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Scratchin’ and Scrappin’

Morning Coffee

There are some occasions when I have a little too much coffee and allow my somewhat demented thoughts to be captured here at NJFM.  I’m apologizing in advance because this is one of those occasions.

From ScratchScratchin'

I am a basic non-gimmick type of person.  I tend to like to do things from scratch.  That’s precisely the reason I don’t buy pancake mix, canned beans and prefer to make French fries from potatoes.  It’s not a very popular or quick way to get things done, but I believe it’s healthier and tastes better.

The same way I feel about cooking is the exact same way I feel about online freelance writing. There are gimmicks, programs and methods to increase earnings, gain traffic and reach Google’s first page faster, but I’ve chosen not to use them.  I’m not knocking any of those programs.  As I always say, there’s more than one way of skinning a cat, and I just choose to skin mine without gimmicks.  I’m sure many of the programs work and some don’t.  It’s just that I tend to do things the old fashioned way.  It’s a personality quirk.

Because I like to do things from scratch it takes me longer to reach certain goals.  In a recent sort of interview (not really an interview but sort of like one), I realized it took me a little over 3 ½ years to reach the $2,000 per month residual milestone.  To some that is a lifetime.  To me, well, when you do things from scratch you expect it to take longer so I’m not complaining.

Why am I writing about this?  Well, if you don’t have the money to buy the latest gimmick or can’t afford to subscribe to the latest and fastest way to earn tons of money on the internet, don’t fret.  Just keep at it.  Scrappin'

Keep on Scrappin’

My husband and I describe ourselves as scrappy.  We’ve faced much adversity in our lives but we continue to scrap until we overcome the obstacle (my cousin calls us Weebles …you know the old commercial, Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down).

When Google put the kibosh on one of my sites early on in my online writing career, I could have given up, but I didn’t.  When BrightHub sent me a rejection email telling me that my writing wasn’t good enough, I could have chucked it all in.  I was turned down at About.com after spending time and effort creating a mock website and have had many of my magazine query letter ignored.  On top of that, I’ve got several hundred articles online that earn nothing or next to nothing . All of these situations can put a serious damper or a writer’s ego (oh and we won’t mention the occasional snarky DMS rewrite request ).  But…the scrappers keep scrappin’!Weebles

So, I guess in my caffeine overloaded state, this is my way of telling you not to give up. It’s not all roses, but if your dream is big enough and real enough, you’ll get there.

Now, I’m off to get a glass or two of water in an attempt to dilute the coffee in my system.

{ 36 comments… add one }
  • Grandma January 24, 2011, 10:08 am

    Wish we could share a cup of coffee….maybe someday we’ll create a NJFM convention and everybody get together and toast Felicia – ???!!!

    I am drinking a ton of the stuff, even tho’ it is not good for those over “50”..I am way over…at 63, but like many aspects of my life, I don’t give a “S” about that and drinking it anyhow!

    Scrappy is necessary. I am convinced that things and economics will only be getting extremely tough in the near future. We have had it so good in this country, but that is changing, and we only have one way to go, down. A miracle is needed fast to preserve what we have enjoyed for our children.

    Writers can be on the forefront of that battle, with our word skills, as people tend to believe what they read. Oh, where am I going with this thought? More coffee, please….my third this morning….oh my! Lions and tigers and bears, I’m feeling wired….plus that on top of the “medicine” for my pain in leg….whoooeeee….I will write some top flight stuff today, no doubt!

    • Felicia January 24, 2011, 10:28 am

      LOL!!!! Hmmm, taking my age into consideration, maybe I ought to give the stuff up (NOT).

  • Loretta January 24, 2011, 10:10 am

    Hello Felicia,
    I have been a reader of your site for a few months. I find much inspiration on it, but your post today — well, you have no idea, but it was just what I needed.

    I’ve been struggling to get a VA business going and find an additional source of income through my freelance writing. When one is at the foot of the mountain looking up, it is a difficult climb, but my faith keeps me going and occasionally divine intervention sends me inspiration, today it came through you. Thank you and have another cup of coffee. You deserve it.


    • Felicia January 24, 2011, 10:31 am

      Loretta, glad to be of help. I know what it’s like at the foot of the mountain. I’ve spent quite a bit of time there. As a matter of fact, once you climb one mountain, you can be sure there will be another one. That’s the fun part of life, mountain climbing.

