Showing posts with label Money Matters. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Money Matters. Show all posts

Friday, April 07, 2017

Mom & Blogger: Finding The Balance To Maximize Both Roles

Hi, dear Loyal Readers! I know I've been missing from this blog for a few weeks now (I blogged just twice last month!). I'm busy with my job as consulting editor for beauty website,, and also with my new column about work-at-home moms at parenting website, Between these two new projects, home management, mothering and blogging, I didn't realize that I'll have such a hard time juggling! Life was much easier when I was just a mom blogger!

I'm not complaining, though. It feels good to be writing regularly for a publication again (and about parenting, too!). I'm also grateful for Calyxta because I got to experience corporate life again without the full time commitment. I still work from home and only check in at the office three times a week. It's helped me and my family adjust our expectations for when I go back to the corporate world. The Calyxta project ends this April so I can blog regularly again in May! I'm so excited. I miss blogging so much!

If you're a mom who wants to stay home with your kids and yet earn money, too, do try blogging. I know the web seems overpopulated with mom bloggers but believe me when I say that all mom voices are welcome here. We all need a community and it's so nice to find similar voices and feel comfort knowing you're not alone with your parenting struggles. If you don't want to be a mom blogger, that's great, too. You can write about your hobbies and interests instead. If you can earn from your blog, that's even better!

Blogging for business is an attractive career choice for any mother. Not only does it present the potential to earn good money from doing something you love, but it also offers versatility and control. Ultimately, that means you can build a work schedule on your terms, enabling more quality time with the children.

Juggling the two roles of mother and blogger isn’t an easy task, though. Frankly, failing to manage your time in an effective manner will cause major damage to both. As I've proven myself recently, I failed to juggle. Thankfully, it was my blogging that suffered—not my kids! This made me think of how I can keep things under control. Here are a few tips I found:

1. Build an organized workspace. 
The toughest challenge facing any home-based entrepreneur is finding a way to use the property as both a home and a workplace. Building a quality home office should be top of the agenda. It will help separate the two elements of your life and is also a clear indication for your family too. If you’re in the office, you’re at work. My friend, personal branding coach Martine de Luna, says in my Juana article, 5 Tips to Battle the Cons of Working from Home, "When I have to work at home, I separate myself from the kids and go to my workspace on the second floor. When they see me at the desk, they know it’s [do not disturb] time."

Speaking of workspace, my husband moved my desk to our bedroom so I can close the door when I work. But as a mommy of little kids, I haven't been able to do this yet haha. Another challenge I have is organizing my paperwork. Running a business from one small room can feel daunting, so going paperless is key. Fortunately, being a digital operation gives you a great starting point. Meanwhile, an online p.o box address can save you from facing huge amounts of paperwork. Either way, finding the right balance in this arena can only work wonders for your aspirations. 

2. Know your blogging goals. 
While I started blogging more than a decade ago as just a hobby, I've turned blogging into a business because of my work with many brands. Of course, since it became a business, I've had to be more serious about blogging. I had to set goals beyond just sharing my stories.

Many people scoff at it but blogging is a serious job. It requires a lot of time, hard work and money. Without a sense of direction, though, you’ll find that you'll falter on the job. Unfortunately, the productivity and outcomes will be far worse, too. So as a businesswoman, know why you're blogging, who you're blogging for, and what do you want to achieve through your blog.  

Planning ahead to ensure your blogging platform grows in the right way is essential. You can schedule posts regularly, make sure you share your posts on every relevant social media account, engage your readers on your Facebook page, use the right hashtags. This will help grow your blog and your influence, which will get the interest of sponsors. 

3. Consider letting your family play a role. 
Because mommy blogging is so lucrative these days, mom bloggers usually get accused of exploiting their children. Mining their kids' lives for entertainment, they say. As any proud mommy will tell you, sharing our kids' adorable photos and telling stories about how wonderful family life is is not about entertainment. We genuinely LOVE our kids and we're so proud of our happiness! We want to share away—whether we get paid or not! 

Readers also love having that insider's peek into the blogger’s life—and nothing is more authentic than a mommy's stories on her parenting adventures. Motherhood is just so huge, demanding, surprising and profound that it's impossible to fake. Plus, everyone loves kiddies. As many readers have oh-so-honestly told me, they don't read my blog because of me; they read it because they love my kids! And it's always so amazing when a parent feels the love of people for her kids. Mommy blogging is the best!

Now, as the kids get bigger, I do believe they need more privacy. But they can still be involved in your blog. Technology plays a huge role in modern society, and today’s youth probably know more about the internet than most adults. Once yours are at the right age, it could be worth giving them a little job within the work. Whether it’s writing, building SEO, or managing your blog's Instagram or Pinterest accounts doesn’t matter. It’s a great way to bond together while they develop skills they'll need for this social media-obsessed world. 

4. Invest in ideas that benefit both worlds. 
If your blog is about parenting, then virtually every day doubles up as content for the blog. But as you may know by now if you've been following my blogging adventures, there will come a time when you'll want to give your kids privacy. So what will you blog about then? I've chosen to blog about being a working mama. It's still about my insights on motherhood but my kids aren't as exposed. 

