Friday, October 21, 2011

Scoring for Pearson - They are Hiring!

I just wanted to let my readers know that Pearson is currently hiring people to "score green at home." You can apply online to score elementary, jr. high and high school aptitude tests online.

Working at home as an online scorer generally requires a college degree. All training is paid and the hours are completely flexible, you log in and work whenever you wish for Pearson.

At home scoring is a great work at home gig if you qualify. The work is not steady. They send out email seasonally in the fall and spring, as school begins and ends, to check your availability and interest in upcoming projects. If you apply with them, it's a good idea to whitelist them in your email, so you don't miss out.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

It's Payday at Squidoo

Well, it's payday again at Squidoo. As you can tell by my blog posts, Squidoo is the only place I'm spending my freelance writing time these days. I haven't had a lot to say about other writing sites, because I haven't been writing anywhere else.

Squidoo's payments have been phenomenally high for the last 3 payouts. Today, October 13th, I received my highest payment ever from Squidoo. It was $717.74. You can see my full earnings history at Squidoo by scrolling halfway down the page Today's earnings are listed there as August, because that is the month they were actually earned. Squidoo payout runs 2 months behind.

Like all good things, I fear this will come to an end. Over the past 6 months, I've noticed it becoming increasingly difficult to keep a lens ranked at tier 1, the highest paying tier. I've also noticed an explosion of new members writing at the site, making it more difficult to find untouched topics to write about.

I am going to keep being loyal to Squidoo and write as much as I can there, while I have the opportunity. Squidoo may eventually have all the content it needs, and writers will be looking for a new gig, but for now I am going to enjoy the ride.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Squidoo Earnings for July 2011 Are In!

The Squidoo earnings for July 2011 are in. For me, it's the highest payout ever at $610.54. I have only 139 lenses at Squidoo. For the past 6 months, I've been focusing on making sure the lenses I already have earn well, rather than making more lenses.

I voluntarily post my earnings at Squidoo to show my writing friends just how profitable it can be. Here is the entire year of 2011:

Jan - 260.94
Feb - 324.32
Mar - 373.85
Apr - 386.49 <--------It's been just under 1 year since I began investing more time here at Squidoo. My average earnings are almost $400 per month!
May - 361.09
Jun - 459.25
Jul - 610.54

Payment at Squidoo runs 2 months behind, so these are earnings for July paid to me on September 15th. I won't know how much I earned this month (Sept.) until November payout occurs.

My entire earnings history since starting at Squidoo, can be found at: How to Write and Article at Squidoo.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Is America Looking for Ways to Buy Gold? What I Learned Blogging this Week

As a freelance writer and blogger, it is not unusual for me to browse my Google Adsense earnings. I often look to see what ads are earning money and what ads are not. I was a little surprised to see ads for gold sales popping up on my telecommuting blog (right here.) I was more surprised by the number of people that seem to be clicking that ad.

This new trend leads me to believe that America is looking for ways to buy gold. It's not uncommon for people to turn to gold during a recession or depression. However, it may not be the safest investment. During severely desperate times, such as the great depression, people were constantly being robbed. Hording gold in your home would be a good investment during uncertain financial times, as gold consistently increasing in value, were it not for the ever looming fear of having it stolen.

If you do not have a secure place to store your gold, don't consider purchasing it to keep in your home. Also, if you choose to buy gold online, be very careful of the website from which you purchase it. Online gold sales scams are at an all time high, with people buying gold from dealers with no contact information published on the site!

If you are experiencing economic hardship, consider freelancing. There are many ways to earn money working at home as a freelance writer. If you are interested in writing, visit 101 Websites for the Freelance Writer to find out more.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Earning Money Blogging - Google Adsense or Amazon Affiliate Sales

I've been blogging consistently for about 1 1/2 years. During that time my Adsense revenue has accrued to only $78.00. I'm hoping that with a little luck, I will have enough to make payout of $100 this Christmas (2012). I've never had much luck with Google Adsense advertising on my blogs.

