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Category: Earning & Managing Money

Blogging for Profit – Part 6

For those of you who are just joining us, we’re talking about how you can make money through blogging. I encourage you to go here to read all of the previous installments in this series.

There are many different ways to offer advertising on your blog. We’ve talked about affiliate marketing, today we’re going to cover a well-known and widely-used money-making method, namely,

is an advertising program which is easy-to-use, easy-to-sign-up-for, and easy-to-implement. Advertisers bid on search terms and how much they want to spend per day on advertising. You choose how you want your ads to look and you add code to your blog where you want the Google ads to show up. Once the code is added in, Google takes care of serving up relevant ads based upon the content of your blog and what advertisers have bid on.

To earn money with this program, your visitors just have to click on ads. Every time someone clicks on an ad, you earn a little money — usually somewhere between $0.05 and $1. It varies depending upon what the advertisers have bid. Obviously, the more traffic you have and the easier you make it for people to see and click on your ads, the more money you will earn.

When you have earned over $100, Google will cut you a check at the end of the month. At first, it can be slow going, but as you build up your traffic, the checks will start rolling in much more rapidly. I’ve been amazed at the potential in earnings just from this simple thing!

As with most advertising programs, while there are some great features, there are also some downsides. I think the biggest downside to Google Adsense is that you cannot control which ads are shown on your blog.

Google automatically pulls up relevant ads based upon your blog’s content. For many blogs, this is not a problem, but if you care about what ads are showing on your sidebar, you may sometimes find the ads Google believes to be relevant to be very non-relevant or even offensive to your audience.

For instance, my previous blog was an overtly conservative Christian blog. When I tested Google Adsense on there, many of the ads which were served up from Google were anti-Christian and ones I would not want to run. However, on this blog, since I mostly talk about saving money, I’ve not had a problem so far with any offensive ads pulling up–most have been quite relevant and helpful.

You can choose to block websites you don’t want advertising on your site, but this requires a lot of policing and a lot of work–something which probably isn’t worth your time. So, depending upon your blog’s content, Google Adsense could be a good thing or a bad thing.

Another downside is that you only get paid when you earn $100. If you have a very small blog, it could take you a year or more to actually get a check–and that could be rather disheartening! I recommend you test run Google Adsense on your blog for a few weeks and see how it goes. You might find you really like it and are earning well from it or you might find you don’t like the ads being shown and it is not really learning much for you.

I also encourage you to try having your AdSense ad blocks in various places on your blog. You can have up to three ad blocks per page, so experiment and learn what works best. I’ve found it very interesting that ad placement can make such a difference in earnings. Keep testing until you determine what works best for your blog and blog audience.

Have any of you had experience with Google Adsense? If so, what do you think of it?

Related: Pro-Blogger has a thorough post up on It’s well worth your time.

It will be a long time before I’ll be able to eat another hamburger

Remember that I said we were going to use our economic stimulus check to buy a 1/4 of a cow from a local farm that specializes in hormone-free grass-fed beef? I was so excited to tell you about the great deal we got on this and how we found a freezer to store it in for a steal off of Craigslist.

However, that was not to be.

Oh, we bought the meat alright–all $614 worth of it. And we bought the freezer, too. We were thrilled with the whole experience and were looking forward to lots of great hamburgers and roasts and steaks over the next number of months.

We didn’t get a chance to eat any before we went on vacation, but I couldn’t wait to get back and get cooking. I had visions of all these various dishes I could make and all the great grilling we could do. Since we’ve cut back on our meat consumption for years in an effort to keep our grocery budget low, this high-quality meat was going to be a real treat.

We arrived home from our week-long excursion to Arkansas refreshed and rejuvenated and ready to get back to real-life. As we were unpacking our bags, I went to throw something into the recycle bin in the garage.

I noticed a somewhat-strange smell when I opened the garage door and went to investigate.

You guessed what it was… our whole entire freezer full of meat was off and completely thawed! Not only that but it was room temperature and wreaked of spoiling meat!

Apparently, it rained while we were gone and the electric outlet our freezer was plugged into was shut off as a safety mechanism. (We didn’t know that our garage outlet did this or we sure as ever wouldn’t have hooked our freezer full of meat up to it!)

