Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Easy Way to Determine if You Should Submit for Upfront

I promised that I would post this after Christmas so here is what I use to determine if something I’ve written would qualify for upfront or not.  It’s not as difficult as one would imagine.

After some discussion in the forums, it occurred to me that there are too many people who simply submit without even trying to get an upfront.  Others insist that this is where their major income comes from.  In either case, the guidelines on what qualifies for upfront, while it may have not changed, they’ve at least tightened.  As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, too many people have noticed a huge difference in the way upfronts have been handled, and it was a sudden shift, too, not gradual at all.  And something one of the staff members said to me makes me think that there is a completely new system being utilized to review content.  Either, or… there’s really nothing anyone can do about it.  All we can do is make sure our content actually qualifies for upfront before we submit.

First of all, make sure you check the guidelines to see if the type of article you are writing is actually one that AC gives an upfront payment for.  This is extremely important.  AC does not typically pay upfront for television reviews, website reviews, opinion pieces, creative writing, etc.  Check the FAQ’s located under “Help” in the top right corner of your account screen.

Second, when you’ve written a piece, take the title and keywords and do a Google search to see what comes up.

Third, do the same type of search but strictly on AC.

Submit your content for upfront only if the amount of similar topics on Google and AC is very narrow.  This isn’t as hard to figure out as you might feel like it is and after you’ve done this a couple of times, it will get easier and easier.  AC doesn’t want to pay upfront for articles that are already saturated on the web and on AC.  As an added twist, even if your topic is saturated, you can focus it (think of a topic INSIDE of a topic), therefore taking perhaps a different angle then most others.  For example, I’ve done a number of breast reduction articles.  Each one has been accepted for upfront.  But how is that since breast reduction is a topic that is common on the web and on AC?  It is because I narrowed the focus of it.  First, I focused on what to expect at a consult, another article focused on how to chose the plastic surgeon, and another focused on the criteria needed for insurance to pay for the surgery.  This format also has added benefits in that you can break up one topic into several pieces, thus increasing your content and revenue.  But even if you’ve narrowed your topic, you still need to make sure that aspect isn’t saturated online.

When in doubt, you can always post your work in the workshop in the forums.  While there are a few people who make the forums a bad place to be, don’t let others’ self righteous attitudes keep you from getting the support you need.  There are many more good people then bad.  Don’t be afraid to take that leap and seek help.

And if you’re one of those people who typically think that you have all the right stuff and you don’t need anyone’s help and everyone should accept your work as is and be ecstatic about it, then sorry, I cannot help you and I doubt anyone else can either.  Not being mean, just being honest.

I hope everyone has a great New Year and may the New Year bring new success on AC!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

If You Want an Explanation, Do Not Go To The Forums

Maybe that's a little harsh but the last two times that I've had a complaint or wanted to know if glitches were site wide, I was told by AC staff to notify which ever email address they gave me if I needed to speak about something like that again, which indicated they did not want me posting such in the forums. No big deal, though.

First, the "Content Missing" glitch is something that occasionally pops up. It seems like the glitch is on a sporadic time line. Every so often, when it seems like everything else is going okay, the AC servers say, "Wait. Let's hiccup!" and they do so by hiding our content which hurts page views badly. If you ever have a "Content Missing" message, email the Help Desk. Don't go to the forums to see if it's a site wide glitch. You should only do that on holidays and the weekends when there's no one there to fix a glitch so that you can panic and gripe with everyone else over hundreds and thousands of lost views. :)

Second, if you have submitted content for upfront that is getting declined and YOU ARE 100% SURE that you've done the research necessary to ensure that it is a good candidate for upfront, then contact AC Admin to respectfully ask that they take a second look and why. I've had three pieces of content over the last month that have been declined and that I appealed by doing this. In each case, AC agreed that they warranted further review and I ended up getting upfront offers for each of them. (When I get back from Christmas break, I'll make a post about what I do to research an article I've written to see whether I offer it for upfront or not so feel free to bookmark or follow.) Like I said, BE SURE. If you aren't sure, it's best not to appeal. And if you do decide to appeal, don't have an attitude that your s*** don't stink. Be respectful about it. AC staffers go through oodles of emails and content every day. I imagine them a little like the postal service, ready to explode some days especially with the insults and abuse that is often thrown their way.

I hope everyone has a great holiday, however you celebrate this time of year!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Is eHow Worth It?

Okay, so this blog is supposed to be all about Associated Content but like I've said before, most contributors write for other sites, too, so I'll tidbit here and there about other sites. One of the most other popular sites to write for is eHow. The articles are easy to write and some people make descent money over a course of time writing for them.

However, their recent article sweep has left many people angry and insulted. I myself had an article pulled for the reason of "Common sense" yet it was my highest page view earner. This reasoning was insulting. If it was such common sense then why were there people searching for this very topic? The article was pulled not for a violation of submission guidelines but instead was pulled because of someone's opinion which is the wrong reason to pull an article.

So instead of putting up with this insult, I decided to pull all my articles and close my account. There were a number of reasons why. First, I did it because I didn't have much on eHow to begin with. I'd have had more articles on there but publishing on eHow was full of glitches and errors that it typically took me switching back and forth between browsers and waiting a day or two to finally get an article to publish. Secondly, eHow has no clear cut way to pay. You could have hundreds of page views but only make a penny. I made triple on another site with the same amount of articles over a two week period then I did on eHow. Why focus my energy and talents on something that is so unclear when I can focus on another site and make more money?

In other words, eHow is NOT worth it in my book. There were many more people that had a good bit of articles pulled and therefore lost revenue and page views. So glad that wasn't me. There are way better sites to write for.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Issues Cleared Up (Somewhat)

Image removal issue: Apparently I didn't pay enough attention to the rights on the image. At least that's what my AC buddies in the forum tell me. It's hard for me to believe that after so many months of putting pics on articles that I've suddenly started doing something wrong when the guidelines haven't changed since I've been with AC.

