Saturday, December 29, 2007

Internet program: Squidoo update


I've earned $.76 since May 4, 2007, with my Squidoo Lens on Gifted Children.

Well, that's a waste of time. Squidoo's payout threshold is $10. At this rate, I will earn $10 in 2016, at which point it will be worth $4 Canadian or 1.33 Euros.

Is anyone earning money on Squidoo? It took me a few hours to get the site set up, and to be fair I've promoted it with another hour or so of time, but 4 hours = $.76?


I found some commentary here and here and here, with people raving about earning $10 or $70, but that's with 13 or more lenses, and after many months. Or, using Squidoo to post affiliate links. Again--why do that when you can drive traffic to your OWN site?

Unless you have a reason to drive tons of traffic to a site (and if you do, why waste that traffic on another site?), Squidoo seems like a waste of time.

Internet program: Make money through affiliate programs

Now, this is 100% ancient in terms of the Internet. I've had an Associates account since 1997, when I started fooling around with HTML and established some basic, incredibly lame websites.

Affiliate programs work like this: someone clicks on a link to a store. They buy something. If they click on YOUR link from YOUR site, you get a % of their sale.

That's it.

For instance, we eat a gluten-free diet. We recently discovered Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Click on that link. I dare you. It takes you to's Grocery section, where you will find a 4-pack of the chocolate chip cookie mix for 31% off the retail price of $6 per bag, right?

(Don't get me started on the cost of gluten-free products. $2.40 for a box of mac n' cheese, and that's the sale price. I might cry.)

If you buy that 4-pack of Bob's Red Mill Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix, I get a cut, anywhere from 5-10% of the purchase price, depending on the whim of the marketing gods, who determine how much to throw our way.

If you don't have a blog or a website, you might be wondering what this has to do with you, and with making money working from home.

Let me ask you: how much do you spend on online shopping each year? $500? $1,000? $5,000? More? What's 5-10% of $5K? Do the math, and now I might have your attention.

I spend a LOT on, because their bulk gluten-free products are the cheapest price anywhere. I buy through my own link and shave 5-10% off their sale prices. You can email your affiliate link to friends and family and encourage them to buy through your associates account.

You can--check terms and services before doing this--link to Amazon or other companies' products when talking about them on message boards, and make a small affiliate commission. You can help a charity of your choice by setting up an affiliate store on their website and encourage their supporters to shop through it.

But more to the point: you can use affiliate links through, or Commission Junction, to affiliatize your Internet life and make a little money.

By the way, those gluten-free cookies are GOOD. You know you want to click. Click and buy. Now.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Last-minute shopping, or: how desperate are you?

So work deadlines tighten for me around this time of year, and it's always such a pain to deal with holiday shopping and work. Why can't Christmas be in February? Seriously.

I'm getting increasingly desperate, and turning to Gift cards as an avenue for presents. We did this back in 1998, when our first child was only 7 weeks old. Christmas shop? I'm trying to manage a 12 lb baby and recover from being turned inside-out and you expect me to Christmas shop? Um, no.

Back in 1998, though, no one knew what to DO with the e-certificates we sent them. I suspect half of the gift certificates are sitting in email accounts long abandoned, while bean counters at count them among the 27% of gift cards that go unused.

Happy shopping!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Internet Program: Tips, tips and more tips

Can the Internet be any more tip oriented? wants your tips--send them a link to sites that help you streamline your life. wants tips on local businesses (**coughreviewdisguisedastipcough**).

The FBI is in on the tip thing: submit a crime tip at Ideal Bite helps you take a bite out of life--in a green way, as you tip the world eco-friendily.

Tips, tips and, of course, more tips.

Is this Web 2.0's way of distancing itself from the word "review" or "opinion" and capitalizing on the new jargon of the new mini-bubble? "Tip" sounds so simple, so light, and it carries a connotation of money. I'm going to give you a tip; I'm going to give you information that makes your life richer.

Or am I extracting a tip from you to make my site more widespread on the tubes, for more organic search results and better rankings long-term, by capitalizing on that whole "25% of Google-indexed information is user-generated" model? Free content. User-generated content. No $10 SEO article purchases. No contracting with Bangalore for $.001 a word keyword articles to drive traffic. No stress wondering where the freelance articles are, no excuses from late writers.

Get the Internet users who post on Perez and TMZ and Sybermoms and Mothering and Fark to come to your site and write your site for you.

Technology is driving the tip thing. It's beyond easy for sites to create interfaces and databases that allow users to input information that users think is valuable, and for end users to extract the information that they find valuable.

It's GIGO but garbage goes in, the garbage that comes out is custom-requested garbage, and anything that's never requested sits in the middle like a Salvation Army donation reject bin. Too expensive for disposal, not useful enough for distribution.

FamilyZip gives some revenue sharing, so you can even monetize your tips now. Give us a tip and we'll give you--a tip? 60% revenue sharing is better than the 15% waitresses receive, although at least when you wait tables (and I did it for 6 years) you have a user consuming a product with a defined value, and that 15% comes from a concrete number that you know early in the transaction.

60% of ad revenue for your tip may add up to $100 in 2027. But here's a tip: you would have to write many, many tips. The tip model works only when people want to share information, but again--what drives them to share?

Figure that out and send it to me as a tip. That's Web 3.0 right there.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Internet Program:

Now here's a novel idea: get paid to write reviews! Where have I heard that before? Hmmmm.....

