Mar 292012
 
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‘Well, who’d want to hire a crappy writer’, I want to scream at these ads I read on freelancer.com or craigslist, on just about everywhere else. Like you I search the boards, get email updates for writing work, I am out and about hustling my freelancing ass to the far corners of the globe trying to find decent paying gigs (or even just gigs that pay) as I live the dream of being a writer. And I don’t care if you are penning SEO content (which I do a lot of the time) or writing anything else for hire, you want to be paid a decent wage, doncha?

But I see jobs for ridiculously low pay on highly respected writing boards all the time! And all anybody ever wants is to hire a good writer, someone well-versed in exactly the kind of writing an employer needs, but that employer is not willing to pay the right amount of money, they expect samples (and we all know what that means…they cull a bunch of free samples from a bunch of writers, gather all the content they need and never hire a writer) and they don’t understand why they have to keep posting!

Here’s my quick and easy take: You went and hired whomever you hired or at the very least took the time to create your website (and granted that can be done easily these days in wordpress and the like) but still it cost you time, effort and consideration, right? Why cheap-out and pay so little for a writer to create content (SEO or otherwise) that could literally make or break your website. And I double dog guarantee you if you do cheap-out you are going to get what you pay for as most writers worth anything know what they are worth (give or take) and will charge accordingly and will work with a client to bring in quality work for a budget. Our work is our resume after all and we want to do lots of it, well, but get paid a fair wage.

So, while you might be a good writer and clients might be looking for good writers beware….not so many are ready to pay a good price for good writing.

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Mar 182012
 
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Images copywright by owner, NOT writesex

The biggest thing authors, both old and new, have to deal with is growing your audience.  If you’re old guard and established, take a look at your career level and ask yourself if you’re comfortable with where you’re at or if you’d like more growth.  By this I mean do you wish to expand your audience (and your royalty check) and make a bigger name for yourself?

If you’re just starting out, can you grow your audience quickly?

Well, yes and no.  The biggest challenge any author I know has is trying to figure out how to expand their readership without resorting to practically giving away the product.  I’ll never support the artist mentality of being poor, broke, starving, sober and happy.  It doesn’t pay the bills.  But what does?

We’ve covered enough plotting and scene structure of a story, plus a plethora of other things in this blog to date that should help the author write solid marketable stories.  Jean Marie has covered the factors that make an author successful from an erotic publisher’s standpoint and we’ve gone over other aspects of craft.  By now you can write a story, novella or novel that a publisher should consider buying.  But the biggest mistake most authors make in marketing their sold products is in how they go about marketing.

From a typical author’s standpoint, there are the following options:

  • Online chats
  • Facebook and Twitter
  • Blogging and Blog Tours
  • Business cards
  • Convention attendance

Online chats tend to be a waste of time, social media is a skill many do not possess, blogging and blog tours require tons of time spent writing posts that balance the close of a sale and the content management designed to keep readership up, BUT done successfully they work.

The last two require an outpouring of funds from the author, which is not always a smart move since it doesn’t make financial sense. If you’re talking about a low level convention such as last year’s Erotic Author’s Association Convention in Las Vegas, we’re talking air fare, hotel fare, convention fare (they stupidly didn’t wave fees for their speakers) and food.  If it’s a more upscale and established convention like RWA Nationals, we’re talking hundreds of dollars if not more for just air fare and hotel PLUS convention fees.  At least the folks at EAA kept the entrance fee fairly accessible.

If your royalties don’t justify going, then don’t.  MONEY FLOWS TO THE AUTHOR, NOT AWAY.  This is why I’m so against self publishing, because from a financial standpoint it makes NO sense.  Yes there are exceptions, but they’re rare. It may not be about who has the most money at the end of their career but how much does it suck to know that nice $500 royalty check you made last month got sucked in one fell swoop by a convention that historically proves a low return for authors?

So what IS the secret for growing your audience?

I hesitate to reveal it because it really is THAT simple.  Most people can’t grasp simple ideas, they seem “too easy.”

In an earlier post by Jean Marie Stine, she talked about reusing content across multiple sites and publishers, thus maximizing your income and keeping your time spent in proportion to monies earned.  Yes this isn’t so easy to do with novels and novellas but short stories are what attract the reader to you initially.  In the same vein, aren’t you writing short stories or taking your characters from the worlds you’ve created and writing short stories featuring them?  If so, the free erotic story markets are your friend.

Madison’s Cure and Other Erotica

Readers on sites like Literotica.com are voracious, many of them come back to the site to check it multiple times a day.  Their favorite author or authors may have thrown up a new story, a new chapter, a continuation of some sort or who knows!  The stats speak for themselves however.  In the first month I posted a short story from Madison’s Cure and Other Erotica: A Best Of and found myself with 23,000 hits on that story.  I followed up with a few more short stories and learned better the tricks for keywording a story to draw the attention of the reader.  This taught me how to write better promo blurbs for when I had later stories published.

