Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2011 Business Plan for Writing and Editing

So, a day late, but as promised, I want to reflect on how 2010 was different from 2009 and use that as a springboard for making some goals for 2011.

Goal #1, though, is a simple picture:


And the picture really tells a simple story, but it's not the obvious story.

It's not "I need to make more time for my family." It's "I need to make the time I spend away from my family working more efficient and work for me."

So with that theme in mind, here are my 2011 goals:

About.com  - expand my income beyond the minimum ($500 per month stipend) by the end of 2011.
Suite101 - if possible, complete an experiment of 3-5 months writing nearly full-time, and quadruple my income (by quadrupling my article total) by the end of 2011.
History book - sell the proposal I have out there now, and have a full draft by the end of 2011.
Academic publishing - continue with current client and work to add one new client.
Book reviews - break into Kirkus Reviews with at least one review, and write 2-3 reviews for new academic journals.
Backlinking - write articles for non-paying or low-paying markets ONLY if I can backlink to my benefit.
DMS CE work - continue for now.

So that's it.

What I won't be doing in 2011:

  • Writing for DMS. I'm done.
  • Experimenting with lesser/low PR rev share sites.
  • Accepting work below a set pay rate (per word or per hour).
  • Chasing new clients aside from those targeted above.

Some other professional measures I need to take:

  • Create a website that showcases my work (I have the domain name).
  • Network more locally.
  • Contact more PR firms locally to get on lists for press events/grand openings/ festivals/etc. related to my writing.
  • Attend at least one major writing/editing/SEO conference.

Given that I have a toddler at home, I think this is fairly ambitious. I have about 7 hours of babysitting a week, and often sacrifice sleep to do my writing work. I'm hoping to keep my goals reasonable for 2011, but by mid-2012 Daniel will be in preschool and I may inch my way, slowly, toward having more time.

I want to enjoy my family time, though - having a large break (7.5 years) between our second and third means that I know how quickly they grow up, and at 1, 8 and 12 the time will fly by. Querying inappropriate markets, chasing low-pay but "possibly prestigious" work, and wasting my time on fruitless writing isn't how I want to spend my time this year.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Resurrecting My Open Salon Blog

I started an Open Salon blog in late 2009. You can read my latest post on home health aide training and aging parents.

So why have a blog on Salon.com? First of all, I'm not special - anyone can open one. Most important - the page rank is anywhere from 4 to 7 (depending on who rates it) and the links are DoFollow. Second, if you pop your AdSense in, you get one block of advertising. I think I've made a dollar there :-)

I don't post complete junk, or just links - I used to post updates on my $10K/month experiment, but I'd rather just blog on interesting topics related to my other articles now. The eldercare crisis blog post is a perfect example of that.

I also write at Blissfully Domestic to get high-quality backlinks (and, like Open Salon, you get one block of advertising with your AdSense account). Same with HubPages and Associated Content. Even if the site has NoFollow links, using the anchor text to target my exact keyword phrase can help boost an article's ranking - just not as much as a juicy high-PR DoFollow.

Monday, December 27, 2010

2010 Winning Strategies for Freelance Writing Earnings

I am going to shamelessly write my own version of Carol Tice's wonderful topic on her Make a Living Writing freelance writing blog. If you don't know Carol, she's a successful freelance writer who has made it her mission to help coach other freelance writers to earn more and take on better work.

She's very active on the LinkedIn editors and writers group, and was extremely helpful (along with Randy Hecht, Ruth Thayer and Karen Berger) last fall when I was making some writing business decisions. I read what they had to say on the forums and found myself really re-evaluating some career choices.

Carol's main message is that writers do NOT have to settle for content mills, substandard wages, and abusive clients - that there are specific strategies one can follow to improve hourly rate, quality of assignment, quality of client, etc.

Subscribe to her blog - I love getting her newsletters, and they take me out of my rigid thought patterns and help me get rid of ineffective activities.


