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Monthly Archives: June 2018

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Decoding Sponsored Posts, Banner Ads, And Affiliate Links

I have been considering doing this post for quite some time, but I hadn’t gotten around to it. There always seemed to be something else on priority ahead of it. But in light of the recent GDPR laws and in the spirit of being completely transparent, I thought now would be a good time to talk about the different ways I have implemented sponsored posts, banner ads, and affiliate links to try to at least get the blog to pay for itself.

For those of you who have been following the blog from early on, you all know that I did not make any efforts to make money in the beginning. I started this blog with the intent to help other women with loving themselves, finding products that work for them, and just basically living their best life. I have tried to be really open about the ways that I make money through the blog now, and when I first starting putting ad banners on the site I did a post explaining why I was adding them. My basic goal for earning money has been to at least break even. I haven’t met that goal yet, but I at least am getting closer.

I think it is a good thing that the law is starting to catch up to the age of the internet. There have been recent laws put in place for Europe, but governs over anyone who has citizens of Europe visit their website. This is known as the GDPR. Make sure to click that link if you want more information on the laws implemented.

But before the European laws even took effect the FTC imposed more regulations late last year on how sponsored posts must be identified. If you want to read more about the FTC rules follow this link.

Let’s break this down one at a time. I want to talk about each of ways I am earning money, explain a little of what they are, current rules surrounding each of them, and my personal rules of how to incorporate them.

Banner Ads

I want to talk about banner advertisements first because I think they are the most straight forward and easiest to understand. I mean who doesn’t know what a what a banner ad is at this point? But lets pretend for a moment you have never heard of them. What are they? According to the website How Stuff Works, “A banner ad is simply a special sort of hypertext link….With a basic text link a bit of HTML code instructs a Web server to bring up a particular Web page when a user clicks on a certain piece of text. Banner ads are essentially the same thing, except that instead of text, the link is displayed as a box containing graphics (usually with textual elements) and sometimes animation.”

Banner ads can fall into two camps. Like a news paper sells ad space, some websites sell premium spaces to companies with banner ads. Cost and payment arrangements are up to the individual website owner and are generally paid up front with no guarantee of clicks. The other type of banner ads are affiliate links. With affiliate links the website owner would have a predetermined arrangement with the company that says they either get paid per click (these are very rare) or a percentage when someone buys someone buys an item after clicking on the link.

Currently, I only have affiliate link banners on my website. I have a couple of rules about what companies I will place banner ads on the site. The company must first fit within the categories I blog about and offer products that I think will benefit all of you, my readers. And the company must offer products that I feel comfortable recommending, products that I do/would buy.

Affiliate Links

While banner ads are a type of affiliate link, I wanted to talk about the other types of affiliate link, the ones that are more affected by recent laws. They are way more subtle than your average banner ad because they look just like any other hyper text link, but they lead to a tracked affiliate website. And when you make a purchase using one of the links, the website owner receives either a small percentage of the cost or sometimes there is a set fee. These links do not affect your purchase price, the cost is the same no matter what. Sometimes there is an added benefit of getting advance notice of sales and new releases from someone who is an affiliate of a company.

You may have noticed a few months ago the addition of some text to the bottom of all of my posts. It reads as follows, “Please note that some text links on this site may lead to affiliate links. However your prices will not be affected and you are under no obligation to use my link. Thank you to all who help keep this blog up and running.” I will also be adding a similar blurb to the top of all blog posts soon. I did this in a way that it appears on every post simply because it is easier for me. This way I don’t have to try to remember it every time I make a post. Better safe than sorry is the motto here.

I worded this specifically to say some text links because not all of the links on my website are affiliate links. Many post don’t have any affiliate links in them. I have actually heard a few bloggers/influencers/vlogger say they never share a link unless it is an affiliate link, but I just can’t get behind this idea. If my only goal with blogging was to make money, then I suppose that would be how I would do things. But as already stated, my goal when starting this blog was to help other women. Not to knock anyone else for the choices they make personally, I just feel that seems counter productive and a good reason not to trust someone’s recommendations if they only link to things they will make money from.

