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Archive for March, 2012

Entitlements–the Other Side

I’ve been reading a lot about “entitlements” and how isn’t it terrible some people depend on the government for their livelihood and don’t pay income tax. I do think it’s a good idea to require drug testing to receive public assistance, since most jobs require drug screening. But when politicians, newscasters, and the general public lump Social Security recipients in with welfare recipients, I get a little angry.

I didn’t ask for a Social Security program–I HAD to get a Social Security card when I got my first job (at 16). I didn’t have any choice about paying for Social Security “insurance”–it was taken out of every paycheck I ever received in the 34 years I worked. Even more was taken out of my late husband’s paychecks.

And when my husband unexpectedly died (leaving me with six kids aged 2 to 17), we couldn’t have survived on my tiny paycheck without survivor’s benefits. When the kids grew older, I went back to school (while continuing to work) and finally got a good paying job. Yes, part of my tuition was paid by government grants. Good paying job=more income tax.

Just when I finally had money in the bank and platinum cards in my wallet, I became disabled. Once again, the Social Security was a godsend.

My monthly disability check is less than one paycheck from my last job. The medical bills and 75% drop in income trashed my credit rating and wiped out my savings. They say that SSD and retirement benefits were never designed to be a person’s entire income, but to supplement savings or work at lessened capabilities due to age or medical condition.

What savings? Most Americans don’t have enough savings to last through the disability application process, let alone supplement their support for the rest of their lives. And in today’s economic climate, it’s virtually impossible for an older disabled person to find suitable work.

And so we live –austerely–on our meager checks. We find cheap housing and defer maintenance as long as we can. We clip coupons and shop grocery sales. We pay sales tax on everything we buy, gasoline tax on every gallon that goes into our beat up (but paid for) old car, and property tax if we’re smart enough or lucky enough to own our homes. For some reason, it seems that the disability check is always just a few dollars higher than the limit to qualify for other programs so we can’t get food stamps or Medicaid.

The average Congressman draws a salary that is ten times what the average beneficiary has to live on. Yes, there are more of us. But we didn’t design the system–the government did. Social Security is a promise to provide a (minimum) assurance of future benefits in return for weekly contributions. A promise that most Social Security recipients paid for over many years of hard work. If the system isn’t working, it’s not our fault for believing the promise and expecting it to be honored by the other side. It’s not our responsibility to re-invent the system so it works. But, as usual, it will probably be us that pays the price. Even if we don’t pay income tax.

 

This article may be reprinted as long as resource box below is included. Reprint notification appreciated at judy33873 at gmail dot com.
I supplement my Social Security by selling handcrafted gifts and freelance writing online. After expenses, I still don’t make enough to pay income tax. Grab some free content or  contact me for writing assignments through my blog at <a target=”_new” href=”http://publisherpotpoourri.wordpress.com”>http://oakhillcreations.wordpress.com</a&gt;

Social Media, Personalized Search, and Firefox

For quite some time, marketers have been trying to improve their efforts at “targeting” potential customers. You may have noticed.

Back when I was working as a paralegal, I was researching connections between diabetes and certain chemical exposures. Next thing I knew, I was getting all kinds of email ads for glucometers, diabetic cookbooks, and the latest miracle cure for diabetic neuropathy.

Every time I order something from Amazon it triggers a series of emails suggesting other things I might be interested in. Facebook displays ads for all kinds of products keyed to my profile information.

And now Google is offering us “personalized” search results and a new (more advertiser friendly) Privacy Policy that has users worldwide up in arms. And most of the testers of “personalized search” agreed on one thing: the best feature of the “service” was the ability to turn it off.

But Mozilla is getting ready to help us strike back. The Collusion add-on for the Firefox browser allows the user to see who is accessing your browsing information in real time. Mozilla hopes to build a database of “worst offenders” and share that information  with privacy activists.

Thank you, Mozilla!

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This article may be reprinted, unedited, with resource box.

Judy Cox is a freelance writer in central Florida, USA. Grab some free content or request an estimate for custom original content at

https://publisherpotpourri.wordpress.com

 

 

 

Confessions of an Internet Marketing Failure

So why should you read what I have to say when I admit to failure at internet marketing? Maybe because I learned a lot from failing at internet marketing and am finally making money doing things I love–online. And I’m willing to share some of the things I’ve learned.

