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...


Friday, May 11, 2012

Comments for Cash (or Coins)? Yep!

A few years ago, I used to post comments a lot on websites like HuffPo, local newspaper articles, and such. I had no idea that people could get paid to post until I noticed other posters bashing the forums "paid trolls". I even asked a few times how a person could get that job. Got no answers. 

I thought they must be joking... like, get paid for posting comments, really??? Ever since then, I've sometimes noticed comments that seem a little too... oh I dunno, either a little too polished or too enthusiastic or too something... 

So I became more convinced that there really was some paid commenting going on out there in cyberland. But when I searched for how-to, all I found at the time was things like "oh, sponsors will notice you in the forums and they'll contact you" type of advice. 

Then lo and behold, I recently came across a blog post about that very thing. Sure enough, there's places to go that will hire you to post comments in forums and wherever commenting goes I suppose.

Doesn't seem like they pay a whole lot, but it's something that seems easy enough to do for quick and easy extra cash. 

I haven't tried it yet, mainly because I'm focusing on articles and blogging for now. But I'll do a few paid surveys when I need a break now and then. I tend to get tired of surveys after awhile, so I might signup for the paid posting thing next time.  

Anna of the RealWaystoEarnMoneyOnline blog recently posted about her own experience with Postloop and has a list of Paid Forum Posting sites in her directory too. 

Have you ever tried commenting for cash, a.k.a. paid posting in forums? If so, any tips are most welcome! 

Ok, so YAY, I've got A B C down on the alphabet post trail, next up -- D is for... maybe Dollars or Doubts or...



Friday, May 4, 2012

Be a Better Blogger to make more Bucks

Along with my article writing successes mentioned in the previous post, had some fails too that included:

Blogging, or lack thereof 
and since I've seen so many April A-Z Blogging Challenge posts (that I didn't signup for because I just wasn't ready to pressure myself that much just yet), I'm going with the Alphabet Soup style for an unofficial blogging topic/prompt for this month. We'll see if I can stick with it. 

I'd signed up last month with a "paid to blog" site called Social Spark. I'd received an invite from another Yahoo! Contributor, so what the heck. I'm not exactly a proficient blogger just yet, but thought I'd have a looksee. Turns out ya have to have a minimum of 20 blog posts within a 3-month period to be eligible.

So time for me to get busy with the blogging. I've just got to get a routine, or semi-flexible schedule going between blogging and article writing.  

Paid Tweets
I got one whole offer in April from Sponsored Tweets, but it was declined as "not needed". Bummer!! 

Sponsored Tweets is free to register, but also has a monthly pay for self-promo subscription thing that I'm certainly not going to sign up for. But, just this week I got approved for another offer that should be tweeting June 8th at 10:00 AMish. 

It's apparently for just one tweet on that day, but there was a note that it could be up to 3 tweets. Not sure how the auto-tweet an ad thing'll work - so it'll be interesting to see what happens.

So, I'm off to improve my blogging post frequency, get more sponsored tweets, and improve the article writing during May. Ok, so C is for...

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A is for April Article Successes - IWSG

So, I'm a day late and a dollar short with my Insecure Writers Support Group (IWSG) blog post that's a 1st Wednesday of the month thing. Blog posts took a back seat last month while I cranked up my Yahoo! Contributor article submissions. Have had a few unexpected successes, so I feel much better now!

Not that I've mastered article writing yet or anything, but I think I'm starting to get the hang of it. There's several things that I struggle with when writing articles:
  • I'm a slow writer: 2 - 4 hours to complete an article, sometimes longer
  • Boring Beat Topic: for Yahoo! Finance beat, upfront pay is better, but not fun to write  
  • AP vs. Chicago Manual style: Switching between article types, News vs. Voices vs. Finance gets confusing
Article Page View Successes:
Accomplishments:
So April was a pretty great month! There were some fails too, I'll blog about those tomorrow...

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

1st Wednesday: Insecure Writers Support Group Monthly Blog Hop

Oh my gosh, insecure writer are me! Last week I participated in my 1st organized Blogger Comment Club. There were soooooo many snazzy blogs to comment on, this newbie was humbled...

Yet, along that blogger commenter hop way, I stumbled upon this Insecure Writers Support Group Blog Hop, perfect timing! With limited spare time, the monthly frequency works great. I'm #276 on the list.

