Jan 30

Joy$ of the P$eudonym

My popular and sought-after pseudonym has 2.5 million reads and makes much more money than I do. No field of study is more complex, ancient, and intellectual than astrology, and few things are more symbolic, metaphoric, and collective-unconscious, so my interest in it seems to me part of a continuum. I’ve spent many enjoyable years studying astrology and meeting and talking with astrologers. About 25 years into it I realized I had this vast fund of specialized knowledge I wasn’t writing about. I held back because I thought people would call me nutty. Astrology is not a religion. I’m not a psychic or a witch and I don't let astrology run my life. I'm curious, and fascinated because there seems to be something to it, and I realized there are many others just as curious.

I planted a second career seed by taking a pseudonym who writes about astrology. Began it in 1993, in a small way. It grew. I learned about the market, which is enormous yet demanding. The Internet has educated readers about astrology in the way newspaper columns and books never did, so today they know what's fake and know what's genuine. They know what sign the Moon is in today; they know what Mercury in retrograde means. And I found a niche. I got my toehold writing articles exposing "astrologers" and "psychics" who charge thousands of dollars but whose "readings" I can prove are fake and canned. I've saved many people their hard-earned money. It's satisfying. An editor read what I wrote and offered me a steady gig. So I have monetized a specialty I had, and the pseudonym allows me to separate literary work from popular.

How about you? What do you know about that you might monetize by writing about it?

Yes, you can still deposit and cash checks written to your pseudonym -- simply tell your bank, and on the account they’ll put “doing business as” or d/b/a. No, you needn’t register a pseudonym with the state or federal government, although I registered mine as a dot.com right away.

Sep 30

Making $ on The HubPages "Content Farm"

I read at least 10 online horoscope columns per day, seeking my destiny, and figured I might as well write what I thought about them and the others I consulted or discovered or rejected: I've bookmarked about 80 in all. And so the "Horoscope Review" by astrologer "Sylvia Sky" was born in August 2010 on HubPages.com.

HubPages.com is a host site for articles by anybody about anything (except porn or hate speech), but you can make money if people click on the ads appearing on your pages. Such host sites are derisively called "content farms." People post poetry, novel chapters, articles about relationships, recipes, political rants, whatever, and hope for readers. But as the HubPages chiefs advise, you build a following by carving a niche and staying in it, and the best way to rise to the top of Google Search is to write quality articles. I've now published 54 HubPages articles that have been read more than 64,000 times; Google Ads pays me about $150 a month, and more each month as my readership grows, because they're good articles I work hard at. Nobody else was writing good solid knowledgeable reviews of online astrology columns. Some online astrologers are genuine; I recommend Rick Levine, Sally Brompton, Susan Miller (for monthly horoscopes), and Daniel Dowd (for weekly horoscopes). I've corresponded with some of these astrologers who have huge followings. All online "psychics" who have their own site are, without exception, fakes, and Sylvia can tell you why because she investigates their claims and calls their numbers.

Sylvia gets letters from all over the world thanking her for exposing fakes; about these matters, even the most intelligent people can be terribly gullible. I have fun and use my journalism skills, my ability to write for the Web, my critical talents and astrology hobby, and perform a service for thousands of people. Some writers hate "content farms." I don't. Sometimes I am asked if I provide psychic readings. I don't; I write horoscope reviews. Sylvia Sky is the Consumer Reports of Internet astrology. Sylvia embodies my weird interests. She is a successful subself. How about you? More about HubPages, coming up.