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New Colorado Logo

September 4, 2013 Leave a comment

“Uninspiring.”

Hey, that’s what I said.

After a long process, and frankly, design by committee, Colorado ends up with a new branding logo that is… basic, plain, cliche, blah. Take your pick.

colorado logo brand

It cost $1.1 million in real dollars and $1.5 million in “pro-bono work.”

It’s a mountain (shocker) with a CO on it (the official state abbreviation). The color is the same green that’s been on the basic license plate since I was in elementary school. For all of that money and time, one has to wonder, couldn’t the local 4th graders have come up with basically the same thing?

Here are a couple of articles about it if you are interested in looking further into it:

Logo Design Love

and

The Denver Post

Banned in the USA, I Was Banned…

O.K., not really, but I was banned from WordPress.com.

Somehow, my account and several of my WordPress.com blogs got flagged as violating the TOS. All of my blogs are super innocuous. In fact, most of them are more neglected than anything. They all do, however, link to my other websites, and I’m guessing they do it just enough to trigger some anti-link scheme filter or something. The irony is that the sites they link to are much bigger, higher ranked, and so on, so there wouldn’t be TOO much value in it.

I sent in a help request about my account being shut off and they turned it back on.

That let me log in where I saw that several of my blogs were shut down. I’m assuming that too many bad blogs = disabled author account.

Getting those turned back on was a little easier. Each Dashboard had a link pointing me where to notify “the authorities.”

Everything is back on now. I won’t link anything from this post, just to be safe, but hopefully, I’m back in the clear for now.

Hopefully, my poor WordPress.com blogs won’t be so neglected from now on either 🙂

Demand Studios Eliminates Short Answer Writing Jobs?

October 20, 2010 Leave a comment

I do a little bit of writing for Demand Studios as a way to fill in my freelance writing business pipeline. When I really want to just punch something out to make a few bucks in between TV shows or while waiting for friends to show up at a restaurant or coffee shop, I’ll write some of the “Short Answer” freelance writing gigs offered on the website. They only pay $3, but they are literally two minute assignments if you don’t over-reach from what you either know, or know that you can find out very quickly.

Lately, however, there haven’t been any short answer writing assignments on Demand Studios. I’ve checked by selecting the AnswerBag website as the “publisher,” which is where I understand most of the short answer questions and answers end up. I’ve also tried selecting “short answer” as the format, and just for grins, even tried searching for $3 assignments. All three screens of results showed up empty.

Maybe I’m blocked from writing those, maybe they just don’t have any writing opportunities in that category right now, or maybe I’m doing it wrong (not likely, it’s pretty simple).

Then again, maybe Demand Studios is not making any money off of those short answer articles, or maybe Google’s ranking algorithm is finally doing something to find good search results other than just matching the title tag and counting up the number of automated links programed to each article by big websites with lots of pages to point links from.

Either way, I wrote this instead of earning $6 or $9 while waiting for my friends to show up. No big deal, but if you add up the number of times I do that each month, it actually might cost me a hundred bucks or so 🙂

I guess that I’ll live. Maybe I can start using that time to find higher paying writing gigs to send resumes to instead.

 

Bad Month Writing Freelance

October 11, 2010 Leave a comment

I had one of those months that almost makes you wish that you still had a day job instead.

Almost.

It all started with some business infrastructure problems in the form of an email server nightmare. I’ve always just used whoever was hosting my websites as my email provider and never thought any more about it than that. Once I had my email accounts setup in Thunderbird or another desktop email client like Zimbra, I made the terrible assumption that everything that hit my server was dutifully being passed along via IMAP or POP3.

I never bothered to re-check my POP3 settings for Gmail or my IMAP settings for other email accounts so long as email kept showing up in my email client. Unfortunately, just because some email was showing up, didn’t mean that all email was showing up. I probably lost out on some clients and had to do major damage control with some others.

Here are some of my recent published freelance writing articles at BrightHub.

Top 10 Windows 7 ScreenSavers

Windows 7 Media Center Review

Funny Thanksgiving Photos: Ideas & Tips

Sample Funeral Program Layout

Poems for Funeral Programs

Learn About Networking Windows 7 and XP

Solving Gmail Connection Problems

Tips for Creating a Funeral Program

Anyway, the moral of the story is to never take anything in your freelance writing business for granted. Check, double-check, and re-check.

Oh, and for your critical systems like email, you might want to consider paying a little extra for a specialized email provider with fully-skilled tech support waiting to not only help you if you notice something go wrong, but who can also proactively alert you if something might be going wrong.

Lesson learned.

Brian Nelson Writer News

Brian Nelson

Brian E Nelson Search Results

Well, that was fast. Sort of.

It seems that today, just three short days after deciding to get myself ranking higher for my own name, my brianenelson.com website comes back as the #1 Google search result if you search for brian e nelson in quotes. Things haven’t changed much in searches for brian nelson or, ironically, in searches for brian e nelson without the quotes.

I do my searches inside of an Incognito privacy mode on Google Chrome in order to remove the “personalization” factor in Google’s search result rankings. I can’t help but wonder if that isn’t enough. I think I’ll try again with a blank profile later this week when I set up my freelance writing office in a Starbucks. Interestingly, enough, the same search brings back this website and my last post about Brian E Nelson the writer and how I would be using things, like this WordPress.com blog to get myself up higher in searches for my own name. That shows just how meaningless this particular feat is. Without trying to link here (other than the existing links to the homepage) that post ended up #8.

Of course, that means that no one else is trying to rank for this particular “keyword”. That makes sense considering that there is no real value in it, which is why I never tried before either. As vanity projects go, I’ve seen much worse. Besides, there is always the possibility that someday I will take to someone about what I do for a living. (I’m a freelance writer.) I will tell them my name, of course, because that is how you introduce yourself to someone. And, I will also tell them the name of my writing business, because after name, where you live, and how you know the host, the next small talk items on the standard conversation checklist is, “What do you do?”

