Freelance Writing Woes

Only one post on a Monday, which is somewhat unlike me, but I have a good reason. My main computer is down, and I’ve spent most of the day working on it, trying to get it to reboot. Computers; ugh.

Computer Book
Jennifer Chernoff via Compfight

Then again, y’all have read about when I first took my computer to the computer guy and the subsequent visit with him, then again when I was trying to fix my computer and inadvertently deleted all my files while trying to reinstall Windows, then luckily being able to recover all my files. Computer problems are nothing new for me, and I’m still having problems with my computer even now, so I’m on the laptop writing this post as the computer works itself through another issue that I’ll probably write about at another time.

A few days ago, in a comment on one of my posts, I said that I’d love to find a writing gig or two and make some money off that. Well, putting my mind to it, I decided to do some research online to see if I could find someplace where someone was really looking for writers.

I figured freelance writing was the way to go as far as my search term. It came up with over 4.5 million websites; that should have given me a nice grove to pick from. Instead, it turned out to be filled with guppies and nothing else.

First, I’m not highlighting any of the pages I’m going to mention except one. They don’t deserve any links, good or bad, from me because, it seems, even the freelance writing field can be filled with scams, or less than perfect situations.

The first one I went to was freelancewriting.com, which seemed to make a lot of sense to me. It had jobs galore listed. However, it turned out to be mainly categories leading to other sites, which was gravely disappointing.

Starting to write
DAVID MELCHOR DIAZ via Compfight

It got worse when I checked out a couple of the sites that it was linking to for freelance writing gigs. Two of them, online-writing-jobs.com and writingbids.com, were just more direct versions of the first one I mentioned. Instead of them having writing jobs, they linked to jobs listed in other places around the country. Many of the jobs these sites linked to were obviously scraped, because the jobs they were highlighting were from Craigslist.

I decided, since I was on this road, to look at the jobs on Craigslist. A couple of them appealed to me, so I sent both of them email to find out more.

One of them turned out NOT to be a writing gig at all, but some kind of odd deal where you go online and fill out those surveys you usually see on some of the big sites, where they promise you things such as cameras and the like, do everything to get whatever it is they’ll eventually give you, then you sell it to him for $20 and he gets to resell that item on eBay. Not quite a scam, but easily not worth any real person’s time.

The other was indeed looking for writers, but “free” writers, taking the word “free” at face value. Every other listing on Craigslist was, well, less than forthcoming once you clicked on the ad. Now, I didn’t check out every major city, but I did go through ads in my local area and NYC. Very disappointing.

I actually did find one site where someone could write something, but I was kind of disappointed with it also. It’s called Helium, and they’re more of a news site than an actual writer’s site. They do have a section where some people are looking for articles, and the pay ranges from $10 to $200, so I felt it was worth a look.

Even though I ended up submitting an article, there were two problems with this site. One, there aren’t a lot of requests for articles, which is why I could only find one I could submit to. Two, these people request multiple articles for a short period of time, and the only people who know whether or not their article is used is if you get paid.

How does one prove that someone got paid? I don’t know, but the article I wrote, which had to be at least 950 words, was for a shot at $60; not earth shattering, but it would have been interesting. Overall, I’d rather get at least .10 a word, but it was an experiment (I wrote a followup on Helium… it’s not good…).

It would seem that the world of online freelance writing is suspect at best, and hardly the best place to find any work. What one can try to do, though, is go to the Warrior Forum, possibly some other internet forums, after writing a package of articles, and try to market them there. They frown on new people coming in and submitting articles for purchase without at least participating on the forum for a little while. But that gets one into the business of Public Label Rights (PLR), something discussed in the book 20 Ways To Make $100 A Day Online.

There you go. If you’re looking to be a freelance writer, find another way to do it other than looking for websites or Craigslist. I hope I’ve just saved someone major disappointments.
 

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Another Blog? Another Website?

So there I was, minding my own business while reading Garry Conn’s post where he Adsense questions from his commenters, who were asking about placement and such on their sites, when he said something to one of them that got me thinking again.

Rising Into the Sun
Dave Edens via Compfight

Actually, he said two things. The first thing he said to someone is that he felt it was better to have three different blogs with one post a day than one blog with three posts a day. The second thing he said was that there are some blog niches that just won’t draw the types of visitors needed to make money on either Adsense or any other product, and one of those niches was internet marketing.

His thought was that anyone in internet marketing already knows a bunch of stuff, and probably owns a lot of stuff, and also is already hosted somewhere and selling something, so if you give them a tip, they’re less likely to buy what you’re selling, but definitely not going to click on your Adsense ads.

