Sunday, September 25, 2011

Author name domains: Hubpages and Suite101 take the plunge

Sometime in late July, Hubpages changed my domain name to an author name domain.

In August, my earnings with Hubpages (all through AdSense) increased 500%. Earnings have declined by about 40% in September, leaving me -- so far -- with a net increase of 300%.

I'll take it!

On August 29, my domain name on Suite changed to melaniezoltan.suite101.com

Since then, my earnings have increased 8% over August. Now, August had seen a 25% leap over July, so keep that in mind. I am now at 13% *below* my last pre-Panda month, which was February.

In May, my worst month post-Panda, I was 66% below.

Will author domain names help? We'll just have to watch and accumulate data.




Monday, September 5, 2011

How to Work Out of the Home, or: I Got a Job!

I haven't been an employee in an office for a very, very long time. I like the WAHM gig. You can read through 4+ years of archives here to see my ups, downs, and in betweens.

So it might come as a surprise to learn that the woman who has spent so many years trying to figure out how NOT to work at home has gone and gotten a job OUT of the home. But it's the perfect position in university administration that works for me and my family.

It's part-time work, which means I still have plenty of time to write and tinker with online work.

Meanwhile, my revenue share articles are rebounding, and August looks to be a decent four-figure month. Not pre-Panda, but getting there slowly.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Writing for Technorati

I have been publishing on Technorati recently. If you have an AdSense account, you add it in and earn a portion of the ad revenue.

The CMS is pretty clunky. I am not impressed overall, but many online publishers seem to use extremely difficult CMSs. There's no way to caption or easily credit a photo, and no post-publication edits allowed, which means you had better quadruple-check when you proofread.

Check out my latest: Mel's Technorati articles


Friday, August 12, 2011

Free Kindle from Hotels.com!

Now through August 30, when you book 3 or more nights at select hotels, you get a free Amazon Kindle.

FYI!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Wikio Experts Earnings Review

Back in May, a group of writers at Suite101 started talking about Wikio Experts, a French company that launched an English version of their site. It's a content farm like any other content farm, but -- like Demand Media Studios -- Wikio Experts offers flat-fee (upfront payments) as well as revenue share articles. The plus? They offer a small flat fee + rev share on many articles.

Write for Wikio Experts

I ignored the hoopla, frankly, because I've been busy getting eBooks out, but a friend asked me about strategies for finding more sites that pay upfront fees for writing. The Writer's Network has dried up (unless you're a fashion writer), and DMS recently put hundreds of writers into an "evaluation program" that few will -- if past experiences detailed on writing blogs and forums are any indication -- survive.

So if you're a DMS writer scrambling, what can you do?


Wikio Experts Review

Wikio Experts has a fairly liberal entrance policy. Apply online and provide a writing sample. I was accepted within a day. Then you need to pick a topic (they offer more than 140) and write a sample article of 200-400 words.

The template tells you your word count (hooray!) and Wikio Experts does not require references or resources. In addition, they have an image library, so adding images is VERY easy. And no captions required!


Wikio Experts Earnings

Cut to the chase -- how much can you earn? Flat-fee articles are in three tiers:

3 Euros
5 Euros
8 Euros

An Euro is currently $1.42, so do the math. You need 10 articles in a topic to become elevated to the next level, so at firt you're writing for $4.20 or so. However, the word counts are only 200-400 words, no resources/references. Some writers claim to write an article in 7-10 minutes, from start to finish. If you can do six in an hour and maintain quality, you can make about $25 an hour.

Once you're writing the 8 Euro articles, that's $12 per -- and then you can make serious money. The site pays via PayPal, two months after you've written the articles. Writers across the net are reporting that they DO get paid.


Wikio Experts Revenue Share

For revenue share Wikio Expertss articles, the structure is a bit different. Here's what Wikio Experts has to say on their payment structure for rev share:

  • Articles paid at a fixed rate. You must already have been Confirmed in the particular category otherwise you cannot reserve articles; that is to say that our moderator team has approved your first open article. Here are the three rates for these articles:
    • €3 (reserved for contributors who have published at least one open article)
    • €5 (reserved for contributors who have published at least one open article)
    • €8 (reserved for contributors who have published more than ten articles suggested by Wikio Experts in the same Category)
  • Articles paid at a fixed rate + a variable rate (depending on the audience and advertising revenue):
    • €10: €1,5 fixed + up to €8,5 variable
    • €15: €2,5 fixed + up to €12,5 variable
    • €20: €4 fixed + up to €16 variable
    • €55: €15 fixed + up to €40 variable

Interested? Sign up for Wikio Experts here. Yes, it's my referral link. Your earnings won't be affected by it. Once you sign up, you can get your own referral link! :)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Suite earnings nicely up for June and July 2011

I finished out June with a 40% increase over May.

July is, so far, about 15% over June, with a DRAMATIC increase these past two days. Both days have been "pre-Panda" levels, though on the low side for earnings before Panda, but I'll take it!

I'm not adding any earnings from Topic Editor articles ($1 in July so far LOLOL).

