Independent Bookstore Day 2017

I love this time of year, there are three very special Saturdays three weekends in a row.  Last week there was Record Store Day(and Earth Day!), tomorrow is Independent Bookstore Day, and next Saturday is Free Comic Book Day.  I’ll be making my rounds at one of our local Avid Bookshops tomorrow.  Independent bookstores are wonderful because they house so much literary culture and are such a special experience to peruse.  I love our bookstore because they are an active part of the community, house secret signed copies of books, and they have handwritten notes under some books with their personal reviews.  In honor of this day, I wanted to share some books I recommend, as well as some I’ve been itching to read as of late.

This post isn’t sponsored or affiliated with any company, but I want to encourage you to support an independent bookstore tomorrow, whether in person or through a purchase online.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? -Maria Semple


This was the book I found last year on this day.  On trips before I had noticed it, read the message of recommendation but decided it was out of my reading comfort zone.  For that reason, this time I decided to get it and I’m glad I did.  I took it along on my vacation, a cruise, not even realizing I was bringing along a book about a family that wins a vacation on a cruise to Antarctica.  The book is organized into letters, emails, and memories along with those told from the viewpoint of 15 year old Bee.  It’s in seven parts, each dedicated to telling a part of the story of the disappearance of Bee’s mother, Bernadette.  Bernadette is a different mother than those around her, and she clashes with the die hard school affiliated, structured, event organizing mom’s that operate around her.  Her past has something to do with this, and Bee hunts for any evidence to tie what happened to her in the past to what is happening to her in the present in order to find out why she disappeared the day they were supposed to leave for their much awaited and anticipated cruise.  Throughout a series of events, they find out Bernadette isn’t so different from the other mom’s after all.

The Art of Asking -Amanda Palmer


I find inspiration in other people and seeing how they accomplish their goals.  I didn’t know much about Amanda Palmer, except that she was married to Neil Gaiman and makes music, before I read this book.  I hadn’t even seen her Ted Talk which has a lot to do with the premise of her book.  She was just an intriguing person to me and my partner, Ty, had just finished reading her book and recommended I read it.  I found so much in reading her book, especially as someone who has so much trouble with asking for help.  Amanda is truly a free spirit and a gifted writer.  Her experiences have been catered by asking, dreaming, loving, hurting, and never giving up.  She has shaped a life unlike any other I’ve known and is someone I very much support and admire.

 

Ready Player One -Ernest Cline
This book is quite dear to me, it helped me to rediscover a love of reading I had forgotten.  Thank you uncles for recommending and letting me borrow.  If you have a sentimental spot for the pop culture of the eighties or love a great book about adventure and alternate realities, this is the perfect book for you.  I love the world Ernest Cline creates in Ready Player One, a virtual reality induced way of existence.  Ready Player One is the story of  Wade Watts, a boy who is not at all noteworthy, until the day when his name shows up on the top score list of a worldwide contest for the complete estate of the person who gave everyone the virtual world they exist in.  His world is turned upside down, as he now has to fight for his life and the world’s fate as he tries to win the contest.  This was one of those books I was so sad about finishing, because it was such a great read.  In March 2018 the movie comes out and I can not wait to see it.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns) –Mindy Kaling


A lover of The Mindy Project, I wanted to know more about Mindy Kaling.  Her book is so funny, I had to read aloud some parts to Ty.  It’s an easy read, and inspired me to watch the office, which she helps write, and is fantastic (just get through the first season).  Her humor and wit are similar to that you’d find on the Mindy Project, as her character is based on herself.  It was nice to figure out how she became who she is and this is a very entertaining and light read.

 

My Reading Wish List:

1. Make It Up -Marie Rayma
A week or two ago I stumbled upon an A Beautiful Mess article suggesting this book.  I’ve been wanting to make my own makeup for a while, I’ve been leading up to it by making my own body care items and collecting ingredients.  I’d love to have this book just to have a physical guide on how to make my own products, plus it seems Marie Rayma has already gone through the experimenting process.
2. The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo -Amy Schumer
I love what Amy Schumer does in the world of comedy and her movie Train Wreck is so great.  I’ve been wanting to read this book since before it came out, and still am very much interested in reading it still.
3. Silent Spring –Rachel Carson
Next month I’m taking an Environmental Studies maymester and I’ve decided to spend the month learning more about humanity’s impact on the environment as it’s something that interests me.  I’ve always wanted to read Silent Spring, so I thought it would be perfect timing and not a bad idea to have a book for reference.
4. Today Will Be Different -Maria Semple
I liked Where’d You Go Bernadette, and I want to read another piece of work Maria Semple has created.

