Tips and Tricks After 450 Pages on Wizzley

by JoHarrington

Sixteen months into my Wizzley adventure, I'm starting to experiment a lot more. Doing what I was told to do at the very beginning has very mixed results.

When I began writing for Wizzley, I was very new at this game. In many ways, I still am. For that reason, I pause and take stock every fifty pages. I pass on any advice that I've amassed. I explain what on Earth I'm attempting to do now.

These tips and tricks articles chronicle my adventures as a Wizzley writer. They are designed to give those following in my footsteps a little insight into the reality of this world. They are also written so that veteran writers can swoop in and stop me, if my ways are going a little too awry.

I hope that what I have to share winds up being useful to us all.

I've Written and Published a Guide to Writing on Wizzley

As big news goes, I will probably never top this one. Hence I've put it right at the very top, where nobody can fail to see it.

Between November 2012 and April 2013, I was secretly hard at work writing all that I knew about Wizzley into an ePub template.  Actually, that's only true as far as it goes. Let's try that again.

In November 2012, I enthusiastically embarked upon writing a guide to Wizzley. I hammered away at it for about three days, then became side-tracked by other things. My manuscript gathered digital dust languishing on my hard-drive.

Every so often, someone like Sam or Paul would ask me how I was getting on. I would guiltily open it up, write a few pages and get distracted by a shiny, pretty elsewhere.

By March 2013, I wasn't much further along than when I abandoned it in November. Sam gave me a good talking to. I opened it up and dived in head-first for a few weeks. I imagined that I was brand new to Wizzley. I clicked every button as if for the first time and gave guidance on what it had revealed. In this way, I finally produced a comprehensive guide to Wizzley, which could be unleashed on the general public.

And here it is. I hope that you find it helpful, as you hunt for Wizzley tips and tricks, and as you begin your own career as a Wizzley writer

A Writers's Guide to Wizzley (Kindle)

A Writer's Guide to Wizzley (Paperback)

Reviews of my Book So Far!

Writing Articles Online a Guide to Wizzley by Marie William Johnstone
When I read that Jo had written a guide to Wizzley, I immediately bought a copy. I didn't read any reviews, I didn't concern myself with the price and I had no nagging thoughts about this purchase at all...

A Writer's Guide To Wizzley- A Gem of A Book by HollieT
Whether you're a seasoned article writer or new to Wizzley and content creation, A Writer's Guide to Wizzley is a gem of a book which you'll want to refer to over and over again.

Wizzley For Writers - Writing Online for Profit by Pkmcr
As a learning and development specialist I am a great believer in the maxim that we never stop learning and Jo's book is a real opportunity for you to keep learning!

How Do You Know What's Good Advice?

Given that I'm trying to flog you a book purporting to deliver just this, it's a pertinent question. But then it always is.

Image: Working TogetherThere are many things that I love about Wizzley, but up there in the top ten is the willingness of its community to help out.

In comments, private messages or publicly on the forum, you will frequently witness people pooling information, or providing pointers for those clueless on various topics. Even if you never earned a penny here, Wizzley would be worth the time spent in learning your trade.

But there is a flip-side to that. The plethora of voices calling out advice can easily become a confusing din. Particularly if you have no way of evaluating the best people to hear out.

This is an issue which I've struggled with since I began writing online. I would read, in all attentiveness and due appreciation, every single thing said by every single person. I would attempt to put all this advice into practice. If it failed, or I became overwhelmed, I'd blame myself. After all, I'm the noob here, not them.

It took me months to realize that not all voices are equal in wisdom, knowledge and experience. Everyone is so friendly here that you're never going to see helpful warnings expressed on the forum. No writer here is likely to scream, 'Don't listen to so-and-so, (s)he's talking rubbish! Listen to x,y,z instead!'

Which is great in terms of making Wizzley a fun place to be. But terrible if you're a newcomer and have no way of knowing who is the real sage. The problem, of course, is that newcomers are precisely those most vulnerable to a) needing advice and b) giving up when no quick tip in the world makes them millionaires overnight.

