Monday, August 23, 2010

Jobs, Writing and Vampires

So, my spouse actually got a job this week. He's been out of work for almost two years because his industry has pretty much died in this country. Thanks, China! Anyway, with him soon to be employed, that means that I don't have to write full time anymore, though pretty close to full time. The first thought in my head was, holy crap, I get to write some fiction.

I have been writing a lot about online publishers for Suite101, and every time I write one I wish I had something completed that I can submit for consideration. I have a half-fleshed-out vampire story in mind for an online publisher, a weird past-life story hopefully for print and about a dozen sci-fi stories bouncing around my head. Most of them are finished in my head, but the time to actually get them down has eluded me so far.

Is it possible that now I will be able to finish one of them outside the realm of my cloudy head? I can't even dare to get excited about it. Getting time to write the fiction you want to write is like slipping into a big bathtub that is just the right temperature. It's feels effortless and sensual. It lets you take all of those weird things that wander around your head and tell them that they are real and interesting. They get to exist in the real world instead of being stuck inside you in between the worry about website design and the worry about the landscaping. It lets them free to wander in the actual world, free to be rejected or accepted by the world at large.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Demand Media Isn't Profitable. No Biggie.

There is wave of panic rolling across the freelance Web writing world right now because of the news that Demand Media isn't actually profitable. Multiple stories have come out touting the company's lack of profits, as announced during the company's IPO, as a sign that they will fail any day and that the entire business model is obviously an unprofitable one. Here's why they're wrong.

Profits Often Happen Years Down the Road

It's not at all unusual for a company to make no profits in its first few years, or even longer. Amazon showed no profit for its first 10 years. Now? Not so much. During the last quarter, its profits were $207 million. NetFlix, now a giant in the movie rental industry, showed no profits for its first six years- a year after it's IPO. What do they have in common? They're both large, online companies that grew quickly and expanded into new areas of their industries. Sound familiar?

They Don't Actually Need Profits Right Now

If this was a mom-and-pop operation, they would need profits immediately to stay in business. But it isn't mom and pop running Demand- it's a large company with scores of investors who have pumped hundreds of millions into the business. Even if they never make a dime, they have enough to stay in business for at least the next 10 years and even longer if the IPO generates the $125 million they're seeking.

It's Losses Are Shrinking

The gap between what they make and what they need to make isn't growing- it's rapidly shrinking. According to Daily Finance, during the first half of 2009, Demand lost $13.9 million. During the first half of 2010, it lost $6.05 million. At this rate, they could be profitable within a year.

So, are Demand Media and I best friends? No. They're dead useful, but they definitely have issues, as anyone who has ever worked for them knows. But, the sky is not falling. It remains in place just in case you need it.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Still Alive

I think that was the longest break I've taken from blogging since I started, but my schedule has been so difficult that no other option was possible. Last week, I wrote more than 32,000 words, including two mid-sized projects and most of the last third of a book that is now (mostly) completed. Final edits will be coming back soon, but for the most part I never have to look at the thing again.

I've back on the 'ole freelancing train now, taking care of my PR work and looking at ads in an attempt to avoid the content mill work that pays most of the bills right now. Here's basically what freelance writing ads have to offer:

Generic Ads: We need people to write stuff! We need stuff written, and we need millions of people to write that stuff! If you know what stuff is and you can make words, you can write our stuff. We may or may not pay, we'll tell you after we find out after you sign up and fill out five contact information forms.

Laundry List Ads: We need everything in the world: Literally- whatever it is, we need it. We will sit on our backsides while you will run out business with little direction, writing everything and then marketing it through 225 different social bookmarking and networking sites. You must have a PhD. in douchebaggery and at least 17 years of experience. We don't pay much, but you will get a Zen satisfaction from working for us. Zen!

One Guy in a Million Ads: We need one person to write about purple squash that grow on one specific bank of the Amazon. If you have five years of experience in writing about that squash (the blue ones from the same bank don't count), feel free to send in at least 10 clips that are exclusively about that type of squash. There will be four levels of testing to determine your squash knowledge. Pay is $12 an hour.

Half-Assed Ads: We think we need something written, or maybe we need something else. We're not sure yet. We think that once we get started, maybe in a few weeks, there will likely be money coming in. This is an amazing opportunity! You can get in on the ground floor of whatever this turns out to be! We don't have any money, but if you create the content for our websites, then we will and we might pay you. Imagine the exposure!

In the meantime, I found this:

I write like
Vladimir Nabokov

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!