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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?

signature for blog post

*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.

Although bloggers may not use advertisements on their sites, donate links or widgets are something you might see. free to use image for buy me a coffee plugin or widget

I include a donate page on some of my blogs and am always grateful for those who have used it (you know who you are. :)), but…I don’t expect my visitors to make a contribution.

Unless I’m hired to design a custom header or ADvatar, the information I offer is free.

Today’s Lesson

I don’t mind seeing donate buttons considering how blog, plugin and theme authors are providing valuable information, for free. I see it as a way for them to be compensated for their knowledge, talent or services.

But the question is, do they work?

Or, do they make the blog, plugin or theme author seem greedy or needy? Or, make it look like they’re panhandling?

Based on what I’ve seen, I believe donate badges or pages can work, however unless we put the donate link in front of our readers, chances are they won’t see it, nor will a reader realize donating is an option.

I used a plugin named “Buy Me A Beer” which also had an option for “Buy Me A Coffee”. A click on the button would take you to the blog author’s PayPal account where you could enter the amount you’d like to give. (The plugin appears to be retired.)

I liked the plugin, but when I cleaned up my blog, I removed it and opted for a “Donate” page.

If donating is something you’d like to add to your blog, setting up a donate widget would be easy. Just find an image of a glass of beer, cup of coffee, tip jar, or…, add your own copy, code it to link to your PayPal account and voilà, there it is.

Or, set up a “Donate” page and include the link and button PayPal provides.

Today’s Assignment

Do you use a donate page or widget on your blog? If so, are readers using it?

Do you, or would you donate to a blog, plugin or theme author?

Or do you view a donate button/badge as a form of panhandling and ignore them?

Care to share?

signature for blog post

P.S. The coffee cup image in this post is free for you to use. Just right-click on it and hit “save as”.

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In business and in life, we leave what’s called a paper trail. On the internet, it’s called often referred to as an electronic paper trail.

Most transaction we make, can be followed. Our bank statement shows how much money we have, and where we spent it. Credit/debit card records are similar. Our medical records are tracked. The IRS (Internal Revenue Service) has records of our earnings and taxes we paid, as does our State government. Electronic copies of all these records are often archived on hard drives, portable media storage, in vaults or secure rooms, and with the proper authorization, they can be viewed.

Credit bureaus have our financial information. With it, they assign a “credit score”.

Companies do a “security clearance” for some types of jobs. Whether they access this information or not, is unknown, however with our social security number, birth date and drivers license number, the electronic information that can be revealed is unlimited.

Although most of this is private information, the amount of public information produced by individuals can also be detrimental.

Blogs are a good example of public information. Blogs are published works of “art”, per se.

Today’s Lesson

A post on The Blog Herald inspired this topic. Written by Andrew G.R, and titled: Blogger Beware: Big Brother Is (Always) Watching,., he says:

More than 40% of large companies read employee e-mails and are hunting for you on the major social networks.

So we have to ask, who is reading our blogs, and who will be reading them in the future?

By “in the future”, I mean 10, 20 or 30 years from now.

Currently our employer could be reading our blog.

Future employers may also read our writings.

You may say, “I’m self employed and I am my own boss”.

But what happens if our current business can’t sustain itself in a flailing economy. What if we’re forced to work for “the man” again. Or what about our spouse. If they work, an employer could easily “Google” the family name and find our blog.

Have we written anything that could be detrimental to our spouse’s employment? Or, our children’s?

O.K., so you say, “Well I can delete my blog”.

Yes you can. But, what about others (our loyal readers) who have quoted us, or the person who plagiarized our work (but left our name intact). We can’t delete their blogs. We could email them and beg to have the articles deleted, but their blog may be in dormancy and their contact information could be invalid. Or is the original post(s) cached/saved in some internet “vault”? Maybe.

And….what did we write in the comment section of other blogs? Could that hurt us?

Then there’s the issue of emails and social networks. Are we projecting a different persona? Are we being more verbal? Exposing a side of ourself that our blog doesn’t project? Are we revealing trade “secrets”?

What if the day comes we (or our spouse) decide to enter into politics? Or our company goes global? Who will dig up our electronic paper trail?

It happens, and it gets people in trouble.

Today’s Assignment

Google yourself

Google you spouse’s name

Do you like what you find?

Could it hurt you a year from now? 10 or 20 years from now? How about 40?

Would you make your grandchildren proud?

How about your “public”?

Do you care?


Photo Credit: tyger_lyllie’s photostream

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