Friday, June 24, 2016

A Few Phone Wallpapers (and a Book Giveaway!)

Love this colorful collection of patterned iPhone 5, 6, and 6 Plus wallpapers! Free downloads!



Happy Friday!

I thought I'd do something a little different than my normal printables today.  I searched for a new phone wallpaper last weekend, and couldn't really find a lot of simple patterned ones.  So I thought I'd share a few I made to match my Journey to Clean color scheme!

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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Create It Thursday #164 (Plus Features)




Happy Wednesday, guys!  Ready to show off your great ideas?

I always love the new ideas we start getting when the seasons change...lots of fun summer ideas at last week's party!  I've got a few favorites below.  You can also find these on the Create It Thursday Pinterest board, the Lamberts Lately Twitter page, and the Lamberts Lately Facebook page!















...and this week's fan favorite...



A big huge thanks to everyone who took the time to share with us last week!  If you're featured, grab a button before you go:



Let's get this party started!
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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Basics of Blog Monetization: Creating Sponsored Content

This blogger gives her best ideas for how you can get big blog sponsorship!  She goes through the best brand agencies to work with for sponsored posts and what rates you should charge sponsors.  Great resource!


Today's installment of The Basics of Blog Monetization Series is all about sponsored content!

Using a broad generalization, sponsored content is a post on social media or your blog that is paid for by a sponsor.  There are an absolute ton of ways you can do this: product round-ups, reviews, product integrations (especially for DIY/recipes), giveaways, lifestyle content...the possibilities are absolutely endless for this category!  I have found that the more creative you can get with your sponsored posts, the more other companies notice you in the future.

Where Do I Start?

If you're looking to get into the sponsored content world, I'd recommend building your content and your following first.  You really want to have a good portfolio of content before approaching a sponsor.  I can almost guarantee they're going to look at your hits and social media following before agreeing to work with you, so it's important you have the numbers that support being paid before approaching your favorite companies.

Start integrating some of your favorite products into your posts.  Show your sponsor that you can put their product into your content without it sounding too "salesy!" It's nice to have a collection of 5-10 posts that you can show a sponsor to prove the quality of your work.  Also, work on your social media following by posting captivating, viral-worthy content (easier said than done, right? ;)).  Show the sponsors that you will promote their sponsored posts in a unique way.  Make yourself stand out from the other bloggers in your niche!

Finding Opportunities

Once you've built up your content and following, you can start applying to brand agencies and reaching out to companies personally!  

There are really two different ways to find sponsors.  You always have the option of emailing those sponsors directly and asking for opportunities.  Most companies now have an advertising budget for online content, so there's a good chance you'll at least get an email back if you reach out.  Just send your stats (including social media reach and monthly page views), an idea as to what you'd like to publish, and your rates.

But, I honestly rarely do this anymore.  Instead, I work with brand agencies that connect me with companies that are looking for bloggers to publish the content for them.  These are middlemen that connect companies (both big and small) with bloggers (both big and small) for all kinds of monetization: ads, sponsored content, and even affiliate links.  It sounds like something you'd want to do yourself, but trust me...working with brand agencies takes so much of the negotiation headache out of the process of working with companies, and can often get you a better rate than if you had done the outreach by yourself!

Here are a few of my personal favorites...

(Affiliate links used.)

SheKnows Media (Formerly known as BlogHer) - I addressed them in my ads post, but they are without a doubt my favorite agency to work with.  They have the best sponsored content rates I've found and the program managers are always incredibly professional and helpful.  Plus, they've connected me with most of the biggest brands in the business.  

Basically, this is how it works: when SheKnows has an opportunity with a company, they send out an email to prospective influencers.  This email usually includes the product and a very general idea of what they want the posts to be about.  Bloggers fill out an application if they like the idea/product, including a pitch as to why their blog fits the campaign and what content they'd include.  Bloggers are selected from those applications. SheKnows then sends out emails to the selected bloggers with campaign details, launch dates, payment rates, and expected deliverables.

From that point, I typically have a week or two to get my post together for the company.  SheKnows' edits it, lets the company (and their legal team) edit it, and adds in any necessary code for the post.  They give me a rough launch date when I get that initial acceptance email, but that can be subject to change (which is why sometimes I don't have a sponsored post for a month, but then have three in a week...no matter how much scheduling you do, sometimes things go crazy!).

