Category Archives: Writing Communities

Should You Start a Blog?

Advice to Those Who Want to Start a Blog

 

Do you want to start a blog?  I recently read a post by Angie Tolpin, You Don’t Have to Be a Blogger to Be My Friend. That got me thinking about my own blogging experiences, and what advice  I might give someone today who likes to write and may want to start a blog.  Angie’s readers seem to be mostly mothers with children still at home. I am past that. There was no internet for me back in those days, or I might have jumped on the blogging bandwagon then, too.

Should You Start a Blog?
Letter from a Swedish Pen Pal in My College Days

I had always wanted to write, and I satisfied that urge with a journal and by writing to penpals in various parts of the world. That continued through my college days.

After I got married and began to be active in churches as an adult, we led the college group and what I had to say was usually specific to certain friends who had shared their problems with me. So I wrote letters of encouragement, especially to those who were away at college. I also wrote letters to some of my high school students who had graduated and joined the service. There was no shortage of ways to communicate in writing. In the days before social networks, people did actually use snail mail.

What Made Me Finally Start a Blog?

After my 14-year-old son died in 1991, I started a book business for which I did a lot of traveling. It kept me too busy to take on anything else. But after we stopped traveling and I took the business online, I heard that people in business should start a blog. So I did. I wasn’t really passionate about it, and coming up with ideas was hard. It probably wasn’t a good idea to start a blog then, now that I look back. I don’t post to it much anymore because it’s not self-hosted and I can’t monetize it. I don’t have the book business anymore, either.

I had one other blog I started in 2006 that still continues to this day — my gardening blog. It is a more satisfactory way to keep a photo history of my garden to refer back to than the written journals I had kept earlier. I was passionate about gardening, and only one thing kept me from my blog in those days — too much else to do in the garden itself, and the squirrels. After the attacks in which the squirrels destroyed my garden I had little to write on that blog anymore, so I changed the focus.

Something else kept me from the gardening blog for over a year. That something was a new and very profitable writing site, called Bubblews, which was great while it lasted. I started posting my gardening journals there instead of to my blog because I earned more from them there and had more readers.

But one dark day last year Bubblews finally went down, as many of us were sure it would.  I have gone back to my blog to publish my garden journal — when I have time. I couldn’t work in the garden for almost a year because I’d had two surgeries, but I’m now posting again on Barb’s Garden Observations.  The lesson I learned was that if a blog is really important to you, host it yourself and keep it on your own site. My newer blogs are all self-hosted. 

Social Blogging on Medium: A Path to Starting Your Own Blog

Social blogging didn’t exist when I started my first blogs. As far as I know, Bubblews was the first social blogging network. I now use Medium for social blogging. Here’s my Medium profile so you can get a feel for it. I just joined because I heard it was a great promotion tool. I’m not sure it is, but it will help you start writing online if you are new to it. You will make new writing friends. Medium will expose you to new ideas. It is also easy to interact with others there.

I would advise anyone thinking about starting a blog who does not yet have a focus, to join Medium and start social blogging. Why? Because it is a good way to get your feet wet and develop a focus. It’s like test blogging to see if it suits you. You can make contacts for when you start your own blog. You will also communicate with people who don’t necessarily share your values and beliefs.

Learn How to Earn Money on Your Blog

Most bloggers, myself included, begin blogging without a clear plan on how to make it earn for them. If you haven’t started your blog yet, I would recommend you learn how to do it correctly from the beginning. Learn from experienced bloggers who have mastered making their blogs pay off and have the payment proofs to support their claims.

Should You Start a Blog?Recently many of my old friends from Squidoo started talking about how much they were learning in the Pajama Affiliates blogging courses and how their incomes had increased because of it. Since most of those people had made a lot more affiliate income on Squidoo than I ever had, I was impressed. I already knew of the teachers of the course because they had also written on Squidoo with me.

