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Monday, September 22, 2014

Blog Sponsors, Advertisers and Affiliates - 30 Lessons in Blogging



I've already written about making money from your blog with Google Adsense. Other sources of income for your blog can be from sponsors or affiliate programmes.



Blog Sponsors

I have a couple of sponsors of my blog. They pay me a monthly fee to display their 'button' (clickable logo) in my sidebar, and each month I publish a features post promoting their store.
I've been asked many times how I found my sponsors. 

First I set up a page on my blog explaining the advertising packages I have available, and some statistics for number of visitors, pageviews and followers of my blog.

What you choose to offer in your advertising packages and how much you choose to charge is up to you. I spent a lot of time initially checking out other people's advertising pages and articles to get an idea of what was 'usual'.   I then settled on what I felt comfortable offering and charging.

I chose companies that were relevant to the theme of my blog; mostly fabric shops. A lot of these I found by looking on other similar blogs, to see which companies were using blog advertising already.
 I prepared an email outlining what my blog was about, it's relative popularity (visitor statistics) and how I felt it may be a good fit for advertising their store. Then I sent out lots of emails and just went from there. Some companies I never heard back from. Others signed up for a month and that was it, and some became long term sponsors of my blog!

I try to make a big effort with my sponsors - in writing great posts for them, and also linking on social media to their pages, and helping to promote any special offers they have.



Affiliate programmes

Another income source can be from affiliate programmes. For these, you display ads for a company, and then if sales are made through someone clicking through your site, you make a commission.  
I've tried a few different programmes. There are various ones you can sign up for, like for example Clickbank. They have lists of advertising clients that you can choose from to apply for their affiliate programmes.

Amazon has a big affiliate programme which I did sign up for early on in my blogging but never made any money from - although my traffic then was very low.  To be honest, until writing this post it's not something I'd thought about again, but I shall revisit it and perhaps try again now that my blog is bigger.

The only affiliate programme I currently have on my blog is for The Book Depository, which is where I buy my own books from as they are good value and offer free delivery worldwide.  I make a small amount of commission from this company, but not much at all. Still, I keep it there as it's something I use myself and am happy recommending.



I think the most important thing to remember when looking for sponsors - and affiliate programmes is to find ones that you yourself believe in, would use or buy from and it fits with the theme of your blog.

Don't be afraid to ask companies if they would like to sponsor your blog. What's the worst that could happen?   Some sponsors pay in supplies, others are happy to pay cash - I use paypal as a payment method for my sponsors.



How About You?

Do you have blog sponsors?
Do you have any affiliate programmes? 
Are there any you would recommend?


A Round Tuit 224 - Day 71, Use What You've Got

A very good morning to all from sunny Cairns. It's school holidays, the weather is glorious and I'm happy, happy, happy!

I've been sticking to my #100happydays project for 70 days now - and am enjoying the habit of finding and snapping something each day that makes me smile! Not a bad habit to get into I'd say.

So here's my round up of last week's happy days pictures:


I hope everyone else out there is enjoying a great start (or end) to the week, depending on what time zone you live in!! :)

Let's get to it and see what you've all been up to!

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Welcome to this week's linky party. A place where you can link up your posts and creations, and be inspired by others.

Tuits are very hard to come by, especially the round ones. For years people have been saying, "I'll do it as soon as I get a round tuit". Well now you can have one of your very own, and all those jobs that have needed doing will finally get done!
 
 
 
Here's my favourites from last week's party:
 
First of all, a wonderfully simple upcycle idea from A Creative Princess. turning skinny belts into wrap bracelets!




Next, a tasty looking BBQ snack dip from With A Blast:
Here in Australia next weekend is our AFL (Aussie rules football) Grand Final. This looks like the perfect snack to try out then!



Finally, these super cool Barefoot Sandals crocheted by Liz from Howling at the Moon:
So pretty! I love them.


For those featured, feel free to grab a 'featured on' button here.
Creating my way to Success
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Now it's your turn:
Link up your own projects - old or new - no rules - just share your creativity and inspiration!
I'd love if you grabbed the button - then you can have your very own Round Tuit!
And of course we all love visitors and comments so do visit some of the other links!
By linking up here you're giving me permission to use photos from your post in features here on my blog.
I will feature my favourites on this post next week.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Having a Blogging Schedule - 30 Lessons in Blogging




Do you have a schedule when you blog? This could be with regard to when posts get published, specific topics on specific days - or just a routine for yourself as to when you get things done.

Some people need the structure of a routine and schedule, others prefer to blog when the mood takes them.

For me personally, having some routines for my blog helps keep me accountable and get things done.




What to schedule

Posts

You can schedule the time your posts get published and keep them at the same time each day. 
I try to publish my posts at 7am and 7pm (AEST). I generally prepare them beforehand and schedule them to publish automatically at that time.  That way, my regular readers know when to expect new posts.

