blogging

Check out Pounds and Sense - my new UK personal finance blog!

Check Out Pounds and Sense – My New Personal Finance Blog

Today I wanted to let you know about the new blog I have just launched called Pounds and Sense.

This is a personal finance blog aimed especially at over-60s – in which category, of course, I myself now belong 🙂

In Pounds and Sense I will be sharing my thoughts on saving money, making money and investing, all from a 60-plus perspective. It will be more of a lifestyle blog than Entrepreneur Writer, so you can also expect to read about other matters that interest me, such as health, food and drink, travel, leisure, relationships, and so on.

Unlike Entrepreneur Writer, which is written for a world-wide readership, Pounds and Sense will be targeted more at UK readers. That is necessarily so, as financial matters are often specific to the country in which you live, whilst writing is largely universal. Of course, I hope that at least some of Pounds and Sense will be of interest (and value) to non-UK residents – and you are all, of course, very welcome to visit my new blog and follow it!

I will continue to update Entrepreneur Writer, although perhaps not quite so frequently. I am semi-retired these days and no longer working for WCCL (publishers of my Write Any Book in Under 28 Days course), More Money Review or any other regular clients, but I do still have a strong interest in writing (and remain available for interesting commissions!).

Pounds and Sense has only just been launched, so there isn’t much content on it at the moment (just a single post at the time of writing this). But that will of course change over the coming weeks and months, as I get into my stride with it.

Anyway, I do hope you will check out Pounds and Sense, and if you like what you see sign up to receive updates by email as well. I have also set up a Facebook page and Twitter account for the blog.

If you have any comments or questions about Pounds and Sense, as ever, please do post them below.

If you enjoyed this post, please share it on your own blog or social media:
Commentluv

Entrepreneur Writer – Now With Added Commentluv!

Just wanted to give you a heads up that Entrepreneur Writer is now using the Commentluv plug-in for reader comments.

This means that if you are a blogger yourself and you place a comment on my blog, you will be able to get a link back to a post on your own blog below it.

If you haven’t used Commentluv before, here’s how it works. When posting a comment on my blog, all you need to do is include the URL of your own blog in the Your Website box and ensure that the tick-box next to Commentluv is checked.

By default the most recent post from your blog should then be selected. Alternatively, by clicking on the down arrow, a list of your 10 most recent posts should be displayed, and you can click to select any of these instead. The screen capture below should help make this clearer

commentluvOne important point to note is that you will need to include the http:// prefix in your blog URL for the plugin to work.

I hope you will enjoy this new feature of Entrepreneur Writer and make good use of it. Any queries or comments, of course, please do post them below!

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

If you enjoyed this post, please share it on your own blog or social media:
Money

How One Blogger Made £100,000 Working from Home on the Internet

I saw an interesting article last week about a UK-based blogger called Emma Drew who is making an impressive income working from home on the Internet.

A little surprisingly, the article was on the Daily Mail (UK) website. It opens as follows:

A blogger who turned to online money-making schemes to make ends meet while unemployed has been able to quit her job after earning £100,000.

Emma Drew, 28, from Littleforth, Cambridgeshire now makes around £3000 a month from activities such as mystery shopping, risk-free betting and online lotteries, which she documents on her blog From Aldi to Harrods

Her husband Tony has also been able to given up his job to work alongside Emma, and the couple were able to splash out almost £30,000 on their dream wedding and honeymoon last year without a second thought.

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3553368/Blogger-earns-100-000-money-making-schemes-quits-job.html

Working from home is a particular interest of mine, and of course I write about such opportunities for my clients at More Money Review.

Quite a few of the money-making opportunities Emma pursues I also do myself, or at least I have some knowledge of.

I thought it might therefore be of interest to add my own thoughts, and also include hyperlinks where appropriate (for the most part these are not included in the Mail Online article). I have adapted the list of headings below from Emma’s Top Tips list in the article. Note that not all of these may be suitable for people living outside the UK.