Then, just today I get this Congratulations! email from my one and only current publisher, the Yahoo! Contributor Network (YCN) that I've been awarded a Top500 contributor badge for top 500 page views in March. YAY - me, my spirits picked up a whole lot with that (especially since I've had three rejected articles recently)!

Excited, I went to look at my shiny, new Top500 badge on my YCN profile, but... no badge. So I went to the forum to see if any glitches or something had been noted. One person commented about receiving their Top500 badge too, but noted that it'll have to be recalculated after some non-counted page view glitches are corrected next week. That means I could be recalculated out of the Top 500, since the non-counted page views are from a big page view getter - Yahoo! News. Spirits sunk again!

So I don't have much advice for any other Insecure Writers out there, at least not until I'm better at article writing and blogging. I will say that my goal for this month is to read up and study the SEO section of the Yahoo! Style Guide (amazon link it to is floating around somewhere on here) to get my page views up via search engine results.

One thing I noticed from this blog's Google Analytics, the only post that's gotten traffic from search engines is the one very brief post below about Pantyhose - LoL! Like, there's a 100+ page views from "pantyhose runs" "Madonna sheer tights" "Beyonce leggy" searches - just seems totally bizarre!

Photo credit: sxc.hu/cornetta


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Facebook Popularity: Narcissism or Proactive Self Marketing??

sxc.hu/raichinger
Popular on Facebook? You’re so Vain According to New Study
A new study connects Facebook activity with narcissism. While some may think "doh" or "that’s news?" -- others counter that egotism on social networking sites is just self-promotion for a reasonable purpose. So what's the diff?

COMMENTARY | ABC News reported a new study... Is being popular and active on Facebook really anti-social, egotism too? Maybe, maybe not… Read More  

Backstory

This was a Wild Card News Topic assignment from the Yahoo! Contributor assignment desk with a small upfront payment and is page view performance bonused. Mark Zuckerberg... not a favorite of mine... but popular search topic... Facebook IPO in a month or two or so... Yahoo! suing Facebook... there's just gotta be some page view magic for this article -- right? 

Well, not yet. One of the things I'm learning is that popular topics also have a lot of search results for my lil ol' article to compete with. The experienced writers say that photos matter -- having a great pic in the article that appears in search results will generate significantly more page views. 

But, a free and allowable pic for this article has been elusive so far. We're only allowed to use free photos from stock.xchange and wikimedia commons and any free-for-public-use online media kits. Even then, we can only use those with standard restrictions. 

If there's any extra special restrictions -- we can't use them. A "photographer must be notified" restriction is ok, the problem is with a bunch-o'-extra restrictions like "share alike" and stuff like that - most often found on the wikimedia site. 

Then there's the Facebook-icons-are-trademarked thing, so can't use those either for the article. We can use only one paid photo site, istockphoto.com, but I'm not going there just yet.

So, I'm trying again to find a free & allowable pic that might fit the article. I'll post each pic here as I find them - first up is the I heart myself button above. 

Let me know what ya think!  
  

Monday, March 26, 2012

Why Obamacare (aka Romneycare) Matters to Me and Should to You

Republicans: Does the Right to Life Include Right to Health Care?
 The Supreme Court needs to be the adult in this Left Wing vs. Right Wing health care reform feud. In a twisted paradox, it's a Right to Choose Healthcare righties vs. the Right to Choose Life lefties political showdown.

COMMENTARY | According to the Associated Press, the fate of the Affordable Health Care Act rests with the Republican appointees on the Supreme Court. The old health care system was not working because of denial of coverage to those with pre-existing... Read More

Backstory
This blog post is an experiment in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) magic. Hey, why not try to get some page view magic from a hot topic for next three days since Obamacare is in the Supreme Court today and for the next two days? 

The article was written for a Wild Card News Topic assignment picked up from the Yahoo! Voices Assignment Desk. I chose to write about Obamacare health care because of the AP article that was published when the Supreme Court case was two weeks ahead, thinkin' it'd be relevant for a few weeks. It did include an upfront payment ($5)  - YAY - and gets page view bonused at  $1.xx per 1K views.   

