Thursday, December 30, 2010

Backlink Experiment: Before & After

As mentioned in my past few posts, I've been busy backlinking my niche sites and blogs and eHow articles to improve their placement in the search engine result pages (SERPs), increase traffic and ultimately to earn more through ad clicks and affiliate purchases.

One of the eHow articles I backlinked showed a dramatic increase in views and earnings that can't be attributed to seasonal factors as it is one of those "evergreen" articles not particularly affected by the time of year. In fact, its previous best month was in the spring.

Here's what How to Get Applications for Free Personal Government Grants looked like at the end of October, before the backlink:

And here's how it's doing today, with views jumping by 2,000 in less than two months and earnings nearly quadrupling:

After a decent first two months when it was initially published, the article had nosedived for the next three months until I gave it a good article database backlink on Oct. 29, 2010. From that point, it took off:

I found this little one-article example very interesting -- crazy how one simple back-link (albeit from a very well-ranked source) could have such a profound effect so quickly.

Have I convinced you yet about the power of a good backlink? If not, I'll follow up shortly with an update on my affiliate earnings in recent months and how backlinks have contributed to that success, too.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Crazy High eHow Earnings

Residual income from my eHow articles hit an all-time high in November 2010, with a combined total of over $3,000 from my WriterGig account, Demand Studios residuals, and another very small profile. My WriterGig profile alone brought in an eye-popping $2,870.42 USD in November and is already over $2,600 so far in December. These earnings come from just 390 articles, written between Oct. 2007 and April 2010.

This fairly impressive increase in revenue (some 7 months after eHow stopped allowing writers to contribute new articles) resulted, in my estimation, from a few particularly popular seasonal articles in conjunction with a back-linking campaign I started in September. [I wrote articles for Ezine Articles and several other article directory sites, and linked to particular eHow how-tos in my author bio at the end of these article submissions.]

These two high months bring my 2010 eHow earnings  to over $20,000 -- not bad for what amounts to almost entirely passive income from articles that have long since paid me for my time invested. Isn't that incredible? I sincerely wish I had written hundreds more eHow articles when I still had the chance, before the Writers Compensation program was closed to new articles.

While eHow is not the opportunity for making money online that it once was, since nobody new can join and no new articles can be submitted (except through a Demand Studios account), it is still possible to increase your eHow earnings as I have done and as David Sarokin has in the past few months as well (his recent $2k+ eHow month inspired me to shoot for one myself).

Have you seen an increase in eHow earnings recently? Will you give backlinking a try to improve your earnings at eHow and elsewhere?

Thursday, October 28, 2010 = Traffic, Sales is my new best friend -- or, at least, my new favorite site. I've started using this online article directory to publish articles that link to my niche sites and blogs. While I created my account over two years ago, I only had a couple articles there and didn't realize what I was missing.

One of the articles I wrote last week is already in number-one position in the search results for its keywords and has received 96 views already. It links to my pets niche site, which earns money through Adsense and affiliate commissions for Amazon products and a pet-specific ebook through Clickbank.

As a direct result of my recent articles published on, I've seen:
  • A WA membership sale ($40)
  • Four pets niche ebook sales ($80)
  • Slightly increased Adsense earnings
  • More traffic to my sites
This is after writing articles on EzineArticles for only two weeks. The real benefits are probably a few months out, and will hopefully grow over time as more people find, link to and republish these articles.

After publishing my initial 10 articles, awarded me "Platinum" writer status, which means I can now write an unlimited number of articles and my articles are reviewed within a day, instead of the 7-day wait experienced as a Basic level author. I do have several author names under one account, using various pen names for different niches. So while I have 14 articles live on the site, an individual author profile may only show a handful of these.

Because is well loved by Google and has great page ranking, your articles there will receive exposure and provide high-quality backlinks to the site or blog you link to in your author bio. Backlinks are an essential ingredient in your online writing success -- don't overlook this important aspect.

Are you writing articles on What has your experience there been like?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

WA Article Club: Inside Scoop

I recently joined a one-month WA Article Marketing Club when it was offered to Wealthy Affiliate members who wanted to learn the ins and outs of article marketing from the ground up. For this club, we each created new blogs using Wordpress Express and are promoting them through free sites such as Ezine Articles, Articlesbase, and other article directories. While these blogs all promote Wealthy Affiliate, the method can be applied to any niche.

Article marketing has never been something I've done in earnest for a particular campaign. With eHow articles, it really wasn't necessary, and I never realized how powerful an article marketing campaign can be for backlinks and traffic. In the WA article club, we write and publish about two articles off-site for every one post or page we publish on our blogs. Each of the two articles is tightly related to the topic of the blog post, and links directly to it as well as to the blog's home page.

This is a whole new method of backlinking for me, as I previously added backlinks rather sporadically and had only ever written a handful of articles for article databases. For instance, I created my Ezine articles account in 2008, but I've added more articles in the past week than I had in the previous two years put together.

In addition to the article marketing, the club has shown me a new way to set up Wordpress blogs, where there is a separate page for the blog posts as well as pages for FAQ, About, and other key pages. I hadn't known you could have your blog posts show up anywhere other than the front page... yes, I was a little behind the times.

After completing the 30-days tasks for my new Legit Work at Home blog, I will repeat the process for my pets niche site and my food niche site, both of which have shown great potential already (the pets one earns over $250 a month with the minimum effort I've put forth). I will update about their progress after completing the article club steps for these sites -- I'm really excited to see how it works out.

What are you working on? Have you done article marketing to promote your website or blog? I'd love to hear your experiences...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Are You Causing Your Earnings Plateau?

