Author Archives: R. Treadway

List-building Tips

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We know this has been a long journey for me, and I had to learn a lot to get this site up. While I know the site isn’t perfect I have had to do quite a bit of research to get it going. When you are researching building an online business a phrase you will see often is “The money is in the list.” Your list primarily consists of blog and newsletter subscribers.

So how do you go about building a list? There are many techniques used for list building, I cannot attest to which one may be best, yet. However I can talk to you about email opt-in tools. I had to do pretty extensive research to figure out which one I wanted to use. In the end it came down to a choice between Bloom by Elegant Themes, and OptinMonster for me. I believe that based on features, ease of use, and cost it should come down to that decision for pretty much everyone.

 

 

Bloom and OptinMonster have a lot of similar features. They both have Lightbox Popups, Slide in scroll boxes, Sidebar campaigns, Inline/After post campaigns, Content lock opt-in’s, and Two Step opt-in’s. They are also both customizable to fit your needs and your site. It’s not complicated to link either one to your auto-mailing system, like MailChimp, or AWeber. So why should you choose one over the other? Well let’s get into their differences and see if we can figure that out.

 

OptinMonster

-has a signature Exit-Intent® technology. Which was a huge selling point for me. It’s what causes the pop-up right as you are about to leave the page. This ensures that your pop-up doesn’t come too soon and annoy the reader, but also doesn’t show too late and miss them. Studies show that a reader decides within 10 seconds if they are going leave your site. If your pop-up timer is set for 20 seconds, or bottom of post you will miss a large percentage of visitors. However with Exit-Intent® technology, everyone who visits your site sees your email opt-in as they leave.

-does not slow your sites load time, or utilize storage space. You build all of your campaigns on the OptinMonster website instead of using the WordPress dashboard. As a standalone app it can be used on any website, not only WordPress sites.

-is more than an email opt-in tool. You can create many different marketing campaigns, such as promoting seasonal sales, or advertising free shipping.

-has an option for sub-accounts for multiple users.

-has Full Screen, Floating Bar, and Sound Effects in campaign options. You can also create your own forms from scratch using OptinMonster Canvas technology.

-has Event Countdown Timer, and Evergreen Countdown Timer.

-has a Shopify app.

-has three packages at $19.99, $29.99, $49.99 a month or $9/mo. billed annually, $19/mo. billed annually, $29/mo. billed annually respectively.

 

Bloom

-is extremely easy to use, set up, and modify. It takes only minutes to start a campaign.

-is not a standalone plug-in. You gain access to all of Elegant Themes plug-ins, themes, and layouts.

-is $89 a year or $249 onetime fee for lifetime access.

I know there is a huge imbalance in the lists above, but it is that imbalance that helped me make my decision. When I was doing this research my site wasn’t even live yet. There was so much to learn and consider. I didn’t know enough to know what I needed to know. Not to say that I know everything now, but I knew much less then.

I believe Elegant Themes is perfect for people like me. Beginners. It allowed me to get an email opt-in form up and running immediately, without the need to learn to much more about the program itself. I also use the highly recommended theme Divi, and both other plug-in’s they offer. As a beginner the ease with which I was able to pick up on how to customize both the theme and Bloom was quite important to me. The price made the decision that much easier.

 

Divi WordPress Theme

 

Not to say that Bloom is perfect for everyone however. I plan on switching to OptinMonster by next year. All of the customizable options aren’t nearly so terrifying any more. As a matter of fact, they seem quite necessary if my site keeps growing at the rate its growing. OptinMonster offers great options for CTA’s, and I would like to try some of the campaign options that Bloom does not offer. OptinMonster is more expensive, but as your site grows and starts to pay for itself, then it is well worth the cost.

Whether you are a stone cold beginner or a hardened veteran, you should be building your list. Hopefully this helped make it a little easier.

 

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” – Benjamin Franklin

 

Writers Work - Get Paid to Write

Changing Her World

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I want to talk about a friend of mine today. I mentioned her last week. She is the first person I have attempted to interview. I chose her to be my first because I thought I would be more comfortable working with someone I’ve known for so long, and because she has a compelling story that I thought needed to be told. Not just because of the things that have happened to her, and her struggles, but because of the things she has done with those experiences.

 

 

Natalynn recalls being made fun of as early as the age of 5. It seems pretty sad to me as she described it because she says “I didn’t know there was anything wrong with the way I looked”, as though being picked on solidified in her mind that there was something wrong with the way she looked, and she just didn’t know it yet. Almost like the abuse that she suffered so long ago changed the way she saw herself. She stated that fact so nonchalantly, as if it had just been pointed out that there was something stuck in her teeth instead of children planting the first seed of doubt in her self-confidence.

 

These attacks continued straight through to her senior year, which when provoked, she finally had had enough and made that fact well known. Natalynn does not condone violence, and will speak out against her own actions, but in this case I’m not sure you can blame her for defending herself. Hear the whole story in the Interview. Later the intimidation, and brow-beating got bad enough that as an honor-roll student she was forced to drop out only two months into her senior year, destroying her chances of a college degree.

 

With little other choice, she went through a series of bad minimum wage jobs, which made her miserable, before finally landing the career that allowed her to buy a house and gave her pride in her work. However it wasn’t long before that pride turned to dismay and depression . A general lack of education trapped her in the company vehicle, fighting not only against her transcripts, but her gender as well. She was constantly passed over for promotions and raises even though she held seniority. She delivered oxygen to patients that made her school years feel like a day at the beach. During her time at this company she was perpetually berated and belittled by patients, coworkers, and supervisors alike, till eventually she was chased out, and the relationship was terminated.

 

 

I realize this all sounds horribly tragic, and I’d understand if you were bracing yourself for the traumatically sad ending, but I assure you that’s not where we are headed. We are in fact headed to the small city of Danville, Virginia.

Danville is in south-central Virginia on the North Carolina border. It has a population of about 43,000 (source). To put that in perspective Richmond, the capital of Virginia has a population of about 230,000 (source) and Washington D.C. has a population of about 600,000 (source). Of the 43,000 in Danville, 28.2% are below poverty line (source), and 15.8% are school aged children (source), and this cross section is often where you will find Natalynn.

 

She has converted her life of abuse and injustice into a career of fulfillment and helping people. One of her many jobs is at the YMCA, where she is currently spearheading a charity fashion show benefitting the YMCA Scholarship Fund. That helps pay for underprivileged children to spend time at the YMCA during the summer months, and in after school hours. The goal of this program is to help keep kids off of the streets while their family is at work, giving them hobbies and skills they can use later in life.

 

If you watch the video you will hear Natalynn refer to herself as Natalina Corvino a few times. This is her pro-wrestling persona. It is this persona that granted her a foothold in the public school system of Danville. Natalina runs an anti-bully campaign, and gives speeches to students in the school district. She has bracelets made for the students she speaks to, to give them a reminder of her visit and let them know someone is thinking of them, even when they feel alone. And she does all of this on her own dime. Everything is paid for by Natalynn and her supportive husband. She says she would like to turn it into a 501(c)(3) public charity but does not yet have the funds or knowledge to do so.

 

If you are local and would like to volunteer your time to Natalynn’s cause, or if you want to donate money, you can email me at r.treadway@theraggedwriter.com and I will put you in contact with her, or look for her on Facebook under the name Natalina Corvino.

 

Tailwind Visual Marketing Suite

 

This is an abbreviated summary of a video interview, which in itself is a brief recap of the horrors experienced by one person, and how those experiences lead her to fight for everyone going through what she went through. One person can make a difference. If you don’t believe so, talk to Natalynn’s Kids. Listen to the changes she made for them. I strongly urge you to watch this Interview, most of the information in this article came from the first 5-6 minutes. There is still 25 minutes of conversation that deserves to be heard. Do yourself a favor, and watch it.

An Uphill Battle

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It’s been a few months since I’ve started this site. I started it with absolutely no knowledge of how to do so. It hasn’t been all too easy for me, since I’m not exactly technically or digitally inclined, and I kind of jumped in with both feet. To be honest my site went live accidentally. Only a couple of weeks but early nonetheless. I was working on it and didn’t know it was live until it started receiving likes through WordPress. I seemed to have published it instead of saving it. From this point on, everything has been an uphill battle.

The amount of time I spent sitting at the table with this laptop is insane. Still, I spend a good part of every day looking for design tips, and plug-ins’, and general ways to improve the site. I am always making changes, some for the better, and some to be undone later. I think I have made it to a point where I am temporarily happy with it. I don’t think it is at its finished stage, I’m just ok with it here while I move on to other things. I feel like if I don’t keep moving forward I will just spend all year tweaking this site and never get to where I want to be.