Many mom bloggers have transitioned successfully from baby stories to niche interests but still within motherhood. A music blogger might review the instrument that they’ve just bought their child. A food blogger may discuss family recipes. I love how my friend, Denise Rayala of Royal Domesticity, found even greater blogging success when she started her #Baonserye, where she showed the packed lunches she made for her daughter. It's brilliant really—she moved the focus away from her daughter but her mother's love is still so evident through the lovingly made lunches, plus she offers priceless tips and ideas for other moms! Squeezing great content out of your everyday life will reduce your research time and just be more fun to do. 

As a blogger, you should have a creative mindset. Use it to find ways of merging blogging and mom duties, and you’ll save loads of time and effort. Good luck, mommies!

*photos by Mark Yao for Biogenic

Friday, March 31, 2017

This is how God provides for me

This post is brought to you by Ariel laundry detergent.

Today, on the last day of International Women's Month, Ariel honored 100 Fearless Filipinas by publishing this ad on national broadsheet, Philippine Star.

A hundred women — rich and poor, career women and homemakers, young and old — all doing their best to make the world a better place, especially now that the world seems to have become a darker place. I'm one of the 100 Fearless Filipinas and I am truly honored (second row, fourth from left). I'm also a lot surprised and when I expressed it, they told me they thought I had to be on the list because of how I've bravely chosen to work from home and for all the honesty this blog is known for.

Well, freelance work is not easy. In the five years my husband and I have been doing this, delayed checks and no projects can be stressful. I try not to worry. Believe me when I say I don't spend my days nibbling on my nails in fear. I really don't! But on those days when the bank account is nearing zero, I do cry out to God in alarm. When you're a parent, your biggest fear is not being able to protect and provide for your children. But I refuse to parent out of fear.

I grew up in a home with no money. There was always so much anxiety. There was dread when the phone rang or when the mailman delivered the bills. There was shame when we visited relatives and they all looked down on us. There was the humiliation of being the only house on the street with the electricity cut off. There was always that nagging worry. Worry, worry, worry.

That's part of the reason I didn't want to become a mother. I couldn't fathom raising children in that bubble of fear. So I worked so hard, forsaking almost everything so I wouldn't be poor. I guess I finally came around the idea of motherhood when I started earning well — when I was 32. With our combined income, my husband and I had more money than we needed and we spent it shopping for our new home. We had no debts. We had fat savings. It was time to have kids!

We had Vito and then we had Iñigo. And then we lost our jobs.

You can't imagine the intense fear I had in 2012, dear Loyal Readers. I was losing my job as a magazine editor but I was being offered a great position within the company. Nothing had to change! Yet a huge part of me longed to be a stay-at-home mommy. Imagine that! I was so happy being a mama, I had to choose between job security and mommy heaven.

I guess you all know which one I chose.

Just before I had to give the company my decision, I remember spending one weekend in agony. My childhood was haunting me. I remember an interview I did with Ryan Agoncillo and Judy Ann Santos, and Ryan revealed that his wife's greatest fear was to become poor again. Surprised, I said, "But — forgive me for this remark — you have so much money. You're both so successful. How can this even be in the realm of her imagination?" And he replied, "You know how her dad left them and they suddenly had nothing? She never wants to go through that again." And that was me in 2012. Gripped in paralyzing fear. I never want to be poor again!

I confessed this fear to my prayer group. Remember my Praying Wives group? Amazing women! Earl Paolo, our ringleader, told me that it isn't me or Vince who is the provider of our family. It's God who provides, and He just uses me and Vince as the conduit of blessings for our little boys. According to our faith, He will give. Of course we must work, too, but there will be days when we can't work — we're sick, for example — but the blessings won't ever dry up as long as I just believe God will provide.

There were many verses on God's provision that Earl gave me but the one that helped me most wasn't about God's faithfulness but about the lack of my belief.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, 
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. 
Then you will be able to test and approve 
what God's will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:2

That verse! That is the verse that changed my life! Even now as I typed it, I was moved to tears.

Do not conform to how this world thinks! Change how you see the world and the world will change for you! I don't have to work myself to death. I don't have to repeat the life my parents led. I don't have to be afraid. Believe in God — test Him! — and He will do wonders.

Well, did I become a multimillionaire? Did I jet off to various locations? Did I have a wardrobe to die for? No. But here's how it worked:

1) My blogs (back then I had two blogs) suddenly took off! Both on number of visits and amount of sponsorships. Like, from 30,000 views a month to almost 60,000. I have no idea how that happened. I give workshops on how to build and grow blogs but what happened to mine was so organic and so weird that I just chalk it up to divine intervention.

2) My blogs earned me more that I ever did as a magazine editor. Huge surprise! The income allowed my husband and I to stay home, raise Vito and Iñigo, and make Piero! We are both hands-on parents. Literally just at home with our kids every single day. We have a good life. We have good food. We buy lots of toys and books. We have the A/C on every day! I can't complain!