Sponsored Posts

This is the place where I feel things get the most confusing, mainly because there is more than one type of sponsored post and some companies blur the lines of the definition of a sponsored post. Traditionally a sponsored post would be any sort of post that a blogger/influencer/vlogger got paid for or received free product for in lieu of monetary payment. Click here to read more about sponsored post.

I do occasionally do sponsored blog post as well as social media posts. Because there are some big differences in what gets marked as sponsored on the blog versus social media I want to talk about them individually.

I think that the sponsored posts on the blog is what will fit closest to the traditional definition of a sponsored post. I haven’t done many, and the ones I have done have been mainly reviews. When I am asked to do a sponsored post I only agree if it is a product I have actual interest in trying. I also make it clear to the companies that I work with that I only do honest reviews but I do try to remain objective. Companies know going in I will say if there is something I don’t like, but I also try to be fair and tell if I think the product would work better for someone else. So essentially I treat my sponsored reviews the same way I do any other review I do.

Things tend to be a little different with sponsored posts on Social Media. There are way more nuances that I think can be confusing for the viewers. I usually try to say something in the post that indicates what sort of sponsorship the post is, but not everyone does this.

Just like a blog post, sponsored social media posts can fit the same description of a post that is paid either with money or product. Some of those paid posts can be pre-written by the sponsoring company, while others are done in the influencers/vloggers own words. Paid posts can range from mini reviews to something as casual as just showing the product. And occasionally a paid post could just be a link to someone else’s blog post (this type typically only get paid if people share or react to the post).

In addition to paid posts, there are also posts that get marked as sponsored that maybe the products were just discounted. Again if the influencer/vloggers do not include information on what sort of sponsorship this is you have no way to distinguish this apart from a paid post.

I do share sponsored posts on my various social media. The majority of the ones I post are the type that are just discounted products, but I have on occasion done paid posts. Most of those paid post have been the type where you just share a product or review it. But my philosophies on what jobs I accept pretty much follow the same rules as I do for choosing sponsored blog posts and affiliate links.

I hope have written this in a way that helps give you all some insight into how banner ads, affiliate links, and sponsored posts work as well as I how I incorporate them. I welcome any questions or comments, so put them in the comments. Let me know if you need me to clarify something.

 

 

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Product Review – Free & Clear Shampoo And Conditioner

Free and Clear Shampoo, Medicated Shampoo, and Conditioner

As the title says this is a review for the Free & Clear Shampoo And Conditioner. This is the third in a series of shampoo and conditioner reviews. Make sure to check out my last review on the Carol’s Daughter Monoi Repairing 3-Piece Starter Kit.

This took me a little longer to review as I initially started off with just the original Shampoo and Conditioner which I purchased on Amazon. However, shortly after starting to use this shampoo and conditioner I was walking through my local Walgreens and I noticed they have this line store. And, in addition to the Shampoo and Conditioner I had already purchased, they also had a Medicated Anti-Dandruff Shampoo. So I purchased that shampoo and decided to include it in this review.

 

My Hair And Scalp Type

(notice this section will be in every shampoo and conditioner review for reference. This is for convenience so you do not have to look back at earlier posts)

My hair is very thick and coarse. It tends to be very dry, and can turn brittle if I wash it too often or don’t condition it enough. But my hair is reasonably healthy outside of that, as I do not use heat on it very often and I try to take care of it to the best of my ability.

My scalp goes back and forth between dry and oily depending on the time of the year and the products I have used. My biggest struggle with my scalp is from the allergic contact dermatitis caused by my allergy to Balsam of Peru. This causes a dry, scaly, itchy coverage on the scalp that looks a lot like dandruff. I have never been able to get it fully cleared up on my scalp. At its worst, when I have a reaction to something, it also burns and can blister.

 

The Product

Free and Clear Shampoo, Medicated Shampoo, and Conditioner

These are all from the Free & Clear hair care line. As previously mentioned, two of these were purchased on Amazon and one from Walgreen’s. All my product links will be to Amazon because they offer it at a slightly better price.

This brand offers many other personal care and household products. Description from the brand:

Free & Clear shampoo has been specially created for persons who wish to avoid common chemical irritants found in most ordinary skin and hair care products. It is free of dyes, fragrance, masking fragrance, lanolin, protein, parabens, formaldehyde, and other preservatives.

