looking for information on any of the places you write about will instantly find you waiting for them. You have kind of cornered the market on European vacation sites. Very cool!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Cris, you stated it perfectly, and I agree completely. Writing is an art form and it should be treated as such. I am so happy to follow you; you speak my language. :)

      blessings to you my friend

      bill

    • nanderson500 profile image

      nanderson500 4 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Great hub, billybuc. I agree with you about SEO. To tell you the truth, I don't really even understand how it works. Maybe that's actually a good thing? Again, nice job. Voted up, awesome, and interesting.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Bill, I love the lines " Have enough pride in your work so that when you look at it years from now, you can smile, and nod your head, and feel pride in it". That says it all isn't it? Content is king and SEO is secondary. Good content will invite readers to share the content over and over again. This is my personal feeling. Though SEO is important in this age of online writing for the work to be searched and listed higher, content remains topmost on the list.

      Useful and interesting points you make here.

      Votes up, useful and shared.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Nanderson, in this case, I think ignorance is bliss! :) Seriously, the niche you have with pro football really doesn't require much SEO planning....your SEO keywords are really already there with you just writing normally.

      Thank you for your visit my friend!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Rajan, as always, thank you my friend! I feel strongly about the content. Whether one writes about topics as I do, or one writes about "evergreen" topics, content is still the most important factor.

      Blessings to you and yours my friend!

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      Gail Sobotkin 4 years ago from South Carolina

      Bravo! Bravo! With more than 100,000 page views under your belt it's quite obvious that staying true to your unique voice and style has been working well for you!

      As always, you are an inspiration and a teacher.

      Voted up across the board except for funny.

      Hub Hugs,

      Gail

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Gail, you are wonderful for my self-esteem. :) Thank you so much! I just don't want to see the day when all writers are more concerned with pleasing Google than they are with pleasing their readers and themselves.

    • rcrumple profile image

      Rich 4 years ago from Kentucky

      Bill, Let me help you out here. Google, Google, Google, Google, Google, Google, Google, Google, Google, Google, Google, Google, Google, Google, Google, Google, Google, Google, Google, Google, Google, Google, Google, Google, Google, and Google. That ought to take care of the Sh--- Engine Oddities that are "required" to make it big. A true writer doesn't stoop down to cater to the computer. That's only for those wishing to remain politically correct and continue to be herded like a flock of flocking sheep. There's a tremendous amount of creative writing and such doing well on HP's, even if the gods above can't see it. They're not turning away any of the cash it's bringing in, that's for sure. When a writer caters to the machine, he is no longer a writer, he is a puppet. Damn the search engines and full speed ahead. I have only one life to give to my writing, so let me do so in the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness. And in the words of a great president, "How did the play end?" Great job, my friend!

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 4 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      I just have one quick word here - Picasso painted as he wanted, Steinbeck wrote as he wanted and billybuc will write as he wants. Your hubs are classic!

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for this.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 4 years ago from United States

      I am so glad you wrote this hub as I fully agree. Content is king and SEO is useless is a poorly written, boring article. You have your style of writing and it works quite well for you obviously. I choose topic I am interested in or that I think might help someone. I do look at keywords and try to incorporate them, but not write an article based on them. I am not writing too often right now due to health issues, but I'll pick it back up when I can. Voted up, useful and awesome!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Audrey, coming from you that is high praise. Thank you my dear and may you have a wonderful day!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Martin, my pleasure. Thank you Sir!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Pamela, when I hear a quality writer such as yourself confirm my thoughts, then I know I'm on the right track. Thank you my friend and I'm wishing you good health and best wishes today and always.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Rich, "when a writer caters to the machine he is no longer a writer." True words my friend, and I can't think of anything to add to them. Have a great day and thank you Sir!

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

      I have to say that i am rather surprised some of my hubs have not been pulled for lack of SEO search content. I suppose I consider you one of my absolute favorites because you write from your heart and not from a SEO dictating process. I have yet to read one of your hubs that hasn't completely made me PMP, capture my interest, make me think or touch my heart.