3) When the clients aren't paying, that can be terribly frustrating. In theory, I have all this money but in reality, my bank account is almost empty. That just doesn't make sense! It doesn't happen all the time, okay. We're fine most of the time but there really have been days when I'm staring at the bills and telling God, "I know You have provided because I have so many projects but please help me!" And then suddenly a check or two is available — sometimes just enough to pay for that month's bills, sometimes a lot more. It's exciting, this life! You can see it as stressful or you can see it as exciting. Renew your mind!

4) And then God uses other people to provide for my family. Sometimes, the blessing is so specific to what I need that it just can't be coincidence. Here are a couple of examples:
This is not a sponsored post but I just want to tell a story of how God blesses me with just what I need. I had to do a sponsored IG post for Lady's Choice where I share a photo of my macaroni salad. I've been sick for more than a week and couldn't go to the grocery to buy pineapple chunks for the recipe. And I was feeling down, thinking I won't be able to do the post, and so I prayed for... I really don't know what I prayed for because I was blabbing to God about how bad I feel and how I need to get better and maybe I can ask client for an extension or if I can just get enough strength to run to the supermarket and get pineapple chunks. Well, God didn't make me better or strong enough to go to the grocery. He sent me the pineapple chunks! He probably decided I should stay home and rest instead of running around like crazy like I always do. Thanks, @jollyeatsph, for letting God use you to bless me. Thank you, God, for everything, as always! You are my provider and I am grateful You have never failed me and my family, always giving us what we need and sometimes even more. Thank you! #momlife #faith #MakeItJolly #blessed
A post shared by Frances Amper Sales (@topazhorizonblog) on

So all I want to say, dear Loyal Readers, is I live in hope and faith. Despite how I grew up, despite all the fears I had, despite all that I do, my life is lived in hope for all things wonderful and that's why it is wonderful! Sure, my husband and I deserve credit because we always try to make good decisions. But sometimes even good decisions don't have the expected results, sometimes no matter how you work hard the money doesn't come, sometimes no matter what savings you built the economy crashes because of outside forces (sigh!). But it's okay. God is sovereign over all!

It's okay. Don't worry. Give it up to God. Pick yourself up. Carry on always. Don't stop moving. Always believe. That's the secret to my fearless life. A renewed mind. A hopeful heart. A faithful God. May you have these, too! God bless you!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

What I'll buy from BeautyMNL

There's a new beauty online shopping stop in town, ladies! It's called BeautyMNL, from the same family as Deal Grocer and Taste Central. I've shopped from DG and TC often enough to expect only good things from its new kikay sister. So I signed up soonest (actually, I just needed to sign in with my DG account) because they're also giving away a trip to Paris!!!

It was launched exactly one week ago and so there's actually not a lot of offerings yet so, hello, medyo bitin. Still, I've already picked out a few favorites that I can buy so I don't have to leave the house. Alam niyo naman ako. I love staying home!

The site is on 20% off now, as a welcome treat. While I want to shop, my beauty closet is still fully stocked (thanks for the amazing free goodies, dear beauty brands!). I'm kinda tempted to buy because of the discount, but beauty products have a shelf life so it's not a good idea to hoard. Napapanis kasi sila. But if I were to hoard, these will be what I'll put in my virtual cart:

MoroccanOil Treatment Oil, P1,080. The ultimate hair oil. I've tried several and it's still this expensive and smelly oil that makes my hair bodacious!!! My review here!

Physiogel Lotion, P714. I just started using this brand because I recently attended an event of theirs (see here). I have tried a TON of lotions and this, this, this is the only lotion that made my parched skin super soft and smooth!!!

Physiogel Cleanser, P329. I still love Shiseido Ibuki's cleanser but this is what I now use when I shower and when I wash my face in the morning. It's amazing. AMAZING! I'm going to do a proper review of Physiogel later this month, but I just want to tell you guys now: Do not judge a beauty product by its boring packaging!

Clarisonic Replacement Brush, P1,720. I bought a Clarisonic in 2012 from the US online site, had it shipped here, and was dismayed that I had to replace brushes every 6 months. Those brushes are so expensive! May shipping from the US pa! So I'm glad that it's now available here.

There's a ton more brands—both drugstore to prestige—but, like I said, I'm fully stocked. But here's what I don't have so I'll most probably buy as soon as all my clients' checks are in (hint! hint! cough! cough!):

Fairy Drops Platinum Waterproof Mascara, P717 (sale price). Makeup artists, beauty editors and beauty bloggers love this. I want to experience for myself why!

Bumble & Bumble Prét-a-Powder, P1,499. I wash my hair just twice a week. If I wash more often, my super fine hair starts falling out and drying up. This hair powder absorbs oil, adds volume, and generally keeps your mane from getting disgusting till your next shampoo.

Bumble & Bumble Surf Spray, P1,799. Okay, my hair is so gorgeous when it's unwashed (another reason why I don't shampoo often!). On the days I do shampoo, my hair is this slippery, flat and limp creature lazily perched on my head and shoulders. This surf spray will fix that problem by adding texture and volume!

So that's what I'll buy! I can't wait till they have all the brands they promise they'll soon offer! Sooo happy online shopping is now so exciting in the Philippines!

