Category Archives: Writers

Life After Squidoo or Zujava, or Bubblews, Etc

Immediate Actions  after Squidoo Closed

My Squidoo shirt I got for being a Giant Squid has only sentimental value now.
Now this Squidoo shirt has only sentimental value

It’s been almost a year since Squidoo lensmasters received the announcement that Squidoo was closing. They learned that unless they took immediate action, all their work would be automatically transferred to HubPages, a similar site with some very different requirements. On one hand it was a relief to know that the work would not disappear into cyberspace if one did not retrieve it quickly, since many lensmasters had hundreds of articles that had been making money for them. On the other hand, we knew that many of those articles would not meet HubPages’ terms, and they wouldn’t fit those terms even if we rewrote them.

After backing up all content to keep it safe, the next thing was deciding what to do with the content that was not right for HubPages. Income on both HubPages and Squidoo had been going down since Google’s new updates had kicked in. Both sites had also seen less content being posted because there were more competing content sites. One of them, Bubblews, had been paying writers much more for short posts than Squidoo or HubPages paid for a well-researched article that took much more time and effort to write. Many writers had been putting their time where the easy money was and were writing very little new content for Squidoo and HubPages.

Then, at the end of 2014, Bubblews stopped paying those high rates and cut payments for money already earned but not yet paid. They announced that some earned payments would not be made at all. By the end of 2015, the site was gone. It just closed one day without notice. Most of the members moved to myLot, a social discussion forum where former Bubblews members and now Persona Paper writers continue to communicate with friends made on those sites.  Persona Paper owners  announced at the end of January that it would be closing.

Coming to Grips with Changes in the Writing Content Communities

Courtesy of http://pixabay.com/en/smiley-emoticon-question-mark-funny-681575/Most of us were asking ourselves, “Where do we go from here?” Many had already starting writing more at Wizzley and Zujava, but Zujava just closed – earlier than it announced it would. Persona Paper will also be closing soon.

Many of us are tired of moving content from site to site as sites go out of business. Many of us started putting more time and energy into our own blogs and websites. Most of us have one or more individual niche blogs, but some have gone beyond that. I’d like to show you some of the sites these ex-lensmasters have built. They have inspired me and given me ideas for what I might do next. Rather than reviewing each site, I’ll say a few words of introduction and send you to the sites for inspiration. I have found that seeing what others have done is enough to give me new ideas.

Cooperative Websites

Courtesy of http://pixabay.com/en/we-unity-cooperation-together-566327/First there are the collaborative sites where several writers who met on Squidoo (or possibly another site) share a blog or website and each contributes posts or articles to it. The groups are usually small enough to help each other with promotion. Each writer can promote her own affiliates and keep any income made from those links on her own posts. Terms and requirements on different sites will vary.

I am active in one such site: Review This. Several of us write reviews in our own areas of expertise. Currently there are seventeen of us. I believe this site was started by “Sylvestermouse ” Cynthia, since she owns the connected secret website. She kind of stays behind the scenes, promoting the other members’ work as much as her own, if not more. We all appreciate what she has put in place for us and all who help her.

Some contributors are committed to writing one post each week. Others fill in for people who don’t have time to write their posts that week. We read each other’s work and comment on it much as we did when we were on Squidoo.  We share posts we enjoy to social media sites we belong to. We have a private Facebook group where we encourage and help each other when we get stuck. It’s a great system. By working together, our blog posts get more views than they might on an independent blog or even on a content site. Many of the writers have moved work over from content sites and see it getting more traffic than it did on HubPages or wherever else it was before.

This screen shot is copyrighted and used by permission of the creator.

Another collaborative site is Jaquo, an online magazine with several contributors. I have not yet contributed to it for lack of time, but the quality of articles is excellent. I constantly find work there I am eager to pass to my social media followers. You can learn how to be published there at the bottom of their page. I dare you to go there not and find something you want to click on to read. The variety is amazing.

Jaquo is the brain child of Jackie Jackson. She says she was inspired while on a Facebook group, The Writer’s Door (see below), which many of us belong to. She saw many of her writing friends struggling to create their own sites while facing steep learning curves to get the job done. She saw she could help by creating a site for them. All they have to do is email their articles in and Jackie sees they get onto the site. Since she bought the domain on December 2, 2014, it has acquired over 1,300 articles.

