Beyond Demand Studios

I have decided to blow off Demand Studios for a while. Some of that simply coincided with the creative blahs that left this blog unattended for a week. But most of it had to do with money.

DS pays a flat fee of $5-20 for a 250-500 word article – preferably with photos. I decided from the get-go that they didnt pay me enough to find photos for them. But they had some topics on the list that I actually had an interest in, so I wrote them up, and the money appeared in Pay Pal. All well and good.

But what they purchased for less than a penny a word was All Rights. So I can’t re-use that material elsewhere, which – so you know – is the staple of free-lance profitability. The difference between a hobby and a living is the ability to sell an article (or at least a version of it) several different times.

My stuff about headlamps and forest rangers appears on Trails.com, if you care. But I’ve been paid off and have no incentive to actively promote the content.

Angela Hoy of Writer’s Weekly did a long expose on DS recently, and while I didn’t learn anything I didn’t already know, the fire kinda went out after I read it. I don’t care the Freelancewriting.com is in cahoots with DS. I don’t really mind that DS makes a lot of money (a lot!), though I think they’d be better served sharing a little more with the writers.

To be fair, Deborah Ng, of freelancewriters.com objects to Hoy’s characterizations.

DS claims proficient writers can earn above minimum wage, which runs contrary to my experience. Of course, I am notorious for over-research. If I knew the subject of a $20 article, and could bang it out off the top of my head, this would be true. But that seems the exception for just about every writer.

I do not, as a matter of policy, track writing income by the hour. On that basis, I make far more money as a stagehand – let alone a technical director – than writing anything. I calculate income by the published word.

Now, factor in that I don’t have to query – they pick the topics. BUT factor in my time slogging through their long (and slow-loading) topic list, chock full of unclear, troublesome prompts. Well, still easier than concocting a 250 word query.

Even so, $.04/word – max – is below my minimum rate – which is based on first rights, not all rights, and never includes photos (always extra!).

I’m not saying I’ll never write for them again. After all, the check cleared. I’m just saying that I’m not that hungry – and I don’t anticipate getting that hungry.

Web writing in general pays a fraction of what free-lancers have become accustomed to from magazines. But the web isn’t dying – its growing, Magazines are having the opposite experience. So I ask myself, do I want to fight with all the other veteran freelancers for a hold on the last parts of the ship still above water? Or do I cast about looking for a new way to stay afloat on what has become a very different ocean?

(The metaphor’s a mess – I know. This blog is always a first draft. You get what you pay for. )

I’m not the only one trying to figure this out.

Meanwhile, after 23 articles, my Examiner earnings are still below what I grossed in 9 articles for DS. But that will eventually reverse. And my Examiner experiment is more of self-education about SEO than serious revenue generation.

And I just took a gig blogging about the suns for phxsunsnews.com for a rate so low I dare not speak of it. But that’s largely recreational.

I’m thinking about starting a blog covering the sea-change in short non-fiction. Since I’m desperately trying to keep track of it anyway.

But I’m not making any promises – unless  you’re writing me a check.

Now you know.

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Panic and Pride and ignoring the circus

The circus elephants dance backstage. They’re fond of dance-pop.

Other than that, I’ve been trying to ignore the circus at the USAC this week as much as possible. It’s not that hard: if the spots work – I can go hide. So I do.

Let me now debunk the legend I heard today that bra sizes originated in the army. in the 1930’s, Maidenform was the first company to actually make bras in different sizes (small, medium and full) but Warner Brothers Brassiers (no relation to the movie conglomerate) devised the alphabetical size categories that have become industry standards.

See how the internet improves our lives?

Yes. Its true. Had the Suns held on the Shawn Marion, letting him walk at the expiration of his contract, they would have saved more money than the humiliating Shaq “trade” (neither of the players they received from Cleveland are expected to be on the roster next season). These are the wages of Panic and Pride.

