Well, my photo storage software (Picassa) seems to be acting up lately, so I can’t blog any pictures today. Which has made me think it’s time for a tips and tricks post. I wanna give you the inside scoop on some of the cool stuff I use on line, from widgets to websites, ’cause I don’t want you to miss out on this stuff!
I’ve mentioned some of these links before, and some reside right in my sidebar, yet I learned the other day, from a real-life conversation with one of my lovely readers, that you may not have noticed or knew about this stuff yet!
1. Google Reader – this is how I keep up with all my favorite blogs. There are two ways to see what’s new – go to my google reader page (cool, cause I can log on from any computer), or, when I’m home, I can press the ‘next’ button I have in my bookmarks, and it carries me on a lovely journey through all the newest blog posts. I use the first option when I’m in a hurry and just want to see if some of my closest friends have posted today, and I use the ‘next’ button when I’ve got time to browse through whatever shows up. Read more about this neat tool and how to install it in this previous post. Read about the ‘next’ button here.
2. Search Widget. Do any of you use this feature in my sidebar? I use it all the time to find previous posts I want to link to or review. I found the Google Search Widget to be more effective than that search box at the top of blogger’s page header. Try it next time your trying to find a previous post of mine – from auctions to zinnias. (Hi, Erin!☺)
3. Swag Bucks. I know lots of people who are more savvy swag buckers than myself. Never the less, I earn points almost every day just by using the swag bucks tool bar as my main search engine.
(Clicking on the above image to join will earn me more points!)
So far I have only used my points on Amazon Gift cards – which allowed me to get a $5 off a brand new book that I absolutely HAD to have (I don’t buy brand new books very often – but I couldn’t get it on PBS or inter-library loan, so I HAD to do it. Wanna know what book it was? I’m gonna post about it later this week!).
If you use Swag Bucks, I would love to hear how you earn more points!
4. Paper Back Swap. This is so cool. I know a lot of people have heard about this, but I’m just here to say you have got to finally get around to joining PBS! This is why it’s so cool…I was reading YLCF the other day where Gretchen wrote a review on some awesome Christian novels she’d read. I went to PBS and found 3 out of the 4 titles by the authors, and I had two credits, so I ordered two of them right away. I got an email that afternoon that one of the books has already been mailed! All that it cost me was the $2.30 I spent to mail a book I didn’t want any more to another PBS member who requested it. Many of us periodically go through our bookshelves and weed out the books we don’t want to make room for new favorites. Whenever I do that, I post those books on PBS and then stash them in a cardboard box until someone requests them. I absolutely love how I have been able to collect a whole shelf on my bookshelves of quality Christian fiction for a fraction of the cost of buying new. Try it today – if you post 10 books, you automatically get 2 free credits!
4. Amazon Associates. This is the tool I have been using in the last few months whenever I post about a book or movie I want to recommend. I installed the Amazon Product Finder, which is a box that shows up on my post editing page when I’m writing a post. I just highlight, say, “Little Dorrit” and it shows up in the search window to the right. I click GO and up comes all the results for Little Dorrit on Amazon. I choose the one that applies (in this case, the DVD I watched last week) and click “link” or “link+image” and a tidy little link will appear in my blog post like this….
Now, not only is this a real quick and handy way to add links to my blog (instead of opening up another tab in my browser, going to amazon, searching for the product, copy and pasting the link, etc., etc.), BUT it also pays! If one of you cool peoples click on the link I post through amazon associates and actually purchase the recommended book or DVD, I earn a percentage of the sale! It hasn’t happened yet (ya’ll must be thrifty like me, and borrow from the Library or get it off PBS! LOL) but someday it will, and that will be cool.
If you go into your Blogger dashboard, and click on “Monetize”, you will see a tab for Amazon Associates that should walk you through the whole process.
5. Monetizing Your Blog. Have you done this yet? Monetizing means making money with your blog. Now, that may just seem mercenary to you, and it did to me a little, too, until I thought about it. Here I am, spending sometimes hours of my day working on this little piece of the internet that I call my own, trying to make it a pretty place for you all to visit – it would be nice to get paid a little for that time, wouldn’t it? (Not that your lovely comments aren’t payment enough, but a girl’s gotta pay for her PBS postage, right?☺). I gotta give my friend, Traci, credit for pointing this out to me. She told me that she monetized both her blogs last month, and, well, I won’t tell you how much she made, but it was enough for me to bite the bullet and install adds on my blog.
Now, I don’t like adds on blogs – it’s distracting, it’s annoying, and very, very, rarely are they of any interest to me. That’s why I just put one little box in my sidebar (there’s lots of choices where to install them), and made the text a lighter shade than my own posts. So it’s easy to ignore, but it’s still there. And I’ve made… let me see….$11.89 in two weeks! That’s nothing to scoff at! They’ll mail me a check monthly with my earnings. The cool thing about this method of monetizing, is that I don’t have to wait for someone to buy the item being advertised – I get paid per click. Yeah, so that’s why I now have adds on my blog. And if you think that’s cool, add them to your blog, and if you appreciate my little tips today, just click on my adds as you leave, as a little way to say ‘thanks!’ ☺
6. Picnic. Thanks to Serena for this tip – I loved her header so much, and she told me she made it with Picnic, which is the mostly free editing software over at Flicker.
Just upload your photo to Flicker, and hit the little “Edit Photo” tab above your photo. Picnic will open up and you can have a blast with all of their free editing tools, or upgrade to Picnic Premium, and get even more cool fonts and features. This is the photo my header started as – I added a vignette, played with the exposure, and added text and a border to make my header. Way cool.
OK – now it’s your turn – what handy little tools or links do you love that you can share with me and my readers?Ways to earn or save money or time, or add beauty to your online experience? Please share (even if you think everyone already knows about your link, ’cause they may not!)
Well girl, you certainly educated me on a lot of these things! I had never heard of most of them *blush*
The only tip I have… and I am sure that most of you have heard of this already, but I'll say it anyway… is that you can write your posts ahead of time and schedule them to go up whenever you want. Here's how: at the bottom of the box where you compose your posts is a little button that says “post options” (it's just above the orange “publish post” button.) When you click on it you will see a variety of options, one of which is “post date and time.” Just fill that in with the time and date that you want your post to go up, click on “publish post” and you're all set! Your post will show up as “scheduled” in your post roster.
I use this to help control my online time and keep myself on schedule. My children spend some time with their father on the weekends, so I use that time to write my posts for the entire week. They go up automatically and I can use my little snippets of online time during the weekdays to approve comments or go around and visit lovely folks like you♥
Like I said, I'm sure most of you already know about this, but I had to share something, right? 😉