  1. Blogging

Obviously this is something I do through my Entrepreneur Writer blog. I also ran My Writing Blog for nearly ten years on behalf of my publishers, WCCL.

Like Emma, I make money from my blogs in various ways. The most important is affiliate marketing. I do this in (I hope) a fairly low-key way, with occasional banner ads and affiliate links to products I recommend.

I don’t make a fortune from this, but some reviews have undoubtedly been remunerative. One review on my old blog (for the Brain Evolution System by Inspire3, if you’re interested) has made me over £5000 in commission since it was written.

I also have Google AdSense ads on my blog, although as they aren’t very prominent you would have to look quite hard to find them! Nonetheless, they earn me a few pounds a month as well.

I notice that Emma has about six different blogs, all targeted at extra income seekers. That seems a good way to boost your earnings, although of course it does involve a lot of extra work.

2. Matched Betting

This is one of those methods you can only apply if you live in a country where online gambling is legal. The idea is to make use of bookmakers’ special offers to generate a guaranteed profit. This is tax free in the UK.

To give you an example, a bookmaker might offer a £20 free bet as an incentive to sign up for an account on their website. Using the matched betting method, you bet on the opposite outcome as well on a different website, adjusting the stakes so that whatever happens you are guaranteed an overall profit. Emma has a more in-depth explanation of how the method works on her blog, incidentally.

I have only ever used this method in a small way myself, but it is perfectly do-able, and gives the lie to the oft-repeated claim that you can’t take money from the bookmakers. You do need to be well organised and resist the temptation to place any speculative bets, however. In addition, over time the number of opportunities may diminish as you use up more and more of the bookies’ introductory offers.

Nonetheless, Emma seems to be making this method work for her. As well as the service she mentions, many members of the More Money Review website recommend another well-established advisory service called Bonus Bagging.

3. Complete Online Surveys

This is another genuine online moneymaking opportunity, but the rates of return vary considerably. In some cases you can end up being paid as little as 50p for a survey that takes over an hour to complete.

As I value my time more highly than that, I don’t generally do online surveys now. Still, if you have the time to spare, they can certainly provide a bit of pocket money. Here are links to Prolific Academic and MintVine, two survey sites recommended by Emma in the article.

4. Mystery Shopping and Research

This is a money-making method I haven’t tried, but the opportunities are certainly there for those who are interested. Nowadays they are typically based on smartphone apps, so if you don’t have one of these your options may be limited.

There are various apps you can download free of charge to help you make money. You are unlikely to make a fortune from any of these, but they can generate a useful sideline income for you.

Yoobic is one of a number of apps that pay smartphone users for performing simple research tasks in shops and other retail outlets. For example, you might be asked to take photos of products or rank a store’s marketing displays.

Missions (as Yoobic refer to them) typically pay between £4 and £8 for 10 minutes’ work, with payments via PayPal. If this prospect appeals, download the app from the iTunes store or Google Play, create an account, and search for missions near you. You can reserve up to ten jobs at a time, and must complete them by the stated deadline.

Streetspotr is another app for both iOS and Android that connects market research clients with users who carry out small tasks. Most tasks pay about £5, though some offer as much as £15. Jobs can involve anything from photographing supermarket product displays or checking restaurant menus to ordering a hot drink in a muffin shop!

Some apps are for iPhone users only. One such is Field Agent. Missions are sent via the app, and can include checking product prices in stores, taking photos, writing reviews, and so on. The company typically pays £4.50 per task, but it can be between £2 and £10.

Task 360, another iPhone app from the same firm, offers a wider range of tasks, and typically pays £5 to £10 for 15 minutes’ work. To download Field Agent and/or Task 360, just search for them in the iTunes store.

If you enjoy sharing your opinions, VoxPopMe could be for you. They will pay you for recording short (15–60 second) video clips on set topics on your smartphone. Payment is via Paypal once you reach £10. Both Android and iOS versions are available. One possible downside to VoxPopMe is that they say that they may use your video for their clients or themselves, and that they own the intellectual property in your video the moment you upload it.

