Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Review of Writing for Blogmutt




Lately, I'm really happy with the way things are going with my writing. Blogmutt, the content company I write for, recently sent out an e-mail saying they've had an influx of new customers over the last few weeks, so there is plenty of work to go around. They aren't kidding! It has gotten so much easier to find easy writing assignments to do that I can find something to write virtually any time. I highly recommend them and plan to continue to write for them even though I also have a direct client that keeps me pretty busy.

The Pay


Blogmutt pays eight dollars for a 250 word post, so on those posts you can make 3.2 cents per word. If a client directly requests you, you can make ten percent more and write posts revolving around the same subject for awhile. Not only that, but once you get enough points from writing and selling posts, you can unlock longer assignments on better subjects, presumably because there is less competition at those higher levels.

A Minor Technical Difficulty


The only problem I'm having with my Blogmutt account right now is that I can't get my picture uploaded onto my profile. You have to do it through your WordPress account, and I uploaded the pic on WordPress, but it's not showing up on Blogmutt. I guess I could e-mail them about it. Sometimes I hate the more technical aspects of working on a computer, but the actual writing is very rewarding.

The Motivation


It's a challenge writing with a houseful of kids while keeping up on everything else, but lately I've settled into a nice routine. It helps that my husband and I have a new financial goal of one day purchasing a used motorhome. With that in mind, it's time for me to get back to work...


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

2 Crockpots in Every Kitchen: Tips for Serious Slow Cookers

4 qt. crockpot with oven liner

One thing you need to know about me is that I tend to go all out on things. When the weather changes, I get on a crockpot kick. I don't mean I just make stew or chili one day to kick off the fall season--I mean I start trying to figure out a way to make breakfast, dinner, and dessert in the crockpot. Right now I'm in one of those phases.

That said, I've learned from years of crockery-cooking experience that there are some things that, in my opinion, just aren't as good in the crockpot. I prefer to cook certain dishes including meatloaf and spaghetti the old fashioned way, but a lot of other things are great in the crockpot.

Although I've been slow cooking since I was a newlywed, I've made very few desserts, so I am excited about experimenting in that area this crockpot season. As I am writing this I have a peach upside down cake going in--you guessed it--the crockpot. I'm not sure how it will look, but I have high hopes that it will be edible enough to eat alone late at night.

Get a crockpot cookbook at the thrift store


I recently bought the book Fix-It and Forget-It  Recipes for Entertaining by Phyliss Pellman Good and Dawn J. Ranck. I didn't get it so much for entertaining, but because I noticed that most of the recipes serve 6-8 people, which is perfect for our family. The preface of the book explains that most of the recipes in the book will fit into a four or five quart crockpot, and that they will indicate when a six quart is needed. This works perfectly for me since I have both a four quart and a seven quart.

Get a larger crockpot or two crockpots


If you have a large family or like to entertain, you may want to invest in a six or seven quart crockpot. My seven quart crockpot is great for when I'm serving little smokies in barbecue sauce to a large crowd or on the rare occasions that I make a huge pork roast for tamales. Yes, we also have a giant tamale pot for steaming tamales on the stove. Remember, we are all about extremes in this house. Even though I usually don't come close to completely filling the seven quart crockpot, I love being able to have two crockpots going at once. Remember that each crockpot should only be filled about three quarters of the way full, which is why you may need a larger one or two of them.

Try this easy side dish idea


A few years back, I discovered that I could cook a bunch of foil-wrapped baked potatoes and halved corn on the cobs in the larger crockpot while cooking a meat dish in the smaller one. The potatoes will have a slightly different flavor than if you had baked them in the oven, but after applying a generous slathering of butter and sour cream, you'll hardly notice.

Save time with crockpot liners


Sometimes I like to splurge on crockpot liners to make clean up a breeze. The disposable liners are made of a heavy duty BPA-free plastic and are similar to "oven bags." You might be thinking that a crockpot is easy to clean, but it really depends on what you make in it. The crockpot liners are perfect for those days when you want to start on the next recipe right away, so there is no time to soak the crock in between. The store I went to last night only carried oven bags, but it turns out the large, turkey-sized oven bag worked well as a crockpot liner.



What do you like to make in the crockpot? I look forward to hearing your ideas in the comments!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Ghost Writing and Time Management in the Summer

I haven't posted in awhile since I've been busy writing for a new client. Yes, that's right, I now have someone who I write for directly, so I'm making more money. The person who hired me followed my blog in the past, so it does pay off to have a personal blog.