      As far as another cup of coffee…I think I need to turn the coffee pot off. My daughter hates it when I drink too much coffee, I start dancing around the house (an embarrassment to any teenager). Fortunately, she’s in school today so I can dance if I wish.

      Man, I REALLY had too much coffee. 🙂

  • Ken January 24, 2011, 10:27 am

    Just keep writing and moving forward. Consistency. Yea, there are programs and software out there that do cut down on time, but they are not a necessity and they don’t work for everybody. The only necessity is consistency and a commitment to your writing business. The key as you said Felicia, “never give up.”

    Now, pass the coffee….:)

  • Angela January 24, 2011, 10:54 am

    Hi Felicia, I have to agree with Loretta “your post today — well, you have no idea, but it was just what I needed.”

    I am almost close to giving up on freelance writing for many reasons. Then NJFM came to mind… still not feeling 100 better but your article is exactly what I needed. Thanks,
    As always u hit the spot.

  • Loretta January 24, 2011, 11:14 am

    Thank you all for the encouragement. It has made my morning, and is much appreciated.

  • Will January 24, 2011, 11:15 am

    I’ve invested a little money into some of the monetization programs you referred to… ultimately, they’re not necessary, but we all have to start somewhere, and there’s knowledge in the program materials that we may not have gotten as quickly by browsing the Internet. The most important thing I’ve learned from the paid materials is that making a living on the Internet is possible, but is is still WORK, including establishing “passive” income streams.

    Felicia, we’re all happy to hear from you, and we’re glad to know that NJFM is still on your radar as you’re smelling the roses. 🙂

    • Felicia January 24, 2011, 11:26 am

      I’ve got nothing against the programs. They work well for some folks. I just didn’t want people to think that it couldn’t be done without them. The good ones are very helpful and provide a wealth of information. The bad ones…well, they’re bad. I can’t really review them because I haven’t used them.

      As far as smelling the roses…it’s so cold up here that the roses are frozen. There’s also my addiction problem. I can’t seem to walk past my laptop without taking a quick look to see what’s going on. I’ve got to wean myself slowly. 🙂

    • Julie @ Inspired to Write January 29, 2011, 3:27 pm

      I think some of those tools are great, as long as you remember they are “tools” and not substitutes for hard work. While using a screwdriver to more efficiently tighten a screw is better than trying to do it manually, you still have to pick up the screwdriver and do it yourself. Sometimes, you may even have the budget to pay someone to do it! 🙂

  • Deanna January 24, 2011, 3:23 pm

    I guess you could say I am a member of the “scrappy” club. For 20 years I’ve collected hundreds (yes, that many) of rejection letters from websites, magazines, agents and book publishers, but I still keep on writing. (Luckily, none of the rejection letters have been overly cruel, like “Give it up, Lady!” and most have been basic form rejections.) I think when you know deep down that this is what you want to do, you don’t give up easily. Either that, or I just won’t take no for an answer! I am happy to be a member in good standing of the scrappy club with you. 😉

  • Kidgas January 24, 2011, 4:12 pm

    I love your addiction to the laptop since you have published another useful post. I am liking the slow and scrappy approach and just plan on keeping on, although I don’t do that much coffee but get my caffeine in the form of diet soda.

  • cadebe January 24, 2011, 4:50 pm

    Hi Felicia –

    As usual, you have written an honest, insightful post. Thank you.

  • Ira January 25, 2011, 6:17 am

    Well, from the mail I sent you, Felicia, you can probably tell I am in the scrappy-doo club lol 😉

    I started establishing websites, along with an income, 4 weeks ago now, and for the past 2 weeks I have experienced a TON of trouble with my internet connection as well as my PC. Just yesterday, alone, we had a new modem installed, had to go out and buy a new router, then my video card decided to go out.

    Ahh you gotta love the classroom time, when life is handing you lessons to learn lol 🙂

    Anyhow, just had to say, this post was written specifically for me, I just know’d it!

  • Jennifer Holik-Urban January 25, 2011, 10:59 am

    Another great post Felicia. You really inspire me to keep going and give me an idea of how much work it will take to reach my goals.

  • Amanda January 25, 2011, 4:30 pm

    I like your tenacity. I have decided this year to make some changes to the way I earn money online in preparation for a move we hope to make in about 3 years. I really want to increase my residual income and not rely so much on upfront payments.
    You are an inspiration.

