Sunday, November 30, 2008

Starting Your Own Toy Drive This Christmas

People tend to be more generous around the holidays. The easiest way to give this holiday season is to volunteer with a recognized group, such as Toys for Tots, Angel Tree or other local groups such as the fire department or hospital. By volunteering to help with these toy drives, you can help cut down on their workload and help someone in need at the same time.

If there are no local organizations that have a toy drive, you can start a new one. Begin by checking with the local city hall to see if there are any regulations as to how and where you may collect toys. Some towns may allow door-to-door collections; others may require a designated drop off location.

Once the decision has been made, decide if you want to do an all-new toy drive or new to gently used. Both can be successful but it needs to be clear what you are collecting. Either way, it is best to have the gifts that are donated left unwrapped so that the volunteers can screen the gifts and get them sent to a child that matches by age and gender. Be sure to check all toys for broken or missing pieces. It's also a good idea to check them against any recall notices.

Research stores in the area that may donate either toys or cash toward the drive. Some may even allow you to have their location as a drop off point. Don't limit your choices to toy stores. Check with the grocery or hardware stores. Check with the local library. It might surprise you which businesses are more than willing to help. Talk to the various churches in town. Many of them may already do a small-scale toy drive. If you combine resources everyone will be able to give more to those who are less fortunate during the holiday season.

Start getting volunteers to sign up in early November. This way people have time to plan and adjust his or her own holiday celebrations. Start advertising the toy drive by Thanksgiving. Contact the newspaper, radio and TV stations to see if you can get free ad space or airtime as a public service announcement. Set up dates to wrap and distribute the toys. Try to have the distribution as close to Christmas as possible, maybe even Christmas Eve.

Be sure to also thank all those who helped publicly. Again, have the media thank the community and businesses that assisted in the drive. Thank all the volunteers, maybe even with a small token, even if it's just cookies and hot chocolate for them after the work is all done.

Here is a link to the USA Recall Notices:

and the Canadian equivalent:

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Blogging As a Home Business

For many people, times are tougher than ever and money is tight. Finding a way to earn extra money, without sacrificing time with family, might seem like an impossible task, but there are several ways to make money, without ever leaving home. One of the easiest ways to earn cash, right from your own home computer, is by blogging.

When most people think of blogging, their thoughts turn to online journals, where users chronicle their lives, but as blogging has evolved, this platform has created moneymaking opportunities for those with just a little bit of know-how. There are several different ways to use a blog to make money, as long as you have a topic that creates interest and draws in readers.

Affiliate Marketing

Earning money through affiliate marketing is one of the most popular was to use a blog to create income. You find products that your readers would be interested in or likely to buy, then become an affiliate of the company, earning a commission on each individual sale that is initiated through your blog. With most of these programs, there is no start up cost involved. The only work that needs to be done on your part is to bring in people who would purchase the products that you are promoting.

Selling Ad Space

Another way to make money through your blog is by selling ad space to companies. If you have created an audience or the potential for an audience, advertisers will pay to be featured on your site.
In some cases, they may approach you, but if they aren’t, don’t let that stop you. There are other ways to find companies to advertise on your blog. You can try a sales approach of your own, going to companies that might be interested and pitching your blog to them.

Contextual Ads

Contextual Ads, such as Google Adsense, allows a blogger to earn money from the content on their site. Signing up for the programs is free. When you do so, you will receive a bit of HTML code to place on your site. This allows the program to “read’ the content on your blog and it will automatically place relevant ads on your blog.

For example, if you have a blog about motorcycles, you will be most likely to have ads displayed for motorcycle parts and accessories. If one of your readers clicks on the ad, you will earn a small commission. It doesn’t matter if the person buys anything – you get paid just for the click. In some cases, you may also be paid by the number of times the ad is seen, whether or not anyone clicked on the ad.

Many people earn full time incomes through their blogs. It doesn’t happen overnight, and it will take a lot of hard work on your part, but blogging can be a viable home business option.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Become A Blog Designer

Did you know that many people are now using blogging platforms, such as Wordpress, to create both blogs and websites? Even large companies such as Ford Motor Company use Wordpress as the base for their website.

There are many reasons that businesses, both large and small are turning to Wordpress. For starters, it is open source, which means that it is free! It is easy to customize and can serve many different purposes. A person may use it to create a simple online journal or it can be modified into an e-commerce store that sells hundreds or thousands of products.

If you are familiar with Wordpress and know how to customize a theme, you should consider becoming a blog designer. Unlike a web designer, you won’t need to know anything too specialized or difficult.

You will need to know how to upload a theme and customize it by changing the colors, and add a customized header. If you are not skilled in graphic design, you could outsource the creation of the header.

As a blog designer, you could choose to work locally. Many of your local business owners may not be very familiar with websites, blogs, and the differences between them. They may not have even heard of Wordpress before.

They may not realize that it is a very affordable option for their website. Traditional website design can cost quite a bit of money. By educating local business owners on the benefits of Wordpress, you may find yourself with a full client load very soon.

Of course, you can also work online and design blogs for people you meet virtually. Most people with an online business are very comfortable working with people they’ve never met face to face.

As a blog designer, you can also add on blog coaching services, where you teach your clients how to navigate their new Wordpress blog. Writing a post may seem like a simple activity to you, but it may be daunting to someone who’s never used Wordpress.

There are other blog platforms you could choose to work with, such as Blogger and Moveable Type. The possibilities of a blog design business are endless!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Crafty Home Business Ideas

If you are blessed with crafting talents, you are in luck. Selling crafts, either online or at craft fairs, is a wonderful way to bring in extra cash.

Online Sales

Selling crafts online is much easier than most people think. As long as you have an inventory of completed items that are easy to ship, you can start selling your items online without much difficulty. An easy way to get started is by creating an online craft store through Etsy is an online craft site that is very easy for sellers to use. Signing up for the site and setting up your store is free. The site charges a small listing fee and a 3.5% fee on each item sold.

While Etsy is an easy way to get started, you should eventually purchase your own domain (website address) and set up your own website or blog. A very affordable e-commerce solution is Shop Kit Plus (

Craft Fairs

Local craft fairs are another wonderful way to sell your crafts. Many areas have several of these, especially around the holiday season. Here you can set up a booth or table and the shoppers will come to you.

There is usually a fee for space or a table, but these are generally minimal. Check with the local chamber of commerce, churches or civic organizations to find out if there are events scheduled locally at which you can purchase a table.

Other Local Ideas

Another way to sell your items locally is take a cue from the direct sales industry and have a home party! Invite your friends and family over, and encourage them to bring a guest.

On the day of the party, create a nice display of your items. Let your guests touch and feel your items. If you do not have enough supply on hand, simply take orders for your items and deliver the item when it’s completed. Encourage your guests to have their own home party for your items by giving a special discount to your future hostesses.

If you are a crafty person, who enjoys crafting as a hobby, you can turn your favorite pastime into a moneymaking venture. Many people do not have these talents and will be more than happy to pay for your handmade items.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

SALE Black Friday to Cyber Monday SALE

H a p p y H o l i d a y s ! !

The EtsyBloggers HOLIDAY S*A*L*E* is going on from Black Friday thru Cyber Monday!!

That's Friday 11/28 thru Monday 12/1!! sale items:

Free Shipping on all ACEOs and OSWOAs prints and/or originals.

Free gift tags with every order on any merchandise.

10% off all other merchandise except custom orders, ACEOs, OSWOAs.

See a list of the 50+ shops having a SALE at

H a p p y S h o p p i n g ! ! (patterns & yarn shop)