 


 

Having a dream/goal can be terrifying. So much so that often people don’t act on it. It just sits on a shelf gathering dust while we think that one day we will get to it. That is the “safe” route. If you don’t try, then you can’t fail. And this is kind of where I was stuck. I was scared to move on. I could continue week after week posting on my blog, hoping to start to really gain a following and start making money from marketing, or I take the leap and follow my business plan. I knew what I needed to do, but that didn’t make it any less intimidating.

I saw a site advertising for guest post submissions on particular topics, one of which was body positivity. I felt like it that was a good place to start. So last week I pulled the trigger and set up a Zoom interview with someone I’ve known for a number of years, who has made great efforts to help people in that area. I started freaking out the moment I finished the conversation asking her to do the interview. I now had a whole new group of problems that had to be figured out. Again I was stepping into a whole world I knew absolutely nothing about.

I’ve never interviewed a person. I didn’t have the foggiest idea what to ask or say. I had a rough idea of what I wanted to talk about, and the things that had happened in her life that made her an expert in the area I was researching. But they were sensitive topics. How do you bring them up without offending or causing hurt feelings?

Google wasn’t much help at first. When I tried to look up interview questions and techniques, it sent me results for job interviews. If I included “journalistic” or similar words in my search then I got results for journalistic reporter job interviews. Apparently google thinks I suck at job interviews, which isn’t completely false. Finally I found some tips to help me, and looking back they are kind of common sense.

Interviewing someone is pretty intimate, and communication is key. You can’t just jump into the darkest parts of their lives without warning. I sent her a basic rundown of the things I wanted to discuss, asking her if it was ok to talk about certain things, and where her limits were. I did not send specific questions so there would still be authentic reactions when they were asked, rather than planned and robotic answers. Which, it turns out, I never had to worry about. She was way more comfortable then I was in front of the camera, and was completely her very animated self.

 

 

I am pretty introverted and was not at all comfortable being recorded, even though I was the one doing the recording. I guess it’s something I’m going to have to try to get used to, because my plan involves a lot of interviewing. The theory is that the interviews will go up on YouTube, and/or somewhere on this page, and I will write posts based on the interviews. I’m not quite sure how to deal with it now though. I’m having trouble editing the video because I don’t like watching myself. I find my facial expressions weird and my general appearance pretty unattractive. I expected to have multiple issues stepping into this role, but this wasn’t one of them. I wasn’t prepared and honestly, I’m unsure how to move past it. I guess I’m just going to push through and see how it turns out. It’s a lot easier baring my inner most thoughts and demons with strangers when it feels anonymous. I know that even a little digging can get you to my Facebook and LinkedIn pages, but that isn’t as bad somehow as being live and in color.

One of the expected problems is, as we have discussed before, I’m not exactly technologically inclined. I had to find a video editor that I could use. So far Filmora from Wondershare is the best one for me. It’s pretty user friendly, even for newer users. I tried using the Windows Photos editor, but I couldn’t get it to really do what I was looking for. There is software that does a lot more than Filmora does, but it gets pretty complicated to work with. Since this is literally the first video I have ever tried to make, I think I’ll stick with it for a while.

I’m sure I’m going to have trouble when it comes to actually posting the video too. I don’t know if there is specific formatting required or how to format a video. These are all things that I’m sure I can figure out with enough research, but it’s always a struggle doing it the first time. There is an additional aspect with the video that makes it a little scarier than this site. If I fuck up this site, my name is the only one attached to it. I’m the only one embarrassed by mistakes or design flaws. There is a lot of pressure to get it right knowing that her name is on the line as well as mine. I may well be blowing everything out of proportion, and it’s entirely likely that no one will blame her for my errors, but that doesn’t make it any less stressful. Especially considering she already has a public persona, she is a professional wrestler for an independent wrestling promotion. She does a lot of good in her hometown and I don’t want to be responsible for setting back her causes in any way. Again, logically I don’t believe that people will hold her responsible, but fear isn’t always logical.  I’ve learned recently that fear of success is as powerful as fear of failure, if not more so.

I know my site isn’t perfect yet, and I know that my videos will probably be flawed for awhile too. Luckily for everyone involved I am getting better as I go. It has only been a few months. I am comparing myself to people that have been doing this for years, and that’s where the disconnect comes from. You have to just keep pushing through. You can’t keep comparing yourself to those with more experience, training, or education. Hopefully you are reading this before you fall into the same trap. Hopefully the lessons I have learned will carry over into information you can use.

 

“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.”  – Jack Canfield

 

 

Tailwind Visual Marketing Suite

My Useless Certification

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I told you, if you have been following along, that I would keep you updated on all of my wins and losses, up and downs, while starting this site, and forming it into a profitable career. So. I have gone and done it again. I preach and preach about doing your research before signing up for classes, but I failed to follow my own advice. I purchased some classes from Udemy recently and got exactly what I paid for. I mean exactly, to the letter, what I paid for. I did not get, however what I thought I was purchasing. Let me try to explain.

SEMrush

 

About two weeks ago I get an email from Udemy about a sale. And of course, this sale ends in 6 hours. Well I am already climbing into bed. So I scroll through the courses being offered, while fighting to keep my eyes open, and find a few classes that interest me. I came across classes on Google Analytics and Google AdWords together that guarantee certifications in 2 days, per course.

I actually have to say it came through, sort of. Within 2 days of starting the course I received a certification from Google Academy for Analytics. I even got a 91% on the first attempt at the test. It’s something I can put on a resume, or advertise on my website. Which is exactly what was advertised in the course description. However, it really isn’t a good idea, at least for me.

 

Tailwind Visual Marketing Suite

 

I won’t be advertising the certification because I don’t actually have the knowledge to put it to use. The course never said “We will teach you everything you need to know to pass the test and get your certification.” It only said you will get your certification, and that’s all that happened. I didn’t actually learn anything, except how to take the test.

If you already know how to use Analytics and want to get the certification, this would be for you. However, I am, let’s say undereducated in such things, and I remain painfully so. Luckily the course wasn’t too expensive or I would be a little upset. It was like being in high school again learning how to take standardized placement tests, instead of learning anything I could actually use. There wasn’t even a course to speak of, all I did was take practice tests for 4 hours a day, for 2 days. Then take the exam. I must say, that speaks volumes to the validity of the courses claims when I knew very little/nothing about Analytics, and passed a 90 minute test in 20 minutes with a 91% on the first try.

 

 

It isn’t Udemy’s fault I’m disappointed with the class. It isn’t the course author’s fault either. It is no one’s but my own. I should have done my research. I should have paid closer attention to the wording in the course description. I should have looked up 3rd party reviews. I didn’t do those things, and all I have to show for it is a certification that will look fantastic on a resume, once I learn how to use it. So I guess it’s not a total loss, but I am still I little disenchanted. So please, please, please, before you purchase any classes or tools for your site, make sure you do your research.

Chasing Dreams

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Why do you blog? What drove you to start? Are you still following that goal?

I only ask because I seem to have lost sight of mine. Once I started researching blogging, and monetizing blogs, I started concentrating on that too deeply. It’s so easy to do. You start thinking about all of the money you can make selling other people’s products, and you forget that you have your own. I wanted to write for local non-profits and charities. I wanted to share the stories of the people who devote their lives to helping others. But, since I started my site, I have not taken one step in that direction. Everything has been about the blog, and nothing has been about my goals. Not just career goals either. Everything has fallen to the wayside for the sake of this site/blog.

Learn Data Science, Digital Marketing, Business Foundations & More. Start Learning.

 

There are many of us out there that started their blogs explicitly for advertising. Then there are people like me who started as a way to market their business or products. I got caught up in the advertising and completely lost sight of the business I wanted to build. So let’s try to get back to that. Don’t get me wrong, there will still be plenty of advertising and marketing, and I will still try to demonstrate the steps I have taken for the people following along, but I am also going to try to actually build the dream that brought me here in the first place.

The first step in that direction is keeping my mission statement in mind. If you don’t have one, I suggest you write one. Your mission statement is the “why” of your business. Why do you do what you do? Do you blog to make money in affiliate marketing? Do you just love to travel and want to journal your adventures? Me, I just want to help people. Your mission statement will help keep you on target. If you make it public it will also inform your readers, and possible clients, of your goals. I don’t have a full statement posted, but the rough idea is on my Home page under “Project Charter.”

 

You also really need to have a plan written down. You don’t necessarily need a full business plan, as they can be dozens of pages long, but some people may find that helpful. You really just need to have the gist, what you want to accomplish and how, on paper. Writing it down solidifies it, and makes it real. It gives you something to refer back to if you ever start to feel lost. You can get as detailed as you want, or flesh it out as you go. It’s your plan after all. I am writing a full out business plan, and will use it to help demonstrate how I can help my target clients. But for now I just have something quick jotted down on paper that I wrote immediately after I finished typing this sentence.

