Financial Planning, Retirement Issues


Add New Life to Existing Content

July 4th, 2013 ernie Posted in Blogging No Comments »

Add New Life to Existing ContentSometimes old content on your blog becomes out of date, the details change, posts are too short and to maintain value of this content writers should really spend time updating them and tweaking the content. With perhaps thousands of pages, how does one go about updating this content and keep it fresh? this is a huge problem for large and small companies that are limited by staff levels and also want to continue generating new and fresh content. We have outlined a few ideas about how to go about this, make efficient use of your time and still generate new content aimed at your readers.

Add New Life to Existing Content – Approach to Updating Content

One approach is to add to your daily schedule an objective to update content each day. Perhaps you modify one post per day, bringing it up to current specifications and updating the information so that it is relevant to today’s readers. If you have thousands of pages, this may need to be done to many files per day, however you also must be careful to avoid signaling to the search engines that your content is spam by mistake. Our approach is to update no more than five posts each day, tweaking them here and there, adding a few sentences, correcting spelling and grammar etc. We also update the Google Adsense code on these pages as well when Google makes changes to their code.

It may take us several years to get through all of the content, however that is much better than never going through it at all. We also are using this opportunity to remove links that are no longer valid or perhaps do not align with our content. With Google’s focus on indexing good quality content, we feel that this is another excellent approach to take over time.

Advertise Your Web Sites Content

You need to advertise as well on your message boards, twitter, Facebook etc. Get your message out there so that readers are aware of what is available and can link to it as they refer content to their friends etc.

A good time to update old content is when the creative juices may not be flowing. No one can write every day and all day. We get tired, we run out of ideas and it is just too difficult. By taking the time to update old content, you are keeping your old content up to date and you just may get some ideas for new posts from your old content. This is an excellent way to help develop new ideas as well, since the process of rewriting content or updating it sometimes gets you thinking about ideas that were not covered in the old content. Depending on the topic, this may be an opportunity to create a new post about this new topic and link back to the original post.

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Making Money off Blogging

January 13th, 2011 ernie Posted in Blogging 1 Comment »

Making Money off BloggingThis is a re-post of an article I read on Market Watch. It is re-posted here in it’s entirety. We posted this article here since many of our friends wonder about what Adsense and blogging is all about and why would I spend so much time working on something like this. It is foreign to the entire concept of going to an office, getting a paycheck and not working for your self. I thought that maybe they would see this and understand a little bit more why I blog:

Jan. 12, 2011, 12:01 a.m. EST

Making Money off Blogging

Successful bloggers describe how they made a go of it

By Marty Orge

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — Blogs are an ever-growing presence on the Internet, but can you make money in this crowded field? Certainly, some people do, and a big part of their success is choosing the right topic to write about — and then sticking to it until the audience, and advertisers, come.

There were 126 million blogs on the Internet in 2009, the most recent figure available, according to Pingdom.com, which tracks Internet growth. Some provide a healthy income for their authors.

Start with passion, and the money will follow, said Joel Comm, a new-media marketing strategist in Loveland, Colo., and author of “KaChing: How to Run an Online Business that Pays and Pays.”

“Niche is the way to go, and micro-niche is even better,” Comm said. “To be successful with a blog you need to find your passion.” Successful bloggers want to write about whatever they’re passionate about, he said, even if they don’t get paid.

For example, if you love dogs, there’s a niche. “I’m partial to Yorkshire Terriers,” Comm said, “so I could blog about Yorkies, defining my niche even more,” he said. “Find a topic where you can display your knowledge and become the blogging expert about it.”

Not always about the cash

For Neal Schaffer, who earns $100 a month from blogging and gets 20,000 visitors each month, it’s not about the money. Blogging is a way to attract potential clients.

Schaffer is president of Windmills Marketing in Newport Beach, Calif. He blogs about social-media strategies for professionals and businesses at WindMillNetworking.com.“Because I built a trustworthy relationship, people reading my blog are ready to purchase services I offer. Blogging is free advertising for my business,” he said. “It is in my consulting and speaking business where I make a living.”