Campaigns for them usually last about a month and I am required to promote those on social media as part of the campaign agreement, although I'm given a ton of freedom in when/where/how I post that promotion.

Izea - This is quickly becoming my go-to for social media sponsored content opportunities.  It works a little differently than SheKnows.  When you create an account with Izea, you can input all of your social media and blog stats and set a minimum price you're willing to accept for sponsored posts.  Then, Izea puts potential campaigns on your sponsorship dashboard in the website.  You bid on those and give a very general pitch, and the company looks over that and selects promoters from that information.

From there, the process is about the same as SheKnows.  You have a few days to get your content together and submit it.  They edit as needed, get it back to you, and you're expected to publish the content within a few days (sometimes sooner).  Most of their blog campaigns require social media promotion as well.

Clever Girls Collective - This company has all available campaigns on their site dashboard.  You can click through each one to see what the themes of the post are, what the payment is, what social media promotion is expected, and what limitations they're might be (i.e. if you've worked with a competing company in the recent past).  You apply by answering a few questions on that site and the program managers get back to you if you're selected.

Pollinate Media, One2One Network, & Mom It Forward - I will occasionally have campaigns with each one of these...great rates and I usually have a lot of freedom as to when/what I post about a company with these agencies.

Linqia - I'm honestly not sure whether to put this one in affiliate links or sponsored posts...with this company, instead of a flat rate for publishing a post, you get paid per click by using a unique link from the company.  While it's not a ton per click, those rates add up quickly!  With this company, it's especially important that you know your audience is going to interact a lot with your particular post.  If not, you typically won't make a lot with this company.  But if you have an audience that often uses a lot of links directly from your site, it's definitely worth a try!

Balance & Integrity

The correct balance of sponsored content is tricky.  I can't tell you what's going to work for your blog and your audience because the formula is different for every single site.  If you're a review/product site, I think it's pretty much expected that the majority of your content is sponsored in one way or another.  If you share mostly family/personal stories, sponsored content might be a little more difficult to seamlessly integrate into your content.  

Personally, I look at the balance between sponsored & non-sponsored content this way: when you watch a television show, roughly 25% of any given hour is commercials.  So, I like to try to keep the overall content of my site at no more than 25% sponsored content at any given time (and that includes posts that are heavy on affiliate links).  I'll occasionally go back to the last 20 or so posts and count to make sure I haven't gone over 25% in that time frame; if I have, it might be time to scale back some of the work I'm doing.  You've worked this hard to build you following and connect with your readers...don't blow all of that just to make a quick buck!

Rates

For the posts you do decide to take on, it is so (SO) incredibly important that you make sure of the following...

1) It's a product you would personally endorse, even without the payment.
2) It's a product that you truly believe would benefit your readers.
3) You are being paid accordingly for your time.

Again, there isn't some magic formula I can give you for what your time is worth; only you can judge that.  But, when you're trying to determine what you'll charge for sponsored posts, remember all of the work that goes into making that post: writing, researching product features and claims, photography and editing, formatting and editing, social media promotion, etc.  There is a lot more work that goes into well-written and promoted sponsored content than you might initially think!

Once you set your flat rate for sponsored social media posts and blog posts, stick to it.  This is so important, but can be hard sometimes.  My recommendation is to not go a penny below your set rate once you figure out how much you want to be paid for each opportunity.  If it needs to be adjusted later, so be it, but really try to stick to your expected fees for awhile...if not, you'll find yourself doing way too much work for way too little money.

I've always kind of viewed a "starter rate" for blog content at $50.  That usually at least pays minimum wage on your work (this is a huge generalization, but most sponsored blog posts takes at least 4-5 hours of work).  And I read an interesting figure on social media posts not long ago...for every thousand followers charge $10 per post.  Now again, neither one of these figures are accurate for 100% of influencers, but that's a good rule of thumb if you're just starting to figure out your personal rate.  You'll need to adjust up or down once you do a few campaigns and figure out if it's worth it for you.

