A Shocking Surprise: The New “Improved” Editor at WordPress.com
When I recently returned to the free version of WordPress after a long absence, I was shocked to see how much the editor had changed. I had started a business blog several years ago before I could self-host WordPress. I discovered that for some reason I was getting new subscribers, so I returned to write a new post for them. The new “improved” editor was very frustrating.
It’s apparently designed for those trying to blog from mobile devices, but it’s agony for those of us on desktops. What’s worse is that you can’t easily find a way to write new posts in the old Classic Editor. The new dashboard associated with the new editor is also confusing — especially if you also have self-hosted blogs tied into JetPack.
The New Dashboard at the Free Version WordPress
First, let’s see how your posts look in the new editor’s dashboard. As you can see in the image below, instead of the compact list you find in your dashboard on self-hosted blogs, you see previews, including images, of your posts. You need to do a lot of scrolling to find the one you want.
It’s harder to see your previously created tags so that you can put them on the new post. Instead of seeing a cloud of tags, you see a list you have to scroll and click on one at a time. What a pain! Previous tags may appear if you start writing a tag that starts with the same letters.
The New “Improved” Editor on the Free WordPress Version
The image below shows how the new “improved”editor itself looks.
As you can see, this offers no view of the handy interfaces for Zemanta, categories, tags, and the Save, Preview, and Publish buttons in the upper right corner where you are used to finding them on the right sidebar. They are on the upper left, except you only see the Save button if the post was not saved automatically.
The reason you don’t see those handy things is because most of them aren’t options in the free version of WordPress.com. The free version also limits you to 3GB of storage for your images.
Also, unless you turn it off, you have no choice in picking your related posts — even if you can see your Zemanta interface. If you check the box to show related posts, you will see a row of them. On my new post, the same linked image was repeated several times to fill the available space, since links were all picked by computer. If you want to show related posts you pick yourself, you will have to upgrade or get a self-hosted site. My related links looked so bad I turned them off.
When I started my blog at WordPress.com, it appeared I had a lot of freedom — as long as I didn’t try to monetize it. I could only link to non-affiliated pages. Unlike a self-hosted WordPress blog, you can’t place ads in your sidebar or anywhere else. If you upgrade to a paid version, they will take the ads they profit from off. To remove the ads and be able to profit from your own ads, you will pay WordPress.com $8.95 a month. It costs $2.95 a month just to remove the ads.
Upgrades offer you more space and added features, but for a price. By the time you pay the price for a premium plan, you might as well self-host and get a lot more features and control. This is especially true if you use the link below. Then you can place ads on your site and use affiliate links to help pay your hosting expenses.
Self-Host with SiteGround
I have been hosting several sites on SiteGround for over a year now. Their support people got me through a tough migration with no problems. They are reasonably priced and your web site is kept safely backed up. My sites hosted at SiteGround load more quickly than my sites hosted at GoDaddy. SiteGround also offers the best WordPress support and security.
If you want to monetize your blog, you should seriously consider investing in a course taught by experienced affiliate marketers who have proved they have made a good blogging income . I believe the best blogging course value for those interested in affiliate marketing is Pajama Affiliates. Click the photo above to check out their courses. Usually at least one of them is one sale. You may want to read these posts before you start your blog.
The first social blogging site I joined was Bubblews. It lasted for almost three years. It was very popular and established writers from well known sites like HubPages devoted less time to writing for them because they were making more on Bubblews. This left HubPages weaker, and many people, including me, found it hard to just jump back in at HubPages after Bubblews stopped paying.
Social blogging was easy, fun, and struck a chord for those of us who wanted to connect as people rather than just share information. Since the fall of Bubblews, people began looking for another social blogging site. Many went back to myLot, which had changed ownership and gone back to paying members. It is a simple forum, but its new format also makes it ideal for social blogging. This got friends connected again, but social bloggers wanted something a bit different.
Many of those looking discovered BlogJob. BlogJob seemed to combine the best features of Bubblews and myLot. I have reviewed the state of BlogJob in Transition here. Some people are still hanging on, but few are very active anymore. Once again the search is on for a new site. This week I’ve joined two new sites very similar to BlogJob.
Literacy Base and BlogBourne — What They Have in Common
They are both a lot like BlogJob. They offer free hosting for social bloggers and they provide groups and forums for member interaction outside the blogs. Unlike BlogJob, though, one cannot have an independent WordPress Blog on either site such as BlogJob members have.
