There are a billion ways to monetize your blogging brilliance. You may not be able to support yourself or family when you first get started (true in any business), but with perseverance and a little strategy, you can at least supplement your income and see what's possible.
Google Ad revenue.
You can add Google ads to your website. It takes a little patience to set up, but can give you an immediate return on your blogging bliss. Google: Google Adsense to set up an account and get started.
Google Ad Strategies:
-your audience needs to be the kind of people who click on ads. I built a website once for gamers. The website was a calculator that helped gamers gauge their risk in making different moves in the game. It was awesome. And useful. And gamers would pull up that site and keep it open all day. But they never once clicked on an ad.
Meanwhile, I put ads on a site for Republicans, and oh boy--they went nuts clicking for the whole 17 hours the ads were up. The (elderly) Republican leaders were trying to figure out how ads for Democrats ended up on their site! So they clicked and clicked and clicked to try to get to the bottom of things!! Whoops! Made about $25 before they realized I had the power to remove "the liberal blasphemy" from their site.
My most successful Google ad experience brought in about $100/month for several years (with almost no attention given to the website after the initial setup). The website was for a niche product, and customers were being driven to the website from other websites and marketing methods. People clicked on ads because they were in the market for a product, and the ads were generally related to their product search.
Ever wonder why someone is drinking a Diet Coke in a TV show? Product Placement! Coca Cola will make more money by influencing people to drink their product, than by telling them directly. Use Product Placement with Trade to get started. Want to get your hair cut, but can't afford the best salon? Ask the salon if you can do a trade--a blog post featuring your hair experience with links to their salon site, in exchange for a hair cut! Tip in cash, please!
Once you have a big enough following, you can ask for real money for these sorts of blog posts!
Offer blogs for SEO purposes to local businesses or businesses that hit your niche market (for a fee). Do a story about how awesome a company, service or website is--and include some helpful links to their website in the copy. It's really important that you link properly, or else your blog will come off as spammy, or it won't be effective for your ad client.
-When you're talking about a web design company, link the important words about their SEO services like this.
-Do not link like this: wakinggirl.com
-And don't bother to link like this: Waking Girl is cool.
Link the words that people would use to find the business in a Google search. That will indicate to Google that "Waking Girl" is a "web design company" and offers "SEO services."
Ask for a one-time fee or a monthly fee, or a set up fee + monthly fee (businesses will benefit as long as the blog post is up and traffic is coming to your website).
Run your own graphic ads on the sidebars, footers or headers of your website. Ask businesses or organizations to supply graphics that fit the space, and then charge a monthly, quarterly or annual fee for sharing your web space! Websites generally charge too much for graphic ads. Words are actually worth more than pictures in a blog. The only time an ad would be more worthwhile is if your EXACT readers should be the EXACT customers for the ads. So--if all of your single, mom friends in Mobile, Alabama are reading your blog, then a graphic ad for a Singles Speed Dating event for Moms in Mobile, Alabama would make sense. For ads, go for sponsorship. Who just wants to support you and identify with you to help you out and be a friend? Is there a Women's Crisis Center or a Church or a MicroLoan organization that speaks to you? See if they want to smack their logo on your website for a small monthly fee. If you really want to benefit the organization, take the time to write a proper blog post about them, too!
What to charge.
Google ads: Google will decide!
Product Placement: use this to trade whatever you can trade! Hair care, kid's activities, restaurants. Look for companies that have some extra time or product on their hands, and want to help you get started!
SEO: If you write up a full, engaging story on a business, that's worth at least $50. If you use some SEO, and target relevant businesses for your audience, that's worth as much as you can sell it for ($75, $100, $250). I prefer low set up fees with ongoing monthly fees ($50 + $5/month, and yes, you may pay for a year at a time).
Ads: $5/month to $500/month. Seriously--the sky is the limit. Try to give people both an ad AND an SEO blog post AND a product placement experience!
Important next steps:
Quantity! Go! Keep writing! The deeper you allow people into your life, the more valuable your blog will become.
Plug into your audience.
Seek out Facebook Groups that feature your target market. Who is your target market? People just like you! Find your people!
Check in with your sponsors.
Follow up regularly with anyone contributing to the cause; communication will help you find new ways to help, and that will ultimately boost your bottom line! :)
Blogs: the gateway drug to your new business.
I'm surrounded by business coaches and the industry has one magic formula called "THE SALES FUNNEL." Catchy, right?
Every once in awhile I get caught in the click-bait of a sales funnel and sign up for an email newsletter. Recently one of those emails explained what a sales funnel is. I almost gagged.
