Pose for the paparazzi. Autograph your books.
Write like a dream, promote like a rock star.
Fame and fortune are yours!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

*Free* blogging resources for unemployed writers (pt 1)

In addition to my publishing ventures I used to work as a corporate communications consultant at various companies. I learned the hard way that this is the first position to be cut in an economic downturn.

I can only imagine how many unemployed corporate writers are reading this blog.

Will the corporate communications specialist go the way of the factory worker? I don't know, but I do know this: corporate writers have a powerful skill set that they can begin to leverage right now. 

How? Publish your own blog. 

DIY small businesses, self-publishers, and micro-niche publishers would find your knowledge invaluable. You could become a writing star in the B2B world.

Or you could go in a completely different direction. Whatever you feel most passionate about. 

Many writers are using the daily discipline of blogging to develop content for the books they will self-publish one day. For unemployed writers, blogging is one of the best ways I know to keep writing, keep working. 

The Information Age is tailor made for our kind of work. Where many writers have fallen short, however, is on the monetary side of the ledger. We must get smarter about getting paid. Blogging is an opportunity you can't afford to pass up.

I talked to a friend about blogging and why she, a writer and healer, should consider publishing her own. Blogging is true self-publishing in the purist sense, and with the many *free* online platforms it's a no brainer. You can offer your wisdom to readers, monetize your blog with ads and affiliate programs, and market your products and services.

I love the discipline of writing that blogging requires, and I really love that you can make money. Maybe not right away, but enough people are making money to give me hope.

Before publishing your own blog, read my articles about author branding here and here. Make sure that your blog's overall look and content authentically represent what you're all about. That will take some brainstorming and planning.

As you start researching this topic you'll find a lot of pricey programs, get rich quick schemes, and ridiculous promises being made. A word to the wise: don't spend too much (if anything), and don't believe everything you read.

The following online resources are *free* and will be very helpful in publishing and monetizing your own blog. I'm still a novice at blogging, but here's what I've been learning and using so far. (Read to the end to see how I'm doing.)

1. Steve Pavlina. This guy is a master at providing quality content and making money online. You can tell the blogs that are just in it for the money a mile away. The content is rehashed and watered down. Oh, but there are a million ads on the site. Read "How to Make Money From Your Blog" to get an outstanding overview of the entire process. From a writer's perspective, I found Steve's focus on excellent content right on the mark. Even though the article was written in 2006, it is still useful, despite all the latest tech developments on the web since then. At 7,300 words, this is a very generous offering to the blogging community. (Note to writers: Steve's traffic is so high that he got a book deal with Hay House.) 

2. Google AdWords: Keyword Tool. If your goal is to be read by the widest audience possible for your niche topic and to make money, you'll want to know the top keywords people are using to search for blogs like yours. Skilled writers will have no problem creatively incorporating those top keywords into their articles, meta tags, and labels to drive targeted traffic to their site. Also, this tool is a Godsend for the dry times when you've run out of things to write about (it happens). The goldmine of words and phrases that can pop up in a search will stimulate all kinds of ideas for articles. Best of all, Google's keyword tool is free, unlike some comparable tools. 

3. 23 Free Blogging Platforms. I like Blogger, but other platforms may be better suited to your needs. Web Hosting Secret Revealed reviews 23 free platforms. (Update: after reading what Steve Pavlina says about Blogger I may have to reconsider. Still learning!)

4. The Book Marketing Network. Let's say you've self-published a book or two and are looking for ways to promote your work and drive traffic to your site. John Kremer's website (here) offers a wealth of ideas. If that rich site wasn't enough, John's Book Marketing Network gives writers another blogging platform to market their books and sites. I use my blog at the site to drive targeted traffic to The Celebrity Editor. It's a DIY way to syndicate your blog. 

5. Facebook and Twitter. When I first launched The Celebrity Editor, I knew I'd have to become a social butterfly to drive traffic to my blog. My teen daughter would roll her eyes if she read this but I have been amazed to discover that whenever I click the Facebook and Twitter buttons that Blogger provides to alert friends about a new post, my traffic increases. It's like magic! The more friends and followers, the better your blog traffic. 

6. Dating sites. Some dating and friendship sites have blogging platforms. Use them to syndicate your blog. (The same idea applies to topic-specific sites and portals, such as those for crafts, hobbies, fashion, sports, ufo's, etc.). I decided to launch a blog on one dating site just for the purpose of syndicating The Celebrity Editor. As a free way to build links to my blog, it has been valuable. So far I haven't gotten traffic from this site, but I have gotten a lot of notes from guys wanting to talk. I guess that's ok.

7. Adsense. The first step in your monetization strategy will probably be to get an Adsense account and then activate the program on your blog. I've spent a lot of time reading about Adsense, and I have to admit I'm not fully versed (yet). But basically, when you sign on to Adsense, you're giving Google permission to place ads on your blog. This is why you must be aggressive about driving traffic to your site. You want targeted viewers interested in your content because Google's magical formula matches ad content to your articles. Some bloggers are making a healthy living with Adsense, which fires me up.

8. Free blogging templates. If you don't like the templates that your blogging service provides, there are many sites out there that provide free templates. Rahul Jadhav at CoolTipsNTricks.com has made it his mission to sort through the hundreds, maybe thousands, of free blogging templates out there. I haven't used any of the templates, but I have used some of Rahul's tips 'n tricks. 

9. Professional membership directories. Are you a member of a trade association? Usually as a free service to members or as a benefit of paid membership, many allow members to provide their contact information online, including their blog/website url. This provides yet another link to your site and could drive targeted traffic there, too.

10. Alexa ranking. Download this free handy tool to see how your site is doing compared to all other sites on the Internet. The lower your rank (Amazon's rank is 15), the better. 

So how am I doing? 

When I first launched The Celebrity Editor on Sept. 25, 2010, my Alexa ranking was in the 4 million range (can't remember exactly). But as I've worked hard to produce content for you and implement the tips you've read in this post, I'm happy to say that as of today, Nov. 16, 2010, my Alexa rank is 806,218. I don't know about anybody else's progress, but that's enough to keep me motivated to serve my writing stars! 

I had some Adsense issues, and it took awhile to get the program activated so I don't have anything to report, except that I'm happy that Adsense is now working.

To reiterate, blogging is not a get-rich-quick scheme, but we can have hope and feel empowered. If I was working 9 to 5, I'd be terrified about getting laid off, especially in this economy. But no one can lay me off from blogging. Further, I get to write about my interests, and no one owns my content but me. Blogging and my client work keep me busy and, dare I say, happy.

Blogging gets a bad rap for many reasons, but mostly there's a lot of haterism out there. Blogs put self-publishing power into the hands of we the people. We're no longer so dependent on newspapers, magazines, journals, and publishers to communicate our message – although as you build traffic to your blog they may come looking for you. As a writer, I find that exciting. 

I'm still learning about the wonderful world of blogging, and as I learn more, I'll pass it on to you.

Donna Marie

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