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Leap Year Rules, Facts, and Trivia

February 29th, 2008

leap-year-list.jpgAs you can see from the date, this is February 29, a “leap day” that will not occur for another four years. Keeping this in mind, I figured that I might as well do an educational post on this topic, especially after a quick Wordtracker scan revealed that a surprising number of you are searching for leap year-related information. Therefore, I will address some of the most common questions and provide you with specific answers that I have obtained from my research.

Why do we have leap years?

The reason for leap years is to keep our current calendar in alignment with the astronomical solar years, which occur every time the Earth makes a full revolution around the sun. Specifically, the actual solar year is 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds long, or 365.2423 days in decimal terms. It is calculated by taking the average time that it takes for the Earth to move from one vernal (spring) equinox to the next, thus completing one full orbit of the sun.

What is the history of leap year? How did we come up with the current system?

By 46 BC, the Romans, who had devised an ancient calendar that roughly kept pace with the changing seasons, figured out that they could not simply make each year 365 days long because the extra fraction of a day would cause the calendar to be quite inaccurate after a few decades. Borrowing the original idea from the Egyptians, they were able to compensate for most of this difference by adopting the Julian calendar (named after Julius Caesar), which inserted an extra “leap day” in February every four years. This became the standard calendar for most of Western civilization for the next 1500+ years.

However, this practice of simply adding in the leap day every four years, effectively making the calendar year 365.25 days long, still allowed for a small rounding error to creep in, thus causing a noticeable inaccuracy after several centuries had passed. This led to the adoption of the Gregorian calendar in 1582 (some countries did not make the switch until 1712 or 1752), which introduced a slight twist to the usual leap year rules. For every 100 years, leap days were removed, except for years that were divisible by 400. This meant that 1600 was still a leap year, but 1700, 1800, and 1900 were not.

This latest refinement to the chronological system greatly reduced (but did not completely eliminate) the difference between the astronomical and calendar year lengths, making the current calendar sufficiently accurate for modern practical purposes. Theoretically, the calendar may need to be adjusted again after another 8,000 years or so, but by this time other astronomical factors such as tidal acceleration and precession of the equinoxes come into play, making it almost impossible to predict at this point whether or exactly how much of an adjustment may be needed.

What is the leap year calculation? How do I calculate the rules for leap year?

The rule for determining leap years is simply this: every year that is divisible by four is a leap year, except those that are divisible by 100 but not 400. For practical purposes going forward, this means that leap years will occur every four years from now (2012, 2016, 2020, etc.) until we reach 2100, which will NOT be a leap year. However, because of the limitations of human life spans, it is unlikely that anyone reading this today will live long enough for this to be a concern. But if you do manage to survive until the end of the 21st century, just remember that February 2100 will only have 28 days.

Was 2000 a leap year?

Yes, because it is divisible by 400.

Was 2004 a leap year?

Yes - it is divisible by four and does not qualify for the exception.

Is 2006 a leap year?

No, because it is not divisible by four.

Is 2008 a leap year?

Yes, for the same reasons as 2004. In fact, today is the leap day (February 29), which is why I’m writing this article!

When is the next leap year?

After today, it’s 2012. It will continue to occur every four years thereafter until we reach 2100, by which time you’ll probably be too old to care about it anyway.

What are some other bits of leap year trivia?

  1. The first calendar that made a provision for leap year occurring every four years was introduced by King Ptolemy III of Egypt in 238 BC.
  2. In 1582 AD, the countries of Italy, Portugal, Spain, and Poland were the first to switch over from the Julian to Gregorian calendars, and did so by dropping 10 days from October of that year.
  3. Great Britain (including the American colonies at that time) did not switch to the Gregorian calendar until 1752, by which time they had to drop 11 days out of October to bring the calendar into sync with the astronomical year.
  4. Sweden, intending to switch to the Gregorian calendar in 1700, did not have a leap day for this year, which was correct according to the new rules. However, they somehow forgot to observe the leap days in 1704 and 1708, which put them out of sync with both the Julian and Gregorian calendars. In order to correct this mistake, they had a “double leap day” in 1712, thus creating the unique day of February 30 and effectively putting them back on the Julian calendar.

