Last Updated June 19th, 2018

How Can Your Teen Earn Money From Home? Teen Online Jobs & More

How Can Your Teen Earn Money From Home? Teen Online Jobs & More

How hard is it in your area for high school age teenagers to find a job? It’s pretty tough in my area – even the local pizza place only hires ages 18 and up. While there are a few places that hire teens younger than that, it’s hard for 16 year olds in my area to find work. With my oldest hitting that age, I’ve decided to take a look at teen online jobs and other ways for teenagers to earn money from home.

One challenge teens face with any kind of online work is their age. Sites may not allow anyone under a certain age to have an account. That’s not so difficult when the limit is 13, but it’s more of a problem if the company requires that they be 18.

This means that parents may need to help kids get accounts for some things. Paypal, for example, requires users to be at least 18 years old. A teen getting paid through Paypal will need to use an account created by a parent.

Once you’re 18 and have a high school diploma, you’ll have relatively few restrictions on where you can work if you meet the education and experience requirements. Most companies don’t care about your age once you’re legally an adult unless they have specific laws to deal with.

Make Sure You’re Paid Enough

One problem I have with a lot of suggested ways to earn money from home at any age is the very poor pay rate. Too many “opportunities” pay well under minimum wage. Many feel it’s okay to earn that little if you’re just doing them in your spare time, but I still find it problematic.

This is especially true when your teen is just starting out. Teach them to expect an appropriate pay rate, minimum wage at the least, and increasing as the difficulty of the work increases. Don’t fall for the notion that a gig doesn’t have to pay as well as a regular job.

This is why I rarely list surveys or Get Paid To (GPT) apps as work at home opportunities. Very few people make much at all with those, especially when you consider the time spent. It makes more sense to me to use that spare time to build something that makes more money, rather than chasing pennies or a dollar here and there on sites that don’t pay well at all.

Some things by their very nature won’t pay well at first, of course. If your teen wants to start a blog or YouTube channel, they won’t earn anything at first. But then it’s their choice. They’re starting a business, and that involves risk. What is acceptable when you work for yourself is different from when you work for someone else. If things go well with a business, the low income time will be well paid back when money comes in… or it’s time to try something else.

cash

Which Companies Offer Teen Online Jobs?

While most remote companies only hire people over the age of 18, there are some that hire teens for online jobs. If your teen is looking for work, he or she may want to consider these options.

Tutoring

Enroll – Must be 13 to sign up and have parental permission if under 18.

Teens can sign up as a student on Enroll, and tutor other students in whatever subjects you’re strong in. Peer to peer tutors must be at least 15 years old and can only tutor other students who are under age 18.

Care.comTeens ages 14-17 can register as providers so long as a parent has registered an account connected to yours, so that they will receive copies of all communications to and from the teen account.

Teens can offer tutoring services as well as childcare services on this site.

SameSpeak – Must be at least 16 and a native English speaker. Pay is $10 per 30 minute session. It may take some time to get verified.

Freelance Work

Freelance work can be ideal for teens. Pick up jobs when you have time for them, and build great experience you can use later. While some sites may require that you be 18 or older, others will not have an age requirement. Here are some to consider.

Rev – Rev has no age requirements, and offers freelance positions as a transcriptionist, captioner, subtitler, or translator.

Freelancer.com – Requires freelancers to be at least 16 years old. Possible jobs include website design, coding, writing, data entry, social media marketing, and more.

Userlytics – Test websites and apps and speak out loud during the experience. You must have a webcam and microphone, Windows 7 or newer, and MacOS 10.9 or newer. Users must be at least 16 years old. Pay starts at $5, with some tests going as high as $90. Pay is through PayPal. Tests should take 20-40 minutes to complete.

Freelance Writing

Freelance writing in general can be a good opportunity for teens. While freelance sites may care about their age, teens can also pitch individual publications with their ideas. If you don’t emphasize your age, they may not care that a teen is doing the writing, so long as the quality is there.

money in pocket

Home Business Ideas For Teens

Starting a home business can be a great idea for a teen. They can work their business around their school schedule with relative ease. While your teen may need you to sign up for some programs with them, they can still handle many of the details.

Etsy

If your teen loves to make crafts, draw, or otherwise be creative, sites such as Etsy can be a great choice. Etsy requires that a parent directly supervise the account of any user between the ages of 13-18. Minors under the age of 13 are not allowed at all.

Your teen does not have to make physical products to sell on Etsy. Some people do very well selling digital products, such as printable invitations, wall art, educational pages, coloring pages, logos and more.

Zazzle, Teepublic, etc.

Custom t-shirts, mugs, posters, and other products are very popular right now. There are a number of places where artists can upload their designs to be printed on t-shirts, posters and more. Check each site’s terms of service to see how old an artist has to be before signing up. Here are a few sites to check out. Some may require parental permission.

Zazzle
Teepublic
Society6
Redbubble
Cafepress

Fiverr

Fiverr is an online marketplace where you can sell a service for as little as $5. As you build a reputation, you can offer addons and more difficult services for more than $5, sometimes quite a bit more. Fiverr requires that users be at least 13 years old. If your teen has a bank account, they can have their money direct deposited, but payment through Paypal is also an option. Remember Paypal’s age limits.

The tasks people do on Fiverr range from fairly standard writing, marketing, programming and so forth, to more unusual tasks that can be great attention getters. If your teen wants to try to make money through Fiverr, have them look at what other people are doing in their category first, and brainstorm ideas to help them stand out.

Blogging

Blogging may come natural to some teens. It’s a great, flexible home business that doesn’t take a lot of money to get started. You can even start for free, although that’s not the option I recommend. Paying for hosting has real advantages over free hosting in the long run.

The first challenge with starting a blog is getting an idea. Take the time to brainstorm and get some great ideas for your blog first. Money generally doesn’t come flowing in right away, but you can make it happen.

You’ll have to learn to monetize to make money from a blog. Once again, many opportunities will require an adult to sign up for the account, but some companies may be willing to work directly with the teen.

YouTube

Lots of teens dream of making big bucks on YouTube. You’ve probably heard of some of the people who make a lot of money making what look like pretty simple videos in some cases.

