From Peanuts to Dollars: My Writing Plan for 2015


Every year about this time, I make a writing plan for the next year. Every year, something happens that causes me to have to go back to the mills, cranking out low-paid hits because they are reliable and pay quickly.  Every year, this stresses me out and makes me angry at myself. This year, I'm not going to do that.  This year, I'm going to put up or shut up. 

Now I realize that a good many of you do this part time, so mills are great for the extra money you need. I have no problem with you.  That's what I've been doing,  but I feel like I'm spinning my wheels, so I personally need to make next year different.

I don't like online private clients, because I've been screwed over too many times. A contract means nothing when you are working with someone overseas (who many times you don't know is overseas until they steal your work and refuse to pay you).  I like for my income flow to be more reliable, at least for paying the bills, so a different way of working is in order.

Because I have SS payments, no car and no debt, I need only a minimal amount of extra dollars a day to pay the immediate bills, so I'll get that from the highest-paying and most reliable places, even if they are mills.  I figure it will take 2 hours a day to make that money.

  1. First, I will put up a writer's website with a few very carefully written samples of various lengths and on various topics. I will promote the he!! out of that website everywhere I can. I'll have business cards made up, and I'll put them on every single public bulletin board in the city. I'll make flyers and put those up. This all may seem excessive, but I live in a college town, and you have to be aggressive when you're competing with thousands of college students willing to work for pennies who are actually better educated than you are.
     
  2. Online, I am going to start submitting to Constant Content and other spec sites that pay decently. I know a few people who make really good money on these sites. I'm also going to start selling articles on marketing and webmaster forums again.  I used to do that, and I found that while some people wanted cheapo articles, a few were willing to pay decently for good writing. It's a great place to sell rewrites that take about 10 minutes to do and sell for $5 to $10 each.
     
  3. I'm also going to start working on my blogs more, which is something I've wanted to do for a long time, but was never in a financial position to commit to. I want to start using some marketing techniques to sell and promote products through them. I do a little now with Adsense and Amazon, but I'm on Blogger, so I'm very limited. I'm going to move them to Wordpress on a hosting site and do a lot more to monetize them.
     
  4. Finally, I'm going to write some ebooks and sell them through Clickbank.  These aren't going to be long novels, but instruction booklets on my first love -- gardening.  I know more about that than anything else, especially about how to grow food, so I figure I should cash in on it more.
Of course, none of this will happen overnight, but it will happen.  I want to double my income next year, and this is the only way I'm going to do it.  I'm tired of struggling financially and working myself sick, and working smarter, not harder is the only way to get there. I don't want to work 6 and 7 days a week anymore. I want to work 40 hours at the most, and set myself up to my residual income keeps growing so I can cut my hours down to 20 at the most in 5 years or less.

Do you have a writing plan or an income plan for next year?
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Why I Now Spend More Time on Facebook than Google+



I left Facebook a few years ago and settled nicely into Google+. I opened a few communities and a lot of people have chosen to put me in their circles for one reason or another. But honestly, I was bored there. When I moved to Gainesville, I needed to be in touch with like-minded people here, such as the Occupy group and the gardening groups, which were all on FB. My son wanted me to be back there too, so we could chat and hang out. He doesn't like G+, and doesn't have time for any more social media sites, being a full-time college student.

I grudgingly went back, intending to only be in groups and on pages. I only have a few friends there; family and close friends. Yet, I found myself spending more and more time there, and you know why?

Participation and conversation. I don't know what it is about G+, but people don't talk there. They +1 your posts, but very few comment. My communities are largely dead. I tried to start a Florida Gardening community, but I was the only one posting there more than a year, so I closed it down and went back to the original FB Florida gardening community I started 5 years or so ago. People actually post there, and talk and trade plants and seeds and generally COMMUNICATE.

I closed down a few of my G+ communities, and right now, all I have up is the writing communities and my Simply Deb community, which is on hiatus. Two of the writing communities are largely dead too, and I find myself not even wanting to try to get them going.

