Always, Katie

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

8 Free Ways to Support Your Friend's Small Business

I love supporting small business, as do many of my friends and family and most of you, dear readers. :-) I respect the makers using their skills to support or supplement their families, and I know the hard work that goes into these businesses, so I love to encourage those efforts and know my purchases are making a difference to a family instead of being a drop in a corporation's bucket. :-)

We all probably know lots of people who own their own direct sales businesses (in fact, if you're ever looking for a consultant for any sort of direct sales company, I probably know two or three that I can highly recommend for any given company), and many of us probably know people selling homemade goods in etsy shops, or curating stylish and fun boutiques. But another venture that a lot of people forget is a small business... is blogging. :-) 

Always, Katie is pretty much a one-woman show, although I do get lots of support from Ethan and from a few close blogging friends. :-) I mentioned a year ago that I was taking my blog "pro" and beginning to work on sponsored posts and other forms of monetizing, but I never really explained in much detail what those things mean or how they work. Or how friends who want to support my small business can do so. ;-) 

The best thing about supporting your blogger friend (and most of the info I'm about to share will apply to most of us who run for-profit blogs) is that most ways won't cost you a penny, or at least not a penny you wouldn't have spent anyway. :-) 

Read her blog.

We love it when our friends and families read our stuff... but also, when someone visits my blog, I get pageviews that register with a program I use to track my statistics. These statistics are important for our sponsored post opportunities, because potential partners like to see a high number of pageviews. In fact, most of these partners or the sponsorship networks that connect us with those partners won't even offer you work unless you have a certain number of pageviews per month, and the most lucrative ones require PRETTY high numbers! Also, pageviews are one of the major contributing factors for how much I can fairly charge a company to write sponsored content for them. I also have ads placed in my sidebar and in my footer, and the commissions on these also depend on pageviews and ad clicks.

Click on links.

Some sponsored campaigns have us insert links into our posts, and we actually get paid per clickthrough. We're not allowed to disclose when a link is that kind of link, so we try to make them enticing links to click! Usually these will take you to the company's site or to a coupon download. Once there, you don't have to click anything else for us to benefit, but look around anyway! We wouldn't work with the company if we didn't think their site had something that would benefit our specific audience! If a link leads to another page in our blog, it's because it is somehow relevant to the post you're reading, and clicking through helps you read more of our story plus it boosts our pageviews and improves a lesser-known or used stat called "bounce rate." Brands like to see that people spend more than a few seconds on our sites ;-)

Leave a comment.

Brands love to see engagement on sponsored posts, and when those posts are on a blog, comments are the major form of engagement. But also, comments encourage us that people are reading and getting value out of what we work hard to create!

Share posts you love.

I get giddy when people share things I've written because they think their friends could benefit from reading my words! Such a great gift to a writer! Plus, all the things about pageviews and clicks... if your friends click through, we get even more of those :-)

Use her affiliate links.

This is a little tricky to explain, but I am an affiliate for a couple of small companies and for Amazon. If I share a coupon code, chances are high that I'm receiving a small amount of money or credit toward free product (which I will probably give away on my blog or Instagram!). So with those, it's a win for both of us! You get a discount, I get a tiny kick back ;-) With Amazon affiliate links, I disclose ahead of the link (in compliance with FDA law), and if you click on an Amazon affiliate link (like this one -> hedgehog dryer balls) and buy ANYTHING within 24 hours, I get a teeny tiny percentage of that total purchase. Even if it isn't the product my affiliate link led to! When I say teeny tiny, I mean that in the several years I've been an affiliate, I haven't made enough money for it to be worth it to them to cut me a check ;-) But maybe as my posts start reaching more people :-)

"Like" and comment on Facebook (especially her business page) and Instagram.

Likes and comments make Facebook and Instagram algorithms like us, and put our posts into more newsfeeds. I have 400+ Facebook fans, but an average post of mine only reaches fewer than 100 people. Even if an article I post isn't written by me, likes and comments on it will improve the overall ranking for my page, leading to more eyeballs on posts that DO lead to my blog. Instagram works very similarly, with the additional fact that many sponsored posts I do pay based on number of likes and/or comments. Engagement is key on pretty much all of our social media platforms! Plus, again... it just feels nice :-)

Enter giveaways or participate in challenges!