Try #1: NetNuggetz

I began publishing NetNuggetz Newsletter in the late 90’s.  The focus was on free business resources. I subscribed to over 100 ezines to get leads on free biz resources and published a list of 25 free business tools every week. Using free promotion, I grew my list by about 6000% in the first few months. My articles were reprinted all over the Internet, I got emails from subscribers thanking me, and at one point was described as “arguably one of the best Internet marketers out there.” In my stubborn quest to advance the pure Cause of Free, I refused to monetize my site. In my ignorance of How Things Worked, I listed a lot of free links that sent business to affiliates–great free pr for them, not so great for me.

Try #2: Free Christian Resource Center

This was a membership site designed to share free Christian resources–every free online Bible I could find, Bible studies, Sunday school crafts, sermons, etc. Once again, people appreciated the free resources, but didn’t seem to want to pay for the premium content.

Try #3: Free Christian Crafts

One thing I noticed about the Free Christian Resource Center site statistics was that most of my traffic was coming from people looking for Christian crafts.

The grand total revenue from all three sites was less than $50–2 Clickbank commissions from an ezine ad after I figured out how to join an affiliate program and a “virtual assist” job doing an article submission for another writer.

Then Reality attacked with a vengeance. Within a 6-month period of time, both my parents passed away, a hurricane hit our winter place in Florida, and I revisited parenthood with custody of two troubled teenage grandsons. The temporary custody turned permanent and hubby decided we needed to move to Florida full time.

Once we got down here, I needed a steady paycheck (teenage boys like to eat. A lot.) So I went back to work part time and set aside my dreams of online business for the time being.

I’m no longer able to work. In fact, I spent most of 2011 in a nursing home. While there, I reclaimed an old hobby–crochet. And did a booming business selling hats, purses, dolls and novelty items to staff, visitors, and residents.

So one of the first things I did when I got home was start a blog promoting my crochet gifts and patterns. I really enjoy needlecrafts and blogging and now have three blogs–one for crochet and knit, one for Christian gifts, and one for freelance writing.

Things I’ve learned:

1. There are plenty of free online tools to use to build and promote your business. But don’t be so determined to use freebies that you miss the benefit of a  tool or service that can pay for itself in increased business.

2. Quantity might seem to be important, but quality content is even more important.

3. Site statistics will tell you exactly what your visitors are looking for (and what keywords the Googlebot picked up on).

4. Find your niche. Fine-tune it. Give it time to grow.

Does it work? In my first 2 weeks, I brought in several times the grand total from before. On March 2, my crochet blog had 7 visitors. On March 3, it had 7,013.  I still believe in providing value through freebies–in moderation. I’m still reluctant to do too much “monetizing” with outgoing link ads, banners, or popups. And I still believe the internet is a great frontier with plenty of opportunities for everyone.

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This article may be freely reprinted as long as it is unedited and resource box is included.

Judy Cox is a freelance writer and needlecrafter. Grab some free content or request a quote on custom original content at https://publisherpotpourri.wordpress.com

 

Pigs in the Creek

Here lately I’ve been hearing a lot of criticism of our esteemed President. While there are times I wish I could elbow the man and ask “WHAT were you thinking???Were you thinking at all????” I also recognize the fact that our current President didn’t create the economic mess in this country. Years of Republican policies and unbridled greed across the board have created a situation all the founding fathers together would have a hard time overcoming.

I got an email earlier that quoted an “old hillbilly saying” that said “you can’t clean up the water until you get the pigs out of the creek.” which went on to criticize the President. I thought about that, and it isn’t quite applicable for one simple reason: in this case there is one very visible and public animal in the creek that is getting blamed for all the pollution while there are several hundred more upstream drawing six-figure salaries and benefits the rest of us will never be entitled to, laughing all the way to their next $100-a-plate dinner while we sit at home eating macaroni and cheese.

I’m reminded of two brothers that used to hang out with my mischievous son. They were masters at the art of diverting attention away from their misdeeds by ratting on him.