Gratefully, since we had just purchased the freezer, it wasn’t also full of other things, too. Had it been a few weeks later, I very likely could have had it full to the brim with food in addition to the meat. It was still quite a big disappointment, though, not to mention being disgusting.

I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say it will be a very long time before I’ll be able to eat another hamburger again. So much for our bright idea of buying meat in bulk.

Note: It looks like we’re going to be able to recoup about $140 from our renter’s insurance, but since our deductible is $500, that’s all the recourse we’ve been able to drum up. Oh well, at least it was our economic stimulus check and not money we’d worked hard to set aside for this purchase.

Blogging for Profit – Part 5

There are a variety of methods to making money blogging and I’d advise you to try a number of them and figure out which works best for your market and audience.

Do try a number of methods and do constantly be looking for new ideas, but don’t try everything at once. Slowly experiment with a few at a time to see what your best results come from and always be tweaking things as you go along.

One of the easiest way to make money blogging is through affiliate programs. Affiliate programs are when you sign up to promote a product, get a special affiliate code or link to use when promoting that product, and then use that code to promote it. When someone clicks on a link or graphic on your blog with your special code on it and they place an order, you get a percentage of the sales.

There are literally hundreds of thousands of affiliate programs out there to choose from. Start with things you already have, love, and use. Add affiliate links in your sidebar to helpful books you’ve read which are along the lines of what you blog about. Consider an occasional product or book review. If you are going to link to a product or resource in a blog post, check first to see if the manufacturer’s of that product have an affiliate program so you can earn a little kickback for the free advertising you are giving them.

One thing to take note of though is that most affiliate programs have a pay-out level you need to reach before you actually get paid. For instance, many programs require you to $10 in affiliate sales before you’ll receive a check or Paypal payment. Having a payout level saves the affiliate program manager from spending lots of time sending out $0.50 checks. It also serves as an incentive for you, the affiliate, to produce more sales. This creates a win-win situation. To read more about affiliate programs and how to earn money with them, I check out The Affiliate Master’s Course which you can

There are thousands of affiliate programs out there to sign up for. You can start with a place like which has hundreds of affiliate programs for all sorts of markets to choose from. Since all of the programs are through one main site, you don’t have to wait to be paid for each individual program; instead, you’ll be paid when you reach payout collectively.

Another of my favorites is to be an affiliate for products. We sell our ebooks through Clickbank so if you have purchased any of them and would like to tell your friends about them, you can earn 66% by doing so! has a payout level of $10, and requires you to have a few sales from two different types of payment options in the beginning to start getting paid (this is to reduce fraudulent orders). Read .

After you receive your initial payment, they send you a check faithfully every two weeks if you reach the payout level. I’ve used Clickbank for a few years as both an affiliate and selling my products through them and have received thousands of dollars worth of checks from them and been more than pleased with their program.

My best advice for making the most through them is to pick a few ebooks or downloadables that you really like and promote each of them at least once per month. Also, consider putting together your own ebook to promote through them (we’ll talk more about this later) and your earnings will really skyrocket.

A few other affiliate programs I have received checks from include: , , , , , and (earn $5 whenever anyone signs up under you–works well for blogs with larger readerships).

There are literally thousands of other affiliate programs. My best advice is to think of some of your favorite products which you’d like to promote on your blog and check their websites to see if they have an affiliate program. If they do have an affiliate program, when you recommend them on your blog, use an affiliate link and if anyone orders on your recommendation, you’ll receive a percentage of the order (usually somewhere between 5-20%).

Let me be quick to say that I think one of the best ways to actually see a good profit earned from affiliate links is to not overdo. A few strategically placed affiliate links (in posts every now and then) and a few on your sidebar (which you can rotate around and change every once in a while to keep things fresh) are much more effective than just throwing up 150 affiliate links all over the place on your blog page. Too many ads just clutter the page and could cause you to
lose readers.

In addition, use discernment and discretion when promoting an affiliate link. If you wouldn’t feel comfortable promoting something without an affiliate link, you likely shouldn’t promote something with an affiliate link. Developing a trust and loyalty from your readers is much more important than making a quick buck.

Those are just a few of my thoughts on affiliate programs. I’d love to hear from those of you who have used them in the past or currently use them. Which programs have worked well for you? Which ones have not worked? Tell us about it in the comments section.