While these are time-consuming to put together, most of our giveaways are a chance we jump on to be able to give back to the wonderful folks who support us! We love to be able to give you nice things, and we really appreciate when you get excited about the chance to win something we picked out just for you. :-) If we're working directly with the brand (ie, the brand is supplying the prize rather than us purchasing it out of our blog budget), they do like to see high numbers of entries! Engagement engagement engagement! ;-)

Ask questions.

If there's a subject or question that you think she may have a unique or expert perspective on, she would love to know so that she can work on blog posts on those subjects. For example, I get lots of questions from BFC patients about what to pack, and I'm looking forward to making a packing list just for people traveling to Barbados for IVF treatments! Is there a product you'd love to see a review on? Let her know... she may be able to approach the company to work together. If you're interested, her other readers probably are, too!

So there you are! Your friendly neighborhood blogger is a small business owner who appreciates your support as much as an Etsy seller or Tupperware lady (is that still a thing?) does, AND there are tons of ways to offer that support that don't cost you anything but a minute or two of your time... and you may learn something fun or useful in the process. :-) Cool, right!?

Saturday, December 31, 2016

My 2017 Word of the Year - Confident

Several bloggers I follow have, for the past few years, chosen a "word of the year." I love this idea, and decided this year that I wanted to join in. 

It gave me the opportunity and motivation to really think about who I want to be and what I want to embody this coming year, and I feel oddly prepared for 2017. 

The word of the year that I've chosen is "confident." After a strange couple of years of feeling a little "off" with all of the changes in my life, I have resolved to tackle the coming year with confidence. A couple of close runners-up were "balanced," "powerful," and "secure," which I decided all feed into this idea of confidence.

I am choosing to focus on finding a balance between my housewife and stay-at-home-mom duties and my need to be creative. I'm choosing to project power as part of this confidence - I am capable in many different fields, and I am choosing to keep that at the forefront of my mind and my attitude as I approach this coming year's challenges. And I am choosing to lean on and stay rooted in the security that comes from having a happy and supportive family life, and the security in knowing who I am as a daughter of God.

This year, I will be confident. 

Have you chosen a word of the year? What will you be?

Friday, December 23, 2016

Merry Christmas from the Hodge Family

We took some fun Christmas-y pictures at our beautiful cabin in Gatlingburg this autumn, thinking we may end up using them on Christmas cards. We did end up hiring a duo of professional photographers (with good lighting, ha!) for Christmas card pics, but these pictures are too cute to not share anywhere! 

Merry Christmas, friends! Ethan, Abbie, Sam, and I hope that your Christmas season is full of peace, joy, and fun, and that 2017 brings abundant blessings.

"Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you. He is the Messiah, the Lord. (Luke 2:11)"

Monday, December 12, 2016

7 People on Your Shopping List Who Would Love a CARE Donation for Christmas

This post is sponsored by CARE but the content and opinions expressed here are all mine, as always. :-)

One of my favorite things to give as a gift is a donation in that person's honor, especially when I find a charity that I believe in and that I think the recipient would love as well. :-) So often around the holidays, trinkets and knick-knacks feel like they're taking over, and materialism threatens to overtake the warmth and love that the Christmas season should really be about. 

But donations are awesome, no-clutter gifts to give so many people in our lives! For example...

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Tea. Earl Grey. Soap. (With Bergamot Essential Oil by New York Biology)

One of the items I’ve crossed off my 30 by 30 list is “make soap,” and it has been such a fun little hobby! A fun little hobby that has resulted in our household having way more soap than we’ll ever be able to use ;-)

My first batch was super-basic, just trying to learn the process itself, but for my next three batches, I’ve played around with additives like scent and exfoliants.  The second batch, I added peppermint and lavender essential oils, and ground oatmeal, and the third batch was a fun, seasonal apple cider soap.

