By in Persona Paper

Engaging Content and Community Building

With more proposed changes in the works, there is again a fuss over the kind of writing that will be rewarded on Persona Paper. I'm hearing certain people bemoan the fact that their personal posts won't earn as much as an informative one. Some people are even hinting the site will become boring, and there will no longer be a sense of community if we focus on the kind of writing that will draw in external traffic.

It's a fallacy to assume information and interest are mutually exclusive. The members of our own community attest to that. On a very informative post about swan upping in the UK , I saw the following comment: “ Very interesting . I love learning about these old traditions. You write interesting posts here. And like I have said before, I really enjoy reading them . History is part of who we are.” (emphasis mine)

That comment is just one example of a reader taking pleasure in an informative post. It also seems to demonstrate a desire to encourage, support and perhaps even nurture a relationship with the writer of the post.

And that sense of closeness to the writer of an informative post is hardly unique. I have written for sites where no personal posts at all were allowed, and yet the community thrived . In one case I ceased to write for the site three years ago, and yet I maintain strong bonds with many of the writers I met there, and in fact have carried those relationships forward with me to social networking sites and other writing platforms.

The fact that I'm even writing here is due to CoralLevang , who reached out to tell me about Persona Paper. Coral and I met on a site that allowed only informative posts. Five years later, we share a great deal of warmth and caring for one another.

I think about the quality of that relationship, born in a place with no personal posts. And then I think how hard pressed I can sometimes be to come up with a thoughtful comment after reading 400 characters of brain numbing personal minutiae on sites that encourage and even reward the writers of personal posts.

Really, there's not much to say in a comment after reading, "I worked all day then came home to be with my girlfriend. Now I'm going out on the deck for a beer, but my girlfriend is staying inside. I really don't know what else to say, so I'll just ramble on a bit about sitting on the deck with my beer – and maybe about my girlfriend too. Did I write enough? Maybe I'm close now. It's got to be soon, because I'm running out of things to say!!!! Maybe if I add a few more punctuation marks??? Oh yay, I'm done my 400 characters! Thanks for reading, dear writing friends and please remember to drop by again." Tough to connect with that, ya know?

Interest and quality of interaction are not the sole domain of posts that appeal only to a small number of site users. Placing the focus on the types of posts that will earn the site money is natural, and since it has no negative impact on anyone who writes personal posts it is good for us all. Why assume it's going to be a mess before even giving it a try?

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Image credit: Community graphic by Gerd Altmann (geralt)/Pixabay (public domain, CC0 1.0 )

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MaeLou wrote on July 13, 2014, 3:23 PM

I really think people are confusing "paying more for informative articles" to mean we are getting rid of personal articles. I can't seem to put it into words that everyone understands. NOTHING is changing in form of content, just the amount given out to the members based on the type of content that is being written. We have 4 categories we are going forward with, and maybe I need to break those down.. again.

AdrienneJenkins wrote on July 13, 2014, 3:28 PM

MaeLou I don't think you need to differentiate the types of content. I think good content will always do well long term if it's informative content written with a personal slant. If it generates lots of internal AND external traffic, just based on page views, it should do well.

Ruby3881 wrote on July 13, 2014, 3:53 PM

Honestly Heather, I don't think it's a matter of people not understanding what you've said. I think it's a bit of sour grapes on the part of a small number of folks who don't want to put the extra effort into writing informative posts, but don't want to see others get the rewards for doing what they don't want to.

Instead of admitting they feel hard done by, these people instead try to discredit any plans to earn more revenue for the site. The question I have for those who complain about the changes like this is, how does raising unfounded concerns help to build our community?

If you don't want to write informative content, fine. Don't do it. But why raise a fuss every time someone even mentions informative content? How do you suppose this makes your fellow writers feel? As one who enjoys writing informative posts and puts effort into researching and documenting them, I'm happy to see Persona Paper recognizing that this type of content brings in more revenue. And when people try to say doing this will spoil the site, all I can see is the damage those complaints are already doing to our sense of community,

MaeLou wrote on July 13, 2014, 4:08 PM

I've seen many people say that they only want it to be a personal type of content site. That is fine and dandy, but I feel that is what Bubblews is. I want the personal content, the reviews and the informative content. I want ALL writers here, not just one.

Kasman wrote on July 13, 2014, 4:48 PM

AdrienneJenkins - you are correct. Informative content is what people search for and if it attracts viewers to our posts and to the site in general that can only be a good thing.

poddys wrote on July 13, 2014, 5:40 PM

Works for me! I like to write all types of content.

