Showing posts with label Website Reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Website Reviews. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Review of Medium Partner Program: Should You Pay to Earn?

What is the Medium Partner Program?

Review of Medium Partner Program: Should You Pay to Earn?
Image by PixLoger from Pixabay, edited on PicMonkey


I joined the Medium blogging platform in 2016, before the beginning of the Medium Partner Program (MPP.) A blogging friend had said the platform was a good place to have a presence. I discovered it was a good place to keep some of my posts from sites that had died until I could post them elsewhere. So in 2016 old posts I'd republished were all I had on Medium, and only a few of them. I didn't post anything else because at the time there was no way for someone like me to earn money at Medium.

In February 2019, my HubPages friend Glenn Stok told me about the Medium Partner Program that now provides an opportunity for writers like me to earn money. But there's a catch.

It takes money to have that opportunity. One must pay $5.00 a month or $50 a year to join the Medium Partner Program. That link provides all the program details and everything else you need to know in order to join the MPP. Only you, though, can decide whether it's worth the money to get this opportunity.

Should You Join the Medium Partner Program?


I asked Glenn, "Is it worth the money to become a MPP member?" His answer convinced me to give it a try. No one gets any affiliate commission by recruiting members, so he had no reason to exaggerate his results and I don't think he would anyway. He wrote a comprehensive article on Medium and the Partner program so I see no reason to try to rehash it here. He did an excellent job. Here's the link to Glenn's article: How to Make Money Writing Articles Without Ads on Medium. I prefer to tell you my own opinions based on my results and the other opinions I found was I was surfing the web.

My Experience as a Medium Partner Program Member


February 2019


I joined the Medium Partner Program on February 5, 2019. At the time I had nine posts there left over from 2016. I put five of them behind the paywall. The other four did not meet the content guidelines for the program. The pay period ended on February 24, so my work was only behind the paywall for 19 days in February.

Here is a chart of my first payday on February 27, and the money did go into my account on time. Post titles are on left. Earnings for each post are on right. Red letters are for posts removed from dead or non-paying sites. Green letters show posts I removed from HubPages, revised, and reposted on Medium. Blue letters show the name of Medium publication where a post was accepted and now appears. You can see that not all my old posts made money, but some did. Articles published on Friday-Sunday of a week often don't start getting views counted until the next week. Pay weeks go from Monday - Sunday. Where there is no publication, it means I didn't submit to a publication or the publication didn't accept that article.

During this same period, with 44 featured hubs, I earned $5.10 on HubPages.


Review of Medium Partner Program: Should You Pay to Earn?

March, 2019

In March I revised and republished more of my old stories and added some new ones. Here are the results. Again, the blue script shows what publications accepted the articles. The red shows where the revised articles originally appeared if they weren't on the last February image. PP stands for Persona Paper. Bub stands for Bubblews. Some articles from either of those sites may have appeared on both and I can't always remember which only came from Bubblews. Green still represents hubs (HP) revised and moved here.

During this same period, with 44 featured hubs, I earned $9.27 on HubPages.

Review of Medium Partner Program: Should You Pay to Earn?

April 2019


I have not repeated the sources here, but I have included the publications that accepted my posts. I did not  repeat the publications for the articles that earned nothing this month. You can see that although I made more money this month, some of the articles that earned money last month earned nothing this month. Unlike sites like HubPages, an article may have a short earning life.

During this same period, with 44 featured hubs, I earned $12.45 on HubPages. (Note: I have not written anything new on HubPages for a long time and interact there rarely now, but I do publicize my Hubs on social media. )



Review of Medium Partner Program: Should You Pay to Earn?

Conclusions from My Results

Unpublished Posts Moved from Other Sites Can Earn On Medium

I currently have thirty posts on Medium. Twenty-six are behind the paywall. Four are not. Of those behind the paywall, only eleven were written just for Medium. "Starved for Attention," which made the most the first month, made nothing the next two months. It was previously on another site, revised, and moved to Medium. "Jason, I'll Always Love You" was picked up by a popular publication, P.S. I Love You, and earned only .18 in February. In March it was my highest earner. It still did well in April.

Articles Published by Publications Usually Get Seen by More People than Those Published Independently

In the second month, some of the articles were picked up by publications, some of which I didn't even submit. Articles that appear in popular publications with lots of subscribers are distributed more widely than those one self-publishes. However, inclusion in a publication does not guarantee more earnings.

Curated Articles Get Wide Distribution and Usually Earn the Most. 

My three curated articles have performed best for me so far. When you put your article behind the paywall you can also choose to have it sent to the curators for consideration. They pick which articles Medium itself will promote in its newsletters that go out to all Medium subscribers. Curation gives articles the best chance to be seen by lots of eyes. These are my curated articles so far.


Medium Earns More for Me Than HubPages on New Articles

On the other hand, older Hubs retain more earning power than older Medium posts. Working together Medium and HubPages give you the both of best worlds. Would I make more on HubPages if I kept submitting more hubs and interacting as much as I do on Medium? Possibly. The statistics I gave for HubPages above my earning charts are for my original account. My Squidoo transfer account makes almost nothing there, and it's those articles I plan to revise and transfer to Medium or somewhere else. 