  • Sulfate-free

  • Betaine-free

  • Gluten-free

Both the original Shampoo and Conditioner come in a 12 fl. oz. size. The Medicated Anti-Dandruff Shampoo is available in an 8 fl. oz. size.

 

How It Performed

I had very different experiences with each of these products. I don’t want to lump them all together, so lets talk about each product separately.

I tried the original Shampoo first. And while I think its great that it doesn’t have any fragrance, that was where my love for this shampoo stopped. I suppose it did the job of cleaning, but if anything it did it too well. It seemed to strip my hair from any and all moisture it had. It left my hair feeling very brittle and even after using conditioner my hair was a tangled mess. I can’t feasibly see myself using this again.

So after using the original Shampoo a couple of times I moved on to the Medicated Anti-Dandruff Shampoo. This was somewhat better on my hair, but not by much. It seemed like it was slightly less drying, but overall I just didn’t see the benefit of it.

The conditioner I used with both shampoos. This had quite the opposite effect for me. I think I need some pretty concentrated conditioner at times because of my hair type. And with as much as the shampoos seemed to dry my hair out more than usual, you would think I would need something even stronger than the norm. And this was a highly moisturizing shampoo, just a little too much. I never thought I would fins a conditioner than I thought over did it on my hair, but this conditioner from Free & Clear left my hair feeling like a greasy mess. I can’t even imagine who would be able to use this conditioner. It certainly wouldn’t be anyone with thin hair or with my dryness or less.

The Allergy Effect

When it comes to how my allergy behaved with these, I think I went in with high expectations because they are fragrance free. Though, if you have read anything about the Balsam of Peru allergy, then you know that it’s not your typical fragrance allergy. You can react to lots of things.

Both the original shampoo and the conditioner, I don’t believe I had any sort of reaction to it. However my breakout I already had, it didn’t let it clear up either. And I think that as much as the shampoo dried me out, even if the skin on my scalp would have gotten better it would have had flakes from dryness regardless.

And with the Anti-Dandruff Shampoo, I actually think I had an allergic reaction. I am not sure to what. I can just tell you that within a few minutes of using it my scalp was very itchy. I had double the flakes. It just all around was not good for me. I do think its worth giving a try though if you have a different fragrance allergy than me.

 

Final Thoughts

If you have read this all the way through, you probably already know my thoughts are not favorable on these products from Free & Clear. I am sure that these would work for someone out there, I just don’t know who. I think even if I had not had the allergic reaction to the medicated shampoo or if any of them had helped clear up my scalp, I still could not have gotten past the feeling that it was damaging my hair.

 

I would love to hear in the comments if any of you have tried this brand before and if you like it. Have you tried any of the other products? If so do they perform better than the shampoos and conditioner?

 

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Product Review: Vibranelle Advanced Liver Support

Open bottle and pills from Vibranelle Advanced Liver Support

This is a sponsored post. As always my opinions are my own and all reviews are 100% honest and based on my own experiences.

Vibranelle (previously known as Nutrivee) recently reached out to me and asked if I wanted to try one of their products for free in exchange for an honest review. They actually had several products I was interested in trying, but I decided to go with the Advanced Liver Support. It is a Natural Detox and Cleanse. That is a cleanse in the traditional sense. But we will discuss that more in a little bit.

 

Vibranelle Advanced Liver Support

The offer was kind of great timing for me. If you have been following me for a while you know  that I have a lot of health issues, and as I said in my last post I have not been feeling well,  like more than normal for me.  And just a couple days before I got the companies email I had been thinking its time for me to do my yearly cleanse.

Every year I try some sort of cleanse for my health. And when I say cleanse, I mean in the traditional sense of the word. Cleanses are meant to help clear out toxins from your system. Some people have misused the term over the years and now many people think of it as a way to lose weight. The truth is that you are unlikely to lose anything other than water weight when doing a cleanse.

I have done cleanses before that target the liver, but I have never tried one in pill form. I was really quite interested to see what sort of results I would get by using the Vibranelle Advanced Liver Support. Their products are all available through their Amazon store. And since they have Prime shipping, that means you can get your product quickly.

