How to Write Ethical Sponsored Blog Posts and Sponsored Reviews

How to Write Ethical Sponsored Blog Posts and Sponsored Reviews

Recently a reader reached out to me with an important question about sponsored reviews. I started typing a reply to him… and when I reached 500 words, I realized that this needed to be a blog post so everyone can benefit from it!

This blogger had been approached by some companies to review their products, and had the some question many bloggers have…

“Should I charge for a sponsored review?”

It brings up a lot of ethical questions. What if you don’t like the product? What if they want you to promote something you didn’t get to personally experience? What if they want you to use certain language in your post?

So today, we’re talking about sponsored blog post and sponsored reviews. I’m going to answer all of these questions and more, so you can publish ethical reviews that your readers love.

(more…)

How to Rethink Your Goals, Find Your Blogging Purpose, and Finally Write Posts People Really Want to Read

How to Rethink Your Goals, Find Your Blogging Purpose, and Finally Write Posts People Really Want to Read

“Don’t call an ambulance… just take me to the hospital…”

It was the summer after my freshman year of college, and my dad was staring up at my from his chair, where he was gripping his chest, pleading with me to not call for help. He had been feeling sick all day, but this wasn’t just the flu. Someone was really wrong.

But calling 9-1-1 made it real.

If we didn’t call an ambulance, maybe it would just be heartburn or food poisoning. Maybe it would just go away on its own.

I ended up making the call. I was just too scared. It was a good thing I did, because my father’s heart stopped twice on the way to the emergency room. If I would have driven him myself, it is very unlikely that he would have survived.

I sat in the waiting room by myself, biting my fingernails until my mom to got to the hospital. She was working at a farmer’s market, so had a really long drive to get there. I don’t know what is worse: being alone with your thoughts as you drive to the hospital where you didn’t know if you’d find your husband alive or being alone with your thoughts and a pair of your dad’s shoes as you wait for you mom to show up so the doctors will finally tell you something.

I don’t know why I grabbed a pair of my dad’s shoes as they were loading him into the ambulance.

For some reason, I was just thinking that he wasn’t wearing shoes, and what if he had to come home in his socks. I think I just wanted to be helpful, and when your world is spinning out of control, you grab onto whatever tangible task you can do to feel like you are in control. For me, it was packing shoes for my dad.

This story has a somewhat happy ending, because my dad did make it. He was very lucky. Having a massive heart attack when you are in your mid-40s is a completely crazy situation, but my dad is a fighter.

Fast forward several years. In 2012, my mom, my sister and I decided to start a food blog. We’ve always loved cooking, but since I lived in Virginia, and they both lived in Pennsylvania, we didn’t get to cook together as often as we wished we could. So, The PinterTest Kitchen was born.

We set some goals for ourselves, to post yummy recipes 3 times per week, and everything was running along smoothly.

Then… life took another turn.

It was a few days before Halloween, and I was getting ready for a friend’s huge haunted house party, when my mom called. My dad was in the hospital again, another heart attack.

This time, a few stents would not fix the problem like they did the first time. The doctor was recommending heart surgery, and he would very likely need a quadruple bypass.

You know that feeling in the pit of your stomach when someone in your family is very sick and there’s nothing you can do about it?

Yeah, that’s how I felt.

I rushed home to Pennsylvania, and we anxiously pretended to read magazines while waiting for my dad to get out of surgery. We were there so long that the receptionist left to go home. She told us to just pick up the phone on the wall if it rang.

Finally, it did…

(more…)

The Newbie Blogger’s Guide to Getting More Search Engine Traffic

The Newbie Blogger's Guide to Getting More Search Engine Traffic

Search engine optimization… it sounds so intimidating, right?

I know I felt that way when I first started blogging. And to be honest, I’m still a little intimidated by search engine optimization, and I’ve been blogging for over a decade!

But once I saw what learning a little about SEO can do for your traffic (i.e. make you do a cartoon-style double-take because you can’t believe the numbers Google Analytics is showing you)… well, I decided that it might be worth my time to learn a little about how to get more search engine traffic.

Getting more search engine traffic is part art, part science, and part luck!

It’s the “part science” we’re going to talk about in this post. Namely, I’m going to walk you through the very basics of how you can optimize every blog post you write to get more search engine traffic using keyword research.

Now, before I start, let me say this: big companies have entire teams of people dedicated to search engine optimization. It can be a full time job. I don’t want to let that stop you from doing the basics!

Once you get into the groove, you can do simple keyword research in 10-15 minutes, I promise! Then, as you see results, you can devote more and more time to getting more search engine traffic through post optimization. Don’t run away scared right now, though, because you think you don’t have time for it.

We eat the elephant one bite at a time, right?

Without further ado, let’s get started!

(more…)