Tag Archives: cooperative blogging

Virily, Virily, They Said Unto Me

What Is Virily?

After Niume closed, many of my friends joined Virily and convinced me to join. Facebook sharing groups were suddenly flooded with Virily posts. Everyone seemed to be talking about or posting to Virily. I finally decided to join and discovered I’d already joined four months before and forgotten about it. I guess after my accident in June I didn’t have time to really get active. Or maybe the site didn’t appeal to me any more then than it does now.

Virily, Virily, They Said Unto Me: A Review of the Virily Social Blogging Site
Share Content at Virily and Earn Virils. Click image to join

Virily is a social site that gives you “Virils”for different kinds of participation. The Viril points you earn will convert to dollar amounts when they reach the level needed for a payout — $10 for PayPal, and $100 if you prefer a bank transfer.

Members of Virily post original stories, lists, photos, quizzes, and other content they want to share.  Other members view that content, comment on it, and share it to social media. They can also interact by voting content up and down.  Non-members may view content, but they can’t comment on it or post anything themselves.  You can join Virily and join the conversation here. 

Because they can earn Virils for almost everything they do on the site, members tend to interact with the content of others a lot. Both those who make the posts and those who interact with them earn Virils. Comments need to be at least 20 characters long to prevent the repetitious “Nice post” type comments that were prevalent before this rule was instituted.  I think they should make it 30 characters. I still see people trying to game the system.

 

What I Like about Virily

Most active members do try to play fair.

Many Virily members are also members of more established sites and/or have blogs of their own. They post interesting content and make intelligent comments on the posts of others. They have their reputations to maintain and are trying to make more contacts with a wider audience.

Others enjoy keeping up with old friends who moved to Virily after Niume closed.  I’m finding people at Virily I first met on Tsu or Bubblews, as well. I’m  also meeting many new people.

I find Virily relaxing when I have time for it. The problem is that I have too many of my own sites to post to, as well as more established third party sites such as HubPages.  I can only visit Virily when it doesn’t mean neglecting those sites.  But I do find some good conversations to get into on Virily. Yesterday one of them was on this post: Are Panhandlers Swindling Us?   I got really involved in commenting on that one.

 

There Is Lots of Interaction and Motivation to be Active

Members do get Virils for sharing content and commenting on what others post. They get even more Virils for posting content and recruiting new members. Who wouldn’t want to earn more Virils to reach a payout faster?

If Virils aren’t motivating enough, members see badges appearing on their profiles when they have performed a required amount of actions the site rewards. These include recruiting new members, referring visitors to the site, posting content, commenting on the posts of others, viewing the content of others, and logging onto the site regularly.

Virily, Virily, They Said Unto Me: A Review of the Virily Social Blogging Site
Screen shot of the part of my Virily profile that shows the few badges I’ve earned so far.

 

Some Things I Don’t Like as Much about Virily

Documentation is Sketchy

Writing at Virily is experimental until you understand what each kind of post actually does.  The instructions for the different kinds of acceptable posts are sparse. The Frequently Asked Questions don’t include most of mine.

Here’s an example. Among the post options are three different kinds of lists where it’s stated underneath that you can vote the items up or down. There is also a gallery, for which the only description is “a collection of images.” This is what I submitted as a gallery: Autumn Roses.

Virily, Virily, They Said Unto Me: A Review of the Virily Social Blogging Site
An October Rose, © B. Radisavljevic

The form I had to use was confusing. First they ask for an  intro photo. There was a place under that for me to write a general introduction to my photo gallery. So far so good. Then they repeated my intro photo as the first photo in the gallery. I wrote something about that specific photo under it. As I added each photo I presented each rose with specific personality characteristics, each photo with a transition to the next in a logical order. Then I submitted it.

Ooops! When I looked at my gallery the photos were out of the order I’d put them in and the story line no longer made sense. So I chatted up the person responding to the chat button for help. She said I should have submitted my photo essay as a story, since people could vote the gallery photos up and down, thus taking them out of the order I had put them in. So, why was there no explanation of that before I posted? I can’t go back and edit because of another thing I don’t like.

You Have to Wait for Approval Before Publication

Once you submit a post for publication, you wait for someone to approve it. I really hate that, especially since most of the documentation that exists on the site isn’t in perfect standard English and I wonder who is deciding if my post is good enough to publish. So far I’ve had no problem. I think they are more concerned that you follow rules about documentation and acceptable content.

If You Want to Edit Something Already Published, You Can’t

If a typo gets by me and gets published, I can’t edit it without contacting support and getting support to do it for me. I’m pretty independent, so that bugs me. I know they do it to protect themselves against people adding things against the rules after the post has been approved. I don’t blame them, but I hate being treated as untrustworthy.

This also is an issue if you need to update something in a post that is now obsolete or can be supplemented with new information.

Note: When I wrote what’s above I hadn’t watched the help videos yet because I don’t learn  well that way. I did it today, and I guess there is an explanation in the video about galleries and voting up and down. I prefer help files  I can read. 