Cutting out the middleman is definitely the way to go, but I am still struggling a little bit with time management since my husband's schedule has been inconsistent, and there has been a lot going on in our lives this summer. Hopefully, our family will have a more predictable routine soon, and now that I'm getting over this cold, I should be able to do more writing at my most productive time of day, which is early in the morning.

My Blogmutt articles that I wrote a few weeks ago are starting to sell one by one, so it's nice to have those eight dollar payouts finally trickling in. With content sites like Blogmutt and Textbroker, it's always a challenge to find articles to write since everyone grabs up the easier jobs first. That's the name of the game, though. You've got to go for that low-hanging fruit, meaning the articles that won't take a lot of research.

As I've mentioned before, Textbroker doesn't pay much per word, and lately, when I've popped onto Blogmutt, I haven't had any luck finding an article to write. That said, I will keep checking because I'm hoping to write just enough to keep my accounts open with both of those companies.

The great thing about being an exclusive writer for a direct client is not having to compete with other writers for fun/easy subjects to write about. Not only that, but I'm writing meaningful posts, which help support a cause I believe in. I get paid more per article now, and as always, the more I write, the more I make--so I really want to become more productive. We all get the same 24 hours in a day and have to somehow fit everything in. I have a whole crew to delegate stuff to, and I have all the right tools including a crock-pot, bread machine and a shallow pool for keeping the kids entertained.

Some of the things that I feel are holding me back right now--other than being a little busier than usual--are writer's block and a distractible personality. With eight or nine of us in the house at times, there's a lot to do, so getting up before everyone else is an absolute must.

Challenge accepted.

"After all, tomorrow is another day."

Friday, June 10, 2016

Top 3 Content Sites for Working from Home

As promised, I am posting this update on my recent adventures in writing for content sites. I've done extensive online research and applied at several different websites, but I will only be reviewing the companies that have worked out for me. I've done the hard work for you by narrowing the list down to just these three:





Article Document


I haven't made much money yet writing for Article Document, but I really like it. I have written ten articles for them, and they included my "byline," which means my name has been published with each article. This allows me to have some writing samples to show prospective clients. The editors at Article Document are very nice, and I learned a new rule about using hyphens from their constructive feedback. I do not consider them a "mill" because they are so different from other content sites. Article Document seems like it would be better for your career in the long run since it's not strictly for ghost writing.

The articles I have written pay through revenue sharing, meaning I get a few cents per view when people read one of my articles. Theoretically, you could make a lot more money long term with revenue sharing than with flat-rate projects, assuming that most of the articles continue to get a few clicks after the newness wears off. You could also hit it big if a post went viral, so I still may write a few more "brand building" pieces for them, using catchier titles to try to get more traffic.

Article Document may only be paying me a few cents a day right now, but I can't help but like the fact that they rated me a 9.67 out of 10. I recommend writing at least a couple of pieces for them as a way to perfect your grammar skills and start an online portfolio. As I am writing this post, I just got an e-mail from Article Document offering me a paid assignment, writing for one of their clients! I knew I liked this company! Stay tuned...

Blogmutt


Blogmutt pays $8 for a 250 word post, which works out to 3.2 cents per word. There is enough of a variety of subjects to write about that you can probably always find something to do on there. There are no deadlines; you just write when you want to, and it's pretty easy to quickly come up with 250 words.

The negative is that it can take months for a client to accept your article, depending on where it is in the "queue," so I don't know yet what the acceptance rate will be. I read somewhere in a blog post written three years ago where someone estimated a ten percent rejection rate. If this is true, writing for Blogmutt could prove to be pretty lucrative for a work-at-home job since I could recycle any rejected articles by posting them somewhere else.

On my first day, I wrote ten articles, accumulating $80 in "future earnings." Doing about half that much each day for $40 would be a more reasonable workload for me right now. Yesterday I did $48, which didn't take me too long. I have yet to have any of my articles officially accepted by any of Blogmutt's clients, but none have been rejected either. I'm very hopeful about writing for Blogmutt, but the jury is still out on how lucrative it is until I start seeing some of my articles sell.

Textbroker


Textbroker was the first company I wrote for, and it's the quintessential "content mill," meaning they don't pay much at most levels. The approval process was quick and easy, and I got paid through Paypal about one week after I sent them a signed W-9 form. This one might be your best bet if you are desperate for some fast money and don't mind writing for only 1.4 cents a word. I'm a Level 4 out of 5 with them, and I've read that it can be difficult to become a Level 5. A Level 5 gets 5 cents per word, though, so it would be worthwhile at that level. A lot of successful bloggers that have written reviews about Textbroker are Level 4s, so who knows if  Level 5 is even attainable? I have found that Textbroker has two major drawbacks:

1. It's hard to find a good assignment to do


Textbroker is okay, but it's a lot of their clients that are the problem. They either write in broken English or want you to follow very detailed instructions and do a ridiculous amount of research for a measly five to seven bucks per article. Since the articles are kind of long, it can be hard to come up with that much to say about the limited subjects that are available.