Sixteen months down the line, I've finally sussed it. I know how to at least tentatively guess the bright sparks amongst the kind-but-misguided folks.

Evaluating Advice Given on Wizzley

The vast majority of tips shared on Wizzley are given in good faith and a genuine wish to see everybody succeed. But not all have credence for you.
  • Find something that you can check. You're not completely at sea. If you know something for a fact, then look to see how well your would-be adviser comprehends it. Mine is the Wizzley commission boost checkpoints. You know that 50 articles, then 100 articles respectively give you a greater cut of the takings on Wizzley. So if someone has stopped at, say, 49 articles, then they haven't grasped even something that fundamental. Of course, they might be veterans elsewhere, but even so, how long does it take to write 400 words, when you're that close?
  • Test out the advice to see if it works for you. One of the major traps that I've always fallen into is assuming that one size fits all. It doesn't help when dominant voices create the illusion that 'the only way to make money is... *insert top tip*'. The fact of the matter is that what works for one person may not work for another. Dozens of factors are at play. To find out if a tip is good for you, then take it on board. If it works, then it was for you. If it doesn't, move onto the next.
  • Ask yourself 'whom does it serve?'.  This is the classic Grail question. If the advice being hurled at you appears to benefit the adviser more than you, then there's probably a reason for that. You aren't exactly the recipient of sage information for its own sake. You're a potential customer. Look VERY long and hard at me including my book up the top there. It obviously serves me very well if you buy it, hence I'm not a good source of advice on whether you should. In this very particular case, I'm downright dodgy.
  • Are they putting their money where their mouth is? If a tip is being presented as the most important you will ever apply, then is your adviser doing the same? If not, then there may well be another motive for you being asked to work in a particular way. Ask them why they don't do it, and see whether the answer makes sense. If not, they could well be talking just to sound knowledgeable.

To Niche or Not to Niche, That is the Question

The other big news of the past fifty articles has been vampiric. Lots and lots of vampires everywhere. You could say that I really sank my teeth into the subject.

Image: VampireSince I first began writing online, I've heard the same piece of advice recurring. You should find a niche and stick to it. Write about one thing only. Find as many angles as possible, but always feed into that same central topic.

The internet doesn't like online writers who approach their craft like a butterfly flitting from one flower to the next. We should never mix and match. Thou shalt find a niche!

I've not been told this by just one person. It's been relentless. It's been by people who do write within their niche. I've had someone bluntly tell me that I've already ruined my Wizzley portfolio. I should take steps now to try and rein it in. Repackage myself as, say, a culture writer. 

I've had another tentatively agree. Then tell me to just give up on Wizzley right now. Find another site and start again, but keep within a niche this time.

When I published my Wizzley guide, I was cringing my way through asking people if they wouldn't mind reviewing it. Several turned me down. Book reviews weren't within their niche.

You know, even I can take a hint.

So I found my niche. I wrote about vampires. Lots of vampires. More vampires. I explored their history, their folklore, their appearances in movies and literature. I looked at the psychology and sociology behind them. I became obsessed with the television show True Blood. I chased vampires out of Serbia, into Austria, across the Atlantic into America, then back into ancient Sumeria. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Moreover, it was a natural subject to choose. My Sasquatch articles have been doing well and vampires are legendary creatures too. Plus I'm writing a novel about them, so it counted as both research and creating a vampiric buzz into which to publish. Great stuff!

Did the Vampire Niche Experiment Work on Wizzley?

In terms of money, it's way too soon to tell. The Sasquatch ones didn't take off for months. As for everything else... mixed.

Image: Vampire batI've had people tell me quite frankly, "Will you please stop writing about $£&%ing VAMPIRES!?" A lot of other people have been less forthright about it, but the clues are there.

"Wow!" Laughter. "You're writing a lot about vampires recently."  Or teasing, when I tell friends that I've just posted an article, along the lines of, "Is it about vampires, perchance? Is there yet another avenue left undiscovered?" Or the very subtle, "I did used to like it when you wrote about history, human rights and things."

As time went by, fewer random people stopped by to comment on my articles.

