Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Long time no see...

Hello out there...   Wow, I wonder if that echo I just heard was a sign that no one is still out there?  I know I have been TERRIBLE at posting on a regular basis for quite sometime now, but I have a really good excuse!  I will tell you all about it sometime..right now though I need to post a blog post for a class I am taking.  The class is called Intro to Mass Media and the instructor is Bruce Hartley.  This is one of my final assignments for his class and it is a paper about blogging.  So I thought it only fitting that I turn it in via my blog!  So I blew the dust off and cleared away the cobwebs to bring it to you here.  So here you go....enjoy!

Lisa Laxton
Intro to Mass Media
April 21, 2014

Blogging for Bucks
            Are you a know it all on a particular subject?  Do you have a unique hobby? Do you have an interesting writing style that pulls people in and makes them want to read more?  Are you funny or quick witted? If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, then blogging for a living might be a career option for you.
            The internet has changed all of our lives in one way or another.  For one group of bloggers it has become their way of making ends meet and paying the bills; it has made them quite wealthy in fact.  You might even go so far as to say they are now filthy stinkin’ rich!  There are many reasons why someone might start a blog.  Maybe you want to express an opinion, promote or market a product or service, help others or share an expertise on a specific subject.  When blogging first started in the early 90’s I doubt very many early bloggers thought it was a platform that held the potential for them to make millions of dollars from their blog.  Today people know this and it is this knowledge and/or a need to be heard causing more and more blogs pop up each and every day.
            According to Incomediary.com, following is a list of the top 5 Money Making Blogs, who owns/operates them, their monthly income and what their primary income source is. 
1.     The Huffington Post owned by Arianna Huffington, income of $2,330,000 monthly from pay per click.
2.     Mashable owned by Pete Cashmore, income of $560,000 monthly from Advertising Banners.
3.     Perez Hilton owned by Mario Lavandeira, income of $450,000 monthly from Advertising Banners.
4.     Techcrunch owned by Michael Arrington, income of $450,000 monthly from Advertising Banners.
5.     Smashing Magazine owned by Vitaly Friedman, income of $400,000 monthly from Advertising Banners. (Dunlop)
The content of these blogs varies widely proving that a multitude of subjects have the ability to be successful.
            So, now that you have decided you want to be a millionaire, uhm I mean you want to start a blog, what is your next step?  Deciding which format you want to use for your blog is a good starting point.  Using Blogger, WordPress or your own URL are all potential ideas.  There are many other options to choose from.  If you have an existing website for your company, then just adding a tab for your blog to your website would be a quick and easy way to go.  Do your research and determine which option is better suited to your goals and skill set before you make your final decision.  Some formats are more user friendly than others and do not need a huge amount of technical knowledge.
            Once you have nailed down which format you will use it is important to make a final decision about what the subject or topic of your blog will be.  Are you going to write about your family home life and share the details with the world in a funny or satirical way?  Does your family face a challenge on a daily basis like reactive associative disorder (RAD) or autism that you could help educate other families about?  Do you have something you are passionate about?  Maybe photography, religion, cooking, sports, politics, wildlife, scrapbooking or another hobby could be a potential subject for your blog.  It could be helpful for you to research existing blogs prior to making your final decision.  If you find lots of blogs already existing about your potential subject, then you might want to go with another idea.  This research will also help you determine what you do or don't like about what other bloggers are doing.
            Now that you have determined your subject material, it is time to get started.  Designing your blog and crafting your writing style to match your chosen topic are very important steps.  Start out with a solid simple design that flows well.  You can worry about adding cool add-ons and widgets later.  Your design will be the first thing your readers notice and could decide if they read anything you type at all.  If you are writing tech reviews on cutting edge new technology your visual design needs to be sleek and techie.  The use of Crayola fonts and fuzzy bears on your background would totally conflict with your subject.  On the same note, your writing style needs to match also.  You need to be able to speak on the same level as the audience you are trying to reach. 
            With your initial design layout in place, it is time to posting to your blog and building your fan base.  For the non-techie side of this a great place to start is social media sites.  Using Twitter to post links to your blog when you make new posts and at other times offer snippets of information or tips and then link back to your blog.  Facebook and Google + are also great places to start promoting your blog.  Reddit and Linked In are two more of the many remaining options you can utilize.  One of the keys to this type of promotion is consistency.  It is critical for you to post on a consistent regular basis in order for people to take note and remember you.  According to Carol Tice, “The more often your site is updated, the more often search-engines come back to see what's new. That helps drive up your rankings in search -- and send more readers to your blog.(Tice)
            Once you are all set with your social media cross promotion, it is time to start working on your search engine optimization (SEO) and your key words.  SEO and keywords and used to route traffic to your blog when someone searches for something that is relevant to what your blog is about.  If you focus on photography, it is important that you think of every possible tag word or key word that might be tied back to your subject.  Photography could result in the following tags:  photo, photographer, photography, photog, pictures, picture, camera, cameras, dslr, and digital camera.  These are just a few of the possible words that could be used.  If you get more specific and the subject is newborn photography, then there are even more words that could be added.
            Ok, your blog is up and running and you have been typing your fingers to the bone bouncing from one social media site to another commenting, tweeting and getting your name out there.  You have poured your blood, sweat and tears into building this and now you want to know “Where is the dough?”  How do you start seeing an income for all your efforts?  Most bloggers first turn to AdSense as their initial ad revenue source.  AdSense is an advertising placement service by Google. The program is designed for website publishers who want to display targeted text, video or image advertisements on website pages and earn money when site visitors view or click the ads.  Another popular revenue stream is the Amazon and other affiliate programs.  An affiliate program is a marketing program where you can receive commission for helping a parent company (such as HostGator) generate sales.  Sponsorships and E-book are yet two more ideas that could be utilized to generate income.  Personal appearances and speaking fees are additional opportunities that could open up for well-known bloggers. Kelly Anderson, states “If your blog really becomes popular, you might be able to expand your income opportunities beyond the web and into the real world.” (Anderson)
            Starting a blog really isn't rocket science and anyone can do it.  All it takes is an idea and a commitment to making it happen.  Doing this research might be the spur I need to get back to posting on at least one of my blogs on a regular basis.  Maybe I will even try to add some advertising banners or AdSense and see if I can make a little extra cash somewhere down the line!