    The Swedes eventually completed the transition to the Gregorian calendar in 1753 by dropping 10 days out of February, going directly from February 17 to March 1. Interestingly, some of them actually opposed this reform of the calendar because they believed that they were losing 10 days from their life spans and would therefore die sooner. It is not known whether the relatively high presence of blondes found in Sweden had anything to do with this unusual sequence of events.

  5. The Iranian (Persian) calendar, which is used today by Iran and Afghanistan, generally follows the practice of inserting a leap day every four years as the Julian calendar does, except that every 33 years (approximately), they make the necessary correction by allowing a five-year interval between leap years. Interestingly, this calendar system is actually more accurate than the Gregorian one because it is based on the actual observations of the vernal equinox from Tehran, and adjustments in the leap year time intervals are done accordingly.
  6. One oft-cited tradition regarding leap year is that women in the Middle Ages were allowed to propose marriage on February 29 (normally tradition dictated that women had to wait for the man to propose), every four years, leading to an occasional rush of females attempting to seduce males. Supposedly this tradition was started back in the 5th century by St. Patrick and St. Bridget in Ireland, but some historians dispute the validity of this, stating that there are no known mentions of this tradition until the 19th century.

    OH NOES!!11! I was born on February 29 - does this mean that I only get to celebrate my birthday once every four years?! This doesn’t seem fair…

    People who were actually born on the leap day can still celebrate their birthdays every year because it is not the date that you’re supposed to be celebrating, but simply the fact that you’re one year older. Therefore, you have a choice between having it on February 28 or March 1. Some people observe their birthdays on February 28 according to the reasoning that they were born on the last day of February regardless, so that is when they should celebrate. Personally, I would celebrate it on March 1 in common years (that is, non-leap years) because that is the date that would be February 29 if all years were leap years.

    Unfortunately, being born on a leap day does not grant you special powers such as a reduced rate of aging or a four-fold increase in your life span. Unless, of course, you are a character in a role playing game (RPG), in which case provisions for such powers may be implemented by your game’s programmer.

    Source Links: TimeandDate.com, InfoPlease.com, Inventors.About.com.

Three Forums You Should Have Bookmarked

February 28th, 2008

forum-marketing.jpgForums, or more specifically forum signatures, can be an effective method of bringing fresh traffic to your website from interested visitors. Admittedly, this is a method that I have underutilized for the most part, but I have enough experience with it to know that it works if implemented consistently. However, forums can also be a valuable source of information, especially for those of us who are just getting started on the path of online money making. In this brief post, I will provide links and short descriptions for three forums that I have had bookmarked for a long time and have proven to be good sources of both information and useful services for webmasters.

DigitalPoint.com - This popular forum primarily deals with search engine optimization and Internet marketing issues, including many topics about the search engines themselves and what is going on with them. For example, there are currently several active threads that are discussing a possible Google PageRank update that may have started a few days ago. Although such threads often contain more speculation than actual facts, if you read through them carefully they are still a good way to get feedback and confirmation from other webmasters.

In addition to keeping up with the latest search engine news, Digital Point also has an active marketplace section where you can buy, sell, or trade many different kinds of webmaster-related products or services, such as domain names, text link advertising, content creation, or even entire websites. Although it has come under some criticism from more seasoned Internet marketers for being a “newbie forum”, it can still serve as a useful venue for outsourcing certain services and obtaining them at relatively low prices. And of course if you actually ARE a newbie, it is a good place to get a general idea of what kinds of things work and what doesn’t when trying to make money from your websites.

NamePros.com - This forum was established primarily for discussion and trade of domain names, but also covers topics related to website design and development as well as online money making tips. They have an internal currency that can be purchased or sold for PayPal funds and then traded with other forum members for services. It is possible to trade for Stumbles, Diggs, or other types of traffic generating possibilities here. Once you have been registered for at least 30 days, you can even make a little extra money through their AdSense revenue sharing program that allows you to earn 50% of the revenues coming from any posts that you make. My previous post on NamePros.com discusses this forum in more detail.

