Sunday, November 29, 2009

I Lost My Buddy Yesterday

My boyfriend's dog, Buddy fell asleep for the last time yesterday after a battle with lymphoma. He was a true friend whose only goal in life was to keep my boyfriend and I close to him. We were with him to the end and held his little body as he fell into a deep sleep. There is a huge hole in my heart now that he is gone. I miss his barks and how his face, looking out of the glass door, would be the first that I would see as I pulled into my boyfriend's driveway. I miss how he hated sneezes and would bark to let us know. I miss how he would hug your leg and bark at you when you left the house, as if to say don't leave unless you plan to take me with you. I miss how he used to stop in the middle of a walk and take the time to roll around in the leaves or the snow. Buddy was truly a loyal and sweet friend and I will forever miss having him in my life.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

No, I Haven't Been Devoured by Zombies

Even though it was Halloween yesterday, my recent disappearance from this blog cannot be attributed to a random zombie attack. Instead, I have been spending all of my time making jewelry and preparing for my first official art show.

I have two shows quickly approaching and I am trying to tie up all loose ends before the events. There are so many details to consider, such as how to accept credit cards and how to display the jewelry. I am trying not to forget anything but I am sure I will forget something. I just hope that the show goes relatively smoothly and I learn from any little bumps in the road.

As for my writing, these shows have provided some pretty major bumps in the road. I just don't have enough time to devote to my online writing. After the last show, on Dec. 6th, I will probably be able to devote some more time to my articles. I need to write 10 articles for Suite 101 at the very least.

I must say that I have been so pleased with Suite 101. My earnings this month far surpassed what I expected. I see so much potential for long-term earning through the site. That will definitely come in handy as a supplemental income with my jewelry business.

Anyway, if anyone is in the Bloomington, Indiana area or the Chicago area, come see me at the shows listed below. Now I'm off to make more jewelry. Wish me luck!!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Be Cautious When Writing for eHow

Lately eHow has been going through a number of changes. In an attempt to clean up their site, they have been deleting many contributor's articles.

This wouldn't be that big of a deal, except that it seems that some articles are being deleted for reasons that make little sense, if any.

For instance, an article was deleted for being spam. The only problem was that the article was one that was suggested and approved by eHow staffers. How could it be spam if eHow suggested it?

Some eHow members are also suggesting that eHow is replacing their articles with Demand Studio articles. Demand Studios is eHow's parent company. At Demand Studios, writers get paid a flat fee of $5-$15 to write articles. These articles then get used on sites like eHow to earn residuals for the company. By deleting member articles and replacing them with Demand Studio articles, eHow would be able to make more money in the long run. So it seems to make financial sense for eHow to stock the website with as many Demand Studio articles as possible.

The positive aspects of eHow are that articles are extremely easy and quick to write. However, you have little control over your article once it is published. They can delete it without notice. For this reason, make sure to back up all articles.

Here are the problems I personally have with eHow:
  1. Lack of Transparency: It's hard to know eHow's reasoning for many of their decisions. It is also extremely difficult to get answers to questions.
  2. No Stability: It seems that things are changing monthly at eHow and a recommended article one day could be deleted the next for being spam.
  3. No Control: eHow has dropped memberships with little explanation and I personally don't fully trust that they wouldn't reuse deleted articles for their own financial gain.
Here are the positives to eHow:
  1. A place to reach a broad audience.
  2. Extremely easy articles to write.
So basically, if you are considering writing for eHow, I would do so with extreme caution. For now, I will not be writing any additional articles for them, but I am happy with keeping the articles I have up and running.

Monday, October 5, 2009

I May be My Own Boss but Man am I a Slave Driver!

I am starting to realize that, as a boss, I'm pretty demanding. Ofcourse, I need to be. Right now I am starting two new careers and neither one is at the point of earning me an acceptable income.

I am showing some great strides in my jewelry career though. I booked the first two shows I applied to, and one of them is extremely prestigious: The One of a Kind Show at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago.

