Sunday, January 31, 2010

What is the hot website, channel or subject

One of the things that I see a lot of writers do, especially those who are in the paid by the pageview category is that they keep searching for the hottest (best paying) websites, channels and subjects.

Now there is nothing wrong with this...unless it becomes your entire drive. If it becomes your entire focus, you are going to end up with very little results after doing a lot of work.

All writers are concerned about who is paying for what material, and how much is getting paid. It is just a part of the profession. But there are some writers, beginners mostly, who will not write something unless it is earmarked for a high paying market.

Now I do understand the logic, or illogic, behind this habit. If you are going to write for money, aim for the top. There are many that believe that all they need is a lucky break, or the right choice of subjects to go from loser to king of the writing world.

Unfortunately, every other writer is also looking for these subjects and markets too. This brings us to an unfortunate economic reality. If word gets out that a subject, or a website, is a good paying subject, all of a sudden everyone is writing about it. And all the resulting articles flood the market, dividing the pie in ever smaller pieces, and the payment rates drop like a rock.

This is one of the reasons that working writers are occasionally tight lipped about their best paying work.

Another problem with this method of choosing your subject matter is that today's hot subjects are chosen at whim. And the whim and interest of the public change rapidly. What is a hot subject today often becomes tomorrow's cold dead corpse. The writers who benefit the most from the changing whims and interests of the public are those who got there first. By the time, most writers learn something is hot, it is already on its way to the not-so-hot list.

It is for this reason that I suggest people ignore what the best paying subjects are. I think that writers should start off in a couple of areas that they know really well (or want to know really well), and build up a set of articles in those areas. After building up a nice block of articles in their field of expertise, then move on to another subject and repeat.

Your goal is to be able to switch gears if you need to (sites come and go as do interest in various subjects); it is also to have a variety of articles online, so that market whims do not wipe out your investment of time and energy when people get bored and move on to the next hot craze or concern.

And have no doubt, writing is an investment. Picking the hot subjects of tomorrow is like picking stocks, it is better to know what you are investing in than to follow the blind wanderings of the herd.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Counting the subscribers

One of the things that I can't help to notice is the number of subscribers to my blogs.

Honestly, I try not to notice this number. Noticing it leaves me open to the doubt "What did I do wrong?" when someone choses to unsubscribe.

Like yesterday, I noticed that someone unsubscribed from my Golden Dawn blog. Instantly, I was wondering what I posted that they did not like.

Then I looked over the latest set of posts, especially the last one, and decided that if they unsubscribed because of them, they were probably going to unsubscribe sooner or later anyways. Bottom line, I am a man of strong opinions; sooner or later, I will say something that annoys you.

I try not to let a sudden unsubscription get me down. Besides as some of the "blog building" blogs I read say "If you are not upsetting people, you are probably not passionate about your subject in the first place."

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Pre-writing and scheduling blog posts and articles

One thing that being in college when trying to run my own business has taught me is a better sense of deadlines and pre-planning. As everyone who reads my blog knows, my business is freelance writing, and part of that involves blogging.

From the beginning of my freelance career, I have stockpiled ideas. But it is only in the last year that I started to schedule these ideas, so that more of them actually get written.

I did not notice this change in my operational procedure until last week. A couple of weeks ago, I had written down the writer's deadlines in a daily planner. I also jotted down the drop dates for the newspaper, and looked at the holidays and special events. This actually proved to be useful because I ended up having to contest the topic of two of my astrology columns. Bottom line, I did not want a column about love going out two days after Valentine's Day.

This awareness of time is also starting to bleed over into my school work. This is a good thing. For instance, at the end of the month I am helping someone would be helpful if I was ahead in my homework before that happens.

On both this and my Golden Dawn blog, I have jotted down ideas and used the pre-scheduling function to stockpile them. The only disadvantage of this is there are going to be some ugly posts appearing if I suddenly die. On the Golden Dawn blog, I have over twenty-five ideas stockpiled.

I am also starting to pre-write and schedule posts. This is something I have learned many professional bloggers are doing. They find it easier to write a batch of posts all at once, and pre-schedule them; I am also finding it easier to do. If nothing else, it takes the some of the pressure off and allows me to focus on whatever is at the top of my priority list for the day. I am also beginning to pre-write certain columns, including my astrology column.