For those of you who haven't heard the concept, a sales funnel goes like this:
Billions of people are out there, and through offers and promotions, you'll catch maybe a hundred or a thousand of them.
Then, through frequent harassment (email newsletters) you'll narrow it down to 10 interested people who might want more information.
And eventually they'll want a Discovery Call (that's just a phone call where you find out if they can afford your services).
And then you sell ONE promotional package to one lucky winner who pops through your little funnel.
And then you create the package, and perform the services. And hope the customer doesn't dispute the charge on her credit card.
And rinse, repeat.
Wow. That's a lot of funneling for ONE sale.
Let's take a look at how the process can work if you just flip the funnel over:
At Waking Girl we do not use lead generation funnels, we do not send out solicitous newsletters. We do not waste our energy on trying to win you over before the sale. We save our energy for going above and beyond for our current clients.
Rather than turning thousands into one client. We've taken ONE client and turned her into thousands of clients.
Thank you, Antique Angel Wedding Chapel, for being our first VIP client!
We are thankful for the cornucopia of businesses that have blessed us with their knowledge, wisdom, and enthusiasm. We wanted to give you a sample of some of our favorites! These businesses offer products and/or services in the Reno and Northern Nevada area. We invite you to get creative and find a unique one-of-a-kind gift for everyone on your list! Want to buy locally, but don't know how to turn house cleaning or live entertainment into a Christmas gift? Just ask! We can help! Thank you, Reno, for giving back with your gifting this year!
Activities, Trips and Tours: Clear the clutter with something to do!
For the Kids (and Kids at Heart)
Health, Wellness & Beauty
Fine Art, Customized Art--prices ranging from $5 to $5000
For the Gun Enthusiast
Good Eats, Drinks and Catering for your Holiday Party
Over 21 Crowd
For the Business Owner
For the Auto Fanatic
Charities to Support
Need a place for your Pets for the holidays?
Do you love your Local Businesses? Like and Share below! :)
An issue escalated, and I took the time to email each of the 3 parties individually, with their own unique email that pertained particularly to him/her.
Because I care.
Too often we think that including everyone on an email thread will make us seem helpful and informational. Unfortunately, your readers don't see it that way. While everybody likes a good mystery, business owners don't want to read through a 5 email chain to decipher why they got one, too.
Reasons you may have gotten that email:
1) The sender wanted to tattle, and thought Showing was better than Telling
2) The sender was attempting to be efficient
3) The sender simply doesn't have the technical skills to send you a pertinent attachment without the extra fluff
4) The sender feels powerless, but found the mighty Reply-All button
5) The sender is preparing to go to court (with you), and this email chain is about to make its way into evidence (sorry Judge!!!)
None of these are good signs!
How to de-escalate and communicate the issue efficiently:
1) Step away from the issue for a minute (hour or even a day). Take a deep breath. If you're panicked, you'll do something crazy.
2) Have the facts clear in your head (just the facts; not those pesky opinions)
3) Send a clear and concise email to each party. If you gotta "show" the facts, copy and paste the relevant portion of the email and explain:
"I was confused about the direction to take, because of Bob's email:
Bob said: I love unicorns!!!!!"
4) Give a resolution in each email, pertaining to each party:
Sally, let's go forward with moving the project deadline to the 30th!
Bob, let's talk by phone tomorrow at 3pm to figure out the unicorns!
Pat, we are handling the project and will notify you when we're ready for the rainbows!
5) Don't be afraid to pick up the phone! Sometimes we can get on the same page faster with a phone call.
Many business owners receive hundreds of emails a day (and I'm not talking about spam). These are real emails that require a response or an action. Forcing people to read through all of YOUR mail, too, is disrespectful and inefficient. If your organization requires ALL parties to read ALL emails, you won't be able to grow. If it is absolutely necessary to share all emails, change up your process. Instead of replying-all, just get together and play "office" in the same room together. Designate a reader, and when an email arrives, the reader can go ahead and share the details in real time! As a group, you can collectively reply. Your email address can simply be: firstname.lastname@example.org
In order to bring consistency to one of our favorite websites, we created a form for the client to fill out for inputting new information. The website features different Tours, and departure and arrival times are key to the operation. We were getting inconsistent formatting in the times (2pm, 2PM, 2:00 PM, 2:00 AM, 2ish) and a typical Date/Time field didn't give us the programming functionality needed to automate other features of the website.
Who knew it would be so hard to Google a list of times for a dropdown menu? I share this list here for anyone else who was trying to find a simple list of times to include in a form! Copy/paste at will!
