Thursday, February 17, 2011

Write Moms Expanding on Ways to Earn Money Freelance Writing

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Hi all,

Since the first of the year, I've been thinking about this blog and the direction I wish for it to take.  For two years, I have focused mainly on sharing information about online writing sites and my experiences with many of them.  However, over this time period, I have seen online writing change, sites close down, others expand and many cutting back on hiring writers.  Frankly, I believe this trend will continue and we will see the market for online freelance writers narrow down over the next few years or pay gradually become lower and lower.  For this reason, I think it is important for every freelance writer to explore multiple ways of increasing their income instead of focusing only on one or two income sources.

Finding Different Freelance Writing Opportunities

Over this next year, I plan on adding more information about other freelance writing opportunities that, for many people, have become lost in the shuffle because everyone is focusing on online writing.  Recently, I added a page to this blog giving information and resources on regional parenting magazines that are in need of freelance writers and that pay fairly well per article.  Yesterday, I completed this list (unless I come upon other opportunities) and I hope you will all take a serious look at these magazines as another way to add to your writing income.  In the next few weeks, I will create another page that will give information about writing for health publications (see Health Magazine page here) around the country.  Health topics are hot and new information is always needed for the many publications out there today. 

Another way I hope to help freelance writers is to add blog posts which explain important topics like how to write a query letter/e-mail to a magazine, how to format articles for magazines and how to set pay rates if you are working on acquiring new clients.  As the year goes on, I hope to find topics of interest for all writers and opportunities that will help you all expand on your experience so you can increase your writing income.

As for me, I plan on writing less for many of the online sites and focusing more on returning to tried-and-true sites like Constant-Content and Suite101.  I also have a few writing commitments that I plan on continuing with.  I also plan on focusing on this blog and working more on my Health News blog, to try to grow an income from it rather than grow income for someone else.

My hope is that Write Moms will eventually provide a multitude of freelance writing opportunities and information so that everyone will be able to find the right freelance opportunities for their needs and increase their income as well.

Happy Writing,

Deanna

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Associated Content's Featured Contributor Program Discontinued to Make Way for New Yahoo! Program

Hi all,

Nothing seems to last for long on content sites lately so I wasn't surprised to see a notice at AC/Yahoo! Contributor Network that things are going to change there as well.  They just gave notice to all of their Featured Contributors that as of March 1, 2011, they will be discontinuing the program and starting a new program named the Yahoo! Contributor Network Featured Contributor Program (whew! what a mouthful!).  On March 1st, writers will be able to apply for the new program.  In other words, you've been fired from your current position and, if you think you are good enough, you can apply for it again only this time it will be even harder to be accepted.

Good Change or Bad Change?

With the old Featured Contributor Program, you were offered opportunities each month to write articles in your category for a set amount of money per article.  I'm told that the amount was anywhere from $10 to $100 per article, however I only saw the $10 ones.  You didn't make a lot of money but it was an easy way to earn a few extra dollars and you were free to choose whatever you wanted to write about within your category.  Since I wrote under the Health & Wellness category, the topic choices were wide and varied.

Under the new program, if you are chosen, you are guaranteed at least one "beat assignment" which will enable the writer to submit regularly to one or more of the Yahoo! sites.  They do not specify how much you will be paid or how often you will be writing. 

On one hand, the new program may be better for writers who are chosen because their articles will appear on popular Yahoo! websites and they will receive high exposure.  On the other hand, it sound like they aren't opening this up to many writers, so many of the writers who are now FCs may not be chosen for the new program and will no longer have access to a source of income that they once had.

Oh, and as a final goodbye gift to all its FCs for all their hard work and dedication, YCN will go ahead and still have the March assignments available, but that will be the last month.

It will be interesting to see how it all pans out.  I may apply just to see if I'd be chosen.  I'd sure like to see how much they will be paying these FCs for Yahoo! content.  Do you think they will pay them as much as they do their regular writers?  Hmmm... We'll see.

Are there any Featured Contributors out there who have an opinion on this?  Would love to hear what you think.

Happy Writing,

Deanna

Monday, February 14, 2011

Ethics in Writing: Are You Part of the Google Spam Problem?

Hi all,


A while back, I was participating in a writer’s forum on one of the “higher-rated” writing sites when I came across one writer giving advice to another on how she churned out several articles a day for Demand Media Studios for $15 an article. Her advice was basically this: Use the first resource that pops up in your search and write the article. She said it didn’t matter to her if the resource was accurate or not – after all it was only for DMS and for $15 an article they shouldn’t expect much. She also said that no one with any brains would use a DMS site like eHow, Livestrong, etc., for actual information so it didn’t matter if her information was wrong.

Think about that for a moment.

I asked her if she was kidding, because it is hard for me to believe someone who considers herself a serious writer would just throw out information that may be false. Her answer: pseudonym. She didn’t care whether her articles were accurate or not because she used a false name and they couldn’t be traced to her real name.

The worst part of all this – many other people who write for that writing site (it was another site, not DMS, where this conversation took place) actually agreed with her. So in their minds, it is okay to submit, publish and be paid for articles that were probably erroneous because their real name isn’t on it. And if the editors at DMS passed it through – that was their problem, not the writer’s. I had to walk away from this conversation – I couldn’t believe that people who promote themselves as professional writers thought that this was okay.

