How Neopets Led Me to Become a Professional Blogger

How Neopets Led Me to Become a Professional Blogger

Neopets is one of those things that you either A) have never heard of (wtf, is it like a Tamagotchi or something?) or B) wilt with nostalgia over because ohmygoodnessssss the 90s were like totally amazing!

I happen to fall into the “B” category.

Whenever I talk about my journey toward becoming a professional blogger, one thing I mention often is that I’ve been blogging for nearly twenty years.

“But, Amber, how can that be?! You’re far too young to have been doing it for that long!”

Aww, well thank you, dear reader, but it’s true.

I first started blogging with Xanga back in 1998 and even built my first website with Geocities around that same time! Pretty impressive given that I was a 10 year old with AOL as her internet service, eh?

I then signed up for Neopets in June 2000 and found myself wonderfully lost inside this virtual world.

What is Neopets?

Neopets is a virtual world in which you have virtual pets (that fortunately cannot die!) Users within this world can buy items, such as books, food, and clothing, to use to interact with their pets. They can also buy items to equip their pets to do battle or furniture to decorate their Neohomes. Basically think of Neopets like Pokemon on acid.Heh have you swooned over the coolness that is me yet?

While many might think it just a silly game for kids, Neopets taught me many things over the years, such as…

Neopets & HTML Coding

Each of your Neopets has their own homepage that you can customize and design with basic HTML coding. Now keep in mind that when I first started with Neopets, the internet was a fairly new experience for everyone. So for a child of barely thirteen to have the opportunity to learn and implement coding like this was quite literally unheard of! Adults were still working to master it (many didn’t know what it even was!) and here was this game that gave kids the chance to learn in a fun, imaginative environment. I can now read and write HTML having never actually taken a course on it – this comes in pretty handy as someone who runs an online business!

Running a Business

Speaking of running a business, I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit which certainly comes in handy with Neopets. As I mentioned before, you can buy/sell items on Neopets, which leads to you running your own shop. Not only can you again utilize HTML to design your “storefront” and better market yourself, but you can also visit the “Shop Wizard” to compare prices. I was so serious about my Neopets store that I would often write out a marketing plan (much like an editorial calendar!) and map out what’s best to sell when. Yes, Neopets taught me competitive pricing, a concept I obviously still use today!

Christmas ’round the corner? Better pull my Christmas paintbrushes now so I can sell them at a higher price when the holiday gets near!

School is soon ending? More kids will be playing soon, better stock up now so I have plenty of inventory on hand!

Neopets running a special giveaway for free items? Collect ’em and stick ’em in my safety deposit box, because goodness knows they won’t sell for much any time soon.

I’m sure it seems silly to most, but there are some serious economic lessons to learn through Neopets!

Neopets Economics

When I took Consumer Economics in High School, a lot of what I was taught were things I already had basic knowledge of thanks to Neopets. First, there’s the bank, through which you not only deposit/withdraw your Neopoints, but you can also collect interest. Thankfully the APY (annual percentage yield) with Neopets is much higher than that of the real world, with my current account drawing at 11%.

Yes, I’m a Neopian Millionaire. No, I won’t give you a loan. (*psst* it’s against their ToS anyway!)

Oh and they also have a stock market that I took very seriously from early on.

Even though it’s all pretend, I would sit and read through the “Neodaq’ reports and tune in on the message boards to see if I could pick up any incoming trends (or dips). It was all so fascinating to me! Little did I know I was developing life skills that would one day lead to me running my own business!

 

 

How to Be a Leader

Within Neopets, you can join or run your own guild of other Neopets players. I created one called “On Faerie Wings” and this probably goes without saying, but I was the Faerie Queen. I even held quarterly elections for those wishing to serve on my council.

(because again in case you missed it the first few times – I was super cool!)

Through my guild, I would share my own personal tips regarding Neopia and cultivate information from others on what worked vs. what didn’t. We would host live chat forums, set up practice battles, and I even created a separate Geocities site to spotlight members’ Neopets. I took my leadership role very seriously and at one point had one of the most active guilds on the site. When my Grandma died in 2001, it was those guild members that helped me work through it. The game gave me something to focus on through the grief and I credit it with helping me become the leader that I am today.