I had known part of what they did to make their money and be successful at affiliate selling, but I never knew how to do it myself. To tell the truth, part of me resisted having to do affiliate sales to support my content writing. But now that those content writing sites where I made my income are gone or paying peanuts.  I need to make the income to cover my blogging expenses and buy some of the extras I want. The blogging course my friends were taking went on sale and I had enough in PayPal to cover it so I signed up.

Instruction is given by video and written summaries. There is a private Facebook group for all those taking the course to ask questions and get help. The group members also visit and help promote each other’s blogs. That in itself is worth what I paid. I’m already learning steps I can take right now to increase the effectiveness of my blogs.

Best of all, Leslie, who teaches the class, is showing me that I don’t have to write spammy blogs to make money. Her blogs offer a lot of information, cleverly presented,  and almost sneak the product links in. The course is often on sale. The best deal is the new all-in-one blogging bundle that has everything you need to know about blogging.  I just signed up for another one myself. 

  Leslie is making thousands of dollars from her blog a month, and I’m lucky to make a hundred a year the way I’ve been doing it. Should You Start a Blog?I just signed up for two more courses, Social Media Marketing and Buyer Keywords and I’m glad I did. These are included in the new course. Find the details and current price for the Affiliate Marketing and Business Bundle here.  You will often find courses on sale.  

 Blogging on Medium

Medium is probably the easiest place to try out blogging.  Follow the link, sign up for free, and start reading what others have written. Search by tag to find posts that may interest you. Follow the people who write posts you like. Highlight parts of those posts that speak to you. Comment on the posts. Any comment you make becomes a new post for you and goes on your profile page, along with your longer posts and passages from posts you have highlighted. Recommend posts you enjoyed to others by clicking the green heart at the end of the post.

You will find people responding to your comments and even starting conversations. This helps you get to know people and some genuine friendships can develop. You will also have people looking forward to your posts and following you so they don’t miss any. These are all people who may later want to read your blog because they feel they know you.

So what do you post? Anything that interests you and has general appeal. Personal opinions and experiences do well. Share information on subjects you know well from your unique perspective.  Use some of your photos to write photo essays. Are you afraid one of your content sites may close? Import posts into Medium, photos and all, with a single click. Save as a draft and publish when you delete from the old host. Just check your work for errors before posting. Many of your readers will be professional writers and bloggers.

Gradually, you will find your writing voice — that style your followers will come to expect from you. You will also begin to see what you seem to be writing about most. That means you are beginning to focus on your passions. It also means the idea for your own blog is in the process of hatching.

Monday Blogs, Link Parties, and Triberr

If you plan to blog, you should start by reading other blogs — a lot of them. You will get ideas on what is possible, themes you might want to use, how others monetize effectively. You will see what about a blog grabs your attention and what makes you click away. I suggest you follow @MondayBlogs on Twitter or search the hashtag #MondayBlogs . It will introduce you to a wide variety of blogs and you can start following those you most enjoy reading and commenting on them. It never hurts to become a familiar face to your favorite bloggers.

You may also want to join link parties after you start blogging.  My blogging friends Janice Wald and Kathleen Aherne are two of the hosts of the Blogger’s Pit Stop link party that starts on Fridays.  It’s another great place to read a variety of blogs and post a link to one of your own posts.

Triberr is another site where bloggers read and help promote each other’s blogs. I’ve covered Triberr at How to Promote Your Blog on Triberr. 

Are You Ready to Start Your Own Blog Now?

By now you should have some idea as to whether you should start a blog. If you seriously want to make money blogging, you will need to monetize your blog. To do that right you will need to host the blog yourself.

I would suggest using SiteGround (affiliate link) as your host if you plan to use a self-hosted WordPress site. Prices are reasonable. I just opened a new domain there and I’m getting my domain name free for life. I opened the account because I was unhappy with a current host for my main site. It was important to find a new host. SiteGround managed the transfer for free. So far their customer support has answered all my questions quickly and easily. Getting my new site installed was a snap.