My only gripe with this is I had to get help from the forums about this issue. In response to the email I sent to admin, I got a very vague and weird response. The responding email simply said, "Hi Pamela, Photos were removed from items in that particular assignment. Thank you." Um, duh? That's why I wrote in the first place. The assignment was a targeted one to me specifically and stated nothing about not being able to put an image with it. But it isn't worth my time to spend more brain cells on this particular issue.

My latest article about breast reduction published without the image I put with it also. I got the image from morgueFile so I know the rights were appropriate to use. I can't see where a woman's covered up chest area would be considered off putting unless it was someone who viewed the whole article different from what it was intended. Let's face it; we live in a day and age where a woman can't even feed a baby in public without someone getting offended because their mind is always on the sexual aspect of breasts instead of thinking of health and other issues. But I'm not gonna push the issue. I'll just choose a different theme of picture for my next breast reduction article.

As for the article I mentioned in a previous post about being declined for upfront even though I'd done the necessary research to ensure that it was unique; I got a nice little letter that stated they agreed the article was worth a second look. This was followed by an offer for upfront payment. So that not only gives me a little bit of faith in AC, but it also tells me to trust my gut. It was a standard medically related topic that was highly focused. I'm glad I questioned it instead of taking the decline.

In the meantime, I have one assignment due that I have to get done today as I'm having surgery later this week and need to prepare. But AC seems to be full of glitches this morning. Nothing really unusual. Just sucks that writers' time is being spent on waiting for glitches to be fixed instead of working. eHow has been the same way for over a week as well.

Monday, November 9, 2009

My Very Own Twitter Challenge

Because I'm having surgery this week and I've been worried about maintaining my page views, I decided to do a challenge of my own reminiscent of the late AC Twitter Challenge.  No, I'm not giving a netbook away so don't get excited.  Basically, I'm asking for help in promoting my articles while I'm gone both preparing for and recuperating from my surgery.  Those who tweet my articles while I'm out will get the same promotion from me upon my return.

If you'd like to participate in this challenge just read the mission statement by clicking below.  The directions must be followed in order for this to go smoothly.

The 'I'm Having Surgery, Help a Sister Out' Twitter Challenge
I'm going to be out for several days this and next week. While I'm out, I decided to do an experiment to see if my page views can be maintained even when I'm not proactive in promoting them.
Read More

Friday, November 6, 2009

A Declined-for-Upfront Article and Image Removal

There are hundreds to thousands of pieces of content that go through the AC reviewers every week.  There will be mistakes and, as this blog has demonstrated before, there will be inconsistencies.  But when it happens to you, it ticks you off.  After all, if it is your content, they should be paying attention, right?  While in a basic sense that sounds rather narcissistic and silly, in another sense, everyone should be as concerned about the quality and appearance of their work to care when something is declined or "altered".

Having said that, when I submitted my latest short story, "A Persistent Journey", I had with it an image of Earth as seen from outer space that I'd found on Wikimedia.  The story is science fiction and is all about the main character getting back to Earth for her children.  Granted, short fiction and poetry don't do well page view-wise but I enjoy participating, nonetheless.  Even so, images attached to articles tend to raise page views, even if only slightly, so I take the time out to try to include photos with every article.  I'm very careful to adhere to all the guidelines and giving credit as required.  But when the story published (it was an assignment that had to be reviewed before publishing, otherwise I could have published it automatically), it published without the image.  I wrote AC yesterday with links and titles in hopes that they will replace the picture I had with it.  I will update when I've heard something from them.

Then yesterday, I had an article declined for upfront.  Anyone who read my last post here (or who has been experiencing these declines and low offers on a personal basis), knows that AC is like the government trying to cover up Area 51 on this one.  AC doesn't acknowledge that anything has changed.  But something has changed and the contributors know it.

I've been keeping a better eye on what I chose to submit for upfront lately.  Before I submit, I search for the topic both on the WWW and on AC.  If it is a saturated topic on either spectrum, then I won't even try to submit it for upfront.  So imagine my surprise when I get a "this content doesn't differ enough" feedback with my decline.  When I searched the topic, I found no other article that came close to focusing on the one aspect of the topic that I chose to write.  I even asked in the forums and had another contributor (thanks, Rose!) who had more experience and expertise in these things then I do take a look at it.  She found no problem with the article other then I might could add a keyphrase to it. So, I'm taking a wild leap and I'm going to plead my case.

I am irritated, yes.  At this point, I would be likely to be just as well submitting everything as Performance Payment only.  But that would be right up AC's alley.  They wouldn't have to pay upfront then.  Upfronts are a great incentive but if they are going to tell future contributors that they will pay upfront but then don't pay attention enough to what they are reviewing to fairly pay, all it creates is ticked off contributors who feel like they are being ripped off.  Not a good thing for a company who relies on contributors to increase their bottom line.

I will update when and if I get a response.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Upfronts Going Down, Down, Down

It's a conspiracy!  Well, no, not really.  Just something that AC isn't being completely forthcoming about.

As the Associated Content library goes up, up, up, upfronts are going down, down, down.  It has been this way for years from what I understand.  As more content is added across the board, it is a struggle for writers to create new and unique content.  Have things changed very recently?  On the surface, yes.  It is obvious from all the reports in the forums that SEVERAL people are experiencing a sudden rise in rejections and declines for upfront.  However, when openly asked about this, AC has given the standard response.  Nothing has changed.  But it's obvious that something has.  Are they just buckling down more?  Is a new employee reviewing content?  Why can't we get any clear answers?  Even an acknowledgment would go a long way into calming many people down.

I still love writing for AC.  Sometimes it's frustrating, yes, but I still enjoy seeing my page views go up, I've enjoyed the benefits at being a new category editor at AC as well.  But to look at us and say there hasn't been a change is slightly insulting to our intelligence.  My upfronts have gone down dramatically and even yesterday, I had a local news story declined for upfront when I've never had a local news story declined for upfront before.

