Thursday, February 24, 2011

Freelance Writing Tips: Your Client is Not Obligated to Please You

Should your client offer certain perks? Are there certain things you should expect them to do besides pay you? When freelancing, sometimes it can be difficult to figure out the roles played by you and your clients. Is the client asking for too much - or are you the one demanding the impossible? In freelance writing, my number one rule has always been that the client is not obligated to please you. In fact, you should be instead be providing what the client needs. If you can't or won't, let them find it elsewhere. Here's why.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Newbie's Guide to Success at the Yahoo! Contributor Network

Here is a great slideshow put together by veteran contributor Lyn Lomasi. It outlines the steps you need to take in order to find your place and reap success from the Yahoo! Contributor Network. It's very easy to follow if you know how to work hard.

The Newbie's Guide to Success at the Yahoo! Contributor Network

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Y!CN Contributor Rissa Watkins needs bone marrow

Without it, the consequences could be dire.

Read up on the initial post I did on Rissa and how you can help her financially.

I woke this morning to this video.

Click to go to and join the registry (if your health allows). You could save a life, maybe even Rissa's.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Change in Associated Content's Featured Contributor Program

Yesterday was a pretty bad day for me.  Y!CN announced that the Featured Contributor program for Associated Content from Yahoo! was dramatically changing and that Featured Contributors would have to reapply for the program beginning March 1.

This change is understandable as Associated Content is no longer the main platform for Y!CN publishing.  Associated Content, while still a viable publishing platform, has become what I'd like to call the rejects of Yahoo!.  Yup.  It's given me a complex to say the least.  Since the change over to the Yahoo! Contributor Network, I've rejoiced in the fact that many pieces of my content have been used on various Yahoo! sites.  But then when one of my featured assignments would be reviewed and published on Associated Content instead of a targeted Yahoo! site, I almost view it like a failure.  I thought I was doing really well on Associated Content until Yahoo! came along.  I was just mediocre again.

And this is coupled with the fact that this was my first month as a featured parenting contributor.  Now I have to change all my damn bios again.

Forgive me for being doom and gloom today.  If you read back through my blog, I'm not usually like this.  While I have been hard on Y!CN at times, I am generally one of the first to ask that contributors take it in stride and give things a chance before they start drawing storm clouds above their heads.  I usually point out that AC/Y!CN has shown themselves to be above game in times like this.  But I'm not going to say that this time (although keep in mind, I'm not dismissing it either).

The main thing I have to take into account how things have worked at Y!CN since the change over.  Even though there are great higher paying opportunities, there are a ton of tech/help issues, some of which are costing contributors page views.  Everything from botched notifications, to lagging page view updates, to articles in limbo, to having to sign in sometimes two or three times (and then click back to the article) to leave comments, *to not being able to switch from one site to the other on our profiles, and more... never, since I began writing for this site have I seen such a dragging of issues not being fixed in a timely manner.  Let me reiterate; issues addressed, yes.  Fixed, no. 

*ETA: Since I published this post, I can now switch from one site to the next on my profile page. Hurray!

Second, I don't see where this is the best solution.  The troubles with the old FC program was that there were too many people who weren't following the guidelines as an FC (not a professional byline or picture, not submitting assignments, etc).  You don't have to shut down the entire program and start from scratch to weed out the ones who aren't doing what they are supposed to.  This, in my opinion, is a complete waste of time on both the staff and the contributors and it's caused an unnecessary amount of frustration and worry.

Third, and this was the kicker for me yesterday as I read through post after post of discussions on the subject, there were people who were/are FC's who were told that they didn't have to reapply for their positions.  Everyone else would.  While I'm happy for those contributors who do not have to reapply, I did NOT receive such a message and I am pissed about it.  As if I didn't already have doubts when my work isn't chosen for a Yahoo! site, here I'm going to have to reapply for positions that I already have.  So here's my funk; I've never missed an FC assignment.  I may have had one decline toward the beginning of the program when I got categories confused but have otherwise done very well... or so I thought.  I write consistently, I write well.  I get descent page views.  I realize I don't write as much as some because I have two little ones still under school age but I have always thought I was doing pretty good.  Shows what I know.  To sum it up again, I suppose I'm not as much pissed as I am crushed.  I know there are others out there who feel the same way.  In a way, it's degrading.

I don't think I would be so upset had events unfolded differently.  When AC still had category editors, I was specifically asked by a staffer to be a category editor; I didn't even know that I could be a CE.  Only a few short months later, they scrapped that program and introduced the Featured Contributor program.  I didn't apply for awhile but I kept getting messages urging me to do so.  So finally I did and was accepted very quickly each time I applied.  Now that's being scrapped and I have to reapply... while others are able to write without having to worry.  I guess I'm so upset because I feel like I put so much effort in, I work my ass off, but it seems a bit in vain now.

I am very fortunate and thankful for the TV beats and the new news beats that I've gotten.  That is probably the only thing that keeps me from being a total gloomy gus about this whole thing.  I'm going to apply for what I can when March rolls around and just sit and hope that it's good enough to go through.

So I leave you today with this final thought:  In order to have (and keep) some form of happiness writing content for any site, don't expect anything.  If you have beat assignments, enjoy them while they last because you never know when something will change.  If you don't expect to keep them forever, you won't be so quick to be down when they are pulled.

And that's all for now.  I'll update when more information comes my way.  Thanks for reading.

This post brought to you by All Holidays Fever.

