Monday, October 22, 2012

2012 My Year of Writer Transformation Part 2

Happy autumn and Happy Halloween! Fall is in full swing in the Hudson Valley, and driving back across the Rip Van Winkle Bridge, from Catskill to Hudson, the trees and mountains here are ablaze with red, orange and gold. It truly does look like a picture postcard and at times like these, I am reminded how blessed I am to live in this area of the country and New York State. It certainly provides plenty of inspiration for me as a writer.

There was so much going on in September, I didn’t get to blog. I’ve been devoting my time to writing my second book, a follow up to my “Soul Tripper” memoir.

My last blog post mentioned the importance of writing what YOU want to write, and being passionate about your writing. I’ve had some feedback about that and notice it struck a chord with other writers. In my personal experience, it is that passion for writing that will carry you through the ups and downs of the writing life, and help you find the motivation and determination to see your writing projects through to completion.

A burning passion to write, or a passion to complete a specific project, is like a beacon of light or driving force, fired up inside you. This all consuming passion is the missing link to explain why some writers quit writing and give up their dreams while others go on to publish their work and find creative and personal fulfillment as writers.

For instance, a few summers ago I had a glimmer of an idea to write a memoir. A friend supported the idea when I briefly mentioned it, so that gave me courage to outline my thoughts and write the first chapter. As I wrote, my passion grew, so I kept on working on my memoir. I did so in almost complete privacy and secrecy, just me and the writing, so I could only rely on myself for support and motivation.

I got distracted by things going on in my life and felt blocked for a while but I never gave up on the idea of finishing the work. It became a passionate dream! I suppose I needed to take a break and live more before I could finish my memoir, but as soon as the ideas started flowing again, I ran with them!

I spent all last summer writing and editing, then self publishing my book. Even though I was ill with an upper respiratory infection that July into August and my sides hurt and it often felt painful to breathe, I still wrote on notepads, scraps of paper and then the computer, to get the project done. I even had a mishap where I bumped my head in our basement, giving me a headache, but still I was driven to write whenever I could. Nothing could stop me from finishing my memoir, as I had a burning passion.

This summer into fall, it’s the same way. I had an idea for a second follow up book to “Soul Tripper” and I’ve been running with the idea, driven by a similar passion I exhibited last summer. This passion has helped me get halfway through writing the new book, and I continue to write during periods of upheaval in my life. I hope to be finished with my first draft by the holidays then publish my book sometime after the New Year.

At the same time I’m doing this, I’ve been trying to decide between working as a teacher assistant, or studying computer graphics or web design/development. Rather than trying to write a ton of web content I don’t care about in order to raise my revenues, I think I’d prefer a day job that is supportive but gives me time to pursue the writing I am passionate about, even if memoir doesn’t make lots of money.

I find that solution works best for me, because I’m simply not that enthusiastic about online writing anymore. I used to believe that if I published enough articles on certain writing sites, I could build passive residual income that would support me. In the wake of search engine updates like Google Panda, that doesn’t seem like a reality. I’ve been feeling a bit burned out doing the writing I’ve worked on for the past five years.

Importance of Diversification for Writers

When I began freelance writing a few years ago, the online universe was a much different landscape. I was making good money at writing sites. I was writing about topics I cared about but also creating articles that I thought would get me some page views or had popular keywords. As a result, my writer portfolio is quite varied. I covered topics near to my heart, like animal rescue and ovarian cancer awareness and I wrote arts and culture reviews and Hudson Valley travel articles, for the love of it.

But I also wrote stories about hot celebrities, like ins and outs of the marital breakup of Sandra Bullock as well as the ramifications of Justin Bieber’s new hairstyle (also his new celebrity perfume for women!) That wasn’t my passion, and I longed to express myself creatively!

The search engine algorithm changes that devastated writing income for many people are a wakeup call. Are you really writing what you love? And are you going to put your fate and revenues in the hands of writing sites? And here’s the big one: are you going to write stuff you aren’t excited about just to eke out a few pennies online?

Several years ago, I made a huge mistake of NOT diversifying my online income. I started working at only a few writing sites, depending on them for my passive residual income streams. Specifically, I relied on the old Associated Content, and Xomba. Back in the old days, I was very pleased with those revenues and could see them growing. I also had a nice payment from eHow and Demand Studios, which is now over.

All over the internet, on online writing message boards, I could feel the pain of writers when they cried out, how will I pay my mortgage with the suspension of eHow? How will I survive economically now that Panda has devastated my online earnings from writing sites?

The answer my friends, is to be extremely proactive! Diversify your income streams as a writer and create your own writing opportunities to control your own income! Don’t rely on one or two sources for your writing revenues; if one or both go under or cut your income, you’ll lose everything. Instead, diversify your income and generate your revenue streams from several varied sources: not spreading yourself too thin as a writer, but having just enough diversity to ensure you won’t lose all your income.