There was one thing I read recently that I haven’t been able to let go of. I put it into practice this week and it has made a hell of a difference and tied together everything else I have been talking about in this post. It was a post from a fellow blogger, 5 Practical Techniques to Boost Personal Productivity.

 

kanban board

I modified the Kanban Board and the Pomodoro Technique to better fit my personality, and needs. Well actually my girlfriend made the Kanban Board, and we kind of merged the two techniques. Everything on the Kanban Board is broken down into 1 hour increments. When I am working I set an alarm on my phone for an hour. When the timer goes off I move the slip representing that hour to the done column and get up and walk around, and/or play with the dog for a bit. The bottom box contains long term goals to help me stay focused on the big picture, or are the finished product of many of the smaller slips in the day columns.

 

UltraWebHosting.com

 

There are a hundred different ways to keep your focus. This is just what worked for me. The most important things you need to remember are have your goals and a plan on paper, and refer to them often. Don’t let the business of running your business get in the way of your business. And if you find yourself getting lost, lean on your support system. Sometimes just voicing your fears puts them in perspective and allows you to get back to work. If you can’t find someone to talk to, email me. I’ll do whatever I can to help.

Pinterest, The Hole

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It’s no secret that social media is pretty much completely foreign to me. I’ve avoided it all of these years and now I’m trying to master it to try to promote my business, and I just didn’t know what I didn’t know. You can pretty much learn 75% of any social media platform in about 2 hours of hard work. While that may sound impressive, it really isn’t. That first 75% is literally only how to use the platform. That’s it. Where to click to get it to do what you want it to do. That last 25% is the part you really need, and it’s the hardest to learn. That 25% is how to get people to interact with your posts. It’s the trends on any given platform at any given time. It’s constantly changing at the whim of the masses, and impossible to pick up without completely immersing yourself in the culture of that particular platform.

 

 

So because of the steep learning curves I decided I was only going to concentrate on a couple of platforms. I started with Facebook, of course, and Twitter with plans to move onto LinkedIn later. I already have a LinkedIn profile and have used it in conjunction with other jobs, so that one should take the least work for initial setup. I also learned that Pinterest was a good site for self-promotion, so I went there next.

Pinterest, HA. I had no idea what I was getting into. Pinterest oh Pinterest, my how I hate thee.

I went to Pinterest made a board, and pinned a few pins. I didn’t think much of it. I would log in once a week or so and pin my newest post, and repin a few pins from my feed if I remembered. I never saw much of a result, but I kept seeing more and more posts about “How I doubled my traffic through Pinterest.” Around the same time I was seeing those posts, a member of a Facebook group I belong to created her own Pinterest class. She asked for volunteers to test it, and I jumped at the chance.

Now I realize the irony of this. I remember what I said about classes in Look Out for Sharks, and I realize it wasn’t that long ago, but I am changing my tune. I stand by the fact that you don’t NEED classes. All of the information you could ever need to start and run your blog is out there. However, when you are starting completely from scratch, there is just so much to learn that it seems impossible on your own. Trying to hunt down all of that information while still trying to run your business can be incredibly demoralizing, and finding a class within your price range for the very information you are looking for, can be the boost you need to keep going. So don’t shy away from classes out of principle, or because I said so. Just please do your research and make sure that the class is right for you, and your needs.

 

 

The class I took is called PinAutomation by Stressed Mommy LLC. It is currently selling for $29, and it is worth every penny. It adjusted the way I was looking at Pinterest, and explained why I wasn’t seeing results. It is a series of 22, 2-10 minute videos meant to be watched over several days. I watched them in 3 sessions, and have been completely reworking my Pinterest page since.

The biggest and most important thing I learned is that Pinterest is not a social media platform, it is actually used as a search engine. That’s where all of my trouble was coming from. I was following users and trying to gain followers like I would on Twitter, and it just doesn’t work that way. You don’t acquire followers by interacting with them as you would a social media site. You gain followers through the quality of your content, and that alone. The quality of your content is judged by Pinterest using four major factors.

  1. The domain, or website, your pin is attached to. This is determined by Pinterest by gauging how often pins from this site are interacted with, or repined.
  2. The pin itself, again judged by engagement. While Pinterest may judge your pins by how often they are interacted with, people judge them by the wording of your titles, and the quality of the image you used. You should put the same thought into your pins as you do your blog posts. You want eye catching images and inviting titles.
  3. Your reputation for quality content. How well you do at the first three steps, determines your ranking by Pinterest. Again, it is based on the repins and “Tried It’s” your content receives.
  4. SEO, this is where I began to get it. People sign in to Pinterest and search for things just like they would in any other search engine, like google for instance. If you want them to find your content, you have to make sure it’s relevant to popular searches.
    There are many places to add keywords to your pin.a.The image name.
    b. The pin title
    c. The pin description.
    d. The title of the board it is pinned to.
    e. The section of the board it is pinned to.
    f. If you have enabled Rich Pins, then the keyword optimization of the blog post itself carries through to your pins.

In April of 2017 Pinterest declared 175 million (source) monthly users, and it has only grown since then. In my opinion, that is way too much money to just leave on the table. There is no good reason to ignore this platform as a source of traffic. Over 5% of all referral traffic to websites comes from Pinterest (source). Who couldn’t use a boot to visitor count? If you feel that your site could not possibly be doing any better or earn any more money, no matter what you do to it, than by all means feel free to close this page and go about your day. However, if you could use a leg up, then continue to follow me down the rabbit hole named Pinterest.

 

Tailwind Visual Marketing Suite

 

Make no mistake it is a hole, and if you’re are using Pinterest to the best of its ability, than it is eating all of your time. Pinterest is a lot of work. After what I learned in the PinAutomation class, and what I picked up from this unrelated Video, I reworked my page. That video is an interview with Melyssa Griffin about her Pinterest strategy. It expands on and clarifies concepts I learned in the class. It is a worthwhile resource even if you do not take the PinAutomation class. I created the recommended number of boards, which is 15-20 with 50-200 pins per board. I went with 15 boards, and did not come anywhere close to filling them. It’s recommended that you pin 20-50 pins a day every day, so I figure I will get them filled up eventually. With keyword research, but without actually designing any new pins, that took me about 2 ½ hours. Now, not designing any new pins means that I didn’t create any pins for my own website and I know that seems counter intuitive, but I only have so much time in a day.

I know, it seems like I just can’t make up my mind. First I say how great Pinterest is then tell you it will eat all of your time. That’s because it will, if you do it manually that is. If you have the time to pin every day, great. If not that’s where these next tools come in.

Tailwind is an automated scheduling tool for both Pinterest and Instagram. In only ½-2 hours a week you can preschedule your entire Pinterest strategy. Tailwind comes with its own analytics and content optimization, but the real advantage comes from Tribes. Tribes are people within a similar niche that share content from within the group. They are an invaluable resource for promoting your brand. Every time someone pins to the tribe board, they must also repin an existing pin from that board. With thousands of members per tribe, your content may be repined quite often.

The other tool is BoardBooster (not an affiliate link), which works similar to Tailwind. BoardBooster has a tool for cleaning up your boards. It’s called looping. What it does is repin older pins within your own boards. Basically bringing them back up to the top of your feed. It then deletes the older copy from the bottom of your feed making sure you do not have multiples of the same pin on a single board. It works under the same theory as rewriting or reworking old blog posts, making that content fresh again.

 

Tailwind Visual Marketing Suite

 

Even if you are completely new to Pinterest, almost everything you need to be successful and increase traffic to your site is within this post. Watch the video, then take the class. Most of the information I have come across recommends both Tailwind and BoardBooster. Based on my research, I am going with Tailwind first, then BoardBooster after my boards get full. Both the video and the class go into pin creation. I haven’t touched on the subject much because I believe that it deserves its own post. If there are any questions I can answer for you just leave them in the comments.

Expectation vs. Reality

This post contains affiliate links, which mean if you use these links to purchase an item or service I receive a commission at no extra cost to you. Visit my Affiliate Disclaimer page here.

I don’t know what I expected. I really don’t. Well, I guess I kind of do. I thought I would be pumping out blog posts between chapters of my book, and submissions to short story contests. I thought nonprofits would be beating down my door for my copywriting services, and my humor and wisdom would have garnered me a large loyal following. Most of all, I thought that words would be falling from my head faster than any two people could type them. I mean, once I stepped into the world of professional writing, how could all of that not happen? I’ve been preparing for this my whole life. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. I’ve studied the craft and worked on my own style. I’ve read books and taken classes on writing, short story writing, and copywriting. Why wouldn’t it go this way?