Yes, I am just plain bored with G+.  I have joined the ranks of those who think G+ is just dull and non-participative and snooze-worthy. I won't abandon my writing communities, but I spend less and less time on G+ now, and more time on FB. I know that Plussers think they are superior, and in intellect, you probably are, but in plain old social abillities -- you suck. It's a geek thing, I guess. Geeks were always better at the doing than the discussing and socializing.

I never thought I'd be writing this post. It makes me very sad.
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Want to Go to a Prestigious University for Free? Try Coursera!

"Dsg UF Reitz Union 20050507". Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons
According to the Coursera website, their mission statement is:
Coursera is an education platform that partners with top universities and organizations worldwide, to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free.
We envision a future where everyone has access to a world-class education. We aim to empower people with education that will improve their lives, the lives of their families, and the communities they live in.
I found Coursera about a year ago, while researching an article I was writing. I signed up for a couple of classes, but never completed them due to my life situation. I just didn't have time. Now that I'm more settled, I have signed up for another course, and plan to utilize the site as much as possible. I will never have time to take more than one course at a time, but these courses aren't just offered once, many are offered several times. If you can't take it when it is first offered, you can sign up for notification of when it will be offered again. For all you techies, Coursera is available on both Android and iOs.

What Institutions are Partnered with Coursera?
 
I like the idea of free university education. Not everyone can afford to go to top universities, and even if they can, these universities only accept so many people a year, so the chances of getting in without some pretty good connections, such as alumni in the family and perfect SAT scores, are slim to none. The free courses from prestigious institutions all over the world allow everyone a chance at a top-rate education on topics they may find of interest.

Check Out The Coursera Partnering Educational Institutions

Our very own University of Florida right here in Gainesville offers quite a few courses at the site. Since it is primarily an agricultural university, you expect it to have courses on food and agriculture, but there are also courses such as "Music's Big Bang -- The Genesis of Rock and Roll," which is one I might want to take.

Signature Track Certification Program

Many of the courses offer a Verified Certificate for a very small fee (which varies with each course), and financial aid is available. I'm not sure what type of aid that is, whether it's grants or loans.  It's a little strange, though, because some courses only offer a limited number of certificates, so you need to sign up for the certificate program by a deadline. If you miss the deadline, you can audit the course and retake it for the certificate if it is offered again These certificates look good on resumes, so they are well worth the cost. However, if like me, you aren't looking for a corporate job and don't need certification, the courses are still free and you do receive a Statement of Accomplishment from Coursera, it just doesn't have the institution's name on it.

Try Coursera and see what you think. If you've been looking for something to jazz up your resume, the courses here may be just what you are looking for.
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Marissa Mayer's Scheme to Keep YCN Writers from Republishing Their Material



It's bad enough that the unscrupulous and dastardly Mrs. Mayer decided to close down Yahoo Contributor Network, but this latest twist is just unconscionable. Instead of a 404 when you click a link to former Voices or Shine content, you now get redirected back to Yahoo; no doubt a plan to get people to get more traffic to the Yahoo main site.

We cannot republish our material, because the links are still up on search engines. We can't force Yahoo to take them down, but we can do these things:

1. Search for site:voices.yahoo.com or site:shine.yahoo.com your name, scroll to the bottom and click on "Send Feedback." In the box, copy and paste this (You can leave out the last part if you want.)

Yahoo has closed Yahoo Voices and given us back the rights to our material, however, they are redirecting those links to their front page,  which keeps us from republishing our work elsewhere because it will be seen as duplicate content. Please remove all links to voices.yahoo.com and shine.yahoo.com from your search results. Oh, and thanks for nothing for sending us that bitch to ruin Yahoo, although I can see why you wanted to get rid of her.

2. Go to The Yahoo Help Page and call or write a snail mail letter to the company, asking them to remove the redirects from all former Yahoo Contributor Network material and replace them with 404s, plus remove all YCN links from the Yahoo search engine, so that our material can be republished elsewhere. Call them every day. Flood them with requests. Never let up until they take the redirects down. Get all your friends to call them too.

3. Share this information on all social media, so that everyone who is a victim of this, plus friends of victims, can help us get this dastardly deed undone. Write about it on your blogs. Talk about it online. Let EVERYONE know what this bitch has done to us. First, took away part of our livelihoods, then made it so we cannot republish our work elsewhere.


