In previous blog posts I have discussed comments that we (freelance writers/bloggers) like to give and receive and how to avoid becoming a “comment killer” on articles and social media. These posts fall under the umbrella category of “Good Netiquette” and how to be a credible, respectable voice in interacting with fellow freelance writers/bloggers and social media users. You may be wondering how to handle situations in which no matter how mature or on-point your responses to others are, you are dismissed and/or attacked. This is going to be fun (not to mention that it’ll contain images and references related to politics and current events, so if you’re opposed to that then, well, you’re aware it’s coming)!
Have you ever been on a social network and saw comments as such?
The final comment is directly addressed to me.
When you are engaged in a heated hot topic conversation (which usually becomes an argument and then devolves into a flamewar), it’s challenging to hold your temper and not lash out. Maybe you’re telling yourself “I’m going to handle this like the adult I am” over and over even as you’re smashing your fingers on the keyboard as you write a biting retort. This is human nature. Although “netiquette” is relatively new, humans have always struggled with controlling our responses to enraging situations. While we could send our initial angry comment and feel good about it, here’s another suggestion.
And to see it in action:
Is it mature to respond with “Pffffft?”? That’s going to be an eternal struggle. You want to be the kind of commenter that is respected in the blogosphere and social media world and that requires offering well-written responses even under pressure. “Pffffft!” isn’t well-written. On the other hand, when you aren’t being heard because your fellow commenters aren’t interested in alternative perspectives and they only want to insult you, sometimes a good “Pffffft!” is in order.
Readers, have you ever given someone a “Pffffft!”? How do you handle situations where you don’t know how to respond in a mature way?
If I had to think of the one thing that makes me unique as a writer/social media user, I would say that it’s being a comment killer. No, I don’t mean that I am a moderator running around the internet censoring and deleting comments. I simply mean that if I post a response to a fellow writer/social media user, nobody else comments after me. The thread of comments might be holding on with gasping breaths as a user and I battle it out, but nobody posts anything new. It’s almost like I scare people off.
In the beginning it gave me a twisted sense of superiority. I thought “Well hey, clearly nobody else has anything to say because they know it won’t add anything that I already said.” This is not a thought process I advocate anymore, not for myself and not for anyone else. The thing that makes leaving comments on articles or social media so thrilling is that you can prompt additional conversation and make new friends (or enemies; that comes with the territory as well). People as a whole love feeling like they’ve been read and having something to respond to. It’s so much better to have a conversation than to have a false sense of superiority.
“Okay Jessica, what should I do if I’m a comment killer?” you ask. Excellent question! While you can’t control others reading your responses and posting their own, you can create comments that encourage discussion.
- Begin your comment by directly quoting something the writer or original poster said, such as: “In your blog you said…and I was wondering…” This takes more time than spouting off the first thing you think of, but it helps you because it creates a smart, thoughtful comment to show that you’re a serious poster and it helps the original poster and other commenters have a focus for responding.
- Give the original writer or poster something to genuinely respond to even if you don’t do a full quote. Saying “I agree!” or “Die in a fire!” isn’t enough to get interaction. Then again, “Die in a fire!” has been known to start flame wars (pun unntentional and appropriate)…
- Stay on topic as much as possible. In my experience, both as the reader and the guilty party, people are less likely to add something to your reply if they aren’t sure what to make of it. Saying “I love my fluffy cat!” is perfect on media that addresses fluffy pets, but not on a post about news or politics.
- “Talk” to many people. While some writers and social media users just want to say their peace and dart out, there are others that want a real conversation.
I’m learning these things as I make mistakes and then work to correct them. Does anyone else who considers themselves a comment killer have any tips or tricks that I missed?
Part of freelance writing is making friends with other freelance writers. People may claim that writing is a solitary act (which it is in the context that it’s you and only you creating your article…Unless you and a group of writers do a joint post) but once you have your article(s) written, the next step is interacting. You can learn so much from following your favorite writers’ blogs and social media accounts, both about them and about the business of freelance writing. One of the best ways I’ve learned to make friends on BlogJob is through regularly commenting on blog posts of interesting writers but any writing website or social media account works for leaving comments.
An important question that comes up about leaving comments is, “What kind of comments should I leave?”
