I make my living as a professional freelance writer. For the most part, that means that I go out, find clients, get them to hire me, do some freelance writing for them, and then repeat the process. This is a great way to make a living as a writer without starving to death while you write the next great American novel.
What is even better is writing for your own websites, building your own traffic and making money off of what YOU want to write, when you want to write it. It’s better than just working from home. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. Even when you do succeed, there is no guarantee that Google won’t come along and whack your traffic after you’ve built up a nice little piece of passive income on the side. (See how this freelance writing blog recently got hit with the October Panda update.)
The catch is that most successful freelance writers already spend a lot of time writer and writing and publishing even more online for future, potential income can be a stretch. I constantly worry that someone will judge the writings on my own websites as professional freelance writing samples because I can’t take the same amount of time on them as I do my paying writing gigs. The truth is that I seldom proof read my blog posts. What comes out, is what goes up. I simply don’t have the time to polish all of my online writings as much as I would like.
Fortunately, platforms like WordPress help writers to create and publish websites quickly, without having to become an expert in setting up and running Apache server or other systems. However, that doesn’t make everything easy.
In order for your own websites or online writing to succeed, you need to be able to create and produce webpages that are both attractive enough to capture and maintain the attention of your readers and tweaked properly to appease the Google search engine spiders that come and index your website. In other words, you need to do things like add images to your posts and always keep one eye on your site’s SEO needs. Unfortunately, I can no longer believe that writers should ignore SEO.
As you can imagine, this takes up time.
Zemanta WordPress Plugin
This is where Zemanta comes in. The idea behind Zemanta is that the online service does some of those “extras” you need to do in order for you to successfully make money writing online. The way it works is that is adds recommended links and images based upon what you are writing. Then, you just click the links you wish to include. No need to search, find, copy and past links into your articles.
Theoretically, the service offers well matched links based upon keywords and phrases that appear in your posts. It does that rather well, with not much spam. However, there are a few more suggestions for Wikipedia than I would like. There are several configuration options that I haven’t yet gone through, so there may be a way to reduce or eliminate all of the Wikipedia suggestions.
(Note: There is nothing wrong with Wikipedia or links to that website. However, a great many of those links are nothing more than definitional, which I do not feel adds much value on a website like this one. For example, one of the suggested links for this post is to “freelance writing” on Wikipedia. I’m not sure that would be all that helpful to our readers. Even if it were, I have to assume at this point that pretty much everyone in the world who reads websites knows where to find Wikipedia if they need it.)
I’ll be trying Zemanta out over the next few weeks here and on my ADD Tips blog so if you see anything funny let me know.
Zemanta Review Issues
So far I have encountered a couple of issues with Zemanta that do not diminish its utility. However, it might be useful for those reading this to know how to get around these potential Zemanta problems.
- If you use NoScript or similar plugin, you’ll have to turn it off or allow Zemanta.com otherwise you won’t see anything. If you can’t tell if the Zemanta plugin is working on your blog, you probably have it blocked.
- I set it up on Addessories.com first and then here on ArcticLlama.com. I logged into Zemanta to set preferences but they do not seem to propograte to my other websites. Perhaps I’ll need to login from them somehow or copy and past the API key that was mentioned during setup.
- Speaking of which, only some settings can be set on the plugin. You have to create an account and login to Zemanta.com to set many more settings. Don’t thing that just what you set on the WordPress dashboard is all there is.
- I write a lot of my stuff in Windows Live Writer. It isn’t that I can’t write directly into WordPress, I can and do. However, WLW has a nifty feature where you can automatically have certain keywords or phrases be linked without any manual intervention. For example, when I write posts in WLW the phrase “freelance writers” automatically goes to www.arcticllama.com and “freelance writing blog” goes to www.arcticllama.com/blog/ It’s just another one of those ways to speed things up. It appears that Zemanta only works in the WordPress editor screen or via a browser plugin. — For now, I’ll have to either type directly into WordPress or write in WLW and then upload as a draft and then take advantage of Zemanta. — If anyone knows of a Windows Live Writer plugin for Zemanta, let me know. (I’ll go Google that when I finish up here.)
I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.
Do you have experince with Zemanta? How do you use it on your blogs.
Update: Oh, for the love of Pete. There is a Zemata Windows Live Writer plugin right on the Zemata download page. (Just scroll down.) I’ll be testing that too.