Amazon Prime Review: The Easy Life for Mom, Prime Boxes At My Door

I became a member of Amazon Prime in 2005, just months after getting an Amazon credit card from Chase. It started as a mostly harmless way to cure the first world problem of not wanting to wait a week for a package. That taste of two-day shipping luxury quickly turned into a total dependency. Becoming a first time parent really accelerated my use of Amazon Prime. In those first few months, I figured out that joining Amazon Mom and getting a subscription for diapers was the best thing since two hours of non-interrupted sleep. The companion to my diaper subscription soon became the Bounty paper towel subscription. Then the Charmin Basic toilet paper subscription. Enter Quaker Granola Bars on the scene, baby wipes, baby food pouches and more. Sometimes my Amazon boxes are so big, my son uses them to play inside of and we have complete Prime Cities made with multiple boxes. I even started getting dog food delivered so I can save the trip to the pet store and carrying the huge bag across the parking lot. (I said this was first world.)

The amount of money I have saved is phenomenal. Purchasing a big case of just about anything from Amazon is such a smart move. My son was an Enfamil Gentle-ease-er and if I had purchased it one tub at a time, or even the two-packs, I would have wasted so much money. In the end I did waste some money because the subscription didn’t come soon enough and I had to run out to the store a few times, but that was my fault, not Amazon’s.

When I do run out to go shopping at the local grocery store, Target or any other establishments, my visits are more enjoyable. There’s no pressure that this is my chance to get everything. They’re also faster and less of a “big deal” because shopping with children can be stressful and unpredictable. Knowing I don’t have to get a huge package of towels or diapers makes things so much nicer. I can focus on the food or other things I need.

The UPS delivery drivers must have my house in their “Favorites” list on their GPS. I might as well open our house to be a location for Amazon Locker.

Amazon, why are you so amazing? Sadly, you are killing so much local business. But you have made my life so much better. How am I to choose the right thing to do? The answer is, I just can’t think about it. I want my boxes. I have my sanity and I collect more time at home with my little one.

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WordPress Item Not Updated Error, How To Fix

If you are trying to update your categories and slugs, and the error “Item Not Updated” comes up, there is only one reason why. You are trying to give a category slug the same exact title and format as one of your existing post tags. Category slugs cannot be the phrase as any of your tags for posts. For example, if you have a tag called,

tech-tips-microsoft

You’ll need to make a category slug like this instead,

microsoft-tech-tips

Just change your words around a bit and you’ll get around the mysterious “Item Not Updated” error on WordPress with ease. I am thinking they will add a note along with that error some day which actually explains why it’s denying your changes.

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Thumbtack.com Review: A Social Service Marketplace, Wins and Woes

I have been a member of a website called Thumbtack since the summer of 2011. I am using their service to find leads as a family and wedding photographer. Today I felt like it was time to put my opinion into the hat of Thumbtack reviews. At first I wondered if the site was legitimate and carefully began to explore my options. The site seemed to be pretty quiet and had a few bugs but it started to grow very fast. Over time the site has improved in so many ways and they really have things streamlined now. For example, you no longer have to email them to receive a refund for a quote that was never viewed. It all happens automatically and the site as a whole is really a breeze to use. Their support has always been fast, no matter what. And as far as traffic (getting in a lot of leads), now they really have that down as well. For one, their Google rank is very high because Thumbtack users are encouraged to place special links to Thumbtack’s website on their own websites, which equals major SEO flow. And step two: there are ads for Thumbtack all over Google (and I am assuming elsewhere too) and because of that you will receive many quotes per day, at least in my experience. The amount of quotes coming in is just overflowing compared to a couple of years ago. So you’d think you would have a lot of luck because of that? Sadly, not really.

My opinion comes from a photographer’s point of view. While many requests are simply for head shots (which I don’t do any longer), and while others are brides and grooms who want six+ hour weddings at multiple locations for under $500 (insert sad face here, because I am definitely looking for wedding clients who want good work) you will meet some truly awesome and special clients from time to time. I think since I am in photography that it’s harder to create a match. I suspect in other fields it may be easier to book jobs more often. I have only had eight jobs from the site since 2011 but they have all been great experiences. You can view my Thumbtack profile by clicking here.

Despite the low number of jobs, I’ve always tried my best to connect with more clients. In the past few months I even became a little lead happy. I dished out a lot of my money for people to view my quotes (mostly for weddings) and they never replied to me. I did about seven in one day once, and nothing happened. They all viewed my message but that was it. They didn’t even say thank you. Out of nearly one hundred transactions in my entire Thumbtack history, only about three have ever sent me a short note if they were completely set on not choosing me. It starts to get you down because you at least want an acknowledgement that they appreciate that you wrote to them. It’s almost as if they are just comparing prices, testing the water, and jumping ship without saying a word. I take so much time out of my day to go through these and send out messages. I am not sure if some of them understand we are paying to be able to talk to them and receive their information. I am not just complaining over the fact no one is sending me love notes with hearts, I am just a little sensitive about effort without results. Dollars in the wind.