2010 Earnings from Writing

I won't go into specific detail, but I'll say that my 2010 earnings were about 4 times my 2009 earnings. Keep in mind that I didn't get serious about earning from freelance writing and content mill writing until October 2009 - until then I'd had:

  • 1 private client (3 keyword articles/week)
  • 2 academic writing clients (10-20 articles/year, not high pay but exciting work)
  • College teaching (HA! if you think THAT pays well as an adjunct LOL)
  • Associated Content performance pay (around $30-$40/month, so I wasn't getting rich)
  • Demand Studios writing (I wrote about 60 articles in 2009)

By the end of 2010, here's what my portfolio of work looks like:

  • About.com Contributing Writer in Continuing Education (Nov. 2010)
  • Suite101.com Feature Writer in History Books and Philosophy Books (Feb. 2010)
  • 1 academic writing client, but in addition to 17 articles at normal pay, a last-minute rush job came up for 7 articles at 2-3x normal pay
  • 11 articles for PC World on smartphones, two of which were licensed to the Washington Post.
  • 1 print article in Bay State Parent on celiac disease and babies (Dec. 2010)
  • Copy Editor with Demand Media Studios, and I wrote about 30 articles this year
  • Still getting residual income at Associated Content and writing about 40 articles per year
  • Book proposal on history topic out with an educational publisher

You can see that I've added some fairly big permanent freelance work (About.com), some additional print work (Bay State Parent and articles in 2 different books for the academic publisher), a major technology publication (PC World, though I'd already written one short piece for them in 2007, but still...), was a "go to" person for a last-minute rush job for an academic publisher.

Freelance Writing and Private Clients

You'll also notice I lost one academic publishing client (just no work that ties in with my specialty) and 1 private client I provided keyword articles for - I raised my rates and that work had become episodic by November, so I don't count it as regular work, but there might be episodic work again in the future.

During late 2009 and 2010, I experimented with:

Examiner
Factoidz
Askables
Bukisa
Break Studios

and while I stuck with Examiner the longest, I never made more than about $100 from them, and found it's just not worth it. The others made me pennies or, in the case of Break, $8 per article for 3 articles that were all kicked back to me for rewrites. I can make $20 per article at DMS if I want rewrites from a content mill :)

My best hourly rates came from:

  • Print academic work
  • PC World
  • Private client
  • Suite101

(not in any specific order). About.com is so new that I'm not making a good hourly rate as I work to acclimate to the new job, but that's fine - it's a long-term game and I know I'll do well.

So what have I learned? I'll talk about that in my next blog post.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Degree Completion Programs

I am now a Contributing Writer for About.com and have been writing profiles on continuing education programs and non-traditional students. For instance, so far I've profiled the Home Health Aide training program at Finger Lakes Community College, the same college's CNA Training in New York program, and have just completed a profile on an adult learner who completed the Penn State online RN to BSN nursing degree.

Other online degree completion programs profiled include the University of Massachusetts University Without Walls program and Kent State University's continuing education department.

Bay Path College offers a more traditional on-ground program with a twist: weekend college for students who want a bachelor's degree completion program.


Look for more of my articles, and know that this blog chronicles 3+ years now of my attempts to work at home. If you'd told me 3 years ago I'd be writing for About.com's Continuing Education topic, I would have thought you were a little nuts, but would have taken you out for coffee to pick your brain :)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

I'm now a Contributing Writer for About.com

Hey - check it out: About.com Contributing Writer

Now do you understand why I've been MIA for a bit? I've also written articles for PC World Magazine, Lerner Media, Plus1 Media, Today's Parent and been busy with rev share sites. I have a non-fiction History book proposal in the works as well.

How close am I to the $10K/month goal? Let's just say closer than ever.

Maximizing Writing Income - Which Articles to Place Where

This post is prompted by various threads on the Suite101 private writer forums. So many folks - oldies and newbies - seem to equate page views with income.

First, Suite doesn't pay by the page view. Examiner does. Associated Content does (plus a small up front). Factoidz does. But not Suite.

Second, while *yes* - there is a *correlation* between higher page views and higher income, the opposite is not automatically true. Low page views does not mean lower income.

I decided months ago to stop revealing specifics about my income at Suite and a few other sites, largely as a result of rampant copycatting on Suite. Let's just say I earn above the site average for Feature Writers, which stands at about $1.13 per article per month. I make more than that.

My page view rank is not - in any way, shape or form - a reflection on my income. I know many other "pay per click" writers in the same boat - modest page views, higher-than-average income.

