Update: 31 Weeks and Bed Rest

I’m 31 weeks now and I’ve gained 23 pounds. Yep, I’m going in the opposite direction, because last week I had gained 25 pounds. I have no idea why I’m losing weight when I eat crappola all the time. I actually asked the Girls Scouts to please go away because I was tired of buying a box of thin mints on my commute home every day. Despite all the junk food, I also manage to eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. I’m big on sardines because they’re supposed to be good for the baby’s brain and of course I take prenatal vitamins and fish oil.

in-n-outBecause of my small size, my OB had me do an ultrasound to make sure the baby was growing properly. Turns out the baby’s growing fine, but my cervix is measuring short. So they had me do this diagnostic test called the fetal fibronectin. I tested positive which means I may or may not go into labor in the next couple weeks. Anyhow, I’m on modified bed rest and I got a doctor’s note that says, “Ms. Gacad is not to work for the next week.”

Well there’s no way I’m going to sit on the couch and watch TV, or lay in bed and stare at the walls! I got my laptop from work and have simply been working from home. Some friends think that bed rest means I’m at liberty to hang out and have lunch, but I really don’t leave the confines of my living room. In fact, I am overcompensating because I don’t want my coworkers to think I’m sitting at home twiddling my thumbs.

Since I don’t ever go out, here’s a rare picture of me being social, having dinner at Piccino’s with friends from business school. This year is my 10 year class reunion (University of Chicago Booth School of Business). I’m so sad to miss it, but that’s when my precious baby boy is due! As excited as I am for his arrival, the bun’s gotta bake for another two months. Stay in my tummy, little boy! Don’t come early!

piccinoFinally, some amazing news. After 5 weeks, my stolen Honda Civic was found about an hour drive away from San Francisco. I had to sign release papers at the San Francisco Police Department. Dean and I drove to the Mountain View Police Department to sign their release papers, then we had to pickup the car from a tow company. Lots of different steps, but my car is now back in my possession! It’s messy and they ripped the radio out, but nothing a couple hundred dollars worth of detailing and work can’t fix. Plus half a tank of gas!

Update: 30 Weeks and Radio Silence

BABY031114_8

If anyone can guess that’s an ultrasound picture of my baby’s face should go into the medical field. I should stick to banking because it completely eludes me.

I am 30 weeks along and have gained 25 pounds. I wish I had baby bump pictures to share, but I’m not photogenic even on a great day, so all the pictures Dean has taken of me look awful. I always look annoyed and uncomfortable, even though I’m upbeat. Baby is fine and growing normally, but the doctor’s office held me hostage yesterday for four hours to do some monitoring. My productivity has been crimped with all the doctors visits, so I’ve pretty much been radio silent. No blogging, no emails, no social activities. Sorry if anyone is expecting a response from me. Now you know, I’m totally preoccupied. I’m mainly focused on baby, health, work, and sorting out our new home. I hope to have some more updates soon.

As for my stolen Honda Civic, it’s still missing. At this point, it’s probably broken up into pieces. Very sad. I loved that car. Oh well…onward and upward.

Guaranteed Way to Make Money Blogging

dv-logoTo make money blogging, always remember that your blog is a business. It’s taken me a while to inculcate this into my brain, but it’s just as true for me as it is for you. I usually laughed along when people rolled their eyes and said, “Oh you’re just a blogger.” The truth is, I make more money and have more longevity than startups that have failed and were a waste of funding.

Next time someone dismisses you as just a blogger, GET MAD! I don’t see these same people making thousands of dollars a year sitting in a bar watching football or whatever interest that captivates them. Sure, maybe all of us bloggers started out blogging simply as a hobby, but there is so much untapped financial potential that we can capitalize on, it’s exciting!

Don’t sit on the sidelines while people talk about their latest startup ideas. Get in on the discussion. Your blog is a business and you are an entrepreneur. Now let’s MAKE SOME MONEY!

The key to making money blogging is to run it like a business. Learn and continue practicing how to sell and market yourself. Then go out and get customers.

Do you deliver value to your readers? Is your blog informative, educational, or entertaining? If your readers derive value from going to your site, then harness that power by monetizing. Ask readers, brands, and local businesses to SHOW YOU THE MONEY!

