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I’m Still Alive

In case you wondered where I’ve gone, I just wanted to let you know that I’m still alive and kicking over at Budgeting in the Fun Stuff.  My advertising services business is booming, so I’ve simply had to cut back.  :-)  I am sure I will pick up here again, but in the meantime, I am on pause.  Thanks for reading!!!

I Really Am Working Two Jobs Now

I have completely STUNK at updating all of my blogs except for Budgeting in the Fun Stuff.  I have finally decided that it is okay.  Even if I only update my exercise and weight loss goals here, that serves its purpose.  :-)

Here’s what I am up to right now:

  • Working my regular cubicle job Mondays-Fridays from 7:30am-4:30pm.
  • Posting daily at Budgeting in the Fun Stuff – there have been and will be a ton of guest posts for the last 2 weeks and next week since I have been going out of town every weekend with friends and family.
  • Posting weight loss updates here.
  • Staff writing for Sweating the Big Stuff.
  • Staff writing for Stupid Cents.
  • Staff writing for Passive Family Income.
  • Starting staff writing at another blog in May.
  • Running advertising for a different blog than any of the above.
  • Doing a side blogging project for yet another blogger.
  • Lining up another, very large, side project with someone else.
  • Answering comments at Budgeting in the Fun Stuff.
  • Answering emails for Budgeting in the Fun Stuff.

Sadly, I haven’t even had time to read other blogs for more than a week, so I haven’t been commenting either.  I will need to jump back on that horse after this upcoming final weekend of travel.

It feels better simply seeing my accomplishments in writing.  No wonder I am tired but proud, lol.  :-)

Top Things I’d Do Differently when Starting a Blog

I am doing an Ask Crystal day over at Budgeting in the Fun Stuff and Squirrelers had an awesome question.

…it would be interesting to get your thoughts on 3 things you would have done differently when starting up BFS, and why.

Without further ado, here are the Top Things I’d Do Differently when Starting a Blog:

1. I would not ignore SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for the first year.  If I had simply used the All in One SEO Pack plugin from the beginning, I’d be months ahead of schedule and $250 richer (I paid to have someone go back and fill in the info for the first year of posts and pay for Sribe SEO now to check myself and to check that work I paid for…).

2. I would not have sold a one-year text link for $200 about 9 months ago because I was feeling desperate to make some more money. I HATE THAT LINK. It taunts me…

3. I would have started on WordPress instead of Blogger. I luckily fixed that mistake in less than 2 months but the learning-a-new-software process STUNK. There were a few mental meltdowns involved. And I’d have saved myself $125 (I paid to have it transferred).

4.  I may have picked a shorter name. Typing out http://www.budgetinginthefunstuff.com all over the place is a pain in the booty, lol.

What do you think?  What would you have done differently?

How I SEO – A Closer Look at Search Engine Optimization

First of all, search engine optimization (SEO) was completely foreign to me until 6 weeks ago.  So please take this post as it is – a run down from a novice that has just seen SEO success in the last few weeks.

SEO is important to a blog or website, because it effects where you pop up in search engines and how many search engine visitors you will get. 

In my case, Budgeting in the Fun Stuff was getting less than 23% of its overall visitors from search engines.  That’s not awful, but most bloggers don’t seem to be happy until that number is closer to 33%.  Some even strive for 50%-75% or even more. 

I personally want as many visitors as humanly possible and really don’t care how many of those are from search engines or not, but I do want to pop up high in search engine results so I can reach out to as many people as possible since I am a blogging addict

This is how I went from less than 23% of search engine visitors to more than 33% in less than 3 weeks:

My Big SEO Project 2 Weeks Ago

1.  I downloaded the All in One SEO Pack plugin.  This plugin makes it pretty dang simple to SEO since you just fill in a Title, Description, and Keywords all in one place.

2.  I signed up for Scribe Makes SEO Simple.  This is software that you can buy monthly memberships to use.  When you have Scribe SEO attached to your blog posts, you can run an evaluation of each post and it tells you its overall SEO grade (1%-100%).   In that evaluation, it also tells you what you can change in the post to make that grade better.  Since I was and am an SEO rookie, I love this program! 

The only downside is that it is a little expensive in my opinion.  But, I ordered up 300 evaluations in February since I wanted to make Budgeting in the Fun Stuff better and had a whole year of posts to review.

3.  I hired a Virtual Assistant (VA) from oDesk.  I was looking for someone who would go through 11 months of posts and search engine optimize them for me.  It was going to take 20-40 hours and I did not have the physical time to get it done. 

Rumana Akter (my VA) was awesome.  She filled in all of the All in One SEO Pack info for all my past posts, checked her work with Scribe SEO as she went, and completed the whole task in 25 hours spread over 5 days.  I’ve only had to clean up a few things since she finished, but I really don’t mind doing touch-ups since she saved me a weekend or two of the most boring work I could imagine.

