December 21, 2014

Networking, Writing and You

You're writing in a niche market, and you need to get on social networking sites to make yourself a success in this huge pond called the Internet. However,  the fact remains that you are here to improve on your writing, and get more people interested in what you have to say- before the next step of earning both money and respect happens.

Some people complain that no matter what they do they can't make a go of writing online. 

They simply have no drive to improve upon where they are, or they believe they know too much about the people reading their information.   With Google Analytics and all sorts of other insights you can find on the various social networking sites, you might think this is the way to go, but people are not machines and they make choices a computer cannot predict. Making money and writing seem to be interlinked in the online world.  You want what everyone else has and you can see it played out in real time with "insights" and "analytics."  

This includes niche markets, which is why you will find a lot of people pushing their writing on social networking sites to their disadvantage. Simply put: you will need to make money to do this, or with the book you have published. In fact, you will likely need both.   It was harder to make money on my book about Transylvania until I learned that the networking sites demanded of me to care about what people were doing with their time on my website, or reading my book.

What goal to making money are we talking about when it comes to writing about Transylvania?   After all, a person can argue there is a lot of information out there about this subject.  The sort of money where you make enough to buy something you might want each month but still work outside the home? Or the kind of money where you never have to really work outside the home again-- unless you want to?

What sort of business do you want to build? Networking on Twitter can only help you so much, but if you're always talking about Dracula, or how to build a model Bran Castle, you will need to know who else is doing the same thing.

You have to become a bit of an expert in knowing what people want and need.  People who love Transylvania want pictures, whereas people who are interested in history want the facts.  They have all probably seen a million pictures of Bran Castle, or know that Dracula is a fictional character, but they might not know that you, as a writer have been inside Bran Castle and have a personal point of view.  The key to success is to build ongoing relationships.span>

You might be able to show a few maps, but when it comes to networking about Transylvania, telling and showing are two different things. A blog post is all about writing for an audience that knows as much as you do.  Twitter and Facebook are great for building such connections, but it is important you spend as much time learning more about a niche market and becoming a better writer.  You are the key to creating more success for your websites and blogs, because you are writing about things you love.

December 11, 2014

Writing About What You Love

There are many sites out there where you can publish your writing for free, and if you are lucky make some money doing it, but it's a challenge to write and earn on those sites- especially if it's a niche market like Transylvania. The key to understanding why so many people make the comparison between writing a blog or building a website is that they are considered the "big two." After a while, it becomes important to just write, and to love what you do. 

 On a personal note: I do not suggest that you initially spend your time trying to find ways to earn passive income, but spend time determining what works for you as a writer in a niche market. I have found that content is important, but I have also found the message equally so- the message is: Transylvania is important to people both outside and inside of Romania.  People are market-savvy and they know what works for them, especially if they live in the area you are writing about.

You can make money with Google AdSense, and Amazon Affiliate Program, and eBay, but the point is that if you do not have good content, then you are losing out. 

Long term something will give. Long term you will find that no matter what you do to try to get paid, if your foundation is poor your business will fail. You have to have passion for your subject and for the people you write to.  Even if this means no money in the future, you are writing about what you love.

After all, if your readers don't find your writing of value (and that is subjective ) they will not be back to read more of your published work.
Everyone wants to make money writing online, and this is true even in niche markets, but the point is that you have to build a business by not only writing on free websites, but by using your own website on the Internet-- if you don't think that way then you won't be around long. Search engines change their views, and websites change strategy, and the truth is that you will have to continue to do what you do best, and that is to build a strong foundation for your business. When it comes to Transylvania, and the market there, focusing on Dracula is a start, but focusing on the land is even better for your audience.  They know about the person, but they might not know about the places he is known for.

To make a profit, what you will need to aim for is your own website. In other words you will have to focus on the best you can offer. Sometimes it is not that simple. Businesses change, and you have to be prepared for this.

Which is why my advice remains the same: Quality content counts more than anything else. At some point someone will say your work does not seem right. With the right content, targeted to the right people, the result is that more people will find your work of value, which then leads you to make money with your writing. This is not to suggest that you renege from keyword research, or simply work hard to get your name known in a niche market, but it means working on the foundation you have right now.  

November 24, 2014

The Beauty of Transylvania

I love everything about Transylvania. It's an amazing place to live and more importantly to visit and learn its history.  Some however, need to see it to believe the beauty of Transylvania, and I have been fortunate to find a lovely Facebook page on Alba Iulia.

Some of the photos are amazing and truly show how lovely Romania is.  Of course, one must not forget other beautiful places and landmarks which are found all over this land.

