Trend-spotting can pay off for writers in 2011
Published: January 4, 2011
As 2010 approached, I penned a column about leaving the ‘Uh-Oh’ decade behind. I focused on matters relevant to the writing industry—pay scales, opportunities in publishing and changes in regulation. Having re-read the column I took small comfort in the fact that 2010 pretty much played out in the manner I thought likely. However as 2011 begins, I’m more interested in what will be newsworthy. I have come to realize that how much we earn is directly related to the value of the information we barter, and I believe that maxim will hold truer than ever in the coming year.
Kay B. Day
First and foremost, 2011 will be a year when all issues related to politics can be mined. Sharp ideological changes created by newcomers to Congress and aggressive actions by regulatory agencies will be of interest to all.
One example is Net neutrality, a rather bland phrase to describe policies of Internet providers and others who must regulate and/or manage traffic, because as we all know (especially if we have a certain type of smart phone), bandwidth is not infinite. Net neutrality has its critics and defenders, and the quirky thing is that it’s not a completely partisan issue. I looked long and hard for a balanced analysis on this complicated topic, and I found a column on PC World’s website. If you’re reliant on the Internet for anything, you should study the issue of Net neutrality and at least be informed enough to anticipate the impact on your writing business. Many political analysts believe the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to wade into Internet regulation will end up in a free-for-all between Congress and the agency. I believe there will definitely be a lively debate about this matter.
|By mid-2011, the political class will have the presidential race in
mind. Declarations by candidates, debates and policy statements will
shape news and the quantity of content will be a bonanza for anyone who
writes about politics. Third-party ad revenue should increase for
websites that update content frequently and can establish meaningful
traffic. Incidentally, indie website owners shouldn’t hesitate to
solicit advertising directly. If you can dispense with the middle man,
you will see increased revenue.|
Another issue that will continue
to dominate is health. Healthcare is a multi-dimensional subject area
and the industry is a big green money machine. From weight loss to botox
to medicines for children, content providers will cater to the industry
and to consumers by featuring timely, well-sourced information. One
topic that may grow in scope relates to those meds for kids. Very little
testing is done on most drugs developed for adults but also prescribed
for children. This topic offers an opportunity for the inquiring health
Social networking will continue to be strong—that one is
pretty much a no-brainer considering one of the hottest recently
released movies is about the founder of Facebook.
phenomenon will continue, particularly as a marketing tool for
businesses. I believe the shift will be away from a narrow focus on
carbon to a more comprehensive approach to conservation. Energy rates
will continue to rise, so conservation will certainly be foremost in the
minds of consumers.
The issue of personal charity will gain
momentum. In 2010 billionaires pledged to give away substantial sums of
their wealth. That trend will have a trickle-down effect on lesser
earners. It’s a given, however, that a story about a real do-gooder will
always draw eyeballs, whether it’s a child foregoing Christmas or
birthday gifts to give to the less fortunate or a hedge-fund genius
directing his wealth to countries with high rates of poverty. Such
stories are in demand year-round, but especially so around Thanksgiving
and the winter holidays.
If I had to pick a country that will
generate increasing interest, it would probably be India. A lot of
well-funded research on alternative fuels is happening in that country
and because of global attention to energy, India should be at the
forefront in coverage. Besides that, the head of the UN
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was born in India and he will
continue to influence energy-related issues around the world.
on your area of coverage, local issues can be a boon to writers. In
Florida, pill mills will be high on the radar because of recent
legislation that attempts to rein in clinics where meds are dispensed
like candy. In high-tax states like New York, state revenue will be an
issue on the heels of census reports that the population is growing at a
below-normal pace. In low-tax states reliant on the property tax base,
state revenue will also be an issue because of the devaluation of U.S.
There are numerous trends space doesn’t permit me to
cover. One obvious question is how to decide what to cover in 2011 if
you’re a generalist. Factors to pay attention to include announcements
from government agencies, statements from policy and think-tank groups,
and discussions on social networks.
If you report on a specific
subject, pay attention to regulatory agencies involved in your sphere
and to nonprofits. The advice on social networks is the same too—what
people chat or argue about on social networks and discussion boards
indicates what people care about and therefore might like to read about.
is one change we might hope for in 2011—freelance pay scales. Blog
mills continue to dominate the Web when it comes to news, and that
factors into lower rates for many writers. The most direct route to
substantial earnings lies in building a broad, steady readership you can
rely on to visit your website and perhaps buy your book. But that
direct route is fraught with long hours, arduous work and no guarantees.
The many aspire but the few attain. To be honest, I suspect it’s always
been that way whether the scribe was writing on parchment or tapping
keys on a mobile device.
The key is being able to spot a trend
and capitalize on it. There will be no scarcity in opportunities for the
savvy trend-spotter in 2011—of that we can be certain.
Florida journalist Kay B. Day has won awards for poetry, nonfiction and fiction. The author of two books, she has written for
The Christian Science Monitor, United Press International,
The Florida Times-Union and Sky News. To learn more about Kay Day, see www.kayday.com. To read Kay's other Web Savvy columns about writing for the Web, click here.