Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Writing for AC is Featured on 'Your Blog Connection'

Fellow Associated Content contributor and blogger Theresa Wiza has featured this blog on her blog "Your Blog Connection". 

To read the post, click on "Check Out This 'Writing for AC' Blog".  Thank you, Teresa for the links and the recognition!

Oh, and I love the Barefoot's smiling mug in the screenshot! :)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Unambiguous Southern Grammar (humor video from the Barefoot)

Writer pal and AC contributor theBarefoot shares something near and dear to my heart; southern grammar.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Top Contributor Will Stape Gives Interview to BBC Academy

In an interview with Matthew Wells, one of Associated Content's top contributors, Will Stape talks about his experience with Associated Content.  Visit his page and you'll see why he such a great contributor.  I've been subscribed to Will Stape's content for a long time and was delighted to see this interview.  Watch the video of the interview below and then head on over to Matthew Well's article to read more about Associated Content and Will Stape.

Century 21 in Wilmington, North Carolina

Century 21 has been around for years and is the world's most recognized name in real estate.  The folks up in Wilmington, North Carolina at Sweyer & Associates have been around for 23 years.  Anyone looking into Wilmington NC real estate should check out their website. The first thing that catches my attention is the beautiful pictures on the front page.   We're talking beach front here.  If anything, at least go check out those pictures.

Another thing I noticed about the site was within a few minutes of my arrival on the first page, there was a "ding!" and a chat window opened with an offer of assistance if I needed it.  Curious, I typed a polite response and mentioned how beautiful the pictures were.  I was astonished to find that the chat was with a real live person and not some chatbot program!  Thumbs up.

Heading to the listings, if you're searching for Wilmington NC real estate, you can enter your own criteria such as what kind of dwelling you're looking for, what your price range is, and more.  You have the option of a quick search, which is ideal if you're not exactly sure what you're looking for yet, and then you have more detailed options such as school zones, what kind of lot you're looking for and more.

You don't just have to be looking for Wilmington NC homes to live in, you can also find a vacation home.  If the pictures are any indication, this looks like a peaceful place to get away.

Happy home searching!


Facebook: A regular page or a "Like" page?

When you're looking to promote your business or your image (such as for a band or politician), I always recommend a "Like" page on Facebook.  The biggest reason is to gain more exposure in search engine results.  It's fairly easy to manage one and you can do it directly from your main (personal) account, assuming you have a personal Facebook page just to keep up with friends and such.

Using a Facebook "Like" (previously known as a "Fan") page is one of the best tools for online networking.  As Facebook continues to grow, even locally, the exposure your page can have to potential customers and fans is phenomenal. 


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

AC and Me (or is it AC and I?)

I realized as I recategorized my labels yesterday on this blog that I haven't done a random progress report in awhile.

So how am I doing on AC?  For the last several months, I've been doing fantastic... this month, not so much.  My page views this month are less then half what they usually are and I've been writing just as consistently as I always have.  But I fret not.  I'm going to take some advice at the end of this week and do some networking and such.

I have mostly recovered from the AC/Yahoo! blunder that I'd been stressing about the last couple of weeks.  My payment for the test feed error came through Monday as promised.  There are still questions surrounding the legality of the whole situation but for the most part, I think it is something that can be moved past.

I'm also gunning for a "Best of AC" award this month for television.  I was nominated last year for the award but didn't get it so I'm hoping that maybe this year will be my year. 

In any case, I would really love to write more for AC.  I could kick some ass if I had the time to write as much as I want but I do have other obligations and I have little ones at home. 

I hope your time with AC is fruitful and I'll see y'all next time.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Where is my account number for my Associated Content W-9?

When you make enough money to finally be responsible for the taxes from your Associated Content income (hurray?), you'll get an email that states you'll receive no more payments until you turn in a W-9.

In the email, it states that you can fax or mail it, but you can also print it, fill it out, scan it and attach it in an email.