Along those lines, being the efficiency strategist that I am, one thing that has always stood out to me with Neopets is that because your Neopets can never die, your success is limited simply to the time and energy you’re willing to put in. This virtual world has taught me many things that lend themselves to my now running my own business but if you’re going to take anything away from this piece, it should be that – your success is only limited by the time and energy you’re willing to give toward it.

Now I’m off to play some Meerca Chase…but if my husband asks, I’m totally with a client! 😉

Comment below – were/are you a Neopets player? What was your favorite game?

How to Create an Editorial Calendar (Free Template Included!)

How to Create an Editorial Calendar (Free Template Included!)

Do you have an editorial calendar for YOUR online business?

You KNOW consistency is key in making a success of your business, but how do you follow through on that? Whenever you sit down to work, do you find yourself staring at a blinking cursor, quickly distracted by Facebook?

If you’re in my Facebook community, you’ve heard me say dozens of times that no matter what kind of entrepreneur you are, you should have a blog. It sets up such an easy pathway for readers (and potential clients!) to find you.

Perhaps you hear me say that, though, and you think “Okay, but what do I write about…?”

If you run an online business, you should have a blog. It’s an easy way to share your value and expertise, and when done right, it can easily drive traffic to your website in a nearly-passive way.

So how do you get started running a successful blog?

With an EDITORIAL CALENDAR!

Grab your free template by clicking here then continue on below to learn all about how to implement your editorial calendar efficiently!

How to create an editorial calendar as a blogger or online business owner

How to Create an Editorial Calendar:

1. Go deeper with your goals

How will you get your audience from Point A (your post) to Point Z (your sales)? What sort of pathway do you want them to take? How do you best connect to your ideal clients? When you consider these factors as you map out your goals for your calendar, it becomes much easier to not only direct yourself, but to direct those leads that will (ideally) become paying clients. Don’t just scratch the surface and say “I’ll write four posts on W, X, Y, Z” and then expect mind-blowing results. Each post should have a purpose beyond just free value for your readers.

2. Priorities

How do your priorities factor into your writing/videos? How can you use these to ensure an easier transition from new reader to client? IS writing a blog or doing regular videos ACTUALLY a priority for you? Whether you write for a blog, do a podcast, do videos, or all of the above, you should have all of those commitments factored into the overall editorial calendar. If you’re just starting out, start slow and pick ONE media platform to run with. If writing comes naturally to you, but you don’t have the time or care to make video a priority, don’t try to squeeze it in there because you think you’re “supposed to.” This is your business. There is no “supposed to.”

3. Start with pen and paper

Physically writing out your editorial calendar will take you a LOT farther than plugging it into an online program. Put paper to pen and create PHYSICAL proof of your passion and abilities. Allow for a judgement-free space and write down whatever comes to mind, even if it feels totally unrelated to your business. Just write. See what starts to flow and build from there.

4. Frequency

Decide how often you’re going to post and BE realistic. Don’t start off posting 2x/week and then suddenly leave your audience hanging by disappearing for a month. Always be at least one post ahead. Better to set the bar low and have extra posts then to set it too high and fail to stay consistent.

Editorial Calendar template for bloggers

5. Pay attention to the dates

Think about the months/seasons as you begin to plan. Example: January – New Year Resolutions, recovering from the holiday season, starting off a new year right, etc. February – Valentine’s Day, getting started on taxes, Mardi Gras, etc. March – St. Patrick’s Day, spring cleaning, end of Quarter 1, etc. How can you use these to develop content themes? Map out your entire year if you have to, even if it’s just a bare-bones framework.

6. Work backwards

Along those same lines, if a holiday passes and you find yourself thinking “Man, that would’ve made for a GREAT blog post!!” then WRITE IT! Imagine if you wrote TWO blog posts every week and only posted once. You’d be an entire year ahead come December!!

7. Brainstorm & Free Write

Still stuck on the pen and paper part? Give yourself 30 minutes to brainstorm. No judgement, no dumb ideas, just free write for 30 minutes. THEN go back and decide what’s worth plugging into your editorial calendar. From there you can come up with keywords to focus on, photo you’ll need to take/find, and note what content you’ll use to nudge people towards your programs/products.

8. Keep it visible

However you decide to compile your editorial calendar after creating the rough draft, do it in such a way that it STAYS IN FRONT OF YOU! Pick up a yearly calendar from the dollar store and use it only for your editorial calendar – pin it up in front of your desk. Or use a program such as CoSchedule or a WP plug-in like Editorial Calendar.