2. The pay for a Level 4 is low at 1.4 cents per word


The most I was able to make in one day writing for Textbroker was a little over $38.00, but it was nice when they sent me a Paypal deposit for my all-time total of $174.00. 

I read a post recently that said you should never write for less than three cents a word, and I halfway agree now that I have the hope of higher pay at other sites, but I do feel that Textbroker might be a good place to get your feet wet in the web content industry and maybe learn a few comma rules. If you can't find anyone else to pay you more, think of Textbroker as a stepping stone on the path to bigger and better things.



I'll post another update soon since I plan to continue with Article Document and Blogmutt...


Edited to add on 6/16/16:

I made a few changes to my original post here since I've decided to keep writing for Textbroker. Why am I still writing for Textbroker when it pays less per word? A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, and nobody else has paid out so far. Textbroker clients only have three days to accept an article, and  the clients are more likely to accept them than not. It's a great feeling getting an e-mail each time an article is accepted and knowing I'll get paid within a week.

With Blogmutt, I have articles that are scheduled for up to nine months out, and the clients have that long to accept them. Not just that, but more than one person can write the same article, and someone else's article may be chosen. The bottom line is that I have yet to have even one article accepted by a Blogmutt client, so, for all I know, the "future earnings" figure might represent "NEVER earnings." I'm also still waiting to hear back from Article Document about that journalist assignment.

Meanwhile, I am going to keep writing for Textbroker and try to get faster...




Friday, June 3, 2016

Getting Motivated to Keep up on Housework When you Have a Large Family

With a large family, dishes and laundry are a much bigger deal, and it can be easy to become overwhelmed. If you need to do a load of laundry every day and run your dishwasher twice a day on top of everything else, then you might be a mom with several children. The following tips will help you crawl out of that rut when your house is out of control.


You know how to clean but lack motivation


It's not that you don't know how to clean your home--you probably just lack the motivation. Because keeping house is a never ending job, it can seem futile trying to clean a house full of people--especially when some of those people are small children that are unable to do much to help. It probably won't take as long as you think to get everything done--you just have a mental block.


Keep the machines running


Think of your home as a factory. The dishwasher, washer and dryer are machines that need to be running much of the time, and children, like employees, need supervision. By keeping up on dishes and laundry, you can keep your home functioning properly, and you'll feel like you have more time to enjoy your children and to get to those deeper cleaning chores.


Get started right


Get up and get dressed and groomed for the day. This can be a casual low-maintenance look, but do enough, so that you would feel presentable enough to answer the door. (Do this every morning whether you are going anywhere or not.) Next, have breakfast or maybe a cup of coffee and start those machines! Take out the trash and run the garbage disposal to take care of any unpleasant odors. Now that the dishwasher is running and the trash has been dealt with, finish cleaning the kitchen. Listening to music or a podcast can make the time go by faster and the cleaning will seem effortless.


Work alongside your crew


If you have children who are just old enough to help, have them pick up the house as you walk along beside them, telling them where things go. Involving them will make the cleaning feel more social and less mundane. Small children enjoy wiping down surfaces with a damp rag, and they just might get that sticky kitchen table a little cleaner in the process. Expect a lot more from the older ones, of course.


Prioritize by starting with the most visible areas


When straightening up the house, always start with those visible areas to help you build momentum. You will feel less overwhelmed knowing that your living room and entry areas are clear of clutter and your guest bathroom is equipped with toilet paper and a hand towel. And you're presentable, too now, remember? Switch the laundry to the dryer, and before you know it, you'll be tackling the more daunting cleaning projects.


Don’t stop, just switch gears


If you get tired of cleaning, sitting down to fold laundry can be a break of sorts. Have the kids come pick up their folded piles and put them away. If you have children of various ages, the older ones can supervise the younger ones to make sure the clothing makes it to where it goes. Everyone having plenty of clothing in their closets and drawers is a major advantage in a large family since getting out of the house can be a challenge when little people can't get themselves dressed.


Reward yourself and your helpers by doing something fun together after the house is clean. By keeping up on your housework and involving the entire family, you are teaching your children good habits, so that maybe someday getting motivated to do housework won't be a struggle for them.