You'll also notice at the bottom of the email that you must put in your account number.  Community Guide Marie Anne St. Jean often tells contributors to "click to your profile page, then look at the number just before your name in the URL".  This is your account number.  There is a space at the end of the first section of the W-9 where the account number can go.

Why does AC require them?

I have no clue.  According to knowledgeable contributor (and tax mogul) Angie Mohr, no non-IRS numbers should be going on a W-9.

I did not know this when I submitted my W-9 and after consulting Angie about it, I simply submitted my W-9 without one.  I included a note in the email that I had no clue what it was for or where to find it as my first email to them asking where to find it went unanswered.  I never got an email stating whether that was okay or not but I started getting payments again so apparently they accepted it. 

It's unclear why AC is requiring this number but so far, using Marie Anne's advice hasn't produced any further questions on the matter.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Writing for AC Wins the Blog Goddess Award

Blog Goddess Award courtesy of
This blog has just been peer picked for a Blog Goddess Award.  This makes the second peer award this blog has received and I'm truly flattered.  Thank you so much!

The Blog Goddess Award goes to women bloggers who maintain blogs that are motivational, inspirational, dynamic, full of useful information and more.

I received this award as a direct result of my post about Associated Content and Yahoo's mistake which led to articles being published on Yahoo! without permission.  You can read that post here.  Essentially, people find it touchy to write about things that are as controversial as this topic has been (and continues to be).  But if you don't speak up, who will?  I've come to realize over the last couple of years that if I don't open my mouth and provide information or state my opinion, then I can't expect change for the better in anything that I (or others after me) do.

I appreciate the recognition.  And I will continue to provide my readers with the good and not-so-good of Associated Content for as long as I am writing for the site.

Thank you.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Yahoo! and Associated Content's GREAT BIG Blunder to AC Writers

Because I took the weekend off, I've spent the majority of a fine Monday morning not only mourning the loss of one of my favorite uncles but also feeling quite robbed and violated by Associated Content and Yahoo!.  Because I've promised to give you all the information, good and bad, that came along as a result of writing for Associated Content (and I feel like I've done that fairly well over the past sixteen months), this is not something I'm willing to ignore because this was a huge blunder and in writing standards, I think "blunder" is actually a nicer form of the word then what I want to use.

The Yahoo!/AC "Blunder"

Last week, as I was following up on reports of a site (completely unrelated to Yahoo! and AC) that many people were saying was plagiarizing AC content, I came across a feed that showed a television review of mine.  I clicked on it and was absolutely shocked to see an article I'd written on the 10th of August on the premier of "Bachelor Pad" in its entirety directly on Yahoo!News.  The only link backs to me on AC was links that I had placed within the article myself.  My name was not even linked to my profile.  Several things were immediately evident to me.
  1. The article had been a DO (display only) article and Yahoo! didn't have the permissions to publish it on their site.
  2. I had not been notified by Yahoo! or AC that my article was published.
  3. I had not been paid for the display of it on Yahoo!
  4. The article on Yahoo! was up for almost a month, competing with my original article's page views.
  5. I didn't get a Google alert for the article so I wondered how many more articles of mine were displayed illegally.
This is a shocker, I know, especially for those who don't frequent the forums enough to be aware that this is going on.  And let me just tell you; this is one of those instances that I equate to catching your spouse kissing another person.  I thought a lot of AC and I respected Yahoo!.  But to see my article like this, it was a blow.  I took it hard.  I felt betrayed by someone I trusted.  After some consideration about what to do, I posted in the forums.

As it turned out, there were others with similar problems.  DO articles completely lifted and placed on Yahoo! (such as in my case), others who have had no extra payment for articles displayed on Yahoo! but instead offered more work as a "Thank you", misled information relating to assignments and more.

