Centsible Blogging

We all have power. How do you use yours? Via @InGoodCents

The Internet is so powerful. You can get answers, connect with loved ones, buy groceries, read news around the world, or plan a vacation. You can return a photo after a tornado carried it miles away. Return a lost credit card to a stranger.  Come together with millions for one family and support them while they never give up. Take away the financial burden for a family who just lost a child, when you can’t take away their pain. Blackout websites in the largest online protest to stop a bill that will censor our words. You can save a life. You can change the world.

Or you can complain. You can hurt others. You can cause tears. You can cast stones.

“Sometimes, the Internet can feel like a middle-school playground populated by brats in ski masks who name-call and taunt with the fake bravery of the anonymous. But sometimes – thank goodness – it’s nicer than real life.” (Susan Orlean)

As a blogger, I open myself up to criticism by putting my life online. I share my thoughts, photos of my kids, and a little bit about my family. I’ve learned quickly that those who have negative things to say will always be the most vocal and those who are happy, often remain quiet.

I’ve been lucky. The complaints I’ve received have always come in emails and comments on my own page where I can easily reply. But, I know I’m not perfect. I make mistakes. I’ve made lots of them. The thought that one of these mistakes will be picked up and spread across the Internet to haunt me forever scares me. Maybe I could handle it, but what if it hurt my family too?

Last week a Philadelphia blogger sent out an email to local restaurants hoping to build a relationship. She offered to barter services – advertising on her site and social media outlets in exchange for a free meal for her family.

One of the restaurants she contacted sent her email to a local e-magazine, who published it online in a condescending article, along with her email and phone number. The article was picked up by other blogs and websites, calling her desperate and even the worst blogger in Philly. It was shared, tweeted, “liked”, and reblogged. These websites are rejecting supportive comments and publishing the hurtful ones. Now she is being showered with hateful comments and phone calls.

Why? Was her pitch worded poorly? Probably. Did she over estimate her worth? Maybe. We really don’t have enough information to know. Is her request out of line? No. It’s common to barter services, especially in the blogging industry. Is it because she promised positive promotion? She didn’t promise an honest review. She’s offering promotion (advertising), which should be positive or it’s not valuable. Is she a horrible person? Honestly, I don’t really care.

“No one deserves to be hurt, no one deserves to be betrayed. What comes around goes around, be careful with your ways.” (Tiffany Alvord)

It doesn’t matter why.

Behind that email is a real person. A person who is putting herself out there in the online world. Maybe she’s not perfect. Maybe she’s made huge mistakes. Maybe she’s made enemies. But there is nothing she could have done to deserve the hate that is coming at her and her family.

As a Christian, it always saddens me to see how quickly we are to judge and cast stones. We hide behind our computer and show the worst sides of ourselves online by hurting others. We scream fraud at companies who offer a free sample, just because it’s gone quickly. We attack  parents who lived through tragedy, because there’s no way to explain the horror. We mock a busy model who is taking time to breastfeed her infant, because we don’t understand her life. We make a group feel unwelcome, because we don’t know how to help them understand God and love.

Judgement, hate, and hurtful words never help. It’s only adds to the bad.

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” (Luke 6:27-38)

Love will always be more powerful. You will change more lives and touch more people with kindness, than you ever will with hate. So don’t judge. Just live and bravely show others how to love by being the best you can be to those around you, even online. It’s hard. You will falter. You will make mistakes. But, Jesus never said it would easy. He said it would be worth it.

“You want to know how to change the world son? One act of random kindness at a time.” (Morgan Freeman as God in Evan Almighty)

Imagine if everyone left kind words on the sites and pages they visit each day. Imagine if we used the Internet to say thank you instead of complain. If we used it to pick others up and point out their achievements, instead of bringing others down. Imagine if we used it to change the world one random act of kindness at a time.

Wow. Now that would be real power.

Read More

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

  • Like on FaceBook
  • Pin It
  • Print Friendly and PDF

Update: This is available again for Cyber Monday!

Thinking about starting a blog or website?  Or making the move from Blogger to self-hosted WordPress?  HostGator, my own hosting provider, is offering 50% off any hosting service today only!