How do you get people to show you the money? It’s simple. You ask!

To me, making money blogging is like finding a job. We’ve all had to look for employment several times in our lives. Use the steps to finding a job as your template.

Finding a JobMake Money Blogging
Know yourself and your skillsReally understand what makes your blog unique
Create a resumePut together a media kit
NetworkNetwork
Apply for jobsCanvas for opportunities
InterviewApproach potential brands, partnerships, customers
Close the dealSHOW ME THE MONEY
Don’t get firedFollow-up with metrics; ask for continued business

 

It’s up to you to do the above legwork as I can’t say what differentiates your blog from others. But let’s walk through the steps.

Really understand what makes your blog unique

The first step in conducting a job search is to fully understand yourself. What are your interests and qualifications? Can you clearly articulate your work experience and skill set? Same thing with blogging. Who is your audience and how well do you know them? Why do readers follow your blog over others? What differentiates your blog and makes it unique? What is your expertise? What’s your value proposition?

Put together a media kit

Determine what your features and benefits are and put together a media kit. You don’t necessarily have to create a media kit, but it’s a good disciplined task for listing out what’s noteworthy about your blog. Frankly, I don’t have a media kit; I don’t need one because I have enough ammunition to succinctly craft emails to potential clients. Yet if you do it right, a media kit can be very beneficial as it’s an added layer of professionalism. I’ve heard that brands ask for them, but I work with big brands and never once have I been asked to provide a media kit.

List out the highlights, not the lowlights! This may seem obvious, but I can already see people putting together a media kit, noting that they only have 100 pageviews because that’s what you’re supposed to put in a media kit. WRONG-O! You don’t list your IQ on your resume if it’s bad. Only put good things on your media kit, whatever they may be. Spend a lot of time researching and brainstorming. Only you know what your highlights are. Mentioned in a publication? Tons of comments? Low Alexa ranking or high Google page rank? Ellen Degeneres follows you on Twitter? Brainstorm every single item you can think of and get it down on paper. Don’t sell yourself short.

Network and Canvas for opportunities

When you’re jobless, do you scan the Want Ads then call it a day? I get the sense that bloggers wait for opportunities to present themselves, whether on Sverve, BlogHer or the Sway Group. That’s fine to apply, but don’t twiddle your thumbs waiting for campaigns to come through your email. I think most of those are a waste of time.

Network with readers, bloggers, colleagues, family, friends. Look at blogs in your niche and reach out to those same sponsors. Many of my own sponsors often ask me to recommend others blogs where they can advertise. Tell everyone that you blog. Market yourself!

Approach potential brands, partnerships, and customers

Let’s say you’re a small blog and you don’t get a lot of pageviews. You have other redeeming qualities right? Even if you’re the only blogger in Small Town, USA, this is a major coup! Canvas every single business in Small Town, USA and get them to advertise on your blog. I’m already seeing the dollar signs!

What if you’re one of a gazillion bloggers in Chicago, but you’re an LGBT blogger who lives in Bucktown. Canvas LGBT-friendly businesses in that neighborhood. The possibilities are endless.

Here’s a guaranteed strategy. Make a list of all the products and services that you cannot live without. Contact the PR reps at those companies and tell them how passionate you are about their product. You are willing to write a post on your blog in exchange for product, because that’s how much you love them. No dent to their budget for a simple shout out on your blog. And you get product in return, which is just as good, especially if you love their product. It’s a win-win! Your phone will be ringing off the hook. Then after you’ve written the post, this client is now part of your media kit arsenal because they’re a satisfied customer.

The examples I mentioned above are for getting businesses to advertise on your blog, but there are many other monetization opportunities. What is your expertise? Be a consultant and charge for your time! My mom, as an example, is a financial wizard. If she could get her hands on your finances and put you on a plan, you could retire without a care in the world. I always tell her that she should be a money manager and charge for her skills.

Same thing when I look at all these blogs. So many beautiful photography, design, or writing blogs. Put a link on your site and tell people that you are available for consultation. Package up your services and market for a set price or charge by the hour. Sell an e-book or guide. We all have skills that others are willing to pay for.

