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WordPress Plugins to Save You Time and Effort

Affiliate links are used in this post.

Bloggers have a lot to do each day. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could program your website to take care of some responsibilities for you? You can!

Clear your to-do list of mundane tasks by using WordPress plugins that save time and effort.

I know you are busy. So much to do and so little time. But you could shave your agenda each day by adding a few plugins to your WordPress blog.

Smart bloggers use these WordPress plugins that save time because they do the work for you.

Please note this disclaimer: The more WordPress plugins you have operating on a website:

  1. the slower your blog will load in a web browser and that means a higher bounce rate and lower SEO.
  2. the risk of a plugin conflicting with other plugins grows, which may result in one of more plugins not functioning as they should, or worse, even crashing your site.

Another important note: Before you add a plugin to your website, create a backup file of your site. An easy solutions is to backup your WordPress blog to Dropbox.

WordPress Security Plugins

Limit Attempts – The plugin Limit Attempts allows you to limit the rate of login attempts by any IP, and create whitelists and blacklists. Have you ever been locked out of your site? You can whitelist your own IP, so that can never happen again.

Wordfence Security – Wordfence Security is a free enterprise class security and performance plugin that makes your site up to 50 times faster and more secure. While free to download and use from the WordPress Plugin repository, you will need a premium API key to make use of certain additional features.

Comment Plugins

Akismet – Akismet checks new comments against the Akismet Web service to see if they look like spam or not.

Thank Me Later – If you want to deliver a personalized “thank you” note to those who comment on your blog, Thank Me Later allows you to write a simple message and choose when to deliver.

Analytics Plugins

Google Analytics – If you are afraid of code, this plugin enables Google Analytics on all of your pages.

Google Analytics Dashboard for WP – Displays Google Analytics Reports and Real-Time Statistics in your Dashboard. And automatically inserts the tracking code in every page of your website. This plugin is “lighter” than Jetpack Analytics and will not bog down your site as much.

Productivity Plugins

Editorial Calendar – See all your published and drafted posts at a glance, drag and drop to re-schedule on a different date. This is a wonderful tool!

NextScripts Social Networks Auto-Poster – Automatically publish social media updates from your blog to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest, and more. An upgrade is required to access some social media networks.

VA Simple Expires – This plugin sets a post to expire at a defined time, so that you can edit and republish later (useful for a giveaway or sale that ends at a specific time/date.)

Pretty Links  – With this plugin you can create, manage and track out-bound URLs. Very handy for sponsored and affiliate campaigns.

ImageInject – Search the Creative Commons database at Flickr and find royalty-free images from your blog dashboard with ImageInject.

And don’t forget to browse the list of 80+ places you can find royalty-free images.

404 to Start – 404 errors are an indication of a broken link or the result of someone typing in the URL incorrectly. Instead of glaring error page, 404 to Start allows you to customize the user’s experience when they cannot find what they are looking for.

Genesis Simple Edits – Have you ever wondered how to change the copyright and theme and “powered by” information on the footer of your site? Genesis Simple Edits allows you to do that and more.

Table Press – Table Press is an easy way to create a photo gallery or display product links without having to manually align everything.

This is a screenshot of a product page created with TablePress.
This is a screenshot of a product page created with TablePress.


WP Date Remover – takes the date off of specified pages and posts. Great for an evergreen content, so that people don’t see a two year old date and immediately mark it off as non-relevant.

Broken Link Checker – This plugin will check your posts, comments and other content for broken links and missing images, and notify you if any are found. It does use a lot of juice though and can conflict with other plugins, so I would suggest to use it with caution, and then make note of the problems and promptly uninstall.

EWWW Image Optimizer – Automatically compress your images to avoid wasted space on your blog. Without changing your displayed images, EWWW Image Optimizer “…convert your images automatically to the file format that will produce the smallest image size…” resulting in less bandwidth required to host your blog, faster page load speed, and and several other benefits.