Review of Medium Partner Program: Should You Pay to Earn?
Image by isuru prabath from Pixabay, edited in PicMonkey 


Medium Is a User Friendly Site for Readers and Writers

After a struggle with the quirks of the WordPress and even the Blogger editor, Medium's editor is simplicity itself. One can just concentrate on writing. It's the words and the images that are important. No quizzes, polls, videos, etc. are considered important post ingredients as they are on HubPages. The focus is on what you say. I  like not having to sell anything to make money. I would like to focus on stories and ideas as opposed to products. 

As a reader, I also like reading Medium posts because they're not full of affiliate links and ads. You can read all the way through a Medium article without encountering one pop-up asking you to subscribe to a newsletter. Readers can concentrate on content. I think many people subscribe for that reason. 

There is a wealth of interesting content on Medium. Many Medium members are not writers, but readers. They are not part of the Medium Partner Program, but they are the ones who read our work and help us earn for our writing. 


What I Like Best About the Medium Partner Program


Medium allows me as much freedom as I want. I can write in any genre. I can apply to a publication or not. I can write on any subject, though some subjects won't earn as much as others. As long as I follow the guidelines for the Medium Partner Program, I can put any article I want to behind the paywall. Of course, that doesn't mean it will earn anything. 

Medium treats me like an adult. It lets me take responsibility for my own work. I can publish it independently without submitting it to a publication editor and waiting for approval and publication. That means I am also free to publish inferior work that is less likely to earn than more polished work.

Proofreading is my responsibility alone. Publications want quality, so they do have editors to make sure what they publish is worth reading and is free of errors. But they don't correct it for you. They send it back to you or reject it outright. If a publication rejects your work, you are still free to publish it yourself. 

For an article to earn, other Medium subscribers need to see it, read it, and interact with it. Curated articles are most likely to get a kick start leading to more views on Medium. Articles in publications also get help from a newsletter the publication sends to its members listing new articles. 

Views from promotional links on social media don't usually bring in paid views. Traffic from Twitter automatically gets past the paywall for free. Most writers usually post a friend link when they post to social media so that readers can bypass the paywall if people click through. That means a well-promoted post with lots of traffic may not earn much if the readers aren't Medium members. 

Writers for publications often have their own Facebook groups for promotion. Koinonia is one of my favorite publications for Christian writers and it has an active Facebook Group. I know of three other active Facebook groups that are open to any Medium writers for discussion and threads for sharing posts. All these promotion opportunities and the support from other members is very helpful to new Medium writers. 

Most Medium publications encourage personal articles. They like authors to share what they've learned about  relationships, family life, work, mental health, business, and a number of other topics. Unlike HubPages, they prefer articles written in the first person rather than the third person, unless they deal with science or other very objective subject matter. Articles that speak directly to readers with a personal voice seem to do best.

Medium makes it easy to build your own following. You can even start your own publication on Medium if you don't find another that suits you or you want to keep your work in one place to make it more accessible to your followers.




The Downside of the Medium Partner Program


You are making an investment of five dollars a month or fifty dollars a year. There is no guarantee you will earn it back within those time frames. I'm on my eleventh week. If my earnings hold to their current pattern I will have covered my first year's membership by the end of the twelfth week and the rest will be profit. There is no guarantee that will happen. But I've never yet earned back with ads and affiliate links what it cost me to self-host a WordPress blog, and that was a far larger investment. My membership also allows me unlimited reading behind the paywall, and that's been worth the fee by itself.

You cannot include affiliate links or a call to action in a post that goes behind the paywall. You can, however link to another Medium post you have not put behind the paywall. In that post you may have an affiliate link or a call to action. You just need to make sure it's not interpreted as writing a post behind the paywall that only exists to point to another site.

If your posts aren't curated or promoted by a publication, they may not get much traffic. I have four posts that have received no fans or applause. Three were first published somewhere else between 2014 and 2016 and their original publishing dates followed them. If I publish older posts again, I will not use the importer which retains the original date. I will unpublish from the first site and revise for Medium.

The other unloved post was a rant published just for Medium. A few people read it, but no one liked it enough to applaud. That happens. I'm wondering if I should tweak the title and republish it.

If my current results on Medium hold up until the end of the year and my earnings keep growing, I will join again next year. A full year will help me see whether this is the direction I should go. But even if it's a wonderful year and I earn even more than I expect, there is that final downside. Medium can change the terms of the MPP any time they choose. They could stop paying. They could even close the site, though I think that's unlikely.

I have written the obituaries for many sites. One was What Can We Learn from the Fall of Bubblews? It was first published when Bubblews was still alive -- to answer questions about the living site. Some of the original predictions remain intact, but the post itself has been updated many times as things changed. I updated it once again and changed the title when when Bubblews finally died. Many of us who used to rely on Squidoo for income were crushed when it died.

We can never depend on any site we don't own for future income. It's always better to own your own site if you can make a profit. Meanwhile, as we build an audience, we can introduce ourselves to new readers on sites like Medium and  HubPages.