Shared Reviews
is offering a fairly low $2 per review, up to 75 reviews right now. Therefore, you max out at $150. However, a review takes about two minutes to write. 750 characters is required for the review, which is two medium-sized paragraphs in teeny-tiny font.

Long-term, the site seems like Epinions. Web 2.0 seems to be recycling Web 1.0, and I'm not certain that's a good idea. Shared Reviews claims to use the reviews to enhance advertising for web companies, but I'm wondering how. Will they use it with graphics? As placed blog posts? Advertorial content?

In the meantime, dust off those Epinions skillz and get on teh Internets with teh tubes and start writing. Why not? A little more PayPal can't hurt.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Update: Earnings from Constant Content, Associated Content, LetterRep, and Brijit

I have now sold 7 "usage" licenses on Constant Content and will receive $58.85 on November 1. Three of those sales were for articles I already published on Associated Content, so I've made money repeatedly for the same article.

I have now sold 7 letters on LetterRep, for $70 total.

Associated Content is amusing--I'm well over $1,000 for the year, but haven't published anything there since May. I'm receiving anywhere from $20-$40 in passive income, though, from pay-per-click, and getting pageview bonuses.

Brijit is a growing area for me. I made $15 in September for writing 4 abstracts and having 3 accepted. I spent about 70 minutes on registering and writing.

In October, though, I've streamlined, and it takes me 10-15 minutes to read an article and write an abstract, and I have a 100% acceptance rate--all 3 abstracts! LOL. $15 guaranteed, bay-bee! I have 2 more abstracts I wrote this morning in the hopper. There are some writers who average 350 abstracts per month; that's $1,750, so hardly chump change. I'd like to get myself to a comfortable point where I'm writing 3 or so per day, all accepted, and generating an extra $500 per month for reading articles I would already read.

That's my update. I'm not getting rich here, and I do have a day job now, but I enjoy these small, clever ways of participating in Web 2.0, making some money, and building a skill set in Web writing that can help my career.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Review Nation

Our opinion is important, isn't it? Associated Content runs content requests for reviews of products at times (paying as much as $10 per article). Epinions pays $1 or more for short reviews at times. asks for reviews on travel, and lately, is asking for reviews on home improvement companies, home accessories stores, and anything related to home renovation.

Why are our opinions so important?

Back in the day--1999, to be offered an entire pound of Dunkin Donuts coffee for reviewing online companies. Yes--you wrote a review and they spent--what? $6?--on a pound of coffee, and then $3-4 to send it two-day shipping via UPS. My opinion was worth a lot of Joe back then.

I think I earned 60 lbs of coffee with that promotion. My friends got some, we drank some, we freezed some, and eventually I got so tired of the coffee that I just...stopped writing reviews. They broke me!

Epinions used to give $2+ for a review; again, back in the day, earning a few hundred there was easy. is a new site offering money for reviews; a pot of money is divided between reviewers based on readership, so it's another spin on this idea of revenue sharing. Rather than ad revenue, it's a predetermined amount of money. Talk about a zero-sum game.

When did our opinion become so important? When social networking became key. It's not just about user-driven content. It's about user-driven relationships and--harnessing? managing? controlling? shaping? collaborating? Pick a term.

How about "making mad loot off this process"?

Web companies want to develop relationships with their users; message boards, email pings, "trusted user" designations, contests and giveways all seek the same end: to get the user to come back.

And yet the users need to be motivated by some intrinsic desire to visit web sites, right? Shoppping for an item, searching for an answer to a question, seeking like-minded users--with HomeStars or Angie's List it's all about home renovation and home-related items, while with or reviews, it's all about books, dvds, videos, and gadgets you buy. The grocery section on has become one of my favorite places to shop--that review on Bare Fruit dried cherries does affect my purchase. It's user-driven content that shapes my behavior and dollar pattern.

Is user-driven content about social engineering?

You bet. And why not? Why not let word-of-modem replace word-of-mouth?

So go do your part and socially engineer someone in Bangladesh, or Des Moines, or London right now. Write a review. Do it for free. Sometimes the free content is worth more, in the end, than anything you're paid for. It worked in 1997 when I landed a job as a result of free material I put online. Perhaps "Review Nation" can do the same for you.

p.s. You can review this post by leaving a comment.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Freelancing: $5 to write 60 words with Brijit

So here's a new place to make a little money and to learn the fine art of abstracting:

Brijit is a catch-all for online news, and they hire writers to write 60-100 word abstracts of various articles (from New Yorker, The American Prospect, Business Week, etc.). When you log in to their system you find a queue of works (so far anywhere from 70 to 150 assignments available at any given time). 3 writers can "claim" a job: only ONE will be selected and paid, so be warned.

I've written 4 abstracts. All 4 have been selected for payment. Editors do edit your work. PayPal comes at the end of the month.

It's worth a try. I chose articles that I would enjoy reading anyhow, so the pay is a nice bonus.

There is no limit to the number you can write, but you can only claim one abstract at a time, and you have strict deadlines.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Freelancing: Telecraig, or, finding telecommuting jobs on Craigslist

Craigslist is one of the best social networking/new media/natural media sites on the web today.

Telecraig, or is a search engine that searches ALL of Craigslist--every single city, every single job section--to find any job or contract with the word "telecommuting" in it.

The down side to this is twofold: any mention of "no telecommuting" pops up on the search results, and all of those ridiculous "Make $4,000 working 6 hours a week from home" ads appear.

However, if you're looking for specific work--as an editor, a Ruby on Rails programmer, or data entry, for instance--you can enter your search topics and see what comes up.

