How to Buy a Website: 10 Things to Look At

November 14th, 2008

bailout - it's the homeowners in that are in distress
Creative Commons License photo credit: woodleywonderworks

I ran into another website for sale this week, and I was very, very interested. It’s in a niche that’s consistent with the website that I bought a few months ago (http://www.natural-moms.com), it’s profitable, and the current owner is a trusted co-member at Mom Mastermind.

When I bought natural-moms.com, I did so almost without a thought. When I first contacted the owner, I was almost already convinced that I wanted to buy it.

This time, I went about it more thoughtfully. After all, after almost 4 months of running natural-moms.com, I knew which questions to ask. Specifically, I considered 10 things (in no particular order):

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How to Make More Money From Your Blog

July 3rd, 2008

audio course on how to monetize a blog

Photo by alosbennett

5 Tips to Increase Blog Monetization

Today, I listened to an audio recording of an Internet marketing coach critiquing a work at home Mom’s blog. The coach, Carrie Lauth, was giving the blog owner tips on how to make more money with her blog.

I took down some notes and synthesized them, and now I’d like to share them with you. I myself was surprised to learn a few new things. I’ve been blogging for about a year now – not for money primarily – and I’ve been hungrily reading and studying about blogging.

Anyway, here in no particular order are the main lessons I learned from Carrie’s blog critique (with some of my comments in parentheses):

  1. Add affiliate recommendations where they would naturally fit in your blog post. For example, when mentioning a book, include an Amazon affiliate link. You don’t necessarily have to say that you recommend that book, but simply add a hyperlink to it or to a related E-book or other affiliate product. (I agree that affiliate links should appear where appropriate but I don’t agree with linking to a product that I do not personally recommend)
  2. Post affiliate links to products that your readers would be interested in. In other words, don’t place affiliate links to everything you’re involved in. Choose only those that would be meaningful to your readers. Place other affiliate products that are not directly relevant to your readers on a separate page entitled, “Recommended” or “Resources” or something similar. Write a short paragraph about each affiliate product.
  3. Use sidebar buttons wisely because this is prime space in your blog. Google Adsense should be above the fold. Include an opt-in box so readers can easily keep receiving your content. Use only appropriate hyperlinks depending on your target audience and the blog’s purpose. It’s a great idea to have a button with the html code for linking to the blog, so others can link to you without asking for permission. (Wish I knew how to add that html code button!)
  4. Google ads perform better when the background color of the ads is the same color as the background of the blog text. Making the Google ad url color blue might be better than another color, because Internet users automatically associate blue with clickable links. (Now this I didn’t know!)
  5. Use your blog content to make other money-making products. For example, put together the content of several blog posts into a book. Or develop one blog post into a short report that you can sell for $5 to $7. Capitalize on your own expertise to produce and sell information products. (This advice I love!)

These are my notes from only half of Carrie’s website critique. You can listen to the entire critique at Carrie’s blog.

Listen and learn!

Related article:

Seven ways to make money on the Internet – no scams!

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10 Top Tips For Creating Your Freelance Writer Online Portfolio

June 20th, 2008

freelance writer online portfolio

Photo by Peasap

How to Create a Top-Notch Freelance Writer Online Portfolio

One of the first pieces of advice I received from other work at home Moms when I told them about my venture into freelance writing was to put up an online portfolio.

I knew it made sense. Who isn’t on the web nowadays? And what better way to showcase one’s work, attract possible clients, and generate assignments than an effective website?

Although I was sold on the idea, it took me at least a week before I finally sat down and began creating my freelance writer online portfolio. I was clueless about how to begin. However, I knew that it had to be done, so I began by registering a domain. That was easy because I decided to use my own name instead of a business name (which I would have had to register with the government first).

Actually writing the content of my website took another few days. I read Internet articles about the topic. I looked at other freelance writers’ online portfolios. After a few days, I started writing the pages for my website. I scanned samples of my work and uploaded them. I signed up for a free contact form to give my readers a way to contact me without splattering my email address on the Internet.

