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The latest news regarding bloggers happened in California. Affiliates of Amazon, Overstock.com (also O.co) and probably other smaller California based businesses were told, “you’re fired”.

In the article, Should the Internet Be Taxed, WebPro News shared:

On Friday [July 1, 2011], a new California state law goes into effect that will tax Internet sales through affiliate advertising. Rather than pay such taxes, online retailers like Amazon will instead shut down their affiliate programs in the state. For Amazon, that is said to come to 25,000 sites in California alone.

Amazon has told affiliates in the past that they’d have to move to another state to continue earning commissions on referrals. Overstock.com has reportedly done that before too.

Some groups representing brick and mortars feel the law should be extended on a national level, claiming the taxes take away competitive advantages from Internet retailers that don’t have a physical presence in a particular state. Consumers are able to avoid fees from purchasing from these retailers that they’d otherwise have to pay by buying in-state.

My heart goes out to these affiliates. Hopefully this issue can be resolved in an amicable way.

Today’s Lesson

I think it’s great how us bloggers can potentially make an income from our blogs. It not only covers our overhead, but can also lead to new opportunities and even self employment.

And with the economy remaining slow, every little bit helps. California law forces firing of bloggers

That said, anyone in business knows it’s not wise to put all of our eggs into one basket. Anytime we rely solely on one client for our livelihood , we set ourselves up for potential problems. If our star client dies, files bankrupty, goes out of business, hires our competitor, or ___(fill in the blank)___, our income stops. Sadly, the bills don’t.

I think there’s an important lesson to be learned here.

If we bloggers continually put our trust into one or two big named businesses, happily promoting the products/services of others, and wait with baited breath to receive our piddly commission checks, we could be setting ourselves up for disappointment and even financial ruin.

Just like when big banks and big government go down, the same can happen to us.

Trust in others is one thing, but when that trust could be broken on a moments notice, we soon realize our trust was misplaced.

Making money with a blog by using affiliate links or Google AdSense is one of the easiest routes to go, however our livelihood is in the hands of others.

Maybe it’s time we start thinking how we can do it on our own*.

What say you?

Today’s Assignment

Did you get caught up in the California tax law dilemma?

What do you think is the best way to protect ourselves from situations like this?

Care to share?

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*Watch for an upcoming article where I share how fellow bloggers are making money with their blogs as well as ideas on how to diversify.

Do you remember when you first started blogging? Wordpress publish button image

Although I don’t think about it often, I still do.

I was scared to hit “publish” the first few times, and I worried because I kept switching my theme.

I didn’t know any of the blogging terms either.

Being self taught, I spent most of my non-writing time searching for help, but even when I found help, I usually didn’t understand what to do with it.

I was pretty naive.

Today’s Lesson

When I think back to when I first started blogging, I didn’t have too many expectations except for thinking I could make lots of some money by having a blog.

  • I wasted a lot of time signing up for affiliate networks and tweaking my Google AdSense ads.

  • I didn’t know that without thousands of visitors a day, making a decent income from a blog was out of the question. When I figured it out (that I needed traffic to make money), I wasted time trying to get more traffic, too. Instead, I should have been learning more about SEO (search engine optimization) and spending less time looking for an “easy way”.

  • I wanted comments. Little did I know I should have kicked the “If I build it, they will come” attitude and should have spent time visiting and commenting on other blogs.

  • Although I worried about changing my theme so often, I should have realized without a steady stream of visitors, it really didn’t matter.

  • I love numbers, so for me checking my statistics became a daily obsession. Instead of wasting time watching the numbers rise and fall, I should have spent time either writing and publishing or learning techniques which would take me closer to my goals.

  • Social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook can be fun, but they can also be addicting. Before signing up, I should have asked myself if the benefits of participating in social networking will outweigh the investment of my time.

Truth be told, I wasted a lot of time on blogging activities I should have postponed until later or maybe not even got involved in, but that’s in the past.

What about you?

Today’s Assignment

Looking back, if you had to do it all over again, where would you have spent more time?

Where would you have spent less time?

Care to share?

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Reviews of any kind (paid or unpaid) are great ways for bloggers to generate traffic.

Today’s Lesson

Product and/or book reviews can help to increase traffic (to our blogs), and may even make us a few coins in the process.

Although I don’t do many product reviews on this blog, I have done a fair share on my Observation Mountain (OM) blog.

What I’ve found works best with product/book reviews, is to have the name of the product/book somewhere in the title.

We all know using keywords and/or keyword phrases is important to get your blog post indexed by the search engines, and for reviews to get found, it’s essential.

Here’s a product review I did on my OM blog that continues to get traffic.

The title is: Product Review: Ecos Laundry Detergent

Buying a “natural” laundry detergent like Ecos , is great for the environment. It’s biodegradable, safe for septic systems, great for sensitive skin, and is phosphate and petrochemical free.

Ecos laundry detergent is a plant based detergent.

I’ve used this product for approximately a year now, and find it works great at getting clothes clean. For stains, you can rub a small amount of the detergent on the stain, and wash as per washing instructions. It’s great for colors, and safe for all water temperatures.

Price per load is slightly higher than regular detergents, however, with it’s built in fabric softener (soy based), you save money on buying an additional fabric softener.

Ecos suggests using 2 ounces of detergent for a full load of clothes, and less for smaller loads. If you’re using a high efficiency (HE) washer, you only need 2 tablespoons.

I recently purchased a 210 fluid ounce bottle of the Ecos laundry detergent (Ultra Original Formula) at Costco. It’s scented with magnolia and lily, which leaves your clothes smelling fresh.

The best part of this product…I can pronounce all of the ingredients. Now, that’s natural.

And, making it even better…………….it’s made in the USA. Considering that, I give it, two thumbs up. 8)

Want to read more about Ecos. go to Earth Friendly Products, at www.ecos.com.

I do not write product reviews to bash products. If I do find something negative about a product I use, I try to find a positive to balance the negative. Note: in the above product review I wrote,

Price per load is slightly higher than regular detergents, however, with it’s built in fabric softener (soy based), you save money on buying an additional fabric softener.

I’m telling my readers they will initially pay more, but in the end, will save by not buying fabric softener.

You may ask, “why would you write a product/book review if you don’t get paid for it?”

1) I like to share my finds with others
2) It’s a way to get traffic to my blog
3) Since I have Google AdSense on my OM blog, after reading the review, a visitor might click on one of my ads and I’ll make a coin or two.

It’s a win-win. Others find great products, and I feel good about sharing. The money aspect is an added benefit.

When reviewing or writing about books, I use Amazon’s affiliate program (they sell more than just books). If someone clicks on your ad and completes a sale through Amazon’s shopping cart, you make a small percentage of the sale. You can see evidence of how I used Amazon at the top of this post.

Catherine recently wrote a post regarding the impact product reviews have on companies, and how many companies dismiss negative comments on their forums/blogs. To read more about this, check out her post titled: Don’t Preach To The Wrong Audience

Today’s Assignment

Do you, or have you done product/book reviews? Paid or Unpaid?

If so, did it help your traffic numbers? Sales?

Do you read and believe the reviews you read online?

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