How to Make Money Writing Online and Content Marketing

Article writers using content marketing often overlook content readability when composing their articles. Writing articles online for money must not only consider motivating readers to buy a product. To make money writing online, authors must also provide readable quality content.

With the advent of Google’s stated goal to improve a user’s search experience, many websites and articles lost their coveted positions in Search Engine Ranking Positions (SERPs). It is now, more than ever, that quality website content writing is king. Writing online for money as a means of ‘gaming’ the search engines through keyword stuffing, article blasts to thousands of article directories, and weak, poorly structured website content writing are gone.

Readability

Readability measures the grade level needed to understand any document. There are several schemes that are used to determine readability. The Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level is one of better known and most used measurements. Your content writing can be much improved if you incorporate this measure into your article writing.

Although it has come under criticism for its simplicity, Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level scale is still widely used and can give you an idea of your article’s readability.

You can determine your article’s readability with the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level scale which assigns a grade level to the written material. MS Word provides a readability statistics feature found under the spell check tab that determines your article’s grade level reading score.

There are free utilities on the web that allow you to copy and paste your document and the utility will return the grade level score. There are others. Online-Utitility.org is one. You can find them with a ‘free readability tools’ search on the internet.

You can also use the Google ‘more search tools’ feature found at the bottom of the left navigation bar when doing a Google search and choosing ‘reading level’. The organic results will show ‘basic’, ‘intermediate’, or ‘advanced’ reading levels for each of the page results.

Although, the results may not be 100% accurate, they do give you an idea of the grade level that your article or page is written at. It may seem that I am putting much emphasis on readability and quality content. It is important to note when writing for the web that the content be easily understandable by your targeted reader. You make make money writing articles online by targeting your reader.

Ideal Reading Level

If you dumb down your website content writing, the reader may feel insulted and dismiss your words. If your words are too pedantic, readers may accuse you of flaunting your knowledge. You may have quality content, but not readable by your targeted audience.

What is the ideal reading grade level? The answer eludes me. Many claim that the national average reading level is eighth grade and that article writers should write at that level or lower when writing for the web. I have yet to find any evidence to substantiate that claim or that you will make money writing to that grade level.

Studies have been conducted by various governmental agencies under the U.S. Department of Education and by independent private agencies on various aspects of literacy throughout the United States, but I have yet to find any authoritative data that specifically identifies the national reading average to be at the eighth grade level.

Adult Literacy in America

The study most often cited as the source of the eighth grade reading level claim is a 1993 study, Adult Literacy in America: A First Look at the Results of the National Adult Literacy Survey, by Irwin S. Kirsch, sponsored by the National Center for Education Statistics. You can review the results yourself at the National Center for Education Statistics.

However, the study does not specifically state that the national reading level average is at the eighth grade level. In fact, the study’s committee “… agreed that expressing the literacy proficiencies of adults in school-based terms or grade-level scores is inappropriate.”

The study did survey levels of literacy skills ranging from Level 1 to Level 5, with Level 5 being the most difficult or the highest skill level. The survey did show that about half the population performed at levels 3-5 and half performed within the lower levels 1 and 2.

SERPs and Readability

Nevertheless, if we accept the various reading level scales like, Flesch-Kincaid, article writers can improve their content marketing to more closely match the acceptance of targeted readers. In addition, Google and other search engines may or may not look favorably on the webpage or article and rank it higher than one that Google deems to be written at an inappropriate level as evidenced by the Official Google Blog

For instance, an article written at the twelfth grade level about building a tool shed may not be looked upon as worthy of Google’s definition of maximizing the user search experience. An article on the same subject written at the sixth or seventh grade level might well fair much better in the SERPs.

On the other hand, writing an article on the Literacy Statistics of Migrant Workers at the fourth or fifth grade level would not fare well with academic readers and probably not with the search engines.

The point is that article writers should consider readability when writing articles. The effort does not need to be an all consuming effort. Readability can easily be checked with one of the tools I mentioned earlier.

Be aware of the end user. The more you comply with Google’s goal of “providing the best user experience possible,” the more favorably the search engine will rank your writing for money efforts.


