Saturday, January 31, 2009

Recession Survival through Income Diversification

While discussing the economy and how to survive job layoffs, a reporter asked me what advice I would give to someone anticipating financial storm clouds. I replied,
Diversify income as quickly as possible. If money is coming from only one source, you're too exposed. Have several sources of income, a side job, a product you sell, something else that brings in money other than your 9-to-5.
As a freelance writer/ online marketer, this is true for me as well. Writing just for one client, for those who ghostwrite or write for a byline, can be risky. I saw this firsthand in the past year when friends of mine on the WAHMs Who Write Forum were let go from Demand Studios, Writers Research Group and other large companies. Suddenly they had no work or very little, and their families were counting on their income.

My income comes mainly from the following, in no particular order:
Having income from a multitude of sources is my basic business model as a freelance writer and WAHM. I would be bored with just one avenue, but it's also a hedge against income loss as I could bring any one of these income sources up to a higher level if my primary sources dropped or dried up.

How do you diversify your income sources?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Podcast Interview with eBayCoach

Suzanne, aka eBayCoach, interviewed me about eHow for her podcast series. I was delighted to be on her show and to spend time chatting about eHow and eBay, two great ways for Work at Home Moms to earn money from home.

In the podcast, Suzanne and I share our own eHow experiences as well as offer advice and tips for those new to the site or who want to take their experience there to the next level.

The podcast was a great way to cross two audiences, freelance writers on eHow and eBay sellers, and the end result was that eBay sellers interested in using eHow as another source of income and a way to promote their eBay stores are turning to me and my ebook for advice, and eHow writers and WAHMs who read my blog are turning to Suzanne for tips.

By the way, Suzanne is an expert at making money on eBay. I highly recommend that you check out her blog, where she is offering her Stay at Home Mom's Guide to eBay Selling to readers for free. Take advantage of her wisdom and grab a copy of this book, which you can use to clear out your closets for cash as well as build up an eBay business that's successful.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Bukisa Payout Reached

I've hit the $50 payout level on Bukisa and will receive payment next month, in February, according to the terms of use. I'll let you know how prompt the payment is after it's received.

As you can see, 1/5 of my earnings are from my own content and the other 4/5 is from my network's earnings. My strategy with Bukisa was to build up my network at the get-go, as soon as I heard about the site and had tried it out and considered it legitimate, since network earnings are 100% passive income.

I'm using Bukisa to publish high-hit articles, since the site pays by view and not by ad clicks. I'm also using the site to build backlinks to some of my eHow articles and blogs, to improve page rank with Google and other search engines.

As Bukisa grows and revenue sharing sites increase in popularity, I expect it to be a good earner and another key ingredient to making money online through content, both for its own earnings and for building links and traffic to my other work.

Have you used Bukisa to build backlinks to your other sites? Are you building your Bukisa network (without using spammy PMs!)?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Revenue Sharing Sites: eHow, Bukisa, and InfoBarrel

Revenue-sharing content sites are a great way for writers, stay at home moms, hobbyists, college students, retirees, eBay sellers or anyone interested, to make money online. Writing talent -- or at least the ability to string together coherent sentences and present a topic in a logical step-by-step manner -- comes in handy, as does a little web savvy and knowledge of keyword optimization. But it's not a difficult process, and is one of the most legitimate ways to make money online and build residual income streams.

I write niche content sites and maintain a few blogs through Wordpress and Blogger, but revenue from eHow is still a large portion of my monthly income. Writing for eHow has been a great experience for me ... publishing a new article there is as easy as it gets, the site's page rank ensures my articles do well with the search engines, and the amount of monthly traffic can't be beat, an the revenue sharing model seems fair to its contributors. All of these aspects together make content writing on eHow quite profitable, allowing me -- and so many eHow writers -- to create a residual income stream that keeps generating income month after month and yes, year after year.

While eHow is the best paying revenue-sharing content site I've tried thus far, there are a couple others that are quite promising in regards future earnings as the sites grow. They also have some excellent features that aren't available at eHow yet, including the ability to link to other sites and articles within the body of your piece, and a freestyle template that lets you get away from the how-to format.

With an eye toward residual income and promoting my other work, I've been contributing to Bukisa, and wrote about my Bukisa earnings last month. I am nearing the $50 payout, and will let readers know when that occurs and how timely the payment from Bukisa is made. Bukisa pays based on page views, so the best strategy for Bukisa is to concentrate on high-traffic keyword titles that receive many searches, and not worry about the cost of related ads. User questions and inquiries to the the site receive prompt reply.

InfoBarrel is a promising new content-based community. I have two articles online and ideas for many more (of course). After emailing a few times with Kevin, one of the site's founders, I am satisfied enough to write for the site and hope for long-term success. Once you have written 10 articles and been a member for at least 14 days, your articles will be published right away instead of being held for approval. They pay 75% of the Adsense revenue your articles generate.