When you may have interaction with the writer, should the comments you leave be nothing but praise for the article and/or the writer? Some writers (freelancers of course, but also published authors) only want to see nice comments. Sometimes this translates to “You write something that isn’t 100% glowing and I’ll sic my guard dog fans on you!” It’s a scary possibility that product reviewers and fellow writers with friendly suggestions face. On the flipside, if you are commenting on an article and have suggestions or questions, you have the perfect platform to ask the writer directly.
Another question you might have is how long and how specific your comments should be. I like to address something the writer said that stuck out to me. Sometimes my comments to them are longer because I have many thoughts I want to share and I feel like they might appreciate seeing an engaged audience. While I try not to leave comments longer than the author’s article because that might cause them to lose interest, I try to leave a substantial comment.
I have mixed views on short comments that are equivalent to “You wrote something!” and that don’t address anything I wrote. It’s always nice to get compliments, but I like the comments that are complimentary and interactive. That might be why I like to leave substantial comments. A good suggestion for new comment writers is to think about what they read in the article and what they thought of it, and then write a comment expressing that.
Readers, how do you interact with writers (any writer, not restricted to freelance writers)? How do you choose what kind of comments to leave?
I was inspired by this post on the BlogJob forums. The question is, do we use our friends’ names when we blog about them? The responses are varied but they boil down to “We might if it was a significant (usually positive) event involving them but we also might change their names if we couldn’t get their permission to write about them.” I was curious to know if the answers would change at all if we were writing about people we didn’t know, such as anyone in the news or people we encountered on Facebook. While that is a question to bring to the forum at a later time, I have been thinking more about the ethics of using people’s names in writing.
It’s a conundrum, I can tell you that right now without doing any research. If your goal is to create a professional article you want to follow all the journalism/writing ethics about using people’s names in your writing. You would want to be sure that if you couldn’t get your subject’s permission, you would at least avoid making defaming claims about them. Maybe you would change their name or keep their part in your writing limited to only the most important scenes. Some writers of memoirs and other creative non-fiction say that it can be a hard decision to limit others’ roles in your story because then your story isn’t as true, but in the end they have chosen to do it for protecting the other people’s privacy. One suggestion that I liked from photographer and writer David Hood’s blog post “The Ethics of Writing Creative Nonfiction” is to use “cue words” to show that you may not remember everything correctly so that if there is misrepresentation, you show that this is only your interpretation of events. This is excellent advice for writing in general, not only limited to scenes involving other people. Of course it’s important that if other people are mentioned in your writing you do your best to get their permission, but if you can’t then the next best step is to represent them fairly.
This advice is perfect for creative non-fiction, but what about writing about posts on social media? I admit that I’m shaky on it myself. I will post screencaps without blurring or editing out names and I will use the user’s name in my articles. I write it as such: “Jessica” the first time I reference them to show that this may not even be their real name. With the internet, you never know. I haven’t been able to find official ethics in blogging about social media and base my understanding on what I see others do. Some articles will edit the screencaps to protect the users’ privacy while others don’t bother. Usernames are directly mentioned in the article to give credit/”credit” to whoever said the important things that have inspired the article. Some articles will say “I’m using this person’s name but I will not accept my readers ganging up on this person so play nice.” I will continue to research this, but since writing about social media posts is relatively new, I doubt I’ll find anything official.
Readers, do you use people’s names in your articles? How do you tell your story while protecting their privacy?
This was in 2014 during my Sociological Theories class and it was the beginning of the semester so our instructor asked us to introduce ourselves to everyone. Besides telling everyone our name and class year, he asked us to share something interesting about ourselves. I said I did freelance blogging (on BlogJob, although I don’t believe I specified where). This guy asked “You make money blogging? Why do we even have to go to school then?”
I love telling this story and here I have a good reason to do so. If I had to chose one and only one thing I’ve learned about freelance blogging, it’s that it’s a job like anything else. While it’s a self-focused job that allows more creativity and self-expression, it isn’t easy like people think.
