Smoph's musings

Just my thoughts on the world

Are third-party sites helpful for writers?

Hoping to grow awareness of my work, I’ve been challenging myself with my writing by getting involved with weekly challenges at two places on the internet.

The first, and by far the most successful at generating traffic to the blog, has been at writer Chuck Wendig’s page, terrible minds. Chuck is a funny, self-effacing kind of guy and I do read more than just the weekly challenges when I am there. Given that most of people there are fans and many also aspiring writers themselves, it’s a great and supportive atmosphere. It works for Chuck too; I have bought a book to read (on my to-read list currently). You post the link, and people come directly to your blog, and it does seem to translate to viewing other posts.

I have experience with another weekly challenge site. If you head to Smoph Writes and click on the weekend writer tags, you’ll see a few stories. It generated a bit of traffic to my blog too, from people involved in the group.

The one drawback (and it’s terrible! *end sarcasm*) is that you end up reading many other people’s works. This can be good if you’ve got the time, and if you’re reading work more polished than your own, or with better structure. Or, you know, broadening your reading scope!

The other option I have been dabbling with is a third-party hosted site, Readwave. It’s pretty to look at, as you add images in for your stories, and has a large pool of writers and, crucially, readers. There are weekly challenges, and there are a small community of readers who are officials of Readwave that seem to read every post. People are friendly and generally constructive with their criticism. There’s an algorithm that calculates read time per 100 words or so, so if you’re reading a story, you know how much commitment there is. So far I have 5 pieces on the Readwave site.

Readwave

There have been a few changes of late that I have thought of disappointing. First, the management are only displaying stories of 3 minutes reading time or less (this is, I guess, around 800 words maximum, since this is what challenges are now set at) on the front page under the Trending (popular) stories. This means it’s not really short stories, more flash fiction, which allows less skill growth. It also means if you have less followers, your story doesn’t get much traffic.

They’ve also taken challenges from the front page tabs. This means, for writers like me, trying to improve their readership and their skills, that there is again reduced traffic.

Translating the readers to my blog though, seems to be non-existent. I have my social media details and blog site on there, but it doesn’t directly link.I could be wrong as I seem to get hits from Google searches about once or twice a week (but cannot tell why I get them as they’ve changed the algorithm so WordPress cannot get search terms). This might be a stretch though, as there are bots and other internet places I frequent.

I have tried writing one piece on there and a follow up on my blog, but that hasn’t shown any traffic change either.

My other experience with this type of site is FanFiction.net, from back when I wanted to write a bit from other people’s worlds. Don’t laugh too hard at my Harry Potter and as yet still unfinished Twilight story. There, my writing had more followers, probably because the themes are better organised.

In my personal experience so far, I would say that the third-party hosting does not seem to be doing me any favors. I tried Readwave out to see if it might connect me to readers, which it has in a limited way that does not allow me to grow myself. My hard work is their gain. I won’t give it up completely, but it will definitely go to a back burner.

My suggestion to those starting out is to find writing groups online. They are helpful and inclusive, if you give them a little time.

So, instead of Readwave, I’m going to focus on challenges in a book that my partner Greg bought me, 642 things to write about by the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto. Keep an eye out!

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