So far, I've been interviewed for two positions I found on Telecraig, one in a city I would never have visited on my own. Because telecommuting is not area-specific, Craigslist might consider having a "telework" page that is global and appears in all markets. For now, though has to fill that role, clunky as it may be.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A Grey's Anatomy rant

This has *nothing* to do with working from home. Just getting this off my chest.

In Season 1, fans were hooked by the romance between Meredith Grey and Derek Shepherd on Grey's Anatomy. In Season 2, they struggled apart as Derek worked to save his broken marriage to Addison. In Season 3, fans wondered: who would Meredith choose? Finn or Derek? When these star-crossed lovers finally reconnected, post-divorce and post-Finn, "Mer/Der" becam a delicious, weekly tune-in that held such promise. So why did Shonda Rhimes "Mer/Der" Meredith and Derek's romance?

Meredith picked Derek after all. Fans were left wondering at the end of Season 2: Finn? Or Derek? Derek and Meredith had, of course, just made love in an exam room, a product of pent-up passion, Derek's rage at his Meredith addiction (and, not-so-subconsciously, and his horrible choice to go back to his cheating wife, Addison) and Meredith's seeming inability to have a normal, loving, mature relationship with Finn, the stable, sweet veterinarian who was recovering emotionally from his young wife's accidental death. The young windower, played by Chris McConnell, seemed perfect for Meredith, played by Ellen Pompeo. But was Finn perfect? Was Meredith too "dark and twisty" for the man Mer/Der fans labelled "Finn-ished"? Was Derek (played by Patrick Dempsey) right for her after all? And could Meredith push past the pain of Derek's rejection to overcome obstacles and reestablish Mer/Der?

Mer/Der was left with a series of pushes and pulls through Season 2. Derek ignored Meredith's famous "pick me--choose me--love me" speech and thought himself a more moral man, in need of a return to his spurned wife Addison, played by Kate Walsh. Within a few episodes the answer was clear--Season 3 would bring a very different spin on this series, which had cruised and soared through seasons 1 and 2 with some of the best writing on television in years.

Derek backed out of the Finn/Derek race for Meredith, leaving her to realize that she did want Mer/Der. Poor Finn really was "Finn-ished." Then it was love tennis, with Derek and Meredith lobbying "yes, no, maybe" for a few episodes, driving Mer/Der fans wild with fury and frustration. (Perhaps they felt like Derek at the end of Season 2, hissing into Meredith's ear. Obsession isn't always fun.)

Finally, in a replay of their first meeting in Joe's Bar, Meredith and Derek were just a guy and a girl in a bar. and they rekindled the romance. And then, oh, Meredith nearly died, Derek refused to breathe for her, the chief told Derek he wouldn't make chief if he might hurt Meredith, Meredith's mother died, then her fake mommy/stepmother died, her father slapped her (and no one jumped in to stop him), she failed her intern final but was permitted to retake it, Thatcher returned to humiliate her at the hospital, Derek met a woman in a bar and hinted to Meredith that he was tempted, the woman was Meredith's half-sister...

And what a mess.

What is Shonda Rhimes doing? She's "Mer/Der"ing Mer/Der. And if that's part of some grand plan, then fine. But why not let the characters breathe? The show succeeds most when it is character-driven, and not plot-driven. The whirlwind of disasters isn't overwhelming in a literary sense. It's amateurish writing, and it never gives fans a chance to analyze and watch and absorb how characters model behaviors and grow.

Season 3 "Mer/Der"ed Meredith and Derek. And not in a good way.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Freelancing: Professional Contacts Can Bring in Business When You Least Expect It

I started a website in 1997 called HistOracle: A Journal of Uncommon History. If you go into The Wayback Machine you can find it. It was hand-coded in HTML by me, and it is quaint. It was a webzine for historical fiction. I produced 2 issues.

A staff writer for an educational publishing division for a private school system contacted me after seeing HistOracle; he asked whether I knew any historical fiction writers who would be interested in a full-time telecommuting position, fully benefitted, writing historical fiction for kids.


My resume and cover letter went off to him with lightning-quick speed. That was in October 1998. I was 38 weeks pregnant. He didn't know that. My writing sample and job application went out the day I went into early labor.

I had my son in November 1998, and three weeks later I was dressed in business casual for an interview, trying not to leak through my shirt (I succeeded) and not mentioning my infant. Three days before my son turned three months old, I had my first official day as a Staff Writer.

I worked there until I was laid off in August 2002, and since then I have picked up freelancing academic writing jobs through personal contacts, Elance, and professional contacts. I've written articles for twelve reference books since 2005, and yesterday was contacted by an editorial company that heard about me through a publishing representative I've spoken with regarding textbook adoption for the courses I teach at a local college. I'd told the representative that I was looking for freelance textbook writing, but this was months ago.

Lo and behold, I'm now on a new project, new company, new publisher. It's not full-time, and I won't get rich (yet it's a paid, History job!), but it's interesting work (test development and chapter review writing) and I can put another Big Name Publisher on my client list (next to two names you already would know if I wrote them).

All from networking.

So make sure you network!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Money Update: I am really, truly making money from these sites.

Letter Rep: I sold 2 letters this week. $20.

Constant Content: I sold 1 usage license this week. $10, but CC takes 35%, so I've made $6.50. CC has accepted another eight articles I have written, so those might sell as well. Keep in mind that selling a usage license means the article can still sell another usage license, or sell for much more (in this case, $30) for full rights.