The Black Church in Brasov

The key to loving this place is its history and its cultures which have been around for centuries, and some of the most amazing videos one can find are also found on Romania Original, another Facebook page I recommend to people.   They showcase the beauty that is Transylvania, Romania.  

It is a wonderful land, and has much to offer people who want to explore it.  Since this blog has become more active on the social media, particularly on Facebook, we've been treated to some wonderful photos, which add substance to the history of the people and their land.

 Bran castle will always be a favourite, but the city of Sibui- the home of the new president of Romania will always have its links to its German roots.

November 11, 2014

Politics and Romania

The Romanian elections are coming up, and on Csikszereka musings, there is a blog post which is something most people should take a moment to read if they aren't well versed in the politics of Romania.  This is a good read, and is one which is very much the author's point of view, but well written none the less.

The poster's commentary is about Victor Ponta, one of the men who seeks the Presidency of Romania, and what this might mean for Romania.  It's personal and holds a very pointed view of what might happen to Romania should Ponta win.

The mayor of Sibiu, Klaus Iohannis is his main rival for the post, and there is concerns about corruption in Romania already- politics and Romania, it seems, are larger topics people need to follow.  Romania, according to this article is one of the poorer European Union members, and this could have an effect on this economy.  It is not nation which its debts are high but one which has only a few strong economic pillars.

November, 16 2014, when the election runoff happens will be important for many people, should Iohannis win, this would be important victory for Transylvania as a whole, as he was born in Sibiu, and understands Transylvania and its history better than most people.

This might mean a stronger political focus on Transylvania within Romanian politics, although for many years, it is Transylvania and the surrounding areas which have always been something of a 'bell weather' area for knowing if the people are happy with the politicians or not.

Update/ Note: Victor Ponta did not win the Romanian Presidential Elections, and it was Klaus Iohannis, who became the new president of Romania, taking office on December 21, 2014.  Iohannis is a German Saxon from Sibiu, who sees himself as Romania with German origins.

November 3, 2014

Ask Me Anything: People and Cultures of Transylvania

How many cultures/ people live in Transylvania, Romania?

It may seem to a lot of people the best answer would be: one, and they would be wrong.  There is are many cultures, or people if you will, who live in Transylvania, Romania.  The majority of the culture is Romanian, based upon numbers alone, there are about 70% of the people who live in Transylvania who see themselves as Romanian.  This 70% includes people who are Romanian by birth, but also people who view themselves culturally as Romanian.  Some are Romanian in terms of one parent being of Romanian decent and not the other.

That still leaves 30% of the people and cultures a person can identify.  They have influenced and still influence much of Transylvania.  Bran Castle was built by the Teutonic Knights while they lived in Transylvania as a fortress and protection against the neighbouring principality of Wallachia.  Later the Saxons of the area would maintain it for many years until it became an official residence of Queen Marie of Romania.

The Transylvanian Saxons and the Hungarian population- most notably the Székelys- left buildings and cities where their culture flourished before the end of the Second World War.  There are still pockets of these people who are left in Transylvania, but the Hungarians who live in Transylvania make up to 20% of the population there, mostly concentrated in several cities.

There are other cultures and peoples who have had influence in Transylvania, and these were: Greeks,  Albanians, Armenians and Bulgarians.  This is due to the area being in constant political flux.  There was also a strong Jewish population in Transylvania, but this is much smaller now due to the Second World War.

Language is also part of the culture of Transylvania, and while most people speak Romanian, there are people who still speak Hungarian, German, Ukrainian, and the Turkish languages are the most common in Transylvania.

The people, languages, and culture have left their mark on Transylvania, and it is because of this Transylvania has remained as unique as it is.

October 26, 2014

Castles of Transylvania, Romania

What is the exact number of castles in Transylvania, and which three would you like to go and visit?

Depending on which text you follow, there are between 115- 155 castles in the Transylvania region.  Some will add the Banat region to these numbers, but the Banat is a distinct area on its own.  Some, like Făgăraș is also close to a city like fortress- it is found in the Brasov county, and it is one which has slowly seen a destroyed economy being rebuilt.  Others, like Bran Castle are indeed, castles of legends and myths.  This castle is also found in Brasov county, but unlike its mate, has held a legendary status thanks to Stoker's writing of Dracula.  Bran Castle has been restored many times and most people remember where it is because of the novel's influence.

The number can never be exact due to the nature of archeology, there is likely smaller castles which were made of less durable materials, or castles which were destroyed by invasions or disrepair.