Due to this great news about the shows, I have been working overtime in the studio producing more jewelry. On top of this, I am trying to write three new Suite 101 articles a week. That goal may quickly diminish if I need more time in the studio.

To help pass the time in the studio, I decided to go to Goodwill to purchase a small television. I like to listen to the news and thought this might be a good way to pass the time while I'm working.

When I went to Goodwill, the only televisions available were extremely large. Then I saw a small odd-looking television sitting on a desk on the other side of the room. It was odd-looking because it was made of a plastic that was completely see-through. The price was right though, so I grabbed the television and took it up to the check out.

The lady behind the check out counter was helping a nice older woman in front of me who was buying china dishes. As the cashier was wrapping the dishes in newspaper, she took a quick glance at my television and said, "You know that's a prison t.v.?"

I thought this was an odd assumption, but I asked her why it was a prison television. She said that prison televisions had to be transparent so that no knives or weapons could be smuggled into the jail inside of the t.v. That seemed to make sense to me.

So now I have a prison television in my studio. I hope it's the last prison television I ever watch. It does work well and it's the perfect size, so I really don't care that it led a former life as a prison inmate.

And maybe having a prison t.v. will remind me just how lucky I am to be free and to be able to work my brains out at something I love. I guess I could be my own warden and keep myself working on the chain gang for a long time to come.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Finished with Fourteen and Back to the Land of the Living

I finally finished my last article for the 14 in 14 challenge at Suite101.

I will say that the 14 articles in 14 days challenge really helped to get me into a writing state of mind. Now writing four to five articles a week will be fairly simple.

I would recommend setting up a disciplined writing goal to any writer. Though you might feel like a bit of a word zombie at the completion of the challenge, you'll end up being a much better writer. Plus, it adds a large bump to daily page views and revenue.

Now I must place a heavier focus on my jewelry making as I've got a holiday show just around the corner. Wish me luck!

Friday, September 25, 2009

14 Articles in 14 Days: Working the Writing Muscles

Right now I am in the middle of a 14 articles in 14 days challenge for Suite 101. At first I thought this would be relatively easy. I mean, there are days when I can sit down and write 3-5 articles with little problem. 14 in 14 is turning out to be slightly more challenging than I first thought though.

I guess I would liken this challenge to training for a marathon. Training for a marathon requires running every day. Some days are great and you feel like running for miles. Other days, just putting on the tennies is an arduous task. The same is true for writing.

Some days I can crank out 3-5 high-quality articles before lunch. Other days, I could labor away all day just to produce one presentable article. I find that this is the challenge with 14 in 14. Writing one article every day for 14 days challenges you to work the writing muscles even when they're aching and tired.

On the positive side and in keeping with the sports theme, the challenge is instilling a "just do it" or, better yet, "just write it" attitude in me. It is exciting to see my page views dramatically increase and my revenue go up. I'm going to stick with it and push through the writing pain and hopefully I will reap the benefits when I cross the finish line.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Internet Radio - My Work-At-Home Friend

When you spend a large amount of time on the computer during the day, Internet radio can be a sanity saviour. I spend a lot of my time listening to 3WK or 3WK Classic on I-Tunes. The music keeps me going and I enjoy hearing a lot of artists that I don't typically hear on my local radio stations.

I also was listening to Pandora, but they started putting limits on the amount of time you can listen per month. I understand why they did this, but it's still slightly annoying. If you haven't tried Pandora though, you should check it out. The site allows you to create your own radio stations based on your favorite artists and songs. It's a pretty good concept. You can also mix artists on stations, so you could have a Prince and Annie Lennox station.

Anyway, I have also been wasting time on the Internet watching music videos on Youtube. Though I haven't done this too often, it is easy to lose track of time when watching your favorite artists. That said, do enjoy one of my favorite musicians in this Youtube clip. After all, we all need a little escapism now and then, right? What do you listen to when you work?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Creating, Creating, Creating. . . Making Money????

