Thursday, June 22, 2006

Selenia's Cavern Quality Writing Services

I received an interesting email from Tiffany Garden of Selenia's Cavern Quality Writing Services, and as she had her website in her signature line, I took a look.

Mighty impressed with not only what she does, but what she posts in her blog, I not only had to add her to my sidebar links but had to feature Tiffany in an interview.

Hello, Tiffany, please describe briefly what you do.

While I do a lot of different types of writing (I love variety!), my main work is copywriting. This involves writing site content, sales copy, catalog copy, newsletters, ebooks – pretty much whatever they want to help promote their site.

Is this a part-time or a full-time gig?

I have been a full time freelance writer since 2002.

Describe for us your clients & their needs.

I have one main client who I have been working with for nearly two years. It's mostly a resource site with a storefront. I think I've done just about everything in the book for him – ebook writing, keyword content, information articles, forum posting – you name it, I've done it! I am also in the process of writing a few industry related articles for various adult trade publications (who says trade writing is boring – their fault for picking a boring industry!). I also had a sex column for an online magazine for awhile. That was a pretty interesting one :)

You are rather a young one, nearly 23, so this may seem odd to be an odd question... but to us old folks, the whole prospect of 'keywords' and other aspects of writing on the internet are definitely 'new tricks'. What are some of the challenges for writing in light of today's technology?

The way people read on the internet affects how you should write for the web – people like to skim, don't like to read longer articles, that kind of thing. Using headlines and sections to divide up a longer article, bullet points, anything graphical to help draw their attention back to the all important text helps. It's like trying to keep a 2 year old focused on something – in this case, not hitting the back button.

As far as keywords go, these phrases help to improve search engine ratings. For example, you focus on one or two common phrases throughout a client's site, in order to help them get on top of the search engine rankings for that particular phrase. Then, when someone searches for that phrase, they come out on top of their competition. However, I think there is too much of a focus on keywords and less on the quality of the content itself. You see tons and tons of webmasters thinking that $5 web content laden with keywords is going to get them a top page ranking. But most of the time, this type of content doesn't have much substance, so their readers just get turned off.

The challenge here is paying attention to keywords, while ensuring that it doesn't affect the quality of information being provided in the article. It can be a hard balance to maintain.

You mentioned to me that you have plans for creating a separate site for focusing on your adult work. Is this based on the marketing aspect (as in you can use keywords and more actively target adult content clients), or more for protecting yourself (as in trying not to offend more virtuous clients)?

Although I am getting around to setting up a separate site, here, I will not hide or remove the adult related work on my main copywriting page. I already facilitated it a tad much for my tastes by including it at the bottom of my clips list, but there's no way in hell I'd ever not admit
to that kind of thing. So yes, it is for the marketing aspect – I really just want to focus on things that adult webmasters would like as far as copywriting goes. Making a site specifically geared at the adult industry is just to cater to my niche a bit more :) It's not to hide it. I'm sure I've lost work because of the fact that I don't hide my adult related work, but if a client doesn't like what I write when it doesn't even relate to them – well, there's plenty of clients where that one came from.

Will you work under a different name, much like a pen name then?

Not at all, I'm proud of my work :) I can understand why people like to use pen names and such, and I can't blame them at all. At the same time, I wouldn't really want to work with people that had a huge hang up on projects I work on that don't directly affect them anyway (I was just talking to a client yesterday who mentioned that, and all she really said was 'well I guess they need copy too, huh?'), and hell, it's lucrative since so many people don't think to ask if a sex site needs a copywriter :) Besides, with how much sex is used in marketing and selling products to a mainstream audience, I just can't understand how people hold sex writing as some huge taboo thing. If it bothers them, just don't look at it, sheesh! :)

Also, I see you do SEO work... There's long been a belief that adult webmasters are the ones who use the technology, such as SEO, keywords & overall Internet marketing best. In your experience, who do you think has a better handle on this, mainstream websites, or adult?

I believe that the adult industry has always been a step ahead in adopting new, interesting marketing techniques, as well as the best upcoming technology to better serve their customers. So while there are plenty of adult sites that take some of these method so far overboard, the top sites really know what they are doing, and how to effectively implement the latest marketing techniques.