Pre-writing and pre-scheduling articles and posts is something that I wish I would have started doing sooner. Oh well, at least I am doing it now.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Typical start of a new semester

Well, this week was the start of the spring semester for me. This is the fourth semester that I have attended the University of Colorado at Denver. And so far, it has been a typical semester for me.

Like always, I have started out behind, as in "no reading got done the first week." And I pretty much neglected my business this week.

I did a couple of blog posts. They were opportunity shots: the "do them now or forget about it" variety.

I am fairly sure I know what type of schedule I have. As in business schedule, which rotates around my class schedule. For instance, I am fairly sure that I will be updating one blog or another every Tuesady and Thursday before heading to campus. I am also fairly sure that I am going to miss (or come in late) to the newspaper staff meetings.

On the bright note, I am getting better at coping with juggling both school and my business. For instance, today I have actually torn myself away from the time wasters (aka games and random web browsing) that typically becomes my Friday routine. Hopefully, today is not an one-time event on that front.

Here to an awesome semester.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

It was a good week

I must brag about what I accomplished this week. The self-employed will understand.

This week, I wrote a newspaper article (a follow-up to an earlier Amendment 50 and community college article), did my astrology column, was actually aware of when certain things were going to be published (unlike last year when I seldom looked at the calendar), attended a mandatory training session for the newspaper staff, did some self-promotion, generated some good will, did some research, did a book review (still typing that one up, but it is written already in longhand), and only took one nap.

(Gee, that is a long awkward sentence.)

I even made some money if you overlook the fact that I am on the net plus thirty payment plan (in other words, I will see payment for the work I did this week at the end of February).

I will admit that I had that moment Wednesday when I found myself wondering when I became the responsible adult. Given what I had accomplished in the week, the thought was understandable.

Anyway, I think that this week was proof that I am capable of treating my self-employment as seriously as a "real job" (my feelings about those who do not consider self-employment as a freelance writer a real job will be a future blog post).

Thanks for listening to my bragging. If you have any brags that you want to share, please mention them in the comment section.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Piracy Part 2

If you read my Golden Dawn blog, you have read some of my thoughts about the file sharing (torrent) community.

It may come to a surprise to several of you that I decided to commit piracy today. Yes, I have created a torrent of a book and posted it to one of the private torrent trackers (The Occult Bz).

In my defense, it is my own book that I decided to pirate. I own the copyright; I can give away copies if I want to.

Before finding the request last night for Golden Dawn Rituals Volume One: Neophyte Ritual Three Officer Version, I actually kicked away making a PDF of it and uploading it to that particular tracker. I always hesitated. I figured it would be viewed more as spam than legit until I saw that five people thought it would be a good file to share.

Honestly, part of it is that I wanted the upload credit. It is not much, but every little bit counts.

Then is also the fact that I got annoyed when I went to revise the book recently (spelling and grammar), and got nailed with the "Your book is 48 pages too short (because we have changed the rules) for the format that it was originally published in. And no, we are not going to let you chose a different printing style!" notice.

Plus, I suspect that the useful shelf life of the book is already over. Sales have dried up (though that might be because the book could not be printed, and no one thought to inform me).

Nevertheless, I wanted to keep that particular version of the Neophyte Ritual available, which is why I published it in the first place.

There is also the fact that I have noticed that the first PDF made of a book tends to stick around. Very seldom do you see an improved version of a file that entered the file sharing community.

And that is the really important part about what I did today.

When I made the PDF, I included a couple of links to my writing blog, my Golden Dawn blog, and to the lodge's (Bast Temple, BIORC, Denver Colorado) website. It is a trick I recently picked up.

If you are going to give something away, make sure that there is an ad inside the item.

I am not just a pirate: I am a self-promoting pirate.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Mocking the junk mail

It is once again time to visit the Nigerian junk mail bag, and mock the unfortunate sentences that were sadly abused to bring me entertainment. This is their only function, as they fail miserably to convince me to play along with the scam.

The first sentence that must be mocked is:

I strongly believe that this mail must get at you by God's grace, as I do not know you in person and not quite sure of your current tel/fax number for me to be sure, but I know how i manage to get this mail address which I used to communicate you.