Possibly the biggest downside to writing for Medium is that you may be tempted to to neglect your own blogs. I have. I've also neglected other sites like HubPages. It's always a good plan to back up one's work on all sites, just in case, and not to put all one's eggs in one basket.





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


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Friday, April 5, 2019

How to Create Your Own Videos Ads with Ripl Video Creator

How to Create Your Own Videos Ads with Ripl Video Creator

Reviewing Ripl Video Creator - Online Website - Basic Plan is Free


Here is a simple tutorial on how to create your own video ads that can be shared on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and YouTube.  Plus, you can save a copy of your created video on your own computer.

The Ripl Video Creator website is fairly easy to use, especially if you have ever used a photo editing site.  It takes only a few minutes to create a basic video ad since Ripl provides free templates to get you started.  There is also a paid version available that offers more templates.  With the paid version, you can also replace the Ripl logo in the right bottom corner with your own logo.

I use Ripl Video Creator to create ads for several websites and my Ebay store items.  It could also be used for Etsy store items, Zazzle store items or even to promote a directory that shows the variety of places you can be found online.  Because you can add text to the video, you could even add the url location on the video.

Here is the complete video of the still image shown above.  Because I saved the video on my computer, I can easily upload it to Blogger.




Or, I can insert the copy of that video ad from YouTube to Blogger or my websites.

 

 

Basic Tutorial to Get Started on Ripl Video Creator 


You will need to create an account on Ripl to get started.   To do so, you can click the link here, or simply type Ripl.com in your browsers address bar.


1.  Choose a Ripl Template


Sign in to Ripl Video Creator and select the template you like.  You can change templates as you design your ad if you don't like the way your original template selection looks.   

If you have previously started a video but not published it, you will see it labeled as "draft" and can select it from the template options. 



If you start the "post from scratch", you will be redirected to the workshop area where you can choose to see "more designs" in the left sidebar. 




When you are redirected to the templates, the free templates are shown at the top.  Simply click the one you wish to use.  The free templates change often.  There are always new options for upcoming holidays or seasons.





2.  Select Font and Add Text


A font is pre-selected for each template, but you can change the font by choosing a different choice from the right sidebar.  As you can see in the screenshot below, you can also change font colors.

Add the text in the "primary" and "secondary" boxes.  

Adding music is also an option.  Simply click the music notes to select the background music.




3.  Add Photos

Click the "photos" box in the right sidebar to upload your own photos for slideshows.  You will see a "caption" box that allows you to add text to that photo only.  Double click the caption area on the photo to add the text, move the text box, or resize it.






Note:  If you change the text color here, it will change the text color on all images in the entire slideshow.



In the case of the video slideshow ad I have used here for the example, it was at this point that I decided I preferred a different text and text background color.  The background colors are pre-selected based on the font color you choose.



3.  Publish and Share Your Created Ripl Video

After you have added all of your images, added your text, and selected font colors, your are ready to publish your video ad.

Click the right top arrow to move to the publishing page on Ripl.



Add all of the facebook pages, Twitter accounts, Linkedin accounts in the account setting, on this page.  Be sure to slide the buttons on the right of each one to "on" if you want the current video added to that particular social media page. 

Remember to turn "on" the "save to computer" button too if you wish to download a copy of the video to your computer.

Then, click the "Share Now" button.




Shared On Twitter
Shared On Facebook

 

Please Share Your Ideas


I have shared how I use the Ripl Video Creator, but I would love to hear from you! 

Tell us in our guestbook (comments section) below the ways and places you have used Ripl to promote your websites, stores or products.


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


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Monday, April 1, 2019

Spring 2019 Hummingbird Migration

Reviewing the Hummingbird-Guide website
I put my first hummingbird feeder for 2019 out on Saturday. I am excited to see my first visitor of this year. According to the hummingbird migration map, a few ruby-throated hummingbirds are already close to my area (Maryland).

Reviewing the Humming Bird Guide Website


Did you know that there is a hummingbird migration map online?  I have used it off and on for the past few years. Last year, I didn't use it and only thought about hanging the feeder when I spotted a hummingbird hovering on the other side of my balcony sliding door; looking at me as if to say, "come on lady, where's the food?"

Saturday morning, the closest sighting submitted to Hummingbird-Guide.com was in northern North Carolina. I've driven from Baltimore to North Carolina. If the birds basically fly straight through, they should arrive at my house any day. 

In addition to allow you and others to submit their first hummingbird sightings, the Hummingbird-Guide site has many links for different information: blog, migration, attracting, flowers, feeders, inspirational stories and so much more. 

Hummingbirds at my Apartment


This year, I made sure to consult the map. My first visitor will have a meal as soon as he/she arrives. Actually, I seem to have one pair that comes to visit me. And it may be the same pair every year - they've become comfortable enough to perch on the hanger and on a plant shelf on my balcony.

I have had the best luck attracting hummingbirds with the 1:4 sugar water and boiled water recipe.


