Tuesday, January 31, 2012

How to View Your E-book for Free on Your Kindle

The first time you self publish your e-book on Amazon Kindle, you really need to see the actual book on your Kindle to make sure there are no formatting errors. The Kindle preview many times is not what your customer is actually going to see.

Yes you can buy your own e-book and make a commission on yourself, or you can just follow these steps and send your e-book file to your Kindle for free.

Go to your Amazon account and log in.

Go to "my devices"

Copy your Kindle device address which is usually your email address with @kindle.com

Send an email to that address with your e-book Kindle file attached.

Give it a couple minutes and then turn your Kindle on and hit "sync and check for new items"

There is your book!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Blog SEO - Is Anyone Reading Your Blog?

Okay Joesph from Kindleboards this one is for you! And all of my other friends with blogs.

The same SEO or search engine optimization techniques I have been writing about for websites and Etsy stores applies to blogs.

If you want people to read your blog you have to be found. This blog is fairly new in blog terms. (started Sept 2011) While I don't have a huge amount of followers it does get a large consistent amount of daily hits. Enough daily hits that companies are starting to offer me payment to put their ads on this blog. That is always a good sign.

Blog Domain Name:

Buy your blog domain name. Yes it is important! If you are here on blogger you can buy it very easily for 10.00. Or you can go purchase it somewhere else and put it in your settings. It is worth its weight in gold. Pick the domain name carefully and make sure it says what it is and try to include keywords.

I have noticed that people are starting to search for this blog by typing in "kays list" into Google. I will probably buy that .com and have it forward to here. Why pass up a good opportunity? Remember that works for websites too. Here is an older blog post of mine on how to buy domain names.

Blog Title SEO:

So many blog writers do not even use the blog title. You really need to use the blog title space. But to make it more effective stop and think about it. Use keywords that someone would use to find your blog post. Look at my title today. I put my biggest keywords first (Blog SEO) and then followed with some fun text to insert my sparkling personality. It is very similar to a newspaper article heading. Bad headings do not get read. Good headings capture attention and get read.

To look professional, you should use capitol letters in the first word just like a real article would do. Because after all that is what you are writing - an article. For my Etsy friends think of your blog title just like an Etsy product title.

Blog Post SEO:

In no way am I saying to lose your personality, but you need to get used to writing with keywords. I promise after you get used to writing with keywords it will become second nature to you and you will always write with keywords. Do not go overboard and keyword stuff.

Do not get lazy especially if you are a writer. Writing a blog still requires proper punctuation, grammar etc. I see a lot of text speak, horrible grammar etc in blog posts. This does not show you in your best light and search engines are not fans of that. Today's search engines (especially Google) are trying to find quality content.

Be descriptive in your posts. Say what things are! If you are selling something in a post it is not an "item." Say exactly what it is. It is an e-book on miniature horses, it is a jar of homemade strawberry jalapeno jam, it is an ASPC/AMHR pinto stallion. See all of those keywords? It doesn't matter if I am trying to sell an e-book, jam, or a pony. It has to be descriptive and include keywords to get the right readers.

I cannot tell you how many blogs I read where things are so vague. They say "my next project" instead of my next science fiction thriller e-book. My newest item on Etsy, instead of "here is my newest silk flower wreath for sale on my Etsy store!." See how easy it is to insert keywords?

Bullet Points:

Notice that I am using bullet points in this blog entry. I did that because I knew it would be a longer blog post. Search engines like bullet points on longer articles. Readers like them too because it breaks up the text and is easier to read.

Embedding Links:

You really should embed your links in text. This is what search engine robots like. They like it because the text describes the link.
So instead of saying visit www.baxterspaintedpasture.com, you should write visit my miniature horse website today!

Readers are savvy and know that the change of color means a link is "clickable" Is that a word? I see so many blogs with links that are what many refer to as "dead" or not live. They just put www.baxterspaintedpasture.com and assume the reader will copy and paste it. They won't. We are all lazy and do not want to have to copy and paste a link into our browsers. If you want people to click your link, embed it and make it live.

