Garden Greenhouse For a Real Budget

With the economy the way it is there are many people that would love to have the advantages of a greenhouse but do not have the money to invest in an expensive glass or plastic pane greenhouse. It's not that they do not want to get started growing as early as possible or extend the season as far into late fall and early winter as possible, it's simply a matter of money!

So for those who are financially challenged right now, I have a few ideas that you might kick around and see if any of these are capable. The first thing you can do is see if your community or city has a garden collective or co-op where you can garden, in other words, work in the greenhouse or garden and for that work, take home some of the food. This can not only be a great way to supplement your grocery list but you also are helping others.

Another way to get something going is to form a small co-op in your neighborhood and raise money to purchase a greenhouse so you can grow food year round. You will need to form this with trustworthy people and make sure the greenhouse is located on neutral ground, if possible so everyone can access it. You will also need money for water and heat so you do need to be prepared for these expenses. This can be a great way to add to your food source.

If you are not crazy about working with others in a co-op situation but would like the opportunity to grow with a garden greenhouse there are some very inexpensive greenhouses available. They will not be as sturdy and most likely will not last as long as some of the more expensive homes but they are good enough to last through several seasons in most climates.

Of course, use you head here. If you live in the Artic, these greenhouses will not do well at all. If you live in a semi mild climate and need to start seedlings early to get a good growing season or would like to extend the growing season into late fall, this might just be what you have been looking for. Most are also portable and can be used on decks and patios as well so measure and make sure they will fit before you order.

The basic lesson is if you really want what a greenhouse can give you, there are products on the market that could work for you. We all have certain things to overcome and, if the budget is your thing, there are decent green homes out here.

A Craft Industry Analysis

The Craft and Hobby Association in 2011, released results of research into the U.S. Craft and Hobby Industry. You may be surprised to learn that the craft and hobbyist’s contribution towards this industries net worth is approximately $29 billion, double the $14 billion first reported by Craft Organization Directors Association (CODA) in 2001. A surprising figure to emerge from this research (even to us avid craft enthusiasts) is that over half of U.S. households acknowledged engaging in a craft activity at least once per year.

When we unpack that $29 billion net worth figure we get a clearer picture of who it is that loves their hobby. Woodworking was the front runners in the top 10 craft sectors by spend, coming in at $3.32 billion with 16.8 million individuals engaging in this activity. I myself have some lovely bookends purchased at a local Sunday market that have clearly been lovingly produced by one such woodworker.

Since the internet revolution every industry engages in analytics and who wouldn’t want to have a picture of their client base so savvy marketing campaigns can bring a little more of that dollar value into the business. And what an impressive dollar value it is. The artists among us, thought to be 21.1 million households, spent $2.6 billion on our passion. The jewelry making and beading craft accounted for $2.3 billion with 14.7 million people crafting earrings, necklaces, bracelets and broaches etc. Over 18 million households engaged in Scrapbooking and other paper crafts spending $3.3 billion preserving family memories and turning photos into family heirlooms. The crocheting hobby injected $1.062 billion into the industry via 17.4 million strong crochet fans. That’s a lot of towels getting topped.

Crafting wreaths, historically a symbol of strength, and in Christianity a celebration of the festive season, made it into one of the top 10 favorite craft activities with 11.6 million engaging in this activity. This is not a once a year only at Christmas craft as wreaths are also used as wedding headdress in many different cultures. Incidentally, wedding crafts injected $803 million into the U.S. craft economy.

With speculation that the global financial crisis is responsible for providing this boost for the craft industry Hobby Lobby’s Eileen Liffick attributed an increase of people attending craft shops or online craft sites looking for ways to create craft for their families without spending a lot of money due to the current economic conditions. Ms Liffick says that “not only are people saving money, they’re making it. We have many people selling these items making extra money”.

What was previously a much loved hobby is now a means of saving the family money. “People are looking to create something special, something homemade. They want to help others save money, while making a little extra for themself”. The fabric department’s business has at least doubled in the last three years because of the economy with people trending back to earlier times, making homemade items for themselves, as a gift, or for a fun family activity. Industry concentration has increased over the five years to 2011, as large national retailers take market share from small independent operators.

Despite the impact of large scale business successful craft businesses are popping up everywhere seeking to share in the crafting industries net worth of $29 million. Crafting is a convenient work from home business and respected cottage industry. Approximately 81.2% of total craft industry operators in Canada are estimated to be businesses without paid-employees (non-employers) in 2011.

