Two Years On: What I Learned as a Vocal Writer
3 tips to help you reach your Vocal writing goals
I'm a serial blogger. I start a blog, write a handful of posts around that niche, and then abandon it when another idea hits. My writing lives across the Internet on Tumblr, LiveJournal, WordPress, and Squarespace. The random topics included vegetarianism, travel, music, and living the LA lifestyle. You name it, I probably wrote about it.
Until recently, I didn't know that you could make money from writing (other than being a journalist or freelance writer). Affiliate marketing wasn't in my vocabulary, and I had no idea sites like Vocal or Medium existed. I don't remember how I came across Vocal in January 2018, but I remember my eyes lighting up and being in awe of the fact that I could get paid for writing my silly little blog posts.
I didn't post much those first few months. The pennies I earned discouraged me from writing further. Here I thought it was this miracle platform that would generate a ton of money.
It turns out, I didn't know how to play the game.
Now, over two and a half years on the platform, I finally hit the payout threshold. I'm now a Vocal+ member, so the payout is lower than the non-member payout. But keep in mind, I've also paid out $149 in the last two years to be a member. So really, I'm out around $129.
What did I do to hit the threshold? Here's what I learned about writing on Vocal, and how you can apply it to your writing:
The more you post, the more eyes you have on your work, and the more you'll earn. You'll also get into a writing practice every day or week, and your content will continue to improve.
2020 was my most consistent year for a few reasons:
I had more time due to the pandemic lockdown in California
A lockdown and mandatory work from home eliminated my commute, and other routines, such as going to the gym, ended. Work was incredibly slow, and I spent most of my time reading and journaling my time in isolation. A writing habit developed and addicted, I started writing and publishing my articles.
I joined the new Vocal challenges
Vocal recently launched writing challenges, and what better incentive to write more than a monetary prize? Though I have yet to win, the challenges prompted me to write unique articles. I wrote about subjects I wouldn't tackle on my own, which made it fun, helped me brainstorm, and allowed me to practice writing for future client work.
I developed a daily writing practice
I started journaling at the beginning of the pandemic to capture the insanity of it and let out all the emotions I experienced. Little did I know it would develop into something so much more.
My full-time role relocated to another city and state due to the pandemic, and I decided to stay in LA. I wanted to pursue a new path and build my side hustle into a full-time gig. Content marketing and writing captured my attention, and I knew I needed to create a vast portfolio to catch potential employers' eyes. I now find new prompts daily, develop my skills through eCourses, and spend my evenings crafting the next article to publish. Consistently creating content means I'm posting more and thus reaching more eyes, and earning more in return.
Tip: Find a time of day, just 15-20 minutes, to develop a consistent writing practice. And keep an eye on those exciting challenge prompts.
Write for a Particular Audience
Two articles went relatively viral within the respective communities. The first article was about the cancellation of my favorite time-travel history show, Timeless. I wrote it in the heat of passion the night NBC announced the second cancellation, posted it to Twitter and went to bed. I woke up the next morning to tweets and retweets as it spread through the Timeless fandom, even reaching the writers and a few cast members. It's my most read and highest-earning article because I was 1. passionate about the topic, and 2. wrote it for a particular audience.
The second article was for another group, Caitriona Balfe's new book club. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience in the club and shared how joining changed my perspective. Again, I posted the article to Twitter, and book club members read and shared it. I also wrote this article with another audience in mind - people who want to make good, productive use of their time in quarantine. With that focus, it made Vocal Staff Picks, and the Vocal team shared it on their social media accounts.
Tip: Write content for a particular audience and offer them actional advice, create an emotional connection, or inspire them to take action.
Share on Social Media
My two higher-earning articles reached as many people as they did because I shared them on Twitter. I posted, used relevant fandom or group hashtags, and readers found them quickly.
Yet, other articles performed well without an obvious connection to fandoms or groups. A friend reposted two of my pieces about wellness, Gluten Free Vegan on a Budget, and Top 5 Tips for Managing Stress and Anxiety at Work, to her wellness business page. I piqued my colleagues' interest on Facebook in an article on how I manage my side hustle with a full-time job. I also create Pinterest graphics and post to relevant boards on my personal and business Pinterest accounts, directing Pinners to the vocal article page.
These posts all generated leads to the articles on Vocal, which lead to readers and in some instances, tips through the platform. Without social media, my posts would only have a fraction of the views.
Tip: Share your articles on as many platforms as are available to you, and make sure you use relevant hashtags.
With unemployment on the horizon, I plan to double my writing efforts to meet the threshold sooner. I'm planning consistent content, watching the Vocal Challenge page each week, writing for my audience, and sharing each article with the relevant audience as it's published.
I have my daily writing routine, and whether it's writing articles for my audience, for the challenges, or to let something off my chest, I'm putting the work in to improve my skills and content. To be successful in anything, you have to put the work in and make it a habit, and that's just what I'm doing.
Here's to the next $20!