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.