Three castles which I would like to go and visit are the Historic Centre of Sighișoara, which has ties to Bran Castle but also to the Saxon community of Transylvania.  Vlad Tepes was born in this city and it is a UNESCO heritage site as well.  Some of it is more of a fortress and others show its castle like nature to the tourists who come to see it.

Another castle to visit, and it has always been on my list is Corvin Castle, it is being restored after many years of neglect but, it is not as accurate a restoration as historians would like to see.  However, the man who once lived there holds my interest- John Hunyadi- the castle was built for Charles I of Hungary, but was given to the Hunyadi family by another Hungarian King.  Over the years many modifications were added, and John Hunyadi made certain it was done to high standards as he used it as one of his main homes.  According to Bronwen Riley, the restorations on this castle are based on what people want a Gothic castle to look like.

The last castle I would want to see is Bethlen Castle in Beclan, Transylvania.  This is where many people of Saxon heritage lived, but it is now largely Romanian in population.  This is the former seat of the Hungarian family Bethlen.  This family was powerful in the 1500s, and one of them would marry an influential woman, Catherine of Brandenburg, who would succeed him briefly as Princess of Transylvania.

October 16, 2014

My Go To Writers of Transylvania, Romania

When it comes to the go to author on Transylvania, Romania who do you try to refer to?

I have several authors to whom I refer to when I am writing about Transylvania, and I find the one who have published the most books are the ones I tend to have in my personal library.  It is not easy to find a lot of books on Transylvania that are not travel books or are a part of several large volumes of history on Europe or Hungary or Romania. There are also several fiction books I have which deal with Transylvania, or how the writer views Transylvania.

One of my most "dog eared" books is the The Rise and Fall of Saxon Transylvania by Catalin Gruia which is a small book detailing the life of the Transylvanian Saxons who lived there until the end of the Second World War, but after this time saw the majority of the Saxons flee for Germany, or to North America.

It is a good one to have on a shelf since it gives a general idea to a reader of Transylvania how people lived and how they either remained or left Transylvania.  It is written so a reader can understand the dynamics of the cultures who once lived in the area.  Gruia has written other books on the subject as well.

Another good book to have on the shelf is Transylvania which is more of a coffee book as opposed to a history book or a travel book, and Bronwen Riley has done a fantastic job of showing the land visually to as many readers as possible.  Riley is one of my "go-to" because I am a very visual person and I need to "see" it before I can understand it.  Transylvania is a bit of an older book but it is still an important part to my own information on the area.

One of the many books that can be found on Dracula, the one I have on my shelf (other than Bram Stoker's novel Dracula) is In Search of Dracula: The History of Dracula and Vampires by Radu Florescu.  This book gives me details about Dracula in general and also about the history behind the legend.

Florescu has written other books on Dracula, and Vlad Tepes, but this one is a good overview of the history which still keeps readers interested long after a book about vampires was written.

October 2, 2014

Questions Will Be Answered This Month

Last month, we got a number of questions asked on Things About Transylvania through Facebook and Twitter and email.  Thank you for the huge response, and now we will be answering them, we've have more than 80 questions and comments, but we've tried to break down a few that were similar in nature.

As a result here are some of the questions we're going to answer this month.

1) When it comes to the go to author on Transylvania who do you try to refer to?

2) What is the number of castles in Transylvania, and which three would you like to go and visit?

3) How many cultures/ people live in Transylvania, Romania?

4) Who is the most famous royal person who lived in Transylvania- not counting Dracula?

5) Are there any remaining links to some of the historical people who lived in Transylvania?

6) How much do you have to pay to see some major historical sites in the area?  What is the most important thing to see?

7) Why did the Romans want Transylvania?

8) Who were the people whom the Romans conquered during the time Transylvania was a part of the Roman Empire?

9) Why is Transylvania important to Romania?  Is it important to other countries as well?

10) When the Romanian revolution happened which cities in Transylvania were against the communist government?

11) Were the Russians a constant worry in Transylvania or were there others?

12) Best author on Transylvania?

September 23, 2014

Images of Transylvania, Romania

The imagery that Transylvania gives to people is profound and a thing of beauty.  It is something that captivates the imagination of many people who travel to Romania.  Each city is defined by its unique monuments and history.  It is because Transylvania was a part of Hungary, and a principalities with many cultures that it makes itself wonderfully unique.

Take for example the churches which are built in the cities, to the right are churches who are famous in their cities, both are from the German Saxon culture and each is different from the other, as each city is different.  This is what makes Transylvania not only a wonderful place to tour, but gives a person a different view on what life would be like for each community, no matter what ties bound them together.

