May 14, 2008

Writing for other blogs

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I’ve been investigating other blogging opportunities (see the job board at ProBlogger.net for an example of the available jobs). I don’t have a lot of spare time, but I’m a good writer with a decent portfolio. I’ve managed to keep this blog for four years–something I wasn’t sure I’d be able to keep up. (Of course writing on a blog like this doesn’t create the best quality of writing samples either, if you are writing about day-to-day things.)

Any who, one of the jobs on the blog was an ad for writers for a pet-centric web site, petlovr.com. The job description included an interest in writers willing to author stories about horses. The horse-specific site is HorseLvr.com. The most recent post I could find was from 2007. Definitely a need for writers on that blog.

I’m not a breeder or a trainer, but I’ve had horses all of my life. My current mare is insulin resistant (more commonly referred to as equine metabolic syndrome) so I have some familiarity with symptoms, treatment, and management for this condition. My real interests lie in the history of the horse (particularly in ancient Rome and Gaul), religious iconography related to the horse in that same time period, ancient and modern tack (and how similar it is!), and how modern day breeds compare to the ones used by Roman or Gallic cavalry. I can write about other topics, too, but those are the topics that come to mind.

I read through some of the posts and the writing wasn’t bad, but most of the articles had very few citations to backup assertions. The researcher in me cringed. When I sit down to write an article, I’m very careful about my citations. In particular, the reliability and quality of the citations. In an ideal world, you can’t rely on only one source for an entire article’s content (i.e., Wikipedia).

Okay, so I might have interest and a slew of article ideas: basics for lunging, Roman cavalry equipment, snaffle bits ancient and modern, how the bit interacts with a horse’s mouth (anatomy based), insulin resistance, and quite a few others. Plus profiles of breeders, equestrians and average people doing things with their horses. Overcoming fear when you lose confidence. All reasonable topics, and I’ve recently developed a good network in NC for interview candidates, too.

I want to research Petlovr’s other sites and the writing quality is okay. The HorseLovr.com web site is mostly ads before you get to content. Any content produced for the site is their exclusive content for a year. It isn’t that different from a publisher buying first North American serial rights. I couldn’t post anything I wrote for them here. I could write the article on this site, send a blurb to the other blog, and then link the content to an article here (no renumeration). The payment for a 1000 word article is $15.

The tech writer in me thinks okay I might spend 5-6 or more hours researching and writing the article. Quite likely longer than that editing and checking facts. So my payment comes down to $2/hour. It’s better than nothing, plus it gets me a byline on a site — and builds my publication credits.

I’m not sure how writing for a blog site compares with writing for a regular horse magazine (and how it effects my credibility as an author). Definitely something to think about. The time commitment for some of the articles varies. The research-intensive ones will take considerably longer. The history of the Arabian horse in Roman times I’ve considered writing for a breed journal like the Arabian Horse Times.

The freelancer in me is chanting “selective marketing:” send the less intensive articles to the blog and the more involved articles to a publication.

The freelancer in me also thinks that I shouldn’t post this if I’m considering applying for the position.

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