The Struggling Writer

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

Sunday, April 26, 2009

My first dollar with Examiner

I've made my first dollar with Examiner. Whoopee. I've spent nearly ten hours to make that dollar.

Up until now when I've seen examiners report monthly statistics I assumed they were saying these were the average page views for each day of the month. Nope, they are the views for the whole month. As an example, for March 2009 the average Phoenix examiner got 1,118 views and the average Family and Parenting examiner across all markets got 1,301 views. In other words the average person makes $11-$13 dollars per month working for Combine this with Examiner's claim that the typical person spends 3-6 hours per week or about 20 hours per month writing and promoting their work and that means you can earn about $0.50/hour doing this.

To be fair, the average examiner is frankly pretty lousy. Most people don't post enough or make any effort to market their work. In the Absolute Write Examiner thread one examiner says "...I should pull down over $200 this month. Granted, I worked my butt off for it, but at least it was writing fun stuff." It is possible to make a reasonable monthly income but I'm getting increasingly concerned over the time investment.

So far, except for my first posting, each day I've posted I've met or beat the Phoenix average and come close to the F&P average. I certainly think beating the minimum is the least Examiner writers should aspire to. I have got to find ways to streamline my publishing process though.

I've decided I'm not going to waste time looking for graphics. I'll post photos if they are relevant to the article but not just for the heck of it. I've never liked the attitude that web surfers are illiterate boobs and won't read books without pictures. Whether or not it's true, I don't believe the extra time poring over Creative Commons photos to find a decent one results in enough traffic to matter.

I'm also going to step back from keywords. Yes keywords matter, but I'm not going to obsess over it. I'll tweak on the text a bit, but some articles just don't lend themselves to keywords. For example I'm planning to write an article on how kids with cognitive or communication delays are at greater risk in Phoenix summers because they can't ask for a drink of water. That's a "push" article, information I push on my readers, not information someone would actually search for.

My last article was posted much more quickly than my first ones because I bypassed the crappy, crappy publishing tool and just wrote the HTML code myself and pasted it into the source box. I'm old enough to remember the rise of WYSIWYG word processors and how great they were compared to the old "switch to the preview window" method, but the whole point is the WYSIWYG tool has to be better than typing the code by hand. I don't see that with the FCKeditor Examiner uses.

The other thing I've decided is that each week I will come up with four evergreen ideas so I get at least four postings. I will also keep an eye on local and national news to look for tie-ins I can use for three more articles, ideally posting every day. However I have two non-writing days each week that I care for my niece and I need to write those pieces in advance so I can just post, share and walk away in a few minutes. One of those days is today and I may or may not get my piece up. I'm still getting my schedule down.

Still, I remind myself that I enjoy writing this and I feel I'm doing a service. As I've said many times, this is my charity work so it doesn't have to be massively lucrative.

PS I can't decide whether to use title case or down case on my blog titles. I have traditionally, and inconsistently, used title case but I think the standard, certainly the one Examiner uses, is down case. Sometimes it looks silly to me and other times not. Life as a writer is so complicated.



  • At 5:45 PM, Blogger Dwriter said…

    Hi, There:

    I'm enjoying your blog. I'm doing something similar at my own content writing blog -- which I guess you can find by clicking on my name -- and I, too, am finding that most of these online sites are not worth the time they require.

    Anyway, I'll keep reading to see if you find any way to make money at I sure haven't!


  • At 8:21 PM, Blogger Jules said…

    Thanks for the inside Examiner advice. I recently was "awarded" the distinction of being named an Examiner writer (Flea Markets) but haven't done my first post yet. After reading your comments I may just pass on it.

    I have a question completely apart from this subject. How does your blog get "recognized" by Google so that your post/blog showed up in my daily Google alert for "freelance writing"? I've written Google a half-dozen times to ask, but never received a reply.

  • At 10:56 AM, Blogger Andy said…

    I want to make it clear what the real income potential is here so people can make informed decisions. It's not a *bad* choice to write for them, but you have to understand the whole package.

    @Jules Google uses programs called 'spiders' that randomly roam the internet and find stuff. Getting highly rated in the search engines has been the subject of several kajillion words of speculation all over the web. Look for articles on SEO (search engine optimization) to find some tips.

  • At 11:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I love the passive income I get from articles I wrote months ago. I've found that writing short, informative pieces that answer questions my readers (or potential readers) have is a great way to bring in new traffic. Articles I wrote long ago still get hits every day, and I am really enjoying the experience of being an Examiner.


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