Research is one of a Writer's most valuable skills

Knowing how to do research is one of a writer’s most valuable skills. Tonight, I spend several hours researching some of the things Parker mentioned in chapter one.

One of the things Parker does that I like is she includes a real live story from a real live writer at the end of every chapter. At the end of Chapter 1 her example is Kristen King. Within the piece she lists a few sites that Kristen has used to help her build her career, both sites she wrote for and sites she created.

One of the goals I set for myself this week (on my goals page) is to visit the sites mentioned and share my opinions on them with all of you. So let’s get started.

I’m investigating 3 websites:
-www.notes-in-the-margin.com, which King writes
-www.inkthinkerblog.com, which King also writes and
-ezinearticles.com, which King said she wrote for to help promote herself and lead people back to her site.

Notes in the Margin, which I think has a fantastic name, is informative but it’s clear that despite it’s current blog format it was intended as a newsletter. While that may seem like a negative remark, I really don’t mean it that way (I found the piece on how to be a successful internet freelancer very helpful). It’s just not a format that invites comments or reader participation. The writing is very “How-to” – it assumes that you, the reader, do not know anything about the subject matter the writer is writing on. For the time being, I think that signing up to receive it as a newsletter is going to be helpful, so I have. But I think it’s likely that once I break past the “start-up” phase, I’ll un-subscribe. I’ll definitely spend some serious time before then on the site reading though. Just scrolling down my eye caught on several more interesting pieces.

The Ink Thinker Blog, which has a significantly less cool name, also seems less helpful for a newcomer. It is much more oriented toward writers who want to talk about their writing, man. And about the creative process, man. You know how it is. Well, no, you don’t, but I’m telling you. After skimming the site quickly I’m closing the window. It appears that each piece is based around a quote on writing. Fun, if you’re trying to kill time. Unproductive, if your goal is to learn something about improving your writing.

Now, the controversial site. See, ezine.com is a site where you submit articles that you don’t get paid for. I’ve avoided this kind of site in the past because I have no desire to just feed crap out there. I think I’m worth money; I think my time is worth money. Thus, why I want to write as a business. But according to King, writing pieces on Ezine led people back to her sites. It boosted her SEO (incoming links do that) and promoted her as a writer. It was easy to sign up; initially you can post 10 articles, which are then reviewed. If they make the cut then you are allowed to submit an unlimited number of pieces. Since Parker / King recommended it, I gave it a shot and submitted a piece on improving your Google-ability (i.e. when someone types your name into Google, making sure the results they get are really you).

The cons: my piece isn’t up yet, so I can’t link to it here and show all of you my shining brilliance. I didn’t know this would be the case until after I submitted it (granted, I didn’t actually read the terms and agreements section and probably should have). It apparently takes 7 days for them to review the article and actually post it. I have no idea if I will be notified at that time. If I am, I’ll let you know (I was notified, and the piece can be found here).

The pros: It was painless. Total I spent about an hour working on it. It spell checks your work before you submit – it even pops up a reminder box and says, “would you like to spell check this before submitting?” You get to enter your own byline / signature (I included a link back to my site in my signature). You can link to your own work. You can probably even link to articles on similar topics that you’ve done (both on their site and elsewhere) providing valuable incoming links for your site and/or articles  (because incoming links improve your SEO, in case you don’t know that).

Was it worth it? I won’t know until they post it in 7-10 days.

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