Monday, August 31, 2009

Freelance Writing as an Art and a Business

That’s a picture of my very own tuxedo cat, lounging in the window in her own special place where she loves to nap. She’s enjoying those first crisp days of early fall and soaking up the beautiful sunlight. After a whole month of steamy days and some scary thunderstorms (we even had a power outage one afternoon!), the days are finally getting cooler, just in time to usher in the first day of September.

My cat is quite chuffed to learn that another tuxedo cat, named Oreo C. Collins, is the first cat to earn a high school diploma online! (Chuffed is a British word that means she’s quite pleased with herself; my cat is American but it seemed like a good adjective to describe her happy mood...)

During the month of August, I did a series of articles for Associated Content about bizarre news and weird headlines. I wrote about the world’s largest cupcake, feral pigs in the Caribbean, the medicinal properties of blue M&Ms (the new wonder food!) and of course, some coverage of the first cat to earn a high school diploma. This is a link to my latest article on AC about Oreo C. Collins:

The news lately has been so grim and quite horrible (especially this week’s coverage of the Jaycee Lee Dugard case) that I decided to write some light hearted pieces about funny news. These articles are something to make people smile in the midst of all the tragic stories in the news these days.

I haven’t received too many page views on them, but they were still fun to write. I also put the bizarre news in a larger social context; for example, was the world’s largest cupcake a waste of food? And I highlighted the animal abuse that went on during testing of laboratory animals injected with blue dyes to determine if the dyes help heal spinal cord injuries (these blue dyes are made of a compound similar to dyes found in foods like blue M&Ms.)

So my freelance writing career (which these days is conducted entirely online) is going really well, and this month I enjoyed my best month ever as a writer! Here’s a look at my summer 2009 writing plan, which I’ve since tweaked a bit as I move into fall:

One way I’ve changed the plan is by moving away from working with Triond and Picable. I spent a lot of July working on Triond and their partner site Picable, and my earnings took a dip. I love working with these two sites, so I wanted to give them every chance I could, but since I’m trying to make a go of it writing full time, I simply can’t spend as much time there when my earnings at those sites are so low.

Why are my Triond and Picable earnings so low? I believe it’s because the things I’m writing about there don’t draw in page views and neither do my photos. About a month ago, I saw a comment on a Triond article about writing that said making money on Triond is 25 per cent good writing, and 75 per cent promoting of articles. That pretty much sums up my Triond dilemma. I just write my article, or publish a photo, and other than some stumbling and tweeting, I don’t really use any of the other buttons you are given for bookmarking and promotion (like Reddit, Delicious, Digg, Fark, and so many more buttons!)

I probably should promote more, but with such a slow internet connection, doing a lot of bookmarking and promoting is very time consuming. I’d rather pour that effort into writing more articles. Unfortunately, just writing articles on Triond and publishing my photos on Picable, despite my best efforts, is earning me next to nothing. So I’ll still being working those two places, but only from time to time, just for pleasure and because I love the Triond community.

You’ll read about some Triond writers making three figures (or more) a month, but I think that’s in the minority. Lots of writers have moved away from Triond due to dismally low income there, and some who remain admit they just publish for the joy of it and their Triond income is irrelevant. For me, I’m involved in writing as an art and a business, trying to find the happy balance between the two. I feel like my time and my work has an intrinsic value, and the low pay on Triond is discouraging. Some who have published photos on Picable are quite happy with their income, but even though I’m seeing some page views, I’ve earned next to nothing with my photos there.

I’d say if you’re interested in Triond and Picable definitely try your luck; it’s a nice community of writers and photographers. You might just be a Triond success story! It just bothers me that the writer’s share is so meager there, and it’s not working for me. Color me disenchanted with Triond and Picable as a way to earn online income (but I am proud of my Triond portfolio and the work I’ve done there).

I’m focusing my efforts on Adsense revenue sharing sites, not sites that pay for page views. The only exception I make to this is working for Associated Content. I’ve been writing for Associated Content for two years and I’m very loyal to them. I find that even without much promoting or bookmarking of my published AC articles, the more I publish there, the more my page views tend to rise. Plus, Associated Content offers upfront payments for articles! I make money upfront on my AC articles, and I enjoy page view earnings on all my published work also.

As you rise up the Clout Index at AC, which is tied to your overall page views, you earn more page view bonus. I’m just about to reach Clout Index Level 9, which should boost my page view earnings nicely. Part of my fall 2009 writing plan definitely involves continuing to work hard for AC, love it there! I’ve been receiving lots of wonderful feedback about my articles, and I’m so glad my readers are enjoying my work.

The most wonderful and exciting thing to happen with my online writing has been working with Google AdSense. Working with AdSense and revenue sharing sites has allowed me to enjoy my best month ever as a freelance writer! I am so happy to have found the web site Xomba last fall, just about one year ago. I write short articles for Xomba (called Xombytes) and also do some paid social bookmarking (called Xomblurbs) and I’ve been excited about the earnings (and earnings potential) with Xomba!

This summer Xomba launched a site redesign, and the site looks really nice! I’ve been working really hard on Xomba this summer, and it’s really paying off...I almost doubled my earnings this month. I just received my Adsense check today, and I just noticed I reached the payment threshold this month and I’ll qualify for another check next month also! I’ve made hundreds of dollars with Xomba and AdSense.

For the past few days, I’ve experienced the agony of waiting by the mailbox for a payment check for my freelance writing! If you are hanging out by the mailbox, trudging out there every day at the end of the month, looking in vain for a check, I’ve been doing the same thing too! You are certainly not alone.

Today, I was waiting for a check that did come. I exhaled and was so relieved! I was so happy to get my check and take it to the bank! Still, as my earnings grow, I’m thinking about setting up EFT (electronic funds transfer) for some of my payments. It seems a lot faster than waiting by the mailbox for a check and besides, it’s eco-friendly!

I’m also thinking about doing my taxes as a self employed freelance writer, and things like health insurance for freelancers. There’s a lot to think about as a freelancer, running your own small company. I’m convinced that being successful as a freelancer in a creative field is really equal parts focusing on your artistic work, and running the business side. You need to focus on both sides for your creative business to flourish and survive!

I hope your writing business is flourishing and you’ll find the information about my writing plan helpful as you go forward with your writing goals. Happy’s almost autumn here in the Hudson Valley!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Feral Pigs and Blue M&Ms: Bizarre News for the Week of August 3, 2009

What a cutie! This fiber glass painted bear is part of the "Bears and Butterflies" art exhibit going on this summer up in the Catskills, in Cairo, New York.

I was Cairo in July and took a few photos all around town on a really hot, bright summer day. Since then it's rained so much in the Hudson Valley, but this first week of August we're again enjoying some great sunny weather here.

Associated Content writer Robert Dougherty was just featured on CNN a few moments ago, for his article about the Obama Joker poster. How exciting! AC writers are being featured more and more these days in the media. I just had a new article published today on AC:

Feral Pigs and Blue M&Ms: Bizarre News for the Week of August 3, 2009

Weird Headlines and Bizarre News for Early August 2009

With news of feral pigs in the Caribbean and the health benefits of blue M&Ms, it was an interesting week for bizarre headlines and weird, sometimes shocking stories. Quite a few headlines caught my attention over the past few days, each one stranger than the last. Here's a look at two weird recent headlines that made me go hmm...Read on...