ecoATM – Cash for Mobile Devices (Which I May or May Not Hoard)

07.17.14

There might be a Palm Pilot in my nightstand drawer right now. There was definitely an iPhone 4 (not even a 4s) on my dresser up until last week. It didn’t do much of anything and hadn’t been moved except for dusting for years. So because I do everything for you guys (and because ecoATM asked me to and sponsored this post) I found an ecoATM and brought in for cash. I’d been waiting for an electronic equipment recycling day but this seemed like a better idea.

I went over to the mall in Burbank and used the machine much like you’d use any ATM but instead of putting in my bank card I put in my phone and it’s information. Kind of like this.

Except that I was standing near a food court so instead of background music there was the melody of 57 kids screaming for more soda. My useless-to-me iPhone was exchanged for cash and then we drove around the corner to IKEA for 387 meatballs.

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There are a lot of places to sell your old mobile devices (this includes tablets) but they aren’t all created equally.

ecoATM is able to provide a “second life” for 75% of the items turned in and they partner with eWaste facilities for the remaining 25%. They’re recycled more than 2,000,000 devices with includes more than 1,544 pounds of silver, 70,000 pounds of copper and 500,000 pounds of devices (or roughly the weight of 8,400 third graders).

ecoATM fits in our life well. I’m a ten a day person, meaning I throw out ten items every day of my life. I seldom throw out tech though, which is weird because it’s the thing that becomes obsolete faster than anything else. When my kids give me ten pieces of clothing they’re no longer interested in I’ll buy them one new thing they don’t need (and many more they do need). I’m typically really good about clutter and keeping the volume of stuff out of the house but old phones and tablets have been a problem for me. The kids are begging to go back to the ecoATM to drop off more stuff and get cash. It’s perfect in the summertime, teaches them the value of things in ways I hadn’t expected.

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The kids had a chance to see that even non working phones have value in their parts, that the metals which comprise them can be reused and kept out of the landfill. Also, malls. When it’s hot out and you want a day in the mall it gets pricey quick. At least if you visit an ecoATM there’s some cash flow in.

Your old phones and tablets cannot be recycled in your blue bins. I want to shout this from the rooftops. It’s really important to bring old electronics to an eWaste facility or drop off. Naturally an ecoATM will pay you but at a minimum can I please use this platform to keep your mobile phones out of the landfill?

There are 900 ecoATMs in 42 states. I’d love to see what you guys find around your house. I hope someone has something more humiliating than my mid 90’s Palm Pilot.

Is Mom Blogging A Time Consuming Hobby or a Career?

09.21.12

The Mom Blogiverse is aflutter about a post by Amy Suardi over at Frugal Mom where she announces that she is no longer in the business of blogging. In addition to hitting on every point that a work at home mom would feel conflicted about she states the following:

Jockeying for attention in the age of a million blogs and still trying to care for my family, live by my values of meaning and connection, and maintain a simple, sweet, slow life was an impossible ideal.

Is mom blogging saturated? Are we competing with one another for some spotlight? Are the kids neglected? Sort of yes, not really, I hope not but probably.

Every private forum and facebook group is talking about this post. I’m hopeful that at least a few women who are pouring time and money into blogs that don’t create joy or revenue will rethink how they wish to spend their days. It’s important to define success for ourselves wisely and though a large online audience may make you feel good your family will always feel better. Some of us are lucky enough to be able to work a small number of hours so that we can be with our families, some folks really don’t have that option. Giving up even a few dollars a month could be tragic. These are tough times and quitting a job (even a freelance one) isn’t always an option.

I read Amy’s post and was quite puzzled. I think that Amy has four kids, they look to be little. I’m trying to understand how much a babysitter costs for four kids (my mom was my only real babysitter and we paid her in hugs and gratitude) because of statements like this:

The money I made from writing a post for Parentables did not even cover the cost of a sitter. Freelance writing is not about the money, I eventually learned. It’s about the flexibility of working in your pajamas, the freedom to write about your last vacation, and the cachet of being associated with a large publication.

I’d never actually heard of Parentables before today but I’m trying to understand how a writer could make less money than a babysitter? This confuses me in every way. If you’re new to freelancing I’d really hate for anyone to think that it’s about flexibility, sloppiness and cachet. Freelancing is about owning your time, knowing your value and writing your passions. I was recently published in a large publication and I assure you I was not paid in accolades.

I asked some other folks what they thought of the piece and Kori said, “I thought it was a good article because I can relate to what she is saying.  I think all of us have to find a balance that makes sense in our lives. With that said though, I think you can find a balance and still make money blogging.”

Jenn thinks she’s not much of a blogger anyhow so the conversation isn’t applicable, “Do you consider making a TV show blogging? Now I’m even more confused.” I’m with Jenn. It sounds like being in front of a camera was a lot of work for a mom with little kids. Some folks aspire to be on camera, some just sort of land there. I think it’s a softer landing when it’s actually a goal but it’s a tremendous amount of work and it’s not time that you’re in control of. I’m not really clear on the show but some talent isn’t particularly well compensated. Perhaps that’s the cache she’d mentioned?

Trisha suggests that a successful career blogging comes from being a savvy entrepreneur, “The key to being online and making a living is learning to know your worth. You have to absolutely learn to say no when there is no benefit to your brand. That clears up your time to dedicate to the companies that are more seriously dedicated to you resulting in better posts, and more importantly, better opportunities.”

