With open arms Vocal is there welcoming writers of all sorts and talents to come aboard their quality writing platform.
I found those welcoming arms about a year ago, yet it has taken me some time to appreciate what I've found. A day job, college, and married life do take time and effort away from the writing I love to do.
Like many writers here, I have been around the online writing scene for awhile (9 years), trying to find the right content strategy between the main writing platforms and our blogs. So, where does Vocal fit in this mix?
There are many variables included in that answer and not every answer will be the same, yet I don't want to pass up this opportunity, nor do I want to use it as a syndication strategy.
The Syndication Factor
The first four articles I've written here have also been used elsewhere, yet I did the entire syndication thing wrong. We learn along the way, and only recently did I learn the importance of a canonical link. Essentially, this means you should either write each article or piece exclusively for that specific platform, or you should ensure there is a canonical link placed in every platform you syndicate to -- otherwise, search engines will be angry and not index the original content.
This has to do with Vocal because by syndicating those articles here, I took away the chance for the original articles to be indexed on my blog, Medium, or anywhere. My entire syndication strategy was a mess.
Oh well, the important part is getting it right from now on, or at least doing the best we can in this ever-changing internet world. We are writers, not tech gurus (at least not most of us).
While Vocal doesn't automatically include a canonical link with an import feature like Medium does, this is because they have a different vision for their site and content -- I realize they used to not allow syndicated content.
Maybe we get some views from this syndicated content and make money, but it may harm the chances of it showing up in search engines. For some articles that wouldn't appeal to search engines and would appeal more to the in-house audience, this isn't such a big deal; for other articles that have the potential to show up in organic search, it may harm its chances.
The best way to approach Vocal, in my opinion, is to write exclusive articles for the platform. I read an article from a Medium writer who plans to write here first and then import the articles over to Medium. This way, he can have the canonical link at Medium (pointing back to Vocal as the original content) and still reach the paying in-house audience there, while possibly showing up in the search engines for his articles here, as Vocal pays for each view whether the reader is a paying member or not.
See, the puzzle is sort of complex, but we might just be getting somewhere here.
The Unique Aspects of Vocal
Medium and Voice are different types of platforms, which I think is a good thing. I like both platforms for different reasons. For instance, I like that Medium allows you to see each writer's followers, yet I also like how Vocal doesn't.
We can still see how many subscribers we have, yet other people can't -- this means people won't simply judge you on how many followers you have, I love this, as that type of measurement doesn't always indicate quality writing. Also, not having visible subsciber counts doesn't promote that kind of dominating calculating behavior.
Vocal, in my opinion, is more of a creative space. It is like Etsy (Vocal) vs. eBay (Medium). While there are business articles here, it is more so a place for creatives; poetry, short stories, eccentrics, and artists are here showcasing their talent through words and pictures.
I would compare HubPages too, as I'm a long-time hubber, yet the site doesn't allow comments anymore and has let advertisments run roughshod over their creators' work.
The major con at Vocal is they have a #38k Alexa world ranking while Medium is around #100. The amazing thing is how often Medium and Vocal are compared, even with this stark contrast in ranking!
This means writers like Vocal and what it is trying to do.
Membership and the Future of Vocal
The monthly subscription for a pro membership at Vocal is higher than most writers want to pay, yet they do offer bonuses and higher pay for views. I'm still a free member, making only 7 cents in my first year (plus the $10 start bonus), but I would consider converting if my content gets some traction.
One of the pros is allowing non-members to see as many stories as they like and paying the writers for each view whether they are members or not. I think this is probably what writers like the most about Vocal. Without ads though, this means they need writers to subscribe and become pro members to make it work.
The future of Vocal will depend on this precarious balance between having enough subscribers and having enough visitors. This will depend on many factors, including the writers themselves believing in the concept and working diligently to build it up.
I write for my own blogs, Medium, HubPages, and here now, so I won't be making Vocal my all in all, yet I do want to make it part of my online writing strategy by writing exclusive content just for this site.
Vocal is a good place to find other writers, read interesting pieces, and learn new things from people around the world. There is a creative freedom here that isn't on Medium -- the writers aren't solely concerned with who is who and how many followers they have. This is one of the best parts about Vocal for me.
How will Vocal do in the next few years? I'm looking forward to finding out. For my part, I will write exclusive content and continue to probe the creative spirit here, in order to write accordingly. Blessings in your efforts and thanks for coming by.