Schaffer uses Google AdSense and affiliate marketing programs. Google offers AdSense, which delivers ads, free to site owners and bloggers. Payment is usually based on how many visitors come to the site or click on the ads. Affiliate marketing programs pay bloggers when visitors click on their proprietary ads.

Praveen Puri is a financial and software blogger in Aurora, Ill., and author of “Stock Trading Riches.” He earns an average of $250 a month from four blogs, including Simple-Trading-System.blogspot.com and unix-simple.blogspot.com.

“I make about $50 from selling my books on my blogs, $10 from Amazon affiliate sales, $140 from sponsored posts through PayPerPost.com, Blogertise.com and SocialSpark.com, and $50 from selling paid links directly to advertisers,” he said. “I work on my blogs about 16 hours a week.”

Long hours and minimal income don’t deter Puri. For him, blogging is like a hobby. “Most hobbies cost money,” he said. “With blogging, I’m enjoying a fun hobby where I’m actually making more than I have to pay out.”

Puri said his blogs also help him gain credibility as a source on Unix programming and financial investing. And he does want to see a bigger payoff from his blogging. “There is the hope that I will eventually make a breakthrough where one or more of my blogs or posts go viral and exponentially create a big audience where I could make more money.”

Marc Matsumoto, a New York-based editor and publisher of the food blog NoRecipes.com, said he makes $1,000 a month in blog ad revenue and gets 160,000 visitors to his blog a month.

But his blog serves as the gateway to other income. Matsumoto said he has gotten paid recipe-development jobs for periodicals, books, and packaged-goods companies from his blog. “I’ve also gotten paid food-photography gigs primarily for packaged-goods companies. Almost 100% of my leads come through my blog,” he said.

“I work 40 to 50 hours a week on purely blog-related activities,” he said. “I left a job as a marketing executive three months ago to pursue the blog and work on it full-time. A blog is a portfolio piece that helps you build your brand and secure other work.”

Blogging for real money

Nick Veneris is chief executive of Xomba.com, an online writers community. Writers post original content and share AdSense revenue.

“Our users made a total of $45,000 last month, so, yes, Google ads do pay,” Veneris said. Xomba shares AdSense revenue 50/50 with writers, with some individuals making $1,000 to $3,000 a month. According to Veneris, topics that pay the most are technology, retail sales and shopping, entertainment, health and business.

Meanwhile, Marc Aarons said he earns $2,000 a month after two years of blogging about mobile broadband on Mobile-Broadband-Reviews.com.

“Ninety percent of that income is from Google Ads,” Aarons said. “They work.” The Atlanta, Ga.-based blogger spends two to four hours a day on his blog, “with a morning commute to the kitchen.”

Aarons credits his success to hard work and transparency. “Hardly anyone is willing to support you, let alone hand over any money to you, without transparency,” he said, referring to being up-front and clear about advertising relationships.

“For many people who’ve had some level of success on the Internet, transparency has usually been a big part of making that happen,” he said

Also, successful bloggers must first provide value, Aarons said, and make money later. Doing so builds the trust and creates the relationship that’s necessary to build an audience. “You want your visitors to search for you, find your message resonating and stick around because you solve problems for them,” he said. “That’s the name of the game.”

New-media marketing strategist Comm agrees. “It’s all about bringing value to the conversation. What do your readers want? If all you think about is making money, that’s putting the cart before the horse. Bring value to your blog first. That’s the only way to make money.”

Carving out a micro-niche

“It’s important to know your niche and to continuously feed a blog or website when the subject is hot,” said Talya Schaeffer, founder of the blog CyberBlackFriday.com, which features online Black Friday sales.

Schaeffer’s research showed Black Friday-related searches begin in September and end right after the event. Schaeffer saw the trend unfold and watched as it intensified in November. “I updated the site frequently with the latest Black Friday deals this holiday season and generated $4,000 between October and November using Google AdSense and affiliate programs with retailer websites,” Schaeffer said.

Frugal-minded web surfers have helped Chelsea Rustrum earn $10,000 to $12,000 a month with her website and blog FreeMania.com.

