While postponing my daily grind of ghost writing for others and for pay, I somehow ended up in the forum at A/C, which had a spirited debate on whether you were selling out when you wrote about celebrities. Several people commented that some of their articles on popular topics received thousands of page views in one day. That amazed me but also intrigued me. Are you selling out if you write articles the public wants or simply fulfilling your mission as a writer?
My most popular article, “Semen is Good for the Complexion and Other Myths Started by Men” had it’s origin on a day like today, one where I couldn’t get motivated to write those ghost articles I get paid to write. I was in the middle of an email session with a friend when the thought for the article occurred. It made me laugh. Since I like research, I decided, “What the hey, this ought to be fun,” and set about to find out if semen was really good for the complexion. Once it went online, a German medical site picked up the article as a reference for one of their publications. I’m not fooling myself into thinking that it’s doctors that read this article. The page views go up on Friday and Saturday, I’m presuming at night. My best guess is that the readers are under 20, lonely and male.
Since I don’t know anything about the lives of celebrities, should I keep this niche and continue to write these page view sticky articles? (Okay, the word sticky was intended as a joke.) Is your credibility as a writer destroyed when you write for commercial success instead passion? Finally, are you a writer if nobody reads you?
The answers to these questions escape me. I can’t fault the person that writes celebrity gossip. In my other life as a ghostwriter for sites, I’ve written a huge number of articles about the woes of man boobs. I am also the queen of articles on premature ejaculation. My clients all think “I’m da’ guy!” That’s because I use a male moniker and they have no idea I’ve never experienced any problems to evoke such passion on the subject. All I know is that they pay me and I happily spend the money.
What types of article do I like to write? I love humor and making people laugh. I’m the woman with the loud voice on the bus telling self-deprecating stories just for a smile or snigger from the crowd. Telling funny stories was my job in the family, just as worrying was my oldest sister’s job. I try to mix humor into my how-to evergreen articles to make them more readable but sometimes it deters the avid craft enthusiast. One of my favorite articles, The Cycle of Life never left the launching pad of page views. This makes me question whether I’m in line with online funny. I get instant feedback when I’m talking. I find that people think some of my remarks are hilarious. Unfortunately, some of them weren’t meant to be funny but simply my insights to the topic at hand. It’s in those moments I understand, I’m not marching to the same drummer. It’s also what often gets me laughs in real life. Having no audience with which to react, is also what makes it difficult to write humor.
Is monetizing your writing wrong? I don’t think so but would love to hear your opinions. Should we write for page views? What articles have received the most for you and which duds do you, but nobody else, love? When is a writer a hack and when are they just smart business people? Are we compromising ourselves and is that really so bad? I’ve compromised myself for less.
I don’t try to kid myself. What I write is not art. I write many articles in the hope that it helps a person fix their toilet, gives information I think is important (Ah, but there we have the different drummer thing going on again.) or simply gives a smile. Some of the articles are a catharsis for me and some of them are just a way of postponing work I’m supposed to be doing. It all returns to the question of writing for profit as opposed to passion. Can we do both? Should there be another title, other than writer, for those that simply want to tell a story? Maybe today, I’ll just be a communicator.