Copyright violation is a serious offense to a writer and this was, in mine and many others' opinions, a perfect copyright violation.  (I should note here that AC and Yahoo! deny this is any sort of violation and I'll explain that further down.)  What makes it even worse is that evidence suggests that AC was aware of this.  They had sent notifications to some contributors (oddly I wasn't one of them) that there were feeds being tested.  I have no clue what was going on in their heads even after they found out they were publishing full DO articles.  And even worse... this practice continued.

Listen, I completely get that there are bugs that happen when testing things but when you know that something is going wrong, it should be stopped.  According to one contributor, even when this was brought to AC's attention, the response was that there was nothing they could do about it and that we (contributors) should just suck it up.  Not the exact words but similar in meaning.  Only when it burst into full force in the forum was there a scramble to make up for lost time.

The Response

I waited and fretted most of last week over the issue.  You'd think as against copyright infringement (oops, sorry, non-permissive usage (towmaytoe, towmawtoe)) as most reputable online sites appear to be, that the issue would have been addressed immediately.  But that's neither here nor there.  It was eventually addressed Saturday but I had taken the weekend off and didn't see it until yesterday morning.

On first glance, it looked like those of us who had our content lifted were going to be patted on the head with $2.  Sorry, guys, $2 for a piece used without permission is like trying put a band aide on a wound that needs stitches. 

I've said before that when I find an article of mine copied without permission on another site, the first thing I do is send an invoice to the owner of the site and I charge them more for reprint rights than I would someone who asks for permission.  Neither one of those amounts come close to $2.

The Second Response

Sensing that the masses were unhappy with the $2 insult and with outstanding legal questions, the guy with the unfortunate task of relaying the messages to us came back with a $15 appeasement gift per each DO that was published without permission.  The reason is NOT because they used it without permission but because they took so long to fix it (and it's not even fixed yet; read more).  I'm rolling my eyes at this.  An apology that they did us wrong (and are continuing to do us wrong) is in order but I doubt we'll see it.

While this doesn't completely cover the brunt of the violation that occurred, it was, in my opinion, a step in the right direction.  But there's more.

Those who were crying "Copyright infringement!" (including me), needn't retain lawyers just yet.  According to the Master Licensing Agreement, because it owns AC, Yahoo! is considered "The Company".  So in other words, Yahoo! has every right to take our content, place it on a Yahoo! page, let it suck page views from our AC published articles of the same name and not pay us for it.  In the same breath, they say that they would never intentionally do it.  At least they recognize the practice as highly unethical.. or at least I hope they do.

But it Hasn't Stopped!

The article I found has been pulled from the Yahoo! site and so has several others and while I haven't found any more of my own (and believe me, I've been looking), some other contributors have... even as late a YESTERDAY.  I don't know everything about tech issues but this ranks right up there with the huge upgrade fail.  The more they keep trying to put a lid on the bugs, the more it keeps spilling over.  Now contributors are wondering why it's taking so long, why there are some contributors' articles still being affected, etc.

What Now?

Do I think this is an intentional attempt at stealing articles?  

No.  I feel like this is an error in both technology and in the way it was handled after the fact.  

What will Yahoo! and AC do about it?  

As already stated, many articles have already been removed from Yahoo! sites and I hear they are in the process of removing all of them.  I hope they are taking care of the feed problem as we speak.  We're being compensated $15 per lifted piece.  I do believe them when they say that they wouldn't intentionally do such a thing but I'm still upset at what happened and what appears to be continuing to happen.  (And trust me when I say this ONLY because it's AC and Yahoo!; someone I wasn't associated with wouldn't be so lucky.)  We were violated, legalese or not, this was a violation of our rights and our trust.  As a writer, one of the biggest insults to me is when someone takes my work without even so much as asking much less not even paying for it.

What will I do now?  