Actually create your editorial calendar and you’ll already be one step ahead of those still staring at their blinking cursor.

Stop staring, get to it today!

Do you have YOUR editorial calendar done for this year?

How Tailwind Saves Me 10 Hour Every Week!

How Tailwind Saves Me 10 Hour Every Week!

When it comes to marketing – whether you run an online or offline business – it can be a fairly time consuming venture. There’s a reason most businesses have entire departments dedicated to it!

Tailwind Review

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may make a commission at no extra cost to you should you click through and make a purchase.

So what if you’re like me – a one-person show with minimal money for outsourcing and limited time?

You choose your investments wisely!

One of the only investments I strongly recommend for my clients is Tailwind. And today I’m going to show you exactly why I love it and how to use it:

Tailwind Makes You Appear More Active Than You Are

When it comes to Pinterest, you should ideally be pinning around 30-50 pins each day. Now I don’t know about you, but as a work-at-home mom, I certainly don’t have that kind of time!

Enter Tailwind.

With Tailwind, I can sit down on a Sunday and schedule out ALL of my pins for the entire week and I can do so in just about an hour. One hour. Thousands of page views sent my way.

When I started using Tailwind, my time spent marketing was cut by over 75% but my stats SKYROCKETED:

Tailwind for bloggers

That 600% jump – all thanks to Tailwind!

Note: These are my personal results, but Tailwind also publishes the Typical Results of Tailwind for Pinterest Members every year, so you can see exactly what the average growth rate looks like for their members.

Quick Scheduling with Tailwind

With Tailwind, you can install a browser extension that will allow you to select multiple pins on a page to schedule out all at once. You simply click the extension, select which pins you want to schedule, and DONE! All that’s left is to select your board lists.

Board Lists on Tailwind

Within Tailwind, you can set up board lists and group together boards that relate to the same category. This makes scheduling your pins that much quicker as the few pins you selected using the Tailwind extension can now be added to 10 different boards each, all with one simple click. That right there is a day’s worth of scheduling done in all of 30 seconds!

Tailwind board lists

Tailwind Tribes

This newer feature is by far and away one of my favorites! While group boards should play a key role in your Pinterest strategies, Tailwind Tribes are actually where I’ve recently shifted my focus to and are quickly becoming a much more important focus than group boards.

One of the key differences in Tailwind Tribes VS the group boards found on Pinterest is that Tailwind Tribes are typically of a much higher quality.

While on group boards, I can say there’s a rule in that people need to pin quality pins and need to re-pin X amount for every one of their own pin that they post, it is EXCEPTIONALLY more difficult to police group boards than it is to monitor Tailwind Tribes – and by exceptionally more difficult, I mean pretty much impossible.

Tailwind Tribes, though, are specifically set up to allow me, as an admin, to easily see exactly what people are posting, what people are responding to, and who is following through on the re-pinning rules vs those who are not. Tailwind even goes so far as to do the counting for me, showing me how many someone has pinned to the tribe vs repinned, and they even highlight in red when someone is pinning their own stuff but not reciprocating. From there it’s extremely easy for me to send a direct message, reminding the tribes person to do his or her follow-through, and if they don’t, I can kick them out. No muss, no fuss. I love it!

Tailwind Visual Marketing Suite

If you’re interested in learning more about tribes, I have a number available to you:

Blogging Creatives (no niche)

Frugal Living (any pins on making/saving money)

Entrepreneurs + Bloggers (share pins related to being an entrepreneur/blogger)

Parenting Tips & Tricks

Inspiration and Motivation (pins meant to inspire and motivate)

I only have two rules for these tribes and that is to 1) make sure you’ve already updated your pin template to ensure it’s vertical and high-quality and 2) please re-pin 1 for every one of your own that you do.

tailwind reviews pinterestAnd the best part about all of this? Being a part of a tribe is completely FREE. Now you read earlier that I STRONGLY (and I do mean STRONGLY) feel that Tailwind is worth the investment. That said, I know not everyone can afford the $100 or so dollars for a year’s subscription, but seriously when you can, do it.

It’s the only investment I really push, only because it really did save me SO much time and made SUCH a difference in how I use Pinterest (and the time I spend marketing overall!)

What scheduling software do you use for YOUR website?

Comment below and let me know!