*all photos from BeautyMNL

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Monday, September 01, 2014

Meet the Topaz Horizon x Ni-QUA clutches

Dearest loyal blog readers, you've been telling me over and over again in the last three years to sell bags again. So, because you love me and I love you, meet the Topaz Clutch!

I'm so thrilled to finally show them to you!

The Topaz Clutch was born from a collaboration with local brand Ni-QUA. If you've been reading my blog recently, you'll be familiar with Ni-QUA because I super love their leather products. Genuine leather, quality craftsmanship, friendly prices. I've stopped longing for foreign brands because local ones are really amazing! That's why I just had to ask Ni-QUA to make my dream come true with this collaboration!

Look at the first two bags from my Topaz Collection:
Brown and basic. For the classic woman who doesn't want a big bag to hide her outfit.
Made of soft and smooth, buttery sheep leather. Features a tassel and gold hardware.
Fits all your essentials! (These are mine!)
The pink version is for the woman who loves a little whimsy.
The pink leather tassel adds fun and flair!
Fits an iPad and a lipstick. Two of my other essentials haha!

They're so pretty, I can't stand it! I love them both so much! Please love them, too! Buy a clutch or both from Ni-QUA! Each clutch is only Php 1,395. Pretty inexpensive for something so pretty and perfect!

Click the links to shop:
I want the brown!
I want the pink!

Thanks! Now, Ni-QUA and I are feeling generous and we'll give away two clutches. One brown and one pink! Here's all you need to do:

  1. Be a fan of Ni-QUA! Like their Facebook page. Follow them on Twitter. Follow them on Instagram. I'm going to check if you liked Ni-QUA, okay?
  2. Grab any photo from this blog post and share it on your social media accounts. Tell us which bag you want and why. 
  3. Use these hashtags: #topazclutch and #niquashop. It's so we can see your entry!
  4. You don't need to share on all your social media accounts (we don't want you to spam your friends), but it will help me a lot if you can leave a comment below telling me if you shared on FB, Twitter or on IG.  

Ni-QUA and I will pick one winner of the brown clutch and one winner of the pink clutch. Contest ends on September 15. Contest is open only to those with a Philippine address. Okay, that's it. Good luck!

Meanwhile, if you don't believe in luck, just buy straight from Ni-QUA's online shop and be one of the first with a Topaz Clutch!


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Sunday, November 03, 2013

You're never too young (or too old!) to start a business!

When I was a kid, my dream—aside from becoming a writer—was to become a postman. Yep, the guy who delivers mail. I figured I'd be at the post office early in the morning to get my batch of deliveries, then spend the rest of the morning going around houses and chatting with the people. Then I'll rest in the afternoon, and then—and here's when the real work begins—then I'll sit down and make up stories about the people I met that day.

I tested out that dream by selling tapa, tocino and longganisa one summer. I was 11 or 12 years old, very skinny, and I put the frozen meat in a pail of ice (very heavy) and walked around the neighborhood selling people breakfast. I had a great time. Everyone loved my products, everyone loved that a young girl was so entrepreneurial, and I loved that I met so many people and learned so much about them. After all, people like to talk to someone who brings food!

But the business ended when a neighbor, who had been getting meat on credit, refused to pay me. When I kept showing up at her door to collect payment, she finally set her dogs on me. That ended that business real quick. When I told my parents about it, in the hope they would confront the nasty neighbor and get me my money, my father said, "It's best this way. I don't like you out in the sun because your skin gets dark."

I hope to be a parent who encourages my kids to do crazy things. Hopefully, the crazy things are the sort that makes them money haha. Vince told me he was so charmed by this little girl who would collect rocks around her neighborhood, wash them and paint pretty designs on them, then sell the painted rocks to her neighbors. I wish our sons would be that entrepreneurial!

How inspiring is this?

He earns enough to buy LEGOs. Those things are so expensive! I know because we buy our boys LEGO all the time! He is so cute. And so encouraging to me because I want to sell bags again. You all know how that business failed spectacularly. But I don't regret it because I learned a lot.

As with my frozen meats business, I learned that credit must not be extended lightly. With the bag business, I learned that I can't just assume people are doing their jobs just because they said so. I actually have a business now, my freelance writing. I'm learning a lot, too, the most important being this: Start charging after the second meeting and don't be shy about my rates. Argh, I've wasted a lot of time and energy this year meeting prospective clients and working on proposals and mock-up projects which all went up in smoke anyway. So the project didn't push through but I spent time and money and brain cells on them anyway and I got nothing in return. Lesson learned! Just goes to show you're never too young or too old to learn something new!

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Friday, February 08, 2013

Get your financial life in order. Now na!

I wrote an article on managing money in Good Housekeeping a few months ago. I confessed there my shameful secret (credit card chaos) and how it affected my marriage and how Vince took control of my credit card kalokohan. After just one year of painfully following my husband's strict guidelines, I was free of debt, my finances were in order, and I am now a fabulously wealthy woman.

Well, actually, that last part is still a wish haha. Super I wish talaga na yumaman na ako! Joke. I actually don't dream of money, you know? I dream of a nice house in a nice, secure neighborhood. I dream of traveling with my kids to any country in the world every year (and sana business class seats!).

