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Starting Strong on Vocal

by Maria Calderoni about a year ago in how to
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Everything I Wished I had Known When I was a Vocal Newbie

Starting Strong on Vocal
Photo by Mounzer Awad on Unsplash

Welcome writer. I'm glad you have joined us. Here are 11 things I wish I had known out the gate when I first started my Vocal Journey….

You know that teacher who is just a few steps ahead bringing you along and sharing everything they know? Their enthusiasm is contagious as they eagerly impart their own newfound knowledge or skill. Rather than hovering high above you academically and acting aloof and better-than everyone else, this teacher is like a beloved older sibling who eagerly wants you to reach their level and beyond. Another draw to this teacher is their fresh perspective. The information has not had time to become stale or rote or boring. They share precisely just the details that someone following close behind them will need to succeed. And best of all, they often feel very approachable. THIS is the kind of teacher I aspire to be.

“I am a teacher and the reason I’m a teacher is because I’m learning as hard as I can. I’m not any different than anybody else. I am searching and having some success finding answers.” Andy Andrews

This quote from one of my very favorite authors embodies what I aspire to.

By Annie Spratt on Unsplash

My foray into Vocal.Media is also relatively new. My experience as a writer however is vast. The fact that you are reading this article, cues me to suspect that you are also new here. Please allow me to share some basics to help you ease gracefully into this amazing community.

11 things I Wish I had known as a Vocal Newbie:

1. Explore the Communities

Each community has a distinct flavor and while you can certainly write content for a variety of communities or categories, spending time reading and exploring will help you choose what to write and where to share it.

2. You can edit your stories

Even after you have submitted a story and it has been published, editing is still an option. The process is slightly cumbersome, so I strongly suggest you take the time prior to hitting submit, to carefully proofread. Reading your story twice out loud before you submit is a great strategy to ensure clarity and flow. A second set of eyes can also be invaluable. Either a volunteer or paid proofreader or editor can be a writer’s best friend.

Here are the steps to edit a story:

  • Choose Support on the bottom page menu.
  • Click the “Submit Request” button in the upper right hand corner
  • Share the details of your request including the name and or link of your story which you wish to edit.
  • Submit and wait. A Vocal representative will change your story to a draft and send you an email when it is ready for your changes.

3. Digital Images

Adding images to your writing is easier than you might think. It took me several searches to figure this out. Here is the secret. When you are typing in the Vocal editor, after you hit enter a light plus sign will appear. Click there and you will be given the option of uploading one of your own images or choosing from the many available through the site.

Here's the trick I had to figure out: If you create your document somewhere else and simply paste it into the Vocal editor the plus sign doesn’t always show up. Go to the paragraph just above where you want the image. Backspace a few characters, immediately retyping them and hit enter. The plus sign should pop right up for you!

Adding images gives interest to your piece and breaks up large text blocks.

4. Vocal Thrives with Team Players

This platform is created to connect creators. It is a safe space to put your writing out there and receive feedback in the form of hearts, tips, bonuses and possibly challenge wins. The more you give, ideally, the more you will get back. The tricky part here however, is to give genuinely and not simply with the motive to receive. When you read a story, give them a heart, (unless you really truly didn’t like it.) If you particularly enjoy a story or find it touching consider leaving a tip. What a wonderful way to encourage a fellow writer. I can tell you, every time I receive a tip I feel a small sense of purpose and accomplishment like I am doing what I am supposed to be doing and the universe is receiving my creations positively. (Isn’t that what we all really want as writers?)

May I encourage you to consider budgeting a monthly amount that you will tip. Maybe it will be $1.00 per month. Maybe it will be $20. Or more …. Whatever it is, find the stories that really move you and let that author know. If we all share the love in this way, it will make each of us better.

A word on bonuses. Vocal looks for certain behaviors and will reward you for them with small bonuses. I was blessed with three unexpected bonuses during my first 2 weeks. They came for reading and liking other people’s stories, for publishing 5 stories and for having a story in the top stories. I won’t list all the available bonuses, (I don’t even know them all) but suffice it to say, if you are doing good in the community, they notice and will thank you.

5. You may submit different versions of the same story

You may offer multiple takes of a story to different communities or even the same community. I had a story I was very proud of but the word count was too long for a challenge. I cut it down for the challenge and then prepared the full length for a general submission.

6. Challenges

Enter the Challenges! Writing is the best way to hone your skills. Challenges are so named because they will provide you with opportunities to stretch your style and knowledge base. Originality is an important criteria in all the challenges, so use your imagination and have fun.

7. Vocal Plus

Vocal offers a free account. "Plus" gives you a few worthy advantages. First of all, it allows you to enter Challenges designed only for plus members. Second, you will be paid a greater amount per 1000 reads as a Plus member. $6.00 vs. $3.80 which can add up if you get lots of reads. Third, the withdrawal threshold is $20 instead of $35 and the service fee for tips you receive is much lower. If you are serious about writing and want to get your content out there, plus is worth it.

8. Publishing

Sometimes it takes a while for a story to be published. Be patient, Hitting submit the same day a challenge is ending may slow down how quickly your story is published. Be patient. The Vocal team is reading as quickly as they can.

If your story does not meet the requirements or the community guidelines you will receive a nice email explaining the discrepancy and your story will be put back into your drafts folder so you may remedy the problem and resubmit it.

9. The Vocal Support team is available by email to answer questions

It has been my personal experience that the Vocal team is happy and obliging to respond to my newbie email questions. Don’t hesitate to reach out to them.

10. Pen Name

You may write under a pseudonym. It may make sharing your stories on your personal social media a bit confusing but it is certainly an option.

11. Promotion

You are encouraged to promote your stories on social media. Sharing with your personal audience will increase your reads and can even be a tie breaking point in challenges if you have significantly more reads than the competing piece.

Posting links outside of Vocal is easy. Go to the story you wish to share and make sure you are on the final story page. When you first click on the story it will take you to a page that says “Published. View Post” click here highlighting the link and copying it. Then simply paste it into your social media post.

Hint: Facebook doesn’t allow shared posts to be seen by many users if they are new posts. I have had much more success with making a post about my story, with an image and then putting the link into the first comment.

By Alexis Brown on Unsplash

Another great way to promote your stories and receive honest feedback is by joining Vocal groups on Facebook. In these groups people offer support, critique, encouragement and best of all…. Reads. It is a great place to post a link to your recent masterpiece so group members may read it.

Here are three Vocal groups on Facebook that I recommend:

Vocal Media Creators Hub

This group is quite active and encourages story sharing and support of members

Vocal Media Article Promotion

This is a newer group with the same basic mission

Vocal Media Creators Support Community

This is the brand new group I started as a result of writing this article. As of the publication date there is one member and I am excited to have you as a founding member. My goal is to encourage writers through reads, hearts, tips and genuine feedback.

My final bit of advice to you as a newbie is to write, write, write and also to keep reading. The best writers were usually prolific readers first.

Please let me know if you found this helpful by clicking the heart. Of course, tips are also always a blessing.

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About the author

Maria Calderoni

Born a lover of stories. I love to read, write and tell them. Tales of inspiration, resilience and struggle.

A life long learner, I enjoy nothing more than sharing interesting and useful things I have learned so far.

Please join me.

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