Question:  We are web-based. How do I choose good websites on which to focus our advertising dollars?

From Leah of www.DiaperCakewalk.com 

Shara’s reply: When I first began my book business I went looking around for web sites to advertise on. I knew very little about advertising back then (2007). I basically focused on cost. I didn’t have a lot of money and I looked around for web sites that didn’t charge hundreds of dollars a month to place a simple ad/link.

I ended up spending $400+ to advertise on a site called MommyPerks.com. I later became co-owner and then full owner but that’s another story. 

Back to my point: I got very little traffic from the site back then! It had just started up in 2005 and the traffic was slim at best. Over the months and years I watched as more mom sites and mom blogs entered the scene and more niche markets popped up Online. I listened to my own friends, colleagues and clients grumble about what didn’t work, the money they wasted and more. I learned from the feedback in order to make Mommy Perks an affordable location for business owners to promote – with funds they could stand to lose. 

That said, here are a few tips I myself would follow if buying ad space for my book business now!

Niche sites

Focus on buying ads on sites and blogs that actually relate to what you do/sell. Sometimes buying ads on “parent” sites is too broad. The more you can narrow things down the better. For instance, if you sell gardening tools, you might do okay promoting to parents but you’d do even better promoting to gardeners. So look around for sites that focus their content on gardening tips, ideas and resources. The site visitors will be more likely to purchase what you are selling. 

Cost

Cost always matters when our budgets are tight. The problem comes when small business owners want advertising for very little from sites that offer a lot. How can that work? Many times, it cannot. Here’s why: If I sell ads for $5 each I’m not earning enough to feed my children or pay my own bills. Yet the advertiser wants me to bring lots of visits and sales. This is hardly fair, right? I have to focus on building up my site and blog in order to have great traffic and seo so that my advertisers get clicks and hopefully sales! That takes time and money. Once I’ve built up then, I have every right to charge more. That is what the advertiser is paying for, after-all. So keep in mind that while you do want to spend your money wisely, expecting a site to deliver high results will cost you more. Fair is fair. 

Google Ads

Do your research and number crunching before buying Google Ads. One of my clients recently did the number crunching and realized… this is not for them. You see, they sell memberships on their site for $20 each. With Google Ads, they’d be spending about $60 per new client that they snag. That certainly doesn’t balance out, does it? Now, if you sell something for $300 and each new client would cost you $60, it may be worth it.

Plan ahead

Many small business owners plan out their advertising dollars at the start of the year. They take the extra funds that came from holiday sales and use that to buy ads for the following 12 months. This is a wise move, I think. Most small businesses gain additional income during the holiday months so using some of that to continue with their advertising is smart. Do some research and ask around. What sites do other small businesses advertise on? Who gives the most bang for your buck? What site owners go the extra mile by tweeting and facebooking their clients? Many sites do not welcome their advertisers on facebook or twitter but many do. Find out who goes that extra step for their clients.

Create effective ad images 

I recently ran a giveaway for one client and I invited a few pals to enter. Two of them wrote back, “Oh, I don’t have toddler aged kids!” Well, this client had long been using babies and toddlers on their ad graphics. Even though they sell for kids up to the age of 18! Many potential buyers didn’t bother to click over because the images implied that all products were for small children only. Be sure to create and label your ad images for the most accurate and targeted results. 

Long term ads

It can take a while for site visitors to register your ad in their mind. They might see your ad 10 times before actually clicking over or acting upon it. It’s often-times better to buy long term ads rather than short term (one month, etc). I used to sell ads in our PERKS Directory for 3, 6 and 12 months. I now sell the spots for one year only and that’s that. It’s better for the client to have a long term placement so I don’t bother with other options now. This is less likely to be an issue for high traffic sites like CNN.com, of course. If you are on CNN.com for one month you’ll get lots of clicks. Yes, indeed. For smaller sites and blogs, however, don’t expect fast results or over-the-moon traffic stats.

Busy beaver blogs

Do you ever visit sites and blogs that are crammed full of ads? I can’t stand them, myself. I shut out every single ad and don’t pay attention to any of them. If you are like me, you’ll want to find sites that tastefully sell ads so that the clients can actually be seen among the content. I would be far more likely to buy ads on a site or blog that doesn’t crowd, cram and stuff the ads into every nook and cranny. 

Think outside the Internet

Your local school may sell ad space in the yearbook or school newsletter. Look into these options, as well. They are usually very affordable and you’ll be promoting to locals – who hopefully embrace the “buy local” slogan! As a local business owner you may gain new business from other parents in your area, even though you sell Online. It can’t hurt to try. 