Prime Blog Real Estate:

In blog terms the right side is considered prime real estate. Yet everyday I see blogs with most of their information on the left. Left is awkward for most readers. Yes I realize there are left handed people, but the majority are right handed. An email I received the other day specifically asked for ad space on the right side of my blog. The right upper top spot is primo. Notice that is where my links to my other websites is located.

If you are putting an amazon widget on your blog to sell your book - put it on the right side of your blog. If you are putting an Etsy widget on your blog put it on the right.

At the end of the day remember that search engines are literal. You must be descriptive and say what things are specifically. Write with your reader in mind and what keywords they would use to find your blog/website/store.

Quickly skim back over this blog post and see how many text rich keywords I used.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Working for Leapsource/Lionbrand Update

I have been getting a lot of messages and emails asking me for more info on the Leapsource/Lionbrand work from home jobs.

I know a couple people that have been working there. In a nutshell they hate it. Like I said before it is very repetitive boring work. Also to make the higher money you have to have a work history and speed in order to take the better paying work.

Some have also said it is stressful as your online work desk tracks your speed and accuracy and tells you when you are too slow etc.

Shameless self promotion of my new glitter wine jelly. If you would like to order some see my facebook page Jam Anarchy Once you are on the page just click on "shop now" on the left.

Another problem some have is that the available work hours are sporadic and do not come close to 40 hours unless you can get that higher paying work. Most are getting about 10 hours per week.

And again it can take up to 60 days to get paid. You must first work 30 days, submit your work invoice and get it approved, then wait for a check to be mailed. Very archaic method of paying people.

I do not think this is worth the hassle of the prolonged testing, invoicing for your hours, waiting to get paid etc etc.

It could be a good match for people that are very detail oriented and have the patience to keep going until you can get the higher paying work.

Most of the people I know have lasted about 60 days and quit.

Are You in an Etsy Sales Slump?

I have been hearing lots of grumbling about a lack of sales on Etsy.

This is traditionally a very slow time for retail. Doesn't matter if it is online sales, box store sales or even real estate sales. Most people are in recovery mode from the holidays and getting ready to file their taxes.

There is always that spurt of sales the first and second week of Jan as people who got cash or gift cards for Christmas spend them. After that it will be pretty slow until after tax time.

Once people start getting their tax refunds watch out! That is when you will see a spike in sales again. I see it every year in everything I sell whether that be ponies, books, jam or crafts.

Use this slow time to get organized, plan your 2012 craft shows, order supplies, come up with new designs or books.

Honestly this time of year is usually a relief to me as I am filing my own taxes and catching my breath from Christmas and first and second week Jan sales.

I am finishing my next miniature horse e-book, planning crafts shows and farmers markets for my jam and just basically getting my life together before it all turns to chaos again. This includes updating all of my websites.

Finish up all those things you have been putting off because you were "too busy."

I even found a much cheaper supply for my jam labels yesterday during my down time. This nice little find will increase my jam profits by 10 cents per jar. Which is a huge deal over hundreds of jars of jam.

Also if you have an Etsy store this is the time to tweak your titles, tags and descriptions and get that SEO working for you.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Demand Studios Will Issue 1099's

Demand Studios did announce that they will be issuing 1099's instead of relying on Paypal to issue them. And they will be mailed to everyone.

That is a huge relief to me!

I really wonder how this will all shake out with Interact Media stating they will not issue theirs. I'm not sure they can do that but apparently they think they can.

The problem in my humble opinion with Paypal issuing 1099 K's is that there is going to be a lot of duplicate 1099's. Especially for the first year.

Friday, January 20, 2012

New Tax Law for People That Receive Paypal Payments

More fun tax news. Now Paypal is being required to send out form 1099 K for anyone receiving more than $20,000.00 or more than 200 transactions. Click here for the Paypal FAQ Page

I think this could get confusing!

I get almost all of my payments through Paypal. Payments for freelance writing, Etsy, Banner ads that I sell on the pony forum I own, Jam, E-books.

I am thinking I could be over the 200 transaction limit. Oh joy. Not.

I feel my headache getting worse.

Self Employment Taxes

Unfortunately it is that time of year again. Tax time! Ugh.

