HOPEFULLY by now you have started a regular online publishing schedule. If not, scoot over to Writer, start online publishing! and get up to speed. In this session, you’ll probably be pleased to read we’re going to start getting to grips with some writing technique.
What kind of writer are you?
If, like me, you started regular online publishing without much direction, it’s time to start refining your style. To achieve this, analyse what you’ve written to date on your site, and the work you have written in the past. What does this work have in common? Is there a theme, or several themes? If someone were to ask you what you write about, what is your answer? If you don’t have a response, it’s time to work it out. After publishing online regularly for a few months, I realised I was writing about writers, performers, artists and others who took risks. When asked, I said I wrote about creative rebels.
Check the menu
When you have isolated your writing themes, ensure you include these in your site menu (if you have created one. If not, you’ll want to consider at least one site menu). Menu ‘buttons’ give readers a guide to what kind of writer you are. Most websites have a ‘home’ button (navigating the reader back to your home page), an ‘about’ button (telling readers about you, the writer) and a ‘contact’ button (allowing readers to get in touch with you). Most WordPress themes will allow extra menu buttons, so use these to tell readers what themes they can explore in your online work. In order to achieve the best SEO (‘search engine optimisation’) ensure these themes are listed in your site menu buttons and your site categories and tags, as this will guide the internet to make your name synonymous with certain subjects, genres and styles. Your site buttons can be the same as your tags and categories, allowing readers to aggregate and read your articles in the same theme. Over time, I have become synonymous with LGBTIQA+ equality, writing, politics and the arts, all through my site menu, tags and categories.
Keep yourself nice
As an independent online publisher, regardless of what you write about, you are now in the driver’s seat of you own publishing empire. The buck stops with you. If you doubt this, have a read of my article The Publish Button killed the media. It’s important that you take on board the level of responsibility you have in ensuring not only good quality writing, but staying out of trouble when it comes to publishing work in the public domain. Think of the internet and social media as an international noticeboard, and ensure everything you publish there is ethical in addition to being entertaining.
Tips on writing and publishing style
I have written a series of articles on different online publishing genres. If you’re interested in writing general news and lifestyle articles, check out How to write excellent articles. If you’re interested in writing reviews and critiques, check out Critiquing guide for armchair critics. If you’re interested in writing food-related articles, check out Eating your words. If you’re writing under commercial agreements, or you’re planning to, check out The truth about writing advertorial. If you’re planning to write commercials or commercial material, check out The truth about writing commercials.
The big picture about images
WordPress has sophisticated image publishing components that allow online publishers to illustrate articles in a variety of ways. Featured Images are those that illustrate an article on your home page and stay with the story’s URL as you distribute it through the social media, but images can be inserted throughout an online article. Copyright governs the use of other people’s written content, but it also protects the use of their images, so be careful about using images that are not yours, or not in the public domain. Wikipedia and its arm Wikimedia Commons are a great source of copyright-free images (those that are in the public domain). Click on images in Wikipedia to check their copyright status, and use the image search facility in Wikimedia Commons – you’ll be surprised what is free for you to use. Often, you’ll need to attribute the photographer or the owner of images. Do this with a hyperlink from your article, and/or a caption. Adding your own photographs is best done with a watermarked caption/copyright statement to ensure others know it belongs to you.
Publisher levelling off
How are you going with your regular online writing schedule? Did you try to be too prolific, or weren’t you prolific enough? When I started, I posted one online article every week. That worked for me. Adjust your schedule to make it achievable for you and consistent for your readers. When I am pushed for time, I dig into my body of work from the print media and publish something from years ago to give it new life.
Here’s the fun part! It’s time to check on how well your metadata is working for you, and what position your website comes in at on a Google search. After a few weeks of online publishing, I appeared on page 47 of a Google search of my name. After another few weeks, I was in the top ten. After a few more weeks, I appeared on the first page every time, and have stayed there ever since through sheer prolificacy.
WARNING: Computer algorithms are so sophisticated that your device will start to put you in the No.1 spot as a matter of course. This does not mean everyone is seeing you in that place on every computer. Try googling yourself from another computer for a clearer picture of where your SEO is at. Remember, publish consistently, ensure your online articles are posted to Twitter, Facebook and your other social media assets (your ‘Web of Fabulousness’). For a reminder about the importance of this cluster of online accounts, skip back to Writer, show off your assets!
Analyse your writing to date. What kind of writer are you? What subjects do you write about? Isolate your themes and ensure they are reflected in the menu buttons of your site and the tags and categories of each of your online articles. If that means adjusting your site content, take the time to revisit and reset all your metadata. Google yourself to see how well your SEO is working, and ensure you’re using copyright-free images.
An extract from Write, regardless!
© Michael Burge, all rights reserved.