Easy Digital Downloads – The perfect solution for selling digital resources on your blog, Easy Digital Downloads will save you time organizing and delivering your products.

Advertising Plugins

AdSense Plugin WPQuads – A complete solution for everything AdSense-related, AdSense Plugin WPQuads allows you to embed ads using short codes, disable ads on some devices, and makes Adsense a lot easier.

Ultimate Nofollow – Any link that you have been paid to include or that could potentially earn you money must be classified as a “nofollow” link. Ultimate Nofollow adds a checkbox in the insert link popup box for including rel=”nofollow” in links as you create them. A HUGE time saver.

Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 5.22.02 PM

WordPress SEO Plugin

WordPress SEO by Yoast – This plugin does nothing to help you “get found” online. It does however give you a visual cue to check that the  keywords you have chosen to use are all in the “right” places to make sense to Google.

For a good introduction to SEO read What is SEO? Using Search Engines for Organic Blog Growth.

Which WordPress Plugins help you save time?

What are your favorite WordPress plugins for saving time and effort? Discuss your favorite, whether on this list or not, in the comments below.

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How to Start Building Your Email List (And Why You Should Start NOW!)

In an ideal business plan, every blogger would begin growing a list of email subscribers from the first day. Ms. Blogger publishes her first post and BOOM! Subscribers receive a lovely email notification and she sees an influx of traffic.

Unfortunately, we don’t step into the blogosphere with a ready-made list. And many more bloggers wait to start building an email list.

Big mistake.

Don't wait to start collecting email subscribers. Begin building an email list NOW with these amazing tips.

Get the Email Marketing Planner for Beginners for FREE when you subscribe:

Why You Need An Email List

Need convincing that you need to start building an email list today? Check out these reasons:

1) Email is personal.

As social as social media may be, it’s still hard to connect with readers in a personal way.

Email allows for a personal connection with your readers, giving you the opportunity to create a trustworthy relationship.

This format places your voice inside a reader’s inbox. Inside the place where they cultivate the offers and information they receive. Wow! What an amazing privilege to be given such remote access!

2) Email makes money.

Internet marketing gurus have been saying it for well over a decade now: “The money is in the list.”

What does that mean and WHY should you care?

It means that email marketing consistently converts sales. In many cases, email drives more conversions than social media marketing. If you’re selling your own product or using email for affiliate marketing and/or driving sales for sponsors, you need to be using email to your advantage.

And while everything online seems to change drastically from week to week, this cliche fact is still true!

3) Email gives you control.

When social media algorithms twitch, your subscriber list remains within your control. Facebook changes the game? Your Pinterest reach declines? No biggie. Use email marketing to generate blog traffic.

To be clear, what I’m talking about here is not an RSS-driven email list, although that is better than nothing.

What I’m talking about is creating a smart email marketing strategy. There’s so many more opportunities when you have subscribers who want to hear from you.

The email list is yours and it’s owned by you. These people have chosen to allow you into their inbox which means they must love what you do.

How to Start Building Your Email List

Starting to grow a list of email subscribers is not as complicated as it may seem. Let me walk you through the steps:

1) Choose an email service.

First, sign up with a list management service like MailChimp or Mad Mimi. These are both free to start out with, with paid options as your list grows.

(I personally use ConvertKit because it gives me more features for segmenting my list and creating sales funnels.)

RELATED: What’s the difference between MailChimp vs. Mad Mimi?

Inside your email service, you can set up different variations. For instance, you can create different email lists for those who want to subscribe daily or weekly. You can create an automatic RSS feed that is sent out each time you post, or you can write your own newsletter to feature a mix of old and new content.

But, when you are first starting, keep it simple.

2) Create an email opt-in form.

Next, install a form on your website to collect email addresses.

Most email services allow you to create custom forms. You can also use a third-party app like Hello Bar to create a sign up form that sticks to the top of your website. Or, you could do both!

