Tuesday, July 26, 2005

In a perfect world...

In a perfect world the perfect day would start out the same as the day before and be the same the next morning as well. With everything perfectly organized, prioritized and scheduled... time would be spent wisely and nothing would go undone.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Trip to the Falls

We got up this morning and decided to head to Fall Creek Falls to beat the heat. It's about a 40 minute drive from the house - and a beautiful drive at that! Once we got in the State Park, our first stop was the main falls. It's absolutely breathtaking from the top:

To give you an idea of how far down that really is, those little dots in the pool at the bottom... are people. The water is ice cold in the falls and pools throughout the park, so it's a great place to spend a hot July afternoon.

And a hot one it was! In fact, we skipped the hiking altogether because of the heat. Here's just one of the weather statements that was out over the weekend:

Weather officials have issued an excessive heat warning for most of Middle Tennessee from noon Sunday to Monday night with temperatures forecast to reach 97 degrees each day. It will feel like 103 degrees to 108 degrees, and night time won't provide any respite with the heat index falling only to around 80 degrees.

Albert and I met up with some friends down at the swimming hole. Not the same pool that you see in the picture above, but another little spot with a small waterfall and swinging bridge... and rocks you can jump from. We managed to get sunburned and freeze to death all at the same time, LOL! It was a great time, and definitely a good way to beat the heat ;)

Saturday, July 23, 2005

How do you spend your weekends?

Weekends are a good time to catch up on loose ends from the week before, and get things organized for the week ahead. I enjoy that a lot - it's refreshing, and I always look forward to my Saturdays!

Today I did a bit of shopping in town. Some new flower pots for cuttings that are ready to be planted, a few new outfits for the kids, things like that. I also managed to clear out my inbox and get all of my email folders reorganized - HUGE relief!

I love starting out a new week on Monday morning with everything organized, prioritized and ready to go :)

What about you? How do you usually spend your weekends?

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Do you use XSitePro?

I'm looking for XSitePro reviews...

If you're using (or have tried) XSitePro, I'd like to hear your comments. I currently have 2 glowing testimonials on this product, but dont (yet) have permission to reprint them.

I'd be happy to reprint any testimonials offered here, along with your keyword-rich link, if you just make sure to note in your post that I have permission to do so (and make sure to give me your link of choice).

A fellow SSWT reader is asking about XSitePro out of sincere curiosity - so if you are familiar with it, let's help him make his decision!

You can leave a comment here, or reply at this thread at my forum:

You are welcome to email me if you'd rather not post publicly...

I Have It Made

I've been doing a bit of thinking lately. Re-positioning perhaps. You see, I've spent the last 4+ years taking care of other people. It being the primary objective every single day - all else in life set aside, or taking second.

Five years ago I was a single mother with two happy, healthy children... an office uptown on the square and a thriving local business. I had a new car, a nice apartment (with a great little home office), a cell phone on my ear... and I was steadily moving up my own little ladder in life.

Later that year my son became sick. You can read the whole story on this page: Christmas Eve 2000 (grab a kleenex - seriously). That night was just the beginning of a major turning point in our lives.

As the months wore on, I ended up taking my son out of public school and leaving the city for a remote family cabin on the lake. I closed my shop uptown, of course, and began working strictly from home... so that I could be with the children full-time and begin homeschooling them both.

I worked to support us. My career wasnt full of exciting goals and great achievements as it was before. Instead, it was something I still enjoyed very much - but now also a means (our only means) to put food on the table and maintain our low-key lifestyle.

As difficult as the situation was at the time, I look back now and see it as "fate" - or the most positive turning point in our lives. My son did finally get well again, and eventually stopped taking all of the medications. During that two years we had some wonderful times together as a family... did some traveling... truly bonded.

That phase ended and another began. My Grandmother, who lived in the neighboring county, was 90 and needing care & assistance. The children were ready to go back to public school by that time, and so we moved into town with Grandmother where we stayed while I cared for her for the next 2 years.

All along I worked from my home office, and I enjoyed my chosen career... but my time and my focus was very limited. When the time came for me to get a place of my own again, and begin living my OWN life - well, at first it was quite the transition. Slowly but surely I began to put the pieces back into place, work on my long term goals once again... and get back to business.

I would imagine that most of this was not obvious to the outside world, certainly not my clients and business peers. Sure I burned a few bridges along the way - purely due to lack of time, focus or energy - but for the most part I continued to make my appearances around the 'net and worked consistently (at least) towards building on the foundation I already had.