Associated Content I've already discussed. I'm plugging along averaging $600 per month. And MyPoints is continuing to generate about $5 per month. I'm working steadily on my two-month Elance project as well.

You won't get rich here, but if I put up more Constant Content material, and if I wrote more LetterRep letters, I could earn more. Sadly, both of my children have coxsackie virus (hmm...maybe I should write about that!) so it's a slow writing week.

Another point I'd like to make: I'm doing this for fun and extra money. I'm also involved in an academic research project. So the goal of these programs and freelancing opportunities, for me, is three-fold:

1. I have no set deadlines. Sick kid? Sick me? Playdates? Research pressure? Fine. I just hurt myself if I don't do the writing and make the money, but no editor is screaming at me for a late article.

2. I can do this when I want. 15 minute break while the kids are playing? Write an article for Associated Content. 10 minutes while they watch television? upload an old article to Constant Content for usage rights. MyPoints get clicked while checking email. LetterRep I do when the kids are doing computer programs or watching German videos.

3. I write about what *I* want to write about. This is a double-edged sword, because if AC or CC reject my work, I can only blame me. LetterRep is funny--I only write the letters I want to write. I don't want to write a break-up letter! Then again, $10 for about 10 minutes isn't bad, either.

So there's my update. I'll update frequently and will be presenting more work-at-home opportunities this week, both good and bad.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Freelancing: is a site where buyers buy, well, letters. Need to write a job reference letter for someone? Buy one for a fee. Need a letter explaining your poor credit? Buy one. Need a letter requesting an import/export agreement between your company and one owned by the Sultan of Brunei? You got it--for a fee.

As odd as it sounds, in this day and age of the Internet, you can hire just about anyone to do just about anything--even write a break up letter for you. I'm not joking. Pay for someone to write a "Dear John" letter. Check it out at

So what's in it for freelancers and people who want to earn money from home? needs writers. Letter writers. And they pay you $10 every time someone buys your letter.

Writers can earn money in two different ways. First, you can upload your own, existing professional letters. Of course, the letters need to be modified. For instance, using substitution brackets in key places, such as "Dear [hiring manager]," is important. If you already write professional letters, or have a handful sitting around, it might be worth going over them and uploading the documents to Every time a buyer purchases one, you make $10.

The second way to earn money with is to write on request. Buyers can list specific requests, such as "letter declining a job" or "letter explaining my derogatory credit history" or "letter to my ex-husband's girlfriend asking her to do a police background check." The writer then looks at the request and either suggests existing letters on, or writes a new letter tailored for the client.

Most of the specific requests are seemingly ordinary. For anyone who has worked in a secretarial or administrative position, writing such letters may be second nature. But what takes one person ten minutes to write may take another person hours. Hence the birth of this service. If you, as a writer, are skilled with letter writing, this may be a great opportunity to earn some money using your skills.

In addition, many of the requests have a legal slant to them. Paralegals, lawyers, of business consultants have an edge with this service. Many of the more technical or legal requests go unanswered. A niche is waiting for the right person.

Signing up for a free account with LetterRep is easy. The process takes two to three minutes. Writing on request is exceptionally simple as well; you click on the request and a text box appears. Type your professional letter in the box, fill in the additional requested info (i.e. bullet points explaining the letter), and hit submit.

The letters are reviewed by staff within six to twelve hours. If there is an editorial problem, the letter is moved into "My Problem Works" on your account, where you have a chance to fix any problems and resubmit. If the letter is clean, considers it "live" and ready for viewing by prospective buyers.

While letter writers earn $10 per letter for sales, payout does not occur until you reach $50. In other words, you must sell five letters before you can receive a payment. offers buyers a niche service that isn't found elsewhere, and writers a unique opportunity to earn money in a very different writing capacity. To learn more, visit and explore this market.

Freelancing: Elance

Elance is a fascinating, half-eBay, half-classified ads job site. In the Elance Marketplace, service "providers" are linked to job "buyers" through a basic message board-like interface, which allows buyers to post projects and for providers to browse the same projects and bid to get the job.

There are various freelancing categories on Elance, including Writing and Translation, Programming and Software Development, Logos, Graphic Design, and Illustration, Website Design, Business Design, and "Other".

Buyers post projects--for free--and providers browse the various projects. Providers then describe why they are the best person for the job, often attaching samples of previous work, and then bid on the job, describing how long the job will take as well.

Then the buyer decides.

Providers can create a basic profile about themselves or their business, and create a Portfolio of past client work, so that potential clients can view their work on Elance and elsewhere.

While posting projects is free for Elance buyers, for providers there is a membership fee. While the least expensive option is only $11 per month, for instance, for a "Limited" membership, many Elance buyers refuse to work with "Limited" providers, choosing "Select" providers only. A Select provider membership starts at $69 per month, although an annual membership runs $349. For this fee Select providers can bid on "sealed" bid projects (Limited and Professional members cannot); in many cases, the most lucrative projects are posted as Select projects. In essence, going for the lower-cost option on Elance will limit your ability to retain the best clients.

Since 2004 I have earned more than $80,000 as a result of Elance. While technically I have earned $15,400 according to my Elance profile, I've picked up clients on Elance who have then turned into non-Elance clients. In one case, I went from 10 hours per week as a writer for one client's website to working 40+ hours per week for them for eight months. In other cases, I picked up long-term website writing, SEO writing, and user interface testing projects.