They are owned or administrated by people whose first language is not English. This means some of the site documentation has errors in standard English.
They both offer some form of compensation to those active on the sites
Both will pay members through PayPal. Literacy Base also pays through Payoneer.
Both provide members with referral links to share their articles and to recruit new members.
Both sites are currently experiencing growing pains and may go offline from time to time as they work out bugs. BlogBourne officially launched August 1, 2016.
How Literacy Base and BlogBourne Differ: Payment
BlogBourne splits site earnings with members, keeping 50% for site expenses and dividing the rest to to determine the value of a coin. This system is similar to the one Persona Paper was using. Literacy Base pays specific cash amounts for specific tasks like commenting or writing posts. The value of a BlogBourne coin fluctuates and is posted every month.
BlogBourne will be paying seven days after a person orders payment, but the payments won’t be issued the first time until two months after the site’s launch. BlogBourne payment amounts range from $5 to $100. Literacy Base pays on the tenth day of the month after a person has earned $10.
BlogBourne currently offers the same amount of coins for any post. Literacy Base at its own discretion pays more for higher quality interactions and longer posts.
Literacy Base currently has placed no limits on how much a member can earn in a day. BlogBourne has a limit of three posts per day and varying limits for other activities one can earn for.
How Literacy Base and BlogBourne Differ: Editors and Posting
On Literacy Base your blog post has to be approved before it will post. That can take up to 24 hours. If more people become active, that might increase the approval time. Moderators also look over what you post on BlogBourne until a member is white-listed for immediate posting. Moderators let members know if changes need to be made and offer help before a post is approved for posting.
On Literacy Base your post must be at least 300 words long. On BlogBourne, it has to be 400 words.
Evidently on Literacy Base you can’t save drafts(even though it looks like you should be able to). It’s best to write your post in a word processor and paste it in before submitting. You can save your drafts in BlogBourne. You can edit and delete posts there, too, but if you delete a post you will lose any coins associated with it. I always advise writing in a word processor first anyway. It gives you a backup copy and protects you if the site goes offline while you are typing. A screen shot of the BlogBourne editor is below.
Notice that you can edit the HTML in the BlogBourne editor (see arrow) and that there are additional fields you can’t see below where the screen shot ends. Now compare with the Literacy Base Editor (below).
You can see that the BlogBourne editor has more options than that of Literacy Base and more closely resembles a WordPress interface. Neither editor has a drop-down menu for header text, but the BlogBourne editor allows you to change the font and text size.
Other Differences between Literacy Base and BlogBourne
You may use an affiliate link in a BlogBourne post, but not in a Literacy Base post. Notice I said a link.
Literacy Base only allows links to site sources that support the information in your post.
It is easier for people to find your work on BlogBourne and your profile looks nicer.
Literacy Base has a more cluttered design that distracts from reading the posts. Check My Uninvited Guest on Literacy Base and compare it to the link in the first point in this heading from BlogBourne
BlogBourne has a very motivating Leaderboard for those of us who are competitive. It lists members by number of coins they’ve earned with highest earners at the top.
Literacy Base has been around since some time in 2014. They opened their Facebook Page in November 2014. BlogBourne launched on August 1, 2016.
Literacy Base has annoying pop-up ads that drive me crazy when I’m trying to read or write posts or participate in groups or forums. So far BlogBourne has only normal ads.
Will These Sites Survive? Should I Join?
I’m afraid only time will tell that. I don’t mind pioneering a bit. I was one of the first on Bubblews and although I didn’t expect it to last as long as it did, I made some good money there. I’m glad I decided to risk it.
I do like social blogging, but I believe BlogJob won’t last much longer. I haven’t left, but I am moving some posts to my own sites. BlogBourne and Literacy Base are the most similar sites to BlogJob that I’ve joined. I happen to prefer BlogBourne, but it doesn’t have as much history yet to evaluate how it will do. I believe BlogBourne has a more realistic business plan, since it can adjust the value of its coins to fit the income the site produces. You will need to weigh the pros and cons for yourself. You may want to join both.
BlogBourne realized many of its members write English as a second language and that even some who write it as a first language sometimes need help. Administrators write many posts to help these members develop better writing skills so that their posts may be approved faster.
Recently Blogbourne started a buddy system where less proficient writers can work with accomplished writers to improve their work. As a result, the quality of posts on the site has improved and this should help the site survive.
