Strovek Writes

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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Ideas on How to Find Topics for Earning Online

One struggle for new bloggers is to find a topic. This is especially true for those who want to write and submit articles to blog to earn money. Here are some suggestions to help address this challenge.


Money


image © Adrian van Leen for openphoto.net CC:PublicDomain

Movies

Have you seen a movie lately? If you have, why not write a review about the movie? Discuss the story line, what was good about the movie, what was bad about the movie? Did you go to the movie with your children or friends, if you did then share their comments or reactions to the movie? Was there anything memorable about the movie? Maybe there were some questions that others might be interested in such as did the movie contains nudity. Some of the movie reviews were on movies I recently watched such as Ted, Looper (a movie with Bruce Willis) and Skyfall (the latest Bond movie).

Instead of movies, you could also write about television series, especially new series that has just been released like Last Resort or The Legend of Korra.

Sometimes instead of reviewing a movie, a television series or even a mini series, write about the trends in the movies as you see it. It can be something that you are not happy about like the trend of having to wait at least a year to see the conclusion of the story because movies are now broken into many parts with years between releases. You could also share your observation of two movies that are released but have a lot of similarities such as Dinosaurs and HandCam. For this particular article, I was caught by surprise the amount of interest, I achieved more than 1000 views on that one article alone.

Restaurant Review

Did you just go to a new restaurant? Did you like what you saw or had in the restaurant? Write a review about the restaurant. You could either recommend the place or warn others about the place. There are readers who are interested in the restaurant and would like to read about the experience before they go there. I wrote my experience about a nice cozy cafe in just visited.

Ideas from Forum

When you participate in the various social networking sites and forums, you may come across questions that are asked by others on the site. I saw a question on MyLot on how to start his own website. I knew that my answer would be too long to write directly in the forum, I wrote an article instead and posted the link on the site.

These are some ideas to get you started. Stay tuned for more ideas.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Optimizing on my Credit Cards

I previously reviewed the different credit cards that are available in Malaysia and ways to get money back from these cards. A lot has changed since my last review. I have not really gone back to do an in depth analysis. The baseline at the moment for value based on either cash back or prize redemption is 0.5%. The service tax by the Malaysian government adds an additional RM50 per principal card and RM25 per supplementary card.each year.


Money
image © Adrian van Leen for openphoto.net CC:PublicDomain 

Due to the competition in the market, most annual fees are waived. The only exception I found is the Citibank Cashback card. When you first sign up for the card, the annual fee for the first two years are waived. However, when I asked for a waiver, they refused. Instead of approving a waiver, they offered a different card. The other option from them was to sign up for an additional service from them for another year waiver. I refused either option and was billed RM625. I cancelled the card since that fee was much more than the amount of cash back I could earn in a year.


The most generous card in the market now is the OCBC Titanium Mastercard. With the card you get five percent cash back on petrol, dining, groceries, utility bills. For any other items that do not fall within the five percent cash back category, you get one percent cash back instead. This is even higher than the cash back from Citibank cash back card. As an additional incentive to use the card, if you spend more than RM10000 per year, you will be given a bonus of RM50 to offset the government service tax. However, be aware of some restrictions.
  1. Some grocery stores are not included in the five percent cash back. You will enjoy the five percent cash back only when you shop in supermarkets like Tesco, Giant, Sunshine and Carrefour enjoy the five person . Strangely enough, Jaya Jusco is not included.
  2. The maximum cash back you can enjoy per month is RM50. This applies for both principle and supplement expenses (so there is no reason to get a supplementary card).
  3. To get an annual fee waiver, it is necessary to use the card at least 12 times a year.


Another great card to optimize my expense is the UOB OneCard. This card duplicates.the cash back rates offered by Citibank Cashback Card and added GSC cinema to the list. This card is to gain extra cash back when I fill up my car (petrol expenses) and for watching movies in the cinema. If I use this card in BHP stations, I will get five percent cash back, additional one percent UOB$ (which I can redeem in GSC cinema) and also points from BHP eCard. 550 ePoints redeems RM5 of petrol. This brings a total rebate of seven percent. As for movies, I will get five percent cash back and another five percent UOB$. With the UOB$ I accumulated, I get to watch some movies for free. However, there are certain conditions that you should watch out for.

  1. To get the annual fee waiver for the card as a principle card holder, you need to use the card at least 60 times a year.
  2. The annual fee for a supplementary card is RM30 which cannot be waived.
  3. The petrol purchases that qualify for cashback limited to RM600 per month (means you can only get a maximum of RM30 rebate for petrol).

If you want to provide supplementary card to your loved ones, AmBank Carz card is the way to go. You can get up to three supplementary cards without annual fee. Unfortunately, the government tax cannot be avoided. The Carz card offers one percent cash back on petrol expenses, everything else follow our baseline of 0.5% (either to offset the tax or redeem for cash but only when you reach 30000 points).

Two things that is necessary for this plan to work.

