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We homeschooled my son for 7th grade (last year), and one of the things I had him do was start a blog.  He would write little posts about what we did on vacation or what he was learning about famous people in history, his favorite video games, books he read…all kinds of stuff.

So one of the posts I had him do was a little review of a book he checked out from the library.  He’s all into Call of Duty (a line of military combat video games) these past few years, so I got him this kids/young adult book about the US Army Rangers and their training.  So I had him read it and write his own review of it.  It was just a short post that summarized what the book was about and what was his favorite chapter.

He stopped working on his blog this past year when he went back to public school, so that book review was the last post he published back in June 2014.  I still encouraged him to work on his blog, but he wasn’t really into it until just recently.  He hasn’t started writing any new posts, but we did talk about him reworking it as a blog all about his video game interests.

Anyways, a few months ago — after he had basically quit blogging for several months — I saw he was getting a trickle of traffic on it, so I decided to add a couple Amazon links to his book/product review posts.  I figured that if he actually made a little income off of it, he might see the potential with blogging as a stream of income and maybe start writing posts for it again.  I’m not going to force him to do it, but you know, this is something that can help him for years to come, so I want him to stick with it long enough to see some results.  I never planned to monetize it so soon, but since he had already kind of given up on it, I hoped that the possibility of making a little money with it might rekindle his interest.

My vision for his blog was always that it would be more than a record of his homeschool assignments and a way to express himself.  I hoped that it would eventually be a source of passive income for him, and that by the time he graduates from high school, he would have a decent side income from it that might combine with his regular job income and enable him to afford to get his own place when he’s an adult.

I want my son’s education to be about more than just facts and figures and all the typical school stuff.  I also want him to learn about managing his finances and entrepreneurship and making money online.

Well, his Amazon links got a couple clicks per month for the past few months, but nothing more…until last night, while my son was sleeping, someone bought this book that he reviewed seven months ago.

I think that’s pretty cool.

My son…the pro blogger.  ;)

Hey everyone, I just got an email from the hosting service I use for my blogs (Hostgator) where they’re offering 95% off for new customers!  In the past I’ve had a lot of bloggers from WordPress.com, Blogger, BlogSpot and Bubblews who have been reading and following my blog and were wondering about this stuff, so I figured I’d put this out there if any of you are interested in switching to your own self-hosted blogs or niche sites.

Here’s the good stuff about Hostgator…

  • Money Back Guarantee
  • 24/7/365 Support
  • Works on Shared, Reseller, VPS & Dedicated Plans
  • Web Hosting Starting at only $0.01/mo.
  • Coupon for 95% off

They didn’t say how long the 95% offer will last, but if you’ve been on the fence for awhile, maybe this is the perfect time to go for it.  I’ve been with Hostgator for three years now, and I am totally happy with their service.  A couple years ago, all my blogging and Internet marketing friends were jumping over to Bluehost, but that was because Bluehost was offering KILLER affiliate commissions.  I decided to stick with Hostgator though, because I was already happy with them and their customer support.  And lately I’ve heard some horror stories from blogging friends on Bluehost — one of them LOST HIS WHOLE WEBSITE due to a virus that got onto BH servers — so I’m pretty glad I didn’t go with them.

So anyways, I just wanted to throw that out there.  Of course, the link I’m giving is an affiliate link, so if you do purchase through my link, I’ll get a commission off of that.  So…thank you!

Okay, have a nice day :)

Click the link below to Hostgator and use the code DISCOUNT95OFF

www.hostgator.com

 

 

IMG_0766I am totally burned out.

I haven’t written any articles for several days now, and the thought of doing so just does nothing for me.  There is no more fire in these bones right now.  At least, not when it comes to writing.  I need to take a break from it for a while and do something else to make money.  I’m sure I’ll come right back to it before long, but I need a mini-vacation ;)

So I’m actually thinking about putting some money into stocks every month.  Not huge amounts at this point.  I am already committed to paying writers for one of my sites, and I don’t want to spread my cash flow too thin.  So I’m thinking that I’ll start out small, definitely less than $100 a month, until I start to get the hang of it.

Any Advice On Where To Start?

I know there are TONS of “experts” out there who would love to sell me their book on how to make money on the stock market, but how do I know who is legit?  I figured I’d ask you guys if you have any experience investing in stocks, and if you can recommend any sources for solid info on it.  I’m looking for something a bit on the conservative side — I plan to hold them months or years…not days — and I’m hoping to find some free info to help me get started. Any help is appreciated.  Thanks in advance :)

Bubblews officially dropped the bomb on New Year’s Eve…

“Bubblews will not honor redemptions made before November 11, 2014.”

