My drug of choice is writing––writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Friday, October 11, 2013

How to Help The Blogs You Love

You may be wondering why it’s Friday and there is no Mailbox here, or why we passed by Wednesday without even wrapping up 15 Things Not to Do to Writers (Unless You Want Them to Hate You.  But that article will have to wait, for while it may seem to my regular readers like I just did this, it’s been a couple of months, and that means we’re overdue for my humble request to you for a little reciprocity as an artist and entertainer struggling for a few dollars a day.

Statistically 1 person in 10,000 will accidentally click this.
Gold mine!
A lot of websites are a bit aggressive about how they appeal to readers for proliferation, donations, and advertising revenue.  Pop ups ask you questions like “Do you like killing puppies?” and ask you to click “Yes” or “No--please sign me up for the weekly newsletter.”  Or they have share buttons that float down the screen no matter where you are--sometimes obscuring parts of the article.  And of course there are sites that make you watch ads if you want to get to their content.

And in some cases, this is nothing more than the “Red Queen Race” of internet tactics (everyone runs really fast but you don't seem to move). People don’t want to be troubled with ads, so they employ ever evolving, sophisticated ad blockers that remove this nonsense completely--partially in a totally legitimate effort to get rid of increasingly obnoxious ads, partially because they believe content comes from the content fairies and everyone ought to be happy creating art and entertainment without getting paid for it.

Sadly, those fairies died out shortly after Glasgow when the cave painters couldn't pay the rent on the cave, got evicted, and died of starvation.  Since then, artists at least need their bills paid if they're to go on creating.  People with lots of advertising money to pay for pop ups and must-watch ads may have ways to force you to partake, but I don't.  And I wouldn't employ obnoxious floating share bars or pop ups that ask you to save the kittens if I could.

But what I will do, is every couple of months remind my regular readers and inform my new ones, how they can really change the trajectory of Writing About Writing's fate.   These are the things that will really matter. Right now this blog is just a LITTLE bit beyond a hobby.  While I love it and probably won't stop, I also can't give it the effort and attention I want, and if either of my other two jobs flares up, they take priority.  But possibilities do exist for copy editing (badly needed), more quality articles, fewer missed articles, and best of all fewer appeals like this one.

Not everything you can do to support a blog has to involve money, but if you just visit a website, block its ads, enjoy it without ever donating to its creator, and skim past its efforts to raise its visibility and/or a few dollars, don't be too surprised if it disappears into the night.  Here are the ways (in rough order of their usefulness) to help W.A.W. not only survive, but possibly to thrive:

1- A small donation to my Paypal account.  
Simply put, nothing will contribute more to the ongoing survival of Writing About Writing, support the site more, or ensure future offerings of fiction and timely articles than will a few dollars.  Nothing fuels an an artists' or entertainers' sense of duty more than feeling like they have a patron's generosity to live up to.  (Trust me.  Some days guilt over the Patron/Muse's generosity is all that keeps me going.)

"Support your local artist," can't just be a bumper sticker slogan.  If you want any artist or entertainer to be able to go on creating, the very best way to do that is to make sure their rent stays paid and their electricity stays on.

2- Turn off your adblock for the chrisbrecheen.blogspot domain.  
The very tiny trickle of revenue that comes in from having ads on this blog comes from two places.  One is ad clicks (see below), and the other is page views.  However, the only page views that count are the ones that can SEE THE ADS.  So I might get about a penny per 100 pageviews but only if those 100 people do not have their adblock on.  This means that if you turn off your adblock for just those sites you love, you help contribute to the tiny amount of revenue this blog makes without ever spending a dime or clicking an ad.  Just by visiting the site, you'll be supporting me a tiny bit each time.

You can turn off your adblock for a single domain, but have it remain on for the rest of the web.  Simply click on the adblock icon and choose "Allow This Site."  Adsense is a Google affiliate so the ads will not be pop ups or too annoying and they are likely to be relevent to your interests or at least Writing About Writing (self publishing, MFA programs, stuff like that).