5 Different Time Choices to Choose From:
To combine any of these columns, copy/paste each set into ONE column in an Excel sheet. Then sort!
Paste into Notepad to keep the list format. Then paste into your website.
Need to include some HTML? Do a Replace-All in Notepad:
Replace with: AM <br><li>
Replace with: PM <br><li>
You go to work every day. You punch in. You punch out. You carefully label your lunch and don't meddle with other people's office supplies. You're a good worker. You look in the rear view mirror before walking in to greet your colleagues and tell yourself hopefully, "Maybe today is the day I'll get a raise."
Sorry. Ain't gonna happen. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever--not like that.
Raises don't just happen. They don't just fall out of the sky. They're not rainbows. They're not unicorns.
Raises do not come to those who wait.
But why not? I deserve a raise, don't I?
I dunno, DO you? A business owner has a lot on the line and quite frankly, often doesn't know if *she* is going to get a cut from month to month. You were hired because a business owner needed help; and hiring you was probably long overdue, but once you were hired, the business owner realized, "Shoot. How am I gonna afford to feed all these people AND train these people AND pick up the slack when they tap the snooze icon too many times? Can I raise my rates? Can we find a more innovative way to do business? Maybe I can just stop sleeping for a few months."
Rainbows and unicorns don't just fall out of the sky for business owners either.
Every business owner dreams of the day when a new hire knocks assertively at her door, enters, sits down and says the following:
Boss Ma'am, I would like to present a plan I've been thinking about. I noticed that Teddy, Bill and Sally are awesome at organizing and generating content. I also noticed there is some down time when we're not on the phones from about 10am-11am each day. I was wondering if we could take over the social media work that Big Mega Co. has been handling for you during that time each day. I hope you don't mind, but I went ahead and looked at your contract with Big Mega and according to Section 14 we can pop right out of that contract at the end of this month. It looks like you're paying Big Mega about $800/month. Would you be willing to give me a raise of half that amount to handle the management and responsibility of this task?
Sold. Done. Immediate raise. Promotion. Partner in the company by the end of the year.
But I'll take over the social media for my company. Do I get a raise now?
No. Getting a raise isn't about taking on more tasks; it's about taking on more thinking. A small business owner's brain looks like Willy Wonka's chocolate factory--on steroids. If you can handle just one chocolate slide, that frees her brain up to make more blueberry bubble chutes.
I like chocolate slides. Do I get a raise now?
Are you handling the responsibility to the extent that the owner would? More? Better? Beyond? Then, yes! A small business owner is in a place of being able to hire others because she has exceeded her customer's expectations and her company has grown. Her products and services are in demand. But considering we're not ready to clone business owners (yet), she has the unruly task of hiring/contracting, training and praying to God that her new team will love her clients just a fraction as much as she does.
How did my boss exceed expectations?
She did what the client *would have asked for*, if the client knew such a thing existed.
How can I exceed my boss' expectations?
The same way. Stop looking at your work as a job, and start looking at your work as a service. You are in the business of helping your boss, boosting her profits, and reducing her costs, and above all--easing the Willy Wonka chaos. Thinking in this way immediately increases your value. If you're there to HELP your boss now you can offer to do tasks beyond your job description. You can even offer to help with things that are fun for you, but clearly a chore for your boss.
But my boss makes a lot of money; shouldn't I get a fair cut?
The reason a boss will love you forever if you waltz into her office with a money-saving or profit-boosting proposal is because you're paying attention. You probably know exactly how much money you cost the company and how much money you make the company. Just because the boss is invoicing lots and lots of dollars doesn't mean she's taking any of it home. Companies rarely make tons of money over night; there are debts to be paid, investors, mistakes, blood pressure medication, and it all adds up. Instead of looking at your paycheck with a "gimme gimme" mentality, go get the facts. Find out if your boss has been coming out of pocket to keep you on the team, and more importantly--if your ideas can boost the bottom line!
But what if my ideas offend the boss?
Then it's time to start your own business. You have the confidence and the know-how to be an entrepreneur! Give your two week's notice and get to it!
Ok, ok, I'm not quite ready for that--but can I work for you?
You tell me! How can you help me? What's your pitch? What's your proposal? You've visited my website, you've seen my rates. How can you add value to what I'm already doing and tame the explosion of berrylicious goodness in my brain? Can't wait to hear it! :)
Angela Refsland, owner of Waking Girl Web Design worked for a small business over a decade ago, and asked for not just one raise, but two! After just three months, she noticed an ongoing problem and found a solution. She presented the solution, offered to implement the solution for more pay, and it was an immediate YES from the boss. Know what happened? Her colleagues resented her for it, because they had been waiting for 6 years for rainbows and unicorns. The work environment became too hostile so she asked to be switched from an employee to an independent contractor (no more taxes being taken from her checks), and have the freedom to work from home. The company agreed! And from there--it was an easy step to venture out on her own.