For the record I am not a CPA and I do not play one on the internet.

But I have been self employed for many years and did work closely with many CPA's in my past life as an office manager.

Whether you make crafts, do freelance writing or any type of work from home, you will most likely have to file taxes either as an indidvual or a business.

If you made over 600.00 from one company in freelance work, they will send you a 1099. You must file that with your taxes. The IRS has gotten really good at matching up social security numbers with W-2's and 1099's so the days of disregarding 1099's is over.

Now if you were making a lot of money and do not have many business deductions, you should be filing self employment taxes quarterly. But many people do not make enough to have to do that. If you expect to make less than 1000.00 (click for IRS link) after business dedcutions; you should probably just file yearly.

Most new business's will find they show a loss the first couple years. This in turn translates to a tax deduction if you paid in taxes on other income or have a spouse that paid in.

Remember start up costs are deductible from income. So if you had 2000.00 in sales, but had 6000.00 in start up and material costs, you have a loss of 4000.00

Now that is putting it in really simple terms and its not quite that simple. But you get the gist.

Common Tax Deductions:

Website fees
Commissions Paid
Shipping materials
Bank fees
Association fees (MC/Visa fees, checking account fees, Paypal fees)
Magazine subscriptions (that pertain to your work)

You can also use the home office deduction if you have a real home office.

The IRS has a lot of great info. Here is a good article on whether to file an IRS Schedule C or C-EZ

Just be glad you are not me. I have to file for my pony farm, my freelance writing income and my jam sales. My head hurts just thinking about it. But it is one of the parts of being able to work from home.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Are You Frustrated With Etsy? Take Control!

I see a lot of people frustrated with Etsy. They are frustrated by resellers, copyright violators, people that price too low, scammers, low sales, and on and on it goes.

Number one stop worrying about what other Etsy stores are doing!! Yeah it sucks and I hate resellers too. But at the end of the day you can only control YOUR Etsy store. You cannot control what Etsy or other shops do. But you can control your reaction to it.

Stop wasting energy on what other shops are doing or even what Etsy is or is not doing.

Take a good hard look at your store and spend your energy making it the best it can be. Take time to put in SEO. Take better pictures. Tweak your product descriptions, use the Google keyword tool and try some new tags.

It's not enough anymore to just make great items if you want to sell online. You have to educate yourself on marketing, web design, search engine optimization etc etc.

Take it one at a time and don't get overwhelmed.

Remember an Etsy store, blog or website is never DONE. Its just a work in progress.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Self Publishing on Amazon Got Easier!

The past couple days I have self published two more books on Amazon as Kindle books and one more on Barnes & Noble as a Nook book. I cannot believe how easy it is compared to last summer when I tried to upload my own e-books.

Now I will say these books have no images so that alone made it easier. If you have images it will be harder to correctly format.

But what I found this week is that just uploading my Microsoft Word file worked perfectly. The preview on Amazon looked great.

I am so happy they are making it easier to self publish books without all the crazy formatting.

For all my writing friends that are stressing about formatting, go upload your book on Amazon and check the preview. You may not need to do all the formatting. If it doesn't look correct just leave it in draft mode. No big deal.

My Esty Store SEO E-book is Finally Done!

Yeahhhhh!! I finally got my Etsy Store Seo Guide e-book finished. I had a lot of fun writing this. At the urging of many of the ladies on the Etsy forum I took the plunge and wrote it.

Includes all my best tips for having your Etsy items seen in Etsy search, Google, Google shopping and all the other search engines.

I made this so it was really easy to understand and implement. I know a lot of arts and crafts people have never had to deal with SEO or search engine optimization so this is the basic first steps you need to take.

Cost is $6.99. Once payment is made I will email you the book. Etsy Store SEO can be purchased off of my Etsy SEO store, Amazon as a kindle ebook or here via email. To paypal a payment use kay@baxterspaintedpasture.com

If any of my Etsy friends are here, the first couple people to email me will get a free copy, but in turn I would like a review.

Thanks to all the Etsy ladies for your encouragement and I wish everyone the best of sales in 2012.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Shameless Self Promotion Post - Free Kindle E-book

I put my kindle e-book "Buying Miniature Horses & Shetland Ponies" in Amazon Select. Today and tomorrow it is available for Free!