My head has been hurting ever since, because there are a lot of truths in his statement. As I wrote in my post on rethinking Adsense, I’d been thinking that having more than one Adsense block on the side of my blog was a bad thing, especially since the blog generated almost no income from Adsense, and that I was thinking about replacing one of those blocks, which, for those of you who stop by often, I’ve done up there at the top left. The first two wouldn’t necessarily be common to the thrust of this blog, although the first one is an affiliate program of it’s own.

I started thinking, and I’ve been thinking about it all day, even while reading and commenting on a lot of blogs. It’s not the concept that’s bothering me, mind you. It would be easy enough to start another blog, or even another website, as I do have plans for that, especially as I’m seeing the kind of success that my site Medical Billing Answers gets with Adsense.

The problem is what else could I write about, that interests me, that would keep people coming back for more. Not only that, but just how many things are there that I could consistently write about? I go back to my own blogging tips, where I say that one should think ahead about picking a niche that they won’t run out of anything to say, and thus far, I’ve already picked the two niches that I know something about, even if I’m not overly successful in one of them (but I’m going to get there).

I figure it has to be about me if I’m going to write the blog. I could do what some people recommend, that being go to article submission sites and use someone else’s content, but that’s not my style.

I could set up a scraper site; nope, not happening. I could pick a niche that’s popular, then spend my days researching different stories on those topics and write about it, but if it’s something I really don’t care about, where would my credibility be? And y’all know I’m all about credibility.

A website would be much easier. I don’t think there’s a topic in this world I couldn’t do some research on and write a 20,000 page paper on it. That would give me 20 initial pages for a website, all credible information that’s been researched, and I could put it up and then go away, worrying about adding one new page a month, and it would probably be fine. But do I really want to do that?

Consternation is my friend right now, because obviously I have three choices. One, create a new website. Two, create another blog. Or three; stay right here and keep working on it only, adding more and more content and working towards becoming an authority on so many things that people will finally realize they absolutely must come here to learn what they need to learn, buy whatever they need to buy, and generally just have fun. What say you? Will a little bit of fun, courtesy of the Muppets, help you help me out? 🙂


https://youtu.be/szcLd2y1hME

 

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Reserve Index

I have written about this pdf file, which you can download, called the Reserve Index, on my business blog a few times, and thought I should introduce it here because there are different readers for this blog than that one.

road-adventure

It’s a self evaluation form to help you determine just how comfortable you are with your life and ideas, based on the questions, of how you can improve your life even further for your peace of mine. Some people seem to be scared of self evaluation; y’all know I’m not one of those people.

The first time I took this test, I only scored 8 out of 100+ possible points, which was disheartening. A year later, I was able to mark off 27, which was a significant improvement. Then, a couple of months ago I took it again and only managed 18 positive points. The scary thing is that I passed it out to a number of my friends, and only one of them, when I originally took it, scored higher than I did. That’s pretty sad.

The test consists of six regular categories and one bonus categories, basically giving you the opportunity to write in something that you feel improves you life that hasn’t already been addressed. Not all of the questions will apply to you as far as your happiness goes. For instance, there was a point about multiple vacations out of town, and that’s something that would never interest me, so I’ll never get that point.

I’d like you to take the Reserve Index test, evaluate yourself, and, if you feel comfortable enough, come back here and tell us how you did and how you felt about where you place. Come on, you have nothing to hide!
 

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Planning For Building A Commerce Website

Let’s get this out of the way; I have Spidey senses. Yup, that’s right, I’m the kind of guy who can meet someone or talk to them on the phone and pretty much know what’s coming. I’m not Kreskin, but I sometimes amaze myself on how accurate a strong feeling I get very early comes to fruition later on.

website ideas
Sean MacEntee via Compfight

Thus was the case when, yesterday, I got a call from someone who wanted to talk to me about the possibility of my creating a website for them. When people call you about the possibility of contracts, usually you’ll get that little spark of interest (okay, big spark of interest) and you become animated, even when you’re trying to stay in control of yourself.

In this case, within about 10 seconds, I knew he wasn’t going to be a buyer. He hadn’t stated it, but the Spidey senses picked up on it. Still, I went ahead and made an appointment to meet him for breakfast this morning at Denny’s; not that I necessarily feel Denny’s is the best restaurant in the world, but it was a convenient place for both of us, plus I knew they’d always have tables available.

I met the “potential” client, and I kind of knew what was coming. For the next 90 minutes, we talked all sorts of things, mainly website things, but he wasn’t really listening. He had his ideas and thoughts on things, but none of it had to do with what I’d tried to tell him as far as steps were concerned.

When he got around to asking about price, I tried telling him that he had a lot of work to do as far as deciding how he wanted his layout, what he wanted to do, etc. Then I gave him a price, and at that point he started quoting me prices from other websites that he’d been visiting, and of course they were all lower than what I charge. He even gave me the domain names so I could check them out later, which I took because I always like looking at websites, even of people who do what I do, as a point of comparison.

