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Testing the Waters
As publishers are abandoning the print medium, more and more of them are expending their efforts into digital media. Readers are getting their information and reading entertainment electronically. Where do these measures leave the increasing number of English and Writing majors after they leave the halls of their institutions of higher learning? Will there be jobs to satisfy the increasing number of professional writers? Will the role of the professional writer become obsolete? Or will professional writers begin to create their own opportunities and/or work for new media?
The lack of readership results in a lack of advertising dollars, which results in decreased amounts of money for salaries, but writers may have another option. The blogosphere is open for business and devising many ways of getting writers recognition and some pay. More and more people are interested in writing as an occupation, as it has been so sensationalized through popular culture, but many companies are downsizing and the trend is leaving many writers jobless. Opportunities can be still be made with a little effort and the right blog host.
Blogging provides an opportunity for writers to flex their literary muscle on a regular basis. The act of writing for a blog can be much like the act of writing for a newspaper or magazine publication with a certain amount of discipline. Without the pressure and censorship from an editor, the Blogger is able to show the world and herself what she can do and actually discover what she has to say. The writer can prove to the editors of magazines or newspapers or publisher that she can create a blog that proves to the world that she has what it takes to be gainfully employed as a writer.
This white paper will examine the outlook of publishing outlets and the online competition. It will also inform the reader of the potential gains that can come from hosting a blog, which may be a writer’s entrance into the world of publishing.
Entering into the job market is scary for any graduate. Leaving the safety of higher learning institutions, students are entering a world where doors slam in their faces before they have even had a chance to knock. This can be very disheartening. For four years or more, a student studied his or her lessons, made the grades, worked for the student newspaper, and performed well on an internship with the hopes of working for his or her favorite publication. Just as the diploma is handed to her, she finds out that the magazine that she has been fashioning her writing to suit well is closing their doors. The doors are closing because of bad management, the recession, and of course because of advertising dollars being shared with the internet.
- 34 newspapers laid off 100 or more employees (that number does not include the Associated Press, which is a cooperative, not a newspaper, or the Chicago Sun-Times, Dallas Morning News, or Sun newspapers)
- 40.7 was the average number of newspaper layoffs per day, including weekends and holidays
- 143 newspapers stopped publishing a print edition in 2009
Writing for the internet is essentially different than writing for traditional newspapers or magazines. Articles are shorter online. The feature article that exists in outlets like Newsweek and Time are almost non-existent in web publishing. All the hours put into fashioning the feature article for her school’s student newspaper seem trivial now that traditional news publications are shutting their doors and jobs are few. The print publications may be closing, but there are plans of launching an online division. That’s good news.
Although many print publications are moving online, competition can be fierce. The alternative is getting a job writing for a nationally known blog. Advertising dollars are invested in these sites, and some pay comes from per reader clicks. But it is not yet enough to make a living. So the novice writer must pick up an extra job and work at becoming a professional writer (not in the sense that you can make a living off of it, but in the sense that it’s something that you do everyday). Without an editor, the blogger can say what it is that she would like to say, but at the end of the day it is up to the readers to supply her lifeline. The readers have to be interested in what the blogger has to say.
Writing for nationally known blogs is not the same thing as writing for a traditional print medium although if you want write for an Opinion and Editorial section of the newspaper, it can be. Although editors may seem like hell’s gatekeepers, they are often helpful in steering the writer’s article in the right direction and giving them speeches of encouragement when needed. The blogosphere is everyone’s land and everyone has a say especially the readers. The lack of reader clicks at the end of the day may be daunting. There are so many blogs popping up and so many writers writing for them that there is just so much competition out there that a writer could get lost in the shuffle.
How can one grow as a writer without the guidance of an editor to show them the way? If all the work that a novice writer invests in the student newspaper and summer internships does not prepare her to enter the blogosphere as a professional blogger, which is a step that may become the essential intermediary step to actually writing full time for traditional publications, then she can write her own blog. Finding your own niche and maintaining your blog regularly might just be an alternative to the ego-dowsing world of professional blogging.
Once you’ve established your blog with a blog hosting outfit, the choices are yours. From what the blog should look like to the content inhabited there in is all up to the blogger with no middleman to justify your existence or train of thought. The initial steps for hosting a blog are simple; but it’s getting the word out that makes a blog successful. Just like nationally known community blog sites, the readers are the compensation that the writer requires to move to the next level. If you’ve got catchy interesting subject matter, the readers will come. You’ve just got to go out and get them.
If you utilize social media outfits like Facebook and Twitter, by increasing your number of “friends” word about your blog will spread. Through Facebook and Twitter accounts the writer can interest readers with regular posts about your blog subject and topics. Starting a Facebook page or Twitter account dedicated to your blog and inviting your “friends” to join will also draw in readers. The blogger must be a regular voice in your social networking communities. If “friends” are interested in what you have to say and like you, there is a good chance that other people will too. Getting feedback from blog postings, Tweets, Facebook messages and other social media outlets is a good sign that publishers will notice when evaluating you. Note, the second most likely reason that someone would purchase a book is because they like the author. The more you give, the more you’ll get back. Adding features to your blog like video and signature background and specific domain names are all options available on WordPress that make the blog look very professional.
Breaking the Glass Ceiling
Personal blogging may be the solution to the problem writers face when getting jobs as writers. What is a writer who doesn’t write? Taking the time to hone your craft daily, weekly or monthly is a great way to set your self apart from other holders of degrees in media communications. If the problem is setting yourself apart from the pack so that readers want to read your writing everyday, then starting an interesting blog, with great writing is part of the solution. The other part is making sure that you’re always getting more readers. Publishers would love to have a writer writing for them who knows the ins and outs of what this business is becoming. Be proactive.
Yes, print media are downsizing and opportunities working for traditional media are increasingly few, but all hope should not be lost. WordPress provides a relatively easy platform to navigate. In a few simple steps you can set up a free blog with some optional premium features. It’s easy and affordable to make your blog attractive and specifically cater to your taste and ability. The possible gains of having a successful blog are limitless. Many successful bloggers go on to become very successful. Movie deals have been made by some bloggers. Many books have been published. And countless writers undoubtedly go on to work for major news and entertainment publications. Note that WordPress is only a platform for a successful blog. The work put into creating a blog and promoting it are also essential steps. WordPress does include an option that allows your blog to be searchable by search engines.
 The Newspaper Death Watch: 2009 Numbers