But most of all, I dream that we'll be ready for any emergency. After growing up and seeing my pets die (we can't afford a vet), my Mama and I suffering chronic pain and asthma (we can't afford medicines), and then—saddest of all—relying on the kindness of everyone who loved Mama to pay for her wake, funeral and burial, I am determined to see my family financially stable.

We've started with this happy fact: Wala akong utang! I'm not saying debt is bad. Debt can be a good thing but only if you use it wisely (for starting a business, for example) and if you can pay it. I don't know everything about finance—I'm still learning!—but I can tell you that these guys know a whole lot:

Sonny Santiago can really coach you since he's been practicing in the field of Attitudinal Training for more than a decade. His clients include San Miguel Corp., Philippine Airlines and First Manila Corp. Gus Cosio is the President of First Asset Management, Inc., managing the mutual funds business of the country's leading investment house. He also blogs at, so if you can't attend the workshop, you can just read his blog where he dishes out great financial advice.

Okidoki, reserve a slot! 

P.S. Martine, favor granted! That's for all the free blogging tips you give me haha.

Monday, November 05, 2012

It's all about Twilight and money in OK!'s November issue

I have to confess this. Our November cover gives me the heebie jeebies. Those three kids look really scary. I'm not a fan of the Twilight movies (though I swooned when I read the first book) but it's the mega-franchise of the decade. It's a force of nature! It's... insane.

Our Twilight Saga special issue really does have fantastic stories. Even I was drawn in when I was editing it. I laughed at the "Epic!" and "Fail!" comments of my staff about the franchise. I loved the fashion transformation photo essay of Kristen. I was amazed at all the juicy gossip and secrets of the stars that I've totally forgotten about.

Check out this teaser trailer where the vampires teach the new vampire Bella how to act human.

Was this in the book? I don't really remember. But it just occurred to me now, while watching that trailer, that it's a strange scene. Bella was, prior to this transformation, a human being. She couldn't have had forgotten what it's like to be human so quickly. I understand that she's enjoying her new powers and abilities but if there's anyone who needed lessons in being human, it would be the other vampires in the room. They've been undead for such a long time. And I know they need reminding because, as the books and movies showed, real humans find them strange, unsettling, even frightening.

Okay, I'm overthinking it. Why am I doing that?!

If you're not a fan of these movies, grab the November issue for the money stories! We reveal superstar salaries and outrageous splurges. Plus, I love the best fashion and beauty products that you should invest in. Yep, they cost a lot but are worth every centavo! I always enjoy our money issue! For example, finding out that Rihanna spends a million dollars a year on her hair just made me go WTF because her hair's been awful for a good loooong while! Thank goodness she went back to her pixie crop!

Now, if you don't like Twilight and you don't like frivolous splurges, then I still think you'll like the November issue of OK! because our free magazine, OK! Glam, features the best budget finds for your makeup kit and closet. They may be inexpensive but they will make you look rich!!! All that and more in the fabulous November issue of OK! Grab a copy today!

P.S. Want a super sulit beauty box? Check out my BDJBox giveaway!

Sunday, November 04, 2012

How to determine your sponsored post rate

I've been doing a lot of research lately because I'm making a media kit for my mommy blog. Well, it might interest you to know that according to, this is how US bloggers charge for one sponsored post:

# of monthly page views + # of Twitter followers ÷ PageRank # x $0.01 ÷ 2 = sponsored rate

The article did say that the formula is just a guide. I actually charge more—I won't say how much unless you want to propose something haha—simply because I'm a writer by profession. I can guarantee clients that sponsored posts are well written, well edited and presented professionally—a service not a lot of other bloggers can offer.

The article said you can skip the last operation (the divide-by-2) if you're a specialized blogger. The more niche your blog is, the higher you can charge. I think mommy bloggers, tech bloggers and beauty bloggers belong to this group because these are the blogs that get people to buy. Lifestyle blogs, gossip blogs, news blogs, travel blogs, they might get lots of readers but no one reads blogs like those to shop. These blogs are for information so if you're a brand that has something to announce, you target the popular blogs but if you want to sell, you go after the niche blogs.

For example, Topaz Mommy is a specialized blog and I always receive feedback from brands that say they got a sale when I published a blog post about their products. Like this email from Ria who makes adorable felt letters:

So even if your blog is small, take heart! As long as it is targeting a specific audience, it has a chance to still earn you money. I was telling Jenny Ong of Chronicles of a Nursing Mom this and... I'll just copy-paste what I wrote her so I won't have to re-type what I said!

I think sponsored posts should be equal or greater than your ad rate. Why? Because you have to write it (effort!) and you have to endorse the product/service. It's your integrity on the line. For example, hmm, let's pick a brand I don't use... Okay, Louis Vuitton. LV can place an ad on my blog to target my readers. You see it, you click on it, but it's not connected to me personally. But if Louis Vuitton asks me to write about their brand, talk about it personally, recommend it, I won't be able to unless I actually own and love an LV bag!

