Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Improved Initiative Needs Your Help (Part Two)

When I started Improved Initiative nearly a year ago I had a simple goal; write an interesting blog about games that players and storytellers alike will enjoy, and make money while doing it. For a while it seemed like I was doing just that. My page views were up, many of you were engaging with me, telling me what I was doing right, and I even had enough ad revenue coming in from the Google AdSense ads on my blog to help out with some of my living expenses.

We all know what that means, of course; it was time to make a perception check for an ambush.

He's not looking, kick him in the bollocks!

So What Happened?

The first domino fell this past July when I was told Yahoo! Voices was closing its doors. For those of you who didn't see my post on it here, the short version is that I had an archive of over 400 articles on Yahoo! Voices that was paying me royalties every month that I'd come to depend on. Averaged out it was between $100 and $200 a month; not chump change in the life of the writer. I received my last royalty check from them in August, and I was left sitting there with over 400 articles that were now homeless and making me no money.

What did I do?

First I wore this face for about a month.
I took a deep breath, dusted myself off, and got back to my feet. I took a look around the Internet and saw there were a few other websites who would be happy to give my articles a new home. They wouldn't pay me for traffic (Yahoo! Voices paid authors a flat fee for every 1k page views their content received), but instead they would pay me for ad clicks through Google AdSense (meaning that I would receive a fee every time someone clicked on an ad). I decided that was the best option I was likely to get, joined HubPages, and settled in to start cleaning up my archive so it would look good to a fresh audience.

I had a Google AdSense account after all, and this would help me make more money with it.

"Had," You Say?

Had is the operative word in the above sentence. For two months I edited my articles, found good photos to go with them, and got them put up to the general approval of most viewers. My AdSense views were up, and I was seeing some real success.

Then I got an email from Google. I was told they'd spotted possible "invalid activity," and that my AdSense account was going to be suspended. The email also said that while Google would be happy to tell me the exact reasons why I was suspended that they couldn't because to do so would put their security at risk.

If you don't know what you did then we are under no obligation to tell you. So there.
I appealed the decision, trusting as so many people do that the fact they didn't do anything should be enough to clear them of any accusation of wrong doing. Two days later I was told that Google had gotten my message, and thought about it really hard, but that as far as they were concerned I'd been kicked out of their clubhouse and I couldn't come back in. It didn't matter that my blogs, and now my account at HubPages, were all tied in to Google nor did it matter that there was no evidence presented to me.

Why doesn't that matter? Because I guarantee you that there are 100 eager, fresh-faced bloggers ready to step on my broken ribs to take my slot.

So What Happens Now?

I didn't realize until the supposedly-solid ground gave way beneath me just how much of the Internet Google controls. Without them and access to the Google AdSense platform users cannot join most of the popular content creation websites. Writers have to wander the wastes looking for companies that managed to resist Google, and hang on to their own plots of Internet real estate. Most of what I found were the broken castles and ruined walls of websites that had fallen under Google's assault, and had been bought out, conquered, or ground into dust beneath their corporate heels.

In the time of legends the empire of Squidoo stood before the tide of Google, defiant to the end.
Can I recover from this? Sure, given enough time, success, and an audience willing to keep listening to what I say that checks back every time I complete a new piece of content for them.

At this very moment though, I think I'm internally hemorrhaging.

Short Version; I Need Your Help

Not all readers know this, but without you guys even the greatest writers are nothing but echoes in an empty room.

What I mean by that is that without readers a website has nothing. It doesn't matter whether it has cuddle-fight videos of cats and baby unicorns; if no one's coming in to see them (and no one is supporting those efforts) then that site and the people who create that content will cease to be in fairly short order.

Shush, I'm watching my re-match with the quadricorn.
What I need from you, dear readers, is a shoulder to lean on until I can stop limping from this corporation-shaped boot print that's caved in my ribs. If you want to support me (along with this blog and all of my other efforts), then I need you to do something very simple right now.

Whoa, What The Hell Is This?

That link is for a website called Patreon, and the short explanation is that it's like Kickstarter except that it's for artists who create lots of little projects instead of a single, big one. Instead of trying to get a lot of cash to write a book or make a movie, I'm asking my patrons (that's you, dear readers) to give me a small donation every month so I can pay rent, buy groceries, and do all those necessary things while I try to rebuild my online life.

All I need is $1 a month from you. $12 a year to keep this blog, and all of my other projects, going.

It's not easy making a living as a writer, and it gets a little harder every day as major corporations get hold of bigger and bigger portions of the Internet. I have no intention of quitting, but if you could spare the price of half a cup of coffee every month I promise to keep doing my best to make sure that you have plenty of food for thought when it comes time to plot your next campaign.

Also, There's Free Stuff!

Because everyone likes free stuff, I have a special offer for those who become patrons before the end of September! All new patrons will receive, for free, one of my stories. It's just a little something to sweeten the deal, and a way for me to say thank you to all of those who want to help me keep doing what I love to do.

Again, thank you to all of those who have become patrons already, and to all those who have helped me try to get the word out. I will soon return you to your regularly scheduled gaming goodness, and if you'd like to follow me then stop by my Facebook page or my Tumblr.

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