Each bottle contains 60 capsules. Assuming you are going to take the pills by direction, then one bottle will last you 20 days. That is just three pills a day. The formula comes in a vegetable capsule, which is what I really prefer because they are easier for the body to digest.

Open bottle and pills from Vibranelle Advanced Liver Support

I am obviously no doctor, so I can’t tell you who this is right for and who it isn’t right for. I can only tell you why I chose to take the Advanced Liver Support supplement and what I experienced as a result. And you have already heard the why, so lets talk about the results.

I would say the first five days or so I didn’t really see any signs of anything happening. Around the sixth day I started seeing some subtle things happen, at that time it was so subtle and minute that I wasn’t really sure yet that it was a result from taking the Advanced Liver Support supplement. I just noticed I wasn’t having so much indigestion and slightly less of a bloated feeling than I had been having.

It was around the 11th day that I was absolutely sure I was seeing results from the pills. I hadn’t had any indigestion at all for a couple of days and the bloated feeling was completely gone. And by the end of the 20th day I felt like I was also going to the bathroom on more regular basis. (Sorry if that was TMI, but that was a result I had).

Now that have been finished with my bottle for a few days I feel like the bloated has stayed away, at least for now. I am still going to the bathroom regularly. The only thing that I have had any signs of is some mild indigestion. Though I don’t know if it will ever be possible to completely get rid of that due to the long term use of prescription and over the counter drugs. Taking my meds has really messed my stomach up over the years guys.

I can honestly say I am very happy with the results of taking Vibranelle’s Advanced Liver Support. I do think I will be getting these again in the near future. If any of you are interested in trying them for yourself, you can find the product on Amazon and you can find out more about the company on Vibranelle’s website.(previously known as Nutrivee)

 

Let me know in the comments if you have tried this cleanse or any other cleanse. What kind of results did you see?

 

 

 

 

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Life Update: Why The Blog Was Out Of Commission, My Health, The GDPR, And Everything Else

I know I have essentially went MIA for the last few weeks. I haven’t made a blog post since early in May. My social media accounts have only been posted on sporadically at best. I really try not to skip out like that. I am an introvert, and my natural tendency tends to be to keep a of things to myself.

I know my reactions to major stress aren’t the healthiest ways to handle things, but they could be worse. Sometimes I shut people out when things get to be too much for me to deal with. I often feel I need more time than what is usual for me to center my thoughts and calm myself. Maybe some of you can relate.

I try to remind myself to at least update people about what is going on instead of just walking off and not saying anything. And I did make some attempts on social media. But the universe converged to throw a lot of things at me all at once. And my communication even with my closest of friends has been minimalistic lately.

I kind of feel I could have alternatively named this post Why I Came Close To Having A Panic Attack. So here are all the things that have happened:

My Physical And Mental Health

I have talked about my health issues on the blog many times. So you guys know, I struggle hard with fibromyalgia. This year I have been having more problems than normal for me further into the year. I really suspect that it is tied into the fact that where I live that precipitation has doubled in the last three years. And at the beginning of may through the third week I was hit by a major fibro flare. And subsequent issues followed through till the end of May.

It isn’t just the pain that I struggle with, it’s the brain fog that comes with it. I find it especially hard because it really hinders my brain functions at times. I can’t think clearly enough to form sentences let alone comprehend reading legal lingo. And I find the more severe this becomes the more depressed it makes me.

While there are other things that happened over the last month, my feeling is that my physical and mental state contributed the most to having to take down the blog for maintenance. But, there was definitely way more too it.

No AC

Yes, that is correct, I have no AC right now. In fact I haven’t had AC in a little over three weeks. As I write this I still don’t have AC in my home, but I am hopeful that as you all read this that my AC will be back on.

It took forever to get anyone to come look at our heat pump unit because everyone else in my town had their AC go out at the same time apparently. When I first called there were 50 people ahead of us. So two weeks was waiting for them to get to us.

Once they got here, they found a hose that was leaking. The replacement hose was something they did not have in stock. So another week to get it in. I heard from them today that they are suppose to be here tomorrow to fix it. That is if the person they have scheduled before me doesn’t have something go terribly wrong.

