A Closer Look At My 2016 Writing Goals

This section may be a slight misnomer, as I’m not focused completely on writing, or more accurately, the focus isn’t on getting better at writing itself. With my physical fitness goals, for instance, I desired to become more fit, flexible and healthy; similarly, my chess goals were to become better at chess. While I do desire to get better at writing, that’s not the main thrust of my 2016 resolution.

I should learn to write like that. It looks beautiful … though on closer inspection does not appear to be English.

I suppose I can divide this goal into two categories, if you will. On the one hand, I’m writing for my personal growth. I want to write a lot, to keep staying consistent, to explore and push the boundaries of me as a writer and author. This is writing for writing’s sake. The other category, then, would be writing as a job, or writing for an income.

Basically, last year I got paid to write for the first time, and it felt good. Real good. I want to do that again. That’s the goal for this year.

Make Money

Making money online is a relatively simple concept, one I covered before. The whole idea is this: if you send enough people to a website, someone will buy something and you get a kickback. That’s how the whole industry works. When you understand this, it just becomes a numbers game: how to get as many people as possible clicking on my affiliate links?

Getting ten people to click isn’t enough, nor is 50, nor is even 100. You might get a random buyer here or there, but the odds are very small. To create any real chance for income, let alone a sustainable income, you need thousands of clicks. This is why most affiliate marketers fail: they don’t have a big enough audience.

I have made money through marketing in the past, but it’s through paid advertising. I buy an email ad, and it gets sent to a few thousand people. Yes, I know, I’m a terrible person. I apologize. It works, though. Every month I make money through my affiliate accounts. Well, most months. Technically, I have made money every month, but I don’t always cover that advertising expense. I generally turn a small, healthy profit, but not always. There’s a reason I haven’t quit my day job.

Every month I pay money to get people to see my affiliate links … and then I realized, wait a minute, people come to my blog for free. I haven’t paid a dime and yet over 2,000 people visited smithyq.com. Do you know how expensive it can be to purchase 2,000 clicks from a vendor? Holy crap. Converting even a small fraction of those is literally free money.

Goal: Make Money; Sub-Goal: Don’t Become a Scum Bag

I won’t lie, making money would be pretty awesome, but I don’t want to become one of those sleazy, click-bait type sites. You know, the ones that have ads everywhere, pop ups, slide shows for every article, click-bait headlines for everything, all with zero substance. That’s the industry standard, it seems, and it’s terrible.

A single mom from [insert your town here] has found this weird cure for [insert common ailment here]!

I want to keep doing what I’m doing: writing for fun, on whatever I feel like. I do not want to change the substance or style of my blog like that. I just need more visitors, more traffic, so that I can leverage that. That’s the real goal. How to do that?

Step One: Get More Visitors

Blogs work via the magic of search-engine optimization, or SEO. People search for something on Google or Bing and my site comes up. Well, that’s in a perfect world at least. Maybe if someone searches ‘SmithyQ’ for some reason, I’ll be the first result. More likely, I’ll appear on page 6,000 for search results. The goal of SEO is to boost that number, to get on the first row of search results, ideally as number one.

SEO

Look at that, five of the top six. SEO is pretty easy!

I do not have much experience with SEO. I have never used it for my marketing in the past, as I’ve focused on the paid ad route. In order to get up to speed, I’m learning from this course. There are many little things in it that I would never think about, and it should pay dividends. It’s part of the Mobe Marketplace, an affiliate I’m part of. They specialize in educational material about how to make money online, and it’s through them I actually started making an income online. You can sign up for their email promotional information here if you are interested.

My task, in the meantime, is to learn SEO, or at least the basics, and then begin optimizing my blog based on that. That will actually take a while, as every post needs to be specially fitted, and I have over 200 days of posts sitting in my backlog. Even assuming an optimistic 5min of work for each post, that’s 1000min or nearly 17hrs of work. I should be able to get that done within the year…

Step Two: Have a Good Product for those Visitors

I’ve mentioned in the past how I haven’t been treating this blog super seriously. That is, I write every day and I strive to do my best, but it’s a ‘post it and forget it’ strategy right now. I don’t plan my posts, I don’t proofread them, I don’t edit them, I don’t provide pictures, etc. It’s fairly amateurish, to be honest, which makes sense as I’m an amateur blogger.

Amateurs don’t get paid. Professionals do. If I want to get paid, I need to make my blog professional looking.

SmithyQ is about to wear a suit. That’s great, because I like wearing suits.

It’s actually simple. All the things I said I wasn’t doing? I now do them. I proof-read my posts. I edit them. I add pictures. I rewrite ones I don’t like or I feel I could do better. I create the best content I possible can. If I do that, people are more likely to stick around and actually click my affiliate links.

Unfortunately, that means I need to go back and do all those things to my old posts. That’s another 17hrs of work. Between these two tasks, I could spend an entire 40hr work week and still not finish it. Now, if I would have started acting like a professional from the beginning, I wouldn’t be in this mess, would I? That said, if it works, it will be worth every minute.

Writing for Writing’s Sake

Now, one way to make my blog appear more professional is to simply write better. I’m a fairly decent writer as is, but I could always improve. We all can. I’m actually taking a writing course on Udemy, one designed to turn anyone into a better writer. Right now it’s rather dry, and it’s definitely not my focus at the start of 2016, but I’ll be finishing that within a few months, definitely.

In the meantime, I continue to do what I’ve been doing since June, writing every single day. Practice makes perfect.

My Schedule Going Forward

As mentioned before, if I want to get paid like a professional, I need to act like a professional. I need to treat this blog like a business. Here’s how it works.

I’m already committed to writing everyday. That won’t stop. I typically spend anywhere from 30-60min, depending on the day and energy level. I always schedule time, so that’s not a concern. I now need to add extra time to update my blog, to make it professional.

Right now, I’m committed to an extra 30min every day of ‘blog maintenance,’ if you will. This is 30min spent editing, planning, proofreading, SEO-ing, anything necessary to improve my blog. If I can spare extra time, great, but at a minimum it’s 30 minutes. I will also be doing these things for all future posts, so I don’t have to edit them in the future.

This actually works well, because over the last few months I’ve written some ‘extra’ posts, more than my required one a day. These are queued up, and I now have two days of material in advance. What I do, then, is write something, place it in the queue and then edit it or make any changes necessary before it gets published. This is vastly more professional than my old way of publish it as soon as I write the last word.

Those are my writing goals. I suppose you might even call it a career goal. I want to be a professional blogger, If I can make more money for free with this blog than I do via my paid advertising, I will be so happy. Let’s try it, 2016!

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