If you have decided to start your blog, do it now and sign up with the Pajama Affiliates.   I took the Beginner Blogging and Affiliate Marketing Course. It includes a smaller course that helps you get your WordPress Site up and running in a day. I followed the simple directions in the videos to get mine up with a new host.

Do buy the course if you intend to apply what you learn right away. Then do the hard work of making your blog pay off.  You won’t be sorry.  No course is magic, but the Pajama Affiliate Marketing classes will help you.  Do yourself a favor and get the new Affiliate Marketing and Business Bundle now.

Why not start a blog today?

Earthquake in the Online Content and Social Blogging World

Update, February 1, 2016

Since I first wrote this, a lot more shaking has been going on. Bubblews is gone. It just disappeared a few months ago.  People who hadn’t backed up their work had no way to get it. Persona Paper announced at the end of January it will be closing. It is no longer showing ads or issuing coins. They will be paying those who are owed most as long as the money lasts. People are being given notice so they can make copies of any work not yet backed up. The owners of Persona Paper have acted with integrity, keeping members in the loop at all times. I am sorry to see the site closing.

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In the past two months online social bloggers and content writers have been scrambling to make the best of changes in their online world, I among them. Many who had written for Bubblews had their work truncated by the July 15, 2014 site update that eliminated everything written in extra content boxes or photo galleries. On these posts, only the introduction remained.

Squidoo writers were greeted in the middle of August with the news that Squidoo had sold out to HubPages and their work would automatically be transferred there unless they opted out. Many of those affected by this change were still madly editing their ruined posts on Bubblews to try to make sense of them again. Now they had to deal with making their former lenses into work suitable for HubPages. Shortly afterwards, Bubblews took away the ability to edit any post over 24 hours old, leaving a lot of angry writers who could not fix their broken work.

As I personally was trying to make the best of all this, I discovered Persona Paper and joined. It was everything I was wishing Bubblews was – except for the pay. No one could beat what Bubblews was paying. In spite of their lack of respect for their writers’ work, evidenced by what they did to it, in spite of payments taking longer and longer to reach them, in spite of the lousy writing interface, Bubblers kept posting because they couldn’t get paid as much anywhere else.

 

This month  whose writing their worlds on Bubblews find their world there rocking again. First came the announcement that pay would be going down and that those from certain countries would have to wait longer for payment than those from other countries. Then came the news that everyone would have to wait at least two months before they could get paid. They would also only be able to redeem once every thirty days, no matter how much was in their bank. There was another outcry when the number of views posts got stopped appearing.

Then, just this week, Bubblews decided that too many posted recipes had been plagiarized. This led them to say they would no longer pay for recipe posts unless the writer could prove the recipe was their own. They offered no way to present this proof. So most people have decided they will post no more recipes.

The only good news coming out of Bubblews this month is that Bubblers can now delete all those posts the update destroyed, without the financial penalty that used to make deleting bank-breaking.  Now we will also have to delete the ones we fixed before the editing stopped, since Bubblews “helpfully” restored all the text in our extra content boxes last week, including overwriting the edits we’d been able to make. Those posts restored all the obsolete portions we had edited to make them up to date. It restored all the references to photos that the site had deleted. Hardly anyone had used the extra content boxes to include only text. It would have been unnecessary.

Where does this leave Bubblers? Most have decided Bubblews is no longer worth their best efforts, since the site administrators cannot be relied on to leave their work intact. Posts aren’t earning what they were, and residual income is hardly worth mentioning anymore.

I used to make between one and two dollars a day most days, even if I had not posted anything new. Now if I make a new post, I’m lucky to earn a dollar in a day. On October 5, I posted one article, bringing my total number of posts to 841. My bank read $44.17 the morning of October 5. The morning of October 9, without any additional posts, my bank was reading $48.70. I had earned $4.53 in that time.

That isn’t happening anymore. I cashed out on October 14. leaving my bank at zero. By October 15, in the morning, it was reading $.68. Since then I have made two posts. Today my bank reads $5.12. So in the seven days between Ocober 15 and today, October 24, I earned $4.44. That’s an average of $.63 a day. Compare that to the average of $1.13 a day I made before the change with no new posts – all residual income.