But they are drowned out on forum after forum (and not just Suite - I've seen it at eHow, DMS, on WAHM.com, and other forums) by people who refuse to see any view other than their own.

It's not just about SEO when it comes to pay-per-click - you have to use conversion rate optimization as well.

I can't count how many times I've said this on forums. I also can't count how many times my statement has been ignored, while folks who flog the old PV = higher income line get attention. And that's fine  - but if you want high PV, and you want those PV to earn you money, you're better off going elsewhere.

For instance, if you earn 500K PV on Suite but your earnings per 1000 PV are $1.50, you'd have been better off submitting to Associated Content or Examiner (in theory - if the article is well optimized). If you're getting mega-PV in the hundreds of thousands, worry less about writing more articles and tweak the ones you have that earn huge PV to optimize for conversion.

If your efforts to convert readers to clickers don't work, then take a serious look at which articles you'd be better off placing on other sites. HubPages has complete transparency - try placing a few articles there to see how they perform. Play around with article topics and layout. Use THAT data to feed other rev share sites.

But the worst thing you can do is complain that a site doesn't pay for a model they don't support! Freelance writers are self-employed; we have the freedom to go where the money is. We don't need to stick to rigid business patterns that don't work for us. Find the best home for your articles based on the earnings model in which *each* article performs best. If you don't customize your approach, all you'll get is low earnings and a few long threads of complaints that go nowhere.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

How to Use Google to Search Twitter - Find Keyword Statistics

So I wrote this article on keyword statistics and Twitter. Why is this important? For a number of reasons.

First - go read the article on Suite101. Then come back. I'll wait for you ;) .
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OK - done? Now, here's how it helps with SEO strategies and monetizing:

1. You know when to tweet links to your articles. Tax articles in August? YES. Halloween articles on homemade costumes in August? YES - especially if paired with fabric sales. See where I'm going? KNOW THE TRENDS.
2. You know the exact wording REAL users use when tweeting links to articles on your keyword topics. Think about that - you can catch the natural keywords BEFORE they are trending up, and you can BE the trend.

So go check it out. I am.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Flesch-Kincaid Readability Formula and SEO: Why Grade Level Readability Matters

More than a decade ago I worked as a Staff Writer for the publishing division of a private school system, writing curriculum materials. I had to learn to write to specific grade levels, and target my content and style.  I later took a technical writing course and wrote an entire manual on how to use the Flesch-Kincaid Readability Formula to determine the grade level of a particular piece of writing.

So what the heck does the Flesch-Kincaid test have to do with SEO? Quite a bit.

I recently wrote a series of articles on the GED exam (high school equivalency, for those not familiar with the term). Get a GED Online and Free GED Test are two examples.  It dawned on me as I wrote the first article that my audience would likely have less than a 10th-grade reading level. So I aimed for 7th grade.

The articles do fairly well in getting page views. So I recently analyzed my top earning articles on all the different sites where I write - I chose the top 5. Guess what? The closer to 5/6/7th grade for readability, the better the article's performance for page views and for revenue (when I know the exact revenue for an article).

The New York Times and USA Today aim for 10th-grade reading level. Most newspapers aim for 9th grade. I've read that romance novels are aimed at a FIFTH grade reading level (though the content is not aimed at 10-11 year olds!). If you're writing SEO/CRO articles, keep your audience in mind.

And to test reading level, check out this free Flesch-Kincaid Readability Formula site, or just use the MS Word feature.

By the way: this post was written at an 11th-grade level.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Gulf Oil Spill

I want to take a minute out of my hectic writing and personal life, with 3 kids, two out of school and one an infant, a variety of contracts, a busy telecommuting husband, and a host of other activities and people vying for attention, to talk about the Deepwater Horizon gulf disaster.

We know that families are hurting from oil spill loss of income. We know that BP claims can help with lost wages or revenue, but with projections of up to 100,000 barrels of oil being poured into the Gulf of Mexico each day, we need to break out of our routines (especially those of us living up north, like me) and really think about what this means.

I have friends living on the gulf coast who can see the damage, smell it, have lost property or work because of it. Unemployment is already at 10 percent in this country, and while the mess creates oil jobs for the gulf cleanup, it destroys far more jobs than it creates. And who wants one of the worst man-made environmental disasters in history to be an engine for job creation?