  • Boil water. 
  • Mix in 1 part of sugar to 4 parts water. 
  • Fill and hang a hummingbird feeder


I don't like to store the sugar water in the fridge, so I add 1/4 cup sugar to 1 cup of boiled/cooled water. I like working with a small amount. I have left the sugar water in the feeder for too long of a period of time and it started to turn cloudy with mold forming in the "flowers" of the feeder. For me, using only a small amount forces me to clean my feeder frequently. 

Hummingbird watching me while
I watched him/her

Related Links:

I LOVE hummingbirds. And for years I wasn't able to attract them. I now look forward to their return. I like books and movies about these winged miracles. Below are some links for those who loving these little birds.

Renaissance Woman wrote a book review about the Fastest Things on Wings: Rescuing Hummingbirds in Hollywood by Terry Masear. Read the review to see why this book about hummingbird rescue and rehab is highly recommended.

Grammie O loves hummingbirds too. She wrote 5 Ways to Guarantee Hummingbirds Will Come to You. One of the things that attracted hummingbirds to her yard were Canna flowers. Check out her article for her other tips.

Super Hummingbirds is a mesmerizing video by Nature. I can't really describe how awesome the film is. If you love hummingbirds, you'd love to see this beautiful film of them.

2014 was the first year I was able to attract hummingbirds. 2015 was the year that I documented their visits more carefully. If you think you can't have hummingbirds visit your balcony, you may be  wrong. I was wrong. You can see my balcony visitors of 2015 here and here on my Budget Balcony Living site.


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


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Thursday, November 29, 2018

DesignCap Free Online Poster Maker Reviewed

DesignCap is the free online poster maker offered by PearlMountain to make all your poster and flyer graphics easy to make and easy to design. The variety of templates, colors, text and background options are endless and will whet your appetite to make free posters in a few minutes for all your events.

WYSIWYG What You See Is What You Get


The DesignCap software is WYSIWYG which is very helpful for all levels of poster designers.
Beginner designers will enjoy the ability to change a template with the click of a mouse and the visual changes are immediate. Graphic designers with more advanced skills will find the templates easy to adjust with the text, color and image options.

DesignCap is an online program which is a bonus as software is not required to download to your computer; design the poster and simply save the poster as a download for its' future use.

I used the cover of my cookbook to test DesignCap and loved the ability to upload an image and change the background in a few seconds.

Background Options DesignCap

DesignCap offers a large variety of background colors and one can get lost (in a good way!) browsing through the options and making changes.

This is the DesignCap template I used for my cookbook.



This is the same template with a different border using the background menu.
The Low Oxalate Cookbook

The border was changed with a quick of the mouse when browsing the background menu. It was very helpful to have different colors and designs available to change the colors of the background.

Intuitive Design

Overall I found the menus easy to use and intuitive. The text menu to change the font size was less intuitive; however this is more than likely dependent upon the skills the designer has prior to using DesignCap. Two options exist to change the font size: the A+ or A-  or the font size can be changed manually. I like the ability to choose the font size manually; however, a first glance it appears the font size is limited to the drop down menu sizes when in fact any size font can be chosen by typing in the size. DesignCap offers tutorials for assistance and step by step guidance through its' menu options.

Image Size


The design can be saved in either jpg or png format. Remember this is a poster therefore the size is large. The image can then be scaled down if necessary or optimized prior to using on a website.

PearlMountain

DesignCap is the latest online design program from PearlMountain along with the established Fotojet and DesignEvo, the free online logo maker. The mission of PearlMountain, "We aim to make professional photo editing and graphic design capability accessible to everyone."





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


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Monday, October 1, 2018

Reviewing Vistaprint for Business Cards

Business cards from Vistaprint
I am in the process of starting a small business. An Etsy store to offer my crocheted items to an audience beyond my circle of friends. In this beginning stage of the process, I quickly decided that I wanted a "business card" to include with my sold items. I chose Vistaprint and am thrilled with the service and product they provided. So thrilled that I'm writing this review to share the information with you.


Vistaprint - The "Everything to Market Your Business" Site


I see the Vistaprint commercials frequently. This constant advertising is why I checked out their site first. Sheer laziness on my part. I ordered with some skepticism - as some businesses that advertise the most are not the best. But I am glad I ordered my cards from Vistaprint. Before I start rambling, the mini-review is:

  • Super easy-to-navigate website
  • Many business card styles to choose from
  • Choices ranging from completely designed by you (including your own photo) or use one of the existing designs
  • Preview function that shows you exactly what you have created
  • Fast service (ordered on 8/22 and received on 8/29) even with standard shipping


My Business Cards


I knew I wanted a somewhat "rustic" design. The purpose of the card would be a thank you and continued advertising with my store URL. I needed a thicker paperstock as I would be punching a hole in many of the cards and attaching them to my handmade item with a ribbon.

I was able to choose rounded corners (to avoid snags in my yarn), "standard glossy" front of card (to add to the durability of the card), and print on the back of the card (for a more personal message). Not feeling creative enough to design my own card, I quickly found one of their templates. The overall front design of the template was not adjustable, but I could add customize with my store name.  I could also choose a couple of color variations.  Scroll to the very bottom of this article to see a very small sample of some of the designs. 

The back of the card allows for print. So I added the personalized printed message I wanted. The back of my card is not glossy paper.


