Using the Paypal invoice feature for your small business needs

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Whether your are a new blogger or an experienced blogger, a small business owner or freelancer you may have been asked if “you accept Paypal.” You may have also been asked to submit an invoice via PayPal or by some clients to accept credit cards. All of these things can be done, making PayPal an efficient way of keeping track of payments and expenses as well as what is outstanding or unpaid, and providing a quick way to send a reminder. I find PayPal (other than the fees) to be one of my favorite methods of handling my small business finances.

+ The information provided is based on the belief that you currently have a PayPal account. If you don’t have one, it can be easily created by visiting Paypal.com. If additional assistance is needed when setting up your account or using it for business be sure to talk to the helpful customer support system.

creating a paypal invoice

Log into your account and select the Send and Request option.

creating a paypal invoice

Select Create Invoice.

paypal invoice feature

 

Select the type of invoice you need to submit. I usually use the default function because my invoices usually are a flat rate sum but I like being able to detail what it is. You can also use the amount function if you are charging a rate only. Select hours if you charge by the hour (example 4 hours at $55 an hour).  The invoice number and date are automatic, however you may want to change the invoice number if you have for example submitted other invoices using an alternate method.

If you need to you can create your own template, however the three provided do offer most the itemization that they need.

Optional items: You can upload your logo and use your logo on your invoice. Other optional items include changing the due date, reference number, currency or due date. Additional options include attaching files like reports.

Include the email address to the person you need to bill. Once you have included their address it can be saved and used  repeatedly by starting to type the name. You can also send to multiple parties. For example I’ve had some clients where I send it to the accountant for payment, but also to the marketing department so that she would know it had been submitted and be aware of where it was in the process.

paypal invoicing

I like to end my invoices in the notes section with “Thank you for your business,” or other note of appreciation. I leave other correspondence for email messages. Terms and conditions can be stated, for example my contractor included a note about the warranty on the parts and labor for the repairs made in my house and attached the files of the items used and hours worked.

PREVIEW: It’s important to preview and review your invoices before sending. The wrong number can cause difficulties with your client. You can also save them to be sent at a later date should you get called away from the office.

SEND: Click send and you will receive an email message to the email account associated with your Paypal account confirming your invoice has been issued. An email will be sent to the client to pay and they may use their debit or credit card or their PayPal funds available in their account.

It’s that easy. I like that I can also go through the unpaid invoices quickly and easily with the sorting function or I can look at the full list of all paid and unpaid. Use the “REMIND” button to remind clients that they invoice remains unpaid when it has not been paid by the time agreed upon.

Remember PayPal just charge a fee but then again most of these types of services as well as even some banks do. Consult your accountant to determine if it is a tax deductible expense.

This is just the basics of using the PayPal invoice feature, be sure to contact their customer service department for additional information as well as assistance should you have any problems.

 

 

 

 

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Facebook Pages Feed: Instant engagement and feed information

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How to and Benefits of Using Facebook Pages Feed

A great number of bloggers I know frequently say “just don’t know what to share on Facebook.” They don’t want to be egocentric and only share content from their blog. But what they do want is engaging content, information and hopefully not have to pay for the increasing their engagement through the use of boost or ads. One really fun way of finding new content for my pages Facebook Feed is to look to use the “Pages Feed” tool available on each of your Facebook Business Pages.

How to Use the Facebook Pages Feed Tool

facebook pages

Start with making sure you are following the blogs, brands and news sources you know and love. For example, if you frequently create and/or share recipes there are probably a number of food brands out there that you follow like Red Gold or Hillshire Farm.

facebook pages feed tool

Check your Facebook Pages Feed when you are looking for interesting content to share.

facebook pages feed tool

Read down through the pages feed content and when you find something you think your readers will enjoy share it.

Be sure to include the original content and create a status post which not only includes a tag back to the original source, but add a few comments or thoughts. Returning to the food brand idea – say Hillshire Farms posts a recipe. You could share it, tag Hillshire Farms and indicate that you may try it tonight – after all it’s easy and you already have all the ingredients at home. Then maybe ask them to share what they are making for dinner that night.

Benefits of Using the Facebook Pages Feed Tool

There are actually several benefits to using the Facebook Pages Feed Tool.

Stay on top of the brands, blogs, services and events which are of interest to you as a blogger and writer, but also those which may be of interest to your audience. 

  • The key to this: know your audience. Look at other posts and see what types of content they respond to on your Facebook business page. What makes them like, share or comment.

