Category Archives: Websites

Freelance Blogging Isn’t as Easy as it Sounds

This was in 2014 during my Sociological Theories class and it was the beginning of the semester so our instructor asked us to introduce ourselves to everyone. Besides telling everyone our name and class year, he asked us to share something interesting about ourselves. I said I did freelance blogging (on BlogJob, although I don’t believe I specified where). This guy asked “You make money blogging? Why do we even have to go to school then?”

I love telling this story and here I have a good reason to do so. If I had to chose one and only one thing I’ve learned about freelance blogging, it’s that it’s a job like anything else. While it’s a self-focused job that allows more creativity and self-expression, it isn’t easy like people think.

Even finding a headquarters for my blogs was a job. For some time I had been on BlogSpot, the Google blogging platform. It’s nice that it gave me a place to experiment with blogging when I was new to it, but BlogSpot doesn’t pay unless you use Google AdSense. Google AdSense earnings are based on the idea that Google will choose what words to put links on and then you get paid a small amount of money if someone buys the product advertised on said links. You, the blogger, don’t get control over what products are linked to. I was then on Daily Two Cents, a blog website that uses the WordPress format and pays you a litle bit of money for unique views on your blog posts. I have no beef with them, but I wanted the option to have niche-specific blogs. That is how I fell in love with BlogJob. To make a long story short, even finding a home takes time and effort.

Once you have a home for your blog posts, you have to start planning your diferent blogs. On BlogJob you can have as many blogs as you want, but you have to be able to maintain them. I have a few blogs that have been grossly neglected because I didn’t plan on how to maintain them as well as technological problems that make them less than ideal. I recommend creating new blogs if you can see yourself posting multiple articles on them every day. You don’t actually have to post multiple articles, but if you think you have enough to write on a regular basis then you’re probably able to maintain the blogs.

Consider that your blog posts need promoting on socia media if you want to be a credible and somewhat-known freelance blogger. At one point BlogJob required a certain number of social media shares for each blog post. Even if your blogging platform doesn’t require sharing, it’s a good practice to get into. This means that you may need to register for accounts on additional social media websites and then learn how best to get seen on them. I admit to post promotion being my least favorite part, but it’s been paying off when new viewers leave comments and I get notifications for referring new visitors.

One thing about sharing your blog posts: Once they’re out in the world, you have to stand by what you write because sometimes you can face criticism. This may force you to write your blog posts more consciously, which will allow you to hold your own should you get into a debate with your readers but also takes up extra time. Professional blogging is considerably different from writing a status update on Facebook or Twitter. You may want to familiarize yourself on ethics of journalism and social interaction so that while you may be challenged for your views, you won’t engage in poor ethics and get in legal trouble. One of the more terrifying aspects of professional blogging is that you do have to exercise caution.

On the surface professional blogging does seem easier than applying for a traditional job, but make no mistake, it is still a job.

Self-Censorship of Your Articles

When you settle in to write a new article, do you self-censor the subject matter or your opinions of the subject matter?  Of course there are restraints according to the rules of the website or publishing company, but I mean do you self-censor what you write about even if it doesn’t violate the publishing guidelines?  This topic is inspired by a BlogJob post from 2015 when a new user wanted to know what sort of topic restrictions the website has, and the best answer was that bloggers can write anything as long as it’s not offensive.  This is the perfect summary and a good rule of thumb for publishing on any medium, but I was left thinking “What does offensive really mean?”

  • One of my areas of interest (niche, in technical terms) is horror media.  If you follow my blogs The Creepy Reading Corner and The Creepy Viewing Corner or my status updates on the BlogJob group “We Love Horror Movies!” you know that I talk about the good and the bad as well as news in the world of horror.  My subject matter may be offensive to some people just because of negative stereotypes or (unfortunately) very real experiences with some type of horror media.  I may offend readers just by mentioning the names of books or movies that we have both/all seen, even if I don’t go into the gory details.
  • I cover the current US events in my blog Newsgirl Tells the World! and I don’t shy away from discussing politics.  I know that people who are on the opposing side of an issue can find it offensive to hear anything that disagrees with their view of events, regardless of how it is written. Admittedly more controversial, I post screencaps of Facebook conversations to show that they happened.  There are mixed views on whether we should blur or cross out the names of other people.  At the moment I choose not to because Facebook’s default profile settings and article commenting options are public and if people don’t set their posts to be seen only by those they choose, then there’s nothing that says they can’t be shared via screencap.  Some people find this offensive.
  • I often talk in my personal English blog Lovely Lovely English about trigger warnings and why I’m against them.  Some people find using their trigger warnings in the articles without giving a trigger warning is offensive.  Some people find it offensive that I am against trigger warnings.

