What’s your passion?

So you’re thinking of starting a blog or a business. That’s awesome! The first thing you need to decide is what you’re going to do. What’s your main topic? What can you make a business out of? Continuing in the vein of the last post, let’s talk about your passion!  You would be completely amazed at the things you can do as a business; let alone things you can talk about. The best way to start is look inside you.

What do you love to talk about? I didn’t ask what you know a lot about because that’s not my point here. What do you enjoy having conversations about? Write that down. That’s #1. Make a short list of things that could be your answers to that question. I like helping people achieve their goals. And I like crafts. So my blog is about getting started with blogging / running a small business online, with some crafting thrown in to encourage you to visit my Etsy shop as well!

The reason I said it doesn’t have to be what you know a lot about is because half the fun I’m having with this blog is the learning along the way. Think about it, the internet is a vast wealth of information. As long as you’re getting your information from reliable sources (and not plagiarizing!), you’re learning while you’re blogging! What I mean by that is do your research. Cite your sources (I’ll write about that in the next several days or so), and don’t just copy.

What can you make a business out of? Stop and think of something you like to do that might fulfill a need. Business services, education, handmade goods, all good possibilities. It’s best to go with something you really enjoy doing. If you’re going to be doing this full time, and that’s a good possibility, then you want it to be something you really enjoy! You may already know right away what it is you want to do, or maybe you need to take some time to think about it. Either way, you’re on your way!

Fishing for ideas for your blog or shop

If you’re going to write a blog and/or start an Etsy or some other creative shop,  you’re going to need ideas galore! There are lots of places to find them, of course, not the least of which is your own creative mind! But, if you need a little help from time to time, and you will, I have some thoughts on the subject!

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The best places to come up with ideas are with your ‘competitors’. Not that you should think of them that way really. In the blogosphere, people tend to be much more collaborative than competitive. Anyway, that’s a story for another post!

Follow bloggers who blog about the same things you do. Not to steal from them, of course, but to prompt ideas and to learn. If you’re just starting out you have a lot to learn about blogging and blogs are the best source of information.

Also, read books on your subject of interest. Become an expert on your subject. If you’re a DIYer or crafter, walk people through your process of making something.

Need ideas for what you want to sell? Peruse Etsy and other handmade websites. Again, not to steal ideas, but to prompt your own. I’ve seen so many things that have given me ideas. I haven’t had time to make them all! (You’ll eventually see some on my Etsy shop. Hopefully soon!)

The last idea I have for you is shopping. Yep, shopping. I see things all the time that I know I can make. I even have my sister doing it! The best thing is to go home and make them! They look even better when you make them yourself!

Thanks for reading! I’ll be back in a day or so! In the meantime, visit me on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter as well!

Random blogging tips

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Just some random thoughts…..

As I promised, today’s blog is just some random things I’ve learned over the past month or so. Nothing heavy, just stuff! Let’s dig in!

  • Get organized! Download a planner or, better yet, use an old fashioned paper one! That’s what I use. I can write down thoughts at random. More importantly, it’s a place to plan out your blogs so you’re not just filling in. You can plan what you’re going to say.
  • Check into affiliate programs if you’re looking to make money with your blog. If you search ‘affiliate programs’ on Pinterest you will find a plethora of ideas!
  • Take a break every now and then! Don’t let blogging consume your life! I mean even when you lay down to sleep (I struggle with this one…). Put it out of your mind. Don’t let your blog be the last thing you think of before you go to bed. Blogging won’t be any fun if it eats up your life. And it could.
  • If you’re looking to make money…don’t start on a free blogging site. Seriously. Look back to one of my first posts. I’m paying for that as we speak. Yes, I own my domain name, but until it’s been up for 60 days, I can’t move it to another host and I can’t have affiliate programs on it. Know the difference between wordpress.com (free) and wordpress.org (self hosted). You want .org in this case!
  • Don’t ignore social media. Make a Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram…etc site for your blog. It’ll help pull in readers.
  • If you’re making money on your blog or even if your blog is a DIY themed site, save your receipts. This is a small business and you deserve to take every tax benefit you can!
  • Include pictures on your blog. This is crucial when sharing posts. A picture attracts attention!
  • Do your research on SEO. What is SEO? Search Engine Optimization is the fancy term for keyword searches. Google SEO (see what I did there??) and  you’ll find a lot of great info to help you choose the best words to get your blog high up on the search returns!
  • Last, but far from least…don’t give up! Growth may seem slow. Actually, I’m sure it will be at first. Hang in there! If you’re getting a couple new followers a week, or even just one, you’re growing! And even if you go a few weeks with no growth…still hang in there! It’ll happen. Just go back over SEO and make sure you’re using the best keywords. Stay the course!

Thanks for following me! I’ll see you in the next couple days! Don’t forget,my shop is growing, so stop on by! And of course…check out the social media sites! You’ll see me there, too!

Pretty it up a bit!

Well, I’ve had this blog and Etsy shop  for a month now. Time to make them fancy. I signed up and got them going before I did all the research I wanted. I’m still doing some but I want to get everything ready for a big Grand Opening of the shop! I have big plans and I’m crafting like crazy to get it all ready.