      I don't know about SEO but many of your hubs certainly meet PMP content conditions!

      Keep on keepin on my friend.

      XO Beckie

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Beckie....LMAO...perhaps that should be the new Hubpages standard...the PMP test! :) Thank you my dear; I support and respect you for the same reasons. I believe writers should write; they shouldn't worry about views or artificial standards based on a computer. Just my way of thinking!

      Sending you blessings always,

      bill

    • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

      TIMETRAVELER2 4 years ago

      When I first started writing online for another site, I was told that this type of writing is different from regular writing. I didn't understand what was meant by that statement, but I understand now. Writing online IS different...why? Because it is fueled by money, not creativity. If you want the money, you have to bend to the needs of your clients, but in doing so, you lose yourself. It is very hard to balance those two things, but some are able to do so. I agree with you totally about what you wrote here, but I wonder how much more success you would have had if you had written for a different type of venue. This one is easier and gives greater visibility, but I think to be able to produce truly creative writing, one must look beyond HP and similar venues. You have a big novel in you my friend, don't hesitate to pursue it.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Time, so good to see you! You have said it all in your comment; nothing else for me to add. Thank you for your faith in my writing abilities. Perhaps there is another book or two in this old warhorse. :) I have given some thought to another venue; time seems to be my biggest enemy right now, but I'm working on it.

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      Ann Carr 4 years ago from SW England

      Amen to all that! I so, so agree with you. Writing is a superb art form; you can paint a picture, be a voice, sculpt a figure and more with just a few words well crafted. I am appalled at the lack of grammar and phraseology I see and hear around me, including television presenters, even news reports. Interest and humour and well-formulated writing gets the audiences and keeps them. I hope you continue to write the way you do (of which I have no doubt) and I will continue to write about what I know and enjoy. I must get round to reading one of your books sometime soon - that's the good thing about a favourite writer, you can trust them to produce quality stuff all the time. I wish you success in all of it.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ann, it's so nice to see you; you were one of my earliest, loyalist followers, and I appreciate you greatly. Obviously I agree with everything you wrote; this whole bastardization of writing because of SEO is a dead end for any serious writing.

      Thank you Ann!

    • Mary Merriment profile image

      Mary Merriment 4 years ago from Boise area, Idaho

      Well said. SEO work is the part of writing that I look forward to the least. Even worse, proper keywords now may decline and weaken your article later. So SEO takes a lot of maintenance as well... very frustrating. But you're right, there is a difference between a well written and captivating article and something that's just smothered with all the right keywords.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mary, it is a fine line we walk, and there are times I just don't care to walk that line. :) If I have a message, then I'm writing it, and if the SEO gods don't like it....oh well!

      Thank you for your comment; I appreciate you stopping by again.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

      I've been learning the ins and outs of SEO and still don't always get it, but I get writing from the heart. I've been trying to do both, but it gets hard. I think that if Steinbeck had written for SEO success then the world would be worse off. Great choice of authors to highlight and he is one of my all time greats! Can't read Of Mice and Men without crying like a baby from beginning to end.

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      Theresa Ast 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Yes, yes, yes. There is commercial writing, often done very badly, and there s personal - from the heart and soul - writing. Life is too short to waste on the former. I am always amazed when I read a hubber who says they have gone back and pulled 20 or 30% of what they wrote a year or so ago. I think my stuff holds up reasonably well... at least I want it to, I mean for it too. I don''t have real high hits or numbers and that is OK. I am writing for a particular demographic, not everyone. Ignoring the SEO expectations and all the "how to monetize advice" early on is actually what made me decide to stay with HP. You have written another great essay. Thank you. :) ~~Theresa

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Glimmer, whenever I start feeling like I have reached the pinnacle, all I have to do is read Steinbeck to prove to me I have a long way to go in this business. :)

      Thank you, and don't feel alone about SEO; it's confusing to many of us.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Theresa, thank you for labeling this as an essay....I am an essayist and proud of it. I like your comment about pulling hubs; I'm satisfied with my essays, and they do stand the test of time. That's all I care about, to write something that will hold up for years and still be relevant.

