Friday

How to survive a writing website closure: Keep multiple copies



Web writers recoil in fear at the mere thought of unintentional erasures. Who among us hasn’t stared in horror at the blank white screen of death, where a thoughtfully composed article once appeared?

The problem is compounded when a publisher’s website goes kaput. Ask any writer who has produced content for a now-defunct site.

Fortunately, most web writers know enough to save their work, both in-process and post-publication. And the smartest keep copies in multiple spots, just in case.

Hey, glitches happen. And human error is always a possibility.

What writer hasn’t opened last week’s feature article document file, for example, composed this week’s entry, and saved it under the old name? Oops! That just overwrote the first piece.

And what if a computer crashes? Or what if a content storage website vanishes? Is all the copy contained within it lost?

If that content has been saved in another spot, such as an external hard drive or a thumb drive/flash drive, it can be easily recovered. If not, well, uh-oh.

Multiple copies – kept in different spots – can be a lifesaver for the web writer, especially when a website closes and those old pieces may be restored, revised, and republished somewhere else.

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Monday

How to survive a writing website closure: Sprinkle old and new content




Hosts of web writers are revising and repurposing content previously published on now-defunct websites.

Here’s a little secret to keep readers engaged.

Why not mix in a hearty helping of fresh, new articles and blog posts, while putting up updated versions of the earlier stuff?

Sure, this may or may not affect the searchability of the rewrites. But it certainly does long-time readers, subscribers, and followers a big service.

Plus, this practice keeps the writer writing. How easy is it for us to grow stale, if we’re simply editing and posting old, familiar content?

Mix it up!

Bring on the new material, while freshening up the tried and true content. Toss in a trending news piece. Try a feature article on a current topic.

Keep readers guessing … and intrigued.

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Wednesday

How to survive a writing website closure: Change it up



Duplicate copy is an online no-no. It happens all the time, but it’s not a smart strategy. From content pirates to the original copyright holders, web users all too often republish articles, blog posts, and other works word-for-word.

Oh, no!

Why is a verbatim repeat a bad idea online?

Besides the plagiarism problem, which we have addressed in other posts (like this one), the reposting of previously published materials dilutes a work’s potency in internet search engine results. 

The search robots (or spiders, as they may be tagged) identify the duplication. That sends most of the matching content plummeting in search results.

That means potential readers may never find the duplicate version.

In the very least, these internet users are not likely to see the title links to the most recent publication of previously posted material until the original links (perhaps still cached by search engines) have vanished.

How can web writers work their way past this problem? 

First, it is essential that one only publish materials within his or her right to do so. Original copy, permission-granted items, and public domain works are fair game. Anything else risks copyright infringement and can result in a search engine ban and possible legal action. 

Here’s an aside: Public domain works are free to reuse, republish, recycle, and recirculate. But that’s another story altogether.

Next, it’s always a good idea to edit, revise, and update old pieces before publishing them in a new spot on the web. Even if their original site of publication no longer actually exists, this is a prudent practice. 

Internet search engines love fresh, new content.

  • Tweak the title.
  • Write new subtitles.
  • Play around with the first and last paragraphs. 
  • Rearrange sentence structures, and swap in some suitable synonyms.


OK, copy that.

But only if you have the rights to do so, and you’ve changed it up a bit first.

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Tuesday

How to survive a writing website closure: Beat the cache flow problem



Web writers aiming to republish their own work after it’s appeared on now defunct websites need to beware of this search engine peril.

Don’t get caught in the cache!

What does that even mean?

The major internet search engines (such as Google) create caches of web pages, which can linger in cyberspace long after those pages have been removed.

That means potential readers who search on any topic are likely to find cached pages in their listed results. What’s more, if those now-vanished pages were highly ranked by those internet search engines, they will hog the top positions in the search results.

Readers may click those top links, only to find the pages missing. Worse yet, their link clicks may be re-routed.

Either way, writers who have moved their previously published work to their own blogs or still thriving sites may lose those potential readers, along with their lovely page views.

That’s the first problem. The next one may be even more perilous for those who publish online.

Search engines hate duplicate content.

If cached items still appear, writers’ republished items are likely to be tagged as exactly that.

To prevent this problem, it’s important to report cached links when they appear. Here’s how to do report dead links to Bing, to Google or to Yahoo.

Once that’s done, the material now published in new places should be recognized as new and unique (unless it also appears on other sites).

Eventually, caches are updated, eliminating the problem. But, in the meantime, those early potential content readers may have moved along.

Beat the cache flow problem, and keep those readers coming your way!

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Monday

How to survive a writing website closure: Sorting articles to republish




Suppose you are a web writer, and one of your primary publishers suddenly shuts down, reverting article rights to you. Just for fun, let’s say that means you’re faced with the task of organizing your library of 1,000 or 2,000 articles.

Oh boy.

Well, I’m doing exactly that. With the recent closure of the Yahoo Contributor Network (and Yahoo Voices), I am picking my way through close to 2,500 articles. Add to that the upcoming end of Helium Inc., and the total grows to approximately 4,000 titles.

Now what?

I’m keeping it simple.

Because I always compose articles in Word documents, I have saved files of all of the articles I have ever published. These are already sorted into file folders by publisher.

Yahoo has already taken down most of my library and returned the publication rights to me.

So I’m tackling those pieces first. Inside my Yahoo folder on my computer, I created new sub-folders to match the topics covered by my own blogs and my columns on other publishing sites.

For example:  I made files for careers, creative writing, crafts, faith, foods, pets, recreation, travel, writing tips, and more.

Then I simply dragged each Yahoo article into the folder where it best belonged. OK, I had a few leftovers, which I’m likely to pitch to other publications.

And I made one more file, titling it ITEMS REPUBLISHED ELSEWHERE.

As I go through each old Yahoo article to edit and publish it in an appropriate spot, I save that document in the new publisher or blog file. And I save the original/unedited version in the file named above.

This process will take a while. Eventually, however, I hope to republish all of the pieces that are still current or evergreen.

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