Don't wait to start collecting email subscribers. Begin building an email list NOW with these amazing tips.Each option has a simple, easy-to-use “builder” that lets you customize the way your form looks and provides you with a snippet of code to add to your site wherever you want the form to appear.

But pay attention… Where you place your sign up form makes a huge difference to how many visitors you’ll convert to subscribers.

According to Derek Halpern of, the best performing places to include your sign up form are at the top of your sidebar and in a pop up. (PopupAlly is an easy-to-use free plugin for adding one to WordPress.)

Getting More Email Subscribers

After placing an email opt-in form in the strategic places, the subscribers start rolling in! Right? Wrong.

Remember, growing your email list is about relationships. You have to woo your readers to subscriber. And what better way is there to show your readers that you are invested in a relationship than by giving them a free gift?

Offer a subscriber incentive.

When you are thinking of an email freebie, you don’t have to give away anything huge.

RELATED: Step-By-Step Guide to Get Email Subscribers with Freebies

All you need is a simple offer to use as an incentive to collect email addresses.  It gives your readers a reason to subscribe.

You could create a small report, make a list of top 10 tips for something in your niche, or create a printable checklist that your readers can use. Think about your popular posts, what made them popular and expand from there.

Just be careful. Choose an email incentive that collects your target audience. Creating a general opt-in freebie will collect more addresses but they will not be worth the fee you pay for a huge list if they do not open your emails.

Seek quality over quantity.

And other ways to grow your email list…

If you are looking to brainstorm additional ways to boost your number of subscribers, get started with these ideas:

  • Host a giveaway. Give away a prize that your target audience would love, asking visitors to sign up for your email newsletter as an entry to the giveaway. Avoid cash and gift cards as these promotions can attract contest junkies.
  • Write a class or challenge. Consider a topic your ideal readers want to learn over the course of a few emails and create an autoresponder that sends those emails lesson by lesson when they sign up. You could even create a Facebook group for those who participate.
  • Offer discounts. If you sell a product, offer a promo code to visitors when they sign up for your newsletter! Tag each subscriber based on the type of product to keep them enticed when you have sales and other product promotions related to their interest.
  • Get personal. A simple way to encourage more sign ups is to simply let visitors know that you share personal stories and insights in email that you don’t share anywhere else – of course, you have to remember to deliver on this promise in your newsletters!

Ready to get started? Be sure to grab the Email Marketing Planner for Beginners and take these tips with you.

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What is Content Curation and How to Do It Well

There has been some confusion in recent weeks about content curation. Some even going so far as to say it should never be done. In this post I hope to show you what it is, what it is not, and how to do it well. For if there were no curators, the world would have no museums, no good way to share and experience the great art forms of another.


What is content curation? How can I do it well and correctly?

What is a “Curator”

An Art Curator

Think of a curator of a museum. What is his role or job?

  • He orchestrates collections of art created by others.
  • He cares for the art and displays it to it’s best advantage.
  • He arranges for collections or exhibitions of the art.
  • And he finds ways to help others appreciate and learn from the art.

Does he create the art? Does he claim it as his own? Certainly not. In most cases he is an art lover and simply facilitates the appreciation of the art by others. It is not normal for anyone who sees an art exhibit to even give a thought to the curator who put it together for their benefit.

A Content Curator

In the case of a content curator, the same should be true. A content curator facilitates the appreciation of the content by others, making much of the art and it’s qualities and making little of himself.

What Content Curation is not:

  • It is not stealing content.
  • It is not plagiarism.
  • It is not claiming others content or images as your own.

All of the above can get you into serious, even legal, trouble.

What Content Curation is:

  • It is appreciation of the content.
  • It is (sometimes) the organization of the content into categories or displays.
  • It is facilitating the appreciation of the content by others, who may or may not have a chance to experience it otherwise. (i.e. introducing your readers to bloggers/writers and/or topics they might not otherwise know about.)
  • It is giving due recognition to the creator (original artist/author).