I probably need to learn to charge for this kind of access to my time, even on a Saturday. I gave him 90 minutes of consulting that I’m sure he’s not going to use even 10% of. It was a major waste of my time; at least he decided he didn’t want to eat anything, so I only had to pay for my meal. He was a nice guy, and we talked about a couple other things, so it wasn’t a total waste. But I could have used that time for other, more productive things.

Pick me
Aftab Uzzaman via Compfight

By the way, I have checked out the two websites he told me about, along with the pricing. My thought on the site going in, that he said would build him a total website, with everything he wanted, for only $500, was that they’d start off with a template that he’d have to use. Instead, what they offer are website packages based on the number of pages you want, and, based on what they’re showing as examples of their work, they’re not going to be able to give him what he wants for the prices they’re quoting. He saw a low price, but without understanding exactly what his needs are, which I tried to tell him, he’s not going to end up with what he wants.

I’ll charge to go back in and fix things, which I’ve done on a couple of occasions, including some optimization, but it’s so much easier to work on getting the whole thing correct the first time since, as with the project I highlighted above, I just might have to go in and recode things. The other site was only a hosting site; nothing much more to say about that.

Looking to cut corners on price won’t do you a lot of good if you can’t get what you want. If you’re not sure what it is you want and someone is offering you advice, especially free advice, usually it’s a good thing to do more listening than talking, unless they ask you a specific question.

I definitely need to learn to start charging something for my time, in advance, if I think it’s going to go long because, as a consultant, I believe I offered some very good and specific advice. I could have told him everything he needed to hear in 30 minutes and been done if he would have only listened; if that was free time, I wouldn’t have minded so much.

He also took 3 calls during that meeting. I would bet I’ll never hear from him again, but there’s no way he could ever tell anyone that I didn’t give him superior information; I’m like Joe Dimaggio in that regard. Reputation has to always be maintained, especially when someone recommended you.

Enough of that; I know what you’re asking me: “What did you tell him?”

I’m not going to recount the entire conversation, because we’ll never get out of here, and I’ve already been accused of writing some very long posts. Here are the basics if you’re going to have a commerce website:

* Realize that, at the very least, you need to have an idea of what color you want the background and fonts to be

* You need to list how you want your products to be aligned. For instance, if you’re selling shoes, do you want a page of all blue shoes, all size 7 shoes, all Hush Puppies (only brand of shoe I know off the top of my head), designer shoes, sneakers,… in other words, how do you want to categorize your inventory

* How do you want your inventory to show on a site: big or small images; 4, 8, 16, etc, number of images on a page; rotating images on a page; descriptions on each item or one major description for each page

* Is your inventory replaceable, or are you selling one of a kind items

* How you hope to price your items; will each item have a flat rate; will you offer coupons or discounts based on different criteria

* How are you hoping to market your site, or how are you hoping to use it

imag0232

These are the things I told him he needed to think about before moving forward with a plan on wanting a commerce website; he didn’t write any of it down, which is why I’m thinking he’s not going to get what he wants. If you think of these things first, then it’s easier to talk to someone about building your commerce website for you, or even for you to build your commerce website yourself if you have the knowledge on how to get it done, because everything else can be discussed on the back end.

I also told him two other important things that don’t necessarily need to be discussed up front, but are very crucial:

* One, who’s going to write the content for the site. If you as the client write some of the content for your own site, it’s much easier for the person creating the site to either just plug in what you wrote or, if you have someone trying to optimize your site, it’s easier to optimize and alter something else that’s already written. If the website creator has to do it, you then impact number…

* Two; pricing for building websites is always based on time. If someone tells you they can build you a website in a couple of hours, it probably means they already have templates available, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. However, if you want custom websites, all the variables you might want adds to the time it takes to build one. I actually wrote an article on whether people should have a website that talks about some of this, along with an outline of things one should consider.

I’d love to hear other views on this concept of planning before one builds a website. I can honestly say that I’ve done that for all my websites except one, and right now I’m in the process of thinking about how I can modify that website so it’ll start doing for me what I was always hoping it would do. I wish I’d had someone who could have given me even 30 minutes before building that one; oh well,…
 

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World Diabetes Day – My Story

Today, November 14th, 2008, is World Diabetes Day, something I initially mentioned when talking about National Diabetes Month. Each year, millions of adults and children learn that they’re diabetic; some don’t learn it until they’ve done serious damage to themselves. Being aware of changes in your body that you can’t explain and not being afraid to find out what might be going on could help you avert major problems later in life. I am a diabetic, and I’ve been diagnosed for 11 years. I’d like to tell you my story.

