10 reasons to Switch to a Custom Domain Name

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reasons to own a custom domain name

I did it. I admit it. I was once upon a time a blogspot blogger. I started out with a blog, just for fun while I was freelance writing for Yahoo and other online and print magazines. I know how easy it can be, but I also know that at some point you may want to grow beyond where those types of sites can take you. Once you are ready to take that step it is time for a custom domain name.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links which are used to support this site and my family. All opinions expressed are 100% my own, based on my own experiences and education.

 10 reasons to switch to a custom domain name

  • Increased opportunities to make money. Have you ever wondered why you didn’t get an opportunity you applied for in a network, affiliate company or group? Or even get accepted to some blogger networks? Some have rules that they can’t accept anyone without a custom domain name.
  • You control what people see when they “Google” you. Did you know having a custom domain name can actually make some of your less than complimentary posts, comments, or pictures drop further down in search engines? On the other hand, it increases your presence in search engines as they identify you with your brand and your blog. It also can translate into increased page views – as visitors are more likely to click on a custom domain name link than those which are not.
  • You have control over your online presence. Some people purchase their name as a domain name just so no one else can have it. They don’t plan on using it, but it makes sure that no one else uses it for less than honorable purposes.
  • It’s a tax write off as a business expense. Both your hosting and domain name purchases are tax write offs in the expense column. If you are making any money you know how important those can be, no matter how small.
  • FREE – doesn’t always mean free. It can come with a pretty hefty price. You know all that work you have put into your images and content. You may own it, but someone else (WordPress, Weebly, Google) actually OWNS your site. This means that they in essence own your content. They can shut you down and no one even has to tell you why. All your hard work is GONE.
  • As a blogger your online presence is evidence of your brand. How often have you visited a website and quickly “bounced” off of it because you didn’t think it professional? Because it wasn’t well organized? Unfortunately, not having your own custom domain says that to those who visit your site.
  • You are limited in what you can do – from the types of design you can have to the types of ads you can use. Sure you can depend on sponsored content as your only source of income but why would you? And why wouldn’t you create a website, presence and brand which shows off who YOU really are and what your expertise and interests are?  Do you want to be limited in your business efforts?
  • Customer support. How often have you encountered difficulties on your site and have to spend time looking for how to fix them? And how often have you just given up and let it go or moved everything else around to accommodate the problem. I’m not saying you don’t have site outages or other problems, but when you do have your hosting company, who is quite often your domain name provider can provide you with customer and technical support.
  • Other forms of revenue. Do you have a store? Create printables? Plan on adding e-books, clothing or other branded items to your blogging business? Adding yourname.weebly.com simply is advertising for your free service not for your business.
  • Which brings me to no. 10. Don’t take it personal – but in the online world it’s not considered professional. With a custom domain name you now have a professional business email address in addition to your blog.  If you don’t take the time, effort and money to invest in something as minor as a custom domain name then others aren’t going to consider you a professional blogger- and they may not be willing to invest in you and your skills.  It adds to your credibility as a social media influencer, author, expert or other business owner.

Getting a domain name and hosting service can cost you less than the price of a couple of visits to Starbucks each month depending on your services. I’ve purchased domain names for $1.99.  Purchasing a custom domain name doesn’t have to cost a lot of money and in the end it may even make you much more than you will ever spend on it.

There are many hosting services available both where you purchase your domain name or you can purchase them separately. You can start with “baby” plans and always increase your services to more bandwidth, faster speed, and more image storage when that day comes around. But it won’t come around as long as you let someone else have control over your online presence.

 

Resources: 

HostGator has made WordPress a breeze! Optimized WP Packages for as low as $12.95 a month!