So what's going on?  I don't want to speculate.  Speculations lead to stupid theories about cover-ups and conspiracies and I'm just not the paranoid type.  I do wish AC would acknowledge, though, what we are trying to tell them and tell us what they are doing.  In the meantime, though, I've decided to focus on page views instead of upfronts.  If I get an upfront, that's great.  If not, that's great, too.  At least I get page view love which is something very few sites offer.

Monday, October 5, 2009

A Comparison of the Best Content $25 Assignment

This has been a heated debate among the forums, springing up thread after thread of ideas, speculation and others who have outright said they were leaving over it. If you have no clue what I'm talking about, perhaps you should read my previous post on the subject. But all that stuff aside, there were more good feelings about the assignment then bad (in general). Even though everyone didn't get the $25, the offers were still generally higher then what is usually given. Let's take a closer look at these articles. I tried getting all the links I could. There were a ton of them. So I took five that were offered lower amounts and five that were paid the $25. I apologize to the people I've missed but I just couldn't fit everyone in the mix. Feel free to leave your Best Content - $25 link in the comments section if I didn't mention you and let us know what your offer was and the reason AC gave. There are some people that are still waiting on their submissions to be reviewed by AC.

The goal? To try as we might to figure out what it is that AC is really looking for. They certainly don't tell us and the only reason I can think of is because they really don't want to spoil the spirit of AC which is for writers to write what they want. But at the same time, AC claims they want us to strive to earn. The more we drive traffic to AC, the more potential our articles have. A lot of theories are thrown to the wind. It's gotta be unique, it's gotta be SEO friendly (which a lot of writers just don't get the concept of, including yours truly), it's gotta be popular. So let's see how this turned out. Maybe this will help with the next assignment.

Oh, and do yourself a favor while you're going over these. Don't just click on the ones that were accepted. Click on those that weren't also. Only by reading over all of them can you get your own informed idea of what to do the next go around.

The Lower Offered Articles:

Lucinda Gunnin's Angie Wyatt Talks About Her Book, Timmy the Tractor: His Hay Day. Gunnin didn't specify how much was offered but we know it wasn't the $25. Why? Because AC called it a book review which doesn't typically get an upfront payment. Gunnin classified it as an author interview, though.

Travis Fox's How to Install a Doggy Door received an upfront offer of only $8. It was not unique to the web which was the reason AC gave for the lower offer.

Marie Anne St. Jean's Best Part Time Jobs for Seasonal Employment got an offer of $7. The feedback said that the topic was too broad.

Kim Keason's Choosing the Right Martial Arts Program for Your Child was offered $7. They claimed the topic was too common.

Jennifer Amlie's A Guide to Foreign Horror Movies was offered $7 also. AC said that even though the article was interesting, it was too similar to other content.

Articles Accepted for the $25 Upfront

I'll start off with mine: Why Nutrition Daily Value Percentages are Inaccurate.

Carly Hart's What to Expect If You're Diagnosed with Ocular Hypertension.

Tamara Water's Postpartum Depression: My Time in Darkness.

Cathy A. Montville's Past Life Regression.

R. Elizabeth C. Kitchen's BRCA Mutation: What Does it Mean and What is it like to Be Affected?.

I know that many of those who received the $25 also received a nice little feedback letter. That was nice on AC's part. We don't get much praise for what we do and it was a nice addition to the assignment. Thank you for that, AC.

I hope that this serves as a sort of reference for future assignments (which AC claims that they will be doing more of). Thanks to everyone who provided me links.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The $25 Offer and the Controversy - Did AC Pull a Fast One?

From the onset of the $25 upfront article assignment, there's been a scattering of approvals, lower offers, etc. etc.

When I claimed the assignment, I was completely aware, as I'm sure others were, that there was a great chance that my article could be declined for reasons that I don't completely understand. Do I ever really understand why a subject matter that I write on one week will be accepted for upfront but the next week it won't? Why do I get close to $5 upfront on some articles but as low as $2 on others? The feedback AC gives doesn't necessarily cover all crossings. As I've proved in past posts, AC isn't always consistent or precise. Nothing I've ever done with AC has always made sense to me. Sometimes you shoot and make it, sometimes you don't.

But getting back to the assignment, I was surprised to find other contributors reporting that they were being offered $6 to $10 for the assignment; in other words, the article was rejected on AC's end for $25 and so the contributor was being offered another dollar amount. Since I'm sure others were expecting rejections like I was, I'm sure the lower offers were quite a surprise and may have been even a welcome surprise by many.

But then Michelle Devon (aka Michy) announced in a thread in the forums that she was leaving AC. She's been with AC since May of 2006, someone with almost 800 fans and inching towards 2 million page views. She's an experienced AC writer, who newbies looked up to and asked for advice. She was respected. It was a shock to a lot of people to say the least. But apparently she must know more then I do because I do not find her leaving disturbing. If that's what she wants to do, that's her. But I'm not compelled to follow. Even if my $25 article was offered a lower amount, I would've been happy with the lower offer because even $6 to $10 is higher then the standard upfront pay. But that's just me. There's a lot of variables here and many theories that I will prefer to keep to myself in relation to this move.

I will say this... essentially what I've said before; no matter how long I'm with AC or think I have things figured out, I don't. I don't know of anyone who can say they do know everything - every reason AC declines one article but then turns around and accepts another article on a similar subject or premise for upfront - and I don't know of anyone, no matter how long they've been writing online that knows all the reasons.

But what if AC really did pull a bait and switch like Michy claims? Of course, I would shame, shame them. But I don't know that for certain. What I do know is that I'd had a weird feeling from the moment the hype on this assignment started. I stated as such in the forums which is why I started blogging about it to begin with. Was it right to change the wording on the assignment after the fact? No. As legal as AC tends to be, they should've have seen the liability in their choice of words to begin with. Did they do it on purpose? I don't think so but again, I don't know. And come Monday, I'm taking a ton of links that other contributors have provided to me and I'm going to try to make some sort of sense out of the ones that were rejected compared to the ones that were accepted. So look for that post here next week.