While it is possible to make money as a YouTuber, it can be very hard work. It takes time to learn how to get your videos found in search and build a following. But if your teen is doing something they enjoy, showing it off on YouTube is a pretty nice business to try.

If you want to earn money as a YouTuber, watch some videos in the nice you like first. Get a feeling for what people are already doing, and figure out how to stand out. A YouTube account that does exactly what others are doing probably won’t stand out, but add in your own touch, and you may do well.

Start A Webcomic

This is what my oldest wants to do. It’s not easy to make money from webcomics, but a few do well. You have to consider several monetization options to have your best chance at making money.

Monetization can be from ads on your site, running a membership program through Patreon, creating products to sell on Zazzle and similar sites, and so forth. This is a great discussion on Tapas.io on the subject. Tapas.io lets artists earn money through ad revenue and tips from fans.

Remember The Local Teen Jobs

While your teen may want to work online, there are usually a number of local possibilities they should consider as well. It starts with the traditional jobs such as babysitting or the local fast food place, but there are so many more possibilities out there.

Our local public pool, for example, hires teens as lifeguards and swimming instructors. Most of these kids have been on the swim team, but it’s not a requirement. I don’t doubt that it’s helpful in our area, though – the swim team coach also runs the swimming lessons program.

Teens can start local businesses doing yard work for neighbors, pet sitting, tutoring, being a DJ for local events, and much more. These can be excellent opportunities if your teen really goes for it. Don’t dismiss them just because your teen has to go somewhere to work.

Have you learned about any teen online jobs I’ve missed that earns enough to be worthwhile?

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated June 13th, 2018

Kids And Money: The Essential Guide To Financial Literacy For Kids

Kids And Money: The Essential Guide To Financial Literacy For Kids

How good are you at managing your money? Are you good at it or do you wish you could be better? No matter how you answer those questions, you probably want your kids to be at least as good if not better with their money than you are. This is why you should make financial literacy for kids a priority in your family.

Good money management is a life skill. Not all parents teach it well. But as a mom or dad, you’ve probably learned a few lessons about managing your money, even if you wish your own financial knowledge were better.

Children start learning about money at a young age. They see you pay for things. They learn about coins, with even a penny being an exciting find when they’re young. There’s so much more to teach them, of course.

Preschool

This is the age when kids are becoming aware of money. It’s time to take their first small steps in financial literacy. Help them become aware of the role money plays in the everyday life of your family.

father-daughter

Talk About Earning Money

Kids need to know that the family’s money comes from one or both parents working. It doesn’t just appear from nowhere.

You don’t need to tell small children what you earn – they have no concept of numbers that big and it would seem like unlimited money to them even if you struggle to pay all of your bills. But you can explain to young children that adults have to work to get the money they need for their home, food, and more.

Talk About How You Spend Money

Take your children grocery shopping so they can see how you decide to spend money. Explain why you make a decision in the store when it’s based on cost. This is something you can keep doing as they grow, giving more information as they get older and more able to understand why the difference matters.

Within reason, you can tell your kids when you decide to not spend money because you can’t afford it. You don’t want young children to worry about the family not having enough money, but they should understand that you have to make smart financial decisions. Sometimes that means eating at home rather than eating out, or skipping a treat they might have gotten otherwise.

Let Them Spend Money

If you’re getting your child a treat at the store, give them the cash to pay for it. If they have money someone else gave them as a gift, let them pay for whatever they choose to spend that money on.

Kids can have a hard time learning that they don’t just give the cashier the money and walk away. I had to remind my kids several times to get their change when they were little, even though they had been reminded to expect it. Their concept of money had little to do with the amount the cashier said or what they handed to the cashier. Accepting their own change back helped them begin to understand that there was more to it than “give the cashier your money.”

Don’t Give Them Everything They Want

Kids want so much. This toy, that treat, hey can we go there? When you can afford to do it, it’s tempting to let them have what they want. That doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

Don’t give your kids everything they want, especially not right away. Teach them that some things must be earned, while other things need to wait for the right time.

If there’s a toy they really, really want, have them wait until they’ve saved enough money for it or have them put it on a wishlist for a birthday or holiday. Kids don’t need lots of new toys throughout the year. The lesson in patience will be far more valuable. An even better lesson is learned if they decide they really didn’t want the toy before they get it. You know how often kids change interests when they’re young, and there’s always the next desperately wanted toy coming up.

Help Your Kids Save Money

If your child doesn’t already have a piggy bank, get one. There are all kinds of fun options, from the traditional pig shaped ones to banks that count how much money is put into them.

I find simpler piggy banks better for young children. While it’s nice for a child to be able to look at their bank and know how much is in there, it’s a better lesson for them to have to count the money out to see what they have. This helps them learn the names and values of the different coins, and how to add them up.

Elementary School

In elementary school, kids should start learning more about money. They should hear about some basics at school, such as the names and values of the coins, but you may have started them on that already. Your kids should continue to increase their financial literacy in elementary school in several ways.

girl with flowers

Decide How Your Kids Will Earn Money At Home

To give an allowance or make it money that your kids earn is something parents can argue extensively about. There are good points to both sides.

Some parents prefer to give an allowance regardless of what chores have been done to demonstrate that your chores are something you do because you’re a part of the family. They believe that’s the most important lesson.

Other parents prefer to pay kids based on the chores they do because you aren’t just given money when you’re an adult – you have to earn it. They believe that’s the most important lesson.

And of course, there are paths between. Some parents may give a base allowance, with extra for chores beyond the basics.

I’m not concerned with how any one family gives their kids money. The big recommendation I have is that you don’t give them too much.

Make sure that they have to save up when they want something special. If they never have to think about whether they can afford something or not, they aren’t learning the most important lessons of all about money management.

Help Them Plan Their Saving And Spending

Kids in this age range should be saving up for the bigger things they want to have. You can help them figure out how to do that, especially when they also want something they can afford right now. Kids are great impulse shoppers, so it’s the perfect time to teach them to get that under control.

Talk to them about the best way to get each of the things they want. It will take time for kids to learn that even little purchases such as a candy bar at the store add up over time and make it harder to reach their big goals.