Finally, Quostodian pays you to read offers and occasionally download an app onto your phone. You can earn extra by referring your friends and family too. The minimum payout is £10 via Paypal or BACS, with payments processed weekly. Unusually, in addition to iOS and Android, this app is available for Windows phones and Blackberries too.

  • Emma’s number one recommendation for mystery shopping gigs is Market Force. She also recommends the website usability testing service What Users Do.

5. Write an E-book for Sale on Amazon

Clearly this is something that I do and recommend myself. You are unlikely to make a fortune publishing Kindle e-books (though it’s been known), but even a moderately successful title can generate a useful sideline income for you for years to come.

Two of my own Kindle e-books you might like to check out are my humorous sci-fi novella “The Festival on Lyris Five” and my guide for writers “Three Great Techniques for Plotting Your Novel or Screenplay“.

Basic advice on how to write a Kindle e-book can be found on the Kindle Direct Publishing website. For more in-depth advice, my number one recommendation is (of course) Geoff Shaw’s Kindling.

6. Free Lottery Websites

A growing number of websites offer the opportunity to enter free daily or weekly prize draws, with the prizes financed by advertising. You simply register for each site and enter the details required, whether it’s your postcode, your birthdate, your phone number, or whatever. Then all you have to do is check them every day to see if you have won. Here are some of the top such websites:

Free Postcode Lottery

The Selfie Lottery

Lucky Phone

Ashleigh Money Saver

Date of Birth Lotto

Note that these lottery sites are generally open to UK residents only, but if you live elsewhere a search for “free online lottery” may prove productive.

7. Investment

The main site Emma refers to in this category is RateSetter. This is a person-to-person (P2P) or crowdlending service. In the case of RateSetter, you will be lending money to businesses rather than individuals (as with Zopa).

With all such services, your money is lent to a number of borrowers, and you receive interest plus return of your capital as the loan is repaid. Lending to businesses is arguably riskier than lending to individuals, but the potential returns are greater.

I don’t actually use RateSetter, but I do belong to a similar service called The Lending Crowd. I currently have around £1000 lent out to about 40 businesses, at an average interest rate of around 11%. So far there have been no defaults, but if this did happen I would still be doing a lot better than with a bank savings account.

Of course, the drawback of this type of service is that if you need all your money back quickly, it won’t be as straightforward as with an ordinary savings account. Nonetheless, in my view (and experience) if you have a bit of money you can afford to lock away for a while, this type of service can offer much better returns than a standard bank account.

  • As mentioned, my own experience is with The Lending Crowd, and I am therefore happy to recommend them. However, RateSetter (as mentioned in the article) are a well-established company and currently offering a bonus of £100 with investments of £1000 and over, so they are definitely worth considering as well.

8. Buying and Selling

Although this is referred to in the article, it doesn’t say very much about it. But of course buying and selling, typically using online auction sites such as eBay, is a very popular way of making money from home.

Many people (including myself) start by selling things from around their home that they no longer require. If you want to turn this into a sideline business, of course, you will need to buy products cheaply (e.g. from a wholesaler) and sell them on for profit.

An excellent resource I recommend for online auction traders is Salehoo. This is both a directory of suppliers and a comprehensive training programme. You can read my full blog review of Salehoo here.

9. Reviewing

I’ve already mentioned that I make some money publishing reviews on this blog. In addition, I am paid by my clients at More Money Review to review home business opportunities.

Additionally, I am an Amazon Vine reviewer. That means Amazon offer me a wide range of products to review. In exchange for doing this, I get to keep the product in question. Over the years I have received some quite valuable products, including a lawnmower, a vacuum cleaner, and a £1000 mattress.