I had expected to receive flimsy, poor-quality business cards (like the ones we have at work). Instead, I received cards that I am thrilled with. I paid $25.58 for 100 cards and shipping. 

I will continue my orders with Vistaprint, adding fabric care cards to my packaging. I have also begun to consider purchasing postcards for advertising after seeing all of the fantastic design possibilities.

If you are in need of business cards and other paper products for your business, I highly recommend Vistaprint

finished and ready for delivery - with card attached


Related Links:

Our own Tracey (The Savvy Age) recently reviewed a free online logo maker called DesignEvo. If you feel more confident in your creative abilities than I do mine, DesignEvo Free Logo Maker may be a great site to use. I LOVE the logo she created in "2.5 minutes". 

My Etsy Store. My goal is to retire at The Shack; tending my garden, chickens, and land. That retirement dream includes sitting in a rocking chair on the deck and crocheting. If that crochet adds a very small bit of retirement income (aka more money for yarn) all the better. 


an extremely small sample of some of the existing business card designs on Vistaprint




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


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Saturday, August 18, 2018

DesignEvo: Free Logo Maker Reviewed

Need a logo in minutes? DesignEvo is a free online logo maker which gives users the ability to make a logo in minutes; whether a novice or graphics professional DesignEvo provides the online software to make, create and design a logo quickly and easily.

Easy As 1-2-3

 

DesignEvo promises that a logo can be made in minutes and what is promised is delivered. I actually timed the making of this logo with a DesignEvo template. I used my lifestyle website and tagline to explore designing a new logo.


How To Use DesignEvo


I launched the free logo maker, scrolled down to my chosen category (Letter), scrolled through the options, entered the website name (or Company Name),  tagline and voila! Total creation time including download and social share =  2.5 minutes.
After creating the logo I quickly modified a few parts of the design. I tweeked the size,  modified the dot icons, changed the background color and then proceeded to download the logo and the required social share.

The requirement for a FREE logo to download for your use is very simple; a social share is required prior to downloading and credit on your website or blog. After downloading you will find a zip file with the logo as a jpg, png and a readme file with the share requirements.


What You See Is What You Get

The design interface is very user friendly and intuitive. Once the logo is created a Preview is available to see your logo on business cards, letterhead or media products.

This is a very nice program for novices to instantly create a logo by using the provided templates; for those with more advanced graphic skills the online software has the features to further customize the logo.



Customize Your Free Logo

Your logo can be easily customized with the color, font and transparency options. If you have the HEX colors for your company then the color of your logo can be changed with a few clicks of the mouse. The interface is clean, self explanatory and easy to navigate; if help is needed video tutorials and FAQ's are available under Support.


Who Is DesignEvo?

The About page of DesignEvo gives insight into the evolution of DesignEvo. Pearl Mountain developed Fotojet, a free online collage maker and is also the creator of DesignEvo. The logo maker is free or users have the option to purchase advanced features for a one time annual fee. Logo features such as resolution, copyright, vector files are restricted to the paid version.


Recommendation

I enjoyed the ease of using DesignEvo, the user friendly interface and the instantaneous results of a ready to use logo within minutes.  Colors, fonts, icons and graphics are just a click away to personalize your logo to your brand or create a brand new logo with a customizable template.




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


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Friday, August 18, 2017

Blogging from the Heart at Treasures, Travel, and Tales

Blogging from the Heart at Treasures, Travel & Tales
In a world of structure that yells "niche, niche" all day, every day, I personally find it extremely refreshing to read a blog written in the old style, from the heart.  Of course niche blogs can be from the heart too, please don't misunderstand me.   But, I love having blogs to visit where I feel like I really get to know the author, not just a niche.  A place where the author tells me about the things she enjoys in life, from the best movie to her favorite soap, or breakfast.  

Who am I specially talking about, you ask?  Well, honestly there are several that I could name, but today I want to tell you about Dawn and her blog "Treasures, Travel, and Tales".  

The blog is exactly what the name implies.  Dawn shares with her readers about the treasures that she has found in life.  Her posts might be about her discovery of figs, roasted beets or pawpaws.  The next week, she might share about traveling to her "shack" in the woods where she plans to retire and how she cooks without a stove or oven in the place.  I frequently find myself laughing with the visual images she creates for her readers while reading her tales.

Treasures, Travel, and Tales is a journal of Dawn's life experiences and every article is an adventure for the reader to share.  Her site is definitely "blogging from the heart" and her heart speaks to mine.


Blogging from the Heart at Treasures, Travel, and Tales
This is Willy and his Chew Treats for Finicky Dogs


What to Expect from Treasures, Travel, and Tales


Review of the Website "Treasures, Travel, and Tales". The author, Dawn, shares with her readers about the treasures that she has found in life.
Keystone Kabins Park Model - Tiny Home Option
If an SEO (search engine optimization) expert stopped by Treasures, Travel, and Tales, they would be critical.  However, that same SEO expert would rip the heart right out of the site and that would be more than a crime.  

