Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Yahoo! Local Beta Announced in Limited Cities

Yahoo! Local a new opportunity for freelance writers.
Writers, are you ready to go hyper-local?

Yahoo! Local (beta) was officially announced Wednesday, on the Y! Yodel Anecdotal blog. The launch covers more than 30 locations, with more said to be added soon. All of which will need writers to provide local content.

This new site launch is a freelance writing opportunity waiting to be seized. It is also a chance for writers to carve out a niche in their own backyards. So how do we, as writers, put ourselves in a better position to take advantage of this new market?

Do your research/study the market. Peruse current content on Y! Local and take notes on

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Are Yahoo! & AOL Tapping into Local Content Goldmines?

Small Town Saturday Night, by Malcolm MacGregor.
...and are some towns just too small to matter?

Local content. This buzz phrase has been building to a roar for the past year, or more. Savvy writers, such as Pam Gaulin, have been preaching it to fellow online writers for longer. 

Search engines turned content providers AOL and Yahoo! are banking on converting loyal readers into profits, with Yahoo! Local (beta) and Patch. But will these new hyper-local sites, both in infancy stages, be focusing on areas where reporting is needed most--small town America? Would it be worth it?

Both sites do cover cities with populations under 20,000. For example, both are testing the waters in Birmingham, Michigan, population 19,291. But what about towns with under 5,000 people? That will be the interesting part of the hyper-local experiments--if coverage is given to these rural areas.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Hot 100 for November aka an Excuse to Post

 
My page views for November 2010 on the Yahoo! Contributor  Network (Y!CN), formerly Associated Content, merited a nifty 'Hot 100' badge. This is only the second time I've won this badge--the first being in September 2010--which is given to the top 100 contributors with the most traffic.

It's cool. It means my Y!CN bonus is larger than normal, but it is not the reason I'm posting. The badge is an excuse to post. Not that I've had a lack of topics to discuss. I seem to have contracted blog paralysis--where the ideas flow, but the fingers refuse to type.

This is me getting over it. Now if I could only kick this cold...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Lazarus Update: Form App Resurrects Lost Writing

Firefox App Article Saver for Glitchy Submission Templates
In July, I wrote about a form data saving application for Firefox called Lazarus. It looked like the ultimate solution to bringing back writing snatched away by submission template snafus. I promised an update, so here's the lowdown: It works!

I first had the chance to use the app a couple months ago. Logged out in the middle of submitting a finished article, I got the dreaded session log out message. Holding my breath and muttering, "Please, please, please work," I logged back in. Eyes closed, fingers crossed, I hit the 'Back' button twice and arrived at the blank template. Right clicking on an empty field, Lazarus was

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Freelancers Can Celebrate National Boss Day Too

Psst..Hey Boss, Thank Yourself Today!

National Boss Day may have been recognized yesterday, but as a freelancer you make your work week. October 16 is the actual designated date for Bosses Day, so give yourself a pat on the back.

Yes, you! As a freelance writer you are the boss. In the spirit oh the "holiday" be sure to reflect on everything you have done in that capacity to make your life as a writer easier.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Free International Freelancers Day Conference About to Start--Celebrate Your Career

Free Freelancing Conference Brings Back College Memories

International Freelancers Day is a free two-day online conference held September 24 and 25. Freelancers who wish to attend need to register--it's as simple as entering your email address and confirming the message.



The conference starts at 9 a.m. ET, on both days. Session video will be available at a later date, but you have to be registered to view it.

What's in it for you:

There will be 10-15 sessions each day, delving into topics that directly affect the modern freelance writer. SocialMediaExaminer.com founder Michael Stelzner will discuss

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Bachelor Pad Premiere Commentary Published on Yahoo! Leads to a Suggestion on Google Alerts

Do You Know Where Your Articles Are Re-Posted?

My Bachelor Pad premiere article found its way onto Yahoo! News/Entertainment. It was published in August, but I just discovered the posting last night. That's more of a springboard for this post, so maybe more on that at a later time. But it's part of the journey, so here's a screen shot:


You can read the original article here.

I do have something related to say about Google Alerts. Many online writers utilize these to be notified when

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Surprise Mini Writing Success -- Published by Yahoo! News

Yahoo! News picked up my Illinois sales tax holiday article  Monday. (I came across it the next day.) This article was originally published on Associated Content from Yahoo! (AC). Nifty little confidence booster for the week. The article screen shot will also add more variety to my writing portfolio.