How to Curate Content Well

There is a right way and a wrong way to curate content. Basically, anything falling into the above categories of what curation is not would be doing it the wrong way.

To curate the right way you write original content that explains why the content you are sharing is important, why it is  relevant to the discussion, and some information about from whom and where it came. This can be done in several ways, the most popular of which are one-post focused and round-up posts.

So, how do you know if you are correctly curating content? Here are some simple rules to follow.

The Rules for Proper Content Curation:

  1. Always create your own original content describing the post(s) you are curating and telling why it is important/relevant and/or what you appreciated about the post or the author or the site.
  2. Always mention the blogger/author and brand by name.
  3. If you quote from the curated post to prove a point or further pique their interest, never use more than a sentence or short paragraph (not over 100 words), and be sure to correctly attribute the quote.
  4. Always link to the curated post (set to open in a new window) and encourage your readers to read the entire post there.
  5. NEVER use their photo in your post without prior written permission.
  6. When you can, leave a helpful comment on their post and mention that you will be sharing it with your people. Don’t be spammy or rude about it dropping links all over, but do say something that adds value to their space.

Need some Examples?

Curating in Round Up Posts by Meet Penny

Curating a Single Post by Cómo Blog

Other Posts of Interest:

Creator vs. Curator

The Top 5 Reasons You Should Curate Content

So now you know what content curation is, what it is not, and how to do it well. But maybe this discussion has raised some other questions for you? Leave them in the comments and we’ll be happy to answer.

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Best Blogging Platform: Blogger, or

So you are ready to start a blog? Where do you even begin? You will need to choose which blogging platform to host your blog on. We’ll go through the 3 major blogging platforms and what you decide will be based on your goals for your blog.

Which blogging platform is the best? Great outline of the differences.If you’re not sure whether you’ll enjoy blogging and you just want to keep a journal of your life then a free platform would be best. A platform is free because they host your site.  All you need is a blog name and you can have a blog set up in minutes, it’s that simple.


Blogger is a free blogging platform which is owned by Google is easy to set up and get started blogging. Once you choose a name, your blog address will be It doesn’t make for a pretty url so you also have the option of purchasing your own custom domain to make it This looks more easy on the eyes and sounds much more professional.


  • free
  • easy to use
  • template designer to easily change fonts, colors and layout
  • easily integrate Google products like adsense, analytics and Google+
  • no storage maximums


  • blogspot url unless you purchase your own domain
  • don’t have complete control over blog

This is another free blogging platform based on the free WordPress software and hosts the blog for you. There are limitations in what you can do but it is super easy to set up and get writing. There are numerous free themes in their repository but if you want a premium theme, then you’ll need to pay. Your blog url will look like this: If you’d like to purchase your own domain through, you can. If you purchase your own domain elsewhere you will still need to pay to redirect it which will cost $13/year.

If you need more storage space to host your media files like pictures and videos that will start at $20 per year. If you want to remove 3rd party ads from your site that will cost $30/year. does not allow the use of plugins like can and you cannot monetize your site including ads and affiliate links.


  • free
  • easy to set up
  • variety of free templates to choose from


  • no plugins
  • no javascript
  • can’t monetize site unless through in house ad program
  • theme customizations, site redirects, extra storage cost extra
  • don’t have complete control over blog

Both of these free platforms host your blog, that means that you do not have complete control of your site, should you violate their terms of service they can pull down your site. I had a site that was mistakenly marked as spam, which had no content on it and they pulled it down and put it back up a month later. With free platforms, there is no customer service. has a support forum but it’s hit or miss with receiving a reply to your questions.

If your goal is to earn an income with your blog and this may become a business one day, then you should consider blogging on from the beginning. Transferring over later is possible but will get more complicated the longer you wait. (Self-hosted WordPress)

When you are self-hosted, you own your blog and it is hosted by you where ever you decide to purchase hosting, and you install the free WordPress software onto your domain (which you need to purchase as well).  The downside to being self-hosted is that it will cost you money to do so but it also means that you are in charge of your site and it does require some technical knowledge. A domain name can cost up to $10/year and hosting can run anywhere from $3 per month and up based on your plan. It will cost less if you choose to pay for a year in advance versus paying monthly.

