Sell Your Writing on Etsy

Self publishing lets writers choose what they want to publish and… the format they will use. Most often the format is digital now. But… consider going back to print. You can print publish your own content without a big name publisher, or a literary agent. Self publish your own zine and distribute it online through Etsy (or other online stores like it).

I was surprised at how many zines are being distributed through Etsy, in particular. Most are sent as do-it-yourself publications, on paper and mailed out to buyers. However, there is the option of selling a digital copy which people buy and then print themselves. There are pluses and minuses for both. A digital copy is easier to distribute, no mail service involved. But, the print copy gives the writer options. A print publication can be mailed out with extras. I’ve seen publishers make their own stickers and buttons. You could also create calendars for yearly subscribers. There are a lot of extras you could do with your own print publication.

It’s a new (retro) way of self publishing.

teamzineLink: Team Zine – Etsy Teams

Relying on Dead Accounts for a Subscriber Base

We rely on dead accounts. Dead or dud accounts should be clutter but they aren’t really. Instead they add to our numbers, and we like numbers as statistics we can see and measure. But, they aren’t all that reliable, or honest.

Twitter followers, Facebook friends, mailing list and newsletter subscribers… if you had to audit your subscriber list would you have even a quarter of those subscribers? A quarter was actually being nice. It is far more likely your subscribers and followers would reduce down to a very small fraction of those currently on your list. But, web publishers don’t yet have to face subscriber audits. I worked in the circulation department of a magazine, a print magazine. Audits were a reality there. Print magazines have to verify their subscriber lists, the people on them have to be real and currently getting the magazine. Advertisers really like having that kind of data when they consider spending their money.

So far the web is different, generally.

As a web publisher are you satisfied with that?

Do you care how many of your followers, friends and subscribers are actually real people (and maybe reading your newsletter too)? You don’t have to care. You can just ignore the whole thing. It’s nice to say you have thousands of subscribers rather than audit it down to a handful.

About once a year I take an axe to my Twitter account. I’m not ruthless about it. I leave some accounts which don’t look very active and probably don’t really care what I’m posting, or if I’m posting. But, I do set limits. It’s a Twitter audit where I only have to please myself.

  • I stop following accounts which have not had a post in a year.
  • I stop following an assortment of accounts which never followed me back. This is not a petty thing – I just don’t see the point in trying to reach out to someone who doesn’t want to listen to me. (Many of those who don’t follow back are just follow-me-back accounts who love having big numbers of followers but long ago deleted you from their own list of followed accounts).
  • I also delete accounts which have nothing to say. If the last half dozen or so posts are all re-posted links… I don’t want to follow an automated account.

I know I still have a lot of accounts which are dud and dead accounts in some way. But, I leave them because it is nice to have some numbers. I’m not immune to that game.

I don’t run a newsletter because I know just how fast I can build a subscriber base – of bots, spammers and dud accounts. Thanks for nothing. I miss running a newsletter. I had a few over the years online. My best was called InkSplatters, for writers.

If you had to audit your followers and subscribers how would it go? Could you be brave and do it or is it just too nice to go along and pretend all those numbers are real?

Some day you may have to prove them. I don’t think digital media will be left to make claims of thousands of subscribers they don’t really have for much longer. At least not sites which want advertisers to pay them for their space.

How to Write a Good Newsletter

We used to make zines with typed and photocopied pages. Those were the old days, before desktop publishing, computers and the whole concept of publishing on the Internet. Now, people are creating email newsletters to promote their online services and businesses. In between are the old, real newsletters which can still be created, written, planned, published and distributed to make money in the real (offline) world.

Consider making money with a real newsletter, in real print (not on the Internet).

Consider how many online newsletters you have actually read lately compared to the actual print newsletter which you pick up while you are out somewhere and likely read during some of your offline down time. I read the same print newsletter every month. It’s distributed through the family restaurant where I like to have a leisurely breakfast out a few times a month. I watch for the latest newsletter there. It’s sponsored by local businesses (it makes money by publishing their ads) and the content is light and simple. If the same content were on a website I would pass it by. But, when I’m just sitting there, enjoying a slow pace, that newsletter gets read and I enjoy it.

The print newsletter is not dead, it’s just a little rusty, dusty and over looked.

Make money writing a print newsletter you can distribute in your local community. Once you have a basic product (the newsletter) get paid advertising to make money from it all.

Open Source (Free) Graphics Editors

Desktop Publishing Software

The Business Plan

Start by looking at what sort of newsletter already exists in your area. You can get ideas from them and decide how you will compete with them. What could you bring that would get new readers, bring new information and attract local businesses to advertise in your newsletter?

Talk to local businesses and see who would be interested in in advertising and what kind of money they would consider fair and reasonable. It would be a good plan to approach them with a mock up of your print newsletter and a distribution plan. This way you will be ready to answer (at least some of) their questions.

Printing and Distributing the Newsletter

You need to find a local printer. Try offering free ad space in exchange for a discount on the cost of printing the newsletter. But, don’t choose a printer based on price alone. You want someone who can print the newsletter on time, without printing errors. One thing you can do is ask about left over paper stock from other jobs they have printed. You could get a bargain on paper someone else ordered and then didn’t use.