Ok, I am quite sure that the god of mischief is your god, and not the Christian god that you would like me to believe is your god. Say hello to Loki for me. As to knowing how you managed to get ahold of my email address, I sure hope that you know how you got a hold of it.

However, I am Sister. Cane Green and I am working with the Nations Apex Bank; accounting unit/telex department Central Bank of Nigeria.

Improper use of a period and a semi-colon. While I have a semi-colon fetish, just randomly replacing commas with semi-colons does not turn my crank.

My aim of writing is not to know you as i have no interest of knowing you and would not like to know you unless if needs be.

Hmmm, ok outside of a lack of capitalization and flow (try "it" instead of "if" next time), not a particularly mockable sentence.

But I am telling you this based on my believe as person who does not like evil or cheating and would not like to be called for explanation as a result of this information I am giving to you below and as a straight forward person, I believe that any man/woman is my brother/sister according to my believe irrespective of where you must have come from we are same human being.

Wow. I am not sure where to begin on this sentence. We have tense problems, a run-on sentence, and an overly-optimistic person.

Now as I am contacting you, payments are going on to those that are aware of this information because this information was not gazette to the public awareness.

Huh? What is "gazette"? What word should actually be used here? Does anyone have a guess? (Please post guesses in the comment section.)

These exercises have started for some time now but there are a lot of pranks some corrupt officials in the central bank of Nigeria has been doing and they diverted your funds to a bank in Switzerland.

Ok, first you need to learn the word FANBOYS (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so) to remind yourself when you need to put a comma into your sentence; second you mistake me for someone who actually has money. Third, "pranks"? Hint, a prank is something a college student does, normally involving a bucket of cold watery oatmeal, or photoshop. I am quite sure that you need to use a different word; I am just not sure what word would work best. And I think that "exercises" is also a questionable choice. (Once again, guesses go in the comment section.)

And this concludes another session of let's mock the junk mail.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Ego attack number 3772 or why I suspect that I will never have to serve on a jury

Earlier this week on Monday, I was at the courthouse. I received one of those delightful jury duty notices.

This was actually a postponement from last year. The court had asked me to show up a couple of weeks into the fall semester, I replied that my winter break started on such and such a day, and that I would be happy to serve then. For those who are tracking my bad personality problems, you probably want to note that not only was I unwilling to make time to have coffee with anyone (though my version is that I was not actually asked), I was also unwilling to take part in the legal system at the start of the semester. Obviously, I think that I am the center of the universe.

Anyway, I figured that I would sit there until noon, reading The Answer, then go home and write. That is what I have done on all other previous jury duty days.

I was wrong. My juror number was actually called for the second batch of possible jurors. "Can you repeat that number?...Oh, that's me."

I am not sure what I sounded like at that point. The lady behind the counter said that I sounded eager. At this point, I might have been. I have always wondered what it would be like to serve on a jury.

My enthusiasm did not survive the day.

The judge thought that the jury would be selected by noon. It wasn't. Only round one was done by noon. I was there all day.

Somehow, I managed to survive round one. Hey, I am as surprised as you are. We can all name a dozen things that make me less than the ideal juror.

Turns out that they were more concerned with people who had sympathy or hostility towards immigrants. Either a positive or negative feeling towards them allowed one to find the door quickly.

I am neutral about the situation. I figure that each immigrant, legal or not, is a potential citizen. My ancestors were immigrants who decided to hightail it out of a country when the going got really bad, so who am I to throw stones at the current immigrants.

The other issue that the lawyers were concerned with were weeding out those who felt strongly about identity theft.

Based on the questions and when various people were excused, my imagination conjures the following story: Immigrant, possibly illegal, brought some fake identification that turned out to be based on someone's real information, so that they could work in this country. I am not sure if this is what the charge really was, but I figure that it is a good guess.

I survived until final jury selection.

I knew that I was going to be rejected as a juror when someone else cited something I said. That is one of the hazards of being a former restaurant manager; you end up knowing things like why immigrants are hired (they are cheap, and more likely to do jobs than native-born Americans protest doing), and the difficulties involved in being able to catch fake documents. Being citied meant that my opinion might carry more weight than it should.

