Tags: associated content

me 2012

As the fickle ways of Squidoo...and December writing goals

Squidoo, your Tier ranking will never cease to baffle and amuse me.

My highest ranking lens on Weight Watchers PointsPlus and the Problem of 29" has slowly, so slowly, been creeping its way into Tier 1. Right now of course there's a lot of buzz for WW, with the annual plan tweaks and changes due to be announced by the end of the week. As such, it finally broke through and stayed in Tier 1 for all of November (yay!) and was actually hovering around 500 in the ranks for the past week or so.

Yesterday it gets its best single-day traffic ever, jumping from around 150-200 hits a day to almost 600! I was excited to see how that might affect lens rank this morning. Well, it managed to DROP in rank down to #1,016. :-/

Just goes to show, there's no one foolproof way to get high rank. This is a lens that gets a decent number of clickouts but doesn't move many products. And I suspect with sales/holiday lenses being the "thing" for December, it'll be a struggle to keep this lens in Tier 1 this month, unless I add a lot of new info once the plan changes are revealed.

We'll see.

My writing goals for December - well, I'd love it if some quick upfront assignments showed up at DemandStudios, but I doubt that's going to happen. Even though I'm in their First Look program, yesterday was the first time I got a notice about any assignments available in my favorite topics in a good month or two. And of course they were long gone and claimed by the time I woke up at 6:30am and got the email. That site has just completely dried up for most users, which is a shame - and just makes me glad I didn't over-commit myself to counting on them earlier this year. It was nice for a month or two when I could pull in a hundred dollars a week or more, but a lot of tedious work writing to their format as well. I've even started watching the assignment desk at Y!CN again, but for some reason I just keep getting targeted with NYC-Metro area stuff, and, um....hello, I'm outside of Philly? I don't get it. I still have my issues with them since earlier this year, so I'm not going to write anything there again unless it's for good upfront pay.

So I guess I'll stick with updating and promoting my Squidoo holiday pages and hope for some decent sales, even if I can't crack the mystery of Tier ranking!

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me 2012

Y!CN, the Googapocalypse, and me

So, as anyone who writes articles for the web knows by now, Google recently launced a massive smackdown campaign against (not all) so-called "content farms." What that seemed to come down to, as the linked article shows, is that many domains such as Associated Content, Suite101, hubpages and others are now massively devalued in search results. An article that might have shown up on page 1 of Google results before may now be buried on page 5, 6 or even 10 - largely just because of the webdomain it is published on. Curiously enough, one of the most often criticized "content farms", eHow, only seemed to get a boost from the re-ranking process.

I know I've certainly seen the fallout myself. Whereas before I was getting anywhere from 350-1200 page views a day on my AC content library, over the past week that dropped more to 150-250 page views. That's a huge, huge drop and very discouraging, especially when I always prided myself on trying to write "evergreen", original content instead of chasing Google trends or churning out celebrity gossip for the PVs.

Interestingly enough, the public announcement of the Google change came only a few days after Y!CN announced the ending of their former Associated Content "Featured Contributor" program. That meant the end of 9 $10 upfront assignments (+PVs) for me a month. To say my enthusiasm for writing for Y!CN dropped significantly after that was an understatement. Why would I kill myself carefully editing articles and trying to do my best when a piece might only get a couple hundred hits now, if that? When earning less than $2 per 1,000 page views on Y!CN, the economic impact of the Google change is huge to many.

I understand and fully well saw there has been plenty of crap published on AC/Y!CN through the years - even through their mismanaged FC programs. Poor grammar, plagiarized content, nothing but link lists to other sites, you name it. And yet now everyone - including the good authors - has to suffer? I think it stinks. Y!CN seems to be doing its best to move people off the AC domain and onto their own sponsored networks like omg!, Yahoo!TV and Shine - which is great if you write the kind of content they want for those channels. I don't. I've only had one article chosen from my 250 piece library for Yahoo!TV, and while it got a nice upfront, it barely has received 30 pvs in over 2 months.

I've reapplied for the "new" Y!CN featured contributor program in 4 categories but remain discouraged. Now instead of 3 $10 assignments per month guaranteed, per category, you'll only get one $15 assignment as a FC - oh but they keep telling us "new and exciting opportunities are coming!" Yeah, sure. I really don't believe that.

