Tag Archives: online

Three Online Portfolios to Promote Your Writing

A bit ago I wrote on getting paid and my old friend Dustin over at Voodoo Knickers noted that I made it sound like getting paid is the end all, be all of writing. This is not the case at all; the astute readers among you will note I am not getting paid to blog here or on the Social Media Philosophy Project, and that my writing appears in various places on the net in the form of guest-posts and commentaries. I am also extremely active in social media and the online technology scene and am constantly putting out content of various types, all for free. Why do I do all of this? Well, it got you here, didn’t it?

As my colleague Brett Borders put it in the comments to this post:

The web is ultra-competitive and with 30,000,000 free channels for people to surf… they’re eventually only gonna be able to focus on the ones that are the most unique and interesting.

This is blunt but true. To make it in the new digital world you have to be able to get people to notice you. While social media is a great way of doing this, eventually that client or editor is going to want to see something you have written, and “7 Ways the Terminator Could Fail #terminator #fail ‘shortened link’ PLEASE RT!” isn’t going to cut it. You are going to need a portfolio, and you are going to want it public. While you can host it yourself like I do, that isn’t always an option for a starting writer, so what you need is a good site where you can host your portfolio and get noticed. Here are three sites where you can display and promote your writing online.

Behance Network

The Behance Network has a truly remarkable range of creative talents on display. They cover just about every field you can imagine and their site is very sharp and professional. From their site:

Behance is a company that designs products and services that empower the creative world to make ideas happen. Behance is founded on the principle of “Productive Creativity.” Too often, great ideas never materialize. Creative people are rarely lacking inspiration; rather, they lack effective processes and tools to make their ideas happen. The Behance team studies exceptionally productive people and teams working in creative fields. We document the methods and resources that these productive creative professionals use to push their ideas forward. We then develop products and services based on the best practices that we discover through our research.

Behance allows users to create groups called “Circles” and follow other users, similar to most social networks, but differentiates itself through its overall feel, where it tries to pull the mystique of the gallery and museum into everything they do. The work there is highly visual, but their writing section is nothing to sneer at.

Redbubble

Redbubble is a great site and up for a Webby. While they are very focused on visual design, art, and t-shirt designs, they also have a creative writing section that allows for a fast-moving, very Web 2.0 delivery. From the site:

RedBubble is a vibrant global community of people with creative interests. It’s something different for each of us:

  • a place to share the illustrations you create at night,
  • a forum to seek feedback on the story you’re writing,
  • a creative antidote to the day job,
  • lunch break entertainment,
  • a gallery to inspire,
  • a marketplace to buy and sell unique works of art and,
  • a place to be inspired by like–minded people.

RedBubble is a forum for self expression, an inclusive art gallery and a supportive and welcoming community.

While they don’t let you sell your writing, they have a great following and your writing will get seen. The community and quality of the work varies more than Behance, but that is part of the appeal of the site, which provides an more modern, anarchic online atmosphere.

TalentTrove

These are the underdogs of the list, an up-and-coming site who I was originally a bit leery of but grew on me as I delved. TalentTrove, like Behance, does a whole lot, providing just about every kind of creative amateur or professional a venue for their work. From their press kit:

TalentTrove.com is a unique platform that fuses characteristics of social networking communities and media sharing websites to form an all encompassing talent portal completely devoted to artists. Users of TalentTrove.com are provided a space to showcase their talent(s) and be heard and seen worldwide. The nature of TalentTrove.com supports an environment where people can collaborate and find other like-minded users, all the while presenting themselves to scouts and talent agents who are utilizing the site to find the next big star. A user’s homepage (called their MyStage) serves as a virtual resume where they can upload four different types of media: audio, video, images, and text.

Their site is slick and fast, full of social features, and they have started holding contests to promote the work of their users. They are also a truly international site, with users from all over the world, so for those of us (like myself) who find interaction with a lot of different personalities and ideas necessary for creative work, this might be just the site for you. They are bit younger than Behance or Redbubble, so don’t expect them to be getting a Webby or hitting the Techcrunch50 this year, but keep an eye on them, we could hear a lot of good things in the near future.

