Crissy Says

Earning Money With Affiliate Programs + Blogging

Blogging is one way that people make their presence known on the Internet.What started out as simple, online journals in the 90s have become a phenomenon! One way to monetize your blog is through affiliate programs.

This type of program is great for a blog. Affiliate programs are everywhere now. They range from pay-per-click to pay-per-lead to pay-per-sale. It all depends on what you want to explore. With some of the bigger programs, you are almost guaranteed a profit on the brand alone.

Finding a Suitable Affiliate Program

All affiliate programs are not created equal. First, choose one that is suitable for the purpose of your blog. You wouldn’t advertise for hair care products if you blog is about gardening. The program product has to fit your needs.

Check out the commission structure. If you are going to promote this program, you want it to be worth your while. Many have a structure where you can earn money for your leads and also for referrals. Can you move up? A multi-level program gives you incentive to promote harder for the monetary gains.

Do you believe in the product? Remember, you are accountable to your readers on your blog. Promoting a product simply for the money would betray them and you would lose your audience.

Try the products you are promoting. Ask for feedback on the program if you have to. You will be more passionate about the product if you like it.

Go for the top. Why not Amazon or eBay? They offer popular affiliate programs that can help monetize your blog. Well established programs usually have more resources for the affiliates to use to increase their commissions.

Affiliate Directories

This is another way to get going with affiliate programs. This is like a marketplace where merchants can list their affiliate opportunities. You can apply for their programs. Here, though, you may be rejected if your blog doesn’t meet certain criteria such as length of time on the Internet.

Affiliate programs are an easy way to get started in the area of monetizing your blog. You can sign up for many even if your blog is new and get going in minutes.

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Crissy Says, Managing Your Biz

Why WordPress?

When it comes to blogging, I highly recommend using WordPress. There are many choices out there – and I’ve tried many of them before I started using WordPress myself. I’ve been using it for four years, and I haven’t looked back. I use it on all of my sites.

WordPress is a free software, and it’s completely web-based. This means that you can blog from any computer – and even your smartphone (yes, there’s an app for that.)

Aside from being free and convenient, WordPress offers many other benefits.

Easy To Use

First of all, WordPress is very easy to use. If you can use a word processing program, you can use WordPress. There is a “What You See Is What You Get” editor (WYSIWYG), so you can easily write your posts – and see what they’ll look like  before you publish them.

If you want to get technical, you have access tot he HTML version of your post, but if you’re not a technical person (and most people aren’t) all you have to do is type what you want to write, and hit the “publish” button. Easy peasy!

Easy Design Changes

Changing the look of your blog is super easy with WordPress. There are many pre-made themes to choose from. These are like “outfits” for your blog. When you change your theme, you don’t lose any of your content (posts). You simply change the look of your theme. You can also alter the themes to suit your needs – from changing the colors, fonts, layout, and so forth.

Complete Control

When you use WordPress, you have complete control over your blog. As I said above, you can change the design of your blog quite easily, but you also have control over the functionality of your blog. There are many add-ons called “plugins” that you can add to your blog to change the way it behaves. We’ll go into that more tomorrow.
For blogging (and marketing) ideas, pick up a copy of The Year Long  Marketing And Blogging Guide. It is filled with 156 blogging ideas and 52 marketing tips! (enough for 3 blog posts per week and 1 new marketing strategy, each week — for a whole year!)

The Year Long Marketing And Blogging Guide is only $10 through December 11! Click Here To Purchase Now!

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Crissy Says

If You Don’t Like It, Change It!

I have been reading review posts of BlogHer10 and felt compelled to write the following post. I might make a few people mad, but oh, well, here goes:

There are lots of people who are unsatisfied with the conference. The main complaint is that the conference was catered to Mommy Bloggers. Well, duh! Have you ever heard of BlogHer before you attended it? Have you ever read any other reviews of past conferences?

Assuming that you lived under a rock and have never tried Googling for info on the conference, I’ll ask something more basic: Have you ever heard of blogging?? I’ll be you have! Now, have you paid any attention to what the media connect blogging with? The answer is Mommy Blogging! Well, that and Perez Hilton.