Teach Your Kids About Giving To Charity

Elementary school age can be a great time to teach your kids about giving to charity. This doesn’t have to mean money, however! You can also teach them to give their time to a favorite cause.

My kids and I, for example, volunteer at a local animal shelter. We help with the laundry and help socialize the cats so they’re friendly and ready for a new home. This costs us time rather than money, but we love the cause.

In many ways, it’s easier for kids to give money to a cause, if only because the volunteer opportunity for young children are limited. Most animal shelters have strict age minimums, often somewhere in the teens. It is possible that they can find a retirement home that welcomes young visitors or that your kids can help with a park cleanup – while supervised by you, of course!

Giving money to charity is a good idea as well, of course. Children should learn that these causes need money to do the good things they do, not just volunteers.

Middle School

While your middle school age child isn’t old enough to get a regular job yet, odds are that he or she is becoming more interested in having more money. You probably know by now whether your child saves money readily or spends it too quickly. It’s time to help them refine their financial literacy and responsibility.

mother and child

Talk About Their Money Goals

What do your kids want to spend their money on? The older they get, the bigger their wants get.

Most kids in middle school, for example, really want a good smartphone. Depending on your beliefs about when a child should get a phone, they may have one already, they may have a very basic phone or no phone at all. My kids each start out with an iPhone 4, which was dated even when my oldest got it, and limits on their use. We go through Ting, which makes phones for the kids very affordable. Each line is about $6 plus usage, and if you have limits on the account, that won’t be much at all.

If a top of the line smartphone is your child’s goal, you need to consider what you’re willing to permit. Even if your child pays for it, you will still need to put appropriate limitations on it, after all. If your child doesn’t have a phone yet, you may also need to discuss how monthly billing will be handled.

If your child wants something you don’t want them to spend their money on, talk about why. Give your child a chance to change your mind. It’s much easier for them to respect your “no” if they understand why and feel that their side has been heard.

Talk About Their College And Career Goals

Career goals go hand in hand with money goals in many ways. It’s never too early to start saving for college if that’s what it will take for your child’s preferred career.

It’s also a good time to start looking at scholarships. Some can be earned quite a few years before your child gets into college. College is expensive, so every bit that can be earned for it will help.

Encourage your child to put aside some of their money for whatever career training or college they will need. Setting up a 529 account can be a big help, especially as other people can add to it for birthday or holiday gifts if they like.

Open A Savings Account

If you haven’t opened a savings account for your child already, now is a good time to do so. Most savings accounts won’t earn anything worth mentioning in interest, but it’s a better way for them to save money, especially as the amount increases beyond a reasonable amount to have in cash.

You can even consider opening a Roth IRA for your child. This is a great way to talk about compound interest, and how the small account you start now will grow into something significant by the time they retire.

High School

High school is a great time to have your child practice spending the way they would as an adult. That time is getting close, after all.

girl in library

Give Them A Clothing Budget

Some teens are obsessed with having just the right wardrobe. Others really don’t care. Either way, the teen years are a good time to give them a clothing budget and have them handle their own clothes shopping.

This needs to take into account, of course, the fact that kids can have sudden and significant growth spurts. At the same time, you don’t want to give your teen an excessive amount of money for clothes. You want to teach them to plan their purchases based on their needs.

Giving a teen a clothing budget is a great way to teach him or her to shop for bargains. If they realize that they can get more if they wait for sales or shop at thrift stores, they’re likely to do so. It’s a great lesson for all those times in life when a budget is necessary. Cash is better than a limit on a credit card since you cannot possibly go over with cash.

Make a plan for how you handle mistakes. You don’t want to make it so easy for your teen that they don’t care about their budget, but you also don’t want them humiliated by having too few clothes.

Make Them Do The Grocery Shopping

Give your teen a budget, and make them do the grocery shopping at least some of the time. Have him or her plan out the meals and make a shopping list. Be sure they consult the current grocery ads for the best deals.

Expect mistakes, especially the first few times. You know that you forget things at the grocery store too. When my teens help shop, they help cook too, so they’re very aware of mistakes.

Make Your Teen Get A Job

The teenage years are ideal for that first job, especially once your child hits 16. Younger teens can sometimes find babysitting, pet sitting, or lawn care jobs.

You can help your teen prepare for interviews, but don’t go along or interfere. You hear stories of parents sometimes wanting to be there when their child interviews for a job. With most employers, that’s a great way to ensure that your teen does not get the job. Encourage their independence and send them to handle interviewing and holding down a job on their own. They may fail occasionally, but failure is a great teacher.

Teach Them About Household Budgeting

As your kids reach their teens, they begin to understand what things really cost. Especially as they reach their later teens, have your kids go over the household budget, so they see how fast things add up. Help them see how the costs they can expect when they move out are different from what you pay for the entire family.

Discuss College Or Career Training Financing And Costs

As your teen approaches their later high school years, you need to start figuring out what comes next. College costs have gone up dramatically, and many families will struggle with the costs. Financial aid can be a huge help, especially if your teen can get grants or scholarships, rather than just loans. Use resources such as https://fafsa.ed.gov/ and https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/ to learn about what’s out there to help.

Don’t immediately dismiss career ideas that don’t require college. Some still pay very well, and if that’s what your teen wants to do, there is little point to paying for college.

Do discuss having more than one career option, especially for teens who have big dreams in hard to get into careers. I have one teen who wants to be an animator. It’s a lovely dream, but the reality is that it’s a hard industry to break into, and very hard to make a living from. She’s also considering civil engineering, so we’re discussing the merits of having a major and a minor versus a double major.

That dream career might take off, after all. There’s no point to giving it up entirely so long as other ways to make a living are considered.

College

Your kids won’t stop looking to you for help just because they go off to college. Be ready for them to have money problems that you need to help with. If you’ve been working with them for a while, they should have at least some level of financial literacy, but the reality of moving out and/or going to college can challenge what they thought they knew.

college

Have Your Young Adult Manage Their Money Online

Set your young adult up on a site such as Mint.com. Get them into the habit of tracking their income and expenses right away, so they always know where their money is going. It’s easy to lose track of spending when being on your own is so new.