The Pincushion Effect
duisburgbunny via Compfight

Eleven years ago, I was having the best and the worst year of my life. I got married in May of 1997, my first and only marriage, and I’ve had nothing but a great time ever since. In 1997, I took the very first vacation of my life, which was the week after I got married; man, that was a long time before taking a vacation, but my dad never took a vacation until he was in his 50’s; guess I’m a slacker.

Eleven years ago I also had breast surgery to remove a lump that was causing me pain. It wasn’t cancerous, and I have no idea where it came from, and I’d never even thought about the possibility of it being cancerous, but it was my first surgery ever. And I got it approved and paid for by the insurance company; talk about how knowledge will help you achieve things that others might not know about.

Eleven years ago, a few days after my 38th birthday, I was driving back to work from lunch in another town about 10 minutes from the hospital I was working in at the time. I had a co-worker with me, and we were going through a construction zone. In a couple of minutes, I was pulled over by a police car. The officer came to the car and said I was speeding through a work zone. I said that I knew what the speed limit was and wasn’t speeding, but he said the speed limit was reduced in that area. I said I never saw a sign, and my co-worker said there was a sign that I must have missed. I took the ticket and continued driving back to work, but I did notice that I could barely read any of the signs.

That wasn’t the first day, however. I’d noticed it most of the time for a few weeks while driving home from work. I lived over an hour away from where I worked, and it wasn’t a major highway that I drove on, so there weren’t a bunch of signs, and rarely much traffic. Yet, I noticed that I was having vision problems. I’d mentioned it to my wife, and said that it was only when driving home in the evenings; I never had the problem in the morning. So, on the day I drove home after getting the ticket and mentioning it to her again, she said we should head over to the ophthalmologist to have him take a look.

Diabetes! 217/365
Dennis Skley via Compfight

Talk about serendipity. I had gone to the same place, Sterling Optical, for about 18 or 19 years, and I’d had this same guy looking at my eyes for at least 13 of those years. My prescription hadn’t changed in at least 10 years, and I’d just had an eye exam a month before I got married. So, it was easy for me to walk in and have him take a quick look. He didn’t like what he saw, and said my vision had changed drastically from the last time I was there, and his conclusion immediately was that I might be diabetic.

The breath caught in my throat at his words. Not that I was overly surprised, because it ran in my family, but because out of all my relatives who’d gotten it, I possibly was now the youngest to get it. I figured I had at least six or seven more years before I had to think about it; now it didn’t look that way.

He recommended that I see my primary care physician, which was slightly problematic. I had never selected one because I hadn’t been to the doctors in many years. The last time I’d seen a doctor was 11 years earlier (that #11 pops up all over the place lol); typical American male in that regard, even though I’d had some issues that I probably should have seen a doctor for.

I was raised in a different time; you only went to doctors when your mother took you, when you broke something, or when you were on death’s bed; that was the rule at the time. My wife wanted me to go to a doctor, but I took a detour step first. Since I worked in a hospital and the emergency room was right behind my office, I went in there the next morning and talked with the physician assistant about it. He took a quick glucose test, saw that my number was just under 300, and told me I had to see a doctor; if it had been 50 points higher he’d have had to admit me.

That was that. I called this one doctor with whom I had a cordial relationship with, he took me in, diagnosed me, and started me on the first round of what would become regular check ups and visits with someone about diabetes, including education. Though I’m not the best patient in the world, I do know how to take care of myself and how I’m supposed to eat, and I follow it more often than I don’t follow it, which is a good thing.

Within a week my glucose came down, which was a good thing otherwise I couldn’t have had my surgery, and over the course of the last eleven years I’ve been pretty good for the most part. If they hadn’t changed the high limit from what it was when I was diagnosed I’d be considered as almost perfect for nine of of the eleven years.

As time has progressed, I have had to go on medication, and presently take two different pills a day and two shots of insulin, which I started a year ago on November 2nd. I’m not considered dependent, as it turns out there are different variations of insulin, but it’s helped me boost what the pills can’t do on their own. If I can drop some weight, I could probably get off insulin; but, as some of you know, that’s not quite as easy as I wish it was.

The main point of this story is that everyone needs to pay attention to symptoms that may not necessarily be what you might think are diabetic symptoms. My mother noticed my dad’s diabetes because he started losing a lot of weight, which he himself didn’t notice. I’ve met people who noticed it because they were having numbness in their limbs, and many people notice something wrong when they’re going to the bathroom all the time, or constantly thirsty. Here’s a link to many of the symptoms of diabetes, things you should be looking at if you notice any of them occurring with you or your friends and family members. Caught early, at least you have some kind of fighting chance.

There, my contribution to World Diabetes Day. If you get a chance, check out this interesting post on the day, with videos no less.
 

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