To switch from Blogspot to Custom Domain Name

www.whois.net – lists registered domain names

Yahoo Small Business

GoDaddy.com

Carol Jones/PinkhairedPixels.com 

Debbie Tortorigi/ Langniappe Group  you can also submit a request for a quote under “Project Inquiry”

Affiliate Networks 

shareasale.com

Flexoffers

Impact Radius

Commission Junction

Enroll Now

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The Unofficial Tax Handbook for Bloggers

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unofficial tax handbook bloggers

It’s that time of the year again when bloggers thoughts turn towards taxes. To be honest, we should be thinking about them all the time, but with the approaching deadline to file taxes it becomes even more urgent that we look at our income, expenses and muddle through all the tax do’s and don’t. Becky Mansfield, Mickey Mansfield and Paula Rollo have put been doing this for years, and consulting with CPA professionals in their states and offer up their answers to the most pressing questions which many bloggers have.

If I cook and post the recipe on my site can I deduct the groceries?

Is my gas to and from an event tax deductible?

I have a home office – but it’s the corner of my living room. What do I do?

Frequently asked questions are answered by bloggers who do what you do every day. How do they organize for tax season? What have they learned about home offices and deductions?  Taxes used to be easy for many of us, as we either handed everything to an accountant or simply filled in the boxes on the 1040 on our own, but as blogs grow and turn into businesses it’s important to know what we can and can’t do with our income and expenses.

Find out more about The Unofficial Tax Handbook for Bloggers and pick up your copy. Find out more about Becky and Paula as well as How to Start Your Blog, Get Private Blog Coaching, Why Your Blog is Failing and How to Fix it, you  visit them at Blogging on the Side.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, however all opinions expressed are 100% my own.

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10 ways to Reuse and Repurpose your Content

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reduce and reuse content

I remember when writing web content meant writing quality content, free of errors and with topics and titles which readers would enjoy. Of course you had to learn some writing skills for Search Engine Optimization, because that was back in the dark ages without the popularity of the many social media channels we enjoy sharing on content on now. But now there is so much more to writing web content, whether it’s for your own blog, a business blog or as a freelance writer. Does that mean your content you wrote in the past is obsolete? It doesn’t have to! There are many things you can do to bring your evergreen content back to life.

A picture is worth a thousand words. Well not exactly, but with the advent of sites like Pinterest and Instagram, as well as other social media channels becoming image intensive it is more important than ever before to include an image in your content. Not only does it make sharing your content more inviting but gets the attention of the reader, as well as makes it more appealing to the eye as you battle against getting the attention with so much other content out there.  You can use your own original images, images available in the public domain or released for use by the public or create your own graphic using sites like Picmonkey or Canva or tools like Photoshop. Whatever you do, (I’m sure you already know this) don’t use someone else’s image, unless you have asked permission and obtained it.

Other ways to incorporate images include creating an infographic, slideshow, podcase or video to accompany the evergreen content.

 

Update your images “content.” Can you turn the image into a graphic which shows off your content? For example 25 Christmas Gifts for Dad, you may have made a collage for. Now can you add the words to the image making it instantly possible for the reader to know what your collage is for? Also make sure your image now has a title, alt text and description. This makes it easier for search engines to pick up not only the content but the image too and show it in the search results. Your image and content now may rank higher and it is definitely easier to find. Without the information it is drowning in competition.

Share and share alike.  Since you first created your content you may have joined new social media media channels or for example created new boards on Pinterest.  Re-share your content on your social media channels, especially that seasonal content. Add it to new boards on Pinterest. Share it with links and new images on your other social media channels. Add it to share threads. You may be surprised how your bring new life – and page views to old content again.

Give old content an SEO boost.  Maybe you didn’t know about SEO when you first published your evergreen content. Maybe you didn’t have a really cool plug in to tell you what you are doing right and wrong. Maybe it just seemed like too much effort to go back and designate keywords for each post. Don’t do it for each post, do it for the evergreen content first as well as seasonal as each season comes around.

Make a list and check it twice. Break your list down into individual post and take your individual posts and create a list. Do you have say 15 great slow cooker recipes individually posted on your site? Do a list or round up (15 Chicken Slow Cooker Recipes). You can also work with other bloggers and make your list grow by adding in some links to their recipes – and hopefully they will return the favor.  The advantages of link list and round-ups? Linkback value, as well as new purpose for old content. Now it can be shared/syndicated and breath new life into old posts.