I have had luck as an Amazon affiliate though. I signed up as an Amazon Affiliate around 1 year ago. (I'd been blogging for approximately 6 months at that time.) Today, I went back into my Amazon account to get reports of my earnings for the past year. NOTE: This is my blog Amazon affiliate sales only. I also have affiliate sales through Squidoo that aren't reported here:

July - Sept of 2010, or quarter 3, I earned $3.49. I soon learned that Christmas is huge for Amazon affiliates. My earnings rose to $24.31 in the 4th quarter of 2010, or the three months prior to Christmas. I was surprised to see they stayed very high through the first quarter of 2011 at $44.43. Finally, the holiday cash stopped pouring in and I find my average blog affiliate sales at $16.12 for the quarter.

I can't report quarter 3 of 2011 yet, because it is still accruing. However, it is already at $7.78 for the month of July. Some rough estimating tells me that if I also earn $7 in August and September, I'll make $21 this quarter.

That is 6 times what I earned in Q3 last year, my first quarter as an Amazon affiliate. If I also have 6 times the earnings that I did last year in Q4 and Q1, it will renew my faith that blogging can be profitable with a lot of hard work and a little patience.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

How to Get a Lens to Tier 1 on Squidoo

I finally have enough lenses at Squidoo that I have a pretty good idea of what it takes to get a lens to tier 1. There are several factors that play into lens rank, but the most important two factors seem to be views and click through rate, or CTR.

A lens with 200 views a week, will generally rank in the top tier. If it's got that many views and it's not making it to tier 1, look at your CTR. You can find the CTR on the Stats page under traffic. If it isn't there, you will need to visit and download the add on. Once you have the add on installed, you'll be able to see your CTR on your traffic screen. The CTR I shoot for is 30%. If it is lower than that, it may drag your lens down in rank.

How do you get your CTR up? That's easy, add more links. If you don't want to spam up your lens, by adding obvious links and ads, you can always add text links with html. Link to other lenses, products, or articles by creating a link within the text. Adding featured lenses on the same topic is also efficient for boosting CTR. This has the added benefit of boosting views to other lenses.

A mistake I often see new lensmasters making is failing to link to their other lenses in the related lenses tab. This is in the first module you create under the related lenses tab. (It's right by the tab to turn on the table of contents.) Linking to your own lenses helps generate a lot of traffic at Squidoo.

Only 1/2 to 1/3 of my traffic comes from Google. The other 1/2 to 2/3 comes from backlinks or from within Squidoo.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Niche to Help Others - Why I Write About Knifty Knitter Looms

Years ago, while browsing the craft section of my local Wal-Mart, I stumbled on some interesting plastic looms. They came in bright colors that appealed to the kid in me. After looking over the box, I soon discovered they were knitting looms. I'd tried to knit before, but couldn't get the tension right and ended up with a mess of yarn. I bought the looms, which were very inexpensive, and some yarn.

I came home and opened the box, expecting to find instructions. There were none. I began searching the internet to find what I might do with my new looms. There was very little information for these specific looms, but I did finally locate slivers of information on how to use them from the manufacturer's website.

I learned to wrap the loom and I learned different methods of "knitting off." (This is how you create knit on a knitting loom.) Because I had so much trouble finding information about these online, I began to publish my own articles about knitting on them. My first, "Knifty Knitter Knitting Looms," explains the different types of looms you can buy and gives some introductory information on how to use them. My next, "Free Knifty Knitter Patterns,"was a collection of patterns that could easily be made by a beginner.

These first two lenses eventually did so well that I began to consider "Knifty Knitter looms" one of my new niches. I began to drill down and write more specific content, such as patterns for the round loom sets, patterns for the long loom sets, or sock patterns to name a few.

If you aren't into crafts and don't care about knitting, you can still learn a lesson about writing web content from this story. If you are trying to learn about something online and you can't find a lot of relevant resources, consider writing your own! You may just discover a new niche that works for you.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Work at Home URL Rating for Leapforce

Have you heard about URL rating as a work at home job? Recently, a friend shared a link with me to apply as an url rater for Her Facebook post stated that url raters earned $13.50 per hour.

I quickly checked into it as it's almost unheard of to find a work at home job that pays an hourly rate and doesn't require you to schedule your hours. Leapforce requires all applicants to submit a resume, which I did. Within minutes, I heard back and was asked to take a qualification exam. This consists of a 125 page handbook which must be printed, read and used to answer 20 open book questions. This is the first test to become an URL rater for Leapforce.

