Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Debating Myself About a Possible New Writing Gig

I've been publishing at for just over six weeks. It's going well, I think. I have 30 articles up and running. I'm getting about 60 to 70 page views a day (not great, but I'll take it). I'm earning a little money, emphasis on the little right now. I have no shortage of topics to write about. I've written in five categories so far, and have a couple more I could tackle with almost no research. Fulfilling my ongoing contract commitment of 10 articles every three months should be a breeze.

Yet I'm starting to wonder how posting at this site will help me with my stated goal of building a platform to enhance the chance to publish my books with a royalty publisher. A platform in this sense would consist of two things: a ready-made audience, and a history of successful publishing. Suite 101 sort of fulfills the second. While my articles are not edited before I post them, they are subject to an editor's scrutiny after posting, and the editor can call for edits or even disable the article if the writing isn't up to expected standards. So I see these as (somewhat) real publishing credits.

On the other hand, I don't believe this is bringing me any audience. Almost all my Suite 101 articles are accessed from search engine searches. Someone looks into a topic and they Google it or Bing it. If I've done my writing correctly, using multiple key words in title, subtitle, lead paragraph, and subheadings, I'll show up on the first page of hits and someone will click on my article. But no one is out there thinking, "I like Dave Todd's articles. I think I'll go to Suite 101 and see if he's written anything new." Ain't gonna happen, even after I get to 100 or even 1000 articles. This is because Suite 101's strategy and publishing model is based on search engine dynamics, not on loyal following. Nothing wrong with that. It's a valid strategy.

Other alternatives exist for Internet publishing for pay, which I have been slowly evaluating. Some pay up front for targeted articles. Some pay based on page views. Some pay on a mixture. Each one seems to have a different strategy, though all include some degree of search engine optimization.

One site that seems to be a little different from the others is This is set up as more of an on-line newspaper. When you click on the home site, you will be automatically be re-directed to the Examiner site nearest your location. In their model, the freelancers are identified by topic: the Boston Sports Examiner, the Denver Food Examiner, the St. Louis Stay-at-Home Mom Examiner, etc. They have numerous topics and numerous locations, and are expanding both all the time. Examiners post articles in their topics, each article generating a new web page. The site looks a little like a blog, but also a little like an on-line newspaper. People actually subscribe to the feeds, either through RSS or other means. The articles receive comments.

It appears Examiner is shooting for a combination of loyal reader following and search engine optimization as the means to attract readers. They pay based mostly on page views, but also on unique visitors and length of visit. Ad clicks don't seem to enter into writer payment. Writers are less essayists and content writers than they are reporters. In fact, many examiners say they obtain press passes and get to attend events as the media. It's a different model, and would seem to better fulfill the developing a ready-made audience than does Suite 101. Nothing wrong with either, just different approaches.

For a number of posts, not necessarily consecutive, I'm going to publicly debate this site as an alternate to Not in terms of abandoning Suite 101, but rather as a second venue to better work on the dual planks of platform development. I don't know how long this debate will last, but I'm thinking a week or so. If I do this, I want to do it fairly quickly. If anyone wants to look at either site and give me some ideas via comments, please feel free to do so.

I'll start the debate now.
Objection: I don't have time for another activity! What am I thinking, considering a new writing activity when I can't get to the ones I have now. As I feared, most of my time available for writing has been consumed with writing for Suite 101 or pursuing freelance writing in print media. I would be out of my mind to take on something else.
Answer: I can easily back off on the time I spend with Suite 101. I posted 30 articles in just over six weeks., or five a week per average. I only need to publish less than one per week. So the time is there, I would just need to prioritize.
Answer: I actually have found time to write on other things. I'm working on my Harmony of the gospels, on Bible studies, and a little on my novel. I even squeezed in some poetry writing and critiques during this time. So I suppose I can't really say all my creative writing time has been tapped out.
Answer: Even if I have to spend more time on freelancing to be able to write for Examiner, wouldn't the time be well spent if it leads to 1) revenue in the short-term and 2) enhanced book publishing prospects in the long-term?

More debate in other posts. Let me hear from you.

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