How to Test Your Wordpress Site Speed

How to Test Your WordPress Site Speed

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive compensation if you make a purchase using this link.

If you are a blogger using WordPress like I do, speed of your site can be affected by many different things.  A slow website translates into lost visitors and potentially lost income.  Plugins have a big impact on load time and the overall performance of your site. How do you know how well your site is performing?  I regularly run my blog’s URL through WP Engine’s Free Speed Test.  Want to get your site’s results? Click the image below:
WordPress Speed Test

ShareASale Review: Affiliate Marketing Platform

ShareASale Review: Affiliate Marketing Platform

All of my blog posts may contain affiliate links. This means I’ll receive a commission for any products/services you purchase through them. It’s not a lot, but enough to help keep this blog up and running!  Thank you for your support!

Are you a new blogger just starting out and need a way to monetize your blog? Are you a veteran blogger looking for additional income? ShareASale’s Affiliate Marketing Platform is perfect for bloggers looking for a way to bring in additional income from blogging. Making money as an affiliate used to be far-fetched, but these days, it’s very possible and is happening to bloggers just like me.  I won’t lie – it’s extremely hard work promoting merchant content, but once you start seeing the money roll into your account, it makes it all worthwhile.

The great thing about ShareASale is that it is so easy to choose from  over 2,000 merchants who have signed up to have their products promoted by bloggers like us.  You can work with big names, like Gymboree or Cricut, or work with smaller companies such as Little Passports.  New merchants join every day!

Each merchant’s commission is different so you will want to read the fine print when you decide to apply for a merchant’s program. Viewing your activity and earnings is very easy via a custom report you can run.  Reports tell you where the traffic comes from and what link was clicked.  The payment threshold is low – only $50.

ShareaSale also offers a referral program.  Get paid for referring other bloggers! 

Here’s are a few of my favorite programs in ShareASale:
  • Animoto (cloud-based video creation service)
  • Beau-coup (unique wedding favors, baby shower favors and party supplies for all occasions)
  • Blurb (self-publishing platform that enables their users to create, self-publish, promote, share, and sell their own print and ebooks)
  • CellSavers (rapid cell phone repair service)

If you are thinking about joining, there is no cost to do so.  You do have to be approved by the merchant, but odds are you will be.  Happy marketing!

Teaching Your Children About Budgeting Sets Them Up for Financial Success

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

Offering phone order discounts up to 10% and group discounts up to 20%

There are many lessons that parents give their children to help them grow into responsible adults. We teach them to be responsible when it comes to sex and to avoid drugs. They learn the importance of hard work through chores. But, a surprisingly large number of parents never teach their children financial basics.

Raising money-smart children should begin early and continue throughout a child’s life at home. Initial lessons need to be further developed and reinforced as children mature. These teachings will help your kids avoid falling into financial traps and will positively impact their stability as adults.

For your children to learn foreign languages and math and literacy, you have to provide them with books and guide them. To teach them to budget, you have to provide them with money and guide them. Typically, this takes the form of an allowance.

Allowance

An allowance benefits children in a few ways. Firstly, allowances teach children that money is earned through work. Secondly, they are a good way to both teach and enforce good budgeting and spending habits. The amount that you give your children will depend upon your income and your comfort level. Some people advocate giving a child the child their age in dollars each week. A ten-year-old gets ten dollars, but a seven-year-old only gets seven. But, the amounts can be less or more.

Budgeting Methods

At this point, you can begin teaching the old save, share, spend budgeting method. This may also include an invest step if that is something you understand quite well. The typical break down is:

  • Save ten percent
  • Invest ten percent
  • Share ten percent
  • Spend the rest as necessary

If you are not teaching your child to invest, the rest would be 80 percent. By imparting these lessons, you teach your children not to live paycheck to paycheck by spending 100 percent of their money.

Some parents simply take the funds for sharing and saving directly out of a child’s allowance and explain the function of that money. While others choose to designate containers for dividing up the funds. One for savings, one for spending, and one for giving. Some go even further and subdivide the money even further. For these parents, there is a jar for sharing; ten percent automatically goes in there for charity. Then, the other 90 percent is divided into instant gratification, medium-term savings, and long-term savings. This lets children make decisions about the importance of purchases and forces them to plan to spend.