Have you been stuck in the same earnings bracket for weeks or months ... or even longer? Is there a monetary ceiling that you just haven't been able to crack? Whether you earn $500 a  month from your articles and blog or $1,000 in residual income every week, if the numbers don't change much from month to month ... you just might be the reason your earnings are stagnate.

In Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, author T. Harv Eker posits that each of us has a "money blueprint" that determines more or less our earnings potential and our spending habits. Some people have relatively high blueprints and thus achieve wealth more readily than others. Others might have a poor financial blueprint, created by a variety of factors throughout their lives, that predisposes them to spend every penny they earn, never getting ahead of the bills. Still others neither earn nor spend very much; it's just how they are wired.

Reading this chapter resonated with me -- I realized that I had set my blueprint for online residual income at about $2,500 a month and there my earnings sat, fluctuating slightly, for over a year. You see, I was subconsciously satisfied with that number. It was far more than I ever thought I would earn online, and just what my family needed to make ends meet every month, with a little extra for getting out of debt and for savings. It was all I needed to earn, all I intended to earn, and so it was all I earned.

Reset Your Money Blueprint

It's incredible how powerful your mindset is in determining everything from your mood to your character. It affects your interpersonal relationships and determines the kind of person you will become. And, it seems, it predicts how much money you make. (Of course, money seems trivial when juxtaposed with things like virtue and character, but it is simply one aspect that is influenced greatly by mindset and more to the point of this blog than the others.)

Steps you can take today to reset your money blueprint and increase your monthly income:
  1. Make a higher income goal than the last one you achieved. Don't pick some lofty number you secretly  think you'll never make. Decide how much you want to earn, a number you will actually work toward, and write it down. Commit to this goal.
  2. Change your negative thinking processes. You know, the ones that say you can't do it, or that you're getting in over your head. Believe in your abilities to succeed and to help make the world -- or your corner of it -- a better place.
  3. Calculate your net financial worth and update it every month. This simple process is highly motivating as you get out of debt and build wealth.
Have you subconsciously been satisfied with your level of earnings and seen a plateau? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic.  

Recommended Reading: Making Goals and Setting Tasks

Recommended Resource:  Wealthy Affiliate University

Friday, September 17, 2010

List My Five: Not eHow, but ...

"Writers Compensation Program." "Residual Income." "(Your Name Here)'s Articles." Sound familiar?

No, it's not eHow. It's not even close. But the name of their revenue-sharing program, also abbreviated by its initials, WCP, and the promise of residual income based on user-submitted content's popularity, topic, quality and number of pieces written, sure sounds like it comes from somebody at least familiar with the eHow model.

It's called ... List My Five

And while the site is brand-spanking new (the first time I searched Google for "List My Five" it wasn't even on the first or second page) it's well done, with a simple, attractive, user-friendly interface. The content submission form works properly and has already evolved since my first perusal: you can now add links in a resources section after the article's content (hmmm, where have I seen that before?).

Sadly, the RRC folks will have a field day on ListMyFive: their FAQ includes the following as a factor that will increase earnings: "User response to your lists, such as positive ratings and comments." Oh, dear. Do they realize what they have unleashed? [For those unfamiliar with the day-to-day life on eHow forums during their WCP heyday, there was  Read, Rate, Comment Club on eHow whose devotees would spam inboxes and forum posts with pleas for other site members to "Read my articles so I can earn more! I'll return the favor!"]

List My Five Communication ... not great.
On September 6, I requested via email to interview the site owners or representative via email or phone. I received a prompt reply:


Thanks for taking interest in List My Five.  We would be happy to provide information about our website and opportunities with our WCP for your blog.  We would ask that you send us an email or form with a list of questions we could answer for your blog, along with your blog's URL. We will return your requested information asap.


The List My Five Team.
I sent the required information and waited. I followed up politely, and then heard back on September 9:

We have forwarded your request and it should be completed by the founders at their earliest convenience.

Thanks for your patience,

The List My Five Team.
But despite two follow-up emails from me since then, I haven't received another reply and none of my questions were ever answered. I wish they had been, because I could share the information and probably help them increase interest in the site.

Just today, a new "Support" tab appeared in the user panel. So it's clear the site is being maintained and updated; I wouldn't be surprised if they add forums soon too. Perhaps as the site grows there will be better response from the folks behind it, but I had better communication from eHow, InfoBarrel and Bukisa in those sites' early days.

ListMyFive for Residual Income
There's no way to know, yet, what to expect from earnings at this new site. It's just way too young and there haven't been any results to analyze yet. Well, one of my articles has earned a penny ... but I wouldn't stake your hopes and dreams on a penny.

Since the site is so new, it doesn't have the page rank or search engine strength to boost your submitted articles to the front page of Google the way eHow did. To achieve this, your strategy would have to be very heavy on building backlinks to your published top-5 lists.

In which case, adding content to your own niche sites and topic-specific blogs would be in may ways superior as you OWN them. As someone whose monthly online earnings are still top-heavy with eHow, I am focusing on building my residual income through affiliate marketing and personally recommend that at least half your web-based income come via sties that you personally own and control.

That being said, my hunch is that ListMyFive will grow quickly and have a wider user base than other rev-share start-ups, such as InfoBarrel. The site is so easy to use and the articles are quick and fun to write: that's hugely attractive to web writers. The talk of residual income will be endearing as well. So in a nutshell ... write a few articles, link to them, and see where the site goes.

I'll be keeping an eye on ListMyFive ... and publishing my own lists there from time to time. What about you?