Unfortunately you can’t just apply to become an Amazon Vine reviewer. You have to wait for the call! However, if you regularly post product reviews on Amazon, there is a good chance you may be asked.

One thing I discovered from the Mail Online article is that there is a growing number of websites where you may be able to get free or heavily discounted goods in exchange for reviewing them on Amazon. The site mentioned in the article is AmzReviews. This is only open to UK residents, but you can find a long list of sites seeking reviewers for Amazon on this webpage.

10. Freelance Writing

Finally in the article Emma mentions freelance writing. This is obviously something I do as well, and it is still by a distance my largest source of income. I have a small number of regular clients, and others I work for occasionally when required.

I can’t really go into detail here about how to get freelance writing work, but one tip would be to apply proactively to any publishers or other potential clients you think you could provide a service to. To sustain a career as a freelance writer you really need a few clients who will keep you going with regular work rather than an endless stream of one-off projects. Any of the latter that arise will then be icing on the cake for you.

This post has gone on rather longer than I anticipated, but I hope you found it interesting. In addition, I do recommend reading the Mail Online article that inspired it, and also clicking through to read Emma Drew’s blog.

If you have any comments or questions, as ever, please do post them below.

If you enjoyed this post, please share it on your own blog or social media:
WordPress

My Seven Favourite WordPress Plug-Ins

This month marks the first anniversary of when I set up my Entrepreneur Writer blog.

It was the first time I had run my own self hosted WordPress blog, so there was inevitably a learning curve involved. I am very pleased I chose to go with WordPress for my new blog, however, and could not imagine going back to the Blogger platform I used for my old blog.

One big attraction of using WordPress is the almost infinite number of ways you can customize it using themes and (especially) plug-ins.

So for the benefit of anyone else who is just starting out with a WordPress blog, I thought today I would share seven plug-ins I have found especially valuable. All of these are free and can be downloaded from within your WordPress dashboard…

1. Antispam Bee

If you run any sort of blog that allows comments, protection from comment spam is essential. Antispam Bee has ticked all the boxes for me. It is amazingly efficient at blocking spam comments while allowing genuine ones through. I also like the fact that after you have approved somebody once, they are automatically approved in future.

2.Add to Any Share Buttons

This plug-in automatically inserts social media sharing buttons at the foot of every post. It includes Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google Plus, WhatsApp, and many more.

3.All in One SEO Pack

This plug-in ensures that all your blog posts are search engine optimized. For example, it lets you attach search engine keywords and descriptions. I don’t use all its many features, just those I consider most relevant in the context of this blog.

4. Email Subscribers

This plug-in has various options to send newsletters to subscribers. I don’t currently run a newsletter from Entrepreneur Writer, but I use this plug-in to allow people to subscribe to the blog and receive an email update every time I add a new post.

5. Related Posts for WordPress

I love this clever plug-in, which automatically adds links and excerpts of related posts at the end of every post. If you don’t like any of its selections, you can remove them and add a different post of your choice. This plug-in has made a big difference to the “bounce rate” of my blog (the proportion of visitors who read just one page and then click away). Before I installed this plug-in my blog’s bounce rate was around 90%, but now it has fallen to 10% or less. I put that down mainly or entirely to this plug-in.

6. iThemes Security

This plug-in helps ensure that nobody can hack into my blog. After you’ve configured it, it works in the background and sends daily reports of any attempted hacks. I am pleased to say that, touch wood, there have been no security incidents on EW since I installed this plug-in.

7. Official StatCounter Plug-In

I use this plug-in in conjunction with the free StatCounter service. It provides in-depth statistics about who has been visiting my blog, which posts are attracting the most traffic, and much more. I also use two other stats plug-ins, by the way, Social Metrics Tracker and Google Analytics Dashboard for WP.

I’m not suggesting that any of the above plug-ins are necessarily “best in class”. They are simply the ones I have chosen to use on this blog, in some cases after being unimpressed with others. They do an excellent job for me, and I am therefore very happy to recommend them to other WordPress users.

