Back to Writing

Well, well, well. How things go full circle. I came into Internet Marketing in 2006 after trying my hand at writing short stories and even got three quarters of the way through a full length novel but not getting anywhere with them. Well, now I’m going back to writing and this time around, its a lot easier.

Easier in the publishing department, at least. I can now publish books electronically via Amazon so people can download them onto their Kindle readers for a fair price. I can also publish via Smashwords to get the same book formatted onto just about every other kind of electronic reader in existence.

So it doesn’t matter whether you own a Kindle, iPad, Android powered tablet or an old fashioned (!) laptop PC or Mac. You can download my books. If you want to read them, that is. Maybe you will, may you won’t. Chances are this will start slowly and gradually build up over time. That’s fine by me, as I’m not in any hurry.

Oh, before you read too far down, this is not going to be a “how to” post, there are some really good blog posts that explain and discuss the mechanics of self publishing electronic books (see below for the links). Ok, you have to read further to get the links, so you’ll just have to put up with my ramblings to get there!

Where was I? Oh yes, the reason for switching back to writing. I still make my living from Internet Marketing, so its not as if I’m desperate to claw money to me. I do just fine with what I already have. But for me, its just not enough.

I have a short attention span and am always trying new things. I get bored with old things fast and want to inject some new interest juice into my life often. Internet Marketing was (and still is) interesting to me because its constantly changing. It takes a lot of continued learning to stay on top of things, which is good for me.

Several days ago, I got a fire lit under my backside when my good friend from New Zealand, Lis wrote on her blog a post that talked about HubPages is a Train Wreck – And The Next Big Thing, the next big thing being publishing ebooks on the Kindle and how it was possible to use my own existing website content to reformat into books. She has since written several more posts to explain how this is all done, which you can read on her blog: Passive Income Online. Lis has also published her own travel ebook (check out her blog for more details).

Around the same time, the other Brit ex-pat Internet Marketer living here in Sunny Spain (and up a mountain, too) Dave wrote his post on the same subject at Inspiration: Publish Books On The Kindle, which also brought another friend from Australia into the discussion, Tracey Edwards, who it turns out had beaten us all to the starting gate and is already a published author.

All of that, in the space of a few days was just too much for yours truly to ignore. My first thought was to grab a set of weight loss articles that I have on a certain website of mine and put them all together into a massive 50k+ word ebook with 100 weight loss tips.

Why not? The content is already written, I own it because I wrote it. But conversations with the others made me rethink and I took Lis’s suggestion that it would be better to split the book up into 5 volumes. Marketing tactics would come into play by putting the first book up either really cheap (99c) or even free to get some interest moving and then to price the other 4 at maybe $2.99 each. So that’s what I did. Or am doing.

The first book is now live on both Amazon and Smashwords for 99c. I think that’s pretty cheap for over 10k words in 20 chapters worth of solid, useful weight loss advice and tips. Um, you may have noticed the shameless plug over on the top right of this page… that’s the book cover and the link to both Amazon and Smashwords if you have an inkling you might just want to grab a copy to see what its all about!

The other 4 books are going to be drip fed out a week or so apart to let the momentum build slowly.

So that’s where I am right now. The plan is to put out some more non-fiction in the weight loss niche, since I just so happen to have rather a good, in-depth level of knowledge in that area, what with spending several years as a qualified hypnotherapist in the UK specializing in weight loss as well as anti-smoking and hypno-analysis (psychoanalysis).

I also want to get back to the fiction I was writing a few years ago and jump start that side of things. Its another avenue of potentially good revenue plus its something that interests me, I enjoy doing and I’m pretty good at (ok, enough of the smug conceit).

The only dilemma for me was what name to publish under. Most writers use a pen name and I have been wrestling with how to do this. I’ve spent 5 years branding myself with my real name, so I don’t want to waste that. At the same time, I have a crappy surname that doesn’t really instil a sense of “coolness” that a good fiction writer must portray. The solution?

I’m going with a pen name, at least for my fiction books and short stories. Name to be announced when I’ve dreamed up a suitably “cool” one. For the weight loss and other non-faction, I’m publishing under my own name.

There, a whole post about writing and not a single “how to” in sight. S’there!