Disclosure

Just like with affiliate links, any and every sponsored post MUST have a disclosure!  Per FTC regulations, this disclosure is supposed to be at the top of each blog post that has sponsored content (in clear, not teeny tiny writing).  For sponsored social media content, you must have a short-form disclosure in each post.  Most of the time you'll see the #ad or #sp hashtag in a sponsored social media post.  Nothing fancy or huge, but it must be apparent that you're getting paid to publish something.

If you take nothing else from this post, make sure the sponsored content you post is something that is worth your time and worth your readers' time.  It might be nice to make a great paycheck from a sponsored post, but is it worth losing your readers' trust by publishing content that you obviously don't believe in?  Not usually.

Want to read other posts from The Basics of Blog Monetization Series?  Check out these posts!

The Basics of Blog Monetization: An Introduction
The Basics of Blog Monetization: How to (Frugally) Start a Money-Making Blog
The Basics of Blog Monetization: Using Ads on Your Blog
The Basics of Blog Monetization: Using Affiliate Links on Your Blog


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Friday, June 17, 2016

Melting S'mores Pie

This is a recipe that's been on my editorial calendar for a full year!

This Melting S'mores Pie looks so ooey, gooey, and delicious!  Uses simple ingredients (like chocolate pudding mix and marshmallow fluff) for an easy potluck dessert.  Yummy!

I got the idea to try it last summer after s'mores became kind of the "in flavor" (it seems like every season has one of those lately).  When I get an idea for a blog post that isn't scheduled for a specific day yet, I just jot it down in a list on my to-do list app (that way, I have kind of a bank of ideas to look through when I need a post).

Well...little did I know that I was about to start 4 solid months of awful morning sickness (and by morning, I mean all-day-punch-you-in-the-face sickness).  By the time I was feeling well enough to even look at food again, it was fall...not exactly a great time to talk about s'mores.  So I held off and decided to just keep it for this year.

This Melting S'mores Pie looks so ooey, gooey, and delicious!  Uses simple ingredients (like chocolate pudding mix and marshmallow fluff) for an easy potluck dessert.  Yummy!

So...finally, this week (in the middle of book release craziness), I thought it would be fun to make this to give myself a little downtime!  The recipe was originally supposed to be more of a bar (kind of like this one...it was my inspiration for this recipe), but as you can see, it became Melted S'mores Pie for a very good reason. :)

This would be so good for a summer potluck dinner!  This is a no-bake dessert that does take a little bit to chill but requires no special skills...if you can mix, you can make this.  It's incredibly rich and creamy, but still has the distinct flavors of s'mores in it!

Here's the recipe!

This Melting S'mores Pie looks so ooey, gooey, and delicious!  Uses simple ingredients (like chocolate pudding mix and marshmallow fluff) for an easy potluck dessert.  Yummy!


Melting S'mores Pie

Ingredients

1 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup melted butter, melted
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 8oz block cream cheese, room temperature
1 pack chocolate pudding mix
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
1 tub whipped topping
1 jar marshmallow fluff

Directions

In a large plastic bag, crush the graham crackers into fine crumbs (I used about a sleeve of crackers for 1 1/2 cups).  Mix 1 1/4 cups of the cracker crumbs with the butter.  Press mixture into the bottom of a 8x8" square casserole dish.  Place in the fridge while preparing the rest of the dessert.

In a stand mixer, mix together the cream cheese and condensed milk until well-incorporated and slightly fluffy.  Add in the pudding mix and 1 cup of the milk slowly.  Take mixture off of the stand mixture and, using a rubber spatula, gently fold the whipped topping in.  You don't have to mix it all the way...it's actually kind of gives it a marbled look if you leave it slightly unmixed!

Pour this mixture on top of the graham cracker crumbs and place in the fridge for an hour.

Mix the marshmallow fluff and a tiny splash (maybe a tablespoon) of milk, just so the fluff will be pourable.  Pour this mixture over the chocolate mixture.  Top the marshmallow with the remaining cracker crumbs.

Chill dessert for an hour, until everything is fairly set.  Cut into squares (as best you can)and serve chilled.

This Melting S'mores Pie looks so ooey, gooey, and delicious!  Uses simple ingredients (like chocolate pudding mix and marshmallow fluff) for an easy potluck dessert.  Yummy!