I'm going to continue writing for AC with extra attention being paid to the wording of rights.  I will be leery about Yahoo! and AC in much the same way I was when they first attached to each other.  I'm only continuing with AC because I don't feel like this was something that was brought about by intentional deception.  If I had thought otherwise, this post would be entirely different.  I do feel like, though, it was with a lack of respect for our intelligence that it was handled the way it was.  And it takes awhile to build trust back up after it's been betrayed.  

What do I expect to happen now?  

  • I expect whatever it is AC and Yahoo! are doing TO STOP.  Despite the legal coldness of it, I don't think AC or Yahoo! really believes that it's ethical to place our articles in dual to compete with one another without express permission from us.  To do so without our initial knowledge robs us of page views and money not to mention erodes our trust.  It is my hope that they are making this their priority.
  • I would like to know why this was tested the way it was without a payment system in place to protect your writers in the first place.  I understand there are kinks but I have to wonder whether my lack of page views last month was a casualty of this nonsense.  It makes me feel like we're not valued as contributors.
  • I expect AC to be more upfront about these issues.  I realize it's not the most legal-etiquette way of handling things but when you're spouting cold legalese when so many people would like a simple apology and an acknowledgment that what's been done to them was WRONG, it goes a long, long way in rebuilding trust.
  • I expect AC and Yahoo! to address the other issues that have come up as a result of this but to do so in due time after the feeds have stopped and no one else is complaining about more of their work showing up unexpectedly on Yahoo!.
There are many more things I would expect of AC and Yahoo! but this is going to have to do for now.  I'm tired of stressing about this.

I will just state here that I'm really dismayed and disappointed.  More care should have been taken and the AC staffer who knew about the problem before I even knew about it but did not respect the impact of it should be counseled on identifying a real problem and taking appropriate action instead of letting it go in the interest of "testing a feed".  Additionally, I expect that Yahoo! and AC will take further care in the future and that something like this NEVER happens again.

I'm still excited about what the future holds for AC contributors and Yahoo!.  The possibilities look really promising and I can't wait to see where it goes.  If you're running into this blog and you're not a contributor, please don't let this deter you from giving it a go.  Every integration has it's problems; this just happens to be a big one.  But I'm willing to stick it out for now and see what happens only because AC has been a great place to be.

But I shall proceed with caution.

*Note: If you would like to check for your articles on Yahoo! do a search in quotes for "your name" site: or for the title of your article (or unique phrase from your articles) in quotes "title or phrase" site:

How to Get Fans and Followers on Associated Content

How to Get Fans and Followers on Associated Content
Does your AC profile need some love? Do you keep checking your fans and followers pages in hopes that more people will appear? There are many different ways to get fans and followers on Associated Content. The methods I find the best might surprise you.
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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Linking Articles from One Site to Another or Between Articles

A reader posted the following comment on my How to Start Writing Content article on Associated Content: 

"So, do you try to link your AC and Examiner articles? How about your blog? Are your posts to each duplicated or in concert with each other in any way? Just starting out, so I'm curious how to get organized from the beginning. Still learning about all the RSS, Digg, Twitter, etc. options and trying to tie it all together cohesively. ~ Thanks for all of the tips, etc."

This is a lot but I'll try to explain, from my perspective, how I can link different things up.

When I still regularly wrote for Examiner, if I had an article that related to one I was writing for Associated Content, then I would link it.  If I didn't have one, then I wouldn't.  The same goes for my blogs or other sites.  If it isn't relevant to the article you are writing, then don't link it.  It's really that easy. 

I don't intentionally write things that will link up with one another.  I think about each blog and each site that I write for, create a list of topics for each and start writing.  After I'm finished writing it, I think about whether it is relevant to another site or blog.  If it is, I'll find a way to link it.  If it isn't, then I move on.  You should never try to link up something to your articles just to create a link.  It is a quick way to discredit yourself.

Sometimes, I will write an article on one blog or site, and then realize that it is relevant to another blog or site.  In most cases, if it is on a blog (not AC), then I will do a teaser and then link the article from my other site.  For an example of this, see this post.