  • Shared Hosting: As Low as $2.48/Month (pre-paid)
  • Reseller Hosting: As low as $12.48/Month (pre-paid)
  • VPS Hosting: As low as $9.98/Month (first month)
  • Dedicated Server: As low as $87/Month (first month)

HostGator has amazing customer service and are great about helping you with any issues, so I’d highly recommend them for new bloggers and website owners.

Hurry.   This offer is good today only!

Love to shop? You can get so much more when you shop smart, so be sure to check out all the hot online deals before you start buying.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

  • Like on FaceBook
  • Pin It
  • Print Friendly and PDF

Centisble Blogging: Design & Navigation of Your Space

by Beth Montgomery on April 18, 2011

in Earn

How to Start Blogging

When you were little, your parents told you to never judge a book by it’s cover.   In most cases, they were right.   But, when it comes to a blog, visitor do just that!   They arrive in your personal space, and take a look around, quickly decided to stay, subscribe, or leave.

I could go on and on about what not to do and what to do, but in the end, your blog is you and must represent you!   However, you do have to think about your readers and make your website an enjoyable and easy experience for them.

When it comes to design and navigation of your site, there are a few things that will drive away or attract your readers.

Here’s my top do’s and don’ts.   Keep in mind, it is just my opinion and your site may have different needs!

Blogging Faux Pas

  • Music and Sounds. Like many, if I arrive at a page that has music playing in the background, I won’t stay long.   Many surf while watching television, listening to music, or multitasking, so noises distract and bother them.   It help, if they can turn if off quickly, but the better solution is to skip it all together!   You want your readers to stay for a while and explore your site, so don’t make it hard for them.
  • Pop-Up & Expanding Ads. I know, in this day and age, they are everywhere and advertisers love them, because they get seen, obviously.   However, annoying your readers and potential customers isn’t the way to turn them into loyal customers.   I hate when I’m visiting and try to click on something, when suddenly an ad expands or pop-up and I click on it instead.
  • Long Load Time. Modern readers want instant gratification, so if your website takes long to load, they’ll be gone before it finishes.   If you’re using FireFox or Google Chrome, check out the   Google Page Speed add-on to see how fast your page loads.   Keep in mind, that blogs often load slowly by default.   Most blogs get a score of 65-75 out of 100, but the faster the better!
  • Design for All Browsers. Remember, you aren’t the only one looking at your page (hopefully), so make sure to check it out on other computers, browsers, and media platforms, like your phone!   Sometimes what looks good to you, doesn’t work with other browsers.
  • Grammar Issues & Misspellings. I’m guilty.   I know I am.   I’m in a hurry.   I get typing fast.   I’m the worlds worst speller.   Whatever my excuse may be, it doesn’t matter.   Readers don’t want to attempt to decipher your misspelling and grammar mistakes.   We all make mistakes, of course.   We’re only human.   But, use spell check and good grammar!
  • Always Open in a New Browser. When doing coupon matchups, I know you want to be able to print coupons and open other pages, while making your shopping list, so I often add the “Open in another browser” tag (target=”_blank”) to keep the deals up.   However, if you set every page to open in another browser, windows will be popping up all over your readers screens and they’ll have a lot of unnecessary extra work to close them all.   Rule of thumb: Open your own pages in the same window/browser and open external links to other websites in a new window.   That keeps readers on your page without opening a billion windows while they explorer!
  • Hoops. Did you realize that each hoop your readers have to jump through, a percent leave?   Hoops can be anything, but common ones include clicks to find something or get somewhere and fields in a form.   For example, if your blog directs to a “Website Page” and readers have to click to get to content, you just lost some.   Can’t find what they’re looking for?   You just lost more.   They have to register to see content or comment?   You just lost more.   And, don’t even get me started on Captchas!   Hoops may be good from your perspective as a blog owner, but readers want instant gratification.   Every second that delays that, is a second that they consider leaving and many actually do leave.

