by Lyn Lomasi, Staff Writer
Many factors go into determining upfront offers and those factors can differ depending on several things. While following this guide may not guarantee that you will receive higher upfront payments, you may see greater opportunities within the network by adhering to the following suggestions. The key is not necessarily to increase every single upfront payment, but to maximize the opportunities available, as well as maximize performance payments.
What is an upfront payment and what content is eligible?
An upfront payment is an initial payment for rights to the content. This is any payment that occurs outside of (and before) the Performance Payment that most content is eligible for. An upfront payment can be made for both solicited and unsolicited content. Assignments for various Yahoo! verticals can come with a higher upfront than unsolicited content. Exclusive, Non-Exclusive, and Display-Only are the three most common rights options. However, there can be others as well, such as Work for Hire. Display-Only content is not eligible for an upfront payment, whether solicited or unsolicited.
Focus on a specific issue
When you have a tight focus on one topic, readers are more likely to be looking for your content. Think about the things you look for when searching the Web. For instance, instead of general tips on pet adoption, you may want something geared specifically toward the pet you are considering adopting. Write your articles on specific subjects that will be relevant and useful to readers looking for that topic.
Follow assignment details
If you claim an assignment (targeted or general), be sure you follow the exact instructions. That means if the instructions say something different from any advice herein, defer to the assignment. When editors see that you can follow all assignment details reliably, they may be more likely to offer you future opportunities.
Do your research
When you need to back up your content with facts, be sure they are from reliable sources. Also, make sure to cite those sources properly, according to submission guidelines and any assignment guidelines. Using multiple sources also helps to build credibility. Wherever possible, use Yahoo! sources, especially within the vertical for which you're writing (excluding user-generated sources, such as Associated Content).
Examine the intended website
Study the Yahoo! website you are interested in. Think of topics that could work well there but are not yet covered. Having an idea of what could potentially align with a particular property can give you a greater chance at upfront opportunities. Being unique is key. That means that you don't want to submit something you already see covered on the property. Instead, try submitting something that works well alongside existing content, provides a new angle, or has not been covered at all but could appeal to that property's audience.
Consider the audience behind the topic
Are you writing about parenting? What stages? Think of the age of the kids you're writing about - and then think of what ages the parents are likely to be; they are your most likely audience, and you should cater your content to them. The tone and style used in your article should be something readers can identify with. For instance, if you are writing an article for kids, using complicated business terms is not going to keep them reading. Upfront payments are more likely on content that shows attention to detail in this and other areas.
Personalize the experience
When you write an article, readers should see the real person behind the story. At the same time, you don't want to ramble about something that has nothing to do with the subject matter. Find that perfect level at which the article provides the information needed with relevant personalization where it fits in with the main point of the article. For instance, if I'm writing an article about picking the perfect daisies, instead of telling a long story about a time when I picked daisies, I would mention how I determine which daisies to pick. I would do that in a way that readers can tell I am knowledgeable and passionate. But it would also need to be something readers can benefit from to answer their questions. When you can use your own unique experience and style, readers can relate more easily. But at the same time, you don't want to say so much that they get bored and click away.
Focus on evergreen material
Focusing on evergreen material is one way to maximize upfronts. Evergreen content is that which will draw a reader's interest for long periods of time, such as unique ways to solve common parenting issues. Evergreen slants can also be applied to trending topics. Some editors may value those topics that have a longer shelf life. This is not to say that other content will not be valued, as articles with a shorter shelf life can be useful as well. They each have their own place and are both great ways to maximize upfronts in different ways. Getting the most out of upfront opportunities often involves taking advantage of more than one way to earn.
Pay attention to spelling, grammar, and style
Category and vertical style guides are used for many assignments that offer upfront pay. For the best chances at getting those assignments accepted, be sure to follow them closely. This also goes for any and all other instructions mentioned within the assignment details. Proofreading, even after using spelling and grammar checkers, has always been a lifesaver for me when writing for Yahoo!. Programs can miss little things, such as skipped words or typos that are actual words but not words you intended to use.