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Mark My Words -- Answers and Groups Are Next on Herr Mayer's Hitlist


I got notice that Morning Coffee newsletter has moved from Yahoo Groups to Feedburner, jumping ship from Yahoo to Google. Can't really blame it, as Groups and Answers are surely next on Marissa Mayer's list of sites that don't fit into her new vision for Yahoo.

Do you think she has any clue who Yahoo's user base is? I don't. She has already run off most of the Yahoo Mail users and hundreds of thousands of Yahoo Contributor Network and Voices users will be dumping Yahoo mail as soon as those sites close, because they only needed it for that one thing. I certainly will be. I have two Yahoo mails. One I use for junk, subscriptions and Craigslist ads which I will probably keep, because honestly, since she ruined mail, that's all it's good for

Herr Mayer seems to want to turn Yahoo into some upscale destination for upwardly mobile yuppie puppies such as herself. The problem with that view is that she is too late. Those people are already invested in other sites that took advantage of that trend years ago. She doesn't have a chance of winning them, or of winning the younger Gen Xers or Gen Y, who don't even know what Yahoo is, and don't care.

She will ultimately fail. Just like she failed at Google and was demoted. I hear they threw a party when she left. They surely did not try to stop her from going. What she thinks of as her revenge on Google will end up being her Waterloo, and after she destroys Yahoo, she will HOPEFULLY not be hired by any other major player.

But of course, she doesn't care. She has all that AliBaba stock to see her through until her dying day. All I can say is she can't leave too soon for me and millions of other Yahoo users.
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Revenue Sharing Sites That Still Pay



Revenue sharing sites have been hit hard by the Google algorithms, and honestly, I think you can make more money with your own adsense blog just by adding a few affiliate ads, but if you need someplace to write just for revshare, these are the ones I know of.

The Major Players

I would put my better content on these sites, as they are more reliable and have survived everything Google has thrown at them.
  1. Hubpages - I wrote there long ago and there have been a ton of huge changes since then. They have their own ad program, and they have been hit hard by all the Google algorithms, but they survive. The best way to make money there is to blog on a microniche, or so I hear. You can put Amazon or eBay ads in your hubs, but you have to be an affiliate there. Amazon isn't so hard to get an affiliate account with, but eBay is. Check out their guidelines carefully, as they seem to be changing weekly.
  2. Squidoo - This site is still up and running, and again, I haven't used it for years, so I don't know what the scoop is now. It got slammed by the Penguin algorithm, after surviving all the rest relatively unscathed, so not sure what the income making potential is. Do your homework.
  3. Bubblews - This is the new kid on the block, and while it has its problems, it does pay if you write good, useful material. It has a social element that is sometimes a PITA, but if you get hooked in with a good network, you can do well, so I'm told. It does take a lot of time, though, so not for those who need a full-time income.
  4. Examiner - You hear good and bad about Examiner, and what you earn there has always depended on your topic and how often you post. It's been through a lot of changes, and lost a lot of writers by dropping the earnings amounts time after time, but some people swear by it.
The Minor Players

Back in the heydey of revshare, these sites sprung up and some are still around. There isn't a lot of money to be made there right now, but who knows what will happen with an influx of content from ex-YCN writers?

  1. Firehow - This sprung up after eHow stopped accepting unsolicited articles. It is how-to articles only, and I'm not sure how or how much it pays.
  2. InfoBarrel - This has been around awhile, and pays less than it used to, but still pays.
  3. Xomba - All I know about this is that it pays revshare. It's been around awhile.
  4. Gather - I did a little there once, but at the time, they were only paying in gift cards. Now you can get cash once you earn a certain amount. It's really a community thing, because it doesn't have any Google juice. If you join the communities and participate, they will read your articles. The site is very slow-loading, which is why I quit.
  5. ListMy5 - This is a fun site for lists. Not a serious writing site, but it's easy to knock out a couple of lists a day and eventually get some money. I put some up years ago, and suddenly got paid $10. 
New Sites