Printers can fold and/ or staple newsletters for you but that is an extra cost. Consider doing your own folding – at least until you are making money and can afford to spend on a few nice extras.

Is your newsletter being distributed in store fronts or mailed out? Options for distribution need to be considered based on cost, effectiveness and how well you can track the issues you put out versus how many were read by people. You need to know this for your advertisers. They want to know their ads are being seen.

Passive distribution means you leave your newsletter in public areas where people will pick it up. Active distribution means you have to know who you are sending your newsletter to, you will need to create and build up a mailing list of subscribers. If you use active distribution you can also consider having paying subscribers versus free subscriptions. People might pay for a subscription to a print newsletter if the content were valuable to them in particular. A general sort of newsletter isn’t likely to find a lot of people interested in paid subscriptions.

Read More

How to Write a Christmas Newsletter

Do Your Subscribers Count?

The Internet gurus will still try to tell people to push newsletters and getting subscribers they can send regular emails about site updates, sales, new products or services, etc.

I say, that is a dead end. I will subscribe to newsletters and sites but I don’t read them. They just become more clutter in my email inbox, added to the general noise I try to ignore until the day I get annoyed enough to jump through whatever hoops it takes to delete my subscription. Never read.

Why do I subscribe in the first place? You already know the answer. Why do you subscribe to the newsletters and blog update feeds which you never get around to reading in your email? You had good intentions, it sounded interesting at the time, there was an offer of a free ebook… etc.

If you want to prove the worth of having subscribers, people you contact regularly through email, test it out yourself.

Without begging, bitching or bribing send out your next regularly scheduled email to your subscribers and ask them to do one simple thing, leave a comment on your Twitter account. (Or whichever social media you choose other than your blog/ site itself). Don’t try to cheat the test by using Twitter, Facebook and etc to push people to post a comment for your test. You only cheat yourself.

If you count on having subscribers who not only read your newsletter but actually read and take action based on your tips, advice, sales, etc… where are they now? A huge list of subscribers isn’t worth anything if you can’t get them to take some form of action. How does it benefit you – other than bragging rights to having a huge subscriber base?

Subscribers who aren’t interested in your site, your newsletter, your brand, your product or service aren’t worth anything in reality. Find another way to communicate. Something that actually works.

Snip.it Dumps it’s Content Curators in One Swoop

snipit

Snip.it may be excited. I feel used and tossed aside. Yes, it was a free service so I should appreciate what I had. But, that’s just it. I did appreciate it. I went out of my way to promote Snip.it and I did give suggestions for making it better. I was really happy and feeling good about the community there and the content we were building. I invited friends to join. I was banned from a forum on another site because I tried to encourage more people to join Snip.it.

I noticed things were quiet on Snip.it for the past couple of months. It was unusual, but I didn’t really think about it. Then, out of  the wild blue today this notice came up when I tried to add a fresh link to my account. I had already added several links just hours ago. So, this really did happen without warning. In spite of the words they say I feel betrayed and shocked even. I’m kind of angry.

My traffic was building, I had over 5,000 subscribers to my topics and I was able to see what was bringing traffic and what wasn’t. Now I have no way to keep in touch with my subscribers or ask them to follow me to a new site, nothing.

In the end, Snip.it is dumping us all for some mystery Yahoo! thing. What does that leave us with? A job curating content at a new Yahoo site? No. It leave us with absolutely nothing. But, we can take our links (which aren’t going to mean much stuck in bookmarks) and quietly get lost.

I made the Snip.it Hall of Fame. I didn’t look until I read the post Snip.it Snaps on Kitsch Slapped. Somehow it doesn’t seem to mean all that much. It would have meant a lot more when there was a Snip.it and I felt a valued part of the site and important to it’s growth. Now I wonder what Yahoo actually bought. (Our content collections and mainly, our subscribers? What was Snip.it if not a place for snipping content and sharing it with subscribers and those who wandered in from links we posted to social media?) I heard Yahoo paid $10 million for Snip.it. They say thanks for being a part of Snip.it, but I get no part of that. I’m left with far less than what I put into the site and I feel burned, really burned. The Hall of Fame thing is like getting a gold watch out of a bubble gum machine.

halloffame

How Does Your Syndication Grow?

We are all so syndicated these days. Using social media like Twitter and Facebook to post our posts to other networks and then the feed readers which have lost some popularity, we have been able to build a much bigger network for what we write. Do you still count subscribers? Do you know where to look for an amount of subscribers? Or does Google Analytics give you all the reader and social statistics you need?

Ben wrote about counting your Twitter followers as subscribers. This works for me. However, not all of those people are following you for your blog. If you are using Twitter well you post more than regurgitated blog entries. You should be posting relevant content as well as every day this and that which makes you seem like a real person with something to say. People are far more interesting to follow on Twitter if they post random thoughts, link to other content they find and interact with other people on Twitter. You hope they will also have a look at your blog, but there is no guarantee. Does it matter? That depends on why you keep the blog, is it a tool, a part of the whole or do you need people at the blog to make your money?