WarriorForum.com - This one has long been a haven for more experienced and intermediate level Internet marketers. Serious discussion of marketing topics can be found here, including ad copy writing, SEO, PPC, product reviews, how-to guides, and even self-improvement advice that can motivate you to make more money. In fact, it is possible to obtain information here for free or at a very low cost that would otherwise be purchased as a mid-priced (or higher) ebook by those who are relatively unaware. If you already know the basics of how to do Internet marketing, this can be a place to draw fresh ideas from and interact with others who are already having success in this particular arena.

MySurvey.com Newsletter for February 2008

February 27th, 2008

With February coming to a close, MySurvey.com has released their monthly edition of Opinion Matters, a newsletter that reviews the latest happenings in their corner of the survey world. For this month, they have announced the winners of several recent sweepstakes and giveaways, a few of whom asked that their names be withheld or have apparently forfeited their prizes, perhaps by not responding to the notifications in time.

Also included are a few examples of merchandise that can be redeemed for with our reward points, followed by the usual monthly survey results. This time members were surveyed about what they thought was important when dealing with the customer support departments of their favorite companies.

Join Mysurvey.com Here

Meanwhile, if you would like to make some extra money by completing paid surveys and are looking for some other companies that are free to join, you can check out Survey Savvy or Opinion Outpost.

Read the rest of this entry »

How Gasoline Is Made From Crude Oil

February 26th, 2008

crude-oil-gasoline.jpgWith the recent rise of both crude oil and gasoline (petrol) prices, there has been an increasing amount of interest in how crude oil is used to make gasoline. In this article, I will explain the basic refining process and point you to other sources where you can find more detailed information on this topic.

Crude oil, otherwise known as petroleum, is a fossil fuel that is extracted from the ground and refined to make a wide variety of products ranging from liquids like cleaning solvents and motor fuels to solids such as asphalt and plastics. The proportion of crude oil that is ultimately converted into gasoline varies according to region and the type of refinery. In the United States, where demand for gasoline is remarkably high, this proportion is around 50 percent while in other areas of the world such as Europe and Asia, this amount is somewhat less. However, refineries in these regions produce proportionately higher percentages of diesel oil, heating oil, and heavy fuel oil. A good estimate of the exact breakdown of petroleum products by percentage of crude oil in the United States can be found at the California Energy Commission.

In order to make gasoline (and all of the other petroleum products), crude oil is sent to a refinery and put through a process called fractional distillation, which is the same basic method that is used to make stronger alcoholic beverages such as vodka, whiskey, and rum. The crude oil is first heated in a boiler by superheated steam, which effectively vaporizes most of it before being transferred to a distillation column. This column is a tall, cylindrical tower that contains many trays and plates on which the vaporized oil is allowed to condense as it rises and cools. The heavier components of oil which contain longer hydrocarbon chains and have higher boiling points will condense first near the bottom of the column, while the lighter components will rise further and condense into liquids near the top.

Most of these separated components are processed further before being made into finished products and shipped to market. For example, some of the heavier hydrocarbons can be “cracked” by intense heat, high pressures, and various chemical catalysts to produce additional gasoline as well as other fuels such as kerosene and diesel. Other oil byproducts serve as precursors to plastics or other solid goods, and some are also made into lubricants such as Vaseline. After the secondary cracking processes are completed, one of the final products that is left over as a residue is called coke (not to be confused with the beverage Coca-Cola), a substance that is almost pure carbon and is used in steel production and for other metallurgical purposes. In the 19th century, coke was also used as a fuel for locomotive engines.

A more detailed explanation of the process of refining crude oil into gasoline can be found in the Nontechnical Guide to Petroleum Geology. Another notable content-rich resource that I ran across is called Oilfield Processing: Crude Oil. Although it is a bit heavy on text and detail, it contains a wealth of information about crude oil and how it is processed into gasoline and many other useful products. A somewhat related article on the benefits of synthetic oil can be found in a later post.

