About Joan Stewart

Publicity expert Joan Stewart, a PR mentor aka The Publicity Hound, works with small business owners who need free publicity to promote their expertise. She shows you how to establish your credibility, enhance your reputation, position yourself as an expert, and sell more products and services. To receive her free DIY publicity tips twice a week, subscribe here. See all the ways you can work with Joan. Or contact her and ask a burning question about PR, self-promotion or social media.

3 Ways to Add a Tip Jar to Your Blog

3 Ways to Add a Tip Jar to Your Blog

I drop spare change into the tip jar at the local coffee shop.

Sometimes I put a dollar bill in the trumpet case of the guy belting out a jazz tune on the corner of a busy city street.

I even tip the guy who drives me from the remote parking lot at the airport to the terminal.

This week, I tipped a photographer whose photo I downloaded from one of those free stock photo sites. It was exactly what I was looking for!

I’m a big fan of about a dozen bloggers, and I wouldn’t miss anything they write. I’d contribute to them, too, but they don’t have a tip jar at their blogs.

I don’t either. That’s because I generate revenue from several dozen products in my store and from training and consulting. Some bloggers dislike tip jars because they think it looks like the blogger is panhandling. Others, especially those who have an emotional connection with readers, find a loyal audience is sometimes willing to help pay the bills.  

A good example is Jim Hopkins, who wrote the popular Gannett Blog about news and other behind-the-scenes goings-on at newspapers in the giant Gannett chain. He told me he made $5,000 in one year from the tip jar at his blog. I wrote about it here.

Hopkins, started the blog after he was laid off. He has since stopped blogging because Gannett has spun off many of its newspapers and is primarily a TV giant with only a side interest in newspapers.

Tip jars are ideal at blogs that are raising money for a worthy cause, issue or charity.  

How to Add a Tip Jar to Your Blog

If you have a Blogger blog, you can find instructions here on how to add the tip jar to the sidebar of your blog. The five simple steps should take just a few minutes.

You can add a PayPal tip jar using instructions here.  

If you’re a Plus or Pro user on Vimeo, you can use a tip jar to ask for donations from people who love your videos, and then embed the video into your blog post. You cannot accept tips on commercial or political videos. And you can’t use it to accept donations for a political cause or payment for goods or services. Find full instructions here and a helpful and a step-by-step video here. 

More Ways to Monetize Your Blog

Tip jars are just one of more than two dozen ways you can make money from your blog. Learn about 26 other ways during the webinar I’m hosting from 4 to 5 p.m. Eastern Time tomorrow—Thursday, March 5. Register for “27 Ways to Monetize Your Blog.” 

None of my tips will let you quite your day job, or even go from fulltime to parttime. But they’ll help you add a few small streams of revenue. Who can argue with that? 

Deadline tonight for discount on Blog Templates for Authors

17 Amazingly Simple Blog Templates for Authors coverMy bundle of 17 Blog Post Templates for Authors has been flying off the digital shelves all weekend. They’re on sale until midnight (Pacific Time) tonight—Monday, March 2—for only $67…that’s $30 off the retail price.
A few authors asked us if we’d demonstrate exactly how to use them. 
The YouTube video I made above shows how…well…how amazingly simple they are. You need absolutely no technical skills whatsoever. The templates work regardless of whether you write fiction or nonfiction, use WordPress or Blogspot, publish your blog using a PC or a Mac. 
Andrea Patten, one of our beta testers, told us:
“I was able to draft a 400-word post in about 15 minutes. It’s not the type of post I normally write but your template made it easy to try something new. It works. It’s good. I want more.”

They Work for Fiction or Nonfiction

When creating the templates, I chose topics that work for fiction and nonfiction. They include:
Template #1: Short Book Review and Excerpt
Template #2: Pros and Cons of A and B
Template #3: When to Use A and When to Use B
Template #4: How to Pitch a Guest Post for My Blog
Template #5: Cool Tools I Learned About at…
Template #6: Top 10 Tweets of the Week
Template #7: This Week in the Blogs
Template #8: Fun Facts About Where My Novel Takes Place
Template #9: Fun Facts You Didn’t Know About Me
Template #10: How (Fill in the blanck) Sparks My Creativity
Template #11: 15 Articles on (Blank) for (Blank)
Template #12: An Interview
Template #13: The Top Mistakes and How to Fix Them
Template #14: Review of a Movie or Play That Ties into Your Book
Template #15: A Character Sketch of My Hero
Template #16: How I Name My Characters
Template #17: An Introduction to My Media Kit

