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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

I Was Unfaithful To Adsense

I was unfaithful to Adsense. I admit it. My faith wavered in the face of suspected click fraud and I removed my Adsense ID. I was seduced by other advertisers, too numerous to mention, but I have learned my lesson. I have gradually replaced all the false tempters on my blogs and sites with my Adsense ads. I have turned away from temptation and I have had my reward ...

... or at least I will, in about two months. That's how long it takes to get your money after you have racked up the magic $100 figure. I could have had it earlier, if only I'd believed.

I still don't think it's the be all and end all. Frankly, I make more money from paid posting. But I've noticed something. It's about a year since I started blogging. Now that I have hundreds of posts and have done lots of promotion, I'm starting to get some clicks. So I've concluded that it's all about being patient, something I've not been that good at in the past.

Shameless self promotion
The new edition of Writing Lab News is out on Thursday. It's got information for writers and tips and tricks that anyone can use to promote themselves. Check out sharonhurleyhall.com for the back issues and sign up to get your copy of the December issue.

Recent articles include:
* How To Get Fair Pay For Freelance Writing
* How To Promote With Article Marketing
* Get Relevant Links For Your Website
* How To Write Money-Making Copy

Friday, November 24, 2006

Freelance Writing: Trading Pennies For Dollars

As a freelance writer, there comes a time when you have to start chasing dollars instead of pennies. When you start out as a freelance writer, every commission is important, no matter how little it pays. That's how you get contacts and get a selection of clips that you can show to anyone who asks. It's also how you learn to write fast, because at 1 cent a word, you have to do a lot of writing to pay the bills.

To give an example, I had one task that I do that consisted of writing about 3,000 words a day. It's news, which meant minimal creative effort, but it still took time to write. When I started the contract, it took me half a day to write that amount. By yesterday, when I ended it, I was able to do the same amount in two hours. That was important, because it didn't pay very well and I needed to leave myself time to get some jobs that would make some money. There was also a small problem of successive late payments. (My golden rule is, don't let someone get away with that too often or it could become the norm.)

Don't get me wrong - I still do some low paid jobs, because it keeps the cash flowing, which is what cash flow is all about :) but I am also on the lookout for jobs that pay better. One of my recent opportunities gave me the chance to double what I usually get for ghostwriting, but I want to do better than that.

That's why I'm trying to change the balance of my writing. I have a couple of jobs which keep me going and I do a lot of paid blogging for various blogging ads places. But getting rid of one contract means I now have time to look for a few higher paid jobs (Deborah NG tries to have a $10 minimum payout on the jobs on her site). And replacing it with something that paid more means my bank balance won't suffer while I'm doing it. For me, this is all about working smarter, with the ultimate goal of freeing up more time to write my books, play with my daughter and go to the beach. I'll let you know how it goes.

So, I'm interested to know, as a freelance anything, how did you make the move from the peanuts jobs to the ones that really paid?

Freelance Writing Hub

Saturday, November 18, 2006

A Hub For Promotion

I'm always on the lookout for somewhere new to promote my writing and other skills, and a few months ago I made a couple of Squidoo lenses, one on SEO and another on freelance writing. Lo and behold, one of my current clients actually followed me around the web before contacting me through one of the lenses. So I'm a firm believer in trying lots of new forms of promotion, because you never know which one will pay off. Of course, that can make it difficult to identify the really effective ones, but I'm working on a way to solve that. A few weeks ago, I got a lead on a Squidoo like site, which I bookmarked and forgot about till last night.

It's called HubPages. Like Squidoo you add modules which you can fill with text or images. I haven't explored all the options yet, but it doesn't seem to have as many advertising options as Squidoo. The interface is clean and it works fast. It took me only a few minutes to make my SEO hub, which is similar to my Squidoo one. Even if I'd had to do it from scratch, I don't think it would have taken more than half an hour.

You can also earn money through your hub with Adsense, Amazon and Ebay. This didn't work as well as it could have. I couldn't get my Adsense account to talk to HubPages and my Amazon affiliate account is with the UK site, which doesn't seem to be supported. But for those of you in the US it would probably work well. There's not much more to say about it so far - I've only been on the site for a day. I'll keep you posted on what kind of traffic it brings.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Working on Self Promotion

I spend a fair bit of time on self-promotion - or at least I did before I got so busy writing. One of the things I find is that I try things and create profiles, then lose track of where they are. So I created a little ready reference for myself, which I plan to add to as I take up new writing and promotion opportunities.

