Sunday, March 21, 2010

How Not to Make Money From Your Blog

I write SEO stuff to generate profits, ebooks with SEO'd titles and descriptions to generate profits and I ghostwrite blogs that are created to earn a profit for the owners. This blog, however, is not one of those. I make almost nothing from it, and I don't care that much whether I do. Out of all the work I do, I want just one space that is not devoted to generating a profit. It's just a spot to say what I want to say without having to count keywords or look up CPC rates. So, here's how to avoid making money from your blog:

Don't bother to SEO anything. Write whatever you want and write cryptic titles that no one will ever search for. Don't worry about the CPC rates for any of the words you do use.

Throw up any ads you want without any concern about their placement. From what I've read, ads that are placed on the right side of a blog tend to do get more clicks, generating more earnings, but ignore that. Do whatever you think looks less tacky.

Don't bother to sell your own advertising. Rely on Google and Chitika to supply your advertising and never solicit for advertising in order to keep all of the ad earnings for yourself.

If you do bother to put in affiliate links here and there, don't worry about talking about them or trying to market them at all. Just throw them in there randomly and hope someone will click on them and earn a commission for you. No one will.

Don't promote your blog. If you do leave comments on other blogs and put your own blog name in the Web address thingy, make sure the comments are weird and possibly obnoxious so that no one will want to look at your blog.

Put in pictures only when you feel like it, and don't worry if they necessarily relate to what you're writing about.

Create a blog abut a topic that a million other people write a blog about, ensuring that yours gets very little attention. Don't network with any of the other people who write blogs about the same topic in order to get guest blogging gigs or blogroll links. Figure that if you deserve links, they will find you.

Keep the focus of your blog scattered between the stated topic and anything else that you think is interesting. Irritate most of your readers by talking about how much you hate cell phones.

Occasionally drink too much and try to write a blog post which then has to be deleted because it doesn't make any sense the next day.

What results can you expect if you follow this plan? Well, I don't want to brag, but so far this month I have made about $2 from this blog. I'm gonna buy me a big 'ole Moon Pie.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Elusive Day Off

When you freelance full time, an entire day off is a pretty rare occurrence. I've been thinking all week that I really want one day off this weekend. That means not working all day- not working small amounts here and there or working away from the computer instead of on it. I want an actual day in which no work is done.

I thought that Saturday would be a good day to take off. Most of my work for the week is done, and the things I have to do over the weekend are mostly tying up loose ends and emailing colleagues about work that was done. So, there's about an hour of work right there. Then I remembered a page that I haven't finished yet that should be finished before the end of the week. So there's another hour that needs to be done. And once that is done, I should await feedback to make sure that the client is happy. So, I could work two or three hours and have the rest of the day free, or have free time all day knowing that I have hours of work hanging over my head for that night.

Ok, so Saturday is out. Maybe Sunday I could have an actual day off. I could finish everything on Saturday that should be completed this week. Then I could make sure to check mail late at night so that I don't wonder the next day whether I've missed some important communication. Of course, then on Sunday there may be clients trying to contact me. And what if my careful scheduling left something out that I should have done?

Ok, so I could check my email late at night, then check it in the morning to make sure no one is trying to contact me. Then, I could check it every couple of hours in case there was anything I missed so that anything lacking could be completed before the end of the day. Maybe I should set aside some time on Sunday to complete anything that might come up for me to do. And then, in between email checks and that set-aside working time, I would have my completely free day.

It sounds so relaxing.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

What to Write?

That's the big question, isn't it? What indeed. I know what I like to write, and I know what kind of books I like reading. Unfortunately, those aren't the easiest kind of books to sell. Agents usually have no interest in hearing about them and publishers only want to hear about books being represented by agents. So, here's how it breaks down:

You need an agent. So, you must write something that is easily publishable. That means a genre that is popular and profitable. In the U.S. and Europe, that means either creative non-fiction or romance novels.

