A Major Writing Decision: Goodbye to Yahoo Contributor Network

I'm making a lot of major changes in my life lately, and this is just another whose time has come. Sometimes you have to let go of things to move forward.

I've been thinking about this for a few days now, and I'm not going to be writing for YCN anymore unless all my other clients dry up. The last straw was an assignment about what I wanted to hear in the inaugural speech, so I accepted it and wrote a short blurb saying I wouldn't be listening to the speech and outlined my reasons. I am very disappointed in the President's performance since he was re-elected, and feel he's still giving in way too much, so I wasn't going to listen to empty promises which he would backtrack on as soon as the special interests swooped in. He gives in too much, gives too much away, basically makes promises he has no intention of keeping. He's probably better than Romney would have been, but he would never have been my first choice as President, in fact, I did not vote for him in 2008. I didn't vote for anyone.

The article was up for a few days in the News section of Voices, got a couple of comments. It was suddenly taken down and "rejected for publication." I almost put it up as a DO, but I just deleted it. What's the point, really?

I believe it may have gotten flagged by a lot of die-hard democrats or progressives, which led to it being taken down. It wasn't complimentary to the President, but they asked for an opinion, I gave it. I just don't understand how they could reject a Display Only article when I am supposed to have the right to publish any DO without editing.

I have not been happy with the direction YCN has been taking lately. I have been here before, and no matter how many promises they make, I can see the writing on the wall. YCN is going away. They will eventually turn it into a PPV only site and stop making any upfront payments, no matter how small, for anything. You'll just be writing in hopes of getting a feature that will pay well. Lately, that hasn't been the case, and I don't have time to write "in hopes of" making some money.

YCN is good for what it is -- a place for new writers to cut their teeth and learn, and for those who don't have to depend on it for an income to make a few extra bucks. I really see it being sold off one more time because Mrs. Mayer seems to have other things in mind for Yahoo, and so it should be.

I am going to concentrate on my ghostwriting and put my best content on my blogs. I appreciate that YCN was there for me when I needed them, but this isn't the same supportive community that was when I returned and I don't feel like I belong there anymore. I won't leave it completely, and I'll still be reading my friends' articles, but unless something drastic happens, they won't be reading mine except on my blogs.

Old Eggs, New Eggs: On Letting Go and Trying New Things

So I have stated that I'm letting go of one stressful client. I made that decision regretfully, because it took some real effort to get into the program, but once there, I knew almost immediately it wasn't for me. I'm going to name that client now, because I've made the decision that even if they renew my contract, I won't work there. It's Leapforce. Now don't get me wrong. Leapforce is an excellent program for some people, and has saved more than a few people's butts financially. The work is there if you have the time to sit around and wait for it. I loved the community there, and will seriously miss it, but it isn't for me. I need something I can count on being there when I have the time to work. Leapforce just isn't that, and although they work very hard to ensure there is steady work, their main client (Google) has more to say about that than they do, as they are the ones who provide the task to be done. I love Google. All my blogs are on Blogger, and G+ is just my favorite place to be now, so I thought helping them determine algorithms would be fun. It isn't. If I can't enjoy my work, it's not really worth my time. I still love Google, though.

So I was looking for new eggs, and came across a post by a friend talking about a place called "Hundy." Hundy is sort of like Fiverr, but you can charge up to $100 for a job. I figured I'd try it out, so I went over last night and put up some job posts. I'm interested to see how they do. I am also on Fiverr, but I don't really want to work for $5 ever again.

I'm looking to get into social media management. I love being online, and to be paid to play on social media is just too tempting. I have been reading a lot about this profession, so that's what I posted on Hundy. I figure I'll pick up a couple of cheap clients, who will be nice references for better clients. That's pretty much how it works in the freelance game when you're trying to move into new areas.

Plus, I posted rates for blog posts and for managing blogs. I love blogging, MUCH more than I like writing articles. I'm hoping to get away from writing online articles completely by the end of the year, just hanging on to a few good clients just in case. I'm really getting burned out on trying to find 100 different ways to say the same old stuff over and over. Blogging is much more up-to-the-minute and flexible.

So this is part of my plan for the new year. I'm trying to evolve as online freelancing evolves. I think article writers are still much needed, and while it provides me a good income right now, I just don't see it being my mainstay for life.


On Rules Online and in Real Life

I don't like people who don't think rules apply to them. Every kind of community, online or off, has rules. Otherwise, there is anarchy.  My thoughts are that if someone cannot obey simple rules in an online community without pouting and running away, they are probably much the same in real life. The only thing is, you can't just "drop out" of real life if you don't like how things are done. I see these people having a long string of short employment in jobs because they didn't like that the rules also applied to them. Of course, we all have the right to do what we want with our lives, but at some point, it all comes back on you.