Yeah.

So that sucks.

In a follow up post a couple days later, Bubblews CEO Arvind Dixit stated that the company knew for some time that this would happen, that they did not even have records of many members’ redemptions, and that they knew the balance reflecting in members’ bank page was never accurate…they knew the money wasn’t there and that it would not be paid out.

This is not surprising to me in any way.  The only thing that surprises me here is that Arvind and Co. actually came out and said it point blank.  Finally…some honesty.  After months and years of flat out lies, at least they finally came clean and stated that they never had enough money to make good on their promises.  Arvind did state that the company is now on track (by simply erasing all the payments they owe to members prior to 11/11/14) and will be able to pay its members proportionate to the revenue that their content generates.  From now on, all new redemptions will be paid out going forward.

Supposedly.

One commenter on Arvind’s post said it well, “Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.”

My sentiments exactly.

I will still pop in occasionally to say hi to some folks on Bubblews, but I have now officially scratched it off my list of sites to spend time and make money.  There’s no excuse for the way they mishandled the business and mistreated their members.  I mean, everybody can make mistakes and run into rough spots with their business, but for them to blatantly lie about their ability and intention to pay everyone, there’s no excuse.  It’s unethical and probably illegal.

And I remember from back in 2013, I remember when some members would complain about missing redemptions and lack of communication, Bubblews staff would actually respond with a cocky attitude (if they responded at all).  But you know, we all had dollar signs in our eyes, so we all kept on bubbling and hoping that our redemptions would come in.

But now it’s all come crashing down.

I appreciate the $75+ that I’ve received so far, and I do hope I receive my $50+ redemption I made in December.  But I think it would be pretty foolish to spend time there with the goal of making money.  If things turn around over the next couple months, then maybe it’ll be worth it to go back.  But how do you trust a company whose leaders have no integrity?  I trusted them in the past, but I just don’t trust them today.

My bubble is officially popped.  ;)

freelance writing tipsFreelance Writing Tip #3 – Use Content Mills To Build Your Resume

When I first started out in freelance writing, I really had no idea how to go about it. Where do you start? Where do you find clients? And how do you convince them to hire you when you have no college degree and no track record?

That was rough.

So I did what many other beginning freelance writers do…

I chickened out and made a beeline to the nearest content mill. ;)

Finally, I decided to move on from the mills/farms/factories and make the extra effort to connect with private clients directly. But before I felt anywhere near comfortable to do that, I first paid my dues at content mills and cranked out over 200 paid articles for clients.

Can something like that help you land new clients? I believe it does make a difference. Clients like to know that you’ve done this before, that you’ve taken assignments, met deadlines, and have already had dozens or even hundreds of articles approved and paid for by your clients. That says something. Not every freelance writer out there can say that. Not everyone will stick with it long enough to accomplish that.

When you’re trying to land gigs with clients, you are not alone.  Many publishers receive dozens or even hundreds of applications from other writers, so you need to stick out somehow.  If you don’t have a degree, then all you can offer is experience.  If you don’t have that, then you need to get some or get lost in the sea of applicants.

So are content mills okay for beginning freelance writers? Personally, I think they are great for giving you real world freelancing experience, building up a track record, and even making a few bucks in the process.  They can give you a foothold when you have nothing else to stand on.

How long should you stay with the content mills? Only you can answer that, but I would say that most newbies quit too soon. There’s a lot to be gained by sticking it out and cranking through those cheap assignments in order to set yourself up for bigger and better things to come.

Which content mills do I recommend?  Well…not the bidding sites.  I prefer Textbroker, Zerys and WriterAccess, but WA is already incredibly slow.  I’m actually wondering if my dashboard is broken or if they really NEVER have assignments available.  Anyway

Podcast?!  Ain't nobody got time fo' dat!I have followed a lot of people online over the past three years.  Many of them are internet marketers and bloggers who mostly talk about writing, building websites and making money online.  I enjoy reading their short posts, and I really enjoy reading their long posts.  And — oh my god — I almost piss myself reading their ebooks.

But I hate, Hate, HATE it when I click the link to their latest post…and it’s a 45 minute podcast!

Videos too.

I don’t know why.