CoinsBut what has happened at HubPages is even more dramatic. Between my two HubPages accounts, with no affiliate sales, for this month I’m making only $.22 a day residual income. That is with 137 featured hubs between the two accounts and no new hubs posted this month. Last month those earned $.39 a day. In April, the earnings from only the original account with 81 featured hubs, earned $.43 a day.

If I trace that account through from April 20, 2011, that account has earned an average of $.45 a day, but you must consider that on April 20, 2011, I had only four hubs and during the rest of that month in April, they were averaging $.19 a day. Most of my best hubs were beginning to be written in November of 2011 and the number of hubs did not start increasing much until 2012.

Enter Persona Paper. It’s new. I joined at the end of July. It’s requirements are much easier to meet than those of HubPages. It pays not only for the views on your posts, but also for comments of 30 characters or more which you make on the posts of others. Its threaded comments make real discussions easier than on either Bubblews or Facebook or Chatabout (a pay to post forum.) You always know who is answering whom about what.

What’s most important to me there, though, is that the owners of the site are themselves writers and they respect our work. To prevent spammers, spinners, and plagiarists, they read a sample of your writing before accepting you on the site as a writer. They are also very responsive to suggestions from members and reports of violations.

Their writing interface is almost as good as that on WordPress. You can use bold, italics, and other necessary formatting needed to write in accordance with common usage standards. You can also post multiple photos in posts at the present time, though as individual galleries get more crowded, that feature may not last. I have confidence that the owners will not take away what is there, but the ability to add more at at later date could go away.

But, you may ask, does it pay as well as Bubblews and HubPages? Not yet. When I started at the beginning of August with my first post, I was making an average of .06 a day counting comments. As of today, October 24, I have earned $5.84 and written 128 posts. I now earn an average of ten cents a day when I post. Posts only have to be 500 characters, but I usually write more.

Since I joined, the site has grown as more people are seeing Bubblews as a ship about to sink or a place they no longer enjoy the uncertainty of what will happen to their writing or earnings. While earnings at Bubblews and HubPages are going down, earnings at Persona Paper are heading in the other direction and slowly increasing.

I’m not ready to give up on HubPages yet, since I still believe it’s smart to have many baskets for my eggs.

If you have found some good baskets for content I haven’t mentioned, please tell us about them in the comments. I do moderate comments, but I will let appropriate links be shared to any sites I have not mentioned after I have investigated the sites linked to. I still have a no spam policy.

Photos (apart from those leading to Zazzle) are in he public domain courtesy of http://pixabay.com/

 

The Nitty Gritty of Turning a Lens into a Hub

My writing life on Squidoo was unique. I wrote a lot of lenses to express myself around themes to evoke a mood or combine thoughts, videos, music and photos around a topic. A prime example was a lens called “The Blessings of Rain.”It was revised to post to HubPages when Squidoo sold out to HubPages.

I wish I could show you the unedited version.  I wrote it after a three-day period of mild rainstorms that came after a very parched period of months without rain. I wanted my readers to understand what a blessing the rain had been to the parched county. I included some lighthearted music videos with songs about rain, such as “Just Walking In the Rain,” just after my introduction.  This was followed by an Amazon module with umbrellas for sale, some photos to evoke a mood, a poll on how rain affects the readers, and another music video.

Then I switched the mood to a more spiritual theme by introducing the lyrics to “Joy is Like the Rain” with some photos of rain on a window.  I had put a video of the song there, but YouTube took it off so I had put one of Squidoo’s modules there that would play samples from an album that had the song on it.

From that point on the thoughts, photos, and videos were more devotional in content. The lens  ended with the comment section, as they all do.  I deleted the featured lens module which usually came after it.  HubPages doesn’t offer that as a capsule.