Works Citied

Anderson, Kelly. Mintlife.com. 23 05 2013. Story. 22 04 2014.
Dunlop, Michael. Incomediary.com. n.d. Web Story. 22 04 2014.
Tice, Carol. Business.tutsplus.com. 31 01 2013. Article. 22 04 2014.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Balancing Act

In an effort to get back into the swing of blogging occasionally, I have decided to start sharing some of class assignments and my feelings about my current life as a non-traditional student.  As some of you may know and some may not know, I recently decided to go back to college so my life is totally different now.

The first one I am going to share was written as a "reflection" on our first week of classes for my Freshman Seminar Class last semester.  Now remember, I haven't written much since high school - actually I didn't write much in high school now that I think about it!  So be kind! lol

Balancing Act
All the years I spent in dance and gymnastics did little to help me prepare for the balancing act that going back to school has made of my life.  I feel like a Las Vegas performer spinning multiple plates on rods; trying desperately to keep all of them spinning and not crashing to the ground creating a shower of shrapnel in all directions. 
Life as a non-traditional student creates a myriad of opportunities for personal growth.  Like learning to manage your time to fit working full time  keeping up with family member’s schedules, being a wife/mother/housekeeper, finding time to do homework and the list goes on.  I feel that as the semester progresses, my sleep schedule will be what suffers most.
I know that by returning to school at this point in my life my college experience will be totally different than it would have been if I had finished when I started the first time around.  I will not be pledging a sorority, nor will I be trying out for the pom squad.  Those are aspects of college that I will never participate in and are forever lost chances.  On the other hand, my grades will be much better than they would have been back then.  While I can’t say I would have gone through my entire college career being happy with solid C’s; I can say it will be stretch for me now to be happy with any B’s at all.  My goal is straight A’s, with little gold stars of course!  I know what a challenge that would be even if I was a full time student with none of the other distractions I listed previously, but that is my goal none the less.
The first week of classes has proven that balancing my work schedule with my class schedule will not always be easy.  Having to miss a class due to a work obligation is a huge source of stress for me.  I have been advised to remain strong and not resort to Oreos at midnight as a coping mechanism.  Even when I thought I was on top of my game and smiling inside at my innate ability (after a WHOLE week) to stay current on my assignments and homework, I noticed that I appeared to have missed turning in my very first paper on time.  After a mild panic attack and a minor bout of self-rebuking followed by a please forgive me email to my professor, I was relieved to learn that I had not missed the deadline after all.  Whew!  But that little episode reminded me that no matter how sure I am of the facts I think I know; double (and sometimes triple) checking the details never hurts!
I look forward to taking on the challenge that I have issued to myself and I am ready to prove that I can do it.  While it won’t be easy, it can be done.  There are many of the traditional aspects of college that I may miss out on, but I intend to make the most of my time as a student at ECU.  There is a saying that comes to mind I think fits this situation.  A rubber band doesn't fully realize its true potential and value until it is stretched.             