The other good thing about this list is that when I go to a new site, I can create a profile in seconds. I use the intro from my main site and this list to let people find out more about me while I'm filling in the details. It's in three sections. The first is a list of the places where people can see my work. Of course, since I do a lot of ghostwriting, almost half my work isn't there.

Where I Write:

The second section is my recent publications. Of course I've got articles going back nearly 20 years in other publications, but people want to know what's up to date.

My Books and Publications

The final section of my quick ready reckoner is borrowed from gracepub, who suggested somewhere that this was an easy way to let people find your stuff. This is where the benefits of article marketing really pay dividends.

Search For Sharon

This doesn't have all my work by a long shot - and after this week's efforts I'll need to do some updating, but it's a useful promotional tool.

MySpace For Business

I'm always on the lookout for new places to promote myself as a freelance writer - and I found another one this week. I'm a bit of a sucker for email newsletters, though I'm trying to break the habit. Anyway, one of them passed on the following information about a new place to promote yourself and make contacts.

It's called Bizfriendz (affilate link). It bills itself as 'MySpace for business' and it is remarkably similar in the way it works. Like MySpace, with BizFriendz you can set up a profile, including personal, education and professional information. Like MySpace, you can add multimedia to the account. Unlike MySpace, you can earn money by referring people, and more money when your referrals refer other people. I haven't earned a dime yet, but I've only been there a few days.

Bizfriendz has only just gone live, so there's no way of telling whether it's going to be huge or another flash in the pan. I've had a couple of friend requests so far and I'll be monitoring my site traffic to see what it brings. Check it out for yourself and see what you think. And if anyone knows more about it than I do, please feel free to add more info in the comments.

Friday, November 10, 2006

ReviewMe: A New Paid To Blog Opportunity

This is a sponsored post about a new way to make money online. I first read about this site on Believin's blog and rushed over to sign up. When I visited ReviewMe I saw an attractive site with an laughably easy sign up process. In fact, I was able to sign up while chatting online with a couple of friends. I put in my name, address and Paypal address and was good to go. You can also opt to be paid by cheque.

The way it works is that you submit your blog to be considered for reviews. I haven't yet figured out what criteria they use, but I suppose they want a blog that is indexed and gets a decent readership. I submitted three blogs for consideration and had two accepted, this one and my Writng Lab blog. The other blog was not accepted, but that's no surprise, because although it's been going for months, even Technorati won't accept that it exists. Something's strange there.

Anyway, back to ReviewMe. The blog submission form is simple. You need a name, URL, feed URL, category, six tags and a description. Your site is checked and accepted or rejected straight away - no hanging on waiting for confirmation emails. You can submit six blogs and do unlimited reviews on each one. Once you're set up, your blog is assigned a value per review based on its popularity and other factors. You earn half of that price for writing a review. My blog was assigned an initial value of $40, which means I should get $20 for this review. I'll keep you posted. They pay once a month at the start of the month.

So far, I like what I see. ReviewMe insists that bloggers disclose that posts are sponsored. I like that too. Watch this space. I'll keep you up to date with my ReviewMe Adventure.

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Blogitive: More Posts, Less Time

I've always been a big fan of getting paid to blog. I've written posts on how I get paid to blog and getting more out of Blogitive. But now this is getting to be hard work. $5 for 10 minutes work was fine, but $5 for an ad and two posts in between is less cost effective.

And, wouldn't you know it, this has coincided with a flurry of offers. I'm hoping that other paid blogging sites are not going to go the same way.

I wrote to Blogitive to complain (I won't put a gloss on it) about their new policy and to say bloggers needed more time to do all those posts. This is what they said:

We had to do this to increase the quality of the Blogs in our network. Clients don't like to see Blogs that just have posts written for our clients. Blogs should be about many random things and this forces everyone to write about different things that might interest them beyond our offers. The time to write posts isn't an issue for most Bloggers and we have even considered shortening it so more Bloggers can get offers easier.

Looks like my Blogitive days might soon be at an end.

Too Much Writing, Too Little Time

One of the issues many writers face is time management. I read a good suggestion today about using a timer to make sure I spend time writing instead of checking email or blogging, which are my two favourite distractions. I always deliver on time, but I tend to work unsociable hours. One day, I'd like to fit the writing into a shorter space of time. What are your writing goals?

