Zen Accounting for Bloggers

Graphic of man meditating that reads 'Zen Accounting for Bloggers'

There aren’t many things I’d rather be doing than accounting.

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Okay, well… actually…

…now that I think of it there are quite a few things I’d rather be doing than accounting.

Things like:

  1. Juggling porcupines
  2. Taste testing cardboard
  3. Listening to Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini on repeat.

Are you with me or are you with me?

Here’s the deal though: if you’re working to build your blog into a business then you need to treat it like one. That means doing a good job with your accounting.

While I don’t like spending time in Excel or QuickBooks, I do like knowing that our books are in order and that we’re keeping track of our income and expenses.

So how do anti-spreadsheet people like Lindsay and I manage to keep our books in order?

We do it by using a system I call Zen Accounting for Bloggers.

It's a simple system that we developed over the past few years. This system allows us to keep really clean books while spending less than 30 minutes a week on taxes/accounting/bookkeeping.

And today I’d like to share that simple system with you.

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Email with Purpose: How your inbox can help you grow your blog

If you don’t get a lot of email right now, you will someday.

That might sound negative, but I'm predicting your future success. πŸ™‚

Here's how it'll work: Your blog will continue to grow, and as your blog continues to grow so will the number of people you impact, and the more people you impact the more people will email you.

It’s a good problem to have, but it’s a problem nonetheless.

But it's possible for emails to be a pleasure, not a pain, and to be helpful, not hurtful. You just need to make sure that you approach email with a purpose, and that purpose should be to help you grow your blog. 

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There are two general types of emails:

  1. I want to say hi.
  2. I need some help.

The first type of email gives you a chance to connect with one of your readers. If you can, you should try and respond to these emails. Showing someone you heard what they said (and that you genuinely care) can go a long way.

The second type of email comes from someone that has a problem. The primary goal for this emailer is to solve their problem, not necessarily to connect or say hi.

These emails, the “I need some help emails,” are the type of emails I’d like to talk about in this post.

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The Definitive List of Takedown Notice Forms

Are you looking for a certain company's takedown notice form?

You’ve come to the right place.

Does my word not convince you? I bet this ninja karate chopping a computer will.

Convinced now?

Good.

πŸ™‚

Before we look through the list I want to talk about what a takedown notice is and when I think you should use them.

Quick tip: Want to watch a video instead of read the post? You can scroll to the bottom of this post to check out the "video recap" from our YouTube channel.

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7 awesome apps we’re using to build Pinch of Yum and Food Blogger Pro

Trying to build a blog without good applications is like trying to build a house without good tools. You can do it, but it will take a lot longer.

Have you ever searched for a password you wrote down on a piece of paper and put “somewhere safe” (but you’re not quite sure where that is)? Have you ever tried to communicate a design concept over email using written text? Have you ever written the same sentence over and over in different emails to different people?

All of those things are examples of ways that we try and build our virtual house (i.e. blog) using crummy tools.

If you’re looking to build an awesome blog then you need awesome applications for your virtual toolbelt. The following seven apps are the first "tools" that I'd suggest you purchase (or download for free).

Note: Some of these apps are specific to Mac OS. If there’s an alternative option for Windows then I include it at the end of the description.

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How we improved our landing page conversion rate by 138%

Three months ago I wrote a post called How to Increase Your Conversion Rates with A/B Testing. In the post I promised to put together quarterly updates to let everyone know how the A/B testing is going.

My hope with these quarterly updates is to:

  • Encourage you to do A/B testing if you have the time and energy.
  • If you don’t have the time and energy then I want to show you the changes we made to help increase conversion rates.

You can take the things we’ve learned about increasing conversions and apply them to your sales pages without having to do any A/B testing on your own (but I still think you should do A/B testing if you have the time).

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Introducing The Nutrition Label Generator

Today is a big day at Food Blogger Pro Headquarters (otherwise known as the Ostrom’s basement).

Food Blogger Pro is launching our first tool for food bloggers. We couldn’t be more excited!

We’re calling it the Nutrition Label Generator.

Any guesses as to what it does?

Yep! You got it. It generates nutrition facts labels.

We have three goals with the Nutrition Label Generator.

We want this to be a tool that is:

  1. Easy to use
  2. Accurate
  3. Value adding

Before I explain the three goals I want to quickly show you how to use the tool, explain why we're developing software tools, and discuss our software philosophy at FBP.

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The best type of affiliate marketing: What it is and why you need to do it

I always get giddy when I talk about affiliate marketing.

It’s just so darn cool.

You know what I mean?

You don’t?

Okay…fine then. I guess I'll have to convince you.

And I'll do so by telling you about how the best type of affiliate marketing can help you increase the income you’re earning from your food blog (and I know you think that is pretty darn cool).

I want to make sure we’re all on the same page before we jump into my main point for this post, so I’d like to take a moment to share a thrilling short story entitled “A Very Basic Example of Affiliate Marketing.”

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Why We Moved to MailChimp

This to-do item was on my list for about a year:

Move Pinch of Yum RSS Email off of Feedburner.

It was one of those to-do items that becomes nearly invisible. Kind of like that stray box in the basement that still isn’t unpacked five years after moving. You know it’s there, you think of taking care of it when you see it, but somehow it never gets done.

In April I decided to (finally) dedicate some time and take care of this before it moved into the “forever forgotten” area on my list. I’m happy to report that I can now cross “Move Pinch of Yum RSS Email off of Feedburner” off of my to-do list.

I wanted to report back to the Food Blogger Pro readers about the process in case you had a similar to-do on your list. I’ll explain RSS email subscriptions, talk about the issues I had with Feedburner, share how we made the move to MailChimp, and (most importantly) share some ideas around utilizing an RSS email list to help you build a thriving and profitable blog.

If you’d like to sign up for MailChimp you can use the FBP affiliate link here. We won’t use an affiliate link in any other places in order to keep this post nice and clean. πŸ™‚

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Ad Network Tracking Tool – Built by the FBP Community

In the most recent Traffic and Income Report on Pinch of Yum I shared how Kiersten Frase’s eBook, How to Monetize Your Food Blog (affiliate link), made me realize that we could be doing a much better job of creating income from the ads we’re running on Pinch of Yum.

It made me realize that I need to change our advertising mindset (on Pinch of Yum) from “set it and forget it” to “always be testing it.”

This realization inspired me to create a spreadsheet to track our advertising numbers, because it’s tough to test something unless you have easy to understand data to test it against.

Why am I posting about this on the Food Blogger Pro blog?

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