And sometimes, I will specifically write an AC post that will link up to one of my blogs or another site.  For an example of this, see this post.  Because my Associated Content articles are scattered from topic to topic, I don't expect someone who is interested in my television articles to be interested in my local articles.  But I want to keep the interest of these readers and I do so by having a television blog and a local blog which each feature my content on the subjects as well as others.  (Notice how I linked those up because it was relevant?)

I don't often duplicate articles from one site to another but I also don't write for many different sites.  I'd rather link to and from my blogs so I get the page views from one to another.  But I realize it's different for everyone. 

Social networking (Digg, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) is a different beast than inter (or intra?) linking your content.  For social networking topics, visit this post and this post.  You will find some great information on those links.

In reality, there's no easy answer for how to correctly do these things.  You can read all the material you want but it doesn't equal the knowledge you gain from time spent actually doing it.  Over time, as you build your library of content across whichever sites you write for, linking between articles will come naturally.  You'll then understand what is relevant, how best to do it, and how to be successful overall.

My 2 year AC-versary!

I didn't realize until yesterday that I'd bypassed my AC-versary without even realizing it.  September 5, 2010 marked two years since I first begrudgingly signed up for AC.  After having dealt with Helium for so long, I was weary of signing up for anything else.  It didn't help that out of the first few articles I submitted, one was declined for upfront and the other two upfront offers were really low.  I was discouraged, deleted all my submissions and remained one of those CP's (we were called "content producers" then), who didn't write anything for months.  In January of 2009, I came back to AC with a little bit more of an open mind and I began writing and submitting.

Over the last two years, I've learned a lot, I've gained confidence enough that I ventured out into other projects.  Now I actually feel like I'm doing something worthwhile not just as a job but as a career.  And the best part is that I get to do all this and focus on my boys which is more important.

Thank you, AC!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Putting your current articles up for reprint sale

Because this relates to content writing as well, I thought I'd share a blog post I wrote a couple of days ago for my services blog.

Now I've just started my page on buying reprints and have some work to do on it so Lyn Lomasi's page would probably be a better reference for the type of selling I'm talking about.  You'll see the links to these pages within the post I've linked to here.

Things to keep in mind with Associated Content articles is how you publish.  You cannot offer your content for reprint sale if you've given exclusive rights to Associated Content.  For a breakdown of rights on Associated Content read, Content Rights on Associated Content - Deciding How to Publish.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

August brings more upfront pay but less page views bit the dust for me this past month.  By doing a site wide "upgrade" that wasn't tested properly, they've screwed up much of the site.  After a few weeks, my pages (I wrote on two topics) are still messed up and not displaying properly.

So for the last few weeks, I've largely been ignoring this blog as I tried to salvage my readership from both my Examiner pages.  I've been developing new sites and such that left me writing less for Associated Content than I did before.  In the end though, while my page views have not been as great this month as they have been the previous two or three, my upfront payments were much higher than usual because I actively pursued topics that would get me an upfront.  I still had my 3 FC assignments but I also lucked up on two assignments that were targeted to FC's in the Arts and Entertainment categories and I had a partner call from Yahoo!TV which you can read about in this post.

Now as I proceed this month, my goals for my content and overall writing is to at least double what I've made for August.  I'm curious to see if I can make up for the loss through AC and my blogs.  I'm also expanding my network to YouTube so that should be wonderfully fun.

Continuing on, I'll be seeing if I can actually make enough to support myself and my children.  Right now, I'm borderline on being able to do that.  But in light of recent personal things, it is a reality that I'm going to have to face within the next six to eight months.   Can I reach my goal of being able to support myself and my children just with my online work?  It will be interesting to find out!  (Psssst, and that's why you should follow this blog!)

How to Start Writing Online Content

How to Start Writing Online Content
I am often asked how someone with no experience can learn to do what I do, which is write online for money. Here is my answer, step by step, of how you can start your own library of online content.
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