It will be interesting to see if this goes as well for a niche book as it has for my other writer friends. I will do a new post when the free period is over to let my writer friends that read this blog know how it went.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Information on Publishing Your Own E-book

Most of you know I have several e-books on my website, Amazon and now Barnes and Noble. Way fun!!! And thankfully mine are starting to sell really well now.

I am getting ready to publish my newest e-book titled "Etsy Store SEO." More on that later.

I get a lot of emails asking me how I got started and how to format for Kindle etc.

I am always researching and trying to find good information on self publishing. Like all things there's a lot of trash on the internet that you have to sort through to get the good stuff.

I find an awesome blog a couple days ago on writing and self-publishing your own e-books. This blog is a diamond mine full of excellent information.

Its also a great blog to read if you need some inspiration to keep going.


I feel sure you will thank me for that link. Be sure and go back and read his old posts on getting started with Kindle etc. Also read the comments. Lots of good info there from other writers.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Demand Studios Writer Sections Now Live

I guess this is just another Demand Studios joke. They finally went live with writer sections today. Supposedly you would see this:

Similar to the previous application page, your status will be “Approved,” “Eligible” or “Ineligible.” Your status on the new page will be based on your current permissions and application history. For new sections or sections you have not previously applied, you will see a live “Apply” link.

All I have is apply links and apparently that is what everyone else has. I thought for sure I would be put into the pets section given the hundreds of pet articles I wrote for both Demand Studios and Yahoo Associated Content. (with good scores and great comments by editors) But apparently that is not enough and I will have to apply to write for pets. What a joke.

I feel strongly this all for show for investors to make it look like there will be work again. NOT.

Instead of wasting time applying for a section, I think I will just write another pet e-book.

Update on My Self Published Kindle E-books

I am excited to say my Kindle e-books finally took off and started to sell. I have no idea why but who am I to question why? My breeding book especially sold very well in Dec and now Jan.

I think part of it is because Kindle put me in the "other customers also bought this book" Wow being in that is invaluable.

I am now thinking about putting one of my Kindle e-books in the Kindle Select Program. Not sure it will work for a niche book like mine but I may try it with the "Buying Miniature Horses & Shetland Ponies" book. That one has been the slowest of the three to sell. Which kinda surprises me. Not to toot my own horn, but that book could save a newbie thousands of dollars in mistakes. Most new horse owners do not understand what paperwork they are supposed to get when they buy a mini or a pony.

If anyone reading has experience with the Kindle Select Program I would love to read your comments!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Free Lance Content Farm Writing

Yes I know writers hate the name "content farm" but it is a good description. I was just on the Yahoo Voices Associated Content forum. Things are still looking grim. One look at my page views tells me this is not a viable way to make money anymore.

Yes you can still get upfronts but that is so short sighted.

I see many writers still trying to hang onto Demand Studios, Yahoo Voices, Cloud Crowd etc.

What we should all do instead is write for ourselves. Make your own website or blog and put your articles there. Most of us that have been freelance content writers for any length of time - know what gets views.

I am a firm believer that if you write what you are passionate about you will be successful. The beautiful thing of the death of content farms is that you can write what you love and control your own destiny.

Write that e-book you have been putting off, make that website, start a blog. Do something!

Stop depending on content farms.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

My Famous Hamburger Pizza Recipe

Well its Sunday and I am still recovering from the flu. So I will do an easy post on my famous homemade pizza recipe. Yes I am actually known in several states for my pizza LOL.

Looks good enough to eat right?

2 packages instant pizza dough
1 lb hamburger
Mozzarella cheese (the more the better) Get the medium shred as its melts the best
Garlic salt, salt & pepper
Pizza Sauce (I prefer Contadina original pizza sauce)

Make the dough in a bowl with 1 Cup of very hot water. Put some EVOO on top of the dough and flip it over to cover with oil. Cover with a towel and place on top of the stove that is preheating to 425 degrees. (the dough needs to be in a warm spot to rise)

Oil a pizza pan with EVOO. It needs to be a high quality pizza pan! Do not use a cookie sheet or they have that cookie sheet taste. Ewww.