I’m sure having all this content brings in more traffic than the content one person could have built alone in the same time. Of course, what you submit is seen by human eyes before being posted, and that is one way the site maintains its quality control. Human eyes are much better than the mechanized screening some content sites have used. Human eyes know if an article is interesting and worth reading as opposed to spun content or spammy writing. Only good writing gets posted. I don’t know how it works, but Jackie says each writer can include affiliate links and even their own Adsense.

Review This and Jaquo have much in common. First there is human quality control. Since most of the writers have known and read each other before, the site owners and other writers can decide to accept a writer as a contributor on the basis of past experience or a writing sample. Since the reputation of a site is affected by the quality of all the work it posts, site owners have to be sure all articles offer readers value.

Another common characteristic of cooperative sites is shared responsibility for content and site promotion. If one only has to post to the common site periodically, each contributor still has time to work on individual sites or blogs. Facebook groups, such as The Writer’s Door, provide meeting places for writers to share ideas and let others know about their individual work so they can cross-promote. This helps everyone.

Lastly, although writers work together on these sites, each is still responsible for producing content that will produce income. These are not revenue sharing sites like Squidoo and HubPages. We need to bring in our own revenue through affiliate selling or back-links to our articles on revenue sharing sites. If we aren’t earning, we can’t blame it on site owners not sharing enough with us. They are giving us the opportunity to have our work seen and read and we alone are responsible for making it earn for us.

 

Multi-Author Sites for Writing on a More Casual Schedule

Copyrighted Screen Shot, used by permission.
© 2013, Spacial Anomaly, used by permission.

Some former members of content sites like Squidoo and Bubblews, which have closed, have started their own sites. Here are some I know about.

Nicole Pellegrini started her site, Spacial Anomaly, in August 2013. to focus on niche topics she felt were being “drowned out” on Squidoo because they could not seem to make the top tiers. She says the site took some time to gather enough content to bring in traffic, but now she’s getting as much or more traffic than she did for her work than when it was on Squidoo. She is now moving work from many sites there. She has opened the site to other authors, and the requirements are similar to those on many of the content sites writers are familiar with. Authors keep all income generated by their affiliate links , as opposed to sharing it with the site owners. You can find out how to join here. Nicole has also begun limited Adsense revenue sharing. You will need to see the site for details.

 

Sites Individual Writers Have Built as Homes for Content Moved from Other Sites

Most of those who were discouraged at the closing of Squidoo hurried to copy and preserve all their best work. The next step was finding a new home for it. Not everyone knew about the collaborative sites, since they were also new. In fact, some weren’t started until writers saw HubPages was not a good fit for their work. They wanted to keep more of their work under their own control. Many of us put more time into new or neglected blogs because we didn’t have any other ideas. Others, with a larger vision of the possible, started their own multi-topic sites. These are ideal for those whose writing has not been concentrated into a few small niches.

Screen shot used by permission.

The first of these sites I came across was Lorelei Cohen’s Lady Mermaid site. It went live May 1, and what Lorelei has accomplished in that time is amazing. The first time I saw it, it blew my mind because it showed me what one writer could achieve. Lorelei has seventeen topic headings as of this writing. Her site is visually appealing, and the articles are quality. One of the first I shared widely was “Feeling Lonely? You Are not Alone.” You might prefer to sample an article on gardening, pets, frugal living, or one of her other topics. You are sure to find something with useful information. This site has articles to appeal to a wide variety of interests.

Nancy Hardin started All Things of Life, another multi-topic site. So far she is writing to ten different topics. The beauty of this is that she does not have to limit herself to that. If she becomes interested in another niche, she can add another subject to the top menu in the WordPress theme she has chosen. One thing that was frustrating on Squidoo and other content sites was that sometimes they did not have the right category for what you wrote. When you create your own site, you can create the categories you need instead of trying to find the closest fit. Take a look at Nancy’s site and sample some of her articles. You are sure to find one that you will want to read, and it will give you a feel for the design of her site and how it works.