Everyone says that it’s all about videos and podcasts these days, but I just can’t get into it.  Sometimes I’ll make myself sit through a short video — something like 2-3 minutes or so — but long podcasts and videos just annoy me.

Actually, it’s not so much the time thing, because I can sit and read for days.  Like, last night I spent a good hour going back to Yaro’s very first blog post on EJ and reading every single post he did for the first several months of his blog.  We’re talking blog posts from 10 years ago.

Anyways, so it’s not just about the time commitment.  It’s just the medium itself.

Podcasts And Videos Make Me Feel Weird

I guess I feel weird watching videos and listening to podcasts on my laptop.  Like, I’ll be sitting in my home office, trying to watch a Robert G. Allen video, and I’ll feel weird about it.  Like, I don’t want anybody walking by and seeing me watching it or to hear the audio playing.  I’m like a 14-year-old boy secretly watching porn and trying to hide it from his parents and big sister.  I also use the mute button on my laptop like ALL THE TIME when a video ad pops up or something.

That’s pretty weird, right?

Yeah, it’s pretty weird, so that’s why I just don’t spend very much time watching videos and listening to podcasts.  There’s probably some traumatic event from my childhood that scarred me for life and made me deathly afraid of podcasts.

So, I’m not sure why I’m sharing this haha.  It just occurred to me because I read the title of a new post from Tim Ferriss, and I was like, “Oh, yeah, I wanna read that…”  And then I clicked on it and it’s a long-ass podcast, so I clicked away.

Anyways, it’s Christmas Eve, and we need to figure out what the heck we’re gonna do tonight, so I gotta go.

Aloha, and Mele Kalikimaka! :)

handshake

Make that first impression a good one.

Job interviews always freak me out.  I think the only time I wasn’t nervous as hell during a job interview was when I was the supervisor giving the interview haha.  Actually, no.  Scratch that.  I was still nervous then, especially the first time, because my manager walked up to me and said, “Chris, I’m going home early today, so you have three interviews to do today.  Here are their applications.  The first one should be here in less than an hour.”

That was my first interview ever, so I think I was pretty nervous for that one, having zero training, guidance and preparation in how to conduct a job interview.

Anyways…I digress?

If you’ve got an interview coming up this week, here are five tips to help you put your best foot forward.  Your first impression matters.  It matters more than it should, so pay attention to details ahead of time so that your resume can speak for itself.

Let me know how it goes, okay?  Good luck =)

1.  Your Appearance

Please don’t walk into an interview wearing anything less than professional business attire.  If the interviewer is dressed more formally than you are, that is not a good sign for you.  You are already off to a bad start.

Along with your clothing, there is also your hygiene and grooming.  Don’t make excuses; just be prepared.  Your hair, your skin, your teeth, your breath, your fingernails — all of these little details need to be addressed before you walk through the door.

It’s not hard.  All the other candidates are ready.  Don’t be remembered as the one person who showed up looking like they just woke up from a nap.

2.  Your Greeting

You don’t need to do anything fancy here.  Just make eye contact, offer a firm handshake and a smile, say hello and sit down when invited to do so.

3.  Your Enthusiasm

You don’t need to blow people away here, but a little enthusiasm can go a long way.  You don’t want to give the impression that you are desperate or some kind of weirdo, but you do want them to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you really do want to work for this company.  The way to convey that message is to do your homework ahead of time — research the company and know what the job entails — and to express how you are the right person for the job.

They will remember the candidates who clearly want the job, but they will also remember the ones who seemed apathetic and distracted.  If you want the job, then be remembered as that candidate who clearly wanted to be there.

4.  Your Confidence

No employer wants to hire someone who is plagued by self-doubt.  Show them that you believe in yourself and that you know you are up to whatever challenges the job holds.  This confidence will be evident before you even sit down or speak your first sentence.

5.  Your Resume

All of the first four things listed above are going to be noticed before you even have a chance to sit down and discuss your resume.  So those things do matter, but if your resume has problems, don’t assume that your appearance and demeanor will hide those problems.

