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Facebook + Amazon = $$$

Facebook + Amazon = $$$

Free ebooks seldom paid off in sales, as I wrote about in yesterday’s post. I then tried featuring some that weren’t free by presenting them to special interest groups I belong to on Facebook. The Civil War and genealogy group members had liked my free postings and were willing to buy a few books on their topic.

Books just didn’t give enough commission to be worth the time, but I’ll still share them on Facebook as a service to my friends and fellow enthusiasts.

Next, I tried sharing more expensive products. To avoid being a spammer, I coordinated these to times a friend mentioned a specific product. I’d simply comment, “I see they have these on Amazon” and post the link. No one took offense since they were already talking about it.

Here’s where you get the link to post (if you are an Amazon affiliate). Also, notice the SHARE option in the stripe below. That gives you the ability to post on your Facebook timeline, to a friend, or in a group and also to Twitter. It includes your affiliate link.
amazon-affiliate-share-on-facebook

Sometimes, I’d feature a product on my status if I bought a new garden wagon or other product. If I was already sharing about my activity and included the link, it fit in fairly well.

Still, my friends and family were not large enough numbers to result in many sales. They weren’t a targeted audience, and it was merely by chance that a product would hit the spot and result in a sale.

Then, I noticed the paid ads that littered my timeline on Facebook. There were ads for hair products, suitcases, massagers, scanners and other pricey products. I looked at the comment section where hundreds of people said they really needed and wanted these items. BINGO!

I checked on Amazon for a product just like the one in the Facebook ad. When I found an exact match, I put the link with a comment on the Facebook advertisement. My comment usually is “I see some very positive reviews on this on Amazon.” People saw the comment and click on the link to read the reviews. A few went ahead and bought the product while they were there, possibly because they trusted Amazon more than the Facebook vendor or because they had a Prime membership or because the price was better.

3-month-amazon-sales-discovered-facebook-screen-shot

The green bars are Amazon sales. The red line shows the number of clicks and the yellow line shows orders.

Now those annoying Facebook ads don’t bother me anymore. Instead, I see them as opportunities. I look forward each day to checking my Amazon sales to see what luggage or overpriced product people couldn’t resist. It has boosted my commissions quite nicely.

A friend sent me some of the fine print from the Amazon Affiliate guidelines. Now, I’m trying to puzzle out how to post my affiliate disclosure information with each link so the FCC doesn’t get upset with me.

Here’s what I’m currently doing:

screenshot-amazon-facebook

 

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2016 in Internet Earning

 

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Sharing Amazon Books on Facebook

Sharing Amazon Books on Facebook

My online writing friends and I share anecdotes on how tough it is to make sales on various websites. Most of us are Amazon affiliates and a variety of other affiliates as well. Sites like Squidoo (now defunct) and Hubpages don’t have the earning power that we would like.

Some months ago, I started sharing Amazon links for free ebooks. I posted these on my Facebook status and my friends and family told me they liked hearing about these. When I put the link, I always included my affiliate code.

That may seem a waste since the ebooks were free. Now and then, someone would click-through for the free ebook but then go on to shop for additional items. In those cases, I earned a commission from Amazon.

Even when they bought another book at $2.99 or even $8.99, the commission was pretty low. Now and then, someone would go on a shopping spree after clicking through on my free ebook link. I really appreciated it when someone bought a big batch of Christmas gifts for their kids after clicking through on my link.

Then, I had an epiphany and changed my pattern of Facebook posting of products. My earnings went up from $10 or $20 a month from Amazon/Facebook links to 10 times as much. I’ll do a follow-up post on this one with steps so you can try it too.

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Increasing my Amazon affiliate earnings (photo by Virginia Allain)

 

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2016 in Internet Earning, online earnings

 

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Self-Publishing a Book with Blurb

Self-Publishing a Book with Blurb

Blurb.com – A Way for Authors to Self-Publish

What is Blurb? It’s a wonderful discovery for an aspiring author or someone who just wants a few books for a special occasion or to share with their family. When a writer chooses to self-publish their content, there are a number of Print-On-Demand sites like Lulu.com or Create Space, but let’s focus on Blurb.com here. I’ve used it a number of times with varied books and found it quite versatile.

Made using Blurb.com

Gail Lee Martin shows off her books with family memories. I used Blurb to publish both of these books for Mom and Dad.

The wonderful thing about Print-On-Demand (also called POD) is the author doesn’t have to buy hundreds of dollars worth of books to get the book published by a traditional printer or face rejection over and over from a traditional publisher. The way that POD works at Blurb is the author uploads the book content to the Blurb website. At that point, the only obligation is to buy one copy of the book. Anyone else wanting the book can order it directly from Blurb’s online bookstore. The author sets the price and keeps any income above the printing cost set by Blurb.