Holy shit does reality hit hard. I tend to jump into things with both feet completely following my heart. My brain is usually a good two weeks behind on any real decision. The truth, as most of you already know, is nowhere near the dream.

 

Divi WordPress Theme

 

I tend to fall in love with ideas. I spot them from afar and am instantly head over heels. I find out where they work, what they like to eat, what their favorite color is before I ever talk to them. Basically I stalk them. I build them up, put them on a pedestal, and ignore all of their flaws. Then I build a website and wonder where all of my time went.

I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I still do, only now I know that I don’t know shit. When you google how to build a blog, you get all kinds of articles on WordPress, and benefits of self-hosting. You find opinions on best places to host, and themes you should use. It’s not till you’re a few weeks and a few hundred dollars in that you start to find out the rest. Analytics, and ad tools, social media marketing, and affiliate programs, how do you sort it all out with no one to show you?

No, seriously, how do you sort it all out? How do you find your way when you are completely lost?

None of the articles I read before told me that for every hour I spent writing I would spend 12 learning how to make my site successful, and 12 more trying to make it visibly appealing. For every hour I write I also spend an hour or two researching a topic to write about and then researching said topic for the post. For every hour I write I have to get up and chase my dog around for 15-20 minutes so she doesn’t think I’m ignoring her and I don’t love her any more, or she will stare at me with those so sad eyes and try to climb onto my laptop. No one told me that for every hour I write I would send almost equal time banging my head on the wall out of frustration of my own ignorance, or fighting off impostor syndrome.

 

looking up

Some sites were honest and freely told me that it would be hard work. But of course I was already so in love that I didn’t care. They didn’t tell you however, how demoralizing it can be. How not knowing some of the fundamental skills to run a successful website can make you feel like a failure from the start.

What you really need in this business, what you absolutely cannot succeed without, is a good support system. All of those feeling of hopelessness and failure can be beaten by a good talk with a real person. You can learn all of the other skills. There are classes for analytics, and articles about plug-ins. All of the skills you need to be successful are out there. The real fight is the loneliness. When you do this, you start to miss the office environment, or being part of a team. It can be hard no longer having a shared goal.

 

 

What I had to do was find people to share in my goals, which can be tricky, but you can actually build a pretty strong support system through Facebook groups. Groups are made up of people who know your struggles, and who have already gone through what you are going through. You have a common ground and can use that to share your burdens. You just actually have to participate in the conversations. You can’t just lurk in the background like I usually do. Interacting with other bloggers will likewise help relieve that feeling of isolation, and is one of the best ways to gain new followers. Leave comments on pages that you visit, and many will return the favor.

I really am a little lost. Where do I go from here? I don’t have enough of a following to really ramp up my affiliate marketing, and I kind of feel like a fraud when I try to write articles based on selling anyway. So, tell me what you think. What should I be trying to learn about? What do you think I should write about? How do I break into this world from the outside, with so little knowledge of it? What would you like to hear about from my perspective? How do I get people to submit short stories or poems for my readers’ submissions section?
I stated last week that I will start linking other bloggers that I have come across that have influenced me in some way or have written great posts that I have sourced information from. Well, Neilio Speaks is full of amazing writing. He started around the same time I did, and has done very well for himself. I particularly love his conversations with Duke. He really captures Hunter S. Thompson’s voice.

 

treats on feeteating treats

The Constant Fight

This post contains affiliate links, which mean if you use these links to purchase an item or service I receive a commission at no extra cost to you. Visit my Affiliate Disclaimer page here.

 

What makes your writing worth reading? What keeps people coming back? You can post your blog all over Facebook and twitter. You can sign up for AdWords, and create multiple boards on Pinterest. These steps will get people to your page, but how do you keep them there, and how do you make loyal followers?

 

This is a constant fight I am having. I started this blog with absolutely no know how. I’ve been learning on the fly. I spend more time researching the steps I should be taking, more importantly the steps I should have already taken, than I do writing. When I started I had a full time job, which ate up most of my time. Since then, I’ve been a little unlucky and now I’m continuously looking for work. It has been a relentless struggle. The one thing I used to love more than anything in the world, writing, is now starting to feel more like work than something that makes me happy. My writing is faltering, my blog views are decreasing, and it’s my own fault.

 

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I’ve read every article I can find on blogging tips. There is a never-ending flow of information on the subject. I made it to the 10th or 11th page on my google search reading almost every post along the way. Somewhere in all of that information, in all of those ideas, I lost myself. I lost what made me want to start this blog to begin with. My first few posts were very personal, I left a lot about myself on the page. They were about my journey into blogging.  After those are where things started to go sideways. The next few seemed to come out a little opinionated, and I offended a few people. As I spent time reading others people’s ideas on how to write a blog, my posts started to sound more like them and less like me. And all of this transpired over only a couple of months. It was a very distressing course of events, and it was unfolding very clearly… behind me. I felt the impact clear enough though. Writing became almost depressing.

 

I was telling this to the woman I’m dating, the genius who helped me Fight the Critic, and again her brilliance struck me. “So write about it.” That’s it. That’s all she said. Write about it. Dammit. My own idiocy scares me sometimes. I stated in the beginning I was going to journal my progress for all to see, and now I’m telling her about it when I should be writing it. These ups and downs, they are part of the journey. If I want to be true to myself and true to you, my readers, I have to write about them also. All of the little losses are as important as the wins. All of the depressing moments, the blue periods, should be chronicled. If for no other reason than my own sanity. Just putting pen to paper with heart rather than sales in mind will bring me back to where I want to be, and what I want to do. I want to write. I want to help people.

 

“I want to rock your gypsy soul” -Van Morrison

 

Heart. There it is. That’s the answer to the question. People will come back, again and again, if you write with heart and feeling. You have to believe in your words and your message. If you pour your soul onto the page, they will love you for it.

 

Now heart isn’t the only answer. Writing has two basic uses, entertainment and information. If you don’t fall into one of those categories all of the feeling in the world won’t bring you lifelong readers. I hope to be part of both. I try to make my information entertaining. I’m sure I’m not always successful, I have a bit of a twisted sense of humor. Although I do try to keep it pretty tame here.

 

HireWriters.com

 

Writing has to follow a story to keep people engaged. It needs a beginning, a middle, and an end. Even if you are being strictly informative, it has to flow. You wouldn’t tell someone to pour the eggs into the skillet, before telling them to crack them into a bowl and scramble them. Readers will come back for information that helps them achieve a goal, no matter how big or small. Their goal could simply be to make breakfast. If you help them in their pursuits, they will remember you, and tell their friends about you.

 

While reading all of those posts, I noticed a trend I didn’t really understand. A lot of bloggers see the blogging community as them against you. As though we are all fighting for the readers in our prospective niches. Now don’t get me wrong, if someone only reads one blog a week than I hope it’s mine, but who enjoys reading blogs and only reads one. That’s like saying someone who enjoys horror will only read Stephen King. That they will wait months between books because no other author is good enough for them. That’s simply ludicrous. There are more readers out there than any one of us will ever see on our sites, and we aren’t fighting for their attention.

 

Actually I have decided that the best course of action for me, is to help others as much as I can. I am going to start linking posts that I have come across that are particularly informative and relate to my current posts, or that were entertaining and I feel that you would enjoy. Now I know that my help isn’t going to make a huge impact. Right now being linked to my site may not make any difference at all, but hey, who doesn’t want the free exposure. I believe we are all in this together. It doesn’t take any extra work from me to throw a link up of a post that helped me, so why not let it help you too. If I have linked your site and you prefer I remove it, just comment, or email me at r.treadway@theraggedwriter.com.

 

This is one of the first bloggers I followed when I started my site. Stop by and see what she has to say, she is very passionate about what she does, and she does it well.
 https://evaoreilly.com/2018/04/25/why-do-you-write-like-you-need-it-to-survive/

 

Tips for Amazon Affiliates

This post contains affiliate links, which mean if you use these links to purchase an item or service I receive a commission at no extra cost to you. Visit my Affiliate Disclaimer page here.

 

If you have explored this site at all you know it’s still pretty new. If you have been to the Introduction page than you know I hope to help new bloggers like myself, and monetize this site using mostly affiliate links. So, I’m going to give you a few tips now that I wish I had when I started. Yeah, I know, we just established that the site is still pretty new. However, I started working on it and building it long before it went live, and that’s where some of my mistakes started. If you made any of the same mistakes, hopefully we can catch them here and get them corrected before trouble sets in.