Shara Lawrence-Weiss has a background in education, early childhood, special needs, freelance and marketing. She owns various websites including: Mommy Perks, Kids Perks, Personal Child Stories, Early Childhood News and Resources and Pine Media (co owner). Shara is an active member of her town charity group and a Library Board Member. Learn more about her at Mommy Perks.

Maria Dismondy, a native from Michigan, is a children’s book author who writes about bullying, teasing and friendships and how children can deal with problems they encounter. Maria Dismondy Inc. was created in 2008 after she had two children’s books published.

“Spaghetti in A Hot Dog Bun” was published in August 2008. Based loosely off of Dismondy’s personal childhood experiences, the book encourages children to, “Be who they are and not pretend.” The book has sold almost 40,000 copies to date. Dismondy collaborated with Bob Sornson in 2010 to publish another book entitled “The Juice Box Bully”. Her most recent project is a book about bullying between friends. “Pink Tiara Cookies for Three” will be released in early 2013.

Not only does Dismondy write books for children, she also travels to Michigan schools to speak about the topics of reading, writing and bullying. Within a two-month time span, she spoke to 10,000 children in area schools.

In addition to writing and speaking, Dismondy is a stay-at-home mom. She cares for her daughter while taking online photography classes. Spending time with her daughter is important, so together they read close to 12 books a day. She works on her writing during naptime and before her family is awake in the morning.

Dismondy encourages other mom entrepreneurs to, “Go for the gold (and) follow your dreams and fulfill your passions.” She markets her business through social media via Facebook and Twitter. She participates in book tours, both virtually and locally, and networks through groups she is already a part of. “There is a lot of power in word of mouth!” stated Dismondy regarding marketing through local organizations.

If you’re interested in learning more about Dismondy or her books, visit her website. You can also order her books right online through Amazon.

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Two years ago Tricia J thought to herself, “I like sewing, wonder what I can do with it?” The answer: start her own online business doing something she loves. Tricia learned from a young age how to sew from her mom. Then in junior high school she took a few home economics classes. Now she owns TJJ sews.

Check out her website and explore all the creative and fun items she designs. Tricia’s favorite products to make are for electronics. They range from iPad cases to e-reader cases. She also sews yoga mat totes and popular key fobs. Her key fobs are customized for sports teams, hobbies and careers. Shop around the site and take a look at all 130 items. They are bright, fun and great for people of all ages!

Her keyfobs are among her most popular items. Priced very reasonably at $5.00 plus $1.95 shipping, they make great party favors. Keyfobs are great for weet sixteens, graduations, bar mitzvah, sports banquets, wedding showers, baby showers or corporate event favors. She’s even made them for golf tournaments to be included in golfer goodie bags. 
 
Volume pricing on the keyfobs is availabe. 1 – 11 keyfobs are $5.00 each, 12-23 keyfobs are $4.75, 24-35 are $4.50, 36 – 47 are $4.25 and 48+ $4.00 each.  She also offers monogramming which is an additional  $2.50 for each keyfob.

You can like TJJ Sews on Facebook and follow her on Twitter to get weekly updates on craft shows she attends and other TJJ Sews news!

Like many mom entrepreneurs, Tracy Sanders can link her product and inspiration directly to her children. When her fifth grade daughter Brooke had a minor hair emergency on picture day, Sanders quickly placed a charm from her own bracelet into Brooke’s bobby pin.

A trend was born. That kick started Sanders into over drive. “I knew this was ‘it’,” she said. SassaB LLC was born in October, 2011.

What makes SassaB unique are the links found on the bottom of each charm, allowing them to be connected together in a multitude of ways, using as many charms as you like. And, they’re not just for hair. Kids are showing off their SassaB style on backpacks, shoes/boots and zippers.  They’re creating bracelets, necklaces, belts, and more.

Some of the current designs include suns, peace signs, hearts, panda bears and cows. Sanders said that they are hoping to expand the line of designs soon. SassaB is exploding as the newest trend that kids are wearing, sharing and trading.  

Within six months of their launch, SassaB landed prominent sales space in Tampa Bay area Walgreens and local boutiques. The buzz about the linkable charms continues to get louder. “Managers from out of area Walgreens are calling Tampa Bay stores due to calls they are receiving from customers looking for SassaB and wanting to know when they will carry them and where they can find them now.  It’s a crazy busy, exciting time and we can’t wait to see what’s next,” Sanders said.

SassaB can be found online via several outlets. Their website is located here, and they can be found at Amazon and Isn’t This Clever. SassaB is also on Facebook and Twitter! Join them and find out what all the buzz is about today!