Fry the hamburger (or italian sausage) with garlic salt, salt and pepper. Drain grease after cooking.

Spread the dough into the pan. I spray my hands with Pam so the dough doesnt stick to me. This recipe makes a thick crust so if you like thin, only use one package (or 1.5 packages) of dough. Make sure you form a lip on the crust edge to hold the sauce in.

Cover the dough in pizza sauce. Sprinkle hamburger over the entire crust. I always add some garlic salt or sea salt to the crust edge as my kids like that salt on the edge.

Cover generously in mozzarella cheese.

Place in center of over and cook about 11 mins.

Yes I know I make my pizza backwards (meat under the cheese) but thats why it tastes so good. You can also substitute pepperoni, canadian bacon etc. Or sometimes I do hamburger bacon.

If it is just for me and hubby I add onion, mushrooms and black olives. Just add anything you like but put it under the cheese.

But I will say there is something about a hamburger pizza that people go crazy for. I think because most of us ate it in our youth even though you rarely see it anymore.

Best of all - this makes a huge pizza for very little money. Taste great the next day too.

Happy Eating!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Buying Domain Names for Websites

The other day a friend sent me her new website with her new .com name. I cringed. It was a really bad .com.

The best .com names say what they are and include keywords. Before you buy a .com name really think about it.

Some of you know I am going to offer my SEO service for Etsy stores. So I just bought etsystoreseo.com (its not finished yet!) It says what it is and includes 3 keywords. Search engines like that a lot.

When I started my pony websites I bought americanshetlandpony.com and americanshetlandponyforum.com Why? Because they say exactly what they are an include my biggest keywords. These websites rose so quickly in Google that even my friends that know SEO were shocked. For about 6 months I ranked even higher than our registry website. But I fixed that by getting on the committee and helping rebuild our registry website. Now I am ranked one under them which suits me fine.

But that is the affect a good .com name can have.

Don't forget that you can always buy extra domain names and point them to your server. This is a clever way to get extra traffic especially if you accidentally bought a poor .com name. Or you could buy your business name and then buy extras that say what it is.

Making Money on Mylot.com

I always personally check out anything I post here, so I made an account there a couple days ago to see what it was all about.

The gist of it is that you get paid to start forum posts or add replies. They must be 3-4 sentences long to get paid. To test it I made 3 posts. I just got notified that I made .02 cents.

I had been told you got paid 75 cents per post but apparently that isn't true. But I do think you can make more if people rate your post or reply as "best" etc.

I did read quite a few posts that just don't even make sense. Probably people gaming the site to get paid.

I have too many projects going on to keep testing it, but some may find they can make some extra money there but I am pretty sure you would have to take the time to build up a following etc.

If you decide to try it please use my referral code :)


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Writing Good Etsy Product Descriptions

Whether you sell your arts and crafts on your own website or on Etsy or Artfire, really think about your product descriptions.

Since your customer cannot feel, smell or hold your item, your product description has to be, well.. descriptive. I think many artists are afraid to self promote; but if you don't promote yourself who will? Tell people why your products are outstanding. Why should they buy it?

Google recommends at least 500 words. I have not found it necessary to write to that length. One great paragraph can be better than 5 paragraphs of useless information.

You want to use keywords and keyword phrases, but they have to sound natural! Beware of trapping yourself. I see a lot of artists trap themselves into one specific holiday or event. Always think big picture. If you sell blank greeting cards do not use "Valentines greeting card" Instead say:

This heart shaped greeting card is blank on the inside so that you can write your own special message. My original design heart art greeting cards are perfect for Valentines day, Mothers day or just to send someone special to let them know you are thinking of them.Be sure and order some extra blank greeting cards to have on hand for unexpected occasions,such as thank you or get well cards.

All of my original art greeting cards are printed with archival ink on high quality number 12 water color paper and can be used as framed art.

Okay so I covered pretty much all the bases of a reason why someone would send a greeting card. But I made it sound natural. I also put in a ton of keywords and keyword phrases such as valentines day, mothers day, get well card, blank greeting card, greeting card, thank you card.

