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Thank You Panda

King Fu Panda

I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and in the long run it works out for the better. Sometimes you have to reach real deep inside to find the lesson or the bright side, but it’s always there.

It has only been a little over a month since the Panda came out and made itself known to the online world so things haven’t totally settled as yet. However, the past 30 or so days have been an eye opener for me and I fully intend to make a few much needed changes. Here are a few things the Panda has taught and/or done for me:

Listen to the Inner Whispers

Quite some time ago when I was self-diagnosed with job-aversion-itis (often confused with work-aversion-itis), there were whisperings deep within telling me to explore avenues that would allow me to take total control of my income (subject to market conditions).

I wanted to write freely without worrying about the New Rules Committee (aka NRC). You know the NRC. They meet every Monday morning to create a whole new set of editorial changes that do nothing but create havoc and cause writers to jump through even more hoops before their Pandawork is published. By going out on my own, I am the NRC. I make the changes as I see fit to bring in the best profit for my efforts.

Don’t Operate in a Vacuum

While I was writing for Suite I wrote in a vacuum. I put forth my best work (for the most part, there are a few fluff articles there), tried to keep up with my weekly obligations and went about my merry way. It wasn’t until the Panda’s wrath reigned down on Suite did I realize there was a large body of sub par work (sub par is putting it nicely). That sub par work affected everyone.

If I were to write for another content site, you can bet I’m taking a walking tour through the neighborhood before I write a single article. Although, this point is moot since I don’t think I’ll be looking for additional content sites to write for.

Warily Enjoying Traffic/Income Increase

I’m thrilled with the increase in traffic and income that I’m seeing as a result of the Panda update. My advertising income has reached record highs. The increase is offsetting the drop in my Suite income. However, I’ve been through this before. The Panda is a fickle Panda. The Panda gives and the Panda can take away, so I’m taking measures to cushion the blow if and when the Panda takes away (again).Panda

My Online Foundation

I started online by creating my own website. I later discovered content sites and enjoyed the fact that I could earn money much quicker there than with my own sites. I did continue to add a little content to my own site, but too much of my work went on content sites (who could turn down the lucrative financial return that eHow offered).

Over time I slowed down, enjoyed the income and decided to take time to smell the roses. Thank you Panda for kicking me in the rear end to force me to build my own foundation for success. Panda reminded me of the inner whispers that I had long ignored.

As Oprah Winfrey says (I’m paraphrasing), “It starts as a whisper. If you ignore it, it becomes a tap on the shoulder. If you ignore that eventually a brick wall will fall on you.”

I’m a little past the whisper, but nowhere near the brick wall falling on me. Thanks Panda for the nudge.

Now it’s Your Turn

What has the Panda taught you? Are you going to make a change or are you attempting to work harder to bring back your former income though the same venues you used before? Are you ready to step out of your comfort zone? I’m stepping out of mine and so far I’m not liking it, but I know it will get better with time.

{ 31 comments… add one }
  • Diane March 31, 2011, 12:01 pm

    It was because of Panda that I started my first blog a few weeks ago. I had written exclusively for content sites. My page views at Associated Content have plummeted and I have only earned pennies at Bukisa. If it weren’t for Demand Studios and Textbroker, I would be in financial straits.

    I am curious, if you care to share, have the revenue articles at DS been affected?

    • Felicia March 31, 2011, 12:07 pm

      Diane, the DS revenue share articles are continuing to earn even better than before. But, I don’t own DS so I think it’s time for me to make serious effort to replace that income.

  • Alina Bradford April 1, 2011, 12:21 pm

    I’ve come to the same conclusion. I’ve decided to do more writing where I make the rules. It’s funny that I read your post today because yesterday I wrote a post about the same thing! Great minds think alike!;)

    • Felicia April 1, 2011, 6:33 pm

      Alina, for some reasons your post ended up in my spam folder. Oh well, at least I found it.

      I’m headed over to your blog now…

  • Laura April 1, 2011, 3:13 pm

    Good post, as always, Felicia!

