Yesterday I received an email from the folks who run vocal.media inviting me to contribute to their site. This is not a big deal, anyone can contribute to their site, but it might be a right time in the right place sort of something new for me. Something to throw a few stones at, just to see what happens.
I've been posting on Blogger for over 15 years, with a few detours here and there, and a part of me feels like I am spinning my wheels a bit. Post on Blogger, share here and there on social media, hope a few people read my words, look at my photos, watch my little videos...
It is a comfy, safe routine, I suppose, and for most of the last decade, the old pair of slippers fit just fine, but it is time to start pushing the envelope a bit. It is time for me to start getting more serious about moving into the next phase of my career and to start generating revenue with my work, and I feel that posting through this new service might be a nice next step in that direction.
Yes, it is a site that will pay me per click, but that is not my main concern. I know those micro payments can take a long, long time to add up. What is more interesting to me is that the site is somewhat curated; posts are reviewed before being accepted, and apparently there are editors who will work with you while preparing your posts.
Now, how seriously they take that task, we'll see... Yesterday, I re-worked an old poem, posted it, and it sailed right through in less than 24 hours. I posted another old poem today. These are system tests, I suppose. I want to get some content up quickly and there were no other relevant posts ready to go. In the next few days, I do hope to submit the next National Monuments in Danger post there, and then I will get a better idea about how this process works.
Obviously, if I can earn a few bucks by posting on this new platform, that would be nice, and it would be nice to work with an editor, but I think the main benefit for me will come from being more disciplined with my writing.
Sometimes I get a little lazy copy editing my own material (obviously), and knowing that some sort of editor will be reviewing my writing before it goes live will motivate me to not slack off on that critical part of the writing process. "It's just for fun, not many people will ever see it, folks probably won't notice, I am out of time and need to move on..." These are my demons. Especially that last one. It teams up with "I can always fix it later!" Of course, I usually do fix typos and errors I find later. Usually.
Beyond the kick in the butt on copy editing, this sort of a submission process will force me to clean up my basic writing process in general. Being my own editor for too many years, I know I am getting a bit sloppy. Sure, basics like writing to an audience and basic structure are (usually) in the mix, but a lot of my posts tend to be sloppy notes and jumbles of quotes and links. I have no problem with that approach for a lot of my posts, but I do want to push back towards writing actual articles, not just the interesting clutter.
Here is where I think working on this platform will be useful for me. There is a minimum word count and I need to write towards specific themes, topics, and genres. I am assuming most of my work will fall into the travel writing category, so I need to start writing more with that in mind. Less "here's a jumble of information and notes about a place that interests me and some links to dig deeper with later" and more time spent telling the stories of the subjects I am posting on.
This isn't to say that I haven't been writing stories and, occasionally, longer essays here, I have, but I've also put up a lot of what I think of as "quick posts" with a few words, some images, some links, sometimes a video (or a dozen)... What this re-focus in my process will mean for me is that, when sitting down to work on a new post, I need to plan out what it is going to be before I dive in. Is it a quick photo with a few words and links? Is it a short article for the new platform? Is it a longer essay style piece of writing? Is there a genre I should focus on?
Cleaning up my process and focusing more on articles, I feel, will kick my content up to the next level and help prepare me as I move ahead with my career in “content creation” (writing, photography, video). I also think it will make the material I post for my projects stronger and more interesting, hopefully building my audience even more. Finally, as I mentioned earlier, it will force me to take my posts a little more seriously when editing them, slowing me down so I prepare them properly before sharing my words.
For all of these reasons, there may be some significant changes in the way my posts appear here from now on. For articles and essays, it may be more of a blurb and a link to the article rather than the full post here, a “to read more, click here” link after the opening paragraph or two. That makes me nervous, though… The demons in my head say no one will follow!
There is still a lot to work out and I am not going to worry about it too much at the moment. Life is busy and complicated right now and it might be awhile before I have the time to really figure out what this new process will ultimately look like. Right now, I am just sketching out some foundations for later, while dealing with too many tremendous life changes…
This is a long post, really, for just saying, “hey, there’s changes coming!”, though I do find value in posts like these. As the old, old blog has changed and evolved over the years, it’s been useful for me to go back and see where these little milestones and procedure changes have occurred and to revisit the reasons why I made certain decisions.
Hopefully, these sorts of posts are interesting to other folks too!
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A. F. Litt on vocal.media