We’re not even to the all-star break, and you can write off the D-backs. Hows this for historically perverse: “Can’t wait for Cardinals season, so that we can see our team win once in a while…”

For the writers: Book Marketing 101

And lost in all the Micheal Jackson Is Still Dead nonsense – the state of Arizona is either going to pass the most regressive budget in my lifetime or shut down completely by July 1st. Flat tax. Elimination of the property tax that provides the bulk of the money for the most poorly funded state education system in the nation. I am understating how bad this is. More on this later.

Now you know.

Ambition impaired by relative contentment

Probably the single biggest reason I’m not a full-time writer is that I still enjoy my dayjob. Consider: it’s 3am, I’ve been sandbagged into pulling what essentially amounts ot a double shift, and I’m out in a parking lot banding pallets full of plastic flooring together. And I’m still having fun.

Not sex-on-the-beach kinda fun, but I enjoy doing things and being helpful. And I haven’t played with a banding crank since my day-labor days back in the late 80’s.

Now, if a big-enough deal falls into my lap, I could walk away from my job the next day and feel hunky-dory about it, but the odds of that are microscopic.

On my other blog: the coming fire season, the sad story of Macho B, and the grim realities of freelancing with feelings.

Are We Lost Yet?

My Beloved Suns beat Sacramento handily in front of a half-empty arena. Meanwhile, the Dallas Mavericks lost to the even lowlier Grizzlies. That leaves the Mavs 3 games up with six to go, and hosting the Suns on Sunday. Nothing is settled yet.

How did we live without the internet:

How to choose a urinal in a public restroom.

Wii baseball flat out cheats once you get to the pro level. I’m not just talking about how “Sakura” can throw 100+ mph or a inside screwball that would take three different hands for a human using a controller. I mean there is a Japanese strike zone which shrinks or expands according to the conceived competence of the pitcher. Except for Sakura, who can get a strike from a pitch in the dirt.

Just venting. Maybe I should break down a buy a new game…

Now you know.

Weed-Whacking in a Stupor

In the city of Phoenix, when one neighbor calls to complain about the condition of another neighbor’s yard, that activates an Area of Effect weapon. The city inspects everyone in the neighborhood, and fines accordingly. So while someone undoubtedly intended to report the dereclict and unoccupied house next door, my wife had to talk the city out of fining us as well.

Thus, between 20 hour days, I was weed-whacking in a stupor.

You can’t really let your junior age kids do the weed-whacking when fines are at stake. They did most of the raking, though. Teach them to gloat about having no homework.

I woke up in a hotel room in Prescott Valley Sunday morning, and really, really wished I had been camping instead. Sigh…

I’m not entirely TV free – yet. I watched the ASU women win their game Saturday with teamwork and defense and simply wearing out the higher-ranked Texas A&M squad with hockey-style substitution patterns. Then I watched the Suns lose to the sub .500 Kings by doing just the opposite.

I’ll watch ASU’s next game (Don’t get your hopes up too high – UConn is undefeated for a reason), but I’m done with the Suns this week.

Now you know

No Lead is Safe

When the Dallas Mavericks dashed out of the USAC 15 days ago with a win and a five game lead for the 8th play-off position, we all threw our hand up in despair. The Suns had lost 5 straight at that point, and they would lose a 6th to Cleveland a few nights later. It was over. When does baseball start?

The Suns just beat the Utah Jazz to win their sixth straight. They are now 3 behind the Mavs with 11 games to go, one of them in Dallas. At the Suns Charity dinner (last post), coach Alvin Gentry promised the blue-blooded crowd that his Suns “will catch the Mavericks…”

I’m not saying that’s going to happen. But it seems like its going to be close enough to be worth watching. (The Dallas game is Sunday, April 5th.)

Looking for the Wed Night Meet-up notes? Look here.

The President will speak at the ASU commencement. Just when we thought May might be slow for us…

Now you know.

More “Careful What You Wish For”

For the last week I’ve lived the life I always said I wanted (within limts – these are the goals I could realistically hope for) a few years ago.