It’s now easier than ever to publicize your business and get recognition without spending a fortune doing so using a variety of free and low cost tools and resources from marketing on the internet to craft shows and everything in between.

Craft shows bring resources and new techniques to the end user providing an unequalled opportunity to present craft and hobby ideas and products and services to this cashed up audience. The hobby and craft association reported attendee registration at one particular craft show up 40%. In the “buyer” category alone registration was up 48% for this same show planned for 2012 in Anaheim.

Craft Pavilions showcase what’s new in crafts reaching craft and hobby enthusiasts far and wide. Stall holders sell products in a popular, vibrant market place that attracts tens of thousands over the course of the event. The bonus to the community is far reaching as these tens of thousands of attendees require accommodation and spend money on food and drinks in the vicinity of the event.

Peartree Solutions produced a report on the profile of the Canadian craft industry (2003) highlighting that Canadian craft, recognized internationally for its quality and distinctive character, was at the time considered to be a growing and vibrant collection of individual craft persons, studios, enterprises, media guilds, public and private galleries, retail and wholesale shows, and organizations. The industry in 2001 had generated $727 million in economic activity which including over $100 million in exports.

At the time of this research there were approximately 14,048 craft studios operating in Canada, where 22,597 people were employed. Ten per cent of those surveyed had craft revenues in excess of $120,000. The net craft income (or earnings) of full time craft professionals averaged $17,300 in 2001, while the top ten per cent earned net income of $49,000 or more.

Southern hemisphere crafters are every bit as enthusiastic about their hobby. Australia has less than one fifth of the population of U.S. however managed to spend an estimated $250 million on art and craft materials in 2009-2010. These figures are not a true representation of the Australian craft industry however as the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) define a hobby as an activity that was undertaken only for oneself or for family or friends, that is, the output was not for general consumption. If the item produced was to sell, then this would be considered a work involvement and not measured in the hobby category. The ABS survey showed that in 2007 there were 2.1 million people aged 15 years and over in Australia who were involved in Art and craft as a hobby activity.

Craft exhibitions, craft festivals, craft shows are an unequalled opportunity for crafters and retailers alike to show case their wares. “Handarbeit & Hobby” Exhibition (Cologne, Germany) was held in 2009. Thought to be the largest European exhibition of manufacturers of the goods for needlework and creativity, the exhibition attracted more than 200 craft product companies. Many companies from Mexico, Japan, Australia, the USA and other countries saw the financial benefits of crossing the globe to present their products and shore up a slice of the lucrative European craft market.

Prize money from craft competitions can be quite lucrative for the hobbyist. A winner of an award for embroidery in 2009 beat the pool of 24 finalists from 24 countries selected from 330 applicants to take home $10 000. Craft enthusiasts can compete with the best by entering craft competitions. A European quilting championship has been held annually, since competition commenced in 2002. Masters and designers of ceramics and porcelain from Canada, Russia, Spain and other countries were among the last biennale visitors to the British Ceramic biennale festival in 2009. A mosaic technique summit was organized by the Society of the American Mosaic Artists and coincided with 10th anniversary of this Society.

In a news release issued on April 14 2011, CHA Member Northridge Publishing (PROVO, Utah) announced the launch of a new craft industry trade publication “Creative Retailer,” The publication aims to provide retailers the very best in industry information and product awareness and canvas a wide variety of topics, provide project ideas and discuss solutions for common retail problems for craft retailers. The craft industry hopes that the introduction of a new trade publication is a signal that the industry has a positive future for retailers and craft enthusiast alike.

As former partners of Scrapbook Premier, Inc. and Scrapbook Business Magazine, Torrie and Kevin of Northridge Publishing will provide leading-edge programs and media support that will strengthen business practices for both vendor, manufacturers and retailers. Brian Kunz, founder and president of Northridge Publishing stated ‘”they are striving to expand the industry by building greater awareness to their many subscribers” (hundreds of new readers every month).

Craft industry statistics clearly show that with over half of U.S. households engaging in a craft activity, many, many people experience that unequaled feeling of satisfaction that comes from creating something beautiful. Nothing is as self-soothing as those stolen hours immersed in the craft you adore.

How Affiliate Marketing Works – A Step By Step Guide For Beginners

Looking to make an income online? Got a computer / laptop and an Internet connection? Then Affiliate Marketing could be the simplest and quickest path to fulfilling your dream.

Here, you’ll discover the 6 simple steps that will take you from complete beginner to Affiliate Marketer in as little as 48 hours.