And now here I sit. Free, and with what seems like an unlimited amount of options. My Grandmother has good care across town (she is with her son now). My children are getting older (almost 9 & 14) and becoming very independent. Life is just EASY all of a sudden.

You know, Albert and I were watching a show the other night about a couple who won $63 million in the Lottery. It turned out to be a very sad show (to me, anyway) in a lot of ways... and left me thinking some pretty heavy thoughts.

I'm not much of a player - of the lottery, that is. I dont even know that I'm all that interested in being anywhere near "ridiculously wealthy". I've never been much on the get rich quick concept... and fortunately, Albert is a pretty down to earth easy-to-please guy himself.

He's self-employed too, so we get to hang out quite a bit. We're pretty lucky that way. We can take off one morning and stay gone to a nearby theme park all day... or hook up for lunch anytime we please.

We play darts. I grow plants. We cook, bake pies... go out for sushi. I have it made. Life is relatively easy and just kind of "go with the flow". I'm having a great time with my work right now too, and really happy to be back at it full time.

I dont have any regrets about where I might've been in my career by now had I not spent the last 4-5 years focusing elsewhere. Not one. Ironically, they were some of the best years yet. And here I am, still with my whole life ahead of me...

And I have options. If my family needs me, I'm here. If anything should come up, I can tend to it. I may not be "filthy rich" - and I may not ever - but if life is always the way that it is now, I'd be a mighty happy woman.

Not to say that I wont make my millions yet, mind you. But the point I suppose is to say that I find the absolute best perk to "working from home" being the FREEDOM over the money - any day.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

High Paying Keywords

This is what got me totally distracted today. Yes, high-paying keywords. And actually, my interest goes back to a discussion of SwapClix.com on my discussion forum a few weeks ago. It got my curiosity up, and I considered buying just to check it out. It certainly seemed to good to be true!

Anyway, I was checking it out again today... So I did a search on "high paying keywords" at Google and came across some great threads on popular discussion forums. My favorite one (which I read all the way through the 15 pages!) was the one on DigitalPoint:


Another useful link:

Search Max Bids & Listings on Overture

Just sharing my finds so far for the day. Anyone out there using SwapClix (or a similar program/method)? I'd love to hear your thoughts & experiences!

Of course, you know me - I'm going to have to test this one out for myself! :)

Allan Gardyne's Beachfront Home

There is a great thread on Allan's AssociatePrograms.com forum this week, titled Allan lives by the beach... . If you check it out and follow the links, you'll see gorgeous photos. They are here, if you scroll down:


He says:

"I wasn't born in it. :)

It's just been a matter of deciding exactly what you want, setting simple goals, figuring out what knowledge you need to get there and where to find that knowledge, and then doing it, one tiny step after another. If you want it strongly enough, you can do it.

If you improve your business EVERY day, never go to bed without doing something to improve your business, success is inevitable."

Very inspiring!

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Junkin' with Val & Dave

Albert has turned me on to this great show called Junkin' with Val and Dave. They travel around the Southern states and hit flea markets and yard sales, checking out deals and buying anything and everything you can imagine.

They're pretty goofy, so the show is hilarious... and then you can get online and actually buy everything they picked up on their trips because they put all of those items on eBay. Check out some of their video clips <- here. This is a cool show and a great concept. If you get this on your cable line-up, you've got to check it out!

It's amazing what the items go for on eBay. You can find their auction listings here: The Junkin Auction . Anyone else watching Val & Dave on Turner South?

Netflix Deal

3 Million people cant be wrong!

Currently ranking #1 in customer satisfaction, Netflix seems like the movie deal of the century. Consider what it costs to take your family to the movies, or to rent DVD's from your local movie store! (and I'm the worlds worst about late fee's *sigh*)

Now that Netflix has the $9.99 deal available (not to mention the free trial)... I've got to get in on the fun, myself!

Try Netflix for Free!

My sister was in for the week and she really raves about Netflix. I even got to see what it's like "behind the scenes" as she was browsing through her account online while she was here. Very cool!

I honestly dont watch a lot of television, but for 10 bucks a month you just cant beat this deal. I'm sure between the three of us we'll keep those DVDs rolling in and out ;)

Monday, July 11, 2005

Visits with my grandmother

My grandmother is turning 93 at the end of this month. As most of you know, up until a few months ago I stayed with her full-time for a couple of years.

I just recently moved and began to get my own life back together, as she went to stay with her only son - my father. We had some wonderful times together, and many great conversations over good meals... though I have to admit that I was completely exhausted in the end.

