Monday, May 31, 2010

How do I get more page views? Part 2

I told ya that I'm really not the one to ask that question to.  After reading this article on the very same subject by Lyn Lomasi, it is clear to me who wears the pants in reference to knowing the ins and outs of writing online.

The article is an excellent reference that you should bookmark and keep on hand when you start building blogs and websites, also.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Image Violations Running Rampant

Alright, everywhere I look I see image violations on AC.  Even in the public gallery where images should ALL be okay, there's GOBS of violations.

I'm ill about this but I'll try not to go off on a tangent here.  Here are the Image Submission Guidelines. READ THEM.  FOLLOW THEM.

I realize that it's hard to understand some of it at first.  You can't just slap any image on and that be that.  Be aware that some of the approved AC image sources are not all free sources.  Be happy that the submission guidelines are as detailed as they are now.  They weren't that straightforward when I first started writing.  I might not have had to go through the trial and error that I did had they been.

AC has, from time to time, jumped in and put pictures on or changed pictures on articles that they feel should be featured.  They sometimes do not use pictures that we would recognize the credits on but rest assured, if AC is the one that placed an image on one of your articles, then the image is alright and you have nothing to worry about.

The Public Gallery 

The AC public image gallery was supposed to be something to make placing images easier.  But instead, it's a nightmare.  Contributors who should know better are placing violating images on the public gallery and then unaware newbies are swiping them up.  I've seen more instances of this then I can count.  Please beware of the image gallery.  For myself, I try to avoid it completely because I see more violations than not in there.

I'm upset at this because I dabble in hobby photography.  I don't want anyone stealing my images just as much as I don't want someone stealing my articles.  

Read a post I wrote back in January before I learned more about image submission.  Maybe it will give you some ideas of alternative images you might use if you can't find what you are looking for.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Q and A: How do I get more page views?

I recently got a question like this and the forum gets a lot of these type of questions. Almost all of them can be answered with, "Put your work in the Writer's Workshop section of the forum and more experienced and knowledgeable contributors will give you some pointers and constructive criticism."

I hate to disappoint but that's really what you need to do.  Don't be afraid.  It's all geared to help you better your writing and to help you succeed on AC.  If you don't want to do that then be prepared for a long road of trial and error and you realize what works and what doesn't.

I know this is a super short post and I wish I could help you more on this subject but I'm not the expert of SEO and keywording that many of the others are.  They can help you out more than I can.

ETA: I realized there was a vital piece I'm forgetting to explain.  Forgive me.  I was writing earlier with a two and a four year old screaming around me.

The main reason I say go to the Workshop is because everyone writes differently, everyone has their strengths and weaknesses.  I can't (nor can anyone else) blanket a response like, "write better" or "use more keywords" or "don't be redundant" for your specific needs.  I hope that makes sense and I hope you consider posting your work there.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

My Thoughts on the Yahoo! Buying Associated Content Thing

I've been messing around with other little bits of work this morning, really trying to avoid this subject altogether.  I had planned on writing about AC's image gallery and page view boosts but I need to write on this today.  I'll tackle those subjects later.

If your here looking for soothing words from me, I have none.  To be honest, I'm a bit apprehensive myself.  As the Barefoot says in the video below, I don't have all my eggs in one basket.  I write for and have a number of good blogs.  But AC is my highest source of income and if I lose that, I might as well bite the bullet and go out to get a traditional job again.

What does it all mean?  Again, I don't know.  I know, a lot of help I am, right?  What I've gathered from reports is that Yahoo! spent millions on AC and all the staff is "happy" about it but they want to keep their jobs so they have to seem happy, whether they are or not.  Darnell couldn't very well tell us otherwise.  To do so would be like opening the panic doors even further than they already are.

I pretty much agree with what the Barefoot says in the video about being nervous but I'm not going to be as pessimistic as he is being about it.  So I am viewing this transaction with light anxiousness.  But "Shutting down" AC in the third quarter could mean that Yahoo! will absorb the site into their own massive web but still allow contributors to do what they are doing.  Does it make sense to get rid of contributors when it is the contributors who have made this site what it is?  Not really.  But I'm still cautious, as everyone should be.

There will almost certainly be changes.  That's a given fact when a new company takes over something.  Some we might like, some we won't.  It's what change is all about.

On the flip side, while I still remain cautious and a bit fearful at what will happen next, I also can see the things that could happen that would be great for us.  Yahoo! could feature some of us on their front page occasionally.  There could be an opportunity to move up in the world of writing.  We could get bigger offers if we still can get upfronts.  I don't know.  But it seems like in imagining the worst, maybe you could switch that to see the best, too.

What I do wish would happen is straight forward talk between Yahoo! and AC's contributors.  The AC staff may or may not have been told what immediate plans are so don't suggest that they know something other than what they are telling us.  Whether it's right or not, the suggestion is impolite.  Please realize that they have jobs they wish to protect as well.  We know all on our own that the reports we've all read have been all over the place.  Yahoo! says one thing, AC says something different. 

So it is my official request that Yahoo! and AC confer, get their report straight and release a statement together via the AC Blog, as an AC article, or in the forums if they wish it to be kept between them and contributors.  It would relieve the rampant panic and speculation.  I feel like the staff and Yahoo! owe it to us to give us more information then what we can find.  After all, we're the cheap labor (that's what all the reports say anyway) that keeps the site going.  Don't piss off the bread for your butter.

Thanks and have a great day everyone.

ETA: I'm had the opportunity to read Luke Beatty's blog post and a FAQ's page.  I feel a bit better for now but I still remain apprehensive.  Like I said earlier, I can see the good this can do with our views, status, and exposure.  I hope it comes out the way it's being told.

