Many years ago, around 2005 or so, I participated in a popular writing meme following a template that gave a wonderful result. It combines something of the many “about me” formats, but with a decidedly more aesthetic outcome.
So many bloggers were creating posts using it that there was a whole new meme of linking to their published efforts in something of an index.
Enough years passed that it is “new again”, and while trying to locate the original template, it gave me enough rabbit trails that I thought it would be a good idea to post it here.
I had found it on “Praties Place” …. who had got it from “Fragments From Floyd” …. who seems to have either been inspired by or who had gotten it from the poem, Where I’m From by George Ella Lyons.
This last source was found on a page no longer actively on the internet (found deep in the webarchives). I will cite it from that page:
““Where I’m From” appears in George Ella Lyon’s Where I’m From, Where Poems Come From, a poetry workshop-book for teachers and students, illustrated with photographs by Robert Hoskins and published by Absey & Co, Spring, Texas, 1999.”
For the WHERE I’M FROM Format:
I am from _______ (specific ordinary item), from _______ (product name) and _______.I am from the _______ (home description… adjective, adjective, sensory detail).
I am from the _______ (plant, flower, natural item), the _______ (plant, flower, natural detail)
I am from _______ (family tradition) and _______ (family trait), from _______ (name of family member) and _______ (another family name) and _______ (family name).
I am from the _______ (description of family tendency) and _______ (another one).
From _______ (something you were told as a child) and _______ (another).
I am from (representation of religion, or lack of it). Further description.
I’m from _______ (place of birth and family ancestry), _______ (two food items representing your family).
From the _______ (specific family story about a specific person and detail), the _______ (another detail, and the _______ (another detail about another family member).
I am from _______ (location of family pictures, mementos, archives and several more lines indicating their worth).
I hope you enjoy using this to create your own memorable autobiography in poetry and prose.
It is all old news now: blogging is /and has been/ changing.
If you are new to creating a blog and writing online, maybe these terms are new to you. Or maybe you are like me, and never really “got it”, needing to bone up on these pillars of blog success and learn some new “tricks” at the same time.
With the tsunami of internet blogs comes a necessity to keep your head above water just to get an average number of readers. But fear not, there is still opportunity and with good old grit and determination online writers can still craft a following while pursuing their dream of creating a body of work.
First Some Definition
What is a niche?
It is a specialized subject area. Preferably your niche is narrowed down to the point where you have appeal to a loyal tribe of people who share your interest.
The alternative is to have a broader area of interest, but create a prolific amount of articles which have good authority.
My own example is that my sites mainly revolved around the topic of gardening. Since that was such a broad topic, I further reduced the scope to Central Ohio Gardening , with an emphasis on home landscaping design.
Even there, I am finding that I must greatly increase the output of articles to improve my online standing.
The point of having a niche topic is to build authority and gain readership by reducing your competition for keywords and interest. It is a combination of catering to Google for search engine results and catering to those who wish to find authoritative information on their favorite subject.
What are some other popular niches?
DIY Home Decor
DIY Interior decorating
Selling Homemade Items
Grow your own food
Use alternative energy
Actually, these are all highly saturated topics now, but by studying “long tail keywordsA long-tail keyword is a keyword phrase that contains two to three words” you can successfully choose a good niche topic for your blogging.
I have seen advice consisting of writing on a certain long tail keyword for a few key posts, and then branch out to adding posts on other related keywords for your chosen subject matter. I tend to write as the muse hits me, but this tip strikes me as a more organized and targeted approach. Even though my blogs are established, I think that is good advice to round out my own content.
What Is An Evergreen Post?
As may be surmised, no matter what the season year, in and year out, something that attracts reader’s interest is called “evergreen content”.
Posts that have no expiration because they hold long term interest.
What type of topics might qualify for this type of article?
Instructional “How To” Tutorials
What do people love to read about? Food, romance, money, weight loss, their pets …you know, the usual. It’s the usual because we are perennially interested in these topics as humans.
And that… is Evergreen.
The seasons give rise to traditions in food, holidays, activities, and many other types of subjects that perennially pop up and create interest in our writing.