Elance not only charges a membership fee, they also charge anywhere from 6.75% to 8.75% of the project total to the provider. In other words, if you win a $200 project, $13.50 to $17.50 goes straight to Elance. There is a minimum $10 fee as well, so smaller projects, such as a $50 article, will be charged a $10 fee off the top.

Like eBay, buyers and providers provide feedback for each other. Elance rates on a 1 to 5 scale. I currently hold a 5.0 rating, and many buyers will only work with providers with a 4.8 to 5.0 rating. Performing quality work is key to maintaining a high rating.

Elance works well for writers, website designers, and software and business consultants who have a reasonable amount of work under their belt, and who can build a strong portfolio to gain clients. A complete beginner to freelance writing, for instance, will struggle to find clients on Elance. Most buyers want to see some work samples before considering a provider.

At the same time, in some categories the prices for projects are very low. Keyword articles, for instance, are often priced at $2-$4 per article for a batch of 100 articles. Even a well-seasoned professional takes 10-12 minutes to write a 400 qord keyword article; between writing, saving, uploading, and client communications, at best a $2 per article rate would yiled $9-$10 per hour for the work, pretax.

Providers from Romania, India, and Pakistan have flooded Elance, and can often underbid U.S. and Canadia providers because of cost of living differences. On the other hand, some buyers refuse to work with non-U.S. providers for various reasons. When looking at project bids, keep this phenomenon in mind.

I recently picked up a ghostwriting book project for over $3,000 on Elance; the project will keep me busy for part of the summer, and it's a topic I already enjoy. This is work I could never have found without Elance. The buyer is located in a different part of the country, and even through professional contacts I could never have connected with him to perform this fascinating (and remunerative) Elance work.

Elance is an excellent tool for freelancers, but I wouldn't recommend it for complete beginners. Use it as a second step after making sales to Associated Content or Constant Content, and keep in mind that the competition can be brutal. Bid fair rates, do quality work, and get your completed project done before the official deadline to keep a high buyer rating, and Elance will work well for you.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Internet Program: Epinions

I have been a member of Epinions since 1999. Between the end of 1999 and early 2001 (14 months) I earned $290 on Epinions. I earned about $21 per month back then. MAD LOOT!

I recently returned to my account on Epinions to find some old product reviews I'd written (more on this in a future post). Epinions is a website where users post short product reviews on products, services, colleges, restaurants--you name it. In 1999 it was innovative. Now, frankly, it's quaint.

Epinions earns money for the company in two ways: advertising (of course) and click-through purchases. If you write about a baby toy, and someone buys that baby toy from from your review, then Epinions earns an affiliate kick-back (normally 5-15% of the cost of the item).

Epinions, in the past, paid reviewers a flat rate ($.10 to $1) for each review, and then a certain amount ($.01 to $.10) every time the review was rated by readers.

That system has changed. It's now a "revenue share" model, which means you don't know up front how much you'll earn per review. The 42 reviews I posted in 14 months are still generating small streams of revenue, ironically ($.50 in my account!). So the good of Epinions is that you write your review and it lives on, earning non-active revenue.

The bad of Epinions is that your revenue stream may amount to a trickle that isn't worth the initial time to set up an account and write reviews. On the other hand, in March 2007 Epinions had a "10 for 10" promotion--write 10 reviews, earn a straight $10 upfront plus revenue share. So there's potential when Epinions runs promotions.

Epinions can be an excellent tool for those who enjoy writing reviews of products and services, and can be a nice addition to a "recycling content" model I will share in coming days--a way to take one 400 word review and "monetize" it on multiple sites and accounts to maximize effort and money.

More on that later. Click here to join Epinions:

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Constant Content

Constant Content is something like the anti-Associated Content. Both have a place on the web and in any work-from-home tool box.

With Associated Content you write an article on a topic you enjoy, or want to write about. You make sure it's SEO-compliant. Let me take a moment to explain this and how it relates to Constant Content.

SEO, or search engine optimization, simply means that you are writing your article to get it as high as possible in search engine rankings. Let's say you're writing an article about kids and allergies. Your keyword, then, is "kids and allergies" and also "kids" and "allergies." Now, "kids" is a vague keyword. If you type "kids" into Google you will get thirteen billion hits, and there's no way your article will be on page 1. Same with "allergies." But "kids and allergies"--you might have a chance if the keyword density is solid.

You want to write articles that are right around 400-600 words, leaning toward 400. This has to do with complex search engine ranking software issues that I, a non-techie, have no desire to try to explain, as I'd rather have an unmedicated root canal while listening to Rush Limbaugh describe his latest colonoscopy than explain software code. Suffice it to say that you want to stick to 400-600 words, leaning toward 400. Here is where Constant Content comes in.

"Keyword density" means that a certain percentage of the words in your article should be the keywords. So "kids and allergies" should be written, exactly as is, to the specific "keyword density" required by a client or a site. In general, you want to aim for 3%-5%. So--in a 400 word article, "kids and allergies" needs to be mentioned 12 to 20 times. Constant Content clients want work like this.

That's SEO writing. That's it. It's not rocket science. Again--this is a basic explanation. There's far more to SEO coding, and even to some forms of writing (secondary keywords, for instance). But this post is about Constant Content, and not SEO. :)

Both Associated Content and Constant Content want keyword-rich, 3%-5% density articles, in the 400-600 range. With Associated Content, you post the article. If they like it, they offer you $3-$12 (most in the $5-7 range lately). You accept, and the money comes into PayPal a few days later. You also earn long-term revenue from page views.