  • Amanda January 25, 2011, 10:58 pm

    I think for people starting out, problems are sometimes similar.

    Google didn’t approve my application a couple of weeks ago. I was prepared to try to try other methods. Then, with some other help, I was approved. I find some of my posts receives zero views, and I think, “Did I waste my time for writing those posts?” Then I tell myself that every post is not wasted as long as I can learn something from it. You’ve got to think in a positive way and keep going. And things will smooth out.

  • William Tha Great January 28, 2011, 9:37 am

    Hey Felicia,

    Thanks for the inspirational article!

    I like the use of the words you choose and the title. Nothing good ever comes overnight is what my parents tell me. It’s awesome that you have been able to stay determined for 3 years! With persistance and goal can be reached no matter the size of the goal you just have to keep going after it and eventually you will get there.

    I also think it’s awesome you make 2000/month on autopilot! I know it took major work to get to that point a lot of hand aches I’m sure. It sucks that you can write your heart out, but sometimes still earn next to nothing. It’s all a development proccess are you willing to commit long enough to give your skills a chance to develop to the level they need to be at.

    Would you not agree?

    P.s this isn’t my place, but you should really try to lay off the caffeine. That is nothing, but your crutch you use to start your day and get you going. It isn’t something your body needs, but just something you have convinced your mind that you need. Really all it’s doing is killing your insides slowly but surely if you drink a lot of coffee. I have never touched a cup of coffee, because I’m only 18(1 day from 19), but people say it can be a major addiction. I’m genually concered for you, because I know coffee isn’t something you need. You just have to convince yourself your stronger than need a stimulant to get you going.

    I know it’s a lot tougher done than said, but hey if you can freelance write for 3 years than anythings within your reach!

    Thanks again!

    God bless,
    William Veasley

    • Felicia January 28, 2011, 10:42 am

      I’ve got to say that I enjoyed every minute of my online writing career (well except for a few of the DS edits). If I didn’t I wouldn’t have stuck with it.

      I also want to thank you for the “fatherly” advice. 😉

      Honestly, I don’t really drink much coffee. You see, I wake up naturally around 5:30 (lately it’s been a little earlier). I haven’t used an alarm clock in about 20 years (right about the time my toddler son learned how to adjust the alarm on my clock).

      As far as coffee goes, I drink one cup somewhere around 10:00 am and maybe I’ll take a sip or two of a second cup. That’s more than enough to send me over the edge (my daughter fusses with me because I waste a cup of coffee a day). At this age, I’m not even considering of giving up coffee (I’m saying this with a smile on my face so if it comes across as me being upset…I’m not).

      Thanks for looking out for me.

      Just an afterthought: William, maybe you should check out one of my infrequently updated blogs: A Dose of Health. It might give you a little insight on how I view health aging and a few other things.

  • Julie @ Inspired to Write January 29, 2011, 3:23 pm

    You are always inspirational – I fit in your boat, too. I am approaching the 2 1/2 year mark and I am not even up to $1000 a month… *sigh… motivation can be hard when you are not seeing the payoff! But, doing things the non-gimmicky way takes time!!

    I also have gotten off track with my writing a little but to pursue other online stuff – I think that had impacted my income. Anyhow, I just created a survey to ask why people write if you want to take a moment to check it out – I am really curious as to why people write!

    • Felicia January 30, 2011, 6:56 am

      I’m going over to check out the survey now.

  • William Tha Great January 31, 2011, 4:34 am

    Hey Felicia,

    Thanks for the response!

    I feel weird for even trying to give you advice lol, because I’m way to young to be even trying. Your much older than me and far wiser than I, it’s just you made it sound like you drink a lot of coffee. So I just thought I’d add my 2 cents.

    A couple of cups a day isn’t bad at all. You wake up very early everyday, but hey that just gives you more time to get what you want done. Where as someone who wakes up late will have much less time. Personally I value my time like no other. Most days I don’t sleep. I guess out of a week Worth of time I sleep about 3 days, because I might sleep for 2 or 3 hours each day. If I’m not sleep I’m hard at work bettering my future, because I want to have everything I ever dreamed of, and I know I have what it takes. Success first starts with the mindset you have wouldn’t you agree.

    Here comes the you need to sleep more speech right.. Lol .. That is usually what I get when I tell someone how much I sleep.