You can also stick to particular topics on particular days.  
I have my regular posts that go out now - my Round Tuit linky party on Mondays, and my Saturday Spotlight post - features from this party. Other than that just now I don't have a schedule or plan - but I am working on one for other posts too!



Social Media

As I explore and learn more about using social media for blogging, I am realising that I really need to have a kind of schedule or plan for using them.  I have experimented a little with this on my Facebook page - which I talked about in this post. And I am working on this for Google+ and Pinterest too. As yet, I haven't figured out a schedule but I can see that regular interaction is making a difference in the numbers and traffic to my blog, so it is certainly something I'm working on developing.


Your own work schedule

I have small routines for my blog that I am slowly working on building upon.  Currently I start my day by checking my emails and replying to those and comments on the blog. I link up my morning post onto social media, and also have a browse around Facebook and Google+ to see what others have been up to.

Other than that, my tasks for each day and week are written in lists  and I fit them in as and when I can around my family, school, activities and housework. Sometimes it means I can blog all day, other times I can go a week with barely anything done.
 I love the idea of having a 'job' that is flexible enough to fit around our lives rather than have to fit our lives in around it.  This way of working does require a lot of discipline though when I haven't got blogging tasks done, and end up having to stay up late or get up early to do them - missing out on some sleep, or relaxing time.  Without set work times or a 'boss' to keep you in line, you are relying on your own self-discipline.


I'm always looking for better ways to schedule and plan my time, and have not yet found the perfect solution.
Perhaps there is no 'perfect'  or maybe it's just constantly changing as our lives are changing!


How About You?

Do you have a blogging schedule?
Or do you just fit in what you can, when you can?
Do you think that to build a successful blog, a schedule is important or necessary?


Jelly mountain - Day 70 Use What You've Got

Take a look at this cool jelly mold we have.




It's been sitting in our cupboard for several years after it was handed down from my husband's side of the family a long time ago.

Well - since it's time to 

Use What You've Got

I thought we'd try it out.

The girls helped me choose the coloured layer combination. 


We sprayed the inside of the mold lightly with cooking oil to prevent sticking (I found that tip on a few websites).

Then started making the jelly.

I read that you should pour each layer before the previous one has set completely to make sure they stick together.  But we also didn't want to pour the next layer on too soon so that it would mix with the first!

Tricky business.

We started with the lime green jelly. Then when we judged the timing right, we added the pink raspberry.When we poured the second layer, there was a bit of a glooping sound and we thought we saw a blob of the green jelly surface briefly!
Aarrggh!  Oh well, nothing we could do but wait and see.
Back into the fridge for another couple of hours before layer 3 could be added!

Here's what it looked like ..




I had to set my alarm to get up at 1am to pour the final layer! 

Looking good now - nothing to do but wait till it was time to  turn it out!

The big moment came - and with a quick dip of the mold in hot water. it came out a treat!!



I was impressed it held together in one piece, but the colours didn't look too clear!  
However, I think it may have been the darkness of the evening, because look how the flash photos turned out..




Using this mold provided lots of entertainment while making and serving it up!
Plus, it tasted good!


Do you have something in your kitchen that you've never used, or haven't used in a long time??

Maybe it's time to

Use What You've Got!!


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Copyright on a Creative Blog - 30 Lessons in Blogging



When I first started blogging and producing my own tutorials, I read a lot about copyright and how important is was to protect your work.  There are plenty of stories out there of people finding their work on other people's blogs and websites with no credit given and even sometimes claimed as other people's work.  
I signed up for MyFreeCopyright and still have their small button on the bottom of my blog. I've since read varying reports about this service and am not convinced it really does anything.

Perhaps having a kind of copyright logo on your blog may act as a deterrent to someone thinking of 'stealing' your work. But in the end, I think if someone really wants to take something off your blog, then they'll find a way.


Does it all really matter?

A couple of years ago I read a brilliant article from Zen habits:


This article really made me thing about the whole copyright issue - and what I felt about my own creative works.
As I mentioned in my post about writing tutorials, my ideas are always inspired by other people or things. There are so many variations in ideas out there - who really knows where the idea originated?

Take for example, my most popular ever tutorial:
Super simple, made in just 15 mins from an old kid's t-shirt.
It's been pinned and featured heaps since it was published in 2011, and there are now countless other similar tutorial out there - including this ingenious one - even simpler than mine that just uses a sock!!
Was I the first one to come up with the idea? Absolutely not! In fact my Mum made me something similar when I went travelling to wear on my ankle under a long skirt to keep cash, keys and a credit card when I went for an evening out dancing, so I didn't need to carry a bag! I wonder where she got the idea from?

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is - that creative ideas get copied, improved upon, added to and replicated all the time. The fact that I'm choosing to post my work on my blog for free, for anyone to see and use, means I'm happy for others to build upon it too - adapt, change and get creative with it.