It breaks my heart. So in the middle of writing, and editing, and working for private clients, and enjoying the summer, I'm just thinking. Sometimes writing about the gulf oil spill. And hoping we can technologize our way out of what we technologized our way into. :(

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

OK, so some DS tips (and not the kind you get $3 for!)

I'm NOT divulging any DS secrets here. Just pointing out pet peeves when editing DS articles:


  • Future tense.  If you're writing an article about, say basketweaving degrees, cut the future tense!  "The student will learn..." No. "Students learn..." "Surgical students will perform an autopsy when they take this course" - NO. "Surgical students perform autopsies in this course." Cut the fat. Get rid of future tense unless it is absolutely necessary.
  • Captions In Title Case. Don't Do It. Write in sentence case (this is sentence case - first word capitalized, complete sentence with period). Keep the caption to 12 words or so. Make it a full sentence. Relate it to the article title.
  • Captions that state the obvious. If your image is a picture of a girl eating an apple because your article is about the health benefits of apples, DO NOT caption with "Girl Eating An Apple." 
  • LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION. If you write a location-specific article, don't forget to note the state and country, with region if needed.
  • References. If you're writing a law-related article, a reference that includes a link to the actual law really gives your article more credibility. One reference weakens an article, but 5 really crappy references from low-quality websites won't help either.
That's all for now. Back to the never-ending queue...

Monday, June 7, 2010

Improve Your Demand Studios Rewrite Rate and Scores

I have been writing for Demand Studios since April 2008. I've had my share of joys and struggles there. I recently became a copy editor for DS (yes...I am now a CE) and being on the other side of the screen provides quite the education.

I will not go into details about the quality of writing I face, working to edit 75+ articles per week, but let's leave it with this: it's been an eye opener.

I've thought about compiling a list of PLEASE DON'T DO THIS for writers at DS, such as:


  • "are required to" - just change this phrase to "must," for goodness sake. Fewer words and BONUS - you shifted from active to passive voice.
  • "in order to" - just delete it. Really. It adds nothing.
  • passive voice - many writers THINK they know what this means, but when asked for a rewrite they clearly do not understand how to convert from passive to active voice. "Dinner was served" becomes "The waiter served dinner." "Degrees are granted" becomes "The university grants degrees" - see the pattern?
  • bachelor's degree - yes, but it's Bachelor of Science in Nursing, not bachelors degree in nursing. Check AP style guidelines when writing about degrees and colleges.


I don't have time to list the most common errors I see - but these are the ones that scream out to me. Meanwhile, Willow at The Freelance Home Writer has a GREAT post about tools for writers at DS - search engines and grammar checkers that help reduce rewrites and errors.

Check it out. You might save a CE some hair.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

HARO: Help a Reporter Out

The idea is so simple that, like so many genius ideas, it seems like I should have thought of it first.  Reporters need sources. People want to be experts, or featured in stories. How does a freelancer in Massachusetts find a couple to profile for an article on, say, marriage laws in California? This is where HARO - Help a Reporter Out - comes in.

First of all, it's FREE - HARO makes its money by selling targeted advertisements in its thrice-daily emails. You can register as a reporter or source (I registered as both).

Reporters put out a query, something along the lines of "I'm looking for a couple in their 20s who started an online business as a way to avoid the corporate world." The query goes out in one of the 3 daily emails OR, if the reporter is on an urgent deadline, the company Tweets the query to more than 21,000 Twitter followers.

Sources then "pitch" the reporter, explaining who they are and why they should be interviewed.

As you can imagine, this is GOLD for freelance writers. I'm writing a series of articles on X topic and want to interview business experts. Business experts want free publicity. Shazaam! Instant connection.

Check it out: HARO

Monday, May 10, 2010

Why MediaBistro should be on your radar

Whether you intend to stick to online writing, or hope to branch out and (re)discover print markets, MediaBistro is a great resource. I've applied for jobs through their comprehensive job board, and most recently took the plunge and paid the $55 for a one-year subscription to the AvantGuild program. My main focus? Their "How to Pitch" series - you learn insider tips on breaking into the $1 per word markets.

