After reading a blog posting from Tom Ipri, I decided to look back at my accomplishments this year as a writer. By looking back, I hope to identify areas that need improvement, find areas that were successful and that should be explored further and come up with a blueprint for what I hope to achieve in 2014.
At the beginning of the year I was somewhat in autopilot mode writing columns for Examiner.com. I write about travel, horror films and heavy metal, with travel being my signature topic. It was difficult to devote time to writing, especially since since part of the year I was preparing to move and needed time to pack up and organize. Other times I was just occupied with work and other concerns. The expectation when writing for Examiner.com is that you produce at least one article a month between all of your titles, which is by no means a difficult task yet I was still unable to achieve.
Throughout the year I have been producing articles closer to once every two months, at times nearing the cutoff point where I would no longer be able to write for the site. And for a so-called “travel writer” I had been writing mostly about horror movies. Some of my articles this year I am happy with, but some of them were written just to avoid losing my Examiner.com titles. It just seemed like every time I wanted to write something I was just too tired or unfocused to actually finish.
Not surprising I have made almost nothing this year from Examiner.com, as I believe their algorithms reward more regular writers. Also, I did not make a huge effort in promoting my writing, since a lot of it I was only somewhat happy with.
Around my birthday in August I decided it was time for a change. I created my writing blog SEATravelZombie (now ErikTomrenWrites) and have been writing regularly ever since. It’s been a lot of work setting up the website, and it’s still far from done, but the new site lets me publish the type of content I want in the format I want. Thankfully, a good friend of mine helped me with the initial setup of the site, as the technical details were a little daunting to me.
Although the site itself is created through WordPress, I have paid hosting through GoDaddy. This means that I am able to monetize the site through programs such as Amazon Associates, Google AdSense and other paid advertisements. If I’m going to put in the work to create unique content, then there should be at least the prospect of making some money along the way, even if the money just covers hosting costs.
Once I got the new site up and running I was able to diversity the content fairly quickly, including a number of local travel articles, several grunge rock pieces, a gothic country review, several photo-oriented posts and a guest blog by my brother. I am slowly increasing my readership by sharing articles on social media sites such as Facebook, StumbleUpon (now defunct) and Pinterest. Additionally, I created a separate Facebook fan page for SEATravelZombie (now ErikTomrenWrites) and I have 55 “likes” in just a couple weeks.
I have been following the site’s progress through Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools. Below is a screenshot of my Google web traffic in the U.S. from August up until today. Any area in blue has at least 1 reader, with darker shades of blue indicating higher readership. There are still a few states left for me to reach, in the Deep South, the Midwest, and parts of the Northeast. I’m not sure how much can be concluded from this pattern, since my content so far is heavily slanted towards the Pacific Northwest, but it is an interesting pattern.
Internationally, I have managed to find readers in most of Europe and parts of Asia. I do not yet have any readers in China, the Middle Eastern countries, most of Africa and a good part of South America.
Traffic for the new site has been light, with a few peaks along the way. One positive is that even on light traffic days the number of visitors to the site has been growing over time. Now a light traffic day could be around 10 visitors, with heavy traffic days approaching 100 visitors. Traffic is coming heavily from social media shares, but search engine visibility seems to be improving. I have been having much more luck with StumbleUpon shares. StumbleUpon does seem to reward hosted websites more than content sites such as Examiner.com, Yahoo! Contributor Network and others.
Between continuing work on my website and maintaining (and improving) my long-term relationship with Examiner.com I am optimistic for 2014. Expect a new post shortly indicating more in detail of what I hope for in 2014.
In the meantime, here is a full listing of all of my articles produced in 2013. (Note: All linked articles have since been re-published on ErikTomrenWrites).
- Welcome to SEATravelZombie! (published Aug. 10, 2013 – not currently online).
- Downtown to West Seattle (Alki Beach) on the Water Taxi (published Aug. 12, 2013).
- Visiting Honningsvåg on the Hurtigruten (published Aug. 14, 2013).
- Brunch at Salty’s on Alki Beach (published Aug. 18, 2013).
- Mt. Rainier photos taken from Southwest Airlines flight (published Aug. 25, 2013 – not currently online).
- Visiting Mendenhall while on layover at Juneau Airport (published Oct. 6, 2013).
- Sons of Perdition – Trinity (Review) (published Nov. 8, 2013).
- EMP Museum’s ‘Nirvana: Taking Punk To The Masses’ (published Dec. 16, 2013).
- Review: Soundgarden – ‘Screaming Life/Fopp’ reissue (published Dec. 27, 2013).
- REVIEW: Adam Carolla’s Red and White Mangria (published Dec. 28, 2013).
- ‘Mega Piranha’ – so bad it’s good? (published Mar. 3, 2013).
- Black Sabbath’s ‘God Is Dead?’ an instant classic (published May 1, 2013 – not currently online).
- Chucky returns in ‘Curse of Chucky’, direct to Blu-ray/DVD (published July 28, 2013 – not currently online).
- ‘Sharknado’ feeding frenzy leads to Aug. 2 theatrical release (published July 31, 2013 – not currently online).
- 2002 film ‘They’ explores night terrors (published Sept. 29, 2013).
- EMP Museum succeeds with ‘Can’t Look Away: The Lure of Horror Film’ (published Nov. 24, 2013).
A Final Note: If this post seems negative toward Examiner.com, it is not meant to be. I have been with Examiner.com since July of 2011 and I have every intention of continuing to write for them. My time with Examiner.com has helped me develop the necessary skills and techniques necessary for web writing, everything from developing my writing style, to learning about social media, to sizing photos for publication, to embedding YouTube videos, and more.
I’ve also made a couple hundred dollars writing for them. In short, without writing for Examiner.com I would never have had the skills, motivation, confidence or interest in taking on the enormous project of creating a new website. If you are interested in web writing in general, but don’t know where to start, I highly recommend writing for Examiner.com. [UPDATE: Examiner.com shut down entirely on July 10, 2016. For an article about the history and final days of Examiner.com see this piece from the Denver Business Journal.]
For more political content and opinion pieces, please see the following:
- Barack Obama: Dreams from My Father (review)
- Bob Woodward ‘Plan of Attack’ (book review)
- Coffee Corporations Should Nix Tip Jars
- COVID-19 Diaries: Lessons from Seattle
- George W. Bush: A Uniter, Not A Divider
- How 9/11 Brought People Together, at Least for a Short Time
- Presidency Dreaming: Third Parties Need To Sober Up and Face Reality
- Rethinking the Penny
- Review of POP! by Sam Horn
- Travel Horror Story: 5 Hours on the Tarmac
- 6 Tips for Becoming a Better Writer
(Featured photo is the Seattle Great Wheel, located at Pier 57 in downtown Seattle). For more information about the Seattle Great Wheel, please see Seattle Great Wheel largest Ferris wheel on the West Coast.
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