Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Jumping for Joy: My 1st Big Freelance Writing Success

Ever wonder if you can really make money writing articles? I've been trying to do just that -- for about nine months now -- mostly freelance writing for the Yahoo! Contributor Network (YCN). I've had some modest success here and there, but then had to take a break during July (family-in-the-hospital stuff). When I got back to writing again in late July, I had my first big breakthrough success with one article.  

Like the omg! oMG! OMG! the page views just soared in one day big success!

Like 180,000+ page views! Like $200 worth of page views!

I was so stunned and giddy that I wasn't able to concentrate enough to write much afterwards - LoL! Here's the scoop on what happened:

Getting Freelance Writing Assignments for Yahoo! Sports:
  • I grabbed an open assignment from the YCN assignment desk for the Olympics (Archery TV schedule). Although tedious, it was easy to write. The Yahoo! Sports editors accepted and published the article, so YaY!
  • Picked up another Yahoo! Sports assignment from the YCN desk the following week. Several college football articles were offered like team profiles, stadium guides and such.  I tried a few of those, but they just didn't work well for me - like I had writers block or something. Then I tried again with something fun: my Florida Gators Tailgating Guide.
  • Then a steady stream of Olympics assignments appeared in the assignment desk all the way up to the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony and well, really... throughout the whole thing. Again, I grabbed several assignments and tried, but just struggled to get much of anything together for most of the topics (athlete profiles, venue guides, etc.). Except for one topic that almost seemed to write itself...
Writing the Article:
  • So my big blockbuster success article was about the Olympics closing ceremony traditions
  • It was fun to write about because I love the Olympic ceremony shows and I learned some fun things I didn't know before when doing the research. The words seemed to just easily flow into the article.  
  • The Yahoo! Sports editors had given an example to use for the format. I followed the example, but added a separate "Fun Fact:..." sentence below each paragraph in the subheadings. The editors must have liked it.... 

Waiting is the Hardest Part:
  • The editors accepted it pretty quickly - YAY! The upfront was a whole $5, but I was hoping that since the Olympics coverage on Yahoo! was the hot feature thing at the time, that my article would get some substantial views. Like 10K or more page views to break my previous 8.5K page views. 
  • On Sunday, the day of the closing ceremonies, I was surprised and excited that it had received almost 20K page views. I assumed the numbers would then trail off after that. 
  • On Monday, the page views skyrocketed to around 180K+. The best part? I get a $200 page-view-performance bonus!  Stunned and giddy, I couldn't concentrate enough to write much for at about a week or so afterwards. 

It got better after that too! I soon got several "targeted assignment" offers to write for the U.S. Tennis Open. I accepted several of them and when I went to start writing one, noticed that the editor's example to follow that was given in the assignment was my very own Olympics article - how frickin cool was that! 

So writing freelance articles for Yahoo! Sports  -- my new favorite writing venue! I've read in the YCN forums that there's a reason why page views for sports articles are consistently better - but I'll share more about that next time.

Thanks so much for visiting my blog & please feel free to comment and share your writing successes or goals in the comments section.  

Image: speedy2 at sxc.hu

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Instagram down is Instrumental for weekend foodie humor Inspiration

Oh the irony -- it's Happy Social Media day today according to Mashable, but storms took down Instragram & several other biggie websites's servers last night. Some reports indicate they'll be down for several days... Meanwhile, many folks are spazzing over it's site downer state...  TechCrunch.com has a great article on the bestest of the best Instagram down jokes on Twitter. 

Although "Instagram" was the number 1 Google Trends search topic this morning (and doesn't that just go so totally coincidentally swell with my need for an "I" blog topic?)... unfortunately-for-me I don't use Instragram, so I don't have much of a personal first person withdrawal or infuriated commentary article to write about it. 

Then again, maybe it is fortunate-for-me because it's apparently been down since last night (which is why it's the hottest search on Google Trends), so I'm at least not having severe withdrawal or anything... 