It’s fun – no doubt. But its exhausting. So whileI slept that off,my wife hoarked my laptop to do her homework, capping of an already considerable delay.

I rebuilt two of the five gates to my yard. That was never really a life goal, but I’m glad I got it done.

gate-perspectiveThe photo shows the other gate for contrast.

I attended a book signing and then went home ad slapped together a marketing survey for what I hope is my next book. Good News/Bad News there: The survey contained the info they wanted to see, but, despite selling out at the book signing, I’ve only sold 94 copies from national book chains – where most copies are sold. <sigh…>

My book proposal is a similar format covering the Coconino National Forest, which includes outdoor hotspots of Sedona and Flagstaff. But if the original sn’t moving, there’d be less appettite for a sequal.

The again, they made Starship Troopers II.

I’m fairly certain I was the only author at the book signing with an actual publisher who paid me (in advance). Everyone else was self-published.

I took ten copies and walked out with none, BUT I sold seven copies to people I already knew, including my stepmother who bought four copies because she’s a compulsive gift-giver. So it goes.

Then I had the chance to design and run a moving light show for the first time in two years.

samia-09

That’s from the 2009 Suns Charity Dinner. The performer is Tamia Hill (wife of Suns forward Grant Hill, but equally talented in her sphere).

By all accounts it well (despite Suns players appearing briefly as “guest vocalists”).

DO NOT daisy chain DMX between Studio Colors and Mac 2000’s. You might think that because Mac’s have 3pin (and 5pin) DMX that this would work out like DMX signal is supposed to. That assumption leads to daring do on an A-frame ladder at 3am. Studio Colors do not play nice with newer DMX units. I dimly remember running into this barrier before – but I wasn’t in charge.

On a related note, I have long known from an experience so bad its comic now, that you cannot use Atomic strobes as 3pin-5pin DMX adapters.

The key to executing looks quickly with moving lights is to set useful groups and then map out all your positions first. Creating looks after that is just a few steps more (mainly gobos, and their FX) than doing it with conventionals.

Oh, and operating a Grand MA lighting console is not at all like riding  a bike.

I’m also pretty sure this was the first time in 3 years I had a competent ME helping hang my design who wasn’t myself.

I’m sitting in catering, trying to gulp down some outstanding salmon in the ten minutes I had to eat, when Suns owner Robert Sarver burst in the room, slapped me on the back (because I was closest to the door, I suspect) and exhorted us all that we should have fun doing whatever we do.

I’ve also been pushing The Game ahead (I may add a page just for that). I’m still plowing through a working revision of the rules. I have a formula for aging (and associated stat loss), rather than a table, and this pleases me. I also have an spreadsheet summarizing the damage system, which I’ve been wanting to fabricate for as long as I;ve been thinking I ought to just rebuild the damn gate.

Two good sites:

The Space Site for clear, readable extrapolations of the possibilities beyond our planet and

Technovlegy : a compendium of ideas from SF, and who came up with them first.

Now you know.

One

The Nash Era: Exit Whining

You can get drunk with a friend over Facebook chat. Does this make me tech savvy now? (and that’s why there was no update last night…)

“We have to find a way to play with pride and play for each other.” – Steve Nash (last night)

You think?

Every one of the last 5 games was winnable. All were lost by a few possessions. The Suns are a great team for 42 minutes.

While it is still mathematically possible for the Suns to make the play-offs after last night’s debacle against Dallas, it is no longer plausible. The championship window on the Nash-era Suns has just slammed closed. Sarver will blow this team up over the summer and no one is safe.

Two bad decisions:

The Shaq trade.

Letting Mike D’Antoni leave for New York.

One decision rooted in fear and one decision rooted in pride – both of which are poor criteria.

Every decision after that has been damage control. Nobody’s happy. The Nash era is down to 18 games with nothing left to play for but pride, and precious little of that.

Good thing baseball’s starting soon.

Now you know.