Update and evaluate. Does your evergreen content need a little dust off? Updated stats or information? Has a recent news article or announcement happened about that topic/brand/business which could be incorporated into the content? Could bullets, headlines or even titles get changed?

Dig it up.  Incorporate older content in your newsletter.

Form relationships between new and previously published content. Have you ever really looked at news articles? Have you noticed the “related content” or “you may also like?”  Link back to other content on your site which is related or there are also several plug ins you can use so that previously published content is noted in new posts.

Create an FAQ page.  Start with an FAQ page and then link to the content to answer the questions. Start with a sentence or so then link back to the content which offers more assistance or advice.

Create an e-book. Pull out all those DIY tips, crafts, recipes, tutorials and experiences. Start working on that book you always hoped to write. If you are going to use it in an ebook make sure you have all your I’s dotted and T’s crossed with additional images, information and research. Now you have another avenue for making money or as an incentive for joining your email list.

work smarter not harder

Why Repurpose and Reuse Your Content

There are several advantages to breathing new life to already published content.

  1. Work smarter not harder. You have already written quality content. There’s no reason for it to slide to the bottom of your blog simply because the day changes.
  2. Helps to avoid burnout and writer’s block. Take the opportunity in front of you to do something new with your content and then take some time off.
  3. It is good for SEO.
  4. Reach a new audience.
  5. Reinforces your expertise with your existing audience.
  6. Allows you the opportunity to rework your content, making it stronger than before.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Can you improve your Instagram instantly?

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instantly improve instagram

After attending a blogger conference where Instagram was one of the sessions, I started wondering is it possible to instantly improve your Instagram? I think it is. But then again it depends on what you mean by improve. Do you judge your improvement by the number of hearts your images receive, the number of followers you have or on being true to yourself and being the best you can be. Personally I sort of judge my success by all of the above. Here are a few ideas you can use to instantly improve your Instagram, no matter what your goals are.

Should you have both your personal and professional Instagram as all one feed? At Blog Elevated  the brand Lilly Jade  recommended you separate your personal from professional and I agree. Here’s why.

  • Everyone needs a little break from work.
  • While you may adore that your baby is learning to walk, and the family wants to know every step, your audience nor the brands you hope to work with may not.
  • Your personal life may not always mesh with your professional life and as a result having one account can “muddy” the message which you are hoping to bring to brands and your audience.

hashtags on Instagram

Hating on hashtags? There is a great deal of discussion out there about hashtags. Hashtags are awesome! Though some may say they water down your message.  While some brands may feel that way, others may not. And, let’s face it hashtags work. As you can see from above. GreatBeerNow headed out to a brand new sports pub in the area. Here he’s used 18 hashtags. He has engagement and 155 likes. It is true to his brand and information his audience wants to know. Would he have received that interaction with fewer hashtags? He thinks not. Take a look at his Instagram feed, where he consistently receives over 100 to over 200 “LIKES” on his Instagram posts using upwards of 10 hashtags.

Do I need to edit pictures before sharing on Instagram? You of course always want to put your best foot forward. Research indicates that first impressions are 80% of a person’s impression of you. But Instagram is meant to be “instant.” Instant means in the moment, but with the easy to use filters available on Instagram as well as many cell phones it doesn’t have to take long to do a little cleaning up of your images.  Look at saturation, the depth of your colors. Look for distractions in the image, does it need cropped? Look at the texture and layers of the image. Remember dominant colors are blue and green. They are appealing to the eye. You do want bright, clear images and if there is a background, Lilly Jade says leave it. It only adds to the story you are trying to tell. Use a variety of images from close up to far away. Use a consistent color palette. The details matter and variety keeps your feed from looking flat.

How can I gain followers on Instagram?  Doing all of the things above can organically gain you followers. It may take time but they will be followers which really are interested in what you have to share. Other ways to gain followers is to follow others, whether it is bloggers or brands or individuals who have images you admire. Give their images a little love and see who else is following them. Follow those that follow the images you are interested in, if they appeal to you. Try an Instagram “loop” giveaway, though I’ve heard many bloggers say that it has gained them followers immediately, but in some cases they eventually fall off.

instagram features

Instagram features are actually perfect for getting attention.  Don’t miss out on the Instagram features which can help you gain attention to your feed. Look carefully at your screen. Are you making the most of the features which Instagram offers?

