28 Mar 2009

Free Online Image Watermarking Tools

Although this is not so much about writing it is about protecting any of your own images that you may post on the net. Hotlinking to your images not only takes away some of your bandwidth but also infringes on your copyright. Even if an image is just copied and reposted, it's still a copyright issue.

There is very little one can do about this apart from adding a watermark to your images. These should be something obvious, such as your website domain. Then, although someone is still using your images without permission you're at least getting free advertising.

Any serious graphics package such as Paint Shop will have a watermarking tool. If, however, you either don't have such a package or are away from your normal computer and need to edit something quickly, then the two websites below offer a quick free watermarking tool.

Watermark Tool and Pixelrig both offer pretty much the same service, just depends which one you most like the look of. If you know of any others then just leave a comment.

27 Mar 2009

iPhone Blogger Wanted

I'm looking for a blogger with an iPhone to write about iPhone related topics.

Most of the articles will consist of titles similar to "Top 10 apps you can't live without." I will provide the topic, you will look for the apps and write about 4 sentences for each app.

Other articles will be about recent news from the iPhone world. I will submit topics, maybe similar posts from other blogs and you will write either a summary or full story.

-Must have an iPhone
-Frequency will be 2-4 posts a week depending on demand
-Topic submissions from you are welcomed but not required

Go to the application details.

26 Mar 2009

Paid to Blog at Today.com

Today.com provides tools for both new and experienced bloggers. For those new to blogging, we offer free blog hosting. We invite you to create a blog right now. For those with an established blog looking to generate more traffic, we offer free submission to our blog directory.

Today.com also claims to pay its bloggers but, without logging in, I can't find any indication of how much. Also note that applications only accepted from certain countries.

22 Mar 2009

Freelance Home Writers Website

I was actually just browsing the About.com section on freelance writing and found this article about Freelance Home Writers. The general advice is... don't bother! More importantly, don't waste your money.

The FAQ on Freelance Home Writers has lots of vague statements but, surprisingly, nothing about how much the service costs. The service claims to provide members with regular job opportunities for freelance writers. That seems fine in itself but when you sign up you suddenly realise there is $2.95 "free" trial for one month. If you then back away and read their terms of service you realise that you will also be committing yourself to a recurring monthly membership fee of $47. When one can check Craigslist for free, and even signing up to Elance is free, $47 is a lot to pay for a service that doesn't even have direct contact with the jobs being advertised.

You can, of course, cancel the credit card direct debit but there have been online grumblings that this proves to be easier said than done. Avoid the grief, avoid Freelance Home Writers.

I also post writing job opportunities as I find them. The best thing to do is bookmark all the sites that post job openings for writers and, if possible, add them to your RSS reader so you can quickly see if there is anything interesting.

Freelance Writing Jobs Network Blog

There's more to freelance writing than just words. You need to know the business of freelance writing to have a satisfying, successful career. You've come to the right place.

At Freelance Writing Business Tips, you'll learn customer service tips, business tricks and financial advice to take your freelance writing career to new heights.

Freelance Writing Jobs began in May 2005 as a way to help other writers, especially Work at Home Moms, find decent paying jobs. More than three years later its succeeded beyond our wildest dreams. We’ve expanded from being a little writing leads blog run by a “mommy blogger” to the number one online community for freelance writers.

OK, apart from the hype it's a pretty good site! Especially useful in making that step from earning pocket money as a part-time writer to going for it as a full-time freelance career.

Go to Freelance Writing Jobs.

Current Writing Jobs at About.com

You too can be a Guide at About.com. After the initial training there is a fixed monthly income plus bonuses based on traffic and popularity. Below are just a few of the opportunities currently available:

15-Minute Fashion
4-Wheel Drive
Baby's First Year
Digital Video Recording
Las Vegas
Los Angeles
Stay-at-Home Moms

and a few more. Just go to About.com's Apply to Become a Guide page and make sure to read the FAQs.

20 Mar 2009

Men with Pens - Helping Writers and Freelancers

Smokin' Business Tips

To Help Writer, Freelancers and Entrepreneurs
Make a Decent Living Online

We build sites, create designs and write copy that draw customers to your blog or business – because that's how it should be. Our years of experience, creative finesse, expert skills and killer business sense make sure we fit your needs just right.

As the sales pitch says, these guys are writers and web designers and want your business! There is, however, a lot of useful information for freelance writers. Not so much on the "where can I make money" theme, but rather in helping you get your mind around certain issues about being a freelancer. Very much in the work smarter camp rather than the work harder routine. Enjoy the site!

Go to Men with Pens.

