I focused last year on querying national periodicals, but without national clips it was a bust. So in the fall I shifted my focus to improving my web site, where I used to get inquiries but had not in ’09. I had been advertising on Google Adwords without understanding the system so I hired a consultant Mark Schurtman to set up the keywords and monitor the analytics. Then I redesigned my home page again and added new pages under a new section. Most recently I added Google AdSense, where they place ads on my site. I even took an offer to advertise on Facebook. So far none of those efforts has pushed the needle significantly so I’ve gone off on another tract that I will describe in a separate post later.
Since I had been dealing with Google as a “business partner” (heh, heh) and not just a customer of their search engine, I was interested in Ken Auletta’s recent appearance on the Charlie Rose TV show. He was promoting his new book Googled: The End of the World as We Know It. I’m about halfway through the book, and it describes in detail the process of how the start-up became a business giant in less than a decade through innovation and risk-taking in establishing and dominating a new market and quickly becoming an international brand. Like most start-ups, it took several years to become profitable, but when it did the dollars really started to roll in.
Of course, their business has grown beyond the dominance of the search engine market to include email, cloud computing, and most recently Android smart phones. So far they’ve avoided the e-reader machines, such as the Amazon Kindle, the Barnes & Noble Nook, the Sony E-Reader, and as of last week the Apple iPad. In a recent post I commented on the potential of e-readers and their effect on the publishing world so I won’t repeat that.
But it is clear not only from the example of Google but others that Web 2.0 is not only growing but also changing the manner in which we interact and use it. We used to be hired to write for publications, and now we write for web sites —some of which generate hundreds of articles like a high-speed automatic word machine. I still haven’t figured out that market, which is why I don’t participate. The web sites of the traditional media are a little easier to understand since they are not as radical a departure in content, with the focus being on simply reformatting the content.
One of the publications I pitched last year was sold in mid-year and appears to be putting much more emphasis on their web site and email newsletter than the print version. Another even dramatically changed their print format to include much more color graphics as well as a different size page. My interests and experience always has been oriented toward magazines rather than newspapers so I can’t comment on the drastic changes underway in that industry except to note that several years ago I advertised in the online version of the local newspaper and didn’t find it very helpful. But that was back in the days of banner ads, and that approach is not as widely used now.
So should a writer spend more time “reaching out”, i.e. making queries, or setting up an “online presence” where your clients would come to you. If you’re “bidding” on work or submitting unsolicited inquiries or manuscripts, then you’re just a part of the mob. Breaking into the well-paying national periodicals is becoming even more difficult to do, but there are more opportunities outside of the New York market than before.
So what’s your approach to marketing yourself?