Ruby3881 wrote on July 13, 2014, 5:40 PM

With respect Adrienne, I think differentiating is the right way to go for a lot of reasons. It can prevent the problem of poorly written (or even violating) content being featured on the site's home page, because the site can choose to include or exclude certain content streams in its featured content.

It also allows the site to target certain types of content for specific incentives. While overall page views are a good thing, if the content that clients want never gets written the site will close. And then we all lose. Offering an incentive to write product reviews or informative posts will ensure that this kind of content continues to be produced, despite the fact that it requires more time and effort to generate.

AngelSharum wrote on July 13, 2014, 5:51 PM

As you know, I don't do informative articles. I used to, but not anymore because, well, I just don't like I don't care how they separate the site. I did let MaeLou know that it is as hard to write a GOOD short story as it is to write an informative article though, as far as how much thought and time goes into the piece, but I told her I do understand the rationale for paying more for informative articles. They do bring in more revenue.

Ruby3881 wrote on July 13, 2014, 6:09 PM

Bill, I very much agree with AdrienneJenkins on that point: an informative post with a personal slant is quality content. It will bring in good internal traffic because it's interesting to the community. But by being evergreen and SEO-friendly, an informative post will continue to bring in external traffic long after the community has moved onto more recently written posts.

Whatever decisions we make here on Persona Paper, I think it's crucial that as a community we strive to both produce and rewards this type of content. Because in the end, without it the site will simply die.

Ruby3881 wrote on July 13, 2014, 6:16 PM

The Bubblews model is unsustainable. It works for now because Bubblews is big and for some reason AdSense hasn't looked too closely at all the poor quality content and black hatting going on over there. But it wouldn't take much for the site to go critical. This is why some of us have been trying so hard over there to encourage their admin to raise standards and take a serious stance when it comes to violations.

TANSTAAFL. Nothing is free, period. If we want to get paid, we can't have a site that consists only of personal posts. If Facebook can't afford to pay people for that sort of thing, why would we expect smaller companies like Persona Paper could do it?

Anja wrote on July 13, 2014, 6:18 PM

I will most likely continue to write all of those types of posts. I might decide to write a short fiction or a review or a personal post or something informative. It depends on what I feel like doing at the moment. And as someone who has written a lot of creative writing posts for the net, I can tell you right now that they don't get the views or the revenue that other types of posts get. That's just the way of the world. The truth is, very few people go out looking for poetry and some actively avoid it. But there will always be someone who wants to know which are the top 5 e-commerce plugins for WordPress.

Ruby3881 wrote on July 13, 2014, 6:59 PM

Angel, I love that you can see this situation from a different angle but still be respectful of others' concerns emoticon :smile:
And yes, very much agreed that a good short story or poem takes effort. And literary writing (as opposed to a bunch of people throwing together silly rhymes to fill up 400 characters) ought to bring in traffic. It's also a wonderful pairing for the Amazon affiliate links. I think that short stories and other quality creative writing could have its own set of incentives (like revenue sharing with the Amazon earnings.) Offering those incentives shouldn't interfere with offering different incentives for informative writing, reviews, etc.

Ruby3881 wrote on July 13, 2014, 7:02 PM

True! People will generally search by site for literary content, whereas with informational searches the parameters get pretty specific. So if a site wants to draw traffic for literature, it will have to be the site itself that is the draw, not individual pieces.

AngelSharum wrote on July 13, 2014, 7:11 PM

I have no idea about all that. The technical and financial side of things I will leave to the site owners. I've never owned my own site and only dealt with adsense on my blogger blog, which is really easy.

allen0187 wrote on July 14, 2014, 12:45 AM

I see and agree with you Ruby3881 but do you really have to put a post I wrote in your post to make a point!!! JK!!! LOL!

I've seen more than my fair share of similar posts like the one you mentioned. In fact, I've written a couple ones myself. What I call 'filler' posts, not proud of it and I'm making a serious attempt at staying clear of writing such posts. Anyway, good quality content is good quality content regardless if it is a personal post or an informative one.

Ruby3881 wrote on July 14, 2014, 12:54 AM

"Anyway, good quality content is good quality content regardless if it is a personal post or an informative one."

Much agreed! And often there's a fair bit of overlap, even if the post clearly falls into one category or the other :)

SandraLynn wrote on July 14, 2014, 7:46 AM

Very well said. I had to come visit because I just spend time responding to you over at a couple of my posts and I've been MEANING to get over HERE ;) This was GOOD. Informing personally. This is what I like to read. Not dry, don't bore me, blah blah blah. Yuck. Not wet soppy I can't understand and then he did what and she was WHERE with WHO?