Friday, September 10, 2010

August Earnings from eHow, Adsense & Affiliate Sales (and Bukisa)

I know how much people enjoy seeing earnings reports from writers and internet marketers -- it can be both encouraging and reassuring that making money online is really possible. When I was first starting out it was a real boost to my confidence to read updates from bloggers making $500 and $1,000 or even $10,000 a month. It was very inspirational to me. So ... here are some of my earnings from August 2010:

eHow                $1,825.05

Google Adsense   $332.77                 $224.92

Amazon             $168.25

WA                   $110.00
Clickbank             $60.06

Bukisa                  $53.27

 Total reported here:             $2,774

(I also have miscellaneous earnings from single-company affiliate programs, my ebook, and a few other sources.)

August was a very good, although not record-breaking, month for eHow earnings. (The number here is just for my earnings under the WriterGig profile; I also have residuals from Demand Studios eHow articles and from another eHow profile not included here.) After checking the month's earnings, I found myself wishing I'd written just a few hundred more eHow articles than I did over the nearly 3 years the eHow Writers' Compensation Program (WCP) existed. Yes, I'm building up my own sites and blogs ... but these articles and pages take much longer than eHow articles did to start earning. You really can't beat eHow's great pagerank and traffic. But I digress.

Google Adsense was also strong, my second-highest month by a few dollars. This is encouraging as my main Adsense earner actually does best in the spring, so a strong August is very promising. My other niche sites are starting to show up with Adsense impressions and I'm looking forward to seeing these numbers grow as I add content and build backlinks.

My sales were more than $200, and the bulk of that is for a specific product I started marketing three years ago simply by adding a link under one of my eHow articles. I have four eHow articles that link to this product; those few links from 2007 have brought in over $2,000 in sales commissions. That is about as passive as income gets.

Clickbank is on the rise for me, which is a direct result of putting into practice the methods taught at the new affiliate marketing membership site I joined back in June (I'll blog more about this in an update post soon). It's great to see these sales, especially since they amount to $20 per sale. So three sales for the CB product I promote yields $60 ... I had to sell 123 products on Amazon in August to get the $168 listed here. But I'm not complaining about those Amazon earnings ... most of them are from years-old links as well and are a great boost to my monthly earnings total.

Was August a good month for your online earnings? Have you added any new residual income/ passive income streams this summer?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Work at Home Jobs for Moms 2: Blogging

 This is the second post in my work at home jobs for moms series. 

How much money can you make from online blogging?

There are thousands -- hundreds of thousands, maybe millions -- of "mom bloggers" who share their thoughts and ideas on their blogs. You're reading one of them right now. While most bloggers blog for personal enjoyment or to share their family news with friends, some do it to earn money. And of those who hope to earn from their blogs, only a small percentage actually succeed at building a significant or even part-time income from their work.

What sets the "earners" apart from the "non-earners"? I think there are a few things that increase your chances of making money from a blog:
  1. Niche: The theme or topic of your blog needs to be narrow enough that you have a definite focus, yet broad enough that you always have topics on which to write and a large enough audience who cares about the topic.
  2. Strategy: How will you make money from your blog while helping your audience? If every post is an overt effort to sell something or promote a paid review item, readers will lose interest and profits will be sparse. A good blog monetization strategy considers first and foremost what your audience is looking for and what you can do to help them get the information or things they need.
  3. Content: Good, original, useful information will draw readers, keep them coming back for more and cause your readers to share your posts through social media online. Dry, stale, redundant posts will have the opposite effect. As a blogger, it's your job to bring fresh, helpful, funny, interesting, or beautiful content to the table whenever you post. 
One of the first things you should do when you start a blog is to write down your plan for each of these three areas. What is your niche? What strategy will you use to earn money in this niche (adwords, paid advertisements, sponsored giveaways, affiliate links)? How will you produce good content for your blog?

To start a blog you need to do a few quick things:
  • Buy a domain name (this should be keyword specific, ie buysilveronline, not marksonlinesite).
  • Purchase a web hosting plan (I recommend using HostGator web hosting).
  • Install a blog platform (with HostGator, you can install a WordPress theme in a few minutes).
  • Start writing. 
The best resource I've found for beginner bloggers as well as more seasoned bloggers who want to increase their productivity and earnings is Amy Bass' blogging course. She has a free report on how she went from 0 to $5,000 a month and how to replicate her success. Definitely check it out -- I love that she offers that for free so you can get started without spending a dime .. other than on web hosting, of course.

Once your blog is online, there are four important things you must do to get your blog off to a great start:

1. Create an "About" page. This is such a key part, but often overlooked by bloggers. Let your readers know who who are, why you're blogging, what ties you have to the topic, and what they'll find on your blog. For example, on my About page I introduce myself, include a picture, explain that I'm a work at home mom who is seeing online success and share my goals as well as topics I'll cover on the blog.

2. Use your blog's header to tell what your blog is about. The blog tagline should be descriptive and convey in a few words what your niche is. As you see, mine mentions "tips on maximizing online income while balancing work, home and family." Visitors get an idea right away as to what type on content they'll find on the blog.

3. Include a short bio of yourself on your main page. Mine is on the top of my left-hand sidebar right now, just a headshot and a caption to give readers a sense of whose articles they are reading when they come to my blog.

4. Find related blogs in your niche and network. Start by commenting on these blogs -- look for busy ones with great content -- and link back to your blog. Link to these blogs from some of your posts when something is especially interesting or helpful. Over time, ask if you can guest blog or if the other blog authors would like to exchange links. You can get some great traffic in the beginning by commenting on many other blogs and having readers follow your hyperlink back to your blog.