It took me approximately 7 hours to read the handbook and feel comfortable answering the questions on the exam. I was thrilled when I passed. Then, I was invited to take the second test to qualify with Leapforce. When I saw the second test, I suddenly realized there was a good reason that they give you a full week to take and pass both tests. The second test is 145 questions and it is actually URL rating as you will do when you begin working. It is done in a simulator and they score your answers to see if they are accurate enough to begin working.

Now, I don't know about you, but I am beginning to become suspicious because calling this a qualification test is a bit deceiving. Let's be real, it's unpaid training. It took me 13 hours to finish the second test. So all together, I've invested 20 hours into this company before being hired.

Once you have passed both tests, Leapforce invites you to login to their homepage where you can begin URL rating immediately. They offer many other types of rating opportunities. In fact, you will soon discover that they have many other types of assignments that require more training and your chances of finding basic "URL rating" tasks are slim. They make no excuses for requiring extra training and state very forwardly that there is no paid training for the other tasks available.

I realized that if I were going to be able to begin rating, I would need to train on a new project that DID seemed to be available. That's where I'm stuck at this time. I've logged in and rated URLs whenever I saw that basic task available, which was ONCE in two weeks. I rated for 3 hours, so I've earned about $40.

$40 / 23 hours invested = $1.73 per hour

I'm stuck here wondering if I train again, how long will it be before the task I train is swept away and I am left to train again without pay. I read at (a work at home forum) that some people are working here and enjoying it.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Do You Zazzle?

Many of my friends who write at Squidoo also make Zazzle products and promote them in their online articles. I have tried Zazzle a few times and sold a few products, but I have never spent a lot of time on it. I read an article at Squidoo recently that made me think I was wrong to have overlooked Zazzle. SmallHandsDesigns published her experience with Zazzle in this lens: "How to Pay Your Rent with Zazzle."

She explains how she creates and promotes Zazzle products consistently. Little by little, she built up her Zazzle earnings until she was earning as much as $3000 a month. It took a few years time, but it had me motivated to take a second look. I created the products below and placed them in my store. Zazzle is a lot of fun! So what if you don't become the next big Zazzle seller, it's more fun than playing computer games in your spare time and can earn some extra cash!

Do you Zazzle?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Using Facebook Fan Page as a Promotional Tool for Freelance Writers

I began using Facebook only a year and a half ago. After several months of posting a link to new articles from my personal Facebook profile, I began to fear that I might alienate my friends. So, I set up a Facebook Fan Page instead. I immediately invited some of my friends to join my new Fan Page, I included writers and any friends that had shown an interest in my web content links in the past. I wound up with a little over 40 fans and I've gained and lost a few fans since then.

Learning from Promotion Mistakes
All in all, the Fan Page didn't work as I'd hoped. Let me tell you why. As a web content writer, I know that when you set up a blog, or a website, visitors come there looking for information. I write about loom knitting, crochet, parenting special needs kids, and my experiences as a freelance writer regularly. Someone visiting my Facebook Fan Page is going to see all these things.

What if the person is visiting because they are interested in loom knitting? They will be overwhelmed with links to unrelated content. They will likely leave my page before they find what they are looking for.

The Facebook Fan Page that Worked!
About a week ago, I tried an experiment. I set up a new Facebook Fan Page devoted entirely to loom knitting. I linked to it from 2 of my most popular loom knitting articles online. On the Fan Page, I shared a few of my newer loom knitting articles and posted a poll question. I didn't send any invitations to anyone to join the Fan Page. That Fan Page that is barely 1 week old already has 14 fans. It is growing at a rate of 2 fans per day, with no soliciting on my part. Also, those fans are participating in conversations on the Fan Page. Why? Because they want to read and interact about LOOM KNITTING, not about me.

I intent to add a link to the loom knitting Facebook Fan Page from all my previously published articles in the upcoming week. It will provide a wonderful audience for promoting future articles. What more could a freelance writer want than a page full of fans hoping to read their next article?!? That is why you should niche. They aren't MY fans, they are loom knitting fans. They are hungry for loom knitting information that this Facebook Fan Page will provide.

