Sunday, July 1, 2012

Learning to Write Articles for Percentages of Pennies Per Page View Inspires Me to Keep at It

In Summer, 2010, I got together at Under the Umbrella cafe with two other writers to chat, become re-inspired, and glean some ideas about writing.

I had been thinking a lot about all of my talents and joys and I wondered how I could implement more of those things into my life. I have had more than fifty jobs because it is challenging for me to not become miserable when my interests and abilities are not engaged and of course, I have been searching for that job that is a joy and not a challenge because of the lack of engagement related above.

I had come across the Strengthfinder book and while it offered some really good insights about how I work best and how I learn, I still felt a bit lost. Most of my skills have been best utilized in my volunteer work with internships and non-profits. I enjoy working in those sectors because there is usually a lot of freedom there to explore, learn, and hone skills. Of course, the pay is not great if it is a tad above nil. A lot of CEOs at non-profits get a pittance if anything at all. Also, my work description, if it existed, was fuzzy and not backed by proper certifications so that I might move forward with those skills into future employment. This was probably mostly my fault because at any of those situations, I have usually had the freedom to at some level create my own position. I suppose as a writer, I can write that in, create the titles and such if I need/want to....

At any rate, getting back to the meeting: One of the things that I really wanted was to step significantly back into my writing life. I wanted to learn ways in which I might be able to make a little money with it. I'd heard that you can still make some ducats writing sci fi and romance novels but these are things that aren't too much of an interest to me, despite my attempt to write just about everything. I'd applied for a technical writing position and made it halfway through the editing portion of the interview, and when I became so bored to literal tears, I decided I couldn't go that route. I would pull every hair out of my head in grips.

The three writers at Under the Umbrella talked a bit about freelancing. I'd wondered if freelancing was a bit dead. Nonetheless, I seemed to know people who did freelance and at least two who did well enough to eat and have shelter by. One of those people was at the table.

I knew that I had become a fairly decent writer. I'd won some awards and scholarships for writing and have even published a little. When I wrote for a fellowship, despite the site saying that those who were not accepted would not get a letter, I got a letter saying that my work was worthy of some program, that there was no doubt I would do well in any program that might accept me, and that perhaps I should try the fellowship again with new material.

The chat at Under the Umbrella was a relief as well as a boon. Recently, I have been trying to fulfill the advice that I obtained there from the freelancer who feeds and houses himself with the work. The advice was a simple first step. Write a blog post everyday on any subject, about 250-300 words, before making inquiries into freelancing gigs. Write about everything. Write about products in your fridge. Write about books you've read, records you've listened to. Anything and then Presto (!) you have a portfolio.

I've taken the advice to heart, even if I don't make the goal of writing something 7 days a week. I have to keep in mind that I am learning, too. I want to write very good articles that are informative and valuable to readers. I haven't practiced journalism since Junior High School. Not everyone takes blogs seriously, and I don't even know if anyone really reads these things. The solution? A dear friend of mine told me some time ago about Yahoo Voices. It's a website which is very similar to Examiner or Yourhub. Anyone can submit articles to the site and there are varying levels of writerly ability there. I have been watching some very good writers, some freelancers, to try to gain more skills. I have also begun to submit to the site on a regular basis. I like the site even though I rarely make a per article up-front pay (and the most I have made so far is $3.02). The boons from the site are priceless to me, though. Even the percentages of pennies I earn per page view are incentive for me to continue. I am making more there with a writing exercise than I am on my blog and the possibility for an audience is increased by the nature of the site. Further, when I ask for up-front pays, I get very good tidbits from the editors who teach good journalism (ie using full disclosure, getting permissions, and nixing assumptions in articles). The experience is good and helping me keep my gumption up.

I'd suggest it to anyone who wants to try.

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