The answer to my question at the beginning of this post is ... top bloggers earn thousands every month, and even tens of thousands of dollars, just from one blog.Will yours be next?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Work at Home Jobs for Moms Part 1: Re-Selling Stuff

There are many work at home jobs for moms that require little to no overhead, do not involve finding people to sell under you or host selling parties, and can be enjoyable as well as profitable. As a work at home mom who makes in the neighborhood of $3,000 a month primarily from my computer, I have several years' experiences and many ventures from which to draw on in order to share this knowledge with you.

I've earned money selling items on eBay, reselling kids' clothes at consignment sales, grading English papers from home, mystery shopping, forum posting, writing articles for hire, freelance editing, writing content articles, blogging, publishing websites, ebook writing and affiliate marketing. Two things I don't do, and refuse to do, are "paid surveys" and any type of multilevel marketing, whether it's selling makeup or microfiber cloths or kids' educational toys or kitchen gadgets at home parties -- no thanks.

It's very, very hard to build a passive income from multilevel marketing -- the cards are stacked against you. Conversely, it's actually quite possible -- with hard effort and some skills -- to make a significant income from home with a job you will enjoy and hours you choose.

Since I currently earn the bulk of my income through online sources, I'll focus on those methods in the future posts in this series. However, I first want to note several great sources for side income, especially since these can be used to build capital for  funding and growing an online business.

Work at Home Jobs for Moms:  Reselling Used Stuff

You can buy and re-sell kids clothes, home goods, collectibles and the like while working from home. This works best if you have a good sorting and storage area, such as garage or basement space, that you can use just for this purpose. as you'd assume, the key is to buy things very cheaply and to resell them for more.

eBay Selling
Don't dismiss eBay auction selling as impossible, overcrowded or not worth the time. If you find good items to resell, you can make money -- possibly even lots of money-- every week through online auctions. When I was first a stay at home mom, I built up a small eBay business and earned a few hundred dollars on the site every month, sometimes more. I simply bought things for a little and sold them for more. For example, I found a new Calvin Klein duvet at a thrift store for $5 and resold it for $60. A lamp I paid $2 for sold for $20 plus shipping, and there were many items like this where I was able to turn a  few dollars into more. Some work at home moms make a full time income selling on eBay, and most got their start finding used things to re-sell.

Good sources for items to resell include yard sales, consignment stores, Craigslist, giveaway bags from friends and family, clothing salvage stores such as Gabriel Brothers and Rugged Warehouse, discount places like Ollie's and Big Lots, and your own attic and basement.

A friend and fellow blogger, Suzanne, has tons of advice, information and free resources on making money from home with eBay at her eBay Selling Coach blog. If you have an eye for things that would sell well, or would like to develop one, check it out. Suzanne discusses ebay niches, eBay success stories -- like a thrift store find of vintage sewing patterns for 76 cents that sold for $75 on eBay -- and she is all around the best eBay blogger I've ever read.

Kids' Seasonal Consignment Sales
I sell used children's clothing, toys and furniture at semi-annual sales held in my area and make about $200-$500 per season for what amounts to a few hours' work sorting, cleaning, tagging, and  delivering my items. The money lets me splurge on new things for my kids and have extra money to spend on their birthday and Christmas gifts. If you get serious about it, you can earn thousands of dollars per sale (assuming you're selling at a sizable sale in a good area).

ConsignmentMommies is a great website and offers some key advice on top-selling kids' items and how to maximize your consignment profits. When you can source items very cheaply and resell them for great used-item prices, you'll do well. They have an extensive listing of consignment sales by state, too.
(By the way, if you are looking for affordable kids' clothing and don't have local consignments sales, you can also swap kids' clothes online for free at Thred-Up.)

 Consignment Stores
Despite the recessionary economy of the past year, or perhaps in part because of it, one of the new businesses that opened up in my hometown was a consignment store in the town's main shopping center. They accept everything from home goods to furniture to ladies' clothing to kids' toys. While the store/ consignor split isn't the best (they keep 60% of the sale price) it is an easy way to make extra money, using the same sources listed above for re-selling on eBay. for me, the consignment store is the least favorable selling option and used mainly for heavy items, home goods that wouldn't do well on eBay, and kids' clothes only in between the seasonal sales.

There are many work at home jobs for moms, and I'll discuss more -- especially online ones -- in future posts. My favorite ways to earn money form my computer involve residual income and being paid over and over for the same work. But as you can see, reselling things can be a great way to get started earning money from home. 

Have you made money selling on eBay or via consignment? What's your best re-selling success story?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Wealthy Affiliate Progress: Goals & Tasks

My blog posting has admittedly fallen to the wayside as I've concentrated on my niche sites over the summer. A big part of the Wealthy Affiliate approach is to set goals and create related tasks to accomplish these goals, periodically checking in to ensure you're still on track. The goals are an important way to envision success and articulate what you hope to achieve.

Written goals give you a way to measure your progress, and your successes or failures along the way. For example, one of my goals is to earn $800 per month from my three mini cooking-niche sites combined by September 12, 2011. Since they are currently earning just a few dollars each every month, I have a good amount of work to do to see the achievement of my goal. That's where tasks come in.

The tasks related to each goal are the specific ways in which you will work to achieve the goals. Tasks are set up on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, depending on your level of motivation and time available. One of my current tasks is to add three posts or pages to each of my cooking sites this week, and create one new backlink for each.

My Wealthy Affiliate control panel includes a user-friendly section for Tasks & Goals where I can stay organized, and create or delete these items as needed. Of course, actually doing the work is still up to me ... but having both my goals and self-created tasks staring at me is totally motivating and I am accomplishing much more than I was without a written plan.

An unanticipated benefit to my membership there has been the tools to promote Wealthy Affiliate and earn commissions on referrals made. To date, I've earned $394.50 from WA commissions, just by discussing WA on two of my blogs and in a few emails. Everyone who joins has the ability to see this kind of success and better. With the tools and instruction provided as part of your membership, you can use WA to pay for itself at a minimum, or provide another income stream to further diversify your online income.