We were excited to see so many Waking Girl websites represented in the 2015 Best of Northern Nevada contest! Congratulations!! YOU make your business great; thank you for letting us tag along for the ride!
Best place to buy a firearm
Willey Brothers Firearms
Best tanning salon
Best pet boarding
Best doggy daycare
Best selection of local art
Best art gallery
Best independent art gallery
Liberty Fine Art Gallery
Best place to have sex in public
Johnny's Ristorante Italiano
Best toy store
Happy Happy Joy Joy
There's nothing more frustrating than putting together the perfect blog post, and then excitedly sharing it to Facebook only to find that a funky image appears. Maybe it's a distorted version of your logo, or a random image from your footer--whatever it is--it's NOT an image that will beckon folks to read your blog.
So what do we do?
Facebook does its best to pull a relevant image. It looks for the first image that is over 541 pixels wide.
Huh? Pixel-what? Is that like an inch or a mile? Or a magic fairy?
541 pixels is just over 7.5 inches. Don't have a ruler handy? It's about the length of an iPhone 6 (the regular, not the mega).
You said over 541. Does that mean I can just use images that are 3000 pixels wide and hope for the best?
No. Facebook has mass amounts of data to store, so it's going to go for the realistically sized image and will ignore anything that is so big it should be a background image.
Do I have to figure this out every time I want to blog?
No. Figure it out once and use this image every time you blog.
Will people get bored?
Yes. But few business owners have blog-itis, so if you're only blogging once a quarter (or worse--once a year), the consistent visual messaging will be welcomed by your fans.
Can't I just make my logo show up there?
Yes. Plug your logo into a graphic that is 541x541, save, and upload into your blog post.
But I don't want to deal with this every time.
Ok... depending on your website platform, you may be able to upload your logo at the 541 size. Test this out by posting to your mom's timeline before telling your fans.
Anything else I should know?
Facebook has a good memory. It stores stuff. You may need to re-create your blog post if you make a mistake.
And Facebook is fickle. If things don't look right, do a Google search to see if the Facebook Share Image dimensions have changed! Google: Facebook Dimensions.
There I was minding my own Facebook business when suddenly an avalanche of opinions started pouring through my feed. Logo this, logo that, city this, city that--honey, grab the pitchfork, we've got a logo to fight off!
In my decade+ of graphic design experience I had never seen design criticism in such magnitude. A whole city with an opinion! If only Logos were on the ballot in November, the polls would be filled!
I have been watching the Biggest Little City campaign for the last few years with glee, admiration and respect. I had the privilege of attending a luncheon that explained all the details, the passion, the reasoning. It was the ultimate Logo Presentation, and the citizens of Reno who never had a chance to attend--certainly missed out.
So let's go through some of these SUPER GREAT questions/comments that have been surfacing in Reno's great design school, Facebook University, where people go to hone their art and graphic design skills so they can fit in with the Teslas, the Apples and all the other innovative Joneses that are so far ahead I am wondering if Texas wants a second shot at the bid.
It looks like a cattle brand. We don't need no stinkin' cattle brand. We ain't no cow town!
Well when you put it like that! See the image above. All great logos can be turned into cattle brands. The term branding came from cattle branding--it is how a rancher could distinguish his cattle from the neighbor's cattle. Just like when you go to a store and you want to grab your favorite brand, you look for the tag, the label, that signature button. It's usually not super obvious, just tucked inside the collar; but God, you get a sense of pride when you have your favorite brand rubbing up against your body all day. The Reno BRAND is subtle and simple--the way a good brand should be. It works on a subconscious level, tucked into a corner, supporting and identifying whatever wall, sign, shirt, store or project it is attached to. Your psyche spots it as you walk by, and you smile. You're not sure why, but there is something inviting about that building, that event, that business. You want to go in, something is beckoning you! That is why it looks like a cattle brand!
It's too simple.
Again, look above. The beauty of a simple logo is that it can evolve and function with more complex concepts. Have a white wall? Use the black version of the logo. Have a black wall, use the white version. Want to call it Christmas in Reno--try it in Red and Green*. I'm sure you can recall a few variations of the Nike and Coca-Cola logos. Successful marketing operations rarely go back to the drawing board completely; they just make variations on the theme. Why? We don't want you to have to rebuild a psychological impression every time the seasons, the dimensions of a billboard or the Facebook timeline cover requirements change. By utilizing a simple logo, other concepts can be built around it. Yes, it is simple. Awesome!
