The Dog Pound Rocks

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LinkedIn

 

Check out the new addition to my LinkedIn profile!

Yes, I managed to earn enough writing points (by essentially selling enough posts) to get up to Level 5. Wahoo! I originally hoped to make it there in June, but I’ve continually surpassed my writing goals these first 3 months. This will come to a crashing HALT in June thanks to a weekend flag football passing league tournament and then a trip to San Jose – but I still think I should reach Level 7 by the end of the year.

Why does Blogmutt work so well for me?

First of all, because there’s NO *requirements*. I can write as little or as much as I want. I’m averaging out to a little more than a post a day (89 days since I started and I’ve written 95 posts). The only person it impacts if I don’t write for several days is me since I am paid by the post and nothing else.

Secondly, there are SO MANY customers to choose from that there is no way you will get bored. I write about VIN reports, whey protein, CPAs, Bookkeeping, interviewing, web design, outdoor kitchens, area rugs, skin care treatments, fitness coaching, and many more topics. It is so interesting to do research on things I’ve never heard of before, but are actually quite useful!

Thirdly, I love the format. 300-400 words on a topic chosen by the client. Go to their website to get a feel for their product and the overall vibe. Check out prior accepted posts and comments they have made and also check out the rejects to see what I should avoid. Find some recent, relevant articles on the topic to learn more and use as a launching off spot for my own post. I tend to match up well with customers looking for something pretty simple and organized and clear. I’m not a terribly fluffy or imaginative writer. Some of the other mutts are! Oh man, are they creative and fantastic! But, I know my skills and my weaknesses so I have spent my time matching myself up with clients who want my style.

The best part? It’s all anonymous! We have no direct contact with the customers at all. Sure, when the posts are purchased, they get published on the web without our names attached (no official byline), but I really don’t care about that! This arms length system means that a rejection has minimal impact other than to be annoying. I take nothing personally at all. Of those 95 posts, 7 have been rejected. The really cool thing is that once a post is rejected it reverts back to being the writer’s property, and I can repurpose it for another client with similar keywords.

OK, I lied, anonymity is not THE best part – nope, that would be the Dog Pound aka, The Writer’s Forum. That is where all of the writers can post questions and advice and encouragement to each other. Tips and tricks are shared constantly as are challenges to fill up customer’s queues each week. Those writers are just a fantastically supportive bunch.  It’s awesome because it COULD be competitive as there is a bit of an aspect to the process that means we are sometimes writing for the same client at the same time, and one writer’s post could be bumped down in favor of another. But honestly I have never felt a bit of that! There are so many opportunities with so many customers that you just move on to the next one that catches your eye.

I credit the BlogMutt owner’s for that. They have made it rewarding (with the points levels) and fun. They respond to questions and requests quickly and really stick up for the writer’s when needed. They also keep a good balance between an available customer pool and the total number of writers. In fact, if anything right now we need MORE writers because they have been going gangbusters at signing on new customers!

So, this is my recommendation and an appeal – if you have ever thought about doing any kind of freelance writing to make a little extra $, then this is the place: https://www.blogmutt.com/pages/writer

You will have fun, learn a TON, become a better writer and have some gas money. When I send my invoice this weekend that will put me at an even $600 since I started. Do the math – that’s a tank of gas a week.

Or, in this case, the invoice I will send out will end up paying for the football cleats that I ordered for my son this week.

Yup – mama’s buying him a new pair of shoes with her BlogMutt earnings!

 

May 28th – Pattern broken but writing done!

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I toyed with pushing myself up this morning to run again. Keep that even day in may pattern going. But..since I did do that track workout yesterday and my toe is not 100% I decided it was OK to skip today and switch things around. I’ll still run every other day. The goal is to run before work tomorrow.  I’m OK with that. Will be interesting to see what my total miles for May will end up being!

I lounged, had breakfast and that went head first into writing again by 10am.

In fact, here’s where I have been pretty much all day Saturday and today:

Writing space for the weekend

I am very thankful that 15 was scheduled to be with his dad for this three day weekend. It allowed me to take over what is normally his main computer space. Those papers scattered all around me were the references I’ve found that helped me increase the quality of the instructions in the guide. I feel a lot better about the product now. I’ll admit to feeling fairly apprehensive about the first version because I knew there were gaps and places where I was clearly “vamping” to keep the word count healthy. Luckily, of the 19 books sold only two had to be refunded. One due to a third party vendor failure (the customer never received the files and by the time we could respond to offer a direct link, he had started the refund process). The other is an odd one. Someone bought the book, then 30 minutes later requested a refund directly from us stating the information was “amateurish.” Oh, that hurt, but I couldn’t argue too much! However, it took us several hours to be able to initiate the refund (we do work after all) and in that time frame, what neither of us noticed is that he accessed link to the book files about a dozen more times! In fact, he literally “trolled” the site every day for three days even after we had refunded him and then disconnected his access to the file link. Weirdo! So I almost don’t count him as a “dissatisfied” customer. Not that he needed to grab the files so many times. Once he downloaded it if he wanted to share it print it out a bazillion times he could. There’s nothing we can do about those scenarios. The lesson we learned is to go ahead and wait 24 hours before initiating a refund and watching the site stats first.

