Will Online Writing Bring Enough To Live? P.S.Remesh Chandran.
Editor Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books Trivandrum.
Well-written, informative and thoughtful articles are the ones that decide the future of a writer’s career. Writers, who are loved by readers for their style of writing and also for the interesting things they generally write about, are eagerly sought after by publishers and their commission agents. A publishing platform which pays and helps writers to distribute content directly to readers all over the world without advertisements is the dream of all writers.
An ideal publishing website will want to pay writers more and pay more writers.
1. WHERE MONEY FOR PAYING WRITERS COMES FROM.
What a writer expects from a web site is, offering him payment and paying him more. The ideal web site would want to do both and also want to not only pay writers more but also to pay more writers, the right indication of health for a publishing website. Exposure for writers is not substitute for payment and exposure will not feed the hungry family of writers. The time and effort a writer puts into his craft should be compensated and paid well for.
Famous magazines are vanishing for their refusing to pay writers.
In general, web sites which do not pay writers, especially freelancers who have not yet established themselves, are found to be dwindling in circulation. Their readers pay them one way or another, by way of money or by way of time. But the readers do not get back good content from these publishers because, in the long run, it would be underpaid writers or dissatisfied writers who would be writing for them. We have heard of the famous English magazine noted for its satirical cartoons which was one of the largely read publications in the world, keeping that envied position for decades. By adopting this non-paying policy, they made regular readers and writers dissatisfied and caused their own decline. So many famous and once-reputed magazines, news papers and weeklies which went online for existence are now struggling for last breathe due to insistence on this non-paying policy. We can name many such publications in one breathe but it is not right to mention their good names here, for they have served the world well in their time. Pay writers well, make them satisfied and happy, get rich content from them, publish it and make readers also satisfied and happy; that is the only known way to success for publishers.
If there are no web pages, where will they show these advertisements?
It is generally writers who do not care for money who usually write for websites which pay them a part of the advertisement revenue they generate. Even if a writer publishes for years and years in them, he will not get enough to live upon and enough to support his family. For amateurs and for those who aim only at wide circulation of their articles, it is a good idea to follow. Because advertisers are actively involved in this enterprise and they are committed to spend their budgetary provision in full for fear of reprimands from their board of directors for non-achievement of targets, these sites are rich and sure to get wide circulation for writers’ articles and for their advertisements, provided they have good pages also. If there are no web pages, where will they show these advertisements? Can they create these advertisements and the web pages too for displaying them? If they do, it would be like entering the publishing field as well, something outside their portfolio and purview of activities. Therefore, in paying- websites which depend solely on advertisement revenue for existence, the writer is the king. He will be provided with every resource the web site can imagine and is able to provide to create rich good web pages. Even then online writing cannot entirely be depended upon to support a family. If one is in need of making money by publishing articles to support his family and has the necessity to do it so by remaining online, he certainly has to refine his writing skills, make a very good reputation as a content writer, take up assignments from content-ordering sites and execute them neatly and punctually and deliver in time.
Publishing field can be conquered single-handedly, knowing editing and formatting.
A writer cannot create a market and then write for it, catering to it. He can only write well and the writing shall have to do the marketing and advertising for him. A producer of high quality content will seldom have to face competition in the field. The higher the quality of his content, the lesser the competition he would have to face in the field be, for there would be fewer writers of that caliber to compete with him who can write well and deliver in time too. The more the quality of articles falls, the fiercer would be the competition in the field of content marketing, because the general trend is to get articles for cheaper prices. Those clients who go for top quality will go out, find writers of that caliber and pay whatever they ask. It is not inconceivable if, at one stage, you will be getting 50 pounds for 500 words. But to reach that level of a selling rate, before reaching the level of creating fast-selling articles, a writer has to learn a lot in editing and formatting content. Or else, he simply will have to have the assistance of an experienced team of staff and a secretary. To remain single-handed and conquer the publishing field, one has to have a tremendous knowledge of editing and formatting, which qualities, coupled with writing talents, is a rare specialty, much in demand in the writing and publishing field. The demand and supply for such intelligentsia is not balanced in Internet, resulting in high price for those who are there. Training one’s self in that line is not at all impossible, but tricky. In the voluptuous maneuver of becoming such a writer, there is every possibility of overcrowding one’s brain with too much information and loosing brain’s ability to assimilate that information at the same time, resulting in tilting the chemical equilibrium of brain and the author finally becoming a total vegetable. It is doubly so, since writers are imaginative. Sought-afterness is a very rare faculty to tread and step upon, demanding extreme caution. Learning how to become a much sought-after writer is not at all difficult, it is easy. A few websites pay nothing but are noted for teaching writers how to work well with editors, the knowledge and experience of which later becomes the intellectual asset to launch themselves from, when they turn to serious writing. Some web sites which pay less will however provide extensive feed back on the writer’s published works which serves as encouragement for writing well and writing more.
