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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.

Since I call this “your blogging classroom on the web”, I decided it was time we talk about homework; or that behind the scenes stuff we often put off.

Today’s Lesson

As many of you have noticed, I decorated my blog for the holidays.

Since I use a theme which has the “custom header feature”, adding the photo was simple. For the RSS widgets I searched for “holiday icons” and then recoded my widgets.

Listed below are a few new (to me) plugins I am testing.

  1. First is Sexy Bookmarks by Josh Jones and Norman Yung which is visible at the bottom of each post.

    The Sexy Bookmarks plugin is easily customizable, looks good, doesn’t take up too much space and is positioned so readers will be reminded to Tweet, Digg, or use StumbleUpon, etc. to share a post.

  2. The “Follow Me” plugin by WP Burn.com can be seen on the right of the page.

    This plugin is to remind our readers they can follow us on Twitter. The customization includes using different colors as well as different Twitter birds images.

  3. The Wibiya toolbar can be seen at the bottom of the page.

    What I like about this toolbar is if you don’t want to clutter up your sidebars with an RSS feed, recent posts, etc., you can include them in the toolbar.This isn’t a plugin, but more of an add-on which requires an invitation. Just go to the Wibiya site and follow the instructions. In a matter of days you should receive an email from them and at that time you can set up an account and customize your toolbar.

  4. Thanks to the suggestions from both Internet Strategist @ GrowMap and Betsy at Passing Thru I added Zemanta and Apture.

    In a nutshell, these two applications which work for all blogging platforms* make blogging easier and faster by suggesting photos, links, related articles, etc. for our posts. (Disclaimer: I’ve only tested them on WordPress.)

    Zemanta adds a interface to your dashboard from which you can drag and drop photos and/or links into your post as you’re writing it.

    Image representing Zemanta as depicted in Crun...
    Image via CrunchBase

    Apture adds icons which when clicked on, does the same.

    Zemanta also adds a “reblog” feature at the bottom of the post which makes cutting and pasting quotes much easier, plus and an option to add links to other posts which may be beneficial to our readers.

Thus far, the only downside I see to using some of the above applications is they do slow down the page load time.

Today’s Assignment

What are your favorite plugins or applications?

Care to share?

signature for blog post.

Footnote: When using Zemanta on a self hosted blog, the Zemanta plugin must be used. For WordPress, the plugin can be downloaded here.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

What an exciting week it’s been. We just concluded the second round of interview topics with Lorelle (of Lorelle on WordPress) and learned:

1) Revisitng old posts can provide fresh content

2) How to Manage our feed readers

3) And then we Wooped it up.

4) On Tuesday we welcomed our first teenage blogger to the NBOTW series

On to the Free ‘n Easy Friday Finds (FEFF).

If you didn’t follow the comment thread on Wednesday’s post, Lorelle stopped by and shared a link for anyone who uses Firefox and the Greasemonkey Scripts Extension which will help speed up our reading/commenting time. I used it last night while visiting blogs and estimate I shaved 20 minutes off of my visiting and commenting time. It’s fabulous.

Lorelle has written a post detailing the use of this script.

I’ve also been cleaning house (no, not my home, although that needs it, too). I’ve been tidying up my blog by removing the monthly archives list (it was 17 months long), taking off all affiliate ads (In over a year they haven’t made me a dime), and for my recent commenters, I removed the snippets. My “Recent Commenters” now shows your avatar and name with hopes of giving you more name recognition and traffic to your blogs.

Although it’s my blog, it’s all about you!

I hope you like the changes.

Have a great weekend!

Photo Credit: MGShelton’s photostream

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