    A lot of writers were furious when the changes first hit. There were murmurings about Google being an evil digital despot and bands of writers vowing to retaliate by abandoning gmail accounts and never using Google’s search engine ever again. It was as if many believed that Google had personally tried to rob writers of their livelihoods instead of exercising the company’s right to make a sound business decision.

    I never could muster up the energy to become so offended, however. The way I see it, it’s the kick in the pants that a lot of us needed. While I’m grateful for content mill opportunities, I personally believe they should be used primarily for early career stages in order to gain experience and gather clips (or as a means for very part-time writers to supplement other income sources).

    Since the changes, I’ve read stories of Internet marketers realizing the value of a well-written $40 article over a fluffy keyword rich $5 article. They get it now! And as they get it, those of us who still choose to create content for others (and who are prepared to market ourselves in the right ways) stand to profit quite a bit more in the long run.

    As as been shared here, the changes also encourage us to move out of our comfy lil boxes and explore other opportunities. For instance, self-publishing on Kindle is one that I’m most excited about now. While I probably would have done so eventually anyway, the changes are just the motivation I needed to pursue these options now instead of later.

    So, yeah, I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m a little grateful to the Panda, too. 🙂

    Thanks for always helping us see the bright side, Felicia!

    • Felicia April 1, 2011, 5:56 pm

      It seems the Panda has done for you the same thing it has done for me. Publishing on Kindle sounds exciting. I’d love to hear how it goes. Please check back later to let us know.

    • Maria (WriterGig) April 1, 2011, 6:09 pm

      Ditto about self-publishing on Kindle! I’ve been researching this all week and brainstorming … it’s my next “big” project. Would love to hear how it goes for you.

  • Edward G Gordon April 1, 2011, 3:15 pm

    Hi Felicia,

    You know my views on this one. (lol) Six months ago I wrote two articles for Suite. I wanted to make money online but without sweating blood – you know what I mean. Anyway, after a few weeks it occured to me that the few pence I was getting per article monthly simply wasn’t worth the effort, especially as I was making three to four times that on a small five page site using Google adsense. And that was with only 10-20 visitors a day.

    Panda has helped quite a bit as I too have noticed a jump in traffic to my top level domain. It will be nice while it lasts. Unfortunately, you can be sure that the content farms, article directories will all take action to correct their rankings. And then we will be back to square one.

    Hopefully we will all get a boost in the meantime.

    • Felicia April 1, 2011, 5:57 pm

      Edward, we might be back to square one or maybe not. Panda is teaching all of us a lot of things. With all of our new-found knowledge, we might be able to stand our ground (I hope). 🙂

      • Edward G Gordon April 3, 2011, 2:54 pm

        lol, I hope your right. The problem sometimes is that by the time I learn anything it is too late to be useful. Hopefully this time I will be more on the ball.

  • Maria (WriterGig) April 1, 2011, 4:58 pm

    If anything, I’m getting more traffic to my top niche site now than I did before Panda. My site does best in the spring anyway, so its hard to gauge what was Panda and what was the warmer weather.

    Diversification is critical, no doubt. So is maintaining ownership and control over your own site and its content. The ongoing changes at eHow are for me a reminder of that. And to be honest, I needed that reminder. I am more motivated than ever to build my residual income to the next level … while still taking time to smell those roses and enjoy these years while my kids are little. 🙂

    • Felicia April 1, 2011, 6:03 pm

      Sounds like you’ve got a great plan. It’s especially important for you to smell the roses when your kids are so young. They grow so fast and before you know it they’ll be going to the prom. Enjoy them.

      • Maria (WriterGig) April 1, 2011, 7:59 pm

        They are already growing too quickly — my oldest will be 8 in a few months. I know that’s still young but it happened so fast. I am so grateful to be able to work from home; I know the time with my kids is precious and fleeting.

  • Master Dayton April 2, 2011, 12:49 pm

    I’ve found the same thing. The most recent update simply gave me a great kick in the butt to do what I should have been doing all along: investing more in my own niche sites instead of relying too much on HubPages or Squidoo or the other web 2.0 properties. So far I’m finding it’s easier then ever to build good niche sites and get them up the search engine rankings, so it’s actually turned from a major downer to a great motivator.