Screen Shot used with permission.
Snip from Dreya’s World Homepage

Dreya built her multi-topic site Dreya’s World on the Weebly platform, which is an easy drag and drop site builder. It’s free to use, but you can buy a premium version if you want more features. Most web hosts also have it as a free installation. I know HostGator does. I’ve noticed it in their C-Panel. Dreya built her site to have a place to bring her writing and photography together in a way it’s not always possible to on someone else’s site. She’s off to a great start.

After seeing what these ladies have done with their sites, I’m hoping to start my own multi-topic site one of these days for the content I can’t put on any of my niche sites. Currently, though, I’m preoccupied with getting my Books to Remember site off the ground. It’s a redesign of my old book selling site. Now it’s strictly a book review site with a connected blog, rather than a site to sell book inventory as it used to be. It’s built completely on the WordPress platform. I’ve used the same theme on all my book and writing related sites, including this one,  to bring them all together while retaining the separate identity of each.

Individual Blogs

Many of us had blogs before Squidoo failed. I imagine there are others like me that didn’t put as much effort into them as we did into Squidoo and other content sites. As we see one site after another go down, we’ve taken a second look at those neglected blogs and even started new niche blogs. What you are reading is part of one of those newer blogs. My newest niche blog, to which I’m most committed, is Capturing the Paso Robles Area with My Camera. I love my local area and I take photo walks as often as possible. When I heard about the City Daily Photo blogging network, it looked like a perfect fit for my interests and the time I had available. It requires one post a day, but it doesn’t have to be long. Now I can take one or more photos a day of interesting and beautiful scenes in my community and share them with the world. Links to the City Daily Blogs all over the world are shared on the organization’s site. Each blog is independent, but blogs that meet the requirements get publicity on the network site.

Many former Squidoo members have started or are putting more time into niche blogs. Some blog topics appeal to a wide audience but have a lot of competition. People who write to those more general topics have to work harder to get traffic than those who chose very specialized topics without so much competition. Here are samples of some of the more general topic blogs. Please note that I have received permission from each blog owner whose screen shot I have posted before posting.

Maria Logan-Montgomery’s In the Garden with Maria seeks to answer questions about a topic of wide interest – gardening. Her site is simple and visually appealing with its beautiful photos of her plants and her information-packed posts. She had done much of the planning and writing before Squidoo shut down, and Squidoo’s demise gave her just the push she needed to start publishing what she had written into the blog. She hopes to move some of her hubs there, too, eventually.

Cheryl Patton’s Art on Products blog displays and markets her print-on-demand products. Marketing Zazzle and other POD products is difficult on the remaining content sites. Many don’t allow any affiliate links at all and most allow only limited links, or links only to sites on a certain list. By using her own blog to promote her work, Cheryl can make her own decisions about which links to share and how many is too many. She can also choose her means of displaying her products to the best advantage.

Ruth Cox has many blogs. One of them with wide appeal for dog lovers is Dog Pawsitive Tidbits. From the minute you open the site you will see it’s all dog. Ruth shares great photos of her dog Valentino and the adventures they have together, along with a lot of hints on how to handle dogs and live happily with them. If you have a dog, you will want to check out Ruth’s site. Although Ruth has chosen a popular topic in competition with a lot of other dog blogs, her unique treatment of the topic should win her many readers.

Copyright L Kathryn Grace, all rights reserved; used with permission.
Copyright L Kathryn Grace, all rights reserved; used with permission.

Kathryn Grace has a much narrower niche – sourdough. Her Sourdough Journals come straight from her own baking experiences and experiments with sourdough recipes. She tells us what worked and what didn’t, and it’s all beautifully illustrated with her original photographs. Perhaps I’m partial to this blog because of my own experiments with sourdough, and I can see that Kathryn provides the kind of information that’s hard to find – the things the recipe books often leave out.

Another blogger using a narrow niche is Susan Kennedy with her Country Porch World. Just visiting her site is relaxing. She shows you all you need to know about making your porch appealing, from the furniture to the wind chimes. You’ll want to plop yourself down in a comfortable chair and wait for someone to hand you a glass of cold lemonade. Beverly Owens’ Review of Country Porch World appears on Review This. Reading it will acquaint you with both sites, and you will see how different the sites are from each other. I have learned a lot about how I want my own sites to look just by visiting a lot of other sites.