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Perfume tray DIY Project...

Today I am going to share another of my DIY projects with you.  While I didn't just do this one (I actually did it awhile back - but I won't tell if you don't!), I did think it was something some of you might be interested in.  So....here it is!

This project started because I wanted something I could put my perfume bottles on that wasn't the same ol' vanity tray that you see every where.  I scoured the stores looking for something affordable that would serve this purpose.  My search lead me to this lil' gem of a mirror at Hobby Lobby.  It wasn't to small, it wasn't to large...it was (you know what I am going to say don't you?) just right!

Now I probably could have just sat this mirror straight on the dresser (after removing the hanging hardware) and been done with it.  But that wasn't what I had in mind and when you have something in mind you just gotta go with it!  Since my mind was in charge, it had me pick up some handy wood feet while I was at Hobby Lobby.  I love it when my mind plans ahead and saves me a trip back to the store!  Now, remember earlier when I said that I did this project a while back?  Well - that is the reason I don't have any before pictures of the bare wood feet.  So this picture of them after a coat of black spray paint and a dab of hot glue have been added, will have to do.  As I have said before, you don't really need to see the glue gun do you?

The feet probably could used an additional coat or two of paint, but I am sure no one will notice.

I used 4 feet to ensure the tray was stable and wouldn't tip once the bottles are in place.

Here is the finished project...complete with my favorite perfumes.  Yes, I know one of the bottles is empty, but Roger bought it for me in Paris. (No, not Paris, TX.)  And I LOVED it!  I have looked and looked but haven't found it anywhere else yet.  I guess another trip to Paris, France is in order! Awww, darn!

Hope you like it!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Cricut tryout...

So tonight I decided I would finally play with the Cricut cutter I got.  I was just messing around, so I got some of my 12x12 scrapbook paper and picked a image from one of the design cartridges. It is actually pretty simple to use and I can think of lots of crafty ways to use it other than cut outs for paper scrapbooking, which I don't do much anymore!

I picked a swirly flourish and told it to fit to page.  It sized it and then began cutting it out. This picture is after I started removing it from the adhesive cutting mat.

Being one to never waste paper...I flipped it over and tried cutting out letters.  These could be used with modge podge, or add adhesive with the xyron and it is a label.  The paper could be used a stencil to spray paint a design on almost anything.  If you get the vinyl, you can cut images or phrases out for wall decals or much much more!  I also saw that it will cut out fabric also..  Who knows what I will cut out next!  Not to mention I have one that works on gum paste, fondant and frosting sheets!  Maybe some day I will get around to getting one of those so I can try it out!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

More DIY...

$5 used lamp + left over bead fringe + hot glue gun = a cool little revamped accessory! This is one of a few DIY project posts coming your way soon!!!

This is the lamp shade from the $5 lamp before the DIY addition..

The left over piece of beaded fringe from a previous project.

The finished DIY lamp accessory! I love it! I didn't really figure you needed to see a picture of the hot glue gun!

Monday, November 21, 2011

The wait is finally over...

What is the longest you have every waited for something?  20 mins? 1 hour? 1 week? 1 year?  1 decade? 2 decades? 1 quarter of a century?  Wow...that last one actually sounds dramatic!  Even in print...  What would be worth waiting that long for?  Your college graduation?  Your first set of china?  Your one true love?  Some of us get lucky and find our one true early in life - like at age 14.  Then at 18 we marry them and the next thing you know, it has been 25 years that you have been married to your one true love.  This December 27th - I will have been married to mine that long.  But that isn't truly what this post is about...

