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Evergreen content pays off in time

Web writers write for readership.

OK, that sounds utterly simplistic and perhaps all too obvious. But it’s the secret to earning real money writing online.

Sure, citizen journalism and paid blogging sites often ante up modest payments for individuals articles and posts. But the real money is in residuals, which can pile up over time. Popular articles draw readers, who click on links and read even more.

When readers read, and pages load, each site’s advertising algorithms dictate how much writers will receive. Published content that brings in readers also racks up payments for those who created it. That's how the game works.

Web writers stack up earnings when readers click to their work.
What sorts of articles and blog posts earn the most money over time?

Basically, web writers focus on two types of content: trending topics and evergreen subjects.

Trending topics include breaking news and hot keywords. Suppose the internet explodes with news of a cure for cancer, a major sporting event, a major political controversy, or a celebrity scandal. Web writers will seize the moment and crank out related content as fast as their fingers can fly.

As long as social networking sites (like Twitter, Digg, StumbleUpon and Facebook) overflow with entries related to particular keywords, writers will stick to it like white on rice. That’s a trending subject.

And, as long as the hype lasts, web writers are likely to enjoy high levels of readership on pieces pertaining to the hot topic. Of course, once interest dies down, readership of such stories may shrivel as well.

Here are a couple of examples of trending topics.

Trending topics tend to be flash-in-the-pan items
A couple of years ago, I published this profile of an American Idol finalist. The feature drew tons of page views for several weeks, until she lost. Now I’m surprised if 100 web surfers click that link at all. The young singer is both talented and sweet, but it seems her proverbial 15 minutes may be over, and so is interest in that article.

A year-end celebrity death rumor debunking article attracted plenty of readership at first, but dropped off when the next year rolled along.

Evergreen content is altogether different and considerably more long-range.

Like evergreen trees, which do not lose their foliage in changing seasons, evergreen content stays fresh and interesting over time.

Plenty of bloggers and web writers focus on matters that remain perennially pertinent to readers. From craft instructions to recipes, advice columns to devotionals, and homework helps to career strategies, these pieces tend to retain their reader attraction over time.

Evergreen articles draw readers long-term, like trees draw birds.
As long a blog stays open, or a publishing site remains solvent, writers can earn from their previously published popular evergreen pieces. One of my old-time features, for example, catches more than 15,000 readers each month.

A few holiday-related features draw in more page views than that during certain seasons.

That’s evergreen.

Think of the internet as a library.

Patrons may check out new releases and current events titles eagerly when they are first issued. After awhile, these flash-in-the-pan editions may gather dust on remote shelves. They may even appear in second-hand book sales.

Biographies, classic novels, histories, how-to’s, and reference works receive steadier interest on a long-term basis.

The most active web writers generally mix both strategies, alternating between trending topics and evergreen pieces to make the most of current and long-range readability.
Stacked Coins by Dori
Public Domain/Wikipedia Commons Photos
Cooking Fire
U.S. Navy photo by Chief Photographer's Mate Jerry Woller
US Government Photo/Public Domain
Bird in Evergreen Tree by J.M. Garg
Creative Commons Licensing/Wikipedia Commons Photos

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12 great ways to clear mental clutter for writing

Daily distractions detour determination.

Seriously, constant interruptions create stressful situations for writers, whether we work in publishing offices, corporate alcoves or home offices. Virtually every wordsmith groans about the perils of thought tangents.

What spontaneous interferences cause the most commotion for communications professionals? Some of the most cited culprits include:

  • chatty colleagues or cohabitants
  • city sounds
  • kinetic kids
  • loud music or TV
  • mental to-do lists
  • nosy neighbors
  • persistent pets
  • ringing phones
  • virtual game invitations
  • and more.
 Conflicting responsibilities and simultaneous deadlines can wreak havoc on writers’ powers of concentration.

Freelancers, in particular, often wear multiple hats.

Perhaps we punch out of on-site jobs and begin punching stories or articles on our laptop computers or tablets in our spare time. Maybe we work at home because we also parent young children at the same time. Especially in the summertime, when school kids are out and about, distractions are a given for at-home writers.

For a host of reasons, our brainpower may seem to seep away at a moment’s notice, when we are interrupted or lured from our work.

What can creative communicators do to minimize such mayhem?

Short of slipping away for some seclusion (as many poets and novelists have been wont to do), we working writers can reset our thought processes in several ways. Here are 12 practical ways wordsmiths may step back for a few moments to recollect our thoughts for more focused and productive writing.

