I looked down at my hands and they were pasty and contorted into unnatural shapes,like a 90 yr old woman with arthritis. They were cramped from white-knuckling the steering wheel for the past 2 hours. I was glad that the kids had been asleep in the backseat for so long because several times I squealed and jumped when puddles of water from passing vehicles flooded over the windshield,blinding me.
The other cars became “something not to hit”and the slowly creeping semi trucks became obstacles that drove me to endure the sure death embedded in the wave of water they left in their wake,with my windshield wipers maniacally swishing back and forth in a panic,desperately trying to clear my view and unapologetically making my heart beat faster while I waited to verify that I had not,in fact,been pushed off of the cliff and into the Columbia River.
I didn’t have time to get annoyed that those trucks were hugging the safe side of the road that night. Surely on rainy nights like this,All big rig truck drivers in Oregon would feel inclined to band together keep little Prius drivers like me safe and reverse the whole slow lane-fast lane paradigm. At least on eastbound routes. Be slow on the scary side of the road,please. Be big and tall over there,by the edge of the cliff so that little old me can hug the mountain and if I happen to lose control,catch me,OK bro.
After one very surfable wave blanketed my little car and my life flashed before me,I wondered if I were to die on this road tonight,what would be said about me? Surely my ex husband would call it suicide. He was always quick to chalk everything I did up to some mental health deficiency. As if it was crazy to hate being married to him. The death of me and my kids that night would surely prove to him that divorce was a bad idea. I wondered if my boyfriend would be notified. None of “my people”really know much about him. Come to think of it,I don’t have a lot of people that I confide in. (Also,I think that might be the first time I have typed out those words;“my boyfriend”it sounds so juvenile.) I guess my friend Karri could tell him.And my children,what futures will be robbed of the world tonight when we go tumbling down into the river? Also,does drowning hurt? Or would we even make it all the way down the cliff?
Yes,I have just spent the past two hours driving down the freeway listening to The Moth podcast. These are short stories from the lives of the storytellers. I like how one of the announcers said that “The moral of each of these stories is ‘And I never looked at life the same again after that.”
I’m not a storywriter or a storyteller. I write nonfiction articles and blog posts for corporate websites and small businesses and nonprofit organizations. I guess you could stretch it to call it storytelling,in a cumulative sense.
But listening to all of these short stories has caused me to narrate every thought in my head like I have some omnipotent,no omniscient,no omnipresent a microphone and I’m looking back at the experience and somehow it changed my life.
That’s a cool perspective because it means that no matter what I do the following day it’s going to be important.
So here I am today,avoiding work for a few minutes to write this,drinking my 3rd cup of coffee at 9am and about to close my laptop and make breakfast for the kids who slept through my entire adventure last night.
If you’re a storyteller at heart,or you want to see if it’s possible to alter your mind through a mental immersion in storytelling like I did,Here are a few of the awesome podcasts I have been listening to for short stories lately:
Also,check out BuzzFeed’s article 12 Storytelling Podcasts that you need to be listening to and the UK Telegraph’s article The Best Podcasts for Stories,Fiction &Poetry.
OK,so in the past my solution to working from home in spite of the fact that I have children was to lock myself in the bedroom and beg,bribe or otherwise encourage (mostly begging) them to leave me alone until this one task is complete. There’s never been a soundproof room in any of my homes,so this only works to the extent that I can tune out whatever is going on outside the door.
But Alas,I have found something that allows me to sit at the kitchen counter and knock out writing assignments in the middle of the day just as quickly as I can at 6am when they’re all asleep.
The solution (for me) is White Noise
Yep,that’s right. That static sound that old TVs used to make when they went off the air for the night. That has been my saving grace. That and my earbuds. Wearing a plain old $5 pair of ear buds and listening to white noise louder than my kids’conversations makes it possible for me to be so much more productive when they’re awake and active. FINALLY we can share the same space in the middle of the day. I don’t get to HEAR them much,but I’m much more accessible and much less crabby this way. It’s taken a bit of learning for them to see that I can’t hear them event hough they’re right next to me. They have learned to weigh their interruptions against my relative attentiveness. Since I’m working at the kitchen counter,I can choose to stop working when I see them starting to prepare foods so that it’s done with little waste and that it all gets cleaned up quickly. So far,this is the perfect solution. I have this video bookmarked so that I can return to it over and over again,you might want to also. I now present:My new favorite sounds to work by:
I’ve been writing for Blogmutt since December 20,2013 and almost instantly,they were my #1 favorite place to log into. Their behind-the-scenes format is so easy to work with. Instead of blowing their horn here on my website,I’m going to send you directly over to Blogmutt via some links to posts I wrote for the company blog:
How to Spot the Best and Worst Content Writing Services Online
Effective Blogging for Insurance Agencies
Freelance Work-From-Home Opportunity For Seniors
I encourage you to check out the way this company operates. As part of their compensation plans,writers can “level up”to a point where they’re given a share of the company’s profits. I’m currently at a level 4 and in the next few weeks I expect to reach level 5,whereby I can officially claim “writer”status on Linkedin and I think at some point I’ll get a T shirt Honestly I’m not too terribly concerned about the levels,I think it’s a cool system but as a mom of six I’m just glad that I can spend a little time creating web content for other sites and still pay my bills. Not a damned thing is currently scheduled for disconnect and my bank balance isn’t negative. Hooray for little things Now,I’m off to get some schoolwork done and write just one more for the day.