18 Mar 2009

Articles Wanted on Travel in Asia - China, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, Singapore, Philippines

Title:Asian Travel Articles
Description:Travel articles related to different locations throughout
Asia.
Amount of articles:3
Price per article:$30-40
Length of article:800-1200
Subjects:China, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Philippines, Mongolia,
travel, asia, cities

Title:Mongolia travel article
Description:Travel article on Mongolia
Amount of articles:1
Price per article:$30-40
Length of article:800-1500
Subjects:Mongolia, travel, asia

Go to Constant Content for full details.

How to Detect and Stop Plagiarism

Stopping plagiarism seems to be impossible through protective methods of defence. The only methods available are reactive, but at least there are such methods and you can be kept aware if your articles have been plagiarized. You can then do something about it and have the offending material removed.

Using Javascript

I mentioned defensive methods of protecting your original content from being copied. There are numerous code snippets, largely written in Javascript, that can be inserted into you webpages and thereby disable many browser and mouse functions. Such scripts can stop the highlight and copy commands, they can disable the right mouse button and thereby avoid the context menu popping up and various other features. However, a determined plagiarist will have no problems getting around such basic defences:switching off javascript in the browser being the most obvious. It is also likely to irritate other normal users who may suddenly wonder why they can no longer do such simple navigation tasks such as opening a link in a new tab. The nature of the internet is that as soon as a person lands on your webpage all the information they need will be cached.

Copyscape

Copyscape is a service that protects writers and content buyers from plagiarism. There is a free service that lets you input one of your article web pages and Copyscape searches to see if there are any similar pages in existence. However, the rest of their services require payment. Their Premium service allows searches for blocks of text before online publication as well as a tracking system so you can keep tabs on any copyright infringements that require your response. You can also filter results to avoid flagging up copies that you are posting to article directory websites. As of writing this service costs what seems a low 5 cents per search, but if you have 100 articles that comes to $5, and if you are checking them every month that can soon start to add up.

The alternative is to use their CopySentry services which automatically check for plagiarism on either a daily or weekly basis. This service starts at $4.95 a month for 10 pages plus $0.25 for any additional pages. This seems poor value compared to their standard 5 cents a page but useful if you don't know how to automate their API. One interesting thing is being able to set the sensitivity of the searches and find pages even if they have been slightly edited.

Given the costs involved in using Copyscape I suspect that the service is not so much for writers but for buyers of written content. For example, Constant Content uses Copyscape on their site and this makes sense as it gives buyers confidence that an article they are paying for is genuinely original. A buyer can very quickly check if the article appears elsewhere and they may be less interested in it being copied in the future. As a corporate expense it may be justified but for the freelance writer it seems to me expensive considering there is an almost identical service for free.

Google Alerts

Google Alerts is a new service, still in beta, that will search for a string of characters as it crawls the net and send you an email alert whenever a page is found that includes a matching string. This means you can enter any long unique string from one of your articles and let Google do the same as Copyscape but for free. You can decide on how often to be informed, either once a day, once a week or as it happens. Google will then either send you an email or you can add the alert to a feed and view it in your favourite feed reader.

For the struggling online freelance writer this strikes me as a better option. You won't be able to input the whole text but Google accepts a maximum of 2048 characters in its search queries. This means try to pick fairly long sentences with what seem to be a unique combination of words. Remember to put the whole string in quotation marks otherwise it will search for the occurrences of each word anywhere in the document, rather than the words in the order written. If you start getting too many false flag alerts then you can just go into your Alerts account and edit the string of text. You can also use Google's Advanced Search features but you must then copy the whole query include the advanced tags from the Google search box into your Alerts search.

Watermaking Text

Watermarking of images and documents is a common way to embed a copyright notice that is almost impossible to remove. Indeed, adding a text watermark to an image means that anybody copying it will actually be giving you some free advertising. But watermarking text – plain text rather than a document such as Word – is very difficult. The very nature of plain text means that trying to embed any other kind of code can easily be traced and removed by any determined plagiarist. For example, there are scripts to embed invisible Unicode characters into the blank spaces between words. However, I think most writers want to concentrate on their writing and have a method that is both simple to implement as well as simple to check if and when an article has been copied.

Look at this phrase: iťs оnly a simрle methоd. It looks ordinary enough, but copy and paste it into your wordprocessor. Notice anything strange? If you have an automatic spell checker switched on you will notice that nearly the whole phrase is flagged as incorrectly spelt. It looks perfectly ordinary, can be copied and pasted and still look perfectly ordinary, but some of the characters used are from the extended character set. The would-be plagiarist notices nothing out of the ordinary but you can now use Google Alerts to warn you if this phrase is ever used again.