Monday, February 14, 2011

How to Burn and Promote an RSS Feed of Your Yahoo! Contributor Network Pieces

You work hard publishing at Yahoo! Contributor Network but promoting your stuff is a drag. By creating an RSS feed of your published work you can create animated graphics on your blog or social networking site, send automatic tweets whenever a new article is published or even place a graphic in your email signature promoting your most recent pieces. The benefit of this is the fact that after the initial setup the promotion is automatic, allowing you to concentrate on creating great content.

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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Articles Vs Blog Posts '" What's the Difference?

As a mentor of my writing peers, I am often asked to discern the difference between a blog post and an article. When submitting work to clients and content sites, how do you know if your writeup should have gone to your blog instead? Blogs can certainly be professional and articles can definitely be conversational. However, even though you can publish an article on your blog, it's not very wise to submit something that should have been a blog as an article. In some cases, it may even hurt your career. So what's the difference?

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What is and isn’t okay when someone posts your articles on their sites?

I realize that this is a little confusing for newbies to understand.  With all the talk of usage rights and plagiarism, it’s easy to be a bit bumfuzzled about what is and isn’t okay when you come across a completely different site with your article on it whether it is part of your article or your whole article.

Whole article

If you find your article in whole on another site, first check to make sure that it isn’t a partner distribution from Y!CN.  Look under your content tab on your account page.  You’ll see the word “Partner” on the right.  Click on it.  Check to see if the article is listed there and what site it went to.

If you don’t find it, look under payments for any payment that was a distribution payment.

If you’re still coming up empty handed, it is likely plagiarism.  Note that one key item that can tip you off if it’s plagiarism is if they don’t have your Y!CN byline on it.

This isn’t okay.  And it isn’t just NOT okay, it’s illegal.  But what you do next is determined by what rights to the article you’ve retained when you published it on Y!CN.  If it was Exclusive, then shoot an email to the legal team at Y!CN and let them take care of it.  If it was Non-Exclusive or Display Only, then you’ll have to deal with it yourself, however you want to deal with it.

Part of the article

If another site is going to link your article, they should only take a paragraph or two with a link back to your article.  I do this on my TV Slugs blog all the time.  This is completely okay.  More than okay, really, because it gives you a link back and more exposure.

But some sites do get greedy.  I found the whole first page of an article once on another site.  They linked back to my article but after reading the entire first page, only a small fraction of readers, if any, was going to click through to my article.  I politely thanked them for providing a link back to my article but taking a whole page wasn’t proper etiquette.  (Anyone who does niche blog content exposure knows this, so I’m sure it wasn’t news to them.)  I asked them to shorten it or remove it.

But that’s it.  If another site takes a paragraph or two and links back, great!  Anything more then that is cause for concern.

For more info on plagiarism topics within this site, click here.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Succeed in Freelance Writing by Making Goals More Attainable

It's time to pay the bills but your freelance writing hasn't pulled in nearly what you need. Staring at the figures in black and white may make you cringe if you're a freelance writer who hasn't quite reached your ideal goal. Maybe you haven't even touched the surface. But don't give up hope. Perhaps you just need to change your strategy. If you have all the tools and talent, but still can't quite get there, try making your goals more attainable. It's easy to set goals and expectations too high or make the possible impossible by over analyzing. If you aren't meeting your goals in freelance writing, it's time do a complete overhaul of your strategy.

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Car Shopping Made Easier

My husband has been driving the same SUV since 2004.  I have been driving mine since 2001.  But since he had more mileage on his, we decided he'd be the first to get a new vehicle.  It was hard to shop for and one website would lead to another and another but in the end it really didn't do us any good.  We were able to get specs and add-on information but that was about it.  In the end we did okay with our purchase, though it wasn't without some frustration.

Now it's my turn to shop and I've just been introduced to a website that will help.  The Car Connection is so detailed that I can't help but be impressed.  So what kind of vehicle am I looking for?  My friend, Jennifer says I should go for a convertible like a Mazda Mx-5 Miata or a Volkswagen Eos.  Those are nice vehicles but they aren't really my style.  I'm a mom and I'm just starting the whole "transport your kids to ball games" thing so I'll need something a little more practical.  The Ford Focus looks alright but with two boys, I believe I'm going to need something a bit bigger, like maybe a Chevy Tahoe.

Whatever I end up deciding on (I'll be waiting until this fall to make my purchase when the best deals are), I'm sure I can find all the information I'll need like reviews, news, and more.  PP

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Yahoo! TV Superfan program - First round of cuts

If you were in the Yahoo! TV Superfan program, you should know by now that the first round of eliminations has been completed.  (This almost sounds like a TV program in itself.)  Some beat writers were cut for various reasons, many stayed.  I’m happy to report that I survived the first elimination for all four of the shows I’m covering which is “Criminal Minds”, Blue Bloods”, “House”, and “American Idol”.  Our submission limit has been uped to 2 per month and on our assignments, we’re still being instructed to write evergreen content.  While I’m glad that our limit has gone up, I’m discouraged that we’re still having to do just evergreen.  Recaps get more page views (if they are indexed quickly and are on the right feeds, that is), but from what I understand, if we survive the next few rounds of cuts, we’ll be able to do those recaps with a mixture of evergreen content.  (I have to wonder if by then, some of the seasons will be over!)

Another big change in the program is that upfronts have gone down on these assignments slightly.  Most people I have talked with actually expected this change and aren’t that concerned about it.  While I’m okay with getting a lower upfront, I hope it doesn’t get to the point where we’re only making a couple of dollars a piece on them.  I'm not sure any lower upfronts would be worth the research for evergreen or be worth the long review time.

Congrats to everyone who made it through the first round of cuts.  May you all have a prosperous month and happy writing!

This post brought to you by TV Slugs.