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A Snapshot of My First Vocal Withdrawal

by Laquesha Bailey about a month ago in advice

What I've Learned From Writing on Vocal For Two Months

I published my first Vocal article on December 28th, 2020. Having discovered Vocal through an advertisement on Facebook, and after mulling it over for some time, I finally plucked up the courage to submit my first article entitled "How To Make New Year's Resolutions That'll Stick."Marketed as advice for others on how to craft successful New Year's Resolutions, the story was essentially a plan and a promise to myself. I was thinking out loud. 2020 as a concept was uniquely terrible for me as I'm sure it was for many others. I was thousands of miles away from my family, who I hadn't seen in over a year. I made the decision a few months earlier not to return home for Christmas because of how expensive plane tickets to the Caribbean are around that period, thinking that I'd just go home and spend the summer.

School transitioned to a virtual format and coincided with my roommates' return home. The entire province was in lockdown, everything was closed, and I spent about five months completely and utterly alone, trapped within my own mind. Anxiety has always been an important player in my mental repertoire, but only with the onset of this pandemic did it find company in its good friend, depression. I cried so much and burrowed deep within myself. I also gained around 20 pounds throughout this period. I didn't say anything, not giving voice to my concerns because they seemed so silly at the time. Here I was feeling sorry for myself because I couldn't see my family while others were DYING. My voice throughout this period was unused, unheard and self-silenced. In a somewhat ironic event, I rounded out the year by discovering a content-sharing platform entitled Vocal. And here I am, two and a half months later, making my first withdrawal from my Wallet.

Although the amount I'm withdrawing currently is $1073.75, I have earned a total of $1673.75 since joining Vocal in December. The present withdrawal figure reflects a $1000 win from the In The Stars challenge, plus $48.75 from reads and $25 from Vocal Bonuses. I am so incredibly grateful for the platform that Vocal has created here that allows me to earn money doing something that I love. Writing. Sharing my thoughts on various topics with other people. Jotting down my stream of consciousness. When I joined the platform, I didn't think I'd earn $10, much less $1,000. Since that very first article two months ago, I have come a long way, so I thought I'd reflect on some of that today and share some lessons that I've learned.

1. Write With Passion

I know that a million and one articles are floating around the web somewhere preaching about the merits of finding a niche and sticking with it. I disagree. Wholeheartedly. I've published 35 stories on Vocal on a host of different topics, from poorly-conceived short stories to rants about terrible TV to thought pieces on jealousy in the writing realm to a fluff piece in which I fangirl about the perfection that is Avatar The Last Airbender. I'm a person with varied interests, and my content reflects that. Most of the time, the stories I post on Vocal are ideas that randomly popped into my head, usually while I'm showering. I don't know what it is, but the hot water just does something to the brain. It's where the best ideas are born.

More often than not, these ideas, even if they don't fall within my "niche," are the ones that I'm most proud of and the ones that are most read. Case in point, since I've been on Vocal, I've had ten articles picked as Top Stories.

They're not a cohesive bunch. There's no underlying theme. Typically, I become impassioned by a thought, I can't stop turning it over in my head, and then I share it. I guess the prime undercurrent, then, is passion. Don't limit yourself to only writing about one topic. Write about whatever the hell you want but do so with passion.

2. Numbers Matter, But Only Sometimes

I'm not going to lie and say that stats don't matter or that you shouldn't be concerned with the number of people reading your content. We write to be read, and that feedback (both negative and positive) helps us grow as writers. The fact that we can earn money as a result of that? Icing on the cake. The qualifier "sometimes" is meant to convey the fact that they don't matter in every instance. I'll admit, I'm guilty of staying up until 10 PM EST when my stats page usually refreshes to see how my likes and views have changed in the 24 hours since my last check. Lately, this compulsive need to worry after every like and view has had a downward push on my mental health, so I've been trying to avoid my stats page and space out the number of times I'm checking that page throughout the week. I even wrote an entire article about that, which you can find here.

The day-to-day jumps in views don't provide much meaningful information. Better and more reliable data is a snapshot of stat trends over an extended period, maybe two weeks or a month. Doing so allows you to make informed decisions about promotion for your posts AND stops the inevitable derailing of your creative juices that comes from being stat-led. By this, I mean, seeing the views, you may feel compelled to write things, not based on your interest or passion for them, but based on what you THINK receives the most views. This is not necessarily a terrible thing, but it can have the potential to suck a lot of the joy out of writing.