Here’s the best I could do so far from Squidoo to turn this into a hub.  First I had to change almost all the photos. Most had originally come from Photobucket and at a time when they were seemingly not restricted, but they aren’t able to be used commercially anymore. That meant searching my own photos and Pixabay for replacements. The replacements aren’t as effective, since they aren’t animated so you can actually see the rain coming down.  I may have better ones on my home computer when I can access them, but I wanted to put something in as place holders now.

I then had to remove all links to Zazzle products because HubPages doesn’t allow them or have a way to put affiliate link codes into their capsules. One of the hardest things about the overall transition for me is not being able to use Zazzle products as illustrations. Some of my best illustrations come from Zazzle.  I had two modules, one with a couple of posters of people in the rain, and one with rain T-shirts, that served as visual breaks before the poll. I had to eliminate them.

I left the MP3 Amazon module in just in case HubPages might add one as a capsule. It didn’t happen so the song did notsurvive the change. I don’t expect I’ll have a  way to include this important song in a way it can be heard.

I also had to find something to replace Squidoo’s call-out module, formerly known as the black box, which used to be a module by itself but had other former modules offered within it as choices. I had used the black box often in various colors, as a sort of transition quote . I decided to use Quozio to make a replacement for one of these black box quotes.  You can see it above. For Quozio, you don’t need to have a photo of your own. The site provides a choice of many backgrounds and you provide the quote.  It’s actually better than the old black box.

I made the replacement for another black box on Picmonkey, because I wanted to use my own image.  It’s a free online image editor. It produced this for me.

I made this black box replacement with my own photo edited on picmonkey.com
I made this black box replacement with my own photo edited on picmonkey.com

 

Another site where you can add text to your own photo is Share As Image.  They try harder to get you to go pro for a fee, but you can use either a choice of their photos or uploading one of your or choosing a background.  You can see photos I’ve produced from all three sites as featured images on this blog and its sister blog, Bookworm Buffet. You are limited only by your imagination.

The conclusion I have come to after this project of trying to turn “The Blessings of Rain” into a hub is that to really work I’d need to totally rewrite it.  I’m now debating the wisdom of having the lenses transfer over and having two accounts. If I  have only ten suitable lenses or less I may cancel the transfer and rewrite them for the existing account.  There are many, including my best lens, that I will have to put on my own pages.  There is no way I’d be able to turn them into hubs.

Eat. Sleep. Edit. Tshirt
Eat. Sleep. Edit. Tshirt Browse Editor T-Shirts online at Zazzle.com

What problems have you encountered in moving work from content writing sites to other sites or to your own websites?

Sold Out: Checklist for Exiting Squidoo

After spending almost five years as a Giant Squid at Squidoo, like all other Squidoo writers, I’ve found my featured lenses are to be switched to HubPages. Once there, we will have an as yet unstated period of time to bring them into conformity with HubPage’s own Terms of Service.  For Giant Squids that will be a harder task, since we have had more freedom to link outside the site than other Squids.

Since several tasks need to be completed in the next two weeks, I thought I’d make myself a checklist. I’m sharing it with you in case you might also find it useful.

  1. Make new backup copies all all lenses I care about.
  2. Delete any lenses I don’t want to transfer to HubPages from Squidoo.
  3. Complete setting up my HubPages account for BarbRad, since I can’t use my already existing HubPages account as WannaB Writer for the transferred lenses. They have to have their own account.
  4. Edit existing hubs, blogs, and other pieces of work that dealt with information on how to use Squidoo, etc., that will no longer be applicable.
  5.  Change links to the transferred articles as soon as possible.
  6. Start editing the transferring and already transferred lenses into conforming hubs.
  7. Move any lenses I don’t want on HubPages to new homes that suit them better or just kiss them goodbye.
  8. Breathe again.

Have I left off anything I should add to this list?

Meanwhile, if you want a new home for lenses that don’t have affiliate links, you might consider Persona Paper. It is a friendly and welcoming community, but they don’t allow any affiliate links in your articles there.

Photo of vintage alarm clock in public domain courtesy of Pixabay

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.