What are your current goals for making money online? Have you set up specific tasks to help you reach those goals?

P.S. After writing this post, I noticed that fellow WAHM blogger Felicia at No Job for Mom is dreaming big with a  long term goal in the six figures annually ... I have no doubt she'll get there, and you can, too!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Too Many Niches

Do you have too many niches?

Are you spreading yourself too thin over numerous topics and trying to manage several websites and blogs?

I know I am. I have a pets website, a toys website, a cooking website, several craft/hobby sites, a nutrition site, and several blogs, on top of hundreds of individual content articles. The best of my niche sites is earning $350+ a month, but I have not had time to add to it in weeks.

An insight that really hit home for me during my Wealthy Affiliate course yesterday was the instruction to not diversify until you have exhausted a niche.

One single keyword can earn you $1,000 a day.

If you are earning $50 a week from one of your sites, the temptation might be to make another site on another topic and get that one earning $50 a week too. But stop right there -- what if you wrote more articles, promoted more products more successfully, and started a subscriber list on that SAME topic, all connected to your website? What if you added more backlinks, started a PPC (pay per click) campaign and drove as much targeted traffic as possible to your site and subscriber list?

What if you could really earn $1,000 a day from one keyword or set of keywords? Would you really need ten niche sites and a half-dozen blogs on a variety of topics?

The problem with over-diversifying is that you lose the ability to focus well on one particular niche.

This realization has been a light-bulb-moment for me. Starting today, for the rest of the summer, I am going to try to focus 90% of my efforts on one specific niche as I work through the Wealthy Affiliate training. My goal is to be earning $1,000 a month from that one particular site, which I began building over a year ago, by the end of this August.

Are you over-diversifying without maximizing your potential in a specific niche? Have you considered just working on one site for a couple months, giving it your complete focus, and measuring the results?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Wealthy Affiliate: Day 5 -- hey, this is fun!

It's day five, lesson three for me at Wealthy Affiliate University and I am having so much fun! Yes, I'm following the course and it's "work," but honestly, I am really excited to get out of bed at 5 am so I can get started on it each morning. And now I sneak in some work time after the kids are in bed, and sometimes during their nap/quiet time, just to explore the WA resources further or work on my tasks that go with each lesson.

Being part of the WA community, even for just these few days, has gotten me out of my rut and excited about my niche sites again. There is so much I've been overlooking, by moving on to other niches before I've even tapped a fraction of the potential already there. I finally have a focus when it comes to niche internet marketing; the blueprints to make my online work truly successful... and enjoyable once again.

I think it's easy to get into a rut, or become discouraged, when your focus is unclear or you're trying to do too many things at once without a set plan. If this is the case for you, like it has been for me for a few months, consider joining me at WA. So far, it's the best investment I've made all year. And unlike stocks, I expect it to be a profitable one.

So here's to having fun and working at the same time -- what a concept!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Wealthy Affiliate: Day 1

Two years after first reading about Kyle and Carson's forum and online course for internet marketers, I finally subscribed for one year. The time was right: I trusted the most recent source who recommended them, I have the money to re-invest in my online business, and I'm ready -- more than ready -- to take my affiliate income to the next level.

That, and the price, which has been $39/ month for years now, even though the site has been continually updated and improved, is doubling on June 7. By subscribing now, I locked in the current rate for all future renewals. And that benefit was enough to motivate me to make the leap now ... not after I finished another website of my own, not after the kids are back in school after the summer, not after I meet another income goal, but now: today.

The few hundred dollars I make per month in affiliate commissions (my highest month was close to $1,000 in affiliate earnings) pale in comparison to the success stories from Kyle and Carson's forum. Top earners, who started out with less knowledge than I have at present, earn impressive six-figure incomes every year.

Sure, I could spend years and countless hours learning the ins and outs of top-tier affiliate marketing myself, but paying for a resource like this just makes sense. My time is precious; as much as I enjoy my work, I am always cognizant of how precious these days are with my young children. Any resource that helps me to be more productive in less time is worth its weight in gold.

Over the coming days, I'll share with you what I discover within the walls of the Wealthy Affiliate University. Hopefully I'll be able to explain enough about it so you'll know -- before June 7 -- whether it's a resource you want to use for your online marketing business.

Have you tried the WA program?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Demand Studios: My Experience

I joined the Demand Studios (DS) community as a writer in March of 2008 and in six months wrote over 180 pieces of content for and using the DS writing tool. (note: in an earlier post I said it was 130 but my DS account shows 187) I did this while building up my residual income, and stopped writing for the flat upfront fee when I reached my residual income goal.

My experience with Demand Studios was very good -- I chose their titles from the list of available assignments, wrote efficiently and was paid promptly. I made more money per hour than I had as a full-time editorial assistant/ reporter for a weekly newspaper in Washington, DC only a few years previous. I never experienced the overly picky or crazy Content Editor (CE) rewrites many DS writers detail. Only 2 or 3 of my early articles ever came back for edits and were subsequently approved.

Last spring, April-May of 2009, I wrote 15 Demand Studios revenue-sharing articles to compare the DS rev-sharing model to the eHow Writers Compensation Program (WCP) with which I had already experienced a great deal of success. I found there was no real advantage at the time, and felt the eHow platform was more lucrative for me and gave me more freedom as a writer. Over the past year, the articles have earned over $10 each on average, and of course are continuing to earn.

