Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Wrapping Up 2008 With Associated Content

As the year draws to a close, we here at Associated Content would like to take a minute to review the highlights of 2008. It's been a year of tremendous growth and change for us and we are primed to make 2009 even better.

The AC Blog was revived.
Our CPs produced stellar coverage of the Presidential election and the political frenzy that stretched from early '08 through November.
We expanded into other social networks like Twitter, Ning, Facebook and Linkedin. Look for more developments in 2009.
AC launched a really cool Facebook Portal.
We hit an all-time high of 8.2 million uniques in October.
We topped 200,000 registered Content Producers.
Associated Content paid out $1 million to our CPs this year.
We previewed a redesign in early December that goes live today!

This has been an exciting year, but also one of great turmoil in the U.S. and world financial systems. Traditional media organizations are struggling, and layoff numbers are still rising, but Associated Content is still providing an opportunity for anyone to earn money when they publish with us. We're confident that we have a chance to thrive as more and more people discover what they can do with us.

We're especially grateful for you, our Content Producers. We're glad that you're here, showcasing your talents on our site, and we're working hard to make it the best place for you to publish and spend your time.

Cheers to a whole new year together!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Associated Content's Redesign Goes Live on Tuesday

Associated Content's new look, which has been in previews for most of the month of December, will launch in full on Tuesday, December 30th. After tomorrow, all site visitors will experience in full the new look of AC.

We received tons of feedback during the previews and we truly appreciate your ideas and insights. Keep in mind that we designed the new Associated Content with the goal of making it more dynamic, professional, easier to use and more attractive to visitors and advertisers. The advertiser part is especially important, since ads on the site are how we are able to pay you for your articles, photos and video.

After the redesign launches we will continue to monitor site traffic closely, and make gradual refinements in order to maximize the exposure and earning potential for your content. Associated Content's success is directly related to that of our awesome Content Producers, so we are pursuing the best results for everyone.

If you notice any new issues moving forward, please report them by sending a message to admin[at] associatedcontent.com directly. We'll be fixing them as quickly as possible.

Finally, a sincere thanks for everything you’ve done to make 2008 a year of unprecedented growth for Associated Content. It's been exciting, and everyone here at AC is looking forward to an even more productive and successful 2009.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

More Previews of AC's New Look

Merry Christmas! Last night we unveiled another round of previews for the remainder of the site. Associated Content's new look is nearing completion, and now logged in CPs are able to see the publish pages and the Community section (including the ever-active Forum) in the swanky new gray and blue color theme. Every page of the site is now available to be previewed with the toggle feature.

There is new navigation and other things to explore, so click on that blue bar at the top of yourscreen to toggle to AC's new look and let us know what you think! There's a thread in the Forum here and you should email admin at associatedcontent.com if you come across any issues that we need to be notified about.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Associated Content on Dataopedia.com

Dataopedia is a new web service that provides comprehensive information about "websites available on the Internet."

Wishy washy name notwithstanding, this KillerStartups-owned site is pretty neat. They aggregate information about websites from several sources on the web and would like to be a one stop shop for web company data (profiles, traffic, boards of directors, the works). There is an article on them at Techcrunch right now.

Associated Content is on there. You should go check out our profile here: http://dataopedia.com/associatedcontent-com. They've captured the old AC look (before the redesign) so I'm looking into having it updated to reflect the new look (like the blog!) but it's otherwise a really cool site.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Associated Content Miscellany

There's a December sweepstakes running at Associated Content. You've probably seen a message about it but as a reminder, AC is giving away 2 ipods per week just for publishing content for upfront payment. If you've already done that this month, you've been automatically entered to win. If you haven't, you've still got time. Full contest rules available here. Winners of the first two ipods will be announced shortly.

This article was linked to from the December Geico Connection newsletter. This goes out to all Geico subscribers, so kudos on all of those pageviews, Alicia Bodine!

Our sweet, successful and funny CP Kelly S. has an interview with me on her blog, the AC Content Producers spotlight right now.

Do you follow AC on Twitter? You should! We're http://twitter.com/acnews and we'd love to follow you, too. Hit us up.

What else would you like to see here on the AC Blog in the new year? More AC employees? Content Producer guest bloggers? More featured CPs? Comments and suggestions are appreciated.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Falling Into the Holidays with Associated Content

The middle of December feels like it came really fast, but here we are, 5 days before the start of Hanukkah and 10 days before Christmas. Ready yet? AC can help.

As with many holidays, there is a plethora of great stuff about the season on Associated Content. From decorating to shopping to cooking, our CPs have it all covered. "Green" Christmas decorations? Check. Shopping on a budget? Check. Eggnog recipe? Check. We're got everything!

