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)