WHAT IS AFFILIATE MARKETING?

Affiliate marketing is a performance-based marketing system where a product vendor pays an “affiliate” a commission when someone buys their product. That “someone” having been referred to the vendor by the “affiliate.”

And it all happens online: You have a web presence, usually a website, that you attract like-minded visitors to, where you “warm them up” to the idea that the product you’re promoting (as an affiliate) is the perfect answer to their pressing problem or need.

That “product” could be physical (books, CDs, DVDs, clothing, jewelry, natural medicines, etc.) or digital (e-books, e-reports, software, online courses / trainings, etc.).

When your visitor clicks on your affiliate link (on your site) they are redirected to the vendor’s site, where the vendor will close the sale; a lot easier after you’ve warmed them up! When your site visitor buys the vendor’s product you get paid a commission.

For example, if the product cost $100 and you get, say, 50% commission, you’ll get paid $50! And all for, basically, introducing someone with a pressing problem or need to someone who can fix that problem.

Affiliate marketing is ideal for beginners starting out online as it has a very low barrier to entry: it’s a very simple process that doesn’t need any particular technical skills, you don’t have to have your own product, and it doesn’t cost the earth to get started. In fact, you can get going for less than $20!

And, you don’t have to do selling, or fulfillment, or keep stock, or deal with payment systems, and you don’t have to deal with customers; the vendor does that.

All YOU need is an Internet connection and a computer / laptop and you’re good to go.

AFFILIATE NETWORKS

Because affiliate marketing is so profitable for both affiliate and vendor, over the years many “affiliate networks” have sprung up to help both affiliates and vendors manage their affairs much more efficiently and easily.

Vendors can attract affiliates by advertising their products on these networks and affiliates can easily find products to promote. Once an affiliate decides to promote a certain product the network assigns an affiliate link / ID so that sales of that product can be linked back to the affiliate.

The affiliate network also takes on responsibility for managing the flow of money between vendor and affiliate either by electronic transfer or check. It also charges a small fee to both vendor and affiliate for the service.

There are many affiliate networks to choose from, but a beginner to affiliate marketing can easily get started with “ClickBank” and / or “Amazon.”

GETTING STARTED WITH AFFILIATE MARKETING

1. Choose Your Niche and Product

The first step is to decide which niche you wish to operate in. A “niche” is a group of people with very similar interests, e.g. gout sufferers, broken relationships, looking for car insurance, how to make money online, etc. But, of course, it also has to have proven “buyers” in it in order to make money.

So how do you find a profitable niche with lots of profitable products you can promote?

A very quick way to do this is to search affiliate networks for niches that have several products that their stats tell you are selling well. If there are lots of products that are selling well, you now know that the niche is a profitable one, and, the buyers in that niche like those products.

In other words, there’s no second guessing; you know for a fact that you can make money in that niche and you know for a fact which products are successful, unlike if you had to develop your own product!

Once you’re happy with a product, you sign-up as an affiliate for it and are given a unique link that you place on your website. When a visitor clicks on that link they go to the vendor’s sales page where, if they buy, you get paid the commission assigned to that product.

2. Get Your Domain Name

Before you setup your website you need to get a domain name based around your niche. For example, fastgoutcure.com, weightlossforseniors.com. Get the idea? This will become your website “address.”

Two of the most popular domain registrars are “GoDaddy” and “NameCheap.”

3. Get Hosting

Next, you need to get hosting for your website. This is where all your website files will be stored and secured. When someone enters your domain name in their browser they will be directed to your website.

There are very many web hosting companies out there, but you can’t go far wrong as a newbie by going with “HostGator.”

4. Set-Up Your Website

You then need to set-up your website. This needs to be highly relevant to, and laser-focused on, your chosen niche and product. For example, having a website about “arthritis” and trying to promote a product that cures “gout” will neither rank well in the search engines nor make sales.

Although gout and arthritis are linked medically, most people don’t know that, so they’ll be searching for “arthritis” solutions or “gout” solutions and Google will present webpages on their search results that reflect that. So always stay laser-focused!

You need a platform or specialist software to build your website. The most popular platform today by far is “WordPress” which is free. Most good hosting companies like HostGator allow you to select WordPress directly from within your hosting control panel in just a couple of clicks.

5. Add Great Content

There’s a saying in marketing that “content is king!” I like to say that “GREAT content is king!” So the content on your website has to be highly relevant to, and laser-focused on, your niche, such that your site visitors get great value (and know they great value) from it.