How To Do It

  1. Sign up with Blurb. It’s free and you put the usual information (username and password).
  2. Click on DOWNLOAD THE BOOKWRIGHT SOFTWARE at the Blurb site. This downloads Blurb’s software to your own computer. You work offline at your own pace. Use the Blurb BookWright Guide to learn more about it.
  3. Start a new book using the software. Choose a title, paste in the text and get the pictures from your own computer files.
  4. Rearrange the text and photos until you are satisfied with the book.
  5. Edit, edit, edit… run the spell check and review the text and photos one more time. It’s best to actually print out the pages and review it that way. Somehow one sees the errors more clearly in a printed copy.
  6. Once you have it perfect, upload the book to Blurb.
  7. Now you have 15 days to order the book or they will remove it from their site. Don’t worry, it’s still saved on your own computer.
  8. Start promoting the book. Potential buyers go to Blurb’s online bookstore to preview a part of the book and to order copies.

You can preview the various books I’ve published using Blurb. My sample books are featured in my online bookstore. Click on a book cover to read more about it and to PREVIEW a portion of the book.

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2016 in Books, Self-publishing

 

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Taking Spider Web Photos

Taking Spider Web Photos
Orange spider blends in with the dry grasses.

Orange spider blends in with the dry grasses. (Photo by Virginia Allain)

Nature buffs and camera enthusiasts find spiders and their intricate webs fascinating. Photographing them is challenging. Here are some tips to improve your digital photos of spider webs.

 Things You’ll Need:
  • digital camera with close-up mode
  • outdoor area to find spiders
Spider webs with dew on them are more visible in photographs than a plain web. This means getting out early with the digital camera before the sun dries everything out.
spider web

Spider web after a light rain shower. (photo by Virginia Allain)

 

Use the macro setting (close-up) on your digital camera. Often this setting is represented by a flower icon.

 

canon camera powershot

Canon SX 20 IS Powershot that I use

Keep your hands very steady or use a tripod for macros. Avoid windy days when slight movements of the web will blur your picture.
spiderweb

Be cautious if the spider is on the web.

Look for plain, uncluttered background to show off the web better. Dirt, mulch, or sky work well as a background. The close-up setting on the digital camera helps by putting the background out of focus.
IMG_1285_edited
Take multiple shots from different angles. Try getting the whole web, a section of the web, different sides of the web. Then see what turned out the best.
IMG_7517

This photo could benefit from cropping. The grass background is not the best.

Tips & Warnings

  • Fog or a sprinkler or a light shower sometimes creates ideal conditions for photographing webs and can mimic morning dew.
  • Black construction paper held behind a web might work when the background is too cluttered.
  • Avoid disturbing the web when taking your photo.

(Previously published on eHow in 2008 by Virginia Allain)

 

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2016 in eHow, Photography, photos, Uncategorized

 

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Will Bernie Sanders’ Voters Go Libertarian?

Will Bernie Sanders’ Voters Go Libertarian?

The short answer is a resounding “NO.” Here’s the longer answer straight from the mouths of dozens of Berners on Facebook on July 24, 2016. The question is “would you vote Libertarian?”

Karen W. – Libertarians are just republicans with a twist.

Carol V. – They are Twizzler Republicans. They are the worst of republicans. Richer guy beats the lesser rich guy! Hey, if you aren’t wealthy, with them in power, then change isn’t coming your way. Well, I guess you could get poorer!

libertarian platform

Chart comparing Bernie Sanders’ progressive stands and Gary Johnson’s libertarian stands (meme from the Bernie Believers group on Facebook)

Tom R. – They are Republicans that don’t want to be associated with all of the baggage. I’m going to vote for Bernie if he’s on the ballot but if he isn’t I’m voting Green. Not because I think they’ll win and not because I agree with them on most issues, I’m voting Green to send a message to the Democrats and to try to break the two-party tyranny.

 Raven H. –  Libertarians are literally Republicans… They’re against everything Bernie stands for. Why would you even ask that?
 Alice A. –  “If we boil down the libertarian ideology to its fundamentals, they essentially believe that we should have as minimal government as possible. Government protections of civil rights? Zip. Government regulations of large, unsustainable financial institutions that have already wreaked havoc on our economy? Nope. Government policies that preserve the environment and protect our natural resources? Zilch.”
 Ellen L. – They also eliminate environmental laws
Dakota R.Libertarians don’t believe in taxation… Which is cool and all, but that’s public roads, bridges and highways, law enforcement, public schools, national parks, the post office, hospitals and healthcare, the fire department, congress, the CIA, FBI, the president, etc…

And we kinda need some of those things. 

