29 Dec 2009

Health Blogger Wanted

A blog network is looking to recruit an experienced writer on health issues. Popular topics include weight loss, illnesses such as diabetes and cancer, daily aches and pains such as cold sores and self-image issues such as hair loss.

They want a writer with experience of writing for a health website and who can work with deadlines and editors, so any articles published on general writing websites such as eHow, Hubpages or Xomba do not count as health writing experience.

Payment per post start at $25 and can rise to $35 with payment made via Paypal. Full details of how to apply are posted here. You must include 2 previously unpublished articles which will be paid for if accepted by the network.

Subscribe to On Writing Online for more writing jobs.

28 Dec 2009

A Holiday Gift For Writers from Storyfix

A Christmas article from Larry Brooks's Storyfix blog sends out a repair kit wrapped in tinsel to all those aspiring writers with unwanted novels.

The message is clear and simple: if you are trying to bend the rules of storytelling to fit your novel, then stop it! Novel writing may be considered an art form but a story needs to have a structure so that it can be properly called a novel. There is an architecture of novel writing that is rarely taught but without which you will end up with an unsightly pile of words. Every architect needs a structural engineer. Storyfix is your structural engineer for novel writers.

Enjoy the New Year.

17 Dec 2009

Make Money Writing at eHow UK and Europe

Up until now, eHow was not only based in the USA but only accepted paid writers who were either American citizens or residents. Finally, eHow is dipping its toes into foreign lands and has established eHow UK. For the moment they are still not paying British writers but that must surely change soon, so I'm posting this as a heads-up to those Brits who would like to make some money on eHow.

Amazingly, the 'Join Now' link still doesn't work so you'll have to sign up at eHow.com and wait for the announcement. Sure, we can all write for eHow for free but what's the point in that?

Demand Media, owners of eHow, are also planning to expand across the big European countries but it is obviously easier to port existing English-langauge content from eHow.com to eHow.co.uk making an instant new website without (too many) translation issues.

Steven Kydd claims that thousands of people across Europe have already applied to write content so you may consider going directly to the Demand Media website and sending in a speculative application.

Is Article Writing Dead?

We've had junk food for years, now welcome to junk content.

And, just as junk food is not only the local market stall selling cheap sausages sizzling in recycled oil but is also a profitable global enterprise, so junk content is moving away from the scrapers and automated writing tools and going legit - or at least global.

AOL, that dinosaur that survived when the meteor hit, is churning itself into the disposable portal it was always doomed to be. You've no doubt read it in many places that the best way to write profitably is to launch lots of niche websites with minimal yet SEO-targetted content. Be smart and diligent enough and the numbers will start to stack up. The more worthless the content the higher the likelihood of someone clicking an advert just to find a quick exit to something potentially more interesting. This is now the AOL business model.

In "The End of Hand Crafted Content", TechCrunch writer bemoans this race to the bottom but vows to move on and stay competitive. For every bit of software, or cheap human, that spews out a mangled version of an original article and then rams it in front of an ignorant public, there are systems to track and list the origins of a story thereby rewarding once again the original producers.

The bottom line is money. The old media barons such as Murdoch were surprisingly late to the party as they couldn't figure out how to make any money on the net. They still can't figure it out but are desperate because the new media is eating away at their very existence. Murdoch's threat is to hide behind some payment system. I find it laughable that he should think this a good idea and he should take a long hard look at AOL to see his future. Maybe he should buy AOL and they can sink together.

But the sad truth is that shit sells - and free shit on the net is even better. There was some delusion a few years back that the internet would be different. Back then it was largely filled with techies, scientists, geeks and academics. They are still there but the noise to signal ratio is getting larger... and larger. But in the end we all create our very own individual internet. If a particular portal is spewing out crap we will find another one, assuming one will still exist.

For the writer, one has to decide whether you want to run a junk food franchise or your own gourmet restaurant. In physical space, both models co-exist. In cyberspace, where the food is free and paid for by fluctuating advertising the specialists will flounder, unless they stick together. Arianna Huffington is less pessimistic and insists that the likes of the Huffington Post can prosper in this free for all. But a close look at her final comments shows she can see the same kind of constellation taking place. The single solitary writer has to go where they feel most comfortable and where they will find an audience.

Many writers (or at least American writers) are making some money on eHow. This site shows what the bottom looks like when it is calculated by an algorithm. eHow is owned by Demand Media and they have developed a strict model of article titles they commission based on search and advertising bucks. You won't find anything on life, the universe and everything, but rather life, my family and that stain on the carpet. These are life's minutiae; things that some people obviously need to know, otherwise the article would never get written. But the pay is low and the quality I've seen is truly dreadful. You can read the full article at Wired and you can even copy the same model - just try to write better articles!

Original content is supposed to be king, but in the English language the word 'original' can have many meanings. AOL's writing factory is original in the sense that nobody else could put together those same words in that same order and think it worth publishing. eHow is a step up in that they hope their articles at least appear to be useful, or useful enough to be a stepping stone to an advert. When I take a step back and look at my favourite feeds I find that the writers are either paid a wage or are in another paid employment and write part-time. If originality is valued then it has to be paid for. How that is going to happen in the current online business model I just haven't figured it out yet.