Lots of companies have at least one mommy blogger on their site – for example, The Today Show has mommy bloggers, Lifetime has mommy bloggers, The View has mommy bloggers, I mean, seriously – do you want me to go on? Because I can sit here all day and list out the companies who have affiliated themselves with mommy bloggers.

The BlogHer Conference is catered to mommy bloggers because Mommy Bloggers are the biggest voice in blogging.  Plain and simple.

You can argue with me if you want, but think about it. When was the last time you got a new car, new camera, new whatever simply because you blog? Were you invited to any of  the private parties at the conference? Were you shipping home boxes and boxes of swag? No? Well, guess who was? Mommy Bloggers were!

The well-known mommy bloggers have already figured out the stuff that BlogHer told us at the opening and closing keynotes. Remember those? Remember learning about how the female blogger is the most powerful voice out there? Remember learning how we can make a change if we blog? If we band together?

So why not do that if you are so unhappy with the way female bloggers are seen? Be the voice you want to hear!

How do you do that? Well, here are a few ideas:

Find Your Tribe – If you don’t assimilate well in the mommy blogger community, find a community that you do fit into, or create your own community.

Make It A Point To Connect With Your Tribe – The Mommy Bloggers have Twitter Parties, ning communities, and go to lots of conferences throughout the year to connect with each other. Start finding ways to connect with your own community!

Form ONE Voice – Once you connect with your community, form a collective voice. Not all mommy bloggers want the same thing, but they all want some of the same things. They want what is best for their children (even if they disagree on what the ‘best thing’ is), they want to be taken seriously, they want to be heard, they want to be seen as individuals and contribute to society and to the decisions that are being made around them.

Demand What You Want – Decide what it is that your community wants out of BlogHer and demand it. Blog about it. Tweet about it. Tell the BlogHer staff. If you want more advanced sessions, tell them. If you want to see more of a craft or food presence, tell them.

Create What You Want – If you are not getting what you want, create it yourself. You don’t have to compete with a huge conference like BlogHer, you can start small. Create your own virtual conference. I did it – it’s not that hard. Yeah, it’ll take work and effort, but is it worth it to you? If so, do the work and make it happen. If not, then shut up and be satisfied with the choices out there.

Like I said, I have read a lot of reviews today and I know that many of you are requesting to have a non-mommy blogger themed conference. So band together and make it happen! Don’t wait for someone else to do it. If you want a change, then you need to be the change.

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Crissy Says

My BlogHer Weekend Wrap Up

Welcome To BlogHer10
Welcome To BlogHer10

This was a big weekend! And this is going to be a big post. So bear with me. I have a lot to say (and show you). On Thursday, August 5, I flew to New York City with my friends Beth & Lish to attend BlogHer. In a word, it was amazing. But I know you want more than one word. So, here we go with more deets!

When we got to the hotel (The Hilton New York) we were greeted with a Welcome To BlogHer10 sign. The lobby was also full of women. Check-in wasn’t scheduled until 3pm and women were arriving well before noon. There were shrieks and sounds of enthusiasm as women met up with their friends from all over the globe. The majority of these women met each other online – and here they were in person. That in itself is a big deal.

View of New York City from 27 Floors Up
View of New York City from 27 Floors Up

We were lucky enough to get an early check-in around 1pm. We were on the 27th floor. This is what New York looks like from up there.

That night, the three of us went to the Etsy headquarters where we participated in the Crafty Blogging Panel, along with Amy Schroeder, Rachel Johnson and Tonya Staab.

This was definitely the highlight of my trip. And I know it is not BlogHer related, per se, but it was an awesome experience! We had a live audience of people who came in person, as well as those who watched from the Etsy Labs

Etsy Headquarters
Etsy Headquarters

online. The panel was more of an open discussion than a “lecture” – with lots of audience feedback and questions. It was like a great conversation – all about business & blogging!

Friday morning was the official kick-off to the BlogHer Conference. I wish I had taken more pictures of the breakfast, both  keynotes, sessions, and expo. But there were so many people, so many things to do, and so much going on that I kind of forgot to stop and capture it. Sorry! But I can tell you about it!

The breakfast was sponsored by Tropicana, and they did an awesome job! There were many items to choose from, but I opted for a ham and egg croissant, fresh fruit, coffee and juice.