  • Grandma April 4, 2011, 6:52 am

    Love the Panda photo. Am wondering if perhaps Google’s moves may come back around to kick themselves in the butt someday?

  • LilyRose April 4, 2011, 2:18 pm

    Felicia, Amen! You’re so right on. I actually just had a very honest meeting with my boss about what I’m worth and if it’s worth it for both of us to continue with his e-zine. It’s definitely come time for me to prioritize and strategize – just like you. If it doesn’t work, I’m not doing it. And if it doesn’t pay well, I’ll find something even better …

  • Danie Jones April 4, 2011, 3:58 pm

    Well, I never put much store by the ESL types Suite started letting in after I joined, in fact I took great delight in flagging every instance I came across.

    I’ve been hit by Panda but because I can’t be faffed to mess around with keywords but rather write what makes sense in the way I want to write it, I don’t think I’ve been as badly hit as some.

    I am going to be looking into ebooks in due course, if only because I’m liking what I am reading on my phone of a morning on the bus and think I can contribute too. Just have to wait for my articles to come up a year on Suite and then I can rejig them for publication elsewhere.

  • FaithDream April 5, 2011, 9:28 pm

    Well, I must say I am blessed to find this site of yours. I’ve just spent the last 30 minutes going through your articles and I must say, where have you been?

    The information you share is exactly what I need right now. I downloaded your Ebook, thank you so much.

    I write on hubpages besides my own personal sites but have been considering other options.

    When I found your site, by accident(of course everything happens for a reason) so I say it was not coincidence but I’m excited to read more.

    Thank you.
    You are a real blessing here.

    • Felicia April 6, 2011, 5:34 am

      Welcome to NJFM, FaithDream.

      Some of the info on this blog still holds true and some has changed as a result of the Panda update. Keep Panda in mind when you’re reading through some of the older stuff.

  • Amanda S. April 8, 2011, 12:04 am

    Hi Felicia! I’ve been popping in to visit your blog every so often for a couple of months now, ever since I started my little freelance journey. You have a lot of great information here!

    I had just starting dipping my toe in the content site waters when the whole Panda thing happened. I do a little writing on Textbroker too (I’m a level 4), but I get to a point where I just can’t write one more article on ceiling fans or bleeding gums. :0

    So I’ve mostly been concentrating on my blog and getting a niche site or two up and running, and maybe sitting down to write that ebook for Kindle I’ve been thinking about. I do have a question for you, though; when you build a site, do you use Wordpress or the sitebuilder that your hosting site offers? Your sites look very nice, and are well laid out. 🙂

    • Felicia April 8, 2011, 6:14 am

      Hi Amanda,

      I use WordPress and use themes created by Solostream (that’s an affiliate link). They have several blog templates and they seem to work well for me.

  • Amanda S. April 8, 2011, 8:45 pm

    Thanks! I’ll check them out.

  • Trent Adams April 13, 2011, 3:23 am

    Felicia — Thanks for your motivating site. I enjoyed your take on this. I fell into using upfront-pay content writing at Demand for my main source of income for the past year and a half. It allowed me to experience freelancing full-time and freedom from working with the public. I share your job-itis. I’ve always preferred being self-employed.

    The Google shake-up gave me a much-needed kick. For my first bid for freedom I got back into Hubpages. I’ve been meaning to try creating my own websites, but I kept heel-dragging. It’s the what if I throw a party and nobody comes syndrome. I realized I needed to spend some time nearly every day finding answers to my questions about seo and rankings and how to get traffic — and more than traffic, how to get clicks or sales.

    I thought I didn’t have the time or energy for new projects — but experiencing small islands of freedom from the NRC (love that!) is giving me a boost. So now I’m making the time to pursue other avenues, with the goal of reducing, and as soon as possible, eliminating work-for-hire in my life.

    Thanks for your inspiring stories — every time I visit here, I’m glad I did.

