Saturday, November 7, 2009

HubPages Review: A Site to Write and Make Money

I've written about HubPages before, comparing it to eHow as a revenue sharing website.  Here is a more comprehensive review than what I wrote earlier, including what I like and don't like about writing at HubPages.  My review is based on my experiences since starting posting articles there in the spring, both with the site itself and with my earnings.  (Side note: As of 4/5/2010, eHow, a revenue share site mentioned above, is no longer publishing revenue share articles through its Writers Compensation Program.)

HubPages is a site for writers, photographers and other creative people to post their original content and optionally earn money with their own Google AdSense account or their Amazon Associates, and/or eBay Partner Network accounts (commonly called "affiliate programs" by Web marketers).  While not everyone on HubPages participates in each of those revenue-share affiliate opportunities, I do use each of them, though there are rumors the eBay one won't last.  The only revenue sharing money-making opportunity HubPages offers that I don't participate in is Kontera (both because I don't like the ads and because I've read of various bad experiences with Kontera in the HubPages forums.)
Basically, I still really like HubPages, and I'm trying to get articles up as fast as I can, though it isn't easy while chasing after the wild toddler.  My earnings are better what I expected--and I was afraid that nobody could top eHow's money-making model.   Yet my per article earnings are nearly comparable to eHow, though my Hubs are only half as old.  But it's the website and customer service where this writing site excels.  To me, HubPages is the best around when it comes to flexibility of format and the way they treat their writers.  And the search engines like them.  Given their new status in reaching the Quantcast top 100 websites and an excellent search engine ranking, they're on par with eHow from my perspective.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Constant-Content: Scam or Not? No Way, Not in My Experience

I've been so busy defending HubPages from being thought a scam that I've neglected Constant-Content, which some writers have found great success with, and which others have been unhappy with or not had massive success with.  Having just received notification that I recently sold a $125 article (of which I got about $80 as my cut), I've begun to renew my excitement with this article writing website.  I should say first, though, that I think I understand why Constant-Content might be thought to be a scam.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Humor and Puns: I Must Have Bad Comma

Every once in a while,  I feel the need to write something that's just purely pun--er, fun.  Recently I had a death in my family.  According to our family tradition, tragedy goes hand in hand with comedy.  When someone close to us dies, we use humor to help us deal with it.

So I thought for a break I'd post this piece that my husband and I worked on together.  Last year, we sent it in to the Reader's Digest black hole that is their submission pool and it got sucked in, never to return.

So here it is, for the enjoyment of writers and editors everywhere.  If you know somebody who would appreciate our rather silly style of humor, send them a link to this page.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hire Writers for Web Content Work: Outsourcing Tips

Outsourcing writing jobs is on the rise as Internet marketers become more and more specialized and their projects larger.  If you are interested in hiring freelance writers because you have a great idea for a money-making website, but not the time to write all the content you need, your biggest problem isn't going to be finding writers - they're everywhere.  Your biggest problem is finding quality writers who can write the Web content you need.  Here are tips from a freelance writer to help you make sure you hire the right freelance writers for your job.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Outsourcing: The Dirty Little Secret of Freelance Writers on Revenue Share Sites Like Hubpages

We freelance writers will get accused either of writing for love or writing for money. Either way, in the words of Rodney Dangerfield, we don't get no respect. If you write for love, you're poor as a dog. If you write for money, your following rarely gives you credit for your talents. Still, the award to least respected goes to those who present others' writing as their own. No, I'm not talking about plagiarism. I'm talking about professional marketers who outsource. On the HubPages forum recently, a thread on "Hubbers" who outsource raged. Some people defended outsourcing and others reviled it.  Some people actually used it--they bought content from other writers.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Amazon Associates Cut Off in North Carolina, Hawaii, Rhode Island and Other States: Why This is Bad for the Economy

Recently, states such as New York, North Carolina, Hawaii, Rhode Island, California, and others have introduced tax law legislation that would cause large retailers such as and to charge sales tax on interstate sales made from Associates' website links. (The "Associates" program is so-named to distinguish Associates from Amazon's official affiliates, but is colloquially referred to by publishers as an affiliate program.) In reaction, Amazon and Overstock have been closing their Associates programs in the states where the bills are likely to pass (though today there's word that Overstock reversed the California and Hawaii decision) opting to orphan their Associates in those states rather than succumb to paying the tax.

Popular opinion on these changes has been divided.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Toddlers and Fathers: Heartwarming Love That Warms the Hands, Too.