If you enjoy social blogging and you have time for two more sites, join both and try them out. Join before you look around so that if you want to comment on a post, you will earn points or coins for it. If you don’t like the site, you don’t have to be very active. I joined Literacy Base because I had friends who posted there and I was going to comment anyway. I figured I might as well earn something for it. I joined BlogBourne for much the same reason, but when I got there, I really liked it.
I would suggest you join one or both sites, but don’t write any photo essays that would be hard to move later on. Read the terms of service for each site carefully before joining. They are called FAQ on Literacy Base.
I’ve been around the social blogging block a few times and gotten burned, just like many of you. My sixth sense tells me that I probably should invest more time into BlogBourne than Literacy Base. My common sense tells me I should really invest the most time into my own blogs.
Free Blog Hosting Can Be Yanked Away Without Notice
Here’s how I learned the dangers of free blog hosting. A few years ago I almost had a WordPress.com blog deleted. At that time I did not know affiliate links were forbidden. I had never used them during my first two years of posts, but I almost lost all my work by using that one link. Fortunately for me, they warned me and when I appealed and removed the link they gave me another chance. Recently someone with more to lose than I had his free blog hosting yanked. His blog is gone. And that’s what inspired this post.
Blogger’s Free Blog Hosting Has Risks
In my last post I warned readers about the need to host their own sites. Now I’ve just read that artist Dennis Cooper’s 14-year-old Blogger blog was pulled by Google with no warning. I will admit I am not familiar with Cooper’s work and I have no idea what about his blog violated Google’s terms of service. I do know, though, from my own WordPress.com experience, that we may sometimes miss some part of the TOS or misunderstand it. That failure might cause the destruction of all our posts.
It’s one thing for Google to penalize content it doesn’t like in search results. It’s quite another to remove your blog.
When you own your own site, you have a lot more control. It’s true that paid hosting sites also have their terms of service, but they generally only disallow illegal content or behavior that threatens the server or other sites that share it. I use SiteGround for hosting my newest sites, and their terms are pretty typical. They don’t host MLM sites, though.
Whichever host you choose, be sure to read the terms of service before you sign up. Make sure the type of site you have in mind is compatible. Also read the details of your hosting plan to be familiar with its space and bandwidth limitations. You could be in trouble if you use too many resources. That happened to me on Hostgator once.
I once hosted my most important site, Books to Remember, there, but I no longer felt good about it after some problems with tech support. One person I talked to made it sound like there would be no charge for a certain support task, and I should just call back when I was ready and any support person could help. I did that. After the task was complete they charged me $75 I had not counted on.
That’s one reason why SiteGround, now hosts that site. Click link above or one of the sidebar banners to check it out. I heard from many others how reliable SiteGround hosting is and how helpful the tech support is. I have also found that to be true since I moved my site there . I’ve always been happy with the results. My tech support call waiting time is also very short compared to that I spent when I was with Hostgator.
Even if you lose your hosting suddenly, you will have your content. It’s easy to export your blogs on a regular basis as XML files. In Blogger, click settings on your dashboard and select other. It will have an option to back up your blog. Click it and you will have your backup XML file. Save it wherever you want it to be.
If you have a WordPress.comsite, you choose settings again and at the top you choose export. Save to wherever you want to keep it. On a self-hosted WordPress site, choose tools on your dashboard. Then click export. I just exported one third-party hosted Wordpress.org blog to a new site by just importing that file.
My exported arrived blog with everything, even the photos, comments, and theme, intact. I decided to change the dates on all the posts and upload them one at at time to start the new site. That gave me a chance to edit the posts and improve them with what I learned from The Pajama Affiliates Blogging courses.
Set Up Your New Self-Hosted WordPress Blog the Right Way from the Beginning
I had already set up several self-hosted WordPress blogs before I discovered the Pajama Affiliates Courses. When I signed up for my new blog on SiteGround, I wanted to get off to a good start. I decided to do it while watching the 20 Pajama Affiliate videos in the WordPress in a Day Course.
I went step by step, with my blog open in one tab and a video open in another. I couldn’t believe how much I hadn’t known when I set up my other sites. I still need to make changes in those first sites I built, but at least I now have one that was set up properly at the beginning. This one isn’t it.
Check Content and Prices on All Pajama Affiliates Courses. They are often on Sale.
I highly recommend the WordPress in a Day Course if you are just starting a new self-hosted WordPress blog. You can look all these great courses over and get a free sample to try before you buy. I now own most of these courses.
