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The best and worst online communities for writers and bloggers

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The major downside to Writer's Digest is their aggressive advertising. Writer's Digest is not merely a forum for aspiring writers, but a company that sells writing related tools, such as conferences, books and webinars. The community frequently complains in the discussion forums about the aggressive advertising, but Writer's Digest is deaf to the suggestions that their hard-sell advertising is more off-putting than effective.

The Bad: Xomba
Tiny community, you'll get a couple of initial responses to your articles at first and then it will all die down. As for driving traffic to your own website or blog, if no one's checking it out, then no one's around to click on your links. And forget about ever trying to make money from your articles. Xomba isn't even listed in Wikipedia.

The Bad: Zimbio
Unless your sole interest in life is to write about celebrities, don't waste your time. Enough said.

The bad: Squidoo
What a phenomenal waste of time! Firstly Squidoo claims to be "home to millions of pages of the best content, advice and recommendations online." That can only be a lie, as only a site that screens can claim to be "the best." On Squidoo anyone can publish anything. One recurring complaint is that, of all the communities, Squidoo generates the least hits. You are even supposed to be able to make Adsense revenue here, but that won't happen if your readership is zero.

The bad: Scribd
Scribd claims to be "the world's largest social reading and publishing company." But it is unclear why. Your content appears like a JPeg image of a word document, it's not even attractive to look at. Here too, there is no gatekeeper, absolutely anyone who can switch on a computer, can publish content to this site.

The Bad: Yelp
You give, they take. Yes, I know that yelp is a review site, but with millions of subscribers and no limits to how many friends you can acquire, Yelp is also an excellent source of eyes and ears, and a great place to show off your writing. If the readers like your style they will often tell you, and they might even click on your links. But here's the rub: in your reviews and even in your Yelp profile, you may not link to ANYTHING, lest god forbid, it might be self promoting.

To quote the tight-fisted jerks at Yelp: I'm writing to let you know that your account was flagged by the Yelp community, and our Support team has determined that there are promotional aspects to your account which currently violate our Terms of Service. Personal accounts cannot be used to promote another business, website or blog. As such, we'd greatly appreciate it if you could amend your profile headline, so that it no longer promotes your blog by Thursday 16th Sept '10, otherwise we may have to close your account.

Then close it, you mean bastards, there's only one of me, only 24 hours in a day and right now I don't have time to waste, writing reviews for you and getting nothing in return.

The Bad: Twitter
Everyone's heard the same song; if you have a website or blog, you must open a Twitter account. What good this does is unclear, though, as mentioned earlier, getting followers is crucial to your credibility as a writer.

The only way to really describe the Twitter experience is to imagine millions of individuals taking turns to run into a room, yell out a sentence and then run out again. No one is interested in what anyone else has to say. Sure you can get followers, but they aren't following you out of interest, they merely want you to follow them, and unlike Facebook's NetworkedBlogs, you'll gain nothing more from this pointless interchange.

In conclusion
Many online communities exist that promise overnight success and enhanced readership, but the reality is that no one website has the power to make you famous, not while they are making every one else famous at the same time. Even if you do well using these sites, it takes years of hard work and persistence.

Manage your expectations. Every site has its own agenda, so just get what you can out of it, but don't assume that it holds the key to your dreams. It does not.

Meantime sign up to Google Adsense. Do this before joining any online communities and publishing your work, then as soon as you get your Adsense ID, you'll be ready to not just enhance your readership, but also earn revenue on the side. Again this does not happen overnight. Think about it; if it's hard to get people to read your content, imagine how much harder it will be to get them to click on your ads. Keep your day jobs people, the whole Adsense business is a fun cherry on the cake, but you will most likely earn in cents, not dollars and it certainly won't pay the rent.

Most importantly, always remember to include backlinks to your own website, whether in your profile, in the discussion forum or within your published content. Don't spam though. Engage the community. However do not even bother to sign up to any website or community that does not allow you to post links. Life is too short!

Happy writing everyone, and don't let anyone stop you from pursuing your dreams .

AnnabelleRC
http://www.ocdridiculouslife.com/index.html

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