The point is, using the simple tricks to avoid spending money while improving time spent will over the course of your career help grow your name.

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Jan 192012
 
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Low and behold, writers’ work is being undervalued. What a surprise!

Unfortunately from the ads I read on Freelancers Marketplace and in Craig’s List (God knows why I am still looking for work on Craig’s List, I should be looking for killers, right?) the prices for what we do have not increased, if anything they seem to be going into the toilet. Attempting to stay humble in the SEO writing I do, trying to consider myself as well as the work as simply work and nothing to get my panties all in a twist about (and if it’s a Tuesday you probably can catch me in panties) I really don’t ever gauge anybody with the prices I ask and if anything seriously all jobs that come my way, since being a freelancer you really don’t have much of a choice.

But some of these salaries,$3 per a 500 word blog, for instance? Are we kidding? There is a fine line between selling yourself and selling yourself short. I know we all need the work, I know lots of people claim they can shoot out weekly blogs, review and renew existing SEO copy or create new, but let me assure my little droogies, not everybody can do this work and those of us who can should not be treated as if we are just like everybody else, treated like it didn’t take a while to nurture these skills we have, treated like it doesn’t much matter if we work for slave wages because, let’s face it, we’re just lowly writers.

The web is the great wasteland kids, though it might make us some money and see us manage a one-handed chat or two. Everybody comes on, every puts their band’s music up on Facebook and every thinks they can write or at the very least can hire just any ole writer to do any ole job…and pay nothing for it. You don’t have to think you are ‘all that’ to demand a decent day’s pay for your work and you certainly don’t have to accept pay that undervalues you.

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Nov 172011
 
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I don’t know how to say this without just coming out and saying it…you don’t need a website anymore.

What I mean specifically is, if your client is spending tons of cash on a site builder, enlisting the opinion (and paying for that opinion) of a site designer and he is including you in on the budget for some SEO copy, that’s all well and good, but really all any of us need these days is a WordPress, Typad or Drupal site or something comparable. And if your client goes this way-a much cheaper way of creating a web presence-it will only benefit you in the end.

So I guess what I am saying is, if your opinion matters in the process of a client’s budget or concerns know that he will be better served by going the easier, cheaper way.

Why is this better for you, the master SEO scribe?

Basically the client is the master of his or her domain with W.P., Typad, etc.He can change or allow you access to change content and update at will, he will not be at the mercy of the site’s developer and therefore neither will you. This is especially helpful if you are blogging for somebody (or a few somebody’s) on a regular basis, as you can just pop on a site, do what you need to and pop off, leaving you to your weekly missives, articles, options that you been hired to write.

In making SEO easier, it is sometimes not just how you write what you write and the tools of the trade I can impress upon you but also the logistics of taking the easy way over the hard if you can.

Press the press my fellow droogs, press the press.

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Sep 222011
 
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If you get in the lucky position where you have too many paying writing gigs on your plate, you’re going to have to manage your time and stick to the gigs that either pay the most or the ones you really love (hopefully these can sometimes be the same job). When it comes to SEO writing, unlike other writing gigs, you really do have to allot a lot of time to the blogs or articles you are writing.

Now don’t come down on me for saying (which I’m not) that other writing gigs are not as hard as SEO writing, I’m just relating from my experience-which lately has been mainly SEO writing-that out of all the time-intensive SEO writing you are attempting you have to push to the forefront those that pay you the most for your time, or that you love (hopefully these can be the same job…where have I heard that before?)

If you are given specific keywords by a client this writing job will probably easier then if you got to go search for or think-up keywords yourself (I have told you before you should figure these two alternatives into your overall price when first determining the job), but the job that’s easier might pay you less, if your client is a savvy guy or girl. Really, do yourself a favor and weigh your options here.

I sometimes have clients come to me with a promise to send a goodly sum to my paypal to begin some seo blogging for the month and while the am’t seems large at the time we need to project into the future how much time this writing is going to take us and if the am’t you are promised is worth that time and if this job is worth you maybe putting others on the back burner. If you are a writer you’re probably not great in math (I suck at math) but really try to figure these jobs out by how many hours it’s going to take you to do them then see what you’re making an hour.

If you do this you’ll be able to weigh your options (if you have them) and say no or maybe later, to jobs that simply don’t pay you enough or take up too much of your time.

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Jul 282011
 
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This time I want to get into blogs.

OK, not into them all the way, maybe just a bit.

It’s a huge subject and I have covered some of it before in regard to SEO and it may or may not have come across how I feel about blogging in general. It’s more or less a necessary evil these day I feel and if you’re going to do it to increase traffic to your site-which it does-or you hire one of us to do it-which we will, for a price-then there are a few tips for anyone of you out there writing blogs with SEO in mind, and you really should never write a blog, at least for business purposes, without SEO in mind.