  • Tag people: Are you posting a picture which features a brand or product, a restaurant, attraction, hotel, travel destination? Then tag them and let them know you are sharing what you like.
  • Location: You will need to turn on your location device for this feature but it can help you gain followers. It will automatically pull up your location (or nearby locations) and then when people do a search on Instagram for that location it pulls up your images. You now have an audience you wouldn’t have otherwise. Be sure you use this nearby, as I’ve been unable to if I’ve moved too far away or tried to do it later from the hotel so I dont’ lose my family while we are traveling.
  • Direct: Direct your images to a specific audience, using a menu much like the Facebook tagging system.
  • Social Media connections: You can link your images to each of these social media channels and your post on Instagram will be posted to these social media account. However only Facebook will actually show the image. Personally I try to take separate ones and do another post to Twitter but link the Facebook account. If you are using both Twitter and Instagram use “tag people” then use the @ symbol for Twitter. This can bring in followers to your Instagram feed from your other accounts.

There are several things which hold true when trying to instantly improve your Instagram and I’ll let others say it better than I can.

This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man. ~ Shakespeare

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Bloggertunity: Mommerce affiliate marketing and so much more

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Over the past few months I’ve been working with the affiliate company Mommerce.  It’s been a fun-filled experience so now that I’ve taken it for a test drive and done several campaigns with them I wanted to take the opportunity to share it with you.

Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links which are used to support this site and my family. However, all opinions expressed are 100% my own.  Sign up for Mommerce and get your own referral link and make your affiliate work do more for you. 

Mommerce is an affiliate networking matchmaking service.  Consider it online dating for bloggers and brands. Each signs up and then the matchmaking begins!  I’ve had sponsored post opportunities, review opportunities and gift guide opportunities. Now, here’s the really fun part! Say I did a review – I get to go get my affiliate link and use it for that review.  Yes, I actually have the opportunity to make a commission on the items that I’ve enjoyed and shared, in the event of a purchase.

Here’s some of the programs I’ve participated in:

onesie 2

OnePiece

jemulet

Jemulet Jewelry

 

freya skin care

Freya Skin Care

 

fruit squeezers4

Fruit Squeezers 

Just to name a few.  Mommerce is growing and adding brands every day (hey brands you may want to check this service out too!) The upcoming Father’s Day Gift Guide is going to be lots of fun!

We have an online support system where our questions can be answered in the Facebook group. Once you are an affiliate you just apply for it and get the news before it’s released anywhere else about upcoming opportunities for sponsored, post, reviews, or sales.   It’s different from any other affiliate program I’ve worked with and after 5 years at this type of work, I’ve worked with a lot.

I’m looking forward to see where it’s headed.  Won’t you come with me?  You can sign up at Mommerce and take as many or as few opportunities as you like.

 

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5 Finance factors to consider before deciding to work at home

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Image By Flickr Creative Commons: Dustin Moore

The decision to stay home or return to work after having children is one hot topic. Not only do people talk about it a great deal, but there are also some very strong feelings offered up to both men and women as they consider becoming a stay-at-home parent. In our case, it was sort of an easy answer to the question of staying home. A nice salary from a university position, didn’t offset the cost of two young children needing daycare, which would cost approximately $2500 a month in child care and made our decision somewhat easy. But there are also many other factors to consider before parents make a final decision about staying home. The most important one may have to do with money. Here are a few finance factors to consider before you write your two week notice.

Beware of your budget. Childcare is not the only expense to consider. You may also need to make some tough decisions about your lifestyle choices, vacations or even dining out. Do you have some payments like the mortgage that simply couldn’t be met if one parent or the other stays home? If so, you may need to consider downsizing or cutting back on your other expenses, if you do decide to stay home.

Check the credit. While couples can add their non-working spouse to a credit card, usually this means that the stay at home parent won’t be building up their own credit. That can cause long term financial problems in the event of a death or divorce.