Since you can’t prevent every reader from finding something offensive, you may need a different way to self-censor content.  My recommendation based on how I write is to check in with yourself about your article before you hit “submit” or print it out to send to a publisher.  If you are having second thoughts about your work, that is a good sign that something you wrote needs some edits. Note that sometimes your second thoughts are about editing for spelling and grammar; this doesn’t equal self-censorship.  Self-censoring would be if you change your arguments to be less polarizing or if you soften your stance at the end by writing “These are my views, but I welcome reader input.”

Readers, I’m curious to know if you self-censor your blog posts or articles.  How do you decide whether you self-censor or not?

Post Limitations on BlogJob?

One of BlogJob’s active users, “Rapid Blue”, suggested something that I’ve been wondering about myself concerning the kind of content we users are rewarded for on BlogJob.  Rapid Blue suggested that we, regular users that see spammy comments, should be give the power “to delete the unwanted or clearly spammy replies and set the minimum length of a reply to at least 10+ words” because “I don’t think it is fair or correct to let some people earn easy.”  You can find the full discussion on the forum topic “Keep Points Clean-Improve BlogJob!” to see us respond to Rapid Blue’s suggestion.

I assume that most of my readers are on BlogJob as well and are familiar with how BlogJob pays us, but for those who are not familiar with BlogJob, here’s a brief primer on the payment system.  Overall any of our activities are worth one point, so we get one point for posting in the forums section, one point for posting a status update, and one point  for posting to a group.  We can also receive one point for referring visitors to BlogJob, although I’ll be honest with you, I’m not sure how that works at the moment.  The serious points kick in when we create and publish a blog post of 300+ words; then we receive 50 points.  Points translate to gift cards or money, which you can learn more about at this link to the BlogJob store.  Because we get paid to write and it’s a great place to get started in freelance writing/freelance blogging, I legitimately recommend BlogJob.

Rapid Blue’s concern relates to how we users get paid for our status updates and group replies.  I’ll use myself as an example  here.  I can get one point whether I post one “Good morning *insert name of user*!” or something more involved like “Hello fellow Kindle users!  Today the Kindle Daily Deals are *books by this author*.  If you haven’t read anything by this author, you should take the chance today when their books are on a really good sale.  Let me know if you took advantage of this deal!”  To be fair, I would only report about the Kindle Daily Deals once per day as opposed to many status updates about various news or vents, but having made this Kindle Daily Deal update a regular post, I think it’s worth mentioning in my example.  Rapid Blue is concerned that posters who do many “Good morning *insert name of user*!” posts are abusing the points system and could potentially drain BlogJob’s money supply.

This is my take on Rapid Blue’s suggestion of limiting points to blogs (50 points each) and forum conversations (one point each).  I absolutely support the idea of cracking down on spammy “Good morning!”/”Good evening!” posts because they do take away from interesting status updates and group discussion topics and it really is too easy of a way to make points.  I spend serious time (sometimes minutes rather than seconds) creating status updates.  Even the personal ones or the vent-y ones have thought behind them.  Certainly there are ways for users to create thoughtful “Good morning!”/”Good evening posts!”  How about doing one of each and include a nice picture quote?  I have done this many times and while it’s a little bit of an easy way to make points, it’s restricted to one “Good morning!” and one “Good evening!” post, which should not drain the system but still lets other users know that you wish them well.  I don’t want to see status updates and group comment posts be worth zero points, but there is one thing that I think could negotiate between getting zero points and cracking down on short posts. Rapid Blue even said it themselves that if we had a character counter (such as requiring each comment to be at least ten words for it to even be published and credited as a point) we could clean up the website.  I actually enjoy posting status updates and sending other users well wishes, but I too would like to see more thoughtful, longer posts.