Ben also wrote about making your feed useful again. It’s a good post. If you want to revamp your feed he has ideas that will work for you. I’m going to leave mine to dwell in the land of dust bunnies. As I commented on Ben’s blog, I just don’t have the time to put into this online tool any more. It isn’t as useful for me as other options, like Twitter.

I don’t know when I will ever have time to edit my feed reader. I have really given up on it years ago, never actually got into the whole thing really. I do use Twitter and especially Facebook as my feed reader now. I miss a lot and I am fine with that. I’m not trying to be omnipotent or anything like that. What I do catch is enough. The main thing is keeping a balance in my life so I am not feeling pressured to stay up all night just catching up on things. I spend a lot more time on maintenance and promotion than I actually write anything. It’s amazing how much time gets sucked up on stuff no one really sees. I also try to be social and that isn’t something I am good at. I’d happily be a social hermit and just leave everything to be read and not put myself into the picture at all.

What does it take for you to feel read? What numbers work for you? I’ve got the WordPress.com Stats plugin and that gives me a daily head count. Of course, it’s not perfect. It omits extra details like what people read, what people were real versus comment spammers and most of all it doesn’t tell me what people liked about my site. But, the generic numbers are enough for me. The main reason I like to watch traffic is the same reason I am a clock watcher at work. It keeps me going. As I count up the readers or down the hours I know where I am headed and I keep myself on track. I have a goal I can attain.

Decade of the Internet Marketer?

Will this be the decade everyone became an Internet marketer? I get less calls from telemarketers than I get promotional spam from Internet marketers. Yet, it’s still the telemarketers who get the worst reputation.

When I read blogs about Internet or online marketing I can’t really take any of them seriously. If they really were smart marketers they would have stepped out of the blog world by now. For one thing, it’s flooded. There are far too many bloggers and few readers/ subscribers/ buyers. Now that so many people have a blog it’s getting to be a pretty crowded pond. The only way you can still be a big fish in this pond is to hop out and create a new pond.

The only blogs still interesting enough to notice are those who have real, original content. I don’t include any blog about Internet marketing or related topics in this list. If one does find a new thought it will soon be posted to death through blogs and social networking. Their pond is more like a goldfish bowl so stuffed with fish there are only a few drops of water left in the bowl.

What is the last blog you read and actually liked enough to go back and read again? In my case it was a blog about recycling furniture, clothes and etc. I found it when I was looking for ideas to use buttons. (It had two).

What is the point of this post? Not much really. It’s not going to change anything. Just made me laugh today when I heard someone cursing telemarketers, Avon sales people and all those others when in fact they themselves run a blog promoting themselves as an expert on Internet marketing and offering their services. Funny that the very people most likely to be reading that blog are people who already offer the same services themselves.

I don’t offer a great solution. Just seems to me that as flooded as things are online, it may be time for people to consider going back to door-to-door sales again, local and in person. A live person who lets you sample the wares actually rather than virtually. Someone who will deliver your order or let you pick it up cause, after all, they live just down the next block. Don’t you kind of miss human contact and the feeling of dealing with a local business, someone who really does care about the product they sell?

Writing your Bio/ Profile

Now and then you’ll have to write a biography to go along wth an article, book, or something else you publish. It’s tough to figure out what you want to say about yourself in just a few lines. Of course, you consider what you want to share with the faceless masses as well as what information will show you in the best light. You want to make yourself look like an authority on the subject of your article.

The following is something I almost deleted without re-reading tonight. It’s in the stacks of ancient webmail from the years I wrote a newsletter about ASCII art for a website called WZ.com. The site is long gone and I don’t think anyone will mind sharing the information which was once shared with me. Thanks to Sissi, wherever you are. Hope you’re writing and doing great.

Not only do we want to know who you are, your visitors do, too. They’ll be looking for the person behind their interests. A bio that’s interesting and catchy will help you to develop loyalty and a personal touch with your subscribers.

To help you develop your bio, I’ve included a short list of questions, in interview format, below. Answer the ones you think are appropriate, and make sure you include some info on the different Realms you cover.

Oh, and be sure to compile all of the answers to the questions into one flowing bio rather than submitting nine separate answers to me.

Pay special attention to question #9 —

1. You’re about to be interviewed by Charlie Rose. In ten seconds or less, how does he introduce you?

2. When did you get interested in your topic? How long ago, how old were you?

3. Was there something going on that led you to it, or were you naturally attracted to it for some reason?

4. What about it grabbed you? What do you find most interesting or appealing about it?

5. What’s your favorite story about your hobby or interest?

6. What unusual things have you done in pursuit of it?

7. How have these things led to your becoming an expert in your area of interest?

8. How has it affected your life, or the lives of others?

9. How will being a WZ-ard help you share this with others? How do you hope to affect the lives of your subscribers?

Sissi concluded by telling everyone not to forget to add links to their newsletters. You should do the same, include any relevant URLs you’d like to promote to your readers.