Book Review: Temple of the Golden Pavilion

February 25th, 2008

temple-golden-pavilion-book.jpgToday I managed to find an unusually long article by Kathleen Notestein in the form of a book review posted at Constant Content. The subject of the review is Temple of the Golden Pavilion by Yukio Mishima, a classical Japanese novel based on the burning of the Kinkaku-ji reliquary in Kyoto by a Buddhist acolyte in 1950. The story ends up being mostly a psychological study of the infamous arsonist, who was believed to have suffered from schizophrenia and eventually died in 1956.

Occasionally, I think we all need to be challenged; to be forced to exercise our minds in ways beyond the everyday and to take a critical look at the core assumptions that govern our lives. Without this type of challenge, we run the risk of falling into a complacency both intellectual and ethical/moral which is a kind of general anesthetic for the soul. It’s a trap I’ve fallen into more times than I can count in the past few years, and which scares me to death. The prospect of turning into the kind of small town drone who never thinks about anything more deeply than the kind of glib letter-to-the-editor writing pseudo-politics and philosophy is terrifying. So, whenever something comes along which forces me back out of the trap of intellectual inertia, I value it immeasurably. Reading the book Temple of the Golden Pavilion by Yukio Mishima dragged me out of my thought-coma by my hair.

At first, I had a hard time getting into the book, and it took me longer to read it than most novels. I think it was both because it was asking me to read slowly and think things through, and also because I found the main character so distasteful. He’s not a particularly likeable fellow, and it’s always harder for me to wrap myself up in stories where I don’t empathize with the narrator/main character. Don’t get me wrong, at the beginning of the book I wanted to empathize with Mizoguchi, and certain statements he made about feeling different and isolated were things to which I could relate. I could even relate to his longing for perfect beauty and transcendence. It was his attitude which made him less than sympathetic.

Now that I’ve gone back and read the introduction to the book, I realize that one of the things “scholars” concentrate on in the text is Mizoguchi’s “pathology”. That is, they analyze the symptoms of psychological problems which he exhibits and attempt to analyze those mental disorders so as to explain his final break-down. But as complex as his psychology might be, I don’t think that anything as complex as his “pathology” was fueling my inability to fully empathize with him. It was much shallower on my part - I tend not to like people with grandiose ideas of their own importance or superiority and a sense of false modesty. I’m much more drawn to people who have a healthy dose of self-deprecation.

Mizoguchi continually remarked on his faults, but it was obvious that he did not believe his own self-criticisms. His contempt for everyone else in the world was glaring and incredibly unattractive. He reminded me of the geeky kid your heart goes out to in high school and who you try to befriend, only to be rudely rebuffed. Eventually, you realize that he’s a loner not because other kids are cruel and he’s misunderstood, but because he’s just an ass.

The one relationship that didn’t seem completely tainted by this attitude was Mizoguchi’s relationship with his father, but as the chapters progressed, even that deteriorated. By the point at which his father died I think Mizoguchi found even his father lacking and beneath him.

And yet, despite this rather intense dislike for Mizoguchi, the book kept putting compelling ideas and questions into his mouth which drew me in. I found myself wondering if this rather horrid main character couldn’t be redeemed. Reading his thoughts was, for me, rather like reading Camille Paglia. For the most part I find that her books and philosophy are irritating and somewhat facile, but once in a while she says something so shockingly true that I start to wonder how much of the crap is real and how much is a contrived image. How can someone so shallow come up with such blindingly clear ideas in the midst of all the trash which flows from her mouth (or pen)? This is, of course, a question that occurs with regularity in first-person narratives: How much of what the narrator says is one supposed to believe, and how much does the author believe?