Delaying Gratification

When you use buckets that designate instant gratification as well as savings, you teach children they can delay their gratification and save for a goal. This is critical when they later apply for loans or credit cards. Learning about medium-term and long-term savings also helps them to understand that spending isn’t all centered on a point in the near future. When children put savings away for a month or two, they aren’t truly saving. They are simply prolonging spending.

Many adults fail to learn that people need a long-term savings that is a financial cushion in carse of emergency. The sooner in life your children learn that, the better.

Developing Budgeting

When kids get older, you can tach them to track their spending to determine how much they spend on non-essentials. Most parents cover necessities, like food and shelter, and children use their allowance money for extras. When children know that they are the ones buying extras, they tend to spend differently. Seeing their expenditures is a great way to help them control the amount they are spending. This helps them avoid living beyond their means later in life.

Bio: Arthur Henderson is a writer and child development expert who has two wonderful sons. He has been divorced twice and knows how vital it is that children to know the benefits of budgeting. He has also worked with numerous groups in treating meth addiction and other drug related problems.

Why New Parents Should Talk to a Financial Advisor Now

For new parents, having your first baby is a blessing and of course a very exciting time.

However, as most people will reluctantly acknowledge, it can also be an uncertain, frightening time.

As new parents, you want to ensure your baby has the best life possible — which can be expensive. At the same time, though, you don’t want your own quality of life to drop correspondingly. For sure, investing in your baby’s future should be your top priority, but it’s not necessary to break the bank to do this.

Finding a balance among your expenses is just as important as setting aside specific funds for your child’s life. The balance can, at times, feel a bit like walking a tightrope, and this is why finding a good financial advisor is so important.

Why should you hire a financial advisor?

First of all, the most significant reason for new parents to hire a financial advisor is peace of mind. Planning for your child’s future can be very stressful, and there are many different expenses that need to be taken into account.

You may not consider all of them, or you might focus too much on a certain area. For example, many people are surprised when some financial advisors suggest that they save for their retirements before saving up for a college tuition.

Achieving the right balance — making sure that each area gets its ideal amount of attention and finance — is vitally important. Financial advisors have dealt with your exact situation many times before and know what they are doing. You can trust them to help you and your baby achieve the best financial futures possible.

How children change your financial plans

We mentioned college costs briefly above. Saving for future tuition is one of the things that parents stress over the most when it comes to financial planning for their children.

There are a few different options for this, such as an Education Savings Plan (or 529 plan), which is a bit like a 401(k) that can be used specifically to cover tuition costs and is tax-free. Of course, if your child does well in school, scholarships could be an option down the line. And there’s always financial aid.

Still, it is a good idea to save up money for your child’s college education — though this doesn’t have to begin as soon as the child as born. Your financial advisor will be able to explain all of the different options to you clearly so that you can make the best choice.

For not-yet new parents who are planning to start a family someday, it’s a good idea to start saving now. Financial success is all about security and managing risks. Step No. 1 is to make sure you have some kind of fund that you’re slowly building up month by month.

Further, child care can be expensive — especially for parents whose jobs don’t offer maternity leave. So, try setting aside a fund to cover those costs, which will be ongoing and unpredictable during your child’s early years. Financial advisor Tara Siegel Bernard, writing for The New York Times recommends putting money into subaccounts labeled “baby leave” or “day care” for such occasions.

Further, a financial advisor will help you pick out a life insurance policy if you don’t already have one. You definitely should have one because financial success is all about managing risks, and life is very uncertain. If something (God forbid) were to happen to you or the primary breadwinner in your family, you need to ensure that your child has a safety net to fall back on.

The financial advisor will also make sure you fill out a will. In the same vein as life insurance, this is more about making sure your child’s new guardian or guardians are set in stone rather than making sure they acquire your assets (as a new parent, you’re probably tight on money at the moment anyway). If you don’t complete a will, the question of who should get custody in the event of an unfortunate accident or fatal illness could become a complicated legal battle. Taking out life insurance and filling out a will can give you peace of mind, and a financial advisor can explain both of these to you in more depth.