It's a little funny that Yahoo! published this article, though.  I've done a few Yahoo! partner calls via AC. For example: One on the ending of the home-buyer tax credit, which (I assume) was sent back because the credit was extended the day after the article was purchased or it possibly just wasn't a good fit.

Another Yahoo! partner call I completed concerned the unemployment extension. Instead of going to Yahoo!, an offer was made by AC News.

The sales tax holiday piece was not a partner call. The article was an easy regular news assignment I claimed from AC's assignment desk. All it required was to detail my shopping experience and what items I saved on.

So after submitting articles targeted towards Yahoo! I finally make it there--in a round-a-bout way.

Other AC Contributors that have found their way onto Yahoo! sites include Carol Bengle Gilbert, Steven Bryan, Jan Corn and Pam Gaulin.


Graphic from Yahoo! press kit.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Feelin' Hot, Hot, Hot!

All-Around Blazin' Day

It's been a pretty awesome day, considering the sweltering temps outside. It started with a nice mention on Marie Anne St. Jean's writing blog, Write, Wrong or Indifferent. I won her first-ever giveaway and now get to sport the adorable feline Wreggie's pic on this blog as a reminder.

Daring to risk the noon heat to check out my new flower bed (which I had just planted at midnight), I was treated to a preview of a small garden statue a neighbor is painting for me. He then welded my broken flower holder and sandblasted my guy's grill. Just when you think the neighborhood can't get any better, the neighbors on the other side fed everyone delicious smoked barbecue and fried green tomatoes!

Later, clicking over to my Associated Content from Yahoo! (AC) account, I discovered I made the Hot 500 for July 2010. Sweet! I wasn't too sure about making it, hitting a little less than 30,000 page views for the month. Pretty excited about making the cut since the Hot 500 started, but need to write more consistently for AC. In typical overachiever fashion, I'm shooting for the Hot 100 next month.

Other July 2010 Hot 500 Writers Worth Checking Out:

Since I've already brought Marie Anne St. Jean to your attention, it's worth mentioning that her AC profile is also ablaze.  Marie Anne is a featured Crafts and Hobbies Contributor and retired U.S. Marine. She tackles everything from crochet to news to blogging tips.

Jolie du Pre is another AC Hot 500 writer for July 2010. As a featured Arts & Entertainment writer, she dishes up unique angles on celebrity news and gossip. A published author and editor of erotica, Jolie's most recent article "How to Prepare for Your Book Reading" culls from her personal book promoting experiences.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Freedom of Freelance Writing: Outdoor Offices

My front yard has been dubbed "The Redneck Internet Cafe" by a neighbor. The title fits. We embrace it.

 My Redneck Internet Cafe

The disreputable shop table often holds three laptops, assorted tiller parts and fishing reel guts. It's a comfy space graced by some of my potted flowers and jovial company. A true testimony to the freedom and portability of being a freelance writer.

An outdoor office space can allow a writer to escape the confines - real and mental - of four unchanging walls. The colors of nature and activity in the street help me feel stimulated and connected to the world in a way that an indoor office never did.


It helps set a relaxed tone for more informal writing, like blogging or opinion pieces. I feel more creative and brainstorm story ideas better outdoors. Maybe it's the fresh air invigorating my brain. 

I don't do well writing structured, in-depth, articles out here. Those require more concentration than listening to chatter or a tiller starting for the 50th time allows. Then I just pick up my laptop and move my office to the backyard or indoors. Ahh...freedom.



 Photos by Tamara McRill

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Some Writing Rejections Hurt Less--Thankfully

There it was sitting innocently in my inbox, the reply to my FanHouse NFL pre-season coverage application. Slightly excited, I open the email. Meh. Rejection.

As far as form letter writing rejections go, the note was pleasant. It stated that the site was likely to go with staff writers, instead of through Seed.com applications. (I read this as the cream of the crop may get the gig.) They will keep my resume on file (I hope they really do) and will use it to evaluate me for other opportunities (again, fingers crossed). I will be updated of further opportunities. (The cynic in me guesses this will be via Seed assignment listings, but I could be wrong.) All-in-all a personable rejection that listed reasons and left a glimmer of hope. LOVE that.

