Grab a drink. Sit down. Let's chat about this.
So Will Wheaton just published a blog post. If you haven't read it yet, it's about him rejecting the Huffington Post's offer to re-publish an article he wrote. Why? Because they offered to compensate him not with money, but with good-old-fashioned exposure.
Later, he tweeted: "Writers and bloggers: If you write something that an editor thinks is worth being published, you are worth being paid for it. Period." Makes sense, right?
He goes on to explain that while the money he would have made at the going rate for writers wouldn't have been much -- $210, by his estimation -- he still feels good about turning down this opportunity on principle.
Will Wheaton: I feel you. It's frustrating as hell to be told that something you worked hard on is worth, well, nothing. Where we disagree, though, is on the exposure = nothing point.
No, you can't pay your rent with it. But these days, exposure is worth a hell of a lot more than nothing.
Historically in the world of writing, "exposure" has been sort of a bullshit concept. Like, maybe if you publish a story in a teensy tiny publication, an agent or publisher will happen to read it and you'll be an overnight literary success. It brings to mind blind optimism and hopefulness and unlikely possibilities -- not the freedom and power of cold, hard cash.
But exposure is no longer intangible. It's tangible as hell. These days, I'd choose exposure on a high-traffic website over a couple hundred bucks any day. Why? Because it gives you a chance to grow your tribe, and an engaged community of readers and customers is far more valuable than a one-time paycheque.
Not only will readers from the Huffington Post (or wherever) click through to check out your website, but your SEO will get a nice boost, making it easier for people to find you both now and in the future.
Of course, you'll need a few things in place on your website in order to fully take advantage of that shiny new exposure. Such as:
- A customized landing page for visitors from that site. When you publish an article elsewhere, you'll typically get a little bio about yourself underneath the article, with a link back to your site. Take advantage of that space! Here's what I wrote at the bottom of my recent article on Introvert, Dear:
Jaclyn Desforges has one mission: to help you build the writing life of your dreams. As the creator of Nest & Story, she offers inspiring creative writing workshops online and in Toronto. She has a special gift available for Introvert, Dear readers which you can find here.
To claim their special gift, readers need to click through to the custom landing page I created for them, which contains more info about me, my writing workshops and my online courses.
- A website that's in good working order. Do you have an about page that accurately describes you and what you do? Got any broken links or awkward early-days blog posts? Now's the time to clean all that stuff up. It's like your fancy new neighbours have just unexpectedly rung the doorbell -- time to toss your old newspapers and dirty dishes and soiled underthings into the bedroom before throwing a bathrobe on and answering the door.
- An end game. What do you want the thousands of people who are about to visit your website to do, exactly? Ideally, you'll have something for sale. A book, some products, a coaching/consulting biz. If not, aim to at the very least get those people on your mailing list. Then when you do have something to sell, you'll have people to sell it to.
Don't let your new readers flounder. Help them along. Point them in the right direction. Don't waste all that valuable exposure!