Tag Archives: lesson

Content Sites – Why Some Work and Why Some, Well…


If you’re a regular reader of my blog, then you know that I wrote for quite a few content sites (or content mills as their detractors referred to them). For over a year, I provided content for DemandMedia, BrightHub, SEED, BreakStudios, WiseGEEK, Interact Media, Writer Access, and Textbroker. I was busy, my schedule was crazy and I was making just enough to get by.

Then — enter the Panda, Google’s pet name for its new algorithm. Suddenly, sites that were begging for writers didn’t have work for the writers they had. Some sites were more upfront about the issues than others (I won’t beat that horse anymore, I’ll let it R.I.P.), but ultimately, Panda was too much to overcome.

First, I noticed there were never any new titles for BreakStudios. That was a bummer because I wrote some of my more, shall we say, fun and colorful articles for them. SEED was always a crap shoot, so no real loss there, though I did write one of my most favorite pieces for them.

Then BrightHub went away, and with it, so went my rev share. I had a couple of articles that returned a nice chuck of change every month, on top of the upfront money I got to write them. And finally, DMS, in true DMS fashion, basically said, “Thanks, but you might want to write for someone else…at least for now. Oh, and for the foreseeable future, too.

Now, luckily, I had seen a lot of this coming, and had been transitioning myself away from the content sites such as DMS and BrightHub. But I kept writing for sites such as Interact Media, Writer Access and Textbroker.

Why?

Simple. I quickly figured out that, although I was making less per article at these sites, I could write the articles quicker and make as much, if not more writing for them than I did slaving over a 500-word article that may or may not get past a CE, depending on what side of the bed s/he got up on, whether their coffee was to their liking or if they had been chewed out by someone five minutes before they pulled my article from their queue. To me it made sense, but a lot of people refused to write for these sites because the upfront pay was so low, and opted to stick with the higher-paying quick cash of DMS, BrightHub, etc. Now many are regretting that approach.

But there was another reason I stuck with these sites when I backed away from the others — it seemed they were less affected by Panda, and for one important reason: They weren’t guessing about what their clients/readers wanted. They took orders FROM their clients and used freelance writers to fill them. So Panda changing the algorithm didn’t really have an effect on them because they weren’t dependent on the search engines to tell them what to write, their clients were propelling the search engines.

So, I guess, if you take nothing else away from this post, remember this: research your market and pay close attention to the signs. Figure out which sites are catering to clients, and which are catering to themselves, and then decide for whose team you want to play. Me personally, I’m glad I switched sides.

How have you all fared in the days since the Panda? Are you still writing away, or are you scrambling to find new places to write?

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Just To Reiterate…


For the last couple of hours, I have been reading posts in a clients’ forum. Many of you will know of whom I am referring. Those that don’t, keep reading anyway, because, well, just keep reading. 🙂

Anyhoo…today I’m reading such nuggets of wisdom like:

“The Internet is dead for writers. There is no longer money to be made writing on the Internet.”

“Blogs are dead. You can’t make money writing on or for a blog.”

“Content mills are dead. You won’t be able to make money writing for content mills.”

And from a previous day, “Generalists are dead. You can’t make money as a generalist writer.”

Hum…

So, what, I’m supposed to pick a topic and go door-to-door and ask to write about it for the business? Are you saying I HAVE to return to print media?

Oh, wait — “Print media is dying. Soon you won’t be able to make money writing for print publications.

Uh huh…

Do you all know how utterly idiotic you sound? You are basically saying that soon SOON…a writer will not be able to make a living…ANYWHERE, ANYHOW.

Really?

C’mon folks, enough with the doom and gloom. As long as there are people who need to say things, but don’t know how to say them, writers will have work.

As long as things need to be sold, writers will have work.

As long as people continue to read, writers will have work.

(OK — so that last one if kinda iffy, but I still stand by the statement, for now.)

But my point is, just because the genre is changing and just because the format is evolving, this does not mean writers are going to go the way of the dinosaur. Sure, there will be businesses who decide they can “do it better, since, really, how hard can writing be? I did get a B- in English in high school after all,”…

But the savvy business owner quickly comes to his senses and hires a professional to fix what he created.

Now, yes, this does mean that as writers, you might have to develop a new skill set, but hey, researching and learning new things and writing about them is a large part of what you do as a writer anyway, so this truly should not be a daunting task.

Especially if you’re…*gasp* a generalist. (Or a generalist with a specialist bent.)

So, folks, don’t put down your pens or close your word processing software just yet. We aren’t going anywhere!

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Jill of All Trades


Every once in a while, someone asks, “What did you do before you became a writer?”.  I seldom participate in these conversations, because I’ve always been a writer.

