Being Organic

tomatos

I’ve been writing freelance for a couple of years now, and I’ve gone through more learning experiences than I can even think of in that time. I’ve also seen that there is more out there than can ever be mastered by on person, even someone as awesome as me 🙂

I’ve also struggled with, tried, and railed against a number of tactics and regular practices in the wonderful world of online existence and working. I may be wrong, I may be right, but either way I pretty much know where I stand for the moment.

Straddling the Line

As I mentioned in another post, SEO is a strategy that I struggle with. I don’t mean that I have a hard time with the mechanics of it, I mean that its use borders on a questionable tactic for me. I definitely see the benefits, and to a degree the necessity of it. There are more websites than there are people on the planet as of last year, so trying to get traffic to your site in that huge sea definitely takes some effort. the problem for me is that SEO is overused and relied on as THE driver of traffic by way too many people and companies. Thankfully, Google is trying to correct this with their algorithm updates, and I hope they continue to do so.

That being said, I do think that it is a good practice to use keywords and meta data in extreme moderation, but only because of the current climate. This site, for example, and most sites which I have set up for myself over time, don’t have any of either, or at least not enough to be considered. Sure, I link to my other posts and other sites that I write for, but my primary motivation is not to get more clicks. I’m always linking to things that I honestly think you would want to read.

Social Media, Guest Posts, Backlinking, etc

That’s a hodgepodge of a subtitle, but it was the first three things that came to mind. What I’m trying to convey is that there are so many channels and strategies that people use that it’s mind boggling. And to me it’s silly, but that’s because of the reason in the next paragraph. I love social media. I love using it for personal and family connections, for business connections, for sharing interesting things, and for learning from others. I write about using it regularly here. I’m not opposed to the idea of guest posts, either, or posting links like I just did. What bothers me is when these things are used for strictly monetary or traffic purposes and not for honest informational purposes.

Again, I keep having to walk a fine line here because I have nothing against money or traffic. I live off of them. I guess I just take cues or share mindsets with the likes of Chris Brogan, people who understand that the human connection and the desire to help others needs to come first. It’s just more important than money or fame.

Writing vs Business

One more straddle before I leave you. All this straddling is hurting me in unpleasant places. I’m a writer. I’m also a businessman. I write for money because it allows me to write. If it were only about money, I could go back the business world I left and make more, but I’m doing what I love now. I also get to share with people more and learn from others more, which makes my life so much better than it was before. Getting to the title of this post, I want to remain as organic as possible, meaning I want to succeed based primarily on what I write and on people reading, enjoying, and sharing what I write. If I’m writing crap but getting a million hits a day, that’s losing to me. If I have ten people who really enjoy what I write and let me know it, that’s winning.

So I continue to learn about the dark side, the business side of writing and blogging, because there is always something to glean and use in moderation. My goal remains, however, to write quality content and write it as well as I can. I can do better, I know. I rarely even go back and edit anything like this before I publish it, and it probably shows. I just hope that whoever reads it enjoys it, learns something from it, or is able to teach me something. But that’s just me.

As always, I beg for your comments. Not so that my site looks better (look at it after all, it’s kind of sad), but so that I will know that someone enjoyed it or so that someone smarter than me will perhaps leave something I can learn from. Thanks for reading.

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Giving it a Name

Often, when I’m driving down the road, taking a shower, or just sitting on the couch, a thought will come to me in the form of a title. In my mind this title will have wrapped in it an entire series of thoughts and ideas, a mnemonic device of sorts that allows me to recall the ideas later when I can write them down.

As an example, the title of this very post is one that I jotted down while thinking about this idea a week or so ago.

The Chicken or the Egg?

I am a huge music fan, and play (at) many instruments as well as sing. Over the years I have written many songs, most of which have been lost to the wastebasket in old notebooks I have thrown away. Every time I had an idea for a song I would struggle with where to begin. Sometimes lines would come to mind and I would try to add to them later. Other times the idea would come in a title.

The fact that I rarely have finished a song I started writing can be attributed more to a lack of dogged perseverance than of anything else. I have always been a bit scatterbrained and fickle, wanting to do and try everything, but more often than not moving on to the next idea before accomplishing anything on the last.

Recently I have been wondering if this flighty characteristic has anything to do with the way I approach things.

Keep it Simple

I have been writing as a freelancer for roughly a year and a half, but only recently have I thought about the process I use to write, or if I actually use a specific process at all. This contemplation comes from two sources, I believe.

The first is using templates. As a freelancer, I do a lot of article and blog writing for clients. Most clients who outsource these pieces are looking for one thing – exposure. Online writing is different from print writing in many ways, but the primary difference is in format and visual aesthetics.

The average consumer of online writing has a short attention span and moves their mouse hand to click to the next site very quickly. In order to keep their attention, there is a fairly standard format that the majority of sites use. You’re looking at it now, in this post.

Heading-intro-subheading-short paragraphs-subheading-short paragraphs-conclusion with a call to action. Lots of white space. Word count, 400-600. It works.

Making a List, Checking it Daily

The second reason for the pondering of “how” is that I recently made a list, and it seems to be helping. A week or so ago I stopped long enough to write down (read: type on google docs) a list of titles that were floating through my head, and since then I’ve written articles from most of them.

Interestingly, I’ve been able to associate many of the titles (or variations of them) with widely varying subjects: stock trading, Christianity, social media, etc. The result of this exercise is that I have whipped through a much larger amount of writing, in a much shorter time, than ever before.

So here I am, relaying this experience in the hope that it will help others and, also, to get your opinions and thoughts. When you write, do you start with the title, or title the piece after you have written it? What is the process you use when coming up with ideas? Is it completely different from mine? Love to hear your thoughts.

(p.s. – word count at 596 before this p.s., including title. it’s habit now)