In the meantime, I really don't see the need to threaten AC with leaving. They have thousands of people who write for them and I'm only a little face in the crowd. They could probably care less. I could scream conspiracy theory if I wanted, adding to all the hype in the forums. I actually butted heads with another contributor a couple of weeks ago because he was sour about losing the short story contest, accusing the contest of being rigged. Sheesh.

But that's enough of that.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Your Best Content - $25

Associated Content has been very gracious with the assignment desk as of late; so much so that the list is exhaustive to go through every day. It's great that they are really trying to keep the creative juices flowing, so to speak, by providing these assignments. What's not so great is that probably over half of these assignments are not even eligible for upfront payment which is what most people rely on for their income. I skim through the assignments occasionally but not every day. When I popped into the Contributor's forum last night, though, I was shocked to discover that some people were getting assignments calling for "Your Best Content" which promised to pay a $25 upfront for an exclusive piece. I immediately looked in my assignments, found it, and claimed it.

According to the guidelines, this piece has to be at least 450 words, which is 50 words longer then standard guidelines. They also say an applicable category will be selected upon review which means they don't want to specify categories. It may depend, this time, more of how the article is written then anything else. I could try to speculate but I don't know. I'm taking a wild guess here that the current categories that they don't accept for upfront may be the same categories they won't consider for the $25 upfront. Who knows? The whole thing is not very concrete and is just as much a gamble as any other submission. Different content reviewers have different opinions on what is and is not acceptable on AC. This is obvious to me because of my past experience. So I'll play Russian roulette and just wing it.

Let's find out what the outcome of this assignment will be.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Two Years Down. Ten Things I Wish I'd Have Known About AssociatedContent.Com Way Back 730 Days Ago Today

Enjoy this humorous article from Contributor Donald Pennington. Great tips!

Two Years Down. Ten Things I Wish I'd Have Known About AssociatedContent.Com Way Back 730 Days Ago Today

During these first two years of writing some sort of keyword-dense web content for and with a lot of good things have happened...

Friday, September 4, 2009

Associated Content Raised My Confidence

A year ago come tomorrow, I joined Associated Content. I think I submitted two or three articles, had them declined and told myself they just wasn't who I was looking to write for. A couple of months later, after reading something in a forum about AC, I was compelled to return. I read up on different articles and finally submitted a couple... which were accepted. I was thrilled! I began to write more and was very impressed at the timely payments I received. So I kept writing.

After a few months of writing, I felt I was confident enough to start a blog. The first blog I started led to another topic and then another topic, etc. Now I have five blogs. Although all but one is semi-active (meaning I post in each blog at least once a month), I enjoy blogging very much.

One of my blogs, called DeKalb Ramblings, had such a positive response online that I was compelled to turn it into a full blown webzine. That webzine has been going for almost two months now and the response has been wonderful.

My point is, without starting my writing on AC, I don't think I would've had the confidence to do some of the things I am doing now. I love my job. I get a lot of local respect now, and because of the changes in my professional life, I have decided to change my personal life. I am now a non-smoker, I'm gradually losing weight, and I'm loving life.

As if that wasn't enough, I received a letter last Monday from DAW publishing (an imprint of Penguin USA) that said my novel passed the first reading. They would pass it on to a second reader and if it passed, they would send it on to a senior editor to see if they want to publish it. That's one step closer!

While AC and I have had our bad issues and I still don't make enough money to spit at, I still love writing and I will continue to write for them unless they tell me to shove off. I do feel that my confidence was because I learned gradually by writing for AC.

And so what if my page views are still minuscule? I am still excited over my 30,000 page views and can't wait to reach the next ten thousand.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Han Van Meegerin's Race to Page Views Contest

Associated Content Contributor Han Van Meegerin stormed into AC in late March and has since gained over 150 fans with his interviews of fellow contributors and enthusiasm to make himself a success on AC. But with his page views totaling less then 15,000 thus far, he has taken it upon himself to run a contest of sorts within AC.

Racing to page views is its theme and there are several different contests being held at once, depending on where the participants page views currently lie. He has lain out the contest very well, his articles on the subject humorous, as if he's announcing a NASCAR race. And the picture above shows an example of how Meegerin has lain out the contest for everyone in a simple to read database.

I applaud Meegerin's gumption, eagerness, and initiative. Contributors who support their fellow writers out of the goodness of their own hearts is something I admire. It is also the sense of comraderie that surrounds most of the contributors that I find appealing about AC. We all love to write and we all have the same goals.

If you'd like to support the racers and the emcee of the race, check out Meegerin's Contributor's Profile and take a look at the slideshows to see who's in the lead. Take a look at the articles detailing the race and have a nice chuckle as you imagine him announcing a foot race. Leave a comment on his page for him to tell him what a great job he is doing.

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Couple of Newbie Tips

Tip #1 - If you read any information on the content you are writing, you must cite your source or you'll risk having the article declined. Even after all my time on AC, I received a decline notice the other day because I inadvertently included my sources in the "Resources" section instead of at the end of my article like the guidelines stipulate. Write that one up at a big Homer Simpson, "Doh!" for me. I knew better. I must've been super tired. In other words, at the end of your articles, write like so:

Sources: (then proceed to link up your sources here)

Tip #2 - It is unlikely you'll make enough money to live off of just by writing for AC. Look around to write for other sites. Having said this, you can make the most out of your content by offering them to AC as non-exclusive. I've made this mistake so trust me. There's not much difference in the amount of upfront payment that AC will offer you compared to the money you can make by offering the same article (maybe tweeked a little) to another site. Don't limit your options! Offer as non-exclusive!

Thank you. That's all I have for today.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Pulled Article - Update

I got an unexpected notice a few minutes ago about my original pulled sweeps article. AC republished it and sent me a note of apologies. However, since most of the sweeps listed in the article were null and void now, having been originally published a month ago, I decided to go ahead and take down the article myself, as it was a display only article, before I was able to obtain page views. I didn't want my readers to be reading up on sweeps that they couldn't enter at this point in time.