And I’m beginning to think that our President is nothing more than a scapegoat—carefully chosen to not only divert attention away from the politicians and corporations that got us into this mess but to advance a few other agendas on the way. Such as “See? It’s not our fault he doubled the national debt.”—No, you just created the situation to make increasing debt the only way to survive. (Kind of like the situation most Americans are in, living on credit because we can’t afford to live within our meager paychecks!) And “See? An African-American isn’t smart enough to be President?”–(How do we tell the difference between stupid things a leader says because he’s stupid and stupid things a leader says because that’s the script he was given by his advisors?)

Will I vote for the man again? Probably not. But I don’t see a lot of viable alternatives, either. The only way I see our country return to its former greatness requires such drastic change that it will probably never happen.

Starting at the family level, we all need to start living within our means. That means earning more or spending less. (Ideally, doing a combination of the two.) We need to demand accountability from our schools, our citizens, and our politicians. If it isn’t fair to expect a billionaire to pay a percentage of his income in taxes, how is it fair to expect a struggling family to pay a percentage of their income in taxes? We need to quit giving American corporations our blessing to outsource production to cheap labor in third world countries and institute financial penalties that will “encourage” them to keep the jobs here. We need to take a hard look at medical “service” providers and demand to know why a child’s vaccination that can be done in a Third World country for “your donation that wouldn’t cost more than a cup of coffee” costs us (or our health insurers) $75.

We need to realize that “trickle down” economics doesn’t work when everybody upstream is diverting most of the flow into their own pockets. Too many facets of our economy are nothing more than a pyramid scheme destined to ultimately collapse.

If our elected leaders’ salaries were based on the median income of their constituents, how fast would economic development become a priority? If our elected leaders earned $7.25 an hour and were paid only for the time they were actually working, how much would they earn?

One of my favorite movies tells the story of a little church caught in a struggle between two powerful families in a small town, each supporting the head of the family for mayor. For years, the town suffered poor leadership and constant bickering. The breakthrough came when the wise pastor found a qualified candidate who didn’t belong to either family.

Maybe it’s time to get rid of both corrupt families and bring in a qualified outsider. Voting for a third party candidate would let both established parties know how the voters feel about “business as usual” in a much more powerful statement than simply refusing to vote for the lesser of two evils.

Of course, it feels like “wasting” a vote on someone who can’t possibly get elected. Is it possible for a re-elected Obama to pull an economic rabbit out of his hat? Or will America turn to the Republican party for more of the same leadership that brought us to the brink of economic disaster? What happens next?

“Fasten your seatbelt. It’s gonna be a bumpy ride”–Bette Davis

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This content may be freely reprinted, unedited, with resource box.

Judy Cox is a freelance writer and publisher of a free content blog at

https://publisherpotpourri.wordpress.com

Why I’m Not Worried About Duplicate Content

A lot of people are going to great lengths to avoid the “duplicate content penalty”.  Those efforts have brought us the (sometimes amusing, always sad) phenomenon of article spinning. Or, as another “original content” provider might put it:

Many persons are traveling a long distance to prevent penalty for duplicate content. Their tries have returned to  us the development of spinning an article.

I’m not competitive (much). And I’m not too concerned about someone “spinning” my articles.The (computerized) Thesaurus tool might say that “development” is a synonym for “phenomenon” but which paragraph would you rather read? The articles I offer here are free to reprint and I don’t worry about a “duplicate content penalty”. Here’s why:

No website will ever duplicate this one for more than 24 hours, because I’m adding fresh content daily. These articles will always appear here first, along with some behind-the-scenes insight into the writing and marketing process. (Or how a crazy old lady’s mind works. You’ve been warned!)

There’s even a lot of confusion about the exact nature of the “duplicate content penalty”. Article banks like EzineArticles.com offer free reprints but their site isn’t deleted for “:duplicate content”. The penalty was instituted to deter content scraping and encourage original content.

If I run a reference site for, say, crochet tutorials, I can link or reprint to other people’s tutorials (properly attributed, with permission). But as a knowledgeable internet marketer, I know I need more than just a collection of copies–even if I have the best and most well-organized collection. What makes my site unique for the human visitor to keep coming back? Original content, added frequently.