“My audience is mostly moms between the ages of 25 and 45 who are interested in saving money, trying new products free of charge and printing coupons for items they buy anyway,” she said.

Rustrum publishes FreeMania.com in Santa Cruz, Calif. “I’ve also recently worked out of Florence, Bali and Thailand. I can work anywhere, all I need is my laptop and a stable Internet connection.” She monetizes her blog using Google AdSense, Commission Junction and Hydra Network.

Along with blogging three or four times a week, Rustrum also sends out emails to 150,000 subscribers. “My priority at this point is building a community that is engaged and social, which will naturally result in more visitors and more time spent on the site. The more unique, high-value content I can offer, the better.”

Rustrum said that, to be successful, bloggers must figure out what they are good at and what they are passionate about — and then blog about that. You need a clear vision. “Don’t start out with the intent to build a blogging empire,” she said.

“It sounds cliché but I truly believe if you write about something you’re passionate about the people will come. And when the people come, the advertisers will come,” Rustrum said.

As chief executive of SheFinds Media and publisher of SheFinds.com, BrideFinds.com and MomFinds.com, Michelle Madhok has built a web and blogging empire, earning $1.3 million a year.

Madhok started SheFinds.com in her apartment in New York City in 2004 and made about $30,000 a year. She worked 70 hours a week. Her niche worked and traffic and sales increased each year. By 2008, “we were doing about $500K in sales,’’ she said. “This year I’m working 50 hours a week and we’ll gross $1.3 million and get more than 1.2 million visitors to the sites.”

Transparency — it’s the law

Whether earning $1,200 or $1.2 million a year online, today’s bloggers are careful to be transparent about advertising income. There are two reasons for this openness, said Lorrie Thomas, chief executive of the online marketing agency WebMarketingTherapy.com in Santa Barbara, Calif.

The first reason bloggers are open about advertising income, Thomas said, is because most blogging income comes from online ads and links to affiliate advertisers. Thomas said bloggers are open about their advertising stream of revenue because they want to attract even more advertisers. High earning sites attract new advertisers. “Advertisers want to know who the hot bloggers are,” she said.

The second reason bloggers strive for transparency? In 2009, the Federal Trade Commission updated the FTC Act of 1980 — specifically, the guidelines for consumer endorsements and testimonials. The FTC mandated that bloggers disclose clearly on their sites if they are getting paid in free products, affiliate revenue or online ads. Failure to follow the FTC guidelines could result in a cease-and-desist order.

Said Thomas: “Bloggers who were not transparent to their readers about what they were getting paid by sponsors were at risk of getting smacked down.”

Marty Orgel is a freelance writer in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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How to become a Popular Website

September 21st, 2010 ernie Posted in Blogging 1 Comment »

Popular WebsiteEvery small business owner loves the exposure and sales that having a website that’s a daily destination for consumers can generate. But getting people who are your potential customers to visit on a regular basis can be a challenge, especially if updates are infrequent or all you have to offer is the occasional monotone press release or product announcement.

Thankfully, building a website that’s “sticky” enough to keep customers engaged and coming back doesn’t have to require investing thousands or reinventing yourself as the next online media empire. All it takes is a little elbow grease and personal touch, along with regular updates that entice your readers and customers as indicated by the simple strategies below, each designed to keep your customers coming back. Also make sure you establish goals and objectives for the activity and them measure the results to ensure you obtaining the results you are aiming for. Follow established SEO (Search engine optimized) design criteria while building your web site.

Connect and communicate to Become a Popular Website

Make no bones about it: Blogging should be an essential part of any modern website. After all, a few clicks is literally all it takes to post updates in real-time around the clock, creating a steady stream of new products and sales that promises something new and exciting with every visit. Better still, professionals at all experience levels have the capability of readily doing it, and the practice also helps put a personal face on your organization, shining the spotlight on the individuals behind it.

However, to really captivate an audience enough to keep them returning, take note: You’ll also need to provide content that’s dynamic, unique and offers measurable informational or entertainment value, plus speak in a language that all can understand. In short, the occasional pre-approved sound bite from the HR guy or gal won’t cut it. Rather, you need to address audiences like you’re having a normal conversation, and provide content with meaningful substance to the reader.

