WordPress Spring Cleaning

Spring is here, even though the freshly fallen snow outside my window isn’t really convincing me of that. The changing of the seasons is a great reminder that everything needs a fresh look and new perspective. One of things that you should take a close look at is your WordPress website.

WordPress is constantly being updated for both increased functionality and to close any security breaches. With each new update plugins and themes are also updated to work with the new version of WordPress. It can be a lot to keep up with. It is never fun to login into the admin of your site though and see this:

Wordpress Updates Needed

It is really important to update to a version of WordPress that is 3.7 or later. This update enabled auto updates for minor and security updates. Definitely nice to not have to worry about things. If WordPress is in need of an update, backup your site first and then click update now.

While in the Dashboard it is also a great idea to update any of the plugins or themes that you are using. When you update WordPress, they may not work with the new version perfectly. A good plugin developer will keep their plugins up to date.

I also like to do a mini site audit while this is all going on. Here are some of the questions that I ask myself. Is there something about the site that I don’t like? Is it time to update the theme? Move some things around? Are there any new plugins out there that may increase the functionality of my site? What is working really well? What are some of the most popular pages and posts? Can I build on those things?

Take a look at your site with a critical eye. Is the navigation easy to understand and follow? Will people know within a few minutes of visiting what your website it about? Look at the footer and make sure there are not any weird links. This can be common in free themes and you really don’t want to have a link to something you don’t approve of on every page of your site.

Do you have an about page, a privacy policy, and a disclosure page? Is there an easy way for your readers and visitors to contact you? Do any of these pages need an update? Read up on how to build a great contact page and about page for ideas and then implement them.

Are you collecting email addresses and building a list? This is so important. Out of every channel available to you, this is the one thing that you can own and control. Definitely pick an email provides such as Aweber, MailChimp, or Constant Contact. Create an opt-in offer to give your readers an incentive to sign up.

Doing some spring cleaning on your website is definitely not an easy task and it will take a bit of time, but it will be highly worth it. You will increase the number of visits to your website, as well as engagement.

Share some of the things that you like to do on a semi-regular basis to keep your website up to date in the comments below. I would love to hear from you!

 

Work at Home Scam Letter

Work At Home Scam LetterLast week I received a letter in the mail addressed to me at my home address with a nondescript return address in New Jersey. Curious I opened it up and found a generic letter letting me know about a wonderful work at home opportunity assembling booklets at home. My first thought was “really, this kind of stuff is still around?” I’m really hopeful that very few people fall for it.

Here is a scan of the letter (I’ve removed any kind of contact information as I don’t want to give them a free advertisement).

Work at Home Scam Letter

I find it sad that these kind of scams still exist. If you are looking for a way to work at home legitimately the first rule is to never, ever pay someone to do so. This scam will most likely have you stuffing the same envelope and letter that I received and mailing it out to other people at your own expense. The return slip had a unique code written on it, that makes me think this.

So what is a legitimate work at home opportunity? I personally am a big fan of Affiliate Marketing, but there are a number of ways that you can make money while working at home.

  • Find something that you are passionate about and blog about it. You can then recommend products and services to your readers with affiliate links and sponsored posts. You can also sell advertising space on your blog as well.
  • Pick up jobs as a contractor on Elance, Odesk, or Fiverr. Everyone has a unique skill or something that they are good at. Translate that into a paying job. Are you a writer, programmer, graphic artist, good with videos? There is someone out there that needs you.
  • Look at online job boards. Be careful out there as there are always scams listed (remember paying for the job is a red flag), but there are many legitimate opportunities as well. FlexJobs, WAHM, and Simply Hired are some of the places to start looking.
  • Ask around. Network with your friends on Facebook and create a Linkedin account. You never know which of your friends will either have some work for you or know of someone that is hiring.

There are a number of other ways as well, the world has endless opportunities. I would love to know of other legitimate opportunities and ideas. Have one? Please share it in the comments.

Transitioning to Working At Home Panel Resources from ASW14

In January I had the opportunity to share my knowledge and expertise on working from home on a panel at Affiliate Summit West 2014. Karen Garcia of GTO Management, Deborah Carney of Team Loxly, and Scott Jangro of Shareist, were my fellow panelists. Together we have, well many years of experience.

Deb Carney, Karen Garcia, Shannon WeidemannImage Courtesy Affiliate Summit

Slides from our panel

Scott Jangro, Deb Carney, and Karen Garcia
Image Courtesy Affiliate Summit

Here are some of the things that we shared:

  • Working from home can be difficult if you are not accountable to someone else. Make sure that you have goals that can keep your motivated. Many of us have dream or goal boards. Use a cork board, pin a picture to your computer monitor, or create a Pinterest dream board.
  • Sometimes you have to get out of the house. Find a good place to work out of the home and go there from time to time. It can be difficult to work in isolation for long periods of time. Coffee shops, libraries, and co-working spaces are all places to try.
  • A to do list system that works for you is key. Pen and paper, an app, or something else. Try them out and see what works. This To-Do Productivity Lifehack that Karen uses is a great one. A to done list is also very helpful to keep a record of what you actually accomplished (or didn’t) in a day.
  • Get some help. It is a big myth that someone can work from home and do it all, especially if you are a parent. Get a housekeeper, hire a mother’s helper or a babysitter, find a great daycare situation, swap childcare with another parent nearby.
  • Work together with your partner. Just because you are one at home, doesn’t necessarily mean you should be the one to to the burden of housework, childcare, household management. The Cozi app is a great calendar, shopping list, to do list and more that you can share with multiple members of your family.
  • Become part of Mastermind Group. Either form your own or find one to join. Having the support and accountability to others is super important. Eric Nagel, Tricia Meyer, and Todd Farmer explained how their successful group works in this Affiliate Summit video from 2012.
  • Balance is super important. There is such thing as working too much. Make sure that you set office hours and keep to them. Take time to do things important to you. Find a hobby, exercise, spend time with friends.
  • Learn how to say no. People may assume that you because you work from home you are free to get coffee, go shopping, run errands for them. While it is great to do these things from time to time, it can keep you from your work.
  • Collaboration tools can be very helpful when you are working with others. Basecamp, Trello, and Shareist are all great options.