Using the Facebook Pages Feed Tool saves you time.

  • I also use Google alerts, but the pages feed tool helps me quickly and easily stay on top of the information I need and want to know from brands, businesses, services and events. The less time I have to spend on research the more time I can spend on other things like graphics, social media, content, images, and learning more about the tools of my trade.

Be seen as an expert in your “field.” 

  • Using the Facebook Pages Feed tool you are “in the know.” So could everyone else be if we actually saw EVERYTHING which those we follow share on Facebook. But thanks to the Facebook algorithm we don’t. As a result, you may have knowledge which others don’t. This creates a trusting relationship with your audience as they continue to see you as knowing what they want to know you that you will share it.

Creates engagement. 

  • Not just engagement with your audience, though that may be a result too. But you will also create engagement with the brands, businesses, events, services etc., which you want to get to know and which you want to get to know you. I know I check to see (and I know brands do too) who has shared what from my Facebook feed and as a result use those opportunities to not only learn what my audience likes, but also to create opportunities for engagement, conversation and relationships with those I want to work with in the future. Brands will do the same thing. Noticing that your ability to share and create opportunities for others to know what they are doing, will continue to bring you to their attention and possibly lead to an email or private message and an opportunity to work with them on a more official basis.

 

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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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Perfecting your post before you publish: The ultimate blogging checklist

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blogging checklist

Whether you are an experienced blogger with many years behind you blogging or a brand new blogger a blogger checklist can help you make sure that you do more than dot all your i’s and cross all your t’s before you hit that publish button.

Creating Your Content

  • Research your topic thoroughly.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a parenting tip, article or product review. It doesn’t matter if it’s an “editorial” piece of content on something you saw in the news. Make sure you know all sides of the content you are going to write and be ready to provide sources for them too. Sure, there are plenty of times that you are just writing your own thoughts, but it doesn’t hurt to know what else is out there as you share your experiences with a topic.
  • Draft your content. Now is the time to get it organized, think about transitions and of course concentrate on your spelling, grammar and punctuation. Know what your most common mistakes are and look for them.
  • Have clear and concise content. Break things up with an ad, image or other graphic (like a tweet this) or quote so that content isn’t too long (unlike this list- see I’m not following that checklist item today).
  • Create a call to action. This may be to encourage your reader to leave a comment and share their own experiences, directions to by tickets or another method of follow up like an ad for the product you mentioned.
  • SAVE FREQUENTLY! It doesn’t matter if you are drafting in a document program like WORD or if you are drafting in our blog, be sure to hit SAVE DRAFT after each change.
  • Can you use a header, or other breaks in the content? the <h2> before content and </h2> after creates a visible break as well as adds to your SEO. Use it well.
  • Do you need list or bullets to break up your content into more manageable pieces?
  • Include any sources or links you need to in order to support the content.
  • Final draft. Now that your content is clear, concise and error free put your final draft into place.

Headline and Titles

  • This is where I like to create my headline. Sometimes I just need the content to be completed before I know how to do the headline. Other times I already know what the headline/title will be. It should be catchy, thought provoking and clear. It should be between 40 and 69 characters.
  • Decide if you are going to use a hashtag in your title. It is helpful and something I’ve started doing for some content but not all.
  • Edit your pictures. Are you using just the pictures you have taken? Do they need some cropping, straightening or formatting? What size are your pictures? Are they visible. While bigger may be better 640×640 usually works quite well on most blogs. It all depends on your design and spacing.
  • Add your image to your media library. Be sure to create a title, caption, alt text and description. You can skip the caption if you like, but adding the alt text and description can help with your placement in search engines as well as search engine results.

image in post

  • Consider this .. .would a pinnable graphic be more useful or should you let the pictures share the story.
  • Connect to other content of a similar type. This can be done through a plug in or you can insert a line of text with anything from “related content” or “for more on this topic,” then link to your complimentary topic.
  • Create social media content. You can even take that Tweet or Instagram post and embed it into your content so that it is easy for your audience to share.  I don’t do this often, but when I do I like the results. I admit I should do it more frequently.
  • Mark your categories on your content.
  • Mark your tags on your content.

categories and tags

  • Set a featured image. This will be the one most likely to be pulled when content is shared or pinned. However not always. If you have a slider it will be the image which appears on your featured content slider.

