blog boosters

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Organizing an online business with Bing

February 20, 2014

Every month as a business owner and blogger I learn new tips and shortcuts that make my work time a little easier. I usually want to keep my time on the computer at a minimum and with so many distractions wanting to pull and tug every time I open my laptop, I have to stick with a consistent plan of action:)

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I have set aside times in the day for email, blogging, social media, outreach, and brainstorming. You can get a good idea of what our day in the life looks like in this post.

When you are running two businesses it can easily take over your life if you aren’t careful. ESPECIALLY if you work from home. So it doesn’t take over my most important role in my family, I have to make the most of the little time I have and stay focused.


I have started to use a few tools that really help me stay organized across the board so today, I am going to share how Bing is one my greatest tools to stay organized:

BING – The newest member of my online resource family:) I started to hear a good deal about Bing Rewards through fellow entrepreneurs and bloggers so I thought I would give it a whirl. Easy to use, just as much results as google, and what I feel like is an intuitive search engine.  I really love how it is not loaded in ads and has a clean (and entertaining) interface. I use this on all our devices (computer, ipad, and iphone). There are options to view web results, image results, browse history, etc. which makes it a very convenient all in one resource for me!

ALSO, I found out about their Rewards Program and I decided it was time to make Bing my home page. We are now in a serious long term relationship;) The major bonus is that you can actually earn gift cards for using Bing. You rack up credits just by using Bing to search the web, and when you have enough rewards, you can redeem for gift cards to popular stores such as Amazon, Starbucks, Sephora, Groupon, etc. Yep, I kid you not. This was such an exciting thing to learn about and put into play! You can use the rewards program on your mobile now as well! It integrates really well with pinterest which is another reason to get on board, and leads me to my next point…

Pinterest – The easiest way for me to save future project ideas or note brands I want to work with. I have private folders for both The Brand Market and IHOD. I will save social media sharing ideas, brands and companies that I hope to work with, mood boards, color schemes, etc.  I am able to pin images straight from Bing to pinterest, which blew my mind! I was looking up places for our next local notes feature (hint below;)), and was able to pin straight from the search results!

image search

Evernote –  After I discover a website I want to come back to, I can actually write out notes onto the screen before taking a screenshot. You can install the small widget on your internet browser to pull up the options on the side whenever you are on a page. I will search via Bing, pull up results, mark up to remember what I specifically came to the site for, screenshot, and save to a folder. Its a lifesaver!


Of course I still use a good old notepad and paper calendar for keeping days straight and to-do lists in order! Although I sure wish Bing had been around when I first started blogging. I would have stacks of gift cards by now earned through search rewards! Ha! What about you? I would love to hear about the way you stay organized for your home and business!

x, Anna

All photos by Chelsey Heidorn Photography

I’m required to disclose a sponsored partnership between our site and Bing. I have been compensated in exchange for this post in the form of payment, product or experiences.


Blog Boosters: Resources to Note

September 27, 2012

Now that I have shared How to Grow Your Blog Naturally, Nailing your Niche, and the Business of Starting Sponsorships, I want to share some really helpful resources that will hopefully help you with organization, growth, and motivation:) In fact, they are so thorough, I feel like I can refer you to these sites, and hang my hat with the Blog boosters series:)

#1. Get yourself a copy of Blog, Inc. – I pre-ordered Joy Cho’s book on amazon, and when it arrived last week, I dove in immediately. To be honest, I was expecting it to be geared towards the beginner level of blogging. However, I devoured that book from front to back, and I soon realized it is both for the starter and the pro. I was taking notes the whole way through. She offers some very practical and helpful tips on everything from the start of naming your blog to making it a full time business. Blogging Etiquette, Social Networking, SEO, and What to Charge for Sponsorship are just some of the topics she tackles. In between chapters there are fantastic Q & A’s with successful bloggers that I really enjoyed. Very honest, helpful, and inspiring perspective on their blog journey. It is a very easy read, and will help you in all areas of the blog realm.