The child! The child! Yes, for all you artsy types, this is indeed a reference to Kurtz's exclamation in Conrad's Heart of Darkness, "The horror! The horror!" It began around the time that creature that y'all know as The Toddler discovered the joy of the outdoors. First he learned to go down the porch stairs backward on his belly, then he learned to go up them--not that he used the second talent much. He was all about staying out there on the front lawn, going up and down the path exclaiming like a mad thing and hollering as a beast wounded whenever we tried to pick him up and bring him inside. And heaven forbid we take away his stick while doing it.

It was a warm evening. The air was crisp and fresh, the Pacific Northwestern sky clear for a change. The Toddler was running to and fro down the path, waving his stick and hollering triumphantly whenever he stooped to pick up something interesting.  Every so often he'd run over to me where I was sitting on the porch step and drop whatever it was he'd found into my hand.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

HubPages and EHow: Legit Revenue Sharing Model, No Scam

When I first started writing web content last fall, I guessed sites like eHow and HubPages were scams. Write articles on whatever you want and earn ad revenue on them? Real moolah? Money that actually gets deposited into your PayPal account? What I've learned since then is that they're not scams.

I've been on eHow for nine months and on HubPages for about one month [note: August 8, 2009 update--I've been on HubPages now for 4 months and it's still the most profitable revenue sharing site for me.  note: June 1, 2010 update - It's still the best earning of all the article sites for me.  Last month, my HubPages articles topped eHow's per article earnings by about $1 per article.]

April 5, 2010 Update:  eHow has just today ended their Writer's Compensation Program (WCP) for new writers.  Well, not exactly ended.  EHow is no longer accepting new WCP applications and any new publishing on eHow will be through Demand Studios, their partner company (both are owned by Demand Media.)  Existing WCP articles will remain on the site if you choose and continue to earn money.   Now back to your regularly scheduled blog post...

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Curious Toddler: Teething With Emotion

Because of myriad circumstances, which I'll simply summarize as your-everyday-work-allergies-computer woes-parental exhaustion-procrastinatory issues, it's been a while since I've given an update on Junior. Not that he hasn't been update-worthy. He has. Junior was a preemie--he came weeks early and pounds smaller than his peers. He's pulled through some amazing struggles in his first year and beyond. Small but hearty, he doesn't seem impressed by the oohing and aahing of his parents over his developmental triumphs.

"Oh, darling, he just showed stubbornness! Our baby's learned stubbornness!"

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Internet City: The Internet Made Real

Virtual reality is here. But it's not where you think it is.

In the news a few months ago was the story of the woman arrested for hacking into the account of a fellow gamer in order to "murder" his character in the virtual reality of an online role-playing game. Incensed over his character's abrupt divorcing of her character, she virtually killed him.

In the news that same week was the story of a man who purchased a virtual space station for $100,000 off of eBay. That's a pretend space station, purchased off of real eBay, for a hundred thousand real dollars, by a real person.

Then there's the true story of the woman who filed for divorce because her husband—no, pardon me, not her husband, rather her husband's virtual character—had been having an affair with another virtual character in yet another online game.

My first thought on reading these articles was, "I thought reading a mystery novel was escapist. But these online role-playing games are taking escapism to an extreme. How far we've come, to deceive ourselves so greatly about what is real."

But my next thought switched it all around. "No. These people are not losing touch with reality. They're intensely in touch with the reality of the day. The most extreme escapism that we're experiencing is not virtual reality at all. It's something else altogether. It's the Internet itself."

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Computer Still Dead: Hold, Please

I'm in the process of "upgrading" to an older workhorse computer that's never seen anyone's lap and was put together by a person who took a "LEGO" approach to computer assembly. It is, however, quite stable. And it is an upgrade in a very real sense, since it works, and my old laptop doesn't. This old desktop will mean I can once again write blog posts, not to mention earn a living. I'm blissfully expectant that given a couple of days, I'll be up and running.

Pray for me.

Copyright Nerd Writer Mom 2008-2010 - All Rights Reserved

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Ghost in the Laptop Shell: The Spill of Death

In ancient times, I used to skip along, typing away on my easy-tempered, stable desktop computer. But for the past five years now, computer time has set me in an edgy struggle with my Toshiba Satellite A-65 laptop--that clunky, slow, heavy, battery-draining, barely portable desktop replacement laptop that in no way embodies the shih tzu-like glamour that I associated with laptops as a species the day I bought it.

