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Why Writers Should Embrace The Internet
One of the greatest obstacles for a beginning writer is his or her ability to garner an audience. In the eyes of the publishing field, readers equates to credibility and marketability, which leads to a higher probability of publication. Before digital publishing (internet publishing) became a reality, a writer needed to have something in print in order to establish him or herself as a real, bona fide writer. In order to get something in print, the novice writer had to go through a series of hoops, from writing marketing letters (query letters) to agents to submitting sample manuscript chapters to overwhelmed acquisitions editors any number of publishing houses, only to be told (oftentimes repeatedly) "We are not seeking this kind of material at this time." This process cost the writer time, money on postage and photocopies, and a considerable amount of heartache.
The internet changed all of that. Now, any writer has the opportunity to take his or her work directly to the public with little to no up-front cost, and no real need for programming or web-building knowledge. What is even better is that while the internet allows a writer to gain an audience or fan base, it can also generate income for the writer before he or she ever sells one copy of a printed book. In many ways, the internet offers to writers the same opportunity for instant audience approval (or disapproval) as the television program American Idol offers to aspiring singing talent.
Where To Start?
There are several ways in which writers can earn money using the Internet. One of the first, and most basic, avenues is by providing other webmasters with internet content.
Every internet site in existence competes with other sites for visitors, and sites that are deemed "sticky," meaning that they attract the highest number of unique visitors who stay for longer than 30 seconds at a time, are ranked at the top of search engine listings for their particular specialty. As a result, webmasters are constantly seeking well written articles that would interest their visitors. Because most webmasters are specialists in their own business niche and not writers, this affords even novice writers the opportunity to sell content.
The average internet article runs between 500 and 1000 words. As with a newspaper article, it is tightly focused and written so that any thirteen year old can understand it.
Internet articles should be written using the Associated Press style guide and using the same "Who-What-When-Where-Why-How" formula as would a standard feature in the newspaper or a newsmagazine. They need to pack a punch in the first few sentences in order to capture the roving eye of a net surfer, and keep their attention for a minimum of thirty seconds. A well written internet article should be researched and fact-checked just as thoroughly as any print article; the credibility of both author and webmaster rides on the accuracy of the information provided. If articles pertain to specific personalities, the legal standards for slander and libel still apply; courts deem internet postings as "publication," and will rule against the person who fails to substantiate claims about a person in an internet posting.
What benefits does a writer receive from writing articles for other people to use? First, the writer receives credibility. In most cases, articles that have been purchased for use allow the writer to add their own "squib," or autobiographical information, at the bottom of the article. If a writer has a book in print, is working on a book, or has a business related to the topic he or she has written about, this short paragraph is an opportunity to advertise that book or business for free. Second, article brokers such as Constant-Content.com charge webmasters to download articles and pay the writer a percentage of the fee. If a writer happens to be an expert on a "hot" topic, he or she can earn a substantial amount of money selling and reselling articles that pertain to that topic. Topics that never go out of style include personal finance, building wealth, relationships, finding the "right" career or landing that dream job, weight loss, fitness, and beauty and fashion.
Some writers find the idea of writing articles attractive, but do not want to give up the rights to their work In this instance, there are sites that allow a writer to post work for free and pay them according to the number of page views their work receives or the number of "clicks" that advertising placed on the page receives. The larger the number of eyeballs that read an author's work, the more that author is paid. Writers who utilize social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace or LinkedIn can leverage their memberships in these networks by providing page links to their published articles from their profile pages, and encouraging their "friends" to click through to read their latest work.