These are new to me. I don't know anything about them, so do your homework.
  1. SheToldMe.com
  2. YouSayToo.com
  3. TopicSpotter.com
  4. SeekyT.com
 Do Not Recommend
  1. Wikinut - This site is owned by an Indian company that lets anyone post there. There is no editorial and the site is plagued by poor quality ESL content. If you do post there, use a pen name. Not a site for serious writers, IMHO
  2. Bukisa and Triond - These sites sprung up during the heydey of rev share and are still around, but not viable sites. Bukisa lost its Adsense account at one time for having so much plagiarized material. I don't know its status now, but I don't recommend these sites. 
Like I said, do your homework and check out these sites well before you put your content there. Join, get on the forums, talk to the writers. Find out what the real skinny is. 
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    Paranoia and Social Networking


     I've always been sort of a radical leftist type of person, really adamant about protecting people's rights. The internet is becoming increasingly scary, and the government here in the U.S. is putting people on watch lists simply for subscribing to the posts of Occupy or Anonymous.

    I have a little bit of a paranoid personality, but I'm usually right about what I see as a threat. I have been thinking lately that maybe I need to just use the internet to work, shop and find information and leave social networking alone. I don't want the government watching every post I make because of the causes I support.

    It's really crazy how invasive the government has gotten into our personal lives. Sometimes I think that's why they let the internet go public, because they saw it as a way they could spy on us without our even knowing. Call me crazy, but I sometimes feel like we're going to all end up in concentration type camps simply for defending our rights.

    The Radical Right is getting more insane every day. The saddest part of all of their craziness is that, like all insane people, they can't see that they are insane.  It is true that insanity is the sanity of the insane. Think about that for a minute.

    I don't know what to do at this point. My life is messed up enough without having the government watching me online. If they are going to watch me, maybe all they should see if someone who is hard working, grows plants and is struggling to survive. Maybe I should go into "cyber exile" and not post anything under my own name.

    One thing that is making me paranoid is the fact that my passwords are getting compromised very often, but no havoc is really done on the accounts. I'm constantly going to sign in to site or email and finding that I have to reset my password. I run virus and malware scans continuously, but they find nothing. I've written and asked these sites WHY my password never lasts very long, and they don't have answers. I've literally left sites where my password has had to be reset more than once for no apparent reason. You hear all the time now about people being spied on through their webcams. I turned mine off, but just to be on the safe side, I put something over it. I never use it anyway. Insanity, or reality gone insane?

    Is this really all that crazy? I'm not talking about retreating to the Dark Web (I've visited there, and that place is seriously scary), just retreating into the background of the real web, staying in places where the government has not reason to look.

    Or is there such a place anymore?
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    If LinkedIn Is So Popular, Why Is It Spamming Me?


    I don't understand. LinkedIn is supposed to be one of the most popular social networks around, growing by leaps and bounds, heading for superstardom. Well, it didn't work for me, just like Facebook didn't work for me, and Twitter only works marginally for me. I quit LinkedIn over a year ago, so why are they spamming me?

    They aren't even spamming me on the account I used there. They are spamming me on every single account they can get their grubby little hands on. They send you these "So-and-so Wants To Connect With You," and today it's "So-and-so Is Waiting for Your Answer."

    Why they want me back is beyond me. I wasn't a very good Linky. I tried at first, even opened and joined groups, posted links and tried to be sociable, but I did not succeed in over four years in doing anything but "being" there. No traffic to my blogs, all the groups were spamfests, and there is NO socialization on the timeline like FB or G+ have.

    In short, unless you work in the corporate world or are looking to work in the corporate world, LinkedIn is useless. LinkedIn is the Facebook for corporate executives and their minions, of which I am not one.

    And now they are spamming me, just like everyone spams them. Well, I have to go block them now. I'm done with writing nice letters asking them to take me off their mailing lists. They will soon be summarily BANNED from my mailboxes -- all of them! LINK THAT!
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    Can a Blogger Give Up Social Media and Survive?


    Is great content without promotion enough to keep a blog going? I may find out, because I'm just about done with social media. I spend so much time on social media, that I don't blog as much as I should. I don't even WORK as much as I should. I have no life outside this house. My online friends are becoming my ONLY friends, and that is just sad.

    I'm starting a social media vacation tomorrow, Feb. 26, 2014. I'm moving May 3, so I won't be posting until after that.

    I did this before for 30 days and failed miserably, but this time it's different. This time I have tons of other stuff that needs to be done -- like writing and packing and such. I just don't have time to socialize. Once I get there, I will be involved in the community gardening and sustainability communities, and maybe Occupy. I think my socializing IRL will trump my socializing online.

    Of course, I won't forget my online friends entirely. The important ones have my email address, and can stay in touch that way. The most important ones have my phone number.

    I don't worry about losing blog readers. I'll just start writing more frequent and more searchable posts. From what I have seen of my stats, most of my traffic comes from Google anyway, so I won't be losing much. If I get to write more often, I'll get more traffic by default, right?

    So if you like the blogs, but only read when I post on Twitter or G+, this would be the time to subscribe through RSS or email.
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    Bye Bye, GoDaddy!



    Since my last post on why I am leaving GoDaddy, things have gotten strange. First, my password did not work for my account, and they kept rejecting every password I tried to create. I finally got THAT straightened out after about an hour of trying to set different new passwords until they accepted one. I guess they would call this "security," but since the password resets were coming straight to my email, I don't know what else I could have done to "prove" it was me. Well, at least they are trying to boost security, gotta give 'em that.

    I will report one good thing that has happened. Your payment method with the type of card and last 4 digits is no longer on your dashboard, which makes it a lot more secure, but still not good enough to keep me.

    GoDaddy used to be really nice about renewing domains. In fact, they gave you almost 45 days to renew before they parked it or charged you any extra. I guess with people leaving in droves, they need the money, so they don't do that anymore. Now you only have 5 days before they park your domain, making your website seemingly inaccessible.

    I received a notice that three of my domains had expired on Feb. 16, and if I did not renew it before February 27, they would charge me an additional $80. The problem with that is, this ISN'T what their site says. If you can't read the screenshot, you can see it yourself HERE.

    The relevant part is where it says that after Day 12, you have until Day 19 before you have to pay the $80.00, yet they were saying in the email that I had to pay it before Day 12. I tried to call them, but decided it wasn't worth it, since I would be transferring all the names anyway. I had a couple I bought for $.99 just to try them out that I won't be transferring, because I never did anything with them. Those will go back to the open market once I cancel my account, I believe. Not sure what the law is on that.


    They had already parked Maxing the Minimal, which I was not aware of until today, because they did not notify me it was being parked. Still, I don't seem to have lost any views so far, but I've reverted back to the blogspot address and will continue to post links from that domain until my transfer is complete. Sometimes, GoDaddy can get snitty and not let your transfer go through for days or even weeks.

    I have five more domains to transfer, which will be done as quickly as possible. I'd have done them all today, but I didn't have enough money.

    You have to jump through a lot of hoops to transfer a domain name. After you've done everything you need to do on Namecheap (or whichever registrar you're transferring to), you have to still look out for more verification emails before the transfer starts. With GoDaddy, you actually have to go to your account and approve the transfer.  So don't think it's all over after you've done what you have to do with your new registrar. Keep checking your email and make sure you complete all the steps.

    After GoDaddy transfers your domain, you new registrar will let you know, and then you have to set up your DNS all over again. Crazy, right? Yes, but well worth it to be out of the clutches of GoDaddy.


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    Freeware of the Week: Find Out Who is Connecting to Your Computer

    With hacking and internet spying becoming more prominent, you can't be too safe. Even your own internet provider can be spying on you. If you are not online, and your modem looks like it's still being used, you may have been hacked.

    Thanks to a nifty little free program called ShareWatch, you can find out who you are sharing your info with, be it your IP or the government.

    Read more and find a free download here.


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    Constant Blogger Glitches Making Me Move to Self-Hosted Platform

    I love Blogger, and have defended it against all detractors for years, but I'm sick to death of all the glitches now. These are the ones I have run up against lately that have changed my mind and made me decide to move to a self-hosted platform:

    1.  Bullet points don't work.  I didn't even try to put bullet points on this post, because they seemingly are not working anymore. The HTML is there, but for some reason, they don't show up indented with numbers.

    2.  Spacing is wonky. I sometimes have to go in two or three times to preview and fix spacing problems, especially when I use bullet points.

    3.  Can't use outside share widget under posts anymore.  I've tried and tried to make this work. I thought it might be the custom template, so I did a  test with a straight Simple Blogger template, but still no joy. The ones I already have still work, but I can't add any to new blogs. The default widget is just plain ugly, and even that doesn't work with some custom templates.

    4. Post template options don't work right. You can check and uncheck anything you want, but that doesn't mean it will show or not show. There is no rhyme or reason to it.

    In short, I can't format my blog or posts the way I want. I spend way too much time trying to fix the messes and posting on the help forum.

    Blogger used to be awesome until they started making so many major changes to the templates. Since I can't make their templates work the way I want, I use outside custom templates, which Blogger seems not to like at all. It will be a lot of work switching over, and I don't know what blog service I'll be using yet, but it will be worth it in the long run, since Blogger does not seem to be able to get their shite together.
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    Why I Am Leaving GoDaddy After 5 Years of Defending Them

    I have always had my domains registered with GoDaddy, despite myriad scandals and frustrations. This week I read about Naoki Hiroshima losing his Twitter name due to a hacker. It seems GoDaddy would not believe that he owned the domain and refused to help him. I've heard these stories before about people's domains being stolen as well as their writing work stolen and put on sites where the domain and hosting for the offending site were registered with GoDaddy, but they would do nothing, even when presented with a DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) takedown notice. Still, they were cheap, and they had never done anything to me, so I kept on buying my domains there.

    After reading the Hiroshima story, I went to my GoDaddy account to remove my credit card information. Now as anyone who uses them knows, they are CONSTANTLY changing their interface, but what I found this time was off-the-wall unbelievable! After signing in, I found that my payment information is no longer hidden until the payment page, but is easily accessible to anyone who can hack into your account. Anyone who knows anything about credit card fraud knows that for someone who knows credit cards, it isn't that hard to put together the rest of the info if you have the type of card (MasterCard, Visa, Discover, etc.) and the last 4 digits.  I tried to remove my credit card information, and got one removed, but they would not allow me to remove the other. I asked them when they had changed the interface, and why they would do something to compromise our security, to which they replied that they had the most secure system available. Well, try telling Naoki Hiroshima that!

    I sent in a complaint through the contact link, since telephone support gave me no help, and this is part of what I got in reply. The rest was just copy/paste from the GoDaddy website.
    Dear Sir/Madam, Thank you for contacting Online Support. I understand you want to delete your credit card from your account. Our site is most secured site to relay on. Unfortunately, you can not remove payment method however, you can update your payment method to new card.

    That does it! I'm sick to death of dealing with customer service reps that do not even understand English enough to write or speak it properly. From the construct here, I am imagining this was written by someone in or from China. 

    I have four domains that are coming up for renewal in February, so those will go first. Money is tight right now, but I hope by the end of February to have all my domains transferred to another registrar. If you have any suggestions for someone who does cheap specials on transfers and does not have your payment info out in the open, please let me know in the comments either here or on G+, because I'm done with GoDaddy. I want a registrar who doesn't put my payment information out there where any old hacker can find it. Before they did this, it was only on the payment page, and they need to go back to that. Still, that won't save them for me.


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    5 Signs a Writing Revenue Site is Dying


    I've seen so many writing sites go by the wayside since Panda. Suite101 and Mahalo are basically now defunct, and only left up to gather the small amounts of ad revenue they may garner from what is already there. Suite101 is actually asking people to write for free. Demand Media has stopped advertising for writers, and I don't know of anyone who has been accepted there. Examiner is still alive, if barely. It keeps writers for awhile, until they find out they can't make any money, then they are gone. Hubpages keeps trying to reinvent itself, but it just isn't working anymore. Helium has gone through yet another upgrade, which doesn't really change the fact that it is not a good place for earning residual income.

    To be sure you don't get caught unawares, these are the signs I have seen that precede every site closure or downfall. Be aware and you won't lose too much when they are gone.
    1. Things Become Secretive. You'll hear a lot of double-talk and "noise signifying nothing" from staff during the last days. They will either flat-out lie, twist the truth, or just not answer questions at all. This is the time to get out, not when the walls collapse around you. This is the first sign that the end is near.
    2. You Suddenly Are Making Less Money. Case in point: Yahoo Contributor Network has started cutting out well-paying positions for writers, such as Featured Contributors, and is cutting pay for beat writers, not to mention that it doesn't count page views from mobile devices. Upfront payments have gone for $9 to $15 dollars to a measly $1 to $3.
    3. Long-time Writers Start Moving On. Most smart writers see the writing on the wall way before a site collapses. If there is a forum, you will see long-time writers talking about private clients and other sites that pay more. You will see the less prepared start asking for referrals to better paying sites. This is the desperation phase, where all those who have put all their eggs into that basket start to panic. New forums and groups will spring up on social sites to "keep us in contact, just in case."
    4. Excuses, Promises and Lies. This is the endgame. To keep things going just a little longer and keeping all their little rats from jumping ship, the site staff will start making excuses, such as saying things were just as bad last year, when you know they weren't. They will promise things will get better and that big things are in the works. They will sometimes flat-out lie to you to keep you on board until the very last days, by creating new "opportunities" that are smoke screens to keep you happy and feeling like you are special before they drop the ax on you. They will start blaming things on corporate, search engines, their clients or anyone to garner your support and sympathy. DON'T FALL FOR THIS! This is the point where you need to GET OUT FAST! Start deleting or copying your work on the site in preparation for #5.
    5. The Final Days. Jobs will start to disappear, but they will gloss it over. Pay will be cut, and time limits will be put on projects. Some sites will suddenly (sometimes in the middle of the night) change the TOU to rob you of your rights, shut down the ability to remove your content and steal your work. Mahalo did this and triggered a class-action suit. Examiner did it and locked out their writers unless they agreed to the new TOU. I still have content on Examiner that I cannot remove, so they may as well have all the rights to it. This is all perfectly legal, but don't let it come to this. When the excuses and lies start, if you still have the ability to access and remove your work, do it THEN. You should have been writing offsite anyway, so you will have copies of your work that can be rewritten for other sites or your own blog.
    How Do I Protect Myself and My Content?
    What you should be doing from day 1 on a writing site is writing offline and saving to your computer to protect your copyright. Using Mahalo as an example, they changed the TOU, locked writers out of the site, and took the writers' names off their work. If you have written and saved to your computer, you have a record of the date the content was created. Better yet, before you post content on the site, open a free, private blog somewhere, post it there with the date and time, and THEN post it to the site.

    Unless you have signed an agreement giving full rights to the site for your content (Helium is such a site, and some assignments and beats on Yahoo Contributor Network require this), you own it from the day it is written.

    COPY THE TOU of any site you join on the day you join and save it, so you can prove your case. For example, both Mahalo's and Examiner's original TOU let writers maintain full rights to their content and gave them the right to edit or remove it at any time. This information is essential in proving the case in a law suit when they steal your content and lock it down. You are the one who must prove your case, so be sure you are armed from day one with the ammunition you need.




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    Are You Tired of Bloatware In Your Freeware Programs?

    I love freeware, and I must try at least 5 new programs a month. I haven't run a paid program on my computer since I can't remember when. There just is no need for me to do so, since I don't play games or do any high-level functions on my computer. I can get all the functionality I could ever need without spending a cent. I do contribute to these developers from time to time, because they are saving me a lot of money, so I will pitch in $5-10 dollars now and then when I update. It's only fair.

    Yes, freeware is wonderful, except when it contains bloatware. These are the extra programs and toolbars that are added into freeware downloads that help pay the developer so s/he can keep the software free. Unfortunately, some of this stuff can take over your entire computer, change your search, change your home page and is EXTREMELY difficult to remove. Wouldn't you like to know if an installer has those types of things in it before you install them?

    Well, enter Unchecky. This is a neat, tiny program that sits in the background and lets you know if you are about to download an unwanted program.



    According to my favorite freeware site, Gizmo's Freeware:

    "Unchecky is free, malware-free according to Web of Trust and VirusTotal, and runs on Windows XP and above.  It's only a 0.6 MB download (presumably because it doesn't carry any additional toolbar installers!).
    You'll find it at http://unchecky.com/"
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