It just occurred to me that when I review writing websites I’m much more thorough. I haven’t said much here but I’d like to add that they pay every Monday. You do have to click the little “submit invoice”thing to request a check. I like that because you can choose how often to pay yourself. You might want to let it add up on a monthly basis so you can use it effectively. It goes directly into PayPal which (at my house) means “Gas money for my teenagers.”So there’s no benefit right now for me to let it add up significantly. I do pay a few bills through PayPal,but not a lot. That’s so irrelevant,I have no business writing at this moment. Goodbye,friends.
Is it ethical to use my own website to complain about people who might be readers? I say “Yes,as long as it’s constructive.”I also think I might have just quoted myself in real-time for the first time ever. Do people do that? I guess I do. So here’s the thing:
Stop Wasting Your Time in the Message Boards
Seriously,are you a writer for money or are you a writer to be social? I just don’t get it. I’m currently writing for 3 different content providers and every single one of them seems to have a very active writer’s message board population. On one hand,it’s fine with me because then there’s more work for me. On the other hand,I want to remind them that the message boards won’t increase their income and won’t improve their writing skills.
Part of me sees that maybe some people need to feel some kind of social connection to their coworkers. Except that we’re paid by the word,by the article or by the job and none of those things includes the posts we make and comment on in the message boards. Plus,we’re freelancers so we’re not technically coworkers. It really IS a competition and you’re all hopelessly distracted.
Maybe I’m socially retarded in that I just don’t feel the need to congratulate someone for continuing to work,answer trivia questions,share a picture of my workspace,post my favorite coffee recipe,share my favorite writing sites,discuss the oxford comma ad nauseum,complain about people who don’t understand the hardships of working from home,make fun of myself for procrastinating or wax nostalgic about the old days of SEO keyword stuffing just to prove I’m not a noob.
So do yourself a favor,please. Constantly ask yourself if you’re being productive. Maybe you actually do this work in order to be social with other “writers”in which case;disregard my commentary,please. But if you’re suffering from this social plague,keep track of how much time you spend sharing anecdotes in the message boards. It’s no more productive than scrolling through the endless Facebook feed. And most importantly,before you click “send”on that comment or posting,ask yourself “Will this help my fellow writers be productive.” Just once,I’d like to log in and see that little red bubble of new community posts say 3- because that’s how often the admin updates the site news each day.
End of rant. Good day to all of you. Write on…
I’m writing this at my kitchen counter,it’s centrally located,well,right in the middle of the house (grin). My six-year-old and my eight-year-old are running circles around me,stark naked with bath towels trailing behind them like superheroes. If I stop writing I might say something lame like “Cheesus Ate Rice,stop running in the house”and that’s no way to reach a daily financial goal,is it? With all the snow outside,I’m sure they need some exercise,plus their little behinds are so cute.
It’s not all work here,last night I made Alton Brown’s homemade marshmallows recipe. I heard a rumor that once you try homemade marshmallows you’ll never buy store-bought version again. That’s a total lie,the recipe was complicated and time-consuming. It involved no less than three bowls,a couple obscure-to-me ingredients and a 4 hour (or overnight) wait until they could be eaten. The entire process was a painful reminder that I’ve failed to reward myself with the Kitchenaid Mixer that I’ve lusted after for like 15 years.
It just occurred to me that instead of leaving subliminal gift idea clues for friends and family I could be offering up some actual helpful advice for working from home during the holidays since the title of this post sort of led you to believe that’s what you’d find here.
1- Don’t go crazy expecting yourself to do more work than usual to make up for the fact that you’re probably spending more than usual.
2- Use the stress you’re feeling to create a plan that will prevent it this time next year.
3- Avoid over-indulging at the cocktail parties if your best work time is in the early morning. If you’re a mom with small kids at home,like me,you might find that it’s easiest to get work done before they wake up in the morning so while it might be fun to drop the social anxiety with a rum and coke at your husband’s office party,it’s probably not worth losing an entire day of work,is it?