In short, not one person has openly embraced my saturation of vampire articles. Nor has anyone uttered the praise,  'Hallelujah! You've finally started writing within a niche!' In fact, everyone waffling on about niches has gone strangely quiet in my digital earshot. (Except for the individual who proffered the opinion that, if I was going to write niche, I should have used these articles as the basis of another profile on another site.)

There were plenty of comments (publicly, privately, in comments, on the forum) about Pets and Animals not being the right category for vampire articles. I was writing so many, that the furry critters couldn't get a look in. The infestation eventually led to the whole legendary creatures sub-category being shifted over to Culture and Society.

I'm guessing that the Wizzley team, and every author involved in having to relocate their articles, really loved me right around then. Though they took it with good humor. I also managed a hat-trick in having all three of the Wizzley team members recommend/request that I change something. There was a definite sense of damage limitation going on, or me being paranoid. One of the two.

In fact, the only immediate good result that I discerned (give or take the discovery of True Blood) was the depth in which you can write within a niche.  The more I delved into the subject, the more I found correlations between sources or noticed how x had been inspired by y. There was nothing superficial about the later historical and folklore articles.

Ask me about vampires. Anything about vampires. I feel like quite the expert after all that.

As for traffic, that's remained just as constant as it did when I was scattering my articles across many topics. No huge surges, but first day readership showed no massive slump or rise. It's too soon to tell on the long term effects.

My personal take on it: I'm not at all convinced that niches are all that. I've been given no evidence - beyond the fact that you can become very learned on a particular topic - to believe that writing within a niche is particularly wonderful. Though I did hear a whisper that Google has loudly hinted that it prefers to pigeon-hole writers into their niches, so they can more easily promote or blast them in the SERPs.

Sounds more like a reason not to be a niche writer to me. Unless you really are the greatest authority, on the entire internet, for your subject.

The Importance of an Editor's Choice Award

A hidden insight was revealed, when writing about nothing but vampires for weeks. This time, I wasn't the one with the rosette.

Image: VampireDo you like his little face? This vampire isn't mine. It's the thumbnail for Wrylilt's brilliant and highly hilarious article entitled How to Kill & Stop a Vampire. I've been seeing it everywhere.

It's the only article in the whole vampire section which won an Editor's Choice Award. It's been the catalyst for some of my greatest efforts since arriving at Wizzley.

An Editor's Choice Award tops all in the site's algorithm. If an author does not fill his/her sidebar with article links, then the first choice automatically inserted is the one with the rosette. It doesn't matter if other articles in that category currently rank more highly in terms of fresh content or traffic. The Editor's Choice article will be the first listed.

At this moment in time, there are 32 vampire articles.* All but three are listed in the category's page above Wrylilt's article. The remaining trio were only written during the past few days, they've not yet had the opportunity to out-rank it. Nevertheless, the award still ensures that this article will always be first to be listed in an open sidebar.

That's the importance of striving to obtain an Editor's Choice Award. Every other article in the category will work to promote your article, if you can secure one.

Well done, Wrylilt!


* Since writing this, I've separated my articles out into different sub-categories. They're not all in vampires now.

The Best Vampire Article on Wizzley

Sick of those vamps hanging around every time you get a paper cut? Here's how to get rid of them!

My Wizzley Stats at 450 Pages

I hit this milestone on May 13th 2013, sixteen months after joining Wizzley.
Jo Harrington's Wizzley Stats May 13th 2013
Jo Harrington's Wizzley Stats May 13th 2013

With the Reddit spike finally gone, my statistics are much more visible without zooming in. There are two notable spikes still there though. 

The first represents a surge in hits for an article about Ada Lovelace. She was the subject of a Google Doodle that day, and I already had a Wizzle about her. The second came when I broke the news on the internet that an Australian Federal Senator was set to introduce a bill. If it was made law, then an unpopular gambling feature called Squeal of Fortune would likely be forced out of the MMORPG Runescape.

It was widely discussed on several Runescape related forums, plus Reddit. Many of them linked back to my Wizzley article.