The advantage of this method over simply using Google Alerts for every article is that you can generate maybe half a dozen key phrases using non-standard characters and not worry about adding a new Alert phrase every time you post a new piece of writing. The key phrases can also be relatively short and common instead of looking for long unique phrases for each article. This obviously won't stop the plagiarist but it will alert you to when it happens.

And Finally

As we've seen trying to lock your precious articles away from thieving plagiarists just doesn't work. The open nature of the internet means that many things, apart from your articles, are open to abuse. There are, however, ways of keeping track of your original content and keeping informed about any acts of plagiarism. Getting the offending content removes requires a number of official letters stating your claim of copyright. These steps will be left for another article.

17 Mar 2009

Despite Recession, Social Media Marketing to Rise. Good News for Writers?

During a recession corporate budgets are tightened, workers laid off and those grateful for a job are supposed to increase productivity. It is therefore somewhat of a surprise to see that social media advertising is due to increase, at least according to a new survey released by Forrester Research.

The reasoning behind this increase is that social media advertising is comparatively cheap compared to other forms of marketing. With social networking, blogging and user-generated content as the most popular marketing channels it would seem that there should be an increase in the amount of work for writers, and especially writer-bloggers. However, just below these top three are mobile marketing, online video, widgets and podcasting, meaning that a lot of the image-centred advertising skills will also be in demand.

I think this should encourage those freelance writers who need to make a living to look at writing and blogging contracts rather than just writing on revenue sharing websites. One small warning is whether the assumption that social media is cheap is due to its effectiveness or that social media experts are working for peanuts. I don't think those who badge themselves as professionals come cheaply but with content producers living around the world some sites seem to expect we can live on crumbs. This is where being already active within social media platforms is a distinct advantage.

16 Mar 2009

How to Find Which of Your Articles Are the Most Profitable

The question of which articles are the most profitable is one that crops up over and over again. It is wrong to assume it is always the most popular articles. There is also a balancing act between low traffic high cost per click (CTC) and high traffic low CTC keywords.

If you have your own website or blog you can easily use Google Analytics to get a wealth of data about which articles are doing best, how users come to your articles, which search terms your blog ranks highly on, and so forth. But writing for a third party website such as Xomba or Hubpages means it is not possible to use Google Analytics. The problem is that to enable Analytics you need to insert a special code into your page header, and this is only possible to do if you have admin access.

There is, however, a slightly time-consuming but nevertheless feasible way to get this precious data of which articles are winners and which are sleeping. The only way I can see how to do this is to create a custom URL channel in your Adsense account for each article.

Once your article is published immediately copy the article URL and create a URL channel in your Adsense account. You should already have a general URL channel for your writing site, such as xomba.com. Now you will have a channel for each article, such as:
xomba.com/my_first_article
xomba.com/my_second_article
and so on. Note that Adsense channels leave out the http:// and you can also leave out the www.

There is, however, one problem here, which is that you have a limited number of channels available in your Adsense account. Last I looked there was a limit of 200 channels available. If you are writing maybe just one article a week this is not a great problem, but if you are writing numerous articles across multiple websites that 200 is going to shrink very rapidly.

As the aim is to find the most profitable articles the only solution to this limited number of channels is to slowly delete those articles that just haven't been earning. You will then be able to see your best articles and be able to decide what to write next. Unfortunately this also means that if a "dead" article springs to life in the future you won't know about it.

It isn't a perfect system but seems to me the only way to get article-specific data on revenue sharing writing websites.

Let me know if it works or if you have any problems setting up Adsense channels.

9 Mar 2009

Make Money Writing at Triond

From Triond's How it Works:

Using Triond is easy:

1. You create original and unique content in any format.
2. We publish your content on the most relevant website according to its topic.
3. You get more recognition and more readership while building a portfolio and earning revenue.

It's simple; you create, we publish, you earn.

Creating Your Content

Whether you write, photograph, record or compose, you can submit your creation to Triond. We accept all original content on any topic, including written articles, pictures, audio, and video. No matter how you created it, we can publish it.

Get Published Online

Once your content is submitted and approved, we will publish it on a website within our publishing network that best suits your topic and target audience. Our network includes niche websites with topics ranging from poetry and literature, to business, sports, travel, health and wellness, and many more.

Triond helps showcase your content so your work gets maximum readership and you earn recognition. As soon as your content is published, it begins generating revenue from several income sources, such as display and contextual advertising that appears on the pages of your content. We share with you 50% of the revenue generated by your content.

Payments are made monthly on the 15th of the month for earnings you have accumulated up until the end of the previous month. You can receive your payment by PayPal, check or Western Union money transfer.

Note that Triond does not have a referral or affiliate system and, looking at their help section, have no plans to do so.

