Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ads for Charity Giveaway

As some of you know, I'm a big fan of Mercy Corps, an organization that works around the world, helping people affected by poverty, disaster, war and disease. It was the first place I thought of to give when I heard about the earthquake in Haiti, because after Hurricane Katrina Charity Navigator wrote about how they had one of the best, most efficient responses to that disaster.


After giving myself I started thinking of ways I could do more. I decided to raise money by offering free advertising to bloggers, webmasters, and online shopkeepers who donate! Now, I only have so much space though, and am somewhat picky about the links and banners I allow on my website, so I'm going to ask that people interested in advertising with me e-mail me at first to get pre-approved (or just leave a comment below for the giveaway).

I have several websites and blogs, and the ones I'm offering advertising on (including this one) are listed here, along with more info on how this will all work. You can also offer ads on your own site for charity, and list them here.


And, to get the word out, I'm giving away advertising to one family friendly blogger, webmaster, or online shopkeeper (no donation necessary). If you win you will get:

1. A banner or text link on one of my higher traffic pages (pages with more than 500 hits per month) for 6 months, or one of my lower traffic pages for 1 year.
2. A write up about the winning website on Scribbleprints (here), Texifornia and Such Fun to Give.

But there's a few read on below.

Write a comment telling me which site you would like a banner or text link on (you choose from places I list here or suggest ad spots on any of my other sites listed here.) Explain why that would be a good match for your site. Make sure to include a way to contact you and a link to your site, and if you have your banner you can include it or a link to it so I can see what it would look like.

The giveaway winner WILL NOT be chosen randomly. Remember how I said I'm picky about my links? Well, I don't want to be pigeon-holed into linking to a site I disagree with or which conflicts with my content. So, the winner will be hand chosen based on which site/ad I think fits best! I only accept family friendly sites (if you have a rare mild swear word come up on your blog, that won't get you excluded...but please don't even bother submitting sites with porn, racism, vulgar content, etc.).

Entering this giveaway will not get you signed up for any long-term mailing lists, but by entering you do agree to receive e-mails to ask questions about your site, ad, banner, etc. (to help me decide the winner), an e-mail to let you know you've won if you're the winner (of course), and one e-mail to let you know if your site would qualify for ad space on one of my sites, and ask if you'ld like to donate.

The giveaway ends Thursday, January 28th! The winner will be contacted by Feb 5th and have until Feb 10th to respond before I give the ad spot to someone else.

NOTE: Neither me nor this site is affiliated with MercyCorps in any ways. It's just the charity I'm choosing to donate towards.

Other Ads for Charity

List Charity Ads on Your Own Site

Monday, January 18, 2010

FREE Shipping Coupon

Use coupon code WEDDINGNEEDS for free shipping on orders over $50 of Stamps, Postcards, and Invitations through Jan 31st at my Zazzle Shop!

Bridal Shower Invitation invitation

Scribbleprint Heart Border Template stamp

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Hot and Not Wednessdays

An earthquake has leveled most of Port-au-Prince, Haiti (Hait's capital city, population around 200,000), and has affected as many as About 3 million people -- one-third of Haiti's population.

Sending help. There's a list of places to donate on Charity Navigator. I will be giving to Mercy Corps, an organization I've been watching for several years after it was sited by Charity Navigator as having one of the most affective and well-organized responses to relief for victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Below are two places that also support Mercy Corps when you click (that's right, all you have to do is click on a page on their site - advertising on the site pays for the donation).

The Child Health Site . ..............The Hunger Site

Just click the pictures above. Clicks support several charities, including Mercy Corps. I'm not sure if any of the funds earned for Mercy Corps through those site will specifically go to Haiti relief, BUT any funds going to this charity should help, since they free up more non-allocated funds to go to disaster relief. And it's quick and free, so why not try it?

Had to add a note about CafePress' Haiti Relief Store. 100% off the profits (the cost of the item minus the cost of manufacturing) from these items go to support relief efforts through UNICEF. If they are still taking design donations for this later this week I will try to donate a design. Unfortunately this is a full weekend so I won't have a chance to work on one til' Monday.

Thanks as always to Loobylu for starting Hot or Now Wednessdays! Visit her Mr. Linky to see others who are participating.

Friday, January 1, 2010

HOT and NOT - A Year in Review

Usually Hot and Not Hot Wednesdays only cover the past week--but I thought I'd talk about what's been hot or not in 2009.

Moving into our first house.

Moving into our first house
. Putting your life in boxes and moving it is never less than stressful.

My kids.
I am so proud of them every day. Yeah...they are all boy with all that's good and bad about that, and sometimes this home is a tantrum zone, but I love them and wouldn't want to be without them.

Time Away.
This year my husband and I got our first weekend alone we've had since we became parents--a wonderful time in Austin that was utterly refreshing. THAT'S an occasion worth celebrating. Maybe I should re-word the previous "HOT" -- I love my kids and wouldn't want to be withouut them...for long. Having a weekend without them now and then is something I'd like to repeat much more often.

This blog. I added this blog in June of this year, and it has made it so much easier. In stead of having having to decide which of the three (previously four) shops I run to send people to, I just send people here, to my blog. Having one place to share all my sales, new products, and other happenings makes things so much easier! A big thanks to all the people who have given advice, linked to my blog, and to all my followers who have been such an encouragement to me!

My Facebook Fan Page. I was a little hesitant to add a facebook page in addition to a blog, but I'm glad I did. It's a great secondary way to let people know what's happening at my site.