Even when comparing the cities or castles which have the same ties- in this case, Vlad Tepes, vampires or Dracula, they are wonderful images of history and culture which can't be repeated in another city.  Bran Castle is famous for Dracula, but its counter part, where the infamous "Countess of the Blood" have had different fates placed on them by history. 

September 15, 2014

New Book About Transylvania

In just a few short weeks, Things About Transylvania, or rather its authors will have a new book out. Publishing is not for the faint of heart, but it is something that needs doing.  We've chosen our topic- but we've decided to give you a bit of a hint about the contents right now.

Since both of us write on different topics, we know that writing together was at times both fun and challenging.  We hope you will enjoy this new book as much as we did writing it.

September 3, 2014

Three Books I Recommend About Transylvania

Transylvania, Romania is an interesting topic.  There are many books published on this area, but today I'll focus on three which I recommend because they are well written, or have some excellent photos to offer for people who don't know the area all that well.

Transylvania (Bradt Travel Guide) is the first book I recommend for anyone who plan on travelling to Transylvania.  It tells you the basics- from where is Transylvania to its history and heritage, but it also  adds to the basic traveller's guide to Romania.

This particular guide focuses not only on Bran Castle, but it shows some of the more interesting fortresses and historical sites along the way.  I've found this a good book, but it is one which I use for the historical information for each city rather than the hotels.

The next book I recommend is: Transylvania which is a beautiful hardcover book with some stunning photos.  It shows is vivid details the people and the places that the travel guide writes about.  It's also an excellent coffee table book and provided my guests with several hours of interesting entertainment.

Part of the enjoyment of it is that it is a visual book and one can read and discuss it, and still come away with more than they expected.

It is a hard cover, but it is meant to be shown, so it is a worth while book so that a person does not have to explain as much about the land as they would have to if there wasn't a book like this.

 The last book I have the pleasure of reading and recommending is Out of the Transylvania Night which deals with the fall of Ceausescu and his government.  This is a memoir of the time in the life of the author, but it gives a very different description of this time in 1989 and onwards.  It also shows how many people from Transylvania adapted to changes in their lives or not.

This is a quick read, and the author makes it clear it is a memoir but has changed names, or descriptions in some cases.  Overall it is a good book to read and gives a good idea of what the late 20th Century was like in Transylvania- and the unrest between Bucharest and Transylvania, but also in Romania.

August 31, 2014

The Importance of Transylvania And Romania

There will always be someone who will argue that a place such as Transylvania isn't important, but I will argue that it is.  It is an area which could have be bitterly divided along cultural or ethnic lines, and it hasn't.  There is tension in the area, but never a civil war between the people who lived there to the extent of other area in central Europe.

The importance of Transylvania is that it fosters several streams of income for the country of Romania, tourism and natural resources being the two which have the most potential to help create a powerful economy for the people of both Transylvania and Romania.  

Take for instance Bran Castle, which is privately owned but allows for extra growth in the area of Brasov. Brasov has built a business out of Dracula and out of other historical figures who have lived there. In my own book, I talked about the Saxons of Transylvania, and Brasov was one area where the Saxons and Romanians had influence and power.

The importance of Transylvania comes from it culture.  There still are cities where Hungarian or German populations live and use their own languages.  This comes about because of centuries of people living in the same area and with many small freedoms granted to them.  Unlike many places where the tension boiled over, Transylvania has remained a peaceful area.  With Hungary and Romania working together, many cultural Hungarians of Transylvania hold dual Hungarian and Romanian citizenship as part of a deal between the two countries.

There will always be a place for the people of Transylvania. In history, it is easy to see how much influence Transylvania had on its people.  It was so important to the Romanians of this area to make it a part of the Greater Romania that they allowed more of its people freedoms than it would have otherwise done to keep the people happy after the end of World War I.

In doing so, the Romanian government did not push for more land to incite hatred for the the Romanian government.  It took land as compensation for Transylvania having been a part of Hungary, but it made certain that people were still allowed some freedoms such as choosing to remain Catholic or Lutheran.  It did not mean that these people lost everything, but many Saxons and Hungarians lost a lot of power.  The good part was that over time, Romania has attempted to allow for greater cultural recognition, but this was possibly because this is also the direction in which other countries in the European Union are moving.

As an author, the success of Transylvania means that more people discover this wonderful jewel hidden in Romania.  This goes beyond simply Dracula, and it celebrates the history of the people and of the land.  The importance of Transylvania's economy can not be underestimated; it creates jobs and income for Romania, and it allowed more freedoms before many of the other European countries did.  This does not mean it was all good. It simply means that it makes Transylvania different from other areas with similar land and people.