SEO Settings

  • Complete your SEO settings – this can include a title, excerpt, meta description (133-160 characters) and any changes you may want to make to no-follow links. It depends on your SEO settings tool. Many find that Yoast is one of the easiest for them to use because the tool tells you with red, yellow and green as well as a list after you check what you are missing or could do better.
  • Is your main keyword in your title, header, meta description, excerpt and content. On content make sure it’s no more than 4.0% . Some experts say only 2.5%.
  • Do all your outbound links open in a new tab? No need to direct traffic away from your site.  And yes, there’s a plug in for that, or you can pick and choose as your create your links.
  • Do these links need to be no-follow or can they be do-follow.

seo settings

  • Schedule or Publish
  • Promote on social media channels. Not all channels work for all content.
  • Use your hashtags.
  • On your editorial calendar  set additional days to share again. This is especially important with seasonal content.

 

I’ll be honest. Some days I get all the checklist done. Other days I don’t, for whatever reason.  A great deal of what I do is from memory, and from practice. Sure I’ve been doing this for many years, and I’ve worked with many clients and other publications. But that doesn’t mean I always get it right and that’s where a checklist comes in handy. We forget things. We get in a hurry and we may make mistakes.

While this may be considered by some to be the ultimate blogger checklist it’s also much like a recipe. Sometimes a recipe includes an ingredient, which says “optional” and so should your checklist work. If one or more of these things suggested don’t work for you, your voice or your audience then you shouldn’t do them. But by having them on the checklist, it also may just provide you with the new idea, concept or boost you may need.

Free printable one page ultimate blogging checklist available in PDF

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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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Top 10 benefits to bloggers of an editorial calendar

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editorial calendar

 

Have you every sat down at your computer and wondered “What am I going to write today?” Or complained about “writers/bloggers block?” Those two reasons and many others are why it is important to have an editorial calendar.

Reasons to have an editorial calendar

  1. Avoid writer’s block and brain blanks. Instead of staring at a blank page on your word processing program you will be looking at your editorial calendar which you carefully and thoughtfully created. It will provide you with the topic or the prompt you need for the day.
  2. Avoid missing deadlines. Bloggers have deadlines, and if we miss them we lose out on future jobs, earnings and yes, even make other bloggers look bad. Make sure that you do what you are doing what you say you are going to do and when with an editorial calendar.
  3. Use an editorial calendar to keep you “on topic” and focused. Do you have a Food Blog? Don’t be tempted to just jump on the most recent topic simply because it’s trending on Twitter or because you think it will gain you traffic, or worst of all to fill in the space because you haven’t written in a while.  This doesn’t mean you can’t go off topic – you know your audience best and there are things you may feel strongly about or important topics you want to share. If that is the case, then share them.
  4. An editorial calendar can not only keep you focused but let you know what is best received. As you check your analytics each month you may want to mark those items of content which are receiving the most traffic. Note where the traffic is coming from and what you did to make that happen. Once you know that you can repeat it.
  5. An editorial calendar helps you create quality and consistent content by spreading out not only the topics, but also your guests posts, sponsored content. We all want to earn a living, but let’s not forget that it’s important (especially to Google) to have content which is not sponsored, not to mention the value of link backs which can occur courtesy of guests posts.
  6. Do you have more than one contributor to your blog? An editorial calendar can help you with your collaboration, assignments, scheduling and delegating tasks.
  7. An editorial calendar can help you take a break! Bloggers are notorious for not taking a vacation. Even when they are on vacation there is still social media and content to create. Use an editorial calendar to plan ahead, create content in advance, gather the support of other bloggers and actually take a vacation when you go on vacation.
  8. Coordinate your content with your social media with an editorial calendar. It’s no secret we need to create our content on certain subjects far in advance, maybe even up to three months. But just because the content is on the blog doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s time to share it on social media. For example, while people may be getting excited about Christmas, your content may come up in a search but not necessarily be of interest on social media. Think about it, how often do you see a recipe or DIY on Facebook and think oh yeah that would be cool to try but then can never find it when you need it. It’s not a priority right then. But one week before Christmas it might be. use the calendar to help you integrate your social media with your content in the most effective way.
  9. An editorial calendar can help you just say no.  It’s hard to say no when something comes along that is exciting or interesting, but sometimes it just has to be done. But not always. An editorial calendar can tell you when you are over extended  and when you could move content to another date giving you openings for those interesting and often last minute opportunities which come your way.
  10. An editorial calendar is a one stop calendar shop.  Instead of writing down ideas here and there, as well as having one calendar for this and one for that your editorial calendar helps you have all your thoughts, events, opportunities and deadlines in one spot. You will know when to attend and event and when your content should be published for it, for example, all at one glance.