Treasures, Travel, and Tales isn't about ranking with Google.  It is about sharing with real people, not bots.  It is what writing online should be about.  It is what writing anywhere should be about.

Visiting Dawn's site is like walking beside a best friend as they experience things in life for the first time.  It's like sharing a musical with someone who has never seen Les Miserables before.  Or listening to a song with sentimental words that speak directly to a feeling we would never be able to express ourselves.

It is not just about the words in her posts either.  Dawn shares the photos she has personally taken.  Her love of nature shows in so many of her images.  She has a bee photo that makes you feel like you could just reach out and touch that little bumble bee.  (Yes, I am going to make you click that link to see the bumble bee yourself!)

Oh, and I don't want to forget to tell you that there is something there for everyone.  Even a crocheter will find a pattern to a crochet beanie hat.



Some of My Favorite Articles on Treasures, Travel, and Tales


Every article on Treasure, Travel, and Tales is a delight to read.  I do have some favorites that I have featured above and listed below, but they are just a place to get started.  I would love for you to visit the entire site to discover your own favorites.  I know you will find her honesty and wide-eyed exuberance refreshing and fun.

 



Read More Site Reviews on
ReviewThis




All Photos in this Review are Used with Permission from Dawn at Treasures, Travel, and Tales
Cynthia



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Reviewing Prime Reading

Free Access to Books, Magazines, and More With Your Amazon Prime Membership


If you love to read, Prime Reading is an Amazon Prime feature that you won't want to miss!
Prime Reading is a Feature of Amazon Prime
that you won't want to miss.
If you're an Amazon Prime customer, you probably already take advantage of free two-day shipping and several of the other discounts and freebies available with Prime. But there's one advantage that you might not be aware of. It's called Prime Reading and if you love to read, it's a feature that you won’t want to miss. Here's how it works.

With Prime Reading, automatically included with your Prime membership, you get access to a library of over a thousand books, magazines, and Audible narration recordings, all at no additional cost. While 1000+ books and magazines doesn't sound like much in the big scheme of the Amazon bookstore, the selection is good and, personally, I've saved quite a bit of money borrowing books and magazines from Prime Reading as opposed to buying them. I think it's a great deal!

Do I Need a Kindle To Use Prime Reading?


You might be wondering if you need a Kindle reader to take advantage of this program and the answer is "no," you do not. As with all e-books in the huge Amazon library, each can be read from your phone, your iPad, or your other Android or iOS device using Amazon's free reading app which is simple to download to your device. If you don't own a Kindle reader or Fire tablet, simply look for the "Read with Our Free App" link below the Kindle format of any book to get started. (To learn more, check out my review of "The Three Best Ways to Read Kindle Books.")

What Types of Books Are Available for Prime Reading?  


The Prime Reading library consists of books in many genres from nonfiction to romance to business and money and more. Titles include current bestsellers, classics, and likely books by quite a few authors that you haven't read yet. What a great opportunity to explore new titles when you're on a budget (I'm always on a budget!).

The magazines that are available are current issues of many of the bestsellers on the Kindle Newsstand. While e-magazine subscriptions are very reasonably priced, as far as I'm concerned you can't beat "free" for the cost of a magazine. I'll admit, I'd rather borrow HGTV Magazine or Birds & Blooms or Real Simple and read them for free than pay for a subscription. Borrow it, read it, save it for a while then exchange it for something else, all from the comfort of your own computer. It's even "greener" than recycling, don't you agree?

Where Do I Find Prime Reading?


Find Prime Reading Eligible items in the left margin of the Kindle Store.
When you're logged in to your Amazon account, visit the Prime Reading page to see the catalog of what's available and view your personal library. You can always access a link to Prime Reading Eligible items in the left margin of the Kindle store, as shown in the photo.

If you're not an Amazon Prime member yet, this is another great reason to join. Currently the price is just $99 a year, very worth it, especially when you take advantage of all the features of the program that you may not even know exist, including Prime Reading. To see the list of what's included or to join Amazon Prime, just follow the link.

So tell me, if you're a member of Amazon Prime, did you already know about Prime Reading or did you learn something new today? I love to save money on books and magazines and hopefully this information will help you save a few dollars here and there, too. Happy reading!

~Susan
Read more of my reviews.




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


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Saturday, September 10, 2016

Halloween Haven - Website Review

Halloween Haven's Safety Tips
Reviewing a website is always an interesting job for me. And the website Halloween Haven proved to be that and more. Since the site is so specific to a single day, I was delightfully surprised with the amount of information I found. Certainly costumes and party goodies for the ghoulish annual event, but plenty more ways to celebrate this event. Halloween Haven shows itself to be the place for everything Halloween.

Let the Fun of Halloween Begin


Certainly in the U.S., but in other parts of the world as well, Halloween is considered a holiday. Not one where everybody gets the day off work and the banks are closed. No, not that kind of holiday. Rather one that lets those who enjoy it, celebrate it.

Many, myself included, truly enjoy the event of Halloween. We start early planning:
  • parties, 
  • costumes,
  • home decor,
  • trick or treating.
So it was great news for me to wander around Halloween Haven and find all sorts of ideas and suggestions. It's never too early to start planning for Halloween.