I used every drop of the 3-year warranty to keep my laptop alive. Between two hard drive replacements, one battery replacement, and innumerable calls to customer support, the machine has shown itself to be no placid pet--nay, but something on the order of a demon plastic poodle that lets me walk him one day and pees on my bed the next.

And then it expired--the warranty, that is--leaving me fighting a daily struggle to 'shoot the thing--troubleshoot it, I mean. Three months ago, it croaked, then was brought back on life support and has sluggishly limped along since.

Then Junior climbed up on my lap.

There's an old saying in my family--and yours, yes?--about never crying over spilled milk. I wonder if my mother, spouting off such wisdom in times afore laptop keyboard vulnerability even existed, had any idea what Vitamin D homogenized can do to a laptop computer that really wasn't designed to ingest cow's milk.

I sit here on my husband's computer, looking over at the laptop-that-will-not-be-booted, and I wonder if I can blame my toddler son. Though it was mine arm that knocked the box of Wheat Thins into the bottle of milk and splashed the milk onto the arrow buttons of the laptop, he did--he must have--altered my center of balance somehow. I certainly don't recall Junior's raising a protest as I flung everything away, turned the laptop up and down, and shook it like a mostly-empty ketchup bottle. No, he just stood by, watching with interest as I pulled that final trigger on the ailing-but-might-have-been-recoverable laptop nightmare-thing.

That was yesterday. You know, we regret a lot of things in life--mistakes we made, paths we unknowingly took that led us in unalterable directions--but my biggest regret right now is that I didn't let that laptop know, in actions if not in words, how I appreciated what it did do for me (albeit reluctantly and with a machine-like malice) when I had the chance. I've been living half off my external hard drive, working on the laptop only when I absolutely had to, and generally assuming it was all but toast.

And now that the laptop really is toast, I wish I'd been better to it. I wish I'd given it a new fan when it was getting overheated, maybe not let my husband loose with an air compressor on it the second time, and thought it worthy of updating Malwarebytes on its behalf. And I really, really, really wish I'd copied the last week's files onto my external hard drive.

Copyright Nerd Writer Mom 2008-2010 - All Rights Reserved

Friday, February 20, 2009

Me, Plagiarize? There Are Only So Many Ways to Say It and Other Myths

Having recently joined the honored multitude of plagiarized writers on the Web, I was intrigued when the subject of plagiarism cropped up again in my life, and so soon. It turns out eHow writers are up-in-arms because eHow has kicked up their plagiarism software a notch. A number of writers' articles are being removed for being copycats of each other.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Plagiarized! The Triumphant Story of One Writer's Recovery from Intellectual Property Theft, Kinda-Sorta

I'd been looking forward to this day ever since I wrote and published tons of eHow articles on the Web. But I didn't expect it to come so soon.

Mind you, I'm no raw chicken. I've been plagiarized part of an en masse plagiarism extravaganza. Not till now, though, was I singled out. They could have linked to my article. They could have asked permission. But instead they snuck into my eHow page, saw my article, fell in love with it, snatched it and fled.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Yojimbo Rewound: Samurai Baby

We were not going to let him watch TV.

We swore this, not just because the books warned us against the dire effects of TV watching on infants, but because we ourselves hardly watch any TV. In fact, what we do watch these days tends to be limited to old Akira Kurosawa samurai movies and science fiction adventure movies.

We were good, and we were good. Our TV rested dormant as our ancient VCR sat gathering dust, used only as the occasional distraction by our toddler who liked to experiment with trying to reach the buttons.

And then, one day we broke down. We popped in a casette of Yojimbo, the classic Akira Kurosawa film that A Fist Full of Dollars was based on. (Clint Eastwood? Spaghetti western? Ring a bell, yes?)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Using Creative Commons Photos on the Internet: Intellectual Property Rights in Transition

The questions pop up frequently on the eHow forums, HubPages forums and other writing and webmaster sites.

Is it OK to use any photo I find on the Internet? If I find a photo in the Google Image Search (TM), can I use it any way I want? On Flickr? If I find a Creative Commons photo, can I change it or post it on my Web page? How do I find out what kind of license a Creative Commons photo has? How do I know what license protects a photo I find on the Web?

The answers are rarely what you want to hear. You can't use just any photo you find on the Internet. You can't use just any image you find on the Google Image Search (TM), Flickr, Yahoo!, or any photo sharing site. You need permission to use them.  Permission may be granted by licenses stated explicitly on the photo sharing site.  Permission may have to be requested.  But even then, it's not that simple.