Will I be slacking off on submitting content?  Are you crazy?  Hell no!  I'm at the peak of my game as of late, averaging almost 1500 page views daily and enjoying what I do immensely.  I've sped through to clout 9, am sliding my way through to 200,000 page views (and just think, my original goal was hitting just 100,000 by June 1).  While I'm still a little nervous at the "newness" of all this, I will tread on and show that I'm not gonna hide when something I don't know about comes along.  Let's see where it takes us.

Monday, May 10, 2010

How to detect article theft

Worried about article theft?  You should be.  Online article theft in particular is a rampant practice among those who wish to have something for nothing.  The only work they put into it is two seconds of copying and pasting and then they are using your work to make ad money.

But how do you know if your work is being stolen or not?

It's very easy.  Set up a Google Alert.  By doing so, you can be notified by email of any particular phrase that is used across the web that is indexed by Google.  The first Google Alert you should set up is your name.
  1. Click here for the page to set up the alert.  If you don't have a Blogger or Google account, you might have to register.
  2. Type your writing name inside quotation marks in the field marked "Search Terms".  For example, if I didn't use quotations for "Pamela Gifford", then every time Google picked up the individual first and last names, I would be notified.  If would be overwhelming!
  3. Check the options you want in the remaining fields, enter your email address, and click "Create Alert".
Depending on it you are registered with Google or not, you might have to click a confirmation email to finish creating the alert.  Otherwise, you're done.

When you publish an article, create a Google Alert for it using the title or a unique phrase in quotation marks in the field for "Search Terms".

Using a Google Alert should help you determine if there are scrapers using your articles for their own profit.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

How NOT to Plagiarize

You think this would be a no-brainer but surprisingly, it isn't that clear cut for some people, including those who run celebrity sites. Over the last year, I've probably had a dozen or so such instances where I've found an article or blog post I've written posted in it's entirety somewhere else. Yesterday, I found 3. Yes, THREE. This is the most I've found in a day. One of them I believe was an honest ignorance of copyright law but the other two were those people who try to get free content for their site and hope they don't get caught. Usually a firm threat of reporting them to Google takes care of the problem.

I also listen to my writer friends when they have problems with people stealing their articles. One in particular comes to mind. Writer friend Michelle Devon (Michy) spoke on her forum about someone who had posted an article of hers and got ticked that Michy asked her to take the article down or link it properly. The person who stole the article stated something like "I'll think about taking it down," (as if she had any other legal choice) and then preceded to scold Michy for not wanting to "share" her work with the world in favor of a buck, as if Michy should feel shame for wanting to make money for her writing.  In addition, I've had an instance (and know of at least two other instances from writer friends) where a celebrity site has copied an article and thought we as authors should be flattered that a celebrity has recognized them.

But isn't that why we're all here? I mean, yeah, the recognition is great and I love it when someone says that an article I've written was fantastic, but it doesn't pay the bills. I spend most of my AC money on groceries. When someone copies my articles, it's like taking food out of my kids' mouths. Yes, I want to share my work with the world, but that can be done by providing links back to AC, not copying, and it won't deprive my pantry. Let's be serious. Would any of us be here if we weren't making money? I love it, yes, but if I wasn't making money from it, I wouldn't be here. Everyone's gotta make a living.

Here is what is considered plagiarizing and will get your butt in trouble:
  • Copying/pasting word for word - whether or not you attribute the author (or even compliment the author) it doesn't matter.  It's still plagiarism and takes money away from the author.  This was one of the ones I found yesterday.  I'm flattered that the people on that forum really liked my take of the latest NCIS: LA, but flattery doesn't pay the bills.
  • Using a "spin" software.  First of all, these softwares are crazy and if you use them, you're crazy.  It's so easy to spot an article that's been "spun".  For example, have you ever read an article that in one sense, you understand a bit about what it is saying but it has used all the wrong words?  Have you ever read an article that looks like it was written by someone just learning the English language?  More than likely, it is a "spin" from an article the "author" has stolen from somewhere like AC.  I found one of my Merlin articles posted like that on a site a few months ago.  Same copyright rules apply.  I called their hand, they took down the article.
  • Rewriting articles using the same theme and principle of the article.  This is essentially like copying.  If you can't come up with your own ideas and write in your own voice, then readers will know.  Unfortunately, this one is harder to prove but it will bite back in page views.  A bad rewrite of an original will never rank higher on Google than the original and therefore will fail in searches.  And trust me, if you have to resort to rewriting articles already written in order to have something to publish, then you're writing it bad.  A good writer can find their own topics.
How to PROPERLY do it:
  • Provide a link back to the original article.
  • Add your comments (good or bad) to where ever you may be posting, whether it is a blog, a forum post, whatever.  This draws attention to the article and lets your thoughts be heard without any chance of plagiarism.
  • Including the author's name is optional.  As long as there is a link back to the original article, all is well.  And this doesn't just go for AC.  This is true of ANY site.
  • If you want to share something from AC, there is a "Share" button at the bottom of the page (in the black bar) where the article is located.  Click on it and a box will come up that will allow you to post on most social networks with ease.  There is also HTML code there for easy posting on your site.  This will place the title, description, and link on your site easily... and legally.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Associated Content Video Tutorials for Submitting Content

the Barefoot has put together a video series detailing every step of the content submission process. This is extremely helpful in finding out not only how to submit but also help in deciphering terms you may be unfamiliar with, in particular if you want to know about rights to your work. Thanks, Randy, for the work you've done with this!