I saw an almost immediate jump in my search engine visitors.  Within a week of that project, I was getting about 28%-30% of my visitors from search engines and my Adsense ads were getting daily clicks instead of the one or two a week that was the norm to that point.

My New SEO Routine:

I’ve boosted that 30% to 33%-36% a day over the last 2 weeks by starting a little SEO routine on every post now:

1.  I write my posts like normal.  I don’t look for SEO-friendly topics yet since I usually already have something in mind.  I may start using SEO topic searches in the future if I don’t have something else to chat about already.

2.  After it is written, I search for the most popular key word(s) that my post would fit.  I was using the free version of Traffic Travis but now I have a Scribe SEO Keyword box that is just easier for me to use as long as I continue paying for Scribe SEO. 

3.  I fill out the Title, Description, and Keywords in the All in One SEO Pack plugin box.  I make sure that the title, description, and keywords all include the optimized keyword(s) I looked up as well.  This is super important since this is the info that search engines see and display in their results. 

If you type in “rubber baby buggy bumper” as your post description, then anybody who finds that post via a search engine like Google will see “rubber baby buggy bumper” as the little blurb in the search results.  Try to make the description interesting enough to get people to click through and make sure it contains the keyword you hope to be targeting.

4.  I add some internal links.  Every post you write should have a link to another post you wrote.  In fact, it should contain several.  It’s just good business and it gives you a better Scribe SEO score.  I try to make sure there in an internal link within the first two paragraphs and every 150 words after that.

5.  I make sure the post’s permalink has the SEO title.  I attempt to change all permalinks to be SEO friendly from here on out since I’ve heard it helps.

6.  I test with Scribe SEO.  Once I think I’m completely done, I run an evaluation with Scribe SEO.  If I score 85% or higher, I consider myself good to go.  If it’s not, I look at the evaluation suggestions and make a few more changes before moving on. 

If you don’t want or can’t afford Scribe SEO, that is okay.  Just by using the All in One SEO Plugin and following the major tips above, you’ll have won most of the battle.  I was just SEO stupid and had been ignoring all of it for a year.  As soon as I feel more confident and am scoring 90% and above every single time with Scribe, I will probably give up that monthly expense as well. 

I did donate to the creators of the All in One SEO Pack plugin since they kick butt.  I also donate to any other plugins that help me out on my sites.  Without them, I wouldn’t be able to get anything done since I am the opposite of techie.

That’s pretty much it for me and SEO.  I submit to blog carnivals every week or two to get my posts and keyword links out there.  I also guest post at least 3 times a month.  Commenting and participating in discussions on other blogs every day or two helps build a solid reputation as well.  You can see my most recent blogging schedule for all of those details.  You can also check out my daily blogging to-do list.

Please keep in mind that nothing happens overnight.  It has taken me a full year posting daily at Budgeting in the Fun Stuff just to get where I am at an Alexa around 33,000, a MozRank of 5, and a Pagerank of 3.  SEO is just one part of the blogging whole.

Good luck!

What did I miss?  What other SEO tips do you have for us?

Teacher Suspended for Anonymous Blog

I just read this article about a Pennsylvania high school teacher, Natalie Munroe, being suspended for an anonymous blog!  Apparently she used this blog to vent her frustrations about the current student mentality – “disengaged, lazy whiners” and whatnot – and a student brought it to the attention of the school.  They have suspended her with pay.

I see several problems here.  First, this blog was anonymous and didn’t use any real names, so why was she suspended?  Secondly, based on the kids I’ve met while my husband has been a teacher and a school librarian, what’s wrong with calling some of them out?!  Some kids need to be told that being a complete brat with no motivation will not get them anywhere!

Here’s one quote from her blog that really got me:

They are rude, disengaged, lazy whiners. They curse, discuss drugs, talk back, argue for grades, complain about everything, fancy themselves entitled to whatever they desire, and are just generally annoying.

YES!  It was like she took a peek into one of my husband’s old classrooms!!!  Of course, not all kids are self-entitled whiners, but a vast majority come off that way in the middle schools and high schools I’ve been in.

At one point in the article, a former student admits,

As far as motivated high school students, she’s completely correct. High school kids don’t want to do anything. … It’s a teacher’s job, however, to give students the motivation to learn.

Excuse me?!  It is a teacher’s job to TEACH.  It’s up to every kid to motivate themselves!  Sure, great teachers try to involve a class, but you can’t force a kid to pay attention if they decide not to.  When did we decide that we were no longer going to have expectations of our children?

I think an anonymous blog filled with honest opinions shouldn’t be a cause for dismissal.  If I had any pull at Central Bucks East High School, she’s get to keep teaching if she was a good teacher.

What do you think?