Do you know how I found my virtual assistant? I was so impressed by a blogger’s posts on social media and SEO and graphics (seriously she’s a jack-of-all-trades), that I asked her to help me with small tasks. I asked to hire her. Again…untapped potential! There are so many skills out there, and I guarantee people are willing to pay for your knowledge.

SHOW ME THE MONEY

  • Learn how to sell and market yourself and your blog.
  • Impressions matter: the most important criterion for a brand in determining the credibility of your blog is your website design. Please do away with the templated Mickey Mouse designs and hire a professional graphic designer. Example: I know of a blogger who has the most beautiful blog. It should be nominated for awards, it’s that pretty. I did some sleuthing and she barely has any traffic. Yet her site looks so professional that she has a whole slew of advertisers lining her side bar.
  • If this is your business, everyone should know about it. It should be in your email signature. You should be handing out business cards like they’re going out of style.
  • The best way to make money is to ask for it.
  • Do not fear rejection. Rejection tells me that I’m in motion vs stagnation. The more rejections I collect, the more success I’ll have. Rejection is awesome.
  • Have confidence.

Follow-up with metrics; ask for continued business

Once you start monetizing, make sure to keep your clients happy by providing metrics and analysis. Collect testimonials to add to your media kit. Brainstorm additional ways to continue working with the same brands.

I’ve shared lots of advice and given specific examples on how you can start making money right now. If you found this helpful, please share or click on the Tweet button below. Otherwise, would love to hear your feedback on monetization in the comments.

Here is a link to my previous post on How I Make Money Blogging.

Collaborative Post: Showtime in Blackpool, England

blackpoolBlackpool, England is known for its big productions, love of dancing and endless fun. You won’t then be surprised that Blackpool plays host to some great shows this year. Why not take a theatre break, book yourself into one of the Travelodge hotels in Blackpool and catch a show or two while you’re in town? Some great choices are:

Mamma Mia

The ultimate feel good musical. Showing between the 20th of June and 14th of September at the Blackpool Opera House, it’s a great show to see on a summer trip to Blackpool. A firm favourite with audiences all over the world, thanks to the film of the same name featuring the likes of Meryl Streep, Piers Brosnan and Colin Firth, it’s a show that will have you singing along and dancing in the aisles from beginning to end. You follow Sophie as she searches for her father, resulting in her mother coming face to face with three men from her past on the eve of her daughters wedding. The resulting hilarity and heart-warming romance will have you falling in love with the characters in no time. A must see in Blackpool this summer.

Derren Brown – Infamous

Straight from the west end the master of illusion comes to Blackpool with his amazing show of psychological illusion. One of the masters of mind control and magic manipulation, you’ll easily see why Derren Brown is famous the world over as you watch in disbelief as he stuns and baffles his audience. Catch Infamous at the Blackpool Opera House on the 12th and 13th of May.

Rat Pack Vegas Spectacular Show

Vegas comes to Blackpool on the 24th of May at the Blackpool Opera House as the Rat Pack swing into town. This fantastic tribute to Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Junior and Dean Martin is loved the world over. With toe tapping favourites like Mack the Knife, Mr Bojangles, Come Fly with Me, That’s Amore and Volare, you won’t be able to resist singing along. A fantastic show for fans of swing music.

Killer Queen

A great show for fans of the legend that is Freddie Mercury and Queen will simply love this show. Killer Queen have been performing their tribute to Queen since the 90′s and are incredibly popular thanks to their high energy, powerful performances. With a frontman who’s likeness to Freddie Mercury has been described as ‘spooky’ and all the great and memorable songs being included in the show, it’s bound to be a night to remember. Showing at the Blackpool Opera House on the 25th of May.

Blackpool really does have it all when it comes to live shows. With several venues hosting sell out shows and international best sellers there’s bound to be something you’ll enjoy. Some fantastic performers like Little Mix, Daniel O’Donnell and Peter Andre are performing in Blackpool this year, the BetVictor World Matchplay Darts is held in July and some fantastic shows featuring memorable songs from movies and musicals ensure that Blackpool really does hold its own when it comes to show-stopping performances.