Working from Home Writing for "Article Document"

Revenue Sharing Articles with a Byline

I've discovered a new website to write for, which I am pretty excited about. It's called Article Document, and here's how it works. You start out writing articles for them that are "revenue sharing," which means you get paid ongoing royalties based on how many views the article gets. The best thing about the revenue sharing posts is that I get a "byline," meaning my name is at the bottom of the article. This will allow me to start a portfolio of my published work, which I can show to potential clients. The revenue sharing probably won't add up to much money unless a post goes viral, but it's only the first step...

Ghost Writing Journalist Articles

Once you have ten articles accepted that are rated a seven or above by Article Document's editors, you get to unlock "journalism" assignments that they pay you for up front. The rate per word for those articles is three to ten cents, which is a lot higher than the 1.4 cents I've been getting while writing for Textbroker.

Stay Tuned for a More Complete Review of Article Document

Right now, I feel like I'm working for free, but it's a means to an end. I won't find out what's behind curtain number two until I get ten articles published. Hopefully, it will be as good as it sounds, so I can start making some real money. Good or bad, I will post an update here in a few days.

Please Help Me Out By Reading My Stuff!

If you get a chance, check out my revenue sharing article about boosting your home's curb appeal. I'm pretty excited about it since they rated it ten out of ten! They've published two of my articles so far, and one is waiting to be looked at by an editor, so hopefully that's three down, seven to go...




Monday, May 23, 2016

Tips for Successful Homeschooling

I started homeschooling about ten years ago, so I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t work for our family. Everyone’s situation is different, but I’ve decided to share the following tips, which will hopefully give you some ideas to implement in your own homeschool. We have a large family and will be up to four students in the upcoming school year, but the following tips could apply to any sized homeschool:


Stay Organized With Binders


Each of my homeschooled children has his or her own binder. I select quality binders with built in zip compartments for pencils, and the binders themselves zip for containing any loose books. Keeping just about everything in these binders makes it easy for the kids to take their work on the road when we travel or just have errands to run. It also allows me to check all of their work at once or quickly have someone move to another work station. I also have my own binder for myself as the teacher, and there is another binder for answer keys. The ACE School of tomorrow curriculum that we use is perfect for our binder system. We use a heavy duty three-hole punch that is designed for punching through 30 pages, and it works well for hole punching the ACE “PACES,” which have around 25 to 50 pages each.

My Desk--Notice my heavy duty three-hole punch and the student binders. 


Stick with the Same Curriculum


I mainly use the ACE School of Tomorrow curriculum. I am very familiar with it, because I went to a private ACE school from second through ninth grade. I’ve also used it for several years in my own homeschool with five different students. I’ve become an expert on it, and my kids prefer it over other systems. The fact that the curriculum is broken down into 12 workbooks per subject per year allows the convenient option of purchasing it by the quarter instead of all at once. The ACE curriculum is geared toward independent work, so it works best for students who enjoy doing most of their schoolwork on their own.

We use the A Beka curriculum for K-4, K-5, and sometimes first and second grade. This curriculum is great for students and parents that want/need more interaction during the school day. It can also be adapted to the binder system to a point, since perforated pages can be removed from the work books and placed into binders. At the higher grade levels, there are thicker textbooks, which would need to be left at home or carried in a backpack when taking schooling on the road. Most of the families in our homeschooling group use A Beka, so it gives us moms something to talk about during the P.E. class.

Join a Group


My kids really look forward to their P.E. class, which meets once every two weeks. It’s free, and it’s close to our house, so we still have time for academics when we get home. While the kids do P.E., the moms have a chance to chat about the various challenges of homeschooling. There’s also a field trip every month, which is more often than most traditional schools have field trips. The social life that a homeschool group provides is important for the kids as well as the moms.

In the area where we used to live, most active homeschooling groups cost money or met several miles away, so we feel very blessed to be a part of the perfect homeschooling group. Find something local and affordable, or perhaps get together with a homeschooling friend or neighbor and start up your own group.

Start your Own Home Library


Studies show that children do better academically when there are plenty of books in the home. Some homeschooling families implement a library day, but I prefer to purchase books online. This way we don’t have to worry about finding misplaced books by a particular day, and the kids can go back and read their favorite books again and again.

The Ingredients of a Successful Homeschool


Building a home library, keeping workbooks organized, and familiarizing yourself with a tried and true curriculum will help to simplify your routine. Whichever curriculum you use will become easier to administer as you and your students gain experience with it, which is why I don’t recommend switching too often. Being part of a group of likeminded families will provide friends for you and your children and will serve as a support group for you as a homeschooling mom. Most importantly, do what works best for your own unique family.