As I noted in my previous post, the reason those rev-sharing articles didn't earn as well as my WCP articles, in my opinion, is that I didn't pick the titles -- DS did -- and their pagerank (PR) was not as high as those posted under my well-ranked WriterGig profile in the WCP. Further, I did absolutely no promotion or linking to the DS rev-sharing articles. I simply wrote them and left them and saw a PayPal deposit every month for the residual income. At the time, the revenue-sharing was capped at five years from the time of publication. Thankfully, DS has now lifted this cap and the articles will earn into perpetuity as they do with eHow's WCP.

Now that the eHow WCP has been closed to further publishing, I'm revisiting Demand Studios as one of the many facets of my residual income business. There are many things to like about publishing articles on, most notably the high page rank and monstrous traffic to the site. The main difference now is that the writing platform has changed from the eHow tool to the Demand Studios tool, and that the rights to the articles written through DS now belong to the company and not to the writer.

There is no reason to cut yourself off from the excellent earning potential that is eHow. If you are worried about the ownership of the content, save your favorite niche writing or material you want to use in your own publications for yourself. But with the ease of rewriting content and the gazillions of niches available, there are scores of titles you can write for eHow through Demand Studios to which the copyright is a moot point because you have no need for or interest in publishing the material in a book or website not owned by yourself.

Demand Studios made a business decision--  to merge eHow writers with Demand Studios -- that will benefit the company as a whole and its writers, too, in many aspects (less spam and a higher quality standard). Now the business decision of where to write and how to earn money online is yours -- just as it has always been.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Revenue-Sharing Articles at Demand Studios

With the recent changes to eHow, many eHow writers question the profitability of the revenue-sharing model at Demand Studios (DS). Since I've been a member of eHow and a Demand Studios writer for more than two and a half years, I've had time to experience both platforms and communities.

Last spring, April-May 2009, I wrote and published 15 revenue-sharing how-to articles through my Demand Studios account. This was intended partially as an experiment to see which was more profitable, and in response to a DS incentive in which the articles received both an up-front payment as well as long-term revenue-sharing.

To date, not including the up-front bonuses, the articles have earned a combined total of $172.84, over a time period of almost 12 months. This works out to $11.52 per article so far (of course, they are still earning money). As you can see, this represents a fairly long ROI (return on investment) for eschewing the up-front payment of $15 and opting for the revenue-sharing model. Still, these articles have a higher earnings potential than the articles written for a flat, one-time fee.

My eHow articles written as WriterGig for the WCP have earned much more per article, even when accounting for the longer time period that most have been online. However, there are several factors that contribute to this discrepancy:
  • I wrote my eHow-WCP titles, but had to choose DS-generated titles for their rev-sharing articles at the time.
  • My WriterGig profile page on eHow has a higher pagerank (PR) than my DS profile on eHow; also, the DS profile does not include a page with links to all of my DS articles.
  • I've worked to backlink my eHow articles to improve their pagerank and traffic. 
I'm confident that, with enough effort and following the same method I used to maximize eHow earnings, I could build up another profitable article library through DS for long-term residual income (I'm thrilled that they've dropped the 5-year cap on revenue sharing).  We've been assured through the eHow forums that the DS revenue-sharing formula is as good as or better than the one currently in place on eHow.

I recommend that current eHow writers merge to Demand Studios, or apply if you were not automatically approved, to give yourself the ability to publish through that platform if you so choose. This will not affect any WCP articles you have already written, but will allow you the opportunity to build a library of articles on DS that earns well in its own right.

Have you tried the DS rev-sharing model? What's been your experience so far?

The New eHow

As of a week ago, eHow has dramatically changed its article submission and publication process. Gone are the days when anyone could register as an eHow writer and submit content for instant publication. New members must now apply through Demand Studios to publish articles on and current member-writers have either been accepted as Demand Studios writers or notified that they didn't pass muster. Those whose article acceptance rating (the ratio of articles written and published to articles deleted in the eHow article sweeps) was not high enough to warrant automatic acceptance can apply to Demand Studios separately.

All articles currently on eHow that were written in the Writers Compensation program (WCP) will stay live and continue to earn money, no matter the author's new status.

What's good about these changes?
The overall quality of eHow articles should go up as junk accounts are closed to new submissions and poorly written articles and spam become negligible. With an application process and article review/ edit sequence, articles published on eHow should be overall of a higher caliber than some of what has been published in the past.

Payment for revenue-share articles could go up or down, depending on whether or not the algorithm remains the same and whether the changes result in higher page rank and traffic for eHow or not.

What's bad?
 New writers who don't get accepted to Demand Studios won't have the opportunity to learn the ropes of online writing on eHow, nor benefit from the feedback of the community to improve their writing.

Demand Studios will own all articles submitted to eHow. Previously, eHow writers retained copyright and ownership of their articles and could edit, delete and republish as they saw fit. Now, new articles become the sole property of Demand Studios/ Demand Media and all rights to the content will be retained by the company, not by the writer.

 What's my advice?
Start by clarifying your online writing goals to yourself. Write them down. Consider your involvement with eHow in light of your online writing career and what direction you want it to take. The eHow/ Demand Studios setup will appeal to many freelance online writers who enjoy the flexibility of writing as much or as little as they like in any given week, the availability of up-front pay and a library of titles from which to choose and consistent, reliable payments.

The signing-away of article ownership and rights will be a deal-breaker to many independent, entrepreneur-minded writers who wish to own the means of production, not sell their articles piecemeal to a large company that can do with them as it likes. 

As for me, I have been a registered Demand Studios writer for nearly three years and while I wrote hundreds of articles through DS while I needed the up-front pay, as soon as I had my residual income streams at the level I needed, I switched to writing almost exclusively for myself with content on to which I retained rights, as well as multiple niche websites, a few blogs, an info product and content on other revenue-sharing sites.

