Professional baseball players usually spend years in the minor leagues honing their skills before they can make it to the “bigs.”
For writers, becoming a part of the Yahoo! Contributor Network can be a great place to find your audience and hone your skills. I want to focus on the “finding your audience” part of that here.
If my increasingly foggy memory serves me right today, an earlier incarnation of Yahoo! Voices was the first place I published on the Internet. I wrote a recipe for grilled vegetables and earned $2.
I continued to occasionally write for Yahoo! Voices and banked a few more bucks along the way. Having those piece published provided a platform from which I was able to land higher-paying writing gigs.
Data mining Yahoo!
Today, when I look at my list of Yahoo! articles, it reveals some very interesting information—information that would have been difficult to acquire on my own.
I have access to lifetime statistics for all 36 articles I’ve published through Yahoo! Voices. At a glance I can see which articles have performed well, and which really suck…if you’ll excuse the technical publishing term.
If you are trying to find that sweet spot between what you like to write about and what people like to read, you can use Yahoo! Voices to do the statistical research for you. Plus, as they gather the information, they’ll toss a few dollars your way. You’ll also be able to hone your writing skills as you go.
Health topic performs well
When I look at my Yahoo! Voices page view numbers, two facts jump out at me. An article I wrote about the natural healing of my broken shoulder is by far the most popular piece I have that was fully my idea. Another health-topic article I wrote also did well so I recently decided to write a first-person piece about my gall bladder symptoms.
However, an article on how to clean and sanitize an RV water system has even more views than my broken shoulder article. That article wasn’t my idea, but it reveals a great way to get good ideas for articles.
At the time I was writing how-to articles for Demand Studios. They define the topics and I picked up the RV water system article. However, for some reason the editor I was working with rejected it. I reworked it a bit and posted it online through my Yahoo! Voices account. Demand Studios knows what people are searching for; quite a few have read that little how-to article of mine.
Another writing outlet
Demand Studios, by the way, is a great “next step” if you want to write for the Internet. They pay somewhat better and if you’re a writing speed demon who can master their style, you can actually make a little money in your spare time. You can also scan the article requests they are posting and get ideas for your own writing.
Let’s pull all of this together. If you want to have your own successful blog, or find a freelance writing niche for yourself, you need to discover the intersection of your writing skills, your personal interests and knowledge, and consumer demand.
You could start blogs on every topic you love: cooking, writing, travel, pets, or whatever. But that would be a pain, time consuming, somewhat expensive and probably not very revealing.
By using Yahoo! Voices you can write on all your different interests, get Yahoo’s search and placement power behind your work, and quickly discover what’s popular and what’s not.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/30933994@N04/3387196707/ “Writing Class 1,” © 2008 Karen Chichester, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
Pencil macro, Day Foy, 2004, http://www.flickr.com/photos/orangeacid/204163563/; Prismacolor Pencils, Joe Dearman, 2013, http://www.flickr.com/photos/59743299@N00/8412945460/; Keyboard, Sean Pope, 2008, http://www.flickr.com/photos/shanepope/2375499336/; Typing, Sheffield Tiger, 2006, http://www.flickr.com/photos/28442317@N06/4080492847/