So what am I doing? I'm branching out. I'll work harder at grabbing $15 upfront assignments from Demand Studios to reach the next level where I can qualify for better assignments. I've been working on developing a library at Squidoo where I can earn pay not just on how my pieces are performing but on affiliate sales links.

I'm also getting back to what I should have been doing for months - working on my artwork, marketing it, rebuilding my Etsy shop and realizing that web writing was a good gig while it lasted and might still be a good gig, but only if you're willing to change with the times and play the system as it develops. And I'm not sure how much I want to play the system just yet.

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me 2012

Westboro Baptist Church about to protest the Mulvane Brethren Church

One writer at Y!CN/Associated Content whom I frequently read is Jack Wellman, a Christian author & pastor. While his religious point of view is not always in alignment with my own, I've found many of his pieces quite inspiring and thoughtful. He's also very generous toward other writers on the site and represents much of what I find good and positive about the Christian faith, even as someone who shies away from the more evangelical side of Christianity.

So I couldn't believe it when I saw that his church is about to be picketed by the Westboro Baptist Church. Yes, THAT group. Because Jack's church is located in Mulvane, Kansas, home of the Patriot Guard Riders, motorcyclists who have a mission to honor fallen American soldiers and shield their families from protesters at funerals and memorials. But I have to hand it to Jack, who is planning on meeting their protests with kindness and offers of cookies and hot chocolate. Because meeting Westboro's hate with more hate will not do any good; they seem most upset and defeated when people counter them with love and the true spirit of Christianity.

I'll keep Jack and his parishioners in my thoughts this weekend, and hope that others come to stand by him and keep those who falsely lay claim to being Christian at bay.

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me 2012

Reflections on the End of My First Year Writing for the Yahoo! Contributor Network

How writing for Associated Content (now Y!CN) has been a great experience for me, as a new member of the site this past year.

Full article: "Reflections on the End of My First Year Writing for the Yahoo! Contributor Network"

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me 2012

Got prompts?

While I've got ideas for my Featured Contributor articles this month, I'm always looking for other interesting topics to tackle. So if you've got a topic you'd like to see me write about, leave a comment here! It could be anything from a rant or opinion piece to something informative about any topic you'd think I could handle. Go crazy. Give me ideas.

Also, if any of you other creative types - writers, artists, musicians, crafters etc. would ever be interested in being featured in an interview, please let me know. I'd love to feature you and hopefully bring more attention to your work.
me 2012

My Top 3 Associated Content Articles to Date

I find it curious to examine, after 4 months, what are my top performing articles on AC and to try to understand why.

Number 3 is 20 Things You Must Eat in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This one benefited from getting Tweeted by a very popular AC writer with a lot of Twitter followers soon after publication. Yet it also continues to get steady hits long after that. Perhaps name-checking so many Philadelphia restaurants and types of local food has something to do with its lasting popularity. Traffic to the article has increased this summer as well, probably as there are more tourists visiting Philadelphia at this time of year. It also received a high upfront pay from AC when I first submitted it, so there must be something about the piece which is just what AC wants.

Number 2 is Bad News, A-Team Fans: No Dwight Schultz nor Dirk Benedict in A-Team Movie, which was just a quickie piece I wrote after seeing fans react to the announcement that their cameos had been cut from the firm. I later updated it when it turned out their cameos remained, but only after the credits. Not all movie-news articles do well, but I guess a lot of people were searching for this info (and continue to search for it). I also linked to it on several A-Team messageboards and communities.

Number 1 is Etiquette for Shopping at and Browsing Craft Fairs and Dealers' Halls, which I find amusing as it's a rather snarky piece I wrote about my experiences dealing with annoying customers. It was doing okay page-view-wise, but rocketed up after being selected as a Featured Article in the Crafts & Hobbies section of Associated Content. Since then it continues to get some modest daily views.

Looking at these results, there's no real consistent theme for me as far as what has performed best to date on the site. Certainly getting featured either on-site or by another popular AC contributor helps, as well as providing entertainment news on a non-saturated subject. I'll continue to keep looking at what are some of the better subjects to write about that will provide solid, steady traffic.