You will need to learn how to back it up and should any issues arise it will be up to you to contact your host to resolve them which is important to ensure that the security on your site is the best that it can be.


  • you own your content
  • flexibility with plugins
  • ability to add on stores, affiliate programs, membership sites…


  • costs money for hosting and domain name
  • must maintain security and plugin updates
  • troubleshoot blog issues

Whatever you decide you want to think about your goals for your blog and review what the best options for you will be. Since both Blogger and are free, I’d snatch up both blog names on those platforms and play around with the blog. You will get a good sense of how they both work by just getting started.

>>Learn more about choosing a blog host company<<

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3 Tips for Enjoying the Life You Blog

Most of us starting out blogging because we enjoyed it, and were thrilled to learn that maybe we could make money doing what we enjoyed. However, if you’re like me, as time went on you ended up blogging both to make money and for enjoyment and found that the enjoyment side began to lack. And one day, perhaps, you even woke up thinking you didn’t enjoy blogging anymore and you didn’t even seem to be enjoying life so much anymore either.

Here are 3 practical things that you can do to once again enjoy the life you blog.

Enjoy the Life You Blog,

1. Schedule.

Schedule your time well. Don’t try to do it all at once. Even though you work from home, establish a “home time” and a “work/blog time” and respect those times in the same way you would if you left your home to work. Have a specific spot in the house or outside the house, or a specific thing you wear or a sign on the office door, or something that designates this space and this time for work. And when you leave that space at the end of the time, truly come “home”. Be fully present with your family during non-work times, and you may see that you can enjoy life again.

2. Organize.

It’s impossible to enjoy blogging without being organized. Either you must organize yourself, or you must have someone who organizes for you. It must be done or your life will become a chaotic mess. Use file folders, use digital folders, use notebooks, use boxes on a shelf, use Evernote, take pictures on your phone and give them meaningful names so you can find them again. Somehow you must have a system in place that works for you to organize the giveaways, linkups, posts, guest posts, parties, sponsors, freebies and other things that come and go with blogging. Life and blogging are so much more enjoyable when you are organized!

3. Track.

Do you spend three weeks of the month dreading the one week that your financial reports are due because it was so much work tracking it all down. Having a system for tracking gifts given and products received, income and expenses, and/or having someone else do the actual monthly reports so that you can enjoy that fourth week each month as well will do great things for your overall life enjoyment. When you regularly track the important data you need for financial and statistical reporting (not to mention taxes) it makes it so much easier in the long run. I used to have to scour mounds of papers and click through months of digital receipts, but now I’ve found a way to keep it all together, tracked regularly and organized.

My Favorite Tool

Want to know the number one tool I’ve used to schedule, organize, track and begin to enjoy blogging again? The Blog Like a Pro Planner.

I couldn’t ever find one planner out there that had everything I needed. Something was always missing or had too much that didn’t apply to me, and I’d have to create my own forms anyway. Over time hose forms have become the Blog Like a Pro Planner.

The Blog Like a Pro Planner has broken down everything into small packets of printable forms to organize literally everything. It includes over 80 printable forms for organizing 12 different categories of blog and business potential chaos. And you can get it all in one (plus bonuses) or build your own planner to get just the forms you need to help you organize your trouble areas.

I think you’ll find that as a blogger/online entrepreneur, this is one planner that has everything you need to keep you scheduled, organized and productive. I know, because it has helped me to once again enjoy the life I blog.

Now through August 31st InspiredBN readers can receive a 25% discount on any of the Blog Like a Pro products using the exclusive discount code “ENJOYLIFE25”.