Blogging for Profit – Part 4

Yesterday, I talked about making your blog more visitor-friendly. Today, I want to talk a bit about boosting your blog traffic. If you
want to make more than a few dollars a month blogging, increasing your
blog’s traffic and readership is the best way to do so.
 

1) Read by Hugh Hewitt.
This is my number one recommendation to all bloggers, especially
beginning bloggers. Check your library if you’d rather not buy it.

2) Pick a topic.
The biggest impact Hewitt’s book had upon me was to pick a focus for my
blogs and to try and stay on track with those. When you come to this
blog, you have a good idea what you are going to get. I love blogging
and I love saving money, so meshing the two together into a blog called
December212012 was perfect for me.

When
you pick a focus for your blog, try to go with something that is broad
enough to encompass what you are passionate about and broad enough to
have a large enough market for it. Also, aim for something which you
think you could write about for years and never tire of. 

3) Write often.
One of the best ways to boost your blog traffic is just to blog. If you
are trying to increase your traffic and readership, I recommend you
spend the bulk of your time improving your blog and adding content to
your blog. Updating your blog at least three times per week helps you
establish a regular readership. When people know you almost always post
everyday or every other day, they are more likely to visit your blog
more frequently. 

4) Write well.
I don’t claim to be a "good writer" but I do try to at least follow
basic grammar rules, avoid repetition, and abstain from typographical
errors (though I do make those regularly if a post is typed somewhat in
haste!).

After you type up a post, read over it before posting it, and
then check it again after you’ve posted it to make sure it posted correctly
(sometimes fonts or layout will be haywire and your audience will
appreciate you for fixing this before they read it). 

How
do you learn to write well? Well, write. 🙂 That’s one of the best ways
to learn. The more you write and have people critique your writing, the
more your writing will improve. In addition, read well-written blogs
and books. Over time, by filling your mind with good writing and constantly
practicing your writing skills, your writing will invariably improve. 

Write
often, write well, and have an eye-pleasing blog and you’ll never have
a problem having some traffic–probably an ever-increasing amount of
traffic.

Not only will you find that writing often and writing well allows viral marketing begins to take effect
(someone finds your blog, likes it, links to it, and then their friend
clicks on the link thus finding your blog, likes it, and links to it
and on and on it goes), but you will also notice that you start getting
picked up in search engines.

Having search engines (i.e. Google) find your blog is one great way to easily drive more traffic to your blog.
In fact, this is where I get probably 30% of my blog visitors from–many of whom find my blogs initially through a search engine search. They like what they see and start regularly visiting my blog. The more
content you have with relevant search terms and the more often you
write, the more readily search engines will turn up your blog in search results.

5) Link frequently and liberally.
If you find another post which you liked or found interesting, link to
it! The blogger will love you for it and just might return the favor
sometime. In addition, link to and promote blogs you like. Not only is
this a great way to show appreciation to a blogger but it will often
land you on their blogroll as well.

Here are a few other ideas – some are things I’ve done, some I’ve heard work well: 

-Join blogging "leagues"–there are thousands of these and I’m sure a few would be a fit for you.

-Put a link to your blog in your email signature.

-Send the link to one of your best posts out to friends and family. Or, be pro-active and send it to some of the widely-read bloggers whom you think might be interested

-Submit posts to –Again, there are thousands of these and I’ve heard that participating
really boosts your traffic and introduces your blog to many who have
probably not heard of you before.

-Comment on other blogs–well-written regular comments on blogs can often bring a nice stream of traffic your way. But please, pretty please, do not leave comments just to get people to your blog. Comments which sound like an infomercial for your blog or which serve no purpose other than to try and get people to click over to your blog are not something most bloggers or blog readers appreciate. Join in the discussion, share something helpful and thought-provoking, and you’ll likely find other people will wander over to check out your own blog as a result.

For a more exhaustive list of ideas, check out Super Blogging’s post on 7. 

How do you know where traffic is coming from? Install a or on your blog.
It’s free and easy to do, and then you can have real-time visitor
information. I highly recommend you do this from the get-go as it is
not only exciting to watch your traffic count, it also gives you the
ability to figure out what is working and what is not working as you
can track where visitors are coming from.

 For those of you who blog, what are your best tips for boosting your blog traffic? Share them in the comments section.