Making-of articles, features detailing how to get more from your products, partner profiles, project diaries, step-by-step how-to guides, interviews with notable personalities or internal stakeholders: All present compelling ways to connect with audiences while also keeping them interested and informed, providing ample incentive to keep coming back.

Bottom line, the content needs to be frequently updated and aimed at your customer or clientele.

Emphasize community building

As social media insiders well know, creating a sense of community around your website is one of the most powerful tools for engaging and ultimately enthralling prospective fans. But doing so doesn’t simply mean throwing up a sponsored message board then leaving it to stagnate, or e-mailing customers sporadic newsletter updates that regurgitate existing material easily found elsewhere.

Rather, you have to not only encourage discussion and actively take part in conversations by dedicating internal time and resources, but also make customers feel as if they truly have a voice in the discussion by listening to their concerns, responding and sourcing feedback at every opportunity. Implementing programs that recognize and reward valued contributors is also vital, as is creating fan-based initiatives that allow community members to contribute and share ideas, concepts and creations of their own.

Even simply giving enthusiasts the chance to submit designs for your next fundraiser’s logo or arranging times where they can chat with top execs to provide input on upcoming ventures won’t just engender goodwill. They’ll also excite and empower a legion of amateur brand ambassadors–an essential source of free ongoing updates and constructive conversations, which will both attract users to and keep them enamored with your site.

Design for mass distribution

Sharing is good–even more so if you’ve got a message worth spreading and it winds up in front of millions of eyeballs. As such, you should be not only updating your website with unique pieces of content (surveys, research reports, custom editorial clips, guides to solving common problems, unique looks behind-the-scenes, etc.) designed to grab viewers’ attention, but also making everything from blog posts to pictures, photos, PDF documents and videos shareable, embeddable and ready to be commented upon or re-tweeted via social media platforms.

When it comes to corporate assets, the tendency–especially among hyper-competitive start-ups–is always to tightly hold and control. But often, the more powerful strategy is to design pieces of content with the specific idea in mind of seeding them throughout the user community, as it’s a great way to build brand awareness. Beyond heightened exposure and additional media mentions, using your website to disseminate unique, specially branded pieces of content can also lead to improved search engine optimization results through a larger number of incoming links. And, more important still, generate heightened word of mouth surrounding your homepage, letting countless potential readers know exciting things are happening there on a regular basis.

Focus on value

Exclusive specials, contests, promotions and timed discounts can all be powerful drivers of website traffic, especially in these cost-conscious times. By offering direct bargains and rebate programs on both an ongoing and sporadic basis through your online headquarters, you can keep customers’ interest piqued, and generate additional sales. These marketing programs become even more valuable when coupled with Facebook, Twitter and other social marketing tools, which have the potential to help news spread like wildfire online.

Just make sure that the only place such bargains can be found is on your homepage, and be consistent in terms of the pages to which you drive this traffic, to establish in shoppers’ minds the importance of regularly checking a certain destination. Similarly, establishing relationships with key bloggers and members of the media can also help reinforce the message, as can a regular series of e-mail or newsletter updates designed to inform current and prospective buyers. Customers get to save on purchases while you benefit from enhanced publicity and heightened sales, creating a win-win situation for all.

Use targeted demonstrations

While special membership options, premium subscription packages and frequent buyer programs can all prove great incentives, services that you freely give away are often just as important as those that you reserve for more exclusive clients. Whether you’re looking at offering complimentary computer virus scans by having users visit your homepage, providing a suite of free continuing education resources or simply hosting an archive of complementary, corporate-branded webinars on software engineering, realize:

Providing helpful services or information at no charge that solve pressing, evergreen problems or answer important questions can all serve to generate a steady source of online traffic, and provide a ready supply of leads to up sell on premium services. Sometimes you have to give in order to get. It may seem counter intuitive, but ultimately, the practice makes a ready way to demonstrate your organization’s capabilities to a potentially lucrative client base, while also giving them a taste of the benefits to be had by partnering on more advanced or long-term services.