 

I got the idea for this post from my email. Specifically an email from Amazon saying they were going to be closing my affiliate account in 90 days if I did not make 3 sales within that timeframe. At first I kind of freaked, I am still building my site and audience base. I didn’t even plan to start seriously working on selling for a few more months. I’ve dropped a few links here and there, but only because they were for books I have read that just happened to fit with the post. They weren’t methodically placed in the post, they mostly set at the end of the text as a “Hey, by the way.” At least one link, the one in Look Out for Sharks, was meant to be ironic. Now I have to try to figure out why my account was getting shut down, which took all of 5 minutes research that I should have done three months ago.

 

From the beginning I have been going about this whole process backwards. I jump head first into the crystal clear pool, then muddy the water while trying to learn how to swim. I read that the Amazon Affiliate program was one of the easiest ways to monetize your site, and I signed up immediately. Problem was all I had was a domain name with no site attached to it. It took me almost two and a half months to get the site off the ground.

 

In my 5 minutes of research I learned that you have 180 days from date of sign up to refer three qualified sales (defined here) or they close your account. Actually I learned that they close accounts every day for all kinds of reasons with no warning or way to dispute it except for applying for arbitration. According to Statista.com Amazon made 178 billion in 2017. Divided by 365 that comes to 487,671,233 a day, not exactly accurate mathing I know, but you get my point. They don’t care about you, your business, or how much you have come to rely on income from their affiliate program. Their priority is protecting their name and their brand, rightfully so. If you step outside of the Terms of Service even a little bit, they cut you, no questions asked or answered. With one exception, if you are cut from the program because you did not meet sales requisites you may reapply at a later date. All other bans are lifetime bans.

 

Let’s go over some of the most frequently made mistakes here.

  1. We already touched on the first one, but let’s follow up. You must make three qualifying sales in your first 180 day period. Every other article I found says one sale in the same timeframe. However, this is a snippet of the email I received.

Thank you again for joining the Amazon Associates program. We are reaching out to you because we have not seen qualified sales activity on your account.  As a reminder, Associate accounts that have not referred three required sales to Amazon.com within 180 days of sign-up will be automatically rejected. At this time, you have 90 days left to drive qualified sales and avoid termination and closure of your account.

  1. You CAN NOT, under any circumstances, use your own affiliate link to make purchases on Amazon. You can’t beat the system. Just don’t do this. Even if you only have one day to make one more sale, just don’t. If you don’t make your sales, you can reapply. If you do this you are out for life. Also, be careful testing your links. If you click one of your own links to make sure it’s working you will still get the tracking cookie. If you make a purchase from Amazon in the next 24 hours, it will look like you just used your own link.

 

  1. The affiliate links you receive from Amazon are for your website only. When you apply for the Amazon Associates program, they ask you for your website address, and all of your links are for that address. Do not post your links on sites you do not own, the exception being social media if you use the share button from your Affiliate Account. You also cannot insert affiliate links into emails, e-books, or PDF’s. Amazon ToS states that you cannot use links in “offline promotion or in any other offline manner.” Emails, e-books and PDF’s can all be downloaded and read offline.

 

  1. You can have only one account. If you have multiple websites, you can get multiple User ID’s, up to 100 of them to be exact. If you want to keep the earnings of many sites separate for accounting reasons you can assign each its own User ID.

 

  1. Do not mention price of items, or offer incentives. Everything you say about the product you are advertising must be accurate and true. The prices of products listed on Amazon fluctuate frequently. If the list price is now different from what you’ve posted, you are violating ToS, and may be banned. You also may not offer deals or incentives, to Amazon it’s akin to bribing people to click your link. This is from their ToS- “You will not offer any person or entity any consideration, reward, or incentive (including any money, rebate, discount, points, donation to charity or other organization, or other benefit) for using Special Links. For example, you cannot implement any “rewards” or loyalty program that incentivizes persons or entities to visit the Amazon Site via your Special Links.”
  1. You must identify yourself as an Amazon Associate. This is a big one. You already have to have an Affiliate Disclosure on your site to be FTC compliant. Amazon requires you to have their specific disclosure. This is from their Terms of Service- “You must clearly state the following on your Site or any other location where Amazon may authorize your display or other use of Content: “We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.”

 

These are just a few of the pitfalls in the extensive Amazon Term of Service. I only chose the most common mistakes by beginners to list here. I may have pushed multiple similar offences into one category. I thought the information was more important than how many items I listed. Please be aware that these ToS are being updated and changed often. It’s important that you stay updated. It’s a crappy job, but it’s part of the responsibility of running your own business.

 

 

We have touched on a few things not to do if you are an Amazon Associate. Now I would like to go over a few things you should do, if you don’t mind. I know this is quickly working its way to being one of my longest posts, but it’s important information, especially if your just starting out. If you are completely new to affiliate marketing you should read this book by Chris Guthrie. If you already have some experience you may not learn much, so I would only pick it up if you get a good deal.

 

The first and single biggest tip towards being a successful Amazon Affiliate is, diversify your income. There are many affiliate programs out there. I am a member of ShareaSale.com that helps you find other programs. You should also try google AdSense or a similar ad programs. The point is you don’t want your income coming from only one source, especially one you have no control over. A policy change or algorithm update could wipe out your income. For example, in Feb. of 2017 Amazon changed its compensation policy. It went from a tiered commission, the more you sold the more you earned. To a standard percentage based on the category your sales come from, with some categories, such as video games and consoles, dropping to 1%. There were Associates that went from making thousands of dollars a week, to only making hundreds a month because of the niche they sold in. Don’t get caught in the same sand trap, have many income sources.

 

Long-Term Success Building WordPress Websites for the Amazon Affiliate Program is a book for the more experienced marketer. It talks about building multiple niche websites on WordPress and running a larger business. Which brings us to our next tip, quality content. You can’t just toss out page after page of “copy content.” You have to write meaningful content that provides value to your readers. Posting “copy content” that just feels like sales ads for your links, wont convert well, could result in Google penalties, and Amazon suspending your affiliate account because crappy content besmirches their good name. The name of the game is writing content that gets clicks. Just get people to Amazon and let them do the rest. Amazon is well trusted seller, and they know their shit. They lure you to what they believe you will buy, and they do it well. Write product reviews in your niche, or do a monthly best sellers list, again, in your niche. Get readers to Amazon and let them do the work for you. If they click your link, anything they buy for 24 hours is attributed to you. The tracking cookie lasts 90 days if they put an item in their cart. Create content people can trust, and the sales will come.

 

There are many books out there on creating Amazon Affiliate sites. To be honest you can get most of them for free or very cheap on kindle books, and as fast as terms change, that’s really the best way to go. Remember, do your research, Amazon Terms and Conditions is almost 25 pages and changes often. Don’t lose the opportunity to be an Associate just because you didn’t want to read it all.

How I Fight The Critic

This post contains affiliate links, which mean if you use these links to purchase an item or service I receive a commission at no extra cost to you. Visit my Affiliate Disclaimer page here.

 

Do you know where you are going? Where your life is headed and how you’re going to get there? What about your business? Your writing? Have you found your path and are you following it diligently? Or are you meandering through the woods in the dark crisscrossing a faint trail that you only spot occasionally, because most of it has been washed away in a storm of despair and self-doubt? Are you confident that you’re doing the right thing and every move you make is the smart one? Or are you frozen by fear? Fear of failure? Fear of success, because success only means you have farther to fall when it all comes apart? Are you somewhere in the middle? Or both, as I am, just not at the same time? I kind of flip flop between the most confident writer, who has yet to find his voice, and an idiot who throws random words at paper at rearranges the ones that stick.

Do your dreams and desires all have to get checked over by your inner critic, who immediately dashes each and every one? Damn I hate that guy. How do you argue with a voice in your own head? How do you refute someone who speaks in your own voice? You know deep down that you’re only arguing with yourself, and you have a lot of good points.

Your inner critic is the voice you unwillingly give to your fears, like ventriloquist does his dummies. Afraid of failure, “Well you don’t have to worry about that. You’re not even good enough to fail. Failures point at you and laugh.” He is so hard to argue with because he’s using your own voice.

 

 

The critic may be using your voice, but it’s not you. It is years of doubts, whether earned honestly, or given to you by careless family members and friends, pushing their way to the surface. An unthinking comment here, an overheard remark there. These things burrow into our psyche and resurface at the most inconvenient times. It’s like all of the negative events in our lives strung together, tangled in a giant ball of horror that comes along and stomps us down when we are just starting to climb.