Optimize your content for the Web
Studying "The Yahoo! Style Guide" is a great way to learn basic html, grammar, editing, formatting, and style as it all pertains to writing for the Web. Content submitted via Yahoo! Contributor Network must be publish-ready. While some content may be edited slightly, never rely on editors to fix poor writing. If your writing needs to be thoroughly edited, it is much better to study up so that your submissions are more likely to get upfronts than declines. You can then submit at a later date when your skills allow you to submit content that is more in line with the platform's needs. Good Web content displays certain qualities. Apart from being interesting, it must be easy for a wide audience to read. It also must be easily found by search engines. Keep your articles concise and informative in an easy-to-scan format. Web readers often look for something that answers their question quickly and accurately in an engaging manner. For more on writing for the web, start with the Contributor Academy course titled "Writing for the Web 101". The Yahoo Style Guide is also an invaluable resource.
Maximizing upfront payments is about taking advantage of the many ways to earn. It's also about covering your bases all-around. A solid article is not just well written, but also speaks to the intended audience, giving them exactly the information they expected and needed in a clean, easy-to-scan format.
More from Lyn:
Maximizing Performance Payments on the Yahoo! Contributor Network
How Much Money Can I Make Writing for Yahoo! Contributor Network?
Why Am I Not Making Money at Yahoo! Contributor Network? Page Views, Offers, and More
**Image credit/copyright: Lyn Lomasi
***I originally published this content at Yahoo Voices on 10/5/2011:
Help! I Can't Stop Writing!
by Lyn Lomasi, Staff Writer
Help! I can't stop writing! I told myself I wouldn't write anything for a couple days - you know, actually take a break for more than errands and doing things with the kids. Well, here I am doing it anyway. Writing is such an addiction. I am so addicted to writing that I asked Facebook friends for tips on how not to be productive. Then, it came to me. I could write an article about not being able to stop writing. See, I'm doing it again! It's a never-ending cycle.
Every time I do something - anything - an article idea arises. So much for not writing today. I guess I'll have to try again tomorrow or would that be the following day instead? This is my life as a natural born writer and natural born multitasker. Sure it's my career. But I love writing so much I want to do it all the time. No, I don't just want to. I have to. I even write tips on how other people can write more often like I do.
Oh no! Somebody stop me! I'm spreading the workaholic addiction! I even became a volunteer Community Guide (and later, community staff) at Yahoo! Contributor Network so I could teach others my addictive techniques. What will I do next (queue scary music)? Ooh, it is getting close to Halloween. Time to start writing some Halloween articles. See what I mean, the ideas just never end!
Natural multitasking and a love for writing is a very dangerous combination. I should know. I have mastered writing large numbers of articles quickly and even writing on multiple computers to speed productivity.
Can somebody please help? Seriously. Alright, in all honesty, I really don't want help on this front. But wait, doesn't that prove the addiction even further? Oh well. I'm already too far gone for help at this point.
OK, so I'm just having fun and it's not really that bad. But sometimes us writers do wish we could turn off the ideas in our heads just for a little while. Writing does feed and clothe my family and it keeps me really happy. A happy mom is a good mom, right? Yes, that's it! See, I don't need help at all!
So what should I write about next? Oh, never mind, I have plenty of ideas already!
**Photo Credit: Lyn Lomasi
** I originally published this content at Yahoo! Voices on July 17, 2010.
Empower Your Peers
(c) Lyn Lomasi
by Lyn Lomasi, Staff Writer
Are you competing too much with your peers? Trying to keep up with their writing success so you can match or exceed it? If so, you're doing it wrong. Completely. Why are you in competition with your writing peers when you can empower them instead?
But Lyn, if I empower my peers, they'll beat me at my own game, won't they? I know that's what you're going to ask because it's been asked of me countless times.