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Small Animal Traps

January 15th, 2010 ernie Posted in Blogging 1 Comment »

Small animal traps for pests such as ground hogs, raccoons, squirrels and even skunks can be humane and safe for the home owner as well as the animal you are trapping. There are some interesting areas that consumers should be aware of if you are planning to employ a small trap to catch something that has been bothering your landscaping or gardens.

Small animal trapSmall animal traps come in various sizes, however the one we bought was about 12 ” by 12″ by 36″ made out of wire mesh and needed assembly which was not too difficult. This particular small animal trap has a trip platform on the floor of the trap which when stepped on causes the door to slam down trapping the animal inside the trap. Any bait should be located at the far end of the trap so that the animal has to go far enough in to step in the trip platform locking them inside. These are pretty easy to use and have a handy carrying strap located on the stop of the trap for ease in carrying the small animal trap.

We purchased the small animal trap at Home Depot initially to trap several raccoons that had invaded our attic( more on that later), however they can be used to also trap such animals as ground hogs and skunks or rabbits. I am not sure I would want to trap a skunk, since it is a bit tricky to open the door of the trap to let the animal out and who wants to get sprayed by a skunk!! Some people will place poisoned food inside the trap, however we do not recommend that. It is a hard way to die and really is animal cruelty.

Small Animal Traps – Trapping Raccoons

Raccoons in the atticThe raccoons had invaded our attic so we thought the simple thing to do was  to trap them , take them out to the country and let them go.  Well we were able to trap the two young raccoons easily enough. There were two babies that were now old enough to travel and did not know the ways of the evil world and were easily lured into the small animal trap. We placed the trap on the roof near the entrance to the den and within a few hours trapped one after  another.

The parent raccoons were another matter. They obviously had experience and may have learned from the plight of their young, however there was no way they were going to go into that trap. I tried peanut butter, cooked meat, vegetables etc. We fed them a balanced diet, yet they would not go in the trap. In fact they also stole the food. They are really smart and were somehow able to reach the food without tripping the trap door.

I even spread peanut butter along the far edge of the trap inside. The would reach through the side of the trap and scrape off the peanut butter as much as they could. But they definitely were not going to go inside that small animal trap. So I thought ok, the holes in the wire mesh of the trap are just large enough for the raccoons to put their paws through to get at the food I had placed in the trap. I bought smaller chicken wire and wired it to the outside of the trap were they were placing their paws through.

Well it worked in terms of the raccoons not being able to get at the food, however they still did not enter the small animal trap. This was a real dilemma and I had spent $100 purchasing this trap and having no success. Well it turns out that I was wasting my time. Even if I had been able to get rid of the raccoons, there are many dens in the area meaning there are more raccoons living in  our neighbor hood and once ours left more would just move in. After some research I found this to be pretty common.

If the Trap Will Not Work, What Were We Supposed to do

I was forced to abandon my trapping and call in the experts who explained to me that the really only efficient way to get rid of them is to install a one way door over the entrance to the den, wait for two months to make sure the parent raccoons and the young have left and then replace the trap door with permanent heavy gauge wire mesh to keep them permanently out.

We were also surprised to learn that the bylaws of our city and many others prevent the trapping and removal of raccoons. You can trap them, however you can only legally take them a couple of blocks away from your house. Really, what good is that going to do? They will just return the next night and move back in. Also other raccoons in the area can tell if a den is occupied or not and will also move in to the vacated den. So I had to agree that the best approach is to install the one way door and keep them permanently out of our attic.

They were gone in a matter of days. During the next winter I could tracks on our roof were they had attempted to re-enter without success, so I count Damage to roof by raccoonsthis as a successful exercise. One word of caution, if you do not allow the young to get out, the parent raccoons have been known to tear holes in the roof while trying to rescue their babies. Always make sure they all can get out and who wants a dead animal stinking up their attic anyway. Yuk!