Go forth and promote yourselves!

Your homework (yes, there is homework; editors administer the exams!) is to go out, to either these sites or some other, and make your portfolio. Post the links here and the best work will get a review on thePuckWrites (paltry reward, I know, but the best I can offer). Now get out there!

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How to Write for the New Media

Writers write, and we like to think we do it well. But sometimes what we were taught in writing classes and have learned from reading will mean death in online media. This is because the medium is so vastly different and people have different needs from the new media than they did from the old. Here are some tricks and tips for developing a new media writing style.

1. Go Short

In school and literature, often we are taught that more is better. If you can slip in more detail, another source, or another idea, you should. Well, this is just plain wrong in the new media. Here we have to capture a reader who with the click of a mouse can be somewhere else. They are not a professor paid to read a paper or a book-reader sitting and relaxing in a nook. They are on a computer and working in a very “hot” (interactive) medium. Keep your posts and articles between 400 and 700 words. If you absolutely must go longer, consider splitting the post up into a series. DO NOT go for the “multi-pager”. It does not work, nobody reads it and if you keep trying to write your magnum opus you will lose readers.

2. Avoid Big Blocks of Texts

Break your articles up into multiple paragraphs. What seems like over-formatting in a book or magazine can be perfect for a post because of the difference in how they are read. People’s eyes react differently to text on a screen. Use pictures, changes in font size, and lists to break your content up into meaningful chunks. The goal is that at any point a person could finish up a section in just a few seconds and easily come back for the next chunk later.

3. Avoid the Passive Voice

In school we learn to speak in the passive voice to record facts. This makes things very “objective” and “neutral” sounding, but is not what people are looking for online. There are a billion other things they could be reading that can all be objective, but they will read your work because it is yours. Make your writing drip with active verbs and your own personality. Let your voice come through so strongly that the reader will hear you in their head.

4. Lead the Reader

The formatting of online content is always a problem, but the best thing you can do is let your content guide the reader’s eyes and mind. Use lists, headings, and text styling to lead the reader’s eyes to the important points. This is what is sometimes called the “Command to Look” from a book by the same name.

5. Make Your Content “Hot”

This is the internet, web 2.0 thank you very much, and we want our content to be dynamic. We want links, video, and the ability to converse. Pepper your articles with interactivity, even to the point of asking questions for your readers to answer. If you refer to something, link it (but only the first time!), if you say there was a video, include it in the post.

6. SEO

Ok, get the groan out of your system. I know plenty of the community has a bad opinion of SEO, but I don’t agree with them. Search engine optimization is simply par for the course; you have to deal with it. Some simple tips are:

  1. Format your post titles to include the most well-known keywords for your article’s subject.
  2. Write your post to include a few repetitions of various keywords pertinent to your article (don’t oversaturate).
  3. If you are hosting your own blog, make sure your post titles come first in your page titles. The reason for this is that search engines only show the first part of the title, so if your blog title comes first then, even if you are on the front page, all people will see is the blog title, which makes them unlikely to click.
  4. Also, if you are hosting your own blog, make sure that you set your title page, archives, and tag pages to show only excerpts of your post contents. Search engines frown heavily on duplicate content.

7. K.I.S.S.

Keep it simple. No, really. Really simple. Avoid clarifying clauses, complicated thoughts, and involved sentences. This is not say you can’t write difficult ideas…just break them down. Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them. The reason for this is (again) about how people read on the internet. Since people are always multi-tasking, being able to come back to an article and read it in little chunks without losing the thread of the thought is absolutely necessary.

Final Word

Following these simple steps you can increase your reader loyalty and the uselfulness of your posts. People will be able to get what they need from your content easily and efficiently, which will make your posts and articles appealing and useful, which means people will come back to read more and pass on your work to other potential readers and clients. Help your readers read and they will stay loyal, make them work too hard and they will just click something else.

Does anyone else have any good writing tips for new media?


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