But this not a column about how to write the blog, how to put the keywords in, ad the tags; I can and might get into that some other time if I haven’t already (sorry it’s prematurely hot here in Jersey and my mind is kind of like oatmeal more then usual). But what I did want to get into, hammer home, make sure you remember, if you remember nothing else from what your wize old uncle Ralphie tells you here, is that you need to be keeping those blogs current.

Not just germane to the site you are writing for…and yes that’s important. Not just including the keywords…and yes, you need to do this to. But current, up-to-date, concerning the here-and-now and what’s doing in the world. Not every blog you write will have a take on current events or be about what’s happening in the news, but the more you can relate your blogs to what is happening in the world presently the more people might find it or want to read about it.

Don’t ask me how it came to pass that any one of our opinions could be worth a monkey’s dung heap to anyone else, but somewhere along the line it became a cause-we-can-we-should mentality to writing on the web, to twittering and twatting and Facebook cum-shots on the wall. So people expect up-to-the-minute opining; believe me if you let them they certainly are going to tell you how they feel!

So write the blogs for yourself or your clients and if you want to get people to read them, a little current events worked in from time to time doesn’t hurt.

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Jun 102011
 
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So, guess who is a professional playwright now?

I got into the one-act thang a bit late. Having been penning and publishing short stories first and foremost in my illustrious career (it’s only illustrious to me, believe me) it didn’t take all that much time to be able to claim being a pro writer and seeing the coin from it (jingly change though it was). It had less to do with how wonderful my writing was then the fact that I really began all this stuff in earnest penning 800 # pre-recorded phone-sex scripts and being paid for them from the get go. I did spend the requisite time in the trenches sending out my sci-fi short stories, essays, etc. (and still do in fact) but for the most part when I began writing sex (and that was pretty damn early in my writing career) I got paid for it relatively quickly, so I was a pro none too long into the effort.

The SEO thang and the play writing seemed to have begun for me in earnest at the same time-though one has nothing to do with the other-and having just had a one-act run (or “go up” as we pros call it in the business) in the great city of Portland, OR and been paid for that effort (and my first time being so) I can now say I am a professional playwright. Which now leads me to (after all the bragging) my point for this installment.

Gotta get paid.

It doesn’t always happen and I am not saying only ever do this writing thing for the money, but truly if you want to make a living at this or at least earn some sort of self respect at it and maybe the respect of your peers, nothing emboldens one better then getting coin of the realm for your hard earned efforts. Which brings me to my point about SEO writing (see, you didn’t think I could tie it all in, did you?). As we all know from searching for work, there are plenty of places that are looking for written content and a good many of them on line. Most, if not all, businesses know about or have heard rumblings over what SEO is and want to have some of it on their site.  And because this writing is specialized-sorry, but not everybody can do it or do it well-the owners of the sites usually-and that’s usually with a big “ually”-know they must pay for a writer to write SEO. Now what they pay will vary and often they will attempt to low ball you on a price, as mostly everyone these days will for any and all services, so the more you can bring to the table about SEO-knowing what meta-tags are, knowing where to research keywords, how to monitor analytics to assure the client you are doing your job-the more valuable you are and the more you can demanded.

So I guess really this time out I want to impress you with a few things. One, it’s good to get paid for your writing, even if it is just a little bit and secondly, you can get more than just a little bit the more valuable you are to who hires you. My playwriting now, in the beginning stages though it is, is now just a tinge more valuable in the overall objective scheme of things because I have had a few plays produced at this writing and I have been paid now to do so. So getting paid, while not the reason we right, does help put food on the table and some crack into the old pipe.

Go forth and play this stage called life my little droogs with your writing wares and unlimited desire for abuse.

where it all happened, by the way can be seen here:

 

(Technorati code: ZNG4R4NEH8PA)

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Apr 212011
 
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So what happened recently, if you haven’t heard, was that Google began cracking down on content houses over their output. Seems that some people were handing back rather shoddy written work for blogs and articles that were to be used on the web. You know, all the stuff I try to tell you not to do; keyword stuffing, blogs that had little or no meaning, just a seeming bunch of paragraphs to drop keywords into, over-all sophomoric content written by people who are not really writers. It is good for us scribes who do this voodoo that we do and consider it a real job, bad news for houses that simply churned out stuff with no care for the quality.

If you were to hold my feet to the fire-and I’m kinda into that, so have at it, just make sure you buy me a soda first-I wouldn’t be able to tell you what is good or bad writing. I am not the grammar police (ever see some of my stuff?) so I really wouldn’t know what’s good or bad, but I do think I know a thing about SEO and SEO as it applies to the adult industry, but an expert I aint’. And in fact, if anybody tells you they are an expert-about anything-take it from your old uncle Ralphie with the charred tootsies, they ain’t an expert either.

