Tips and Tricks After 400 Pages on Wizzley

by JoHarrington

After a year on Wizzley, I've amassed a lot of articles which are starting to mature. It's fun watching to see which ones will suddenly wake up!

My Wizzley Tips and Tricks is as much a journal, as it is passing on information. I'm learning my on-line writing craft, so pausing every fifty pages to record what I know seems sensible.

It doubles as a way of reminding myself of the things I've known, and letting those following me see real data, alongside the tips. It's something that I wish I had had, when I began this journey.

I've been here a year now. It's been (and remains) fun.

The Long Grey Days of January

After the soaring Christmas rush, everything came back down to Earth with a bump.

What goes up must come down.  That's how the old saying goes, doesn't it? 

Back in early autumn, I recall Jerrico Usher gushing on the Wizzley forum about how the approaching festive season has boosted internet traffic.  Everyone was coming to buy presents for the holidays; and those who weren't had been chased indoors by bad weather.  They were all surfing the 'net and finding us.

It was truly marvelous!  Every time I checked, someone had bought something else on Amazon, eBay or Zazzle.  Vigilink was booming.  I was making more in one month than I had in six previously.  I'd finally arrived.

Then Christmas passed and January was upon us.  Grey days drizzling outside my window.  Too cold to venture far, too poor to pay for the petrol to travel any great distance.  No-one was buying much on-line.  The gift giving season was over and we were all skint.

Suddenly that profit from Wizzley took a nose-dive and left us all feeling depressed.  The bills weren't going away either.

It's my first real January as an on-line writer.  I felt myself soul-searching to see if this was really the path for me.  I loved the writing, but if it wasn't paying its way, then I had to find a job which did.  I know I wasn't alone there.  Wizzley authors were taking it in turns to raise each other's spirits.

It was HollieT who provided the golden insight for me.  She told me to forget comparing January's stats with December, but to look back to last January.  Now how did it look?

Tremendous actually.  I'd more than doubled my income!   As for unique readers, there was an increase of 3,366% between last January and this.  Back then I was averaging 30 readers a day, this year I'm averaging over a thousand.  Success on anyone's terms!

January and February dips for us all.  It's how we view it which keeps us going.  On the plus side, traffic and sales were great from September to December!  And they're hardly shabby right now.

Splitting Up Wizzles for Bounce Rate Happiness

Do you say twenty words when you could say one? Do you waffle on forever? No? Well I do! I've got monstrously long articles accordingly.

There are pros and cons involved in writing long articles.  A big plus is that you get a lot of keywords in there for potential readers to search and find.  A major downside is that those long walls of text seem intimidating.

Wizzley has a rule that you can't publish less than 400 words per Wizzle.  There is no upper limit that I've found (and I've surely reached high enough by now!). 

But long articles for the sake of long articles may be doing you a disservice.  If your reader has plowed through 5000 words, which don't really say anything, then they are unlikely to make that mistake again.  Keep it short, unless there is still a story left to tell.

There is another alternative too.  Splitting your articles up into a series will help reduce your bounce rate.  This is something which I did to great effect (according to Google Analytics) when I told the story of St Patrick recently.

They were all long articles and they could have been a single one.  But dividing them into four, published over four days, turned it into a serial.  People came back to learn what happened next.  People read to the end of one and clicked to read the next.

My bounce rate was low on all!

St Patrick Story Split Over Four Articles

Who was St Patrick? Pampered Roman child; shivering, starving slave; learned priest; precociously young bishop; missionary; all of the above.
St Patrick is possibly the world's most famous patron saint. On March 17th, people all over the world will celebrate St Patrick's Day. But do you know his story?
The third part of the story brings us back to Ireland again. This time Patricius came, not in chains, but of his own free will and volition. He was on a mission from God.
In the final part of St Patrick's story, he takes on those who would really like him to shut up; and takes a stand against slavery.

Pretty as a Picture on Wizzley

How much thought have you given to your Wizzle's thumbnail? This is the image representing your article all over the internet!

They say a picture tells a thousand words.  That's true on Wizzley too, but mostly it just looks good.

Pictures break up huge walls of text, which can make a page look attractive enough to read. 

A surprising number of readers do skim-read, before deciding whether to commit the time for a proper perusal.  Plenty of images help with those snap decisions.

But what picture should you choose?  For modules like this one, it doesn't matter too much.  As long as it's relevant and a nice image, then it's not worth worrying too long over your choices.  It's the main thumbnail which requires a little more discernment.

Your Wizzley article has to stand out amongst an array of others.  A good title will do that, but the real eye-catcher is the image. 

