Sorry, but due to life stuff, I had to take a few days off from the blog. Luckily it was writing. Unfortunately, it was writing copy and not working on the book. I plan on dedicating more time to the book in the next few days, since I am actually pretty sick of writing copy for company blogs right now.
I think this might be a good moment to talk about writing for fun and profit.
The phenomenon known as writing SEO copy or “blogging for dollars” is relatively new, but fairly ubiquitous as far as the internet stands now. If you have ever clicked on a link, some poor schmuck probably wrote that copy. Complete with clickbait titles about how Mind-blowing, earth-shaking, unbelievable, shocking, ball-shriveling shit the cameraman saw and kept filming you will never believe! Yes, clickbait. I swear the same person that creates porn titles makes these. Yet we keep on clicking on them. Now they are tucked into our news feeds on CNN and Yahoo like the heartworm medicine you are trying to sneak into your golden retriever’s food.
Very little of the stuff you read nowadays online is written by writers earning a living wage or editors, fact checkers, etc. that make sure any of this is true. Even in the early days of online content, there was a buyer beware statement that became kind of a running joke. “Don’t believe everything you read online. Including this.” Then memes appealed to the basest of our insta-gratification monkey on cocaine needs. Content, regardless of its truthfullness, sorta became optional. As long as it generated hits.
The way SEO works is Google looks through the content of your “blog” which is really now just a business model for creating random words that string Search Engine Optimization keywords together. It doesn’t really matter what you say, just as long as Google picks up on those words and when people do a search for them, they bring your page for your business to the first page of search results. Nobody ever clicks beyond the first page.
The words you put in there might be accurate or helpful or ipsum blahty blah blah blah. It’s more of a “made you look!” method of advertising. So when you do a search for “Why do I have white patches on my tongue?” it will probably bring up a dozen or so medical offices in your area, enticing you into their appointment calendar. Then they can convince you that it’s probably just something you ate instead of what WebMD told you, which is always cancer.
How much do you get paid to generate content? Well, back in the day, you used to get around $.30 per word. Which is scale for technical writing. But content mills such as HuffPost changed all of that. Rather than paying anyone scale, they dropped it down to sweatshop rates. Some places offer “exposure” which is also the leading cause of death among hikers in Death Valley.
I sometimes get paid anywhere between $2 and $40 per blog. It varies based on customer or word count. The article I wrote for Cracked got $100 for a 1500 word article. Which got heavily edited and I had to share the money and the byline with someone who put almost no effort into it. By the end of it, the whole process was probably about 30 hours of work. So that’s minimum wage. Blogs are more lucrative, but keeping up that kind of pace sucks because they also mean expending writing brain power for informative articles about anything from Alpaca sweaters to painless root canals. You have to shift gears. Research. It’s taxing and trying. Nobody reads it. There’s no byline. The content is owned exclusively by the client, so there’s not even a portfolio I can put them in. But hey, forty bucks is forty bucks.
Don’t hate the player. Hate the game.
Writing the book…well, lets just say even if you sell a book to a publisher, in the SF genre, you probably get around $6,000 as an advance. That drops with each book. It’s not enough to live on. Royalties aren’t all that great either unless the book does well. I have friends who struggle to market their fiction and this is stuff that big deal publishers should be promoting! Self-publishing (which is what I did with Cinder) is even less (unless you recommend it to tons of your friends!) The bottom line is there is a lot of work going into a labor of love that might not even get you coffee for the month. I’m not talking a month of coffee. I’m talking about one coffee per month.
So, sure, writing content is selling out a little. But it allows me to make a little money on the side for a god-given talent and convince myself I’m less of a fraud whenever people hear that I am a writer.
I can answer with confidence. Yes. Yes I am. I get paid to write.