Since I didn't go to college, let's go back and look at that 2nd item on the list...you know the one about china.  Now let me tell you a little story...since you already know a little about my marriage from the first part of this post, I will keep this part brief.  Girl meets boy, girl dates boy, girl marries boy...that was brief huh? lol  Now fast forward a bit.  Not a lot..just a little.  Maybe a year or so.  Girl's mother-in-law informs her that she gets to pick between the two sets of china that she has.  She purchased 2 sets years ago so both of her sons would one day have a set.  Although I married her youngest son, we were married first so, I get to pick which set I wanted.  One set was more contemporary with small flowers and more pastel colors.  The other was more traditional with lacy edges and a flower pattern in steel grey blue color.  For me there really was only one choice.  I picked the later of the two sets.  What I didn't know at the time was that the set I picked also came with a complete set of enamel pots and pans!  And a fondue set! Bonus!!!

Now comes well, life.  We moved from Norman, OK to Phoenix, AZ then back to Dallas, TX and a few other stops along the way before finally landing in Allen, TX for 13 years.  At all of those locations we never ended up having a dinning room large enough to have room for a china hutch.  So during all these years my china continued to reside with my mother-in-law.  Fast forward to well..2011.

After another move from Allen, TX back to our home town of Ada, OK and a short stint in a rent house, we finally found a house we fell in love with and purchased.  The time had come...I finally had a dining room large enough for a china hutch.  But I didn't have a china hutch!  I noticed I friend of mine was selling a beautiful extremely large dining room table!  It was large enough that my entire family would fit at it.  Even once they each find their own true love.  The only down side was that she did not have a china hutch to match.  So I did some rapid research and actually located the china hutch that matched it!  I now have both pieces and they look awesome.

Now the question comes, how to you get an entire set of china from Phoenix, AZ to Ada, OK without any of them getting broken?  You count on a wonderful mother and father-in-law...and they deliver them to you just in time to use them for Thanksgiving!  Some girls have everything! Well, at least I do...

Unpacking my early Christmas....12 place settings.  :)

Aunt Donna had to much fun thinking of me unpacking these with all this shredded paper! lol

I also have lots and lots of extra pieces...2 sets of salt and pepper and the candle stick holders.

The pattern...

2 gravy boats!

A fondue and a crystal piece that matches some I already had.

Love this piece!

Tea/coffee pitcher and the sugar and creamer.

All unpacked and put away...

And the aftermath... 

And the end result is one happy momma.  Stay tuned for more pictures from this years Thanksgiving dinner....  Creating new family traditions in our new home is worth waiting for....even 25 years. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

***WARNING*** You might gain weight by reading this post...

I have a confession to make and I know this is going to surprise some of you.  This is something I need to say...I like to bake!

I think my family will be the ones most surprised by this disclosure.  I am sure they will be trying to find out why I don't do it more often if I like to do?  I guess I really don't have a reason...just same one that get used for everything.  No time!  Like with everything I do...I have a tendency to get carried away.  I like to take things that one more step and some would say (although not to my face!) that one step is one step to many. Don't believe me?

I like to set the table with elevations..I don't like a flat table.  Levels make it more party like to me!

I love to make pretty pies...not just ones that taste good!  And I make them all from scratch.

This one has "lots" of little tiny hand formed leaves placed around the edge of the crust!  And I pick out as many unbroken pecans as I can to layer on the top.  I like them unbroken! :)

Now that being said...I found a new toy that I can't wait to play with.  It is the Cricut Cake!  Wait..let me try that again...It is the Cricut Cake!!!  You guys must not be listening...I said...IT IS THE CRICUT CAKE!!!!!  There really should be more applause and maybe a standing ovation here people!

Apparently you don't know what one is so I will provide the link and let you self educate!

Now that you fully comprehend the awesomeness that is the Cricut Cake...I am sure you are all feeling the appropriate about of reverence now!  And that you all share my eager anticipation for the arrival of mine!  I knew I should have sprung for the rush shipping...dang it dang it dang it!!!! 

So, stay tuned for more from me and Kylie; as I can't wait to share what I am sure will be pure creative holiday goody awesomeness over the next few weeks!