I was talking to a friend the other day about Look Out For Sharks, and how someone told me that my suspicious, don’t trust anybody attitude turned them off to my writing. I was shocked. That wasn’t the point I was trying to get across at all. I couldn’t understand how they got that out of what I wrote. Now, every piece I write I have her read before it’s posted to make sure my intent is there. Every word is chosen a little more carefully because I’m afraid of being misunderstood and driving more readers away. My topics are a little tamer.

I told her how fear was dictating my writing. How the critic was wielding my voice like a weapon to cut me up every time I wrote. She asked why I didn’t fight it. “Because you can’t fight yourself” I told her. Then she gave me the most brilliant piece of advice I had ever heard.

She told me to name it.

That struck me like a lightning bolt in the face.

I knew what she meant immediately.

Name the critic. Give him a name.

Give your critic a name and it becomes just any other stranger on the street. Give it a name you don’t particularly care for, or of a person you don’t like. You can’t argue with the voice in your head when it feels like it’s coming from you. However, Cody…… Cody is just an asshole. Cody doesn’t know fuck all. Cody is just a guy. A guy I can debate. A guy I can dispute.

“You’re never going to make it as a writer.”

“Well, what the hell do you know, jackwagon?”

Giving your critic a name allows you to interact with it on a new level. The arguments it makes against you are no longer automatically valid because it’s your voice. It gives you authority over the voice, instead of the other way around.

 

 

Like everything else here, this isn’t an instant fix. This isn’t going to immediately turn your life around, beat your fears, and set you on the path to happiness and success. This technique only gives you solid footing to help you stand your ground against your inner critic. It gives you a platform to debate your fears, to feel them out and see if they have merit, or if they are completely unwarranted. Is it something you are comfortable doing anyway, despite your fear, or is this a battle for another day? These are things only you can decide for yourself. Everyone’s situation is different. But you should get to decide them, not the critic, and I hope this helps you do so.

Writing is Hard

This post contains affiliate links, which mean if you use these links to purchase an item or service I receive a commission at no extra cost to you. Visit my Affiliate Disclaimer page here.

 

Let’s talk about writing. That’s what we’re all here for. Because we love the written word, in one way or another.

 

Well, writing is hard. I don’t mean being a great, or even good writer is hard. Although it is. I mean the act of writing is hard. I’m sitting here now writing this an hour later than I usually post, because life happens. And when it happened, over the course of the last few weeks, I fell behind. I was writing a week ahead, meaning the post I was writing was actually for the following week. I started out writing two weeks ahead. If you have looked over my page at all, you will see that my site has only been live for a little over a month, so shit fell apart pretty quickly. I was stressed about life events, and my fulltime job, and writing fell to the wayside. When I got home from work after 10-12 hour days, the last thing I wanted to do was sit down at this computer. It is so much work. If you read The Ragged Edge, then you know how exhausting writing can be. There were people to spend time with, dogs to throw toys for, shows to watch, anything to make my time away from work not feel like work. Writing did not fit that description.

 

Fiverr

 

I sat down here last night to write. I started by trying to look up Keywords to plan out my post. This was a new practice for me. Usually I just sit down and dump my heart onto the page. However I did not have much left to give and went looking for inspiration. What I found instead was a black hole. I found an article that told me about Google Webmaster tools. Eureka, why had I not heard of this before? Probably because I’ve only been doing this a month, and I’m not exactly following a map. So I signed up for Webmaster tools, which is supposed to help you find keywords. I spent half an hour validating my site, again because I’m a little inexperienced. Then got sucked into AdSense. Tried signing up for that for about an hour on a rotating cycle of “You cannot sign up because your Google account does not have a valid birthday.” And “Yes it does, I can see it right there.” Next thing I know it is 1 a.m., I haven’t written a word, and this is the third thing that made me wish Google was a real person so I could punch him in the face.

 

If you want to be a writer, you have to write. I’m not saying you’ll be good, or even successful, but you will be a writer. Writing can’t fall to the wayside. I know, you don’t want writing to feel like a job. If your goal is to make money writing, then it is a job, and you need to treat it as such. It should never be a demanding 10 hour a day job. You will burn out, and end up writing shit, or worse hating what you once loved.

 

You’re probably thinking that I’m telling you what to do, after admitting that I wasn’t doing it myself. You’re right. That was the point of this Blog remember. I told you in the Introduction that the idea was for you to learn from my mistakes. Hopefully you get here in your first few months and get this lesson in quick. If you’ve already been Blogging for a while you’ve probably already figured this out, and if that’s the case, I hope you were entertained.

 

So let’s get down to the nitty gritty. By “treat it like a job” I mean you need structure, and repetition. Schedule out your time.

 

Try to write the same time every day. Your brain will get used to this schedule and become creative around this time. I tend to write at night after work, and I don’t recommend it. Writing can take a lot out of you and starting out drained after a long day only hinders the process further. Now on the days I don’t write I lay in bed thinking about things to write, which are always gone by morning. Writing in the morning is generally best.

Block out time for research and stick to it. You have to fight the time vampire that is the internet. Facebook is not research. YouTube is rarely research. Pornhub is definitely not research.

 

Have a designated work area. All those adds that say “Take our class, become a writer, work from anywhere” with a picture of someone with a laptop on a tropical beach, are crap. You can’t write there, at least not for long.

 

SEMrush

 

Picture a beautiful bright sunny beach. Clear waves lapping the sand. Bikinis and shirtless men everywhere. Drinks flowing. And you, with your laptop in your lap, watching everyone swim and play while you work. Be honest, how long will that last? A day? An hour? What, you’re going to put your computer down once an hour and go for a swim? No you’re not. That’s your life in there. It could get stolen, stepped on, kicked, or get sand in it. You won’t leave it alone for one single minute. In a perfect world everything will be backed up and you won’t care…. We’re writers, we make our living designing very imperfect worlds.

 

It doesn’t have to be an office, or even a desk, just try to work in the same place every day. It helps put your brain in the mindset. We are here, that must mean it is time to work.

 

Most of all, write. Every day if you can. Journal on the days you aren’t working. Pen a poem, or write a short story, just put words on paper.
I’m sure you want to know what make me the authority on writing, well I’m not. I’m only parroting what I learned from those that know. Most of the information above came from these books. Pick them up now and hone your craft.

The Ragged Edge

This post contains affiliate links, which mean if you use these links to purchase an item or service I receive a commission at no extra cost to you. Visit my Affiliate Disclaimer page here.

Writing takes a special kind of person, writing for a living even more so. Writing can be exhausting, it can tear you up from the inside. You are essentially laying bare the ragged edges of your soul for all to see, inspect, judge, and freely comment on. There will be a gaggle of imbecilic geese without a shred of an idea of what you do, telling you their nephew is a better writer. “He was featured in his middle school newspaper.” There is a whole world of people who will not understand why you chose one word over another, or that that particular word elicited an emotional response in them that they didn’t even know they were capable of. You are painting a brilliant picture, and changing “plethora” to “a lot” is akin to painting the sky green instead of a shade of blue.

 

Being a writer takes a level of honesty that most just cannot fathom. Not an honesty with your spouse, or your family, or even the rest of the world, but with yourself. You must have a total and complete honesty with yourself, no matter how hard it is to do, to be a great writer. You must truly know every crack, crevasse, and break in your heart and soul to be one of the best. Without this basic understanding of yourself your writing will start to ring hollow. If you are lying to yourself, than you cannot effectively lie to your readers.

 

Go ahead. Ask me. I see it. The question forming that you don’t want to ask because you’re afraid of looking ignorant. You have to ask. Admitting you don’t know or understand something is part of this self-honesty I’m talking about.

 

“Why would I want to lie to my readers?”

 

It’s just what we do. It’s our job. Some are just much better at it than the rest of us. I’m not talking about malicious heartbreaking lies. Maybe lie is too strong of a word. Maybe fiction fits better. Sometimes manipulate works. Yeah, manipulate, that’s probably the best word actually. Every word you put on paper is to manipulate the reader in some way shape or form. You want them to picture a particular environment, or smell a certain scent. You want them to be afraid, or in love. You are slowly adjusting their very emotions, as you see fit, for the sake of the story.

 

I know. “Where did this conversation go?” “What do these lies have to do with the truth and honesty we were just talking about?” And I’m also sure “What does this have to do with writing copy?” is in there somewhere too. Trust me, we’re getting there. I wouldn’t lie to you.

 

The point is you need to know yourself to harness your truest desires, fears, pains, hates, or loves, and put them on paper. These are the building blocks of great stories, and when it boils down to it, everything is a story. Non-fiction is still telling a story. Poems are telling a story. Copywriting is storytelling, well if you’re good at it, it is.