 

Editorial Calendar Resources

There are actually tons of editorial calendar resources out there. Some are free, some are for pay.  Some offer only the calendar, while others may also include social media, goals, as well as brainstorming or other calendar features. You can use electronic calendars, even something as simple at Google Calendar or you can use a more traditional type with pen and paper (I prefer pencil it makes it easier to adapt). But whatever you use – use what works for you!

Hubspot offers up this free editorial calendar template you can use in an Excel spreadsheet.  Or you can use anyone of these suggestions available on Amazon.com. Many bloggers have created their own forms, ask around and see what your blogging buddies are using and if it may work for you

An editorial calendar doesn’t have to be the Bloggers Bible. Be flexible, be creative and be yourself. Let the editorial calendar help you do that and be organized, as well as informed about your blog and your content.

 

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A beginners guide to shorten URL’s

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shorten url

There are many reasons why you may want to shorten a url. Two that come quickly to mind is social media sharing. After all with Twitter’s limit on characters, every space counts. But Twitter isn’t the only place you can use a shortened URL. Using a short URL also helps with all your social media channel sharing, frequently you may not even realize it’s happening. It looks neat and tidy, and depending on the services you use you can even create a report to show you who is clicking on what URL’s that your are sharing.

URL shortener services

I don’t like to reinvent the wheel, so I’m sharing what I think are two really good lists of URL shortener services.

URL examples long and short

Here’s an example of a share that is not shortened by a sharing service or shortner service.

example of URL

Most of the time when you share you probably use a share tool on a website or blog. In most cases this share tool automatically shortens the URL providing you more room to add content or hashtags. It may look a lot like this.

URL shortened by Hoot Suite

 

 

See how much more space you have? So what do you do when you may want to share something, like a news article or other link such as an affiliate link that is very long and unsightly?  You turn to one of the services listed in the articles above.

I know that bitly.com is a very popular URL shortener service. If you use the Hootsuite bookmarklet it’s easily and quickly done as you see above. Hootsuite also makes it easy to shorten URLs and schedule your social media shares and syndication.

Those are a few ways, but sometimes you may need to manually create it and for that I normally head to tinyurl.com  or goo.gl url shortener which is an extension you add to your Chrome browser. Tinyurl is sort of my go to, since I started using it many, many, many — okay you get the idea – years ago when I started writing content online for both clients as well as content providers like Yahoo. Maybe I use it because it’s just so easy!

Shortening Your URL

Say you want to share something from Amazon, and it is an affiliate link.

1) Select text option. It’s easier to find the code than if you are using image. Your code will look a little something like this

<a href=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00J3ZPNCI/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00J3ZPNCI&linkCode=as2&tag=XXXXXX-XX&linkId=Q3DNQNSIDBLPAPZK”>&#x26BE;&#xFE0E; MARCH MADNESS SALE 50% OFF &#x26BE;&#xFE0E; Zoom Power Bank – External Cell Phone Battery Pack – Provides 80 Hrs Talk-time/320 Hrs Audio Playback For Most Cell Phone Batteries. Lifetime Guarantee, See Why Zoom is the #1 Rated Brand.(Electric Blue)</a><img src=”http://ir-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=freefind03-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B00J3ZPNCI” width=”1″ height=”1″ border=”0″ alt=”” style=”border:none !important; margin:0px !important;” />

Who wants to share that?

2.Find your code for just the link. that would be from the “http:// ….. until the ” so in this case you would want to select this:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00J3ZPNCI/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00J3ZPNCI&linkCode=as2&tag=XXXXXX-XX&linkId=Q3DNQNSIDBLPAPZK

Do not select the ”

Now that is a little shorter but it’s definitely not leaving you a lot of room for any content or hashtags.

3. Head over to your URL shortener service of choice. For this example I’m going to use tinyurl.com. Enter your long URL.

tinyurl.com

Copy paste the long URL into the space provide. Select make Tiny URL! And you get this!

urlshortenerex4

 

Your URL went from 169 character to 26 characters. That leaves a whole lot of room for adding a description, statement, content, and or hashtags.