Busy New York Morning
Busy New York Morning

Bruce Jenner was there, pouring juice and taking pictures, and even though I’m a fan of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, I didn’t go up and talk to him. Like I said – lots to do and too little time!

The first session I went to was about the FTC guidelines. I learned some surprising facts. I was under the impression that the FTC could fine bloggers who didn’t comply, but I was told that wasn’t true in the session. They also stressed that these were guidelines, not laws.

My First New York City Hotdog
My First New York City Hotdog

After that, we had lunch, which was an awesome display of sandwiches, salads, fruit, and various desserts. We also roamed around one of the Expo halls for a little while. BlogHer is known for its swag, and yes, there was lots of it. LOTS of it. Two expo halls of it, plus a swag bag at registration plus room drops.

It would be impossible to write about every single piece of swag that I got, but I will go over some of the highlights:

Beth and Lish setting up the CheeseburgHER bed
Beth and Lish setting up the CheeseburgHER bed

Proctor and Gamble really outdid themselves and created a “Proctor and Gamble House” which you could walk through and learn about their products.

They gave out samples of Tide and Downy in the laundry room, demos of an easy to attach Pur filter attachment, had an interactive demo of a man sneezing through a regular tissue and then showed how the Puffs tissue couldn’t be sneezed through. There was also a room with Febreeze and Swiffer samples. I received a new type of NoticeABLE from Febreeze that does not need to be plugged in.

The CheeseburgHER Bed
The CheeseburgHER Bed

After I got home yesterday, I set it up in my living room. I had to leave for a little bit, and when I walked in my door, I noticed the scent and how nice it smelled. But it’s not overpowering and doesn’t make my eyes water when trying to watch TV.

P&G also handed out a gift bag with lots of beauty items, including a Venus Razor (I tried it today and it does make shaving your legs easier), as well as full size samples of Secret and Oil of Olay products, which I haven’t tried yet, as well as a nice size sample of their Eukanaba kitten food for Franny.

The Quickie booth featured The Real Housewives of Orange County star Tamra Barney. I love me some Real Housewives, so I did stop by to talk to her for a moment. Ecco was giving out pedicures but I didn’t make an appointment in time, and Propel had chair massages, but again, I was too busy going to sessions, so I missed out on that, too.

But of course, the expo halls and suites are not just there to hand out swag. This is the chance to meet with the brand managers and PR people from these brands. They want to work with bloggers. They understand how much power bloggers have, and they want to be in front of these blogger’s audiences.

New York City At Night
New York City At Night

Yes, there are going to be lots of bloggers who simply write about the swag and the brands are going to get a lot of  publicity. But savvy bloggers go there to begin relationships with these brands and work out deals with them for sponsorships and incentives.

I talked to lots of brand people while I was there, walking around the expo area, as well as at meals. All of them were very nice and asked questions about my blog and what I wrote about.  They were all very enthusiastic and one of them said they had heard about me at the EVO Conference.

However, the PlaySkool rep I talked to was a little less than enthusiastic to speak to me. As soon as I told her that I blogged about business and told her I did not have children, she got a look on her face that clearly said I was wasting her time. I am sure that she went there to talk to mommy bloggers. That makes total sense.

Trenton's Mr. Potato Head Disguise
Trenton's Mr. Potato Head Disguise

But guess what? Just because I am not a mommy blogger doesn’t mean I should be discounted. I have nephews, and I gave my younger nephew the Mr. Potato Head and Play-Doh swag I received from PlaySkool. I might not sit around writing about PlaySkool products on my blog, but I DID post pictures on my Twitter and Facebook of Trenton using the Mr. Potato Head parts to create a disguise for himself.

So,while I don’t have children myself, I am clearly writing about PlaySkool in this post, and I did show pictures of a child I am related to playing with their product. And while I don’t have the most popular blog in the universe, I get a nice amount of traffic, have a very nice sized Twitter following, and yeah, I am known on Facebook, too.

I mean, seriously, where does the PlaySkool rep think mommy bloggers go to read marketing tips? The Wall Street Journal? No. they go to MY site. She should really think about that the next time she feels like rolling her eyes at me.