I plan to create Fan Pages for each of my niches, in hopes of reaching more readers. This is why niching is so important online, tightly focusing on one topic gives people what they want to read.

I still keep the personal Fan Page on Facebook. It isn't much of a promotional tool for my writing, but I use it a bit like an online resume, tracking all my newly published work.

Do you have a Facebook Fan Page? How is it working for you?

Update July 25th, 2011

I am updating this post to show the stats for my fan pages after only a few months. My personal fan page is now up to 47 fans. My niche fan page about loom knitting is at 96 fans. According to insights, which is delivered to my email monthly, the posts on the niche fan page received 1291views in the last month! No wonder my loom knitting articles are continuing to do well in their off season. Fan page niching is the way to go. I'm looking forward to crossing the 100 fan mark next month... only a few months after beginning the fan page!

Another Facebook Fan Page Update

My first experiment using Facebook fan pages as a promotional tool for my loom knitting niche worked so well, that I made Facebook fan pages for all my writing niches. One of the places that I write, Squidoo, has a handy tool for adding Facebook fan pages. I created a fan page for each niche and linked to it from only my most popular articles at Squidoo. Here is the status of my Facebook fan pages after only two months in existence:

Crochet:  37 fans
Down Syndrome: 22 fans

Green Living: 5 fans
The Knifty Knitter: 122 fans

I know I've said this before, but Facebook fan pages are an amazingly powerful tool for promotion of online writing. I can't wait to add fan page links to all my content!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Google Panda - Writing Changes

Two different websites emailed me today (Bright hub and Squidoo) to let me know that I had used page breaks in some of my articles and they were going to eliminate the breaks and change the work to a single, more lengthy page. Both places cited changes in Google's algorithm as the reason.

While once it was thought that anything over a given length was sudden death for webpages (800 words was a rule of thumb), Google has apparently been tweaked to now prefer longer pages. That information is a summary of the email I received, not my own opinion.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Giant Squid 100 Clubber on Squidoo

Today, I made the Giant squid 100 club at Squidoo is a website where freelance writers can write "lenses" about things they enjoy.. and get paid! It's a lot of fun to create articles there, or lenses. You have to apply to become a giant squid once you have 50 "stellar" lenses. (Their words not mine) If you are chosen, the next step is Giant squid 100. With each of these awards come bells and whistles. Here are the bells and whistles I was offered today as a new giant 100 squid:

-- A special 100 Club Badge for all of your lenses.
It will appear automatically on your lenses and on your bio, a few hours after you’re hooked up as a 100 Club Giant.
-- A 20% lensrank boost for any (single) lens you choose.
-- 100Clubbers get the ability to nominate Purple Star lenses...
and you get +50 points for every lens you nominated that does go on to win a purple star.
-- Don't forget about the Giant Squid Concierge! If you have a bug report just email it straight to SquidooHQ to get priority attention for it.

There currently isn't any status beyond Giant squid 100, but I suspect that will change in the future.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Write for Content Current

I learned of a new writer websites called Content Current on March 31, 2011. I signed up on their website. They sent me a response right away that said the following:

"Welcome to! Thank you for signing up to become a writer. Please read this email for information regarding how ContentCurrent works, the writer process, and how to submit a test article for approval. At ContentCurrent, we provide article writing, copywriting, and SEO article writing services for our clients. To be a successful writer, we are looking for fresh, up-to-date content, written in a timely manner. We pay $5 for 250 word articles and $7 for 500 word articles once they have been approved by our clients. If you do not meet our quality standards, we will not accept you as a writer."

I haven't yet written my test article. It is upfront payment and sounds similar to Break Studios, with pay being slightly lower. I appreciate their email telling writers exactly what to expect before going to the trouble of writing the first article. It seems like a legitimate site to earn a few dollars. I will share more of my experience with Content Current later. Stay tuned!

Writing at Redgage

Today, I got a comment on my Squidoo lens of writer websites. The commenter mentioned a website that I hadn't heard of called, "Red Gage." I went to the website and saw that it encourages blogging, uploading of photos and videos and lots of other online social activity. Red Gage pays the people that blog there in gift certificates, according to the commenter.