How I Make Money Blogging

dv-logo2Mark your calendar. Next Monday, my post ‘Full-Proof Way to Make Money Blogging’ is going viral. I’ve spent a lot of time crafting and editing it, to ensure you have all the information you need to prosper in the world of blogging. You don’t want to miss it. But before next week, I thought it would be good background to share with you how I personally make money.

Keep in mind, I have been blogging for over 9 years, which makes me an online dinosaur. Please no whining about why I’m able to monetize my blog and maybe you’re not. Try blogging consistently for 9 years then get back to me.

What I earn is not a lot, but it’s not chump change either. In total, I average a couple hundred dollars a month (revenue). I have expenses that need to be factored in, but the point is I actually get companies and brands to SHOW ME THE MONEY! I never thought it was possible.

My expenses include web hosting, graphic design, and virtual assistance, which reduce my profit, but I also have a full-time job outside of blogging, working for a Fortune 25 company. That means, I’m essentially making money from a hobby and also writing off my business expenses for tax purposes.

Key point: Bloggers make money in direct correlation to the business work that they put into it.

If I didn’t have a full-time job and if I had more time to devote to the marketing and sales of my brand, I would earn more. I’d have to work my ass off, but absolutely, I’d make substantially more than I already do.

I make money 4 ways, in descending order:

  • Sponsored Posts
  • Sponsored Tweets
  • Free Product
  • Advertising

Sponsored Posts

For me, monetization started when brands asked if I would consider sponsored posts. They set the rate and I just went with it, especially since I had never made money before. Then bigger brands contacted me, giving me the confidence to negotiate and command more.

Side Story: I attended a blogging webinar sponsored by a design brand. The Head of PR said she was looking for blogs that were well-designed with page ranks 3 and above. That’s not me. I shrugged and figured I’m not a design blog so I wouldn’t have been the right fit anyway. Hours later, the company contacted me about advertising on my blog. The takeaway? Don’t reject yourself before companies have the chance to consider you. Have confidence!

Sponsored Tweets

As a member of the BlogHer network, brands are interested in my Twitter following, of which I have 7,000+ followers. These are followers that I have cultivated over time which is considered massive influence. I’m paid $50 for my ad tweets.

Quick plug that my Tweets are really informative, stemming from the fact that I have an academic and entrepreneurial background, and I’m pretty knowledgeable when it comes to new technology, venture capital, etc. If you don’t follow me already, check out my Twitter feed and see for yourself.

Free Product

With a 60+ Klout score, I get a lot of free products because of my influence (Flip headphones, Braun thermometer, leather laptop case, etc.) in exchange for an honest review.

Advertising

Lastly, I make money through advertising (those ads in my sidebar and at the bottom of my site). I’m with Federated Media, one of the top ad networks.

Here’s the deal, what works for me won’t necessarily work for you. It drives me nuts when I read posts on blog monetization and they say, you gotta get on Pinterest, or you have to know SEO. It’s total bullshit. It’s all about marketing and selling yourself and cogently explaining what your strengths are.

Here are my selling points:

  • Blogging for over 9 years
  • MBA University of Chicago Booth School of Business; BA University of California at Berkeley
  • Highly-educated, large income-generating followers
  • Followers concentrated in metropolitan areas: San Francisco Bay Area, New York, and Chicago
  • 7,000+ Twitter followers
  • 60+ Klout score

When I say business work you put into it, I don’t mean that you’ll make more money by posting every day. For anyone who does this, PLEASE STOP! In fact, success must be inversely correlated to volume of posts because I personally am turned off by bloggers who post every day. It’s way too much and very overwhelming. STOP!!!

Things to consider:

  • You get what you put into it, but you have to think like an entrepreneur. Your blog is a business. How are you going to make money?
  • What are your selling points?
  • How can you better market yourself?
  • Does your blog look like a kid designed it? Or does it look professional?
  • Don’t be afraid to ask or pay for help. You have to spend money to make money.
  • Analyze the top blogs. How do they look aesthetically? What posts are getting the most comments?

If you were a business with a blog advertising budget, which blogs would you advertise on and why? The answer to this question is how you should be positioning your blog! Why would businesses want to advertise on your blog? You tell me!

Anyone can make money blogging. Come visit next week for my insight on monetization.

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