Take a look: MediaBistro

And right now you can get a free magazine subscription, or just request a refund and chip $10 off the $55 price.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Crossed $1000 on Suite a while ago, sold another Seed article

It's been an extremely busy week, but I sold another Seed article ($10) and crossed the $1000 mark at Suite on April 22, 17 days before I'd predicted I would!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Sold my first article on SEED.com!

YAY!  It's a little $10 article and it took me all of 15 minutes to put together, done this morning while nursing a baby in my lap.

I submitted 3 articles at SEED 9 days ago and they haven't been reviewed.  Submitted this one a few hours ago and BAM! Accepted!

Woot!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Cracked the $20 barrier on Suite

Today I went over $20 for a day of revenue at Suite.  My 30% bonus for being a Feature Writer with more than 100 articles certainly helped!

I made as much today as I have ever made for my highest-paying Demand Studios flat fee article.  Hmmm...time to redouble efforts at Suite.  I've backed off because of some format transitions and a hacker problem they had that caused tech issues.  Boy do I need to get back to work!

I've made more in these first 7 days of April than I did in all of December 2009.

A few of my most recent articles at Suite include:

Mass Save Dishwasher Cash for Clunkers Appliance Rebate Details - now THERE is a mouthful, huh?  This is something new I'm trying, taking search phrases people use most to get to my other articles, then spinning new articles out of those phrases.  We'll see if it works. Boy do I wish this had been in place when we bought our dishwasher in January!  Argh!

Free Home Inspector Training - interesting topic, and I was surprised to learn how it works. 

Gluten Free Menus - Legal Seafoods - a lovely restaurant where my family can eat and not worry about GF issues.  Expensive, though!

Free Home Health Aide Training in NYC - another spinoff article from one of my earlier topics.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

WordTracker SEO Blogger - Another Tool for SEO Writers

I have to simultaneously plug two great SEO tools in this post: the No Job for Mom blog and the WordTracker SEO Blogger extension on Firefox.

The two are related!  I love Felicia's blog and learned about this great SEO tool from one of her posts, which you can read here: WordTracker SEO Blogger extension on Firefox.

This tool helps you pick keywords and track how often they're being used as you write. Ah - something that makes the crazymaking easier. I like!  I like!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Sometimes it's not all about SEO

Sometimes I write articles like Second Chance Checking because I think it might go somewhere with SEO and revenue.

And then sometimes I spend four hours thoroughly enjoying myself and crafting a lovely - but likely non-earning - book review of an AMAZING book called Tapestries of Hope, Threads of Love.

Thank goodness I get the chance to do both.

Google Trends Experiment is Working

So a few days ago I decided to try seeing if there were topics on Google Trends worth writing about.  For me to write an article some criteria needed to be met:

1. Is it a topic that is evergreen OR seasonal and will be relevant next year?
2. If no, is it a topic that could make decent money in a short burst of time?

I found two topics and wrote about them - I describe this in my Google Trends post.

The Honey Baked Ham article took OFF.  Over 400 PV now in under 3 days.  The NYS Unemployment article is puttering along in the 20s.

My revenue, though, has skyrocketed. Now, to be fair, ALL my articles are up for page views, so it's also possible that the Honey Baked Ham article has nothing to do with rev.  I was going for ads about coupons and hoping people would click on those, but there are no Honey Baked Ham coupon ads on the article!

SO off to check out Google Trends for ideas...

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Working Around Obstacles

So, today I managed 3 articles (1 Examiner, 2 old drafts of Suite101 articles I wanted to finish).  I also managed kids, a tree nearly falling on our house, a call to the tree guy, a mess at the mall (too complicated to explain), a small river in our garage, a few leaks in the basement, a sudden declutter project in the basement because of the leaks - and I wonder how I got 3 articles done!

It's days like this when I really value the residual income writing and am thankful for the flexibility it brings.  It didn't hurt to earn $12.77 from Suite for yesterday's work, either!  :)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Using Google Trends to Pick Topics

Over the weekend I tried a new little strategy: looking at Google Trends to find rising topics.

I wound up writing two articles, one on NYS Unemployment Insurance and the other on Honey Baked Ham.  Both were fairly straightforward and easy to write, and the Honey Baked Ham article is now at nearly 50 page views.  The NYS UI article is in the 20s.  Nothing glamorous but an interesting result.

