What Changes Would You Suggest for All Freelance Writing?

I received a comment recently from a reader named Paul. In short, Paul's not happy with the group format of All Freelance Writing. Here's the comment:

Since you have expanded lately it is hard to recognize who is actually posting when I take a peak on my rss feed. It seems that you have sacrificed quality for quantity as I now rarely look at your(the site) posts. Might be a better move for you but my reading of afw is evaporating. Loved it when I knew you were posting. Ciao. Seems to be a lot of fluff- “somebody write a post!”

Okay, so of course my initial reaction was to be a little bit defensive. After all I love our team here, I get emails all the time telling me people love our writers (especially Clint), and I'd say most posts are far from "fluff." We also don't have a "somebody write a post!" mentality -- everyone has a set schedule and a set niche or style to cover for us. We even cut two All Freelance Writing contributors recently because they're moving to another blog I own (although Jessie will actually have one more post here because it was already written ahead of time).

But I got over it. I know I'll never make everyone happy. And I'm flattered that Paul actually wants to read my posts when many folks find me to be the most offensive of the bunch and their reason to stay away. And then I asked myself "why does this have to be a problem?" After all, WordPress is designed to let you subscribe to feeds of individual authors rather than a whole group if you want to (just add /feed to the end of the author URL), and aren't author names included in the main feed anyway?

I took a look. And apparently, no, they're not. Feedburner (in a rather sucky move) does not pull author names with posts by default. It seems there's a way to do it on my initial research, so this afternoon I'll see if I can fix that for all of your full-feed subscribers.

And there was another problem I probably never would have noticed if Paul hadn't commented. The Feedburner plugin we use to automatically redirect the main feeds to the Feedburner URL is also interfering with our author feeds, redirecting them to main one. Yikes. So again, this afternoon I'll fix that. If anyone else feels as Paul does and you only want to receive posts from specific authors here at All Freelance Writing, I'll add author feed links to author profile pages and to the authors' bio boxes below each of their posts (for our current contributors who will continue to post at least).

I hope that's a satisfactory compromise for Paul and anyone else who might not be a fan of the group format.

So now let me ask you.... Have you seen any other odd little quirks on the site you dislike? Are there general changes you'd like us to make here? Obviously I can't promise I'll make every change suggested (for instance it's unlikely I'll drop a series completely unless there's a huge backlash), but if it's something that really bugs you it won't hurt to let me know. There might be simple tech changes I can make (like with the feeds) that would help you get more of what you want from the site and less of what you don't.

And because Paul mentioned wanting to see my own posts rather than others, let me also ask you about that. Would you like to see me posting personally more than I do now? With the web comic in development for AFW, the book in progress, my clients, and my other sites, I can't promise to post personally on a daily basis, but I can probably kick it up a bit if you really want. Right now I'm posting Tuesdays, plus handling the book club posts, plus site announcements (like this one), plus answering reader questions (so email them to me!) and ranting about issues that are big enough to really catch my attention. Are there specific issues you'd like me to talk about or share my thoughts on? Let me know.

You have to let us know what you want or we can't try to give it to you. So for that, thanks Paul!

EDIT: Well, more good news for Paul. Yolander actually asked if we could change her feature from weekly to monthly. So she'll post the 15th of each month (taking Jessie's old monthly spot). She'll post monthly commentary on various news stories of interest to freelance writers. That also means that I'll be picking up Friday's posts. So you haven't quite escaped me after all. I've been toying with a few series ideas, so maybe I'll use Fridays for one of those (maybe a series for beginners or something along those lines, and then we'll later turn Fridays into the Web comic day for Freelance Fail, which Clint and I will be working on together). We'll see when we get there. Or if we get enough reader questions where you agree to let me share your emails, maybe we'll make Friday reader question day. I'm pretty flexible about such things.

Profile image for Jennifer Mattern

Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, consultant, and indie author. She runs numerous websites & blogs including All Freelance Writing, Freelance Writing Pros, NakedPR, and Kiss My Biz.