A career in Direct Sales (DS) can be whatever you want it to be – for some it’s a hobby others a career. No matter what you think of DS companies this summer we took we took the nation by storm and left our mark on the economy in a BIG way!!!  100’s of DS companies held national conferences this summer. Many of us traveled by plane, train or automobile to attend these conferences!  I personally attended a conference in Atlanta where 17,000 consultants took downtown by storm for five days! Wearing pink, carrying our bags and having a great time learning ways to grow our businesses, networking and sharing in a sisterhood!

Several other DS companies held conferences in Columbus, Phoenix, Las Vegas, and many other great cities all over the US! With millions of women and a few men attending these conferences expenses include: travel, hotels, meals, souvenirs, and more! All a tax expense for our businesses and all in an effort to come home and become more successful! Stats show your business will grow 30 percent or more if you attend a conference!

I’m not sure it matters what you sell or who you sell it for. The motivation, ideas and classes can apply to any business and in a lot of cases your life. It’s a huge commitment for anyone to attend! In many cases you have to make arrangements for your family, convince your husband it’s a worthy cause and make enough money to support your trip! Regardless, it’s really a great experience and well worth any trouble it takes to get there!

In some cases your demographics or region you live in may limit your success no matter how hard you are working. You may not earn the trip or have a $26,000 show (yes one show!!!) but the memories and friendships your making will last a lifetime.

My most memorable moment this year was when Andrea Walters-Downing spoke at our Directors day training. I have watched her from a far for many years. She is an amazing woman. She touched a nerve with me when she referenced a few good books and the endless search for balance. As women, we constantly seek balance in our lives and rarely achieve this goal. She talked about instead of looking for balance, seek MOMENTS! Take advantage of time spent with family and enjoy moments, making time spent with friends, family, and spouse great instead of always trying to balance and be perfect. 

I am trying hard to follow her advice since returning to the farm and I am doing a good job enjoying my family! But tomorrow, when the kids return to school I will find MOMENTS in my office, as I have found many MOMENTS with my kids over the past few weeks!

Amber Davis is a 17 year direct sales associate with The Lonagberger Co. and currently director for at Thirty One Gifts.  Holding a degree in business administration and marketing, she previously worked in the business industry. After the birth of her second child; family took priority over work and she left her full time position. Now a mother of four, she believes firmly in direct Sales and the endless opportunity it provides! “I can’t imagine ever returning to a traditional 9-5 job,” she said. She firmly believes in doing what works for your family. She helps her husband on the family farm and writes her own blog: Adventures in Farm Life. This, she said, is a work in progress and mostly serves to share family photos. In her free time she loves to travel and enjoys volunteering.

Business owner and mother of three, Shara Danziger, has been busy creating and maintaining not one, but two businesses over the last eight years. In October of 2004, she opened Shara’s Paperie, a premier location in Memphis, Tennessee for gifts, stationery and custom invitations.

Danziger, along with her two employees, works with clients to craft uniquely designed invitations for events that include weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, corporate events and birthday parties. Branching from Shara’s Paperie in December 2008 was Confections, an online site that offers personalized invitations, gifts and stationary. The website offers personalized product ranging from pillowcases, iPhone cases, laundry bags and cutting boards.

Raising children ages 10, 11 and 13 while operating two businesses is challenging for Danziger. “I find that balancing involves an immense amount of scheduling so I can spend sufficient time at work, while making it to the activities, games and recitals.” She states that organization is key to managing her hectic life. “I am always one step ahead making sure that everything is covered.” After realizing her house would not always be spotless and she could not prepare a fabulous dinner every night, Danziger had time to focus on what she could accomplish personally and professionally.

Danziger advises other mom entrepreneurs to “think long term.” “Deciding to open a business is a life changing leap and once you take it going back is very difficult.” Businesses, family and life in general change over time. Before you open a business, consider if you will love the it in five years and if you are willing to miss a few of your children’s events in an attempt to help your business succeed.

A strong presence on Facebook for both the Shara’s Paperie and Confections has enabled Danziger to attract and retain costumers. She also markets her businesses by participating in local charity events and being active in the community.

Explore the products offered by Shara’s Paperie online or give them a call at 901.737.5056. Check out the personalized gifts of Confections by Shara’s Paperie online () as well.

Cell phones are almost a symbol of the modern challenges of balancing work and home—in so many movies, it’s the cell phone that needs to be thrown out the window so the protagonist can get his or her priorities straight—but with the right apps, your smartphone can actually help you navigate this tricky problem. Here are a few of the top organization and time-management apps to help you be more efficient at work, and more present at home.