Even finding a headquarters for my blogs was a job. For some time I had been on BlogSpot, the Google blogging platform. It’s nice that it gave me a place to experiment with blogging when I was new to it, but BlogSpot doesn’t pay unless you use Google AdSense. Google AdSense earnings are based on the idea that Google will choose what words to put links on and then you get paid a small amount of money if someone buys the product advertised on said links. You, the blogger, don’t get control over what products are linked to. I was then on Daily Two Cents, a blog website that uses the WordPress format and pays you a litle bit of money for unique views on your blog posts. I have no beef with them, but I wanted the option to have niche-specific blogs. That is how I fell in love with BlogJob. To make a long story short, even finding a home takes time and effort.
Once you have a home for your blog posts, you have to start planning your diferent blogs. On BlogJob you can have as many blogs as you want, but you have to be able to maintain them. I have a few blogs that have been grossly neglected because I didn’t plan on how to maintain them as well as technological problems that make them less than ideal. I recommend creating new blogs if you can see yourself posting multiple articles on them every day. You don’t actually have to post multiple articles, but if you think you have enough to write on a regular basis then you’re probably able to maintain the blogs.
Consider that your blog posts need promoting on socia media if you want to be a credible and somewhat-known freelance blogger. At one point BlogJob required a certain number of social media shares for each blog post. Even if your blogging platform doesn’t require sharing, it’s a good practice to get into. This means that you may need to register for accounts on additional social media websites and then learn how best to get seen on them. I admit to post promotion being my least favorite part, but it’s been paying off when new viewers leave comments and I get notifications for referring new visitors.
One thing about sharing your blog posts: Once they’re out in the world, you have to stand by what you write because sometimes you can face criticism. This may force you to write your blog posts more consciously, which will allow you to hold your own should you get into a debate with your readers but also takes up extra time. Professional blogging is considerably different from writing a status update on Facebook or Twitter. You may want to familiarize yourself on ethics of journalism and social interaction so that while you may be challenged for your views, you won’t engage in poor ethics and get in legal trouble. One of the more terrifying aspects of professional blogging is that you do have to exercise caution.
On the surface professional blogging does seem easier than applying for a traditional job, but make no mistake, it is still a job.
If you actively follow me on BlogJob, then you may have come across a status update where I revealed that I need to open up this blog to more than just reviewing the latest online freelance writing opportunities. I’d already done this when I started reviewing various PTC (paid to click) websites and offering tips and tricks for writing/successful use of PTC websites, but I want to make it official. I can’t change the name of my website and honestly I don’t know that I want to scrap all of my previous posts and start fresh, but I think I could justify using the name Freelance Writing Whisperings while increasing the content of this blog.
Posting about freelance writing websites was the initial goal, but there’s a lot less of them than I thought. When I get bored I like to Bing search or Google for online freelance writing websites to see if I can discover a new option to research and blog about. I’m not afraid to go twenty or more search pages to find what I’m looking for. The problem is that if I have to go twenty or so search pages in, I’m not going to find what I searched for. I’m torn between blatantly saying that the websites I’m looking for don’t exist and that they do exist but I’m not Googling the correct search terms. On one hand, I’m not the greatest at knowing what string of keywords would bring up new-to-me paying freelance writing platforms. I could very well be searching for the wrong terms. On the other hand, really? You would think searching “paying freelance writing websites” would give you some decent results! In the end I don’t want to neglect a blog just because the content doesn’t exist or isn’t easy to find. This babbling doesn’t justify keeping the name Freelance Writing Whisperings, but it explains the main reason I need to expand my blog to include other moneymaking opportunities.
More importantly to me is that once you cover everything you can think of about one paying website (such as BlogJob, though I’m not sure I dedicated a review to it), what else is there to discuss? I can always write short status updates about BlogJob (or whatever websites), but as for a substantial 300+ word article, that’s next to impossible! In order to keep having material to blog about, I need more websites to offer first impressions and experiences about. The way I can justify using the title Freelance Writing Whisperings is that I’m writing about moneymaking websites of all types for part of my freelance writing project. It’s a loose connection I admit, but I think it works for me and that’s what counts.
So all that out of the way, if you’ve heard of any interesting websites that pay you to use them in some way but you’re cautious about getting an account, send the name my way and I’ll use them and review them.