It is not the only possible reason for me to be rejected. I started out eager to serve on a jury, and I had admitted that openly. That probably looks like suspicious behavior. I am also loud and confident.

But based on the sequence and pattern of those excused during the final round of jury selection, I would have to say that there was another reason for the lawyers to give me the boot.

The first person that the persecution got rid of, the defense wanted to keep. I figure that this person was the persecution's idea of the world's worst juror, and the defense's ideal juror.

Then the young, inexperienced, and those who admitted that they occasionally go with the crowd was showed the door.

Here is where the beginning of my ego attack can be traced to. Turns out that I was not the only media member pulled in, there were two others. (We also had a high number of school teachers, and one university professor.)

Earlier I was joking with one of my fellow potential jurors that I guessed being a freelance writer was not the crime I thought it was. I said because both me and the next person I am about to mention were still there; I did not know about the third media person until round three.

So after the bottom of the barrel was kicked out, they showed Ed Stein to the door. For those who do not know who Ed Stein is, Ed Stein is a political cartoonist who used to work for the Rocky Mountain News. He still does work online. (Note that he has been called to duty several times, and has never served on a jury yet. Go figure.)

The next person to be excluded was Sam Hill from Alice 1059, one of the local radio voice talents (does anyone use the term "disc jockey" anymore?).

It was right after these two were told that their service was done, that I was informed that I too was unwanted on this jury.

As I said this is an ego attack. I am sure that my sister would tell me that I am delusional. That being an internet and college newspaper journalist is not cause to be excluded from jury service. But my ego loves the pattern. I am in the same category as Ed Stein and Sam Hill---Cool!

I am sure that my sister will remind me that I am not important, special, nor in any way a real writer. But we will see in the future if I ever serve on a jury. I am betting that I won't ever serve on any jury as long as I am a freelance writer.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Thoughts while shopping 2: shredding scissors and misc stuff

Continuing with the theme of the previous post, the next thing that I saw at Bed, Bath and Beyond (who are still completely ignorant of my existence) was a pair of multi-blade paper shredding scissors.

I guess this is a gift for those people who have sensitive documents who are living in the back of an old Vista Cruiser. I imagine that these scissors would rapidly be replaced by a full-blown paper shredder by anyone who does not have loads of time on their hands.

Perhaps there are some people out there who only end up with a couple of pages of sensitive material a month. But for most of us, a small electric paper shredder is a better option. Our first paper shredder (my wife and mine) was a small model that we brought at Office Depot for twenty dollars (Office Depot is not completely ignorant of my existence; they send me a lot of junk mail). Later, we replaced it with a bigger model; it turned out that we had a lot of shred-ables.

The two neatest things I saw at Bed, Bath and Beyond were a laptop desk and outlet extensions.

The laptop desk is basically a board glued to a pillow. I brought it anyways. Previously I have been using a large book to place under the stuff I was working on when I was sitting on the couch. I think that this will work better.

The outlet extensions will definitely fix a problem that I have. It is not good to have a power strip plugged into a power strip. Unfortunately, a lot of computer equipment uses a plug that takes up a chunk of room and block other stuff from being plugged in. The outlet extensions are tiny six-inch extension cords; it is very neat idea.

I also brought a small light that plugs into the flash drive port of a computer for those times I need a little light, but do not want to have all the lights on in the room.

After Bed, Bath and Beyond, we went over to the Container Store (another business that has no idea that I am talking about them). I was not aware that you could buy a plastic container the size of a small coffin; they were actually storage containers for Christmas trees.

Anyways, that concludes this round of products that Morgan thought about while shopping. Hopefully, I did not put anyone into a coma. Next time, tune in to hear me talk about the long day I spent in the jury selection process, and why I suspect that I will never actually serve on a jury.


Sunday, January 3, 2010

Thoughts while shopping: the coin jar

The other day, I went shopping with my wife. She was spending her Christmas money. I was calling it quality time; my wife calls it shopping with a six year-old.

I understand why she thinks that shopping with me is like shopping with a six year-old; I am like a kid when I go shopping. Except that most kids do not carry a notebook with them, just in case they come up with a really good idea to write about.

(Disclosure notice: I have not been paid or rewarded in any fashion by any of the businesses that I am about to mention. To see my full disclosure, check out my Golden Dawn blog.)