Enjoy!

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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Create It Thursday #163 (Plus Features)




Seriously...how is it already Wednesday?  This week has absolutely flown! (Not that we've had something big happening, or anything.  ;))  Let's get another week of creative fun started!

We had over 350 awesome ideas shared last week.  You guys rock!  Below, I've listed a few favorites.  You can also find these on the Create It Thursday Pinterest board, the Lamberts Lately Twitter page, and the Lamberts Lately Facebook page!















...and this week's fan favorite...


Free Father's Day Printables by I Should be Mopping the Floor (way to go on a double appearance this week!)

Thanks to everyone who shares their creations and makes this party possible!  Here's your button if you were featured:



Time for another new party!
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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

A Tour of Journey to Clean

The big day is finally here!  I'm beyond excited to share Journey to Clean with everyone.  For the past few months, I've worked so hard to compile a complete collection of printables and narrative that will allow you to integrate my cleaning routine into your home.  This 36-page eBook is the result of a lot of late nights and big cups of coffee! :)




You'll get every printable you need to start using my cleaning schedule in your own home.  I even include a set of cover sheets so you can start your own cleaning notebook.


You'll receive an all new version of the cleaning checklist made famous in this post.  I've made it into a format that's easier to read when printing.  It also incorporates blanks for adding your own cleaning tasks and a few new cleaning items that have been requested by readers!




What I think everyone is really going to love about this eBook is the monthly calendars.  I've made printable calendars for July-December 2016 that break my popular cleaning checklist down into easy to complete parts.




I've even got a new version of my deep cleaning checklist, as well as two separate cleaning schedules that show you how to easily complete them as well!

My goal was to make this book a one-stop-shop for crafting your own home maintenance routine.  In addition to the printables, I have commentary on each section that will walk you through integrating it into your daily life.  I hope to provide everything you need to know to maintain your home in Journey to Clean!

Want more info?  You can visit the Journey to Clean section of my site or you can sign up for my newsletter to grab a sneak peek of the book from the printable collection library (only available to newsletter subscribers).

Ready to buy?  Click the button below to go directly to the shop page!


I've had a few questions about the best way to put together the notebook.  When you purchase Journey to Clean, you'll receive two digital files; one of the full eBook (with commentary) and one of just the printables to allow for easy printing.  All you'll have to do is open that file and print!  This eBook is best printed in full color (many of the cleaning tasks are differentiated by color, and it might be difficult to tell them apart in black and white).

I do recommend putting your cover pages on card stock to allow for quick searching through your notebook.  You could also put them in a page protector to make them kind of stand out.  But no worries...everything in this book is formatted to fit on standard 8.5x11" computer paper if that's all you have on hand.

Here are a few of my favorite products to use for putting together this (or really any) printable binder!


(Affiliate links used.)


1. Quality paper:  I love using a crisp, bright white paper for colorful printables.  This HP Multi-Purpose Ultra White, 20lb is a huge seller on Amazon and really produces quality prints.  I also use  Wausau 110lb Index Card Stock for cover sheets throughout the notebook.  It makes for really easy section marking!

2.  HP Envy 4520 All-In-One Photo PrinterThis is the color printer I use.  It's a great value for what you're getting...wonderful quality prints, doesn't take too long, and prints wirelessly (a must for my laptop-addicted self).  

3.  Swingline High Capacity 3-Hole Punch: Once you're done printing, you need an easy way to get it in the binder!  I've had this hole punch for years...it survived my college days and years as a teacher and is still kicking.  Highly recommended!

4.  Accessories to make for easy use.  I recommend putting the printable you'll be using a lot in a page protector, like the Amazon Basics Clear Sheet Protectors, and using a wet erase marker (like Expo Vis-a-Vis Wet Erase Fine Point Markers) to "write" on them.  Once you're done going through a checklist or a schedule, you can simply wipe off the page protector and start over...no need to print again!  Similarly, you might want to laminate the pages and use a wet erase marker for the same kind of system.