Anyway, just thoughts I wanted to share with you to help you along. I know a lot of you want your blogs to grow and earn you money. There's a big blogging event coming up called Blogopolis. It features the top bloggers and social media experts of the country and they'll reveal how you can get a constant stream of ideas, how to capture an audience, how to market your blog, how to increase readership, how to get and deal with advertisers, and a whole lot more.

I'm sure it can help out a lot of bloggers struggling to earn from their online activities. I won't be there—a full day seminar just doesn't work for a mommy like me!—so just tell me what happened, okay?

I do know one big secret to successful blogging: Blog for yourself, not for the money. Blog about what makes you happy, whether it's DIY crafts, your dogs, your Star Wars collection. This will give your blog its own voice, its own personality—yours!—and make it unique. After all, there is no one quite like you in the entire world.

Once your blog feels like a real person is writing it, it will begin to attract its own special group of readers. Then your blog grows and then it starts attracting sponsors. It's the same with life really, make yourself a happy and interesting person and people will want to be your friend. So be yourself, be happy, have fun. The rest will follow.

Friday, October 05, 2012

My business partners: My laptop and my Sun Postpaid line

This post is inspired by the new SUN Postpaid TVC. Aside from Marco Lobregat being nice to look at, I identify strongly with his story.

"Success? I worked hard for it so I know what it's worth," Marco said. Yep, I know exactly what he means. My one dream when I was a kid was to become a writer and then an editor-in-chief of a glossy international magazine at 33 years old. I had no idea back then how I was going to make this dream come true, and everyone I know thought it was a silly, stupid dream. But work hard I did and my dream came true even before my goal age (I became EIC at 30!).

I am so grateful that all my hard work paid off. But I've also been thinking all this time, "Now that my childhood dream has come true, what's left for me to do? I'm not even 40!" So it's time to dream a new dream!

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Concert tickets wanted!

Sigh. I had wanted to watch Backstreet Boys and New Kids on the Block when they were here. But I had just given birth.

Now, I just found out that Sting and Elton John will be here in December. J.Lo's coming, too, but I'm not a fan. Vince is a huge fan of Sting. I'm a huge fan of Elton. But, with the high cost of concert tickets, it's either we watch both concerts OR buy Christmas gifts. It can't be both.

So... dear families and friends, if you find out that Vince and I watched the concerts of Sting and Elton John, that only means one thing: You get Christmas cards and a hug!

*images from Philippine Concerts

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Plans for Topaz Horizon, Topaz Mommy and Beauty For A Living

Let's talk about business today. Just so you know, while I have always viewed blogging as fun, it's also become a substantial source of income. I know a lot of you want to earn from blogging, too, that's why I think you might find this post interesting.

I have three blogs. Topaz Mommy, Beauty For A Living and this. So far, this is what I have observed:

Beauty For A Living is the hardest to update because I'm just not a good beauty/fashion blogger. I'm not vain enough to want to try the dozens of products sent my way and yet I'm too vain to post "before" pics.

Because of my job as a magazine editor, there is some concern about my posting honest reviews on products. It's okay if the reviews are good but if I say something negative, the magazine advertisers may be offended. Actually, even a positive review may be seen as trying to curry favor with clients. Clearly, any review presents a conflict of interest.

So I just post press releases but I make sure not to copy-paste! I always try to inject myself in the PRs. Nevertheless, PRs are not what readers want to read. So that blog is going pfffft! I've mulled over abandoning it altogether (and I have, time and again) but even if I don't update it, it's still the blog that earns most via Google Adsense. Yup. Of my three blogs, it's the least visited and read but it's the one that has the most Adsense income! That's why I can't delete it!

Maybe when I'm no longer a magazine editor, things will look up for Beauty For A Living. So I'll keep it, let it earn Adsense money. It's passive income.

Topaz Mommy, meanwhile, has become my favorite blog. Since becoming a mom, my heart is devoted to my two sons, and where your heart is there your treasure lies. So obviously, my treasured online home is now Topaz Mommy. I find it the easiest to update. Among my blogs, that one has enjoyed tremendous growth—from 16,000 monthly views at the end of 2011 to 33,000 at the end of August. That's more than 100% growth in just 7 months.

Income-wise, Topaz Mommy hasn't earned me a lot of cash but it's earned me tons of free stuff from mompreneurs who want to promote their businesses and from big brands that want to promote their mommy-kiddie stuff. Diapers, toys, nursing wear, books, etc. I haven't actually written about all the gifts I and my children have received. But I will get to it! Meanwhile, thank you super duper!

I also want to say that I only accept gifts from brands I believe in. If I don't support a certain product, I just say, "Thank you but I cannot promote your brand/product." It's not so serious. Sometimes I say, "My children don't go to school yet so summer tutorials aren't relevant to us." Or I say, "My children are boys so I can't do a review of the hair accessories you design for little girls." Or I say, "I'm currently breastfeeding so, though I'm very tempted, I can't avail of your free diet and fitness program that will guarantee I'll lose 20 lbs in a month."