The point is – I am no longer nervous about any of that. The 6000+ words in the book are all now *quality* and so are the website pages (most of them at least…still have a couple of deeper pages to update)

Yeah, between the book, fresh pages, supporting blog posts and oh yeah, writing in this place I figure I’ve pounded out a cool 10,000 words between Saturday and today!

Phew!

I did have enough brain power afterwards to go to the grocery and do laundry – aren’t you impressed?

And now – I am going to sit my ass on that sofa and surf the 1000s of channels for some mindless crap on TV.

Toodles.

May 27th – Cranky Toes and Testing

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Jacaranda Tree

Starting off with the beauty since the rest of the day was pretty lacking in it.

Ok, not entirely true, the beach I whizzed by in the car on the way to and from work was pretty darn gorgeous but there was no chance to stop and take a photo.

The jacaranda tree is the one in the yard next door to mine and I have been noticing on my runs around the area that they purple flowers are in full bloom right now. Really lovely.

The cranky toe tale: Last month I bitched about my toe nail that sort of turns in strangely and digs into the side of the neighboring toe on my right foot. This never bothered my last year while running, but for some reason it started in this year and if I don’t file that one down on a weekly basis it seems it will be an issue. Sure enough I lagged on the grooming and paid for it today.

We met up at the middle school track at 6:30am to do a 90 minute track workout. I love those because they let me work on my speed in the perfect environment. Flat, soft track with lanes to follow. Boring yes, but since we do rounds of sprints in various distances the monotony doesn’t set in.

Today it was 4 1 mile runs at 5k speed for me. Since it was 4, which is longer than I usually go, I tried to pull off my effort and keep my pace at right around 10 min miles. I only achieved that once. The other three times were between 9:25-9:50. And even then one of the things that was making me alter my pace was that I could feel my toe nail digging in 😦 Right on that first mile. Ugh! I decided to just run through it, the damage was already done so other than a bloody sock I might as well push through. Well, this time the toe issue added in a bonus entire top of the toe and down one side blister. Wee! I limped home and showered and got it cleaned up and generally tended to and bandaged for the rest of the day.

Since today is an odd number date and I did want to complete the even number day pattern and run again tomorrow, I really hope the toe is OK quickly. Or maybe I just go back to the track and go slow and easy. I know I *will* use that track for speed workouts again. I really want to run a true no stopping 5k and see how fast I can go.

Anyway….back home and got the update that testing was going so well that we would probably be able to start before noon so I went in. It took longer than I thought it would and we weren’t done until after 2:30. A couple of glitches of course, but I think they got them all worked through by 5pm.

That’s about it. Been doing market research at Eve’s the rest of the night and getting frustrated at every turn. This client is gonna be sorely disappointed if we turn in another round of “sorry, but your idea sucks!”

I’m hoping for some serious sofa time tomorrow.

It’s much more likely that I will end up finishing the ebook 😉

Motivation – sometimes I have too much!

 

May 26th – My writing writing writing motivation

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But first….

The *plan* today was to lounge as usual during Uppers, then run on the 56 trail avoiding the extreme hills for a change, then shower, then start writing, then eventually head over E & R’s place for afternoon working and dinner.

That latter bit didn’t quite happen, but I did have a really really enjoyable run. I used to whine about the rolling hills on the trail, but after three straight weeks now of running the ass kicking hills around my block, those gentle hills finally do seem – gentle! I didn’t want to overdo it since we have a longer run workout tomorrow but I did run for 3.3 miles over 35 minutes and honestly felt fantastic the whole time. I enjoyed the smell of the chaparral, the bird songs and even getting to see some of the little songsters as well as many butterflies. There was a lot of activity in general on the trail including a little girl being led around on one of the local horses that board along the trail.

After the usual post running routine and a few chores, I sat down to write.

OK, so why am I embarking on this writing and web business development journey? Is it just for money?

Well, since in the last 9 months I’ve made a grand total of $400 on it – no, not entirely! Is there a damn good chance of more money than that? Absolutely!