Jenn has 25 years' experience as a professional writer and editor and over 20 years' experience in marketing and PR (working heavily in digital PR, online marketing, social media, SEO, new media, and thought leadership publication). She also has 19 years' professional blogging and web publishing experience (including web development) and around 18 years of experience as an indie author / publisher.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names and is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association.

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23 thoughts on “What Changes Would You Suggest for All Freelance Writing?”

  1. I use Google Reader and I’ve always seen specific author names at the top of each post. Strange that it differs among readers.

    I’ve read AFW ever since it was just you, Jenn. I also read your posts over at the FWJ network. But I look forward to all of the other writers’ posts now, too. It seems everyone has something special to offer:

    You can count on Jenn to be brutally honest and not pussyfoot around what she really thinks of an issue or person or event. Clint is HILARIOUS and can make even job listing posts entertaining. As a fellow writing mom, Rebecca’s perspective and insight on her career has been invaluable to me. I could go on, but my point is that while each writer does bring something very different to the AFW table, I love the fact that this blog has evolved to cover so many different topics.

    As a reader, I would be perfectly happy if nothing changed. At the same time, based on your track record, I’m sure any changes made would be for the “even better.”

    Reply
    • Thanks for the thoughts Kylie. But just a quick clarification — I’m in no way, shape, or form associated with FWJ, and don’t intend to be. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Perhaps it’s Jenn Escalona you’ve seen there (a former AFW contributor).

      That’s interesting about Google Reader. I just checked my own account, and it does indeed show the author names there. How odd! It’s pulling the feed address that redirects to feedburner, so I can’t explain why it’s showing info that feedburner itself isn’t displaying. Thanks for pointing that out. One more oddity to look into later today. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Reply
      • Oh, that’s right! I’m sorry. I’ve actually realized that before and had a private “uh dur” moment, but I guess it didn’t stick. It should now. ๐Ÿ˜›

        Reply
        • lol It’s okay. It happens. I’m just fussy about the sites and projects my name gets associated with with. Ties in nicely to today’s reader question about pseudonyms and name association though. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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    • I’m glad my posts are “invaluable” to you. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ll try to be brilliant tonight while I get the next one ready. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for the support!

      Reply
  2. I like most of the posts & just skip the ones that don’t seem to apply to me. (I’m not really big on the fitness posts, but I’m sure some people really love them.)

    Also, I read in Google and never noticed an issue w/names – they’ve always shown for me.

    I miss your coaching posts as I found those really interesting and helpful. I still have a long way to go in getting better gigs and getting people who come to me. So I really appreciate those types of tips.

    Reply
    • I’m too lazy to stick to them weekly anyway. lol ๐Ÿ˜‰ Although I do have one coming up next week about short workouts, featuring a video series, and how mini-workouts can be a good way to drag your ass (meaning my ass) out of a rut.

      I haven’t really decided what to do about the coaching posts yet. Stacey’s pretty much at a point where she doesn’t need me on her shoulder. It’s just about maintenance and doing the things she’s already doing to land more clients to transition from part-time to full-time. But I’ll touch base with her next week and see if there’s anything else specific that she’d like me to help with and that we can continue to document while she makes that transition. If not, perhaps I’ll put out calls again or contact another writer who reached out to me the last time and document another writer’s progress in getting away from the low pay of mill work.

      Reply
  3. Ok, Jenn, I just thought of one more. When I click on comments from the main page, it does not jump down to the comment section for me. (Even with #comments in the url.)

    Don’t know if it’s a browser version issue or what, but it would be nice to jump down on the longer posts. I’m using the latest version of FF on a Mac.

    Reply
  4. Jenn, I know you said this was a test, so here’s one woman’s feedback: the in-text links are driving me nuts. It’s a short journey, it’s true, but they’re very distracting.

    As for the posts themselves, I just skip the fitness and mommy stuff (since it’s not relevant). I will miss the worst job of the week though – it made me laugh.

    Reply
    • I’m not loving it for this particular site either. Was going to give it a bit longer, but between the facts that I earn much less than other options, the links show up in unacceptable places (like subheadings and author bio boxes), and the pop-up aspect drives me up a wall when it blocks what I’m reading, it just doesn’t feel appropriate for this site. I’ll keep it on the biz-related sites for now to see how it does since they’re a bit more ad-friendly in general, but it doesn’t seem to suit me here. We will likely test other Adsense options then in the meantime to see what placements perform best (at least until I have a few more products released to substitute for the external ads).