I've been in web writing a long time. There is no competition. I repeat, we are not here to compete with each other. Be unique. Be you. Be true. Be helpful. But don't be a poor sport. The most successful web writers work together as a team to help each other succeed. Trust me, there is plenty of work for us all and then some. There is no shortage of content needs and each writer has their own style and topic strengths.
Empower your writing peers by teaching them what you know, as well as encouraging them when you can tell they need a push. What's in it for me, you say? If you're actually asking this question, you just don't get it. It's not about credit or paybacks. It's about working together to empower each other and build something awesome, be it a large venue or a small blog where a few of you contribute.
What if someone helps you and can't help them? Once again, this isn't about paybacks. It's about working as a team. If you want to be of service, pay it forward to another writer who could use the kind of help you offer.
have you empowered a fellow writer today? If not, get on it!
by Lyn Lomasi, Staff Writer
Just discovered Yahoo! Contributor Network (YCN)? Perhaps you've been there a while and are ready to take it more seriously. The most common question I get as a peer mentor and Community Advocate is "How much money can I make writing for Yahoo! Contributor Network?" The answer to that question depends on you and here's why.
What is your average upfront offer? This will help you determine how many articles you should be writing per day to earn the figure you are looking for. You may want to start out with a low figure, such as $20 per day. As your skills increase, so should your earning amount per day. You may also find that within time, the number of articles you have to write to get to your daily goal decreases as your upfront offers go up. There are also assignments that come with higher upfront offers than unsolicited work. When those come along, it will take even less articles to get to your daily money goal.
How many articles can you write in a day? Knowing the average number of articles you can produce daily can help you figure out what you should expect to earn as a Yahoo! contributor. Because payment will vary for each article, you may want to keep the number of articles you write in a day a little higher than what you think you need to write. If you can't handle writing the number you would need to in order to earn what you want to, you may not do very well at YCN or in article writing in general.
How well do your articles perform? Are your articles getting a good amount of views? If not, study up on SEO skills to increase your performance bonus. Some people like to add this in the equation when calculating their monthly earnings. I prefer not to count it so that it ends up being a bonus. However, if you want to use this as part of the earnings potential equation, look at the average amount you earn each month and add that to your total from upfronts.
Can you be consistent? This is extremely vital if you want to make money writing for YCN. If writing articles is not something you can do all the time, then you cannot make a living doing it. You've likely heard people say that article writing is an easy way to make money. It is -- if writing is easy for you. If not, then you may need to look elsewhere or learn to adapt real quick.
What are people searching for at the moment? This falls in line with the performance equation. If you write about big blue bunnies and it happens to be a popular topic at that moment, you will likely receive more views (thus make more money) than you would if you write about tiny yellow chicks when no one is interested in that at the moment. That said there are also timeless topics, which most web writers refer to as 'evergreen' topics. Those are the common things people search for all the time, like puppy care tips or household hints.
How are your writing skills? If you don't have writing skills, you are not going to make much, if any, money writing for YCN. You need to be able to have decent grammar and spelling skills in order to expect decent upfront payments. If you want readers and staff to take you seriously, you better be able to form sentences that make sense. Otherwise, you are not going to earn top dollar for your thoughts. If your writing skills are especially bad, expect to receive rejections until you can learn how to pull it together. The Yahoo! Style Guide is a great resource for basic grammar and style guidelines. But if you need more than the basics, grammar and writing classes will be very beneficial to your writing career.
Earnings are up to you. Because there are a variety of ways to earn at YCN, it's hard to give people an exact figure. However, the fact that exact earnings per article are not set in stone also leaves earning limits up to the writer. That's you. The limit to your earnings is determined by what you are willing and able to do. One person may be able to write ten articles per day and another may only be able to write one. Of course, both may still make a similar amount if that one article gets more views and/or a better offer than the ten.
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Lyn Lomasi is founder and owner of the Brand Shamans Content Community. Services include ordained soul therapy and healing ministry, business success coaching, business success services, handcrafted healing jewelry, ethereal and anointing oils, altar and spiritual supplies and services, handcrafted healing beauty products, and more!
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