If you're like me and had heard the Instagram name but don't know much about it, TechCrunch.com has an interesting report about how Facebook bought Instragram recently and speculated about how the site's use of cheapo network architecture (i.e. hardware & systems) contributed to it's lack of emergency preparedness for power outages.    

No idea how much revenue the downed websites lost, or whether their presumed business insurance covers that sort of thing, but being from hurricane-central-Florida, our local grocery stores have emergency backup power generators installed for power outage emergencies. That sort of emergency power outage planning thing just seems so common sensical for 24/7 bigtime social media sites like Instragram and the other sites to do. Amazing they apparently didn't. 

Anyway... I only wish I could have written an article for Yahoo! News about this whole thing today, but there's no news assignments in the assignment desk, sigh.... 

So what heck, let's give this keyword optimization and trending hot topics theory a go on my blog and let's see if there's any improvement in page views or blog ranking or something - LoL!)

Related Social Media Posts & Articles:
Factbox: Facebook Fails Again with Unannounced Email and Find Friends Nearby App Changes
Facebook Popularity: Narcissism or Proactive Self Marketing??

Pinterest: Invited but Can I 'PinIt' to Earn Extra Cash?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Having a Hard time with Headers and Headlines

I've been learning to blog and write articles for about 6 months now. I've learned quite a lot along the way, but blog headers and article headlines have become a challenge: 

Blog Header (or banner)
So... I'm trying to snazz up this blog's format. It's going slowly, but I did manage to figure out how to change the columns - I got those columns of stuff over there on the right going...more or less! Having all the extras on the right seems to be less of an eyesore and less distracting from the blog post itself. But I'm still finangling with the order of stuff & placement of things...

Ok, so now I want to find something cute to do with the header/banner. I thought adding some sort of cutsie writing-ish pic(s) up there, or maybe just some sort of scrollery background print or something would snazz it up. But I've spent hours googling for free Blogger or Blogspot banners or headers and just can't seem to find anything that works. I don't know exactly what I want, but I think I'll know it when I see it. 

If anybody knows of a free banner stash somewhere, please share!

Article (or blog post) Headlines
I've read so much about how important titles are for articles, and blog posts too for that matter, to grab reader's attention and all that. Some of it conflicts though -- like Do be catchy, Don't be cutesy, etc. etc. 

This is the most recent guideline from mediapiston.com, that I'm going to use next for my articles and blog post titles. The guideline references copyblogger.com suggestions, which I used for my first attempt at a reader grabbing headline: 
5 Reasons Why My Sexist, Cheapskate Manager was the Best Boss I Ever Had!

I got lots-o-feedback about what a great headline it was, but as of today -- it's had a whopping 72 whole page views... and it was published six months ago. So I dunno folks... what might have been a better reader grabberring title? 

Sometimes, the Yahoo! editors change the article titles from what I've submitted. I assume they know best, so no complaints there. 

Occasionally, just the displayed headline is changed. For instance, my title "Going Cheap on Wedding Ceremony Music Can Ruin Your Wedding Day" was changed in the front page feature display box only to Wedding Tip: Don't Skimp on Music just to make the headline small enough to fit inside the feature box. It might be a better title though, I'm just not sure. 

One clever title that's all mine and I'm proudest of is 
Not Wild About Oprah's Book Club 2.0 Pick. I don't seem to think up catchy headlines like that too often, so I'm hoping I'm getting better at title thinker-uppering.

I've heard some folks entire job is to just make up news and magazine article headlines like that. I'm so learning to appreciate how really tough a job it is!! My gosh, for this blog post -- I've spent the week spinning around "H" topics, like "Hopping" as in blog hop, "Healthcare" but no SCOTUS decision yet (although I've given up on politics for blog post topics), and such until "Headers" and "Headlines" popped up, just today. So it's not the greatest blog post headline, but at least I had something to write about...

Hope I can Hop up something to blog about for "I", hmmm... "Inspiration" maybe... 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Great Gifts for "Go Gators" dads

I got my very first article writing assignment for Yahoo! Sports - YAY!!!