  1. Walk around the block, or ride a bike.
  2. Phone a friend for a casual conversation.
  3. Take a drive, and crank up your favorite tunes.
  4. Read a book or a short story.
  5. Do some desk work to clear away clutter, and sort story files for future writings.
  6. Close a few internet windows, shutting down social networking sites for a while.
  7. Work a crossword, Sudoku, or jigsaw puzzle.
  8. Prepare a snack for yourself and those around you.
  9. Fold laundry, while ironing out your thoughts.
  10. Play a game, either electronically or with others.
  11. Make music. Play an instrument, sing, jam, or just dance.
  12. Stand in the shower, letting ideas soak in.

Most of these simple diversions take little time, but they offer writers a chance to take a break from composing copy, editing complex materials, or pondering potential topics. Often, these short stops help us to refocus our thoughts, while also giving us opportunities to interact with those who may be clamoring most for our attention.

Sometimes short stops rejuvenate writers, even as these brief breaks reassemble our reflections for increased awareness and productivity.

Curious facial Expression by Tine Steiss –
Creative Commons Licensing/Wikipedia Commons Photos

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Successful freelancers are skilled jugglers

Have you ever tried juggling? Of course you have, if you're a writer.

As self-employed freelancers, once tagged as stringers, we often find ourselves juggling deadlines, story concepts, professional networking opportunities, and real-life responsibilities.

Those of us who work from home offices may attest to the challenges of multi-tasking and the dangers of distractions. Full-time workers, pursuing writing on the side, may also identify with the joys of juggling.

At times, we may even feel like the guy who ran the 2007 Chicago Marathon, juggling four balls in the air as he plodded along the pavement in the Windy City.

Take a look.


Raise your hand, if you've ever been frustrated or frazzled as a freelancer, just trying to keep up with daily duties and deadlines. Wait! Don't raise that hand, after all. You might drop one something.

How do we keep all of those balls in the air at one time?

Today is the World Jugglers Day, which occurs annually on the Saturday closest to June 17th, so it seems a particularly opportune moment to highlight some helpful pieces from a variety of freelance writers on professional juggling (so to speak).

Successful writing often means multi-tasking.

Look up!

Whose plates are still spinning? Whose head is spinning? And who’s ready to spin some more yarns?

Chicago Marathoner by Tony The Tiger
Creative Commons Licensing/Wikipedia Commons Photos

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Maybe mentoring matters much

Writing is hard. Both fledgling and flourishing writers benefit from new tips and techniques from time to time. Everyone needs an editor.

Maybe that’s why mentors matter so much.

What is a mentor?

A mentor is a counselor, instructor, teacher, sponsor, supporter, or trusted friend. It may be an advanced ally or a skilled colleague.

For writers, a mentor could be a more experienced journalist, a previously published author, a trusted editor, or even a savvy agent.

Mentors motivate us. They rein us in and spur us on. Like Jedi experts (or traffic cops), they point us back on track, if we veer off course. They help us to develop strategies and goals and to refine our most exciting ideas and dreams.

Perhaps they proofread as well.

More than once, a prized mentor has tapped me on the shoulder or grabbed me by the elbow (at least figuratively) in a pre-emptive protection against a potential publishing gaffe. At other times, a merry mentor has pumped my spirits with a hearty high-five or fist pump.

Because we all find ourselves at different stages of our wordsmithing careers, we may all be both mentors and mentees at the same time. Each capable writer has secrets to share and lessons to learn.

Here are a few helpful online articles about mentoring for writers.

A mentor can help you improve your writing and find writing success. Here are some steps on how to get a writing mentor.

How do you find a mentor? This person could be a professional who does this for a living, or a role model in a related business who is willing to help you.

Having a mentor involves an interpersonal relationship in which the experienced teacher counsels and helps you.  Mentoring is usually an ongoing process unlike consulting. 

A lot of small businesses fail because they don't listen to the failures and successes of more experienced people. When starting any business, it is an excellent idea to find at least one mentor who can help guide you through the process.

Who mentors you, and whom can you mentor?

Personally and professionally, I look up to several amazing and adept writers. Some offer expertise in editing, while others present publishing pointers. A few even share their savvy strategies for efficiency and productivity in freelancing. These folks are worth more than I can say.

Often, I draw inspiration and insights from professional groups to which I belong. At least one such community even includes the word “mentors” in its title.

The creative life is challenging. Let’s share the journey.

“Creativity is contagious. Pass it on.”
Albert Einstein
Traffic Copy by Calebrw
Creative Commons Licensing/Wikipedia Commons Photos
Fist Pump
Public Domain/Wikipedia Commons Photos

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