It’s the classic problem of Catcher In the Rye. When you read it at age 13 as a disaffected youth, you think Holden is the smartest, most insightful guy ever to have lived. You believe his pronouncements about phonies and the world whole-heartedly. But then you live some, grow up a bit and re-read the book as an adult and think that at least half of what Holden says is self-indulgent schlock and juvenile rationalization. In fact, the very things that you most fervently agreed with as an adolescent are the very things that now seem infantile and possibly even self-destructive.

So, the reader has to ask what Salinger believed and what he intended the reader to get out of it. Did he actually intend Holden to be speaking truth to power, or is there a good dose of irony in the book and Holden isn’t so much a hero as an anti-hero? Or is he neither, but simply an accurate portrayal of a disturbed young man? It’s the same with Mishima. I found myself wondering how much of his theories of beauty and life Mishima wanted the reader to see as true and valid, and how much of them are symptoms of Mizoguchi’s disturbed personality.

I don’t think there are any easy answers to those questions because I think the author’s perspective shifts throughout the book. In the beginning, it seems that some of Mizoguchi’s views on the Golden Temple as an idea of perfect beauty which transcends the actual structure are meant to be seen as valid. But as the book progresses and Mizoguchi begins to think that beauty actually inhibits him from living and feeling, I think the reader is supposed to see that something in Mizoguchi has twisted so that his logic is skewed. But is that true or am I merely projecting my values onto the author? Do I agree with the critics who see Mizoguchi’s logic as a pathological symptom only because of my personal beliefs about beauty, or because that’s what the author intended? And does such a distinction even matter?

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Search Query Awards

February 24th, 2008

search-query-stats.jpgAfter I successfully installed this blog and managed to publish a significant amount of content, one of the more enjoyable aspects of website management has been the ability to monitor the search queries that people use to find this site. It is also important from a marketing perspective because if we can figure out exactly what people are searching for, we can then tailor our articles to better match their queries and eventually receive more traffic. Analyzing the search statistics can also help us to determine what kinds of products could be sold to visitors from within our articles or as part of a website monetization strategy.

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EasyHits4U Still Going Strong

February 23rd, 2008

easy-hits-4u.gifIn traffic exchange news today, EasyHits4U continues to make a strong showing in the rankings and has proven itself to be one of the most effective advertising venues in this particular genre. As with all manual traffic exchanges of this type, it is advisable to use simple, quick-loading splash pages as opposed to sending visitors directly to a sales page or your main website. Many Internet marketers also use opt-in pages for this situation, as it can be a good way to generate free leads and gradually build up a large and potentially profitable subscriber list.

Below is the latest progress report from EasyHits4U:

  1. Our current Surfing Contest goes very well. Your surfing activity is simply overwhelming this month!
  2. EasyHits4U traffic exchange is #1 at TrafficHoopla / Hit Exchange Report 10 weeks in a row and #1 at Top Traffic Exchanges 5 weeks in a row.
    Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for your continuous support!

    It’s a well-known fact that personal tracking is very important but HOW can you analyze 100+ popular TEs and choose those which perform very well right now? For certain you can get the whole picture on current activity in top traffic exchanges only using a mix of rankings from Hit Exchange Report (TrafficHoopla), Top Traffic Exchanges, Traffic Exchange List, HEN report, Alexa and so on.

    After choosing some exchanges from those lists, you can start surfing and/or purchasing hits from them. It is recommended that you track your own campaigns. There are free services out there that give this opportunity. Otherwise, if you get some bad experience with one or two randomly chosen, you may mistakenly decide that TEs are unworthy to use.

    By the way, have you seen updated Hit Exchange Report already? It has been well improved during last few weeks: tracking of referrals and signups, new Top 10 referrals and, of course, raw and unique hits, % of unique hits and sitting balances on Top 20 traffic exchanges. Their report is updated every Tuesday and actual price of such report is only $2.50 :-)

  3. Our huge block list with 500+ sites/domain/patterns helps us to clean our database. But we believe that it’s not enough and we keep working hard to get rid of hard-to-find framebreakers and nasties in the rotation. Unfortunately we cannot just set up SafeGuard or HitsConnect Approval system like some other exchanges because our system is built on unique custom scripts.