Discuss Credit Card Risks

There are good reasons to have a credit card. It’s there for you in an emergency. It helps you build a credit history, which is a help when making big purchases such as a car or house later in life. Some jobs even check credit histories. You may need to cosign for your young adult’s first credit card.

A credit card can also result in disastrous mistakes.

It may be best to encourage your young adult to get a secured credit card first. It’s not fun having that money sit there as protection in case they have trouble paying on the card regularly, but it also keeps any financial problems from being too serious on the credit card side of things. It shouldn’t take too long to build up enough of a credit history to do away with the deposit if they’re good about making payments when they use the card.

Make sure your young adult knows when to use a credit card. Never use it if you can’t pay it back right away, short of an absolute emergency. Even an emergency use shouldn’t take long to pay off.

Think Before You Help Them Financially

Young adults often have money trouble. They don’t keep enough savings around for emergencies or possibly for their college textbooks.

It’s good to help your kids out when it’s reasonable, but don’t do it so much that they expect you to help every time they have a problem. They need to learn to face the consequences of poor financial decisions, and a lecture from mom or dad plus the cash to fix it is not always the right solution.

That said, my mother and my in-laws all still help us out sometimes if it’s needed. It’s not a bad thing so long as it isn’t overdone.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated June 11th, 2018

Which Social Media Sites Should You Be Marketing On?

Which Social Media Sites Should You Be Marketing On?

There are a lot of social media websites out there. You could spend hours each day on marketing on them, but which social media sites will give you the best results?

That depends on you and your target market.

Social media websites will rarely do you any good at all if you don’t put some effort into it. If you just sign up and drop your link in, you probably aren’t going to see much benefit from any of them. Occasionally,  a business will have some success on a social media site they weren’t even trying for because visitors keep sharing them, but that’s an exception, not the rule.

Which Social Media Sites Have The Right Demographics?

Every social media site attracts a somewhat different demographic, and this is what you need to look at as you figure out which social media sites to use. I’ve pulled some demographic information from Pew Research Center to get you started, but you may decide to look deeper.

To make the most of this information, of course, you need to know what your target market is. How old are they? What gender? What are their interests?

social media sites

YouTube

YouTube is huge. You may think of it as a video sharing site, but it has its social media side too. 73% of American adults use YouTube. 94% of 18- to 24-year-olds use it, making it a great option if you’re seeking a younger audience.

In other words, video is huge. If you can add video to your marketing mix, you have the chance to reach a lot of people.

Facebook

Facebook is the other big one. 68% of American adults use Facebook. It’s widely used by most demographics, although people are frustrated with Facebook’s privacy issues.

Snapchat

If you’re looking at a younger audience, 78% of 18- to 24-year-olds use Snapchat. That’s a lot. Snapchat offers ways for businesses to advertise on their platform. Snapchat can be extremely effective for advertisers, offering twice the visual attention of Facebook, beating out Instagram and YouTube as well.

You can use Snapchat to build your business free as well, of course. You have to understand the limitations of the platform and tell interesting stories to attract followers.

Twitter

Twitter attracts only 24% of American adults but jumps up to 45% of 18- to 24-year-olds. They increased the maximum tweet length to 280 characters a while ago, which is a huge help to marketers.

Pinterest

Many bloggers love Pinterest. The visual style is highly appealing, and for the right business, the demographics are great. It only gets 29% of American adults overall, but 41% of women. Pinterest is particularly popular for crafting and recipe websites, but many other niches do well there.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a great choice if you’re targeting college graduates in a professional capacity. 50% of Americans with a college degree use LinkedIn, but only 9% with a high school diploma or less. LinkedIn is very much focused on professional networking, so it’s probably not a good choice if your business doesn’t relate to that. B2B can do well on LinkedIn.

Instagram

Instagram presents special challenges to marketers, as you cannot put live links in your updates. You can have one in your profile, but that’s it. Still, Instagram attracts 35% of American adults and 71% of 18- to 24-year-olds. Some marketers do very well with Instagram.

You can view more details of the demographics from the Pew report through this link.

Where’s Your Target Market?

Demographic information is only helpful if you know enough about your target demographics. They aren’t always what you think they are.

If you know your competition, you can take a bit of a shortcut and see which social media sites they’re having success with. Take a look at their social media buttons. Many sites show how many shares they’ve received on individual posts and pages as a form of social proof.  This can help you decide where you want to focus your efforts as well.

Visit their social media pages as well, especially for social media sites such as Instagram, where you can’t otherwise see how well they’re doing.

Using this data from your competition is not the only thing you should do, of course. It’s just a starting place. You can experiment with other social media. You might find a place to focus where your competition is not.

Seek out references to your best keywords on the different social media sites. Don’t do this by just typing your keywords into a search box. Learn how to use hashtags to search them and see how often your keywords are used that way. Take a look at the content you find this way and the accounts it’s attached to. This can give you both inspiration and people to follow on those sites.

How Do You Use Social Media?

How you use a particular social media site depends on which one you’re using. What works well for one may not be the best way to build a network on another.

How often you should post on which social media sites varies tremendously. Some do poorly if you post more than once or twice a day, while others need frequent posts if you’re to do well at all. I’ve pulled data from this Coschedule post on how often to share on social media. I also looked at when social media users are most active through SproutSocial. The best times may vary somewhat by niche as well as by social media site. Don’t forget to consider the time zones of your target market when posting.

dream big

On any social media site, being overly promotional is not a good idea. People aren’t there to have things sold to them. They’re networking because they enjoy it, to build their own business, to get good information, that kind of thing. If you do nothing but say “buy, buy, buy,” they’ll unfriend you as fast as they can.

Instead, give quality information to bring people to you. If you sound like an expert and they need what you have to offer, they’ll decide to do business with you.

One thing that is valued by most social media sites is consistency. Don’t keep changing your post frequency. Your fans and followers will come to expect a certain number of posts per day from you, even if it’s more than the usual for that platform.

Most social media platforms love hashtags. They help people find your content. Even Pinterest likes hashtags now.

While you can learn some things just by reading online about the social networks you prefer, you will probably get faster results if you take an in-depth course. Sign up for one only if you have the time to put what you learn into practice. There is absolutely no point in paying for something and then never using it. A good course will help you avoid making too many mistakes with your social media.