I asked the Content Team for some highlights to share with AC blog readers. With so much to choose from it was tough for them to narrow it down, but they came through with some useful and entertaining selections:

Survive Celebrating Both Christmas and Hanukkah in One Season by Jennifer Claerr.

White Elephant Gift Ideas to Make You a Christmas Party Hit by Mike DeNicola.

Add a Charity to Your Christmas List
by PennyB.

Five Kwanzaa Gifts for Your Parents Under $50 by Nannette Campbell.

How to Make Your Own Kwanzaa Mkeka by Emma Gin

Cheap Christmas Gifts During an Economic Recession by Sherry W.

There are so many more. I'm off to search AC for advice on what to buy my brother this year.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Associated Content Going Strong

Approaching the end of 2008, the news around the media industry has been uniformly dismal.

National media companies are getting the most attention. Just this week, the Tribune Co. moved into bankruptcy, the New York Times borrowed money against its new headquarters, Gannett's newspapers may be lowering their home deliveries and CBS merged CBSnews.com and CNET in a move that will be accompanied by layoffs.

Many places online aren't making out much better. Layoffs at Yahoo and ongoing cuts at Gawker Media made big waves recently. Even the dynamic Blogher organization announced that they'll be lowering their rev share program for their affiliated bloggers by 10% in the beginning of 2009.

I've got to toot Associated Content's horn for a minute here. We've made record payouts to record numbers of Content Producers for the past 3 months. We will pay out $1 million to our CPs by the end of 2009. Where other media companies are laying off workers, we're "hiring" new ones every day. The number of opportunities on AC are only increasing and we're pretty proud of that fact in a time when many media organizations are more focused on survival than growth.

Our Content Producers are a big part of that success and we're thrilled with your work so far this year. Keep it up, and 2009 should be even better than 2008.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Collected Feedback About the Associated Content Redesign Preview

The preview of AC's redesign has been up for a few days and our community has been very vocal in sharing their pleasure and their concerns, in almost equal measure.

The Forum has been buzzing. Michelle L. Devon's thread, started just moments after the preview went live, has passed 150 posts and is still going strong. Check it out here and add your two cents.

Please remember, bug reports and similar issues are best sent to community [at] associatedcontent [dot] com rather than just stated in the Forum. It's an organized and efficient way for us to process everything.

We've gotten lots of private messages and emails, too. With the authors' permission, I have put a few of the happy reactions below.

Aly Adair's
was the first and possibly the most enthusiastic response. "I LOVE THE NEW LOOK! The content pages and profile pages look SO much more professional and more like other popular media sites. WHAT A GREAT JOB you all did on this!!

CP Ashley said that she likes the way her homepage looks, and L.L. called the design "crisp and professional."

Cathy, a relatively new AC-er, said "I haven't been here very long, but I plan on becoming an up and coming Content Producer and I love the change!"
Work it, Cathy!

And, finally, Michael wrote and gave props to the design and engineering teams at AC, "Whoever did the design needs a raise for this effort." Are you listening, management?

I could go on, but you get the gist of the communication that we've had thus far regarding Associated Content's new look.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Insider's Preview of Associated Content's New Look!

The preview of Associated Content's redesign is currently available to all (but only) registered Content Producers. Have I mentioned that we're thrilled and excited?

When you land on your account page tonight you'll see a blue bar on top of the screen that says "New look for this page coming in 2009" and a blue bar below the "My Information" bucket on the right side of your account page. Click on it!

This preview will be up for the next couple of weeks and registered users be able to toggle back and forth between the classic AC and the new look.

Highlights of the redesign include:
  • Improved home page and site navigation
  • Newly designed content pages
  • Enhanced CP profiles with content filters
  • Engaging content channels with a new "CP Spotlight"
  • New custom content widgets and social bookmarking features that make it easier than ever to share AC content all over the Web
I spoke with Leonardo De La Rocha, AC's VP of Creative about the new design. He says, "I’m particularly excited with the overall look and feel of the new site! The redesign will offer a more polished, professional and inviting presentation that speaks to how Associated Content has become a “grown up” media site."

Take the next couple of weeks to play around and get familiar with the new look and navigation on AC. Provide feedback or report any problems you experience by emailing community@associatedcontent.com and, of course, post here and let me know how you feel.

Finally, please join me in thanking everyone at AC who has been (and still are) working tirelessly to make this happen.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Spotlight On Content Producers in Alaska

Alaska has gotten quite a bit of attention recently, what with a few Alaskan politicians making the national news on a regular basis. It got me wondering how many of Associated Content's CPs are based in our northernmost state and what they're writing about. There are currently 21 registered Content Producers who claim AK as their home. Below are 4 of the standouts.