Any other Suitees seeing good increases?

How To Buy an eBook Cover for $50 or Less

So I've been venturing into indie publishing, and spend plenty of time over at Kindleboards these days. I thought I'd write a few articles on book publishing for Suite 101, so here's today's article: How to Buy an eBook Cover for $50 or Less.

Will it be the best cover ever? Probably not. Keep your genre in mind, too. Romance covers need to have a man and a woman together in a romantic pose (man without a shirt or chest showing, ideally). Contemporary romance can be a bit different, with couples in bed or close-ups of kissing, or even cartoon covers for more of a "chick lit" feel. Fantasy (especially epic) can involve illustrated covers that cost upwards of $1,000 -- but you can get by with a less expensive cover at first, or with a skilled designer.

Horror and thrillers need to be dark, but if the cover's too dark it's hard to see on a screen -- reducing your sales. Research your genre's "rules" for covers and, for your first venture, stick to them.

Plenty of indie writers create their own eBook covers, make a little money, and then upgrade the cover. That worked a year ago, but as the indie market's been flooded with new books, and as traditional publishers are pouring more and more backlist titles into eBook markets, you may find youself in the 100K ranking doldrums.

Food for thought. Cheap eBook covers are out there, but as with any purchase, buyer beware.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Suite101 earnings up dramatically this week

Now, doubling my earnings these days isn't what it used to be, but this week my earnings at Suite have shot up 51% over last week, with a 10% page view increase.

I'm hoping May was rock-bottom for Suite. My overall decline from February to May was about 65%. I'm actually doing better than some, so I can't complain (much).

Are all web writers just content slaves for the machine?

Oliver Miller has a very compelling story about his years as a staff writer for AOL, writing for their TV division.

Are all web writers just content slaves in some form? Whether you're a staff writer or an independent writer writing a blog, doing SEO rev share, etc., to what extent are we all praying to (and being preyed on by) the great god SEO?

Food for thought.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Demand Media Hit By Panda 2, Ends WCP eHow Program

Panda is the code name for the massive search engine rankings overhaul performed by Google at the end of February. Panda 2 is the global rollout of the first Panda (which had been confined to the U.S., English-speaking content).

While much was made about Demand Media's survivial -- at a 20% boost in traffic for its main site, eHow -- in the wake of Panda 2 eHow suffered a near 50% drop in traffic and the corporation's stock lost $10 per share.

On May 5 DMS announced to all members of the Writer's Compensation Program through eHow that effective immediately, revenue share would cease. I have one of those accounts, and I've been offered a buyout. The buyout for my 19 articles pays me about 8-9 months' worth of residual earnings. I've decided to take it.

Writers in the WCP break down into the following:

  • Offered a buyout and take it. Writers lose all rights.
  • Offered a buyout and remove articles for use elsewhere.
  • Offered a buyout and don't take it, don't remove articles (in which case rights revert, for free, to DMS on June 1).
  • Not offered a buyout and leave content for DMS to use for free.
  • Not offered a buyout and remove content for use elsewhere.

Rev share article writing has taken a hit all around, and in the wake of Panda I read many stories from writers who claimed that DMS knew what it was doing, that the eHow WCP program was a better deal than any other rev share site, etc. And, for a short time, it looked like that was true.

But for now, thousands of writers are weighing their options, if they even have options. It's not a good day in rev share land.

Monday, March 28, 2011

How NOT to respond when a book reviewer reviews your book!

Holy smokes. Big Al's Books and Pals is a fairly well-known book review blog that looks at a wide range of indie eBooks.

Yesterday he reviewed Jaqueline Howett's The Greek Seaman and gave it two stars. The review was balanced - he complimented some sections but largely panned it for lack of editing, stilted and uneven prose, weird adverb use and poor copyediting. She responded with comments such as:

You obviously didn't read the second clean copy I requested you download that was also reformatted, so this is a very unfair review. My Amazon readers/reviewers give it 5 stars and 4 stars and they say they really enjoyed The Greek Seaman and thought it was well written. Maybe its just my style and being English is what you don't get. Sorry it wasn't your cup of tea, but I think I will stick to my five star and four star reviews thanks. 
And, later, adds a lovely "f*ck off!" in a single comment. And it STILL goes downhill from there. The comment stream is at 225 and counting. Have an hour to kill? Take a look.

Don't like a review your book receives?

Ignore it. Don't pull a Jacqueline Howett.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

So I'm writing a novel. Isn't everyone?

I dusted off an old manuscript and am about 5-6 weeks away from having the entire package done and ready to publish. I've decided to simultaneously submit to traditional publishers and publish the book as a Kindle and Nook eBook. I'll publish on Smashwords as well, so readers can download in any eBook format they wish.

I've been lurking at Kindleboards for a good long time and, with the Farmer Algorithm crash, finally decided to give this the attention it deserves. I have a pseudonym, and have created a blog, Twitter account, Facebook page and Goodreads account using my pen name. I'll soon add:

LibraryThing
Wattpad

and...? Any suggestions? I want to have the entire social media platform laid out and ready to go BEFORE I publish.