Since then, I have revised my website almost a dozen times! Every day, I learn something new about marketing my services and I use it to tweak my website. My first draft was stiff, plain and a bit lifeless. I felt embarrassed about selling myself and worried that the copy was too hard-sell. I still make changes every day so it’s a work in progress.

If you’re planning to put up your own online portfolio, here in no particular order are some of the best advice I’ve gathered these past few weeks (of course, whether I’ve applied all of them to my own portfolio is another matter):

1. Pay for web hosting.

Resist the temptation to get a free or dirt-cheap online portfolio. The lay-outs are usually terrible and you have limited control over the content. Besides, having your own website shows that you are a professional who is serious about this freelancing business. Isn’t www.yourname.com more impessive than www.freewebsite.com/yourname?

2. Know whom you are targeting.

Identify your niche and focus on it. Something I’ve learned from Shelancers is that those who specialize can charge more than generalists can. Decide on the type of client you want to work for, or the specific assignments you want to do, and build your website around those. Your niche will also help determine which samples you will post.

3. Enable the reader to contact you from every page of the website.

The action you want from your reader is for them to hire you. To do that, the first step is for them to contact you with details of their requirements or expressing a desire to explore the possibility of working with you. Make sure you have a contact page and a link to it on every page of your website. Some freelancers include a telephone number. Think about whether you’re comfortable with this.

4. Showcase your most effective work.

Sure, one of your articles may have been a literary masterpiece, but what impact did it have for your client? What goal did you help them achieve? Was it effective aside from being a good read? Therefore, it is necessary to…

5. Explain your work.

Include a brief background about each work sample: What were its objectives? What results did it generate? Why are you proud of it? How did it help your client?

6. Follow basic principles of sound design.

Although you’re not a designer your website should still be uncluttered, easy to read, with plenty of white space, and easy to navigate. If you’re clueless about setting up your own website, then consider paying for the services of a web designer and web master.

7. Consider how you will get potential clients to your website.

Will it be a “passive” website that people find out about because you gave them the link? Or will it be the type of website that will rank high on search engines allowing potential clients to find you? The latter is better in terms of generating job leads, but will require SEO work. Ultimately, the answer is really up to you.

8. Be clear and assertive about promoting your strengths.

Your website should market your services, so don’t be shy about it! Clearly state how your clients could benefit from your services.

9. Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through.

In all likelihood, you will never meet your prospective client face to face, so let them know you as a flesh-and-blood person. Post a flattering photograph of yourself (I’m guilty of not doing this; I don’t have a nice enough picture yet). Place a link to your personal blog.

10. Make sure your portfolio shows you in the best light

I almost didn’t include this because it’s common sense. Make sure your website doesn’t have typos, grammatical errors, distorted graphics, non-working links, and other elements that will portray you as unprofessional and careless.

Your online portfolio is more than your business card on the web. It is your Internet persona, your head hunter, your link to prospective clients. Make sure it works hard for you.

Related links:

Build a Killer Online Portfolio in 9 Easy Steps.

How to Create an Online Writing Portfolio in 2 Days

How to Build a Portfolio That Gets You The Job

Freelance Writer Online Portfolio: Providing Potential Clients Examples of Your Work Using the Internet

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The Cost of Starting a Freelance Writing Career

June 12th, 2008

costs of freelance writer home business

Photo by [177]

Freelancing writing is an easy and inexpensive home business for a stay at home Mom to set up. According to an article in Yahoo!, it can also be one of the most lucrative. However, many newbies may not be aware that there are start-up costs involved in putting up a freelance writing business.

If you’re thinking of launching a career as freelance writer, here’s a list of 10 items to budget for:

1. Computer, printer, home office supplies – These are basic home office equipment which you probably already have anyway. You’ll also need paper, printer ink, folders and other basic home office supplies.

2. Business name registration – If you want to use a business name other than your own, you may have to pay to have it registered. Consult your local business bureau on the procedure and costs involved.

3. Internet connection – Broadband, please. You’ll need the Internet to market yourself, find clients, do research for your articles, do research on your competitors, network with potential clients … the list is endless.