Internet is like providing a limitless sky for writing advertisements.
2. DEPTH AND BREADTH OF ONLINE ADVERTISING.
Industries and businesses need advertisements to make people know about their products and services. Name boards, display boards, bills and notices, wall posters, film theatre slides and pamphlets were the old methods for advertising. When radio and television came into existence, their wide possibilities and scope for advertising came to be exploited. Advent of Internet was like providing a limitless sky for displaying advertisements. Cinemas provided intervals of time when advertisement slides could be shown. What would have happened had cinemas been produced only with advertisements? No one would have gone to cinema theatres to see them. That is the case with Internet advertising also. If a website has only advertisements to show, who will visit it? The advertisers want web pages for them to show and good web pages too. They themselves cannot create web pages by hiring writers to create them for it would involve larger spending to create content, and be moving out of corporate portfolios. For this, they either create websites for authors to write pages for them or they contract with websites who have attractive pages to show their advertisements.
Web sites reveal their advertisement income to no one but auditors.
Advertising is a huge industry, second only to weapons manufacturing. How much amount each industry and business set aside for advertising in their budgets is an interesting thing to know, if they make it known. A large percentage of this budget now goes to Internet, to be shared by websites and their writers. Writers of articles are paid a portion of the advertisement revenue their pages generate. In most cases they are paid only that and nothing more. Most websites do not reveal how much advertisement revenue they make and how much of it is paid to writers. How much page impressions they deliver to advertisers and how many unique browsers they have each day accessing these advertisements would never be revealed to anyone, except to their auditors.
How much amount does a company set aside for advertisement?
The amount companies set aside for advertisements is, generally, in the range of 7 to 15% of their gross sales, we believe. But wiser companies base their budgetary provisions for advertisements on a percentage of cost, -gross profit above cost called markup-, not on a percentage of profit,-gross profit above selling price called margin. An item selling at 9 dollars costing 3 dollars will have a markup of 200 percent and a margin of 66.6 percent. That company can set aside safely even 50 percent of this markup for advertising. Companies marketing expensive items will have low markups averaging around 15%, but setting aside 15% of this 15% for advertising will mean huge advertisement budgets due to their mammoth sales.
Positioning of advertisements determines its price.
When some one wants information, he searches internet and links to where that information is available will appear on the screen, along with advertisements. Some advertisements come positioned above search results. Positioning of advertisements is predetermined according to how much one is prepared to spend. Display networks will decide in advance where ads are to be positioned and what rates to be levied for each positioning. Getting your ads above search results will involve spending more money but it will also guarantee more traffic to target site. Placing ads on Microsoft, Google and Yahoo searches involves more money than placing them on websites and blogs. Showing them on mobile phones and tablet devises also is costlier still and search providers will revise rates frequently too. Showing ads along side email is another choice.
Advertisers can target or exclude sensitive languages, locations and religions.
Advertisers can set target options in display networks. They can target a particular geographic location or language or exclude ads from a sensitive location or language. They can pinpoint ads to a selected village. Display networks have options for matching ads to types of audience, types of religious and ethnic tradition, types of country or a specific geographic location. Ads may or may not correspond to the context of the page. No geographic location, type of devise, type of visited site or time range is devoid of advertisements, if there is scope. Even if it is an obituary page, a coffin maker and mortuary dresser are sure to advertise there.
What goes on behind screen even before you finish typing.
When someone types a word or phrase and searches internet, advertisements with matching keywords appear along with results. Before they appear, many things go on behind stage before they appear on the screen. First, an electronic auction goes on to determine who can show which ad where and selection made according to bid amount, key words and quality of website, or in simpler words, according to ad rank. Bidding may vary from Cost Per Thousand Impressions or CPM if you aim for maximum views and creating awareness, Cost Per Thousand Clicks or CPC for actual clicks to attract traffic to the website instead of just viewing, to Cost Per Acquisition or CPA for more customer actions like signing up or purchasing. Advertisers decide the maximum amount they are willing to pay for the bid they select out of these three bidding options, which determines their Ad Rank. Based on this rank, their ads will appear in the order of their ranks, even before that someone sitting in front of the screen has finished typing. Frequency of ads also has its price. Also, Ad Ranks of each bidder rise up and fall according to competition. This is the usual method adopted by all major service providers.
