Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Writing for BellaOnline

If you're a Web writer, chances are that you've considered writing for BellaOnline, or that you thought about it and ran the other way. If you haven't heard of it, here's what it is- a big 'ole site about pretty much everything. It's the "second-largest site for women," according to the owner, and it hires category editors to take on each of the topics. It's not just for innies- outies can also apply to be category editors and write about whatever it is they get hired for.

You don't get paid for writing, per se, but you make money on affiliate sales through the site and can sell stuff through the site's store. Since I rarely make anything on any of it, I assumed no one was reading it. And since no one was reading it, I stopped taking it very seriously long ago. My writing went from being serious and informative in 2007 to being mostly there to amuse myself in 2008 and to pretty much phoning it in by 2009.

Being a giant dork, I either didn't know or forgot, I'm not sure which, that your traffic numbers are available through the huge, complicated admin area. I don't think I'd ever noticed them before until earlier this week. After assuming for the last couple of years that no one was reading it, I actually looked at the numbers a couple of days ago. More than 10,000 people a month are reading these. Seriously. About 10,000 to 12,000+ people every month are reading about fictitious Bob Dylan translation devices and saw me make fun of poor, innocent Art Garfunkel. I kind of want to crawl under a rock right now.

But here's the biggest question- where's all the hate mail? Normally with those kinds of numbers you can expect some regular hate mail. Not only are people not buying through Bella, they don't even care enough to send a little hate mail? Thanks, Bella readers.

Friday, February 19, 2010

SEO Fail

I seem to be good at SEO, but the problem is often that what I choose to write about has a fairly small audience. People who are searching for the stuff I write about can find it, but not many of them are searching. I never choose those trending topics that everyone is supposed to go for in order to get big numbers. It can get frustrating to see useable information not get big numbers because it's not about car chases or whatever it is that's trending right now. So, let's just try a little experiment, shall we?

Twilight is a movie. Twilight is a book. Twilight, right? Have you read Twilight on your Kindle or Blackberry or watched Twilight on your iPhone or iPad? The iPad does exist. You can watch Twilight while holding an iPad with Steve Jobs. Edward Cullen! Edward Cullen is a character, don't you think? I'll bet that Edward Cullen has both an iPod and an iPad. Video game hacks! Aren't video game hacks grand? Edward Cullen from Twilight uses video game hacks on his iPhone while listening to his iPod.

I feel dirty now.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Freelance Writing Roundup

Everyone once in a while I do a round up of what's going on in my corner of freelance writing. Since I am a Web writer and PR specialist, it is inevitably pathetic, but here what's been going on this month so far:

I started with Break Studios. I don't know if they hire outside the U.S., but anything I can do to keep from relying on Demand I will do. The pay is about the same as DS but the hassle factor is supposed to be better. We'll see. You can only grab five articles at a time from them instead of the 20 that I can with Demand, and I did five one night just to see how it will go. It seems like a long lag time for review, but if the hassle level is low, I'm sold.

Went on Atkins. Lost 14 pounds.

Dealt with two horrible, national-news-headline shootings, both within minutes from my house and avoided writing bad poetry about my cynicism and distrust of people. Yay me!

Worked on my book about gardening that is under contract with Atlantic Publishing. The contract isn't great, but it's a print book that will likely be a nice little resume booster. It's been an interesting experience working with them, and I am enjoying working on such an enormous project instead of my usual 500-word bites of knowledge.

Worked super hard on a press release that is so specialized and technical that I have to call engineer relatives every five minutes to figure out how to proceed with different aspects of it. On the bright side, my PR efforts yielded articles in both Popular Mechanics and Design World this month.

Had a query turned down by Dog Fancy. Growl.

On another note, it's Valentine's Day, or it was a couple of hours ago. I am a creature of habit and of odd, drunken fascinations with geeky things. I write all the time, sometimes 12 hours a day, and take little interest in other things. Despite this, I have a spouse who understands it and even supports it all. Happy Valentine's Day, spouse. You are a special person for dealing with all of the idiosyncrasies and weirdness without complaining. When I told you I got in a fight at the Sam's Club last week, you didn't bat an eyelash. Thanks for being as understanding as you are.

Friday, February 12, 2010


I got home from an errand a little while ago, and heard an enormous chorus of police cars when I got out of the car. The last time I heard so many sirens a policeman had been shot, so I was a little concerned about what might be going on. Maybe it was just an accident nearby? Maybe it was a robbery? No dice.

The local university was attacked by a shooter, possibly two shooters, and at least six people were shot. Three have died and several are pretty bad off. That's bad enough- to happen so close to where I live and to have the community rocked by yet another shooting (last week it was a school 15 minutes from me).

But, this particular building is where my spouse attends courses. He was not there at the time, luckily. The campus has always felt pretty safe to me. I have taken courses there before, and I go to regular events there. It's unbelievable that this would happen here- and it's not even some over-stressed student who lost it. A professor? At UAH? I don't understand any of this.

And btw- no student alerts were sent out. There was no student notification of any kind, even when the campus was on lock down. Spouse and friend of spouse, both of whom attend courses in the building, got no email, no text and no phone call. Great job, UAH.

Update: 2+ hours after the shootings, the emails are just now being received.

Update: Amy Bishop. From news reports, no implications, no malice. Just information.

Friday, February 5, 2010

DS and Frustration

If you write for Demand Studios, you know the good and the bad. They are flexible, you can have as much work as you want and the pay is pretty good. They have a lot of types of titles to choose from, and they pay often. However, the frustration level when you deal with them can absolutely and without question drive you over the edge. I often have to take a month or two away from them and do client work because I can't take the frustration level for very long.

If you work for them or have been thinking about it, this is all you need to see:

It's like someone opened a window into my soul.