How do I set up a meeting with a financial advisor?

You’ll want to make sure the person you’re hiring is a certified financial planner, or CFP. This will ensure they genuinely know what they’re doing and give the best advice.

Try to avoid financial planners who make some of their money based on commissions.

American Funds recommends, before going into a meeting with the planner you’ve chosen, that you write down a list of questions for him or her, as well as your long-term financial goals. Also, make sure to bring documents related to your accounts — IRAs, 401(k)s, etc. — and any estate planning information you have.

Meeting with a financial advisor and building that relationship over time will ensure you have the confidence necessary to move on to planning out your own finances with less assistance.

Remember, saving funds for your child is an investment in his or her future success. Therefore, the various aspects of this investment should be carefully considered. Don’t think that you can manage all of your finances without a little assistance — most of us don’t have that kind of time or energy.

In the short term, your financial advisor can offer you peace of mind and an objective audit of some financial questions you might not have considered. Over the long haul, he or she will help ensure that the money you set aside for your child is optimally placed and gives your child the best future possible.

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AUTHOR BIO

Casey Meehan is a writer and small business owner based out of Chicago. You can find him on Twitter at @epicpresence.

How To Get Noticed As A Blogger

How To Get Noticed As A Blogger

This post contains affiliate links which means I will receive compensation to assist in the maintenance of this blog from purchases made from my links.


Let’s face it – there are millions upon millions of blogs in cyberspace.  Blogs that touch on everything from A to Z and then some. So, how do you stick out and make your mark in a world full of super cool blogs without breaking your bank account? There are easy ways I’ve found to drive traffic and grow followers to my blog without spending much money.  I will admit, though, it does take hard work, time, and patience to grow a blog.  Here are some ways I have found to grow my blog and get noticed in a flooded blogger market.

Content is by far the most important factor that helps you get noticed by other bloggers and marketing companies. If you aren’t writing quality posts, it doesn’t matter how many posts you throw out there in a week’s time.  When you first decided to start your blog, you had a purpose, right?  You’re an expert on some topic and want to share your insight with others.  It makes no sense to start a blog on a topic that’s foreign to you. Your readers can tell by the quality of your content whether or not you are an influential expert in your field.  Don’t try to fool yourself or others. Write about something you feel confident about, and don’t look into areas that are completely unknown.

Don’t wait until you are months into blogging to determine what you are going to write about. Set a plan up front and stick with it. It’s much easier to change course in the very beginning than when you are heavily invested months later. Content needs to be worthwhile from the first post on so that you can set up a positive trend going forward.

 

There are tons of places on the web to share your content, but you should really target those that can get you the maximum exposure. I share all of my posts as soon as they are published.  I target Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, StumbleUpon and Pinterest as the main social media accounts.  I also run a Facebook Group and a Pinterest Group Board that are also both good sources of traffic.  Joining Pinterest group boards in your related subject is also a very good way of getting your content seen.

Sharing content is one of the most important aspects of blogging. Without getting the word out, no one will know (or care) that we wrote a new post. Sharing takes time, but you will reap the benefits down the road when your posts start going viral!

 

 

Facebook groups for bloggers are amazing for getting noticed. Most Facebook groups (including mine) have set daily promotional threads with specific rules that all members have to follow.  I’ve seen a huge and steady increase in my traffic as a result of participating in the daily threads on different Facebook groups.   Participating in these groups takes a lot of time, but again, time is money, and you will see the benefits down the road of high participation in groups.

There are many different types of Facebook groups so search for and choose the one that bests suits your blog and your needs. Several blogging groups I am a member of are:

 

 

I can’t tell you enough how important it is to mix and mingle with other bloggers. There are so many bloggers out there with good ideas.   The more you interact with other bloggers, the greater chance you have of your content being shared to their followers.  Again, a good place to interact with other bloggers is through Facebook and Pinterest.  You can never have too many friends – and you can never have too many blogger friends too!

 

 

Most bloggers just starting out don’t always know how to brand a blog and stick with it. Branding is important because it is a major part of what draws readers back to your blog over and over again. From the design of your site to the layout of your posts, every detail is important. I have spent the first few weeks of this month doing nothing but branding updates to my blog.  From my featured headers to my media kit, everything has been branded to my liking. What is your brand?  How will you stick out?