Not only did I tell them why they should buy my card, I told them why they should buy extra cards.

Then instead of just saying "printed on number 12 water color paper" I told them my card is printed with high quality ink and paper and gave them another use for a greeting card (framed art)

If I had a real card in front of me I would go into details about the artwork, the colors etc. But since this is an imaginary card I wont go there.

You can substitute just about any product into this description.

Happy Selling!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Kays Craft Predictions for 2012

I thought I would do a light hearted fun post to kick the new year off.

One thing I know is craft trends like fashion trends tend to cycle around. I really feel we will see a big push for southwest and Native American colors and crafts. I already see interest peaking again for turquoise and silver jewelry. Southwest patterns and really any geometric pattern I think will gain in popularity this year.

One of my horse friends sent me this beautiful dream catcher wind chime. Love it!!

I also see a big push back to handmade clothing. Crocheted items, knitted items, woven etc. I think the designers that can look outside the box and make items you normally do not see will be miles ahead. Think of lacey summer shirts hand crocheted etc. Crochet is not just for winter anymore!

I think colors are going to stay in the nature theme. As times get tough, people want simpler things and want to be surrounded by items that comfort them. Colors that make people relax and remind them of the outdoors I think will be popular. And those native american colors. Sage green, adobe, pale yellow all soothing colors.

I do think there will be a little shake up in the handmade jewelry market. Only because this market is so over saturated right now. I think the ones that got in just to make a quick buck will get back out this year. Which will be good for the ones that are in it to stay.

I remember years ago when I taught tole and decorative painting; it seemed like everyone was selling painted items for a couple years. The market was so over saturated it wasn't even funny. Which was good for me since I was teaching people how to do it. But after a couple years the ones that got in to make a fast buck got right back out.

I guess we will have to wait until Jan 2013 to see if I am right! If not it was still fun.

Bottom line is no matter what craft you do; you have to be passionate about it. Yes we all want to make money - but without the passion you won't be as successful.

Etsy SEO Who Knew?

I have had a blast talking with Etsy store owners and helping them with their SEO. Way too much fun! I really had no idea how many people struggle with SEO in their stores and websites until the last week.

Many people have said I should start selling SEO services and I think they are right. I truly just love helping people but it is getting to take up quite a bit of time.

I was just going to make some Etsy SEO listings so that people could purchase an SEO consult with me right on Etsy, but a sweet lady sent me an email warning me that this is against Etsy rules. Thank you for the heads up!

If you would like an Etsy SEO consult for your store just shoot me an email at kay@baxterspaintedpasture.com

I am also going to write an ebooklet guide on SEO. I guess its okay to sell those on Etsy just not private consults.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

What Does Google Say About Titles and Product Descriptions?

Okay I am about to pull my hair out. I just see so much bad information on forums.

Lets go straight to the source aka Google. What does Google say about product titles and descriptions?

All your product submissions should follow three principles:

Be honest and factual.
Describe your message clearly and accurately.
Include relevant and complete information about your products with attributes.

In addition, make sure you:

Use standard spelling and grammar.
Avoid any repeated and unnecessary use of punctuation, capitalization or symbols. Don't use exclamation points in your product titles. The use of symbols, numbers, and letters should adhere to the true meaning of the symbol.
Avoid gimmicky repetition. You may not post excessive, repetitive, or irrelevant keywords such as APPLE IPOD I-POD I POD 80GB.
Avoid offensive or inappropriate language.

That seems pretty clear to me. I keep seeing people advising others that unnecessary symbols are okay as long as you leave a space. Not true! Notice what is says about repetitive keywords. But how many people have titles that are keyword stuffed.

Also tons of people that have "free shipping" in their title. Thats a Google no no. Heck Google does not even want shipping info in the description (which I am quilty of)

For the full article click here

I do think this is why a lot of people have their products disappear from Google shopping. If you continue to violate their policies they will ban you.

Kay's Crochet Mystery Boxes/Bags Update

We have been getting a lot of questions on our Mystery boxes so here you go! First some have asked why we are now shipping in bags. USPS...