Beverly Owens has her own narrow niche site – Native American TotemsDiscovering the medicine and lessons learned from the spirits of animals and all living things. Her simple design makes it easy to find her posts on the topics she writes about. Her most recent post shows what she learned from an earthworm while she was gardening.

The Possibilities are Endless.

I hope you have enjoyed this exploratory tour of the many ways people have moved work that was once published on Squidoo, HubPages, or other content sites, to new homes. I hope you now have some new ideas about what to do with your own homeless content. You can start your own blog or website, join an existing cooperative site, or grab a group of trusted writing friends and begin a collaborative site of your own.

If you are just beginning, decide which will work best for your content and make a plan. Decide how much time you have to commit to a new project. One needs to commit more time in the beginning stages of a blog or website than will be necessary  later on. You need to get a lot of content up before it’s wise to start monetizing with ads. Probably few people except some family or friends will read your first posts. But if you stay committed and put in the necessary time, your readership will grow and Google will find it. Here’s some helpful information to  help you get started with your own blog: Should You Start a Blog?

When you go it alone, you will need to spend more time in promotion than you may be used to if you have only posted to writing communities like Squidoo before. Each writing community has a potential audience built in and you can access it by making friends or connections. WordPress.com and Blogger also have ways to make connections with other bloggers on the same platform. If you have even one WordPress.com hosted blog, you can tie into some useful plug-ins for your self-hosted WordPress blogs, as well as join their network.

Whether you are hosting your own site or tapping into an existing site owned by someone else, be sure to join one or more social media groups of content writers or bloggers to keep current and for mutual support and promotion. Facebook and Google+ both have many groups you can choose from. It is useful to join at least one group where you don’t know most of the other people because that expands your potential reach.

None of us has time to keep up with everything that may affect our work or income. We need to be eyes and ears for each other. We need to share articles we like written by other bloggers. We can remain independent and still work together for the good of all of us. Let’s do it.

Persona Paper Still Alive but in Transition

Update: Persona Paper is in transition. It will soon be under new administration. Currently there is doubt as to whether it will become a revenue sharing site again.  Most of this post is now historical. 

 

I am a pioneer of sorts when it comes to exploring start-up sites. I often sign up for new social networks that show promise, but they don’t always live up to the promises.  The  owner of Zurker, who had hoped to create the new Facebook, got discouraged and closed his site. Scrazzle,  which wants to be the new Twitter, still survives.  Someone built each of these social networks, hoping people would come. Not enough did come to make Zurker successful. It appears Scrazzle is struggling, even though it has possibilities There’s a lot to like there but I keep forgetting to go there. I notice a many self-pubished writers are there.

Now I’m pioneering again. I have discovered a fairly new community of content writers and bloggers who like to post short (or long) articles or observations and earn a few pennies as others read them. Content providers aren’t earning much yet, but I have a feeling this site will grow.  This new site is Persona Paper. There’s a lot to love about it.

Like many content writers, I have been discouraged about writing at Squidoo  (now sold out to HubPages) and Bubblews lately.  Bubblews’ new format change has broken at least half my posts by removing all but one photo from my photo essays.  The best writers at Bubblews,  the ones who used the extra content boxes that made photo essays possible, were hit the hardest, since everything in those boxes disappeared overnight in the new update to the site’s format.  (July, 2014) As of January, 2015, Bubblews is paying almost nothing, when it decides to pay at all.

Persona Paper, however is strong where Bubblews has been weak. The post I referenced above talks about those strengths. I see many other frustrated Bubblers discovered Persona Paper before I did. We all love it there. There is a special sense of community when a site is new. Persona Paper members have that pioneering spirit, the owners are responsive to member needs, and the writing editor is wonderful. I can again write photo essays without having to stuff my articles with polls (though I can post one there), videos, maps, etc.  We just write, link and illustrate with photos we have the right to use. We get to post our work without having to post a lot that came from somewhere else.

Many are most curious about the money to be made. Right now, not much. I speak after only two days of being approved to post. (Yes, your first post is sent with your application to join. It is  read by a human to make sure you can write like a literate person in English.  That’s true no matter how fat your writing portfolio is, whether you’ve won writing contests, whether you are published, whether you are a former Giant Squid.)