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Giving Freelance Writing Work Away

I was tickled to read one of gracepub's posts where she referred to me as 'giving work away'. I hadn't thought of it like that. It's probably the first time in my freelance writing career that I've been in a position to do that.

Normally, I take on all the jobs and work too hard trying to do them all. But when I got the latest one, I realised I'd have to write 9,000 words a day for the next four months. That's just too much, especially if I still want a husband, a daughter and friends at the end of it. So that's why I posted the opportunity yesterday. I spent a lot of time getting the contract and figured someone else might as well benefit - and someone will.

Freelancing can be precarious and it's tempting to say yes to everything when the work is coming in, but sometimes you have to learn to say no. After all, if you work yourself into the ground, there would be no point in earning any money. So, although it doesn't come naturally, I'm going for balance.

What similar choices have you had to make, if any?

New Ways To Make Money From Blogging

One of the things my blog is about is how to Make Money from freelance writing. One way that works well for me and brings in some nice pocket change is Blogitive. But in order to qualify for the program you have to have a blog that's indexed in the search engines and one that is popular.

There are lots of ways to do this, including submitting your site to directories, burning a feed with Feedburner and doing what you would do anyway - visit people's blogs and comment on them in the hope that they will comment on yours. That part isn't difficult and at $5 a time for writing about a web release, it's a nice little earner, particularly during the slow writing months.

Now they've got a few more programs. One of them is to put news headlines on your blog (which probably wouldn't work here), but the other is more exciting. It's ghost blogging, which I do anyway, so I'm looking forward to the chance to make more money with fewer ads.

Saturday, November 4, 2006

Why I'm Happy That I'm Not Finishing My Novel

Everyone's got NaNo on the brain - everyone except me, that is. For about four years, I've had a novel outline languishing in a corner of my desk. It has stared at me reproachfully as I have done other jobs and written other things. I've felt guilty because I feel I haven't stuck to it - or even got started properly, but yet every time I sat down to write it, my brain froze and I couldn't manage more than a few desultory sentences. As you can guess, that has done nothing for my self image, especially since I am a prolific freelance writer and ghostwriter.

So it was because of this that I decided to attend one of the Inspired Author Friday night online workshops. The reason was that writing coach Lori Chance was going to be there, and I figured it would be a great opportunity to finally kickstart that novel writing.

It was an interesting session, in which I got very public therapy for my novel writing malaise. Lori was great, talking me through all the reasons why I might not be getting started with the novel (time pressure, fear of failure, perfectionism) and the qualities I had used in the past to successfully step out of my comfort zone (focus). We talked about ways of getting support with novel writing (courses, critique groups and so on). But the upshot was not what you might think.

At the end of the session I felt exhilarated and liberated because with Lori's help I had finally given myself permission to let that novel go, at least for now, and to concentrate on writing one of my other ideas instead. I have now put some regular writing time in the diary (only once a week, but once I get obsessed, as I will, I'm sure it will be more often) and a friend has offered to set me up with her writing group.

So I want to say a public thank you to Lori. I also want to let you know that you can benefit from her experience for free. Lori's got a site at DestinationWords and a free writing life coaching group on Myspace. Browse around Lori's profile and you'll find a lot of useful and interesting stuff - and some of it can be applied to anyone, not just writers.

Thursday, November 2, 2006

Writing And Loving It

Gracepub recently wrote a post called Are You A Writer? and it got me to thinking. Yes, I am a writer, partly because I couldn't imagine doing anything else and partly because that's my job. It's what I do and who I am. However, what I'm doing now is a far cry from what I imagined a writer's life to be when I first had the dream in my teens.

Like many aspiring writers I dreamed of writing the great (fill in the country) novel or becoming a famous poet. Neither of those things has happened yet. Instead, I spend my days writing about mortgages and finance, camping, language teaching and (best of all) working in the movies. I write about a variety of topics, some interesting, some less so, but although fame is still distant, I'm still happy.

That's because even when I complain about a particular writing project - and let's face it, some of them are hard - I still get a kick out of making my living from writing. I would never want to go back to working for someone else or working in an office. This is what I wrote in a comment on gracepub's post:

Writing is a strange profession; if your face isn't on a dustjacket or your byline in a national magazine or newspaper, then many people don't take you seriously as a writer. I guess you have to learn to do without the approbation of your peers and write anyway.

I suppose that's where I am now. I know that one day I'll get around to writing more for myself than for others, but for now I'm enjoying beign able to pay the bills. How do you feel about how your writing career has developed?