Thanks, Author Bloggers, Beta Testers

Thanks to the generous authors who let me use their blog posts as inspiration for some of the templates I created:
Rick Hocker, Betsy Robinson, Anne Randloph, Ruth L. Snyder and Cathy Strasser.
Thanks, too, to my Publicity Hounds who volunteered to beta-test the templates: Kathy Watson, Lynda Lippin, Andrea Patten, Ellen Bahsen, Gail Rubin, Kate McCormick  and Julie Hawkins. 
If you missed the free training I did with book publishing expert Joel Friedlander last Thursday to introduce the templates, you can watch the replay here. We shared “7 Fast, Easy Ways to Bring Traffic to Your Author Blog.”


I’m curious. What did we teach you about blogging that you didn’t know or that you were surprised to hear?

Authors: Free training for fast, easy blogging

7 Fast, Easy Ways for Author Blogging woman with billboard


Update on Feb. 28, 2015

Watch the webinar replay of 7 Fast, Easy Ways to Pull Traffic to Your Author Blog here before 11:59 p.m. on Monday, March 2. After that, we take it down and our killer offer for a product that will make blogging fast and easy disappears too:


When it’s time to write a post for your author blog, how many times do you find yourself thinking about something interesting or funny that happened in your personal life?

It might be the litter of adorable puppies that you took in last night from the local animal shelter.

Or the certificate you just received for finishing the American Red Cross course in First Aid/CPR.

Or a something painful you survived, like hip replacement surgery.

And how many times have you asked yourself, “Why would my readers care about THAT?” 

You’d be surprised.

Readers LOVE Knowing More About You

When I write about something personal, like how I finally found a treatment for my voice disorder, or how I know all the words to Talent Roundup Day from the “Mickey Mouse Club” TV show in the 1950s, or the childhood photo of my sisters and me that I gave them this past Christmas, my readers respond!

They comment. They share the post on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. They email me with long stories about their own fears, discoveries and funny things that happened to them.    

If you’re an author, how about sharing what sparks your creativity? For me, it’s a sink of dirty dish water. I wrote about it here and readers loved it!  

Free Training Thursday, Feb. 26

That’s one of seven types of blog posts readers love. Joel Friedlander—a good friend, fellow author and prolific blogger—is hosting a webinar with me from 4 to 5 p.m. Eastern Time on Thursday, Feb. 26, on 7 Fast, Easy Ways to Pull Readers to Your Author Blog.

In addition to the blog post on creativity, we’ll discuss six other types of posts readers love. We’ll also share dozens of helpful tips that will save you time and money blogging.

For example, we’ll give you two websites where you can subscribe to receive free stock photos every week. You can use them for your blog or other marketing materials. Register here for the free training.   

Who Should Attend

This is perfect for beginning or veteran bloggers, regardless of whether you write fiction or nonfiction.

Not an author? You’re invited too! We wouldn’t want you to miss out on the fun.  :-) 

Dog Tweets–Learn how to maximize your media leads

Here are my Top 10 tweets from this past week, great for retweeting! If you missed these, follow The Publicity Hound on Twitter.

twitter birdLearn how to maximize your #media leads! ow.ly/J1Vnr

Website Tools that Will Maximize Your Engagement ow.ly/J8FyN #mondaymemo via @SusanGilbert

Book #publicists crushed that Jon Stewart’s leaving. He helped authors sell books. ow.ly/J8dSL

How to Create Your Guest #Blogging #Strategy [with a 5 step template] : @problogger ow.ly/JhVXR

4 Steps to Create Share-Worthy #Content for Social Media ow.ly/JhYjB

How to Set Up Multi-Product Ads on #Facebook [Quick Tip] ow.ly/JhYs3

How to Get Featured in #Mashable by @larrykim ow.ly/J9fQg

How Buyer Personas Come to Life with #Content Creation by @VerticalMeasure ow.ly/JhYhd

This Week in #ContentMarketing: A Net Neutrality Win | Stop Talking So Much About Yourself ow.ly/J8M1W

RT @MariaPianelli: 3 Heartwarming #Publicity Campaigns We Love — @LaunchSquad #LaunchBlog bit.ly/1zLX9c3

The top 9 writing mistakes and how to fix them

Wimpy Words Make Writing Boring

Blog posts. Articles. Ebooks. Ezines. Case studies. Slidedecks. Stories. Your bio. Press releases. White Papers.