We shared a lot of information and I am sure that I have missed some. Here is your chance, what are your questions about working from home? Ask me in the comments below, I would love to help you out!

 

Affiliate Summit West 2014 Recap

Two weeks ago was Affiliate Summit West 2014 in Las Vegas. I’m a bit behind in getting my recap written due to coming home with some conference crud and dealing with the extreme changes in temperature. Las Vegas to Polar Vortex anyone? I’m from Detroit though and I am allowed to complain though.

I arrived on Saturday, pretty early, so I was able to sneak in a few hours of sightseeing. My first stop was heading over to the Bellagio to see how their Conservatory and Botanical Gardens were decorated. Right now it is celebrating the Chinese New Year. It was so nice to step into all the color, flowers and greenery.

Bellagio Botanical Gardens

While walking around I also went through part of their convention center. There was some kind of “own your own business” type company having a leadership conference. I remember years ago researching this company for a friend and not liking what I saw. It certainly had a different vibe than any Affiliate Summit I’ve ever been to. Lots more suits for one thing.

Saturday wrapped up with picking up my badge at early check in, attending a reception for speakers, and then grabbing a late dinner.

ASW14 Badge

Affiliate Summit West was held at the Paris Hotel and Casino for the first time. I have walked through there before and of course the epic Shareasale party has been held at the Chateau nightclub for many years now. It was nice because it was just a short walk to the Convention Center from the hotel elevators. Plus the convention center was all on one floor. It did however cause a lot of people gathering and congestion in certain areas. It will be interesting to see if it is held there again.

I went to many great sessions, including the keynote by Steve Denton, Vice President of Marketing Solutions at eBay Enterprise. It was filled with some really interesting statistics and figures about the affiliate marketing industry, including who is driving traffic and closing sales. You can watch it here:

This was also my second time speaking at Affiliate Summit and I think we presented a great panel on working from home with Karen Garcia, Deb Carney, and Scott Jangro. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to speak at a future Affiliate Summit.

Speaking of which, the next one is already open for registration and it is Affiliate Summit East 2014 and it is going back to New York City August 10-12, 2014. Right now is the absolute best time to register because you can save hundreds of dollars with the early bird prices. I highly recommend the VIP pass as it gets you into all the sessions, the Exhibit Hall, Meet Market, and meals. You don’t want to miss the meals, they are definitely where some great networking (and fun) can happen.

It was definitely another great show put on by Affiliate Summit. I came home with new knowledge, new connections, strengthened old ones, and am moving my business forward in new directions. I’m already looking forward to New York!

Register Today for Affiliate Summit

7 Tips for a Great Affiliate Summit West 2014

Affiliate Summit West is just over a week away and I am busy making my to do list and preparing to make the most of the conference. It can be an overwhelming three days, so it is best to prepare now. There will be thousands of people in attendance and many different sessions, merchants, affiliates, and managers to meet with.

Here are my 7 tips:

  1. There are germs everywhere! January is high flu season and people will be coming from all over the world to attend. I’ve already started my pre-conference regimen of Emergen-C, Elderberry Syrup, and Oil of Oregano. I will continue to take these once I arrive and also carry around a bottle of hand sanitizer. I like a spray as you can also use it on the airplane tray table, door knobs, etc.
  2. Bring lots of business cards. You are going to meet a lot of people and this still is the best way to exchange contact information. I love the mini cards from Moo as it is a memorable shape and they have lots of ways to customize them.
  3. Familiarize yourself with the area. Paris is a new location, so we will all be on a bit of equal footing for this Affiliate Summit. The Las Vegas hotels are spread out, flashy, and not always easy to navigate. I like to figure out what type of restaurants are at Paris, where the nearest Walgreens is (for bottled water and snacks), and if there is a Starbucks within walking distance.
  4. Make appointments now. Find out if any of the merchants you represent (or want to) are going to be there ahead of time and get in touch before the conference.
  5. Don’t be afraid to talk to new people. I’m a huge introvert, so this is a tough one for me. I have learned how to let my outgoing self out though and it has been very helpful in making long lasting connections.
  6. Download the Affiliate Summit App. There is one for Android and one for iPhone. It will have session information, the agenda, a map, a twitter feed, and more. I found it very helpful in Philly for Affiliate Summit East. That way you can pick out the sessions you want to attend now, add them to your calendar and get reminders at ASW.
  7. Comfortable shoes! I know I say this everytime, but I see so many people in ridiculous (well to me, I’m a birkis kind of girl) shoes. There is so much walking and comfort comes first for me.

Bonus tips!

  • Tricia Meyer says “My new tip is to try to clear your inbox as much as possible before you do so that you do not feel like you are already behind in work by the time you get there.”
  • Ashley Coombe says “Bring a big bag instead of just a carry on if you’re planning on getting schwag. I didn’t think of that my first time there.”
  • Eric Nagel wrote a blog post on the best non-conference advice.

What are your favorite tips? Share them in the comments below.