Terry Didcott

Buying Domains: The Way Forward

As an Internet Marketer, it is important to me to make sure that I keep increasing the right kind of traffic to my commercial websites so that I continue to make sales from which I make my living online. Times change fast online and what were easy ways to make money a couple of years ago are now not viable. But one thing that has always remained a constant is investing in domains. This is why it will continue to be the way forward for anyone who is serious about earning money online.

Free Blogs and their Problems

There are more free blog platforms than ever these days, but that doesn’t make them the right way to build a long term business. They are fine when you are just starting out on a low budget, but their stability is questionable. You can put ads on blogger blogs, but they are harder to rank in the search engines and this is where you need to get your traffic from. You can use WordPress free blogs, but you can’t place ads (unless you abuse the system and do it anyway and hope that you don’t get found by the WordPress social police like the blog I highlighted in my last post WordPress Do Not Allow Ads on Their Free Blogs.

Other free blog platforms may be around today but drop out of existence tomorrow, as in the case of today.com which took a lot of people’s content then disappeared. A free blog platform may allow you to place links in your posts to begin with, but then go ahead and make them all nofollow as happened with wetpaint.com and others. The bottom line is that if you are going to put a lot of work into writing a load of original, well thought out and researched content you might as well put it onto a domain that you own and you call the shots on.

Self Hosted Domains

There are many benefits to hosting websites on your own domains. Aside from the cost of maintaining hosting, which can be had for as little a $5 a month, building your own website(s) is the most solid long term plan you can have. You get to choose what you write about and as long as it is not going to break any laws, you can publish it and no one is going to come along and call you out and get your blog flagged and even deleted as has happened to me on more than one occasion. Not that those blogs were bad, they just focused on weight loss which for some blog platforms is a disliked niche and seen as spammy. I’m sure the 60 million obese American citizens would beg to differ when there is a resource built to help them reduce their weight and get their lives back.

But on my own domains, I can write about weight loss and help people to help themselves and no one is going to tell me I can’t.

Blog or Static?

Now for the big question, do you create blogs or static sites on your domains? There are pros and cons to doing either, but here is my own reasoning and why the vast majority of my websites are actually NOT blogs, but static html sites.

Benefits of Static Sites:

  • Have no database to maintain and therefore do not present such a temptation to hackers to get in and cause mayhem.
  • Use far less server resources and are therefore faster to load and won’t eat up your hosting resources
  • All content is created on your PC and uploaded to the server, so there is always a backup copy of all your files if your server crashes and you have to recreate your site(s)

Benefits of Blogs:

  • Are easy to post articles to and publish
  • Have built-in blog service pinging for immediate recognition across the web
  • Can use widgets for social interaction
  • Posts can easily be commented on by visitors
  • Make it easy to join social groups

For my own peace of mind, going with static sites means less chance I’ll lose my sites because of hackers. The few blogs I still maintain regularly get attacked and I have had one blog have its database wiped by some nice person. That alone was enough for me to backwards engineer that blog to a static site and start doing the same with many smaller blogs. After all, why were many of them even blogs in the first place?

Many of the blogs I created a few years ago, were never meant to be social animals, but to exist as platforms to sell affiliate products and make money. Blogs are not really all that good for that, because of their setup and the difficulty with navigation. Plus for me, there is really no need to have any social interaction on a site that promotes a group of affiliate products from say, Amazon or CJ. All they need to do is present a decent review of the product and get the visitor to click through to buy it if they want it.

Blogs are for writing your thoughts, putting your points of view out there for others to comment on and discuss and for generally being social. Static sites are better for selling stuff. That’s my viewpoint and it may not be the viewpoint of others. Some may disagree and that’s fine, we all have our own preferences and ways of working.

It leads me to the way that search engines and Google in particular are talking about rating the worth of websites. They give the impression that they are going all out to use social recognition metrics as a way of gauging the value of a website.

How can this be if such a large proportion of websites are not blogs or have no database that can interact with the social buttons and widgets that they intend to use to gather these metrics? Does this mean that all static websites will be viewed as of less value than blogs simply because they do not have the mechanics to socially interact?

That is something I have already posted about here. I still maintain that Google cannot use social metrics to gauge the value or worth of a website if so many websites don’t have the gubbins to display social interactive buttons or widgets. So make your own mind up on how that will pan out.

Terry Didcott