4- Reach your daily financial goals as early as possible. The only reason I am writing this instead of helping kids get dressed is because I have reached my daily goal and it’s only 2pm. I worked from about 4am to 10 am and met my goal for the day. Plus,they like to be naked.
5- Make time to help others. This year I’m taking my kids to Skid Row for Christmas to deliver funky socks to homeless people. It makes me feel like a human being that’s contributing to society. Spending my days writing marketing content for companies without actually ever researching their environmental impact or social impact feels strange sometimes. On one hand,they’re my client so I make it my goal to do my best work but sometimes I wonder what the overall affects of my contribution are going to be. What if I write the web content for a company that singlehandedly kills all the dolphins in the sea or enslaves toddlers for cheap labor in Guatemala? That would feel horrible,right? Then again,no one is paying me to research the ethics of these companies and I just want to feed my kids. So I do the best I can with the job at hand and try not to be too concerned if the companies I’m helping are ones I can stand behind as a human. Right now I’m make up for the potential karmic downfall by raising great kids and giving homeless people something to smile about.
Finally,my last bit of advice is to love love love these munchkins who might run circles around you when you’re trying to finish a sentence and know that deep down inside they’re so glad that you’re working from home. I’m sure they are. Otherwise they’d have to be dressed right now.
It’s 4300 and 5 days to take the new salesforce administrator’s course but the outline for the class is available online and while you won’t get a certificate for teaching yourself,you can definitely do it even without access to the program. There are videos on youtube and other tutorials out there for learning to be a SalesForce Administrator.
Put it on your resume and if it becomes necessary,learn it.
I can do this because I tend to pick up new software quickly and easily,but if this is difficult for you don’t do it. I’m just saying that SalesForce is an important piece of software for people who work in marketing and if you want to learn it so you can be more marketable yourself,the knowledge is out there. It’s available. Take it.
Adding ExactTarget skills to your resume can help you land a contract or position working with online marketing campaigns at bigger companies.
Here’s a website that offers training courses you can register for (for a fee) but this particular page offers free video courses so you can learn on your own
I can’t even explain how often a frantic writer will reach out on the freelance writing forums,pleading for overflow assignments,with such catastrophes as “My power will be shut off tomorrow” or “If I wait until payday I will have a $50 fee” or “I need enough in my paypal to put gas in the car.”
Let’s face it,sometimes you need cash NOW.
I can’t help right this instant (unless you can go release mooney from your SocialSpark,SponsoredTweet or PayPerPost accounts. If you release under $50 from SocialSpark or PayPerPost,there is a $2 penalty but it’s sometimes worth it when you need instant cash.)
OK,if none of the above solves your dilemma,then read onward to learn about how you can have today’s income deposited before you wake up in the morning.
For more details,check out my free report “Work Today –Paid TODAY” It’s an Adobe .pdf file,hopefully I don’t need to explain how to access those,right?
For a lot of small businesses,setting up a Google+ page is really difficult,really boring and really probably not on their top ten list of things they should be doing online. But don’t worry,that’s where you come in. As a private contractor,you can provide a service for local businesses to help them get their pages up and running. Package it in with your facebook business page services and combine it with the management of their google maps page for local-mobile marketing.
Small business owners WANT your knowledge of the way the internet works. They want to harness the power of social networking but they don’t have the time or energy to devote to learning how it works. You,you web-savvy businesswoman…you know how this works and you can make a living by helping business owners thrive in this marketplace.
Blogskinny.com is one of the newer sites for monetizing your blog. Unlike other sites that help bloggers make money on a blog,Blogskinny is designed to integrate very easily into the site’s pre-existing content. Instead of paid posts or paid links (which search engines aren’t too crazy about) Blogskinny provides bloggers with videos,quotes and infographics that are targeted for your audience,so it’s almost a service. They provide tidbits that you can use in your posts that won’t necessarily change the way your posts are written.
Signing up for Blogskinny.com
The site has a very clean and simple design that makes it very easy to create an account and add blogs to it. The site welcomes both content providers and bloggers,so clearly if you’re trying to monetize your blog you’d choose blogger. There’s an account creation step which you need to do only once,then you can add (the FAQ’s say) up to eight blogs per account. They do accept blogs that are hosted on blogger and wordpress.org,however,it’s been my experience with other sites that self-hosted blogs end up being more valuable than free blog sites.
In the blog submission process,there is a “choose a photo”function that I still don’t understand the purpose of,so I won’t address that except to say that I suspect it’s just to make the rest of the site look nicer by having an image column in every list. In my experience,a new blog’s approval or rejection comes within 2-3 business days.