Here is a list of common topic examples by month:
money, budgeting, earning extra income
New Year’s resolutions
income tax, spring,
Chinese New Year
love, romance, dating.
Daylight savings time
St. Patrick’s Day
Easter, Palm Sunday, Passover
April Fools Day
summer, summer break
Fourth of July
Warm weather foods (barbecue, ice cream, salads).
back to school
Fashions for fall and winter
Turkey, holiday recipes
Ornaments, Christmas trees
Winter, cold, ice, snow, snowflakes
To take advantage of seasonal searches, write your articles 3 months in advance of the expected interest dates.
Building a solid base of evergreen content within a niche is a good way to start out with your blogging. It is also a great way to view where an established blog might flesh out their appeal.
If you are interested at all in making income from your writing, I’d say these concerns should rise to the top of your writing “to-do” list. You are much more likely to hit your target when focused, then using hit or miss style of building your blog.
Myself? When free to experiment with writing topics, as in my time on Squidoo, I found that evergreen content and creating a niche were best combined for success in drawing readers and earning money.
Today, one of the fastest ways to get these articles seen and grow in traffic has been through the use of Pinterest. Utilizing social media is the next step, after writing a foundation of solid content.
The answer to that question is increasingly “no”, but until very recently it had been a “yes”, and I think it might resume the affirmative. Right now it depends on how the transition is made as Hubpages continues to try to please Google.
For those unaware of what Hubpages is, here is a short summary:
It is a community of online writers using a module based writing platform.
The income of ads and Amazon products are shared between the writer and Hubpages.
A Bit Of Background On Squidoo Turning Into Hubpages
If you have read some of my reports in the past you know that I started out on Squidoo, which was a writing platform with some similarities. While writing there I did quite well, getting some rewards and earning enough income to help support some of my other web writing – selfhosting and domains for my blogs (including this one).
Squidoo was bought out by Hubpages and merged, after which all the articles (christened “lenses”) became “hubs”.
Squidoo struggled with the same issues that are a trouble to Hubpages, now: penalties from Google for poor content, spamminess, and just because they consider them to be “content farms”.
Hubs Get Hit
The fact that Hubpages pay compensation means they have tended to draw some very questionable authors along with the worthwhile, talented, and honest ones. After Google Panda slapdowns (where the traffic was severely impacted), the struggle was on to try to eradicate the source of the problem. This included little to no links to one’s own blogs, or affiliates, and much fewer Amazon modules.
This has resulted in dropping income for many writers on the site (which explains my initial “no”, it is very difficult now to make any money on the site).
Compensation is still paid, but it is much more difficult and greatly reduced at this time (in my own experience).
What Has Changed In Earning Income?
For the things that created income, the ad income is less, the Amazon modules are restricted and discouraged. Also, an arbitrary system of relegating articles to “unfeatured status”, wherein HP tells search engines not to index the hubs, results in less visitors for that “hub”. Ebay has not figured into my own earnings, or much for most others from what I have read.
One thing that has changed is the clarity by which a person may judge whether their writing is meeting standards on the site. Unfeatured for quality can mean almost anything for having outgoing links, to too many, to unrelated Amazon products, etc. It could also have to do with the writing… it is a mixed bag and changes often.
Are We Having Fun Yet?
Yes, sometimes. However it is a lot of work keeping up with many changes, and the compensation is steadily dropping. What tends to work?
Having a large number of articles still seems to matter. Part of the reason my income dropped is that I took a number of my articles down when they seemed unresponsive to improvements (I couldn’t get them out of unfeatured no matter what I tried).
Writing long articles of 700+ words.
Writing along a very tight topic focus (unlike Squidoo which seemed to reward ranging widely across the topic and covering everything).
Having few or no outgoing links, restricting them to one per text module.
Having very few Amazon products and keeping them to those mentioned in the article.
A number of strong pictures/photos, but not too many.
Another change is the scoring of articles based more on visitor interaction, and less on raw traffic.
A robot editor now corrects grammar and spelling.
