Suite 101 update: My first “disabled” story

April 3, 2009

Turns out, those Suite 101 editors aren’t all pushovers after all.

I’d run into very few problems with the first 26 stories I’d submitted to Suite 101. I’d get an occasional note from an editor reminding me to capitalize words in my headlines and subheads. (They’re big for capital letters at Suite 101.) Another note might ask me to insert an additional subhead in a story. (They really like their subheads, too.)

But that all changed. Last week, an editor disabled one of my stories.

Most of what I write at Suite 101 has to do with mortgages and homebuying. Those are topics that seem to attract a lot of views. But my disabled story was one of the handful I’ve written about freelance writing. In this particular story, I wrote about blogging networks, and whether they were worth a writer’s time. (Short answer: No.)

The editor who disabled the story cited some problems with my subheads and headlines, of course. (No editorial critique at Suite 101 is complete without headline or subhead commentary.) The editor also mentioned a spelling error.

But the real problem was that my story sounded too much like a blog post. It was also more of an opinion piece than a “how-to” or newsy story.

Well, that editor was right. I wrote the Suite 101 story shortly after having trouble collecting money from a blog network I’ve been experimenting with. The people in charge of the network had been ignoring my messages. I wasn’t happy with that, so I wrote a column telling writers how unreliable blogging networks are.

By the way, I do believe that is true. I’ve written for two blogging networks now that suddenly changed the way they pay writers. Both times, of course, my pay would have drastically plummeted had I stayed on board. I’ll be writing about both blogging networks in future posts.

I don’t fault the Suite 101 editor. I probably won’t make the changes she recommends to get my disabled story back to life. It’s just not worth the time or effort. It’s a good reminder, though, that Suite 101 does not want anything that smacks of an opinion piece.


Content writing, huh?

March 29, 2009

I’ve worked as a freelance writer since 1991. That’s a long time. But never have I felt as challenged, and frequently frustrated, as I do today. Since mid-2008, seven of my regular print-magazine clients have gone out of business. Several more have gone solely to in-house writers as they struggle through this horrible economy. I’m surviving, but I’m juggling more assignments than I ever have to meet my monthly income goals.

I’ve also dipped my toe into the largely unsatisfying world of online content writing. You know what I mean: places like Associated Content, Suite 101, Examiner.com, Demand Studios, b5 Media and the rest. They’re content mills that place greater value on quantity than they do on qukeyboardality. Writing for them is a bit brain-numbing, I admit. But a writer’s gotta’ do … well, you know.

I have one advantage in this strange new world: I can write fast, really fast. And when I’m writing for content sites I can write especially fast.

‘Course, that doesn’t mean I necessarily enjoy content writing. And I am still learning as I go. I’ve found content-mill writing to be extremely frustrating at times, especially when it comes to search engine optimization.  I also find myself getting overly excited when one of my online stories earns even the smallest amount of revenue. I wouldn’t touch a print-magazine story for anywhere near the same amount of money. I’d consider it an insult.

I set up this blog to share my journey through the content-writing landscape with my fellow freelance writers. Three times a week — at least — I’ll post my experiences with content sites. I’ll let you know how much I’m earning, how quickly I’m doing it and whether I enjoy what I’m doing even the tiniest bit.

And I hope you’ll share your thoughts with me, too, on whatever content writing you’re doing. Maybe you love it. Maybe you hate it. Maybe you recognize that in the world of online writing, speed is king, quality is  not necessarily a priority and earnings are small.

But, again, if you’re fast enough, if you can really pound away at that keyboard, those small earnings just might add up.

Or maybe they won’t. I’ll let you know.