It’s Time to Leave Free Hosting Sites Behind
Back up your sites and move them to sites you own. The Pajama Affiliates can help you. Even if all you have is the free sample course, you will have access to the Facebook support group where you can ask questions and find answers to your blogging problems.
You simply should not risk all the work you’ve put into your blog by keeping it on a site you don’t control. Buying hosting and a domain name is a small price to pay to maintain your independence. Check out SiteGround. They often give you your domain name free for the first year if you sign up for a new site. They did that for me. Get it before January 3 while it’s still 50% off.
Please share this post with someone it might help.
It’s very tempting for affiliate marketers to take advantage of “free” blogging platforms such as BlogJob or revenue sharing sites using a WordPress interface. These platforms have their advantages and many of us have used them with varying results. BlogJob is great if you want to be in a community situation and be able to earn with social activity as well as your blogs. If you are a serious affiliate marketing blogger, who wants control over the monetizing options and how your blog looks, it’s important to self-host your WordPress site.
I have six blogs on BlogJob. I wanted to try some different themes that were new to me. I chose the Arcade Basic theme for my blog Trees in My World because I wanted to feature a lot of photos and I liked the large photo header. What I could not predict when writing my posts was what would happen when BlogJob’s placed their Adsense ads on my blog. Here’s what did happen.
As you can see, the ad is covering my text — not something readers will appreciate. It makes me look bad and most readers will just click away, increasing my bounce rate..
I only discovered this was happening again when I was about to promote the page. These ads are pesky because when you are writing your post, you have no idea where they will appear and what form they will take. They don’t show up until someone is actually reading the post. This only has happened when I’ve been using this theme. In all fairness, the administration fixed this for me once, but the site just had a major update and it’s broken again.
When you self-host, you place all the ads. You don’t have to put one in the middle of your post if you don’t want the flow interrupted. You don’t have to worry about ads that will compete for clicks on the products you are linking to yourself. I remember times on revenue sharing sites when I was promoting certain Zazzle products and the same products would also appear in the ads to the right, competing for clicks and commission.
When you self-host, you don’t have to worry about nasty or questionable ads being placed by your host that you would never approve or want your readers to see. (In all fairness, BlogJob has never placed ads I was ashamed of. ) You have full control in Google’s interface over what ads you do and don’t want to see when you host a site yourself.
Third Party Display Aids
Affiliate marketers want to make their products look attractive on their pages. Some like to use Amazon’s Native Ads. I like to use Easy Product Displays. It’s a very reasonable paid service that lets you easily build attractive displays of affiliate products.
I’m still on the basic plan that lets me search Amazon and Zazzle, my two main affiliate programs. It costs a bit more to include Share-a-Sale. You can choose between several layouts to find the best fit for your page, preview it, and switch products around in the display until you get it just right. Then you copy the code and put it in the text view of your page where you want it. Here’s an example of a display I just built. (Disclaimer: I chose these books at random because they looked interesting to me.)
There are ways I could adjust this display in the code to make the Amazon buttons line up more evenly, but that isn’t the primary focus of this post. You can display only one product or more than fifteen, if you please, in different sizes or in rows of two, three, and four products. It’s fun to play with it before you get your code.
I cannot use this display in BlogJob because of code conflicts. Amazon Native ads also have to replace one of your Adsense ads at BlogJob. I discovered today I can’t even display the normal text/image ad from Amazon there. I have no control over how the code is written. BlogJob pays the bills and they get to call the shots. They have to make money, too, but if you want control you need to self-host.
Full Control of Affiliate Products Promoted
So far, BlogJob has not limited how many products I may promote per post, only how they are displayed. Revenue sharing sites like HubPages are the most controlling when it comes to this. I hate having robots decide where affiliate links can be placed and how many. Anyone using HubPages will understand what I mean. That is one reason why affiliate marketers are leaving HubPages to self-host. Many who have done that are making much more money after moving their posts to self-hosted sites than they ever did on HubPages.
If You Are Serious about Monetizing, Self-Host
If you are starting from scratch with self-hosted WordPress, I recommend you spend the small amount of money it takes to purchase the course that will show you how to set it up correctly to make money and get traffic. It’s called Set Up a WordPress Site in One Day, and I have purchased it myself. I thought I knew plenty already, since I had been using self-hosted WordPress for years. After getting this course, I was surprised to learn how much I didn’t know yet.