5.  A pretty binder to put it all in.  Really, be honest: how much more motivated are you when your organizational printables are pretty? I know it makes a huge impact on me.  I love finding pretty binders to organize everything!

a || b (available in-store only, Walmart) || c || d 

6.  Good quality (non-bleeding) pens.  I have fallen in love with the Papermate Ink Joy Gel Pens lately.  The writing quality is excellent, they don't bleed to the other side of the page on standard white paper, and they come in the brightest, prettiest colors!


Eeekkkkk.....I am so, so ready to hear what you guys think of the eBook!  Click here to check out the eBook section of the site, or click here to go ahead and purchase!

Have a very happy Tuesday, friends!

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Monday, June 13, 2016

My Favorite Cleaning Supplies

Some of the best cleaning supplies to complete one of the most thorough cleaning schedules on the web!


Affiliate links used.

In honor of tomorrow's release of Journey to Clean (!!!), I thought I'd talk about a few of my favorite cleaning products to use around the house today!

I'm kind of a minimalist when it comes to cleaning supplies.  I just don't see the need in keeping a thousand supplies around when one or two usually do the trick.  But I do have a few tried-and-true supplies that I always keep on hand!

Vinegar - I am using natural/DIY products more and more around the house.  Vinegar has been an absolute staple in my cleaning cabinet for years.  It's just so incredibly versatile!  I use a mixture of half vinegar/half water to clean just about any surface, including windows (it really does get them clean and streak-free).  It's also great for taking smells out of your clothes in laundry, cleaning microwaves (just put a bowl in the microwave and turn it on for about 5 minutes), and knocking out mineral deposits/gunk in the bathroom.  It does have a little bit of a vinegar smell at first, but that goes away once it dries.  Just a note though - I've read that you don't want to use vinegar on granite (it can take the shine off of the surface).  It's great as a mild disinfectant (not as effective as bleach, but can kill some germs) and really does knock out gunk and grime on surfaces.  I can't recommend this mixture enough!

Baking Soda - This, combined with vinegar, is kind of my "power couple" of cleaners.  The scrubbing power of baking soda is just absolutely unbeatable. I use it to clean sinks (it really makes stainless steel sinks shine) and scrub tough gunk in the oven.  It's amazing as a carpet freshener (just sprinkle it on carpet, let it sit, and vacuum up after a few hours) too.  Basically anything you need to scrub in the house can be cleaned with baking soda!

Clorox Clean-Up - I usually use this for heavy-duty grossness, when I know I really need to disinfect an area.  It has a little bit of a bleachy smell, but again, that goes away after a few minutes.  This is what I use to clean countertops, toys, bathrooms (especially toilets)...basically anything that is really susceptible to germs.

Clorox Wipes - I kind of consider this my quick Clorox Clean-Up.  These little wipes are so convenient when you have a little spill around the house!  They smell great too, so they're a little better if you need something to be clean quickly (without a bleach smell).

Pledge Multi-Surface - I've just recently discovered this and, my gosh. Amazing!  It smells so good and cleans just about anything imaginable.  I usually use this to make my wood furniture shine, but it's great on windows and countertops too.

Swiffer Wet Jet - I just can't quit the Swiffer.  I've tried so many other ways to mop a house and can't seem to find an easier, more effective way.  It's so nice to pull out the Swiffer really quickly for small messes, or to not have to worry about mixing floor cleaner to mop (or deal with a wet mop).  It's really just the best!

Swiffer Duster - On that note, the Swiffer Duster is one of my long-standing favorites around the house.  It will grab dust from just about anywhere.  It's great for cleaning blinds or quickly dusting tables.  I'll occasionally remember to clean my fans too! :)

Hoover Cordless Air Upright Vacuum - I got the opportunity to try this through a blog review last fall and absolutely fell in love with it!  It's a really lightweight vacuum that is perfect for quick clean-ups.  It's so nice not having to deal with annoying cords while you're vacuuming.

You can really accomplish the whole cleaning schedule I outline in Journey to Clean with just these products!  Keeping a clean home doesn't have to be complicated, I promise.  By breaking it down into small tasks each day, you can keep your home sparkling clean.  I know this because I've used this method to keep my home managed for years!

You can grab your copy of Journey to Clean tomorrow morning!  If you're a newsletter subscriber, you'll even get a discount code for it in your inbox tomorrow.  I can't wait to share these cleaning secrets with y'all!


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