So what brought on this post? I own several Google+ communities. They all have rules. I just had one member quit two of them simply because he didn't want to obey the rules. In the first one, I posted a picture of an unbelievably beautiful garden in France. He made a remark that he preferred that we post American gardens. I said that anyone, in any part of the world was allowed to post pictures of any garden anywhere, and he posted a snotty "Yes Ma'am!" and left. It wasn't his links that bothered me, it was the comment. On the second group, another gardening group, he posted a link to a group on FB, which I found out he owned. Well, the community rules clearly state that we are not to post links to Facebook. Hey, it's G+ -- don't be trying to steal our members away to your FB groups. It's just tacky, right? I deleted the post and reposted the rules for everyone to read. I was very careful to put "everyone" in the message. He removed all his posts, quit the community and evidently blocked me. A little insulting, but nothing I'm going to lose sleep over.

If you're just online to share personal stuff, and have no intention of ever trying to make any money from your posts, act however you want. But if you start out by throwing temper tantrums and not wanting to obey the rules, you won't get far -- well, unless you're Bill Gates or the next Steve Jobs, which most people aren't. 

This guy is a small-town Florida redneck -- and don't get me wrong -- I'm a SC redneck at heart, so that's not a putdown. He has an awesome back yard garden, and posts some nice videos on YouTube about what he's doing in his back yard. However, he does NOT like to be questioned on what he's done, or for anyone to make suggestions. I imagine him as one of these confederate flag flying, evangelical, "Hell no, you ain't taking my guns without a fight!" type of person, which is fine if that's who you want to be. I just never see those people getting very far in life or being taken very seriously and this guy has a lot of spunk and is trying hard to do something good for his family -- I'm assuming he has a family -- and share so people can learn, so I hate to see him alienate people who might help him with his attitude.

So remember that if you want to get anywhere online you have to bend a little. Sometimes, you have to bend a lot. That's the way it is in every business venture, and if you can't do that, you'll only get so far before the right people head the other way and the wrong people are all you have left.

It's about compromise, really. But isn't everything?

Client Evaluation: Cost Effectiveness and Stress Factor

I have one client, who shall not be named, that is really stressful to work for. The initial per hour rate looks good until you see all the unpaid required readings and trainings which knock down that rate. Also, work availability is a problem, as it sometimes comes in spurts and if you aren't there to catch it, it's lost. There are people who put in 60-70 hours a week hanging out there trying to get 40 hours of pay. That knocks down the per hour rate to less than minimum wage in some cases.

Then there are the work reviews, which are almost always negative. They don't praise many people, although they do love the ones who put in mega hours and are constantly giving them achievement awards. There is little or no communication. Many workers write to them numerous times to ask questions and get no answers. People are let go with no explanation other than that their work is not up to standard, when they have been trying for months to find out why and what they can do to improve. Feedback is mostly nil. No one really knows what renewal evaluations are based on.

There is this overriding fear every time renewal time comes near, but this time around, I'm just letting it go. I could stress myself for the next month worrying and trying to kowtow to their expectations, or I could spend that time finding new clients that don't make me want to blow my brains out. I choose the latter.

The point of this post is that there ARE other clients, and you have to be able to weigh the negative and the positive. If you're new to this freelance game, you will likely stress and worry that you'll never find anything better. You may hang on to a bad client way too long because you have bills to pay and are afraid you can't replace them fast enough. I'm here to tell you, that is wrong thinking.

Just like you don't quit a job until you have another one, part of your working day should be spent looking for clients. The "many eggs in one basket" theory is meant explicitly to allow you to dump bad clients without detriment to your financial well being. I have been where you are, stuck with a client that makes you insane, but with no other choice but to stick with them. That almost never turns out well.

I have been doing this long enough to see the writing on the wall with this client, so I spent an hour today setting myself up to return to one of my other clients I haven't utilized in awhile. There is money to be made there. It takes a little extra time and effort, but the pay is slightly better than the client I'm likely losing. I'll spend time tomorrow hitting the freelance boards looking for other opportunities.

So if you've made no other resolutions as a freelance writer, make a commitment to find other eggs for your basket. It gives you the freedom you need to earn and stay sane. Please don't ask me what other clients are out there. There are many freelance sites that have forums where you can ask that question. In the future, I'll be doing reviews of some clients, but right now, the ball is in your court. Go for it!