For completeness, I should add that I use the free Themify Base theme, which I like for its ease of use and clean appearance. And finally, I use Bluehost as my hosting service. I recommend them as a cost-effective and reliable platform for any self-hosted WordPress site.

If you have any comments or questions, as ever, please feel free to post them below.

  • If you want to get up to speed with WordPress as quickly as possible, I recommend The Wealthy Affiliate. This membership site offers free basic training in WordPress, and you even get two free WordPress sites of your own to practise on!

If you enjoyed this post, please share it on your own blog or social media:
The Tablecloth Trick

Instagram Makes Poetry Profitable at Last!

I read an interesting article in the UK’s Guardian newspaper last week.

It was all about a new breed of poets who are publishing their work using the photo-sharing service Instagram (and others). Some of these writers are attracting huge numbers of followers, which in turn has led to publishing deals, media appearances, and so on.

The article focuses especially on one of these poets, Thailand-born Lang Leav. It says:

In 2013, Lang Leav self-published a small debut poetry collection, Love & Misadventure, online. Two years later, she was meeting her fans on a book tour in the Philippines. “It was insane,” she says. “The organisers had to limit each signing to 500 people per session … and I was being escorted by armed guards.” Many queued for hours, some camping out overnight for a chance to meet her.

Poet Lang Leav

Leav is one of a new generation of bestselling poets catapulted to celebrity – and coveted book deals – through the use of social media, and the huge followings they have built up. Dubbed the “Instapoets”, they have thousands upon thousands of followers hooked on their every post across Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter – and they defy the age-old preconception that it is not possible to make a living out of being a poet.

Source: How do I love thee? Let me Instagram it

As someone who once wrote (not especially good) poetry and performed it for a token fee (or nothing) in pubs and arts centres, I was intrigued by this development, which I hadn’t heard about before. And at last I had an answer to the question of what is Instagram for 😉

Just for fun, I dug out one of my old poems and turned it into an Instagram-style photo using the online PicMonkey service. It’s posted above, although I’m not sure I shall be joining Lang Leav at one of her book signings any time soon! But certainly if I was a young poet starting out today, this is an avenue I would want to explore.

Anyway, in case any of you are interested, here are a few more tips for aspiring Instagram poets drawn from the Guardian article and elsewhere:

  • Use hashtags to help get your work noticed. These are (of course) words or short phrases following a hash symbol. Two that are commonly used for this purpose are #instapoetry and #instagrampoetry.
  • Poems can take any form you choose, but for this medium it’s best to keep them short. Some Instagram poets specialize in haiku and have achieved large followings creating these pithy, 17-syllable poems.
  • Experiment with different colours and backgrounds. There is lots of scope for being creative here. A four-line poem about violence by Rupi Kaur in the Guardian article is accompanied by a hand-drawn illustration of a globe, with countries hit by terror attacks marked with little black hearts.
  • It’s not just Instagram. You can also post your poems on other social media, including Tumblr, Twitter and (of course) Facebook. 
  • You can (and probably should) set up a blog too and publish your work there. Give readers a way of subscribing to see your poems as soon as they are written.
  • You could also set up an email newsletter with news about your work, publishing plans, book signings, and so forth.
  • Keep posting, and if you build up a big enough fan base a publisher may come calling, or you could publish yourself using Amazon Kindle or Createspace.
  • You might also want to consider investing in FollowAdder for Instagram, dedicated software for managing your Instagram posts and building your audience more quickly (see also the banner ad below).

If you have any comments or questions, as ever, please do post them below!

 

Save

Instagram Follow Adder

Save

Save

Save

Save

If you enjoyed this post, please share it on your own blog or social media:
Photographer

Infographic: How to Avoid Copyright Infringement When Sharing Images on Your Blog

Today I have an infographic for you from my friends at Intella in association with the design agency Vound.