I got it just because I just happened to be awake in the middle of the night when the assignment desk released around a 100 or so open assignments for Father's Day gifts from the Yahoo! Sports shop.

It was an upfront paid assignment, not for much, but the page views were pretty decent. My Dad just happens to be a Florida Gators fan and alumni, so it worked out perfect that I got to pick "Top 10 Gifts for Florida Gators Football Dads" from the numerous sports and teams available. Most of the assignments were for professional sports, but this college team one was mine!

Good thing I was up when the assignments were released, and paying attention to the assignment desk(I was hoping to snag a "Wild Card News" assignment), because those assignments went fast. They were almost all gone by 7 am or so.

And great fun it was to window shop, write about it, and get paid a little bit ($4) for doing it! The blue Hawaiian-ish Florida Gator shirt above (an Amazon affiliate link-thanks in advance if ya get one!) is my fave pick from the ten items featured in the article.

It took half a day to write it, but I've mentioned before that I tend to be a slow writer anyway. Not only am I a slow writer, it took this long to connect the "G" blog post topic with this Gator Gifts article - like duh!!!

Gee, what if I'd a thunk of it last week... like when folks would actually be searching for Father's Day gifts??? Yep, slow are me

Although it might not seem like the paltry pay was worth the time, just getting some experience of working through the unique format requirements for sports shopping articles should be worth it -- eventually -- and the next time I pick up a similar assignment it should (hopefully) go faster.

Compared to my 1st article on gift shopping, a Mother's Day piece for gardening Mom gifts, the Florida Gator gifts article got triple the page views. My understanding is that Yahoo! Sports actively promotes the articles on their team sports pages, which are apparently popular!

So what did you get your Dad for Father's Day this year?

If you're a writer too, did ya write anything special for Father's Day? If so, feel free to post a link in comments!


Have a great Father's Day!!




Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Freelancing Frustrations: 1st Wed IWSG

It's the 1st Wed. of the month so time for the Insecure Writers Support Group (ISWG) blog hop monthly post. Good thing I'm on "F" because I'm feeling soooooo frustrated with freelancing lately. Although I've made some significant accomplishments with getting paid for writing articles, working through the frustrations seems to be where most of my energy goes.

Frustrations:

  • Not Earning Enough Dough (NEED): As of today, I'm like $15 away from earning $600 from my Yahoo! Contributor Network (YCN) articles. Most of that sum is from upfront payments and $20 or so is from page view earnings. For 6 months on the gig with 61 published articles, that's almost $100 per month for 10 articles per month and almost $10 per article average earnings.

    It's a decent start, but I've gotta do a whole lot better! Like 10x per month better. Do I pick up my article output to 100 per month and if so, should that be with YCN only or should I try to find an additional paid article writing outlet?

  • Topics that Work and Earn Enough Takehome $wag (TWEET$): Thinking up topics to write about, that  YCN will approve and pay upfront for is my biggest challenge. And, the content has to be something original. Then it has to be "searchable" enough - and that's still a thorn in my side with the Finance editors (see previous post). 

So NEED and TWEET$ are my 2 main Freelancing Frustrations. I'll be pondering my options to pick up the pace this month. I'm sure I won't do 100 articles this month, but I'll try to pick it up to like 2x more each month. So the plan is to get 20 articles published in June, whether all at YCN or not is tbd. I'm also looking for popular search engine topics. 


As always, comments and suggestions would be most wonderful!

(btw: if you're a fiction writer from IWSG, or elsewhere for that matter, YCN does have a "
Creative Writing" section if ya didn't know that already. I don't think they pay upfronts, but it's a way to get published and earn page view performance payments too. One of the poets and short story writers just got over 100K page views and earned a "Top 100" badge). I've seen open assignments for poetry, flash fiction, short stories and the like in the assignment desk, so there's opportunities there if you're interested)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Envy, Editors, and Efforts

I'm Envious of:


At
Yahoo! Voices on Friday, the editors announced a brand new "Contributor Spotlight" award and the first winner (not I). The award recognition is certainly nice to receive I'm sure, but the $500 bonus has gotta be the bestest part of it! Though envious I am, it's inspirational too -- like... it's something that I could actually aspire to win someday. The first winner doesn't have a journalism or English degree, hasn't previously worked at or been published in newspapers or magazines. Just a regular person with an expertise in real estate, but without a professional writing background - YaY, an achievable award to GOal for!