Help Is Often Very Slow.

Virily, Virily, They Said Unto Me: A Review of the Virily Social Blogging Site
Sometimes there is a long wait for answers from Chat

The first time I talked to chat the agent was very responsive and it was almost instant. Tonight I was writing a post I wanted to submit tonight. I decided to switch my own intro photo for one from Pixabay I thought was more appropriate. Unlike all the other photos I can embed, there is nowhere I can see to put the link to my source on the intro photo. It doesn’t have the same icons for source and alternate text as all the photos you can embed.

This left me wondering if it’s against the rules to use any but an original photo as an intro photo. Or maybe you don’t have to source that one. If it’s against the rules, I would need to find something of my own somewhere. Otherwise they might not accept what I’ve spent an hour working on.

I waited about four hours for the chat person to answer my question. While I was waiting the only response I got was to tell me that it may be a few minutes and to ask if I’d like to play a game while I wait. I declined. I worked on writing this, instead. In all fairness, there is a time difference. It appears I live on the wrong side of the world to get immediate chat assistance. The agent appeared about 1 am Pacific time, and then she was very responsive and quickly answered my questions. The intro image doesn’t have to have the source documented, in case you wanted to know.

Maybe I’m so dumb I need more instructions than others, but I don’t really think that’s the problem. The problem is that I’m constantly wondering how to do something properly. The FAQ rarely address my issues. As far as I know, this doesn’t bother other Virily writers.

 

Why I Hesitate to Get Really Active on Virily

  • It’s addictive: I’m competitive and find myself wanting to get on the Leaderboard or get a higher rank than Newbie. Oh, I just discovered I’ve graduated to Skyrocket, whatever that means. There is no explanation I can find of what causes one’s rank to go up. If I click on Rank on the menu I see only the highest fifty members and their positions and points. I don’t have enough points to get there yet. It’s easy to get caught up in trying. It would be fun if I were convinced it was a worthwhile investment of time.
  • I don’t expect Virily to last very long in Internet time: With its Viril reward system rewarding so many actions besides actual writing, I don’t see how it will make enough money to last longer than Bubblews, Niume, Tsu, Squidoo, Blogjob, Persona Paper and other social blogging sites that are now history or have stopped paying contributors.
  • I might still enjoy Virily, but I don’t have a lot of free time to invest in third-party sites.  I’ll be lucky if I get a first payout before Virly closes down, but I may be wrong. I consider Virily more recreation than income-producing.

If you think you might enjoy sharing posts on Virily or commenting on those of your friends, please click this link or the image below to join Virily. 

Virily, Virily, They Said Unto Me: A Review of the Virily Social Blogging Site

 

Moving Writing from Content Sites to Your Own

I’m  Republishing More of my Content Here

In my article Life After Squidoo or Zujava or Bubblews, Etc., I suggested that one way to deal with the loss of these sites was to move one’s work onto self-hosted pages. I am now taking my own advice. Although this site started as a blog, I will be adding articles to it that you can access from the top tabs. As you mouse over each tab, it will show you the articles which have been revised, rewritten, or written specifically for this site. So far only  the Soul and Spirit tabs are active. Eventually the Body tab will join them.

How I Save Copies of Work to Republish

I’m sure I’m not the only one trying to find homes for previously posted work on now defunct sites. When an article was originally written for Squidoo, HubPages, Bubblews, Persona Paper, Wikinut, Zujava, Seekyt, or another content site, moving that article to a self-hosted  site can be like working a puzzle. First you need to have copies of what you have posted on those  sites.

Most people have now learned how important it is to keep the text of their articles in a separate file on a computer or in the cloud. I personally use Carbonite to back up all my computer files so that I will still have my work even if my computer crashes.

Many of the former host sites, though, encouraged writers to use special modules that WordPress and Blogger don’t have — such things as Google Maps, polls, and quizzes it is hard to reproduce. We can reinsert videos and photos, but not exactly where they were in the original article. We need to redo our affiliate links which were often encased in special modules or capsules.

I am now saving every post hosted on a site not my own as a complete webpage so that I can have a guide that makes it easier to get my photos and videos where they belong. Besides that, if you worked as hard on some those Squidoo articles as I did, it’s nice to have a copy of the original to admire. I tried to build masterpieces with the provided tools, and I think I often succeeded. Then they got transferred to HubPages and were never the same again. For now I’m leaving any featured hubs written on my original HubPages account where they are, but I will be moving as many on my transfer account as possible. Many of them will land here.

If you haven’t got your blog or website set up yet, you might go back to read Should You Start a Blog

Moving content takes time, so the articles I’m republishing here will build up gradually. If you click a tab  at the top, it will explain the sort of articles that will be found under that tab. When Body appears, it will hold articles on recipes, fitness, health, and other writing related to bodily needs. I hope to have this up soon. Meanwhile, I hope you will  check in every month or so and see what’s new, or follow me on Twitter where I   will post links to new content.

 

 

 

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.