Frugal weight loss

For something different today, I’m tackling a recent question from reader, Hope, on frugality and weight loss. She asks: 

If
you’re interested and willing, would you write a post regarding
frugality and weight loss/health? I know you’re losing baby weight and
you may have other knowledge to share, too.

My story is that
like so many, I’m overweight AND in debt. The two seem to go together
and it seems to at least partly be from the inability to say no to
yourself. Anyway, I’m on Dave Ramsey’s plan (thanks to you!) and I’m
trying to cut back all things that are a non-necessity. Currently I
have lost 25 lbs in the last 3 months by doing Weight Watchers ($39.95
per month) and exercising. I have a $42 a month gym membership but I
haven’t used it in months since I’ve been exercising at home. I have
about 100 lbs more to lose. These two things would be easy to cut out
of my budget and I would save $62 per month. However, I need the
accountability of a weigh-in to continue to lose the weight so I’m
hesitant to cut Weight Watchers.

I’ve been working out at home all summer but once the rain hits I may need to go to the gym. Do you have any advice? – Hope 

Hope,
first off, I just wanted to say that I’m so impressed at your
motivation and determination to become more disciplined! My mom always
says that discipline in one area of your life invariably spills out
into discipline in other areas of your life, too. So, way to go! 

Since
the only weight loss I’ve ever dealt with before is losing pregnancy
weight, I’m not sure that I am the most knowledgeable on helping with
this question. I do know that determination and discipline go a long
way, as does accountability.

Here are a few thoughts I had for you and then I’ll open up the floor for others to share:

I would first examine what it is about Weight Watchers that is helping you lose weight. I am guessing it is the accountability. I’ve never been to a Weight Watchers
meeting before, but I’ve heard that you have to weigh in and I know
that if I knew I had to weigh in in front of someone else every week,
that would be a big motivation to me! I also think you have to track
points and they keep track of that as well, am I right? Both things are
basically that you are just paying for accountability.

You could easily accomplish this same thing without paying the money by asking an acquaintance or two to be your accountability partners.
But, you would need to make sure that anyone who is going to be your
accountability partner is going to be a "slave driver." By that I mean,
you don’t want to weigh in front of someone who is too positive and is
going to respond "Oh honey, you’re doing a great job. I’m so proud of you for your hard work, even if you gained five pounds this week." No, you want someone who will really and truly keep you accountable for the long haul and won’t let you be a slacker. 

However,
if you can’t find someone who will be this sort of persistent,
force-you-to-be-disciplined accountability partner, then I say that
paying for Weight Watchers
until you reach your goal weight and maintain it, might very well be
the way to go. In the long run, losing the weight and keeping it off
will not only make you feel so much better and give you so much more
energy, it will also invariably save you a lot of health problems in
the future. And sometimes, paying for something means you are
attributing value to it and thus will follow through with it. 

As far as a gym membership goes, I’m not sure what sort of exercising you’ve been doing, but there are many cheaper alternatives to paying full-price for a gym membership.
I’ve heard from some that you can often swap a few hours of nursery
services each week at the gym for a paid membership. That might be
something to look into. Don’t be afraid to be creative and think
outside the box. Call around to different gyms in your area and see if
they have any discounted rates for those who can’t afford a full-price
membership. Ask for a deal. Who knows what they might say? After all,
it never hurts to ask! 

If you
are walking as part of your exercise, you could find an indoor place to
go and walk on rainy days. What about a large store, or mall, or church
or school with a gym? Again, think outside the box here and see what
you might come up with. 

Since the
weather is nice, I’ve been running or walking everyday, which has been
great! I also enjoy a few exercise DVDs and found it’s much more
effective for me than trying to just do my own calisthenics or pilates
routine. 

Also, this doesn’t help with the rain thing, but it’s another thinking-outside-the-box way to guarantee some regular exercise–sign up for a walking newspaper route!
We recently took two walking routes on as an entrepreneurial thing to
do as a family. The pay isn’t that great, but the exercise is fabulous
and when you’ve contracted to do the job, you have to do it whether you
feel like it or not! 