My Wizzley Stats in Context

Image: Jo Harrington's Wizzley Progress May 13th 2013
Image: Jo Harrington's Wizzley Progress May 13th 2013

While my new articles (mostly vampiric in topic) are holding their own, the older articles seem to me to be plummeting overall.  Yes, it's worrying me now.

I've had several people reassure me on the matter. The points raised by them are:

  • While writing published guides and novels, I'm not churning out two or three articles a day on Wizzley. Therefore my traffic will fall accordingly.
  • It's spring-time. Sane people are out in their gardens and going on day-trips, they're not indoors reading articles on the computer...
  • .... unless those articles are about weddings.  People like Dustytoes have reported an upsurge in traffic. But she's all about weddings. I'm all about vampires.
  • 'Stop bloody whining! Your stats are still amazing compared to mine!'

Nor does this appear to reflect in the site-wide traffic. Alexa and Quancast both show that Wizzley has actually gained more readers this year. The graph for internet search traffic looks like a huge smiley face (minus the eyes).

Image: Wizzley Smiley Face on Alexa
Image: Wizzley Smiley Face on Alexa

So here I am at 450 articles feeling a little lost. Burned out from last year's mammoth push for Wizzles, and this year's unsuccessful branching out into my own website, plus writing books, plus running out of True Blood episodes to watch.

But I still believe in Wizzley.  The website is approaching only its second birthday this month (25th May 2013), which means that it really is very young. All of the indicators are pointing in the right direction. We are frequently the refugee haven for other magazine websites' writers. They come. They stay. We must be doing something right.

I'll see you here at 500 articles, when hopefully I'll feel a little more found.

More Tips and Tricks Articles for Wizzley

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.
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!
Updated: 03/06/2015, JoHarrington
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?


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blackspanielgallery on 06/13/2016

I have yet to master getting that kind of traffic.

JoHarrington on 07/04/2013

Thank you very much for getting my book, Tara! I'm pleased that you found it to be insightful. Ditto the Tips and Tricks. I write them because it's so hard to know who has good advice or not. At least with all the data set out here, you can evaluate whether my stuff works/has value to you.

Tara_W on 06/27/2013

I've got to say I really enjoy reading your Tips and Tricks articles, they are very helpful. I bought your book and found it to be quite insightful. Thanks!

JoHarrington on 06/17/2013

I wish they had a $ sign in front of them! Thanks, Brenda. :)

BrendaReeves on 06/17/2013

I looked at those page impressions and thought at first that they had a $ sign in front of them. Nice article, Jo. Encouraging article too.

JoHarrington on 06/07/2013

Thank you very much for the insight and reassurance, Digby. You are one of the people who I'm always checking out to see how you do it.

I'm feeling quite pleased with myself now, because I have been monitoring my stats for hints. If something does well, then I do try to mirror it in further articles. We'll make a pro out of me yet!

It's good to see you back at Wizzley; and I hope you enjoy the vampire articles here. :)

Digby_Adams on 06/06/2013

It takes a long time to figure out how to monetize a platform. It's about the topics, the products the placement on the page. Even the tone. I always watch which ones of mine get traffic and then which links get clicked. These are precious little hints. I haven't been able to spend much time here the last year and I'm looking forward to try to write interesting articles and incorporate Viglink.

A few years ago I read two vampire books for a week. I'm looking forward to reading your Wizzles.

JoHarrington on 06/05/2013

Glad to hear it. :) And yes, I'm still enjoying my fanged friends, though I'm currently side-tracked into the Suffragettes. Not a bad difference.

What are you writing in legendary creatures? Link please! Then we can all have a nosy.

jptanabe on 06/05/2013

Enjoyed this. Loved that you ingested the site with vampires! Yes, I guess one can go overboard on a niche, but good job getting a whole area for legendary creatures - I'm writing there now... but I probably won't limit myself to a single niche.

JoHarrington on 05/30/2013

Mike - Sorry for the delayed reaction, I've been on holiday for a week. But I'm very glad to hear that you found the article helpful and useful. You're very welcome. :)

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