These are, of course, affiliate links to the courses, but they are ones I consider to be good choices and have good reviews.

YouTube

The key to YouTube starts with making great videos, but that’s not where it ends. Your videos must be discovered by viewers, or it all means nothing. You need to learn how the YouTube search algorithm works and which techniques will bring your videos to the first page of YouTube so that they’re seen by potential viewers.

Course recommended: A Million Subs In A Year: YouTube Marketing and YouTube SEO

Facebook

You have so many options to market your business on Facebook. Starting a Facebook Page for your business is a must, but many businesses find starting a Facebook Group is even more powerful.

Most people suggest posting on your Facebook business page no more than twice a day, with once a day being ideal. This is especially true for promotional posts. If you’re being social and fun, you can probably get away with more, but be extremely careful that you do not post excessively or your reach will decrease and your fans will view your posts as spammy.

Businesses on Facebook often complain about how algorithm changes make it hard to reach their fans without paying for ads. It’s a legitimate problem. Facebook changes their algorithm often, and that can be a real headache. Paying for ads can be well worth it, however, once you know what you’re doing.

In general, you want to post on Facebook on weekdays from about 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with Wednesdays and Thursdays performing best. Saturdays, evenings and early mornings have the least engagement.

Course recommended: Facebook Ads & Facebook Marketing MASTERY

Snapchat

I have not used Snapchat myself, and know very little about it. Hubspot recommends posting a Story only once or twice per week on Snapchat. Then spread your Snaps out through the day. You should also consider that not everyone has the sound turned on when they use Snapchat, so including text in your Stories is very helpful.

Course recommended: The Complete Snapchat Marketing Course

Twitter

Twitter is one of those places you can post a lot. 15 times a day is recommended, with several retweets of someone else’s content. Some recommend up to 50 or more tweets a day. Tweets disappear quickly as new tweets appear, giving each tweet a short lifespan if no one retweets it.

Don’t batch all your tweets into a short time frame, of course. Spread them out. Twitter does best on weekdays, with Fridays being the best around 9-10 a.m. Mornings are better than the afternoon in general, and weekends don’t do as well, with some exceptions.

Twitter has recently become more picky about the reuse of content. It used to be that you could use a scheduler to post the same tweet over and over again for as long as you liked. These days, Twitter views that as spam.

They prefer that you either rewrite the tweet in a new way each time you share a link to the same site or retweet your original tweet. Twitter is looking for more original content. This makes using schedulers such as HootSuite more difficult but not impossible. You just have to put a little more time into your individual tweets.

Course recommended: Twitter Marketing: 2 Minutes A Day To 10k Twitter Followers

Pinterest

Pinterest marketing can be a lot of fun, so long as you don’t fall for the time sink. Give it half a chance and you’ll probably find an interesting recipe or something to catch your eye.

There are a few key things you must do on Pinterest. The first is to create some keyword rich boards for the content you’ll pin from your own site. Make sure you add them to an appropriate category and give them a good description. You will want to follow relevant pinners and build up your own following.

Make sure your create your account as a business account to make the most of Pinterest. This will give you access to analytics and the ability to make your pins into rich pins.

Joining group boards on Pinterest is an excellent way to get your pins out to a wider audience, but be picky. Niche boards are usually far more powerful than “pin anything” boards, even if the “pin anything” board has a larger following. Pinterest prefers to see your pins categorized properly.

Pin a lot. Recommendations run from about 15-30 a day according to the Coschedule post, but I’ve seen many pinners swear by a higher number.

Recently, Pinterest has stated a preference for a variety of descriptions on pins. This makes scheduling more difficult, as tools such as Tailwind allow you to quickly schedule a bunch of identical pins. You have to do extra work to vary things. Make sure you create multiple pinnable images for each post. You never know which will take off best until you test them. Vertical images with a 2:3 ratio do best.

Pinterest currently gives priority to the first five pins you do each day, starting at midnight UTC. Pinterest activity peaks at about 9 p.m.

If you want to know when your best time to pin is, use Tailwind. Tailwind’s SmartSchedule will post pins at the time that is best for your industry, and by when it sees that you get the most engagement.

Course recommended: Pinterest Marketing: Using Pinterest for Business Growth

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is another of those sites that does not tolerate a lot of posting from businesses. Posting once a day is plenty.

If you want to do more, join LinkedIn groups and interact with people there. Be careful how promotional you get. You need to be seen as a quality resource. Be the trusted professional you want to be seen as, not the person who’s only interested in the next sale.

LinkedIn engagement is better Tuesday-Thursday, with Wednesdays from 3-5 p.m. being the best.

Course recommended: Linkedin Marketing: B2B Sales & Lead Generation From Scratch

Instagram

Even with its disadvantages, I know a lot of marketers love what they can do with Instagram. You should only post once or twice a day on Instagram, although a few people report doing well with more, even 10 times a day. Be careful about how often you post, and see what works for your audience.

Being heavily promotional is not likely to work on Instagram. As always, provide value. You can use Instagram to give a little behind the scenes look at your business as well as to promote.

Weekdays do better than weekends on Instagram, and you should post first thing in the morning. Later posts can do well going into the afternoon.

Course recommended: Instagram Marketing 2018: A Step-By-Step to 10,000 Followers

How Many to Use?

You can’t do a good job of using all social media websites, not even if you only stick to the big ones. There’s too much to do.

You’ll be better off if you can pick a couple to focus on. Get good at marketing on them.

Dividing your efforts dilutes them. There’s a balance between being available on a variety of networks and being unable to keep up.

As with any other sort of marketing you haven’t tried before, start by using just one social media site. Figure out what you’re doing. Get some fans, friends, followers, whatever they’re called. Get comfortable.

Even though each site takes a slightly different approach, you can take some of what you learn from each site and apply it to the next one while continuing with the sites you’re already on. You’re learning how to bring in business with a possibly more personal touch than other forms of marketing may have been for you.

Social media marketing isn’t something that comes naturally for everyone, but it’s a big help for bringing in traffic and business if you use it right. Give yourself some time and really pay attention to the learning process. You might find it a lot of fun as well as profitable.

Should You Automate?