Now, for a few weight-loss ideas and thoughts from me: 

Moderation is key. Only eat when you are hungry and then, do not overeat. I repeat, do not overeat.
This will go a long way in curbing the pounds. If you feel somewhat
hungry, try drinking a big glass of water and see if your hunger goes
away. Sometimes that’s all it takes to tide you over for awhile. If you
have a habit of eating while you are on the computer or sitting in
front of the TV, slice up an apple or two to eat or a bag of carrots
instead of that bag of chips or package of Oreos. Not only will you get
in some great nutrition without much thinking about it, you’ll also
save yourself a lot of calories. As an aside, limit vegging or lounging
in front of any kind of screen as much as possible – this will also
help keep the pounds off! 

Avoid processed foods.
Not only are they not good for you, processed foods are usually loaded
with calories and artificial stuff. Rid your cupboards of anything
artificial and then don’t buy any more of it. Along the same lines,
avoid anything that says "Reduced fat, reduced calories, reduced
sugar…" these types of foods are usually crawling with artificial
junk and do not help your health in the long-run. Instead of eating
artificial foods, learn to enjoy made-from-scratch goodness. Make it
yourself, if at all possible, and your pocketbook will thank you! 

Avoid sugar.
This is a big one for me and probably my very hardest since I admit to
having a sweet tooth. I do allow myself a few desserts per week, but
since I’m trying to lose my last few pounds of pregnancy weight, I’m
really cutting back. And it’s amazing the difference it makes. What has
helped me is to just not have sweets in the house as much as possible.
Also, when I’m craving something sweet, I will eat a piece of fruit
instead or bake some whole-wheat bread and then eat it fresh with honey
and butter! 

Drink water.
Cut the soda and latte addiction and you’ll cut a lot of calories.
Instead, drink lots of water. I also occasionally drink fresh homemade
juice and usually daily have at least one or two cups of herbal teas.
As much as I love drinking a Starbucks coffee every now and then, I’ve
resigned myself to avoid it almost altogether until I’ve finished
losing the last of this baby weight. I have a huge mug that I fill up
with ice water and carry around with me all day. Having it nearby me
throughout the day means that I drink more. I try to drink the
equivalent of at least eight glasses of water a day when not nursing
and at least 12 glasses of water when nursing. For extra zest, I’ll
often squeeze a little lemon in the water, or make . 

Eat a diet high in fiber.
I try to have the majority of my diet be made up of fresh fruits and
vegetables and whole grains. Not only do you feel better eating this
way, it’s better for you, and it’s hard to gain extra weight on this
kind of diet! 

Always be looking for ways to incorporate more exercise into your life.
Park farther from the door of a store and briskly walk. Take the stairs
whenever you can. Stand instead of sitting. Jog instead of walking. 

Don’t eat after 8:00 p.m.This might seem like a strange one, but it works. If you are really hungry after
8:00 p.m., eat some veggies or a piece of fruit to curb your hunger. 

Take on a new hobby or interest.
It’s not my usual thing here to tell you to add something new to your
plate (um, no pun intended), but if eating is a sort of "hobby" to you,
branch out and try some new things to get your mind elsewhere!
Volunteer, organize your closets, plant a garden, do some in-depth
cleaning project, learn a new domestic skill, go clean someone’s home,
take a class, start a business… do anything you can do that gets you
away from food and keeps you busy! Pretty soon, you’ll realize that
you’re so busy doing other things, you’ve forgotten to eat! (Please
note: I’m not advocating we just cram our life full or that we live a
life so busy that we often forget to eat. But sometimes, we need to get
out and get distracted so that we can get over addictions – which is
really what over-eating is.)

Write down everything you eat and drink each day. You’ll be amazed at how helpful this simple little exercise can be. I often find that I think I eat a lot less than I do and I also think
I drink a lot more water than I do. Writing it down helps me to see
just exactly what I’m putting into my body and helps me be able to
adjust my diet accordingly. Utilize a program like or SparkPeople.com to help you track your progress, fitness, water intake, and diet each day.   

Most importantly, if you are a Christian, ask the Lord for grace.
This is the most important. Don’t try to lose weight in your own
strength. Go to the Lord and ask Him to help you, to give you the
discipline, and the self-control. He is able!

Those
are some of my thoughts on the subject. I’d love to hear others "weigh
in" with advice, personal testimonies, or tips for losing weight
without breaking your budget. Also, if anyone has any advice or
experience with Weight Watchers, gym memberships, or other weight loss
programs or helps, please do share in the comments section.