The rules for intellectual property of photos are much the same as the rules for intellectual property regarding text. You need to hunt down permissions. You must hunt down who owns the copyright and what, if any, rights the creator is offering. Often the rights offered don't allow commercial use and don't allow you to modify the work. Sometimes it's obvious; more often, it's not.

Although I'm not a lawyer, I am familiar with some of the basics of intellectual property law regarding using images online in the U.S.  The most common infraction I see on the Internet is people taking photos from a website - an e-commerce site, usually, but others, too - and putting the photos up on their blog or website along with a photo credit and maybe even a link, reasoning "It's okay as long as I credit them.  And besides, the photographer is glad of the exposure."

Neither is true.  You need either explicit permission from the owner of the photograph (and that owner may not actually be the e-commerce site itself) or you need to establish that the appropriate rights are associated with the photo and that you are doing everything you need to do to use the photo legally.  For example, if you use a photo on Flickr that has a Creative Commons License, it doesn't necessarily mean that you can use the photo.  You must understand the different types of Creative Commons licenses and then do your part to include the necessary credits, use the photo only according to the rights the owner of the photo grants, and so on.

The second most common infraction I see is people assuming it's okay to post on their own website, article page, or web page a photo or image they downloaded at a photo sharing site like Flickr or Wikimedia even when it doesn't offer rights for commercial use.  Not all use of images is commercial, true.  But these people think that putting the image onto an article page with ads isn't the same as using images for commercial use.  That's wrong.  It is commercial use to put up a photo on a hub at HubPages that has ads, for example, or on an article at Suite101, or on an article at eHow.

What is commercial use?  I'm not a lawyer and if I try to define it for you, I'd get into territory I have no business going.  But trust me - putting an image up on a page that will earn you money by advertising or affiliate links is commercial use.  Don't do it unless the rights granted you to use the photo include commercial use.  

All this can be terribly discouraging and confusing for website owners and online content writers who act in good faith to not go against the intellectual property rights of photographers.

I used to have an example here of one confusing search using the search Creative Commons function.  The confusion's since been fixed, it appears - yay!  But the whole thing remains a confusing mess and the only way to do the right thing is to study the rules.  Basically, if you want to use somebody else's work on the Internet to make money for yourself, you'll need to understand the licenses very well. That's part of your job.

Whenever you find a page like this fabulous one describing how to use Creative Commons Images from Flickr, you feel lucky - it explains at least some information about interpreting the licensing code for Flickr photos and Flickr images. But mostly, you have to piece together the info like the veriest usage license detective.

It gets even trickier when you talk about a site like eHow. EHow uses the content of hundreds of thousands of users on its site. It accepts text content, video, and images. In its terms of use, it lays down the law: you must own or legitimately lease or borrow the rights to all content that you post.

Now, consider this. Many eHow contributors take their own photos or create their own images. Others get permission to use photos on eHow. Many eHow members pay for the use of photos. But even when you pay, you may not always have the right to display the photo on eHow.

Why not? The terms of certain photo sharing sites state that the paying user can publish the photos, but not modify them, or in other cases transfer them to a third party that will distribute them. EHow states in their Terms of Use:

"You hereby grant eHow a worldwide, royalty-free, freely transferable, freely sublicensable (through unlimited levels of sublicense), non-exclusive license to use, reproduce, modify, transmit, distribute, [my emphasis] publicly perform and display (including in each case by means of a digital audio transmission), and create derivative works of the Content, in any form, media, or technology now known or later developed."

EHow is reserving the right to use the content - for content, read text, video, and photos - almost any way they want. So in some cases, even using photos that you've paid to use by publishing them on eHow instead of your own site may be a bad idea.

What's more, if a photo features a person's image, then that person may have certain rights, such as model rights / personality rights, not to have that photo published. In the UK and other countries, there may be the potential issue of defamation if the photo is used in a way other than what is intended.  The person in the photograph may have released the right to publish the work bearing their image...or not. The rules are complex. Wikimedia Commons touches on these issues here in this article on using images from Wikimedia.

Seem like there are no simple answers? There aren't. Even lawyers don't agree on a number of intellectual property issues. The problem is that the Internet is changing the way we treat intellectual property. We're living in a period that later will be viewed as a time of radical transition.

Traditional trademark, patent, copyright, and other intellectual property issues are based on a world of tangible media, finite publication, slow development processes, and easy identifiers. The Internet is a world of virtual media, eternal publication, rapid development, and diffused identifiers. What this means for intellectual property is hard to tell. But I sure would like to be around in fifty years to see what it's like.
Copyright Nerd Writer Mom 2008-2010 - All Rights Reserved