    On another note I saved your health blog to my home screen so you’ll see me around there very soon! ( :

    Thanks again!

    God bless,
    William Veasley

    • Felicia January 31, 2011, 6:39 am

      No problem, William.

      You knew exactly what I was going to say about the number of hours you sleep. Although, I always say, I don’t think anyone had died from lack of sleep. They usually pass out first. The body has its way of getting what it needs.

      Wow, I’m going to put you in the same category as my kids. They think I’m real old too (but they don’t always appreciate my wisdom). 😉

      • William Tha Great February 2, 2011, 3:50 am

        Hey Felicia,

        Thanks for the response!

        You made very good points. My body does force me to sleep, but that’s after a couple of days.. My mustles start to feel weak and people tell me Iook high lol. Then it’s time to hit the sack which I’m usually knocked out for a good while peacefully in a deep sleep ( : I love sleeping, but I love hustling hard even more. I wish I could sleep more, but until I get really tired my brain runs like a hamster wheel.

        I tell myself I’ll I can sleep when I make my name known.

        Thanks again!

        God bless,
        William Veasley

  • Christina Crowe March 20, 2011, 3:47 pm

    Hi Felicia,

    Very well said; I couldn’t have said it better.

    It’s the people who give up and accept defeat that don’t get very far toward their goals, ambitions, and dreams. But if you’d only keep going, you’re bound to make your dreams reality sooner or later. And it might actually be sooner if you have the drive to continue moving forward.

    Thanks for the encouraging words of advice. Sometimes, all it takes is encouragement to make it through a hard day.


  • Alexander Mark April 23, 2011, 5:10 am

    Thanks for the inspiration Felicia – the inspiration to make coffee in order to write at 2AM that is!

    One question that’s been bugging me since you posted about Panda and creating your own website. Did you build your websites from scratch too, or are you using something like blogger? If you have an article with a more complex answer to that question, would you be so kind as to direct me there?

    I am feeling a little low myself, but I am going to push myself to write right now even if it’s crap. I’m trying to keep a schedule as if I’m clocking in with the benefit of being my own boss because as you indicate, persistence pays off.

    • Felicia April 23, 2011, 5:56 am

      Hey Alexander,

      My post-panda blogs are WordPress blogs. I register my domain names through GoDaddy and host them on HostGator.

      As I mentioned somewhere on here before, with Hostgator you can add unlimited domain names and host them under your main account. Therefore, the only additional expense I incur is registering the domain name.

      Since I’m partial to the Solostream WordPress templates, all of my post-panda blogs use Solostream. I use them because I’m comfortable with them. I’ve played around under the hood enough to be able to set up a blog and configure the formatting rather quickly. As a matter of fact, I’ve created a checklist of what to do to make it easier for me. Actually, I created the checklist in hopes that my kids would give me a hand setting things up, but they’re not really interested in creating websites.

      I’m not so sure if Solostream is one of the better themes for SEO purposes. I know there are themes out there that are cleaner and probably might rank better with the search engines because their coding is light, but I choose not to worry about that too much. I try to write quality and information packed content. That mixed with the right keywords and SEO seem to work well for me.

      As far as keeping a writing schedule, that’s admirable. Keep in mind, however, that forced creative work has a tendency to come out crappy. I know because I’ve forced myself to write just to keep up with my self-imposed schedule.

      I still battle balancing a writing schedule and wanting to make money. I was particularly plagued with a writing schedule when I wrote a lot for Demand Studios. I liked the money, but hated writing for them. Ya gotta do what ya gotta do to pay the bills, but constantly forcing yourself to write when your heart/mind/gut isn’t in it leads to writers block and a temporary disgust for writing.

      I was forced to take a break this week because my kids are home. Now that I’m not at the computer writing all the time, the ideas and motivation to write is bursting at the seams. I can’t wait until Monday to get back at it…er Tuesday. My hubby decided to take Monday off so I’ve got to hold off until Tuesday.

      In the meanwhile, I’m jotting down my ideas so I won’t forget them by Tuesday.

      (BTW, this comment is dripping with affiliate links)

      • Alexander Mark April 25, 2011, 9:38 pm

        Thanks so much for the detailed answer. I had a chance to do some extensive recoding of a Wordpress site using only CSS since I don’t know PHP. It was a heck of a challenge, but there are some really useful tools available through Wordpress I couldn’t make on my own. It looks like you took the direct route with Solostream, I’ll see if that works for me too, they have a lot of choices for layouts.

