Tag Archives: blog ideas

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?