So far I have published six articles at Persona Paper. I have been there since Sunday night, commenting and getting acquainted. I have so far only sixteen followers and have made twenty cents. I cannot use any affiliate links in posts there. But thoughtful comments I make on the posts of others earn me a little. And I get twice as much as that if someone views my post.

As I post more and acquire more followers, I expect to increase my earnings to at least what HubPages is paying me, and I won’t have to wait until I accumulate $50 to get my earnings. Persona Paper will pay after I reach $20.  If you want to connect to some great people and are willing to support a new site and let your earnings grow with it, please join with my referral link and start looking around while you wait for posting privileges. You will only need to have the first post approved unless you do something you shouldn’t.  Update: I have corrected this with information  about recent changes at I Received My First Persona Paper Payment Today.

 

I am not very active on HubPages these days because I’m so busy on other sites making corrections. and editing.  That’s why I’m thankful for anything they currently give me, which so far this week has averaged 41 cents a day.   I have only 90 hubs, and nine of them are snoozing, waiting for more activity to become visible to Google again. But at least a direct link will result in a visitor not being turned away.   I still l love HubPages as a writing platform when I want to write serious content and need their bells and whistles and want to use a referral link.

If you enjoy writing and have time to socialize with others who like to write content, or even books,  Persona Paper is for you. I urge you to join and help build a site which may someday pay you back for your efforts. You will be in good company, make new writing friends, and gradually earn some dollars you won’t get by doing your socializing on Facebook.  It only takes 500 characters to make a post (not counting spaces and punctuation.) Spammers don’t survive there, and those who only come to try to scam the system will never be seen. It’s a refreshing change from Bubblews in that respect. Best of all, the owners have shown that they respect the writers by keeping communication open, taking suggestions seriously, and creating a great platform.

Annie Dillard As Writing Model

Immersing Myself in The Writing Life by Annie Dillard

 

Annie Dillard lived on my bookshelf for years before I got around to reading  what she had to say. Although I don’t remember what motivated me to open her book, I finally did. I must have seen a quote from Annie Dillard while reading the blogs of others and I promised myself I would read her. My journey into her books started with The Writing Life about three weeks ago. I wanted to learn more about how to write. The quote in the photo above comes from The Writing Life, which I finished last night.

In The Writing Life Dillard states that “The writer studies literature, not the world.” The point she was making was that only as we let literature shape us, can we maybe begin to shape literature.

Dillard had obviously observed the world, at least the world of nature, carefully, as even the first chapter of has shown me. She warns us that we should carefully choose what we will read, since that is what we will write. If we would write literature, we must read it. If we would write poetry, we must read it. If we want to even blog, we must read other blogs.

Exploring Tinker Creek With Annie Dillard as Guide

After finishing The Writing Life,  I began to read Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, which won a Pulitzer Prize. Unlike many of the books I’ve been reading and reviewing, this one requires slow reading. I keep a notebook and pencil within arm’s reach. It’s not normal for me to study a book this way, but there is too much for me to grasp unless I take notes and write quotes.

It’s important to study Dillard’s use of words and the way she constructs the sentences she spends so much time writing. I use the notebook to record my observations as I read, as well as  some examples of her effective use of words. As I continue to study the book I will try rewriting her ideas in my own words. Benjamin Franklin learned to write by copying the ideas of others and trying to rewrite them, without looking, in his own words.

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek is not a book most people would enjoy. It is a book of exploration, heavy with ideas. As Annie explores Tinker Creek, she compares herself not to a scientist, but to an infant exploring his environment, bewildered by all he sees, trying to figure out his world and where he fits into it. She describes it this way on page 12: I walk out; I see something, some event that would otherwise  have been utterly missed and lost; or something sees me, some enormous power brushes me with its clean wing, and I resound like a beaten bell. 

 Annie Dillard As Writing Model

This echoes what I feel when I sit down to write. I want to reveal to others something they might utterly miss were I not to write it down. But first I must catch sight of it myself as my spirit interacts with what I see in the natural world and I perceive a new truth or relationship to a previous observation.