I’ve Started Another Site – About Life Insurance

Yep, I have decided to go wild and start another site.  I realize I don’t have enough time to run another blog right now, so I started a niche site that just exists to provide information and (hopefully) Adsense revenue, lol.  If you ever have had any questions about life insurance, head on over to www.aboutlifeinsurance.org

I only have one real post up right now about the types of life insurance, but I will flesh it out with at least 5 informative posts by the end of next week.  It will probably slowly grow into a 10-20 post site, but I am starting out small and specific.  If I can get my posts ranked with Google, About Life Insurance could start contributing to my overall goal to blog full time by 2012.

My overall goal for this year is to create as many online revenue streams as possible while still growing Budgeting in the Fun Stuff.  I’ve been getting paid to write for others a lot more and am closing a few more advertising deals.  I’m also investing $200 into getting BFS search engine optimized. 

I’ll be using Crystal Clear Thoughts to stay on track with my weight loss challenge and the random acts of kindness challenge.  Dog’s Life for Me will probably not get updated very often at all since I have frankly run out of hours in the day.  As it stands, I’ve been falling behind on commenting on other blogs, so I need to get back to my daily blogging schedule.  I just wanted to get About Life Insurance going first.  :-)

Wish me luck!

What have you been up to lately?

Exercise and Weight Loss Updates Moving to Mondays

Hi everybody!  Since my husband and I do our weekly Weight Watcher’s weigh-in Sunday morning, I’ll be moving the updates to Mondays.  I didn’t want to feel like I had to rush to write anymore, lol. 

That means that Mondays will be about exercise and our Weight Watchers progress, Wednesdays will be whatever kind of post seems good, and Fridays will be the Kindness Commitment updates.

Thanks so much for being a part of my life!!!

My Daily Blog To-Do List

I figured I could use a little more organization in my blogging life, so here is my daily blog tasks right now.  I’m sure I am forgetting something, so I’ll probably have an update post in a couple of weeks.

  1. Check and answer email in the morning before I leave for work.
  2. Make sure my posts for the day look okay on all sites.
  3. Read and comment as necessary on Yakezie forums.
  4. Answer comments on my posts.
  5. Read and comment on other blogs.
  6. Write at least one post for one of my sites or for staff writing.
  7. Check and anwer email in the evening after work.
  8. Check Twitter and Facebook.
  9. Retweet other people’s posts.
  10. Keep up the Yakezie forums and my email account while chilling and answer or comment as necessary.

That’s all I’m coming up with right now.  I need to be more efficient about my tasks above because I am spending 5-8 hours a day to keep up with it all.  I’ll let you know if I come up with any way to spend less time on it all.

What does your blogging day look like?  If you don’t have a blog, did you know the bloggers you read spend so much time keeping up with it all?

I Know I Haven’t Been Sticking to My Schedule Here…

I realize my posting schedule has been a bit spotty here and at Dog’s Life For Me.  I promise I am not just stringing you along to dump you in a month, lol.

I’ve been trying to get Budgeting in the Fun Stuff a little more streamlined so I can burrow out some more time to grow Crystal Clear Thoughts, Dog’s Life For Me, and a new idea I have…Totally Money Blog Carnival.

Totally Money is still just a baby idea in my head.  I’ve bought the domain name and will be developing it over the next 2-3 weeks.  So many carnivals die out all the time, so I’ve decided to develop one that I hope to get into the same list at Best of Money, Carnival of Personal Finance, and Carnival of Money Stories.

Needless to say, if I truly want to keep up with all 4 of these sites, I have to get organized and make up an actual schedule of some sort.  I’m just not quite there yet.  I do promise I will not let this blog die like so many others laying in the blogs-that-never-were fields online, lol.  It’ll just be a little spotty for the next 2-3 weeks.

My overall plans seems to be leaning towards using BFS to make my money, lol.  So BFS will remain more business-like, scheduled, and cover all things personal finance.

CCT will be an actual web log of all the stuff going on in my head, so this is where you will see the behind the scenes looks at what is to come.  :-) 

Dog’s Life For Me will only be updated when I have pets on my brain.  I don’t mind letting it grow really slowly since it was mainly a place I created simply since I had no where else to go on and on about animals, lol.

Totally Money will be on a strict weekly schedule and I will let you know when it’s popular enough to need a new host every week.  I think I’ll be happy when it starts receiving 20-30 submissions without much effort on my part.  I’m aiming for mid-2011.

In short, please stay tuned.  I will not leave you hanging no matter what.  :-)

Free Money Finance is Hosting His Own March Madness Again

I know it’s silly to drum up my own competition, but I only have a few awesome readers here, so here we go, lol.

Free Money Finance hosts his own blogging March Madness every year and is accepting submissions now.  The winner gets $500 donated to his/her charity of choice.  You can find all the guidelines here.  It fills up fast so I apologize if you read this too late.  Good luck!