 

I have put together a small collection of writings from other bloggers. These writings are stated to be the most honest thing they have ever published about themselves. These writing run the gamut from work troubles to mental illness, and they all took making an admission to their selves and or loved ones. I hope you read them all. They all took a special kind of bravery to write, publish, and then let me publicize. I hope one day to be so brave. I asked the writers how publishing these pieces made them feel. Some of them gave me direct quotes.

 

The Business Primer writes about some of the personal and workspace issues she had writing. The things that slowed her and overcoming those issues.

 

The Mission “It felt cathartic at the time. Looking back at it, it captures a particular moment (that moment where you think you want to be an author). For some, this is a moment that endures. For me, it comes and goes. I have zero ambition to write a great fiction novel, for example.

But in this moment, I felt I had been running from writing. Today, I spend too much freakin’ time writing!

When I get to a place where I can write and not worry about income, we’ll see if I switch to writing something other than copy. I don’t love it enough to be that starving writer, though. I’ll take copywriting + money over other types of writing + struggle 99 days out of 100.”

 

Dreams, Visions, and Revelations “A cathartic piece of writing about being alone and how it felt. I think one or two people were a little taken back by it. It’s not often it comes to me that intensely, but when it does it feels better once I’ve let it out.”

 

Darklittlecritter.com “I blog about mental health with some bent humour. To me, it’s just blogging. But people tell me the bald honesty + humour is a powerful mix. I can tell when I’ve gone too naked, because people don’t respond, whereas most of my posts start great conversations.

I’ve learned a ton in the last couple of years about the difference between dumping my woes and sparking honest conversations.”

Side note – The Dark Little Critter struck a chord with me personally and was the topic of much debate at home.

 

Gaurav Shangari “Not sure if this counts but I recently confessed in a long post on my Facebook profile about my smoking habit and what it took to quit. Most family and friends were not even aware that I smoked for 10 years before I stopped cold turkey so it was nerve wracking for me to share this so publicly.”

This might not seem like much, but it is pretty huge. He quit because he was honest with himself about the habit. Then he was also honest with everyone else.

 

Gardening Love “I wrote about getting help for my depression and how hard it is for people to reach out for help with their mental health. I felt relieved to share my story but more than that I hope that it will help others to speak out. The only way for the stigma to end is for the conversation to start between people more.”

 

Voyage Bound Girls shared this story in direct response to the Gardening Love post that comes before it. They had a conversation about discussing mental illness so openly, and how they hoped sharing their stories would help others shake the stigma and find it easier to seek help.

 

Look Out for Sharks

This post contains affiliate links, which mean if you use these links to purchase an item or service I receive a commission at no extra cost to you. Visit my Affiliate Disclaimer page here.

 

If you are trying to start a copywriting business, or a blog, or virtual assistant, or any of the many options that tie into this list, there are a million different ways you can go at it. In just a few minutes on Facebook you will find a hundred people willing to give you advice and help you get started. You will find free e-books, articles, and newsletters. You will be invited to join groups and sign up for mailing lists. Everyone will have your best interests at heart, and genuinely want to help.

 

The sharks begin to circle the fresh fish, they smell blood in the water.

 

This is the dangerous reality of getting into this business that everyone neglects to tell you. The art of copywriting, and it is an art make no mistake about that, is the ability to use your writing to sell products and services. It is Bushido, words wielded with deadly accuracy, sharp and beautiful, pushing and pulling you to act as the author wants.

 

The first hit is always free.

 

How do you separate? How do you find the cost? Everyone wants to help, everyone has advice, and it always seems to lead to a link that they just happen to have handy. A product that you need to pay for, from which they get a commission. A class that they just happened to have co-authored. The mailing lists are sales funnels. The e-books are long form sales pitches. The newsletters are full of products to purchase.

 

“If you can’t spot the sucker in your first 30 minutes at the table, then you are the sucker” –Rounders

 

This is a business. You want to learn how to do it so you can make money, work from home, or just because you hate your current job. Well, everyone giving you all of this free advice also needs to make money. Some of them may already be doing this full time and this is their only source of income.


Liquid Web Managed Cloud Hosting: Starting at $99/mo

 

So how do you separate? How do you figure out who is just trying to make money off of you, and who actually believes in what they are telling you. It’s hard. It’s near impossible to gleam someone’s intentions at first glance. You have to protect yourself. Just you. No one can do it for you. The person telling you not to listen to someone else because they are just trying to sell you something, may actually just be trying to sell you something, or they may be newer at this than you are and not know their elbow from a hole in the ground. DO YOUR RESEARCH. I don’t know how to make this any clearer. Hold on. Let’s try this.

DO YOUR RESEARCH

 

This is a point I can’t stress enough. You want to learn from people who know what they’re talking about? Learn this. I bought a copywriting course from a link in a newsletter I have been getting for over a year. I learned many lessons from this, and I will do my best to lay them all out for you.

 

1st. I read the ad, clinked on the link, and I bought the course. Look at what’s not there. See the missing steps. I did no research. I mean none. If you read my Introduction, you know that copywriting was completely new to me, and yet I did not one second of research. I took my wallet, and threw it off a cliff. Since that day, I have found all of the information contained within said course for free on the internet.

 

2nd. It doesn’t matter how long you have been working with someone, or how well you know them, do not trust everything they offer to sell you. I’m not saying everyone will rip you off eventually. I’m saying business is business and an ad is an ad. Your trusted website or newsletter is trying to make money too. Someone paid them for that ad space. They may not even know what they are advertising. DO YOUR RESEARCH. Just because you have been getting a newsletter for years doesn’t mean that they have vetted all of their advertisers, and are selling you a premium product. Don’t jump on the bandwagon without hearing what they are playing, you may not be able to dance to it.

 

3rd. If anyone tells you they can make you X amount of money in X amount of time, tell them to Sod Off. It is a bold and bullshit claim. The only one who can control how much money you make in how long is you. “But they will teach me what I need to know to make that kind of money”, bullshit no they won’t. Experience and hard work is how you make that kind of money. The best case scenario is they teach you copywriting, or blog writing, or whatever. No matter what they tell you, they Can Not control how fast you find clients or build your business. You may do everything they say exactly to the letter and it may not work for you. You may have chosen a niche that is too competitive. You may not be able to reach the client base you need from your area. You may have 4 kids and not have the time to devote 8 hours a day to your new business. There are a whole host of variables that contribute to your success that some class has no control over. I’ve said it before and I will continue to say it. This is not a get rich quick scheme. You will not get rich, and you will get not rich very slowly.

 

Now please don’t misunderstand me. I am not telling you not to take courses, or accept help. All I’m try to say is please be careful, DO YOUR RESEARCH, and protect yourself. Everyone learns differently. We all have separate goals, and dreams. If buying an online course helps you achieve yours, then by all means, don’t let my opinion slow you down in the slightest. To be honest, if I had not made that initial impulsive mistake, you probably wouldn’t be reading my words now. But. Since I spent money, I have to follow through. It can’t sit like so many dreams on a back shelf, dusty and old, fading away slowly, being rewritten by my waking consciousness. The act of spending money on it, for me, keeps it vivid and in the forefront of my mind, like a neon sign pointing to my future.

 

Fiverr.com

 

There are going to be two types of people trying to take advantage of you. The intentional and the unintentional. There are going to be times that you ask a question in a public group and the only answer you get is “buy my course, and it will teach you, and its only $3,000 today for you.” Then there will be times that you ask a question and you will get “use this one that I am using, I have an affiliate link.” Often the second one is just trying to help you and still make a little money towards their business. DO YOUR RESEARCH. While the second person is being genuine, they may also be wrong. They may have just recommended a plug-in that will crash your site, or just doesn’t do what you need it to do. It’s not intentional. They make money from the link so it’s the first answer that popped into mind, but they don’t always have all the information. Maybe you weren’t clear in your question, maybe they were distracted and didn’t read it correctly. You just spent three days trying to get a new plug-in to do something it won’t do based on this persons’ word, and now you feel like they only gave you advice so they could catch the commission. That isn’t the case, and well, you didn’t research the product.

 

There are a lot of pitfalls in starting a new online business. The people you meet along the way will be your biggest allies, and your biggest hurdles. Most will do their best to lift you up, because if I lift you up, you pull me up with you. A few see you as competition and do their best to beat you down and climb up on you. There is more than enough business out there for all of us, but you are swimming with the sharks now. It’s ok though, because you are now a shark too.

Beginners Affiliate Marketing

This was originally written as a guest post on a Blog about ways to make money from home. Unfortunately the partnership did not workout, but I did not see a reason to waste a perfectly good article.  

This post contains affiliate links, which mean if you use these links to purchase an item or service I receive a commission at no extra cost to you. Visit my Affiliate Disclaimer page here.