 

 

I’m starting to see a greater amount of my traffic come from my Pinterest activity. Joining Pinterest group boards is an excellent way to get your content shared to thousands of people quickly. My Pinterest board, Blogging Tools And Tips, already has over 30 contributors! If you are interested in sharing your blogging-related pins to my board, send me an email at jeremy@goaskyourdaddy.com and provide me with your Pinterest user name.

 

 

A good way to get noticed is to offer something irresistible to your readers for subscribing to your blog.  Many bloggers create free printables as a bonus. Learn how to create something tangible that your readers will love and will undoubtedly share with others.  By establishing yourself as someone who can offer something of value, you will grow your readership by leaps and bounds.

 

 

One great way to get your name out there is to supply guest posts to other bloggers.  By putting your content on other bloggers’ sites, you are increasing your viewership. I have a steady stream of guest post requests for my own blog and publish as many as I can. Your goal is to meet new bloggers and share your content across the widest mediums possible.  Guest posting is definitely a way to go!

 

 

One area where too few bloggers venture, especially in the beginning, is in creating a media kit.  Even with few followers, a media kit is crucial information potential brands want to see to know who you are and what you are about.  There are many ways to create media kits (and even free templates out there).  The best place for information on how to create one is through a Pinterest search.

 

Looking to Brew Beer at Home? PicoBrew's Pico Can Help You With That!

Looking to Brew Beer at Home? PicoBrew’s Pico Can Help You With That!

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

I really love being able to blog about things I love and am passionate about – especially when it comes to BEER! I love trying new and hard-to-find beers whenever I can.  Today, I thought I’d mix it up a little bit and talk about an ever-increasing trend across the world  – home brewing craft beers!  I’ve never tried it before, but the concept of it is intriguing.

In today’s post, I am covering the Pico by PicoBrew.  Now this fancy machine isn’t playing around when it comes to home brewing.  You see it in the quality of the beer and in the price of the product. If you are serious about home brewing, Pico is just the product for you. You can have your own home-brewed beer in as little as one week!

What’s included with Pico?

  • Pico brewing machine
  • User manual
  • One (1) PicoPak (each PicoPak costs between $19-$30)
  • One (1) Brewing Keg
  • One (1) Dispensing Keg
  • Brewing keg seal, stopper, and keg lid
  • Keg Cozy for maintaining brewing temperature
  • Fast Fermentation Adapter for decreasing fermentation time
  • Dispensing keg plug
  • Dip tube brush for brewing keg cleaning
  • (2) Keg Wands for system cleaning
  • Racking tube for transferring wort from brewing keg to dispensing keg
  • CO2 regulator and adapter for dispensing keg
  • Cleaning tablets for deep cleaning
  • Sous Vide Adapter

How to get started brewing with Pico

Before you start brewing, you have to set up your own PicoBrew account online, link the unit to your new account, and finally connecting the unit to Wi-Fi (cool, huh?).  Once you’ve done the techy stuff, the real fun can finally begin!

How long does it take to brew?

According to PicoBrew’s website, the brew cycle takes about 2 hours, depending on which PicoPak you are using.  Once the brew cycle is over, the fermenting process will take about 5 days to complete.  From the moment you start until you are able to pour a pint, the total process takes about one week.  The unit will brew about 5 liters of beer.

What kind of customization options are available?

There aren’t many customization options for Pico at this time, but according to their website,  there are 3 ways to customize your brews.

  1. Customize the bitterness and/or ABV percentage
  2. Purchase the Freestyle PicoPak to select the hops, grains, yeast, and amounts of each.
  3. Create your own totally custom PicoPaks by joining the PicoBrew Developers Program.

How much does it cost?

The Pico runs $799, but between now and March 31, 2017, PicoBrew has a discount of $200 off Pico! To get the discount, use my referral link here!

I’ve reached out to PicoBrew to inquire about receiving a Pico for purposes of providing an honest review.  I haven’t received a response yet, but if I do get my hands on one, I’ll post a review of it!