Writing online has been a positive experience for me. So, when I think about how it all started I can't help but smile. I currently write for a number of websites, but I wouldn’t have written one word online had it not been for my husband. Find out what he did to nudge me in the right direction, and how I fill my time as the mother of grown children (who no longer need my taxi service or supervision).
My Experience Writing Online as DebW07
Find out how a "procrastinating perfectionist, who is also introspective," found a fulfilling hobby with the advantage of a passive income.
Listen to the People Who Love You
The year was 2010; my oldest child was graduating from high school and getting ready to leave for college. I was quietly crumbling inside. But my intuitive and caring husband noticed a difference in me. He made a suggestion, which I initially dismissed as silly. As it turned out, his suggestion was the introduction to a new and fulfilling hobby.
"Here, look at this," my husband said as he held out a page that he'd ripped from our local city magazine. The large bold print said, How to Make Money Online. But the title did nothing to peak my interest. I was in a pessimistic place and immediately dismissed the idea. My husband gave me the page and said, "Just think about it." A couple days later, he asked if I'd read the information. I had not. At his urging, I took a second look. It was a short piece advertising a course on making money using the Internet, held at our local community adult education center.
I thought the idea was nonsensical. "I don't want to take a night class!" I told my husband; whose response was, "Why not?" Bothered by having to justify my decision, I acrimoniously replied, "I don't want to waste my time attending a class at night for four weeks!" The more irritated I got, the softer my husband's voice became. He looked directly at me and said, "I know you're struggling. The kids are becoming independent and now it's time for you to concentrate on yourself. It doesn't matter to me what you do, but I think you need to find something to do." Then he picked up the page, handed it to me, and said, "Just think about it." And I did . . .
An Introduction to Fun
After much introspection I decided to take my husband's advice and sign-up for the course. I arrived early on the first night and sat in the front row. The class was small, about twelve students. The instructor, an older gentleman, was friendly and soft-spoken. He began the class by introducing himself and giving a brief background; he was a published author, whose credentials included television and film scriptwriting. I was impressed.
Our instructor offered everyone a free copy of his e-book. The first class covered the following topics: The most powerful tool on the internet; Keywords and keyword tools; “Spider-Food”; Becoming an “expert” on a topic; Engaging your readers; and The importance of high quality work.
I had some writing experience but zero Internet-writing experience. As I look at the topics, I should’ve been overwhelmed, but the instructor took his time, explained everything, and encouraged us to ask questions. That evening I returned home with a newfound enthusiasm. I told my husband about the class and went over my notes. I couldn’t wait for the next class, and each one was better than the previous.
It was during the second class that the instructor went over how to write for various websites, including revenue sharing sites. He gave us a list of his favorite sites and encouraged everyone to join one.
The first website I applied for required a 500-word sample piece. I was overjoyed a few days later when I received an email stating I’d been accepted as a writer. The email began with the sentence, “You’re just the type of writer we’re looking for!”
I showed my instructor the email at the next class, and he congratulated me and asked how it made me feel. "Amazing!" I said. Needless to say, the rest of the course went quite well.
The first website I wrote for required all work written in the HTML format. We'd covered this a little during class, but it was new and all-Greek to me. I had to master this new way of writing and luckily I was able to learn the basics relatively fast. After a couple of months, I felt confident enough to apply to a second site. I went back to the list and chose another site to join.
I signed-up for the second website in April, 2010. I posted a link to my first article in the site's forum and asked for feedback. I'm happy to say that all the members who responded had positive things to say, and they also welcomed me. I wrote several articles there, and a few months later I received my first check. Wow! I'd made money, just as the advertisement for my class indicated.
I wrote a number of articles for the second site, and I continue to write on that site today. I'm proud to say that several of my articles were selected as Featured Reading. I became active in the site's forum and "met" a number of talented writers who were willing to answer any questions and offer advice about writing online. In 2011, I read about a popular writing site in the forums and decided to join. I joined February 10, 2011, but I was very busy at the time (in addition to writing for the two websites, I’d also started a blog), so I didn't write anything on the new site until 2013.
Visit Me at "DebW07"
What a Blast
The third site I joined offered a training group, but there was a catch—you had to apply and be accepted into the group. I applied.
I remember I was at a restaurant having dinner with my husband when I received the email advising me I'd been accepted. I was excited. The first assignment: "Write about something you love." That was an easy one. I wrote about the cartoon/comic strip character Ziggy. My piece received positive feedback from the program administrator and others.
Each week came a new writing assignment, and I was excited to complete each one. I logged onto the site every day for 30 days and received a "Perfect Attendance Award." The group had their own forum, and I met some nice folks there.
When I graduated, I had successfully published 25 articles; I was awarded 11 “Purple Star Awards”; I’d won a weekly writing contest and received an Amazon gift card, and one of my articles was chosen as the article of the day. Like my original class before, I learned so much. I often describe this experience as being a blast. It was that fun.
A New Group
After the training group, I was invited to join another group of more experienced writers, and I was now eligible to participate in a different weekly challenge contest. The first challenge was to write about something “yellow.” Coincidentally, I’d just purchased a yellow air pop popcorn maker, and thus I had my subject. I was thrilled the next week when my article the weekly Highlight Reel. I decided I would challenge myself to try to make every highlight reel list after that.
Week-after-week, I participated in the challenges. Some weeks were easier than others, but I never gave up. I appreciated these challenges during the summer months when my kids were away on trips. My oldest was in Europe for six weeks, so having something to occupy my mind and keep me busy was such a benefit.
The site was fun, and the administrators offered various clubs to join and different quests to accomplish. In addition, I joined the sites Facebook and Google+ groups and met lots of nice folks. Participating and writing for this site was an enjoyable experience, and yes, I achieved my goal of completing every challenge and making each highlight reel.
Next, came something unexpected. In January of 2014, I was invited to participate in the site’s “Contributor” program. I was asked to be the '70s Disco Queen Contributor. Like the training group, what a blast that was. I published several articles on ‘70s music, movies, and more—and created a Facebook page with the same name. In addition, I was given access to a private Contributor Facebook page. As with the forums, I met lots of great people and got lots of tips. I continued as the ‘70s contributor until the site was sold, and the program discontinued. It was good while it lasted, and I have no regrets.
"'70s Disco Queen Contributor Logo"
'70s Disco Queen Contributor
So Many Sites—So Little Time
I’ve joined some other sites; some required me to complete a writing test and submit a sample. I’m happy to say I’ve been accepted on each site. One site sells my articles to clients, the rest house my articles and I earn based on the number of readers I attract, advertisement, Amazon, and other criteria.
My writing experience gave me an advantage, but there were several things I had to learn. One example was the HTML. Some others are “keywords,” “search engine optimization,” citing and using my own, "public domain," or photos that I have permission to use, and a few other things.
You don't have to be an expert in web techniques, but you need a working knowledge of them. Learn as much as you can, but remember, if your writing is not helpful and interesting, it doesn't matter how much you know about the Internet, you will not succeed.
I honestly believe my experience and love for writing has helped me become successful in my endeavor. I loved what I was doing, and so I never gave up. That is important, especially during those early months when no one seems to notice you or your work. I didn’t have a problem because I loved what I was doing so much that I would've done it even if no one read my work, or if I didn't make a penny.
I’m looking forward to contributing more articles on several topics to various sites. I’m also hoping to venture into other areas of writing such as short-story fiction and non-fiction.
Whatever I do, I will always have my thoughtful husband to thank for my hobby. He cared enough to give me a little push when I needed it.
See Some of My Photos on "Introspective Pics"