Thursday, June 24, 2010

Content Hell

Content writing is a temptation that is hard to fight sometimes. It's pretty simple to do once you get the hang of it, but the pay is pretty average. If I want a kick-ass pond in the backyard and some days off every month, content writing needs to go. Unfortunately, I do have some contracts and I do get bogged down in writing content for content sites out of simple laziness. Normally, this means a boring week that pays ok and little more. This week sucked. It sucked the big one.

When it all began, I was pretty happy with doing some marketing this week, throwing together a PR document and doing some content writing when time allowed because it's easy and people pay me. Here's how I started the week:

Then, one of the content sites that I occasionally writer for decided to lay off more than 4,000 writers and may not pay me a thing for the work that I've done for them. That was less fun.

I got bored one night and thought I'd write a few articles for a cheapie content site that is always a quick buck. A short article about affiliate marketing was sent back as "good, but not funny." It was an article about affiliate marketing. Seriously. It was supposed to be funny? Why??

Then, another content company sent an article back because they "forgot to add" that their new articles are to be written in a specific style that they never put into their style guide. I have to redo it after emailing some obscure person to get the new style guide that is so important that they never gave it to us.

THEN, another content company gave me new, more complicated guidelines that tripled the amount of time that their articles take without raising my rates by a penny. This was already my lowest-paying client, and now their articles pay about a fifth of my normal billing rate. No apologies from them and no acknowledgment of the extended time and expense.

Some weeks are good, some weeks make you want to swing a big fat tuna at the idiots who waste your time with incompetence. I can run a content company far better than most of these people because I have this crazy thing called common sense. I think I'm almost done with writing anything at all for content mills. They've been getting far to much from me for far too long.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Cars Actually Need Oil - Oil Change Giveaway

Ok, so I’ve mentioned here a few times that I write a lot. It’s my job, my hobby and all that I care to do most of the time. So, it might not come as a surprise that sometimes other things get put off or forgotten.

So, I got asked if I wanted to participate in a giveaway for Shell Lubricant and through MyBlogSpark. I was thinking, um, oil? I guess cars need oil. Don’t they? Since I couldn’t remember the last time my oil had been changed, it occurred to me that it’s probably been a little while since I did any of that. I ran out to check the little sticker that oil changing places give you, and yeah, it had been awhile. It had been 11,000 miles. Oops.

So, I was sent a gift card and the ancient oil in my car, if any was even left in there, was changed. I *think* that may have been what the “check engine” light was about that was on for so long.

So, any other freelancers (or anyone else) who may not have made car maintenance a priority, I’m giving away one $35 gift card to Jiffy Lube. That should be enough for an oil change. Here’s a store locator if you aren’t sure if there’s one near you. According to them, right now the average age of cars is older than it’s ever been. My car is certainly getting up there in years, so I probably should have been thinking about stuff like that before I got that email. But, I always think of “check engine” lights as being kind of like UFOs- you don’t know why they’re there and they might just disappear at any time. That probably isn’t the best idea.

If you want the gift card, leave a comment about what weird ideas you’ve had about cars. The weirder the idea, the more you probably need the card and an oil change.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Content Writing

There are a lot of types of writers, and most of them look down on the other types. There are fiction writers who write books and short stories. They have day jobs and don't believe that it's possible to actually make your entire living through writing. I want to be one of them.

There are copywriters, who make a nice living at promoting random companies and stuff. They take great vacations and rarely have to stay in nondescript Disney suites. They get the penthouse, baby. I'm getting there right now.

Then, there are content writers. The part timers bring in the money they need and don't worry about their next payments. The full timers make a decent living writing the random crap that content mills ask them to write. I've done this for years, and I want to leave. I'm actually good at PR and copywriting and another one of my efforts has lead to a magazine article about a client. I pretty much rock. I can leave if I want.

So, the fiction writers look down on content writer because they think content writing isn't very creative (it is) and it's ultimately forgettable (of course it is). Content writers look down on fiction writers because they can't make a living through their writing. Copywriters look down on all of them because they can afford to. Taking a week off is no biggie and the penthouse calls.

I'm stuck between worlds, finding content writing comforting, finding success through copywriting and wanting desperately to concentrate on my fiction. What a world.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Website Design

Me: Ok, so I need this website to do a lot more than it did before, and not be lavender. I'm rebranding and I want to start completely from scratch.

Engineer: Fine. What should it look like?

Me: I just want it to look like it wasn't made with one of the free templates that comes with website hosting.

Engineer: Um, ok. So what should the design be about?

Me: It should have none of those smiley people at the top that way too many sites have. I hate those people.

Engineer: Ok, so not look like a free template and no smiley people.

Me: Right. And no lavender, even if lavender is pleasant and restful. And it should have a lot of pages.

Engineer: How many pages exactly?

Me: Well, it needs a lot of pages because I have a bunch of stuff that I want to put on it.

Engineer: Yeah. Um, maybe you could look through some templates?

So, the website is taking a little longer than I had hoped. The engineer that I have on it is a consultant and kind of ran screaming from the fire that is my idea of website design. I decided to just use any template that didn't have those smiley people. I finally found one and put it up to see how it would look, and it's really pretty horrible. Then spouse wanted to tinker with it because after days of trying out this and that I pretty much have an ugly template that I hate and some vague ideas of how many pages it will actually have. This could take awhile.