I love that Zen article and would definitely recommend reading it!

But having said that - Everyone wants their work recognised and appreciated. So here are some steps you can take to protect it a little! Nobody wants someone else taking credit for their hard work.



How to protect your work

Although once you publish things in your name on your blog, they are supposed to automatically 'belong' to you, the internet is a huge place and there are some steps you can take to protect your work, 'just in case'!

  • Watermark your photos with your blog url.  I have tried to do this with a lot of my tutorials, although I must admit to being lazy sometimes and not bothering.  You see an example here of a tutorial I did this with (Fabric Origami Bag). Each photo has my logo in small letters in the middle of the photo. I put it in the middle because it can't then be cropped out, as someone could easily do if it's at the bottom.  Simply by doing this to the photos in your posts, it means that if someone tried to copy and paste an entire post and claim it as their own, they'd be stuck with all the photos clearly marked as someone elses!

  • Disable Right Click on your blog.  I have no idea how you do this, but I've found some websites that don't allow you to right click and copy even one photo.  Whilst this does protect your work to an extent, there are ways around this - like using 'snipping tool' on your computer.  It also means you can't benefit from the sharing and featuring that goes on all over the internet - with a link back, that helps drive traffic back to your blog.

  • Have a copyright message in your sidebar.  It's a good idea to let your visitors know what is acceptable to take from your blog without your permission. For example - 'please feel free to use one or two photos from my blog with a link back if you would like to feature something I have made on your own blog.'(having said this - I'm yet to add this to my blog! Must do that!!)

How About You?

Do you do anything to protect your work?
What are your views on copyright of your creative blog work?

Saturday Spotlight - Day 69 Use What You've Got

Today is the first day of our school holidays. Two weeks with my girls! I'm really looking forward to spending some time with them - plenty planned in terms of projects at home!

And here's some inspiration from this week's Round Tuit:

First of all, some Halloween ideas. It's only a few weeks away now and definitely time to start crafting up a Halloween storm!




Plus - some great sewing projects!




Have a lovely weekend everyone !


Friday, September 19, 2014

Selling your creations - 30 Lessons in Blogging



If you make things, then an obvious income source for you is to sell your creations.  You can do this through your blog, or use your blog to promote your shop or market stall.

This is a topic I'm not so hot on. Selling isn't my strong point but is definitely something I should work on. I have tried selling both at markets and online, with a little success. So I'll share what I have learned.



Online markets and sales

The biggest and best known online market place is Etsy.
Here in Australia we have our own version - Madeit
DaWanda is another online marketplace. Their office is based in Germany.


You can also choose to sell things on your own blog or website and use something like e-junkie. I signed up for that when I was selling some tutorials for a while. For a flat $5 I could list up to 10 items and sell unlimited numbers of them.  It is a great service that allows you to add 'buy now' and 'add to cart' buttons to your site, takes care of the payments for you, and as I was selling PDF tutorials, it was all set up automatically so when someone bought a tutorial, it would automatically be made available for download to them when they had paid. It was very easy to use and I'd definitely recommend them and use them again myself.


My own selling experiences

I started out making and selling things a few years ago. The first things I made were baby play mats - with applique pictures on and lots of different textured fabrics:

I mostly made them for friends as gifts when they had new babies - but via word of mouth sold quite a few.
A little later I started selling things on a market stall with a friend.  I managed to cover my costs but not much more - I looked forward to market day as a chance to catch up with my friend more than anything!
I love making things, but setting up the market stall to look nice and sitting back was my extent of selling! Not very pro-active.

I've had both an etsy and a madeit shop but not sold anything through them. Again I set them up but never promoted them.

I also had a few tutorials up for sale for a while - but never sold many of them, and eventually changed them to free tutorials, adding them to my 100+ Free Sewing Tutorials here on the blog.

Earlier this year I helped my girls set up their own Junior Madeit shop selling upcycled denim inspirational bag tags.

 They've had a few sales - already more successful than me!! I promoted their shop on my blog. I find it easier to promote other people's sales than my own!!

I do currently have a madeit shop of my own which has a few items in, but haven't yet got around to promoting it or really working on it.



My plan

I'm slowly building up a stock of handmade items for sale, and I plan to take some time to revamp my shop or open one on Etsy - but only when I feel I have time to dedicate to it.

As with everything else I've learned with blogging and working online, 

the key is to learn and be persistent and consistent with your actions.

So this is a post that I will return to later in the year once I've spent time learning about selling my creations on line and promoting my shop!

I'm also working on a detailed tutorial / ebook  just now that I hope to release for sale soon. I'm working hard to make it real value for money and something that I myself would buy.  I'm going to research and learn about selling before it gets released, so hopefully after that I'll be able to share more useful information about selling your own creations!


How about you?

Do you sell your own creations - either through your blog or another market place?
How do you promote your sales?

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