    • Felicia April 13, 2011, 7:54 am

      Trent, I know exactly how you feel. I followed a pretty similar path but realized early on that residuals were the way to go. Panda has kicked us all in the pants and made us change our strategy. Keep squeezing out a little time for your own sites. A little time squirreled away now will pay off handsomely down the line.

  • Trent Adams April 15, 2011, 2:52 am

    Thanks for the encouragement. I stopped back in to fortify my resolve. In the middle of my work time on Demand today, a banner popped announcing yet another major references change for Livestrong. Your comments about the NRC helped me laugh about it. Clearly, I’ve just received another sign. I’m so glad you’re here.

    I started a site on Blogger yesterday.

    • Felicia April 15, 2011, 6:38 am

      Good for you, Trent. Starting your own site is a step in the right direction.

  • Napoleon Suarez April 15, 2011, 5:18 pm

    Hey, Felicia. Thank you for preparing this. I work for an SEO company and I have been in a vacuum lately. We have been trying to figure out how the Panda update was affecting our industry, but it is really interesting to see how the update has affected bloggers everywhere.

    The major thing that I learned, though, is that it is time to get back to basics. We got too comfortable with making content for the search engines as opposed to people (hence your eHow reference.) I am glad to see that your advertising revenue has moved in a positive direction. Thanks for the inspiration.


  • Robert April 20, 2011, 1:47 am

    Hi, Felicia. First of all, thanks for providing such a great site. I’m an old print writer who’s slowly adjusting to the digital world, and insights from innovators like you help me a lot.

    I have three websites of my own that are up about 50% since Panda, revenues up about 40%. Many of my articles have been copied, some of them mangled beyond all recognition, but Google hasn’t punished me for others’ mischief.

    I started writing for Suite101 as an experiment last Friday, and I’m up to 500 page views and apparently a little revenue, so I think I’ll stick with them to see if I can’t make something substantial out of my efforts. But I have to tell you, I do yearn for the old $1 a word gigs I sometimes got (I mostly write books) in the 1990’s!

    I thoroughly enjoy your site. If there is ever any way I can helpful to you, please let me know.


    • Felicia April 20, 2011, 6:24 pm

      Robert, it sounds like you’re doing pretty well. My Suite numbers are so bad that I barely check them anymore. Good to hear that someone is making progress over at Suite.

      Thanks for the offer of help, Robert. It’s funny, my original online mentor was named Robert. Without him, I wouldn’t know half as much as I know now. I’ll look you up if I need help.

  • Robert April 21, 2011, 1:01 am

    I’m pleasantly surprised that my Suite101 numbers are continuing to improve at about the same rate, maybe 30-40% a day right now. I spend some time on Wordtracker looking for niche topics, and then I write about those I know at least a little about. Going on a thousand views, however, has yet to earn the first dollar. On my personal site, my CPM is about $14-15, and it actually went up sharply last month.

    My own mentor told me “Don’t waste time reading or writing derivative works.”

    I really love your site. Thanks again.

    • Felicia April 22, 2011, 6:54 am

      Robert, that is where I have a slight problem with Suite. You mention that your articles are nearing 1,000 views and have yet to earn. Your personal site with a CPM of $14 – $15 seems to be a wise investment of your time.

      By doing a little keyword research and creating my own blog, my brand new site (created 4/1/11) has reached a modest 1,400 views but has earned $54.78. The site currently has 14 pages. I’ve slacked off this week because of Spring Break. I’ll get back to adding more content next week.

      In the same period of time my 269 Suite articles received 13,400 page views and I have earned $94.77. My Suite articles are earning, but not very efficiently. The numbers always tell the story.

      Writing for Suite is good for exposure and page views (sort of) but not so good for earnings. When I wanted to get the word out about the defective Ford Windstar Subframe, writing placing an article about it on Suite did much to spread the word. I received a lot of feed back from people in high places. The article did exactly what I wanted it to do. It didn’t do much for earning money, but I didn’t write that article for money.

      Suite has its merits, but earning money with them at this point in time, doesn’t seem to be one of them. Things may eventually straighten out, but in the meanwhile, I’ll use it as a “get the word out” type of site. Making money from it is secondary.

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