Sign up is simple and immediately RedGage sends a confirmation email. Once you have confirmed through your email that you do indeed wish to register, you are taken back to the RedGage site where you are encouraged to locate friends and enter contests.

I started to look at what others were publishing there by clicking the "Blog" tab at the top. The first blog entry I saw was "Easy Paper Towel Germination," a useful and interesting blog post. Scrolling through the list of recent blog posts I noticed that the views for each post and the earnings for that post are listed in the summary. A lasagna recipe, for example, had earned $4.89.

I'm not sure about having the earnings published with the content, but it seems like a very useful place to gain backlinks to your articles. I will further research the site and post later. If you'd like to sign up with RedGage, you can do that here.

Monday, March 14, 2011

eHow Sweeps

On Friday, March 4th, I received email saying there would be a big change at eHow. I was to expect a phone call on Monday, March 7th, explaining the changes. Honestly, I was hoping that they were opening the WCP, or writers compensation program, back up. No such luck. Instead I was told there would be more eHow sweeps of our articles.

It seems Google has changed their algorithm recently to increasingly favor unique content. This is indeed true, as I have heard this announcement from Megan at Squidoo also. You can learn more about this at the official Google blog. Anyway, because of the changes, eHow needed to eliminate duplicate content on their site to prevent being penalized.

The obvious question to ask eHow representatives was this, "How do you decide which article will be deleted?" The answer was the article with fewer views. Now, we've all known for some a while that articles on eHow are duplicated. They are duplicated by other eHow WCP writers. They are duplicated by Demand Studios writers. It is actually the nature of writing web content and the difficulty in proving plagiarism that makes duplicate content such a problem online.

I'd have preferred to have been told that the first published article would be saved. However, I was told the article with the most views would be maintained. I can see that from eHow's perspective, you would wish to keep the article with the most traffic. It is a smart business decision for their website. However, ethically the article with the oldest date seems to be the right one to maintain.

I expressed this to eHow and this was their official response: "Usually, the true original does best with Google." In other words, Google already sorts unique content for us. I've heard SEO experts indicate this and I would say to some extent it is true. However, you can not deny that backlinking plays a big part in article performance and I am certain that eHow contributor articles have been more efficiently backlinked within the eHow site than user articles.

I wish now that I'd worked harder backlinking my eHow articles. Hindsight is 20/20.

Finally, I'd like to say that despite the recent eHow sweeps, my own earnings haven't suffered! In fact, I lost 5 articles, but my earnings for March 2011 are higher than usual. It's worth mentioning that what is good for the site is good for all eHow WCP writers. Carry on eHow! I still love your site!

What are your thoughts on the latest eHow sweeps?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Squidoo Healthcheck: Check the Health of Your Lenses

I've spent the last few days running health checks on my Squidoo lenses. The "healthcheck" feature was once built into the website tools on the lensmaster dashboard. At some point, the Squidoo site quit sponsoring the healthcheck feature. One of Squidoo's top lensmasters "TheFluffaNutta" has the tool available on his site:

The healthcheck feature can make a huge difference in your lens performance. Running the check and correcting the problems brought my average lensrank up 40,000 points. For those of you that actively write for Squidoo, you know lensrank is everything! It determines your tier and how much you are paid each month.

By running the healthcheck on each of my lenses, I learned which mistakes I was making. These mistakes were interfering with my traffic. Here are the most common problems I uncovered when running my health checks and sprucing up my lenses:

1. Your primary tag (the first one entered) should be limited to three words.
2. Have at least 20 relevant tags. If you have less, keep thinking. A lens without enough tags doesn't have the keyword density it needs to be found.
When running the healthcheck having too few tags will make your title, subtitle, etc light up as needing corrected. It will say they aren't relevant to the tags, but the problem isn't the titles, it's too few tags. It can easily be corrected by ensuring you have 20 relevant ones.
3. Ensure photos in your intro paragraph have at least two words from your primary tag.

That's the lesson of a Squidoo healthcheck. Save yourself some time by keeping these things in mind and you won't have to go back and edit your lenses later, like I did.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Affiliate Sales at for Freelance Writers

I've been an affiliate for over a year. In my blogs, Squidoo lenses, or other online articles, I occasionally post a link to an Amazon product that I think readers would like. I have had a few sales in the past, but nothing spectacular. In November my earnings picked up, I sold several items and finally made the minimum payout. Woohoo!