I appreciate the time the AC staff put in to finding out about the situation, but again, I got no definitive answer as to why it was pulled in the first place, just a "We apologize." And I'm glad that my inquiry did not lead to the other contributor's articles being pulled. I'm also glad that there weren't very many page views initially associated with it because my old page views from the article were not restored when the article republished.

Thank you, AC, for responding to my inquiry and taking the time to look into it for me and I'm sorry that I had to pull the article myself after you guys taking the time to republish it for me. I meant no disrespect in doing so, but I didn't want my readers thinking this was something current when it wasn't.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Associated Content Month End Review

Welcome to the official month end review for my Associated Content writing. This month will mark my fifth completed month with AC. Here's how the stats look so far: My average daily page views are 248 views a day. That's up 27 from last month. My page view bonus earnings are only a few cents shy of a dollar higher then last month. Even though it's not that much, it's still higher and I take pride in that. I published 23 articles this month. That was higher then my goal of at least 20. There are some writers that can accomplish hundreds of articles in one month. Just imagine the page views and upfronts for that!

In any case, the real money came from upfront offers this month. While upfront offers are considered low by most writers' standards, Associated Content is probably the second highest paying site there is when it comes to paying upfront for content articles. I was paid upfront for 12 of the 23 articles this month and pulled in a nice chunk of change for them.

As far as July is concerned, I'm going to be doing something different. I was considering an experiment in page views but I have to abandon that idea for now in favor of something less then monetary. I need to finish the first draft of my novel. Anyone who has been reading my Touch of Fiction blog knows I've been feverishly trying to sell one of my novels and also know that I've been slowly (very slowly) making headway with a new novel I'm writing. I've decided to slack on AC this month in order to focus my attention on my novel. I will be writing a few articles and blog posts here and there as the time and inspiration strike but it won't be near the 20 something count this month. I'm choosing to make my fiction a priority at this time. Creative writers will understand this need.

I also need to update a current situation. Associated Content wrote me back about my DO article that had been pulled last month and about the similar articles other sources told me about. (Please note that if you ever have to contact AC about an article, yours or anyone else's, it's not enough to provide a link. You have to put in the title as well.) I provided them with additional information and they said they would get back to me. I applaud their efforts to find the solution to problems such as this.

What are your goals for July?

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Still Frustrated - Update

I did get a nice reply from AC yesterday about the photo that had been removed from one of my articles. Their response was that they didn't know what happened or why it had been removed but that it was up now (yes, because I resubmitted it) but to contact them in the future should another issue arise like it. Maybe who ever reviewed my original piece decided that I couldn't have taken that picture? I mean, I think it's a pretty good picture and the effects I did on it were pretty cool. I don't know. At this point, I can only speculate why. I've had problems with photos before because there is a very strict rule when using photos on AC. I don't have a problem with the rules, though, and understand why they are in place. But when I use a photo that is from an approved source and cite all relevant credits and it still doesn't get put up with the article, then I feel that extra work to provide a photo is all for nothing. Most of the time, I put my own work up.

BUT, then I get another upfront rejection on an article about proper social networking. I'm going to publish it as a DO (display only) as soon as I get finished typing this. They said it didn't contain enough new information. Okay, maybe I'm getting a little too comfortable with submitting for upfront (I have had many articles accepted this month) that I'm getting a little burnt here.

I think it's time to take the rest of the week off from AC and work on my fiction. Let's start fresh with gusto on Monday.

See you then.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Not Very Happy About AC Right Now

I'm all about blogging for the good of Associated Content. But I also don't want to ignore the other stuff that comes my way. No matter how much I like AC, no matter how much anyone likes something, there will inevitably be those times that are frustrating.

If you've been following this blog (which has gotten hundreds of hits so I know someone's reading it!), then you know about the sweepstakes article that I wrote earlier in the month that was pulled for being too promotional. I get it. What I don't get is the number of similar articles that have went up on AC this past month which were nothing short of the same format I used to write my sweeps articles. Days after the first article of its kind went up, it remains available to view. I was actually alerted to these articles after more then one source read my blog and contacted me about them. I waited for them to be pulled and when they weren't, I contacted AC yesterday concerning the inconsistency in pulling DO (Display Only) articles. When I hear something, I will update. In any case, it's not that I want another source's articles pulled. I don't. I would just like to know why AC will pull mine but leave other similar articles up.

I also had a picture removed from one of my articles. It was a picture that I took and edited myself and was relevant to the article. Granted, it is not an article that gets a lot of page views but I know statistically, articles with pictures get more page views then others. I don't know how long it had been removed before I noticed it. I had the same photograph on an article before that and it hadn't been removed. Since the article in question was a DO, I resubmitted the picture with the article. So far, it hasn't been removed. I also wrote admin and let them know that I had resubmitted the photo and was wondering why it had been removed in the first place as sources are not notified of picture removals. I received an odd email back, letting me know that they would take a look at the situation and wanted to know the title of the article in question, even though in my original email stood the link to the article itself. I wrote them back. I haven't heard anything back as of yet but the picture remains on my article. That would be fine, but I would still like to know why it was pulled, if not for anything but my future reference when submitting articles. The two articles which have the same photograph was the HIV article (which was also picked up by both the Wall Street Journal and USA Today), which was published first and the photo was never removed and The Other Pam in which I resubmitted the photo with the article.

In any case, when and if I hear anything back about these issues, I will update to let my readers know.