Did this rejection bum me out? Sure. They always do, for about 2.5 minutes. Okay, slightly longer than that. I did receive the news Tuesday morning and waited a couple days to post on it. It's been said time and again, but you need to develop layers of thick skin as a writer.  These layers are often papered with the many rejections you are likely to get. You learn to be slightly thankful for the nice ones.

By nice rejections I don't just mean the polite "we're going in a different direction." I include any rejections that include specifics. No writer is perfect for every gig or assignment they apply for, just as an article won't jive with every publication it's pitched to. When an editor takes the time to point out how you or your article doesn't fit, internalize and learn from that advice.

Listen to any critiques on style or voice. This can help you as a writer and gives you better guidelines to go by, if you choose to query the publication again. If missing the gig is a matter of too little experience, you know where the bar is set and have something to reach for. Nice rejections can be turned into positive lessons in your writing career.

Photo by GoBuggyGo/flickr.com

Friday, July 9, 2010

Is Junk Spilling Into Your Writing Space?

My Desk Has Been Buried

Every random odd and end seems to find it's way into my writing space. Doesn't matter if it's a corner of  the living room or my temporary office. If it can be stacked, tossed or haphazardly piled above my head, it will be. It's not even just the fiance's fault. I'm guilty too.

That's what stopped my fuming when my temporary office became storage for everything stashed in the rooms we tore off. How can I complain, when I don't respect my own writing space?  Let's face it--I know that the mess will distract me from writing. I'm well aware that unearthing my desk eats into productive writing time.

I have to stop minimizing the place where I write. Yes, it's a super convenient location for switching laundry loads and feeding the dogs on break. That doesn't make my workspace any less designated or money generating than any other business office.

So I will have to respect my writing space and keep it clean, organized and productive.

What's the messiest space you've ever had to write in?

Could You Write in this Mess?


Photos by Tamara McRill

Lazarus Potentially Useful for Online Writers

Firefox Add-On that Resurrects Lost Writing in Article Templates

In tonight's gorge of follow-the-next-link reading, I spotted a post about Lazarus. Lazarus is a form entry data saver add-on for Firefox users. It can recover typing lost in forms due to the server crashing, hitting the wrong button, etc.

I had to immediately check this app out!

I have yet to use an online publishing template that hasn't at some point glitched an article away. The logical advice would be to not type directly into the template. But sometimes as a writer deadline pressures loom and I just open the darned thing and start pecking away.


Installing Lazarus took a couple mouse clicks and a Firefox restart. The add-on is free, but there is an option to donate money.

I headed over to my Associated Content account to see how this bad boy would work. Starting a new article template, I filled in the title, description and article fields. Without saving, I clicked my 'Account' button. Then hitting 'Back,' my now blank publishing template was displayed.

A right click in the title field gave me the option to Recover Text (my title was listed next to this). I chose my title and Lazarus filled in all three missing fields! (Title, description and article.) Pretty sure I heard angels singing.

There was a little bit of a let down when I left the article-again without saving-and went to access it from the content tab. (Article was saved as incomplete.) Lazarus was unable to resurrect any of my writing this way. BUT - if I hit the 'Back' button until arriving at the original template opening, the app was able to fill in my text.

Next time I hit an article-eating glitch I'll post an update on whether Lazarus was able to come to my rescue.

Lazarus   Photo originally uploaded by Art-Visionary/flickr.com

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Writer's Resumes: Do You Have More Than One?

Having recently spiffed up my sports writer/editor resume to apply for AOL's FanHouse.com NFL gig brought to mind all the resumes I've tweaked throughout my writing career. I have crafted separate resumes that concentrate on news reporting, feature writing, newspaper experience, online content, sports, health and more. It's a necessary part of landing many writing gigs - showing each company how well a position fits.

The facts are all the same, it's what I choose to emphasize on each that varies. Does a sports site care that I'm a crafting maven, passionate about fashion, obsessed with politics, versed in geriatric diets or a DIY home renovator? Probably not. My years spent making deadline, covering games and interviewing athletes and coaches? That's the meat they're looking for.

Don't make an editor/client have to wonder if you have any experience or strengths that qualify you for the job. Emphasize that you do. Address in your resume how you meet all the qualifications or risk being filed away for good.

Even if you have periods of employment doing something other than writing, think how that position uses a skill needed for the job you are applying for. Did you meet constant deadlines? In charge of gathering information? An expert on that subject? You never know which bit of employment history will make you stand out and get the gig.