Even better, it was selected as an Editor's Pick Feature, meaning that it's prominently displayed on the Yahoo! Voices News front page - YAY - again! It started on the day of publication as the largest feature on the top left of the page. It migrated after a day or so to the top right spot, then down to the "More Picks" list. As of this moment, it's 5th down on the list. 

The Featured status is soooooo very helpful with racking up page views. I'm not yet in the six-digits page views like many of the News and Political Featured Contributors are -- more like low four-figures per featured article. This article is almost at 3K page views as of now. I'm hoping the Supreme Court case this week will pick up the pace from searches and such. 

One bummer though: I've had three similar Wild Card News Topic assignments be picked up and published in the regular Yahoo! News also. That's usually generates some great numbers too. But this article didn't go there, (no idea why not), but the Voices Feature selection got about as many page views as the others that did go there. So it worked out, I 'spose...

This past Saturday, I stumbled into Twitter and noticed one of the top trending hashtags was #ILikeObamacare. So I jumped on that trend and had a great time tweeting this article and retweeting all of the other pro-Obamacare tweets that I agreed with. I noticed that anti-Obamacare folks got into the tweetup as well. Those folks really like to post comments and such in articles too - so we'll see how this blog post goes. Hey, feel free to rant or rave in comments - just no personal attacks or irrelevant spam & stuff...

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Have a Fear of Public Speaking or Stage Fright?

I Conquered Stage Fright and Fear of Public Speaking in a Most Unusual Way...Art Class
Getting beyond extreme shyness to become a (reluctant) art class model was the best personal and professional growth development thing I've ever done, albeit inadvertently. My stage fright transformed into a calm and comfortable me on stage ever since. 

Great stage presence -- or not, can make or break a promising career. In business careers, making a speech at the office requires overcoming the notorious fear of public speaking. In performaning arts careers, well...ya gotta perform. Conquering my performance paralysis and extreme shyness on stage was no easy feat... until the most unusual day when I went to an art class... Read More

Backstory

Ok, so yeah -- this was an extreme way to confront that "they're all staring at me" freeze-up thing! 

I was a figure drawing model for the local Art League for about a year. The models were rotated weekly, so my turn in the limelight was once every four or five weeks, usually... 

But one time I did have a three-weeks-in-a-row run when they decided to switch to painting instead of drawing. That was tougher because I had to hold the exact same pose during each of the 20 minute sessions for the entire hour and a half workshop. 

The paintings were displayed at several art shows. I was afraid to go to them for a looksee at the final final finished paintings at the art shows, because I thought somebody might recognize me! Like my back, butt, and boobs would be recognizable in a clothed crowd on the streets at an art show!

So the experience most definitely resulted in no more paralyzing "they're all staring at me" freeze and panic during the first moment up front and center. 

And in case you were wondering, nope -- I did not turn into an extroverted exhibitionist. No graduation to topless beaches or nudist camps, then or now!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

How I Make Extra Cash Working from Home (part-time)

First Person: I'm on Unemployment but I'm Still Working
Earning up to $58 a week by self-employment or part-time work is allowed without any reduction in unemployment aid in my state, Florida. This is how I've earned extra pocket cash during unemployment.

In Florida, an extra $58 per week can be earned without any reduction in unemployment benefits. Who knew? I certainly didn't during my first two months of unemployment last year! Read More



Join the Yahoo! Contributor Network


Backstory

I was only on Unemployment for 3 months and only earned extra cash for a couple of weeks before I returned to work (part-time) and Unemployment comp ended. The point of the article was that I could have earned extra cash for the whole frickin 3 months if I'd only known! 

The article mentions 3 ways that I've earned extra cash (other than writing): odd jobs, paid surveys, and mystery shopping. There were some snidely comments, mysteriously gone now, noting that the article should have included links to the legitimate paid survey & such sites.

I agree, they shoulda, but the Yahoo! article format stuff has limits on how many links (3-ish) in an article and where the links are going to & such. So the below links are to legitimate sites that I have earned cash from and know first-hand are legit and are not affiliate links (just because I haven't yet figured out the how-to for that yet).

Also, scroll down on the right side to my Blog Roll to find several great "Work from Home" blogs that have done a lot of research of the many options available - site links included. For those asking, these are my favorites:

Paid Surveys:
Tip: Recommend Survey Police for checking up on the latest Paid Surveys scoop, reviews, & they have a very active discussion forum. 