Images are, of course, essential for any blog, but you can’t just use any old image you happen to find online. In particular, if you breach the photographer’s copyright you could find yourself with a hefty legal bill.

There are, though, millions of images online that you can potentially use, just as long as you respect any terms the photographer (or agency) has specified. The infographic explains the basic principles that apply here…

Copyright Infringement: Images You Can and Can’t Share on Your Blog

Copyright Infringement: Images You Can and Can

Source: http://www.vound-software.com/blog/copyright-infringement

I would just add that on Entrepreneur Writer I use images from various sources, but I am always very careful to respect the photographer’s rights. In some cases I use Creative Commons licensed images (which you can search for here). I also use my own photos, and others that are in the public domain.

Recently I have also been making a lot of use of the Canvakala WordPress plugin. This lets you search for images you can use on your blog from various sources, including Flickr and Pixabay.

You can edit the photos in various ways, and when you come to publish them, any attribution required is automatically inserted. It’s a very cool piece of software – check out my full review here.

Thanks again to Intella/Vound for allowing me to reproduce their excellent infographic. Any comments or questions, of course, please do post them below and I will do my best to answer them!

If you enjoyed this post, please share it on your own blog or social media:
Writing

Linking to Entrepreneur Writer

Someone asked me the other day if I had any objection to them linking from their site to this one. The answer – to them and anyone else who might be wondering – is no objection at all.

All links to Entrepreneur Writer are very much appreciated, as it helps boost the site’s search engine ranking and ensures that more people can find it.

This is especially important to me, since if you search for my name (and related terms) on the internet, at or near the top of the results you are likely to see myWritingBlog.com. I ran that blog for nearly ten years on behalf of my publishers, WCCL, but ownership of the blog has now reverted to them and it hasn’t been updated since December 2014. It follows that I would much prefer it if people searching for me are now directed to this site instead!

I know that over the years a lot of people have kindly put links on their blogs and websites to my old blog. If you are one of those people, can I ask you to do me a big favour and change that link to Entrepreneur Writer instead? Not only will this help me, your visitors might appreciate being directed to a writing blog that is being actively updated rather than one that seems to have been mothballed!

And I am, of course, happy to reciprocate as well (something I couldn’t easily do with my old blog, as I didn’t own it). If you have a writing-related blog I am happy to list it on my Links Page. Drop me a line via my Contact Me page including any info you might like me to put about your website/blog and I’ll be happy to include that as well.

Finally, while I am talking about administrative matters, a quick reminder of some new features that have been added to this blog over the last few months. For one thing, if you want to be notified of new posts as soon as they are made, you can sign up in the box in the right-hand column. I promise I won’t use your email for any purpose except to send you notifications of new posts.

Also, if you like any post and wish to share it on social media (please do!) you will find “Share This” icons at the foot of each post to make this process easier. And at the foot of most posts you will now find links to one or more “related posts”, which you might also find of interest.

Thank you very much for your interest in Entrepreneur Writer. As ever, if you have any comments or queries, please do leave them below.

If you enjoyed this post, please share it on your own blog or social media:
SBI! for WP homepage

SBI! for WP – A New WordPress Training Program and Plugin

Regular readers will know that I am a writer and bizopps reviewer for the UK-based More Money Review website.

Many of the products I review are average at best, but occasionally I come across one so good that I feel it is worth drawing to the attention of readers of this blog as well.

SBI! for WP is one such case. It comes from the Canadian SiteSell organization, who also produce the long-established SBI! website building and training product. As the name implies, SBI! for WP incorporates the best of SBI! into a new product aimed at new and fledgling WordPress users.

WordPress is, of course, a hugely popular blogging platform. And because of the ease with which it can be customized, it’s also used to create many other types of website, from sales and marketing pages to review sites, online stores to authority sites. Entrepreneur Writer and More Money Review both use WordPress to power them, incidentally.