Sparklecorn Party
Sparklecorn Party

Okay – back to the conference itself! Some of the other sessions I attended were on the topics of intellectual property law, giving advice online, using social media to brand yourself, monetizing your blog, and pitching yourself to PR reps. I can’t really say that I learned something at each session because I am already an experienced blogger who knows how to brand myself and make money with my site. But it did give me a chance to hear other people’s opinions on the subject and hear questions from people who were new to those topics.

BlogHer is also known for it’s parties. I went to several of them, but I must say the highlight was the Sparklecorn party. There was unicorn glitter – and a unicorn cake, courtesy of Charm City Cakes. You know – from the Food Network show Ace of Cakes!!!

Unicorn Cake from Charm City Cake (Ace of Cakes) for Sparklecorn
Unicorn Cake from Charm City Cake (Ace of Cakes) for Sparklecorn

And let me say that they make some awesome cake!! It was a vanilla cake with a layer of peanut butter and jelly between the cake layers and a rich vanilla frosting.

One of the most “famous” BlogHer parties is the CheeseburgHER party. If you Google it, you can read the history and how it got it’s name. This year, the organizer asked my friend Lish to make the CheeseburgHER bed. Beth spent about 10 hours helping her. Here are some photos of the bed getting set up and the finished product, which I think turned out super cute!

Some of the other highlights of my New York City weekend include eating my first New York City hotdog, walking to Times Square on Friday night with Beth, walking to Central Park on Saturday morning, and, just being in New York!! I mean, it’s NEW YORK CITY!! What’s not to love?

Overall, I give my BlogHer weekend a rating of 10 gold stars. It was a lot of fun, I got to meet several people I know from Twitter / the blogosphere in person, I got to meet a lot more that I had never heard of, and most importantly, I got to feel the energy of all 2500 or so bloggers in attendance!

Some of these women are “rock stars” in the blogging world, with millions of readers. Some of these women were just getting started and had 2 readers. Others are somewhere in between. But they are all blogging! Because they WANT to. And that is pretty freaking cool.

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Crissy Says

Crafty Blogging – With Indie Biz Chicks & Etsy!

I have had a secret – for months – and it’s been hard not to share it with you!  Back in February, I begin planning an event at Etsy with my friends Beth & Lish from Handmade Detroit.

On August 5th, my friends and I will be traveling to New York and will be visiting Ety’s Brooklyn headquarters where we will be leading a panel discussion on crafty blogging from 7 – 9 pm Eastern.

If you are in the New York area that day, you can attend the event for free.

If you are not in the New York area – you can watch it online for free!

For more info, a complete list of speakers, and to register, click here.

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Crissy Says, Managing Your Biz

What The Hell Is Blogging?

Today is the second installment of “101 Week,” and today we are going to tackle the question “What the hell is blogging?”

Simply put, blogging is whatever you want it to be.

And now you are more confused than ever, right?

Well, when blogging first started it was used as an online journal, or “web blog.”  This was back when many sites were static – as in the front page, or home page, did not change. There was a big line in the sandbox between a blog and a website.

Times have changed!

I build my sites in WordPress, and if you read this site very often, you have heard me recommend it a zillion times. WordPress started out as a blogging platform, but is now used by many people to create websites. And I don’t mean it’s used only by people with home businesses – it’s used by national companies, BIG companies, like Ford and GM.

As an online business owner, your blog serves a huge purpose. It is the communication link between you and your customer. They cannot come into your store and make small talk like they would with a local business. Your blog fills that void.

People want to do business with people they like and feel they have a relationship with. When these people read your blog, they feel like they are getting to know you, and they become a life long customer.

If you are not sure what to blog about, start with the basics. Write about your products and services, and why they are beneficial. Write about your daily life, things that inspire you, industry news, and so forth. For more ideas, check out my Year Long Marketing & Blogging Plan. It has enough ideas for 3 blog posts per week for a whole year!

You can also ask other people to write posts for your blog (this is guest blogging) as well as use my Pre-Written Blog Posts.

Most importantly, remember that blogging is supposed to be FUN, so don’t get too stressed out!

To learn how to register a domain and get your site online, click here

If you have questions about specific things, go ahead and feel free to leave them in the comments section. I will answer them on my FREE Live call (yes, FREE) on June 24 at 9pm eastern.

To register for the call, visit: https://www.indiebizchicks.com/beginner-teleseminar.html

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Managing Your Biz

How To Take A Month Off Of Blogging This Summer!