Now, if you want to know the jobs I’ve worked other than as a writer, well, that’s a different kettle of fish.

So, for fun, here is the list of all the jobs (or at least one ones I remember) I’ve held since I’ve been old enough to have the Feds and the state pick my pocket…er…I mean earn a paycheck.

  • Babysitter
  • Waitress
  • Tour guide for Victorian homes
  • Assembly line worker (lawn mowers)
  • Assembly line worker (food processing plant)
  • Administrative Assistant
  • Teacher
  • Tutor
  • Maintenance worker
  • Hotel Maid
  • Check Processor (ran the machine that recorded bank transactions for the day)
  • Check Processor (hand-checked daily credit transactions)
  • USDA Compliance Agent (I went around to grocery stores who applied to accept food stamps and made sure they qualified. This actually was one of the most enjoyable jobs I’ve ever had.)
  • Proposal Writer
  • DSL Tech Support
  • Cable Tech Support
  • Computer Tech Support
  • Telemarketer
  • Small Business Startup Consultant (still do this now)
  • Hat/Coat Check
  • Receptionist
  • Telephone operator
  • Dispatcher
  • Bookkeeper
  • Cashier
  • Vacuum cleaner Salesperson
  • Retail
  • RL Polk Surveyer
  • Telephone book delivery
  • Jewelry designer

Those are the jobs I remember off the top of my head. I didn’t count the 3 hours I worked at Wendy’s. Didn’t seem fair. I also did not count the five years of being a Candy Striper or nine years as a chat host on AOL, though both of those volunteer positions took up WAY more time than any volunteer position should (but I loved every minute of both!).

What all this work experience has done is give me plenty of fodder for my writing. I also met some very interesting people along the way, some of whom I am still friends with now. I also learned that, even in jobs where you think you aren’t learning anything practical, you come away from the job with a new skill set. For example, I know how to remove the core from a head of lettuce without slicing it, can tell you what every number on the bottom of a check stands for and the materials in a stained glass window.

So, I’m a Jill-Of-All-Trades, Master of Some, but learner from them all.

So, what interesting jobs have you held, and what lessons did you learn?

 

 

 

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Motivation


A fellow writer wrote about her inspirations and motivations for writing here. At the end of her post, she posed the question:

“What motivates and inspires you and how/where do you find the time?”

I was going to respond to her comment with what motivates me, but decided that I would write about it here instead.

So, here it is, the things that motivate and inspire The Classic Quill to write:

MOTIVATIONS

“Your services will be disconnected if we do not receive your payment by….”

“Add $xx.xx to this amount if not paid by…”

“Mom — I need $xx.xx by xx/xx so I can go to/do ____”

“Mom — I’m HUUUNNGRY!”

“It’s going to cost HOW MUCH to fix the car?!?”

“Ooh…Staples is having a sale!”

As the list indicates, my main motivations are money, especially to have more money than I need to spend.  Some months work out better than others, but being able to make money doing something I love is something in which I take great pride.

Now…onto the inspiration…

INSPIRATIONS

Other writers

Hearing my daughter tell others what I do for a living.

Telling people what I do for a living and seeing their reaction. The reactions range from shock to curiosity to skepticism.

Writing fuels my desire to educate, inform and explain things to people.

Seeing my by-line on an article is always neat. I get especially stoked when I see it on a website or in a publication for the first time.

Having newer writers approach me and ask for advice on how to get started.

There ya go. Consider this “Why I Write — The Redeux.”

Now I am off to do something that will fulfill things on both my lists…but before I go, I’m going to pass the question along to you: What motivates/inspires you to write?

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Wow…


So, what I thought was the simple need to take a couple of days off from writing, turned into almost a week of practically NO writing at all! I didn’t decompress — I CRASHED AND BURNED.

It wasn’t because I didn’t want to write or that I didn’t have anything to say — I just couldn’t stay awake or think enough to write anything coherent. There is an actual medical reason for the issue that I’m not going to do into here, but the worst seems to have finally passed, and I am back to work.

About three posts ago, I wrote about “Powering Through” — ie., writing when you really don’t want to.

Well, I was just reminded, and not so gently, that sometimes that Just. Can’t. Happen.

Sometimes you have to let the work sit for awhile. Sometimes you really just need to pay attention to what you brain is telling you (or in my case, what it doesn’t say) and just stop for a while. Fighting it just draws out the process.

So, if you ever see yourself heading toward the wall, and you have to power to put on the brakes and avoid smacking face-first into it, DO IT.  Do not let your pride or stubbornness cloud your common sense.  The words will always be there. Your clients will understand, and if they don’t, there are always more clients to be had.

Do what you gotta do to be you.

Lesson learned. 🙂

 

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