Will I personally write articles through the Demand Studios platform? Yes, but with some hesitation and with lesser volume than on eHow. In 2009, I published 15 revenue-sharing articles via my Demand Studios writer account, and added another one this morning (it's still pending). In my next post on this blog, I'll share how those DS rev-sharing articles have performed.

My advice remains the same as it has over the years: diversify your online income streams. Whether or not you decide to submit articles to the new eHow, build up your article presence elsewhere on the web, especially on sites and blogs that you yourself own.

With these recent eHow changes in mind, what's your online writing plan going forward?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

When eHow is Down ...

Publishing, or trying to publish, eHow articles lately has been a frustrating failure as glitches prevent new articles from coming online or even, at times, saving as a draft.

As aggravating as it is to write eHow articles and be unable to publish them for days and even weeks,  I've learned over the past few years that the down time can actually be a huge motivator to do other things to improve eHow earnings and build related residual income sources.

10 Things to Do When eHow Publishing is Down

  1. Boost your five top-earning articles with two new backlinks each.
  2. Revive your three slowest-earning articles with a new backlink apiece. 
  3. Research two unexplored niches and create three unique titles in each niche for future eHow articles.
  4. Build a blog on a broad topic -- ie crafts, cooking, personal finance -- to link to from your eHow articles' Resources section. Write several posts and monetize with ads and affiliate links.
  5. Sign up on other revenue-sharing sites, and use your top-earning eHow articles as inspiration for your first articles on the other sites. 
  6. Try writing lenses on Squidoo
  7. Take pictures of a project you complete -- from making donuts to waxing your car -- to use in a future eHow article and "I did It!" projects on eHow.
  8. Make a goal to increas your eHow earnings over the next three months. How many new articles will you write (once the tool is fixed)? How many backlinks will you create?
  9. Browse free photos sites and download copyright-free stock images, along with photographer name to give credit, and have them ready for easy access when composing future articles.
  10. Write eHow articles. Even if you can't publish them right away. 
What do you do when the eHow publishing tool doesn't work?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Thoughts on eHow UK Compensation

I'll be honest. I haven't closely followed the eHow UK debacle over the past few months. I'm just now getting caught up on other eHow members' thoughts and research on the topic, conveyed through blogs and forum posts and discussions.

For those who haven't followed or participated in the discussions, here's the 30-second version as I understand it. In about August of 2009, eHow created a "sister site,", which basically mirrored the US-version except for a unique front page -- the featured articles differ from those on the regular site.

However, Demand Media used US-member-submitted eHow articles on the eHow UK site. According to the TOS, they do have the rights to do so.  But writers were unhappy that they basically copied everyone's content and published it on another site without discussion or permission from the writers first. Personally, I don't think this was done with malicious forethought; I don't think they really gave it much thought at all. But either way, some members felt it was not right.

In the face of uproar from its members, eHow administration decided to redirect visitors on the UK site to the original US-based articles, but eventually just pulled the plug and removed all US-member content from the UK side (some articles remain and flaws are being worked out).

Because of the persistence of eHow member-writers who asked whether articles re-posted to the UK site would receive reimbursement through the WCP, and who felt their overall revenue from eHow suffered due to their articles on the UK site appearing higher in searches than their US articles, eHow announced that it would give "generous compensation" to all WCP participants whose articles has been temporarily published on the UK site without permission.

This compensation arrived with the February payment of January earnings. For those who wondered, and in the interest of full disclosure, I received $140.

Personally, I feel that this compensation is more than fair -- simply because I never noticed any decline in my eHow earnings and any traffic that was taken from my US articles was likely minuscule, in my opinion. For one thing, the UK site has a fraction the traffic that the US one does. This is a comparison of traffic for the two sites from January 2010; traffic in the late months of 2009 was even more disparate:

I also did Google searches in December of my top-earning eHow articles and didn't see any UK-based results, just the ones on the US site. So I'm not really sure how much compensation, if any, the UK site took from my articles.

I do know that there is chatter among Google Adsense users that advertising revenue across the web is down, likely because of economic factors worldwide.

Is eHow committed to its WCP, or Writers Compensation Program? I believe they are, or it would not still be inexistence. When it first launched, in 2007, it was their big focus, and things have changed since then. Perhaps there is not as much enthusiasm within Demand Media as they had previously for the WCP writers. In 2008, eHow held a member event, weHow, in Santa Monica CA, to which I was invited and attended.The whole focus was on the WCP and participation on the website. They even gave recognition to the top eHow earner in attendance, so earnings were being promoted and encouraged.

In 2009, the event was focused instead on the new "I did It" feature that pays no compensation to those who submit I did It stories. So the focus has shifted a bit, perhaps to encourage people to join eHow for the user experience and not just the earnings potential.

Demand Studios writers, who provide content for, seem to receive more attention, benefits and support than the "users" in the WCP. This is simply a statement of fact; it doesn't bother me. When you consider that DS writers are paid a flat $15 fee for most article, while I've had dozens of articles earn $100 or more, including several thousand-dollar eHow articles, they can keep their better forum and monthly grant contests and I'll keep my revenue sharing.

But even if eHow in general doesn't particularly love us WCP writers anymore (who can blame them?), the sheer quantity of user-submitted content, and the fact that we retain rights to our work, indicates to me that they would have a very hard time just nixing the program altogether. And I contend that they don't want to end it. For all we know, the eHow UK beta site may have included a long-term plan for extending the WCP and eventually increasing compensation based on UK revenue on WCP articles. I truly don't think anyone at Demand wanted to "steal" from the eHow writers.

And I believe that eHow remains one of the very best sites for building residual income today.