3. Look at the first picture and note “never expires.” What does this mean? Do you plan on sharing this information or content again and again? If so I recommend starting as shorty spreadsheet using your favorite spreadsheet tool. In one column describe what the URL is shortened for (for example Zoom Power Bank portable charger on Amazon) and then in the next column insert the shortened link. You can now easily use it over and over again wherever you need to.

Remember if you do an affiliate link shortener service you better use the #ad hashtag when you share because it’s not clear, conspicuous and concise that there is a relationship between you and what you are sharing.

The cons of a URL shortener

We’ve talked a little about the advantages of using  URL shortener and why you may want to use it. Let’s talk a little bit about the cons. In the first URL you can tell exactly where this content is coming from (Amazon). As a result it is more likely to be trusted. However, not everyone uses a shortened URL for good. You know those email messages you get which say have just a line of content – usually a shortened link? What does that mean? It means the not so good guys know about the URL shortener services and use them too. They use them to hide malware, viruses and other phishing schemes. That’s the downside. Many consumers and readers are aware of that so may be cautious about accessing a link from a shortener service. It’s up to you to be reputable and honest so they know they can trust yours.

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Making reviews work for you: Creating an Amazon store on your web or blog

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Amazon is quite possibly one of my favorite places to shop online. I know it’s the first place I turn to to order everything from office supplies to birthday presents, not to mention free Kindle books, instant videos and PRIME shipping. But did you know that there are a number of ways to make Amazon work for your blog or website? There are! Some of these options include participating in the affiliate program and using their amazing services to create your own online store.

Why create an online store on your blog?

Many bloggers do tons of product reviews. Let’s face it we like being in the know about what’s new and what’s improved and we love sharing that with our audience. While products are great, why not make those reviews work for you by adding an affiliate link in your post, with proper disclosure in your content of course. But there’s another way to make the review work for you and it’s by creating your own store using the tools from Amazon and feature the products you know and love. Your readers can visit your storefront, make a purchase and you will make your commission. It also helps with keeping a nice neat storefront package of products, all in one place for your readers to turn to. Lastly, some bloggers may find they enjoy the storefront better than placing a typical ad in their content, though others may say, “Why not do both?”

Typical Amazon ad in your content

Your typical review post probably goes a little something like this: image, content, image, content, ad and your ad looks a lot like this.

Your Amazon Store could look like this!

Amazon Store

 

Sure, you can include the ad in the post, but you can also create an Amazon Storefront page just for your blog. Here’s an example from our blog GreatBeerNow.com.  The store is linked up top, so your categories can still be featured on the main menu. After all content is king!

Creating an Amazon store

Creating your own Amazon store is fun and easy. First you have to have an affiliate relationship with Amazon. If you don’t have one here’s how to get one.

Once you have your affiliate ID, you simply visit amazonassociates. This is at the top right hand corner of your screen with EVERY page you visit on Amazon making it easy to find it.

Select the aStore button to get started.

amazon store

You will then select “add aStore” (you can go back later and select prior stores to duplicate or to edit but for now we are doing the first storefront).

amazonstore4

 

1) Access Category pages

2) You want to add your categories to your drop down menu. It doesn’t have to be the ones that Amazon provides you can create your own. In the sample above it’s “Toys.” On Great Beer Now you see we have books, movies, dining and snacks. After all good beer deserves good food.

3) On the drop down menu you select add individual items. This is where you get to have some fun! Just start searching for and adding the items you have reviewed.

astore on amazon

Up next on the left sidebar select color and design. There are any number of options available or you can pick and choose your colors yourself. Personally I think if it “ain’t broke” don’t fix it and I was able to find colors to match each of our blogs. You can select the colors individually or use the html code for the colors you choose. As you select colors you get to preview your store.

creating an amazon store on your blog

 

The end is in sight … no pun intended.

Select “Get Link” and select which one you want to choose. In the case of GreatBeerNow.com we selected the inline frame.” The code will appear in the box and then you highlight the html. Copy the html code and take it to your site.

To place the code on your site you will need to have created your own page, titled it “Store” and then go into the text editor. I admit I’ve only done this on WordPress, so that’s what we are working with today.

Paste the code into the page in the text editor and then hit publish. Of course you should want to do the SEO content for that page, and include a share button so you can share it frequently with your audience.

Just think! Say there’s a sale or lightening deal on something you have reviewed. You can post about the deal, link to the store and who knows what else they may buy! Keep all your reviews in one place and make a commission on each sale that is processed!

 

 

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