#2. Be in the Know – Blog Series You Should Be Reading: I have come across some very helpful series on blog and business tips that you should definately be reading…

Design*Sponge has a Biz Ladies column that treads over every topic in the blog and entrepreneur world. The posts are loaded with helpful information. Recent topics include Quarterly Taxes Explained, Six Month’s Worth of Blog content in Two Steps, and Connecting with your Brand.

Bri Emery and Katie Evans have an advice column that I soak up each week. Its so helpful to me as a graphic designer and blogger. Its worth going through the archives:)

Alt Summit Blog- You know Alt Summit through the conference they host yearly for bloggers, but did you know they have a resource blog? Weekly tips and information to answer all your questions from some of the blogging greats! They also now offer online classes that can give lessons and demonstrations to grow in a targeted area.

VMacandCheese has a Blog Tip of the Day series that is helpful and to the point. Media kit, social media, and boosting traffic are all topics she has covered so far. Love each one!

Any other series I should be aware of? Let me know!

#3 Stay Organized: The not so fun part of every business is bookkeeping and scheduling, but these are a few ways to make it not so boring and scary, and dare I say enjoyable?

Freezer meals Blogging in Stacks – I recently started doing a lot of my cooking on Sunday – making 3-4 meals at a time to save time during the week during that crazy dinner hour. It can be the same with blogging. Try and prepare a weeks worth of posts in one weekend so that you have a clearer vision of what you want to share and post, and gives you time to focus on other areas of your business during the week. This has helped me so much with prioritizing my time with my family as well as saving me the frazzled stress that comes with flying by the seat of your pants. You can still leave room for spontaneity and make changes before you post. This may not work for everyone, but its worth a try if you need help in time management.

Freshbooks – This is a program that I plan on starting with the new year. It offers an easy invoice and receipt tracking system that keeps everything in one place. For instance, you can download the app on your phone and enter the amount of gas you spent on a business related trip right in the moment. This was made for my type of personality and schedule. When you are on the go, have a busy creative mind, and little ones to love on, being committed to book keeping ends up getting pushed back till tax time. You can try Freshbooks  30 days for free.

Evernote – This is a fantastic program you can use both online and on your phone. An organization tool with multiple ways to take notes, add photos, clip web addresses, draw sketches, etc. Every time you login, it will sync your devices. There is a helpful web bar button to quickly save and document things you come across on the web. I use this program for design inspiration, font finds, image sources, blog post ideas, etc., etc., etc. Its a private way of staying organized vs. public pinterest boards. Check out Evernote here. Its free and easy to use:)

Hope you have found this series helpful! Follow these sites to continue growing your blog naturally, and making it the business you hope it can be:)
Love, Anna

P.S. As promised, will share a new DIY tomorrow!


Blog Boosters: The Business of Starting Sponsorship

August 30, 2012

The most asked questions I receive from bloggers are when to start sponsorships, how to go about it, and how to successfully maintain them. I am going to answer those questions today in hopes that it will provide some direction for you.

When is a good time to start sponsorships on your blog?
I love blogging and the creative outlet it has been for me. If I didn’t love it, I wouldn’t be doing it. I would most likely be taking on more freelance projects or forms of work that actually pay per hour. That being said, if it wasn’t for sponsorships, I would not be able to run this blog. I get to continue devoting time to it because thankfully there is compensation for the time put into it.

How did I go about starting? 
I knew early on that if I wanted to continue blogging well, I would need to start sponsorships. I focused on building a strong foundation of content and growing the blog naturally. When I felt I had something to offer sponsors, I started accepting advertisements with a simple blog post announcement. I knew I had waited the right amount of time (1200+ GFC readers and subscribers, active engagement, brand identity, and consistent theme content) because I had an immediate reaction of sign ups. I also swapped a few ads with other bloggers with similar readership numbers to demonstrate how the ads are displayed. This is a great way to start!