I must make it absolutely clear that I am NOT ASKING FOR "BLIND" CLICKS.  This sort of "help" actually isn't helpful, and may even lead to Adsense banning me from hosting a paid site if it's done enough.  But if you turn the adblock off, you might actually see something you're interested in, and clicking on an ad you are actually interested in is never a problem.

3- Subscribe. 
Success begets success.  Any outside entity who is checking out W.A.W., whether it is a potential advertiser, a possible guest blogger, or even someone like an agent or publisher with the idea in their head that if they pair me up with a very patient editor, the shit would get real--any entity like that is going to base their assessment of W.A.W.'s potential largely on subscribers.  They will want to know how big an audience I can generate, and they will look at things like who's "liked" the W.A.W. Facebook Page or who is in the W.A.W. G+ circle or who is subscribed through RSS feeds or Blogger. If they think their carefully written guest blog is going to reach 18 people, their attitude about contributing will be a little different than if they think it's going to reach 10,000.

You don't even have to really use the feed.  You can "Like"/"+1"/Subscribe/whatever, and then immediately turn off the feed or ignore it or whatever if you aren't really interested in Following W.A.W..  The supportive part just comes in helping me get the numbers.

4- Share the articles you like on social media.  
Sharing the things you like is important if you want to keep seeing them.  No one can grow an audience if they don't have people willing to share their work with others.  The best thing you can probably do for an artist or entertainer trying to succeed independently is to say "I think you would like this!" to someone who might.

The hardest part about blogging is getting the word out.  If I share a post on social media it's all my same friends seeing it again and again.  They all secretly (and some not so secretly) hate me and want me to shut up.  Not everyone likes my style.  Not everyone gives two shits about writing.  Not everyone can maintain their composure when it's time to use their scroll wheel.  Finding people who really like the work I'm doing is tough, so helping push that process along is incredibly helpful.  You have friends I've never met.  Some of them might love what I do.  It is an absolutely free and easy way to really help W.A.W. to simply share the articles you like on Facebook, G+, Stumbleupon, and especially social media I'm not on (like Reddit or Digg) in order to help me to find the narrow niche of people who like what I'm saying and how I'm saying it.

They're out there...but I need your help to find them.

5- Click the little buttons.  A lot.
There is another "Red Queen Race" nearly as fierce as the advertising/ad blocking one that goes on between SEO and search engine.  People who try to manipulate SEO try to figure out how to trick the search engine into listing them higher.  Search engines know that listing GOOD content is absolutely key in being a good search engine, and they look for ways to filter out the crap.  (You don't see websites anymore with repeated key words in the background because Google, Yahoo, and even Bing have long sense learned how to ignore that crap.)

Google is constantly coming up with new tricks to make sure someone who's just dropping keywords into a fluff piece doesn't end up as the first result of a search.  One of the most effective ways to help an article get more traffic (by being a higher result on a search engine) is to do things like give it "Likes," "+1s" and "Thumbs Up."  If you want to help W.A.W. (or any blog you like) you might be just a little more generous with those endorsement buttons than for a normal site.  No one is going to challenge you to a pistol duel for liking something you thought was "pretty good, but not great."

6- Comment or drop me a line.  
It's a thankless job.  I make about a dollar a day on a good day.  There have been a deplorable lack of hawt groupie threesomes since ever.  Most of the time no one makes a comment unless they've got a problem with something I've written.  And half the time I get these anonymous nast-o-grams that are absolutely intended to make my cry.  It's really nice to hear some of the good stuff from time to time whether it's just an article you particularly liked, or a general appreciation of my work.'

Are there things you want to see more of? Less of? Do you want to guest blog? Do you have a suggestion? I may not incorporate every iota of feedback, but I'm always looking for input.

Remember, if you don’t want obnoxious appeal posts every couple of months, if you don't want me working two other jobs that will occasionally take priority over getting a post up on time (like on Wednesday), and if you want to see more posts, higher quality posts, and especially free fiction, helping out this blog a little is how to get all of that.

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