Eva W. – Oh, HAIL no! They are Republicans on steroids.

Lorrene B. – No way, I’m going Green, I saw Johnson in a town hall meeting, didn’t like his ideas at all

 Laura R. – No Gary Johnson is not a progressive, and doesn’t concern himself with infrastructure or SS or Medicare
Pamela C. – Not even closely related to progressives. Yechhh!

Ruth A. – While many Libertarian “values” may seem appealing, the Libertarian Party of the U.S. is a corporatist party in disguise. Please do more research. They defend Citizens United. They are for the TPP. The Libertarian party is very dangerous. They would burn the world to the ground in defense of the “liberty” to go after profit.
Shelley L. – Not me. He’s for the TPP. Bernie wouldn’t approve and neither do I.
Tom R. – God, Not me! Gary Johnson is worse than Trump!
Theresa Ann A. – NO! It’s nothing like Bernie ideology!
Christine L. – Libertarians don’t believe in taxation but neither does the top one-tenth of the 1% and look where that got us
Paul Michael B. – The Libertarian party is a neoliberal party just like the D’s and the R’s, and thus represent the very root of our problems. Libertarians salivate over the idea of corporations suing governments.
This is my favorite answer out of the batch:
Stephanie F. – Hell no! How could any real Progressive even consider that. They’re Republicans, possibly worse. Libertarians have no foreign policy. It’s basically, “Sucks to be you, not our problem.” Johnson wants to get rid of Medicaid. He could give a crap about environmental issues or infrastructure, so no money would go to those places. Also, Libertarians don’t believe in taxation so there wouldn’t be any money to go anywhere. They’re all for private corporations building wealth, and getting rid of all government oversight of them. Capitalism unchecked isn’t worth crap! I would vote Green Party before I’d ever vote for a Republican or Libertarian. Jill Stein is an intelligent, progressive, environmentally conscious free-thinker, who isn’t owned by lobbyists. She’ll probably get my vote if Bernie’s not on the ballot.
Lee O. – Why? Deregulate and privatize everything. Why the hell would anyone contemplate supporting that?
Erik O. – Are you high, the libertarian USA are nothing more than parasites
Melissa C. – Nope, no libertarians for me. I care about workers.
Joy H.  Gary Johnson is mostly for everything Bernie is against.
He wants to deregulate everything (food safety standards, environmental protections, social security), abolishment of the tax system. It’s a really, really bad idea; more extreme than the mainstream Republican platform.
Justin L. – Why libertarian? It’s the Koch Brothers’ brain child and while Johnson holds to some liberal social issues, his economic policy is Republican; that is to say, outrageously horrible and broken.

Shane K. – If you’re a libertarian you never understood Bernie’s message. We are progressives.

Zarra H. – Libertarian is about 100% opposite most of Bernie’s philosophy and also mine.

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2016 in Politics

 

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The Bleach Disaster

The Bleach Disaster

The cleaning lady worked hard today getting the place clean and sparkling. I always enjoy the shining countertops in the kitchen and bathrooms on cleaning day.

Unfortunately, she’s a big fan of bleach. The house reeks of bleach by the time she finishes. We usually have the doors open to the lanai so the fresh air moderates the fumes. Today was cooler, so the doors were closed.

The worst part of the bleach is the residue left behind. If I unthinkingly lean against the counter while making a cup of tea, I’ll regret it. I did it again today, so guess I’m a slow learner.

2012-01-10 2014 feb 001

The original bleach stain on my blue shirt.

The khaki skirt I wore today has a big bleach spot on the front. The stain could be covered in future by wearing an untucked shirt with it.

There’s no way to conceal the big white spots on my blue shirt though. Darn, darn, darn. I wiped down all the counters with a wet cloth and hope nothing else gets ruined.

Now here’s the funny part: I decided to do a spatter paint project on that shirt to see if I could turn it into something artsy. I did this in the garage, adding bleach dots and flicking bleach across the fabric. Interesting result and I might just wear that shirt sometime.

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My bleach stains turned into graphic designs.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the sense to wear an apron and ended up with 3 bleach spots on a favorite pair of slacks. I’d changed into those from the bleach spotted khaki skirt. Darn it.

 

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I outlined the additional bleach stains with an indelible marker. Since it looked like a map, I added fantasy place names to it.