It's contemporary romance with a touch of historical mystery. ;)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Are Major Publishers Trying to Force Print? eBook Fixed Pricing Means Higher Prices

Interesting post at the Dear Author blog. Effective today, Random House is instituting agency pricing on eBooks. This means Kindle owners and downloaders won't get a financial break if Amazon wants to cut prices - the price is set by Random House and that's it.

Expect other major publishing houses to follow suit.

So what do readers do when the eBook version costs *more* than a discounted hardback or paperback? Is Random House expecting readers to turn to print? Most folks with eReaders have no desire to turn back to paper.

Will this just drive illegal downloads via torrent? I'm guessing it might.

I'm reading over on the Kindleboards quite a bit these days. A foray into self-publishing via eBook has been on my mind for some time, more for fun than profit. I have some fiction ideas and would love to test them out. Then again, going with a traditional publisher confers legitimacy, yes?

But what if you could be the next Amanda Hocking? Or sell 28,000 copies a month at a $.35-per-book royalty rate?

How many books would you have to sell through Random House to net the same $9,800 Victorine E. Lieske earned as a self-published novelist in February alone? More than 28,000. And at $9.99 how many readers will take a chance on a new novelist? 

Monday, February 28, 2011

Health Information Technology Student by Day, Second Life CSR InWorld by Night

I just wrote one of the more interesting profiles of non-traditional students that I've completed for About.com. Sydahne Phillip is a Health Information Technology degree student at Rasmussen College. She's working toward an associate degree in HIT.

She's also a mother, and works night shift at Second Life, the virtual reality world. I know waaaaaaaayyyyyy too much about Second Life. From 2007-2009 my husband was fairly obsessed with it, to the point of buying entire islands/districts of land "InWorld" and learning to be a developer InWorld as well.

Having a third child sort of killed the so-called "extra" time we had for pursuits like Second Life. We're slowly getting time back, but we hoard it for sleep right now ;).

What I find most interesting about Phillip is that she enjoys the customer care and liaison aspect of work. That kind of networking, troubleshooting and customer service approach - whether you're a front-line CSR or a master's-level health care director - takes a set of skills that go beyond education and experience. It takes softer social skills that you can only acquire if you have an innate ability, or are mentored carefully through your education and career. Phillip seems to possess those skills - it comes through in the interview.

I wonder how it all comes together in Second Life? What a cool job. I think I have a touch of job envy.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Lesson in Causation vs. Correlation, or: How the Google Farmer Algorithm Unhinges People

Did you know that if two things happen at the same time they MUST be related through cause and effect, according to most SEO writers trying to figure out why their sites have been downgraded so horribly by the Google "Farmer Algorithm" that hit on February 24, 2011?

It's like pirates. Did you know that the people who want to destroy the planet had a whole conspiracy (notice how that word ends with PIRACY?????) to drive out piracy in the 18th and 19th centuries.

And WHY?

BECAUSE AS PIRATE ATTACKS INCREASE, GLOBAL WARMING DECREASES.

That's why.

So, WHY would "they" want to make global warming increase?

To sell air conditioners. That's why.

Because AIR CONDITIONERS make people vote REPUBLICAN.

The suppression of pirate attacks is a vicious, anti-environmentalist oppressive tactic used by the Republican party to achieve world dominance.

It's true. I've proven it with links.

I rest my case.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Using Anchor Text Properly for SEO

When you read an article, the links within the article are highlighted text. You click and it takes you to the new article/website. Anchor text is the highlighted text that indicates it's a link to be clicked.

I'll link to my About.com articles and show you the difference.
  • This is a sentence that does not use anchor text for any phrase for an article on About.com for e-learning teacher certification programs.
  • This is a sentence that uses anchor text for the keyword phrase online teaching degrees for an article at About.com that focuses on e-learning teacher certification programs.  
Anchor Text and SEO

Keyword-driven anchor text means that I am going to link the keyword I want for SEO purposes in my anchor text. Go to my article on About.com and scroll down - see the anchor text for the two links? Some writers would have highlighted the administrator's name, or "Learn more" in the final sentence for the, because we're psychologically driven to connect names with quotes, and calls to action with, well - calls to action. Ever notice how lots of writers link the words "click here" as anchor text on websites? That's partly why, but it's poor SEO.

Google takes alllll that anchor text and uses it as part of its algorithm. You get a tiny boost (but every bit helps) by linking to outside websites using the keyword phrase you're hoping to succeed with in anchor text.

Where you REALLY get a boost is if a website that is stronger than yours - has a higher page rank on Google - uses YOUR targeted keyword as anchor text to link back to YOUR site. That's the Holy Grail of SEO.
Does Keyword-Driven Anchor Text Matter?
It does if you don't use it. If you have your own site and try to make money from it, go back in and change ALL your links to kw-driven anchor text. You'll see an increase in traffic within a week. Whether traffic = money is another blog post.