The most recent batch that’s finished curing in my morning room is one I’m especially excited about – a soap made with earl grey tea and extra Bergamot essential oil… the Star Trek nerd in me has decided to call it “Tea. Earl Grey. Soap.”

Monday, November 7, 2016

Traveling with Toddler Twins: Pt 1: Planning Ahead

We recently returned home from our first vacation with our twins (Gatlinburg, TN!), and we had an amazing time! I have several posts planned about different aspects of our trip over the next few weeks, and today I’d like to start by sharing some of the ways you can plan ahead to have a successful, relaxed trip… it’s totally doable, even with year-and-a-half-year-old twins! 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Life Lessons from the Photos I Didn't Take

Last night, on my way to my twin mom board meeting, I had just gotten on the interstate when I caught a glimpse of the sunset out my passenger side window. It was one of those amazing, orange and pink, sky is on fire, makes you wanna pull over and gawk sunsets. Simply stunning.

And then blogger mode kicked in and I wanted a picture of that sunset SO BADLY! But I was driving, didn't have a passenger I could delegate the picture-taking to, and wasn't about to attempt it myself at almost 70mph. I knew by the time I reached my destination, the sun would've finished setting and the colors wouldn't be nearly as knock-your-socks-off, and I was frustrated. May have thrown a tiny tantrum in my head.

Friday, October 14, 2016

8 Things You May Not Have Known Twin (or more) Parents Think About

This morning we went to get flu shots (the grown-ups, the kids had already gotten theirs at their pediatrician's office), and when I got home, I breezed through what has become a pretty familiar routine, but one that I was nervous about a couple months ago.

I parked in our driveway (our driveway and garage were built weirdly, to the point that our van doesn't have enough room to turn and maneuver into the garage. It has to live outside, poor thing.), opened both automatic side doors, unbuckled Sam, carried him into the garage, snapped him into the waiting stroller. Then I went around to the other side of the van, unbuckled Abbie, grabbed my diaper bag and my purse, pulled my key out of the purse, got my drink from Panera out of the cupholder, shut all the van doors, locked the van, hauled all of that (including Abbie) into the garage, and closed the garage door behind me. I carried her into the playroom, dropping bags and such where they needed to go on my way, and set her down in the nice, secure, child-proof room. Then I went back out and fetched Sam from the garage where he was (thankfully, patiently) waiting in the stroller.

Why the elaborately choreographed kid schlepping? Well, I don't want to leave anybody outside and out of my sight line. We don't use pumpkin seats anymore. And my kids aren't walking yet. 

It's one of those things about having twins that I would never have thought of before I had mine... how to get everyone safely into the van when they can't walk yet. For parents with kids of different ages, if one child has to be carried, usually the others can at least walk to the vehicle with their parents under their own power. :-) I was thinking about this sort of unexpected little challenge in twin parenting the other day, and I reached out to some of my twin parent friends to see if they could help me come up with a few more examples, and I think we came up with a fun and eye-opening list. Some of them haven't come up with my kids yet, so I had my eyes opened a bit, too :-)

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Preparing a (Spoiled) Pup for a Human Sibling (or a couple of them)

[This post includes an affiliate link - if you click through and make a purchase, it won't cost you any extra, but I'll make a couple cents. Thanks for supporting this blog!]

I've mentioned here many times how much we adore our dog, Charley. He was our first "baby" and taught us a lot about parenting, and when we were preparing to welcome his little siblings, he had one more parenting lesson for us: how to prepare and introduce an older sibling to a baby (or more).

We wanted to be sure to prepare him as much as possible before the birth and have a plan for helping him cope after his tiny fluffy world had been rocked.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

What's Up Wednesday: September

Here's a fun link up I've wanted to join but always remember too late ;-) Yay for being reminded early in the day when I still have some blogging time left. :-) I used to participate in a style link up that Shay, Sheaffer, and Mel hosted, so I've followed all these ladies for a while... you should pop over and visit. Sheaffer's Bachelor/ette recaps are way more entertaining to me than the show ever was ;-) 

Annnnyyyyway... here's what's up with me!

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