It looks like my 7 year old made it.
Your 7 year old should probably go into graphic design immediately.
It's so old I think I've seen this before--when I was a baby.
Hey--no one asked you your age, but since you volunteered--yes, great designers pull from historic elements of a business (or city) to give a timeless appeal to a logo. The logo is a throwback to the original Reno Arch. No one is looking to rewrite Reno's history; the creators understand that Reno's history is part of its greatness. But they also get that Reno's future can be even greater.
Stop? It's a stop sign!!?! OMG!!!!!! PANIC.
An octagon is a respectable shape, and I don't think STOP has it trademarked. It's up for grabs, people! What does an octagon mean to you? Why do you associate that with a STOP sign? And why is that a bad thing in your mind? I just LOVE the psychology behind a good logo! A great logo WILL make you STOP and think, question, evolve. It might even make you want to STOP and stay in Reno for the night, the week--hell, maybe forever. But if you just can't handle the idea of more people stopping in Reno, consider a higher meaning of the octagon which deals with: Regeneration; Totality; Infinity; Rebirth; Transition. Huh. That sounds oddly appropriate.
Why do we need this. The old one is perfectly fine.
I didn't even realize we had an old logo until this discussion came up. Then I saw the old logo and was reminded, "OMG that thing?! WE HAVE A LOGO AND IT IS SO 1997." I'm not going to bash it (much) because the previous logo was designed by committee and through intense government regulations. It fits all the requirements of the Facebook community, and well--that kind of explains it, doesn't it? To stay relevant to my clients I have to update their websites every month. And then we have to do whole website overhauls every year--just to keep up with technology. As businesses grow and they realize that their original image is no longer relevant--we have to also change their logo and branding. Reno is in an exciting place of transition and innovative growth. It's time for all of Reno to not only consider a new logo, but also a new wardrobe, a new career, a new place to dine, a new habit, a new route to work. If you're still comfortable with the old logo, it may be time for some deep spiritual introspection--what else have you been putting up with for the last 15 years? An abusive relationship, a horrible boss, an extra 40 pounds? Rebrand yourself. Tell the people that are bringing you down to STOP; you're getting a new logo, a new look. Hopefully the Facebook Community will be on board with the new you; I know I will!
*provided that is allowed under the confines of the branding guide.
Vote Asian Noodles for Best Vietnamese
Vote Lakeridge Cleaners for best dry cleaners
Julie's Sign Shoppe For Best Local Non-Casino Business
VOTE CLARK REAL ESTATE FOR BEST LOCAL PLACE TO WORK
Vote Patty's Tours Best Day Trip
La Cucina For Best Business Lunch
Johnny's Ristorante Italiano For Best Italian
Vote Tel-Com for Best Kept Secret
Vote The Gandolfo Team for Best Real Estate Agent
Vote Willey Brothers Firearms Best Place to Buy Firearms
Sierra Skin Institute For Best Doctor
Vote Silver Bullet Gun Works for best place for a first date!
CHRISTINE INK FOR BEST CREATIVE WRITER
Deltchev Gymnastics For Best Gym
Creative World For Best Place to Take the Kids
VOTE SHELBY'S BOOK SHOPPE FOR BEST BOOKSTORE!
Vote Protect Your Hunt for Best Weekend Activity!
A Poetic Body For Best Visual Artist
Vote Uncle Vinny's PIzza Best Pizza Parlor
Vote Tropical Carpet & Tile Cleaning for best house cleaning service!
PACIFIC ENERGY ALTERNATIVES FOR MOST ENVIRONMENTALLY CONSCIOUS COMPANY
RENO SMOKE SHOP FOR BEST HEAD SHOP
Vote Happy Happy Joy Joy Best Toy Store
Vote Antique Angel Wedding Chapel for Best Wedding Reception Site
Vote Zeff Pediatric Dentistry Best Dentist
Vote Nails by Ava for Best Nail Technician
dfaltmann for Best New Business
Vote On Command for Best Pet Boarding, Best Doggy Daycare, and Best Pet Groomer
Lahontan Audubon Society For Best Place to Introduce Kids to Nature
Bye Bye Body Pain For Best Pilates Instructor
Fire Horse For Best Muralist
NV AUTO BODY SPARKS FOR BEST PLACE TO GET A CAR REPAIRED
Vote Tahoe Public Art for best special event at Lake Tahoe!