      As for Clint’s worst job posts, feel free to leave him a comment on any post of his. He’s free to write about anything at all in his humor series, so if it’s something he’d enjoy doing again, maybe he’ll work one or two in each month with his series. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Reply
  5. I have Google reader as well. I haven’t seen a problem with it. I usually just read the title and decide if it’s something that interests me. To be honest, there are a few contributors posts that I rarely read, only because they do topics that don’t interest me or they don’t deal with writing in some way. For the most part, I don’t have much of a problem. I just read what I choose and skip over what I don’t.

    I liked your blog better when it was more of a surprise on what you were going to talk about for the day. Now that there’s the schedule, some of the excitement is gone, but, of course, I certainly understand it, since you have so many to keep track of.

    Reply
    • Unfortunately we can’t surprise in the sense of general topics covered or we’d have a free-for-all with lots of posts one week and possibly none the next. And I think that would not only be harder for me keep track of, but it would ruin the consistency of always having something new. However, my own posts will be more frequent now that Yo’s switching to a monthly post, so maybe I’ll just avoid doing a specific series on Tuesdays and Fridays and post about whatever comes to mind. I do have a backlog of posts I’d like to write for AFW anyway, and there’s usually something stupid going on that I want to call out but avoid because of time constraints.

      Since it doesn’t sound like the freelance fitness series is a big favorite here, maybe I’ll cut that down to monthly or just when there’s something particularly interesting to share.

      Are there any specific topics that aren’t being covered that you’d like me to tackle?

      Reply
      • I think you’ve already made the change that bugged me the most since starting to come here. You chose to post only job leads that offered a certain amount (I don’t remember what the amount was, but it wasn’t the $5 ones). Of course, you don’t have leads posted anymore, but it’s what got the ball rolling on helping others see a broader range of opportunities than they probably thought actually existed.

        I send some people here to find more information about getting started. If they need something more specific, that’s not discussed here, then I simply send them on to wherever they can get it.

        Reply
        • Yeah, I was really happy about that change when we made it. But at this point very few people seemed to really be paying attention to those posts, and it was no longer worth having them put together for the few who do (especially when we’re more interested in showing writers how to go beyond job listings anyway). We’ll have a bigger push in the next couple of months to get more direct job postings in the marketplace area (same rate requirements), but sadly so far we only seem to reach clients who can’t read so their ads don’t get approved. There are no rate requirements for the market directory, but the vast majority there will be far above the minimums for immediate job listings as well.

          Reply
  6. I just want to thank everyone who’s shared their thoughts and suggestions here. In the past I’ve had a very difficult time getting readers to actually offer feedback, and it’s impossible for us to make changes or additions if we don’t know what you want. While we can make some calls based on stats (what writers are getting the most comments, what topics or series are getting the most pageviews, how traffic is trending in general after major changes, etc.), it’s nice to have something qualitative to consider too. While we can’t make every change suggested (especially if stats show people really like a series while a few commenters might not), it gives us something else to think about so when we do decide to make changes we have some direction as to what to do next.

    Reply
  7. I mentioned this on the post Paul originally commented on, but wanted to mention it here too — the author feed URLs have been restored. When you click on any of our mugs in the sidebar you’ll get our author profile page. Just add the word “feed” to the end to get the author-specific feed URL. I’ll add links to the feeds shortly. Here’s an example that takes you to my feed:

    https://allfreelancewriting.com/author/jennifer-mattern/feed/

    If you’re subscribed to the full blog feed, you don’t need these. These URLs are only for people who want to subscribe to an individual AFW author or subscribe to a few but not all.

    EDIT: I added these links to every current author’s bio page so you can subscribe easily to any specific authors you like. The links are on the profile pages (linked in our sidebar) underneath the writer’s bio paragraph. Unfortunately I cannot add them to bios below posts because the function I would need to call won’t work in that template area. Sorry folks, but I did what I could.

    Reply

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