Katie Hornor paradisepraises.comKatie Hornor is an international speaker, author, educator and online blogging entrepreneur. She and her husband reside and minister in Mexico where they homeschool their five children and are leaders in the Spanish homeschool movement. You can follow Katie at her blog:

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Your Words Matter {Plus Free Printable}

How do you change the world?

One word at a time.

Words written down…

Words spoken out…

The right words at the right time can change the very course of someone’s life.

Encouragement for bloggers... or anyone.

A few years back, my marriage was on the rocks. No matter how hard we tried, my husband and I just couldn’t seem to make it work. And then I read a blog post by Jolene Engle that totally transformed my marriage. At least, it changed how I viewed my marriage. Through that article, I learned that I needed to allow God into my marriage. And when I made that conscious decision to make Him a partner, along with my husband and I, our marriage started to flourish. I can honestly admit, that those words written by a simple blogger changed the trajectory of my life.

As a blogger, you have the supreme privilege of drawing people in, and influencing them with your words. It’s your words that could make a real difference in someone’s life.

Words are powerful – they teach, inspire, and can sometimes even change a person’s heart. As a blogger, you have that powerful tool in your hands. You have the ability to change the world with your words – the right words.

Is there a blog you turn to for regular inspiration? You enter that virtual home, and are greeted warmly. The words there wash away your weariness, and bring back life into an otherwise dreary day. You leave feeling you were the only visitor there, and the words written were just for you… just what you needed to hear at that particular moment.

That is exactly the effect your words will have on your readers, when you use the right words.

You can use your words to make the world a better place… one reader at a time, one listener at a time. Your words can make another person’s world a better place, even if it’s for the short time they are at your blog or listening to you.

When a reader steps into your blog, it becomes their safe haven. Welcome them with warmth. Let them know you are there to serve them, and not just use their visit for monetary gain.

When a reader feels welcome, they give you the opportunity to reach them on a personal level. Use your words to inspire them, challenge them and shape them. Speak through your words what their hearts needs to hear.

Build up enough courage to open yourself up. Speak out what is really on your heart.

Words give you the power to change the course of someone’s life. But with great power comes greater responsibility. Your words can either build up a person or tear them down. Use them wisely.

The right words will build up wisdom, cast out fear, add to knowledge, tear down walls, motivate a slacker, raise a leader… the possibilities are endless.

What the world needs, is your words.

Your words matter.

The right words matter.

We need to hear what’s on your heart.

So seriously, just let it flow out.


Click here to download the printable in PDF format.

Click here to download the printable as JPEG image.


Blessings from India ~ Sunu Philip

 Sunu Philip of Clothed in Scarlet

School teacher turned internet marketing consultant, Sunu Philip is a Certified SEO Specialist. She founded “Clothed in Scarlet” to help women discover their unique God-given strengths and turn their talents into profits online. She offers subscribers of Clothed in Scarlet a Free Online Business Startup Kit to help them start their online business from scratch. She’d love to connect with you on FacebookTwitter or Pinterest.

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5 Ways to Renew Your Vision as a Work from Home Mom

I sat on the plane next to a friend who was trying to help me make a job decision, and she asked a simple question, “What is your vision for the future? What do you want to do?”

My mind reeled as I knew I should have an answer readily available, but as seconds ticked by, all I came up with was, “I have no idea.”

This post is NOT what you are thinking. Not the typical "don't let your kids see you at the computer" post. Must read!

I am NOT one of those ladies who will tell you to never let your children see you at the computer. Quite the contrary. This is my career. My job. How I provide additional income for my family. If I don’t work, we will have a home and a car but probably will not eat. So, my children see me working feverishly at all hours, mixing in rotations of laundry and homeschool lessons.

My life moves at the speed of about 36 Mbps (megabytes per second) and I rarely take time to consider the next step. Ideas are conceived during the night and birthed with the dawn. Thinking twice about what I should do next is not necessary because I just keep rolling from idea to idea, making it happen.