Whew. Coral was right about you. Though, I didn't doubt her. Anyway...

This post.

This hits upon my "quality is subjective" missive. Taken two ways. One, to mean what you state here. The interest of the reader. The quality of a post, for me, means that I will have learned something from it - both from the writer and about the writer - when I'm done reading. I manage to do that a LOT here and I think that has to do with how well MaeLou and elitecodex have screened who gets in...and who I'm reading, I'm quite sure :)

Also, who the heck is cranky about the direction? I haven't gotten wind and I'm just plain nosy. People are whining? Hmmm. Bottom line is that the site needs to earn more rev. So we can all earn more rev. Community helping community. Period.

Alrighty. Nice to have finally made it over. Thanks for being everything she said you were, no pressure, lol! Have a great Monday. :)

Ruby3881 wrote on July 14, 2014, 1:07 PM

It's just an educated guess on my part, Angel. But it makes sense that if people are writing poems and short stories, we could pair their work with Amazon products like anthologies, literary magazines, books about writing, and that sort of thing.

Ruby3881 wrote on July 14, 2014, 1:30 PM

Ah, so the friend was Coral! I had suspected as much, but wasn't sure. She's a very special lady, isn't she? We go way back to the old AC days, and I was thrilled to find her on Bubblews too. Then she told me about Persona Paper. I guess the rest is history!

"The quality of a post, for me, means that I will have learned something from it - both from the writer and about the writer - when I'm done reading. "
I love this! I've actually had people ask me this on Bubblews because I tend to write mostly informative pieces. I always want to answer, "Clean your glasses and actually READ what I post!" Every writer has a voice. And even the informational writing we do is peppered with little bits of the personal. If people are missing it, they're not reading. They're probably skimming for the main points, instead of reading to enjoy the piece as a whole. Good writing is like a tapestry. The quality isn't just in the overall pieces, nor is it just in the individual stitches. You have to look at the whole piece to truly appreciate it.

"People are whining?"
I won't point any fingers, but there are several people who've voiced concern over things like introducing standards for grammar, and then again when Will and Heather talked about paying more for reviews and informative posts. Some people are feeling threatened because they just want to write personal posts and take it easy - which they could do on Facebook or their own blogs if that's really important to them. But they still want to get paid, you see? So anytime there's a hint of a change, there are always going to be a few who object that one type of writing shouldn't earn more than others. The problem is, with the status quo the situation would be reversed: only certain kinds of writing would be bringing in the revenue, and those who write that way would be working hard so everyone else can coast along.

Ruby3881 wrote on July 14, 2014, 1:31 PM

Also, I meant to say thanks for the praise you heaped on me! And I really like your motto of "Community helping community." I think that is absolutely the direction we need to be going :)

SandraLynn wrote on July 15, 2014, 7:43 AM

"Clean your glasses..."
I tend toward the curvy road sometimes, to make my point. I admit this, often. A few of my die-hard readers adore me for it; I don't know how others feel. Though I'm not unpopular. LOL.

BUT - I do like when folks are paying attention. READING what I post. Because when you do, you'll find those little nuggets in there and even when it does appear to be a long and winding road, you may find it's worth it. The feedback I've received says others have found it so.

BUT - again. My husband gave me the most lovely of compliments recently. He stated that when I write informatively, using my personal voice (keeping real) and am able to remain "en pointe" is when I am the loudest - the most clear.

Sometimes I get carried away, folks don't mind it, but I should stay more focused, and keep the flair...ANYway...been thinking a lot of that, lately. Especially because of all this that has come about. I'll never stop personally informing ;)

As for the whiners, there will always be. And lazy ones, too. The changes made will be for the good for the community. Period. They can hang around and complain about it or they can get gone. Will and Heather don't suffer fools for very long around here ;)

And aww shucks on the kudos. I like to read good stuff. Coral gave me you. I don't like to be pushed or to feel obligated. I like knowing someone will give me the goods a large percentage of the time (you know, it's why we go back to King or Grisham, over and over...). You seem to be the sort. And you've got an edge...that makes it interesting :)

Ruby3881 wrote on July 15, 2014, 12:15 PM

"And you've got an edge...that makes it interesting"

That's high praise, in my book! Thanks Sandra :D

Bensen32 wrote on July 16, 2014, 7:23 PM

Funny thing is, you're always going to have people complaining. it's pretty simple those that bring in more money or the potential to bring in more money get a bigger cut of the money make good business sense. Personally, I do more "personal" articles than "informational" articles so guess what, I get a smaller cut. If I wanted a bigger cut of the money then I should bring in more.
If you think about it as a sales job, The person who brings in the most money earns the most money. I don't see the issue really, but then again I'm not one to complain just to be complaining.

