The Struggling Writer

The chronicles of a freelance writer as he tries to make a living.

Monday, April 23, 2007

"GoDaddy Stinks" and other press releases

I continue to battle with GoDaddy. I sent my eighth unblock request today. Of those eight, only one received an autoreplay acknowledgement. It seems obvious they are never going to unblock me. I've scanned my server for viruses. I've checked the blacklists at robtex at least once a day and I've never been listed there. I've checked for open relays at AppRiver and I have none. Basically there is no reason for them to block me, no reason for them to CONTINUE blocking me, but there's nothing I can do. I don't have any business to take away from them. My client seems indifferent to the fact that her web host is throwing her email away without her knowledge or permission, so doesn't seem likely to move her sites. I can't threaten them with legal action because there are no laws protecting email. Basically, I'm hosed.

I'll have to make occasional use of my personal email address when I come across future clients with GoDaddy, which I dislike because it seems unprofessional. But I also need to just move on and stop wasting my time with this.

I also spent last week dealing with a non-paying client. It's not a writing client, but rather the company I work through providing respite services for my niece. I left four voicemail messages over two weeks about a missing paycheck. This morning I finally just worked my way up the chain of command until I found someone who actually answered her phone. It took minutes to resolve once I found someone who would actually speak with me. Of course we'll see if the money actually ends up in my account.

But last week wasn't all bad. My main client started me writing press releases. They require a bit more effort than articles since they have to be objectively accurate. For example in one on cell phone donations, I mentioned that you should erase personal data from a cell phone before donating. She took that out because it's subjective advice. It's an interesting new type of writing - and the fact it pays a little better is nice as well.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

GoDaddy must die!

I know many of you have business web sites hosted with GoDaddy. MAKE SURE YOU POST YOUR TELEPHONE NUMBER because at some point GoDaddy will block your clients from emailing you and they will need an alternate contact.

I continue to fight with GoDaddy to convince them I'm not a spammer. After I filled out their online unblock request, they emailed me several hours later asking for more information. That request should have been on the online form. I tried responding to the email but, of course, it bounced because they think I'm a spammer! I tried filling out the online form again but it won't take it because a ticket is already open on my IP address. I could call their support line (not toll free of course) but I don't think I could be anything remotely resembling civil at this point.

So I forwarded the message through my personal email and, assuming they haven't blacklisted that as well, I still hope to have this cleared up sometime before I reach retirement age.

I never considered using GoDaddy for my websites because I don't base my choice in web hosts on their ability to get busty women to take off their clothes in commercials. This incident certainly puts them on my "no way in hell" list of businesses.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Down with the anti-spam witchhunters

You heard me - I'm not sick of the spammers, I'm sick of the people fighting them.

Several months ago I lost a project because my web host decided the client was a spammer. His emails weren't bounced. They weren't directed to my spam folder. They just disappeared. He thought I had flaked out and gave the project to someone else. OK, it was a piddly project, but it was still lost work. Needless to say, I moved my site to a new web host immediately.

Today I have the same problem from the other end. This time my client's host has decided that I am a spammer and bounces all my emails back. At least I'm getting a bounce so I know what is happening. I'm lucky to send one email a day so I hardly qualify as a spammer. I've checked the email blacklists and I'm not on them. I've scanned my server for viruses and found none. There is simply no reason for my email to be blocked. I've put in a ticket to get them to clear me but that could take 24 hours.

In the meantime I was afraid I'd miss my deadline since I couldn't send her my articles. I'm lucky that I had her phone number so I could call her and tell her what is happening and she could provide me with another email address. There's a lesson - always have a backup means of communication.

I will gladly take ten thousand messages about male enhancement over the loss of one dollar of business. Spammers are annoying, but the anti-spammers are quickly becoming worse in my book.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Creative Process

The creative process often fascinates me.

I sometimes get articles that are very specific, like how to get a better sale price on your home. Thatn was a pretty straightforward article that I banged out in no time, mostly based on my own knowledge so it required very little research.

Sometimes, I get more open ended assignments like, "write me two articles on Excel". I go through the "deer in the headlights" phase, where there are so many possiblities I just can't narrow it down. My favorite technique is to start poking around the web, not for research just for inspiration. Eventually I stumble across an idea that inspires me and the more I think about it, the more excited I get about it until the article just pours out of me. In this case, I came across a forum thread where people were listing unusual ways they were using Excel. This led to, "Crazy Things I've Done With Excel" and "Crazy Things Other People Have Done With Excel" (the latter were much more crazy than anything I've done).

That blank page syndrome is tough for any writer, and we each need to find our own ways past it.