ECP a.k.a. ShamanicShift (ecp_writes) wrote,
ECP a.k.a. ShamanicShift

Can I phase out 'content production' online?

General Mitchell International Airport (GMIA)

Image by Shamanic Shift via Flickr

Again, I am changing my online freelance writing strategy, phasing out almost all participation in "content sites" that share ad-revenue with writers.

Final Update 8/2012: I've quit Examiner and ScientificBlogging (that changed its name to Science 2.0); I barely participate at Squidoo (with 159 lenses) and my participation on Digital Journal has lapsed to infrequent. I'm giving Xomba, Infobarrel and HubPages another look, while producing web content mostly anonymously, continuing an offline long-term editing gig and odd-jobbing.
Updated 7/6: Phasing out is changing (slightly) back to narrowing down. I have updated this post in several places, as indicated.

I have known all along that even the content websites I like are structured to take advantage of freelance writers, because their existence depends upon willing writing hoards producing steady streams of content for negligible payments. But now, I realize I am no longer seeing enough of "what's in it for me" for any many of these deals to be worth my time and effort (for the sake of collecting an online portfolio and finding a few extra bucks per month in my PayPal account).

I have been writing occasionally for several of those services to compile collections of different types of writing online (under my own name instead of ghost-posts) for future showcasing to prospective clients. But this collection shows, also, how often I am willing to sell myself short, because everyone knows the deal. Oops.

Here are the few favorites, still hanging in the balance:
  • (DJ) is a full news source, not just a content (for the sake of content) site, and asks for professional and original investigative journalism and recently upgraded and complicated its style guide, though the site can't pay more than a few bucks per article. A while ago editing was opened up to all members. Then, I realized I was taking way too long on each article, as though I were writing for someone paying real-job money. 

  • (a.k.a. Examiner), another online news source, wants the same but doesn't enforce its standards or style guidelines and lacks the personal touch and community feel of DJ. The payment system is completely different, though just as complicated, and comes out about the same per article for me. At least I can find and correct my own mistakes on Examiner after reading through my published article, then move on. 

  • (SB) is fun, pays a tiny amount per page-view but in IE, Firefox and Chrome browsers, SB's publishing tool (the "red monster") adds extra lines that must be removed one at a time (and not because I copy/paste my entry from a word processor), then lets me see but not edit a plain text+html version (so I cannot simply remove the extra line-breaks) and has locked me out of editing certain posts further, just for submitting edits while it was still doing its thing (a known unfixed or un-fixable glitch).

  • Squidoo is easy, fun and useful for organizing resources by topic (for me). Usually, over 50 of my 75 lenses earn $0/month, because they don't rank higher than 85,000 overall. Squidoo changes its tools and discontinues "modules" suddenly and some just stop working (for various reasons, often not Squidoo's doing). The platform must not be set-up for effective search engine optimization, because I rarely see Squidoo lenses on the first or second page of any search results. Complete lenses with a minimum number of modules are "featured" by Squidoo (allowed to show up in searches of the site) usually, but "lensemasters" must promote their own lenses beyond that. Affiliate sales through lenses about specific very popular products can earn the most, occasionally significant amounts. I can build a complete lens in five to ten minutes. Some lensmasters charge (more or less) for building lenses for others.    

I use my Squidoo lenses for unedited brainstorming and topical reference/news centers and may open more, for fun (and procrastination). 

SB is on hold until a payment issue is solved.  Updated 6/22: The payment has been received, sent on 6/20 but not showing until late morning 6/22 (due to a PayPal weirdness, perhaps). Updated 7/4: SB blocked all bloggers, including me, due to an onslaught of pseudoscience and spam (by new accounts) and I was considering starting Freelance Wondering over again. But it turns out I was blocked by mistake and my access is back. Now all SB newcomers must past muster as members (by commenting on blogs and articles) before being promoted to blogger. Also, SB might change its name to its current motto, "Science 2.0" soon.

My topic on Examiner is unpopular and difficult for me to find original, local news about these days because I it is difficult for me to set aside the hours to visit General Mitchell International Airport very often anymore. I won't be able to get a second topic unless I start "examining" the Milwaukee Airlines/Airport more frequently. I might boost my efforts soon — or just give up. Updated 7/4: I have decided to keep examining a while longer because it is easy to post there quickly and I do like the topic. 

About DJ, I have no complaints. But I cannot afford to spend the necessary time and effort for a few bucks, producing content up to their more and more exacting standards. So I have backed away. Updated 7/4: I was considering posting a "Milwaukee News Buzz" or "Top Finds" article regularly, one to five times a week, with links to read more. But links cannot be made to open in a new tab or window on DJ so such contributions would be setting DJ back by sending readers away. 

I am considering blogging local news from press-releases, media reports and in-person experiences, and my take on non-local news that draws my attention from press releases on a (yes, just one more) new weblog, or maybe through this site (changing its purpose, yet again), with World, National, Sci-Tech, Green, Photojournalism, Outdoors and Travel/Transportation as categories. 

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Tags: content production, content sites, digital journal,, freelance writing, scientific blogging, squidoo

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