By Robert Douglas
After years of trial and error and thousands spent on schemes that promised to have me typing my way to a six-figure income with my MacBook Air under a palm tree in Costa Rica, I’d had an epiphany on how best to navigate the internet for fame and profit. And I’m sharing tips for writers for free in the form of five tips — with a bonus photo of my late cat for no particular reason.
Tip Number One: Get real. Lower your expectations and don’t quit your day job. Chances are against you achieving your dreams, whatever they may be. But don’t let that stop you. Just be sure to keep grounded. Don’t look look for an A for Effort. Shut up and write.
Tip Number Two: If you’re into freelancing, stop bidding on third-rate gigs that pay less than McDonald’s and may compromise your integrity.
Writing skills have devalued in online publishing. Writing has become a commodity and proliferating content mills are more interested in quantity than creativity and originality. As long as copy fits, is spelled correctly and passes some anti-plagiarism filter, it passes muster more often than not.
With the bar set lower and the freelance market now global, writers who have a higher cost of living are competing for work with competent writers who may live in parts of the world where costs are lower.
Add to this depressing marketplace the fact that buyers are shameless enough to solicit bids on anything from ghostwriting an academic thesis to making favorable reviews on sites from Amazon to Yelp.
If you have to prostitute yourself to make a living, stop writing and move to Nevada or Canada where a less sedentary variation of this is legal.
Tip Number Three: Start unsubscribing to those e-mail services that have found the secret to unlocking Google’s latest algorithm to make it harder for internet marketers to game Google’s ranking system. I spent countless hours sorting through my inbox to avoid actually writing. Better you and I both spend time polishing our prose. When you have something good, then you can hire some pros to market it.
Tip Number Four: Build a support network that is not only encouraging but holds you accountable. The network can be a mix of virtual and real. Where I live, I’ve found the Tallahassee Writers’ Association affords me a fellowship that sustains me. And online, I belong to a number of LinkedIn and other groups that remind me I’m not alone.
And, of course, there are Facebook and Twitter where I’ve been building my own group of friends. If you’d like to join with me, I’d be honored.
Thanks for reading this far. It didn’t cost you any money and I trust it didn’t waste your time.
Robert Douglas is a former union official and former business editor for The Palm Beach Post and Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel. You can contact him at RBDMedia@gmail.com.