Above all else, companies want employees that they can trust and rely on to do what needs to be done, to do it on time, and to do it right the first time.  When employers see gaps in employment where you quit without having another job lined up — or where you were terminated — that is something that they are going to have to zero in on and discuss in depth with you.  It’s not a deal-breaker, but it is a major concern for them, and it’s something that you need to be ready to talk about at length.  You’ll need to convince them that you are someone they can count on to show up on time every day, ready to work, and capable of getting the job done.

freelance writing tip #2

Freelance Writing Tip #2

Many freelance writers eschew content mills like Textbroker, and in general I agree with their criticisms. But there are some benefits to starting out at sites like these. Today I’m going to talk about how writing for Textbroker has helped me to develop greater writing speed and initiative. I’m not talking about typing speed here, but rather about pushing yourself to set aside the distractions and excuses and just get right down to work.

At Textbroker.com, when a writer accepts an assignment, the finished article has to be submitted by the deadline. Failure to submit in time causes the assignment to automatically be returned to the pool of open orders where any other writer can snatch it up. Most articles of 1,000 words or less will have a deadline of 1 day (24 hours exactly).

I remember the very first time I clicked that little button that says, “I want to write this article.”

Click.

Boom.

The countdown had started and I could see right there that I had only 23 hours and 59 minutes remaining to get it written and submitted. It was actually exhilarating. There’s something about having a strict deadline and a clock ticking away that gives your motivation a turbo boost.

So I think that is one of the awesome things about Textbroker that you won’t have writing for your own blog or writing for a site like HubPages – or even writing a free article for your local non-profit. There is a deadline, and you must meet it. Learning to work under pressure is critical to your success as a freelance writer, so why not begin developing your work ethic right from the start?

In September 2014 Google rolled out another version of its infamous Panda update.  The purpose of the Panda updates is to sniff out low quality web content that provides little value to readers and kick it down out of the search results.

Only a small percentage of websites are negatively impacted by these updates, but if your site was one of them, then you’re obviously going to want to know what you can do to recover your website.  And if you were not hit by Panda this time around, then you will want to know what you need to do to avoid Google penalties in the future.

Here’s what you need to know about Panda 4.1…

cartoon: here comes panda

Which Websites Were Hit The Hardest?

Many sites that suffered the greatest drop in rankings were music lyric websites and similar sites that are heavy on quotes.   Also, gaming sites and some health/medical sites were targeted.

What Types Of Content Were Targeted?

As is often the case with Panda updates, duplicate content (like song lyrics) was clearly targeted.  But also any kind of thin content that already appears elsewhere on the web took hits.  Medical and health articles that simply regurgitate info that is found on thousands of other sites was a major target.

In my freelancing work on Textbroker, I often see clients who want writers to simply take an existing article from someone else’s website and re-write it.  In other words, take all the same info provided in that other person’s website and just put it into your own words.  This happens over and over to the point that you have tons of articles out there that all say the same thing.  There is nothing new.  No new slant or commentary, no new insights, just the same content rehashed over and over.

That is the kind of content that Panda keeps sweeping into the gutter.

What Can You Do About It?

The steps to recovery are almost always the same.  Remove duplicate and thin content, create highly unique and valuable content that is not already out there online, and then submit a reconsideration request to Google that outlines all the steps you took to improve the website.  After that, you basically just wait for the next update and hope that your site moves up while others move down.

To prevent future penalties, be sure to focus on high quality content that shares unique insights and information.  Articles that simply rehash information found elsewhere just won’t cut it anymore.  When you do take ideas that are presented elsewhere, just use that as a reference point and then build it out into a unique article.  Add your own ideas and critiques into it.  Try to answer questions that previous articles left unanswered.  Readers love that, and Google does too ;)

Be bold.  Be creative.  Dig deep into your topics and share new insights with your readers.

A couple years ago, when I first got into freelance writing (2012), I was doing articles on Textbroker.com, making a little money here and there.  Finally, after several frustrating months, I did an experiment to see how much I could earn on there.  I tried to get on teams, filled out my profile more to try to attract more clients, contacted past clients who gave me high ratings to ask them for direct orders, etc.  And I blogged about it in one of my hubs on HubPages titled, “My Textbroker Experiment.”

My 1st Textbroker Experiment Was A Bust

my textbroker experimentWell, I think the most I made back then at TB was maybe $200 and change in a month.  I continued pounding away there, but progress was much slower than I’d hoped, and I tapered off my efforts.  I still went back almost every month to make some quick payouts, but the fire died out when the Team Orders (TO) and Direct Orders (DO) failed to materialize.

Anyways, I tried different strategies to try and get more team orders and direct orders, but those didn’t really get me anywhere.  I’d get a couple direct orders from a client who loved me and wanted me to do regular work for her…and then she’d disappear after the first 3 DOs.  Same happened with team orders.  So, it was mostly all Open Orders (OO), and I wasn’t so thrilled with that.