How to Make Writing Your Book Easier

I’m no expert in human behavior, but as far as I can tell, we as a species thrive on routine. I know for a fact that both my sons behave better when they know what to expect. For example, this morning school was delayed for two hours because of the weather. So instead of eating breakfast at 7:00, getting dressed at 7:35, and walking out the door at 8:05, my sons and I lay in bed until 7:15, ate breakfast at 8:00, watched television until 9:45, and then I had to rush everyone to get dressed and out of the house at 10:00. We’re adaptable, thank goodness, and everything worked out okay. But the little change certainly made things more hectic. And all my morning chores that are usually done by 8:00 a.m. didn’t get done until about 11:00.

So routines are good-they give us a rhythm to follow through key parts of the day. They also make writing big projects, like books, easier to finish. That’s the hardest part, you know, actually finishing the book.

Routines get you in the habit and before long, you’ve done your writing for the day without any struggle or difficulty at all. Writing becomes one of those tasks you do every day, like making the bed or washing a load of laundry. But although most people accomplish more on routines, they aren’t always easy to establish. It almost seems like you’re the kind of person who establishes routines automatically or you aren’t. I fall in the second category for sure. I don’t naturally establish routines; I tend to fly by the seat of my pants, which makes it difficult to get things done.

I have to consciously make the effort to build habits that keep me organized and on track, with my writing and other areas of my life. If I want the house to be clean, I have to work straightening up into my routine. If I want my blog to be updated every day, I have to find somewhere to fit it into the rhythm of my life. And if I want to write a book, I have to give myself a deadline, break the project down into small assignments, put the task on my to-do list, pour my cup of coffee, and then show up to write at my desk in the morning. Motivation waxes and wanes, so when I don’t feel like doing anything, I have my routines to fall back on, to coax me into productivity.

When I’m working with a client or student and they’re struggling to find time to write I encourage them to work writing into their normal routine. I have found for myself, and many other writers, that if you clear calendar days and make writing a big deal, that you won’t make the kind of progress you do when you make writing a little part of every day. And you won’t be as good at it either.

Here are a few tips for easily incorporating writing into your day.

Put Writing on Your List
Even though I know I’m supposed to be writing every day, I still put it on my to-do list. I don’t know why writing things on lists makes them more likely to happen, but it really works.

Ritualize Your Writing Time
I had a teacher in graduate school recommend making your writing time a sort of ritual that you do every day. By making it a ritual, she meant to set up your writing time in the same way each time, not only to make it a habit, but also to successfully transition yourself into it. For example, turn on your favorite music, fix yourself a cup of tea or coffee, light the candle, and then sit down at your desk to write. And then blow the candle out when you’re done.

Give Yourself an Assignment
Thinking about what to write when you sit down at your computer can eat away time. So at the end of every writing session, when you’re still in that creative flow, take a minute to give yourself an assignment for what to write the next time. Then when you open up that draft on your computer, you’ll know exactly what you’re supposed to be writing.

Writers write, even though that can be one of the hardest things to make time to do. Successes like getting your book done require doing whatever it takes to make sure you write. And the more you write, the easier it will be.

 

How to Make Author Events Effective

When starting out, many authors wonder how they should promote their books, and many are disappointed when they hold a book signing and no one shows up. An author might sign books at a bookstore in his or her hometown and have a dozen or so friends and family come, but then the second book signing in a neighboring town might be a flop with only one or two books sold at the most. For a long time, book marketing experts have said that a bookstore is the worst place to sell a book. I don’t think that’s true-over time, authors sell the majority of their books in bookstores-but a book signing in a bookstore usually is a colossal failure for most authors.

