Above: the planet Earth, and with it; the Internet, as seen from the moon (“Earth-Rise” image courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre web site)
A question I have pondered on quite a bit since I first took an interest in the World Wide Web is where to put my energy and creativity as a writer to best use while online.
In my case, the primary objective of my web page is to serve as some kind of online journal, or information archive for myself, if you will. I have no great aspirations for my personal web page to serve any other purpose. Thus, I believe it to be sufficient the way it is.
However, some Internet writers may be driven by a justifiable desire to be read. That is less likely to happen if you write exclusively for your own homepage or blog the way I do!
To direct traffic to your blog you need to keep it up-to-date at all times and blog about something that is of relevance. That, or you could bet all your money on single pieces of killer/funny content and hope to get caught by social bookmarking or surfing sites like e.g. del.icio.us and StumbleUpon.
Either way you also have to market your content in other ways than merely through search engine optimization. Things to be considered includes online marketing but equally important links and “snippets” from other popularly read information sources such as high-profile media web sites or blogs (e.g. BoingBoing, Gizmodo) which are likely to send more traffic in your direction.
Similarly there is a long range of semi-open web communities where you can contribute content such as Flickr, Facebook, VirtualTourist and the Internet Movie Database to name but a few. All these communities already have a solid user base and it is likely that whatever you write on these sites will be read by a far greater amount of people than what you write on your own web site/blog. At the same time as you contribute content to these communities you can post the same information on your own website/blog. Multi-site-publishing is not a crime (if it is YOUR content) and spreading your content is likely to drive further readers in your direction.
A viable option is not to have your own web site whatsoever and exclusively base your Internet presence on contributing to other sites. The only drawback of this approach is the lack of an archive of all your writings / materials – but I suppose you could solve that the same way freelancers have (or haven’t) done for ages – in some manual way.
This approach would most probably secure your web presence but would at the same time take away the pleasure – and (perceived) security – of rolling your own!