In December, the trend continued and I made the payout... and then some... in one month. I expected it to end after the Christmas season was over. I was wrong. This January, I've already made commissions on 31 sales. I guess the economy hasn't discouraged shoppers this year.

I'm not going to hold my breath that the lucky streak will continue all year, but for any writers considering affiliate links, the holiday season is when you will see your sales. Also, it seems to work a bit like residual income on articles. My first year I didn't view it as worthwhile, I did it as a courtesy to readers. If you are reviewing a book, or a product, why not make it easy for them to find online? However, after a year, I'm being to see that it has potential and indeed helped my Christmas budget.

Happy Writing,

Friday, January 14, 2011

Can You Earn Money Blogging?

Some writers do well at blogging and insist it is profitable. It's my opinion that most writing could do better on an well-known established site than on a personal blog. Developing and posting to a blog is a lot of work and it's an on-going task. I am big on calculations, so I will tell you some of my personal experience with this blog. At Heather'sTelecommute, I earn .002 cents per view. This number is sometimes expressed as RPM, or $2.00 in revenue per each 1000 views. RPM stands for Revenue per Page Impression. That is pretty average. That is what I earn on most writing websites. Now the question becomes views. How many views do I get here? I've been contributing to this blog for one year and in that time I've gotten almost 7,000 views and written 75 posts. Some more calculating tells me that this blog has earned me $14.00 in a year.

Getting views isn't easy on a new blog. It's a lot of hard work. Why would someone do this when they could write for a well-established website? I do it in the hope of gaining PageRank for my blog. If I build up credibility here, by establishing viewers, I have my own site with good Google ranking and I'm no longer dependent on a website. If for example, every site that I write for tanked today, I could depend on my well-established blog. Well ok, it's not that well-established yet, but I'm working on it. The other perk is that it gives me a place to backlink my relevant work. Many sites want writers that have established an established audience following their writing.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Niche Market Examples: How to Find a Niche Market

When I began writing, I heard a lot of talk about finding a "niche market." This is easy to say, but not so easy to do. How does one go about finding a niche market?

One method would be to simply write about what interests you. Throw a few articles out there on a given topic and see which topics, or niches, perform well for you.

Another method would be Google searches. Trying searching Google for some keywords that you are familiar with. You can find "underserved markets," another favorite writer term, by doing searches and seeing which keyword phrases don't yield a lot of good results. Doing research often yields niche markets on accident. If you don't find a keyword phrase yields good results, why not write some of your own?

Here are some personal examples of niche markets that I have found that do well for me:
  • Loom Knitting
  • Freelance Writing
  • Crochet
  • Canning and Preserving food
  • Raw food recipes
  • Parenting Children with Special Needs
  • Herbal Remedies
Part of the reason these niches have performed well for me is that I was already doing these things. I have a bit of an online social network established to share my writing. I also have forums to post links to my work. Backlinking is critical in the world of freelance writing.

A word of caution on the first method. Don't be fooled into thinking that just because a niche doesn't perform well on one writing website, that it won't perform well on another. A good example would be the websites Suite101 and Squidoo. These require two very different styles of writing. Suite101 has authoritative articles that are edited and require sources to be cited. I consider the writing there the be scholarly work. Squidoo on the other hand has no editor and sources are never cited. I have some loom knitting articles on Suite101, but they don't look their best there because pictures aren't allowed throughout the article. They show up at the bottom. There also aren't a lot of sources to cite when writing knitting patterns. Writing knitting articles at Suite101 doesn't work very well. At Squidoo, it works wonderfully. The pictures can be placed anywhere I want them to better show the steps to the reader. My herbal remedy articles I save for Suite101. Nobody wants to trust a natural remedy article that hasn't been edited and has no sources cited. You get the picture.

Hope that's helped you brainstorm a little for some ideas on your own niches. Get out there and Google some keyword phrases. Once you found a few, write about them. See which articles perform well and which ones don't at that site. Once you've found a niche that works for you, keep at it! You can read more about niche marketing here.

Happy Writing!

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