Start Doing This
If earning some revenue from your writing online is a goal, try some of these suggestions.
Build up your own sites if you wish to try your hand at making an income writing.
Diversify among different streams of income: sites like Hubpages, your own blogs, social media, Amazon, Zazzle.
Find your niche
For now, that is my report on the everchanging landscape of creating a business and income online.
So many writers are complaining in the Hubpages forums and many are leaving or threatening to do so. I take that to mean that there is a sitewide drop in income. Mine is about a third of what it was last year, but I don’t know if that is the common experience or not.
The benefits remain for those who simply wish to have experience writing and possibly getting feedback on their efforts. The community there is also a way to keep a touch on the pulse of the web as it impacts this type of writing (mostly informational articles).
This is simply information given to the reader to help you decide for yourself if you think joining and writing for Hubpages is a promising endeavor for your efforts.
Clear Photo (at least one, preferably Pinterest-worthy)
Easy to scan information: headings and bullet lists help
Good word flow in well written content
These 5 points are the basics of a good blogpost.
No matter how much you write , one of these areas of the blogpost can always improve. I believe we should always strive to better our product, no matter what form it takes. I’m an information junkie and love to read great posts, and I’m always trying to improve by learning how to put together great advice from experts and make it my own.
That first one, the catchy headline, always challenges me. I’ve read Copyblogger’s advice and even participated in his mentoring program to try to learn more.
Photos were always a challenge, but with my iPhone and Camera+, as well as Instagram, I am starting to improve the process. I made nice enough photos with my Sony digital camera and photo editing, but it was a very time and effort consuming process. Now it is easier.
Remember basic rules of writing a good essay? Those apply to the first paragraph, the introduction. Make it controversial, or make it something generally agreed upon, then introduce your topic and what the reader can hope to find in your post.
This has to do with the format of the page. Break it up into easy to digest pieces, divide with heading, hand out bulleted lists. I am still working on this.
My run-on sentence mindset likes to forget the formatting.
Don’t make that mistake.
Read through your content before posting. Make sure you have enough of the written word to give the necessary information and that your thought process is easy to follow.
Rearrange paragraphs and sentences if necessary. Keep learning to write better. Lots of advice is available.
The Next Most Important Points For Good Blogposts
Check Your Spelling
Check the Grammar and Punctuation
Edit Your Writing
Use White Space, Reduce Clutter
After you have written a post, it is time to edit, revise, spellcheck, and improve sentence structure making sure the punctuation is properly used to best advantage.
I do play fast and loose with this at times, but I used to go over my work repeatedly correcting mistakes, and still do when I have the time. It is far better to look twice before pushing the publish button.
People have given me helpful info on times that I have overlooked proper spelling or written in an obscure manner. I wish I had more input! If you have a friend or colleague who will help you edit, treasure that person.
Perhaps you would improve with the use of an editor app or program. I have used Scrivener and Evernote, although I’m slow to learn how to coordinate everything. A successful blogger I know uses Scrivener and other helps, and I am trying to follow his lead in becoming more effective.
These are the important points to remember when creating a blogpost that is memorable, social media worthy, and useful to your readers.
In sum, although there may be an infinite number of tweaks and improvements we may make, these are the core components of good blogposts.
Make your blogpost interesting, entertaining, and/or useful
One Last Thing
I have been seeking to improve my blogs and one thing that keeps coming up:
Include a Call to Action
This is a “marketing term”, but it has become a widespread inclusion in the summary of a post. The idea is that the reader gets involved with either being asked to comment, “like”, or sign up for the newsletter (don’t have one? More on that in the future.)
I have started to do this. So, please sign up for my garden newsletter… it is more than gardening.
I went there through a twitter link ( I follow Brian and some others from the days I was in ‘Third Tribe’). I seem to struggle with the actual how-to for some reason, but I have learned so much about copywriting, marketing, and other foreign subjects from reading people who taught in his grand experiment.
I wasn’t ready. Maybe I will never truly be ready, but I’m taking the plunge in many of the things I learned. After all, I don’t wish to only write for myself. Like on this site!
