Online Writing Showcases

computer screenshot of squidoo.com homepageSquidoo & Zimbio

There are so many writing resources online that you can’t shake a stick at them all. When it comes to getting yourself noticed there are some online tools that are invaluable but they will take some time and effort for you to acquaint yourself. There are two sites that I’m going to deal with in this post – Zimbio and Squidoo. I use both of these sites frequently to promote articles and clients because they deliver traffic to the sites and blogs my writing is promoting in turn. Better still, both of these sites are completely free, indeed with Squidoo there is the opportunity to actually make passive revenue from the site.

Zimbio provides an article and wiki showcase where you can post up an article, edit the presentation to include headers and footers with hyperlinks to other web pages, such as your client web landing page or blog post. Zimbio provides a platform for submitting articles and blog posts, which are then blended in with “real” journalism and media while allowing for syndication of your work. Here you will find news and media output from recognised writers, TV, newspapers and magazines running alongside bloggers, active writers and non-professional sources, while readers are able to rate content and help good work gain wider exposure.

Here is an example of a Zimbio article I recently wrote for a client. At the top and bottom is my plug for the client website which helps for click-through traffic and rather than creating a new wikizine I’ve added it to an existing topic thread. I’ll deal with some on-site optimisation after we deal with Squidoo.

Squidoo provides a very similar service to Zimbio; however, they use “lenses” rather than a wikizine. For each article you submit through Squidoo you will need to create a new lens, and they can be looked on as being a mini-website within a much larger one. Within a lens you will be able to post your article or blog post, but you will also be able to add various optional extras such as a blogfeed, an RSS feed, eBay module that links to eBay to display auctions that pertain to your article content, as well as a comments module and much more. Once you have mastered the general concept the process of posting your content and creatings, a lens is pretty quick and straight forward.

In both cases, while you are still logged in you should take the opportunity to perform a little self-promotion. Finding posts and lenses that deal with a similar theme to your own article, is easy to do and leaving a comment with a link to your own content is a good method of attracting some readers. It does not have to be an in-depth analysis and I tend to use something like:

“Hi, interesting piece and I agreed/disagreed with your point on [whatever] which I’ve covered in my own article [insert hyperlink to your own lens/article].”

Make sure these comments are posted to relevant material and there is no need to overdo it, one or two comments is fine and flattering the ego of other writers and is a surefire way of getting them to comment on what you produce.

Optimising the posts for gaining exposure off the Squidoo/Zimbio sites is easily done by plugging into the RSS feeds that are already set up. I’ll deal with RSS and blog feeds in a later post, but for now just think of these tools as a way of gathering new content, categorising it and managing distribution to the rest of the world. Once you have used the on-site RSS and blog feed tools you need to tell the world about what you have done, and you achieve this by “Pinging“. Once Squidoo/Zimbio have set up your RSS feeds they will give you a url, copy the urls and paste them into PingoMatic or Pingoat and hit the “ping” icon. What you have just done is to notify dozens of RSS and blog feeds that you have put some new content up on these sites and they will now come and visit that content and arrange for it to be distributed to anyone who has registered an interest in the subject matter of your post. Consider RSS and blog feeds to be a tickertape running across the TV screen during a Sky News broadcast and you have the idea.

Finally, to help you gain some immediate traffic to your posting, sign up for some of the social sites such as Delicious, Digg and Reddit and place some short comments with a hyperlink back to your articles – this is known as “linkbaiting” and is a recognised means of gaining some visitors.

Following these steps will provide your work with immediate exposure and recognition that will grow with time. As you repeat this process for new work, you will find an increasing number of visitors from which you will gain a readership following. What has been described here is quite involved, but once you have mastered the techniques you will be able to perform all of this in a matter of a few minutes. More importantly, this series of processes is something for you to tell your clients about – it is an extra piece of value that you will be adding for your clients and something that will help you stand above the competition when bidding for work.