Thursday, January 28, 2010

New to AC? Incomplete, Submitted, Offer, Pending, Removed and Other Status Terminology

Another one by Lyn Lomasi... if you are new to AC then head over to her contributor page (click on her name) and subscribe to her.  You'll get a lot of helpful tips!

New to AC? Incomplete, Submitted, Offer, Pending, Removed and Other Status Terminology
You found Associated Content and have just started submitting content. Incomplete, Submitted, Offer, Pending, Removed, and more are submission statuses. Read on to find out what the status of your AC submission means and what to do in each situation.
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Friday, January 22, 2010

Learning How to Choose Images for Articles

Again, I'm postponing the social networking lesson in favor of something else that seems to be a hard job for new contributors... and it's not always easy for experienced contributors either.

While I'm not an expert, I have learned a couple of things here and there about choosing and placing images with Associated Content articles.  And certainly, if anyone would like to share something they've learned about posting images with AC articles, then please leave a comment below so others can benefit from your experience.  That's what this blog is here for.

Statistically, articles with pics average a little better page view wise then one without.  This is because people are visually inclined.  If you see a nice picture, you're more likely to take notice of the headline and then click to read the article.  

First thing you need to do is read the Image Submission Guidelines.  Yes, they can be a little confusing to use and understand at first but as you go along, you learn what works and what doesn't.  Listen, I occasionally still have problems getting images up the way AC wants them.  I've had perfectly good images removed from my articles with no straight forward explanation of why.  So, having said that, this post isn't about how to post the right images that AC won't take down but instead of finding images for tougher subject matters; thinking outside the box in terms of what images to place.

Last week, I had a contributor ask me for help concerning an image.  She was writing on the subject of teen pregnancy.  She had it in her head that she had to find a picture of a pregnant teenager.  Her search was coming up empty.  "Then look for something else to put with the article," I told her.  What else screams that this is an article about pregnancy?  Let the headline say that it is an article on teen pregnancy.  Let the picture say that it is an article on pregnancy.  So what images would work with that?  A close up of a pregnant belly for one.  Maybe an ultrasound picture.  Ultimately, I found a picture on Wikimedia Commons of a positive pregnancy test that she did end up using on her article.  I remembered having used that same picture on a previous article of mine.

Finding images that work with the topic you are writing is difficult when it's something that doesn't necessarily have a concrete object that can serve as a picture.  In those cases, you should take a step back from your topic and look at your article from a different angel.  For example, when I'm writing a television review, there's little chance that I'm gonna find an approved image of the show's cast, which is an obvious first choice as an image.  And using the image of a remote control (to indicate the article is television related) is a good choice but since I crank out the articles three or more times a week, if I didn't change up the image, my contributor page would be blah with nothing but remote images down the article catalog.  If you'll look at my catalog here, you'll see that I have a variety of images, yet all the articles are related to television in one way or another.  Some of them are no nonsense, like the picture of George Clooney with my Haiti article, or the picture of Ellen with my American Idol article.  (If you search on Wikimedia Commons and, you can sometimes find usable pics of celebrities.)   Then there are those which require a little more creativity.  For my Survivor preview, I found a picture of a totem (because, well, you know Survivor) and for my Kate Gosselin article, I found a picture of a briefcase as the show she was about to star in involved her learning her way around the work force.

The point is that you don't always have to have a picture that screams the exact measurements of your article.  If you can extract one element of your article and find a picture that represents that, you can use that, too.  It does take a bit of creative thinking to do this so flex those creative muscles!

It also bears saying, even though these points are on the guidelines, that blurry images ARE NOT OKAY.  I've seen a lot of blurry photos, usually it is a photo the author has taken him/herself.  Even if it is a little bit blurry, don't think that people won't notice.  We do.  Not only does it make your work look amateur-ish, it will affect your page views.  It is completely okay to use your own photos, but make sure they are not blurry and are relevant to your article.

Which brings me to my next point.  There are very few instances where your own portrait is relevant to put on an article (notice I said very few, not necessarily all instances).  You already have a place on your profile where you can post your own smiling mug and it will show up at the end of your article.  You can upload it from your "Edit Your Profile" page.  I typically see self portraits on poetry more then anything else (not sure why) and it is not okay.  Please don't do it.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more on my AC page view experiment as well as a post about social networking promotion.  Have a great week!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Start (and Stats) of My Experiment

Before I dive into the social networking topic I promised earlier, I'd like to post an update of my page view experiment. Remember that I started this experiment after the first of the year.

To see how much of a difference this has already made, I calculated my average page views per day in December. I averaged 140 views a day. December was one of my worst months but I also didn't write as much in December with what being busy with Christmas and all. But all year, my page views have just kinda trickled along and I can certainly see how there are contributors who get frustrated at this trickle, coupled with declines of upfront offers and then just give up. I've often thought of just giving up myself sometimes. But hell. I've made it this far. Might as well keep going.

So as I dug into my reports this morning, I saw figures that astonished me. One article that I published yesterday got over 3800 views. In. One. Day. I was ecstatic. That, combined with page views from other articles, pushed my page views over 4200 in one day (see the graph at the top which resembles a heart monitor FINALLY springing to life). It helped that AC featured my articles on the Arts and Entertainment page (see the screen shot above) but most of those views I'm sure came from search engines.

It just goes to show that some articles will take off and some won't and you don't always know which ones will hit it.

My daily page view average stands at 610 right now. I'm already within a dollar of my highest page view performance payment ever and it's not even half way through the month. This is a dramatic increase and I hope to continue the rise.

I will keep everyone updated!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Newbie Tip: How to Use the Social Features

Lyn Lomasi is a prominent name around AC.  She rests on clout 10, is a community guide, has over a million page views, and has won a Best of AC award.  And having played with her on Twitter and Facebook, I can say that she is a great woman and one of the sweetest people you could meet.  She also spends much of her time promoting other people's work without asking or expecting anything in return.  With that being said, she also writes helpful articles for AC noobs.  The point?  If you come across a "how-to" from her, listen to what she has to say.  She knows what she's talking about.

Here is one that came across my inbox from her this morning.  Because my next post on here will focus on social networking, I thought this a good lead in.

New to AC? How to Use the Social Networking Features
If you're a new Contributor on Associated Content, you may not have given the social aspects of AC much thought. If you have, but you haven't done much social networking online, it may be slightly confusing at first. What does AC have to offer in this area?
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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Changing Things Up - Join Me on My AC Experiment

I do okay on page views.  I don't pull in thousands a day like some people but I do relatively okay.  So, in an effort to see if I can reach 100,000 page views by June, I'm switching up and only writing entertainment stuff for AC for awhile.  I've applied to be an Arts and Entertainment Featured Contributor, as I've already been toying with that idea since they announced it.

Can I get over 43,000 page views in under six months?  After all, I only have 56,000 and I've been with AC for over a year now.  Allow me to consider this a type of experiment.  If I focus on one area of expertise and consistently write maybe three to six articles a week, can I reach those pages views?  It's possible.  If I don't get a spot of Featured Contributor, it will make things harder but not impossible.

If you'd like to keep tabs on this experiment, you can follow this blog or you can follow me on AC.  Here's my link for clicking ease.

Let's roll!  Go me!