I don't want to chase trendy trends, but these two seem to be evergreen.  The Honeybaked Ham article is good for Christmas and Easter ongoing, so it will die out and revive again in late November.  NYS unemployment? It's ongoing, sadly, and should be a plugger article, getting 7-10 per day.

Using eHow to Test Keywords

Anyone ever use eHow to test out a keyword?

Basically play off eHow vs. Suite101?  What if you put up a lot (say, 100) eHow articles that were quick and simple, using various keywords you researched.  Let them simmer for 3 months or so.

Then, examine which eHow articles made you money.  Turn around and write Suite101 articles (much more fleshed out).

eHow tells you which articles make you money.  S101 tells you which keyword phrases people use to get to your topics.  Wouldn't using both like this make for good strategy?

Suite101, then Examiner, then eHow: Creating Link Webs for Efficiency and Money

So here's my new plan:

1. Write an article on Suite101 on a gluten free topic.  3 out of 5 of us in my family are gluten free, and it's a decent keyword (in the $.80-$1 CPC range) on a topic I can write about in my sleep.  Celiac info, GF menus at various restaurants, product reviews, adapting regular food to GF recipes - you name it.

2. Write a short article on Examiner and link to my S101 article.  The topic would be relevant.  I'll also make it local (i.e. where to buy X product locally) and get the $1 local incentive bonus Examiner gives.

3. Write an eHow How to on the same topic, and link to my S101 and Examiner articles in the eHow article.

Now, there are plenty of other ways to do this, and various article webs you can make.  I could add in an article for Blissfully Domestic, for Associated Content, do blurbs on RedGage and Xomba, etc.

We have to begin somewhere, and we also have to stop somewhere, for the loop could go on and on and we can find ourselves not producing new content.

For now, this will help my writing, I hope.  I plan to give this a month or so (20 or so articles for S101 on GF issues) and if revenue continues to rise at the current rate of increase or better, then I'll keep it up.

I'm now at $527.45 on Suite since October 26, and I'm still getting that $2.50/article/month for March.  My month probably won't double (I have 3 more days of revenue and need to reach $237 for that to happen - I'm at $207 and change).  But nearly doubling is still awesome, and I hope taking link webs seriously will make a difference.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

How to file a Copyright Complaint with Google When Your Articles Are Stolen

I have become more conscious of article scrapers and outright copyright thieves lately.

I'll write more on this later, but in the past 24 hours I've contacted one site and they removed my post (a post from this blog, no less!) and had a very popular Associated Content article, Get Rid of Student Loan Debt, copied in full nearly a year ago!  I tried to go to WhoIs to get the email for the site.  No luck.  Googled to find an email address for the owner.  No luck.

So I had to resort to filing a DCMA complaint with Google directly via this link: DCMA Complaint Form

I hate to do it that way.  As much as I dislike having my copyrighted work stolen, I do prefer to email the site owner directly and give them 24 hours to remove it.  A successful DCMA complaint could lead to the site owner losing his/her entire Google AdSense account.

Which means the site owner is STUPID, STUPID for intentionally not leaving a "Contact Us" form or email on his/her site, because if their Google AdSense account is shut down they shot themselves in the foot.  But that's their problem.  Not mine.

Don't steal my writing. I don't like it, and I'll defend my business by following the law.

Crossed the $500 threshold in under 5 months on Suite 101!

So I did it yesterday, one day shy of my 5 month anniversary at Suite101.

YAY!  I'm taking a break for another few days from writing for Suite to focus on optimizing what I already have, and checking out some different bookmarking options (RedGage, Squidoo, and Xomba come to mind -  mostly curious and investigating if they're worth it).

My next goal is to crack $1000 over the next 6 weeks.  Let's see if I can do it!  Hold me accountable - that's May 9, 2010.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Image File Names Need to be SEOd

I learn something new every day.  And thank goodness, because if I didn't I'd be dead, right?  I learn, therefore I am (yes, I know that's not what Descartes said, but whatever...).

So image file names need to be keyword phrases!  It makes a difference in Google SERPs!  Who knew (I didn't).

I name my files based on the article I use them in, or what they are.  Pictures of money are Money 1.jpg, Money 2.jpg, and so on.