Which to choose? Creative non-fiction is tough to break into, especially if you don't have a recognizable name and/or a Ph.D. Romance is the one genre that new book writers are most likely to get into. The genre makes up about half of the paperback book market, and you don't need an agent to break into it. So, romance novel it is.

Uh, oh- they suck. And detour- you don't know how to write one. So, you have to read a few to figure out how to do this.

Problem- they're boring and there are so many different sub-genres that even if you could think up a boring story, you have to make it fit into one of those sub-genres. Many of the sub-genres are bizarre, like medieval Scottish lord stories and NASCAR romance. Those are seriously both sub-genres.

So, you take a look at what is actually being published. That's what every book tells you to do, so you do it every so often to get a feel for what's being released. You know what's being released? Vampire romance books. Every major print publisher and every major ebook publisher is being dominated by them. If you want in, you have to have a damn vampire in there somewhere.

So, what do you get? You get Twilight, that's what you get. You get this instead of this. It's not even this (which is now available in two languages). It's more like this. Foiled! I think I'll mostly stick to my own creative projects for now, even if they don't sell.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Demand Opening to U.K. and Canadian Writers

If you're pretty happy with your writing and feel like you've struck a balance between what is good and what is salable, you now have the opportunity to throw that away and start writing for Demand Studios instead. I know there are a lot of people who live in the U.K. or Canada and have felt that their options are limited because a lot of the U.S. content companies weren't open to them.

Well, now you too can write soulless articles that will be mangled by editors who talk to you like you're garbage. Hooray! The pay is actually pretty good, especially if you're coming from a journalism background. It's also extremely flexible. If you've read about writing for Demand Media before from people who say it takes hours and hours to write an article and you have to interview people and you get paid .01 an hour, that's all crap.

It's Web writing. It takes about 20 to 40 minutes, depending on the topic and the format. And, it's not all for eHow. They supply content to a lot of different sites and have varying pay available for different projects. If you are a competent Web writer, understand Web formatting and how to write and organize quickly, you can make a decent amount of money with them. Some people unfortunately have categorized this work as journalism that is extremely low paying. It isn't. The only thing it has in common with journalism is the speed. If you take 20 hours to write a badly researched article, as the fellow in the link did, you're not up to the task. And if you're not up to the task, there's a world of hurt coming.

Here's what gets me, though. As a journalist who was trained to double check facts, to keep my opinions out of it, etc., both of the articles above simply don't cut it. If I had turned in anything like those two articles, complete with inaccuracies (both claim $15 to $20 an article, which is wrong), they would have been thrown back at me. Literally so, in one case. I actually Twittered the writer of the first one to tell him that Demand wouldn't have accepted that article from him. And you know what? It's true. Somehow, such shoddy work has resulted in a few highly-paid writers who think they can never be replaced. I don't really understand the world we live in sometimes, but I do know this- if you want to write for a living, get with the program. If you can't write for the Web, you're going to have a tough road ahead. I see a lot of writers who look down at Web writers and simultaneously declare that you can't make a full-time living by writing. You can.

Here's what you need:

Diversity- Keep several companies on tap and write for each so that no one company going under means the end of your job.

Skill- You need to be able to organize your thoughts quickly and write your item clearly and correctly the first time.

Reasonable Expectations- I see a lot of writers who want to get into Web writing and expect $100 or so per article. This isn't print. I have gotten that before, but it isn't reasonable to expect it most of the time. There are people out there who spend weeks looking for high-paying work because anything else is beneath them. Those people have day jobs. Don't price yourself out of the market and your job will always be there.

Am I a crappy writer because I work for market prices and don't assume that I can't be replaced by someone else if I don't? No. I'm a crappy writer for a number of other reasons. But, I don't apologize for taking on full-time work even if it isn't work that makes me feel super important. If you want to work for Demand, then work for Demand. You can make a lot more an hour than you can working for a newspaper, and there are a few perks here and there. New York Times writers may look down on it, but when those reporters are out of a job like the rest of us and can't get hired by Demand, they may have wished they'd kept these three principles in mind and moved with the industry instead of assuming that they can't and won't be replaced.