Great New products. This year I had the chance to introduce so many new products with my designs. Here are some of my faves...

At Zazzle: Invitations, Flyers, Photo Cards, Dog Shirts, and Bag Styles

Bridal Shower Invitation invitation Fall Flyer Template flyer Green Christmas Trees Photo Card photocard

Scribbleprint Hearts petshirt Patriot Ladies bag

At Printfection: New mugs, bottles, and cozies:

fire leaf mugshamrock bottle

All Boy travel mugcan coolers

At CafePress
: New Aprons and Bags

She Walks in Beauty ApronAll Boy Gym Bag

Prices on some new products. The following products added this year would be hotter if they cost a little less.

I Drank the Water Pregnancy Journal binder Pink Lady Letterhead letterhead Fiery Leaves stationery

Inner Child Bib Sleep Deprived Parent Sigg Bottle

I don't expect print on demand products to be Walmart cheap. I realize it costs more to print things individually then it would to print and sell in bulk. But who pays nearly $20 for a binder? I wouldn't have even added those if they hadn't offered a $10 off coupon this Thanksgiving. And while I was excited about the stationary and letterhead (products I've been wanting to add forever) I was disappointed at the price--and even more-so when I discovered the price of shipping (the price goes down when you order over 25 pages...but the extra shipping eats up most of that discount). I'm probably being un-reasonable balking at the price of the Sigg Bottles CafePress added, since these are not much more than plain Sigg bottles would cost. I'm happy that Printfection added similar bottles at a better price (even if they aren't Sigg brand). And though having nicer bibs with new color trim is nice, $10 is more than most people will pay, IMHO. Still, because there's sometimes sales which bring prices on these items lower, I decided to go ahead and add them.

Zazzle! Overall I've been thrilled with their service this year. The quality of their printing is always stellar, they ship quickly, they've offered great sales and coupons, and this year have added lots of great new products. They also added a volume bonus program (a program rewarding shopkeepers who earn over a certain amount) this year and I reached it 3 times! Love what's happening there. Every time I turn around they are doing something new to improve both the customer and shopkeepers experience!

Zazzle Taking Down Their Shipping Page. In spite of my general love of Zazzle, shipping has been a big pet peeve for me because different products ship from different places, so in most cases you don't save on shipping when you order things together. Then, earlier this year Zazzle removed the shipping price information page from their website. They now suggest that you start the checkout process if you want to review your total shipping cost--which is a pain! Yeah, the old shipping info was confusing, so I understand their reasons for doing this--but I still wish they hadn't. At least their items are always well packaged and come in a timely manner, so I suppose I shouldn't complain.

CafePress was the first site I started selling through, and in the past has been my biggest seller, but this year has been dismal. In 2008 I was getting 10-20 sales every month even though I wasn't spending as much time promoting the shop. I even got a volume bonus one month (a bonus if you sell over a certain amount). Things were going well and I was really hopeful for them to keep going well. Then, a series of events happened...
  1. CafePress changed the volume bonus program to exclude marketplace sales (where most of my sales come from).
  2. In October 2008 the economy crashed...and so did my sales. They never really recovered.
  3. In April CafePress changed their marketplace search algorithm, and started excluding some products from the marketplace. They also removed all links from the marketplace to individual shops. I didn't see the affects of these changes right away, but I think I'm feeling them now.
  4. In June 2009, CafePress changed their pricing system. Prices would stay the same in shops (where shopkeepers could continue to set the prices to their products), but in the marketplace CafePress would set the price and shopkeepers would only receive a 10% mark-up. I saw an immediate drop in commission, even though most of the prices CafePress was charging in the marketplace was more than I had set for the same products in my shop. Customers were paying more and I was earning less. I also think the higher prices on most products contributed to the significant drop in marketplace sales I saw in 2009. But this is just extra spending money for me--for those shopkeepers who rely on CafePress for their income, this was truly devastating.
  5. The difference in pricing between the marketplace and my shops made it more difficult to advertise specific products. When I wanted to spot-light certain products (say, point a customer towards all of my mugs at CafePress), I used to just do a search in the marketplace under "Scribbleprints" or "GalesGiggles." But now I couldn't do that because the marketplace items cost more, and some of my designs weren't showing up. And while I could have fixed this by paying for premium shops, something I was considering in 2008, I was no longer earning enough monthly cover the costs, and didn't want to invest more in a company that had made all these recent negative changes.
  6. During 2009 CafePress also cut down on it's promotions. There were less coupons to be found to offer to customers, and many of those that were offered were only good in the marketplace (and because the prices were higher there than what I was offering in my shop, these were generally not worth promoting).
  7. All this resulted in the most dismal holiday sales I've seen since I first started making sales at CafePress. From October through December, the time period where I usually make the most sales, I sold only two items.
ArtsNow. In 2009 I finally had to admit that my ArtsNow shop was more trouble than it was worth and close shop. There were just too many things wrong that kept popping up with their products and shipping.

Sales at Printfection. Nope, still haven't made one. Printfection has quality products, and though they rarely offer coupons or add new products to their selection, they did both this year, which I tried to promote...yet still no sales. I know I could do better here if I re-did my shop design (which requires learning CSS) or put more effort into promoting my printfection shop, but at this point its easier to focus on where I'm already doing well then try to build up a market in this shop I've never had success with.

Loobylu for starting Hot or Now Wednessdays! Visit her Mr. Linky to see others who are participating.