Now, I am not na├»ve or stupid – I realize there are a lot of spammers out there that copy, spin, repeat and place unverified articles all over the web in order to earn money. But to hear people who write for a rather “prestigious” writing site say that they are doing this at DMS really bothered me. What ever happened to ethics in writing? Or maybe I should ask, what ever happened to ethics – period.

Love it or hate it, DMS trusts its writers to be as accurate as possible when writing articles. While they (DMS) are certainly there to make money – they also do not want to get on Google’s bad side – so they ask writers to verify information and are careful which sites you are allowed to use to reference your articles. DMS is just too big a conglomerate to verify everything that writers submit, so some shady articles are going to get through. But when people who write for them purposely submit articles that include false information, that is just wrong. After all, it shouldn’t matter if you are being paid $1, $15, or $100 an article – if you’ve committed to writing about a topic, you should submit an article that is as accurate as it can possibly be.

Google Crack-Down on Low-Quality Sites

Submitting false informational articles to any site will not only hurt you as a writer but also hurt the site you write for. In January, 2011, Google announced in its blog that they are going to crack down even further on “content farms”, sites that allow “shallow or low-quality content”. So those who are purposely submitting low-quality articles are basically shooting themselves in the foot. If a site like DMS sees that Google is going to crack down on them for “low-quality” articles, the first thing they are going to do is crack down on the writers, eliminate writers and offer fewer writing opportunities. Those writers that depended upon that $15 an article for income may find themselves without a job. Is that fair to the many writers that do their due diligence and write quality, informational articles? No, but apparently those other writers don’t care.

People Do Read These Articles
The other part that bothered me is that these writers assume no “intelligent” person would seriously use information from sites owned by DMS. While you or I might not use a DMS site for resources (because as writers, we know we shouldn’t), there are millions of people in the world who believe what they are reading at these sites. Think about the young mother looking for information on caring for a sick child, finds it on eHow and believes it to be accurate – but it isn’t. Think of the elderly women who needs information on heart disease, finds it on Livestrong, follows it, but it isn’t accurate. Isn’t this reason enough to try to be as accurate as possible?

My hope is that everyone who reads this is as appalled as I was to hear that supposedly “professional” writers feel it is okay to write erroneous articles. If you are just starting your career as a writer, I hope you will strive to always be ethical in your writing endeavors no matter what you are being paid. No matter which site you write for, writing high-quality content will pay off for you in the end – and you can also always be proud of the content you create.


Happy Writing,
Deanna

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Update on DMS WCA EHow Earnings and DMS Blogger Program

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Hi all,

I am in my third month of trying EHow through Demand Media Studios and thought I would update you on my progress so far.  For those of you not familiar with DMS WCA EHow, basically it is creating your own titles and articles for EHow (WCA=Writer Created Assignment) through Demand Media Studios and earning residual income from those articles.  It is almost the same as using the old EHow except your titles have to be approved as well as your articles.

DMS EHow Earnings

I basically started placing articles through this program in November 2010 and earned my first payout at the end of December 2010 of $10.61.  (See more info about December earnings here.)  In January, I added only 4 more articles to DMS EHow and reached payout by the end of the month - a total of $12.33.  In the three months I have been writing for DMS EHow, I've earned a total of $22.94.  Considering I will continue to earn money each month from these articles as well as any new ones I add, I think I am off to a good start.

Another factor that makes me believe DMS EHow is a good way to earn residual income is my ever-growing income on my regular EHow account.  My earnings in January were up 18% over December 2010's earnings and are up 53% from April 2010's earnings when we were no longer allowed to submit new articles to that account.  If my new DMS EHow account earnings continue in this same trend over the next year, it will definitely be worth my time submitting articles.

If you are not a member of Demand Media Studios, I urge you to apply and try the WCA EHow program.  And if you were a former EHow writer and were already approved for a DMS account but haven't tried it yet - you really should.  If you enjoyed your former EHow earnings, you will be happy with EHow through DMS also.

DMS Blogger Program

First of all, let me say that I never thought I'd be an advocate for anything Demand Media Studios offered, so it surprises even me when I not only promote their DMS EHow program but am also now involved with the Blogger's Program.  (Read more about blogging with DMS here.)  However, I didn't think it would hurt to try it, so I linked my Health News blog to it and have now been with the program for one month.  In that time, my posts have been linked to DMS affiliates, Chicago Sun Times, Answerbag 2010, Livestrong and EHow and have received 27,170 headline views.  Unfortunately, I haven't earned a cent in residual income yet.  The traffic to my blog has picked up, but it's hard to say if it is because of its affiliation with DMS and its sites or if the blog itself is just doing better.  Whatever the case, I plan on trying this for at least 6 months and if I don't earn any income from it I can disable the blog from DMS and no longer share it. 

I hope all of you had a prosperous January and would love hearing from anyone who is also involved in the DMS EHow program or the DMS Blogger program.

Happy Writing,

Deanna
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