But now I see that if I am writing an article on Mass Save Great Appliance Exchange - Rebates and two of my keywords are appliance rebate, cash for clunkers, the money pictures should be appliance rebate.jpg and cash for clunkers.jpg

Oh.my.god.  That's so simple and so obvious.  But now I have 101 articles and at least 350 images total to rename and reload.  AUUUUGGGGHHHH.  I guess I know what the next week looks like.  Hmmm, maybe I can find an 11 year old boy around here somewhere who will do this for me for Wii points or something...

Become a Featured Contributor for Associated Content for $10 upfronts

Associated Content has a Featured Contributor program now, where people who are "experts" in certain topics can be named Featured Contributors. (Expert is used loosely - just go ahead and apply if you have 5 or more articles in a topic). The benefit of the program is that you receive 3 assignments per month with an upfront of $8-$10 (plus page view bonus). 

Associated Content Featured Contributor Program

This is my first month as a Featured Education Writer.  The application was simple and the 3 assignments appeared on my account page.  You have to claim them, just like any other assignment on your account Assignment Desk.  Mine were due at the end of the month - I already submitted them and am waiting for approval.

The articles must be Exclusive license, and need to be in an area of your expertise.  You have to make sure they're on a topic or an angle that hasn't been done before on AC.

$10 Upfront at Associated Content

AC writers are allowed to be a Featured Contributor in up to 3 topics, which means you could get 9 assignments per month with a $10 upfront.  AC articles are very easy for me to write (15 minutes) so this would be worth 2.5 hours or so per month to make a quick $90 and help me get toward Clout 10.

I plan only to write these articles, and no others now.  I'm 84% to Clout 10 and once I reach it I'll just write these quick $10 articles.  I get about 15,000 - 20,000 PV per month on AC, and at $2/1000 (Clout 10) that's going to be $30-$40 per month.

By contrast, I currently make $12/1000 at Suite101.  Let's think about that one - that computes out to $180-$240 per month for the same page views.  Ouch.

Apply here: Associated Content Featured Writer Application

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Find Page Rank for Any Site

I love this page rank finder.  Now, when I'm debating how to place a backlink to an article I can easily figure out if it's worth it.  Backlinks help drive up SERPs for articles, and while I don't chase backlinks like some people do, it's helpful to know for some sites.

(Geeking out about little things like this makes life fun!)

So I am kicking myself and out $250

Well, not really.  It's more like I could have had $250 that I now don't have.

Last October our dishwasher died.  We handwashed dishes for 2 + months (including handwashing and boiling baby bottles!) because I kept hearing the "cash for clunkers" program for appliances was coming soon, and there would be a few hundred in rebates for a dishwasher.

We waited and waited - it was supposed to start Dec. 1.  We finally gave in right after the start of the new year and bought a lovely, expensive! new dishwasher.

And now?  NOW? Look what I just wrote about: Mass Save Great Appliance Exchange.

$250 is, like 25 years of AdSense income!  AUGH!

Anyhow - hope my handful of readers can benefit from these programs.  Off to sulk and write...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

My 100th Suite101 Article!

Hooray! Free Diapers - Freebies, Samples and Coupons.  Is it an inspired topic? No.  Is it original? No.  Does it boost me over the final bonus (10%) for revenue on Suite? Yes.  Does it help readers and draw in good Google ads? Yes.

And so it shall be.  I have reached 100 by writing 5 (five!) articles today, and I am off to relax (well, off to see how damaged and filthy my house is after ignoring it to write 5 articles today [6 if you count my Examiner article]).

Writing for Blissfully Domestic

So I just started a new, very low-intensity (1+ articles per month) gig at Blissfully Domestic.  My first article on deducting private school tuition went live last week.

Writing for Blissfully Domestic

Blissfully Domestic has a new Editor in Chief, Angela England, who is also the Feature Writer for Plants and Bulbs at Suite101 and like many writermoms wears many, many other hats (among them the founder of The Untrained Housewife).  It's through a post by her on the Suite101 forums that I came to write for Blissfully Domestic.

Blissfully Domestic doesn't pay upfront, but instead allows the writer to get 99% of the ad revenue for one block of Google ads.  I had to create a special code in Google AdSense (I already had an account) and email it to BD, where it's inserted into my articles.