Walks with My Camera Help Me Observe

Annie walks, and so do I. She observes much more than I do, and she is much better at putting what she sees into words. Walking exposes one to nature as nothing else does. When we walk we slow down to a speed that allows us to see. 

 Annie Dillard As Writing Model
Taken at Alice Keck Park in Santa Barbara, © B. Radisavljevic

I take photo walks with my camera in my hand. Somehow that camera helps me see more, since I continually see photos in my head – single shots that force me to concentrate on my subject in detail. The photos also help me recall the details when I want to write. Walking is one way I cure writer’s block when it dulls my senses and sucks my motivation to write from me. I cannot take a walk without observing something in a way I’ve not regarded it before.

My Reading Goals

I plan to spend much more time reading Annie Dillard. I probably will never write as well, but I can learn something by Annie’s example that will help me improve.There is much to use as a model in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. 

I will be buying the book so I can mark it up as I read. Studying a pro will help me discover the shape and style of my own contribution and bring it into being. Meanwhile, I will practice. And I will continue to read The Writing Life.  If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend you get a copy.

How did you discover your writing style or voice?

IMMERSING MYSELF IN THE WRITING OF ANNIE DILLARD

***

A Writer in Search of a Book Idea

I’ve been following the pages of other book reviewers who blog, and I came across a review of Derek’s Revenge by Mac Black written by Rosie Amber.  I haven’t read the book, but her review begins like this: “Derek Toozlethwaite is a journalist in Newingsworth who is trying to write a book. So far he has failed to find a suitable subject for his book….”

Many of us would dearly love to write a book. More and more people are actually doing it now that they can self publish. Some of these people have a book inside them screaming to be written, and those writers live inside their books long before they enter them onto their keyboards. Their books nag them until they are written

Others, like Derek, know they want to write a book, but they have no idea what sort of book they will write. Perhaps I’m waiting for a book to rise up within me and demand to be written, but as yet it hasn’t. I can’t imagine writing any other way, because I need passion to write. I simply know my book, if it ever happens, will be nonfiction. I suspect it will have to do with nature, possibly of a devotional nature.  I feel the faintest stirring, but for now blogging and writing on content sites satisfies my writing urge. I have a long way to go to develop my craft so it will be ready if or when I become pregnant with a book.

Which type of writer are you? One who wants to write and goes looking for book ideas? Or one who is impelled to write a book which is already lurking in your mind and trying to take over? Or is there another way to approach book writing I haven’t considered?

 

 

What is a Writing Life?

 

Each writer’s life is different,  but Annie Dillard describes accurately the process we all go through in her book The Writing Life
.  Writers are constantly building with words, and then demolishing what they have built to create a more desirable piece of work. We ride waves of inspiration and translate them on our keyboards or notebooks. And then we get cold water dumped on us when we realize we need to delete and rewrite.

Living the writing life means that all else I do in life  contributes material for writing. I always learn and  observe as I live out my roles as wife, bookseller, photographer, cook, gardener, and the rest.  I write nonfiction exclusively, with an occasional bit of poetry. What I do, where I go, and those I meet often turn up in my articles, since I’m always asking myself which of my interactions or activities someone else would find entertaining, informative,  or thought-provoking.

The writing life is a curious life. I often ask questions such as

  • What if?
  • What else?
  • Why?
  • Why now?
  • Why not?
  • What is she thinking?
  • What is it?
  • How did it get there?

My writing life is one with plenty of solitude. It takes time alone to think, to reflect, to read, and, of course, to write. Perhaps others can write with people nearby. I can’t. I need uninterrupted time to organize my ideas and get them written. I also need quiet.

Quote: One can write in solitude, but not in a vaccumMy writing life is  a reading life.  One can write in solitude,  but not in a vacuum. Conversations and books provide ideas for me to interact with and build on.

My photographs are also an important component of my writing life. The camera lens often shows me what my eyes don’t .  My photos often suggest topics I hadn’t considered writing on, and motivate me to learn more about what I have captured with my camera.

Of course, that one thing all writers need is time to transfer their ideas into writing.  I am learning to be flexible and see interruptions and unscheduled activities that take me away from my computer as opportunities to learn something new I might be able to write about.

How do you handle interruptions in your writing life?