The New SimpleSite

As I and many visitors to this blog have noticed, some website creation platforms claim they are free but have a catch. On January 17th 2015 I discovered this with the website creation platform SimpleSite and had to tell everyone so that they didn’t get suckered into thinking SimpleSite was as free as it claimed.   You can read my review here for more details, but the short version of events is that it was a one month free trial before requiring the user to purchase a premium account for additional access.  I wasn’t impressed and decided to move on.  Since then, I received an email from SimpleSite letting me know that they were making a basic version of the website free.  I ignored it at first because I was still hurting from being misled the first time.

So what changed?  Today I sorted through my list of comments that I needed to approve for Freelance Writing Whisperings and I saw that many visitors have left comments thanking me for letting them know updates on websites they are curious about.  This is a source of pride for me, feeling like in my unique way I can help others.  I decided that I owe it to all of you to keep you updated on new developments.

A screencap of the first "permanently free website" email I received from SimpleSite.

A screencap of the first “permanently free website” email I received from SimpleSite.

Given that I felt misled by the original SimpleSite, I was not ready to take the above email at its word. What I had to do was compare the explanation of the original SimpleSite to the explanation of the new SimpleSite.

A screencap of the SimpleSite heirarchy.

A screencap of the SimpleSite heirarchy.

The new SimpleSite is arranged in a heirarchy of features, where the free version gives you limited features while each additional paid level offers extra benefits.  At first glance the paid levels seem expensive but if you are an active visual blogger or online marketer, I (and the SimpleSite creators) recommend purchasing a level that will let you post unlimited images.  If you aren’t sure how many images you’ll use, start with the 300 free image website and see how it progresses from there. Helpful hint: If you want to stay with the free SimpleSite option, get a free blog from Blogger to archive posts that you can’t keep on SimpleSite but want to hold onto.

The ultimate question, of course, is “Is the new SimpleSite really free?”  To clarify, this is referring to the “free” level that used to only be free as a month trial.  My response is that I need to wait a full month before I can definitively answer this question, but right now my impression is that yes, the new SimpleSite’s lowest level is free.  I advocate creating a SimpleSite website with caution because it’s probably free but since the old SimpleSite was so misleading I refuse to steer anyone in the wrong direction.




Is NeoBux Really The King of PTC Websites?

Full disclosure:  I haven’t cashed out at NeoBux yet, so I will not be speaking to its validity as a money-making website in this post.  I will absolutely write about the first time I cash out and if I receive the money, but today’s post isn’t about redemptions.

So, let’s talk about NeoBux.  It was the first paid to click (PTC) website I joined and so far I would say I have a good relationship with it. I haven’t cashed out yet because I want to hit at least $10 and that’s a long way away, but it’ll happen one of these days.  I keep returning to NeoBux because it’s the easiest PTC website to use and there’s a guarantee of making at least two cents a day.  It doesn’t sound like much, but keep in mind that this is two cents a day that you didn’t have to do physical labor for (unless you consider clicking a mouse physical labor).  Back when I worked my retail position, I had to bust my butt for two cents.  When I say ” let’s talk about NeoBux”, don’t take this the wrong way.  Sometimes we have to have a serious talk about good things too.

NeoBux is considered the king of PTC websites.  If you’re familiar with other PTC websites, maybe you’ve seen the advertisements for NeoBux calling it such.  It’s been around for at least six years according to the FAQ and it’s been paying members for all six years.  It’s one PTC website that is considered legitimate in “Is this site a scam?” websites.  I still have questions about the definition of being king of PTC websites.  NeoBux may be legitimate but it’s not a quick money-making option.  My favorite PTC website is ClixSense and I’m currently up to 5.19 there.  On NeoBux I’m only at 2.65 and that was my first PTC website (as I said in the previous paragraph).  If NeoBux isn’t a quick earner, that makes it like any other PTC website in my book.