    • Kimberly Turner profile image

      Kimberly Quevedo 4 years ago from New Jersey

      I love this article! So many people get caught up in how others will find their article, but they forget to concentrate and focus on the style, art form and content of the actual article. More and more I see "junk" articles and surprised to find a lot of others don't see the art form, the grammar and the style missing from it. Yes SEO is important in today's society but style and form should not be sacrificed! This article was very engaging! Look forward to more of your posts.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Kimberly, so nice of you to return. I'm a former teacher, and I can't sit still for too many articles that are lacking content and style. It drives me crazy!!!!!!! LOL

      I am heading over to your site now; thank you again!

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      Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

      Bill, I so agree with you; SEO is crap! So many of the keywords we are given as writers just do not make sense and don't flow properly in the context. It is so frustrating and dimishes a writer's creativity, not to mention appreciation for proper grammar!

      And, yes, much of what is on the 'net is pure crap because it's SEO oriented and that's that! When I research a topic and come upon an article with poor grammar or repetitive sentences, I quickly close it because I know without a doubt the infomation is not valid or true.

      This is why I want to be a creative writer; poems, short stories, novels. Unfortunately I have to play the SEO game first. I never should have left the market in the 80's. There was no such thing as SEO. Mention a client's phone number three times, yes, but no nonsensical repetition of words. In fact, that was frowned upon! Hello? Thesaurus anyone?

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sha, how many people do you think even know about the thesaurus? The numbers are diminishing for sure.

      We all have to pay the bills, and I'm willing to do SEO to pay the rent, but I'll be damned if I'll play this game with my creative writing. It's not worth it to me.

      Thank you my dear; sending hugs and love your way.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

      I agree with you, Bill. I only do it to earn a meager living, but I'm not satisfyied with the end result because SEO throws incongruency into the mix. This creative writer resents the hell out of that!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sha, indeed, there is a certain amount of resentment involved. LOL

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      Peter Messerschmidt 4 years ago from Port Townsend

      We must write what we're passionate about; what moves us. "Quality content" matters... BUT we must remember that "one person's quality is another's trash" and not get too hung up on it. The person who reads Steinbeck isn't necessarily going to want to read a treatise about mutual funds. And I think the downfall of a lot of hubbers is that they think their stuff must appeal to EVERYone. A lot of anxiety could be avoided if people would just focus on being "all that" to their 2% niche of the web instead of trying to reach everyone under the sun.

      It's a bit like the facebook and twitter "popularity contests." People say "like me, and I'll like you back." Gurus can teach me "how to get 100,000 followers!" People believe the answer is to have a million "followers." It isn't. What we need is a thousand READERS, not a million "followers."

      Your writing is real, interesting; provides useful information. It's authentic; it's your voice; it ENGAGES people. It's what you need to grow a dedicated following; a fan base. Building it may be a slow organic process. . . but here's a thought for you (and everyone else): The people who told Steinbeck, Hemingway and others to write "more popular" stuff... where are THEIR books, today?

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Denmark, what a great comment, and you are right of course. I chuckle when I see the Facebook posts asking for "friends or followers." What does that mean? You are also right on about finding the niche. I'm not sure if I'm still looking, or if I've found it, but I'm getting closer. I can feel that in my bones....now, as you say, the slow organic process begins.

      Thank you for some great thoughts!

    • profile image

      student122 4 years ago

      I couldn't agree more with your article. I love it.

    • Kenja profile image

      Ken Taub 4 years ago from Long Island, NY

      Great opening quote; great excerpt from the book; and great commentary by you right after it. Simple, potent, fine. And I for one am glad that there was no SEO 70 years ago when Mr. Steinbeck authored away from his gut, carving words from his life, and his heart. best regards, Ken

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Student! I appreciate you visiting my little old site.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ken, that was a great comment. Thank you my new friend. I, of course, agree.....writing from the gut....it's the only way to write. :)

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