There’s something that’s been bothering me for quite some time. I enjoy discovering new websites, especially websites that pay you for articles or blogs and paid to click (PTC) websites. Don’t get me wrong, I also love finding new-to-me news aggregates that cover a little bit of everything, since I’m an eclectic reader myself and get easily bored with only one subject area. I’m definitely a reader+writer+online moneymaker, in other words. Then one thing I am not is blind to grammar and spelling errors. I don’t have patience for poor grammar, spelling, or bad writing. I should clarify that I see a difference between wanting to help others improve such things as grammar, spelling, and writing in a professional setting (such as my career goal to become an English, composition, and reading tutor for high school students) and reading professional writers being not-that-stellar. Once you’re in a setting where writing should be your strong suit but you don’t deliver on it, I have problems with misspellings and poor sentence structure.
Errors I’ve Seen:
- The wrong use of you’re and your.
- People who get apostrophe-happy and add apostrophes where they don’t belong. For example, one website wrote “This is a perfect opportunity for newbie’s”.
- This one just makes me weep. A writing website had this slogan “Place, where writers earn good money”. I actually am curious about researching this particular website further, but what in the world? Shouldn’t your slogan be error free?
Am I too hard on website creators? I expect a semblance of professionalism but when I’ve discussed this topic with my folks over and over and let’s just say they think I’m nitpicky and persnickety. By the way, I would forgive a person for misspelling “persnickety” because it’s not that common of a word. Back to the main subject, I don’t believe I’m alone in questioning the legitimacy of websites when simple words are misspelled but sometimes I wonder.
What about you? Would you question the legitmacy of a website if it was dotted with simple spelling and grammar errors? Are you more forgiving and think “Mistakes happen”? Finally, do you think I’m too nitpicky and persnickety?
CGP Gallery is a part pay-per-click writing platform, part social networking website. Users of the website claim that CGP Gallery uses the same script as Bubblews (another part pay-per-click writing and part social networking website that is highly not recommended). I decided I needed to learn about CGP Gallery directly from the creators themselves. According to the FAQ, the goal of CGP Gallery is for users to be “compensated for these types of information that they share on social networks where the users will be benefited.” In other words, users of CGP Gallery will in theory receive money for the writing they post to the website. The FAQ is a mess grammatically speaking, but it is useful in telling potential members how soon they can cash out, what the daily limit for posting articles is, and what content is prohibited. As of this posting, users of CGP Gallery can cash out at $20 unless they require Bank Wire, at which point they can cash out at $50. The daily limit for how many articles a user can post is ten articles. Essentially the prohibited content is you standard prohibited content-all work must be your original work and you can’t post anything obscene, defamatory, or pornographic. In addition, you can’t post articles that are segments of a larger article (for example, you can’t write Article: Part One and Article: Part Two) and you can’t post about your payout issues. Any author that violates the rules will be punished without notice. At least CGP Gallery says that up front, but it also means that you can’t challenge a punishment.
After reading the FAQ for CGP Gallery, I do not have a positive first impression of the website. Granted, it feels like the creators of CGP Gallery learned where the Bubblews creator went wrong and thoroughly publicizes the “Thou shalt not…”s of using the website so there’s less user/owner misunderstandings. At the same time, I am not okay with the poor grammar and spelling used in the FAQ and the potential for dropping users for no reason and then claiming it was because they broke a rule (without explaining what rule was broken).
Now, everyone is bound to make typos because it’s so easy to make typos. With autocorrect being more of a curse than a blessing and fast typing on the internet, bad grammar and spelling mistakes do happen. The writing on CGP Gallery’s FAQ is inexcusable. There are extra spaces between words where spaces shouldn’t be, words are capitalized where they shouldn’t be, and some sentences are repetitive and redundant. When a company’s creators don’t spellcheck for simple errors, the legitimacy of the site is called into question.
Furthermore, CGP Gallery’s notice to potential members about prohibited content is fine the way it’s written until you get to the bottom where it says the piece about author violations not being notified. Everyone deserves a second chance for minor violations but CGP Gallery isn’t allowing that. In fact, what if an author didn’t violate any of the rules but CGP Gallery didn’t want to pay them for their work? Bubblews is currently under fire for doing that exact thing. If CGP Gallery is going to be a long-lasting paying platform, they need to be fair to their users. Maybe they will be, but just from reading the FAQ I have my suspicions.
I would be careful about jumping on the CGP Gallery bandwagon. Take a look at the website CGP Gallery to see what you think. If you still want to sign up for an account, I wish you luck.