I'm beginning to think of not accepting products altogether actually. As I mentioned in this post, my mommy blog has begun looking like a press release/promos website. I certainly don't want that. Besides, it's exhausting running contests—the checking of entries, the picking of the winner/s, the communicating with winner/s and losers, the sending out of the prizes (plus the shipping's on me, too!). It's become work. And the blog isn't earning me enough for it to be work.

Follow my train of thought here please. I started Topaz Mommy because I was scared shitless of mommyhood. I wanted friends, other moms to help me understand what I was going through. Then when I became a mommy, I wanted to share the joy of having kids. I am so happy to say that all that I hoped to get from mommy blogging—friendship, wisdom, joy, support, community—I got.

But ever since my mommy blog exploded this year, it has felt like work! If it's going to feel like work, then I should be paid to do it. But that would make mommy blogging a chore, you know? Sigh! I haven't decided what to do. On one hand, I love supporting businesses (I'm an entrepreneur, too!). On the other hand, I want to reclaim my mommy blog! I hope I find a solution to this.

Now, as for Topaz Horizon... This is my oldest blog. It's my personal blog of frivolity. Well, at least that's the idea. Thing is it never remains frivolous! I start talking about love, marriage, relationships. I go on and on about financial planning, homemaking tips, career decisions. I even dispense advice now and then.

Topaz Horizon is also my biggest blog. Ergo, it earns me the most income. And I don't mean gifts; I mean money. It's still not earning enough for me to quit my job, though. Again, that's mostly because I refuse a lot of offers—endorsements, sponsored posts that would be in conflict with my job or my beliefs and lifestyle. I tell ya, if I accept everything that comes my way, I certainly can be a stay-at-home mommy. But I have to have this thing called integrity and sometimes I ask myself why I have to have that haha!

Now, as I mentioned above, Topaz Mommy is the blog that's dearest to me now. I honestly don't know what to do with Topaz Horizon. Since becoming a mother, going to parties and events and basically going out of the house has lost all charm. So now that my life is just office-home, it's not very exciting anymore. Therefore, there's not much to write about here. My readers can tell. Topaz Horizon's stats, while still very good (at 45,000 views a month, it's still bigger than Topaz Mommy's), has plateaued.

This blog needs to grow if I want it to earn more income. I've not made it a secret that I want Topaz Horizon to earn money. I've always said that I'm a writer so I got to get paid every time I write. So I have to do something to make this blog grow!

My friend, Mariel of NY Minute Now, told me I should just turn Topaz Horizon into an advice column. Our favorite Elle columnist is E. Jean. I can be an Auntie E! I do get quite a bit of mail asking for advice on love and career. I don't know why you guys do this! Y'all make me feel old, ya know!

Another idea is to make this blog an outfit blog. There's a lot of fashion blogs out there, and they all happen to feature young girls with tiny waists and cellulite-free legs. They also have a penchant for Korean/Japanese fashion. None of which I, in my mid-30s, can relate to. I can't wear pekpek shorts anymore because I have stretchmarks running up and down my thighs. And many of the outfits on those fashion blogs aren't fit for real life! I'm a mommy, a career woman and an entrepreneur. My clothes have to work with me.

So while I was bitching about this on Facebook, my friends suggested, "Why don't YOU do it?" Argh. Because I don't have the time! Fashion blogging is serious business! I have full respect for those little girls. The styling, the shopping, the perfect mani-pedis, the hairless legs, the perfectly styled hair, the makeup, the looking for backgrounds to pose against, the posing, the pretending-there's-no-camera... That is hard work, folks. I don't know if I'm up to it.

What do you suggest for this blog? What do you want to read? What do you want to see? Help! I'm planning major overhauls come 2013. I'm talking to an artist regarding a redesign for all blogs. I'm talking to blogging mentors. I'm evaluating if sponsored posts help or harm my blogs. I'm evaluating if I should refuse sponsored posts and just accept advertising OR if I should take away the ads (they're cluttery) and just do sponsored posts. Sooo many things to think about!

How about you? What's your blog plans?

Monday, August 20, 2012

My online budgeting tool is driving me crazy

I mentioned recently that hubby and I are thinking of investing. To prepare for that big financial leap, I've signed up for Expense Register. I know I could've used Excel but I'm on a new MacBook and I don't have Microsoft Office programs yet so I just looked for a budgeting tool online.

Anyway, I figured if I knew where all our money is going, I can pinpoint where we overspend, cut that and funnel it to investing instead. Well, lemme just tell ya, we're spending too much on food!

A huge part of our money goes to meat, veggies, bread, milk (a LOT of milk!), fast food deliveries, cookies, cakes, Coke, etc etc!

The "Other," which is the next biggest piece of the pie, is actually gifts and donations, tips for waiters and delivery boys, and the kids' vaccinations. So we're a generous family. But seeing it on that pie like that makes me want to stop giving gifts! Or just stop eating out and ordering in so we won't have to tip!

The "Personal" slice covers shopping for clothes, shoes, haircuts, etc. But for this particular month, that meant our life insurance policies. Hmm. Maybe I should put insurance policies under another category.

The "Recreation" slice is only huge because this month, we spent a lot on Vito's birthday party. Normally, recreation is books, movies, travel. Since procreating, we've not been recreating (sigh!) so normally, we don't spend a lot on leisure stuff anymore.