One drawback with WordPress is that there can be quite a steep learning curve. SBI! for WP aims to get round this by providing an in-depth, structured training program, divided into ten “daily” lessons (though some lessons may well take longer than a day to complete). You also get access to a huge online library of “Tips and Tricks” articles, and another library of ways of making money from your WordPress site.

Apart from the training, you also get access to BrainstormIt! This is a powerful research tool which helps you research concepts for your site and then specific keywords you can target in your content. It also shows you which keywords (and phrases) may have the best money-making potential with Google AdSense.

SBI! for WP is reasonably priced, and what I really like is that you can try the entire course (and plugin) free of charge for 30 days. You don’t even have to hand over your credit card number.

If you have any interest at all in learning about WordPress and setting up a WordPress website, in my view SBI! for WP is well worth considering, therefore. Even as a moderately experienced WordPress user, I have picked up a lot of useful tips and information from it.

If you would like to read my full, in-depth review of SBI! for WP on the More Money Review website, you can do so by clicking on this link. Note that you will need to open an account on MMR and log in to read the full review, but this is free and only takes a moment.

And if you want to take up the current 30-day free trial offer, just click through any of the SBI! for WP links in this article.

As ever, if you have any queries about SBI! for WP, please do post them below.

If you enjoyed this post, please share it on your own blog or social media:
Canvakala box

Review: CanvaKala WordPress Photo Editing Plugin

Recently there has been a lot of buzz about the new CanvaKala photo editing (and photo selection) plugin by Jai Sharma, Ankur Shukla and Raul Mellado. As a WordPress blogger myself, I decided to buy a copy for my own use and to review it for my readers. So here’s what I found…

CanvaKala is being promoted as a “Photoshop for WordPress”. It allows you to search online for images you can use on your blog (or elsewhere) with Creative Commons reproduction rights. It also lets you download these images to your blog, edit them in various ways, and then publish them.

CanvaKala is sold via the JVZoo platform. To access your purchase you first have to negotiate three attempted upsells or “One Time Offers”. This is always a bit irritating, but obviously you can click on “No thanks” if you don’t want them.

The first is for the Pro version, which has various extra features compared with the standard one, and let’s you search a wider range of image sources. The second is for the Developer version, which lets you use the plug-in on websites built for your clients. And finally, the third is for three other plug-ins, those being Tweetpressr, PinPressr and FB Video Pressr. I decided to pass on all of these.

Once you have turned down the OTOs (or accepted them) you can access your purchase. The CanvaKala plug-in is in the standard zip format, and it can be uploaded in the normal way from the WordPress dashboard. Once you have activated it, you can start using it almost immediately. The only thing you have to do first is add API codes from two of the image sources, Pixabay and Flickr. This is straightforward enough, and helpfully links are provided to the relevant application pages. The other two image sources in the standard version, Open Clip Art and Instagram, do not require API access.

Using CanvaKala is then just a matter of clicking on the relevant tab when you are creating a post (or a page) in WordPress. A new window then opens allowing you to search any of the image sources by keyword. You can select which sources to use (or all of them). You can also select whether you want images that don’t (or do) require attribution, and whether they allow modification or not. I was pleased to see that the issue of reproduction rights is taken seriously, and impressed that if you choose an image that requires attribution a small bar is added at the foot of the image with the appropriate info and a link.

You can also edit your selected image in multiple ways. Resizing is an obvious one. Using a slider control you can increase or decrease the size by up to 200 percent. I was a bit concerned that this might not be enough in some cases, but the helpful support staff told me that you can enter any pixel size you choose in the appropriate box and the image will resize to that. Again, impressive.

There are lots of other editing options as well, even with the standard version I bought. You can add a variety of Instagram-style special effects, e.g. sepia, grayscale and emboss. There are also various manual adjustments you can make, including blur, brightness, gamma, and a dozen or so more. You can insert text, shapes and other images, and add various styles of border. You can draw freehand over images if you like, and finally you can use Photoshop-like layers to move page elements over or under others.