Blogging Musts

  • Easy Navigation. You want your readers to stay and explore your site, so make it easy for them.   Have a navigation menu, quick links to favorite articles/sections, and deep link text in articles to other relevant articles to encourage readers to check out more.   If readers can’t find what they are looking for within one or two clicks, they’ll leave.
  • Easy to Read AND Easy to Scan. This seems obvious, but you’d be surprised.   Take the time to make your articles easy to read and easy to skim!   Keep in mind that less than 20% of readers read full articles.   The others skim, scan, and skip through them.   With that in mind, can the majority of your audience still   get your message?   Use headers, subheaders, bold, bullets, clean well-sized fonts, and definitely include graphics, since many readers are visually stimulated.   And while we’re at it, skip those fancy font that are unreadable.   They don’t even load on many browsers and the default font that takes it’s place, may   not be what you had in mind.
  • About YOU Page. The endless debate by bloggers is do we show ourselves or hide to protect our families?   Well, readers visit to know you, connect with you, and find community.   In fact, recent studies have shown that readers trust bloggers, more than advertisements, commercials, and other media.   But, for them to trust you and connect with you, they have to know you!   Make sure you have a page that tells them all about you!
  • Contact Link. You readers need to be able to contact you!   I’ve wanted to e-mail blogger to ask if they’d like to write a guest article, ask a question, or share some information, but couldn’t find their name, let alone their e-mail address.   Plus, you want potential advertisers and partners to be able to e-mail you!   Also, keep in mind, if you have a contact form, that it might not always load for whatever reason.   Put an e-mail address somewhere as an alternative.
  • Easy to Search. I can’t tell you how many times I visit a site and can’t figure out how to search for something.   To be able to search your site, readers shouldn’t have to search the page for the search field first!   Make it easy to find, please!!!   And set it to search your entire website.

  More Resources

Want to know more about blogging?   Check out tips to get you started!

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

  • Like on FaceBook
  • Pin It
  • Print Friendly and PDF

Centisble Blogging: Choose a Platform

by Beth Montgomery on April 11, 2011

in Earn

Tips for Bloggers and Blogging

In this day and age, there are so many platforms for Blogger to choose from depending on your needs and level of comfort with managing your blog.   The most popular, however are WordPress, Blogger, and Typepad.

Hosted
Platforms, like Blogger, Typepad, and WordPress, are hosted by the platform provider.   For example with Blogger blogs are hosted by the Blogger servers.

Pros:

  • Easier! Often hosted sites are designed for those who aren’t as tech-savvy, offering easy options to get you started and blogging without requiring a lot of technical knowledge.   In addition, they are often user-friendly and fairly easy to navigate.
  • Affordable.   FREE is definitely affordable.   However, some do have additional fees, if you’d like your own domain name (eg. www.myblog.com vs.   www.myblog.blogspot.com), more control over your CSS, and other extra options.

Cons

  • Less Professional. Sometime, but not always, readers and bloggers view blogs on hosted sites (especially Blogger) as less professional.   However, I’d like to point out that Money Saving Mom, a huge blog, just recently made the move to a self-hosted blog.   She thrived on Blogger for years.
  • At their mercy! When you’re on a hosted blog, you’re at the mercy of your platform provider.   If something goes wonky or isn’t working right, you may not have the power to make the changes needed to get yourself up and running again.   And worse, often these sites have horrible customer service, since they have so many users and so many customers contacting them with various questions and issues.
  • Limitations. When you’re hosted by by your platform provider, they have the right to deny you the ability to allow advertising on your site, restrict your ability to edit the HTML and CSS codes that determine how your site looks, and other platform limitations.

Recommended For:

  • Personal Blogs
  • Family Blogs
  • Team/Club/Group Blogs
  • Beginner Bloggers
  • Looking for Affordable Option
  • Technically-Challenged

Self-Hosted
A self-hosted blog, like WordPress.org or Movable Type (Typepad), are hosted on your own serve or a third-party server, giving you more control over everything.

Pros:

  • Control. It’s yours!   You can edit the CSS, HTML, permalinks, and everything, so it’s the website you want.   You can take steps to make sure your site loads quickly, is designed to represent you, and has the features you want.
  • Search-Engine Optimization. Often, hosted blogs, aren’t search-engine friendly.   With you in control, you can optimize your website to help it climb the in the search engine ranks.
  • Advertising! If you want your blog to make money, you can.   Since it’s yours, you are restricted by your platform providers terms of service.
  • Add-Ons/Plug-Ins. Self-hosted blogs are like the iPhone.   You want it, there’s an add-on for that.   You can add on shopping carts/stores, databases, and fun features, especially with WordPress.org.