But in that moment when she was waiting for an answer and I realized that I didn’t have one, I seriously wondered for what all this work was gaining me. I spent the rest of the weekend and the following two weeks praying and trying to discern the most important parts of my life while focusing on which aspects of my career I loved versus those I tolerated. At the end, I came away with a renewed vision.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, perhaps these five ways to renew your vision will help you clear away the junk, find your passion again, and walk away with defined purpose.

Take some time off

When you are a work from home parent and your family depends on your income, the idea of taking time off from work is scary. Crazy. Insane. Right? But if we are working from home in order to attain freedom from a 9 to 5 job, what kind of liberty is it when we work 60 hours a week?

Stop. Take time off and just rest.

I took two weeks off from blogging and asked my virtual assistant to do the same. If she was continuing to work, I would be drawn back in. So, we both just walked away for two weeks and let the blog sit. The result was not a cataclysmic drop in web traffic or income. Instead, it was a time of mental decluttering and rest.

Create a vision board

When Toni Anderson of The Happy Housewife and Digital CoLab told me about creating a vision board from magazine clippings, I thought it was the hokiest idea I had ever heard. (Sorry Toni!) I am not a scrapbooking kind of girl. I don’t have time for that. But I found myself with a pile of magazines, not sure for what I was searching, and clipping images and words out randomly. Imagine my surprise when I saw my goals for the future materialize through this exercise. Now, I have a poster board to  frame as a reminder of my intentions and I can weigh every project against those goals.

Talk to the people in your life

If your career is thriving but your family is dying, what is the success truly worth? Be willing to accept the harsh truth and talk to those in your family and the friends you trust for an honest assessment of what they see. Even your children can provide feedback on what they notice and what they need. And sometimes, their words can hurt.

My oldest son said recently, “Mommy, when I get older, I want a job where I can be lazy like you.” I have to admit that my heart fell to my feet. Is this how he sees my job? Someone sitting on the sofa with the computer in her lap, being LAZY?! Is my balance so misshapen that my children do not understand what I do?

I gained tremendous clarity by seeing my job through his eyes. I realized that I needed a defined workspace and needed to keep the work hours I had set long ago. Then, with clearly defined boundaries, the children will know that when they see me in my “work space,” I am not being lazy but doing my job.

Seek a mentor or coach

So often we see consultants offering to access our blogs for navigation, SEO, and monetization, but what we really need is someone to look at our goals and test to see if our website is a reflection of that vision. This is more than just making sure the advertisements are in the right place. I am thinking of finding a business coach in whom you share your goals and he or she looks at your blog to help you improve your focus and reach into the audience where your passion resides.

Yes, this will take a financial investment, but think of all the time you are wasting by wading through “God knows what” as you are trying to work so hard. And what if all of your efforts are a big waste of time? What if you are going left when you should be going right? What if a coach could illuminate your befuddled brain and give you direction?

Ask “why?”

As you evaluate your career, ask yourself some difficult questions: What are your goals? Why is that project important? Does it match your vision for your business? Where do you hope it will take you? How will it impact your future? Is this worth your time investment away from your family? Will it bring you closer to your goals?

And the BIG question…

When Pat Flynn spoke at Digital CoLab, he said, “Sometimes the easiest way to find direction is to ask, ‘Why do I do what I do?'” I think this is the ultimate sieve through which we should pass every task we place on our desk. 

In the busyness of business, I often lose sight of the very reason why I do everything I am doing. MY FAMILY. Even though I never intended to be a professional blogger, I knew I wanted to help supplement our income so my husband would have more time to do what he loves and to see our children have everything they needed and some of what they wanted. But what if they really want more time with me? Ouch!

Am I saying you should never let your children see you on your computer? No. We have an obligation to teach our children to be entrepreneurs and that success does not come without hard work and dedication. However, if the time comes when we are sacrificing so much that we lose focus, our passion grows weak, and our vision for the future blurs, we must make the effort to deliberately step back for time to re-access, reimagine, and renew.