Reading is something I’ve always enjoyed doing and benefit from every time I do.  I may not end up picking up any of these tomorrow, but I’ll get to them, besides the fun of going to Independent Bookstores is picking up something you didn’t expect to.

Be my Goodreads friend! I’m on there as Madison Kourajian.
Follow me on Instagram to see what I pick up tomorrow : )
What Independent Bookstore do you love?
Any environmental books you have to recommend for me?
Comment below!

Madison

March 2017 Income Report

Why am I sharing this information?
When I was thinking about starting to blog, I got inspired by reading other’s income reports.  An avid reader of blogs, I was curious about how people could make enough money to support themselves while they did this cool thing.  I was particularly inspired by those who shared from the very beginning so you could see they too had months at the beginning where they made next to nothing.  It takes time to see real profit, and that can be discouraging.  Most reports I see are published by full time bloggers,  and I decided I wanted to share my income reports so others can see what it looks like to make money blogging part time from the very beginning.  

Why do I blog part time?
I am a student with a retail job and I run an Etsy shop.  I love to spend time with my family and friends, travel, volunteer, move, craft, garden and engage in other hobbies.  I like blogging, and I don’t want to get burnt out on it.  Also, I want to make sure I always publish quality posts, which for the first month each post has taken 4-10 hours before I hit publish.  I like to make sure I have enough time to promote, update my posts, and take financial initiatives.  I’m always trying to limit the amount of stress in my life, so blogging part time is the most suitable option for me.

All things must begin.  In my first month of blogging I made $0.00.
Keep reading and I’ll share my secrets ; )

Income Sources:
Affiliate Programs
Amazon: $0.00

Bluehost: $0.00

Starting out, these two are great.  The application process was very easy for both.  Amazon is easy to use, I just attach a link to their site with my username embedded to any item I discuss in my post.  If anybody clicks through from my post and makes a purchase, it doesn’t have to be the item I talked about, I get a percentage of income as soon as the item is shipped.  The more items that are purchased through my link, the higher percentage I receive.  When I’ve accumulated $100,  I can receive payment.  With Bluehost, you receive $65 per referral, which means if someone purchases hosting and doesn’t cancel it during the first month you receive payment.  For this reason, you get paid three months after the initial purchase.  This is just another reason why it takes time to make money blogging.

 

 

Strategizing and Goals:

Yearly Goal: break even

Monthly Goals

Writing
This first month I wasn’t focusing too much on the financial aspects of my blog, I spent my time working on my writing.  All in all I missed one week, due to unforeseen circumstances.  This is why I want to create a backlog of posts.  I want to get to the point where all my blog posts for the next month have a framework and photographs by the time my posting day comes around.  I want to do anything that makes me less frantic when it gets closer to posting day.

1. Have a backlog of three posts
2. Post by 3 PM
3. Photograph all posts in one day

 


Social
I use Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook to promote my blog, as well as staying on top of my SEO game.  My main goal is to have real followers/friends, for this reason I’m not aiming for a specific amount of followers.  The people I admire most on social media aren’t in it for the number of followers they have.  I recently watched a live interview with Summer Tannhauser where she gave out some of her Pinterest tips during The Passive Income Summit hosted by Caressa Lenae, and I’m going to incorporate them into my posts on that platform. 

1. Increase followers on all 3 platforms
2. Optimize Pinterest posts

 

 

Financial
My main focus is on my writing, but I always want to be taking steps to progress the financial status of my blog.  As I learn more information about the world of blogging I want to continually update my Bluehost post to be more helpful.  Regularly updating posts improve SEO as well, Google likes sites that do this.  Before I approach higher paying opportunities with companies or affiliate networks I want to have a more established site with more traffic to offer these organizations.  For now, I’m going to be using networks that will work with just about anyone.  I recently got approved by Google Ads, and I’m going to be incorporating a couple of them into my site.  I don’t know how I feel about them, but I want to test it out.