So now I'm wondering where I can shave off money so we can invest in mutual funds or stocks. Gifts? Service tips? Dining out? Ordering in? Chips and candy? Coke? All of the above? This is driving me nuts! I don't like budgeting at all!

Saturday, June 09, 2012

What I want from Unarosa

I've been telling everyone that I'm selling everything in my closet. Nearly everything I have is for my pre-pregnant body, which was a size 4. Now I'm a 6 and, with my birth-widened hips and milk-filled breasts, I don't see myself shrinking back to 4 anytime soon (or ever). So I need to sell everything so I have money to buy new stuff for my new body.

Then I remembered that for Christmas, Pinky, my old old friend from way back in third grade at Assumption, gave me GCs for Unarosa. I wasn't familiar with the brand. Pinky said the clothes are nice and I'll like them. So I went to their website (but their Facebook page was much better) and she's right, I do like the pieces! Here's what I loved:
Top- P 1,795.00, Pants- P 1995.00, Shoes- P 1,760.00
I love pussy bow blouses. And lace. Vince doesn't like lace (he's reminded of doilies) but I really like that top. I also like the pants. But since I still have a post-partum belly bulge, I don't think I'll look good in it. Yet!

Dress- P 2,090.00, Shoes- P 1,760.00
Love this! This is very Joan of Mad Men. I love the secretary chic, the sexy-modest vibe. I'm just not sure about that hem--I'm hoping a good ironing will fix that. I'll check it at the store.

Jacket - P 2,760.00, Dress - P 2,195.00, Pumps - P 1,930.00
In this photo, it's the dress I like. I love the floral design (very on trend) and the sleek cut (very classic). As for the rest of the outfit, I'm not a jacket/blazer person and I am no longer the platform pump girl either. Motherhood. Sigh! 

 Dress - P 1,330.00, Shoes - P 1,760.00
But motherhood agrees with this classic wrap dress. I definitely like that bodice--perfect for the nursing mama me! UPDATE (June 29): I bought ALL the colors of this dress! Brown, black, gray and white!

Now that I knew what I wanted, I hunted down Pinky's GC and went on panic mode when I saw the expiry was the end of June! Shopping time! And tomorrow's perfect. It's the Pacquiao fight and whenever he has a fight, the malls and streets are empty. So it's the best time to go browsing and shopping. Will do an outfit post soon!

P.S. The model looks like a younger version of Queen Cersei, no?

*Photos grabbed from Unarosa's Facebook page

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Looking for health insurance for my family (because I'm all grown up that way!)

Posted this over at Twitter recently:

Yep, I'm still looking for health insurance! If you've been reading my blog long enough, I started looking for a private health plan for my family when the TMC disaster happened. By private, I mean it's a service that we pay for and not provided by the company I work for. Almost all of the recommendations I get from blog commenters and Twitter followers are the health plan providers that their company works with. The company I work for has health benefits, of course, but I'm looking for something more comprehensive and one that would cover all the members of my family, not just me.

So I've been researching and I've narrowed down my choices. I won't say what those are yet since I'll still give them a call and check them out. They might not look as good on paper, you know. What I'm really looking for is the kind of health plan my family got when my Mama was employed at Meralco. It's almost as good, if not better, than health plans in the US before the current health crisis. As a child, I was sick constantly. Like, I'd be confined at a hospital maybe 3-4 times a year. Not once did Mama have to take out her wallet to pay for my bills. Our dental needs were also completely covered, unlike today when only cleaning and temporary fillings are covered. Back then, we were assured that we can have everything from a filling to a root canal and not worry about the cost. Even cosmetic treatments (braces, bleaching, etc) were covered up to 25%. Absolutely frikkin' awesome. That's the kind of plan I want for my family!

Of course, that means I've been apprehensive about the cost of personal health plans, thinking that there's a reason why companies subsidize them. But I am happy to report that we actually have cheap health insurance here. My research shows that for just P10,000 a year, a family of four can get good coverage--private hospital room, good accredited hospitals, annual physical exams, dental check-ups. If you add another 5K-10K to that amount and you get absolutely fantastic coverage, the type that asks no questions, just pays your medical bill.

That plan, even if it may be P20,000 a year, I like very much. It's really not a lot of money. Just divide 20K by 4 (that's me and my three adorable boys!), and that's just 5K a family member for an entire year. That covers dental work, annual medical checks, and should someone get sick, great medical service and treatment. For peace of mind, 20K is nothing!

Someone told me, however, that the best health insurance is money in the bank. She doesn't believe in insurance, you see, thinking that it's all a scam. She said, "How many times does one get sick anyway? Once, twice? As long as you live a healthy lifestyle, you'll be fine. And for those times you do get sick, nothing beats cash." I do agree with her somewhat, especially since when I gave birth, both times were completely paid for by cold hard cash. There's a certain sense of pride knowing we were able to save up for a hospital like St. Luke's Global.

Still, if there's cheap health insurance available here anyway, I don't see why we shouldn't avail of it. What do you think? Should I or shouldn't I? Do you have personal health plans or is yours provided by your company?