I went to visit with her yesterday, and check in with my father to see how she'd been doing. Her condition is getting progressively worse... which isnt really a condition at all, just age I suppose. Still, it's very hard to see her this way.

She has lost weight and become inactive for the most part. Sleeping a lot and eating very little. I say that, but it's relative to her situation. The nurses say it's normal and that her vitals are fine. My father is keeping a bedside watch and tending to her day and night. And overall she seems to be comfortable and content.

I dont think I would even go if it didnt seem to please her so much. I have such good memories of my grandmother, and I'd love to just remember her that way. When I do go, there are two things that I focus on - eye contact and holding her hand. Everything else I just let fade into the background.

Her eyes are very vibrant and full of life, and the most beautiful color of pale blue. They reflect everything that I know and love about her. She is smart and she was very successful in business... and I admire her very much.

If there was ever anything at all negative in her life, I never knew it growing up. For me she was a wonderful grandmother - teaching me how to cook, pushing me to try more and to be more, and always asking me about my studies.

Now, as an adult, I realize life isnt really as "perfect" as she always made it seem (in my eyes). Still, it's hard to see her any other way. She is - and always was - a very strong woman. Maybe proud, but it showed (to me) as strength... and is evident in her firm grip even now.

So I hold her hand, and we talk about the farm and the family or sometimes dont say much at all. I know that she knows me, even if she cant put a name to my face on some days... but it shows in her eyes.

Neither one of us wants to see the other sad. We both smile, and we talk a bit... and I hold my tears until I leave. I cant help but wonder how she is feeling inside, or what is going through her mind... but I hope she's as content as she lets on. She deserves that.

Friday, July 08, 2005

WordPress & XML Site Maps

You've probably heard the 'buzz' about XML Google Sitemaps lately... well here's a nifty little (free) plugin for all of you WordPress users!

--> Google Sitemap Generator

Before you click on that link, though, check out this great video tutorial that Andre put together:

I've created a *free* video tutorial that shows you how to get Google's spider, GoogleBot, to visit your website in under 60 seconds. Seriously - no hype - no BS!

This method is infinitely more powerful than "Blog & Ping"... and you know what... you can install and configure it all for free!

I've tested this out on 7 of my blogs and in every case Google has visited my site within the first minute. This method of getting GoogleBot to visit your is perfectly "search engine ethical"... and in fact Google created it ;)

Click here to watch Andre's video!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Rosalind Gardner in Revenue Magazine

Issue 7 of Revenue Magazine arrived in the mail yesterday... and as usual, I've spent every spare second I could get my hands on to flip through it and check out all of the articles & advertisements.

You've probably already heard that Rosalind Gardner is now writing the "Affiliate's Corner" column for Revenue Mag - well, this was her first issue. She really put together a great article too, I have to say.

To give you a taste, here's how she closes on her article about Customer Service and how it relates to affiliate marketing:

"With ever-increasing numbers of affiliate competitors, branding yourself as a real and responsive webmaster will set your affiliate site high above the middling crowd"

It's nice to get a magazine that is SO in tune with what I am doing in my business every day. People I know, topics I'm interested in, even advertisements that make me want to bookmark a page! That sounds nuts, I know - but any Revenue reader will agree ;)

I kind of got a kick out of the "Pimp My Shopping Cart" feature on the front cover. LOL. But the cover story that caught my eye was Keeping Secrets: Successful Affiliates Don't Share... or Do They?

I'm off to check that out and call it a night. Remember, you can go to the website and check out the "editorial" section to browse recent issues... have a good one! ;)

Still at it...

I sat down to work on my affiliate site yesterday, with the intention of updating all of my product pages and working on an outline for a new template. I ended up getting a template done completely, and also setting up a mailing list for the site - and I'm still knee deep in updates and additions today!

Up until now, I didnt have a newsletter set up for this site. In fact, I wasnt sure if I wanted to set one up at all as this site's purpose is to generate passive income - - and I quite honestly want to do as little work on it as possible. The goal is to gain free traffic from search engine listings and send visitors directly to the merchant from my product listings.

That said, the site has been doing so well lately that I have decided to put a bit more energy into this one and really take it up a few notches. Still, I dont want to be committed to a weekly newsletter - or even a monthly mailing, as that ties me to my computer in order to keep it rolling.

What I decided instead was that I would use the HTML/RSS features at aWeber (my mailing list/autoresponder manager) to create a "Product Feed" that people could also subscribe to via Email (in addition to RSS or My Yahoo! subscriptions). Basically I will pre-populate the messages for 6 months to a year - like you would an autoresponder - and post date them to go out automatically. Those who are subscribed via email will receive them in their Inbox, and the same messages will post to the RSS Feed automatically at the same time. I can then pull that feed in using CaRP to display an archive on the site... so the "list" will serve multiple purposes.