  1. The credit card bills are paid in full each month so that late fees will not affect the value of the cash back.
  2. No additional purchases are made because of the credit card.

In optimizing on cash back, I lose out on things like

  1. exclusive discount offers that are frequently available for Citibank and HSBC.
  2. exclusive items that can be found in the card catalogs which are not available elsewhere.

This option is available in Malaysia. I wonder how it works in other countries. Feel free to share by commenting below.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Just Do It, Get Practical

Have you ever thought of doing something but did not really know where to start or how to start? There is a simple solution, just go ahead and do it. The result really does not matter, what matters is that you get your practical experience.


Sailing

image © Jasenka Petanjek for openphoto.net CC:Attribution-ShareAlike 

Start a little experiment - a proof of concept. This is done daily in companies all over the world so why not do it in our personal lives? The key factor about proof of concept to do it on a small scale with minimal risk. Before you start your proof of concept, you should have some idea about what it is you want to find out. The preparations can be something as simple as reading what other have done in that area.

For example, you are thinking of starting a blog. Read about your options, there are free hosting sites and there are sites that require payment. There are some articles which talk about the essential steps to starting a blog. Just to experience it you might just go to one of the free hosting sites and just register and start a blog. This allows you to get a taste of what it means to own one.

Most initial ventures usually end in failure so do not worry about failing, what is important for the first venture is to gain experience and learn from it. There is no better teacher than practical experience.

Another important thing to remember is there is no shame in starting over. For those in the IT field, we usually avoid the first release of anything. We know that the first release of any product is full of bugs and issues which will only be fixed in later release. If this is true of multi million dollar companies why should our own personal ventures be any different.

So remember, do not over analyze and fall into the trap of analysis paralysis, just do it. Get your experience and move on.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Obtaining RSS feed from the writing websites and its uses

When it comes to providing feed into this site for my other writing sites, a rss feed is required. The same applies if you want to automatically publish your articles on Facebook (via NetworkedBlogs).

motherboard

image © Michael Jastremski for openphoto.net CC:Attribution-ShareAlike


Some sites make it easy for you. The following are the rss for the sites I write for.

Note that in each case, strovek is my username, if you need it for your own user name, just replace it strovek with your username for the site.

 
Triond        http://www.triond.com/feed/user/pen_name/strovek
ExpertsPages    http://expertspages.com/author/strovek/feed
Bukisa   http://www.bukisa.com/rss/author/Strovek
Wikinut   http://www.wikinut.com/arss~sohnm/Strovek/rss.xml 
Blogger
(using this site
as a sample)
  http://interloperview.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default?alt=rss  
  or
  http://interloperview.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default

I was not able to find the url to obtain the rss feed for ExpertsColumn. From what I can tell, the site uses Drupal as its platform and there is an option to generate the rss feed but only if you are an admin.

As for Squidoo, the rss feed can be generated using SquidUtils. I successfully used it to generate the following rss feed http://www.squidoo.com/xml/syndicate_lensmaster/StoveM

Uses of RSS feed

RSS feed can be used as a sitemap which you can submit to search engines if you are starting a new site that has never been indexed by the search engines. That was what I did when I first started this blog and all my other blogs.

Some users prefer to use rss reader to read the articles and can subscribe to your blog that way. However, Adsense for feed is going away, so if your reader uses rss feed, you will not earn anything from his/her view..   

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Personal experience on how I got involved with writing online

There are different reasons for writing online. When I started writing online it was to share my knowledge and experience with my team. I was a programmer managing a group of other programmers.

focusing on the computer

image © Michael Jastremski for openphoto.net CC:Attribution-ShareAlike

The blog served a couple of purposes:
  1. share some of the tricks I used on some of my projects.
  2. set up a standard (comments, error handling guide).
  3. a place for me to bookmark solutions or tips I found previously.
After that I found that it was earn some spare change by writing and created a few other blogs. The challenge I found in was to get the word out about my writing. My early success was to participate in forums. One such entry garnered 1000 over hits but it only lasted one day and dropped as fast.

I have since started participating in other article directory sites like
It is much easier to earn money with these sites since the traffic (from all the other writers) ensures a higher CPM. The existing community will also provide you the views provided you get to know the other writers on the site. Most writers will reciprocate when you read their articles. Another benefit from theses sites are the passive income, I still earn from articles I published many years ago.

However, the more successful writers have a large following on the social sites like Facebook, Redgage, Twitter, StumbleUpon, and GooglePlus. The key thing about these social networking sites are getting involved.

The problem though is some sites like Facebook tend to make it more difficult to get to know strangers (people who you want to meet but do not know previously). One way around this problem is to play games. Games will provide you excuse to connect with others. However, the ones you meet through games may not read any posting on the wall.

It is easier to connect with others in GooglePlus and Twitter. By connecting to a lot of people, you have the law of averages working for you, chances of meeting people who like your articles. The side effect is also finding ideas and wondrous discovery.

I just started on this journey and have a lot of things to learn.