Constant Content is more selective, but the payoff is far, far higher. With Constant Content the article is reviewed for quality. And rejected if it is of poor quality. Whereas Associated Content edits and reviews ONLY for advertisability, Constant Content actually cares whether the article is good.

As an author, you create an account with Constant Content. Click here to check out the site: Constant Content

You then upload your article in a .txt file. Be certain it is error-free, and uses proper grammar. Unlike Associated Content, Constant Content is a stickler for detail.

YOU set the price you want for three levels of rights offered to people who want to buy your article at Constant Content: Usage Rights, Full Rights, and Unique Rights. Usage Rights bring in the lowest amount of money--but you can sell Usage Rights over and over, as you're essentially licensing your article for one-time use to various people. A 500 word article, for instance, sells at $5 to $10 on Constant Content for Usage Rights on average. Again--that's per sale.

Full Rights means you're giving away the copyright. It's the buyer's article now. Most "full rights" sales run between $40 and $120. Again--you're setting the price here. Think of Full Rights as a version of work for hire writing. You're just writing about what you want to write about, and then selling off the copyright. A 500 word article that sells with full rights at Constant Content for $75 equals a $.15 per word rate, which isn't half bad.

Unique Rights is an odd category, and frankly I'd avoid it. It's a hybrid between Usage and Full, and it creates a grey area. It's intended for people who want to retain their byline on the article. The client is required to keep your byline, and to keep the article intact a is--they can't break it up for change it. In my opinion, Usage only meets this need. If you want to protect your writing, go with Usage and Constant Content. If you just want as much money as possible outright, sell off Full Rights.

Unlike Associated Content, on Constant Content your material may sit. And sit. And never sell. One strategy, because Constant Content's pricing is so much better than Associated Content's, is to write and post your articles at Constant Content. If they don't sell after one to two months, post them as non-exclusive content on Associated Content, and earn $5 or $6 bucks. You then start earning money for page views, and you still retain Usage resell ability. It's win-win.

Constant Content also has a "private request" section. These are articles buyers are seeking, so writing for the specific demands can be one way to make relatively guaranteed money (if the buyer chooses your articles, of course).

Many freelancers and work-from-home folks use both Associated Content and Constant Content successfully to make $800, $1000, or more per month. Constant Content

Friday, May 4, 2007

Freelancing: Selling video clips to is the latest in the "pay to upload" sites such as Associated Content, Constant Content, and MyLot. These sites all have one quality in common: the average person, without any required professional skills in writing or videography, can produce a work product, upload it or post it, and make money from their activity. is different from Associated Content or MyLot in that ExpoTV accepts videos only. The payout is $5 for a one-minute minimum video clip. The initial payout of $5 is not the only way that Expo TV users make money. For each new user you refer to the site, you earn a $5 referral fee. In addition, every time someone chooses to view your uploaded video, you earn $.01.

While one penny for a video viewing may seem paltry, it's actually a fair revenue share, and considerably more remunerative than Associated Content's payout rate of $1.50 per 1000 page views; at $.0015 per view vs. $.01 for Expo TV, video producers might find themselves drawn to Expo TV rather than Associated Content. However, Associated Content is considerably more established than Expo TV, and uses Google rankings to improve search engine rankings. In other words--uploading videos to Associated Content may mean increased traffic to your video, more viewings, and more earnings in the end.

On the other hand, Expo TV offers a guaranteed $5 payout, which is $2 higher than Associated Content's $3 minimum, and referrals to Associated Content garner $3 vs. $5 at Expo TV. In addition, if your video is chosen for Expo TV's television channel--yes, they're on cable, in 25 million homes--you receive an additional $25 payout.

The videos posted to Expo TV are limited, currently, to "Videopinions," or reviews of specific products that video producers enjoy. In this sense, too, there is room for both Expo TV and Associated Content in any video producer's income-generating list. Video producers could simply upload product reviews to Expo TV while saving How-To videos and other video content for Associated Content.

Expo TV has specific rules for the videos: the producer's face must appear in the video, each video must be 1 minute or longer, and the sound and light quality must meet certain minimum requirements. Expo TV accepts 90% of submissions, so as long as producers follow the FAQ section on how to produce good videos, you should be fine.

Keep in mind that Expo TV is available in more than 25 million homes via On Demand on cable televisions. Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications and Charter Communications, among others, carry the television channel. You are submitting videos to be on television--real cable TV. So do your makeup, wear your thin clothes, and brush your teeth.

Learn more at Expo TV

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Freelancing: Writing for Squidoo

Well, I'm not sure I'd consider it writing, per se. The Squidoo page is more like assembling a collection of links, articles, affiliate links, eBay auctions, and so forth on a particular, narrow topic.

Squidoo is like blogging. No--wait. It's like Well, sort of. It's more like Associated Content. Um, no--it's like Helium. Well--it's like all of those.

Look at to see an example of a Squidoo "lens." A lens is a specific topic you choose. You use the Squidoo publishing process, then, to add "modules" to your particular Squidoo lens. For instance, you can have blog text boxes, add links to eBay auctions, links to books on, RSS feeds, and more.

With Squidoo, you can choose to be paid cash for any revenue your site generates. The content can remain, and there are no requirements for refreshing the page. In theory, one could spend 2 hours creating a lens, and then sit back while it generates $.10 per month in perpetuity.