    That’s why our programmers have started working on our own site checker which will detect nasties in our database and remove them automatically.

  4. And the last note about annoying framebreakers: When some site tries to break our surfing frame, new JavaScript popup appears. Press “OK” button if you are leaving our site or just trying to refresh browser window, or press “Cancel” button to report a framebreaker.

    Alternatively please try to remember site URL or catch site ID in new pop-up window and just email it to us. We will do everything we can to find and remove such web site.

    If you report site, it will be excluded from surfing immediately and checked by one of our admins faster than if you just email details on framebreakers to us

  5. This week’s buyer drawing winner is “oldstockcerts” who already received 2000 bonus credits! Drawing continues — any member who purchases at least 1000 credits is automatically entered into current drawing.

Karlonia “ReApproved” for MySurvey Affiliate Program

February 22nd, 2008

Today I received an unexpected email from MySurvey.com saying that I have been “ReApproved” for their affiliate program. I’m not sure exactly what triggered this - I have been an affiliate for several months and was not aware of any issues going on with the program. It’s possible that there has been some slight change in the rules, or perhaps they are simply reviewing the websites of affiliates periodically to make sure they are still extant and complying with their terms.


Nevertheless, MySurvey is a good program to have in your money making repertoire because it is free to join, easy to use, confirmed as paying, and does not waste your time with overly long surveys or pointless offers like many other survey companies do. If you’re a webmaster and want to join as an affiliate, you’ll need to join the panel as a member if you have not done so already. You can then apply for the affliate program after you log in to your Member Center. The approval process may take a few days, but as long as your website complies with their terms (most of our websites probably do), it will be approved for at least 6 months and you will have access to the promotional materials.

Since it is free to register with the program, referrals are relatively easy to come by. As my re-approval email text below states, there may be somewhat of a delay between the time that referrals sign up and the actual crediting of points to your member account. If you are also taking surveys as a member, any points earned from referrals are simply added to your regular survey points. Once your aggregate total reaches at least $10, you can request a check.

Hello KARL,

We have reviewed your website at Karlonia.com and are pleased to let you know you that you’ve been re-approved as an MySurvey.com website affiliate in good standing. Thank you for your continued interest in the program. You’ll earn 150 Reward Points for every eligible household referred from your site that joins the MySurvey.com interactive panel.

For banners, text ads, logos and links to use on your website,

  1. Log into http://www.mysurvey.com with your username and password
  2. Go to the Referral section and click on Website Affiliate Program (left menu).
  3. Banners, text ads and logos will appear on the website affiliate page along with the appropriate links.
  4. Please use these links to ensure you get credit for your referrals.

If you wish to recruit new members via email, instructions are also provided on this page. Due to recent and ongoing legislation governing email, you must following the instructions provided on the Website Affiliate Program page to include the MySurvey.com offer in any emails.

We provide new banners & other media periodically for our affiliates so be sure to check back. Please use only the creative materials (banners, graphics, logos, text links) that we provide.

There are three other important things to keep in mind as an affiliate:

  • You must be an active member of the MySurvey.com interactive panel to continue as an affiliate. That means that you need to take surveys occasionally - at least 5 surveys in any 6 month time period. Surveys are generally short (10 minutes or less).
  • If/when you earn close to 60,000 reward points, we’ll contact you to ask for your social security number. The IRS considers anything over $600 earned from one source as taxable income and requires that we send you (and them) a tax form for each tax year, with social security number referenced.
  • There is a delay between the time your referral joins and crediting of points to your account to allow us to determine new member eligibility. Please see the Referral Program rules in the Referral section of MySurvey.com for details about eligibility. (You must log in to access the Referral section of the website.)

Just a reminder: As an affiliate you have agreed to abide by all the MySurvey.com Referral Program Rules and the Affiliate Program Terms of Service. Our rules periodically change; please check the Referral section of the MySurvey.com website routinely for any changes. If the Terms of Service change, we will notify you via email about the changes, where to find a copy of the new Terms of Service and indicating whether recertification is necessary. Your continued membership and affiliate status depends on your adherence to the most recent version of the rules and Terms of Service.