Other revenue-sharing content sites I've tried include:

  • HubPages: Wrote my first Hubs about the same time I wrote my first eHow artcles. One is on a similar topic, but has earned far less than, one of my high-earning eHows. Have had some decent earnings here, but eHow is more profitable for me.
  • Associated Content: Have only written a couple AC articles. There pay is so little, I'd rather post my work almost anywhere else.
  • Xomba: Good way to promote my other content, short blurbs there have earned a few dollars each over time, not bad for length of pieces, but really only use as way to get links.
  • BrightHub: Was better in the beginning but now the article suggestion, permission and writing cycle is too complicated and annoying. You have to apply and be accepted to be a writer for the site.
What revenue-sharing content sites do you write for online? Have you tried any of the above-mentioned, or places like Squidoo, Suite 101, Helium? I'd love to hear your comments!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Tips on WAHM Success in the New Year

It's a new year, traditionally a time to start fresh, make goals and set out to achieve what eluded us in the previous year. My big goal, which admittedly is a several-years goal, is to build up a full-time residual income through content articles, niche websites, and eventually a print book, before I turn 30.

For 2009, I would like to double my average 2008 monthly residual income by the end of the year. It's a big project for me, especially since my life is filled with three lovely children who are not yet in school, and I have a very limited amount of time to write each day. Only by setting realistic daily agendas will I have any hope of accomplishing what I've set out to do.
Tip: Break down your yearly resolutions into monthly, weekly and daily goals. Write them down and refer to them at the start of each day.
For example, one of my goals for the new year is to add to my existing niche sites as well as create several new ones to diversify my residual income. But with such an open-ended goal, it's important to give myself actionable daily and weekly tasks to ensure I ultimately reach that goal.

Today, my task for this goal was to add a new page, based on one related keyword phrase, to my pets-themed website. I did it first thing this morning, before turning to the editing work I do for one of my few remaining clients (I let almost all of my clients go after reaching my residual income goals. But this one is a friend's father, and I still do occasional editing or proofreading jobs for him).

Another one of my goals is to add a new eHow article each day. I have many drafts, so finding ideas isn't my struggle, but I am behind on writing and mean to catch up this week. It's just that since earnings have been down on eHow since the site changes, writing my own niche sites has kind of become more my focus in the past couple months.

For efficiency, I use the Motivated Moms Full Size Planner, which really helps me stay on track with my weak spot: home organization and cleaning. On the same planner, I note daily writing tasks and miscellaneous appointments. By referring to this at the start of each day, I can stay on task and plan the day effectively.

The most important ingredient to my success in the writing and income sector of my life (as well as my sanity!) is to schedule in at least two hours a day in which I can write uninterrupted while the children sleep. For me, this is 5:30 to 7:30 a.m. And it means I have to get to bed early to function well.

Tip: Find the best hours to work while your children are sleeping or at school and take full advantage of this time.
If you are a night owl, you may do best in the evening after the kids are in bed. Personally, I can't write late at night. I am completely ineffective after about 9 pm. But if this is your best time -- do it then. Turn off the TV, ignore distractions, and accomplish your goals.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Get Organized, Moms!

If lack of time is keeping you from reaching your income goals or starting projects you know will prove to be lucrative, it's time to get organized. We all have the same number of hours -- you just need to stop wasting time and make sure you accomplish the important things.

How many times have you wasted an hour or two online and then realized you didn't get even one new article written? I know it's happened to me. Yeah, you have to reply to blog comments and check out your friends' articles ... but first things first. Break down your goals into daily to-do lists and add them to your planner. If you're a WAHM, your planner should be chock full of things -- daily chores, menu plans, appointments, kids activities, writing deadlines and the like.

I used the Motivated Moms system for the last few months of 2008 and just purchased the 2009 version to keep me on track for the new year. It rocks!

Here's a sample page of my Motivated Moms 2009 Full Size Planner: (click image to enlarge):

It's basically the Fly Lady house cleaning system broken down into daily checklists, with my self-added writing goals and daily appointments all in one place. If you have trouble balancing it all, resort to this simple checklist system. It rotates your chores for you, incorporating daily, weekly, monthly and seasonal tasks all in one simple planner system.

I'll be relying on my Motivated Moms planner to make sure I keep up with my writing goals for the year and stay on top of the house. I love writing, but I don't love housework. Knowing what I have to do each day simplifies things.

What's your favorite organizational tool or tip?

Top eHow article hits $1,000 in Revenue

Thank goodness I stepped out on a limb just over a year ago and decided to experiment by writing directly for eHow. At the time, I was suggesting how-to titles for a content company contracted by Demand Media to provide articles for the site. For each topic they approved and I wrote, I was paid a flat fee: $11.

