Sunday, March 22, 2009

Death ... and Life

I've been away from my blog longer than usual, as I was out of town for funeral services after my aunt died suddenly earlier this month. She was only 50, and she was murdered. She leaves behind a grieving husband (they were married 24 years) and nine children, ages 6 to 20. I loved my aunt and I am heartbroken for her family and deeply saddened for our extended family, who will dearly miss the love and joy she brought to our family.

It hardly seems real that she is gone. I suppose death, when unexpected, is like that: it happens so quickly with such finality that the mind has trouble catching up with what happened. It's been a couple weeks now since I got the phone call that my Aunt Renee was dead, but my shock has only just begun to lessen, even as raw sadness takes its place.

My Aunt Renee's untimely death has really impressed a few things on me, and I wanted to share two of those thoughts with you, my fellow work at home moms, freelance writers and online entrepreneurs. I hope it doesn't seem callous to talk about things of a practical nature when someone has just died. But the reality is, life keeps moving.

Make a "love drawer" for your family.

Like many moms, my Aunt Renee paid the bills and managed the finances for her family. She took care of collecting rents from their rental properties and making sure mortgages were paid. Basically, she did it all. In my family, I manage our online bill paying, debt reduction plan, and also earn an income that is primarily online. I have a system, but it's all in my head -- nothing is written down. Renee was the same way, and her sudden death leaves her devastated husband with the task of figuring out what bills are due when on top of everything else. Dave Ramsey encourages his listeners to make a "Love Drawer" for the spouse or family members you leave behind. In it should be your will, final instructions, insurance policy information, and everything your spouse needs to carry on should something happen to you. I need to do this, like, yesterday. In addition to all the bill paying, I have a couple PayPal accounts where residual earnings would keep on arriving, and affiliates who would still need to be be paid for their sales if I died .... point is, I need everything spelled out in writing, and I also want to take the time to go over it with my husband.

Be there for your children.
As work at home moms, we're always there for our children, right? I mean, we're here practically 24/7, they wake up to us being there and see us during the day or after school, and we tuck them in at night. But let me share with you ... my Aunt Renee had an amazing ability of truly being present for her children. I want to be like that, too. Her untimely death made me take notice; her lovely life gave me the inspiration. Too many times I'm staring at a computer screen while the kids ask me questions. I am making a huge effort to get my writing done in the wee hours of the morning or after they are in bed, so I can really be there for them during these young years of their lives. My aunt Renee was a work at home mom, too, first as a daycare owner in Alaska and then as a therapist and horsewoman in TN. Still, she put her kids first. I will, too.

My Aunt Renee loved life -- she brought fun wherever she went. She loved my uncle, she loved being a mom, and she loved her farm. She will be missed terribly, even as we remember her with joy in our sorrow.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Blog Ideas for Profitable Niches

Looking for blog ideas?

If you want to start a blog for fun and income, coming up with a profitable niche topic is one of the most important steps to successful blogging.

When I started my first few blogs, I really didn't know what I was doing or how much I could earn from blogging. I was basically blogging for fun and to build back-links to my other sites and content. But now, when choosing a topic for a website or blog, I look at a few factors to determine my blog's focus.

1. Interests and knowledge base. Why start a blog on something I won't enjoy or don't know much about? This would likely result in neglecting my blog and it not living up to its income potential. Also, readers can tell when you're an authority on the subject and when you're just writing SEO content articles. To make your blog stand out, think of blog ideas that truly interest you -- maybe even something you're passionate about.

2. The competition. What other blogs are there on my topic? If the niche is already crowded, with many relevant, quality blogs, it might be wise to consider other topics and different blog ideas. A simple Google search for your topic and the word "blog" will give you an idea of what else is out there. But keep in mind that if you can find a different angle or focus on the same general topic, your niche may have very little competition.

3. Keywords. To ensure you'll have plenty of material for your blog, check out related keywords and topics through keyword tools. There should be a large variety and number of keyword combinations for your topic to be viable in the long run. I use Wordtracker's free keyword tool, and plug in my main keyword to see how often people are searching for it and related terms.

After considering your interests, niche competition and the quality and number of related searches for your blog ideas, you will have an idea as to whether your topic will be profitable. Run the numbers on several different topics so you can get a feel for where different niches stack up and make a educated decision.

If you still find it intimidating or confusing to come up with blog ideas, I will again recommend an awesome resource for new and pro bloggers, which hundreds of people have used to build a blog from the ground up: The Niche Blogger.

This program, which is run by a stay at home/ work at home mom of four as a way to show other moms how to earn a passive income with blogging, began as a very successful attempt to show the method to her own mom.

Her end result is a step-by-step program that literally covers every thing you need to know about blogging ... far more than I have shared with you in my posts, since space and time, as well as my lesser knowledge on the topic, preclude me from presenting as in-depth material as she covers.

An impressive aspect of the program is how Amy shares her method for coming up with good blog ideas. It really simplifies the niche research process, making it doable for any level blogger.

Don't forget, niche blogging is more than just picking a topic, it also involves finding one that will actually make money -- the most important thing for many professional bloggers!

Do you blog to earn money? How did you choose your niche topic?