Like your membership, your participation in the website affiliate program is always voluntary. If you have any questions about the affiliate program, please contact our tech support staff via email affiliates(at)mysurvey.com or by calling our toll-free number 1-800-537-4097.

Many thanks for participating in our website affiliate program.

Carol Adams
Director of Member Services

How to Pick the Perfect Writing Markets

February 21st, 2008

writing-market.jpgEven if you fancy yourself an excellent freelance writer, it will be difficult to make money from your work if you cannot find a market for it. This article by April Aragam guides us through four planning stages that we can use to find writing markets that will pay us enough to make our efforts worth the time.

After writing a piece that is edited, polished and ready for submission, the next most important thing you have to do is submit it to the best possible market for that piece. Choosing the perfect market to submit your story, article, filler or poem will raise your chances of acceptance ten fold.

1. Before you write

So, you have a fabulous idea for an article. You want jump right on the computer and get writing it, but before you do make sure that you have a place to send it. If going through your market listings brings up nothing, you have one of two choices. One, don’t write the article at all. Or two, do more research and find an appropriate market. Since your article might not be accepted at the first place, you may want to find two or three.

2. Create a market binder

When most of us create a market binder or folder on the computer we fill it with markets that appeal to us. That makes sense, but it can also be a hindrance to writers since we don’t know what we might be writing in 3 months, 6 months, or a year. How many times have you remembered seeing a market listing you saw and can’t remember exactly what it was? And now you need it! For this very reason, I suggest putting all markets you find into your binder. If you’d rather not add them to your regular listings, create a tab at the back entitled “miscellaneous”.

3. Magazine research

This can be quite a task. Luckily, you don’t need to subscribe to every magazine to get a feel for them. Your first and cheapest option is to check out your local library. They have a great selection of magazines and if they don’t have the exact one you’re looking for, ask the librarian if another branch does. You can either go to other libraries or request the magazines be sent to your location. Always find the most recent issue of the magazine so that you know exactly the types of pieces they are publishing.

Another option is to buy magazines that you’re very interested in writing for. This was you always have it on hand to refer to. Another alternative that comes in handy if you cannot find a magazine at all is to request a sample copy. You can do this when you request their guidelines. Double check the listing or website to find out if the sample copy is free or comes for a small fee.

4. Pick The Market

If your goal is to be published (and it probably is) you want to aim for the market in which you’re most likely to be published. If you are fairly new to the writing business, with few or no clips, you don’t want to start out submitting to a high-end magazine. Your chances of getting published there are very slim. This doesn’t mean that you have to write for free to get clips. There is a very large middle ground in which markets pay little to medium and even high amounts. As time goes on you can work yourself up to those glossy magazines. Your goal, always, is to choose markets that are realistic for where you are in your career as well as choosing markets that publish the type of work you are planning to submit.

Taking these ideas into consideration is sure to increase your chances of publication.

Constant Content Makes Improvements, Adds Premium Articles

February 20th, 2008

constant-content-logo.jpgToday I received a rare email from Constant Content notifying us of recently implemented site improvements. These include enhanced ability to make private requests to authors, a better messaging system for communications between authors and customers, and the addition of a new “Premium Articles” section that allows the site to showcase articles of exceptionally good quality.

Constant Content has been an excellent source of articles that have helped to alleviate the writing chores inherent in maintaining an information-based site such as this one. What I really like about them is that you can quickly purchase pre-written articles “on the fly” without having to go through the process of contracting with a freelance writer, negotiating prices, setting bids, or worrying about receiving useless garbage content. The site’s editors do a good job of screening all author submissions and making sure that any articles that are accepted for potential sale are well-written, free of obvious English usage errors, and adhere to standard format guidelines for web publication.