Some time will pass and there will be a need in that person’s sphere of influence for a professional freelancing writer and he’ll remember my name. Or, more likely, he’ll ask the host. I’ve got kind of an easy to describe physical build, so this happens a lot to me. (“He was the tall guy with…”) He’ll also remember that I had a funny and/or clever business name. Something about snow and an animal, but it won’t be close enough to get him to me in a search. (My business is called Arctic Llama.) So, he’ll get my name from the host or the name of someone who knows me well enough to know my last name, and he’ll type in Brian Nelson.

He’ll know it is a wild goose chase, but he’ll try it out just in case. And, there, on the first page of Google search for brian nelson will be Brian E Nelson professional writer in one form or another. He’ll think, “That must be him,” and a few clicks later he’ll be at one of my websites with a link to my writing business, or maybe he’ll go straight to my freelance financial writer page or to my freelance writing samples.

Either way, he’ll have a name and number, I’ll have a new writing gig, and this whole excercise will turn out to be a worthy one after all.

I’ll keep you posted.

Brian E Nelson Freelance Writer

May 9, 2010 1 comment

When you start a freelance writing business there are a lot of things that need to be done. A business plan for freelance writing is a good start. You also need to setup a lot of business things like a business phone number, Internet access, business email accounts, and so on. Sooner or later, you probably want to setup a business website and maybe even a business blog.

Brian Nelson

Brian E Nelson website

My professional freelance writing business has been doing well for a few years and I have done all of those things and more. The freelance writing blog at ArcticLlama does well enough for generating traffic and ranking for a smattering of terms about the business of writing. The main business website also does its job and from time to time I pick up new writing gigs from the contact us email address on the site.

I have also carefully constructed various freelance writing profiles and social networks. I’ve got profile son LinkedIn and Facebook and so on. I have special webpages dedicated to parts of my writing business, like the ones about freelance financial writer and the one for freelance technology writer and so on.

While I was creating this online persona and building the brand for my writing business, I never really cared about one thing, where I rank for my own name.

In a very real way, it really doesn’t matter. The odds of me getting a job based on someone searching for freelance writing professional is much higher than based on someone searching for Brian Nelson. On the other hand, it just doesn’t really seem right that while ArcticLlama holds its own and while my various writing bios from sites that I write for do fine, that me, myself and I should languish in the depths of 5th or 6th page search results.

Of course, that wouldn’t even be a little bit true if it were not for the fact that I also know a little something about publishing online and how to get the posts and articles and features that I write found, indexed, and yes, ranked.Things like little inconsequential (but longer than the five hundred words that supposedly conveys seriousness to a web page) posts like this one.

So, yesterday, I decided to do something about it. First, I, Brian E. Nelson, took the domain brianenelson.com which I had registered long ago, but never used for anything other than testing things out, and I threw up a quick mini card WordPress template with links to my other profiles and personas out there on the Internet. I then went ahead and setup the most basic of linking to the domain with the anchor text of “brian nelson” and “brian e nelson”. Obviously, nothing has happened in 48 hours, but I’m betting that by month end, there is a substantial change in how my name shows up when people (me) look for it.

It might not be worth much. In fact, it may be nothing more than an exercise in vanity. Then again, maybe someday someone will be looking for me by name and they will find me. If not, well then at least I can show that when I want to rank, I can.

I’ll check back in with an update later.

Denver Freelance Financial Writer Makes Money Writing Online

April 23, 2010 Leave a comment

denver freelance financial writer graphicHah! How is that title for some S * E * O * action? (I have this new theory that there may be a function within the seek and find company’s programming that detects certain phrases, like the one I put the * in and adjusts them accordingly. It is probably nothing, but for now, I’m testing it out.)

As a freelance financial writer, I get a lot of opportunities to write about money. As you can imagine, a lot of those freelance writing gigs revolve around the same kinds of topics. Writing about personal finance tips and financial information these days means writing a lot about things like the economy, mortgages, credit repair, bankruptcy, and so on. Also, the latest investing fad, FOREX investing, is a hot topic, although I don’t write anything about that. Not only is it extremely risky, but the so-called advice and strategies it is based on are half-baked at best. Think day trading (the last investing fad) or fix-and-flip real estate investing (the most recent fad) and you get the idea.

Ironically, solid, unbiased, financial advice and tips are in much less demand. Understanding how to maximize your online banking, or the outlook for bonds in 2010, or money market accounts is a snooze-fest for most clients. Even more closely related topics like credit card reward programs, which can be part of a savvy personal financial strategy, don’t draw as much interest as the “hot” topics. It seems that with the credit markets drying up, and Congress stepping in with new laws on credit card company’s worst money making (abusive) practices, that not everyone can get any credit card they want with bad credit anymore. I guess there isn’t much money to be made in the “elitist” market segment of people who have good credit and use it responsibly.

Even my latest about legit work at home jobs isn’t a high buzz article.

The demand for high-quality writing on topics like good financial advice, good writing advice, and good parenting skills for dads and moms has always been rather muted. However, when those jobs do come along they are some of the highest-paid freelance writing gigs, because if you are going to stand behind advice about money or parenting with your company’s hard earned reputation, you better make sure it is solid and well-researched, not just “hot.”

To stay ready for when those opportunities come along, and to have clips, one of the universal freelance writer needs, that don’t get lost in a website redesign, I write some of the best financial planner advice I ever gave (or wanted to give) while I was working as a financial advisor. As a Certified Financial Advisor, or CFP, I got a look at what a lot of people think is good financial advice and I would have to say that there is a very big need for quality, impartial, financial advice, even if there isn’t a very big demand for it.