For example, if your site is about “gout” you write content about what causes it, its symptoms, how it’s diagnosed, how it’s treated, any natural remedies, any specific diets, lifestyle changes, and so on. Give top tips, some recipes, the latest studies, news, etc. That is, keep adding “value.”

6. Drive Traffic (Visitors)

Now, you can have the best website in the world, the best product(s) to promote that will definitely, absolutely, help your target audience; but, if nobody ever lands on your site, you might as well not have bothered!

So getting visitors (called “traffic” in Internet marketing) to your website is absolutely critical to your success and to helping all those people who are desperately searching for a solution to their problem.

There’s basically two ways to get traffic; “pay for it” or “get it free.”

Paid traffic is things like advertising on other niche websites, Google, Bing, Facebook, etc. You can also pay people who have large email lists in the same niche as you to send out a promotional email of yours to their list.

But paying for traffic may not be the best option when starting out because you really need to know what you are doing because it’s very easy to get “burnt” when you don’t.

Free traffic comes from things like Search Engine Optimization (SEO) which is the art of getting your website on page 1 of Google, Bing, and other search engines.

You can also get tons of free traffic from posting great content (with links back to your site) on Social Media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. When people click on your link they end up on your website.

You can produce simple, short, YouTube videos that can drive traffic to your site via your site link in the video description.

One very popular way to drive free traffic to your site is to post comments on blogs and forums in the same or similar niche to you.

Another very simple way to get free traffic is by publishing short articles in Article Directories such as EzineArticles. The article you’re reading right now is an example of this technique.

This also has the added benefit that other website owners in your niche are allowed to copy and publish your article on their sites, but they must leave your website link intact so that you can get free traffic from THEIR site too!

So, here’s your affiliate marketing checklist:

1. Choose Your Niche and Product

2. Get Your Domain Name

3. Get Hosting

4. Set-Up Your Website

5. Add Great Content

6. Drive Traffic (Visitors)

If you’re a beginner to affiliate marketing don’t be overawed by all this; it really is very easy to get going. Anybody, and I mean anybody, who has an Internet connection and a computer or laptop can be up and running, ready to start taking commissions, in as little as 48 hours. And all without any previous experience.

10 Office Products That Need to Be Replenished Frequently

Some office products can be bought once and last many years until they’re damaged, lost or become outdated. Others will require regular replenishment to maintain your stocks and ensure your office can function professionally and efficiently. Here are 10 such items that you may wish to include when placing your next office products order.

1. Sellotape may not be used that frequently in offices, but when it is required it tends to be with some urgency – such as reinforcing packaging that needs to be sent to a customer. For that reason, it’s always a good idea to keep a regular check to make sure somebody hasn’t used up the last reel.

2. Post it notes also tend to run out quickly, largely due to their overwhelming popularity amongst office staff. They’re great for messages, reminders and other notes, so make sure your staff have access to them as and when they’re needed.

3. A stapler may last a lifetime, but the staples won’t. They’re used for keeping important files together, both for internal and external use. If it’s been a while since you last checked your staples stock, do so before placing your next order.

4. Running out of paper when you need to print an important document, such as for a proposal or internal memo, could lead to an embarrassing situation. Ensuring you have plenty of printer paper is therefore very important. You may want to order more than just your standard A4 paper, too. Important documents that are going to clients and suppliers may need to be printed on high quality printer paper.

5. You’ll also need to make sure your printers have enough ink in them. This one can strike unexpectedly if regular checks do not take place, so it pays to have quite a few spares in the office products cupboard. However, make sure you’re keeping a close eye on what you have in reserve.

6. Printers aren’t the only machines that require ink. You should also check your photocopier to ensure that you have enough cartridges for it. Needing to run off several copies of important documents when the copier is out of ink can cause problems on a number of levels.

7. If your office sends a lot of postal correspondence, such as for posting out cheques or invoices, it will need a good supply of envelopes in order to make sure the finance and admin departments function properly.

8. Run out of office coffee and you’ll know about it soon enough. Staff will require the kitchen to be well-stocked with teas, coffee and milk, so when anything like this runs out, placing an order for replacements will be a top priority. Ideally, you’ll want to place your order when stocks are running low, rather than leaving it until your staff complain.

9. Pens go missing. A lot. And you never want to be in the embarrassing position of not having anything to write with. It’s a good idea to order lots of blue or black ink pens, as well as a few reds (as they always come in handy).

10. You’ll also need to make sure your staff have access to fresh writing pads for taking notes, brainstorming ideas and storing important information.