Back in the “dark ages” before I discovered blogging or realized the advantages of having my own site, I was fortunate enough to discover Constant Content while the site was still in its early stages and readily accepting article submissions so that they could attract regular customers and traffic. At that time, I was considering the idea of making a career out of freelance writing, so upon discovering that there was a new market which would allow me to sell articles directly and relatively quickly, I submitted a few of my previously written but then-unpublished essays. After the site approved them, I was able to sell several copies and eventually racked up about $130 in earnings. Even though I have not written any new pieces for them recently due to my current webmaster duties, my articles are still available on my author profile page.

If you want to sign up as an author and make money from selling your writing, you can do so here. After you have registered as an author, you can also earn affiliate commissions by referring other authors to Constant Content. Specifically, you can earn 5% of any sales made by authors who have been referred to the site through your affiliate link. Meanwhile, you can read the latest CC email update below:

We have made some recent improvements to Constant Content and would like to invite you to check them out!

Private Request System Improvements

Because our Private Request service is so popular, we have updated it to give you better results. No longer will content submitted for your Private Requests be visible to all purchasers. Instead, content submitted to you will only be able to be purchased by you. No other buyer will be able to touch this content unless you have decided not to purchase it.

Request System Improvements

As for the Request system overall, you will now have the ability to upload files for author rewrite or correction, view your most recent messages from writers, view messages in a more organized manner with messages from the same author grouped together, and generally communicate with authors with greater ease. This means better turn-around time and smoother transactions.

Premium Content

In addition, we have added a Premium Articles section which showcases the best articles our writers have to offer. These articles offer in-depth coverage of topics and display writers\’ exceptional writing skills. Browse these articles for immediate purchase, or find an article that you like and commission that writer to develop content according to your specific needs!

Don’t forget about all of the other great services and features Constant Content has to offer. Constant Content:

  1. Maintains a community of over 10,000 writers with different styles and expertise
  2. Checks all articles for grammar, spelling, and quality
  3. Checks all articles for originality and plagiarism
  4. Does not allow articles posted on Constant Content to be indexed by search engines (to ensure originality)
  5. Uses Private and Public Request systems that allows you to communicate directly with the entire community of writers or with specific writers of your choosing
  6. Offers different license options depending upon your needs

Never sort through bids, writing samples, or resumes. Simply send a request for content and writers will produce articles according to your specifications. You can specify subject, word count, budget, keywords to be included, or particular slants you would like taken on a subject.

Writers typically respond to requests within a very short amount of time, and you will be able to start selecting articles from the submitted content within a matter of days - after editors have examined them for quality and originality.

To browse our ever-growing database of exceptional content, or to put in a request for content, visit www.constant-content.com.

WordPress Blogging Tip: How to Change Your Permalink URL

February 19th, 2008

If you have just started a WordPress blog, one of the advantages that you will have over most other platforms is the overall SEO friendliness of your content management system. However, there is one little tweak that you should make before accumulating too many posts. This involves changing the format of your permalink structure, which will affect the appearance of each post’s actual URL.

I noticed that many bloggers are still using the default permalink format, in some cases even after several months of operation. Most experienced WordPress users advise that you change this to a more “pretty” permalink structure because this will be more search engine friendly and allow you to target additional keywords in the URL for SEO purposes.

Fortunately, making the necessary change is relatively easy. You can do this by first going to Options >> Permalinks from your admin panel. I have underlined the correct menu selections in the following screenshot:


After clicking on both menu choices, you should see a list of options, including the default, name and date based, numeric, and custom. As you can see in the screenshot below, I have chosen the name and date based option; others who are more technically inclined may choose the custom option and tweak the individual parameters.


Either way, almost everyone recommends getting away from the default PHP parameter display as early as possible. Frankly, I don’t understand why WordPress does not simply designate the name and date based permalink style as the default structure, but until they do something about this, it’s still up to the individual bloggers to change it.

Meanwhile, for a thorough explanation of the more complex technical aspects of this issue, you can visit the WordPress codex documentation on using permalinks.

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