If you need to create content but you can’t write well, spend five minutes on this crash course. Follow my advice, and you’ll improve your writing.

When I worked as a writing coach at a daily newspaper 20 years ago, I introduced reporters to my list of the Top 9 Writing Mistakes. Within minutes, and with a little practice, they improved their writing.

You will too.

Here are the most common mistakes:

1. Wordiness

This occurs most often among people in academia or in the corporate suite. They think $25 words make them sound smart or important. But $5 words make it easier for people to understand them.

If you came from either world, don’t let bad habits learned there creep into your writing. It should be so easy to read that a tenth-grader can understand it.

Here are wordy phrases that can be shortened: 

after the conclusion of = after

at the present time = now

in accordance with = by

in view of the fact = since

on a timely basis = fast

the necessary funds = money

signage = signs

roadway = road

in lieu of = instead

due to the fact that = since

with the exception of = except

2. Overusing any form of “to be”

It includes “is,” “are,” “was,” “were” and “would be.”

After you write something, print it. Underline every verb. If you see any of those lazy words or phrases, try to replace them with stronger verbs.

3. Weak verbs followed by prepositions

Instead of saying “get up,” you can use verbs like “awaken,” “stand,” “rise” or “climb.”

Strong verbs that mean the same as “fall down” include “collapse,” “trip,” “fumble” and “stumble.” They help paint a visual picture.

4. Lack of details

Describing the girl as “6 feet, 2 inches” beats saying “she’s tall.”

At night, in the middle of the forest, you can’t see the wolf in the dark. But describing the forest as “pitch black” makes readers feel as though they’re there.

Saying “The temperature inside the car reached 120 degrees” helps readers better understand the severity of the problem. It’s more specific than saying, “It was hot inside the car.”

5. Vague or abstract words and phrases.

They include:

“A large number” of babies born out of wedlock.

“The type of exercise” people hate most.

The word “thing,” as in “There’s this thing he does that annoys me” or  “She placed the things in the box.”

6. Writing in the passive voice instead of the active voice

Active voice describes a sentence in which the subject performs the action stated in the verb. In passive voice sentences, the subject is acted upon by the verb.

Passive voice: The book was placed on the table by the boy.

Active voice: The boy placed the book on the table.

You can find many more examples of the active and passive voice here.

7. Overworked words. Also known as empty words or wimpy words.

They include:

In essence

8. Business Jargon

This mistake deserves its own article! It includes:

End-user perspective
Pushing the envelope
Thinking outside the box
At the end of the day
Throwing anyone under the bus
Heavy lifting
Kept in the loop

…ad nauseum

See this Forbes article on The Most Annoying, Pretentious and Useless Business Jargon.

9. Rambling Sentences

I plucked these samples from online press releases. All include business jargon, industry lingo and $25 words that make my eyes glaze over.

Merex specializes in logistics, distribution and supply of spare parts, in-house product engineering and specialty manufacturing, FAA and military repair and overhaul capability at its ALCO Services subsidiary, repair management, and overall project management.

This approach that has led to a strong strategic partnership and $100 billion in two-way trade by growing bilateral investments, increasing cooperation in defense, and building a shared knowledge economy —all of which will continue to create much needed jobs in both countries for years to come.

Reynolds and his team at SupplyPro designed SupplyScale to take full advantage of SupplyPro’s software, SupplyPort™, which delivers automated inventory management and vendor integration; comprehensive reporting; superior ease-of-use; enterprise-wide administration; and the flexibility to adapt to customer work flow and business processes.

If you want an accurate tool that identifies bad writing and shows you how to fix it, try the Hemingway App.

Hemingway App

First, highlight all the text already on the page and hit Delete. Click on “Write” and start writing. Or click on “Edit” and paste your text into the window. The app will give you a color-coded critique.

Yellow highlights long, complex sentences and common errors. Red identifies dense, complicated sentences like the ones from the press releases above.

Blue shows you adverbs that you can remove and replace with more forceful verbs. Purple points out $25 words. Green flags you to the passive voice.

You’ll love this tool! I pasted this entire post into the app before publishing it. I saw lots of colors on the screen and corrected my errors.

The Hemingway app also ranks the readability of your copy. This post scores “Grade 6″ which means children in the sixth grade can understand it.

My grade will horrify the college professors. But I’m not writing for them. I’m writing for you!

What writing mistakes have I missed? Which ones do you hate most?