3. Enter The Challenge Lottery

Since joining Vocal, I've entered 12 challenges and have placed in 2 of them, winning $1,500.

That's a success rate of 16.6%, which isn't overwhelmingly high or anything but still 16.6% higher than it would have been if I had not entered. I've quoted this quite a few times in my stories already, but I think it's worth a repeat here. Growing up, my mom would always say to me when I questioned her purchase of lottery tickets: you can't win if you don't have a ticket. Similarly, you can't possibly expect to win a challenge if you don't enter them in the first place. Vocal challenges, to me, are more than just a means to win money; they're a way of stretching yourself as a writer and trying things you never in a million years would've tried. I'm not a fiction writer. I'm especially terrible at it and haven't attempted to write fiction since I was 13 years old, writing Twilight fanfiction on Wattpad. Since joining Vocal two months ago, I have written three (cringe-worthy) short stories that I'm quite proud of, the latest of which you can read here. Fair warning, though: it's pretty bad.

Vocal challenges have also incentivized me to write about music, TV, my hometown and even a story about astrology that won me $1,000. And I don't even believe in Astrology! So my advice here, to wrap up this long-winded point, is even if you don't think you're going to win, join challenges anyway. For one, you very well might win, and even if you don't, you'll learn something.

4. Quality Over Quantity

I’ve managed to pop out 35 stories since I joined Vocal, an average of 3 stories per week. Some I’m more proud of than others. You may feel compelled to pump out a post a day on this platform to be successful and many people do, but I would caution against it. That’s a sure-fire way to burn out. Like a flame, you’ll burn intensely, brightly and for a very short time. I believe there’s merit in writing every day to hone your skills and improve as a writer. Still, in my opinion, daily posting tends to have a simultaneous downward push on your writing quality while incrementally elevating your stress levels. Instead, aim for quality over quantity. Focus your energy on writing high-quality posts that have meaning. Yes, this may mean that you don't post as frequently, but trust me, the hard work shines through in your writing and will pay off. Prioritize quality over quantity.

5. A Picture is Worth 600 Words (And So Is A Title)

My absolute favourite part of writing on Vocal is looking (and sometimes creating) a stunning, eye-catching image to go along with my story. Even more critical is crafting a title that simultaneously captures your work's essence and doesn't give too much away. I wrote a community post on Facebook recently about this topic, and overwhelmingly other creators agreed that they also spend an inordinate amount of time thinking before landing on a title they enjoy.

Rich media and catchy titles are of paramount importance to drawing an audience in to read your work. Here's an excellent resource on the places you can find free, beautiful media to use throughout your stories. If the title or lead picture of a story isn't captivating, the chances of me clicking on it are diminished by at least 50%. Endeavour to incorporate images and other forms of media throughout your work. Remember: a picture is worth about 600 words (and so is an incredible title).

6. Get Involved With Other Creators

The thing that sets Vocal apart from other content-sharing websites (for me, at least) is the overwhelming supportive environment of its community. There are three main Vocal Facebook groups: Vocal Creators Saloon, The Vocal Creators Lounge and Vocal Media Creators Hub. Vocal Creators Saloon is the newest of the bunch, and it's by far my favourite. You can share your work with other creators and pose questions, respond to writing prompts and receive constructive feedback on your writing. Created by longtime Vocal writer Teisha LeShea, it is a safe space for creators to interact, get to know one another and improve their writing.

I'm an active member of all three groups. I find that they have motivated me to continue writing on Vocal, and I have had the opportunity to meet some awesome people and discover some incredibly talented writers. Being involved in the Vocal Community can help you feel like you are part of something bigger than yourself and reduce the vibe that you're just writing into the void. These interactive groups reveal that there are actual human beings behind the creator profiles. So get involved if you aren't already!

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At the risk of coming across as overly dramatic, discovering Vocal by chance last December has been life-changing for me. Never in a trillion years did I think I would be able to make money from writing. Never in a trillion years did I think I would fall back in love with writing after abandoning the craft many years earlier. I am so thrilled to continue to share my work on this platform. It's been an amazing two and a half months. Here's to many, many more.

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Laquesha Bailey
Laquesha Bailey
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Laquesha Bailey

22 years old literally, about 87 at heart. I write about self care, university life, money, music, books and whatever else that piques my interest.

@laqueshabailey

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