I am also adding the "rel=nofollow" tag to my outgoing affiliate links throughout the site, double checking my cloaking on each page, adding Adsense back in via SSI and working on setting up the XML Site Map through Google.

It's quite a re-do for this particular site (which was very plain to begin with) but intially I didnt want to invest a lot of time and energy into it until I got an idea of how well it might do. It showing a lot of potential... so it's definitely time to work it up a bit!

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Product-Based Affiliate Site

On today's list is to work through one of my affiliate sites page by page. This site is completely product-based, no articles or content - just the goods. "Content" comes from the product descriptions on each page, and those images & descriptions link directly to that product on the merchants site.

Anyway, my goal today is to go through each of the pages (around 200) and update them if necessary. Some need product updates, some dont (as I did about half of this last month). I'm also considering a new navigation for the site - perhaps a whole new template - and though I may not get that done today, I'll at least make the decisions and put together some notes on it.

I'm questioning whether I want to leave Google Adsense on this site or not. I did finally get all of my commission logs put into a spreadsheet over the weekend, which gave me an opportunity to really look over the data from the last 7 months - which is when I launched the site.

To date, Adsense has accounted for approximately 23% of the total revenue from this site. My primary affiliate program accounts for around 61% of the revenue - with the remaining amount derived from 3 other programs I promote on the site (2 of which are promoted just as heavily as the primary program on the site).

The primary program converts very well, and while I dont want to drop the other programs (because they offer a lot of value to my visitors)... I am seriously questioning Adsense. On average, the CPM (cost per 1000 impressions) is relatively low - but the CTR can get as high as 6-7% (with 2.6% being the average click through rate). Basically, I dont like losing that traffic for that low an amount of revenue... when my primary program converts so well. At the same time, it's hard to say if those clickers were buyers in the first place.

The only thing to do next is to test & track ;)

The smart thing to do would be to remove all of the Adsense blocks from these pages, and then add in an SSI (server side includes) spot on my new template. I can then add Adsense, remove Adsense, replace Adsense with a seasonal promotion, etc - just by editing the one file.

That's the plan. So I'm off to update the product pages, analyze my stats & look over current rankings... and work on an outline for the new template.

Outside of that, I intend to finish going through all of my CD's & books today. Backup CDs, Music CDs, Software CDs - Geez! One of these days CDs will be obsolete (probably sooner than later!) and I am going to be stuck with a gazillion of them LOL. Definitely time to weed through ;)

Monday, July 04, 2005

Getting it DONE

This week the focus is on completing projects. Re-arranging my office and getting all of my paperwork organized made me realize just how many projects I have going at the moment. I took the opportunity to compare tasks against goals, and completely update my 'Brain Dump' - which is my master task list.

There are quite a few things that can be knocked out in a few minutes, or even a few hours, and my goal this week is to mark as many of those little tasks off of my list as possible.

I have to say, the last few weeks have been super-productive so I am feeling a huge sense of relief lately anyway. After the move a few months ago, I felt overwhelmed with everything - catching up on my work, getting settled into our new home, yada yada yada. So to finally come to a point where things are running smooth again is NICE.

Still, there is plenty to do and I am really itching to meet my goals for the year. I am launching several new sites, and putting some time in to promote them all. My plan is to have them completed by the end of the year so that they are all "maintenance only" by 2006. Done right, a couple of months of hard work can pay off for the rest of the year!

Of course, today I am taking some time off. I've got to go whip up a few dozen deviled eggs and get things ready for the fireworks & cookout tonight ;) Happy 4th to those of you that are celebrating!

Friday, July 01, 2005

Getting Organized

This weekend I'm re-organizing my home office... and moving it into another room. I've just simply grown out of the spot that I'm in, and I'm itching to totally rearrange my work space.

By the time I am done everything will be filed, organized and within reach! I've had so many great ideas lately that my desk was literally piling up with papers and post-it notes and task lists and... well, you wouldnt believe some of the other stuff I found under those :-}

I decided to use a portable file (plastic box with latch & handle that is about the size of a desk drawer for hanging folders) to store all of my' ideas' and current projects, which will make it easy to keep up with everything I have going on... and have it all at my fingertips (but OFF of my desk!).

While I'm at it I am running backups and also revising my 'Brain Dump' (goal) lists. This ought to keep me busy for the weekend, anyway ;) LOL

Have a great one!