That is a lesson found in some of the information ( I tend to follow a rabbit trail of posts on some of these sites). I think I format my posts better, but I have been experimenting like crazy with themes that give me styling and possibilities that I want.
But writing headlines? I used to be so wordy and esoteric ( See? I use words like that). Then I switched to prosaic and dull, ” just the Key words, Ma’am, please.” Now I am supposed to captivate you. At sixty+ I don’t feel captivating. But I will try. Sometimes daily writing drums you down, but I like the idea of further refining your focus. That is what I am trying to do in life, so why not my writing?
My latest post on Ilona’s Garden was in a post format called “projects” that was built into my Theme. I still struggle with making my own post formats. And now that sentence is an example of what not to do: digress.
Anyway I wrote a resource page on Composting, which I hope to grow into a major source over the coming year. Composting is important to me, and I personally want to do it better. I figure there might be others like me.
Look at the page and then tell me what you think of the headline, etc.
Offhand, I’d say that while it has a nice pun, it is too broad in scope. Also composting articles have been done to death, but usually they are scarce on good, complete information. The best ones are specified to particular categories of the composting process.
I wanted something where you can read it and go out and make your compost that very day ( you know, set it up, to actually make the compost takes time).
So. Did I accomplish the goal? What would draw a reader deeper into the page?
If money were the only reason I write online, in my blogs and communities, then pennies is the payout and I wouldn’t consider it worth the time. But if writing is more than earning a paycheck, then my success has made me wealthy.
It all depends on how we value our time, effort, and results.
I’ve been attempting to build an online business, and part of a business is producing something, while the other part is its ability to provide income.
While I started out writing and creating websites just for the excitement of it (and watching the site statistics!), the reward of feedback in reader commentary became an important part of the reason to write. At that time it was reward enough for me.
As the internet became bigger it became important to put some of my writing into its own hosted domain. That cost money. Thus was born my initial attempts at monetization with much trepidation. In fact, I was so timid about adding Google ads and Amazon associate links that I made almost zero every month. And only a penny or two usually on other months. That went on a long time, long enough that I wondered whether online earnings might be an Urban Legend.
While taking advice from this post, use it mainly for information purpose only. The “content farm” writing sites have changed so much in recent times that this information is outdated.
I finally earned something
After I did start getting some small results, it just seemed that the boat had passed me by, and I did miss out on the early days when some savvy entrepreneurs were turning their websites into businesses. Today, though, I see that with lots of hard work, it is possible to build your income with writing online.
I’m not successful enough to parlay expertise into training and tutorials, but I can share how some endeavors are working for me.
Update: It is sad that a community as fun and thriving, as Squidoo was, should go belly-up. That is what happened. The pages are not lost, however, simply moved to another site, Hubpages.
Because of style changes and a different emphasis of content on the two sites, the pages need much editing and updating. I have only a few more to work on, but the collection pages were a little more challenging to customize for Hubpages. Expect for these to change a great deal over time.
Hubpages is facing the same challenges from Google, and ad income as Squidoo once did. I think they are valiantly trying to create a valuable, respectable site that Google will cease to penalize, if not love.
Moving things Here, There , And Elsewhere
One issue that Google is going against are sites where there are sales, and a spammy look. I understand and appreciate that. While at the same time, as the web is more and more business oriented, sites survive by using affiliate links, etc.
Consumers, and just plain old readers (like us) enjoy product recommendations and reviews, too. So, the pages which Hubpages will no longer feature, like gift suggestions for avid yoga practitioners will become part of this site, where I already have the original pages I made for fitness and wellbeing.
I am trying out the idea of adding more Amazon features here, that look like this one, or similar:
I hope it helps me support my website, which used to be financed through my work on Squidoo.
My sincere desire is to benefit the readers, too. Trying to be as considerate as possible about sharing socially, offering products, and using programs such as Adsense.
If there are opinions about any of this, Facebook is my favorite place to join in these conversation, although twitter is a possibility and even some comments here. Though I don’t find people engaging on the blogs very much anymore.