It’s Back to work… What! At my time of life?
I was at the point of letting my blog slip for another week, when at the last moment, I changed my mind and decided to write one after all.
I have spent the past ten days grappling with the ‘joys’ of writing content for other people’s websites.
You would think that as I spend nearly all my time writing – either my novels or my blog, that I could do this content writing lark standing on my head.
Well, I do seem to be able to do it quite well. So far, all my work has been accepted without any changes and the content ‘buyers’ have been very complimentary about my work.
But ‘easy, it ain’t’.
Basically, what is required for most jobs is to write content for a new website that is being launched (or re-launched) for a specified product or service. As a rule, very little information is given about the product or service – most briefs are no more than a couple of sentences – and it is down to me to do my own research.
So before I can write anything I have to research at least half a dozen websites that also sell this product or provide this service, as well as gleaning relevant information from such websites as “Wikipedia”, Yahoo’s “How To…” etc.
Then, once I am an expert, I might have to write as many as eleven web pages for a single product/service. All the writing must be original – i.e. not copied from other similar websites, and must conform to the stipulated number of words and must be full of SEO content.
What is SEO?
You may well ask. It stands for Search Engine Optimisation…go put that in your pipe and smoke it!
As for ‘stealing’ content – they have plagiarism checkers. They put the submitted work through a special piece of software and it will hunt out any sentences or even phrases that the writer may nave ‘borrowed’ from another website, so I have to be very careful.
But here’s the problem. Most products and services have already been extensively covered by other professional content writers. So I have to find a new, interesting way of saying the same thing that won’t be subject to charges of plagiarism. It has to be as good – if not better – than stuff that is already out there, written by writers far more experienced than me.
Apart from being stultifying and mind-numbingly boring – I mean how anyone can get excited about plumbing or insect eradication – it is very time-consuming.
I can write a blog of 3,000 + words of my own choosing far quicker than I can write 500 words of web content. I have just completed a seven page, 3,000-word project and it took me nearly 3 days. For that, I get paid $140, which is just over 4,000 baht but then I have to pay 15% agency commission so I end up with 3, 400 baht.
The going rate is around 500 Baht for 500 words, but it varies depending on the project requirements, but is rarely much higher than this. Usually, the work is offered on low, fixed prices.
If I can continue to get regular work then it will certainly go some way to paying my bills, but in order to earn the extra income that I need, it’s going to be a pretty much a full- time job.
I confess I find it difficult for me to come to terms with this stark reality at my time of life. I took early retirement some 16 years ago as the doctor told me if I didn’t take it easy I wouldn’t see my sixtieth birthday. My medical problems haven’t gone away – arguably they have become much worse – and next June I will be 70.
It is really a very long time since I had to work for a living.
But looking on the bright side, it can solve my financials problems, assuming that the work that is starting to flow in is not just ‘beginners’ luck. Every writing project offered up on the website seems to attract anything from six to well over a dozen proposals or ‘bidders’. Quite frankly, I am amazed that I have been awarded any work at all. Maybe they know me…
I also assume – and hope – that as time goes on I will find this work easier and quicker to get through as become more experienced – but one thing is for sure, I’m never going to have any fun doing this.
It’s early days, so I’ll have to see how things develop.
Oh, Azzy, wherefore art thou?
On the book front, the sales of AZZY are still very much in the doldrums. Amazingly, I have sold more copies in paperback; hardly anyone seems interested in the eBook version.
My PR ‘gurus’, who I wrote about negatively in my last blog, have suddenly burst into life with a little flurry of activity – after I paid them some more money…of course…
It really is the first time I have seen them do anything since back in September. But I suppose I shouldn’t complain – anything is better than nothing.
The problem is that the people they have asked to review my book are not really my target readers. This is why nearly all of them have declined to read it, although one or two have agreed to do so after a second request by my PR people. But they will not be getting around to it until well into next year. I think it is pretty clear they don’t really want to read it – there’s just a bit of ‘back scratching’ at play.
As far as I can see, my PR people have written to blog owners who write about and promote contemporary romantic fiction – much of it of the ‘chick lit’ variety.
There is nothing wrong with this, and I know that this genre sells very well; but whatever genre you try to put AZZY in – ‘chick lit’ is certainly not one of them.
Yes, on one level AZZY is romantic fiction, but it is not contemporary – nor is it exclusively about romance – there is so much more.
So my PR company has been pressuring some of these bloggers that they first wrote to back in September to reconsider doing a review of AZZY. One blog writer, who has declined to review it has nevertheless kindly agreed put some AZZY ‘blurb’ details on her latest blog (Gwyn Plummer’s “AZZY” Book Blitz) and another blog writer has said she will do something similar if my PR people can send her all the relevant details.
Guess what? The PR people copied her email to me and asked me to put something together and send it to her. Now, I don’t mind doing this, (in fact, I did it straight away), but I still wonder what the hell the PR’s job is if it isn’t to coordinate and send PR matter to publishers?
They’ve already got all the details….
In any event, I have grave doubts that any of this is going to work for me as they are simply promoting AZZY to the wrong market. I don’t think I’m being unduly pessimistic – I’m simply trying to face facts.
We shall see what we shall see.
Farewell, my Wonderful Writing Group… Well at least for a while.
I have written several times about the Pattaya writing group that I attend on Fridays – indeed, if it wasn’t for them, AZZY would never have been written and they have been so helpful in reviewing the draft text and providing constructive criticisms.
I really enjoy our little Friday get-togethers, as these days it is the only chance I get to go out and indulge in stimulating discussions with like-minded people. I also have the rare pleasure of hearing all manner of raw writing talent, created during the meeting – just for the benefit of our little group.
So it has been with much regret and sadness that I have had to suspend my attendance at these weekly sessions as I must spend my time writing for a living.
By the time I have driven to Pattaya and attended a two-hour (plus) meeting and returned home again, it has taken out a good chunk of my day which I can ill afford to spare.
The group have been very understanding and have said some nice things about my book, which are much appreciated. Unfortunately, this does not translate into sales, but I know that they are supporting me and are promoting AZZY in any way they can -through their own friends and contacts. So thanks for that.
I do hope I will be able to return to these meetings, once my new source of income is stabilised and I get into a regular routine.
Deserting the Sinking Ship?
Only joking…. I hope.
Lek and the kids took off on Friday to spend the weekend with her sister in Samut Songkhram. So I am all alone for the weekend – except for Micky, Somchai and Yoghurt…woof! woof!
But all they do is lie down on the front porch all day long – staring at the front gate, awaiting their leader’s return…
Onwards and upwards….