Within reason, automation of your social media efforts is a great idea. It’s too hard to keep up otherwise.

I use HootSuite to automate many of my posts. It works with Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest. Its Pinterest tools are not as powerful as what Tailwind has to offer, so you may want a subscription to that as well.

What you cannot automate is the social side of social media. You need to interact with people appropriately, retweeting interesting tweets, for example, or replying to comments. Spending a few minutes on social media is a great way to handle those parts of your day when you know you have limited time to get something done.

You also need to be aware of current events when you automate. If a big event happens, make sure you don’t have any inappropriate posts going out at that time. A reference that is perfectly innocent at other times may be taken as offensive if something has gone wrong.

Do not try to automate your following of other users. Take some time to find them.

I also do not recommend using software to follow and then unfollow anyone who doesn’t follow you back. I know many bloggers worry about their following/followers ratio, but it’s really not that big of a deal in most ways. Follow people because you want to see what they post. Many social media sites now see a high rate of following and quick unfollowing as a sign of spam.

How Long Does It Take To Know Which Social Media Sites Work?

We all want fast results with social media. That would be nice, wouldn’t it? But that’s often not the way things go.

Social media results take time, just like anything else. Don’t compare yourself to the people who have tens of thousands of followers. Most of those have been at it for years.

Work on improving what you’re doing instead. You can get ideas for what works by watching the people who are successful at social media, but in the end, it’s up to you to stand out. If you’re nothing but a copycat, you’ll never stand out.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated June 8th, 2018

Summer Night Activities To Make Your Summer Amazing

Summer Night Activities To Make Your Summer Amazing

How difficult is it for you to get your family out and doing things during the summer? It’s just so hot out! You have to worry about sunburn or even heatstroke if the day is hot enough. That’s why I’m so fond of summer night activities.

Summer is a great time to get outside and enjoy the night. Summer nights are generally warm, and it’s just such a relief after the heat of the day to get outside and do something! Get away from all the devices as a family and go have some fun. But where?

Take a look and see if there are any places in your area that have special summer night activities. Most communities have something going on.

Planning fun family activities for summer nights can even help you be more productive when you work at home during the summer. The promise of something fun to do later can encourage your kids to let your work during the day.

Try The Zoo

Many zoos are open at night during the summer. The animals are very different at night. Nocturnal animals are so much more active! It’s a lot of fun, and no one complains that the sun is too hot on them at night.

We start in the late afternoon when we go to the zoo during the summer. Mostly that’s because it’s always the San Diego Zoo, and it takes so long to see everything there. But it’s also because it’s fun seeing things change as the sun goes down. We have passes, so it’s not like we have to worry about getting out money’s worth for the day.

I strongly recommend getting zoo passes when you have kids. The zoo is a great place to get out with your kids anytime. Try it on a rainy day sometime too.

Backyard Camping

Camp out in your backyard. Many nights it can be more comfortable to sleep outside in the tent than in the house, which is still retaining heat from the day.

Once your kids are old enough, you can consider allowing them to camp in the backyard without you. Kids love that little bit of independence, yet they’re close enough to get you if they need anything. So long as they aren’t noisy enough to bother the neighbors, you don’t have to worry about bedtime when they camp in the backyard.

Don’t be surprised if the kids need to sleep a little during the day after a backyard campout. You know how early the sun comes up during the summer, and they probably tried to stay up late. They’re tired.

camping

Take A Camping Trip

Alternatively, try a one night camping trip at a local campground. Roast marshmallows around the campfire, tell stories and just relax. Don’t forget to leave a little time for a family hike during the day.

Some campgrounds also offer night hikes. You don’t want to hike anywhere you might get lost at night, but clearly defined trails will usually be safe enough so long as you stay on them.

telescope

Stargazing

Go stargazing. Whether you look at the stars from your own backyard or drive out to someplace a little darker, children love to look at the stars.

Help your kids identify the constellations. SkyView is a great app that can help you identify what you’re seeing in the sky. You can also use gadgets such as the Night Sky Navigator to find different stars and constellations.

If you have a telescope, set it up and start looking for interesting objects in the sky. Jupiter and Saturn can be pretty easy to find when they’re up. The moon can be amazing, but very bright through a telescope. Depending on your telescope, you may be able to get a look at nebulas and other interesting things.

If you don’t have a telescope, you can use binoculars to look at the moon. Binoculars aren’t steady enough or strong enough for most other objects, but the moon can be interesting through them.

Another alternative if you don’t have a telescope is to head out to a local planetarium or see if a local amateur astronomers’ club has a night when they do stargazing with the public. You can talk to some very knowledgeable people that way and see things you might not have known to look for.

Don’t forget to look for shooting stars. If you want the best luck, head to a dark place on the night of a meteor shower. The Perseids are most active in August, but they start in late July.

Movies At The Park Or Your Backyard

My kids love that our community does Movies At The Park every summer. It’s a wonderful chance to go to the park, play with some friends and then watch a movie. We get there at least an hour early so we get a good spot on the grass and so the kids can play at the playground.

Movies At The Park is one of my favorite summer playdate ideas. I tell all the moms I know that we will be there most weeks and the kids would love to see their friends to play. No one has to clean their house for company or deal with their house being messed up after. If no one shows up, it’s still a pretty good time.

You can even bring dinner and have a picnic at the park. We do this some of the time, but in the early summer especially, the movies start so late that dinner at home makes as much sense as dinner at the park, and much less trouble at the end of the night.

You can also set up movies in your backyard if you have the equipment. Video projectors can be very reasonably priced, and then you need a light colored, reasonably smooth wall or a white sheet to project the image onto. Some models are less than $100. You can watch the movies of your choice from your collection or subscriptions in your backyard whenever you want this way.

summer concerts

Outdoor Concerts

Many communities not only do movie nights in their parks, they offer outdoor concerts during the summer at night as well. Take a look at your community pages to see what kind of events are available in your area, and which concerts you would like to attend.

Outdoor concerts aren’t at night everywhere, but it’s so nice when they are. It’s much more pleasant to sit and listen when the sun isn’t beating down on you.

sunset

Watch The Sunset

Head out to the best place in your area to watch the sunset. We see them pretty well even in our front yard, but there are better places to watch a sunset. There’s a park in our area that overlooks the entire town that is great for sunsets.