4. Website hosting and domain registration – Every freelancer needs an online portfolio to help attract clients and show off sample work (here’s mine). Don’t use a free blogging service. It doesn’t look professional and you don’t have enough control. You could also easily lose your website. I use Bluehost and so far I’ve been happy with its reasonable prices, unlimited domains, and ease of use. Caroline Middlebrook has a free E-book on setting up a WordPress site. That’s how I learned. Or you could try Yaro Starak’s video guides. If you’re absolutely clueless about putting up your own website, it might be better to hire somebody to do it for you.

5. Various insurance plans – Depending on what your government and your spouse’s employer provide, you should consider buying: life insurance; basic or extended health insurance; and, disability insurance.

6. Professional services – You’ll need the services of an accountant so you can do your taxes properly. Unless you plan to set up a corporation, you probably won’t need a lawyer. Depending on your capabilities, consider also hiring a web designer and graphic artist.

7. Marketing tools – Aside from your website, you’ll need business cards and a letterhead at the very least. Again, if you have no artistic abilities, hire a professional graphic designer to create these for you and have them printed professionally. Don’t print them at home!

8. Freelancing networks – Consider joining networks and job boards for freelancers, such as Elance. Actually, you can bid for up to 3 jobs a month for free in Elance but to enjoy the full features, you’ll need to pay a monthly fee of $9. Not bad. I’ve just joined Shelancers, a network of female freelancers. Aside from a directory listing, Shelancers also provides various resources for its members. Although I haven’t gotten a job through Shelancers yet (I’ve only been a member for a couple of days), I have already learned so much. I especially like meeting other stay at home Moms who are trying to balance family and earning an income at home. The best thing is meeting Moms who have succeeded! Besides, I’m tired of getting advice (from men, no doubt) like, “do only one thing at a time.” Don’t they know that multi-tasking is the only way Moms get everything done?

9. Training – No matter how good you already are, you need to keep learning. There are so many ways to make money at home as a freelance writer and you will have to pay to get good advice, guidance and mentoring. Also have a good dictionary, thesaurus and other reference materials.

10. Babysitting – The day will come when working during naps and after bedtime will no longer cut it. And that’s a good thing! Invest in your sanity and productivity by hiring a babysitter, even if for just a couple of hours every day. The more work you get done, the more income you’ll make.

If you’re thinking of starting a career as a freelance writer, remember to include these items in your budget. Other types of freelancing will have similar costs. It isn’t that daunting, and having all these things covered will give you peace of mind.

Related articles:

How to prepare financially for your home business

Home office productivity for Moms of young children

Countdown to being a work at home Mom

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Does anybody really make money from “paid” surveys?

May 3rd, 2008

Thumbs-down by desi.Italy

Since my last post, I’ve moved halfway around the globe to Canada. I hadn’t anticipated the impact this would have on me physically and emotionally. I’ve only been able to do the most basic things to keep myself and my family functioning and blogging was all but forgotten. I realized that with the major changes in my life, I needed a home business that was really easy and took almost no time at all. And so I tried … paid surveys!

I signed up with Survey Club and almost immediately received an opportunity to make $4 by joining an online music club and then giving my feedback about it. The whole process took probably 20 minutes and the next day, I had $4 in my Paypal account.

Pumped up by this instant gratification, I did as advised and signed up for half a dozen paid survey membership sites — all for free. Actually, the advice was to sign up for at least 10, but I hadn’t had the time for it. Some sites require you to fill up voluminous pre-screening surveys — to place you in the proper demographic for the surveys. These take up a lot of time.

Six weeks later, I have made … still only $4 from the surveys! I have filled up dozens of them but all I got in return was the chance to win this or that raffle and to accumulate points. I have not won a single raffle. Neither do I remember what the points are for.

Meantime, I have found a website that will pay me $5 for a 250-word article. Takes a bit longer than answering a survey but I will definitely make more money than I have so far from answering surveys.

Perhaps I have simply signed up for the wrong survey membership sites. If you’ve had better luck from paid surveys, do let me know how you did it.