Insure your insurance. Is the prospective stay at home parent the one with health insurance coverage? If so will the same level of coverage be available for a similar premium, from your company? Will there be additional copays or deductibles? You will also need to consider where in the year that these insurance changes, such as taking on a new policy or changing an existing one will happen. In some cases you must wait for a determining factor or an enrollment date.

Return on retirement. You know that 2-5% contribution that your company has been depositing for you in your IRA account? While it may not seem like much, but at least it was something going into your retirement fund. As a result, staying at home can mean that your retirement money may not grow old with you, unless you can find a way to continue to make some contributions.

Respect responsibilities. With one parent staying home there may be some thought that now all the household decisions and work like cooking and cleaning is done exclusively by the stay at home parent. Where once before you may have had a housekeeper, use a dry cleaner or have someone to care for your pool or lawn, your decision to stay home may mean that those expenses need to be cut from the budget. You may have to start doing these chores. However, staying home is a job too, and it is just as hard if not harder some days that going out into the workforce. Make sure that you and your spouse discuss how the chores, cooking, cleaning and transporting the kids after work hours will be handled and find a way that works for you.

The decision to stay home isn’t one that can be decided easily. There is a great deal to consider and discuss with your significant other or spouse. Money is one of the main topics of disagreement in many relationships so it’s important to consider the impact that your stay at home decision will make, not only on your finances but on your relationships too.

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Beginning that blog

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I watched a local news channel reporting on the influence and success of a local blogger and they ended the segment with “anyone can start a blog.”   Yes, anyone can start a blog, but where do you start your beautiful blog planning?

Tackle that topic

Do you have a topic that you have an education, experience or expertise in?  Are you the person that everyone comes to when they need a gift idea, party planning or suggestions for places to go in your area?  If so, then you probably have a good idea for a blog, because some of the most successful blogs I know started with someone knowing something and then sharing it.

In my case, Money Saving Parent began when friends would constantly ask me about a coupon, discount or savings that I had when we went places.  Or sometimes they asked me about a cute gift item or craft that the kids and I created.  I had become the “go to person” for places to go and things to do in our area from kids eat free to attractions (and how to get a discount for them) when friends or family are visiting.   I was already writing for Yahoo Voices with crafts for kids and a number of other topics like travel and education as well as writing for Examiner.com  with places to go in Houston, so I thought, “Why not start a blog and join all those ideas together?”   Then all my friends would have the coupons, ideas and places to go whenever I have time to share them and so, Money Saving Parent began.

Building blocks of blogging

You have a topic and you want to share it.  Now where do you go and what do you do?  There are a number of free programs available to help you get started with your blog.  Check out WordPress.com, Weebly.com, GoDaddy.com and Google’s Blogger.    Some are easier than others to use, and my personal preferences are WordPress, Weebly and Blogger.  I began Money Saving Parent as “Freebie Finds” on Blogger using all the free design services which is easy to set up.

I then decided I wanted a domain name and more services available to me so I headed to GoDaddy.com and purchased my domain name, which also offered me several services including email, webhosting, site building and a blog.  After several months there I realized that their system just wasn’t the right one for me.  After a recommendation by a client, I moved to  Hostgator services and began using a WordPress site.  I’ve never regretted that move.

I started with free and now do pay for the services I use, but if you decide to take your blog to the next level of making money you may find that many sponsors and advertisers will require you to take your blog name and opportunities to the next level.

Digging that design

If you are trying to keep costs down there are many free blogging designs out there.  You may want to start with the templates available to you with your host.   Take some time to look through all of the designs available to you and what really fits your topic and your personality.  It is easy to change your design but it may not be easy to keep your readers happy when you do.

Now you are ready to get started with the business of blogging. You have a main topic or niche.  You have a site.  Next on your blogging business agenda is writing and that’s a topic for many other posts.

If you liked this you may also like:

Top 10 challenges of being a work at home mom (WAHM)

14 reasons to love being a Work at Home Mom (WAHM)

Six Steps Towards Becoming a Work at Home Mom 

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