Users are not limited in the number of lenses they can create. Last May, Squidoo was reporting that their top lens creators were earning $30 per month (or so) from lenses. Again--if you're blogging on your own, you can earn more via Adsense (more on blogging later), but the Squidoo lens could involve an initial time investment of 2 hours, then a once-a-week 10 minutes brush up. $30 per month for 40 minutes per month isn't bad, if you can get there. Multiply that times 10 lenses, and you have a decent little deal. For $.10 per month? Not such a great time/revenue ratio.

On the other hand, for writers working to promote articles on other sites, such as Associated Content, Squidoo might be worth the time investment. Associated Content writers could create various lenses, link to their own articles, and help generate higher Google rankings AND additional readers. So as a tool to promote content, Squidoo might be worth it. As a moneymaker--that remains to be seen. As my Squidoo lens picks up more readership over time, I will report back.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Ebay: Not Worth it As a Business

I sell on eBay. Quite a bit. I've had an account since 2001, and my husband has had an account since 1998, so we're relatively experienced at the ins and outs of eBay.

I received one negative rating out of 223 or so. The woman never emailed me to complain--I sent the wrong item accidentally, and had she simply emailed me and explained the problem, I'd have corrected the situation. Instead, she left me ripping-nasty feedback. She only had 5 transactions, ever, and within a few months her account had been deleted. And yet my negative feedback mars my otherwise-perfect record. 99.5% will have to suffice. :)

In any given month, lately, I sell about $600 worth of items. All of them are items I bought brand new for various reasons, and am now selling to declutter. I don't make a profit. I'm just getting rid of old items I no longer use.

Many eBayers sell for these reasons, and if you're one of them, you're not really "making" money. You're exchanging the money you once spent--a much higher amount--for money now--a much lower amount. So unless you declared those items for deductions on your taxes, any money you make off the sale of items you made no profit on is not taxable.

If, however, you sell items you declared on taxes as deductions, it gets complicated. Technically, any business deductions that are later sold MUST be reported on business tax forms. This is way out of my league tax-wise, but please consult with you tax adviser before the men in black appaear at your door with an audit notice.

Other people have entire retail businesses on eBay. They buy large amounts of items at wholesale, and then sell for retail prices on eBay. They invest thousands, tens of thousands, or more dollars for these businesses, and they treat the entire enterprise as a full business. Good for them.

The people who, in my opinion, don't really make money off eBay are the majority of people who claim to make money off eBay: resellers. You know the spiel: buy items at Goodwill or the Salvation Amry or yard sales, and sell them on eBay.

Before 8,123 people comment and complain that yes they DO make money this way, let me qualify my statement: while SOME people can make this work, most simply don't truly make a decent hourly wage doing this. Here's why.

1. If you're buying used items, you spend time going to stores and yard sales. Then you have the initial outlay of money. You have to take the item home, clean it, photograph it, upload the photos, list the item, play listing and selling fees, package the item, make sure the buyer pays, withdraw the money from PayPal, take the item to the post office, and mail it off. That is a LOT of time spent.

2. Unless your actual PROFIT is $30-$40 for an eBay transaction, you're not really making money. At a minimum, you spend 2 hours shopping, pricing, cleaning, listing, etc. If you're buying a selling baby clothes, or cloth diapers bought used, for instance, you're most likely not going to clear $30-$40 for 2-4 hours of work.

3. What happens when a seller is dissatisfied for that $12 item? How much time is spent answering silly questions from buyers? I can't count how many buyers have littered by eBay message system with questions that were answered in the description. (Yes, I'm ranting). And yet you don't want to lose a potential bidder, so you spend 3-5 minutes answering each question. The time adds up.

Again--selling your own items, in your home? Yes--worth it. Spending hours going to yard sales and used stores to sell for a profit? On average, not worth it, unless you genuinely enjoy the bargain hunting. Then you're just having fun, and that's cool.

Keep in mind: if you buy a cloth diaper for $.50 at a garage sale and it sells for $9, that profit needs to be declared. Of course, all the gas expenses, any meals out, listing fees, etc. can be deducted, but if you choose to buy low and sell high as a business, the IRS is really looking carefully at high-volume eBay sellers. So even if you "just" earn $300 a month profit, that $3,600 per year is money the taxman wants to tax.

Weigh it all out: time vs. money vs. hassle vs. taxes before assuming eBay is always worth it.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Freelancing: Writing for Associated Content

Now this is an interesting business model.

You, as a writer, write an article on a topic of your choosing. It must contain 400 words or more. Preferably, it has 3% to 5% keyword density, which means that 3% to 5% of the total number of words in the piece are the keyword--or target word or term--for your article topic.

You then go through a 5-screen upload process, and submit the article for review. The company offers you an upfront fee of anywhere from $3 to $12. You accept their offer or reject it. Within days, the article is published on their site, and you receive a PayPal payment for the agreed-upon amount.

Associated Content debuted in late 2005, but really gained steam at the end of 2006 and into early 2007. I joined in February of 2007 and have been earning a steady stream of income. Income is earned in two ways: "initial" payment, and a page view bonus. For instance, when I joined in February, my average payment for articles was $7.50. For a 400 word article, that's not quite $.02 per word; this is not the lap of luxury. However, for quick writers, a 400 word article takes 15-20 minutes, and my hourly rate was quite good.

In March Associated Content revealed the "page view bonus" plan. Over the past month, "initial" offers have dropped dramatically; my average is now somewhere around $5, although I recently received a $6.25 offer (bring on the caviar!). Page view bonuses are paid out at $1.50 per 1,000 views. Yes--every time someone clicks on your article you earn $.0015. Don't spend it all in one place.

