What is online writing?
It usually means that any text you create, you immediately publish online.
People will read your writing on a computer, a phone, a tablet or any other similar digital device with a screen.
It is sometimes known as digital writing.
Online writing can come in many forms. It can include writing blog posts, articles, reviews, messages, email campaigns, Tweeting, as well as posting comments on websites and social media networks like Facebook.
As a generalisation, you make your writing available for free and openly on the Internet. It is often called online publishing.
If you are reading this article, you are a writer, and you are looking for options.
Change, change and more change
All facets of writing and publishing are changing at a rapid pace.
Printed books have now become electronic pdf files, and ebooks face continual uncertainty.
Online ebook stores are facing headwinds. Some of the most prominent players such as Sony and Microsoft, have closed up shop.
Digital libraries are replacing community libraries.
It is not only self-publishers who encounter rapid changes.
Traditional publishers have many challenges too. Large book, magazine and newspaper publishers are all feeling their way because of the effects of online publishing.
There is only one fact that remains true. It is that nothing will be the same tomorrow as it is today in publishing.
How can a writer survive in a sea of change?
Take ownership of your writing
If you are writing books and ebooks, who owns your writing?
Most likely, online retailers such as Amazon. After publishing, you wait and hope that Amazon will look after you with its algorithms and bring in book buyers.
If it happens, you will receive around $2.00 to $3.00 or so for each sale.
But your book is an electronic file, and it is open to being copied, pirated or counterfeited.
Sure, DRM (Digital rights management) is supposed to protect you and your retailer. But in the real world, DRM causes more problems than it solves. Readers can lose all of their ebooks, while a rank amateur can crack and remove DRM.
It makes slaving away for months writing and self-publishing a 100,000-word novel a risky venture.
When you take the traditional route to publishing, you are in a better position. But you will sign away your book rights, and your book will only stay in print as long as it sells. After that, it’s gone forever.
If you are thinking about using a vanity or small press publisher, well, know that you are taking a significant risk with your book rights.
But what would happen if you decided to keep your rights and publish your book in online chapters? It is easy to set up a website or blog if you want to take full control over your writing.
But will anyone read it?
With a little help from SEO (search engine optimization), yes. You will get readers.
So, I give my writing away for free. Are you crazy?
Yes, you publish your writing for free. But I am not crazy.
All you have to do is look at the alternatives for making money from your writing.
When you publish online on your blog, you can use pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. An even better alternative is to use affiliate marketing.
Both of these income streams are relatively easy to set up, and you can start earning quite quickly.
In round figures, one PPC click pays around $1.00 to $1.50. That is not dissimilar to earnings for one ebook sale on Amazon.
For affiliate marketing, it depends on the product. Affiliate fees can start at a few dollars and go up to $100 per sale. If you use Amazon Associates, your earnings can range from a few cents to $10.00 or 20.00 for each purchase.
You can also offer your ebooks as a free download from your blog. Yes, you are giving away your ebooks, but you can add links within an ebook that can help promote your blog or even your affiliate links.
While this approach works best for non-fiction, it can also work for fiction.
Extend your writing to attract income
Without a doubt, blog posts and online articles are where the money is.
Yes, you can use your books to your advantage. But that will be only one small part of your blog, which is your online writing business.
Traffic is king when it comes to making money online, and nothing attracts traffic more than a fantastic blog post or article.
You can target your writing to suit your desired result. If you are using an affiliate link for fashion accessories, you can fine-tune your text to attract readers interested in your product or products.
It works similarly with online advertising. Ads will be displayed in your blog post that are relevant to your article’s topic.
Because you are the publisher, you can choose what and when you publish. You can accept guest writers, or even pay writers to write content for you.
On the other side of the coin, you can write and sell content to other sites.
When you are the boss, and in control of your writing, the possibilities are almost endless.
Mix and match and adapt your writing
Nothing stays the same, so the future for a writer is to adjust at each turn as change happens.
No one thought that Google+ would close down so suddenly, or that Microsoft would close its ebook store. No one saw the closure of StumbleUpon coming. No one foresaw the privacy concerns that now affect Facebook and how it limits your use of its API services.
There is no certainty online today, so having all your eggs in one basket is a sure recipe for disaster.
The best way to protect your writing and your income is to take control by setting up your own publishing business. Then you can decide how, where and when you distribute or sell your work.
Sure, you can still list your books on Amazon and wait for sales to arrive. But as long as you are not enrolled in Amazon KDP Select, and have not given exclusivity to Amazon, you are free to do whatever you want with your books.
At worst, it is only a 90-day agreement. So if you are enrolled, you can take your ebooks out quite quickly. You are then free to do as you please.
Can I make an income?
Yes, you definitely can. In my case, I decided to take full control of my writing some years ago now.
My income from online writing is now miles and miles ahead of my book royalties. Yes, there are costs involved, but they are extremely low when compared to the annual return.
You will need a self-hosted WordPress blog, which all up costs less than $200 per year. If you are not using a premium online grammar tool, then, depending on your choice, it will range from $60 to $120 per year for a licence.
While not 100% necessary, you might also look at a top level distraction-free writing program such as Scrivener.
When you are more advanced, you could look at professional SEO software to help you get more traffic. But it is quite expensive, so it is better to wait until your income is enough to take the step.
Taking control of your online publishing is not for every writer. For some, they are content to take their chances with Amazon.
But if you are a writer who has a little entrepreneurial zeal, then there are many opportunities for you. The Internet is a huge place, so there are always new opportunities to find and develop.
All you need is the motivation to look and discover what might work for you.
Related reading: How To Be An Independent Publisher