Blogging for Profit – Part 3

Yesterday, we talked about starting a blog and writing on it –two no-brainers if you ever want to make money blogging! Today
I want to talk about what to write about and how to make your blog more
visitor friendly. Both things are very important if you want to
establish a steady and ever-growing stream of regular visitors.

1. Be yourself.
When you first begin blogging, it might seem daunting to come up with
anything to say. My biggest piece of advice when you first start out is
to be yourself. Share from your own personal experiences and wisdom. Think about what unique perspective you have to bring to the table; do not try to be someone else or to copy someone else’s blogging. Be you!

2. Learn from others, but don’t copy their ideas.
Going hand-in-hand with being yourself, do not start a blog and just
mimic or parrot other people’s blogging ideas. You won’t ever get very
far if you never do anything original.

If you want to be a
better blogger, I highly recommend you spend time hanging around
well-known blogs with large readerships. Observe what they are doing
right and what is working for them. Then, figure out how you might
implement their ideas in your own unique way on your blog. However, as
I said above, do not just copy their ideas on your blog.

It is imperative that you set yourself apart, so don’t be afraid to try original things and find your own voice and niche. It takes perseverance and will likely mean you try and fail on occasion (I’ve certainly been there, done that, got the T-shirt!), but you can’t succeed if you don’t starting by trying.

[And here I must insert a piece of advice to newbie bloggers: Please, PLEASE, PLEASE do not make the mistake of filling up your empty blog by copying and pasting blog posts into your blog from other blogs. You should never, under any circumstance, copy and paste a full blog post into your blog without written permission from the author. Blog posts are copyrighted and copying and pasting them into your blog–even when citing the source–can be infringing on copyright rules.

If you find a post from another blog that is especially helpful to you, you are more than welcome to copy and paste a paragraph or so into your blog, making it clear that you are quoting another blogger, and then encourage your readers–with a direct link–to go and read the rest of the blog post on the original author’s blog.]

3. Use variety.
Variety is the spice of a blog. If you always post the same length of
post in the same way on the same topics, it can get dull very quickly.
A few ideas:

-Write longer posts and shorter posts and freely intermingle the two on your blog.
-Post pictures at least a few times per week.
-Try adding in video or audio every now and then.
-Post about your view of a particular current event.
-Share a quick tip.
-Ask
a question of your readers (wait until you have more than a handful to
do this, though, otherwise it will look a little lonely if there aren’t
any comments!).
-Answer a question from a reader in a post rather than in the comments section.
-Share a funny story about something your child did or said.

Also, don’t
be afraid to stand up on your soap box every now and then. Most of the
best bloggers are those who are not afraid to speak up and speak out on
subjects they are passionate about. And do
join in some of the blogging-themed days (such as or ) on occasion, too. You’ll
usually get a nice amount of traffic as a result, it gives you
just another idea to blog about!

4. Use short paragraphs and always leave spaces between paragraphs.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across a blog which was
fairly well-written but a bear to actually read because of these
monstrous paragraphs followed by monstrous paragraphs. Make your blog
easy to read by breaking up paragraphs after every 4-7 sentences or
less and always have a space between paragraphs.

5. Proof-read your posts before and after publishing them.
Need I say more? Read over your post at least once before hitting the
publish button, then read over it again after you hit the publish
button. Don’t know how to spell a word? Look it up on Dictionary.com. Sloppiness in blogging will detract from your
blog and will greatly hamper your blog’s ability for growth.

6. Write your blogging ideas down. If
you come up with a blogging idea as you’re going about your everyday
life, write it down at once. You may think you’ll remember it later,
but if you’re anything like me, there’s a good chance you might not.

I
have a place in my planner where I write down my blogging ideas. I never get to all of them, but the ever-growing list serves to remind me of things I am hoping to write about and when I sit down to blog, I usually have a waiting reservoir of post ideas to cull from.

I’ve
just barely scratched the surface on the subjects of being a better
blogger and coming up with creative blog fodder. What do you think makes a great blog? Why do you visit the blogs you do? What makes you continue to return to a blog or add it to your feedreader? Tell us in the comments section so we can all be enlightened!