So keep your fingers crossed for me. I don’t do well in the heat, only slightly better than I do in the cold. One of my meds makes me extremely sensitive to the heat, and I easily overheated because my sweat glands don’t work right while on the med.

No Meds And No Doctor

So I have been on the hunt for a new doctor since back in the winter. I didn’t really want to switch, but it has become a necessity. My doctor of over 15 years now has slowly been seeing patients less and less. She currently is down to seeing patients one day a week. And between it taking 3 months to get in to see her and me having a hard time keeping appointments due to my actual ailments, I needed to find a new doctor. I need someone who can see me quicker and have more flexibility with my appointment times.

I actually have found a new doctor, or at least one to try. But like typical, the first appointment is always a longer one and the earliest appointment I could get was almost four months away. So it will be later this month before I can get to a doctor for refills in my prescriptions. The one thing I just ran out of, despite trying to spread them out, is my migraine meds. And yes my migraines have become far more regular.

I have to take some responsibility for this one though. I think part of the reason it took me so long to decide on a doctor to see was anxiety. I didn’t really expect to have anxiety. Perhaps I should have expected it, but as I said its been over 15 years since the last time I had to look for a new doctor. The last time I had to go through a good 12 different doctors to find one that worked for me. I definitely wasn’t looking forward to it, but I thought I was prepared. And then the anxiety just kind of sprung up out of no where.

The GDPR

So if you don’t know what the GDPR is, you can read about it here. The very basics of it is that is a European law that governs your privacy rights. Some of you out there might be thinking but I don’t live in Europe, so why does this matter. And its complicated, which was part of the problem. There probably are a handful of people out there somewhere that are in no way affected by the new law, but those people probably don’t have internet service. Essentially if you live in Europe, have a website that has traffic from Europe, or do business with a company in Europe or a company that does business with people in Europe, then you are at least in some minute way going to be affected by this law.

Please don’t take any of what I am saying as though I am complaining about the law itself, I actually think it is a great thing that people’s personal information is going to be more protected. The part that I wish were different is all of the legal jargon involved. Everything I have read says its suppose to be put in easy to understand terms, but in reality you need a law degree to understand any of it. That is on top of me having the brain fog problems. This is the point where I almost had a mental breakdown. I really came close a couple of times to having a panic attack about everything that had to be done to make my website compliant. And to be honest, I am still not 100% sure that it is.

I did the best I could. You can read my new Privacy Policy here. But I have to say I am so grateful for the support my husband has given me during me trying to put everything together. I am a true believer that actions speak louder than words, and people show you how they feel about you way before they ever say how they feel. And my husband really stepped up and showed me how much he loves me during a really hard time for me.

Your still probably wondering how this all came to me shutting the blog off for a time. And honestly, it was a solution my husband came up with. I didn’t really want to shut the blog down, but it was preferable over the panic attack that was brewing. The deadline for being compliant was May 25. I knew I couldn’t be ready in time. So rather than losing my mind over something I couldn’t possibly do anyway. So the solution ultimately became putting up the under construction sign and doing it as I could.

I have actually read a lot of comments on the web essentially condemning those of us not ready in time. People are saying that it was put into law two years ago and everyone should have been ready. And maybe if I lived in Europe or was part of a business that had the financial means to pay someone else to do the work that would be an accurate assessment. But honestly the first time I heard anything at all about the GDPR was back in February of this year (2018). It was very obtuse at the time, no real details other than it was a law in Europe. So I honestly didn’t think it was something I had to do, because well not in Europe. It wasn’t until the beginning of May that I heard any more detail about it, and it was then that I had a oh shit moment. And after reading all of this, if you have made it through all of my ramblings, you realize this is probably the worst time it could have hit for me.

What is coming up

I have a lot coming up over the next few weeks. I had several things planned for the month of May, that now need to be squeezed into June. I have a couple of reviews coming this week. And later this month I have a feature on bathing suites. And there is a new dress challenge on Instagram for July, I am thinking I will be participating some in that.

As always, let me know in the comments if there is something in particular you want to hear about. Much love to all of you have stuck in there with me during my disappearing act.

 

 

 

 

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