Mystery Shopping:
Tip: Mystery shopping isn't as easy as it might seem, so try the above sites first if you're new to it. They provide easy & free online shopper training and you can try several types of shops before getting credentials. 

Tip: For love-it mystery shoppers, graduate to the Volition site and Job Board which is popular industry-wide with companies and shoppers actively looking for shopper gigs as well as useful tools and tips. 

TipProfessional certification is not required for most mystery shops, but can be helpful in some cases to get preferred assignments. If you decide mystery shopping is for you, professional (paid) industry association membership and certification options are found at the National Association of Mystery Shoppers web site.    

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Entertainment Industry Behaving Badly: Lindsay Lohan on Saturday Night Live March 3

Lindsay Lohan Mugshot
Industry Rewards Bad Behavior: Lindsay Lohan on SNL
Lindsay Lohan is scheduled to host Saturday Night Live on March 3. I wish the Industry would not reward her like that and here's why. 

Repeatedly on probation for drinking while driving, stealing, and a variety of other some such nonsense -- the entertainment industry is way out of touch with the rest of us... Read More.


Backstory

Well, she did it anyway! Nope, I did not watch the SNL episode when Lindsay Lohan hosted. The reviews were mixed...this article from MTV News seems  like the fairest http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1680377/lindsay-lohan-hosts-saturday-night-live.jhtml

Friday, February 24, 2012

Through the Looking Glass: Guide Dog Puppy at the Zoo

Credit: sxc.hu/aklepsteen
A Dog's Day at the Zoo 
The poem was inspired by this photo of a Guide Dog puppy in a training session at the zoo.

Puppies in training…a day at the zoo 

They have a job… to learn how to do 
Be eyes and ears - for others in need 

Of a guide dog to help - them to succeed 
Read More 



Backstory

I LOVE this photo! If I were going to write a children's book, it'd be the cover. Found the photo when I took an assignment from the Yahoo! Contributor Network Desk to write a poem based on an image. Although there's no upfront payment involved, the poem assignments are one of my favorites because they get me into more of a creative thinking (and writing) zone. 

This pic had so many ways to go for a concept to poeticize like "Let's Do Lunch...or Not" or "How Much is that Big Kitty in the Window?" or "You Ain't Nothin' but a Cheetah"or "What chyou Lookin' At?"... corny stuff like that. Ultimately went with a two-sides of the fence glass of "working critters" theme.

Some animal advocates are really against zoos, but I'm not so sure that born free and living in the rough and tough wild is all that great either. Yet I'm an advocate for saving rain forests and wildlife sanctuaries and all that stuff, but I've always liked zoos too. Although I certainly don't advocate caged living, Jack Hanna and other zoo-keeper folks seem to be effective animal welfare advocates.


So the poem explores a few thoughts about animal roles in the zoo and as human helpers. Hope you enjoy it!

 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Bailout Banks Behaving Badly: Ode to My Car


First Person: I'm Pre-Approved For an Auto Loan But I'm Keeping My Old Car

sxc.hu/thoursie
I received an unsolicited credit offer to buy a car, but I'm broke, underemployed, and $42K in debt...   Read More

As much as I want and need a new car, I was amazed to receive this snail mail credit offer because of...well, being broke and all...how in the heck did I get pre-approved???

Writing the article was fun because it just seemed so absurd that a bank would do that and really -- how mean is it to offer a sparkly, brand new car to someone that can't afford it? 

Then, the more I thought about my old car (and recent repair bill that I couldn't afford either), I remembered one of my favorite karaoke songs...or I should say, karaoke performances...

A group that I used to work with were karaoke fanatics and would go to local Orlando karaoke bars once or twice a week. Now mind you I can't sing at all, but I went along a few times just because they used to rave about one lady who's lone karaoke stage song was  Adam Sandler's 'Ode to My Car'. It was said to be hilarious

Not familiar with the song, the group emailed a download to me to take a listen to Adam Sandler's original version before my karaoke bar initiation. It was hilarious, but also contains a heavy dose of the 7 dirty words...  The lady who did the 'Ode to My Car' karaoke was a fun, 60-something, almost-ready-to-retire sort and did do a ROFLMAO version.