 
(Original article was published in 2014 on the Bubblews site)

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2016 in Crafting, Crafts

 

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Becoming a Top Amazon Reviewer

Becoming a Top Amazon Reviewer

If You Love Reading, Consider Writing Reviews for Amazon

I’ve been an Amazon reviewer for over 10 years now and managed to work my way up to Top 100 Reviewer ranking. As a retired librarian, I have more time to read now and posting reviews on Amazon helps me keep track of what I’ve read and how I felt about it. Even as a child, I kept lists of what I read. I get nostalgic looking back through my notebook to see the titles scrawled in my childish handwriting and remember what I was reading in those days.Yes, I was a bookworm.

Book Illustration of a Girl Reading Postcard
Girl Reading – Postcard
See other Book Postcards at zazzle

Now with my reading list online, I have more than just my memory to tell me if I liked a book and what it was about. My feelings and opinion of the book is posted on Amazon for my future reference and for all the world to read.

Writing Book Reviews Helps Libraries and Librarians and Authors

Upon retiring, I wanted to volunteer in a library or school or adult literacy center. Unfortunately, our frequent trips and erratic schedule didn’t match with those volunteer opportunities.

Luckily I stumbled upon another way I could share my experience from 30 years as a librarian. It made use of my love of books, but could be fitted in with our coming and going. I volunteer as a book reviewer for Amazon. The reviews on that online book site benefit librarians selecting books for their collections and help any reader trying to find the right book for their enjoyment or informational needs.

Now I read anything that appeals to me, then share a description and opinion online. It’s particularly satisfying if mine is the first review for that item. Readers rate the reviews as helpful or not and that determines the ranking of the reviewer. When I reached the TOP 500 REVIEWER ranking, I knew my reviews were helping other readers and librarians.

At that point, authors started sending books to me to read and review. It was gratifying to add “authors” to those who benefit from my reviewing efforts. I hadn’t thought about that aspect, but I’m helping get the word out about good books and identifying the appropriate audience.

I’ve expanded my efforts on the website by compiling book lists on varied topics. I have 88 of these lists so far.

Any reader can contribute reviews to Amazon and you can fit it around your own schedule and without even leaving your house.

Books on shelves at Wakefield Library

photo by Virginia Allain

There’s no pay, but it can be addictive to rise through the ranks as a reviewer. Here are ways to achieve Top Reviewer ranking. It took two years for me to reach the TOP 500 Reviewer ranking.

The third year, I was ecstatic to reach TOP 100 Reviewer ranking. Since then, I’ve slipped a little and fell to below 1000. It requires a lot of reading and posting of reviews to stay at the top. Update: After shifting most of my energy to Squidoo and other online writing, my reviewer ranking dropped quite a bit. The last time I checked, it was around 1,200.

Diligently post reviews on every book you read whether it’s good, bad or indifferent. Others need to know about that book. It helps if you’re already an avid reader. If you only read 2 or 3 books a month, then it will take much longer to reach the top reviewer ranks.

Writing a Critical Book Review

If reviewing a best seller, it helps to get the review posted quickly after the book’s release date. More readers see the early reviews and vote on its helpfulness. The reviews with the highest number of helpful votes get posted near the top and get more viewings as time goes by. If there are already several hundred reviews posted for a book, yours gets pushed to the bottom and gets little attention and few “likes.”

It’s important to post a quality review. Don’t just put a sentence or two. Say why you did or didn’t like the book. For fiction, give enough of the plot for readers to know if it’s their kind of book but don’t spoil the suspense by telling the ending.

Free Books!

A bonus of reaching Top 500 Reviewer ranking is authors start offering free books for you to review. These books are yours to keep after your read them and post a review. I didn’t receive hundreds of books, but a nice sampling of titles. One author sends me her Disney World guide every time she puts out a new edition.

You can encourage this by adding onto your Amazon profile that you welcome review books. Now, it is more common for authors to offer an ebook copy to a reviewer. Too bad, as it was nice receiving a copy in the mail. After reviewing it, you could give it away or sell it.

Reviewing Non-Book Items

Think about reviewing household items as well. What about your camera? How about the lamp on your desk? Do you like them? If not, why not? Other people need to know what features work well on a product and what are duds. Amazon carries an amazing range of products and reviews of those products. Electronics and software reviews get a lot of votes.

Reviewing Music, Movies, and Software

Don’t limit yourself. Put reviews online for the music CDs you listen to on the way to work. Put a review on for the movie you watched on TV last night. Review the software that you use on your computer.

If you post a negative review on a popular movie, it will get lots of votes that it was unhelpful. Unfortunately, that brings your ranking down. Sometimes I chicken out and just don’t post a review for a movie that I thought was dumb.

 
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Posted by on June 30, 2016 in Books, Reading

 

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