AJ (which stands for Always Juggling) is not actually my real name. When I first started publishing online, I wrote under a pseudonym. I was passionate about protecting my identity, where I lived and the people I was writing about. Not any more. You can find out who I really am at the bottom of this page.
Who is AJ on Wizzley and online? This page tells you a bit about why I am writing online, what I have learned and something about my passions and dislikes.
How my life changed in 2008
Every cloud has a silver lining
Sometimes what appears to be a disaster can force a life change that turns out to be a blessing in disguise. Early 2008 was one of the most stressful times in my life and while I was dealing with the stress I realised that something was badly wrong with my health.
I was becoming giddy, I could not walk in a straight line, I became disorientated, I was exhausted and I was frightened. I also realised that my hearing in my right ear was deteriorating.
But I was very, very lucky. Lucky that my Doctor arranged urgent medical tests and one by one different medical conditions were excluded. My MRI Scan showed no tumours in my brain, which came as a huge relief and it was following a couple of hours of tests that reproduced my symptoms, that a neurologist was able to tell me I have Otosclerosis.
Otosclerosis is a disease of the ear. Briefly, a bony overgrowth of the Stapes in my middle ear affects my balance, co-ordination and hearing. I wrote a page about my condition called Otosclerosis: a disease of the Middle Ear, where you can find out more.
On the one hand I experienced huge relief that the diagnosis was not for something more serious but on the other hand, it meant a huge life change.
I now knew why I struggled to play tennis, why I felt so uncomfortable horse riding that I had given up trying to get my confidence back following a serious fall some years ago. It also accounted for why I kept clipping the curb, when turning left out of our road!
I had to give up my well paid, part time job that allowed me to work from home. I had no confidence to drive, I gave my riding hat to my daughter and I could not tell you where my tennis racquet is.
But then I realised that the forced changes were also forcing me to rethink how I could earn an income....
I wanna be a writer!
Now was the time to start
I have always wanted to write. I had to find a "job" that would enable me to work part time from home. But I did not want to work for anyone else - and neither would anyone employ me with my health issues.
So I started doing some research about earning an income online.
I soon realised that it is not easy. Being able to write is one thing, but getting an audience is another and actually earning would mean a lot of learning. I told my husband that it would be at least a year before I thought I would know enough about writing online to see if it would work for me.
Then I found Squidoo.
Squidoo saved my sanity
Yes, Squidoo saved my sanity at a time when I was unable to do so many things I enjoyed doing. Squidoo gave me a focus. Squidoo taught me new skills AND I WAS WRITING! Something I always wanted to do, but never had the time to do it properly.
The skills I have learned through joining Squidoo are what now enable me to get high rankings not only on Squidoo, but on Google too!.
I have learned about writing from the heart, writing for profit, SEO and keyword research. All the skills I needed to be able to say to my husband, yes, I think I more or less know what I am doing now.
10 things I love
Amateur dramatics - especially Pantomimes
Astrology - Chinese and Western
ajandfamily on Zazzle
Eco friendly designs on Zazzle, also available on other products
Things that make me mad
Bullies and bullying
People who do not know the difference between Self Promotion (OK) and Self Adulation (Not OK)
Get rich quick scammers
Wizzley - the next stage in my online journey
A free publishing platform
And now, almost six years after joining Squidoo, I have left the site and no longer publish on there (it's a long story). However, I continue to keep some content on Wizzley as part of what I call my internet mix!
However, I recognise that putting all your eggs in one basket is not a good idea. You need to spread your online content around and not get too reliant on one site.
Like Squidoo, Wizzley is a free publishing site and you can use it to write articles, make sales and get quality dofollow backlinks to your content elsewhere.
UPDATE - OCTOBER 2016
I took a break from writing online. In 2013 I severed my writing connections with Squidoo and around 18 months later it was gone. I dabbled with Hubpages for a short time, but soon left the site, which I felt was (and still is) sinking slowly.
It serves no purpose to labour on about the prolonged death of Squidoo and my personal thoughts about how its founder Seth Godin sold out the very people from whom he had profited over the years. Thanks to Facebook, I am still in contact with many of my Squidoo friends from around the world and these days I tend to dwell on the positives. I am thankful for my many Squidoo friends and also the skills I learned during my time publishing lenses.
Many of the articles I published on Squidoo are safely archived and will be republished - hopefully during this coming winter. However, I will be re-publishing on my own website. There is no way I will ever, ever again get too involved on a site that I do not own.
These days I spend a lot of time outdoors. My daughter Sarah, has a horse, a beautiful grey appaloosa mare that she backed herself and, under the watchful eye of her Instructor (who is also a friend), has trained to jump.
My main source of income these days is from book keeping and web design. However, I am only normally found at the PC on cold, wet days. The rest of the time I am out in the Hertfordshire Countryside, playing with horses.
I do earn a nice little amount each quarter from one of the two sites I own and I keep meaning to update it and add more content, but somehow I never quite get round to it!
Ironically, the site has articles on it that were once Squidoo Lenses. These articles were full of original content that was well researched. During the last six months I was on Squidoo some were taken down for being of "poor quality". They are now earning me a small amount of passive income!!
Who Is AJ Really?
The Real Me
Hello, my name's Elaine Hartless and I come from St Albans, Hertfordshire, England.
In 2008 I decided to publish articles about Bullying. These articles were based on my experience and that of my third child, a daughter, who was bullied at Primary School. To protect my daughter, and the bully, I decided to write under a different name.
There's no longer a need for anonimity. I will always be AJ to many of my online friends, with whom I stay in touch through Facebook. Come and find me, my Facebook name is Elaine AJ Hartless.