Of course, for a stay at home mom who could crank out 2-3 an hour at times, the hours rate wasn't bad -- and it was better than what I was earning grading high school English papers at night. So I certainly wasn't complaining. But ... what if I could retain the rights to my work and possibly earn more submitting directly to eHow? I decided to give it a shot after eHow's Rich stopped by the WAHM writer's forum trying to recruit eHow members.

My first article has earned hundreds of dollars. One of the articles I wrote a month in to my experiment has now crossed the $1,000 mark. Wow. (Click image to enlarge. Some details removed.)

Is that not awesome? Here's hoping a few of the others cross that mark in 2009. And if you still needed convincing, residual income is the best business model for writers, in my opinion. In 2009, I'll be doing all of my writing for residual income streams. It took me a full year to transition from writing for pay, per article, to writing only "for myself" in residual income models.

I'm not just turning my back on $11 articles, or the $30 articles I was writing for another site. I charged $150 each for blog post articles in 2008 for a software company, and could have continued to write for them ... but my heart wasn't there. I only have so many hours to write, and I want to spend them building up long-term income sources that will continue to earn money for my family months and even years down the road.

Of course, since my income is a secondary income for our family, and I had to replace a part-time income and not a full-time one, it took less time, perhaps, than it would have otherwise. However, if you have more hours to devote to building up residuals, perhaps you can get there even more quickly.

In the coming year, it's my goal to build up a full-time residual income ... working very part-time, of course, and using the foundation I already have in place.

What are your writing income goals for 2009?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Maximize eHow Earnings with Affiliate Links

Do you earn income from affiliate products you recommend in your eHow articles? If not ... it's time to start. I encourage you, if you have a library of eHow articles, to take some time to add affiliate links or links to your other sites and blogs, under the Resources section of your articles. Don't waste time on social promotion, Digging and Stumbling articles that really aren't going to appeal to those social communities. Instead -- maximize your earnings potential by adding another residual income revenue stream to your content.

For this post, I'm going to assume you've joined the affiliate programs and can navigate them enough to generate the code for the products. Here's how to add affiliate links to your eHow articles for several of the affiliate programs I use.

To build affiliate links to Amazon products, choose the "text only" option, to simplify the HTML code you'll see. While the program generates HTML code, you are just after the link -- you can NOT copy and paste the entire HTML code into your eHow article or Resources section.

Here's what it looks like when you're getting the affiliate code for Amazon products (click to enlarge):
Select the URL that begins http:// and is located between the quote marks. Do not inlcue the quotes, but make sure you have highlighted every character in between. Copy this web address to your clipboard by keying CTRL + C or by right-clicking your highlight link and then selecting "Copy" or "Copy to clipboard" in the menu that appears.

You now have the affiliate code for the product you wanted to recommend -- and if someone buys it form your link, you'll get credit -- and money. Scroll down to "Putting it All Together," below, to see how to add this link to your eHow articles.

Commission Junction is a great affiliate network, and I'm averaging around $100 a month from affiliate sales through CJ, even with a very low number of links online. I'll be adding more CJ links to my articles and sites in the coming months.

After choosing the product or site you wish to promote, choose "Get HTML" for the link you want. You'll see the following dialog box:

Select the affiliate link between the quotes. You'll use this in your eHow article ... scroll down to "Putting it All Together" to see how.


My ebook is hosted with eJunkie, and there are scores of information products on the site that offer affiliate programs. (If you're not an eHow ebook affiliate, you should be! You can earn $12.50 per sale by promoting my ebook in eHow-related articles, money-themed how-to's and even your blog. )And then you'll have the code:

Select only the link between the quotes, which in this case I have underlined in blue.

Putting it All Together: Adding the affiliate links to eHow articles

After generating your HTML code, selecting the appropriate link, and copying it to your clipboard, you're ready to add the link to your eHow article. Open the article for editing, and scroll down to the last few sections of the Write Article tool.

Screen shot of the eHow Write Article tool, to illustrate (click to enlarge):

Paste the affiliate link in the "link" section and then write or copy and paste a descriptive phrase about the product or site. Keep it short and simple. Hit publish. Now view your article, and click the link to make sure you added it correctly.

From the outside, your affiliate link simply looks like a helpful resource (which it is):

There you have it. Easy-peasy, right?

Don't expect huge overnight earnings ... the Resources section is so far down that most readers never see it. But some, intrigued by the information in your articles and wanting to know more, keep scrolling and see your resources. Some click, some don't. Some buy the products you recommend. Most don't.

But just like the adsense clicks, day in and day out, it adds up over time. A few minutes to build a link can translate into many dollars over time. My best-performing link has earned me hundreds of dollars over the past few months. This is passive income at its best -- enjoy it.