To that end, I’ve decided to do my own branding. I’m so excited about this! I want it to look professional! I really can’t wait for you to see it. I’ll let you know a few days in advance of when I do the grand opening. I’m also on Facebook but there is nothing there yet. I’m waiting to get the graphics package done. I’ve actually done a few logos, etc in the past and considered doing it for a living but it’s kind of stressful for me so I put that aside

This has been such a fun process.I think when I have my first sale in the shop or advertising on here I may lose my flippin’ mind!

Everything I’ve read suggests a professional designer for  your branding. I was hesitant to to spend the money but I did seriously consider it and even contacted a designer. I really want the shop and blog to be successful so I vacillated on this a lot. I finally decided to give it a try and came up with one I liked. But not enough. So, I tried again. I came up with this: Vase logo

I love it. I think it’s perfect! It’s exactly what I wanted!

Now, I have to say, I wouldn’t suggest trying it on your own if you’re not comfortable with the idea. There are a lot of great designers on Etsy who would be happy to help you create your branding package!

***I have to say as a disclaimer, I wrote this on Monday and scheduled it to post today. At that time I was sure I was going to go with a designer and that’s what this post said when it went live today. This is the edited version! ***

I’m glad you’re here following along on my adventure. Please subscribe or follow me to keep up!

Happy blogging!

~Nancy

Let’s Talk About Disclosures

I’m sure you’ve seen disclosures on blogs. They tell you that there are affiliate links, or if it’s a sponsored post, things like that. They’re very important to have and can help keep you out of legal trouble. Bottom line is you always want to be open and upfront with your followers.

In the spirit of disclosures, I have to tell you that I’m not a legal expert in any way. All that you’ll see here has come from various places, including here. I give that blogger credit for the title of this as well.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) oversees consumer affairs and has laws in place to protect us from false, unfair, or misleading advertizing. With the explosion of blogging, YouTube, etc, they want to make sure everyone is playing on a level playing field. That means you want to be sure you’re not doing anything wrong, or that anyone could assume you have more authority than you do. That’s just part of it, but it’s a start.

Since many people actually do  make money blogging now, the FTC released .com Disclosures. How Make Effective Disclosures in Digital Advertising in 2013 and endorsement guidelines in 2009.

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You always need to use disclosures if for no other reason than it’s the law. I think that’s a pretty good reason, don’t you? You need to let your readers know That you’ve gotten paid or have some vested interest in a product. That you’re not just excited to tell them about something you’ve tried.

Put your disclosure near the ad or at the beginning of your post. Especially if it’s a sponsored post. You want people knowing right up front. If you have affiliate links in your post, make sure you mention that somewhere near the link.

This is a very brief discussion of disclosures. For a more in depth view, visit the link in the second paragraph. Jackie does a great job of explaining it all!

Thanks so much for stopping by! Big things are coming very soon!

~Nancy

How Not to Set up Your Blog

Oh the past week has been so fun! Sense the tone.I found out a week ago that my blog isn’t hosted on Host Gator, like I thought it was. And like I paid for. I called them to try to get that straightened out and they advised me I needed to contact WordPress. Nothing against WordPress. It’s the best there is. To contact them you have send an email. I wasn’t the least bit happy about that. I’m a ‘talk on the phone’ kind of person. Anyway, I emailed them and heard back really fast. Totally impressed. What I didn’t realize is that when you purchase a domain you can’t move it to another host for 60 days. That’s not a WordPress rule. It goes for every domain host. WordPress advised I could ‘point my name server’ to Host Gator. I tried that. It didn’t work. I’m not sure why exactly but here’s my theory. I’m posting this here so that you can avoid this in your quest to set up a blog.

When setting up the blog, I went to WordPress.com and purchased a domain name. I then went to Host Gator and signed up for hosting, not knowing about the 60 day rule. I went through the process of setting up a WordPress blog on Host Gator. It was a few days later that I realized the two things were not linked and the domain name had nothing to do with the blog on Host Gator. (Are you still with me?) I think this is why I wasn’t able to point the domain name there. It was already there. Half set up.

So, I pointed the name servers back to WordPress and that’s where I’ll be for another 4 weeks or so. Live and learn, I suppose! The bottom line is my web address won’t change.

So, that’s the blog side of my business! In the meantime, I’ve been playing around making things and planning what will be sold on my Etsy store! Check it out here! There is very little there so far but more to come soon, I promise! I’ll have a lot of nice gift items for home, children, and babies, too! Please favorite my shop so you can check back easily.

In the meantime, is there any part of setting up a blog and an Etsy business that you would like me to address here?

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Moving right along…

This morning I’m working on my logo (which you’ll see on the front page) for this site as well as Etsy. I’ve gone back and forth between just the name and the name with a thumbprint. So far, I’m sticking with just the name. All the articles and books I’ve read have said simple is better. It is easy to read and understand. Easier to remember. Think of Nike, Apple, etc…they’re simple logos  you’d recognize anywhere.

This is a much more daunting process than I expected. I want to do it right. Take my time and set this blog and my Etsy shop up to succeed. I’ve heard of people getting their wares on Etsy and barely being able to keep up with the orders! I hope that happens soon after ‘official launch’!

In the meantime, check out mgthumbprints on Etsy!