2013, Baskets of Eggs, and Yahoo

So 2013 is right around the corner, and I'm going to be making huge changes. This year, I did a lot with Yahoo Contributor Network, but I'm not sure they are going to play a significant role in my income stream in the coming year. I have more eggs in my basket now that are potentially more lucrative and have steadier work. I'm not so in love with any one company that if something better comes along, I'd screw myself over just to be loyal. So it is with Yahoo.

I'm debating whether to even write my last two Featured Contributor articles for Yahoo Contributor Network. For those of you who aren't familiar, they discontinued that program very suddenly last month, but let it stay through the end of December. I used to write those articles every month so I wouldn't be kicked out of the FC program, even if I didn't have time to do them. This month, I just don't want to. I've made less then $15 on page views so far in December, because honestly, I wanted to see what would happen if I DIDN'T write for a month. I've only done two articles this month and only had one small feature, which made me much less than a feature usually does. 

I'm very discouraged right now about what's going on there, and the lack of transparency about whether the beats are going to still be there or not. I went through this with Mahalo, BrightHub, Suite101 and Demand Studios. We didn't know what was going on until one day they finally admitted they weren't going to need us anymore. I am getting the same vibe now.

Seriously, I don't know what my future with Yahoo will be. I am not feeling optimistic. I'm tired of companies trying to put a positive spin on things to keep you hanging on, then just dump you like a load of cow dung when it's over. I thought with Yahoo, that would never happen, but then they got a new CEO.

I don't know her, but I know she is from Google, and that is the LEAST transparent company in the world. I still use their products, because they're free and they rock, but I am wary of them ever since they screwed me out of my very first ever $100 Adsense payment by declaring me a "threat to their community" and stopping payment on my check, which cost me money I never recouped. I did get the $100 repaid, but only after harassing them night and day for 3 months and writing a blog post every day stating that they still hadn't given me my money. I got my account back, supposedly, but never could sign in.

So this new leader Yahoo has cut her business teeth in that environment, where if you aren't #1, you're a loser, and the company can do anything they want to anyone with no regard to the damage they are doing. An environment where they can take away part of your livelihood with accusations of the most heinous things with no proof and to which you have no recourse. A company that has no contact links, but sites that lead you around in circles trying to get to a place to make a complaint -- which never gets answered. A company with a facility on the grounds of the NSA and whose owners park their personal jets at a NASA facility. In my experience, the child of this type of parent doesn't usually stray too far from their teachings. So I'm not very trusting of her.

After being screwed over by so many companies after Panda, I have learned to recognize the most subtle of signs that things are not going well. They take things away from you slowly. First, it was dropping payment on beats from $10 to $8 on some topics. Then it was no guaranteed payments, but editors deciding what your beat article was worth (the least I've been offered is $5, which I turned down). Now it's no more FC program and all they will say about beats is that they are reviewed at the end of the year.

I'm not one of those people who writes all day long for AC. I don't have time. I have to make a living, and I have to know how much I'm going to make. I don't have a second source of income to fall back on that allows mine to fluctuate with the whims of the internet. I'm not criticizing those more fortunate who can write if and when they please, I'm just saying that's not me. So I'm rethinking a lot of things in my work life, and I don't yet know where Yahoo will fit in...if at all. While YCN is alive and kicking, I'll always knock out a couple of articles a month, just for fun, but as for being a top contributor and cheerleader, I don't think so. I'm not seeing a lot to cheer about anymore.


How Luke Beatty Changed People's Lives

In starting this blog over again, I can't think of a better way than a tribute to the man who gave me my start writing online. The word that Luke Beatty, founder and patriarch of Associated Content, is leaving Yahoo was met with disbelief and sadness by his contributors and friends. This is not about me, it's about everyone who benefitted from his knowledge, wisdom and belief in us.

Imagine being in your 50's with no job and no hope for the future. All you have is a blog you just started about frugal living that isn't doing very well. Someone says you should write for money, and sends you to Associated Content. You check it out, but you think it's not for you, so you write a couple of articles and leave. Later, you decide to give it another shot and discover that it really is a wonderful place to be.

Yes, I started my online article writing career on July 20, 2008 at Associated Content, now known as Yahoo! Contributor Network, with an article on the pros and cons of working part-time in retail. Hundreds of thousands of people have published their first online article at AC/YCN since 2005 when Luke Beatty decided that everyone needed a place to express themselves, and the internet needed the content they could produce. He started in his basement in Denver, Colorado and built the largest people-driven content site online in just a few short years.

Luke had a vision, and he made it our vision. He never once forgot that his writers were the heart and soul, not to mention the backbone, of his business. He gave us as much encouragement and as many rewards as he could, because he couldn't give us much money. Still, we came, we wrote, and we stayed.

Sometimes we strayed away in search of greener pastures elsewhere, but many of us returned to the place that was our first writing home on the web. Some of those early writers have moved on to other pursuits, while some took the experience and lessons learned from Associated Content to build a lucrative freelance career.

Some of us did not fare as well as others...different personalities, different lives, different drives made us go in different directions. Still, we all took away something of value from our time at Associated Content, and we all left a piece of ourselves there in our words.

Now that we are part of Yahoo!, things are constantly changing, but one thing has remained constant...Luke Beatty has been around to make sure we were treated fairly, as he would have treated us. He made multi-millions of dollars from the sale of Associated Content, and he could have just retired and been resting on his laurels, but no...he stayed for us, and he will never know how much we appreciate and cherish him for that.

Yes, Luke Beatty changed lives, one poem, one image, one slide show, one video, one article at a time. He gave us a chance to show the world our passions and be recognized for what we knew best. When other website owners only thought of us as means to a public stock offering, or someone they could steal copyright from overnight, and treated us like a temporary commodity easily cast aside when the online content world crashed in 2011, Luke Beatty was behind the scenes at Yahoo! making sure the people who had been there for him for so long still had a champion at the company. Without his vision and love for his contributors, we would all be twisting in the wind, but no -- we still have a  home here for the time being.

I can't imagine what would have made Luke ever leave us behind, but it does not bode well for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. The only reason I can see him leaving is that he saw his vision being destroyed. I know one thing -- it will pain him to know that he has left us to the winds of fortune, but I'm sure that in his mind, he had no choice. Hopefully, he will start something even better and we will all be able to follow him there. He has the money and he has the time to make another awesome, web-changing site.

In his goodbye message to his contributors, he wrote, "Lastly, I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. You all, the Contributors, made my dream come true."

As you did ours, Luke. As you did ours. You are more than a mentor, you are the father of Associated Content/YCN and no matter who owns it, you always will be.