Submitting My Horror Story to Vocal, Now We Wait

Recently, I decided to throw my lot in for the Fiction Awards challenge on Vocal by submitting a horror story. It’ll be a few weeks before we know the final results, but I messed up in several ways. So, what did I learn from this experience?

Quite a few things, actually.

Let’s break down the process and examine why I kind of shot myself in the foot with this challenge. Hopefully, we can learn from this and increase our chances for next time.

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What I Learned About Vocal After Submitting My Story

According to Vocal, they’ll announce the final 1025 entrants for the Fiction Awards on January 25th. It would be nice to be one of the 25 for the grand prize, but I’d also be happy to be one of the 1,000 who gets a full year of Vocal+ membership.

I am still in the process of seeing if Vocal is something writers can use to make a decent income. Well, at least something that can bring in a residual amount of money.

But this time around, the issues I had for this challenge were all of my own doing. Though, I am reserved to address these issues the next time I enter a challenge, which may be in the very near future.

Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute, Yay Procrastination!

I knew about this Fiction Awards challenge all the way back to the beginning of…I want to say, November? Perhaps October. And since it was a 4,000-word max challenge, I thought I had plenty of time.

Well, in the meantime, I published a book, got involved with NaNoWriMo, had family issues to deal with, and was exceptionally busy throughout much of December.

Needless to say, I procrastinated because I can write fast as it is. I mean, 4,000 words? I can do that before lunch if I push it.

Well, the deadline came up giving me one day to write a story that I’ve never done before: a western/gothic horror. The end result felt rushed and not nearly as fleshed out as I would have liked.

This is what happens when you wait until the very last minute for submitting a story to Vocal or any other similar platform. The odds you’ll put out your best work are exceptionally low when you are hurrying before the deadline.

Read All of the Rules

After submitting the tale, I saw in an email how I could have entered as many times as I wanted throughout the last two months. If I wasn’t procrastinating, I could have sent several stories per week to increase my chances something would have been accepted.

I don’t know how I missed that before, but it goes to show that you need to read ALL of the rules of a challenge.

I suppose perhaps I may have been too excited about entering. After all, I was in the process of writing my first book and was looking forward to my first official Vocal challenge.

In any case, I should have paid more attention to the rules. So, that was perhaps one of the biggest lessons I learned this time around.

I Should Share on Social Media More Often

In the past, I haven’t written for Vocal that much. But when I did, I don’t remember ever sharing the posts on social media. The day I shared the horror story I submitted, my “reads” jumped up by 300%!

I’m not sure if those readers came from Twitter or if Vocal users were just interested in my story, but it was a definite bump in traffic.

I guess that’s what happens when you write something that piques someone’s interest.

Write Something People Want to Read

Just like blogging or uploading videos to YouTube, success lies with creating content people want to consume. For a blogger, this is all about search intent and understanding your target audience.

It’s quite a bit different on platforms like Vocal, and you won’t see it until after submitting your story.

For instance, I’ve written a few Vocal posts that were very similar to my blog posts. The difference in Vocal readers versus getting traffic from search engines is night and day.

Articles I thought would do brilliantly on Vocal barely get attention, while their blog counterpart ranks at the top of a Google search. Then, readers will jump all over a post in Vocal when its similar blog counterpart gets no traffic at all.

This is also obvious when comparing content between a blog and YouTube. I guess every platform is different when finding a target audience.

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Why Am I Submitting Stories to Vocal?

I own several blogs, YouTube channels, and have been recently getting into self-publishing. Why would I need to explore what Vocal can offer in terms of success or income?

I could just publish my work on any other of my many outlets and probably earn more money at this point in time.

With the options I have available to publish my own work, why am I submitting content to Vocal?

Chance to Win Cash Prizes

First of all, Vocal offers cash prizes for its winners. For instance, there’s a challenge right now to win $20,000.

Based on Vocal’s growing popularity and how long the platform has been online, I doubt these are fraud challenges. So, until I see hard evidence to the contrary, I’ll assume the challenges are legit.

Gives Me Content for My Account

Vocal Profile

One of the ways to make money using Vocal is to make sure you have a library of content to read. You’re not going to make much with a handful of articles.

Since these challenges also can be read by others on Vocal, submitting them gives you yet another post to potentially make money each month.

Gives Me Blog and Video Content

For the most part, I’m using Vocal for my own content plans. The more I learn and use the system, the more I share on the blog and YouTube channel. And right now, one of my Vocal videos is in my Top 10 for the most views.

I would like to get a few more pieces of content out there to help others or show if the system is worth using.

Getting My Name Out There

The more I share myself, the better it’ll be for me in the long run. Any way I can get my name out on the Internet as an author or writing expert, the more recognized I’ll become.

Granted, I doubt I’ll become a household name like Stephen King. But every bit I do today towards that goal will only help my career over time.

Submitting and Exploring Other Interests on Vocal

I have several niche sites. Submitting stories and posts to Vocal lets me explore other topics that I can’t fit anywhere else without building a completely new website.

Though, I wonder if it’s better to be a niche writer on Vocal. After all, people are going to follow your account because of specific pieces of content.

The Potential for Passive Income

And lastly, I’ll keep posting stories and such to see if Vocal can work for me as a source of passive income. Well, at least more than $0.20 per day.

One of my goals for the near future is to open WriterSanctuary as a business. But to do that, I need to make sure I can pay for a warehouse, staff, and other business needs. Passive income from systems like Vocal only helps me achieve this quicker.

Am I Submitting to More Vocal Challenges?

Even if I don’t win any challenges, I’ll continue to try because of the reasons above. I enjoy using the system and am looking forward to seeing what it can do for me in terms of income.

Not to mention that I simply love to write on any platform I come across.

The hard part is making sure I get enough time to fully grasp the challenge and write accordingly. I mean, seriously, I am quite upset that I waited so long to send my horror story and then to find out I could have uploaded even more.

Like I always say, though, “There is no such thing as a true failure as long as you learn from the experience. Then, it becomes a lesson.”

Anyway, I do plan on submitting more stories for the upcoming Vocal challenges. Perhaps I can make it a challenge to myself to enter every challenge Vocal has for the next few months?

That might actually make a good study for the blog or YouTube channel.

Submitting Stories to Vocal Comes Down to Marketing

In the end, writing stories for Vocal is nothing more than a way to market myself as a writer. Sure, I’d love an extra couple of thousand dollars for my work. But in reality, I just want to get my name spread across the Internet.

It’s probably going to come back and bite me in the ass at some point. But we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

What kind of writing challenges have you’ve entered in the past?

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Michael Brockbank

Michael has been a freelance writer since January of 2012. He has completed more than 8,000 jobs for a variety of clients ranging from animals to travel. Currently, he is the Content Marketing Team Lead of GreenGeeks Web Hosting.

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