If you want to blog mainly for personal satisfaction or you don’t care if you make money with your blog, go ahead and join BlogJob. You can still make a bit of money there — probably faster than on HubPages — while enjoying the community aspects of the site and participating in forums. Just keep in mind that if you want to start seriously monetizing a blog to make a business of blogging, you will get much better results if you self-host.
If you found this post helpful, please share it. The image below was designed for pinning on Pinterest.
It seems almost every few months another writing site closes. During the past three years Squidoo, Bubblews, Zujava, Wikinut, Seekyt, and sites I never even joined have closed or stopped paying.
When Persona Paper gave notice they would close, the site administrators, who have always been upfront with us, gave us fair warning so that we would have time to save our work. As it turned out, a new owner took over Persona Paper, but it’s no longer paying. Not very many people are still active there. Many of us have already backed up our work — just in case.
Besides Persona Paper, I belong to other sites which may or may not be around a year from now. The owners of Blogborne and Niume seem to have lost interest in them and activity has decreased. As income on these third party sites goes down, more and more people are moving work to their own sites.
Checklist for Exiting a Writing Site
Make copies of your work
Delete links to your work
Edit your social media automated feeds
Invest more in your self-hosted sites
Make Copies of Your Work
If you’ve been through a sudden site closure with no warning before, you probably already know you should be making backups for every single post or article you write. When Bubblews closed, many were caught off-guard and lost their work.
There’s another lesson I learned at Bubblews, though. A site can also make a site-wide change that will butcher what you have written. This happened during an update where Bubblews stripped most of the content from many posts that had used multiple images. I lost many photo essays, even though I had drafts of the text.
From now on, I plan to save every post with multiple images as a complete web page through my browser. In Chrome this is really easy. Just go to the dots in the top right corner. Click. Choose “More Tools” from the drop-down menu that appears. When you mouse over it, you can click “Save page as.” A window will appear to allow you to choose a file to save to. Choose and save. Wait for the download and you’re finished. What a simple way to have a model of your page exactly as it appeared when published so you can reconstruct it later.
Delete Links to Your Work
This is the part that is not fun. If you’ve been writing very long, you have probably been crosslinking articles you’ve written on different sites. When Squidoo closed I had lots of links going to my lenses from my blogs and from my Hubs on HubPages and from articles on other sites. Fortunately, many of those links forwarded to HubPages for pages that had been transferred, but I didn’t allow all my articles to transfer.
I have 350 articles on Persona Paper, and a good portion of those are articles I tweeted recently. I have linked to them from blogs. I have pinned them on Pinterest and shared them on Google + and Facebook. I have linked to them from content websites I own. If Persona Paper goes away for good, those will all be dead links. I will have to remove them. Maybe you also have some link cleaning to do if you have backlinks to work on closed or closing sites.
Edit Your Social Media Feeds
Many people have automated collections of tweets and Facebook posts which they set up ahead of time for a couple of hundred evergreen posts in a service like Hootsuite. They just keep being posted over time until you change them. If links to posts or sites no longer functioning are being tweeted, you will lose credibility.
Invest in More in Your Self-Hosted Sites
Sometimes I feel like I’m on a merry-go-round. Gather closes so I post an old Gather post to Bubblews. Bubblews closes so I republish that same post to Persona Paper. Persona Paper closes… Then what?
If you’ve been stuck on the content writing site merry-go-round, maybe it’s time to get off and invest in your own self-hosted sites. If your sites are already set up, invest more time in updating them and adding new content. Many who have moved posts from HubPages to their own sites are seeing increased earnings from them now. Check out the great hosting deals for WordPress sites at SiteGround. They are very helpful there.
If you don’t yet have your own blog, join Pajama Affiliates so you can learn to set up a self-hosted WordPress site correctly from the beginning. It’s a small investment up front, but most get it back in earnings if they apply what they learn there. I have found it valuable for myself.
My Pajama Affiliate Courses are Worth Every Penny I Paid for Them. The teachers are making thousands a year in affiliate income without being spammy. They can teach you to monetize your own blogs in a reputable way. The courses go on sale often. While you’re waiting for a sale, you can clean out your dead links in cyberspace.
Hope this post helps you set goals that don’t depend on a third party site to help you earn. Be adventurous. Step out on your own. Take control of your own destiny in cyberspace. I think you will enjoy creating and looking back on your accomplishments.