1. Evernote (Android, iOS)

This app is a great way to keep track of ideas, insights, and to-dos from both your personal and professional life. What makes this app better than a simple notepad is the ability to save photos, audio, and video to correspond with the text of your notes. You can organize your notes by category, so that you don’t have to rifle through notes from your dream journal when you’re looking for the auto mechanic’s phone number. It’s a great app for handling grocery lists, or snapping photos of business cards and other scraps of paper that might otherwise clutter your wallet or purse. (Cost: free)

2. Cozi Family Calendar (Android, iOS)

Like Woody Allen said, 90% of life is just showing up; and Cozi Family Calendar is a good way to make sure everyone in the family does. The app maintains a calendar, synced in real time, between every phone in the family, so that there’s no miscommunication about doctor appointments, soccer practice, or what the family needs from the store. It’s also a great tool to keep parents on the same page, so the kids have the same rules and responsibilities, whether Mom or Dad is home. (Cost: free)

3. Epicurious (Android, iOS)

Bringing the family together for mealtimes is important, and it’s much nicer if you have something home cooked and delicious to bring to the table. Epicurious is a great recipe app that breaks down grocery shopping and cooking step-by-step so that you and your spouse can work together to make something great, even if only one of you (or neither of you) is a particularly accomplished cook. You can find meals organized by diet, season, occasion, and other categories, so you always prepare just the right thing. The app was originally intended for the iPhone, so errors such as the app failing to update to seasonal changes have been reported on some Android devices. We can confirm those errors fixed for Samsung cell phones, as well as HTC phones. (Cost: free)

4. Chore Hero (iOS)

When you have to divide your time between work and family, the last thing you want to do is spend that valuable time fighting over chores. If you or your kids balk at the idea of a “sticker chart”, Chore Hero is another option to help organize family chores. You can use Chore Hero to assign a point value to different things that need to be done around the house (maybe cleaning the bathroom merits a few more points than sweeping the kitchen, for instance), and kids can cash in those points for little incentives like picking the movie for family night, or getting to stay up later. You can also use it to designate which family member has which weekly and daily chores, so that everyone contributes. It’s a flexible system, so it can be helpful for lots of different parenting strategies. (Cost: $2.99)

Julia Peterson is a writer for AndGeeks.com, a popular website that provides up-to-date news, detailed commentary, and unbiased reviews on cell phones and related topics. Julia resides in Galveston, Texas in a cozy little house in the country with her husband, young son, and their Labrador retriever, Darby.

If you’re anything like me, you love movies. Sometimes you don’t want to rent a movie through Redbox, you want to buy one. But what happens when your local retail store doesn’t have a great movie selection for your family? The time you want to pick a movie for family night and the store’s biggest selection only has scary, rated R movies. To save the hassle of rummaging through unwanted DVD’s, why not order them right online through a trusted, family owned website?

Mommybearmedia.com is an excellent one-stop website for all your family oriented movies. Owned and operated by a mother of four, Mommybearmedia.com only carries G, PG and some PG-13 rated movies and television shows. The items sold are high quality, top-rated, worth watching and have good messages. 

The easy to use website shows prices, trailers and everything you need to know for every item. Navigate around the site to discover the large collection of fun, educational and exciting movies and television series. You won’t be disappointed!

Mommybearmedia.com handles and ships all orders by hand, therefore the customer service is exceptional and orders are shipped within one business day by USPS first class or priority mail.

Hate when shipping is almost as much as your purchase? With mommybearmedia.com you won’t have to worry about shipping at all because they provide free shipping on all orders! Leave five reviews on the website and get an additional $5 off your next purchase! Check the business out on Facebook and Twitter too!

Visit the website, order some great movies and enjoy a night of family fun!

Leisurely reading, who has time for that? Taking care of the kids, cleaning the house, cooking dinner and trying to build your own business from scratch doesn’t really leave much free time to sit down and engulf yourself in a good book. Wouldn’t it be great to multi-task (like many moms do) and read an enjoyable book while learning essential tips and facts about creating your own business? Well, lucky for you, “Mom, Inc.” is the perfect book to crack open!

“Mom, Inc.” is a mother’s guide to pursing the dream of owning a business. Authors Cat Seto and Meg Mateo Ilasco share their own mishaps and successes of creating a business within the pages of the book. This “mommy guide” is full of ideas, interviews and how-to’s. Published in 2012 by Chronicle Books, “Mom, Inc.” also features Q&A’s with other successful mom entrepreneurs including DwellStudio’s Christine Lemieux and Amy Atlas Events’ Amy Atlas. The two mothers reveal tips and tricks about balancing work with family time. Conquering the task of maintaining a healthy balance isn’t easy, but this practical and insightful book helps make it possible.

Ready to enjoy reading a fun and helpful book? Order online here! Visit Seto’s website to learn more about her business, book and studio. You can also contact Seto by friending her on Facebook, following her on Twitter or via email