1. Update Bluehost post
2. Place Google Ads

 

 

One Day : )

Some of my favorite reports:
1. The Extra Income Project
2. Just a Girl and Her Blog
3. Boho Berry

Cash Flow Diaries fantastic list of reports

Any other new bloggers in the house? Any income report recommendations? Any tips for this new blogger?

☮ Madison

Spring Style Wish List – Under $30!

I have no idea what is in style.  I am not a fashion expert (even though I’m well read* on the subject), nor do I claim to be, but it’s so much fun to put together outfits.  My closet is mostly made up of thrifted, gifted, and handed down clothing and I love it.  I am a very picky shopper and I like to collect special pieces that I can wear in a variety of ways.  One day I would like to learn how to make my own clothes, and revamp clothing like Coolirpa does, but for now you’ll find me headed straight for the clearance section.

*If you decide to get this hilarious book, I’ll receive commission  : )

Image result for laci grey swimsuit adore me
Grey Strappy Swimsuit
 It is very difficult to find swimsuits that cater to my size.  I have yet to find one that fits me well in all places and holds everything in, at least at a reasonable price.  It limits my options, but this simple swimsuit is cute but sexy, and I love the extra straps.  Additionally, the bottoms look like they will actually cover everything and are included with the top (Who decided swim pieces needed to be sold separately???).

Laura Cross Back Pinafore Dress
Pinafore Dress
This dress may resemble an apron, but I don’t care.  It would be a very versatile piece to have, and easy to accessorize with.  Bonus, I could get away with wearing it year round if I styled it right.

White Sleeveless Asymmetric Hem Flare Dress
White Asymmetrically Hemmed Dress
It terrifies me that this dress is white and I can only imagine the stains awaiting it if it ever becomes a part of my closet.  Regardless, I love the way this dress flows, and it would be super easy to style.


Detailed Harem Pants
These pants look super comfy, and comfort is the most important thing to me when I dress.  I hate wearing outfits I’m constantly adjusting, or skirts I have to pull down repeatedly.  If I’m in a dress or skirt, I will always have yoga shorts underneath it, because frolicking shouldn’t be limited by your outfit.  I don’t currently have any harem pants, and I need to get my hands on a pair of these as well as a pair of palazzo pants.

Silver Leg Chain
One day a couple of years ago, I was raiding the clearance rack and found a leg chain for $5.  Of course, I snagged it and had no idea how much I would end up wearing it.  It’s broken now, but I fixed it and made it work as long as I could, through the use of safety pins, ribbon, and my trusty glue gun.  I got compliments on it all the time, and it added a lot to my outfits.  I would love to have another one to wear out in the same manner.

Gold Hair Crown
This is just beautiful, and it would add a little extra something to any outfit.  I love how Sunaina added an elastic headband, because these things are not easy to keep on sometimes.

 

I didn’t expect to write this post today, but I had fun doing it.  Now I’m off to catch up on life, decorate my dreads, and create some things for myself and for you on Etsy.  What are you excited to wear this spring?

☮ Madison

The First Steps to Take When Starting a Blog

If you plan on blogging part time or full time, you need to have a good hosting site, unless you are a coding ninja.  If you are a coding ninja, you don’t need to read this, go about with your espionage.  Really though, a hosting service will aid in your blog’s success.  If you plan on using WordPress, I recommend signing up for your WordPress domain through Bluehost for a quick start up.  When I first dove into the blogging world, I signed up for a WordPress domain, but I wish I had gotten my domain through Bluehost originally to forego the transfer process.  Once you sign up, you just have a one click install process to start using Bluehost’s website customization tools.

I am part of Bluehost’s affiliate program, this means if you decide to purchase and stay with their hosting services I’ll receive commission, which helps keep this site running.