How many readers do I need to start sponsorships?
I noticed some bloggers started sponsorships with fewer than 500 readers, and others waited till they hit 2000. Well folks, its not about visual numbers. Put yourself in the shoes of an advertiser. If I were looking to advertise on your blog, I would want to know how many readers visit your page daily, how your readers respond to your content, and how active and engaged your facebook page, pinterest, or twitter accounts are (aka: how engaged are people to your brand), and how visual and clean the ads are displayed on your blog. These are elements that let me know you and the brand of your blog are trusted by readers and that they are more likely to trust and engage in your advertisers. Make sense? Let me know if I lost you yet. Ultimately, even if you have 5000 gfc followers but your blog ads aren’t user friendly and your readers aren’t engaged, I would rather advertise with the blogger with less readers who meets the above requirements. When in doubt, wait a little longer. 

(The Daybook has a fantastic example of visually attractive and user friendly ad space)

How much should I charge?
Oh the infamous question….and the toughest to determine.
Its much better to start strong and charge accurately than to sell your ad spaces cheap to fill the space quick. If you are selling ad space for $5 – $10 a month, you are undervaluing your time and undervaluing your blog to the sponsor. I am guilty of this. I started the first month with $10 ads per month. The time that goes into blogging is way underestimated. Curating or creating a post can take way more time than meets the eye. If someone told me there ads were a $5 special this month, even though it is cheap, it tells me how they value their own space. I read some valuable advice recently from an IFB speaker that if three people in a row accept your prices than you are under-charging. It should feel like a little bit of a stretch for you, but your time and creativity are worth it. Like I mentioned previously, you can start testing your ad spaces by swapping with another blogger. It shows you are now offering advertising and how they would be displayed.

What information do I give potential sponsors?
Don’t let the words media kit intimidate you. When I was first told I needed to create one for sponsors and potential work collaborations, it sounded daunting. I hope this can break it down and make it easier for you. It is much more effective to have a media kit ready to send potential sponsors, rather than simply sending your rates and stats in an email. A media kit should reflect your brand and what your blog is about, as well as point out the benefits of working with you. A media kit for a blog can be as many pages as you want it to be. I am currently designing a media kit for a client that is one page with all info needed. My own media kit is three pages. I am going to be completely vulnerable here and share with you part of my own media kit. Why? Because I wish someone would have done this for me. There are so many great posts out there with how to build one, but I learn visually. I update my media kit on a monthly basis, and display the stats page on my sponsor page in the tab bar above. I am okay with sharing my rates simply because the prices and stats are going to be updated soon. The great thing is, you are your own boss so get creative with what you can offer your sponsors!
Don’t be afraid to ask similar bloggers in your field for their media kits or what their rates are. They can say no, or they may be happy to help with info!

1) Logo or blog header at the top. Blog and brand identity is key.
2) Attractive colors or imagery are also a plus. Depending on what blog you are. The images should reflect the content of what you blog about.
3) Statistics– like I mentioned in this blog boosters post, there are several ways of obtaining accurate and relevant statistic information for to deliver to potential sponsors. I would trust platforms that specialize in analytics over blogger stats.
4) Demographics – there are ways to measure demographics through analytics and facebook. You can also conduct a survey of readers so that your potential advertiser knows your target audience.
5) Testimonials – It doesn’t hurt to throw in a few good quotes from past sponsors or collaborators (I need to do this) since it always helps to hear from someone’s experience and gain you credibility.

These are the main points to include, but you can also add additional background information or work history if you feel it will benefit. I highy reccomend you read Bri Emery’s post on brand and media kits here. She offered this fantastic example of how congruent your pieces should look and feel. Design*Sponge also has a fantastic media kit How-To post.

Do you approach sponsors or do they approach you?
So far, I have been blessed to have a steady flow of inquiries and sign ups. However, if I come across a business that I particularly am smitten by and dream of working with, I will approach them. It doesn’t hurt to send an email proposing why you want to work with them, and how you are a good fit for a collaboration. I would go outside your comfort zone at least once a month. Set a practical goal such as two emails per month. However, you should keep track of who you contact!

That is all for now friends. PLEASE leave any questions you have in the comments section so I can email you directly or update the post!
love, Anna

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