Category Archives: Writing

The Bubblews Bubble Has Finally Burst

Soap Bubbles, CCO, public domain.
Soap Bubbles, CCO, public domain.

After three years, Bubblews has shut down. A visit to the site shows  only a brief announcement that Bubblews  can no longer stay in business with  what they earn from the ads they  show.  I’m not surprised. I expected it. That’s  why I haven’t wasted any more time there since the beginning of the year.

If you  wrote on Bubblews and don’t know how to find your Bubblews friends, I suggest you go to myLot. Many people found their way to Bubblews when  the old version of myLot stopped  paying. Most of them have returned since it came  back under the original ownership and started paying again. I noticed many new people there  from Bubblews today. Connect with me at myLot and you’ll find most of the old timers among my friends. Just click on their profiles to  follow them and get acquainted fast.

MyLot pays a few pennies a day  just for interacting with  other myLotters in the discussions that interest you. You can also  start your own discussions. It’s an easy site to visit and relax with friends while  watching your pennies add up. For more information on using myLot, be sure to read the blog post by @owlwings,  one of the most knowledgeable members. You will   also want to  follow him.

How do you feel about the demise of Bubblews? I think I’m relieved that I no longer have to worry about deleting my posts one my  one. I lost almost  $20 in unpaid earnings, but many lost more than I did. Now I’m wondering which will be the next site to close.

I just revised my Hub that Reviews Bubblews to reflect on what we can learn from what happened there: What Can We Learn from the Fall of Bubblews?

What Happened to BlogJob?

What is BlogJob?

BlogJob is a social networking community. One can make friends, socialize, and discuss important topics with no minimum number of characters required. These discussions can take place in groups and in forums, as well as on  one’s wall.

Pro and Cons of BlogJob

BlogJob is more user-friendly than Facebook and tsu, though loyal fans of either of those sites will probably stay put even if they also join BlogJob. Facebook still offers groups I would not want to leave because they are important in my writing promotion. And, of course, family members and old friends aren’t likely to leave Facebook either. BlogJob is more of a blog host and networking community for Bloggers.

When I joined Blogjob last year, I thought it was a great place for new bloggers to start. One can write multiple blogs there with a WordPress interface. Bloggers can choose between hundreds of themes and customize them. One can use affiliate links with no problem, as well. There is an interface for putting ads on your blogs to monetize them.

There are some limitations on using third-party interfaces such as Easy Product Display and Amazon Native Ads. They just don’t work because of underlying coding problems. You don’t find out about the missing functions a WordPress user is used to until your site is built and you try to use them.

New bloggers used to be able to earn reward points  that could later be redeemed for gift cards or money in one’s PayPal account for each blog post. Those points combined with those one earned for the networking and commenting one does in the site’s walls, groups, and forums. *

Review of BlogJob.com

One knew that if one went to the trouble to make a 300-word minimum blog post, it wouldn’t be wasted effort because one could get at least a small financial reward. Not only that, because Blogjob is a community, your new blog, even now,  is likely to get visitors, comments, and even some help with promotion on social media if you did a good job.

Unfortunately many decided to put a lot of their writing eggs into the Blogjob basket and cut out some productive work on other sites.

Review of BlgoJob.com
Don’t put all your eggs in one writing basket. © B. Radisavljevic

 

I would not advise putting all your eggs into the Blogjob basket. If you want to be a successful affiliate marketer, this is probably not the host you should use for your main source of livelihood. If blogging for a living is your goal, see Why It’s Important for Affiliate Marketers  to Self-Host WordPress Sites.

I no longer recommend joining BlogJob, even if they open membership again. The site is now in flux and reward points have been “temporarily suspended.” Any money you make will have to come from monetizing your own blogs. As I write this today, I get error messages when I try to read posts my friends have shared — blogs hosted on BlogJob.  Many technical issues will have to be sorted out before the site is reliable again for blogging and promotion.

It appears many people are being patient, hoping the site will once again be what it was or better. I’m not holding my breath. Yes, I hope the site will solve its problems and recover, since it was important source of income for many who were close to  a payment threshold.

The administration said it will be paying those who have earned the required number of points. Some report they received their payments. Most are convinced the administration is honest and appreciate his telling them upfront what is happening. I tend to agree that he’s doing what he can to solve the problems . The question is still whether that will be enough and whether the site will generate enough  to bring advertisers back. 