Busy CP Clever Shopper lives in Eagle River, AK. From there, she writes lots of informative reviews of beauty products and grocery items.

Unwirklich Vin Zant, living in Soldotna, AK. I looked on a map to see where Soldotna is. Just outside of the giant Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, it looks like a beautiful place. Unwirklich writes product reviews and advice on pregnancy and motherhood. She takes many of the photos that accompany her articles herself.

Jake S is an Anchorage resident who joined AC in September. His content is largely Alaska-centric and will make you want to visit. Personally, I'll wait for spring...

Jacks Twins lives at Elemendorf AFB, AK. A mother to young twins as well as "a veteran, an athlete and a college graduate", she writes about parenting and family topics with a dash of fitness and health. Cute baby pics accompany her articles.

For more on activities in AK read Randy Godwin's "Alaska Hunting Trip Information" and Jill Veskco's "Fly Fishing in Alaska."

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Best of AC Awards-November Winners

Associated Content is excited to announce the winners of our November Best of AC Awards - a series of monthly contests that reward CPs publishing extraordinary content in a wide range of topics across the site.

The winners of AC's November awards are:

Shannon Lausch for College Preparation. Shannon joined AC in October and has been writing fantastic articles since then. Stop by and welcome her to the community!

R. M. Dubuc for Shopping Guides. R.M. is a longtime CP with a ton of great content who really turned it on for the holiday shopping season. Hop over to her profile for advice that'll save you time and money this month.

Pam Gaulin for Winter Holidays. Pam needs no introduction, she's one of Associated Content's most talented and prolific writers and her Winter Holidays coverage is guaranteed to get you in a holiday mood.

Go read their work and congratulate them!

The categories for the December Best of AC Awards are Technology Reviews, Winter Travel Guides and Religion & Spirituality. If you'd like to draw attention to content you're publishing in any of these fields, or if you know of any other worthy CPs you'd like to nominate for these awards, please do so here in the Forum.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Town Hall This Wednesday on Custom Content Opportunities

Associated Content's next Town Hall on Custom Content is tomorrow, December 3, at 8:00 pm EST.

You may know that Associated Content works with other companies to provide custom content for their websites. This content is written by Content Producers who write well and oftentimes have a background in the area that the partner has requested. These opportunities pay well, but AC also expects more from the CP in terms of writing quality, research and time.

If you are interested in learning more about custom content, attend this Town Hall for an overview and to learn how you can apply to be part of our partner-writing pool of CPs. You can sign up here.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Another Peek at Associated Content's New Look

Welcome back! I hope everyone had a lovely holiday weekend.

The full preview of Associated Content's redesign will be available very soon. In the mean time, since everyone is eager to see more, here is a look at the Content Producer profile page. Click on the image to see a larger version.

The 2008 People's Media Awards from Associated Content

Courtesy of AC_Lisa

We are excited to announce the categories for the 2008 People's Media Awards - Associated Content's 3rd annual awards program, which recognizes and rewards the achievements of some of the most exceptional content and Content Producers on AC.

Please help us out by nominating worthy recipients in the Forum. All winners will be chosen by AC staff with input from our community of CPs. We'll be collecting nominations throughout December and announcing the winners in January 2009.

Content Producer of the Year

Prize: $2000

Criteria: A prolific and gifted Content Producer who published outstanding content and reached a wide audience in 2008.

Past winners: Pam Gaulin (2007) and Timothy Sexton (2006).

Post your nominations here.

Articles of the Year

Prize: 3 winners; $500 each

Criteria: Insightful, unique and poignant content published on AC in 2008. Display Only content is not eligible.

Last year's winners: Michelle Devon, Rosa Hayes and Jean Riva.

Post your nominations here.

News CP of the Year

Prize: $500

Criteria: A prolific and plugged-in CP who supplied AC readers with a year's worth of professional and topical news content.

Post your nominations here.

Videographer of the Year

Prize: $500

Criteria: A CP who published striking, original video content in 2008.

Post your nominations here.

Audiocaster of the Year

Prize: $500

Criteria: A CP who published striking, original audio content in 2008.

Post your nominations here.

Top Performing Content

Prize: 3 winners; $100 each

Criteria: This award provides a special bonus to the authors of three pieces of content that received large amounts of traffic in 2008. Winners will be determined based on 2008 page-view data.

We'll be collecting and reviewing nominees throughout December and announcing the winners in January 2009, so start nominating your favorites CPs and pieces of content!