        I like what you wrote about writing quality, it seems that at the end of the day, this is the most important thing when it comes to creative labor. I would never pick up a novel just because it is formatted correctly and edited perfectly, I want to read a good story! I’ve checked out some of your other articles and find that you have a way of turning the most mundane subject into something compelling, I think this is the reason for your success. I hate SEO and all the other work around it designed to capture more views online, but it’s like paying the bills so you can have your shelter and luxuries. Yet I read recently somewhere you don’t spend a lot of time on any kind of social networking? Is it all pure quality writing and SEO? I don’t mind going to articles and commenting, but I would rather be writing my next article!

        I know what you mean about forcing the writing, but it is working the opposite way for me, I feel like I am giving myself permission to write instead of feeling guilty and conflicted. But I have tried forcing good writing and failed miserably as well, your advice is very much appreciated. Which is why I have to reconsider writing for DS. My heart is not into writing pure information, it has nothing to do with why I love to write except the satisfaction of turning out a completed work and tapping on the keyboard.

        Which leads back to the Panda induced venture you have been doing and succeeding with. I suppose since I have a full time job, I have the freedom to build my income slowly. I hate that job but churning out content for DS appeals less and less to me.

        As far as monetizing, do you use Adsense, or are there other ad placements you’d recommend to someone starting out? I use Adsense on Hubpages and I’m getting close to my first payout. Until Panda, I have been pretty pleased with the results, especially since I hadn’t written much for over a year and was still receiving some residual (about enough to feed my plants), but I’m sure there are other programs available. I just wonder if it’s wise to go with anyone else at this point in my career (more of an unpaid internship at this point ha ha).

        I realize you’re a busy writer, so thanks already for the first response. I enjoy NJFM, there’s so much good information here.

        • Alexander Mark April 25, 2011, 9:42 pm

          and I’m going to download a copy of the free ebook about freelance writing online today.

          • Felicia April 25, 2011, 10:21 pm

            Uh oh. I’ve got to update that book. Some of the info has been rendered obsolete thanks to Panda.

        • Felicia April 25, 2011, 10:20 pm

          I’m like a dinosaur when it comes to the whole social networking stuff. I tried it for a while but it wasn’t a hand in glove fit for me so I opted for the slow and steady method. I gain most of my traffic through SEO, keywords, content and time.

          You’ll probably bounce back and forth between writing for DS and walking away from them. I know what it’s like to spend all day at a full-time job that you’re not crazy about. However, you don’t want to jump from the frying pan into the fire (leaving the job and working full time for DS).

          You already know that this residual stuff takes time and patience. Your “about enough to feed my plants” comment made me spit water all over my computer. ? You could speed things up by social networking, heavy backlinking and commenting on blogs/forums if you’re so inclined to use those methods. They’re perfectly legitimate methods and folks use them all the time.

          To answer your question about revenue sources, I primarily use AdSense, Infolinks, Text Link Ads, Amazon and Chitika. I do make some money with a few affiliate products, but they’re not my bread and butter (I’m working on improving my affiliate marketing skills).

          With the recent Panda update, I think you’re wise to concentrate on your own sites. As I’ve mentioned somewhere in cyberspace, I have a bunch of blogs on different topics. When panda hit, my content farm articles took a nosedive, but many of my blogs did well. You never know when Google will make another change, so keeping a toe in the content farm market may not hurt, but it’s my personal opinion that the lion share of your efforts should be spent on your own sites.

      • Angela May 9, 2011, 2:10 am

        Hi Felicia, can you give me the steps you used to set up your blog with wordpress-godaddy-hostgator? Did you set up a free blog with wordpress first then get a name with godaddy or did you get a name from godaddy, then set it up with wordpress then hostgator? How did you do it??? Thanks for your help 🙂

        • Felicia May 9, 2011, 7:01 am

          I already have a paid hosting account with HostGator so I go to GoDaddy and purchase a domain name then I go to my HostGator account and setup WordPress.

          I don’t use the free WordPress.com site. At WordPress.com you can’t set up your own domain name. To set up your own domain you’ll have to purchase a hosting account.

  • Angela May 9, 2011, 7:35 am

    Thanks Felicia, appreciate the help.

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