As for HubPages, by early 2013, I got so frustrated with them over their control issues that I rage-quit and deleted my whole account, and I didn’t have any backups of the articles.  I know…childish.  I wish I had at least kept the articles I did about TB, because they were really good.  I also had a post here on iWOC about that first Textbroker experiment, but I decided to just update the HP article instead of doing it at both sites, so now all my posts from that experiment are gone.

So even though I stopped tracking I still worked on TB articles on and off throughout 2013, but for most of 2014 I stayed away.

Until recently…

My 2nd Textbroker Exeriment Has Now Begun

So now I am thinking that it’s time to take another whack at Textbroker.  I started back there again in October, then quit again, then started up again last week and did a few more articles.  Just yesterday I cranked out 5 articles (well, 4 for TB and 1 for Zerys), so I’m going to start another post here to track my TB earnings over the next week or two (or more).

I mentioned on Bubblews how I made $33 yesterday with freelancing sites, and several commenters pointed out that if I could consistently hit that amount per day, that would work out to $1,000 per month.  I’ve often thought about earning $1,000 per month on Textbroker, and now I’m thinking that I am going to try to do it again.  December is half over, so at most I think I might earn maybe $300 or so, but if I am still feeling motivated to do it, then I think I might be able to pull it off in January.  So that is what I want to move toward over these next several weeks.

But Aren’t Content Mills Bad For Freelancers?

I will have to admit, I’m not crazy about content mills like Textbroker.  I mean, I don’t think they’re evil or anything, but I think that they are best for beginners or low-quality writers.  I am talking more about this in my new series of freelance writing tips, and in the first post I talked about how beginning freelance writers should probably think of content mills as training wheels.  Use them to learn the business and build your skills, your resume and your self-discipline, but then leave them behind and move onward and upward to better paying clients.

But recently I interviewed freelance writer Ryan Canady, and I realized that content mills can still be a good place for experienced freelance writers to make a decent wage, even a full-time one.  And this is especially true for freelancers who suck at self-marketing and branding and social networking (that would be me).

So I’m feeling the pull towards Textbroker again.  I’ll talk more about all this in upcoming FWT posts, and I’ll be tracking my Textbroker earnings in this post here, so feel free to bookmark this one if you want to follow along.  I should be updating this post every day or every other day for the next couple weeks.

Here’s what I’m earning on Textbroker lately…

WEEK 1

  • Mon 12/15:  $25.33 — 4 articles
  • Tue 12/16:  $24.64 — 4 articles
  • Wed 12/17:  $16.24 — 3 articles
  • Thu 12/18:  $19.04 — 3 articles
  • Fri 12/19:  $21.07 — 4 articles
  • Sat 12/20:  $5.74 — 1 article
  • Sun 12/21:  $7.00 — 1 article
  • TOTAL EARNINGS — $119.06 — 20 articles

WEEK 2

  • Mon 12/22:  $22.40 — 1 article
  • Tue 12/23:  0
  • Wed 12/24:  0
  • Thu 12/25:  0
  • Fri 12/26:  0
  • Sat 12/27:  0
  • Sun 12/28:  0
  • TOTAL EARNINGS — $22.40 — 1 article

Damn.

I started out strong in WEEK 1, but after eight days in a row, I was feeling burned out.  It was Christmas week too, so I just decided to take a day off.  Just one… ;)

Aaannd…THAT was the end of WEEK 2!  How will I do in WEEK 3?  Is my Textbroker Experiment 2.0 over before it really got started?  Let’s wait and see…

WEEK 3

  • Mon 12/29:  0
  • Tue 12/30:  $6.30 — 1 article
  • Wed 12/31:  $8.40 — 1 article
  • Thu 01/01:

Final Update

Well, Week 3 was as far as I got, and that was two weeks ago!

I totally burned out again haha.  Ah well, it still put over $150 in my pocket in less than 3 weeks, so I’m cool with that.  But there was a price to pay:  I now have ZERO motivation for writing articles right now.  I mean, even if someone offered me $20 for a short article…I might not be interested right now.

Okay, I’d probably do it for 20, but nobody’s offering, so…time for a break. ;)

Thanks to those of you who followed along, and thank you for the encouragement.  Hopefully I will do better next time.  Aloha!