We went to Bed, Bath and Beyond first. Right off the bat, I picking up and examining items. Is this why my wife says it is like shopping with a six year-old?

One of the first things I spotted was a digital coin jar. One that adds up the amount of coins that you have stuck in the jar. I thought of one of my blogging friends when I saw it, Luke Sidewalker (a man who getting rich one penny at a time). But Luke is smarter than the typical buyer of this jar. I think that he is currently using an old antique mason jar; it is a touch more fancy than the washed out pasta sauce jars that I use.

I really do not see the point of this jar. Are we so dumb as a society that we cannot tell that our total is growing as we dump coins into a jar? Do we really need a digital counter on a jar to tell us that adding a quarter to the jar adds twenty-five cents to our total? Oh wait, we are, ain't we? As a society, we do not know the meaning of saving our spare change, which is one of the reasons so many people are currently deep in debt.

I will admit that I know the meaning of saving my spare change; it is a cold soda out of the vending machine at the end of the semester. That is one of the reasons that I refuse to get a coin jar like this; I do not want to know how much I spend on soda, chips and candy bars each semester. I rather think of it as half a pasta jar full of coins instead.

There is also the little fact that I have to manually count the coins and put them in rolls if I decide to take them to the bank. It is not like this jar is going to do it for me. And if I decide to use the CoinStar instead, it will count the coins for me…I do not need to shell out money for a jar to do a job that either me or a machine is going to redo later (besides the CoinStar takes its cut if I use it).

It might also be the fact that I am really cheap (I do not actually use CoinStar), and/or poor (a strong possibility: I have dodged traffic to pick up a handful of pennies), and/or really would rather spend my money on a dozen sodas instead of a novelty coin-counting jar (ahh, I think that is really the answer).

Well, that is all for today---but tune in tomorrow for more of the thoughts I had while shopping with my wife.

Corrected on 10 January 10: Obviously, in my mind Luke Skywalker is busy picking up coins in New York, while Luke Sidewalker is busy fighting the evil Empire. It should be the other way around, except that there really is an evil branch of the Empire located in New York (oh, don't tell me you haven't noticed).

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year's Resolutions 2010

Happy New Year 2010!

Over the last few days, I have been kicking around what I want to accomplish this coming year. That is when I have not been working on my Full Disclosure Statement for my Golden Dawn blog.

On the Golden Dawn end of things, I am going to be keeping it simple. After all, I just started the PHAM subgrade of Adept Minor. As the joke goes around the lodge, every week that passes means that I am another month behind in the required work.

I did think about the possibility of Golden Dawn harmony. I decided that I would rather continue speaking my mind, despite the opinions of those who would like me to shut the h*** up.

I did decide after reading an internet success book that I would like to develop a love/hate relationship with some loud mouth, hopefully one that will send loads of traffic my way. I am thinking Ann Coulter will do just fine. I did have someone voluteer to be my enemy, but I think that I can do so much better. So Ann Coulter, I am coming for you.

I have yet to decide if I am going to put up any more of my writing on Helium. My output for them has suffered this last year. Part of the problem is that often when I should be writing more stuff for them, I am actually stuck spending the time rating articles to keep earning on my current set of articles. I would let that site go completely if it wasn't for the fact that I have a couple of articles that are actually doing fairly decently there.

Bukisa has became a completely low priority. The fact that they only pay for unique visitors does not fit well with my writing habits. I tend to write highly related sets of articles, therefore getting paid by the pageview works better for me.

I am going to continue writing stuff for the student newspaper, including the astrology column that I am reprinting though Associated Content. I am also going to develop a set of astrology articles for Constant Content to test the waters for that market. After all, I realize that I actually like doing that type of writing, even if occasionally it seems more like creative writing than anything else.

I do plan on trying to get my act together sooner in the upcoming semester. The voice of my sister nagging me all semester made me realize that I am quite willing to toss a lit match on that particular gasoline-covered bridge; for some reason, being in college and working as a writer is more important to me than the opinion of the last relative still to talk to me.

And as always, I will be hunting for those elusive well-paying writing gigs, and those articles that end up getting a lot of Google Lust.

So I think that I can accomplish all this, especially if I can figure out an annoying way to do so. Remember Ann Coulter: 2010 is our year!