Even Off-beat Ideas for Halloween


Halloween Haven
Halloween Haven caught me by surprise, I have to admit. Not just the usual stuff, but some good Halloween Puzzles. Now who would have thought that? If you are part of the crowd that greets trick or treaters, you know how much time you spend waiting for the knock on the door. As the author suggests, working through a jigsaw puzzle is a great way to pass the time.


And she found plenty of fun Halloween jigsaw puzzles to keep us happy. So let me add another suggestion. Set out one of those puzzles on a card table at your Halloween party. Some of your guests may have fun just fitting a few (or more) pieces together.

Halloween Jewelry for Some Added Costume Fun


One of the fun discoveries I made on the website Halloween Haven was a whole category for Halloween jewelry. I wandered through the world of poison rings (those nifty little devices where a deadly powder can be discretely poured into an enemy's drink), cobweb bracelets (with the spider wrapped around your finger), and ear-wrapping dragon earrings.

Granted this whole site is around Halloween, but I found some fascinating jewelry that works well for other events and lifestyles. Lace collar necklaces can work with many an interesting outfit, not to mention the joy of dressing goth-style.

Start Your Planning on Halloween Haven


The website Halloween Haven is a place worth checking out as you start planning. It's well laid out, easy to navigate and comfortable to read. The visuals of the site are right in line with the holiday. I found myself getting excited to start my own planning.




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


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Monday, August 22, 2016

Review of Picmonkey Photo Editing Site

Why I Love PicMonkey.com, Plus Tips For Using It

Picmonkey review

Until I discovered PicMonkey, I was stuck with using the free photo editing program that came on my HP laptop, and using Paint, the standard accessory in the Windows platform for computers. But now I am hooked on PicMonkey! It is my favorite free photo editing software! 

I never got around to buying Photoshop, and though I tried to use Gimp, it just was too hard for me to decipher. (Gimp is touted as a free version of Photoshop and many of my friends swear by it, but maybe I am software challenged.) So I thought I would show you some of the ways I use PicMonkey to edit and embellish my photos for articles on the internet and how you can too.

First of all, if you don't have an account,  just go to PicMonkey.com and sign up for an account. Once there you will see a page that varies as far as the image, but at the very top you will always see this:

Picmonkey header photo


You can see that I am signed in, but if you are not, just click on "Log In" on the right, and then you can begin editing.

You can also see the 4 buttons in the center that show where to start your photo editing project. For basic and advanced editing of your own photos, click "Edit." I will cover "Design," and "Touch Up" and "Collage" further down this page.

Once you do, it will show a screen asking you where to get the photo you want to edit. You can choose your computer, Facebook, One Drive, or their own new platform, Hub. Most people are probably going to choose a photo from their own computer so I will explain using that option.

Once you click on "Computer" it will open a window to your own files. Just scroll to your photo folders and click on the photo you wish to edit. That will place it on the screen in PicMonkey.  You will notice that on the left is a row of buttons. At the very top is a symbol of lines and dots and if you hover over that, it says "Basic Edits."  If you click it you see a list of edits you can do.  Here is an example of a photo I uploaded to the editor with the sidebar showing the menu:

PicMonkey Review



The first thing I like to do is open the "Rotate" button. (3rd button down on the left) You can rotate your photo in all directions, to change the orientation from horizontal to vertical and also to change the top to the bottom, just by clicking the arrows. But what I like to do is play with the "Straighten" slider. I guess I don't hold my camera steady as I often have photos that are crooked. But that is an easy fix in PicMonkey. Just slide the arrow till you have a straight photo and click "Apply." It even has guidelines to make it easy for you.
PicMonkey Review


Then I like to open the "Crop" button. The reason I straighten before I crop is that straightening sometimes takes part of the photo off, so I want the whole thing straightened before cropping.  Here you can see the crop lines I am going to use. You can drag the lines around till you are happy with your photo.

PicMonkey Review

Here it is after I clicked on "Crop." You can move the crop lines wherever you want them. When you are satisfied, just click "Apply" and then your photo will be magically cropped like this one.

PicMonkey Review


Then I like to do some basic editing so I click on "Exposure." The first thing I do is click on "Auto Adjust." This is often all that I do, as it seems to make my photos pop and look great. But you can also play with all the sliders and if you like the way a photo looks you can click "Apply" and those changes will be done.  When you are satisfied, just close that little window by clicking "Cancel" or "Apply," whichever is the case. Here  are how the other sections look when they are open. On this rose photo I have not done any other edits. I just cropped it and auto adjusted the exposure.

PicMonkey ReviewPicMonkey ReviewPicMonkey Review

If you make a mistake, there is an "Undo" button. At the very bottom of the screen is a backwards arrow. Just click that anytime you are not happy with your design and undo the last step! You can actually keep hitting "Undo" until you get back to a place where you are happy and then continue your design from there.
.
PicMonkey Review

More Tricks for Using PicMonkey


Now besides the  "Basic Edits" you can do a lot of different effects. One I use a lot is the "Text" function to add text to photos. This is great for making photos for Pinterest and other media like Twitter. So just click on "Text" and you will see this: (photo on the right)




Notice the slider on the right. Use it to scroll through all the choices of Font you can use.