Writers Paid Via Google AdSense

Unlike the Suite101 model, where the site is so large they have a separate contract with Google and parse out the revenue for each writer through some magic that involves sacrificing a goat and burning belladonna in an enclosed tipi while typing for Twitter, I manage my own revenue via my separate AdSense account.

I can see all the stats - page views, the CTR (click through rate), and so forth.  Once I reach $100 I get a payout from AdSense.  I've been stuck around $20-24 for over a year now, making pennies/month from this blog, so it would be nice to hit the $100 mark in, oh, 2014 or something.

Why Write on Business and Finance?

I went for that topic, frankly, because the ads tend to pay off more than other topics.  My focus on Suite 101 is History books, on Associated Content it's education - so why not diversify?

Click to learn about writing for Blissfully Domestic.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Better than a Nobel or Pulitzer. Well, almost.

So my Douche With Lysol article at Suite101, detailing the Lysol advertising campaigns of the 1920s-1960s that encouraged women to douche with cleaning solution, has been linked by someone at Fat Bob's Biker Bar's forum.

I love the Internet. 

And in other news - I'm making mad loot!  Mad loot I say! at Suite101 in March thus far.$44.52 for the first 7 days of March - which puts me on track to double my Suite earnings this month.  I'm adding 1-2 articles per day and have some new SEOtweak stuff going on, which so far is working nicely.

Now it's all about volume, quality, and CRO (conversion rate optimization).  More on that later.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Why do some articles take off immediately?

My article on deducting private school tuition on taxes, Need Tuition Deductions?, took off right away (10+ page views on day one).

Meanwhile, other articles, such as Federal Energy Tax Credits and Solar, Wind and Geothermal Energy Tax Credits did fairly well also.

But Need a Social Security Card for a New Baby?  Not so much.  And one of the biggest disappointments has been an article on SR22 Insurance, which helps people with DWI/DUI records get auto insurance again.  I thought that would do very well - it's informative, has good links, god keyword phrases, and yet I'm lucky to get a handful of hits per day.

But then articles on earthquakes in Guatemala and Haiti do amazingly well, and this article on A Modest Proposal has REALLY shocked me by getting strong page views every day since it was published.

I supposed people want to read about eating poor children more than about getting car insurance.

Monday, February 22, 2010

$1.92/article/month

I am now the Feature Writer for History and Philosophy Books at Suite101 !  I get a 10% bonus and when I reach 100 articles (31 to go) I get an additional 10%.

I've computed my average per article per month earnings (before the new bonus) at $1.92.  I'd love to edge over $2 and keep it there, with a focus on writing 55-60 articles/month for the next 18 months.  That gets me to 1,000 articles, bringing in a steady projected $2,000+.

And I'll just keep on writing from there...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I am loooong overdue for an update

Life took over once again.  Sick kids, injured spouse, teaching, the holidays - you name it, I have an excuse.

So here is where I stand now:

1. Suite101 is my main writing locale.  More on that in my earnings update post.  Suffice to say I have confidence in the Suite model, in their page rank status and ability to get high SERP on Google, and I have the dollars to show that.  My main goal now is to get a Feature Writer position, which gives me a 10% bonus, and to reach 100 articles, which is an additional 10% bonus.

2. I'm done with eHow for now.  I MIGHT go back but only to backlink to Suite articles and put in affiliate links.  I don't have much time right now, and that might be something I do after I've hit 100 or so articles on Suite (I'm at 55 now).

3. I'm letting Associated Content ride for a bit.  Again, it's all about time.  I really should write 45 or so more articles to get to Clout 10 and reach $2/1000 page view payout, but it's a time issue.

4. Factoidz isn't worth it, and they changed their model and took away my affiliate earnings!  I'm really upset (well, not horribly, because it was only $1 or $2/month, but still....) and don't like them anymore LOL.

5. Examiner turned out to be a crapshoot.  My articles aren't indexing in Google (apparently Examiner got slapped by Google for overindexing as news, and is being penalized).  If I write 1 article/month for each of my channels I can still get paid, and that's what I plan to do until I hit the $25 payout.  Then we'll see.  I do crosslink there with my Suite articles, though, so I might write a bit more to help with that.

So that's where I stand now.  Off to write up my earnings report...