Triond's Websites

One strange thing is that it seems relatively difficult to discover which websites Triond owns and to which it posts your articles. I finally found a list on the Triond official blog, so here it is:

Worth just checking the website you think your writing fits into best as you will also get a feel for which categories exist within each site. Some of the names are less than obvious so have added a brief description above.

7 Mar 2009

First Payment from Writing at Suite101

One writing website that seems to get little attention in the plethora of "Make Money Writing at X" articles is suite101. No doubt this is due to their lack of a referral system and therefore little incentive to promote them beyond links to one's own articles. But this On Writing Online blog is about making money for writers, not always about making money from writers! So it is worth taking another look at suite101, especially as I just got paid by them!

Firstly, the payment wasn't astronomical, but I did manage to edge past their minimum $10 payout. The thing is, I had stopped writing there for a couple of months as I was moving around and had other things to do. But when I came back to looking how my writing was doing on various sites, that's when suite101 was a pleasant surprise. In contrast to the pathetic cents accumulated at Associated Content and Hubpages my suite101 account was just a couple of dollars short of a payout. Even without an affiliate system the articles on their own do seem to get the views and the clicks to make writing profitable.

I have thus returned to writing regularly for suite101 and hope the second payment will not be too long in coming. The one thing about writing at suite101 is that they have very strict rules about how articles should be written. They also demand one-year exclusive rights to your articles so that you can only copy them elsewhere after a year from their first publication. On the plus side, this means there are no cut-and-paste articles and the quality of writing is overall good (if sadly unemotional and bland). There is also an increase in profits by becoming a Feature Writer for a category. Indeed, there are still many topic categories that seem under-represented by writers so, if your writing is good, it is relatively straightforward to be elevated to Feature Writer status.

Overall, suite101 demands a little more work than some other writing websites but the rewards seem to be commensurate. From the still fairly small sample of my own articles I can say that earnings there are about 20 times higher than at AC and HP combined!

4 Mar 2009

Articles Wanted on Cheating, Affairs and Relationship Problems

Title:Articles about Cheating, Affairs, Relationship Problems
Description:Looking for articles about cheating and affairs (signs of
cheating, reasons men cheat, reasons women cheat, catching a cheater, cell
phone monitoring, from the point of view of a mistress, etc.), signs of
attraction (is a man/woman attracted, etc.) and relationship problems
(mending a broken heart, preventing a partner from cheating, improving
relationships, getting a guy/girl, etc.).

Preference is for edgy advice and opinions. I also prefer the option to
buy full or unique rights to the articles. The $10-20 price range is for
standard rights; would pay $20-30 for full rights.
Amount of articles:10
Price per article:$10-20
Length of article:600+

Sign up to Constant Content for full details and to submit your article.

Article Wanted on Cholesterol

Title:Cholesterol Diet
Description:Cholesterol Diet: Diet tips for reducing cholesterol
Amount of articles:1
Price per article:$10-20
Length of article:400
Subjects:Write an article about cholesterol diets. Give information and
advice for healthy eating to people with high cholesterol levels. How
important is it to have low cholesterol intake? What are the dangers of
high cholesterol diets? Can you lower your cholesterol levels by eating or
avoiding certain foods?


Sign up to Constant Content for full details.

Make Money Writing at Bukisa

Bukisa is a fairly new revenue sharing article directory and social networking website.

For Writers

Bukisa accepts articles in many categories and they prefer informative pieces, how-to guides, educational instructions although they do accept creative writing such as prose or poetry. In spite of the social side of the site there does not seem to be a drive towards opinion pieces or commentaries.

Bukisa does accept previously published material so long as you can prove that you have the copyright to the material. The easiest way is to sign up to Bukisa using the same username as elsewhere, especially if you are copying from your own blogs.

Other Content

Apart from articles Bukisa also accepts videos, slides or presentations as pdf files as well as audio files. As for articles, these have to be the copyright of the account holder.

Making Money Writing

Bukisa pays out a fixed amount per 1000 unique page views of your articles. This so-called Bukisa Index currently stands at $3.72, so you will be earning $3.72 per 1,000 unique views. Although this is much higher than, say, Associated Content's miserly $1.50 per 1,000 note that on Bukisa multiple visits by the same reader will only count as a single unique visitor. As writing sites like Bukisa and AC and Xomba all seem to average about 2 page views per visit perhaps the real earning potential is about par. Note that the Bukisa Index will fluctuate depending on the website's overall earnings and is adjusted on a monthly basis. Minimum payout is just $10 based on accrued earnings calculated at the end of the month and paid within 15 days of the next month by Paypal.

However, as Bukisa is fairly young there is plenty of room to grow and as they have a referral system that is a second way to improve earnings by promoting your Bukisa writing.