I was able to resell the small animal trap using Craig’s list. I did not get the full price of a new one, however I was able to recover some money that I had spent. If you do decide to purchase a small animal trap make sure that it is a humane trap and is of solid construction. If you are successful in trapping a raccoon, these animals fight  and claw and spit in an effort to get out and defend themselves

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How to Get Rid of Raccoons

January 10th, 2010 ernie Posted in Blogging 2 Comments »

Getting rid of raccoons is not easy. There are lots of deterrents on the internet that supposedly will tell you how to get rid of raccoons. Very few of them if any actually work. For example moth balls do not work , nor does the urine of dogs, wolves or other animals. In fact all that they do is smell up your house even more than the raccoons do. We tried all of these solutions when we had raccoons in our attic and believe me they did not work! We have an entire raccoon web site devoted to this issue. Check it out once you have read this post.

Raccoons in Suburbia

How to Get Rid of RaccoonsDo not buy all of the things that are advertised on the internet or even in the hardware stores. In fact, traps are not even worthwhile investing in. Most urban raccoons have seen it all. They have lots of enemies ( Humans) and have learned to avoid traps. We tried for a week and were only successful in providing them with food. Somehow they were able to get the food out without getting trapped in the humane trap.  They are smart! In addition in some cities, you are only allowed to take the raccoons less than one half mile away. They would be back the next night! This is why most pest removal companies ( at least the good ones) will recommend that traps are not the solution to your problems with raccoons.

Raccoons are used to urban smells and so urine from other animals, loud music and moth balls just do not work. They totally ignore these things and you are just wasting your time and money.

If you catch a raccoon in a humane trap and take it 10 miles away, another family is ready to move in. There are from 20 to 50 raccoon families per square mile in urban areas. Some areas have even more than that and they are always looking for a vacated den. Raccoons can tell whether a den is occupied or not. They are a social group, traveling in families from one den to another and typically will have 4 or 5 dens to choose from.  Your house is just one home of many in the area.

How to Get Rid of Raccoons

Raccoon family in the atticSo how to get rid of raccoons? The experts will tell you that first you must wait until the young ones are ready to travel outside the den. Mature raccoons are very loyal their young. In fact the young will stay with the parents until the next set of pups come along and then they are pushed out on their own.  If you block the entrance to the den in some manner, the parent raccoons will do just about anything to rescue their young including   tearing your roof apart trying to get back to their young. Even if you are successful in blocking the parents and they do not find or create another entrance, you will be faced with the  decomposing bodies of the young pups which will only increase the bad smell in and around your house.

Roof Damage from RaccoonsThe correct approach as much as you may not like it, is to wait until the young pups are mobile and leaving the den on a nightly basis.

Once the young ones are ready to move outside of the den, install a one way trap door with heavy gauge wire that is strong enough to block any raccoon. This is the best and permanent method to get rid of raccoons from your home. Pest control companies will be able to properly install a one way trap door.

Once you are sure they are gone, remove the one way trap door and replace it with the same heavy gauge wire mesh. Screw nail it into the roof and the joists so their is no way for them to get in. Also block all other potential entrances so there is no chance for the raccoons  to get in from some other entry point. Use the same heavy gauge chicken wire to block these other entrances.

Caution About Repairing Raccoon Damage

Once you have figured out how to get rid of the raccoons, be very careful with repairing any damage caused by raccoons  and entering attic space.  You will need to inspect the attic to assess how much damage has been done to the insulation and attic vents. Breathing the dust from dry feces can cause organ damage and death. The attic can be very hot, especially in the summer, drying out anything that might be in the attic including raccoon feces or raccoon scat, which is another commonly used name. In the dry air of your attic, these feces will break down, turn into floating dust particles when disturbed and  will float in the air for you to breath. Always wear a mask to prevent any exposure to these particles.

If you are uncomfortable doing this work yourself for obvious reasons, hire professionals to clean up the attic. Make sure they are aware of the situation so that they can protect themselves with the appropriate equipment. It may cost a bit more, but at least you will be safe and healthy. Be prepared replace the insulation and the air vents over the sofits if there is a lot of damage. For more information about raccoons, click here.

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