Reasons to Use Bluehost

Technology
At first, the very thought of everything I had to do and figure out was overwhelming.  As I started setting up my site though, I discovered all the resources I had available to me.  There are numerous help forums on their site, 24/7  call/chat tech support (great for a night owl) with  real people, and numerous themes and plugins to choose from.
Price
Their prices really are pretty excellent.  The first year is only $5.95 a month, and afterwords it varies depending on which plan you choose.  You can choose a plan as short as 1 month, and as long as 60 months.  Of course, it’s cheaper the longer the plan you sign up for, I currently pay by the year which is $8.99 a month and very competitive.  When I first saw the bill I was about to pay when renewing, I compared other hosting sites to decide whether or not I wanted to stick around, and I am so glad I did.  Bluehost has a ton of free content, hosting is the only thing I have to pay for to run my blog.
Traffic
If my site ever becomes busy with traffic, users won’t have a slow experience on my site, Bluehost is equipped to handle spikes.

After you have a hosting site, you’re ready to start taking steps to have a successful blog.  These can be helpful whether or not you plan on being a part time blogger, alike myself, or a full time blogger.

 

 

 

How to Start a Blog

  1. Determine your focus
    Content is the most important thing for your blog and should not be rushed.  A good blog post can take anywhere from 2 and a half hours to 12 hours.  Before you hit publish a lot goes into play, including: writing, editing, styling, and search engine optimizing. This being said, it helps to have your content planned out.  Before you go and start planning your content though, you should determine what you want your blog’s focus to be.  Readers like blogs with a focus because they know what to expect when they come to your site.  Another bonus, this will help you decide what you want to write about.   Once you have determined your blog’s categories and subtopics to focus on, you can plan posts to fit into them.  It helps to plan at least three months of content ahead of time, I aim to have six months planned at a time.  Decide how many days a week you want to post and make your schedule clear to your audience.  Post only as much as you can guarantee great content and quality photos.  Personally, as I consider myself a part time blogger, I post once a week and spend the rest of my time brainstorming ideas, developing, promoting, and optimizing my content.  Another thing that will help you would be to create a backlog of content, something I’m getting into the habit of doing by writing all my posts the month ahead.  Having a backlog of 3-5 posts will help you when life happens.  Finally, have a mission statement.  This doesn’t have to be on your blog, just know what to tell people when they ask what your blog is about and be confident about it.
  2. Set up your site
    I’ve already established content is the life of your blog, and you should cater your site design to it.  Make it easy for the reader to see your content.  Sites that are too busy will turn the reader off, sites that are more minimal tend to do better.  Take advantage of the resources available to you when creating your site.  YouTube videos, google searches, and blogs are all useful tools for everyone when building a blog.  The Blog Stylist has a free e-course that is great for beginning to learn the tech on your site.  If using Bluehost, take advantage of the free themes and plugins you have available to make your life easier.  It’s important to remember you can always pay someone eventually to help you take your blog to the next level.  I’ll be damned if I don’t have Promise Tangeman restyle my blog one day, and I want someone with a little more logo knowledge to help me up my game in that department.
  3. Learn the legal side
    It is so vital to know the laws on blogging from the very beginning.  Have a copyright statement and privacy statement before you begin to publish so you can protect yourself and your content.  Be familiar with affiliate disclosure law, as this is something that could save you.  My go to for all things legal is Jade and Oak, which is run by Jackie, a certified lawyer, with a lot of great and free resources.
  4. Socialize
    Get the word out, shout from the rooftops, and don’t hide your blog.  Your blog will thrive if you share your content online, schedule it if you think that would work for you.  Intend to keep up with two to four social medias and devote most of your attention to one of these, preferably the one you’ll be able to reach a larger audience on.  Having a social media plan like this will help you in the long run.  Reaching out to other bloggers, posting comments on other sites you admire (without being spammy), guest posting, responding to comments, and keeping up with your over-piling emails will have a substantial effect on your success.
  5. Get that money
    Start monetizing your site from the very beginning.  Be creative with the way you earn money from your site.  Just a few options you can use to monetize are affiliates, reaching out to brands to sponsor a post, advertisements in your sidebar, or you could even write an e-course.  Don’t let your site be too spammy though, keep it light, and keep in mind it’s more to your advantage and well being to advertise what you support. As a brand new blogger, I use Amazon Affiliates, Google Ads, and Bluehost to monetize.  Eventually I would like to cut down on the Google ads, have one sponsored post a month, and paid advertising slots, but that will happen in time when I have more to offer to brands.



Good luck in all your endeavors in blogging, and welcome to the community.  Share your blog in the comments  : )

 

☮ Madison