The next problem I've had with AC this week stems from an article concerning toddler transitional objects. I write for USMOMSTODAY as the toddler section contributing editor. So while I write toddler related articles for them, I will offer the article first to AC for upfront. I knew it wouldn't pull in a high upfront but I wasn't expecting them to decline it altogether. Their reason? It wasn't a topic typically searched about. I don't get that. I get a lot of my toddler article ideas from Yahoo! Answers, paying attention to what people ask there and then deciding what to write about. There were many questions about transitional objects. I have also had articles in the past that I've submitted and they've accepted for upfront (even if it was a low upfront) that I know weren't topics typically searched. For example, my article about writing for role playing games, and more recent my article about geeks, nerds, and dorks, and even more recent, A Toddler's Garbage Can Fascination. I see the declined article being no different then any of those subject matters which were all offered upfront payment.

In any case, like I said, I'll update with any new news. That's enough of my griping for now.

Friday, June 26, 2009

I Want to Be Optimistic

Next week will mark the end of June. While I know this is a little premature, I'm going to start taking stock of my end of month review. First, I made a mathematical error on my averages for last month. I don't know how I made this error (only reason maybe is that math and I don't jive), but my average daily page views last month totaled 221 views a day, not the just over 100 views a day that I previously quoted. Good, right? Not really. The reason I discovered this error is that despite all the writing I've done so far, my page views are simply holding. I'm told that June is usually a bad time for page views. I'm hoping it's just a slump in the year and nothing more. In any case, this month, I've felt like I was struggling just to keep up my page view average, which is currently standing at 225 views a day. Upfront payments, considering I had nothing for upfront last month, is of course considerably higher. I haven't checked yet, but I believe my upfront earnings are higher then I've ever gotten. I will confirm that at a later date.

Did I learn more about SEO like I wanted? Yes and no. There were a number of very nice sources who had no problem being critical in the forums for me. Thanks to Tsu Dho Nimh and Carol Bengle Gilbert for their insight. I needed that. But, I still don't know much more then I did before. It's not about trying to pack keywords into an article. It's about focusing, zeroing in an a particular topic. I'm still learning.

Did I reach my goal of at least 20 articles? Yes, and then some. Even though I still write for another site and my blogs, I still managed, so far to have 21 articles published and a few more still waiting in the queue. I've had two articles declined to edit and resubmit and one that was completely pulled for being "too promotional".

Overall, I feel like it has been a good month. Not resounding, but good, nonetheless. I'm also hoping to be able to write even more next month but with three children all day, I'm not sure I can actually do it without overwhelming myself. I really don't know how those who write 10+ articles a day can do it. I guess it takes practice and persistence.

Stay tuned for my "official" end of the month review and for an experiment in page views that I want to try next month. Happy writing!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

How I Made Over $760 in Two Months at Associated Content

Please read this awesome article by AC source Meg C. If you want to know if you can make some real money from AC and how, this article will show you.

How I Made Over $760 in Two Months at Associated Content

I have been a content producer since April 23, 2009. I am not a professional writer. Read how I earned over $750 in two months on Associated Content.

How to Synchronize Page Views ( For Newbs)

One of the first things I noticed when I started writing for AC was that from page view update to page view update, the page views on my account page didn't reflect new page views on my profile page. Nor did my little clout planet. Keep in mind that eventually the profile will catch up to the information on your account but if you're an impatient sort (like me), then you want the world to know when you've been upgraded to a higher clout level and you want your correct page views to be visible to the world. There's an easy way to synchronize the two pages; a little trick I learned in my first month of writing from talking with forum members.

While your on your account page, click "Update Profile". Once your profile pops up, all you have to do is hit the blue button that says "Save Profile". When it is finished, click on "View my Profile" next to your avatar on the top of the page. A new tab will open and you will see the correct clout and page views.

Enjoy and happy writing!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Struggling Writer

I found Nancy Canfield, a fellow writer on AC via the most commented links. I actually found the most commented section (which I don't usually check) after reading this article from Jennifer Wagner.

Any way, I was intrigued by the title: "My Love/Hate Affair with Associated Content". This writer's struggle is what causes many writers on AC to give up and remain as an inactive source on AC from that point on. You can read her article here.

Thank you, Nancy, for continuing on. I feel I need to quote Tim Allen here. "Never give up! Never surrender!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Is Associated Content Worth It?

When I logged on to Stat Counter yesterday to check my blog statistics, I was surprised by a keyword phrase that was used to locate this blog. The phrase was, "is associated content worth it". I can see the person sitting there, contemplating how to make some extra money, or maybe even try to work full time online. Apparently they've been enticed by the Associated Content blurbs and wanted to hear some testimonies on the subject.

So I'm going to answer that question now. Is Associated Content worth it? My answer is that it is only worth what you make of it. As with any other online venture, you have to work at it and keep writing new content in order to keep upping your page view averages. It's the same with blogs or anything else you do. And sometimes it is really frustrating work as you soon discover that some articles get hit big and some do not.

Finding a regular full time job online where you are making the same thing you could make outside the home is very few and far between. It is so rare in fact that many employers who offer these types of jobs often have the job filled before even posting it anywhere. The problem? Millions upon millions of people want to work from home. Whether it's to be close to your children or just so you can sit in your jammies and work, working at home is the top rated job dream. And THAT'S why there are so, so many scams out there.

Let me just tell you a little bit about working at home. For me, it was a necessity. We couldn't exactly be comfortable with one income but when I started checking around for day care prices when I was pregnant (surprise!) with my second son, I realized that between day care for two children, gas, and all the little other expenses required for commuting back and forth to work, that I would only bring home around 10% of my paycheck. I needed to stay home with them. So I began to search for an online job or a job I could do at home. If you'll read back when I first started this blog, you'll see where I started out writing for Helium but was dissatisfied with it. But keep in mind, up until that point, I'd been searching. I tried a few things here and there that I didn't like and just didn't have the heart to stick to.