To be fair, if one were to write 2 articles per day, at an average of $5 each, that's $300 per month, plus page view bonuses. I have earned--steady yourself--$9.70 in page view bonuses. 6400 views on my 105 articles, for an average of 63 views per article. My highest page view article has over 1,200 views: click here to read it (humor me)

My second highest:

And, inexplicably, the third most popular article:

Unless you are the parent of a gifted child who drinks gluten-free beer and takes thyroid medication, none of these articles is remotely related, and yet you just clicked on all three and made me $.0045 richer. Thank you.

Pros of publishing with Associated Content:

* You have no deadlines, no bosses, and no critics (I ignore comments. If the president can ignore his critics, so can I. It's the American Way).
* Once an article is accepted, you are paid within 5 days, via funded PayPal.
* If you're a struggling writer, it's a writing credit, and helps to establish a portfolio.
* You can publish "nonexclusive," leaving you free to republish the content on your blog, in print publications, etc.
* It's quick and fast money.
* You are approved or rejected within 2 weeks. No long waits.

Cons of publishing with Associated Content:

* The pay is low.
* Your article may be rejected (about 20% of my articles are rejected, although I now know how to reduce rejection rates, and for the past few weeks my rejection rate is 5%).

In addition, twice a month or so Associated Content offers special content situations where, for instance, there is a guaranteed payout of $8-$10 per article for product reviews, or videos, or whatever other topic the powers that be choose. One of my better performing articles was this review of our Honda Civic Hybrid:

for which I earned $8. Which bought me 2.6 gallons of gas. I was able to drive 121 miles with that gas.

To sign up for Associated Content, and open an account, sign up under ME! I use the pseudonym Lea Barton (you can use a pen name):

I do not earn a penny from this referral. It simply increases my clout, which apparently means nothing financially, but the little planets next to our names get bigger, so I'd love to go from Mars to Jupiter.

Some of the writers on Associated Content publish 5-7 articles per day. I'm plugging along at 2-3 per day, but at my peak easily managed 6-8. Tailor your output as you see fit. So far it's been a great way to gain some extra money, but as with any Internet income source, consider the fact that it may dry up at any point. Enjoy it while you can.

Internet Program: My Points

MyPoints is one of the oldest Internet "get paid to" or GPT programs. Founded in 1996, the company made it through the crash in the early 2000s and stands as one of the grandfathers (or grandmothers) of Internet points programs.

I earn about $60 per year in gift cards through MyPoints, for roughly 4-5 hours of my time. that's a return rate of $12-15 per hour, tax-free. MyPoints pays you in points for clicking on emails you receive (called BonusMail)--you generally receive 5 points for these emails. You earn points for shopping through the MyPoints website; for instance, 10 points for dollar is the payout for shopping at through the MyPoints website. In addition, taking short surveys and updating your profile on MyPoints can earn you small numbers of points.

750 points = $5 Panera gift card, so you would need to click on 150 BonusMails to earn the $5 gift card. That's an average of 5 emails per day, 30 days straight. The BonusMails tend to come in waves. Nothing for a few days, and then suddenly 15 fill your inbox. All BonusMails have an expiration date, so be careful. I will sort my email alphabetically, and then click on all the BonusMails in one quick shot every 3 days or so. 5 minutes or less.

The choice of cards is impressive--Target, WalMart, Old Navy, Panera, barnes & Noble, etc. And--unlike many other programs--these are regular gift cards, so they are suitable for giving out as gifts as well.

One great way to earn 1,000 points immediately--"Refer-a-friend." Get 10 friends to sign up for MyPoints and earn 100 points per friend.

Quite simply, I've been doing MyPoints since 1998 and it's the one program I've stuck with, through thick and thin. I generally cash out my points when I gather 3,250--this earns me a $25 gift card to Panera, so I can indulge in my insatiable desire for their vegetarian black bean soup and salad combo, with the little French baguette. Ahhhhh....

p.s. If you want me to send you an email invite so *I* earn 100 points and so that I can be a kept woman, awash in You Pick Two at Panera, email me and I'll send you an invite. I can only do this 10 times, though, so once those first 10 are done, I'll start sending the new requests to my first requests, helping those first 10 earn their first 1,000 points. And so on, and so on, and so on...

More information on points programs in general:

How Not to Work At Home

I have, since 1997, been working at/from home. For a brief stretch, here and there, I work onsite. I am an adjunct faculty member at a local college here in Western Massachusetts, so I need to stand before the students and spew nonsense about American Government and U.S. History and World History and Latin American History or whatever course I'm teaching. Aside from that, since 1998, when I left my secretary position at The Big Name Law School in Boston, I have not worked onsite in a steady capacity.

I have worked as a writer, editor, user interface tester, and Internet marketer since 1997.

I have also had fun dabbling in weird online programs.

You know the kind. Points programs for clicking on links. Reading emails. Taking surveys. Online sweepstakes (and yes, I've won quite a bit of stuff). Get-paid-to-publish. Getting paid to write messages on message boards. All of those income streams have, at one point or another, been part of my repertoire.

Some worked. Some didn't. This blog is an ongoing effort to discuss programs, jobs, and websites that DO work, so that a small income stream--or, perhaps, a large one--can help readers with whatever financial or personal goals they may have.

This isn't my business. It's a hobby. I have a tiny little Internet addiction, and this way I can defend myself against my husband's eyerolls when I get off the couch and have laptop creases on my legs. Or when my children say, "Mommy has a mouth? I never knew that. I couldn't see it past the top of her laptop screen."