I am going to use Marcelle Script so I just click on it and change the color of the script in the little box that pops up. I will use a very pale shade of blue but you can pick whatever you want. Move the box wherever you want and drag the edges to make it bigger or smaller. Then start adding text in the box. Example is below.

PicMonkey Review


And below is a picture of it after adding the text. Just click on the photo somewhere else besides the text box when you are finished and the text box disappears and your text is there.

Peace-Love-Travel-Light blog


Now let's say I want a background under the text. You can add any number of special effects by clicking the buttons on the left and scrolling till you find a design you like and clicking on the photo to place it. You can also move it around on the photo. Just click on it once and drag it wherever you want it. Here  I have added a ribbon. Once I clicked on it and placed it I changed the color to White. Then I added text over that.

Peace-Love-Travel-Light site


There are plenty of other effects you can use on the left too. The "Touch Up" ones are great for faces! And if you want a set of photos in a theme, there are lots of themed effects. They have a Zombie theme, Victorian theme, and lots more!  Just click on any of them to see all the things you can do. It would take me hours and hours to go over all the wonderful effects you can create, but the easier and more fun way to learn it is to add a photo and play with all the buttons to see what you can do! PicMonkey also has tutorials explaining how to use all the functions. Just scroll down on the Home page and you will see them.

Here are a few things I did to the image after I got the text and the ribbon trim on it. First are different edges. One is a simple box edge and next is a craft scissors edge.

State Flowers of the USA Coloring Blog

Best Coloring Books for Adults Blog

Then I added an effect called "Frost" which adds the color of the frame as a brushed effect all around the edges, and on the lower one I added a "Bokeh" overlay to make it sparkly. These are just a few of the effects you can get!

Aurora Art Supplies Colored Pencils
State Flowers of the USA Coloring Blog


PicMonkey Review


Using PicMonkey for Graphic Design

You can also use PicMonkey to design graphics and my favorite, Facebook covers. Up above where it says "Edit, Touch Up, Design, Collage," click on "Design." Then you will see a square, a Facebook cover, different sizes, and a custom option. To do a Facebook cover, just click that option and it opens up a screen with the exact size you need. Next click on "Overlay" on the left. You have your choice of many there, so you can scroll through and have fun designing your own cover by adding a combination of effects on the screen. Or you can add your own, just click on "Your Own" at the top. Here I have used the same photo of roses by clicking on the file in my computer and then dragging the edges out till the whole template is covered. Then I have added some text on top of that. It's now ready to upload to a Facebook page.

PicMonkey Review


One more thing that I think is pretty cool is that when you are designing, you can choose your background or even make a transparent background for designs you might be doing for Zazzle or other design platforms. For that you go to "Basic Edits," and click on "Canvas Color." If I wanted to make a round logo for example, I would choose a transparent background and then overlay a circle from the "Geometric Shapes" overlay section. Then I would put whatever design I wanted inside the circle, like text, colors, and/or textures. Once I have saved the design I have a round logo. Here is the one I designed for my Aurora Art Supplies products and website.
PicMonkey Review


And here are some Photos I edited in PicMonkey and added banners and text to use on my Amazon ads for my Aurora Art Supplies Colored Pencils and Water Color Pencils.


Using PicMonkey for Website Design 


Okay let's say I want to design a background for a website. And maybe I want a Blue sparkly one. First I would add Blue as my background color. Next I would go to the textures in the "Overlay" section and start adding them till I have an effect I want and then save it. Then I would go to the editor in my Wordpress theme and where it says to add a background, I would upload that file. Voila, a custom background. Here is one I made so you can see. I used a Blue solid color, then "Space" overlay,  then a "Bokeh" overlay. I played with the saturation till I liked it and saved it.

PicMonkey Review


There are so many effects you could really play for hours and design any number of cool things. And I didn't go into the "Collage" function, but all you do for that one is click on the "Collage" button above, pick a style from the left side menu and add photos to the cells by dragging them to the one you like. You can even design text boxes and add them as one of the photos of the collage. My friend Kim is a master of PicMonkey collages. Here is one she made for her educational site for kids to learn State facts.

PicMonkey Review

A very useful function that I use all the time is the "Resize" function at the bottom of the "Basic Edits."  Just click on it and you can make your photo whatever size you need! Very useful for websites!

So I guess you could say I am a PicMonkey addict now! Try it and I bet you will be too!  But a few of the fonts and effects are premium so you have to pay extra for those. Well I wanted them for a project so I signed up for one month only ($5) so I could make some cool designs. Then I reverted back.  A few days later PicMonkey sent me an email asking me why I cancelled the premium version and one of the answers you could pick was "It costs too much." That's what I picked and then they offered it to me for $33 a year, or less than $3 a month.  So if you want the premium version, that's how you can get it for less. Try it for a month at $5 and then cancel. I love  bargains, don't you? Thank you PicMonkey! 

*Of course, this may have been a one time offer, I can't promise that the offer will always be there. But it doesn't hurt to try, does it? 






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