It took me a little time to start writing for Associated Content, but when I did start, I began to realize that it was worth it for me. Now, Associated Content is long past the point of offering twenty something dollars an article. Most offers for me hover between $3 and $5. Some writers have reported receiving up to $7 upfront. (Let me reiterate that upfront offers are only available to United States residence because of red tape international tax code stuff that I don't understand enough to explain.) Even if you do get upfronts plus page view bonuses, you need to realize that it is gonna take some networking and time to be able to make your articles really worth something. I know of writers who make in excess of $400 a month from AC. But they've also been there awhile and have learned the ropes. They had the patience to stick it out and make it worth something to them. While I can't boast those numbers yet, I do feel like I'm on the right track, (*cough* bragging to follow) especially when I checked my Google alerts this morning and found my AC article links on half a dozen websites including The Wall Street Journal and USA Today.

So what does this mean to you? You sign up, you start writing and submitting. That's it. Along the way, you'll learn more, you'll write more, you'll start to gain a following. My first month on AC earned me 4 fans, approximately $20 something in upfront payments and a whopping $.09 on the page view bonus. Now I have 40 fans, many of them actual subscribers, and I've more then tripled my earnings and it's only been six months. I can only imagine what I can do in six more. Some new AC writers are earning even more in their first month. But you have to stick with it and keep working at it.

One more thing. Don't expect AC to become a full time gig. Many of the "seasoned" writers on AC also write for other sites or maintain their own blogs as a source of income. But AC is a great place to start the learning process.

Not that I want to go pick out china patterns with AC but you get the drift.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

I Still Don't Know Nothin'

Interesting goings on in the land of AC. My experience this week with SEO was, for one article a bit of a failure, and for another one a good one. After rewriting one article after declining the upfront, I submitted it again and got the same offer I did the first time. I thought that was kinda funny that I spent more time on it and ended up getting the same thing. Then, the article I expected to get rejected for upfront actually pulled in the highest upfront offer I've ever received! Let's give a round of applause to the fact that I still don't know nothin' 'bout nothin'. I have to give kudos to Tsu Dho Nimh for taking the time to offer valuable feedback to me in the forums. I'm taking the advice to heart and will work hard to not let that feedback go to waste.

While I don't often have time to pop my head into the AC forums so much lately, I did feel compelled to put a warning there when I saw an ad on an AC article for a questionable literary agency that is being investigated for unethical practices. ACDarnell was quick to respond and the ads have reportedly been removed. Thanks for the quick work, guys. There's enough scam stuff that writers have to put up with and it makes me feel better knowing that AC is taking steps to reduce the promoting of scams on their site. Hoo-ra.

And off topic just a bit, but still pertaining to AC, I would like to spread a little etiquette for new sources. It is not proper etiquette to ask another source to favorite you or subscribe to you just because you've subscribed to them. If you wish to swap subscriptions with other sources, then there is a place in the AC forum for doing just that. The way I see it, if someone likes what I write, then they will either favorite me or subscribe to me. This is the equivalent of inviting people to your birthday party and then telling them that you want them to get you a $50 gift card from The Home Depot. It borders on rude. If I like your work enough to want to get updates, then I'll subscribe to you. Please don't ask me to do so just because you've favorited me. Thank you.

And with that, I've got a short story to publish.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Bad Part of Writing for AC

I got an article pulled today. It was an article highlighting various win cash sweepstakes. The feedback to this article said that it was too promotional. This only makes the second article in six months that's been pulled from AC after I've published them as a DO. Even though I know it's not personal, I still can't help but feel like I've been cut down a notch every time something like this happens.

The thing is that I've seen a number of articles on AC that follow the format of, "I've looked up these things online, and here are a few noteworthy ones." That's exactly how I formed my article. I researched through a great number of individual sweepstakes (spending more time then I usually would on an article, I might add) and only chose the ones to write about that were easy, free, and offered a substantial reward. The comments I had gotten already for it the few days it was up was promising. It had 41 page views that I can't get back now. Thank goodness it wasn't higher.

While my first impulse was to be offended, I took a little while to take stock. While I can see the idea that it might be too promotional, I don't understand why it was pulled while other similar content remains. But, alas, it is not my site, I don't own it and they are certainly within their rights to reject it. They pay me to put up what they want. I don't pay them to put up what I want.

On a side note, I had an article awhile back that was rejected for upfront being called a "website review" while another source got an upfront offer for a similar article about another website. Sometimes I just don't understand the inconsistency. I suspect it's the theory of different AC employees have different opinions when it comes to deciphering the guidelines.

It's not going to discourage me from submitting content. On the bright side, I was offered upfronts for two articles today that I wrote last week, one of which I accepted, the other which I declined and posted in the Workshop forum for some SEO pointers in hopes to improve it. I'm almost certain that my next article to be reviewed will be declined for upfront. Guess we'll see.

My week has been all outta whack! Time to regroup and reorganize if I want to reach my 20 article goal by the end of the month.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Reorganizing is Not a Bad Thing

So I'm on the road to accomplishing my goals for the month when out of nowhere a child swoops down and is now a semi-permanent fixture in my household while her mother is working. It's a hard job, taking care of three children under the age of 6. I'm going slightly out of my mind at this point.

This coupled with me acquiring another job this week (I'm the new Toddler section contributing editor for! Yay!) has seriously impaired my ability to be organized. But that's okay. As time progresses, it is okay to change goals so as not to be overwhelmed and that's exactly what I'm gonna do.

So instead of eight articles for AC this week, I'm knocking it down to four, two which will be submitted for upfront. Other article ideas I'm saving for next week. I can only do so much and when it starts to get flabbergasting, I need to step back and reorganize. I'm also concerned about my fiction goals for the week. I'm hoping to get at least 4,000 words done on my novel. (You can read my fiction journey here.) I also have to print out another novel to submit.

In any case, I'm happy to report that my "Best of May" article is completed! You can read my picks here.