Until you delve a little more deeply, Wizzley categories are basically a load of pictures.  They are your 'hooks' to grab readers.  They'll see the image, read the title, if they're still interested, they'll read the blurb underneath.  Then they're in.

I spent some time just looking over the front page of Wizzley.  I took notice of which images caught my eye and why my gaze drifted over others.  I realized how important color was in this situation.  So many authors opt for tons of white - usually an Amazon product against a white background - I was filtering those out.

Since then, I've taken care to add a splash of color.  Even if I'm writing a 'sales' article, I'll go for the most colorful option in the images available.  If there's no option but to use one full of white, I'll nip into GIMP or Paint and add a border.

I'm not the most artistic person in the world, but it makes my articles stand out!

You can write the most wonderful article in the world, but if it hasn't been read, who will know?  The thumbnail picture is like the bait on the end of your hook.  Make it a good one!

Fans of the game Portal know all about the cake being a lie; even bigger fans of it have reason to question further.
It was hard to put down Cory Doctorow's third novel. The sometimes quite surreal world will stay in your mind for a long time afterwards.
It began with a search for the husband who'd deserted her. It ended up on the battlefields of Europe and India. No-one guessed she was a woman.

Examples of how I've chosen thumbnail images:

  • The cake is a lie article was headed by a screenshot. It filled more space and looked more colorful than the products on their own.
  • The book review had the front cover pasted on top of an orange background.  It covered all of the white, which was originally there.
  • The majority of portraits of Hannah Snell are in black and white. Perhaps the worst of the bunch was the only one in color.  But I selected it, because the bright red stood out and, well, it was in color.
There are several options when it comes to adding images to your wizzes. Did you know you can wrap text around an image? Learn how to add pictures to articles.

Learn About How to Attract Readers with Images

Should You Make Your Own Thumbnail Images?

This is one way to get noticed! There will be nothing else like it on the internet. But have you got the talent?

I'm not very artistic.  Sometimes I can take a decent photograph (and they end up on Zazzle), but mostly I'm more wordsmith than graphic designer.

For this reason, I might add a border or copy and paste to produce a picture, but you won't find me creating my own from scratch.  I just haven't got the talent.

If you have, then by all means go for it! 

But if, like me, your limits look like something a three year old could best in Microsoft Paint, then you need to think about it a little more.   Getting it wrong might cause potential readers to overlook your article, but worst still, they might prejudge it badly.  A bad image might equate, however unfairly, a badly written article.

By the same token, Wizzley is designed to look good.  There are professionals within the Wizzley team tinkering to see what works.  (Check out Nightowl's biography for a start!) 

For those of us with no artistic vision at all, then this is a great benefit.  It stops us cluttering our Wizzles until they look like a bad Geocities or MySpace come-back.  Unless you know what you're doing, then It's probably best to back out of trying to pimp up your pages too much! 

Things to consider when choosing an image:

  • Is it relevant to the article?
  • Does it represent my article, as an ambassador for the words inside?
  • Does it stand out when surrounded by other thumbnails?

If you have a winner, then attach it to your work. Every little bit helps!

Eye-Catching Thumbnail Images Which I Did Create

I can't make anything look professional in GIMP or Paint, but I can take the odd decent photograph. I took the ones which headed these articles.
As a native Briton, I have plenty of opportunities to travel around taking pictures of Britain's wonderful landscapes and cityscapes. You can share in the beauty too.
It can be frustrating and tricky to get your photograph or artwork to fill the available space for your Zazzle merchandise. After several thousand of them, I know the tricks.
History is written by the winners, which doesn't mean to say that there are not other perspectives on the story. I would rather hear the evidence and make up my own mind.

The Wizzley Community is Wonderful

Working together, we make the whole of Wizzley great. Readers arrive and that's of benefit to us all.

Back when I was a new writer on Wizzley, there was a big push for creating a community.  It came from the people themselves.  Naturally ChefKeem, NightOwl and the rest of the Wizzley team were thoroughly in support.

Veteran writers like Humagaia led the call.  He pointed out the importance of us all making friends, leaving comments on each other's work, extending a welcome to newcomers. 

He also noted that Wizzley is a very young website.  The rest of the internet needs to know about it perhaps more than each individual author.  The rationale was sound.  The greater the site's reputation, the more readers will venture here.  Our own work will receive a boost accordingly.  Plus it just makes Wizzley a nice place to be.

I've always been a team player better than a lone wolf.  I run with the pack and look for the well-being of all.  I know I'm not alone in that!  

Suddenly we were all chatting on the forum, linking each other's articles from our own, putting both Wizzley and the reader first.  The latter should be our priority anyway.  It all led to a wonderfully supportive community, which didn't seem to suffer the same bad feeling as in other forums.

Fast forward a year and tight friendships have been made.  There's nothing clique-y about it.  It's mutual and it's a lovely place to be.  Wizzley itself is stronger for it.  It's created a great environment in which to write, and to which to invite our writing friends.

I saw that in action this month!  And how I applauded.

A Mass Exodus from Suite101

This is where I began, but February 2013 brought some unprecedented and rather surprising news.

Since August 2011, I have been on Suite101.  I worked my way up to Feature Writer, before such titles were scrapped. 

It was the first freelance writing platform that I worked on.  For that reason, it will always hold a fond place in my heart.  I received a lot of early help from its community; and it was on Suite101 where I first heard about Wizzley.

Unfortunately, the site has struggled post-Panda.  That affected my traffic and income too. After getting off to a flying start, writing one of the earliest reports on Occupy Wall Street, it all seemed to wither.  I was writing a lot of news articles, but Suite101 gave up its Google news accreditation.  Good friends immediately jumped ship. 

I dithered and dallied, until a fellow writer gave me some good advice.  She told me that she understood my loyalty, but in this game we can only have loyalty to ourselves.  Nothing else puts bread on the table and pays the bills.  I followed Christian Dörr into Wizzley.

Nevertheless, I've still kept a kind of presence over on Suite101.  It may have been an occasional article, or an e-mail with friends, but I was still there.  Then, in February 2013, came the announcement that Suite101 was changing again.  The new model didn't include paying writers for their future articles.

Suddenly a whole community of people were looking for a new home.  I had just the place!  I spent a whole week over on Suite101, answering questions about Wizzley, as people evaluated their options.  Then, to my utter glee, I watched many of them choose to come here. 

It was a strange moment.  It was like two friends from different parts of your life meeting up; or a couple of extended families gathering at a wedding.  I found myself getting anxious - what if this group of friends didn't like that group?  

Of course, I needn't have worried.  As soon as the influx was obvious, Paul (a Wizzley author) created a forum thread welcoming in the newcomers from Suite101.  The Wizzley community flocked to say hello.  It was beautiful.  I was so glad I was here to witness it.

As for those coming in, my Wizzley inbox was buzzing for days.  One by one, the ex-Suite101 writers thanked me for bringing them here.  It was better than I'd even made it sound, which is a rare thing indeed in this game!

Community Feeling at Wizzley

Unsure how to leap right in and become part of the gang here?   It's ridiculously easy.  Everyone will welcome you.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Involve yourself in the Wizzley forum.   A good starting place is the 'Newbies Say 'Hi'' area, which is precisely what it says on the packet.   Another great, and highly informal, place to chat is right there at the bottom: 'Chatter Away, Friends!'   It's where all kinds of silliness ensues, as well as deeper discussions and more profound personal news.
  • Follow other authors and comment on their work.  They'll soon reply and a new friendship is born!
  • Privately message someone.  I've lost count of the number of friendships that I've made here, because a kind reader (and fellow author) PMed me to tell me about a typo.  Random acts of kindness rule the day.   Or if you stumble upon a bit of information, which plays right into another author's field of expertise, then give them a heads up.  Even if they already knew, then it's nice to have the contact.
  • Suggest a collaboration.  If you're writing about something, which would benefit from a sister article written by somebody else, then ask them about it.
  • Highlight another author's work in your sidebar or within your Wizzle itself.  This helps the readers, if the article is relevant, and boosts the reputation of Wizzley accordingly.

Have you got any other suggestions?   If so, please comment below and I'll add them in here, crediting you of course!

Comments are powerful. Wizer comments cause conciliation between disenfranchised author and Hubpages staff? Wizzley authors collaboration: the Wizzley future?

My Wizzley Stats at 400 Pages

I hit this milestone on February 28th 2013, fourteen months after joining Wizzley.
Jo Harrington's Wizzley Stats February 28th 2013
Jo Harrington's Wizzley Stats February 28th 2013

Of course, that massive spike - from the Wizzle which went viral on Reddit - is still skewing the results.  Here is how it looks when zoomed in.

Image:  Zoomed in Jo Harrington's Wizzley Stats from 350-400 pages.
Image: Zoomed in Jo Harrington's Wizzley Stats from 350-400 pages.

There are two more spikes between December 4th 2012 (when I hit 350 pages) and now. They came from two different sources.

The first was the Ada Lovelace article. She was featured in a Google Doodle and my Wizzley page was one of those shown in the SERPs.

The second was big news in the Runescape world. As the information came from private correspondence, I was the first to write about it in this context. The link got passed around a lot of Runescape forums, as players found and discussed it.

Both have continued to attract lots of readers. It was the initial rush to read which prompted those spikes in internet traffic though.

She was the daughter of the poet Byron. But history knows Countess Lovelace much better as a mathematical genius and possibly the first computer hacker.
The controversial Squeal of Fortune may soon become a thing of the past, if an Australian senator has his way.

My Wizzley Stats in Context

Image: Jo Harrington's Wizzley Progress February 28th 2013.
Image: Jo Harrington's Wizzley Progress February 28th 2013.

It may appear that I'm slipping in some columns, but I'm not too concerned.  There are two major factors at play here, which both impact those results.

The first was the Christmas rush.  There was a big buzz in late autumn and December, as people took to the internet to buy their presents.  I was warned about this in advance and it was exciting to watch play out.

Of course, what goes up must come down.  January and February saw the numbers of readers slow slightly.  It wasn't much in the vast scheme of things!  Nearly 8,000 people read what I wrote during the last week.

As for the final column, it's been over 90 days since one article attracted 70,000 readers in one day.  That's been present in the figures for the last three Tips and Tricks articles.  Now it's gone.  It will still be recorded as an historic blip, but it no longer impacts upon the current statistics.

I remain very impressed by the internet traffic coming Wizzley's way.   It continues to grow all of the time.  Give it another two or three years, and this writing platform will be one of the biggest contenders on the web.  We're just here at the ground floor and feeling very smug about that!

Fancy joining us?

Earlier Wizzley Tips and Tricks

The learning curve goes on and with it comes some amazing insights. But what will work in the long term?
My articles are consistently amongst the most popular on Wizzley. But I'm new to this writing game. This is how I'm doing it.
Every fifty pages, I pause and share all I've learned. This time there's been an emphasis on money-making; and an article that went viral.
Ten months after registering to write at Wizzley, I'm starting to see some return on my hard work. Come and join me on my learning curve.

Want to Learn More?

I've published all that I know about writing on Wizzley in this handy reference guide. It's much more comprehensive than even my Tips and Tricks series.
A Writer's Guide to Wizzley

Wizzley is one of the youngest and brightest writing platforms on the internet today. Online livelihoods are made in writing articles there. Jo Harrington is one of its foremost...

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Updated: 05/14/2013, JoHarrington
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JoHarrington on 12/17/2013

You're very welcome. I know from starting out (I'm only two years down the line) that I wanted sound and verifiable information. This is my way of providing it for those following in my way.

NateB11 on 12/17/2013

This is very sound advice and encouraging. It is good to take a long-range perspective and see progress over time. Success with online writing also involves a lot of work and producing plenty of content. Thanks for sharing your success and experience.

JoHarrington on 09/25/2013

I'm glad to hear it. You're welcome and good luck with your Wizzley career. :)

Raintree on 09/25/2013

I really enjoyed reading your article and all your helpful tips! Thank you.

JoHarrington on 08/01/2013

My mantra now is to stop when the article is finished. Sometimes that's short and sometimes long. I've not seen any data in my stats which favors one over the other.

Guest on 07/31/2013

These are thoughtful tips and the line between too short and too long an article is always a difficult decision for me.

JoHarrington on 05/19/2013

Whoa! That's awful! I mean, it's great that you were able to eventually find the humour enough to write an article about it, but bad what you actually found. :( I'm glad that you're here to redress the balance now.

CMarie on 05/19/2013

Thank you for your help! Yes, I even wrote a humorous article about what I found on the Internet after I was widowed. It was pathetic, but it was so funny. Mostly 'widow porn" and whah whah whah websites, and statistics that you will die early. I was devastated with grief, but trust me, the web was no help.

JoHarrington on 05/19/2013

I add mine in two ways. If you look on the right hand side column, you'll see the previous and next articles there. Then zoom down to the bottom, and I also list them in order.

Sounds like you've found a niche to be filled!

CMarie on 05/19/2013

Middle - aged widowhood. I thought there would be gobs of stuff on it on the Internet and there is next to nothing and most is pitiful garbage. Not sure about advertising opportunities though, except books. I am so new - how do you "link" articles? When I read yours, they just flow together, I don't have to click on a "link" to get to the next one. At least I think I didn't have to. Thanks for your help!

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