If you have the summer vacation bug, you are not alone! Lots of people are taking time off this time of year. But that doesn’t mean your blog has to suffer. Here are some tips on how to take a month off, without feeling an impact:

1. Write extra posts now, and then post date them throughout the summer

2. Find guest bloggers. Have them send you their posts, and you can publish (and post date) as necessary.

3. Recycle Your Old Posts – Create new posts based on a theme, and link back to your old posts.

For example, if you have a crafty blog, your theme could be “Best Summer Craft Ideas.” If you have a parenting blog, it could be “Keeping Your Kids Busy This Summer,” or if you have a cooking blog, it could be “5 Easy No-Cook Recipes.”

4. Use Pre-Written Blog Posts! I have quite a few packs of pre-written blog posts that you can download and post on your blog. They are ready-to-use and super easy!

You get 10 posts per pack, and for a limited time, when you buy 1 pack, you will get one free! That’s 20 pre-written blog posts for only $10.

I have blog posts on all types of topics – from organic gardening to planning a wedding to online marketing and more!

To see the full list of blog post packs and to purchase them, visit: https://www.indiebizchicks.com/blog-posts.html

(**** If you are thinking to yourself “What the hell is blogging?” Click Here for more info on how to get started with blogging)

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Crissy Says

Blogging Experiment: Want To Play?

I am looking for 4 people who want to join me in a little blogging experiment…. I want to see if we can boost each other’s traffic over the summer.

Here’s what we will do:

Each week, we will simply read each other’s blogs and on Sunday, we will write a post with a link to our favorite post from each person in the ‘blogging group’ that week. We will then post a link to the blog post we wrote that contains the links to everyone’s blogs through social media.

For example, on Sunday morning, I would go to the 4 other people’s blogs, pick out a post I liked from that week and write one post on Indie Biz Chicks that contained the links to those 4 posts. Make sense?

This will run from June 6 – August 29.

To participate, you must have a blog with a Google page rank of at least 3 and you need to write at least 3 blog posts per week while this program is running. (hey – if you aren’t blogging, we can’t pick out a favorite blog post of the week..)  You will also need to be willing to share your traffic stats at the beginning and end of the experiment.

If you are interested in participating, please leave a reply in the comments section.

I will be choosing the participants on May 30.

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General

Making Sense of Tags & Categories

Writing a blog post is pretty easy, right? You can find all kinds of blogging platforms with “what you see is what you get” editors (WYSIWYG) that mimic the look of a word processor. It seems that all you have to do is type and publish!

Well, writing a post and putting it on the internet might be easy… but what about using tags and categories? Now, I know that for some of you, this is where things get a little difficult.

Here’s my two cents on the subject:

Categories

I think that is is very easy to get carried away with the categories feature. I have seen blogs with 200+ different categories! That’s a bit much. Categories are supposed to help people find blog posts about specific things on your blog, not overwhelm them.

Depending on your blog’s layout, your categories might display in a sub nav bar under your main nav bar. If not, you can enter in a bit of code and make it display, but I don’t want to get into anything too technical here. (You can always Google that if you want the code and find some tutorials.) Another option is to use a widget to display your categories over on the sidebar. OR you can just not display them at all. It’s up to you.

If you choose not to display them, it is still important to use them on each posts, as it can help with your SEO (search engine optimization). It will help the search engines figure out what your post is about.

Tags

Tags can be used a bit more freely than categories, as they won’t be displayed all together for your readers to try and choose from. Think of them as little “keywords” for your post. Again, using them will help with your SEO efforts, AND they can also help your readers pinpoint things easier if they use the search function on your blog.

Real Life Example:

Let’s say you are a virtual assistant and you wrote a post on time management tips for freelancers. Depending on the categories you have chosen, it might fall under “work at home” or “business tips.” You can also tag this post with things such as “time management,” “organization,” “freelancers,” “work at home,” etc.

Above all, do NOT get overwhelmed by categories and tags. They are there to help make things easier, not confuse you. Sometimes, when people feel like they are not doing something right (like using tags or categories) they stop blogging all together. Don’t let that happen. Just keep blogging and keep playing with your tags and categories. Eventually, it will get easier and things will fall into place.

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