Lately I have been trying to create both jewelry and freelance articles in an attempt to eventually make a living working from home. Notice that I used the word eventually. Though I am seeing modest returns for my hard work, I am by no means even close to paying a mortgage with my writing or jewelry. It would be easy to get disillusioned and give up, but I am actually pretty optimistic. Why?

Knowing What I Don't Want to Do
Well, over the last few years, I was working at a dependable job, but I hated it. My stress level was through the roof and I lacked sleep, exercise and sanity. My pay and benefits were great, but every day on my way to work, I would imagine what it would be like to just keep on driving and not go in. There were some aspects of my job I enjoyed, but not enough to make the stress and fatigue worthwhile.

Trying Something New

So now that I am working from home, there are other stresses, such as making enough money and staying on task, but I am thoroughly enjoying directing my own path in my career. The amount of work I do is directly tied to my earnings and there is endless potential for growth. I can also express myself creatively with few limitations. So far, the experience has been invigorating. In fact, I feel like I've been awakened from a deep sleep. So how do I get this new direction in my life to sustain my financial needs?

Laying the Groundwork

First, I know I must lay the groundwork by amassing a large cache of online articles on the top-paying residual sites. I am going to avoid upfront pay for as long as I can because the residual sites will allow me to establish long-term financial growth. I find that the best site for financial growth is Suite 101, followed by eHow. I am going to focus my energies on those two sites to produce a future of substantial residual earnings.

Second, I am going to focus on making high-quality and affordable jewelry and promoting that jewelry online and locally. I am going to look into wholesale opportunities for some of my pieces. I am also going to apply to shows to reach new audiences with my work. By establishing a client base, I can then start to make more sales and reach more people through word of mouth recommendations.

Staying Vigilant and Putting in the Hours

Finally, I have to look at my writing and jewelry as a full-time job. I have to put in the same amount of hours, if not more to make my dream a reality. I can't let up in a month, two months or a year if I want to make it in the residual writing or jewelry business. Luckily, I am fully dedicated to working as hard as I can to make this happen. Keep your fingers crossed for me though, because I will need a lot of luck too!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Splitting Time Between Writing and Jewelry

Recently, I have been working on starting an online jewelry business. I plan to have my Etsy shop open at the end of the month, and I want to have at least 20 quality items ready to sell. This means that my freelance writing is taking a bit of a back seat. Currently, I am only writing articles for Suite 101 to make sure that I keep my minimum requirements for the month.

By shifting my priorities this week, I have really examined what is working for me online and what is just a waste of time. This examination has led me to the following conclusions:

1. Writing for upfront pay doesn't make much sense unless you desperately need the money.

2. For me, eHow and Suite 101 are the most relevant money-making sites.

3. Posting large amounts of affiliate ads doesn't result in much money. In short, post some but don't waste time posting a ton of links.

4. Social networking is good promotion, but don't spend too much time chatting with online friends.

5. Setting minimum goals and tracking earnings helps to understand how to make more money online overall.

As an online freelance writer, your time is incredibly valuable and must be used effectively to maximize your earnings. For me, the majority of my time will be spent writing residual articles for legitimate sites that produce predictable and steady monthly residuals. I believe that publishing trumps promoting, posting ads and social networking.

Monday, August 17, 2009

100 Articles on eHow! Join Me!

I finally made it to the 100 article milestone on eHow! I was inspired by a posting by fellow freelance writer, Felicia, in which she wrote 100 articles and tracked their progress over the long term. In the same fashion, I intend to track the earnings of my 100 to see how they progress. I may go on to write more articles, but I will just track the earnings of the first 100.

Surprisingly, 100 articles didn't take that long to amass. I found little ways to be more productive with the process as I was going. If you are a fellow SEO writer, I hope that you will join me in trying this experiment yourself. It was actually quite a bit of fun and I'm extremely curious to see how my earnings add up. I will be adding earnings info to this posting at the end of each month for a year.