Have a great day, all!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Goals Met for the Week

After what I consider a very good month with Associated Content, I jumped into the first week of June with gusto! Unfortunately, because I concentrated so much on entertainment news last month, I've almost forgotten how to write general content articles! Ahhhhh! So I struggled for topics to write about that wasn't entertainment. I did two entertainment news last week (which earned me a surprise celebrity follower on Twitter), and submitted three others for upfront. I haven't yet been offered anything on those; I almost suspect one will be rejected, but I wasn't sure about it so I submitted it for upfront anyway. One's a newbie guide to a popular website, another is a challenge to become a cloth shopping bag user, and another is how to save some money on your electric bill. I've read up on SEO quite a bit this past week so I'm hoping I'll get some higher upfronts. If not, I'm gonna beg the Workshop forum for help.

In store next week: I have three display only articles planned, two along the theme of free money and stuff and the other will be the publishing of my second installment of "Pamela's Best of AC Creative Writing and Slideshows". (I'm publishing the latter so that Han Van Meegerin will stop bugging me! Just kidding, friend.) I also have four upfront articles planned (all articles along the same theme). K. Karl's pregnancy series has my brain a'churning.

So my monthly goals are going along so far so good. After over a month without upfronts, I'll be happy to get some extra money coming in again.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Tripling Earnings

As May comes to a close, I find myself having tripled what I earned in April. This is due in large part to the number of entertainment news articles I've done. I published 14 articles in May - Nothing I wrote qualified for upfront payments as I did 6 entertainment news articles, 1 book review, 1 movie review, 1 memoir for Mother's Day, 1 humor piece, 1 general news article (which was rejected for upfront so I published it as a Display Only and it was picked up by USA Today the next day), 1 general entertainment article, and 1 review of AC Creative Writing and Slideshows for April. To view the articles I wrote just click on my profile here and scroll down the list.

But even though I didn't get upfront for anything last month, my page views skyrocketed and I found myself at Clout 6 before I even realized I was close to doing so. This will be my biggest performance payment yet.

At current status, I'm averaging over a hundred page views a day. Woo-hoo! I was excited about this until one of my fellow writers I'm following on Twitter bragged that she was averaging over 7,000 page views a day. Wow. Bragging rights well deserved.

My goal for June is to write at least 20 articles this month, learn more about SEO which I've been basically ignoring, and to submit more for upfront. I want to be able to come back and brag that I've tripled my earnings again.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Featured on the Parenting Page!

I'm super excited. Well, maybe not as excited as I was when I first discovered my links on the Wall Street Journal or USA Today, but it is still a wonderful honor to be chosen as the feature parenting article on Associated Content. It means that I'm making progress, that I'm doing something worth while, not just monetary either... because the money is just the icing. If I'm making oodles of money and no one likes what I'm writing then that means nothing to me. I'm enjoying this rush I get when I get some recognition for my work. Yee-haw!

If you're interested, below is the article that was featured today. I don't know how long it will be up there, but I'm enjoying looking at it! Thanks to Momie who is one of the category editors over in those parts.

Five Places You Don't Think About When Baby Proofing

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

So What?

Some people just don't like change. Whether it's change they don't like or just the look of the new Associated Content home page, I don't know. I personally think it looks a lot more professional and cleaned up which gives more emphasis to the purpose of AC for the general reader.

I only have two problems with it. There's no feature "Source" (the term AC gives us as writers). The topics are also just listed at the bottom. It would be better to have the topics more visible.

In any case, there's an uproar about it that I really don't understand. If it works, great! Why get upset?

Over 1,000 Page Views in One Day!

Hurray! This week, as I follow the season finales on the small screen, my page views have skyrocketed! This is excellent for me as I've been sitting on average of less then 100 views a day. On the 14th, I noticed my page views up 162 from the previous day. On the 5/15 update, it went up 450. 5/16 saw an increase in 517. I thought that would be my top off as the 5/17 update only showed an increase in 272 views. Then this morning, I check my account to find that between my Survivor Finale article (which caught almost 700 page views in one day) and my Jillian Harris article, plus added views from the other entertainment news I did, my page views since yesterday were up by 1028 views! Yippee!

But with all the page view complaints as of late, I put myself out there in the forum and asked if these were actual page views that wouldn't be taken away. While I believe in AC, I have to wonder how reliable the technology is that does these updates, especially when they couldn't pinpoint exactly how a problem with page views occurred last month. But here's for hoping.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

How I Started

In July of 2008, after researching for ways to make some money online, I came across Helium. Being a writer all of my life, I thought this would be an excellent way to get my name out there and write for money. But after seven months and writing for pennies, I came to dislike the site for several reasons. In order to receive any payment from Helium, you must first reach a payout amount of $20. Not only to you have to write but you have to rate other articles. Rating for revenue share was simply exhausting and took up a lot of time, especially if you are intent on being fair to the nature of rating. Also, with hundreds of articles smashed under one title, there was nothing that stated that your article would be search-able on any search engine. After trying to keep up with the site and failing miserably, I burned out. I just wasn't making any progress.

In September of 2008, I played with the idea of writing for Associated Content and even signed up. But with visions of Helium dancing in my head, it was a few months before I got up the gumption to write anything for AC.

In January, I finally got the nerve up to write my first article, Train Yourself to Potty Train Your Toddler. I wrote this after having potty training troubles with my son. After seeing some nice results and kind comments, I wrote another article, Writing Your Fiction Query. I had enough support and encouragement, and having been paid upfront for both those articles, I felt that AC was something I could really get into.

After the first month, I'd already made twice as much from Associated Content then I had made in seven months struggling on Helium. AC has become my new home. I have published, to date, 70 articles and have reached a clout of 5. I've seen my page views increase substantially as I learn about the tricks of the trade. Between yesterday and today, I was astonished to see my page views rise 450 just from two articles!

If you'd like to browse through my article catalog, click to view my profile here.

Friday, May 15, 2009


Welcome to my Associated Content blog. Here, I will discuss what I've learned, post successes, post frustrations, or anything relating to my writing for Associated Content. I will not just plug my articles but discuss anything on my mind relating to the articles I post as well. I will also post any useful information of anything I find intriguing from fellow Associated Content writers. Stay tuned for how I got started on this journey. Thank you for stopping by and I hope you will subscribe and comment!