Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The end of Helium -- official company FAQs on the closure

This is the "Helium Publishing FAQs" document that Helium posted (available via the link on the dashboard that says "Detailed information can be found in the FAQ.")  I'm posting it here in case anyone overlooked it, or in case it's no longer accessible at a later time. -- May

-----Company document starts here ------->

NOTICE: The Helium Publishing 360 sites will be available on a read-only basis effective May 21, 2014 and will continue to be available on a read-only basis until December 15, 2014. During this period, if you have an existing Account, you will continue to have access to your Account and accrue potential Minimum Amount Threshold, but you will not be able to add more articles to the Helium Publishing 360 sites or create a new Account. If you have attained the Minimum Payout Threshold, which currently is set at $25.00, we strongly encourage you to withdraw your Minimum Amount Threshold because the Helium Publishing 360 sites will terminate on December 15, 2014 and you will no longer have access to your Account. 

Why are the Helium Publishing 360 sites shutting down?
Changing market conditions and the proliferation of competitive publishing outlets and free blogging tools, as well as declining usage and revenue, were all contributing factors. After careful consideration it was determined that the existing business model cannot be sustained.

What dates impact me?

May 21, 2014
  • the Helium Publishing 360 sites will become “read only” and no article changes or revisions will be possible
  • no new work can be completed or created in the Helium Network dashboard
  • new member registration for Helium Publishing 360 sites will cease
December 15, 2014
  • advertising revenue share will cease
  • you will no longer be able to access your Account
  • all 27 of the Helium Publishing 360 sites will shut down and your articles will not be available via the microsites
  • access to the Helium Network dashboard to retrieve your Helium Publishing articles, message others, and request payment will terminate
(more after the jump) 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Helium is shutting down

It's the end of an era.

The Helium 360 sites will go read-only on May 21, 2014, and no one will be able to add or edit content.  The sites will be shut down completely on December 15, 2014.  Until December 15, you can withdraw earnings, but only if you have accumulated at least $25.

I'm not surprised.  The 360 sites, intended to make Helium do better in Google search results, were a dismal failure right out of the gate, riddled with embarrassing bugs. I feel sad, though.  I've been a member of Helium since 2006.  It's always hard to see something I've been involved in come to an end, no matter how critical I may have been.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

What do you REALLY want as a freelancer?

My freelance career, such as it is, needs a reboot. Although I am making about four times as much per month as I was when I started this blog, it is still not enough to cover what I need to cover at this point.  I am also getting seriously burnt out -- even testy, which is a sure sign that something needs to change.

I picked up a book called The Wealthy Freelancer at the library. I think I'm going to buy my own copy because despite the cheesy cover -- which shows a low-slung cherry red sports car that looks like something out of a male midlife-crisis fantasy -- the book is encouraging and I think will both spark practical ideas and help me believe in myself, as corny as the latter may sound.

So far, I just read the introduction, which invites readers to dream big dreams. The authors suggest we write down the answers to four questions: What type of projects do we want? What type of clients do we want? What income do we want to earn for our project work? and What lifestyle do we want for our freelance business?

The authors write, "We can't stress enough how important it is to dream big. Don't hold back or try to rationalize or settle." The idea is that even if your goals are not attainable right now, by holding them up as signposts, you'll be heading in the right direction.

I did answer the questions for myself. Though I don't think I have the guts to share the answers publicly, I do think the exercise was beneficial.

By the way, all this talk about dreaming dreams reminded me of Susan Boyle's famous performance of the song I Dreamed a Dream on Britain's Got Talent in front of Simon Cowell.  Ironically, the lyrics to that song are bitter and angry -- about dreams that will never come true -- the exact opposite of the optimistic message conveyed by The Wealthy Freelancer. But, of course, in real life, Susan Boyle's dream did come true, though not without some difficulties along the way. 

And speaking of Susan Boyle -- I just Googled to see what she has been doing recently, and it turns out there is going to be a documentary on Ovation tonight at 10 pm ET called Susan Boyle: Her Secret Struggle, where she will talk about living with Asperger's.  (Weird that I was thinking about her tonight for no particular reason, and it turns out a documentary about her is about to air in 45 minutes -- though unfortunately on a channel I don't think I get.)

I wonder if Susan Boyle ever sat down, long before her breakthrough moment on TV, and did an exercise where she wrote down the most audacious, impossible dream she could think of  -- perhaps a wish to record an album which would become a #1 best seller around the world.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Tackling procrastination: Taking real breaks

someecards.com - I'm very busy doing things I don't need to do in order to avoid doing anything I'm actually supposed to be doing.

Procrastination is killing my income. I'm at a point now where I am getting so many offers for work that I have to turn some of them down. But I could do more of that work if I wrote more efficiently and didn't waste so much time doing other things just to avoid having to write.

I'm going to attempt to tackle the problem head on by trying to establish one new constructive habit at a time -- which I will write about here to reinforce my commitment and in the hopes that it may be useful to other writers who also struggle with procrastination.

I'm reading a book called The 7 Secrets of the Prolific: The Definitive Guide to Overcoming Procrastination, Perfectionism, and Writer's Block, and my first attempt at a bite-sized new habit was inspired by something I read there:

Take breaks away from the computer.

When I take breaks from writing (which includes when I first sit down at the computer to work but find myself doing "just a few things" first), I usually read my email, or pull up Google News and start websurfing, or play games (my current favorite is Mahjongg Dark Dimensions), or read and respond to forum posts -- all of which cause me to completely lose track of time.

These are all enjoyable and sometimes even useful activities. The problem (besides the amount of time they take up) is that they are not real breaks from writing because they involve the same mental "muscles" that writing and researching use. They also don't do anything to relieve the eye fatigue, muscle tension, and brain fog caused by sitting and staring at the screen for hours.

The solution: When I'm not writing, get up and move away from the computer. Do something that's refreshing for eyes, body, and mind. My hope is that this will give me more energy to write -- and if  it helps cut down on the huge time sucks caused by web surfing and forums, so much the better.

Have you tried this yourself? Do you think it will work?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The End of Epinions

Epinions was the first place I wrote online, 14 years ago.

If you're an Epinions member, you've already heard the news.  eBay, the site's current owner, shut down the community part of the site. Existing reviews will still be displayed, but Epinions will not accept new reviews, will not let members change or delete their reviews, and will no longer pay us. The reason eBay gave for the shut down was declining participation. (continued after the jump)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Demand Media Studios Chairman/CEO quits the company he started

Demand Studios was Richard Rosenblatt's brainchild.  Not any more. He's leaving the company. He already quit as Chairman and will be leaving his CEO post by the end of this month.

The company will probably find a new CEO and keep on going, but Rosenblatt's leaving sure looks like a vote of no-confidence.

Freelance writers, as always, should stay alert and avoid relying too heavily on any one company.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Bukisa stopped paying revenue share

No Money -- photo by Alina Sofia

Another one bites the dust.  It's the same old story that we've heard from many of the other content sites -- Bukisa never recovered from Google's Panda and Penguin updates. Changes in the policies of their advertisers -- AdSense and Chitika -- also reduced the site's income.

The site is still up, and management is hoping you will choose to leave your content on the site to share your knowledge and to promote yourself as an expert. However, you are free to edit or delete your content or remove your account entirely at any time.

Anyone here write for them?  If so, were you expecting this or did it catch you by surprise?
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