Photo by a curious queen / flickr.com

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Writing Life

Writing Without Glasses? Not So Much... 

Vanity can be the bane of productivity. In order to be a productive freelance writer, actually seeing what is on the computer screen is vital to submitting any writing. 

Pretty simple, right? Yeah, well, not if you normally wear contacts and abhor eyeglasses. I get excellent points for toddling off periodically and purchasing contacts. The plan always is to buy glasses sometime...later. 

Sooner would have been better. Falling asleep on the couch typically involves taking out my contacts and giving them a good saline rinse. Except when I woke up this morning I discovered the saline was empty. An attempt to put on my trusty taped glasses resulted in a lens falling into the sink drain.  

After a lengthy rescue effort (involving pink straws, electrical tape and a tea spoon) I was able to put them on. And couldn't read a thing. Eight years of violent wear and tear had finally finished them. 

Now that I think about it, I'm fairly sure I was subconsciously trying to annihilate those glasses. I've always hated how they looked and reacted to my sensitive skin. Crimes committed against my eye wear were many. They've been slept on, stepped on, crushed between bed and wall, dropped down many holes, imprisoned in sofa cushions and tortured by my puppy's teeth.

Anyways, back to writing productivity. It was well after 4 p.m. when I managed to secure contact solution. A whole day of writing literally down the drain. As a writer I back up my work, buy duplicate office supplies, have a home phone in case the cell doesn't work and even have a backup computer. None of which matters if I can't see to actually use any of it. 




Photo by mexcast / flickr

Thursday, July 1, 2010

On Fire Again: Hot 500 June 2010

My Associated Content profile will be sporting flames for another month! I made the Hot 500 for June 2010. The badge is given out monthly to the site's top 500 writers, based on page views. A separate badge is given to the top 100 contributors.

Since the honor is based on page views, let's see how I did. In May I made the Hot 500 with 30,040 page views and no articles published that month. For June I hauled in about 31,000 views, with two articles published. A negligible difference, but still pretty much passive income.

AC June 2010 Hot 100 writers to check out:

saul relative - frequent News Contributor, with excellent coverage on the progress of the 2010 unemployment extension.
Carol Bengle Gilbert - brings a unique angle to news stories, also interesting travel stories. Featured Local, Travel, Education and Green Contributor.


AC June 2010 Hot 500 writers worth following:

R. Elizabeth C. Kitchen - featured health and wellness contributor who interweaves medical facts with personal experience.Also featured in Local and Education.
Angie Mohr - delicious regional recipes and helpful business tips. Featured A&E, Business &Finance and Food & Wine Contributor.


Photo by nekodoken/flickr.com

Friday, June 4, 2010

Associated Content

Wait I Am Hot -- 500 That Is!

Turns out I did make the Hot 500 list on Associated Content for May 2010. Yay me!

Assignment page views were accidentally left out in the first tallies. My nifty little badge has been reinstated, making me a happy little AC contributor.

Actually, I'm slightly surprised I made the list, since I didn't publish any new articles to the site last month. That's the beauty of evergreen content, it keeps performing (and earning!) months after it's written.

Photo by mad_airbrush/flickr.com

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Taking My Advice on AC Upfronts:

An Honest Warning

Here's my confession:  I haven't submitted an article to Associated Content for upfront pay consideration, since April 20, 2009. That's the same month I signed up. It's not intentional and I didn't even realize it until tonight. Now it's majorly bothering me.

I'm not counting anything claimed through the Assignment Desk or anything submitted through the News Desk - when they offered a flat upfront rate. News no longer pays for unrequested submissions.

I have a small love affair with the Assignment Desk, because the requested articles are often on topics I'm thinking about at the moment or have experience with. That makes them quick to write and a fast output can be a blessing to a freelance writer trying to pay the bills.

Also a big fan of publishing through News. The page view love is awesome - and page views = $. And money is part of the reason I do this whole freelancer thing. There is also the benefit of writing about events that I'm searching to satisfy my own curiosity about.

Why does this matter? Every so often, someone will ask what is the best way to submit articles on Associated Content. The advice I give (and other AC Contributors) is to try a variety of options. Try Display Only for content not eligible for upfront pay (poetry, video game reviews) or something time sensitive (news, television reviews). Any news accepted through the News Desk can benefit by going on Google News. Assignments are great, if you're out of topic ideas.