I’m not telling you all this to warn you away.  More than anything, I just want you to know that if you aren’t already using NeoBux and you want to join, join knowing that it might take time or you to accumulate enough money to cash out.

Can You Use Blogging and Article Writing Platforms to Make a Living?

Can you use blogging and article writing platforms to make a living?  As a freelance writer who wants to see other freelance writers’ thoughts on maintaining their platforms and earning money from it, I’ve searched, read, and come to the conclusion that there’s mixed reviews on this point.  Most, if not all, freelance writers will tell you that if you’re writing online, you need more than one paying website for your work.  I’ve seen the quote “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” way more times than I care to count.  Clichés aside, it’s excellent advice.  Should an online writer stick to one website for making income?  No, it’s too much of a risk.  Can an online writer make money from blogging and article writing on various platforms?  It’s been done before, so apparently they can.

My question was prompted by a very frustrating non-announcement announcement from Arvind Dixit, the moderator and co-creator of Bubblews.  In his blog post “Clarity” he “explained” that Bubblews was never a way for freelance writers to earn an income and in fact it was intended for those who love to write and would write for free but through Bubblews would be compensated for their writing as a hobby.  It was frustrating, it was jarring, and it confirms my earlier idea that Bubblews has lost all sense of legitimacy.  With the changes in payment at Bubblews, there’s no way a freelance writer could earn an income (short of giving up sleeping, eating, and probably breathing).  That wasn’t always true.  I was a member of Bubblews when they had a horribly amateur layout for the site but they also paid a full penny for every view, comment, and “like”.  This was back when you could request redemption at $25, just to show you how long ago that was.  If you were a freelance writer who wanted an income solely from Bubblews, you were still out of luck.  However, it was possible to make substantial supplementary income.  While it’s true that Bubblews is not profitable anymore, it used to be one of many options a freelance writer could use.

I admit to having a tendency to throw all of my writing into one website, and that’s dangerous.  I have a trail of sorts of all the online writing websites I’ve used for my posts.  As a “baby” freelance writer I gave Triond a go.  It was fun from what I remember, but the website filters sorted your articles into the most appropriate category and sometimes the sorting algorithm landed your article in the worst category ever.  Around that time I also tried a blogging platform known as RedGage, but I quickly lost interest in it.  I did have an account on Squidoo, back when they existed and weren’t completely ridiculous, but I did not like creating “lenses” and being forced to promote all sorts of products.  I had a series of Blogger blogs, but I wasn’t able to make them profitable because I couldn’t figure out how Google AdSense worked.  I turned to Daily Two Cents and actually I still occasionally check out their newest posts because the two moderators are really helpful and it’s a WordPress script.  I would use them more if, like on BlogJob, we could have very specific blogs rather than writing all sorts of posts in a jumbled mess.  Still, it’s one of my “baskets”.  For a time I also had an account on ChatAbout, which was more conversational than article writing but was a good place to make decently quick money.  The censorship bothered me and eventually I had it.  I wasn’t siteless for long.  If you’ve seen me on Blogjob, you know the rest of my story.  Right now I’m dedicated to BlogJob.

I know that being so loyal a risk given my history with other writing platforms and seeing how quickly websites come and go.  I’m not going to say that I don’t care about the risks involved, but I feel like it’s worth the chance.  Of all the websites I’ve used for writing, BlogJob has been the one that I know I can earn supplementary income from because I’ve personally experienced it.  To answer my own question, yes, blogging and writing platforms can assist in making income.  I would add the disclaimer that like other freelance writers have said, it’s not a sure thing.

Does Grammar or Spelling Make or Break a Website For You?

There’s something that’s been bothering me for quite some time.  I enjoy discovering new websites, especially websites that pay you for articles or blogs and paid to click (PTC) websites.  Don’t get me wrong, I also love finding new-to-me news aggregates that cover a little bit of everything, since I’m an eclectic reader myself and get easily bored with only one subject area.  I’m definitely a reader+writer+online moneymaker, in other words.  Then one thing I am not is blind to grammar and spelling errors.  I don’t have patience for poor grammar, spelling, or bad writing.  I should clarify that I see a difference between wanting to help others improve such things as grammar, spelling, and writing in a professional setting (such as my career goal to become an English, composition, and reading tutor for high school students) and reading professional writers being not-that-stellar.  Once you’re in a setting where writing should be your strong suit but you don’t deliver on it, I have problems with misspellings and poor sentence structure.