Change up where you watch the sunset occasionally. It can be a part of a family adventure while doing something else to catch a great view of the sunset.

Play With Glow In The Dark Toys

Glow in the dark toys offer so many possibilities for summer night activities. It can all start with those glow in the dark necklaces that kids love and you can often find in the dollar store, but you can do so much more.

Glow in the dark frisbees are fun if you have enough room to throw them. It can be frustrating to lose one on the roof, which is why I always prefer that my kids use them at the park.

You can buy glow in the dark soccer balls, golf balls, basketballs and so much more to make any sports you like more fun at night. Some will use LEDs while others will be true glow in the dark items.

You can even make your own games, such as glow in the dark bowling. It’s super easy to set up at home.

Kids may also enjoy glow in the dark body paint. Most glow in the dark body paint requires the use of a blacklight, which could make an interesting addition to flashlight tag.

Flashlight Tag

Flashlight tag is an easy game to play. It’s much like hide and go seek, as the person who is It must first count to whatever number while the other players hide. They then try to catch other players in the light of a flashlight.

Flashlight tag is best if there’s a reasonably large area for people to hide. You don’t want the space so big that people get really lost, but you also don’t want it so small that there aren’t enough interesting hiding places to make the game a challenge.

Laser Tag

Laser tag is a great game to play at night, and if your kids enjoy it enough you can save a lot of money buying your own set of laser tag equipment rather than going to the arena every time. Make sure you read the reviews to ensure that you get equipment that is worth the cost. Some of the cheap sets don’t last very long.

If you can, give the kids a large area with some hiding spots to make their laser tag game more interesting. It much more fun if you can duck behind something to catch someone else off guard.

The one problem may be that some sets are noisy. Be sure that you don’t play laser tag too late at night if other people in your neighborhood can hear you.

barbecue

Make Dinner Outside

There’s a reason why barbecuing is so popular in the summer – no one wants to heat up their house by cooking indoors if they can help it. Well, that and because most people love barbecued food.

Shishkebabs can be a lot of fun, especially if you have picky eaters. Set up the ingredients so everyone can set up their own shishkebabs with the food they like. Make sure everyone washes their hands after handling raw meats, of course.

Don’t forget dessert when you make dinner outside. Keep those coals warm, and the kids can make traditional desserts such as s’mores, or have a little extra fun making campfire cones.

Picnic Dinner

Just because you made dinner in the house doesn’t mean you have to eat dinner in the house. Grab that food and have a picnic outside. If you choose the right time, the evening breeze feels wonderful.

You don’t have to go anywhere special to have a picnic dinner. Your backyard is good enough. If you’re feeling more ambitious, however, or just need to get away from the house that badly, move the picnic to the park. Having dinner and letting your kids play on the playground is a great way to let them get out that energy at the end of the day. Pay attention to local park rules, of course. Some close at dusk.

Sit Around The Firepit

Even if you don’t cook dinner in the barbecue, you can always set up a firepit to sit around on summer nights. They’re a great place to sit and talk while enjoying the night air, the stars, and maybe some marshmallows.

Make Treats

You don’t have to go outside to have fun. Stay indoors, open all the windows to let in the breeze, and start making cookies! You can let each child pick a recipe or so, depending on how many cookies you want to make.

Ice cream is another fun treat to make, especially if the night is warm. Pick a recipe and start up your ice cream maker. Or be lazy and get ice cream at the store. Either way, make it even more fun for everyone by setting up a topping bar. You probably can’t set up the range of treats the local frozen yogurt place has, but you can make it interesting enough.

Of course, you can always make treats around a campfire too.

Tell Stories

Whether you sit around a fire or you’re sitting around however you like, summer nights are a great time to tell stories. Scary stories are traditional, but you can also read books to your kids or make up something fun.

Make sure you have your kids tell stories too, whether they read a book out loud or make something up all their own. It’s a great way to encourage their creativity over the summer.

Night Swimming

I loved going swimming at night when I was a kid, the rare occasion that I had access to a swimming pool. It’s the perfect way to handle an overly warm summer night.

If you want to make it even more fun, get some glow in the dark pool toys.  The lights look amazing in and on top of the water, and kids love anything glow in the dark.

Catch Fireflies

If you live in an area that has fireflies, odds are that your kids will love catching fireflies. They’re a lot of fun to look at as they fly around, or get a closer look while they’re in a bottle. Let them go when you’re done, of course.

fireworks

Watch Fireworks

In some areas, the only chance you’ll have all summer to watch fireworks is the Fourth of July. In other areas, there may be places that have fireworks often throughout the summer.

If you live near a theme park, for example, some of them shoot off fireworks most summer nights. It can be pretty easy to watch the fireworks from outside the park. It won’t be quite as spectacular as the view in the park, but it can be a good show regardless.

If they’re legal in your area, you can do fireworks on your own, of course. Be sure you use proper safety precautions and watch the children carefully. There’s a risk of injury with any kind of fireworks that you and your family must be aware of. You don’t want to add to the statistics on fireworks injuries or start a fire.

Take A Walk

It may be too hot to take a walk during the day, but that shouldn’t keep you from taking a walk in a safe area at night. Night is the perfect time to take your dog for a walk during the summer – no worries about burnt paws after the sun goes down.

Take appropriate safety precautions of course. Have a flashlight and your cell phone with you, and it’s generally safer and more fun to walk in a group.

Of course, not all your summer activities with your kids have to be done at night. Don’t forget to consider these free or cheap summer activities to make this a great summer for your family.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated June 4th, 2018

How To Simplify Linking to Affiliate Products In WordPress

How To Simplify Linking to Affiliate Products In WordPress

If you’ve been blogging for long, you’re probably trying to earn money at it. It’s a natural step to take. Blogging takes time, and if you’re serious about it, you’re spending some money on it too. Why not make it a money making venture? Affiliate products are a great place to start, so long as you can simplify linking to affiliate products. This is pretty simple in WordPress.