Other assessment methods also are there for evaluating writers’ performance.
Regardless of how many clicks a web page of a writer registers, there are other methods also for assessing an online writer’s performance and paying him. Yahoo uses a 10 point scale called Clout Score to assess the performance of a writer and pay him, in Yahoo Voices and Yahoo Shine Blogs of their Yahoo Contributor Network, the revamped old Associated Content. Their scale combines the number of articles a writer publishes with the volume of page views his articles receive. A Clout 1 to Clout 6 writer will get a payment of $1.50 for every One thousand page views and from Clout 7 to 10, it will incrementally rise to $2.00. There will be a 1% bonus for each article besides. A writer with 7 articles and a total 3000 page views will have a clout score of 3000 + 7% = 3210. After 200 articles, bonus remains constant at 200% which is the maximum allowed. PPM is a standard phrase used in performance assessment which means Payment Per Thousand Page Views, M representing Latin Mille, the Roman numerical for 1000, standing for ‘Thousand Page Views’.
How much can a site owner charge for his Advertising Space?
When a writer decides to make a few dollars out of his blog or site by opening up for advertisements, he will not know how much he can charge. Nor is there any place for him to get good advice from or check whether his rates are standard, high or low for the market. If it is too high, he will not get advertisers and if it is too low, he will become too cheap a target for dignified advertisers to contact him. This happens because there is no one there to tell him the price at which he can sell his site space. Digital ads can be positioned on the header, footer or sidebar of a page or blended with content. They can be of any format from 125 x 125 and 120 x 600 to 468 x 60. Prices will vary for each, corresponding to the CPM of the site which in its turn is based on the number of page views, visitors, unique visitors and a host of other things of metrics, traffic being the prominent. In physical marketing, cunning companies price their wares just below the market leaders’ or considerably lower than their’s. In digital marketing also the method is the same, adopted by most site owners. Or one can do research. Taking a particular format and position and doing some research will bring one to the standard CPM of 1.5 dollars for 125 x 125 buttons on top of sidebar for one month. For starters, it is wise to sell space at flat rates if they are lucky to get advertisers, without resorting to counting page impressions, till they master strategies of marketing.
The blog is there, and you have nothing to loose by advertizing.
Experimentally signing up with ad sense and placing a banner spot on CPC terms will reveal the site’s CPM easily without much trouble, though the only trouble would be backing away from the contract. To eliminate commissions and deal directly with advertisers would be bringing in more money at the risk of jumping into an un-trusted pool, for a beginner. Going to sites who advertise about selling space would also help in forming a general picture of how digital space is sold. Cost of ad divided by page views gives Cost Per Mille impressions; page views multiplied by CPM should give the cost which one shall notify in the site. Unluckily, whatever multiplications we do will not bring page views unless content is good. Simply ask for half a dollar on the safe side for a month in the beginning, which will bring revenue of 5 dollars when page view becomes ten thousand per month. One 125 x 125 button on top of side bar will thus bring this much for the beginning, if you are persuasive enough to tempt your neighbourhood merchant to go online. The blog is there, and you have nothing to loose. Ads on header or blended with content should bring more revenue, those on the sidebar less and those on footer the least, generally.
Writers are like composers; good listeners become them.
3. HOW WRITERS PROMOTE THEIR WORKS.
It is a good listener to music who finally becomes a great composer; and it’s a good reader who eventually becomes an accomplished writer. Before writing a book, one will have read thousands of books. Before writing a good web article, you ought to have seen and read hundreds of captivating web articles. A blog of one’s own is the best laboratory to experiment with writing. It is a show case for the skill of the writer, doing publicity for him, creating ever-increasing audience, attracting literary agents and publishers. And blog articles can even be assembled together and turned into books. Already there are publishers who do this. Providing just the link to the blog would serve the purpose of submitting a manuscript to the book publisher, in future. It is like one writing each chapter of a book and publishing it piecemeal.
Leave your footprints in good places, to show you walked there.
Good articles in a blog attract not only readers and advertisers but those who hunt for good content writers also. For writers who provide quality content, they pay at the rate of dollars or pounds per 100 words or 500 words. 1 pound per 100 words is not too high a rate nowadays for a good writer. Top-rated writers can expect not less than 7 pounds per 500 words. For such writers, their blogs are not places for them to make money but places for exhibiting samples of their writing. Participating in online discussions is also a good way to advertise skills. Discussion Forums annexed to major publishing web sites are regularly scanned by people who wish to recruit promising and proven writers. Some writers write not for their own blogs but for other’s blogs, for a payment.
Writing good pages everyday will make you one day the authority in the field.
Creating an excellent and regularly updated web site which is linked to advertisers, is a good way to prove to advertisers and hirers that you are a good and rare writer and to publicize and earn. If you persevere continuously and add informative and attractive web pages each week, some day you are going to become the authority in your field, considering the fact that the experts in that field will not have the time for writing and publishing and writers who do have time for writing and publishing and are good too will not have necessary expertise to write as authoritatively as you do. Webmasters are in constant search of good writers on chosen subjects who deliver in time. Someday they will be coming after you.
Do not go after all social sites to advertise skills. Select yours.
Creating profile pages in social sites which have heavy traffic is good for writers. Face Book, My Space, Linked In and Twitter are there to allow this service free. A profile page acts as a mini web site where writers can post links to their books, articles and web sites, good platforms for writers to launch themselves from. Before joining, it is better to learn about what types and social levels of people usually join these sites. Face Book is the most prominent among them, nearly sixty percent of members being above the ripe age of forty, of which forty percent are with rich average annual income. This also means, these members can afford to engage good writers to write for them. Do not get bewildered at the richness of content these members have in their pages and do not gauge them as geniuses, because these contents are not written by them or they may not even have thought about any such things in their lives. My Space is currently vogue and is primarily meant for youngsters below thirty years. If you are above age, do not go crowding there, unless you write books which thrill that age group. Twitter which tests the skill of conveying what one thinks in just 140 characters was once the tide has now ebbed, due to this very challenge of keeping brevity in conveying thoughts in a world over-thronged by people of lesser intelligence. Linked In is the ideal stage for professionals to present themselves in, for befriending and connecting with other professionals in the world. There are dozens of others, some confined within geographic regions and some limited to certain professions.
Fall not thoughtlessly into bogs and marshes, after reading large print. Read the small print.
Writing articles to be published as print books is an option for writers which, if printed, published and sold, would surely bring good revenue. But this field is also not devoid of pits and bogs and treachery. Modern day publishers ask for an investment on the book from the writer. Do-it-yourself publishers would not release all facilities except to premium customers. E-Book publishers will have difficult formats for writers to follow. Publishing books as tablets and apps is costly. Writing articles for print magazines is also an option for writers but the waiting is interminable there. Editors won’t reply to you for months and most magazines have autumn, fall and summer issues only. Their busily engaged editors dissuade writers from post-submission queries. If these magazines are on-line publications, logging-in, submission, logging-out and then cancellation of account after a week or so is a standard procedure they see each day.
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Meet the author
Editor of Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum. Author of several books in English and in Malayalam. And also author of ‘Swan, The Intelligent Picture Book’. Unmarried and single. Born and brought up in Nanniyode, a little village in the Sahya Mountain Valley in Kerala…
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Very motivating but no easy answer of what the issue is about!
It is not a light issue that writers face in securing enough to live by publishing online. There is also not an easy answer to their questions. This here is a simple attempt to focus more light on their problems with various kinds of publishers, digital and print. The real issues are more complicated than what appears here to explain them more experience and practical knowledge than what I possess are needed. Thank you dear Md. Rezaul Karim for noting.
This is an excellent post. Very topical and deserving a star
There have been so many articles and many voluminous books also written on this subject. But a writer who simply has to know about a few basic things of importance cannot read them all and be a master on this subject of publishing online and earning a living. This is a brief attempt to bring all relevant things at one place, for a writer like me to learn that what problems I face are common which in itself shall be an encouragement. Better and more comprehensive single piece articles are needed in this subject and they will surely come, if writers like you, Mr. Madan G Singh, Md Rezaul Karim, Sivaramakrishnan A, Rathnashikamani Bijja and other put their minds to and find time.
Great article, indeed! Thanks for sharing!
I am satisfied that this article is being appreciated. I certainly know that many facts which ought to have been included have been omitted, ignored or forgotten, which I expect to appear here as comments by learned and experienced readers. Thank you Mr. Mike Robbers for the words of encouragement.
Lots of info. Good job.
Information is weapon. Making more information available to a writer regarding his profession or vocation is arming him to the teeth. Writers shall have to live as well as publishers. But one shall not exploit the other too much. Great publishers have organizations and tacit agreements among them but online writers do not have neither such organizations nor such agreements among them except a few weaklings here and there. If publishing is going to remain a profitable business and writers are going to write for their living, strong organizations are sure going to be established in the online writing field. Whether we know it or not, dissatisfaction of writers over publishers are more and more appearing as articles in the internet, a pre-condition for organizations. Thank you Mr. Phyl Campbell.