Errors I’ve Seen:

  • Finnaly=Finally
  • Monney=Money
  • Depodit=Deposit
  • Refferals=Referrals
  • The wrong use of you’re and your.
  • People who get apostrophe-happy and add apostrophes where they don’t belong.  For example, one website wrote “This is a perfect opportunity for newbie’s”.
  • This one just makes me weep.  A writing website had this slogan “Place, where writers earn good money”.  I actually am curious about researching this particular website further, but what in the world?  Shouldn’t your slogan be error free?

Am I too hard on website creators?  I expect a semblance of professionalism but when I’ve discussed this topic with my folks over and over and let’s just say they think I’m nitpicky and persnickety.  By the way, I would forgive a person for misspelling “persnickety” because it’s not that common of a word.  Back to the main subject, I don’t believe I’m alone in questioning the legitimacy of websites when simple words are misspelled but sometimes I wonder.

What about you?  Would you question the legitmacy of a website if it was dotted with simple spelling and grammar errors?  Are you more forgiving and think “Mistakes happen”?  Finally, do you think I’m too nitpicky and persnickety?

SimpleSite: Free With a Catch

I’m pleased to announce that after an absence of new article posting or blogging website reviews, I found a new website to review.  I’m not so pleased to announce that I wouldn’t recommend using SimpleSite unless you have $10 to shell out every month.  Free?  Ha!  Of course, I’m getting ahead of myself.  Let’s return to my discovery of and the SimpleSite website services.

I am going to blow your mind when I say that I’m highly impressed with the SimpleSite homepage and description of the product, at least from an aesthetic standpoint.  I am a sucker for beautifully designed websites even if they’re questionable.  Check out “Getting Started With Your SimpleSite” here to see what I mean.  Under the heading “How it Works” there’s bullet points explaining the key benefits of Simple Site and below that there are categories that go into more specific detail.  It’s such a clean layout!  But, and it is a huge but, do you notice that something’s missing?  No guesses?  Excellent!  Let me explain the kicker about using SimpleSite.

SimpleSite is not free.  I know, I know, they said it was.  It’s quite easy to get excited and think “Oh hey, I can’t wait to build my awesome new website!  Why haven’t I discover them sooner?”  Just me?  On a more serious note, it’s problematic at best that SimpleSite is and isn’t up front about the free website only being a 30 day trial period.  Underneath the category “Getting Started With SimpleSite” it has a clickable link stating “Make your free website today.”  There is no mention that your “free” website is only free for 30 days.  Once your trial period ends, you have to pay a subscription fee.  Check out the “SimpleSite FAQ” here for the hidden details.  There are three levels of subscription fees.  If you want to keep your website up and running on a monthly basis, your fee is only $10.  This is relatively reasonable for a subscription, but you’ll see where it could be problematic for you later.  If you’d rather spend $25, you can purchase a three month subscription.  If you’re loaded and plan to be frequently active on your SimpleSite, you can buy a yearly subscription for $80.  The thing is, you need to decide early on what kind of subscription you want.  If you don’t purchase a subscription when your old one expires, SimpleSite’s moderators will delete your website and it’s just gone.  This is probably me thinking of users being broke college students who can’t afford frivolous websites, but SimpleSite does not sound like such a good pursuit.  If you’re going to be spending serious money on a website hosting service, wouldn’t it be better if you could keep your old work that you did pay a subscription for?

I may have been able to overlook SimpleSite being free with a catch, but I’m not impressed by the hoops I had to jump through to find out that information.  SimpleSite is a beautifully designed web and as you know, I give credit where it’s due.  That isn’t enough for me to say I am not impressed it doesn’t tell you the entire story on the homepage.  Use caution if you want to pursue SimpleSite.

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