You can either publish your image directly into your post, download it, or add it to the WordPress gallery. For the average user, there are probably more than enough editing options, although as mentioned there is also a Pro version with many more.

On the minus side, the editing tools are rather basic compared with PhotoShop and similar programs, and you can’t save a project to continue working on it later. That’s not likely to matter most of the time of course, as you will only be working with one image at a time. It does mean you have to do all your image editing in one session, though, before going on to do something else. In fairness, CanvaKala does do a lot of things that Photo Shop and similar programs don’t, e.g. Creative Commons image search.

Overall, I think CanvaKala is a great tool for quickly finding images to use in your posts and editing them, but despite the claims on the sales page it is not a complete substitute for a graphics program. Especially at the low launch price, however, it is undoubtedly a valuable resource to have on your WordPress blog/s.

UPDATE – SEPTEMBER 2015 – Since I wrote this review, my copy of CanvaKala has been updated four times (this is done semi-automatically in WordPress – you just have to approve the update). Various additional features have been added. These include the ability to import images for editing from your WordPress gallery and (even more usefully) the ability to upload any image you like from your own computer. CanvaKala is also now fully integrated with the popular YouZign design software. I am impressed that that the developers continue to refine and improve the software, and new features are still being added. If you’re a WordPress blogger, CanvaKala is now very close to being a “must have”.

If you have any comments or questions about CanvaKala, as ever, please do post them below.

 

If you enjoyed this post, please share it on your own blog or social media:

Spotlight: Blogging for Writers

In this series of posts, I’m highlighting a number of my downloadable writing courses.

Today I’m focusing on Blogging for Writers, which (like many of my courses) is published by WCCL (also known as The Self Development Network).

Blogging for Writers is a comprehensive guide to everything you need to know to leverage your writing skills to maximum effect as a blogger.

Whether you want to attract more readers, generate more book sales, or get more clients for your writing and editing services, blogging has the power to do this. And the same applies if you’re hoping to join the growing ranks of authors such as Zoe Margolis and Tom Reynolds, whose blogs have been spun-off into best-selling books and even TV series.

On the other hand, if you simply want to earn a sideline (or even full-time) income to supplement your writing earnings, blogging can do this for you too. And yes, I’m definitely speaking from experience here 😉

Blogging for Writers is intended both for complete newcomers to blogging and for those who may already have a blog and now want to move up a level and unleash the full power of this highly writer-friendly medium.

And here’s a true confession for you. I only actually discovered that BFW had been published when a reader of my Facebook Page, Charles Olsen, posted the following message:

“Almost finished going through your book ‘Blogging for Writers’ for the first time, preparing to set up a new blogging site. I am finding a lot of great ideas there, so many things that I would never have thought of on my own.” 

You can check out Charles’ message, and his follow-up where he talks more about the benefits he is enjoying from the course, by clicking here. And, by the way, you can see how astonished I was to discover that the course was out and I hadn’t known!

Blogging for Writers covers pretty much everything you need to know about blogging from a writer’s perspective. The main manual has eight substantial chapters, each with screengrab illustrations. The chapters are as follows:

  1. Introduction
  2. Easy Ways to Make Money Blogging
  3. Setting Up Your Own Blog
  4. What to Blog About
  5. From Blog to Book
  6. Monetizing Your Blog
  7. Attracting Readers
  8. Onward and Upward

You also get a range of free bonuses, including my unique 4-Week Blogging Action Plan (to take you “from blogging zero to blogging hero”, as WCCL’s copywriter neatly puts it!), my guide to writing irresistible blog post titles, a list of 50 niche blog topics with big earning potential, and more.

There is plenty more about Blogging for Writers, including the specifics of what each module covers, on my publisher’s information page, so please click through any of the links in this post to find out more.

And, of course, if you have any comments or questions about Blogging for Writers, please feel free to post them below!

 

If you enjoyed this post, please share it on your own blog or social media: