Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Making Money At List My Five

Rarely do I ever find an ad/traffic revenue writing site that I recommend. That changed about a month ago when I found List My Five...

List My Five is terrific! It is a new site where writers create lists of whatever. When I say "whatever," I mean whatever. Of course the usual rules of non-violence, pornography and the like apply, but it is "whatever." Check out the different lists that I've written so far here.

I know there is one burning question on your minds...

Yes, I am earning money with List My Five. Even though List My Five is a new site and isn't getting much "Google love," I am still earning good money there. It is rolling in at a steady pace. In fact, there hasn't been a single day that I haven't earned money with List My Five.

What do writers have to do to earn money at List My Five?

Writing the lists are easy and fun. Finish the phrase "Top Five..." and write. Each of the five points has to be a minimum for 25 words. The introductions and conclusions are optional. I don't know how it could be any easier. Serious lists, funny lists - it doesn't matter.

Back to the money thing...

Earning with List My Five is probably the easiest online writing gig I have ever had. Yes, it is even easier than Helium and eHow. Better yet, my List My Five earnings are coming in faster than with either one of those sites - despite the lack of Google love. I can't wait until Google loves List My Five as much as I do. Oh, the money I will be earning by writing lists! I am excited.

Jump on board! There isn't a referral program (yet) so I'm not benefiting from you earning money at List My Five. I had to share some good news about an ad/traffic revenue writing site where you can earn money.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

One Single Act

It never ceases to amaze me how the simplest and smallest acts of a stranger can change lives forever. It has been said that "bigger is better," but I've come to learn that is not always true. My Granddaddy taught me that. Not with his words, but by how he lived his life. One single act of a stranger changed him forever and, because of that, changed me forever. It happened many years ago...

My Granddaddy had the two most important jobs during World War II. He was a cook and a medic. He kept our troops fed and patched up. What could be more important? They weren't glamorous, but he played two huge roles in defeating Hitler.

One day, as he was changing sheets on a bed, he noticed a man across from him that was badly wounded. The man was missing most of the right sided of his body, including his right eye and arm. Unfortunately, he had seen worse, but this particular man still tugged at his heart.

A volunteer with the Red Cross sat down next to the wounded man. She had a basket of fresh oranges, a real treat for those so close to the front lines. She asked if he would like an orange. My Granddaddy barely him hoarsely whisper "Yes." The "Red Cross Woman," as my Granddaddy called her, smiled and said, "That will be a dime."

My Granddaddy moved closer to hear the response. "I don't have a dime," he replied."

The Red Cross Woman stood up and walked away, leaving the wounded man and moving on to the next bed with her basket of oranges. My Granddaddy saw the man cry. Embarrassment for not having a dime? We'll never know.

My Granddaddy moved on the next bed as another volunteer sat down next to the man. He wanted to tell her to move along, but he had been told to let the volunteers do their jobs without any interference. He explained to me he would have had a few choice words for her, had he been able to say something.

"Would you like an orange?" the volunteer asked. My Granddaddy's blood boiled.

The man explained, again, that he didn't have any money. The volunteer moved from the chair and sat on the bed next to him. She reached in her basket and pulled out an orange. She began peeling the orange.

"That's okay. I'm with the Salvation Army." She finished peeling the orange. She sectioned the orange and fed it to the wounded man.

My Granddaddy would go on say how much that meant to him. He explained how that single act changed him and the direction of his life. He said he knew there had to be a God because of this one woman. Despite all the horror around him, he knew God was watching and taking care of everyone.

I heard that story my entire life. My Granddaddy wiped tears from his eyes each time he told that story. I grew up wanting to touch a life the way "The Salvation Army Lady," as my Granddaddy called her, had touched him. We don't know her name. We don't know what caused her to volunteer. The only thing we know is that she showed up one day and cared.

How much did this really impact my Granddaddy? I'm not sure. I do know that when he had Alzheimer's and didn't recognize Granny, the woman he had been married to for sixty plus years, he could still tell that story. He didn't where he lived or what year it was, but he could tell that story with all the passion of when he had told it when he was well. His words never faltered. The story never changed. It was always in his head.

No. It wasn't in his head. It was in his heart. Alzheimer's may have taken his memories, but it didn't take the feelings in his heart.

I showed up one day, in Oklahoma City, after the bombing of the Murrah Building there. I wanted to help my hometown.

I saw the Red Cross women. They were selling bottles of water to those covered in dust and blood. Men and women, coughing and wheezing from the debris in the building, desperately needed water. Not far from the Red Cross station was the Salvation Army ladies. They were handing out bottles of water. No charge. Just giving it to those in need.

I thought of my Granddaddy and his Salvation Army lady. Despite what had happened and all that I saw that day, I knew God was there - helping.

I want to do something like that for someone. They don't have to know my name. They just need to know I showed up one day and cared. I can't cure cancer. I can't bring peace to the world. I can touch one person. I can do something, simple straight from the heart, and, maybe, change a life.

I want to give one person an orange. I have at least one orange to give. Do you?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Hacks vs. Writers: The Financial Fight

Either I have just been educated or I am about to do some educating. I'm not sure which. My writing world has been turned topsy-turvey and I'm not sure difference between up and down.

I'm a writer. Please excuse me when I say I am use to making a writer's wage. I make no apologies for wanting to get paid what I am worth. Doctors make a doctor's wage. Customer service reps make a customer service rep's wage. McDonald cashiers make a McDonald cashier's wage. That is the way it always worked. Until now.

Writers aren't making a writer's wages. The reason is quite simple: There are too many hacks disguised as writers (HDAWs) that will put words on paper (I won't call it writing) for next to nothing. It is embarrassing to the writing industry that such people do what they do. Here is an example:

I ran across several internet sites where "writers" bid on different projects. It sounded interesting so I gave one a good look over. I was shocked by what I saw. I had no idea things like this went on in the world. Yes, I need to crawl out from under the rock I've been living under and get out in the real world more often.

A client of this site needed 20 articles written, 500 words each. The client had explained what was required of the writer and seemed quite professional, promising payment as each article was submitted through PayPal. I was the first to put a bid in on this project. Lowering my normal rate considerably (by more than half, to be honest), I bid $30 per article - stating that I would write a minimum of one article per day, depending on the subject matter. I include a brief bio, highlighting my two degrees from Smith College and over 20 years experience as a freelance writer. I even suggested the client Google my full name to see samples of my work. I truly thought I might have a chance at this project. It seemed simple enough. Boy, was I wrong.

I received an email, stating the project had gone to someone else. Curiosity got the best of me, so I decided to see what bid was accepted. The bid accepted read "I rite you 20 aritcles for 10$. I rite you arictles in one day all." This HDAW was going to accept 50 cents per article? 10,000 words for $10? And, do it one day?

I had to laugh. This poor client accepted a bid from a HDAW that does not know how to spell "write" and "articles?" This HDAW even spelled "articles" two different ways. Two different ways on a website that underlines misspelled words. You have got to be kidding me! I won't even get into the poor grammar of "I rite you..."

I'm not a spelling champion or a grammar queen by any stretch of my extremely vivid imagination, but I'm also not that stupid. Stupid as the HDAW for writing such a bid or the client who accepted it? The jury is still out on that one.

Thinking this was a fluke, I kept looking around on this website for writing gigs. The spelling and grammar improved in the bids, but the rates - Oh my God, the rates. I am using the term "rates" as loosely as a possible. They were more like "I'll write for you and you can toss me the change you find on one street corner." These HDAWs are writing entire articles for 50 cents and less. No wonder I'm not getting any work there.

I did run across a few that look promising. I've gotten emails from them, asking that I write short paragraphs about the subject so they can see my writing style. That is great. I'm finding some clients who have a clue. Remember, you get what you pay for. I hope I never have to read what some of these clients are paying for.

I understand the other side of story as well. These clients are shoppers and they want to pay as little as possible. They want to keep as much money in their pockets as possible. I shop like that. To a point. I'll pay more for quality. I want as much money in my pocket as possible, too.

When it comes to writing, is it a buyer's market or a seller's market? Judging by what I have seen, it is a buyer's market. Unfortunately, from what I've seen, what they are buying must be bad. I know that times are tough, but I had no idea that times were this tough. Clients are willing to pay "riters" next to nothing and, more than likely, get next to nothing for their money.

What is a real writer to do? Jump on the bandwagon and get paid pennies for a skill or talent or gift or whatever you want to call it or do we starve? I'm not jumping yet and, thankfully, I'm not starving either. I'll be picky with the gigs I accept, not taking less than what I am worth. Until clients get tired of paying for junk, I'll teach my writer's workshops and hold my writer's seminars. There is still good money to be made trying to turn HDAW into writers, although most of the hacks out there don't realize they are hacks.

As with most things in my life, I have more questions than answers. I suppose that is okay. I've always liked a little mystery.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Make A Little Girl's Christmas Wish Come True

I just helped my daughter, Siobhann, write her letter to Santa. Other than asking for clothes that would fit me because "she has gotten fat," her letter was rather moving. Particularly the last item on her list...

"Please bring all the stray dogs and cats lots of good homes, families that love them and lots and lots and lots of food," she wrote. It was straight from the heart. Because of her heartfelt plea, I've compiled a short list of ways you can make Siobhann's Christmas wish come true.

1. Adopt a pet from your local animal shelter, humane society or animal control agency. Many of these pets are reasonably priced. They are usually already altered (spayed for females and neutered for males). Sometimes, they are even up-to-date on their vaccinations. Rarely these pets have not gone through some sort of personality testing to make sure they are adoptable. Go in and let a pet pick you out. They know if they will like you and your family. Ask a lot of questions to make sure you get the best pet for your family and your family's lifestyle.

2. Donate money to you local "helpers of animals." Any amount will be fine. Drop some loose change in the canisters. That will do a world of good. Monetary gifts are usually tax deductible. Ask at the front desk if you are unsure.

3. Donate items to the animal shelter. What to give? Pet food, cat litter, blankets, towels, wash cloths, and cleaning supplies like bleach. Leashes, small litter boxes (even cardboard flats), pet toys, collars and pet carriers are always appreciated. Think about what your pet uses every day and donate accordingly.

4. Volunteer at you local animal shelter. Just a few hours a week will help ease the workload of those who care for the animals. Offer to walk dogs, wash bowls scoop poop. Not your cup of tea? Play with the pets there. They call it "socialization," but we know better. This is great for puppies and kittens; you'll enjoy it as well. Ever sit in the middle of a litter of puppies or kittens? If that isn't fun, I don't know what is. Maybe allergies keep you from dealing directly with the animals, so volunteer to lick stamps, put up posters and signs or answer the phones. If you are familiar with a computer, offer to help with their website or blog. Get creative and help the animals in need and those who help them. Get your kids involved. There is a lot they can do to help as well.

5. Take a stray to your local animal shelter. It will be better than them living on the streets. They will be warm and have enough food. They will receive the necessary medical treatment or their suffering will be ended in a humane manner. They will be evaluated to see if they are suitable for adoption and every effort possible will be made for them to go to a good home.

It is pretty simple to help animals in your area. It will make you feel good. And, the animals. It isn't expensive to help - a lot of the time it is free. I know it will make my Siobhann happy to know someone cared enough to do a little something for the countless animals she prays for.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Siobhann's Third Christmas: A Lesson For Everyone

Siobhann woke up early the morning of her third Christmas. She had been waiting for so long for this day. She still remembered last Christmas and couldn't wait to see what Santa had brought her. Hair messy and sleep still in her eyes, she made her way to the living room where the Christmas tree was.

Her eyes lit up as she saw all the presents under the tree and the stockings stuffed with all sorts of goodies. She clapped her hands in delight as she ran to the tree. She looked at each package, not sure where to start.

Her Daddy and I were thrilled. Not a big Christmas by most standards, but it was the best one she had ever had. Her father had an accident when she was eight months old and had been unable to work until just a few months before. We scrimped and saved and did the best we could, after we got caught up on all the bills that couldn't wait. Well, most of them. It was Christmas and some things would just have to wait.

Instead of tearing into her packages as we had expected, Siobhann carefully inspected each one. She had a compliment for each bow and the pretty paper. She opened them slowly, making sure not to tear the paper anymore than necessary. She placed each of the bows in a neat pile. We learned she would play with them later.

Pretty princess pajamas were held up and modeled for us. The game of CandyLand was squealed over. A giant bag of socks were studied intensely, taking note of each different color. Play make-up and dress up clothes were handled with care as she moved them aside.

The prettiest box was tucked away at the very back of the Christmas tree. It was the doll she had seen at Wal-Mart and had fallen in love with. We had kept that hidden in the top of the closet since our first pay day in over two years. Her Daddy and I tried not to cry as she opened it. We need she'd be so excited when she saw the little doll with the long brown hair and big blue eyes.

The bows were placed in the pile of other bows and the wrapping paper was carefully peeled away, revealing a box that had once held Huggies wipes. It had been the perfect size for this special doll.

"Oh, thank you, thank you!" Siobhann shrieked, hugging both me and her Daddy. "We always need wipies."

She sat the box aside and began looking at the pretend make-up she had gotten.

We were speechless. I finally managed to suggest she open the box.

"I'll put it in the bathroom," she said, jumping up to take the box with her dream doll away.

"Open it up. Santa sometimes uses boxes for other things to put presents in," my quick-thinking husband explained.

"It's wipies. Santa knows we always need wipies." Siobhann explained, refusing to open the box.

We ended up opening the box for her. She was thrilled with her new doll.

We were thrilled with her. She was proudest and happiest to have what she thought was a box of wipes. We almost felt guilty for not getting her a box of wipes. Her eyes almost lost a little of their shine when she realized she had gotten a doll instead of the wipes.

After a busy day of cooking, playing with new toys and eating, her Daddy and I finally stumbled to bed. I heard him muffle a cry as he turned his back to me. I knew what he was thinking. I was thinking the same thing.

Siobhann's first two Christmas' had been brought to her by total strangers, known as The Salvation Army. After her Daddy's accident, he had been unable to work. I hadn't been able to work for over three years due to my failing health. In the years before that, we had gladly taken the paper stars or paper angels off the trees at the stores and helped when we could. It then was our turn to get the much needed help.

"She was so thankful for the wipies," he finally managed to say.

"I know." There was no sense in fighting the tears now.

"She's practical like your are," he told me, holding me close. He took a deep breath. "How many kids do you think got wipies and diapers for Christmas?"

I didn't want to think about. The answer was "too many," even if it had only been one.

I'm a softie and so is my husband. Even the kids on Santa's naughty list deserves one toy for Christmas. Yet, there will be so many, too many, without any presents at all. Wipes and diapers, if they are lucky.

Will you please do me, my husband and Siobhann a favor this year? Consider it your Christmas present to us, if you would please. Take a star or angel off one of the trees you see in the store. Take a gift card to you local charities; no amount is too small. If that isn't possible, drop some change in the Salvation Army bucket. Maybe take a can of food or a loaf of bread to your local food bank or other charity that helps people in need at Christmas. If that too is out of your budget, whisper a little prayer for those who are in worse shape than you and I. And, be thankful for what you have, no matter how little it is.

I'm sure there are other boys and girls who will be thrilled for a box of wipies. Think of how they will feel to find a toy or much needed shoes or a coat. Think of how thankful the parents will be. It's a little thing to do, but no gift is ever too small when it given from the heart.

Shameless Plug

I'm so proud I could pop! Siobhann, my four year old daughter, just started her very first blog. Yes, a four year old is blogging on the internet. It all started quite innocently...

For the past few weeks, Siobhann has been pretending to have a website and a blog like I do. She would take "photos" with her toy camera and type about them on a Word document. I didn't think too much about it. She was having fun with it. Then, I got to thinking...

"Siobhann could do this for real." Seriously. Whatever she wrote couldn't be as bad as some of the stuff adults are putting out there for all the world to see. She loves to tell me and her Daddy stories. Why not put them on the internet?

I started the blog for her. I chose a simple background and gave it a title. I write a few little things in the sidebar, explaining the overly-simple concept. Siobhann chose the colors for the blog and wrote her first story.

Then, she wanted to take pictures. We made it clear that we (her Daddy and I) would never allow a picture of her or of us to be posted. I told her there were people who weren't very nice that could do bad things with them. A little tough to explain freaks, weirdos and sickos to a four year old, but I thing we did okay.

Just like her Momma, Siobhann is hooked on blogging. I think she may have a knack for it. Her stories are good and so are her photos. Okay, I am prejudice.

I have yet to see anything like this on the internet. Have you seen a blog completely designed and written by a not-quite five year old? She's doing almost everything herself. I type for her, word to word. I download the photos and crop them. That is it. She is doing everything else. She's even learning how to type, crop photos and other "blogging" skills. Well, SEO will come later.

Wouldn't it be something if her blog took off? That thought never occurred to me until I started getting wonderful feedback from my Twitter friends. They seem to love the idea. Siobhann even has two subscribers, me and one of my Twitter friends.

I'm excited. We are adding this to our home school curriculum. She's learning all sorts of computer things as well as writing, spelling and grammar. This is beyond super cool!

The best part is I'm seeing a side of Siobhann that is new to me. She's very picky about her writing. I can't change a single word. There are a lot of "veries" and flat adjective like big, but it is still good writing for someone her age. I can't wait to see her develop as a writer.

I so want to use a warning to all bloggers, including myself. "Be careful; there's a new kid in town. And, she's good. She's only going to get better."

That's my shameless plug. Check her blog out for yourself. Subscribe, if you like, so you can keep up with whatever is going on in her head. Just like me, you never know what she might right about.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

No Escaping the Fairies

We have several new visitors, long-term guests, in our home now. They are Grace Glitterwish, Magnolia Mountainmist and Sophie Bubblewink. They are the new obsessions my daughter and I share. Yes, we found

Disney has a real winner on their hands now with this website. It is fun for everyone. Even my husband has been caught playing with fairies on the internet. It's addictive, interactive and educational. Well, educational may be pushing it, but it does improve hand eye coordination.

The concept is so simple. You create up to three different fairies. You make them look the way you want them to, selecting hair and eye color as well as facial features and skin color. You select their talent, such as animal talent, water talent, tinker talent and the like. You choose a name for your fairies from a list provided by Disney. If you aren't careful, the can sound like stripper names, but they are cute. Then you are ready to begin playing.

You gather all sorts of things (raspberries, twigs, honeycomb, etc.) that you can use to purchase clothing and household items to be used by your fairy. You can even use these items to "tinker" different items. Sewing, building furniture and helping the animals and fairies are just a few of the "quests" you can go on. There are even quests to the "Mainland," AKA the real world which allows children to draw pictures, learn about nature and make friends.

One of the best features of this website is the chat. You choose from a list of words and phrases to talk with other fairies playing the game. It is all innocent and fun. There is also an additional chat feature you can sign up for so you can use your own words.

My daughter and I can't get enough of it. She is a light talent fairy and I am an animal talent fairy. We take turns playing games and gathering items. We both love to shop for clothes for our fairies and making friends with others playing. It is a great Momma-daughter bonding activity.

It is so much fun for us, I've noticed the dishes are stacking up more than normal and my website and other blog are being neglected. Brace yourself for this: It is even getting into my Twitter time. I can't get enough of it. My daughter is learning quickly about sharing and taking turns. Sometimes she handles those lessons better than I do.

There is no escaping the fairies in our home. We are loving it. It is a great activity for girls of all ages. Just use your imagination and have fun. That is what we are doing.