Cons

  • Cost. Hosting your own blog can get expensive.   There’s hosting and buying your own domain.   Then, if you want your site designed, set-up, need technical help, want premium add-ons/plug-ins, etc…   However, it can also be quite affordable if done one step at a time.
  • Technical Skills Needed. If you choose a third-party host, some may helping with technical issues.   However, since they don’t own or control WordPress, they don’t have to.   When it comes to self-hosted blogs, it’s often just you, unless you want to pay for technical support.   That means, if someone hacks your website, it’s you who has to unhack it!   If a code causes havoc on your site, it’s you who has to find an fix it.   You get the point.

Recommended For:

  • Professional Bloggers
  • Business Blogs
  • Technically Savvy
  • Control Freaks

Frequently Asked Questions

What blogging platform are you using?

In Good Cents is a self-hosted WordPress blog.

Where did you buy your domain?   What host do you recommend?
When it comes to hosting, you get what you pay for.   I learned that the hard way!   If you’re technically savvy, you can go with any hosting company and be fine, assuming it has the resources to support your website.   However, if you need help, be wary!   I recommend buying domains from GoDaddy, but for hosting, I love HostGator.   HostGator has been great about helping me fix issues and even fixing them for me.   Amazing customer service!

If you’re a Mommy Blogger or work from home and buying hosting, make sure you add on Privacy!   Otherwise anyone can find your name, address, can contact information on Who.is!

Who designed your site?

I did!   I used the premium theme Theme Thesis, which I love, because it’s easy to use, easy to customize, search-engine friendly, and makes designing your site a bit easier.   If you decide to try it out, I recommend buying it from Lucky Dad Media, as he offers a nice discount and installs it for you.

I also used Inkscape, which is rated the best FREE graphic design software.   However, I want to warn you, it’s not user friendly.   It took me a while to figure it out.   Of course, my background is not in graphic design.

If design is out of your area of expertise, stop by sites you love and scroll down to find out who designed it.   Most list their designer on their website somewhere near the footer or on the sidebar.

Want to know more about blogging?   Check out tips to get you started!

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

  • Like on FaceBook
  • Pin It
  • Print Friendly and PDF

Centisble Blogging: Find Your Passion

by Beth Montgomery on April 3, 2011

in Earn

Tips for Bloggers and Blogging

Blogging is about sharing something you love with others.   Sharing whatever you’re most excited about.   With that in mind, the very first step, if you’re thinking about starting a blog, is to find your passion.

Think about it.   What do you love?

  • Being a Mom?
  • Family?
  • Scrapbooking?
  • Cooking? Recipes?
  • Crafts?
  • Home Improvement?
  • Decor?
  • Friends?
  • Traveling?
  • Photography?
  • Your Business?
  • Auto Repair

When you enjoy what your sharing and writing about, your articles will be filled with emotion and life.   That’s important, since that’s what readers look for in blogs they follow.   They want someone to connect with, to help them, to be vulnerable, or to get them excited.   Of course, it depends on your topic, how much heart you put into those articles, but no matter what, it’s all about passion.

Another thing to think about is to niche or not to niche.   Do you want to be a niche blog and specialize in one topic (auto repair, organic meals, etc…)?   Or will your topics vary (family, life, being a mom, etc…)?   Either way, readers will want some consistency in your articles, so they know what to expect each time they visit.

Now, for the hard truth.   I’ve seen so many start a blog simply to make money, instead of to share knowledge, stories, or information.   My advice – DON’T DO IT!

Some blogs go years without   making a single penny.   Making money on your site takes hard work and a lot of time.   I blogs for a full 6 months before I saw a single penny and even then, it wasn’t much at all.   Some might say I’m crazy to devote as much time as I do to a deal blog, but I do it because I love saving money and even more, I love helping others save money.   It was that passion that kept me going when my site didn’t make a single penny and continues to keep me going through tough times, regardless of what causes those tough times.

Bottom line: Blog for passion and blog about what you love.

What do you blog about or what are you thinking about blogging about?

Want to know more about blogging?   Check out tips to get you started!

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

  • Like on FaceBook
  • Pin It
  • Print Friendly and PDF