Dealing with ALL the links is one of the challenges of affiliate marketing. You can’t recommend just a few products over and over again – your readers will lose interest. If you don’t simplify linking to affiliate products, you’ll have to log into your affiliate accounts every time you want to add a link or keep a huge spreadsheet of them. Either way, that’s tedious.

There are a few good ways to handle this. The most powerful ways to simplify linking to affiliate products cost money, but that’s worthwhile when it saves you time and effort and makes adding links much more natural.

Why Shorten Your Affiliate Links?

Shortening your affiliate links does more than make them easier to remember. It also makes it easier to change them if the affiliate program changes networks or ends.

I’ve had both happen several times in my time as a blogger. It’s not all that rare for a company that uses ShareASale to move to Commission Junction or vice versa. An independent affiliate program might move to a network, or a company that uses a network might decide to start an independent affiliate program.

If you put your affiliate links in exactly as they were given to you, you have a tedious job ahead of you when these changes happen. You have to find all these links and change them.

If you shortened your affiliate links, you only need to change the redirect. If you’ve linked to multiple products from a program that changes you’ll still need to change all of them, but changing your redirects is far easier than digging through all your posts to make changes.

Which Programs Shouldn’t You Simplify?

I do not recommend shortening all of your affiliate links. In particular, do not shorten or otherwise cloak your links to Amazon.com. They’ll ban you.

Amazon links are already nice and short. They use their amzn.to domain to shorten links for you.

Odds are that you will link to a lot of different products on Amazon over time. Shortening these yourself would not only be against Amazon’s rules – it would give you an absurd number of shortened links to keep track of. It’s far easier to just get the link from Amazon each time.

Free Options To Simplify Linking To Affiliate Products

.htaccess

I’ve used my .htacess file for many years now. It’s fairly simple, although it also requires that I remember what I called each link. Otherwise, I have to go to that file and look up the link.

.htaccess redirects are super simple to write. Open your .htacess file in Notepad or another text editor. The code is:

Redirect permanent /linkname URLofyouraffiliatelink

Change /linkname to whatever you’re calling your link, and URLofyouraffiliatelink to the URL the affiliate program gave you for what you’re linking to.

It may be a good idea to make a spreadsheet of the links you’ve shortened with.htaccess. That’s easier than opening it to see what you’ve got when reusing a link. I would suggest using the link name, affiliate link URL, company and the exact product name you’re linking to.  This should make it easier to find the products you’re looking for. If an affiliate program ends or changes, this will make it easier to figure out which links you need to change.

Many bloggers don’t like messing with their .htaccess files. There is a risk to this method if you don’t know what you’re doing. You can royally mess up your site if you get things badly wrong in .htaccess. I’ve never had a problem, but I can see where mistakes happen. This is why many bloggers prefer to use link shortening plugins.

Free Link Shortening Plugin

Finding good quality link shortening plugins was challenging. Many are no longer updated. This makes them a little risky to use, as there can be compatibility issues.

Easy Affiliate Links – Helps you manage your affiliate links. Gives you the option to cloak them or not. This plugin also gives some statistics, but you will have to buy an add-on if you want better statistics.

Fortunately, many of the paid plugins have free versions, for if you just aren’t ready to pay for all the features. If these free plugins don’t look good enough to you, go for the free version of a paid plugin, and update when you’re ready to spend the money.

Free Auto Linking Plugin

You should be very careful in using auto linking plugins. If you use them excessively to link automatically to other posts on your site, you can incur a penalty with Google. However, they can be extremely helpful in automatically adding affiliate links to your posts, especially if it also add the nofollow attribute.

Auto Affiliate Links – Adds affiliate links automatically. You can set select keywords and links manually if you so choose. This plugin gives the option to add a nofollow attribute and to limit how many affiliates are added to a post.

chain

Paid Options To Simplify Linking To Affiliate Products

ThirstyAffiliates

Like many WordPress plugins, ThirstyAffiliates has both a free and a paid version. The free version is good enough to get you started, but you get significantly better features in the ThirstyAffiliates Pro add-on.

The free version gives you features such as affiliate link shortening, link categorization, link picker tool, the ability to add “nofollow” to affiliate links, and more. It even tracks which posts and pages you have used affiliate links on. All of these are wonderful features.

The Pro version gets even better. You get advanced statistics reports, for example, which are a huge help if you want to know which products are performing best for you. It also gives you automatic keyword linking, so that even your older posts can have affiliate links added automatically.

If you want your affiliate links to redirect quickly, you want the Pro version of ThirstyAffiliates, so that the links are written into your .htaccess. This is much faster than other kinds of redirects, and as you know, speed is vital online. People aren’t patient with slow redirects.

These are just a few of the features of ThirstyAffiliate. If you want to see the full list, visit the ThirstyAffiliates site.

Pretty Links

Pretty Links Pro has a free version called Shortlinks by Pretty Links. The free version gives you many of the important things, such a few types of redirect, nofollow, and click counting.

The Pro version adds a lot of features, including tracking pixel redirects, conversion reports, auto linking of keywords, and split testing of redirects. There are quite a few more features I haven’t listed here.

It can also add affiliate link disclosures on pages, posts, custom post types and on individual links. I keep a general affiliate disclosure on all pages of my site for simplicity’s sake. Disclosure is important for many reasons, which is why I keep it on all pages. Not only do many affiliate programs require it, laws often do as well.

Remember To Nofollow Affiliate Links

Ultimate Nofollow makes it easy to add rel=”nofollow” to links when appropriate. Nofollow is an important attribute to add to affiliate links. Google expects this. This plugin makes it easy. Some of the link shortening plugins also allow you to add nofollow, so this may not be important for your site if you have this ability already.

If you don’t use a plugin to add nofollow to affiliate links, it’s easy to do manually. Go to the Text tab of your WordPress editor, find the affiliate links, and add rel=”nofollow” that way. That’s how I do it.

You do not need to unfollow other outside links on your site. Links that you’re including because they’re a good resource should not be nofollowed, in my opinion. Nofollow is for links that you were paid to place or links where you might earn money in the future, such as affiliate links. If you trust the resource and no money will ever be involved in the link, leave the nofollow off of it.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

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Disclosure: Home with the Kids is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. I also review or mention products for which I may receive compensation from other sources. All opinions are my own.