So I had a brilliant idea to mention the song in the article, because my old car is almost as awful as Adam's tribute old car. So I went looking for a link to the song and things just got better...

Found a link on YouTube with an Adam Sandler live performance of it from an HBO special. Even better, the year of the performance was the same as the model year of my car!!!

How perfect was that! 

So, I wrote the last line of the article "I'll keep my old car...that's as old as this Adam Sandler 'Ode to My Car" video. 

But it didn't make it past the editors and was frickin deleted...sigh...  

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Single on Valentines Day: Dating Without Online Singles Sites

New Year New You: Start Dating Again Without Online Singles Sites
Are you uncomfortable (re)entering the dating scene using the Singles Meet Market dating sites? I am. Effectively advertising yourself as single and available to the opposite sex doesn't require aggressive or expensive online singles marketing...READ MORE


I wrote this piece because I've been single too long and would like to meet a nice guy, start dating, fall in love, get married, and all that other romantic stuff. My friends and family are constantly encouraging me to join the online Singles sites but I'm just not comfortable with it.

So the article is about my plans to go places, meet people, and do things again. 
I'm broke and can't afford to go places and do things that cost much and I'm not really feeling like I look my best. So, I'm getting a makeover this week - courtesy of my sister-in-law.



Not an extreme makeover, just the hair. I'd show a before pic but I don't want to scare you. If I'm happy with the result, I'll post an after pic...



Tuesday, February 7, 2012

My Dancing With The Stars Celebrity Wish Lists

5 Single Boomer Celebrities that should be on Dancing With The Stars
"DWTS" could transform these perpetually single baby boomers personal lives for the better and why it would be fun to watch them... Read More

5 Single Music Celebrities that should be on Dancing With The Stars
Divorced or long - time single, these Pop - Rock music stars might benefit from a go on the "DWTS" dance floor. Here's why...Read More

Backstory

Rumors are that the next season's "Dancing with the Stars" cast announcement is due at the end of this month. None of my suggestions are in the buzz...sigh...

So these were my first two articles that were Featured Editor's Picks, meaning that they were selected by the Editor for prominent display on the front pages of the Yahoo! Voices sections for Entertainment, Television, and Music. How cool was that!! 

If you click the links, you'll see that there's one big pic on the top left and two smaller pics on the top right. The "5 Single Boomer Celebrities" was featured on the big top left for I don't remember how long exactly, but it was several days. Then it moved down to the "More Picks" list of featured articles lower down on the page. The editor helped bunches by adding the great dancers pic to the article! 

The "5 Single Music Celebrities" article was also featured, but not in the top section - just in the lower "More Picks" list. 

Getting an Editor's Pick spot was a big boon to both my newbie self-confidence and page views. They were assignments that I'd picked up from the Voices Assignment Desk, rather than being unsolicited submissions (although those are welcome too).

Some Assignment Desk articles receive Upfront Payment on publication (mine have been in the $5 - $10 range) and monthly Performance Page View (PPV) payments (starts at $1.50 per 1K page views and goes up).  For more info, the Yahoo! Contributor Network FAQ page is the best place to have a looksee.  

I'd had pretty sad page view counts up to this point, so I was going for popular search terms that I thought might help pick things up a bit. I'm not shy about celebrity name dropping for page views, so I gave a go and it worked pretty well! 

And - I really am a long-time fan of "Dancing with the Stars" so the words just flowed.


Saturday, February 4, 2012

Madonna... Superbowl... Will She or Won't She (wear these)???

Pantyhose is Glam Again: 5 Ways I Stretch My Sheer Tights Dollar

Wearing Leggy Looks like Beyonce, Princess Kate, the Kardashians, and Madonna on a Tight(s) Budget

Pantyhose is back in style! Cheap stockings can get expensive, not to mention the upscale brands, unless I use my easy, budget-saving, extended-wear pantyhose plan.

Preventing a pantyhose run was a daily obsession of mine 20-something years ago. Maintaining a yuppie "Dress to Impress" office look required pantyhose vigilance. But I was a Pantyhose Klutz! Read More


Update: YES she did, with thigh-high boots - a most excellent choice (so great that she took my advice---eyes rolling...)!