I wish Amy well and I’m sure she’ll have great success. She’s a smart lady because she knows that success is self defined and putting family first is her truest measure right now.

Blogging serves many masters. I’ve recently changed the way I do things and it might look like a not-very-smart move to some but for me it was the best thing I could have done.

Can a new blogger come on the scene, set up shop and make a good living? Are we quite simply saturated? I don’t know the answers to that. I’ve often compared blogging to the MLM industry. There are many more women who will lose time and money (time that cannot be replaced, money that can) from jumping into the business of blogging. They’ll be sold websites, templates, mailing lists and conferences that are all unaffordable but allow them to feel like part of the workforce without really entering it. Is this a bad thing or just a thing? Is working at home part of a phase that stay at home parents need to experience?

I really don’t have any answers. I do know how to run a business. I’ve been working for myself since 1998 and I know that I’ve redefined success a thousand times in as many days. Sometimes I need to stretch a little more, sometimes the new definition of success means doing less.

Bloggers, ladies in particular, it helps to be realistic. If you’re making less than minimum wage it’s a hobby. Hobbies get different hours than jobs.

Photo courtesy of Flickr via creative commons. 

This Is How Much Bloggers Get Paid?

08.12.10

The question on everyone’s mind is How much does a blogger make? Folks ask me this all the time, not in so many words, but they ask with their awkward phrasing.

So, you’re a mommy blogger? Is that a hobby?

Or

When you say “work” what is it that you mean, exactly?

Every so often people will up and ask, “Can you make a living doing that?”

The answer is yes and no. Like any salary survey, bloggers will be deliberately vague. With most ad networks I’m seeing bloggers in my niche (parenting) making anywhere from $.20 to $20.00 CPM (CPM essentially means per 1,000 impressions). Now, if you factor in that a blog may have multiple ad spots on a page, this can be a nice living, or it can be crap. Assume that it’s crap.

The real money is made when a blogger partners with someone else. Sometimes they will be a brand spokesperson, sometimes they will have twitter parties, sometimes they will have live events, and there is absolutely no end to what brands and bloggers can concoct as revenue streams. If a blogger is talking sweetly about a brand, assume they are getting paid. These payments can range from $1 for a sponsored tweet to tens of thousands of dollars for events. Sadly, bloggers in my niche can be found tweeting for a branded hackeysac. I like to hold out for cupcakes.

If you’ve made it this far, you realize that I’m being vague. It’s deliberate, and it’s unlikely that I’ll ever tell you about my paycheck for a job I’ve taken. However, I had a job offer so fantastic that I absolutely must share it with you, this way you’ll get a sense of just how much money a blogger makes.

Before I begin this story I want to make two things perfectly clear. Firstly, before you have a conversation with me, or with anyone like me fax over an NDA. At a minimum send an email saying you want to have a confidential conversation. Posts like this do not happen with an NDA (or anything written) in place. Secondly, I will never tell you which television network this is. I will neither confirm, nor deny. If they don’t self identify in the comments no one will ever know.

Last week I got a phone call from a television network asking me if I was available to help them with their site. Blogging for a TV network? Sure. I had a nice conversation with the guy, who had clearly read at least one of my most recent posts, but likely no more than that (which is totally okay, just don’t lie and say you did) one. When he said, “how’s that arthritis going?” I knew I was in TV land.

He told me that their network had streamlined, they no longer have multiple weathermen in the same region, but that they wanted to launch a group of local sites, and they needed help launching their Los Angeles family site.

Perfect. This is my perfect job.

Then they showed me what they’d already done in another metropolis. Crap. Absolute crap. There was no thought given to SEO to SEM , and the writing was an affront to anyone who loves language. I knew I could do better. Had I used a little foresight, I’d have known to hop off the call immediately.

The TV caller had asked me if I could preload a site with about thirty posts, they would supply a few broad topics, and someone else would provide the clipart and upload to wordpress. I said I’d need about a half dozen women to do that well, and I’m pretty sure I could do it within a week.

I contacted a half dozen women in LA and asked them if they were available for a short turnaround post (or five), all of them said yes. I was ready for phone call number two.

Phone call number two came from a more executivey executive, who blew less sunshine up my ass, but was much more clear on what he needed. I explained to him how I could do the job, how I could do the job well, and I let him know loud and clear that I brought expertise to the job that few others would share.

So he offered me the job.

I was offered $1,000 to get a site loaded in twenty days. I was also supposed to be in charge of payroll for the six women who would get $50 a post (not part of my $1,000).

To be very clear, they were prepared to spend $50 a post, and buy thirty posts for a total of $1,500. Then they wanted to pay someone $1,000 to edit the posts, optimize them for SEO and administer a payroll system to the writers.

If I lived in a part of the country where a mortgage was $300 this might be appealing, but this is Los Angeles.

Here’s the kicker. I told the second (less Hollywood-y) executive that I’d need at least three times that amount to get the work done right, and he said they’d let me know pretty quickly. Within 24 hours.

Six hours later they emailed my friend. One of my friends who I’d asked to write for this project.

24 hours later they emailed another friend. She got them up a few dollars, but only a few.

So, if you’re looking for very real numbers about what bloggers make I can tell you this. Someone will work for $1,000 a month, lend their name to a project, run a payroll system, attempt basic SEO and SEM. Bloggers will write for the right sites at the rate of $50 a post (and frankly I think that’s just fine if it’s a no-research post), and television networks should really think about hiring someone within the space before launching a local site.

I absolutely would be delighted to be that person, but not at $1,000 a month.