  • Before Aug 17* - 25.22
  • Aug 2009 - 27.21
  • Sept 2009 -33.48
  • Oct 2009 - 31.46
  • Nov 2009 - 19.87**
  • Dec 2009 - 18.09
  • Jan 2010 - 21.12
  • Feb 2010 - 19.52
  • Mar 2010 - 25.97
  • April 2010 - 21.96
  • May 2010 - 28.48
  • June 2010 - 23.34
*100th article published on Aug 17th, First article written in April
**Due to eHow's November article sweep, I lost 6 articles, dropping me to 94 total
Total: 296.23

Friday, August 14, 2009

Make $5000 a Month Freelancing

Okay, maybe $5000 a month is shooting for the stars, but it is possible. This week Suite101 sent out a letter to announce that a member made $5000 in residuals over a one month period. As a struggling freelancer, this news is incredibly encouraging. Though I realize that I probably won't be anywhere near this number for a long time, it is great to keep in mind that I could possibly make this much in the future. I would be happy with half of this amount, but I won't be able to get there without consistently adding articles to residual sites.

I think that often times it's easy to start strong as an SEO writer and then fizzle out, but I'm going to focus on frequently adding content to my online sites so that I can one day get to that $5000 mark. If you want to give it a go as well, click on the Suite101 or Bukisa widgets on the side of this blog to join and start writing for residuals.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Be the Tortoise When Writing for Residual Income

Though I have not been writing for residual income for long, I have seen the potential for making money long-term with seo writing. For instance, I have seen my E-how monthly income rise by $5 a month since I started writing. Though this meager amount is nothing to get excited about now, it shows that I can build my residual income over the long run. So in short, slow and steady wins the race and it pays to be the tortoise rather than the hare.

That said, I think it is important to write as many articles as you can when you are starting out. I look at it like banking. The more money you are able to place in savings when you are younger, the more money you will be able to earn through interest. I see the residual writing game in much the same light. Compiling a large collection of articles on many sites early in the game, will help you see your residuals grow more in the long term.

Ofcourse, like any good savings plan, regular deposits are a must. Once you have reached an initial goal of 50-100 articles on any site, start a new minimum goal for each site. You could require yourself to write at least one article a week, or two a month. As long as you are contributing regularly, you can see steady residual growth.

Staying with the savings and banking analogy, make sure to also diversify your deposits. Bank articles in many different residual sites to see money from each. Each site will have its own positives and negatives. Having articles in many online communities and sites will help you establish your online presence and bring in more revenue. Some online residual sites to consider include ehow, bukisa, associated content, suite101 and hub pages. Any of these sites, with the exception of associated content, can be accessed by clicking on the links on the side bar of this page.

Remember that slow and steady wins the race. If you stick with it, you will see returns and growth. Good Luck!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Diversify Without Spreading Yourself Too Thin

Online freelance writers or SEO writers can easily find themselves spread thin trying to write for the many residual and up-front payment sites available. Freelance writing is as much about being a multitasker and time manager as it is about being a skilled writer and researcher. So how do you know where and how to spend your time?

Originally, I thought that I would spend most of my time writing for up-front payment sites like DemandStudios because it seemed like I could make the most money from those sites. After I thought about it though, I realized that they couldn't pay me what they were offering for my articles if they weren't making money off of them. That's when I realized that writing for residual pay had the most potential for long-term money making. That's not to say that I didn't still write an occasional up-front payment article. It's always nice to have immediate money. I just figured that I wasn't going to spend much more time with up-front payment sites than I needed to.

So, I am currently trying to add as much quality content as I can to two residual sites: E-how and Suite101. I think that these two sites have the greatest money-making potential. Suite101 even offers a 10% bonus once you reach 50 articles. I am also slowly sprinkling in articles to sites like Bukisa and Associated Content. I am working hard at producing high-quality articles with optimized keyword usage. By honing the majority of my focus on two specific sites, I am able to be more productive and feel less like I am spreading myself thin.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Why Keywords Will Make or Break Your Earning Potential

Online freelance writing is not like writing for print media. Keywords make a huge impact on your articles' earning potential. Keywords are those words that are most likely to show up in a search engine. The more effective your keywords, the more people will see your articles and the more money you will make.