How to Make Money as a Freelance Writer 2013:

Here are some tips to take charge of your income and diversify your writing efforts now, and in the New Year:

1. Create Your Own Income Producing Web sites

Starting your own web site is an excellent way to take control of your writer revenues. One of my goals for the future involves creating my own niche sites for my local travel writing and photography. It is helpful to research high paying niches and keywords when considering topics for a site; however, write what YOU want to write. It’s all about passion! I believe if you are passionate enough about your topic and create great content, using good SEO practices, and make an effort to monetize and promote your site, you’ll get visitors and could make a decent amount of income.

2. Build and Monetize Your Blogs

If you don’t want to create an actual web site, set up a blog with high quality content, using good keywords and SEO, then monetize it with AdSense and affiliate programs like Amazon, and more! If you get proficient with blogging, answer ads on job boards seeking professional bloggers, as blogging can be a real money maker (look at Darren Rowse and ProBlogger!)

The wonderful thing about blogging at places like Blogger is: you keep one hundred per cent of your AdSense revenues and don’t have to share them with a writing site. The downside is: the writing sites may have more traffic than your blog, so it’s easy to get too comfortable publishing your articles to those sites and settling for a meager share of revenue. Careful research about blog promotion should help generate more traffic to your budding blog.

3. Sell Your Photography

If you are doing any kind of travel writing, you know that excellent high quality photos help sell your story to potential editors. All those photos, if you kept the rights to your work, can be sold as stock photography. There are quite a few stock photography sites on the internet that welcome good quality photos from semi professional photographers, so why not make extra money from all your pictures? (Things like stock photography and professional blogging can be real money makers; some people find the sale of photography a lot more lucrative than their writing.)

4. Write and Sell Your Own Books and eBooks

Take charge of your writer income by self publishing your own book and rigorously promoting your work! Do you have a burning passion to write that novel or book of poems or anthology of short stories? Then just do it! Modern advances in technology and publishing have made it possible for anyone to write what they wish and self publish their work, even for free!

I wrote and self published my first book entirely for free and you can too...but that’s a blog post for another day!

You can publish your work as print copies, but it is even more lucrative to make your book available as an eBook, for devices like Kindle readers. I self published my book with CreateSpace and my work is available on; I haven’t created the eBook yet, maybe because I’m old fashioned and I like to see my work in book form (Jane Austen is my idol and I’m pretty sure she didn’t have a Kindle, she read actual books).

5. Search for Higher Paying Print and Online Jobs That Offer Upfront Payment

I just got a copy of the new 2013 Writer’s Market Deluxe Edition, and it is fantastic! It’s a huge soft cover book of almost a thousand pages full of helpful information and articles, and writing markets to explore plus access to the online tools and database of

If you think writing for print publications is dead, think again, as Writer’s Market is full of markets that pay quite well. Just glance at the shelves of your local bookstore like Barnes and Noble, crammed full of magazines to buy, and you’ll see that people do still read printed magazines.

This coming year, I’m definitely exploring writing for higher paying print publications, as there is so much low paying content writing work out there. Browsing Writer’s Market, I notice that some specialties I’m interested in, like writing about animals, don’t pay as much as technology and science writing. I saw one magazine in the subject category of science writing that paid thousands of dollars for one article, even up to five figures! That’s a lot of money!

I’ll also scan online job boards for better paying work. I want to be paid a decent amount in upfront pay for writing jobs, not just settle for pennies. This doesn’t work for me anymore: content sites that pay solely through revenue sharing or page views only.

In 2012, I heard of writers making money online at these sites: Yahoo Contributor Network, Constant Content, oDesk, Writer Access and Squidoo. Some writers seemed pleased with the opportunities there; the only one I have personal experience writing for is Yahoo. I might look into some of these sites in 2013, but my plan to make money writing is a broad one, and they won’t be my only focus.

I’m not putting all my eggs in the content writing basket anymore!

In 2013, let’s find the passion in our work, drawing a sacred circle around our dreams to protect them from negative outside forces. Let’s look for employment or a second complementary career that allows us time to write, and when we do sit down to create, let’s write very passionately, from our heart and soul.

It can be hard on the spirit, to almost literally give our writing away to sites and places that simply don’t pay. So let’s look for ways to create abundance, to take charge and control of our writing revenues by working smarter, generating our own income producing opportunities, and diversifying our revenue across a variety of sources.

To borrow some words I’ve heard flying around the presidential campaign:

Are you in?

Hey if that politician in the debates has a five point plan, why can’t I? I’m not running for office, but this is my five point plan to help you make money writing--just because I love writers.

I wish you a very happy, healthy productive fall. Keep writing!

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