My goal is to get rich while sharing my writing with the world. My new goal is to list all of the problems with that last goal. My name isn’t Steven King or J.K. Rowling, so selling my novels for untold riches is unlikely. Impossible is nearer to the truth. And well, I haven’t actually finished any novels, but that’s a minor hurdle compared to selling them when they are finished. You could also point out that my Blog has fewer views than the picture of my dog… on my cellphone. So, in order to be more realistic I have implemented another plan.

This is how almost all bloggers make money. It’s how the blog you are reading this article on was monetized. It’s how I make my supplemental income. It’s called Affiliate Marketing.

Affiliate Marketing is when you put a link to my product into your article or blog, and for every one that sells you get a percentage. Well, that is the simple definition anyway. If you can write you can become an Affiliate Marketer.

There are many ways to sell products this way, but we are going to talk about building a website or blog specifically for this purpose. The idea is, you pick a niche you want to write in, for the purpose of this article we are going to go with extreme sports. So we do a little research and write about “The Dangers of Mountain Biking.” You talk about major wipeouts, and resulting concussions. Then you go on to talk about the best new thing in helmets, and every time you mention this new awesome helmet, you insert a link to buy the helmet. If you wrote with passion and intelligence, you will sell the helmet. Passion is kind of important, so it’s best to choose a niche you actually enjoy.

Selling this way is getting easier every day. It used to be that you had to find an item you wanted to sell, petition the company that owns the item to allow you to sell it, and if they deemed your site and writing good enough, they would sign you up for their program. Now you can just sign up for Affiliate programs with Amazon, and eBay and between the two link practically anything you can think of. I was part of Amazons Affiliate program before my site had any content.

Now, you have to understand. This is not a get rich quick scheme. You will not get rich, and you will get not rich very slowly. This technique works for many people, however, it requires work and dedication. You have to build an audience, and you have to keep them entertained. If your writing is not interesting, they will not stick around long enough to click the link. As a matter of fact, here is an example of Affiliate Marketing now. Affiliate Marketing: Launch a Six Figure Business with Clickbank Products, Affiliate Links, Amazon Affiliate Program, and Internet Marketing (Online Business) by Noah Gray and Michael Fox and This book will teach you how to write better by Neville Medhora will help you start out if this is something you want to get into.

Tech Savvy Social Media Expert

This post contains affiliate links, which mean if you use these links to purchase an item or service I receive a commission at no extra cost to you. Visit my Affiliate Disclaimer page here.

A little over a decade ago, I finally succumbed to peer pressure and created a Myspace page. My friends had been on my ass for quite a while. They said things like “you live to far away now”, and “we never see you anymore”. So I did. And I regretted every minute of it. I no longer had any peace. Every time I booted up my computer, it was like they were watching, waiting. Immediately IM’s started popping up, I just wanted to get on Steam, maybe play a game for a while before bed. Now I was stuck in 30 conversations at once about God knows what with God knows who. People I hadn’t seen or spoken to in over a decade were suddenly popping up out of nowhere, and claiming to be some of my closest friends. Invites to stupid games (I spent way too much time on Mob Wars), were coming in hand over fist. The drama that unfolded all over my page was mind numbing. This person was cheating on that person, this person stole this from that other person. I’m over here not giving a shit about any of it.

“Social Media”, Ha, I was barely social when you were standing right in front of my face, unless of course I had a few beers in me. I also wasn’t very computer savvy. The idea of getting online to be “social”, was my worst nightmare. I used to drink to talk to people online. That’s how pathetically awkward I was. To be honest I drank way too much in those days, but that’s an entirely different story and I’m not sure how personal we are going to get….yet.

 

SEMrush

 

Then…..It happened. Only a few months into all of this and I start getting emails, and messages, “You should join Facebook with us, Myspace sucks now.” OH, Hell No! I’m not doing this all over again. Agonizing over what image I wanted to portray. Deciding which “Me” I was going to put out there. That shit was not happening. Slowly fewer and fewer of my friends showed up online, and I went back to spending my time playing online poker, and on Steam. Then that was just that, a few months spent torturing myself then everything just went back to the way it was. Looking back, Myspace wasn’t the problem, neither were my friends. The problem was the way I looked at life, my own issues and depressions, the way that I treated people, and myself as disposable.

Maybe this Blog is going to turn out cathartic for me. You might get to watch me heal old hurts as well as learn about starting a Copywriting Blog and Advertising business.
I know, I can see it again. “What the hell is the point of all of this?” “Why are we being dragged down depressing journey?” Well, the point is, it’s now 2018, and I want to start a Blog and Copywriting business, and I have no social media presence. I mean none. I let the years pass me by without ever walking that path. Not only do I have no presence, I am completely out of touch. I don’t know which sites are reputable for advertising your business, and which ones are for sending nudes. I am starting from scratch, and it turns out, social media can be a fickle bitch if you don’t know all the nuances. Well, not completely from scratch I did start a LinkedIn page a few months ago when I started job hunting.

So I started a Facebook page, I signed up at work, I don’t know if this has anything to do with the upcoming problems, but it was a pain in the ass right from the get. I signed up, then work called me away from my desk, I went out onto the floor for a while and when I came back my page was locked for suspicious activity. I guess being alive this long without having a Facebook page is suspicious. I tried to log in again, and ended up on a page that said to upload a picture of myself and they would compare it to my pictures to make sure I was who I said I was. However, there were no other pictures. I haven’t loaded any yet, and when I was younger I was pretty strict about not letting people take pictures of me, so I was pretty sure there weren’t any out there floating around the net anywhere. So I did what any tech savvy, social media expert would do. I wrote that one off, and immediately signed up again from the same email address and using the same phone number. Yeah….I can hear you snickering from here. The second one was immediately locked. I kept hitting buttons until the option to send them a picture came up again. This time I sent a picture of my license. I figured that would have to do it. They would have to believe me now. I mean who else would have my license, right? Jesus, I can be so dumb sometimes.

So I gave up on Facebook for awhile and moved on to Twitter. I had no problems setting up an account, and the first thing I tweeted about was what a pain in the ass Facebook is. Actually my first 5-10 tweets were @ or about Facebook. I think I just pissed them off, because they did eventually unlock my account. Then locked it again within 20 minutes. And this went on for weeks. My account would get unlocked, I would send 1 friend invite, and then account was locked for suspicious activity. I would then send them a picture of me holding my license, then tweet about Facebook thinking that me having friends is suspicious. And round and round we go. And every time I thought “Why is it so unbelievable that I have friends?”

I only banged my head against the bricks for about a month before I got the bright idea to just text the person I was sending the invite to and told him to send me an invite. I don’t know why that worked I really don’t. It probably had something to do with him being an established and vetted user, but in my frustrated mind, I was convinced this was the best way to prove to Facebook that I really knew who I said I knew. I didn’t accept the invite for about 15 minutes, I just stared at it and talked to my computer as though Facebook could hear me. “I told you. I told you I knew people. I have friends. People like me.” The irony of talking to my computer about how many friends I have is not lost on me.

It turns out I have more than I thought. Way more than I thought. At least in some fashion. Throughout The next 3 months I built up a whopping 38 Twitter followers, and a little over a 100 Facebook friends, most of which are people I have actually known in person.

 

Tailwind Visual Marketing Suite

 

I had let the internet convince me that social media will be my greatest resource. That you post your website and all of your friends will share it, and all of their friends will do the same, and so on. That’s not even close to the truth. For people to share in and help you with your dream, they have to have a vested interest in you. For that to happen they have to see that you have a vested interest in them. You can’t just show up out of the blue, and expect people you may not have truly spoken to in years to invest in you. It’s harder still if your list is built from internet strangers. No relationship can be a one way street. Not romantic, friendships, or relationships between businesses and consumers. You must make deposits in their emotional banks before you can request withdraws. Meaning both parties must benefit from the relationship, and the harder you try to make the relationship advantageous for the other party, the better your R.O.I. (return on investment). This philosophy applies to everything you do.

As you read in the beginning, I wasn’t always the best friend, so I do not have these relationships to bank on, but I’m trying to rebuild. However social media did pay off in another manner. I joined Facebook groups for copywriters and authors. I followed copywriters and marketers on Twitter. The wealth of knowledge I tapped into is literally unending. Every 15-20 minutes someone posts an article, or a question that teaches me something or asks for help. And within those questions I found my first real project, which we will discuss later. I had to start just saving the links because I don’t have the time to read them as they’re posted. With all of that free info came the second lesson.

Look out for sharks. This lesson deserves its own post, so we will talk about that later also. This post is already getting a little wordy.