Important Updates

*Update May 5, 2016As of May 4, 2016, the rewards system has been “temporarily suspended.” Members can continue to blog and interact, but will not be earning any more points until the site owner manages to fix some problems on the site. Members should still be able to redeem points earned if they have enough to qualify for redemption. Many voices in the forums say they will leave their work there and carry on as usual. Some are taking a wait and see attitude. Some are leaving. Membership is closed again.

The administration says the site migration to a new server killed traffic and he is trying to test various plugins to see if they are having an adverse effect on traffic and resources. He is hoping to get things, fixed, restore traffic to produce income, and start giving points again some time when all this is settled.

Update May 3, 2016: There is an application process in place now, and there is no guarantee of acceptance. Be aware that some people who have been accepted have received emails within 24 hours that their memberships have been declined.

An unwritten policy seems to be that you need to fill out a complete profile, including the bio part at the bottom of the edit profile page, right away and start a site or post to forums to let the administration know you are serious about adding content. If you have written for other sites with a good reputation, be sure to include that in your profile and link to any blog you might currently have elsewhere as your website. They want to know you are a writer, not just someone who wants to earn points by collecting friends and joining groups without adding valuable content to the site.

 

How Important is Grammar to a Writer?

I have been reading The 28 Biggest Writing Blunders (And How to Avoid Them)by William Noble, to see what I can learn about improving my writing. He advises writers not to write for their eighth-grade English teachers or be slaves to the grammar gurus. He advises writers not to overuse the thesaurus or get tied up in a “sentence straightjacket.” He is against using adverbs and adjectives unless they are absolutely necessary and cautions against creating a style that does nothing more for your writing than to make it different from other writers. He also warns against trying to imitate writers like Hemingway, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and others with a distinctive style, because you will never master their styles as well as they did.

As writers, we are urged to develop our own unique writing voices. I found mine at Squidoo, now part of HubPages.  It’s not a perfect style, but it is in my voice. I’m not trying to imitate anyone, and I normally use the first person when I write about my personal experiences.

It was a relief to read this book, because, as do many writers, I have mental yellow lights go off in my head whenever I’m about to commit a grammatical “sin.” Noble gives me permission to ignore all my mental grammar police if I have a good reason. I can dare to use the passive voice, use a fragment, or end a sentence with a proposition.

I suspect most competent writers already follow Noble’s suggestions and they probably don’t need this book.  The people who need it most are wannabe writers who haven’t found a unique voice yet. They are the ones most likely to use unnecessary figurative language inappropriately to make their prose more poetic. They are the ones who will deliberately create their own punctuation rules with the hope of being seen as another e.e. cummings.

If you are teaching English and some of your students have somehow gotten hold of this book, or another similar to it, be sure to let your students know that the cardinal rule when it comes to breaking the rules is to know why they are there and why you are breaking them. To do that, you first have to know the rules. They are there to help readers understand what you write. Anything that impedes that does not communicate anything except that you don’t care whether your reader can follow you.

If you are a reader, you will understand this. You know what makes you want to put a book down. Maybe it’s unnecessary descriptions that are long and don’t really help you visualize the scene or person being described. Maybe it’s a dangling participle or a comma where there ought to be a period. Anything that confuses a reader for no good reason should be avoided. Any grammar and usage rules which help a reader understand you better should be followed.

If you are still a student, don’t let a book like this convince you that knowing all those rules isn’t necessary. Noble would not agree. He never advocates not learning the rules. You have to know them before you can know why breaking one will enhance your writing rather than reduce the effectiveness of your writing. If I were your English teacher and you broke a rule, I’d probably ask you why you did it and expect a good answer. 

I am often asked to proofread or evaluate the writing of others. My rule of thumb now is this: If your mistake screams at me as I read, you probably did not have a good reason to break the rules. The grammar police do reside in my brain and they shout at me when I see sentence errors that don’t serve any good purpose.

The average reader is not looking for mistakes and may not instinctively notice them the way an ex-English teacher does. If that reader is aware of your mistake. It is probably because… you have upset the rhythm. of his reading for no good reason. Did you notice my mistakes in that last sentence? That’s what I mean. Your writing should flow smoothly without disturbing your reader unless it is your intention to disturb your reader for a reason.