Making Money with Blogskinny.com
I have several blogs listed on their site and every weekday I end up with new job offers. The value of each placement is directly related to the quality of your blog,so the same job will bring in $25 on one blog while on another it might only bring in $4. Jobs expire after three days,so if an opportunity isn’t right for you,you can let it pass by. Registering multiple websites is always a more effective way to engage with any website for monetizing blogs. Their process is easy and intuitive.
Getting paid is easy,payments are processed within a week. I’m not sure how the guidelines for that are written or what their official procedure is,but I do know that since I’ve been involved with their site,I’ve received payments every weekday.
The Best thing about Blogskinny.com
Is the easy navigation and the clean layout. And here I am complaining about not being able to sort or find things,I fully realize that the clean layout is sometimes guilty of hiding obvious things,but there is a functional balance and I hope they find it.
Another equally best thing about Blogskinny is their quick handling of payments and job approval. I also like that they’re up-front about how long the content needs to be displayed on their site. I’ve worked with companies who are vague on this point and the results are always confusing. Taking the post down too early results in not getting paid and leaving it up too long results in a barrage of “please remove this”emails. I love that Blogskinny is direct about the duration in their agreement.
Problems with Blogskinny.com
I suspect that the site is new and there are a team of people in the background working tirelessly to get out the kinks. I have submitted help tickets and received quick responses. Unfortunately,the responses are only visible in my email,they’re not accessible through the backend dashboard of my account. The best way to find them in my inbox is to search for the ticket number. Help tickets show up in the list of jobs and clicking (on the only link in the row) brings you to help.com,which really is completely irrelevant and annoying. Whose idea was that? You can find the ticket number of your past help tickets by visiting the Help page from your dashboard.
The main issue I’ve had that has not been resolved is that I receive an email regarding a new job and then for some reason it doesn’t show up in my job list. Once,the tasks were invisible until they expired. The help desk was very quick and kind about re-activating those jobs. The next time,the assignments stayed lost in space forever.
While these little annoyances might be troublesome for me,I don’t think they indicate a lack of professionalism or integrity on behalf of the company itself. I think that my experience as a heavy user of a new platform gives me a unique opportunity to see the kinks being ironed out. In the long term,I don’t see any reason why these things would continue. During times when I have created a help ticket about other issues on the site,I noticed immediate results,which tells me that they’re responsive and working toward perfection.
When your job needs work at Blogskinny.com
When a job isn’t completed to their standards (usually because you didn’t follow the directions),you receive an email telling you that the assignment needs work (but not why). Return to your dashboard jobs page to find that task (you might want to use the Control +F function to search the page for the term “needs work”because scrolling through every task you’ve ever completed is blinding). The site pre-fills the URL for the post you submitted,so all you need to do is address the issue (which is buried at the bottom of the page in the comment section) and re-submit. The editors are very very good about telling you exactly why your post didn’t meet the job criteria. I’ve worked with sites before where the instructions “please follow all directions”were supposed to be helpful.
Ways to Improve Blogskinny.com
In the blogger’s dashboard,I have access to a complete list of jobs that includes both completed jobs,expired jobs and jobs that need more work. It would be very helpful to have the ability to sort these by the column headings,mainly for the purpose of isolating those jobs that need my attention.
The terms of service are only visible upon initial signup. I’ve searched throughout the site a few days after joining. When each post is submitted,blogger agrees that the post won’t violate the site’s TOS. For peace of mind and to maintain professionalism,it would be nice to have a copy of those terms,or a link to the terms in order to make sure we’re staying within the rules.
The FAQ’s seem helpful but they’re geared toward answering the questions of someone who is thinking of signing up,or a new user. I have been with the company for less than a month,perhaps a newsletter for seasoned users to stay up-to-date with company changes would be helpful. Maybe it already exists.
Should I sign up with Blogskinny.com?
Sure;y that’s the question you’re asking,right? I mean,people don’t read reviews just for the fun of it,do they? My answer for you is YES,sign up in the spirit of making money online and monetizing your blog. Don’t expect to earn a full time living from any one company,of course. If you’re a niche blogger already,this can be one way to supplement your content and increase your bottom line.
Sign up in the spirit of watching this company work out their kinks and getting in early when they still have less than 100k bloggers (actually,their site proudly boasts over 50,000 bloggers) Expect a few little moments of imperfection and watch as they disappear over time and the operation grows.
They’re very insistent upon making sure they’re compliant with search engine rules and you HAVE to appreciate that because not only will it keep them in business,but it keeps YOU in business,too.