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Advice for Bloggers Seeking Conference Sponsorhips

I will be the first to admit that I have a different approach to seeking a conference sponsor. While I am not saying that others are wrong in their approach to sponsorships, I just have this fear… I never want ANYONE to say of me that they did not get a good return on their investment.

Conference sponsorships - how a blogger can get one

So, with that in mind, I am going to guide you through how I seek sponsors who will be a perfect match for me.

Identify your strengths

You have special talents, whether you realize it or not, and you need to find them.

Maybe it is blog numbers. Maybe it is something completely different like a penchant for vlogs. Do you enjoy researching? Could you write guest posts about a particular product you love? Do you enjoy Instagram, Vine, Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest and have a unique understanding of how to maximize that social media platform? Think outside the box and make your list.

Make a list of potential sponsors

Start with a list of all your favorite products. Have you mentioned using a particular product on your blog or social media? Is there something that you use daily in your home and could not live without? Look around your desk, your sink, and your child’s room. Add all the makers of all your favorite products to your list.

Then, add to your list with the companies think you would like to work. Perhaps it is a product you saw mentioned on another blog or in a commercial. Maybe you are just passionate about their mission statement. Add those companies to your list.

>>See the Ultimate List of Blogging Conferences<<

Also on your list, write down the names of the companies following you on Twitter and those following your page on Facebook. If they have already expressed an interest in what you do by following you in social media, they might also be interested in getting to know you better.

Fill in the gaps

Look at your list of strengths and then look at the list of companies you have made. Would any of your strengths fill a need for any of those companies?

Social Media is a BIG deal for companies. Could you start an Instagram or Vine account for a company and maintain it for them for six months? Do they need an admin on Facebook? Could you organize a series of guest posts where you write about their product on different blogs? Get creative. Match your strengths to their weaknesses.

Write your pitch

Comparing your skills with the list of your favorite company’s needs, decide what you have to offer them and write it down. Do not let your numbers (or lack thereof) hold you back from approaching a company. Brands are not just interested in numbers. They also want originality and passion.

If you love their product, tell them.

If you have a great idea, tell them.

Be very clear about what you want to offer the company and focus on their needs.

Follow up

If you sent your pitches and have not heard from the company after a week or two, send a little note that says, “Hi! Just wanted to verify that you received my partnership proposal since sometimes I accidentally end up in the spam box. I am really looking forward to working with you. Thanks again for your consideration.”

Face the two-letter word

What is the worse thing that could happen? The company you writes says “no.”

So what? Does that make you less of a blogger? No. Just means you can proceed with your idea without their sponsorship or can go a different direction.

A “no” or a “wait” can be a blessing in disguise. Do not fear rejection. Just use it as a sign to keep looking for that perfect match.

What tips can you share for finding a conference sponsorship?

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Taking Better Pictures for Your Blog

The photographs on your blog used to be just a pretty stop on the way to your point. Now, your pictures serve a greater purpose. If you are using Pinterest to market your blog – and if not, are you crazy? – you know the importance of taking better pictures because good pictures get pinned but beautiful photos get repinned over and over again.

How to take better pictures because good pictures get pinned but great pictures get repinned.

If you want to improve your photography, perhaps one of these books will help you take better pictures for your blog.

If you are new to photography or barely know where to begin, BetterPhoto Basics: The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Taking Photos Like a Pro promises everything you need to get started.

Tony Northrup’s DSLR Book: How to Create Stunning Digital Photography is a very popular book for mastering your digital camera and it includes 6 hours of online classes and hands on practice.

Because my food photography leaves much to be desired, I am currently reading Focus On Food Photography for Bloggers (Focus On Series): Focus on the Fundamentals.

If your children are the focus of your blog, then Mamarazzi: Every Mom’s Guide to Photographing Kids would be an excellent guide for taking beautiful pictures of your family.

Looking to take your photos to them next level? Learn how to enhance your photographs with Adobe Photoshop Elements in Photo Craft: Creative Mixed Media and Digital Approaches to Transforming Your Photographs.