Those are my thoughts. What are yours?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

What Makes a $1,000+ eHow Article?

At some point last month, another eHow article moved into the $1,000+ slot among my top earners. Now that I have four articles that have each earned over $1k, maybe I can shed some light on what it takes to make that much from one simple how-to article.

But first of all, can I just say, how cool is that?! When I first started writing eHow articles almost two and a half years ago, I had only an inkling of the potential for good earnings and certainly didn't expect to see articles do that well. Neither did anyone else -- except maybe a few folks at Demand Media.

Now, about those articles. What goes into a thousand-dollar eHow article? And more importantly, how can we all write more of them?

Some things are fairly consistent with top earning articles. The main traits these four have in common are good SEO, uniqueness and worthwhile content. Three have all those aspects; one admittedly possesses just the first two. Three are personal finance or career-related topics, the other is a home and garden article. Here's what I've learned about their similarities:
  • SEO, Search Engine Optimization: Researching good keywords and properly placing them in your article is the best strategy for earning with online content, especially on eHow. I use free tools such as Wordtracker and Google Adwords to help with this aspect. When you link to your article from other sites, use the main keywords as anchor text.
  • Uniqueness: Are the keywords you want to use already the main topic of another eHow article? Or are they so competitive that a Google search returns pages of quality, relative results all with good SEO-titles? If either or both these are in the affirmative, you'll do better looking for another aspect of that niche and switching to different keywords. To earn well, your keywords need to be unique on eHow and in a somewhat unsaturated niche online.
  • Content: Make sure the introduction and body of your eHow article provide the information your reader is searching for. Your article should be in-depth enough to provide a good reader experience and convey the knowledge you're sharing. Fluff pieces won't make it to the top (with rare exception).
  • A little luck: One of my articles, the one that's garnered $1,900+ so far, is based on keywords that showed very few searches at the time of the writing. However, I wrote the article on a bit of a hunch and it played out. There were no other eHow articles using those keywords when I wrote it, and when the topic became popular it was one of the top results in the search engines.
Each of my top four articles is about two years old -- they were written at the end of 2007 and the beginning of 2008. While time is important to see full earnings potential, high earners will often show their value early on. One of these articles earned $400 in a single month only six months after it was published.

For more on maximizing earnings, check out my ebook: How to Earn Passive Income on eHow

Do you have some high earners on eHow? Share your tips with other readers in the comments section.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

eHow Dolly Visits Virginia

If you haven't heard of eHow Dolly, you're missing out. She hails from Hawaii, the creation of eHow writer veryirie, and is making a cross-country journey across the United States, with stops up and down the East Coast, a zig-zg through the midwest, and a final stop at the eHow headquarters in Santa Monica, CA before returning home to HI.

Shirley started this eHow forum discussion about Dolly's trip, and there's even a Squidoo Lens on Dolly. Now all she needs is a Facebook fan page and a Twitter account and she'd truly be set!

While visiting me in Virginia, Dolly got a taste of a "week in the life of a work at home mom." It may not have been her most exciting leg of the journey, but we all had fun!

eHow Dolly enjoyed sightseeing in the Shenandoah Valley, including an adventure to see the swollen river over its banks and covering the road in several locations, necessitating its closure for part of her visit. She also got to check out the Discovery Museum in Winchester, VA, but things were too crazy for me to get pictures (my girlfriend and I brought our combined total of 7 kids under 7 to the museum!)

But here are some pictures I did snap while Dolly visited us:

Dolly sits on the deck watching the melting ice dripping in the woods in the aftermath of an ice storm:

She wanted to pet the kids' rabbit:

Dolly helped me feed the chickens:

She brainstormed eHow article ideas with me:

... and endured a hug from Patrick, 2,
... before heading on her way to eHow member suzyhomeeconomy in NC. She picked up a postcard and souvenir spoon from VA and is carrying a chocolate bar to her next hostess, as well as the lottery game sent by David Sarokin.

Safe travels, Dolly!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Is Writing eHow Articles Still Worth It?

There's been some grumbling lately among eHow users who wonder if it's still worth it to write on eHow; their concerns running the gauntlet from low views and earnings to questioning eHow's commitment to the Writers Compensation Program to anger about member articles being posted on the eHow UK site.

eHow community forum posts, members' blog posts, and comment sections on related blogs have all been witness to the complaints and dissatisfaction expressed by a number of eHow member-contributors.

I've been asked my opinion on these topics a number of times, and the most ironic is when the person complaining about low earnings either has very few eHow articles or no concept of keywords and basic search engine optimization (SEO). If you aren't writing, or if you aren't writing about topics people are searching for information on, don't expect to make money. It doesn't make sense to me to not give a site a chance and still complain about low earnings, or to not invest the time to find out how internet writing works in regards keywords and web searches, and think you'll make real money online.

Some eHow complainers have an agenda: one in particular has come to the forums to bash eHow while promoting another revenue-sharing content site, one which I have reviewed on this site and find vastly inferior to eHow in regards current earnings potential (although worthwhile in its own place). Sure, if another site is better, by all means, use it and share the information with others. But in this case, the highest earners trail eHow top earners by a mile.

Whether truly confused about their lack of earnings or intending to stir up discontent, the grumblers have asked me what I think.

So here's my answer:
Absolutely, writing eHow articles is still very much worth the time invested. My recent articles are all earning excellently and while you're wasting time complaining, I'm researching profitable niche topics for my next eHow article.
eHow has been very profitable for me, just excellent for building residual income, and it can be for you, too. Make the time to write articles, do the research to learn how to write for the web if your earnings aren't what you want them to be, and don't waste time griping.

What's preventing you from earning $1,000+ a month on eHow?