While some technologies ultimately fail, there are far more that gain popularity through the porn industry itself.

Do we adult writers make the most of our ability to use words when it comes to the internet? While the adult industry is considered 'better' at this, when it comes to individuals, which writers are, are we as good at making use of keywords and SEO practices?

I personally believe there is always room for improvement in anything I do, so you always want to look for more effective ways to present your ideas and tell your stories. Just make it interesting for yourself and your readers! I do think that writers have an advantage overall because, well, we make a living by words, so I think writers would inherently win there :) It all comes down to marketing.

In my opinion, adult authors have less options say in link exchanges, reviews etc, but does that mean that we are less savvy than mainstream authors? I, personally, am not sure... So many of us spend our time writing and just don't have the time or see the need for marketing... a common problem with any professional who needs to outsource or hire another for help. Since you work with both sides of the fence, do you see a vast difference in the way adult authors/writers market themselves via the web than 'traditional' authors?

It is not that we are less savvy, but that we have different avenues of marketing. You also have to consider that most mainstream writers work within a niche themselves – they might have more review options, but most of the time they are just working in their own niche – a niche that is most likely narrower than the adult industry. While it does still hurt a little bit to not be able to access some of the more prestigious avenues of review and marketing, there are plenty of other opportunities to balance this out.

One thing that is worth remembering – all writers, no matter what industry, need to take an interest in marketing themselves and their works. Micheal Sedge's Marketing Strategies for Writers is a great book I read on the subject, and it really opened my eyes to the way that marketing your business, your works, and even yourself can help your writing career.

While there are some writers that are picked right up out of the rough and published in huge houses, you have thousands of other writers that accomplish the same thing through hard work, marketing themselves constantly, and just getting noticed through their own efforts.

There isn't really a difference between the way different authors market themselves besides the niche they target. It comes down to the individual, and whether they make the effort to help themselves by marketing. It is hugely important, at least in my eyes, and I've read a lot from more established writers that will preach this to death as well.

What's the biggest mistake you think authors make?

Settling for less (and I'm at fault for this too!). Just don't undervalue your work, and aim as high as you can – it takes hard work to achieve greatness, but you never know just how far you can go if you don't try. Just like plenty of other writers, I have plenty of rejections and non responses, but I'd rather have that than not trying at all.

What's the most common reaction you have to your adult writings – professionally?

The sex market is just a really interesting field to work in. There are always fascinating advances in technology, new marketing ideas, great sites – it is very enjoyable to work in such a dynamic industry. Professionally, I have never had a problem with other writers having
a problem with what I write – hell my first freelance writing job was for a sex information site (if I remember correctly). If clients have a problem with my previous work, they just don't contact me, if they don't, they either don't bring it up, or are indifferent.

And personally?

Well, since I don't write erotica professionally, and just stick with non fiction, I'm not too worried about getting overly flustered while I write :) It's during the research for articles and sites that that can be a problem. As for reactions of family/friends, well, my mom wants to kill me for it, but I can live with the random threatening phone call now and then. :) My boyfriend doesn't care, and my friends think it's pretty cool I get paid for that type of thing. Of course, they think its cool I make a living as a writer too, so I think they just like cool things :p

What is the best part of your work?

In order of importance I'll say – waking up in the afternoon, getting paid to write about the things I love to do, and always having a variety of projects to work on. I never get bored.

And the worst part?

During downtimes, the hours of searching/querying/pleading for jobs can get tiring after awhile. Thankfully those times don't happen too much.

Is this what you'd like to continue to do, or do you see it as a step towards a larger goal? And if the latter, what is your dream or goal?

I don't ever see me giving up writing for a living – I worked in tech support for awhile, but it just wasn't for me. That was a great start in getting me working with technical writing, though! After this long of being able to set my own schedule, doing some amazing and weird work, and being my own boss, well – I just don't think I could go easily into an on site again.

The only thing that I haven't gotten to do yet that I would love to do, and it is a definite goal of mine, is to write a book. I've done ebooks, but there's just something about a print book that makes it significant. Rather, a print book with an established, legitimate publisher. I'm working on that though -- go go book proposals!

I'd like to thank Tiffany for her time and I hope you'll make some time to visit her website, Selenia's Cavern Quality Writing Services.

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