What makes an author event effective? Participation by the author in terms of spreading word about the event is a large factor. You can’t rely on the bookstore or organization to promote your event. You still may not get a crowd of people if you do, but the more effort you put into advertising the event yourself, the more likely you will attract a crowd. Here are just a few ways you can help to promote your event:

    • Send out invitations via Facebook, Twitter, and other Social Media.
    • Send out an email invitation to your email list-remember not everyone is on Facebook, and not all your Facebook friends are on your email list so cover your bases both ways (and don’t discriminate and fail to invite friends in other states or across the country-they may not come, but they may cheer you on from afar and the positive energy helps a lot-it’s also a reminder to them to order your book.)
    • Send out postcards to people on your snail mail list-especially your older readers who may not be on Facebook or even have email.
    • Post the scheduled event on a prominent place on your website.
    • Make up posters and distribute them around the area-grocery stores, libraries, restaurants, anywhere there’s a bulletin board or a door where you can tape something-always ask the manager’s permission before doing so (and invite him or her and the staff to the event while you’re at it). Be sure to give some posters to the event planner, bookstore owner, etc. to distribute.
  • Send out an event listing, or even a press release, to local media-many television stations and newspapers have community events calendars. And you never know when the newspaper might write up the event, or the TV station might come to cover it.

Promoting your event yourself can be a lot of work, but it gives you a better chance of having an audience and selling your book than if you don’t promote it. Making posters might especially seem like a waste of time and money, especially if you can’t place them all, so I recommend making up a generic poster for all your events and then leaving a place where you can list the time, place, and location details for each specific event. Then you can later print up stickers or just handwrite that information on the posters so you always have posters available and don’t end up throwing any away.

Making an event effective also has to do with how you “sell” it to your prospective audience. Saying “John Smith will sign his new book on X day at X place” may not excite too many people, especially if they can always get the book at that place any other day of the week and don’t care if it’s signed. But spicing up the event can help a lot. Here are a few additional ways to give that bonus reason for why people should attend your author event:

    • Invite fellow authors to attend. They are not your competition. They are your greatest resource. If you get other authors to do the event with you, they can help you to promote it, and their fan base will show up and discover your book as well. People are also more likely to show up for six authors than one author. You might have to spend a little more time coordinating the event with everyone, but it also extends your chance of making the event a success, and if no one does show up, at least you’ll have other people to talk with, and network with-slow author events are often where you can get some of your best ideas for marketing your book just by talking to the other participants.
    • Have a contest or giveaway. Have a drawing-sell tickets, or give away a ticket for everyone who buys a book-you can give away free books, or it can even be non-book related items. You might even want to find a sponsor, someone who will donate an attractive or desirable item as a prize for the event-a great way to advertise for the sponsor. Don’t be afraid to get creative. I know of one author who held a contest for the chance to be named as a character in the author’s next book.
  • Entertain your audience. People may not be willing to show up just so they can buy a book, but they may show up if you are going to give a talk on a topic that interests them. If you have five or six authors, make up a schedule and each of you can give a twenty minute talk during the event. If you know anyone musical, it doesn’t hurt to have someone sing during the event or play an instrument. You can also show a short film or your book video. People want to be entertained, and they like free entertainment. Entertain them and they’ll be more likely to buy your book. And even if you don’t sell books, you planted a seed, so they might later buy the book as a Christmas gift for someone else.

No matter how hard you work, some events are going to end up being failures. But even if an event is a flop, if you are invited back to participate in the event the next year, give it a second try, and analyze what you could have done better to promote the event so you have a better chance the second time. If it still flops, then perhaps you might reconsider not participating in the future-especially if you are busy or could spend that time writing or doing something more fruitful-but if you have the time and want to keep going, the worst that can happen is you spend your time, and you never know who might show up the third time around.

Eventually, you might end up deciding not to attend certain events any longer, but also remember that sometimes it just takes the one right person showing up to make the event worthwhile. For example, I know an author who held a book signing and only one person showed up for it, but that person was the right person. She was the head of the library book club, and she liked the author and his book so much that she got the book club to read the book. The author spent two hours at the book signing and only sold one book, but it resulted in the other sixteen members of that book club buying his book a couple of months later. Not only that, but the book club invited him to their book club meeting, which included a free dinner and they paid him to come and talk. I’d say those are pretty good results from a book signing where only one person showed up.

Author events can be a success if authors are willing to make the effort and be a little creative to bring in the crowd. Don’t just show up for an event. Create the event, own the event, be the event. Then your author event can be a success.