But that’s not everything. I have never in my life been about money for the sake of money only. If so, I would have gone on to get my MBA or my CPA license.

No, I truly truly LOVE what I do at NU. And I have found out since working with Eve, that I also really really LOVE this writing thing!

OK, so technically it is copy writing that I am doing along with (so far) a how to manual.

But I am also learning. And I have always loved learning. It’s why I read so much. Mostly online of course, but still doing the best I can to read magazines and books.

Do I *want* this to replace my day job? Not at all – at least not yet! I need and love my day job for what it is: financial security, benefits, retirement accounts, an awesome work environment and something completely different from writing. It’s like I get to use both sides of my brain nearly equally through the day. Balance. Love it!

Since I do have a means to support myself already, (and so does Eve), we are not desperate to start something and screw it all up. We can take our time and go through the proper steps and make mistakes and learn from them and it isn’t life or death.

Given all those reasons why I am enjoying this, I was actually not terribly disappointed when it became clear as the day unfolded that the girls would not be able to meet tonight. I started in on a new version of the ebook at 11am and I didn’t stop until 7pm. There are 9 chapters, 8 needed to be completely re-written or replaced and I am plowed through 6 of them today. I stopped at 7 because I could feel myself getting tired of the topic which means I would start cutting corners and I don’t want to do that. No, I’ll let this sit.

Tomorrow will probably be an off day from pergola topics. Got the message that the upgrade is going along as planned so I will need to get into NU at noon. We are running at 6:30. I’ll be at NU for 3-4 hours. I really really need to buy groceries. If we meet at all it will be on the topic of other business sites. It’s a three day weekend so I’ll pick this up Monday and probably finish it and even still have time to sit in the sun.

Enough rambling – lord, I’ve writing a bazillion thousand hundred words today! Have some not unexpected beautiful lavender flowers:

 

May 25th – Losing Steam

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Uh oh – I guess I should be impressed that I maintained my motivation to write in here every day for this long!

I was literally in bed before I remembered tonight.

Can you blame me? It’s Friday. It’s been an intense week. I left work after FINALLY training with my co-worker on her tasks about as late as we possibly could today. If anything at all goes wrong in this upgrade process this weekend and we cannot start testing until after 2pm Sunday, then I have to cover two systems. That’s fine – but I haven’t worked on a daily basis in the Asset Management side in several years and I really needed a refresher. I’ll be fine, but let’s all of us out there in internet land cross our fingers for a smooth process ok?

Meanwhile, after spending every night this week heading out *somewhere* I was just thrilled to get home and not have to go anywhere.

The problem is that I did have to write. Just studying the first module of the web business design class has reinforced to me how much the site AND the ebook need upgrades. To my dear friend who amusingly pointed out that having the read the word “pergola” in every other sentence was jarring – I agree! Thankfully the focus on heavily laden keyword articles for SEO placement is falling away. Now I get to write for CONTENT, simply placing the keywords in more naturally occurring places. I was fighting that all along so this will be much easier. But, it also means yet more re-writing. Argh!

So after a rather disappointing Bistro Meal package dinner of shrimp risotto, I got down to the business of improving the business. Two new website articles and the first chapter of the ebook are revamped and I’ve got the new chapter titles and approximate order of them assigned.

After all that I watched the season finale of Glee 🙂 Needed the total focus shift. I still love that show. It’s more of a guilty pleasure now and other’s have fallen off the trendy bandwagon (especially since some episodes did sink into silliness), but I still laugh and cry and smile and sing along with the songs. Kurt’s dad doing “Put a Ring On It”? Utterly, perfectly, touching and hysterical. Love those two characters and their interactions.

Anyhow – a moment of beauty – no pictures today. That would have meant I prepared! But, as I was typing away in the blissful silence of the house because all other occupants were gone…well THAT was a moment of beauty for sure. Then off in s distant corner of the room I heard a faint sound that is even more fabulous than silence.

It was Chip. Drinking water.

I could hear his kidneys continuing to heal with each exquisite lap of liquid.

Dream on my friends!

May 22 – Beauty in many forms

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SongSparrow0

SongSparrow1

This morning I was greeted on my run with the songs you can hear above. Over and over the Song Sparrows in the neighborhood were singin’ about the day getting started (and, I am sure, yapping about this crazy human huffin’ & puffin’ as she jogged past them!)

Here’s what they look like so you can picture them: (I didn’t see them, or take any photos. I was, after all, running!)

