Musings on a Mid-Summer Saturday

Fuzzy got home just in time for us to grab a late dinner and then tumble into bed, last night, and so far, neither of us has actually left bed for very long, despite the fact that I’ve been blogging on and off all day. I so love having laptops at my disposal. And wifi. Yay wifi.

I’m trying to stay busy, because my skin is itchy everywhere. Showers don’t help, and moisturizers don’t either. Antihistamines knock me out, and then I wake up cranky, dehydrated, and still itchy (if slightly less so). I blame the mosquitoes who apparently think snacking on my succulent flesh is an uber-cool way to spend time.

I forgot, until we moved here almost three years ago, how much I hated mosquitoes.
We didn’t have them in California.

I don’t really miss the pace of life in California. I miss the weather, and the lack of bugs.
Oh, and the beach.

My Shark Week obsession this week has made me almost teary for sun, sand, and surf. Fuzzy and I really need a weekend away, where we can go snooze on the sand and dip our toes in blue water. Or rather, where I can, and he can hide inside. It’s all good.

I’m so itchy and crabby that I don’t want to go to CSz tonight because I don’t feel that I should be around people. My inner bitch might come out, and that shouldn’t happen in public. I think I will send an email and ask if we’re needed.

Does Paid Blogging Work?

While I’ve never been a full-time professional marketer, I have been involved in enough small campaigns to know that it’s really rare to get an overwhelming response from any single type of marketing. If a direct mail campaign, either snailmail or email, nets a 1% return, for example, that’s considered good.

So, while I knew that paid blogging could work for me as a blogger – after all, I determine how many posts I want to make, and on which topics – I wasn’t certain how it would work for advertisers.

Last year, I wrote a series of pieces about paid advertising from the prospective advertiser’s point of view, so I knew a little about click-through rates (CTR) and that there are different kinds of payment for such things. Some advertisers pay for impressions, while others pay for actions, for example. But ultimately, it’s click-throughs – the number of people who actually follow a link, and then browse or buy – that matter.

When I read an article in the PayPerPost blog about the average ctr from sponsored posts being more than 10.5%, I was seriously impressed. That’s up to ten times better than the average Google AdWords result after all.

To me, as a blogger, this number means that writing these posts isn’t just lucrative, but actually useful as a means of advertising.
To me, as an advertiser, which role I sometimes have to take for my work, it assures me that when we place a paid blog post, it’s advertising money well spent.


Paid blogging works.

Saturday Six: 0708.04

1. If you had to leave your job on Monday, how confident would you feel that you could get another job paying close to the same amount quickly?
I don’t know for sure about this job, but I could always step back into mortgages, where the money is better, if I needed to. I have offers for those jobs daily.

2. How many different employers have you worked for over the years?
I’ve been self-employed on and off for so long that the number of actual employers I’ve had is only four.

3. Consider the employer you worked for the longest: how big of a factor was money in determining why you left or would consider leaving that employer?
Money wasn’t really the issue, and actually I stayed longer than I should have because I had so much autonomy. We were both tired of living to pay or California mortgage, so I left because we were leaving the state.

4. Take the quiz: How good are you with money?

You Are Great With Money

You know the value of a dollar – and you save and spend wisely.
By living below your means, you’ve set yourself up for a rich future.
And while it may hurt to sacrifice now, you’ll probably have plenty of money later on.
You’re on your way to riches – just keep it up.

5. When is the last time you actually were told what your credit score actually is?

I pull our tri-merge once a year, actually.

6. Do you think that learning what your score would be would be likely to make you change anything you’re doing with money?
Knowing our score merely made me put a plan into place, not any specific changes. Working in the mortgage industry for a good portion of my life, and seeing what everyone else was doing, made more of an impact.

Like this meme? Play along here.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium and Me

In honor of the last day of Shark Week, I’m going to share my impressions of a really special place

I don’t remember all the details of my first visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I know it can’t have been too long after it opened, because it was before they added the (temporary) exhibit for Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. I do remember looking up and seeing the giant whale hanging from the ceiling. At the time, even though I had to be thirteen or fourteen years old (because the Aquarium opened in 1984), I remember feeling like I’d entered a place of magic.

Over the years, and many subsequent visits, that feeling would never change, and to this day, more than 20 years later the Aquarium is one of my favorite tourist attractions ever.

My second visit to the Aquarium was in late 1986 or early 1987. ST:TVH had come out by then, and anyone – everyone – who knew anything about the area had recognized the Aquarium playing the part of the Cetacean Institute in the movie. Of course, the Aquarium has never, and will never, have real whales in their exhibit – and why should they, when these same animals pass by the facility every year? I have fond memories of the alert horn being sounded, though, and of everyone rushing outside to stand by the railings and watch as a pod of whales passed by. Excited pointing and gleeful shouts of “Look, one’s blowing!” and “Thar she blows!” were exhibited by adults and kids alike.

Other than the Star Trek exhibit, some of my favorite experiences at the Monterey Bay Aquarium included being among the first to play with the bat rays (my parents were Aquarium members, and we would go to special members-only previews) – fish with chihuahua faces, that were learning to be social – handling Sea Stars (star fish) in the tide pool exhibit, watching the seven-gill sharks (it always comes back to sharks with me), and their famous jellyfish display, which was rather like walking through a dark tunnel lined with glowing aliens.

Aquariums and museums grow up faster than humans, but I like to think that the Aquarium and I sort of grew up together.

Last month, when was still half-considering participating in the annual blogathon, where bloggers raise money for pet charities, the Aquarium wasn’t on my list. In fact, it wasn’t until after the ‘thon had started that I went to its page at Charity Navigator and found out that they’re really a non-profit, and that they have a five-star rating on the site. (If I do blogathon next year, they’ll definitely be one of my top contenders.)

I hadn’t realized they were a non-profit. I did, of course, know about their conservation and research efforts, not just studying great white sharks, but also sea otters and tuna, pushing for legislation that protects oceanic ecosystems, and educating us about sustainable fishing practices, and sustainable fish eating.

My only disappointment regarding the Monterey Bay Aquarium is that I never got to visit it during the period in 2004 when they had a Great White Shark living in the Outer Bay exhibit. We were, at that point, in the process of moving to Texas. Still, I have fond memories of eating fish and chips at Phil’s (near the MBARI – Montery Bay Aquarium Research Institute – docks), and then going into the Aquarium to walk under the great whale.

I’m closer to forty than fourteen now, and the magic hasn’t dissipated at all.