What I can tell you about SEO is, the keywords need to relate bro (either the client will provide them or you will be asked to research for some…and for this you damn well better be charging), the keywords need to sit nice and comfy in the article, blog, what-have-you and the article, blog, what-have-you need to be about something and something germane to the site you are writing for…unless your client tells you they do not want it to be germane.

But I can’t sit here and advise you what is good writing or bad, I just know what moves me when I see it and what doesn’t. The actual good or bad part is subjective, even Google’s not cracking down on that part of the writing, they are cracking down on writing that reeks of pure badly placed SEO and rambling content.

But I can tell you this for sure….if you are out there writing SEO content for clients you damn well better step-up your game because the stakes are higher now and big brother-of Google-is watching.

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Mar 032011
 
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Kids, if you want to work in the wacky world of SEO writing you need to know the goal posts might be moved on you every so often.

Because what we do in keyword copy writing is about the, say it with me now…keywords as much as it is the copy (really it’s about the keywords, don’t let anyone fool you) you write to the keywords, work copy around the keywords, research what keywords will work with a particular client (research you should be paid for, by the way) or work-in keywords given to you by your client; get it, the emphasis is on, that’s right say it with me…keywords. Therefore don’t be so shocked when a client comes to you and says, ‘hey let’s change up some of those keywords we have been using because they do not earn us a lot of traffic currently’.

Learn to adapt.

It’s the the nature of the beast. This beast is Internet writing a many sullied thing at best, poorly written missives at worst. You see all the bad writing on the net or truncated net-speak that passes for actual sentences. You realize language is being aborted for the brevity of some sort of digispeak. It should not come as a shock to any of us as the language changes-for the worse as far as I’m concerned-and grammar goes out the window (shit, all ya gotta do is read some of my posts to see how bad grammar has effected me!) that the goal posts will be shifted to what a client thinks they need in their copy and this includes what keywords they will use and even how long the copy might be.

So take it from your old uncle Ralphie, be ready for changes even if you have a contract (which, in the end, is not worth dickall really…try hunting someone down on-line to honor what has been agreed upon. Yes I know emails are evidence but unless you hire a lawyer to go get the $600.00 bucks owed you, you can’t enforce a contract from on line, or anywhere else. If you think you can, I have some land in NJ you might like) and agreed upon keywords, it’s all not only subject to change, it pretty much damn well will.

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Jan 132011
 
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No Muse Is Good Muse

So it’s another one of these columns where I will speak less about the specifics of SEO writing then the approach I think best suits the working writer, or the one who wants to work. Whatever it is you’re doing, SEO work (writing copy with specific keywords for search engines) editing or if you’re lucky enough to make fiction writing your main gig, I think it behooves a writer to wait for his or her muse.

A muse, if one exists (and I have a hard time believing in the concept) ain’t  gonna put food on your table. If you are a writer, write. Stop blogging about writing, stop tweeting or twatting about it, stop professing to people that you write and you have the great American novel on your hard drive awaiting completion. Please do me, your family, friends and fellow writers a favor…just fucking write!

If you have a job that will pay you to move those stubby little digits across a computer keyboard and the job is paying you what you feel is a honest wage, then you best get on the job and start writing, cause the worst thing to be is a writer waiting for inspiration while money passes you by.  Be inspired all you want, feel the vibe and the verve and the shuck and jive, stand on your head if you have to, but one need remember this writing thang we do, especially if one is writing stuff like SEO copy, is a job. Negotiate a good pay, stay off your twitter-really nobody cares how many followers you have, it doesn’t give your meaningless existence any more weight-and write.

The only way I ever got the jobs I did or the one I presently have is by working. I either worked directly to solicit the job, or my name was given to someone from work  I did previously, or  what little rep. I do happen to have I got by…yes, say it out loud with me kids….by working writing!

The nuts and bolts of SEO writing I can sum up for you right here, right now…either find or have your employer give you the keywords he or she want to get into the copy, write clear and concise copy to your employers specification, put those keywords in the copy judicously, have the copy make sense and make sure to stay on your point in the words allotted. Don’t stuff keywords by keeping the ratio pretty well even through-ut your paragraphs and you’re mostly there.

But none of the paragraph above will mean doodly unless you…that’s right, say it with me again kids…unless you write. Unless you work. Unless you get up off your ass (or sit down on it), turn off the PDA, close the Facebook account-believe me if you log on an hour from now you’re not going have missed a blessed thing-and welcome the muse called commerce and do your job. You’re a writer right? Writers right. If you think for a millisecond that what you do is really all that more important than anyone else’s job, that you are on the fast track to inspiration because you do something ‘creative’, that you’re any more special then the dude that picks up your garbage, then do me a favor, go on your Twitter account and tell all your friends. They believe they are just as special

For the rest of us slobs, I say, keep writing.

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