As hard as it is to get my Not Even CLOSE To A Morning Person ass out the door (took 15 minutes of internal debate to make it happen), I am always glad when I do. I love being out there in the morning. It’s quiet – so I can hear the birds instead of listening to cars whizz by. No one is mowing their lawn, no kids are in the park playing yet. The temperature is perfect this time of year. No wind, a little moisture from the overnight clouds, no hot sun, just cool comfortable running weather. It also just smells better. Probably the lack of exhaust belching cars again, but I swear I smelled the sweet scent of jasmine in one spot and sweat peas in another that I hadn’t noticed on the same route on Sunday.

My only complaint which will exist as long as I live here are the hills. Kick ass hills. Every damn route I take over 2.5 miles long that involves me just running out the front door vs driving somewhere means at least two 4/10 mile long uphill battles and one more about half that. And are they ever battles! What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? RIGHT?!  ‘Cause I am gonna get mighty strong doing this shit :->

A quick catch up on yesterday. Eve & Renee and I met for dinner and to brainstorm *seriously* about where we are taking these websites we are creating. Renee is involved now because she is determined to get into fitness coaching. Eve and I needed to solidify what, exactly we are doing with all this. We renewed our own commitment towards the long haul together on this with the intention of being a consulting team for future clients. But first, we need to prove we can do what we want to teach so that means getting a few different types of online business sites up and running profitably (including one to support Renee’s endeavor). We are taking a 5 month online course on the topic which really has us both amped up & excited about our prospects.

Also, what inspired me to look for unexpected moments of beauty yesterday was this site in my rear view mirror as I drove in to work:

Jaguar XK

Doesn’t it look like the car is smiling at you? It sure made me smile and then it reminded me of an Unexpected Beauty meme that I participated in a few years ago. Seemed like as good a week as any to bring it back around.

Oh hey – did you notice the new blog style? If you view this in a Reader probably not, but I did have some fun picking out something a little more spring-y simple and fun.

Had our first Varsity Football parent meeting tonight. Yep – Varsity! How did that happen? They started up with Spring Football – no pads or hitting – it’s essentially two hand touch. But, the skills players like 15 get to start running routes and plays and getting their timing together with their quarterbacks. We are not stressing about academic eligibility as much since we confirmed that his AP History class DOES count a grade higher as long as he has at least a C. We didn’t notice that rule last semester since he had a D ;-> But, he has a pretty solid C which he will most likely keep so he’s already over the thresh hold for fall sports as long as none of the existing grades falter.

And now I need to get back to reading this course module. One thing I’ve learned – I need to close the laptop in order to read and comprehend anything. I’m probably going to have to go over the material 2-3 times for it to sink into these old brain cells. Read it through once. Read it again taking notes and then listen to the audio version just to be sure I don’t miss anything. I’m pretty sure I smelled smoke as I dove into it earlier…yes, my brain is on FI-Yah!

Buzz buzz!

May 15th – Nada Mucho

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In my quest to learn as much as I can about web marketing and copy writing and those new adventurous things I’m trying to do to help me earn more money for things like, oh, cats and their clogged up bladders (ahem) – I watched part 1 of a video series specifically on copy writing. The first assignment from this lesson? Write. That’s it.

Just write.

The goal is 200 words a day on anything at all. I’m like “yeah, I got this!” – apparently my instinct towards pushing myself to write even about nothing every day was a good one. I have to admit that when I do sit down to compose something either in here or else on the other sites, I have found it much easier to simply get started. That often elusive first sentence tends to be right there waiting for me even on more technical topics. Speaking of which I will probably have to re-write the process documents at work with this new upgrade we launch in two weeks. I used to dread….and I mean DREAD those types of tasks. I would put it off as long as possible and much like essay assignments in school I would rather manually scrub an oven than do that!

Not anymore.

Kinda like running – the more I do it, the less I loathe it and heck, maybe I even like it a little (or, a lot!)

Case in point, I opened this window just after dinner – cooked again by 26 who made my mom’s special chicken teriyaki with veggies recipe – with the intention of writing something before 15 and I got into watching a 2 hour Glee. But, I got into research for improving on the pergola ebook and the next thing I knew it was 8:30 and we needed to start watching it in order to get to bed at the usual time. We finished the show at 10 (still love it!) and just as I went to turn out the lights I remembered by commitment to post every day. Normally, I would have grumbled and uttered some choice words, but instead I thought “no problem” and gave myself 15 minutes to drop some words on a screen.

The day itself was unremarkable which is pretty much the best kind. No drama. No tussling over homework. Chip did pee on the floor, but it seems more to have been mental since he’s otherwise showing no signs of a blockage and the vet did say that the feliway spray takes almost a month of application to fully stop the behavior no matter how it started.

427 – that’s how many words are up there after 10 minutes of typing. I don’t know whether or not I am getting *better* at this writing thing, but I do know it sure is a whole lot easier now.