So, be diligent in learning all you can about grammar and usage. Practice following the rules in your writing. Don’t depend upon your spell checker or your grammar checker when you write, because they make mistakes. Learn how to spell, especially the homophones — words that sound alike and are usually spelled differently. Know when to use each word. Know when you need a period instead of a comma and vice versa. Your readers will appreciate it as much as your English teacher does. Once you have mastered the traditional way to use the English language, you will be in a position to know when you can effectively disregard it.

Review Comparing Bubblews, Tsu, and myLot

MyLot Back in the Game

The online writing community is abuzz with conversation about the return of myLot with its former owners in charge again as a revenue sharing site. Back in 2013, myLot was a vibrant community that had a forum to discuss anything and everything that was on members’ minds, as long as it was G-rated. People made friends. People recruited friends. People earned a bit of money as they got to know each other. I found out about myLot through online friends.

Then, in the first part of 2013, myLot’s ownership changed hands and stopped sharing revenues. They also changed the way the forum looked, and changed the rules to allow the sharing of links from which members could profit, and the site became spammy. Some people continued to be active, but many people left or stopped using the site, hoping that the site might someday become what it had been once again.

The Brief Era of Bubblews in Social Blogging

Them, seemingly out of nowhere, Bubblews emerged, inviting people to write their worlds. It sounded wonderful. Arvind Dixit said that the people who created the content, the little people, should profit from their work, and that he would share the ad revenues with those who accepted the invitation to “share your world” in posts of only 400 characters.

Bubblews became known as a social blogging site. People were paid a penny each for the views, comments, and likes they got on their posts – a rate that far exceeded what those who wrote for Squidoo, HubPages, and many other revenue sharing sites paid their members. Word spreads fast. Everyone said no one could afford to keep paying those rates, but many decided to concentrate their efforts on Bubblews for the easy money while it lasted. This is especially true of those who felt homeless after what happened to myLot and Gather, another site which had suddenly closed. People swarmed from myLot to Bubblews and were delighted with the pay rate.

Review Comparing Bubblews, Tsu, and myLot

 

Then, at the end of 2014, Bubblews announced they were not going to pay their writers what they were owed. Some simply were denied payments they had earned and submitted for redemption before a certain date in November. Bubblews administrators announced they were out of money and could no longer pay the same rates. No announcement was made on how pay rates would be determined. Many people just quit. Bubblews closed its site before the end of 2015.

 

Tsu Emerged as a New Social Network

Then, suddenly, tsu made its debut. I never made money there and found it a bit too busy for me. Many were very happy there, but many also left because it wasn’t a good fit. I got less and less active there because I found it overwhelming. In August, 2016, the site went dark, and its founder stated that those who had reached the payment threshold of $100 could email him, and he would pay them.

The Return to MyLot

 

At myLot There is Always Someone to Talk To
There’s no excuse for being lonely at myLot.

Now myLot is back in the hands of the original owners and the site is sharing revenues again. Not only are former members who had migrated to Bubblews returning, but they are bringing new friends they were close to on Bubblews with them. They are bringing people who used to write for Squidoo and who still write for HubPages. The result will be a more diverse membership that in the past.

So how do Bubblews, tsu and myLot compare now? MyLot is the only one of the sites that has survived.

Review Comparing Bubblews, Tsu, and myLot

 

MyLot is full of people excited to be back. They are earning their daily few cents again, and they are happy that they can cash out after earning only $5 as opposed to the $50 on Bubblews or $100 on tsu. Some of the old perks people had to earn (like being able to copy and paste and use emoticons) are now available to all as soon as they join. The old star system that made some people earn more than others is now gone and everyone is equal. One earns with all activity – posting and getting interaction on a post, and commenting on the posts and responses of others.

This is unique in the online world. On myLot people get paid for all their interaction on a post, and this encourages the long discussions that myLotters love. There is no set length a comment has to be, so people don’t say anymore than they need to in order to make a point.

MyLot requires members to write in English. It does not, however require that the English is proficient and many posts and comments can be hard to understand for that reason. It’s a great place for those studying English who want to practice.  You can join myLot here to party with us. MyLot does not currently have a referral program.

 

Review Comparing Bubblews, Tsu, and MyLot over the Long Haul

 

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.

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.

****************************************

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.