Editors can be great, or not:

  • YaY: I finished the 2nd of 2 test assignments for the Yahoo! Politics Featured Contributor (FC) program and was accepted! On my Yahoo! Contributor profile, there's now a snazzy "YFC Politics" badge - woohoo!! It means I'll get at least one guaranteed assignment each month that pays more upfront ($15) than regular assignments ($5-$10).
  • Boo: Not long after I got the FC, I got a Finance article submission rejected as "topic not searchable enough". It was about getting a better discount for an online  subscription after cancelling a free trial. Well, at least it wasn't rejected for being badly written or something like that, I suppose. I may try resubmitting it to Yahoo! Voices instead of Yahoo! Finance, or I might use it as a blog post.


Efforts
Effortless:

  • My Very 1st paid Sponsored Tweet was tweeted!
    Made a whole 49 cents, but hey -- it's a start!! And a really easy, breezy tweet it was:
        What I really, really, really like about this whole sponsored tweet thing:

  1. Clicks on the link don't matter, ya get paid a flat rate just for the tweet!
  2. The tweet content is provided, just tweek it a bit to suit your voice.
  3. I don't actually tweet the tweet, it's auto-tweeted via their app.
  4. I'm not pestering people with ad tweets all day, it's just tweeted once.
  5. The flat rate price is "suggested", but you can set it at whatever rate ya want. Suggested rate seems to be sorta based on how many followers ya have -- mine just went up to 52 cents. 
  • a Forbes editor actually replied to my tweet!

Thanks much for visiting & have a great Memorial Day long weekend! 
(F is gonna be for "Format" -- there's gotta be an easier way to get this blog post formatted better)


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Dogs, my Dad, and a Ditzy chick

So last week, I had some nice surprises with my articles on Yahoo! Voices, Yahoo! Finance, and Yahoo! News!

Dogs
My article about how I manage to keep my dog from the shelter despite being broke got featured on the Yahoo! Voices front page for a day and a half. That's a frickin big deal in Yahoo! Contributor land!! It increased my page views too, from less than 50 to an additional 3.8K page views - YAY!

Dad
Ok, so this next one is a stretch - but I'm in the Insecure Writers Support Group (IWSG) for a reason! I got a very nice compliment on twitter from another Yahoo! Contributor for my Yahoo! Finance article about my Dad's seemingly odd refinance of their house for another 30 years.

btw: if you've stopped by from the Bloggers Comment Club and/or the IWSG and follow me on twitter, if I haven't followed back and/or added you to my lists - please give me a shout out on twitter. Thankfully, my twitter followers are growing, but I can't remember who's who - so sorting followers by lists helps. I try to make sure that I retweet everybody, so lists helps me that way too. Thanks!   

Ditzy chick
Then, I got a special assignment to write a political article for Yahoo! News that was a test assignment to potentially become a "Featured Contributor" and it was accepted - YAY again!! I call it the Ditzy chick of the week in politics article - LoL! 

It did reasonably well for page views, 3.8K worth. That's not as many page views as the other one I blogged about, but it's pretty respectable. I've had a few that were much much lower. I've read that some Yahoo! News articles can get into 6 figure page views, but that seems to be when they're featured on the Yahoo! front page slides. I can wish!

So last week was a pretty darn good week with my writing for Yahoo! I didn't get as many articles published as I wanted - I'm going for 5 a week, but I did get 5 submitted so I'll just have to catch up this week by submitting more articles earlier in the week.  

And this is my 4th blog post this month, so I've already exceeded last month's one whole post - LoL! So hopefully I can stick to my goal for transitioning between blogging and article writing. So far, so good. 

On to E for the next post... hmmm, that's gonna be a tuffy...