Are You Still Waiting to Make Money from Your Blog?
Do you want to learn how to monetize your blog or website? Adsense may be putting ads on your sites, but you may only make a penny every two weeks or so from those ads. You don’t make much from Google unless you have thousands of people visiting your site every day. I’m not there yet. Are you?
I Finally Got Serious about my Blogging Business
I just started my serious blogging journey in December. Until last year I relied on content sites like Squidoo (now defunct), HubPages, and Bubblews (also now defunct) to make my writing pay off. I never made much from affiliate sales and I like to think it’s because I didn’t try very hard. I’d like to turn my blogs into cash cows.
I currently belong to two direct affiliate programs — Amazon and Zazzle. So far Zazzle has done better for me. If you aren’t a member of their affiliate program, you should join. It’s free and Zazzle products are easy to promote on a blog since they have products to relate to anything you can think of to write about. Here’s how to get started with Zazzle. There are many Zazzle support groups on Facebook to help once you get started.
I have now connected with a group of other former Squidoo writers who used to make a lot of money with affiliate marketing on Squidoo. They now are making it with affiliate sales on their own blogs. Some make thousands of dollars a month.
Two of them have put together a course that teaches anyone how to do what they have done, as long as they can communicate well in writing and are willing to work hard. I thought I couldn’t afford it.
Finally, I decided I would take the plunge anyway as an investment in my future, and at the end of December 2015, I bought my first course. Participating showed me how much I could learn from Leslie (who just bought her first home with her affiliate earnings) and Robin. I signed up for even more courses.
Here’s the Scoop on Pajama Affiliate Marketing Courses
For a complete description of the courses, you can save time by going directly to the Pajama Affiliate Home Page. The complete Pajama Affiliate Marketing course includes more than the Amazon Associates Master Class I describe below. I have known the people who put these courses together for a long time on Squidoo. I know that taking courses is not a magic pill that will transform your blog overnight, but if you put the work in, you will begin to make more money with your blog if you work smart. I decided it was time for me to learn to work smart.
The price for the courses fluctuates as they go on sale for limited times and then go up again.I’m excited about the all-in-one blogging bundle that was introduced on February 18, 2016. It shows you everything you need to know about blogging. It will teach you how to make money from your blog. Check it out.
All Pajama Affiliate courses are reasonably priced for what they offer, but they often go on sale. The best way to find out immediately about any sales is to take advantage of the free Fastpass described at the end of this post. It gives you access to the private Facebook group where sale announcements are first made.
My first course was the Pajama Affiliates Amazon Associates Master Class. When you click the link you will land on a page that describes all you will learn along with the current price. It’s quite likely it will be a sale price. This course is part of the all new blogging bundle described above.
The courses include videos with written summaries of what the videos cover. That makes it easy for me to recap what I’ve heard without listening again. I’ve only had time to watch a few videos since I signed up, but already I’m learning a lot I never knew about how to do the things I knew I should be doing.
knowing where to put them
putting content and images together for the best selling results
adding products and affiliate links to my pages effectively
using the different social media most effectively to bring in traffic
much, much more
Learn to Make Your Blog Profitable
Support in Your Blogging Journey Helps
One reason I signed up is because many of my friends from Squidoo days are also taking the course and they say it has really helped them increase their affiliate income. Keep in mind that these ladies have been doing serious affiliate selling for much longer than I, and they say they are learning way more than they ever knew before about how to make their writing time pay off.
If you purchase this course, you also have lifelong access to Leslie’s coaching.Getting the information about the course costs nothing. I had saved the little bit left in my PayPal account after Bubblews closed, and I decided I would spend what it took to learn how to make real money — not just a few dollars a month — from my websites.
The Pajama Affiliates have two Facebook groups for help and support where members can work together to make each other more successful. The groups have challenges. Members help promote each other. Those who have purchased any course have access to the groups.
Other Affiliate Programs You Can Join
Zazzle and Amazon aren’t the only affiliate programs you can join. There are also those that are under the umbrella of a network such as Skimlinks, ShareASale, or CJ Affiliate(formerly Commission Junction.) I am currently enrolled in the first two, and I’m beginning to see some earnings accumulating in my Skimlinks account. I’m not ready to give up on ShareASale yet, because I’ve not worked hard enough at it. I don’t like CJ Affiliates terms because they deactivate your account if you don’t make a sale in a ninety-day period. Mine is currently deactivated. Skimlinks and ShareASale are more reasonable and I do know people who are making money with them. I will concentrate on Zazzle and Amazon until I’m happy with my results and then I will probably tackle ShareaSale with more enthusiasm.