Submitting for non-exclusive upfronts is often the best solution. If your topic isn't going to garner tens of thousands of views in the first week, then there isn't much harm letting it sit in the queue. In my experience, hot news stories are the only ones that take off that quick. In that case it should probably be published through news or put up DO.

If your article is turned down and misses out on a thousand views, you're only out $1.50 to $2.00 (depending on clout level). If you receive an upfront offer equal to that, you haven't lost anything. An offer more than $2.00 means that you are ahead!

See that? I'm pretty opinionated about/in favor of a submission option that I haven't tried in over nine months. Even realizing that, I still think my arguments are sound. As a freelance writer, especially an online freelance writer, your income will often be made up of small payments. Hopefully they are more than a few bucks, but it seems like bad business to turn down money for something you intend to publish anyways. Especially if it turns out your the quality of writer they will gladly pay higher upfronts to.

The conspiracy theorist in me is also whispering that sites will stop paying for content they can get for free. Just a thought.

Oh, and my point? I'm going to submit some articles for upfront this week. It's long past time I do.

Photo credit: hattie mahatma / flickr.com

Friday, February 19, 2010

Golden Ticket Into the Minds of Men

Accepted at Break
Studios

Looks like I will be attempting to titilate and engage the minds of men, via Break Studios. After submitting my application late last night, my inbox received an acceptance email exactly at noon. Not that I was awake, but still nice to get such a speedy (and positive) reply!

Pay is the flat $8, but the choice of titles are really fun. Mininmum word count is 250, not much of a chore. There are style guidelines, like Demand Studios. These seem simple to follow - only way to know is to submit and see what happens. Looks like I have new weekend plans. :)

Photo Credit: nocturnel/flickr.com

Applied to Join the Boys' Club: Break Studios


Originally uploaded by archidave

Applied to BreakStudios tonight. They seem to be branding themselves as the go-to place for men's entertainment, with six different sites that cater to a Maxim-esque demographic. You know: food, bars, babes and cars. Strangely enough, this sounds like it could be fun to write - possibly a chance to be a wee bit impudent!

Rumor is the site only pays $8 per article, but the word count is low. Not as well paying as Seed or even Associated Content (especially counting PV bonuses), but final judgement can't be made unless I'm handed the golden ticket.

Even if the pay isn't as much as I would want (not sure that's even possible), it's always good to have several sites to write for. Never know when a site will disappear. Or in the case of my Edubook experience, quit paying before I submitted my first article. Not that I didn't have an opportunity to make money with Edubook. I was just too busy and had to take a couple months hiatus from some sites, right after I was accepted there as a writer.

For those interested in applying, be prepared to provide basic personal info, resume, writing sample and some fun facts.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Heading to the Big Easy!
New Orleans Trip Booked














It's official - we will be leaving for New Orleans around 11 p.m. tomorrow night. The train tickets are booked, hotel reserved and anticipation is high! Only thing that is making me nervous is getting on the train. I've never traveled by train and the Amtrack representative has assured me that we will have seconds to board. What if we miss the train? Boo!

Hoping to come back reguvinated and full of story ideas. I already have a bunch in mind. Every online freelance writer needs time exploring the real word. What would we have to write about otherwise? Travel is one of my favorite topics to write about, as it lets me relive amazing experiences.

My trusty laptop will be making the journey, so I can work on the way there and back. Good thing - because this impulsive vacation coincides with several deadlines.

One funny story to share (I also tweeted this): When I became frustrated with Amtrack's voice recognition menu, I sweetly said, "You suck!" (mature right?) Mechanical voice promptly replied, "Did you say Compton, California?" Tee hee!

Photo Credit: ®oger / flickr.com

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

First NoiseCreep Killer Video Blurb Published

My first article (can I call it that?) - let's stick with blurb - submitted through Seed.com was published on NoiseCreep today. The two Killer Video assignments I submitted were a hairspray scented trip down memory lane. There's now a an itty bitty piece of teenage me represented out there almost smiling, hunkered down infront of 'Headbanger's Ball, while throwing up the horns. ( I have no emotional investment in Kevin Seal, but whatever happened to Adam Curry and Ricky Rachtman?)

The text is blurred since all rights were sold.




This post original appeared on my website, on January 19, 2010.

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