Suite101 has a great article on picking effective keywords.

For me, I try to think of things that everyone wants to have or know. For instance, most people want to lose weight, look attractive, make more money and have more free time. These are topics that people will always search for. Creating quality articles that address these topics will help to generate larger audiences.

It's also important to find unique angles within the broader topics. For instance, you might compare and contrast running and walking to see which exercise is best for losing weight.

Once you have your topics, check your keywords on the google adwords site. Type in your keywords to see how many similar keywords have been used in searches recently. You can see how many times each of the keywords has been used. You can also see similar keywords. For instance, i searched jewelry and found that many people searched for that topic spelled like this: jewellery. By including each type of spelling, I could double my views.
Bottom line, keyword research will help you to achieve greater hits on your online articles.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Am I The Only One Confused By Helium?

So I am trying out Helium for the first time. I have heard very little about it and I'm blindly feeling my way through the site.

Initially it sounded pretty great because you supposedly get up-front payments and residuals on your articles. In fact, I was offered a payment of $5 for my first article.

I guess my problem is that their site is difficult to navigate and I'm taking a while to fully understand what I need to do. For instance, I wrote my first article, but I don't know where to check to know if I was paid the $5. Also, they require writers to not only write a certain amount in a given time, but also to rate a certain amount of articles in a given time. I've never worked for a site that required writers to make ratings. I guess it makes sense, but I am still confused.
I just wish there was a simpler way to check what I needed to do.

Now for what I do like about Helium. The site allows you to write about topics about which other writers are posting articles. If you are reading an article based on a writing prompt, you can click on a little pencil logo and write an article based on the same prompt.

All in all, I still think it's a little early for me to sum up my overall experience with Helium, but I hope that my confusion lessons as I continue to use the site. What are your thoughts about Helium? I would love to hear how others are using the site.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Making the Most of a Layoff

As many of you out there, I have been hit hard by the recession. I thought that I was one of the lucky few who had a job that was recession proof. As a teacher, I thought that I would certainly have a job next year. So when I was called into the principal's office and told that I was being let go due to financial and staffing issues, I was shocked. It turns out even public education has been hit hard by the recent economic downturn.

So, after allowing myself to be shell-shocked for a couple days, I decided to devise a plan of action that would allow me to make money even if I couldn't find another teaching job. I earned my first degree in journalism and I remembered my professors talking about freelance writing. I thought that I might as well give it a try. Little did I know that the Internet had made freelance writing extremely convenient and endlessly profitable.

I did a couple of searches for freelance writing sites and read a few blogs about freelance writing on the Internet. I started with a website called Ehow allows writers to post articles about how to do just about anything. The articles earn residuals, that is to say that they earn money based on how many people read the articles and find them useful. The more articles you write, the more money you earn, and Ehow articles continue to make money as long as they are posted online.

I eventually went on to find more residual-based sites such as Bukisa and Suite101. These sites allow you to write about whatever you want. Writers earn more at Bukisa when they build their network by asking friends to sign up. Suite101 also pays residuals and a bonus of 10% once you publish 50 articles. The site provides excellent editor advice as well. By writing for these different sites, I am able to improve my skills and enhance my monthly earnings.

I also found some sites that pay up-front payments for articles. Demand Studios pays $15 for every article accepted. They also have a stringent editing process and many times they will ask for a rewrite of your article. If you have strong writing skills though, you will be able to make fairly decent money with Demand Studios. Demand Studios also provides a residual program but, in my opinion, I don't think you make as much money with residuals on Demand Studios as with other sites like Ehow. I also just signed up for Helium, but I haven't written any articles yet. I will report back once I see how that site works.

Anyway, I'm also starting this blog to let others know about online freelance writing. I will try to keep you posted of my trials and successes. If you are a freelance writer, I would love to hear your stories too.