I don’t like CJ Affiliates’ terms because they deactivate your account if you don’t make a sale in a ninety-day period. Mine is currently deactivated. Skimlinks and ShareASale are more reasonable and I do know people who are making money with them. I will concentrate on Zazzle and Amazon until I’m happy with my results and then I will probably tackle ShareaSale with more enthusiasm.
Skimlinks is a good alternative for those who cannot become Amazon affiliates directly because of tax laws in their states. If you use Skimlinks you don’t have to be approved by the individual merchants in their programs because you are sending your referral links with their referral codes through the Skimlinks account and Skimlinks pays you directly when your commissions add up to $10. They take a cut, but they also have a much lower payment threshold than the individual sites.
Zazzle and ShareASale pay when you have $50, and Amazon requires $10 for payout unless you want a check, for which you need $100. If you use ShareASale, you need to be accepted into each of their individual merchant programs. Since merchant programs and deals can come and go, it can be hard to keep track of them.
I’m convinced if my friends, people I know are telling the truth, are making some real money with their blogs, I can do the same thing. I will have to change my blogging habits to do more than working by instinct and writing just what’s easy for me. I will have to work smart and put the time in to plan my blogs as money makers and then execute those plans. It will take discipline, but I’m going to make money from my blogs.
I bought my first course at the end of December 2015, and have not yet had time to complete it. I apply what I learn as I learn it in every new post I write. In all of 2015 I had earned only 52.08 in affiliate income and all of it was from Zazzle.
This year, from January 1 to May 1, I have earned 61.24 from Zazzle (more than I earned all last year) and $11.28 from Amazon, when I’d never gotten a payment from them before. I can see my earnings increasing. As I have time to complete the courses and apply more of what I am learning, I know these earnings will increase. The income from my remaining third party site, HubPages, brought in only $25.10 during this same period, as the total earnings for both my accounts there. Amazon earnings alone beat those totals this year. And I know they will grow.
December 2016 Update
If I count what I made on my blogs from Google Adsense and affiliate sales, my income from blogging doubled in 2016 over 2015. If I leave out Goggle, my affiliate income alone tripled over 2015. I realize that’s no fortune. But most of the year I was still learning and practicing new techniques. As of the end of June this year Amazon had paid me $21.65. My December Amazon sales as of today, December 22, are 29.14 since my last payment in June. I had not received any Amazon payments in 2014 or 2015.
Earning are going up, and I’m getting the hang of how to make this work. I think by this time next year I will see a geometric progression in sales. I will have to work harder this year to make money from my blogs and not spend so much time writing for content sites that distract me and don’t pay well.
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
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.
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.
Another collaborative site isJaquo, 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 childof 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
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.
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.
Dreya built her multi-topic site Dreya’s Worldon 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.
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, isCapturing 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 Mariaseeks 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.
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 Worldappears 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 Totems – Discovering 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.
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.
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. I probably should not have started it, now that I look back. I don’t post to it much anymore because other subjects interest me more than currently published educational materials.
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 something is really important to you, host it yourself and keep it on your own site.
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 a few weeks ago 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. You will be exposed to new ideas and get in some interesting conversations you would never find on Facebook.
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 kind of like test blogging to see if it suits you, to make contacts for when you start your own blog, and to give you a wider perspective on the rest of the world and to communicate with people who don’t necessarily share your values and beliefs. If you want to start a blog now, I recommend you keep reading. Joining the Pajama Affiliates is one of the best ways to get the training you need to get off to a good start.
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.
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 complete course price is $297, but the course is often on sale for much less. The best deal is the new all-in-one blogging bundle that has everything you need to know about blogging. If you’d liketo see what the course is like without paying for an entire course, try the new free Affiliate Fast Pass course that lets you sample the course for free.
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. You can even import blog posts from sites that you believe will close soon into Medium, photos and all, with a single click. 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.
If you plan to blog, you should start by reading other blogs — a lot of them. This will give you ideas on what is possible, themes you might want to use, how others monetize effectively, and what about a blog makes you want to read it 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.
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 and 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 and I wanted to switch it over. They managed the transfer for me free. So far their customer support has answered all my questions quickly and easily and getting my new site installed was a snap.