KimRemesch wrote on July 17, 2014, 3:17 PM

Sites like this one and Bubblews are more a mixture I think as opposed to "writing." I'm a journalist, and I will never consider these sites to be that sort of writing. I've put some articles up, but they don't do any better than my small, goofy ones. As you say, your following dictates what will be popular. I'm in with the extreme couponers at Bubblews, so that is something I'm always reading about. I love to hear their tales of great deals.

AthenaGoodlight wrote on July 21, 2014, 3:07 AM

Informative posts can be just as engaging as a personal post. It depends on how the writer crafts the words and appeal to the emotions of the readers. You have done a good job in engaging your readers here as can be seen by the comments.
The admins have made a good decision in creating a balance between serious posts and the informal ones.

Ruby3881 wrote on July 23, 2014, 11:02 PM

I think the problem isn't that some people will always complain - because we don't have a lot of whiners here at Persona Paper. It's more that some folks are worried about the site changing. Change is tough for most of us, but especially so when there's the potential to lose revenue or something else that a person values.

Ruby3881 wrote on July 23, 2014, 11:14 PM

The thing is, there's usually a mix in a newspaper or magazine too. Some of the articles are informative, while others tend to be "personal interest" pieces and that sort of thing. I tend to think Bubblews is heading more away from quality "writing" and towards "social writing." Persona Paper has the potential to be a more informative site, with a good number of articles as opposed to chatty posts.

At this point, the audience is not established for either site. The direction each community takes will likely be determined by a mix of what the admin, users, and readers want to see.

Ruby3881 wrote on July 24, 2014, 6:27 PM

Honestly, I find a good many personal posts are totally boring. If I know the person, or if their story is compelling in some way, I'll be much more likely to read. One gent on Bubblews is just really jocular and I love the way he writes about his family, even though much of it is fairly mundane stuff. Another Bubbler writes about a very unusual struggle her family is going through. I love checking in with her to see how things are going.

But I can't be bothered to read that someone I don't even know ate scrambled eggs for breakfast or is lounging on the deck with a beer after work. UNLESS they write it so as to draw even a stranger in. Vivid imagery, humour, beautiful language that flows. A review of a specific beer, or perhaps a recipe or talking about artisanal beers or home brewing. Anything to make a stranger's life relevant to me.

Unfortunately, most people who write personal posts end up writing all about the potato, with no meat. Their writing skill is average or even mediocre. Their posts lack focus. They think if they fill their post with a whole sequence of events - even unrelated things that happened hours apart - they are writing well. In reality they're just filling up space. I might be more interested in reading 400 characters (or 500, or more) just about their coffee or their beer! And it would be searchable too....

k_mccormick2 wrote on August 2, 2014, 7:05 PM

I think that some people are blowing this out of portion. I think that the site moderators are doing a great job and this site is more about the writing then other writing sites. I love this site ( even though I have not had a lot of time on it the last few weeks) I think that whatever they decide to do is going to be a benefit and until we try it we should have an open mind.

Ruby3881 wrote on August 3, 2014, 3:31 PM

Amen, Momma! This is a fabulous writing site. Even with the low exchange rate right now, I'm making better earnings here than I do at InfoBarrel. And I don't have to work nearly as hard to put the articles together here.

momathome wrote on October 20, 2014, 2:34 PM

I mainly write personal posts, even my informational ones always have a personal "taint" but that's what I want to write. I don't mind if they pay more to those people who want to take the time to write more informative posts, after all they are spending time researching, acquiring links, writing, editing and rewriting, often spending quite a bit of time searching for safe pictures, etc. They should be rewarded for their extra effort. After all if you've spent hours researching a topic, looking for the perfect (safe to use) image, writing, editing and rewriting you should earn more than the person (like myself) who spends 5-20 minutes writing a personal post.

Ruby3881 wrote on October 22, 2014, 1:08 AM

I think even a personal post can be informational - just as your informational posts can be written with a personal slant ("taint" sounds so negative!)

I don't really see it as being about time - I can bang out an informational post in 5 minutes or I can take 30 minutes to write a personal post. It's about what the advertisers want to see.