How am I supposed to make any money giving away my work? I’m hoping to attract the attention of publishers willing to pay for quality original custom content. It’s a model that’s worked since the early days of the Internet.

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(This article is free to reprint, unedited, with resource box below)

Judy Cox is a freelance writer providing quality original content on a variety of topics. Grab some freebies and read article samples at https://publisherpotpourri.wordpress.com .

Writer vs. Copyscape

Once again I’ve been informed by a client that Copyscape “identified plagiarized material” in an original article I wrote. Since every article I write is 100% original (and I find it difficult to imagine another writer coming up with exactly the same words I would use) I don’t worry much about Copyscape.

Unless, of course, I’m doing an assignment through Freelancer.com. I’m finding that a lot of times I end up working for a third world subcontractor who depends too much on Copyscape and not enough on common sense.

After checking the flagged text, I emailed the client and pointed out that the flagged material was: 1. a direct quote 2. from a recognized expert in the field 3. properly identified and attributed as a quote and 4. therefore NOT “plagiarism”. He emailed me back, saying, ok, he would leave it as is for his client to approve or not.

I’ve had Copyscape flag common phrases (such as “red, white and blue”) before and often it’s easier to rewrite the phrase, especially for a client who speaks English as a second language. To me, it reduces the quality of the article and makes it read awkwardly.

Copyscape and similar tools were designed to improve the quality of online content, just as search algorithms were designed to return relevant results.

. “Quality” may not always be formally “correct” in terms of following Established Rules of Grammar. (Sometimes a sentence fragment is more effective than a proper sentence, and I have been known to deliberately fragment a sentence for effect.)

We just need to remember that the ultimate audience for our content is human.

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(This article is free to reprint as long as it is unedited and resource box below is included)

Judy Cox is a freelance writer specializing in blog posts and articles on a wide variety of topics. Grab some freebies and read article samples at http://publisherpotpourri.worpress.com .

 

When Life Gives you Lemons

I think almost everyone knows the rest of the popular cliche–Make Lemonade! There’s only one problem. A lot of people would be more than willing to use their free lemons to make lemonade–if only Somebody would ALSO Give them some water, sugar, a pitcher to mix it in, a spoon to stir it with, a glass to drink it from–oh, and could you spare a bit of ice?

And let just ONE of those essential components be missing and POOR ME! EVERYBODY ELSE gets all the Breaks and I get Nothing!

AWWWWW.

Know what happens next? They trade their handful of lemons for a bag of sour grapes and run around spreading bitterness. Or they throw their bag of lemons into a corner to rot away. Or bemoan the fact that the guy across the street is doing a booming business selling “easy” lemonade that he made from a powdered mix.

Of course, you COULD study the problem and find a way to solve it. If the problem is a lack of Tools, you might improvise. Make it in a bowl instead of a pitcher–will it make a difference once you pour it into a glass?

You can stir it with a knife–or a clean stick, even. (You’d never guess we were a camping family, would ya!)

If the problem is a shortage of Ingredients,changethe recipe a bit. Make a quart instead of a gallon. Or find somebody that HAS the ingredients you LACK and split the profits.

(How’s that for an over-the-back-fence ancestral version of Joint Venturing?)

Don’t have a recipe? Find one! There’s thousands of them online, more in libraries, and an endless supply of “People-to-ask”–Mom, Aunt Gertrude, the lady next door . . . .

Or figure one out for yourself–some of my family’s favorite treats arrived via “dump in and taste” recipes.

What do lemonade recipes have to do with internet marketing, you ask?

Too many people are envious of the “powdered mix” entrepreneurs, too eager to find the “easy” way, and totally clueless of one simple fact: Once they bother to make the “real” lemonade–and promote it properly– the guy with the powdered mix is toast.

Over the years, you’ve acquired an assortment of Tools, a supply of Materials, a collection of Recipes and other Resources. Some might be as common as a pitcher and a spoon.

But the whole assortment–and what you do with it when the lemons arrive–is uniquely yours.

You don’t even have to stop at “lemonade”.

Lemon meringue pie, anyone?

 

Judy (Wogoman) Cox is a freelance writer and blogger. For free content, visit

https://publisherpotpourri.wordpress.com