Thumbtack has a page about what makes a winning quote. But winning quotes don’t always equal a match. I feel like my messages are upbeat and informative. I customize each message according to what the person wants. I truly think in the end they do not reply to me because my price is not low enough. I will be using Thumbtack a lot less seriously from now on. It is probably better suited for other types of services, but in the end everyone wants a good deal with just about anything I guess. But when business owners are paying for equipment, insurance, licenses, and with their own time, some just don’t get it. Especially with photography because our job continues when we get back to our home or office. But enough of my venting. I am very happy with Thumbtack’s service still and I really have enjoyed collecting some great reviews there. I just have to wait for those diamonds in the rough to come by.

My business page on Facebook is located at http://facebook.com/lovelightlens Stop by to like the page and I will return the favor. Good luck out there as you find leads for your business.

UPDATE: February 28, 2014 – Today I am officially done with buying Thumbtack credits. My review of the entire Thumbtack experience is now completed below.

Over the past month, I decided to give Thumbtack another serious chance. This was decided after talking with so many awesome people through this blog post and using the great methods mentioned. Still, I have spent money again to only have bidders view my quote and never get back to me. I thought I landed a good job a week ago, but the person keeps stalling now to complete the service. Once again, everything has been overly time consuming. Waiting for the diamonds in the rough, as I wrote in my post back in August, is just taking too much time and effort. I want to have time for it, but I have to just admit to myself that I don’t have that time anymore. I’ll now stick with local advertising in my city and start some Google Ads (an avenue I haven’t attempted since 2011). At least then I won’t have to deal with the Thumbtack control panel and the way the entire Thumbtack process allows potential customers to forget about us way too easily. My absolute and final conclusion?

1. When customers fill out a request on Thumbtack, there should be a lot more *required* fields asking for information about what they need. No more vague and half-empty descriptions! Then the ‘Ask a Question’ feature would hardly even be needed. Service pros will see exactly what time something is needed, for how long, where the service is needed, etc. This would allow service pros to feel less like we are being so limited with our questions. We need all info, up front, so our time is not wasted.

1. Thumbtack should require service-seekers to pay for submitting a job request. It should no longer be free. It’s not fair that our side is so serious, while the other side is so indifferent to our efforts. I suggest that if the customer does not find the right service pro that their money be returned to them. That could make the incentive to pay more tempting and get serious customers in our lead alerts. If Thumbtack became so popular by being free to use, isn’t it time to give something back to the service professionals?

Please continue to share your thoughts in the comments below if you have any ideas on how to generate leads for your business. We all need to hear them and work on this together. Your posts, time and effort are very appreciated!

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DotResults Back In Action

My last post here was four months ago and that has been very unacceptable, especially to Google, since my visitor rate has dropped by half. I just haven’t had the time to keep up with being techy since my son was born. All of the time I manage to get on the computer is devoted to my photography business and my work is stretched out for days at a time. I do miss this blog and doing geeky stuff. All I would be able to offer right now is camera advice and photography tips. I’d like to be involved in more than that though, so today I was able to get a new theme on this blog so I can focus on content and just feel renewed. Let’s see how well I do. I cannot make any real prediction of how often I will post, but I am looking forward to delving into what I can!

P.S. I let some domains expire this past year. I had to finally admit that there was not any time for certain wild ideas and got my priorities straight.

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Saving OfficeMax and Office Depot, The Merger Matters

As you drive down familiar streets in your town, the commercial landscape is always changing. Old businesses close while others change owners and receive brand new names. What can be the most shocking is to see very large businesses completely cease operation, those companies which rent massive spaces over 20,000 square feet. The most recent of those was Borders, and then quite a few Albertsons grocery stores in our area. But now, there’s a new fiasco brewing. For over five years now, two major office supply brands, OfficeMax and Office Depot have been struggling to survive. Anytime I have walked into one of these stores, even Staples, it is just so completely boring and there’s never many people. All of these brands have tried to introduce new things, like cute folders to attract women, Martha Stewart product lines to attract organized people, and more products for kids to use at school. But at the end of the day, I don’t think any of those things have truly helped.

Staples has many government contracts behind them. I think they have stood out even because of their name. Staples. It is simple and fun. OfficeMax and Offce Depot both sound like generic, unhappy places. It seems like the merger will make OfficeMax obsolete and only the Office Depot locations will be left. Here comes a huge amount of empty spaces in a city near you. I wonder what will be filled in them eventually. Perhaps more Aldi stores for one, those are always popping up lately. This post has been very random, I wanted to talk about it and now do not have time to go back and organize it. I’ll come back to this merger discussion a bit later and clean things up. It always fascinates me when things like this are announced.

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Use Online Services To Fix Your Credit Fast

While two of the most popular credit bureaus still rely heavily on phone calls and postal letters, you can get great results online with credit reporting services that use Experian. It is refreshing to know that at least one bureau has had an online setup for a long time and is giving results online. You know – dot results! If you sign up for a credit report and alert service that uses Experian to retrieve reports, you can initiate online disputes with Experian very easily. I have used this method to clean up credit reports within only a few months. Once you have your Experian report squeaky clean, you can actually print it and use it as an example once you start contacting the other two bureaus, Equifax and TransUnion, via mail. You can tell them in your letter, “My information on Experian is completely correct and true. I have attached it for your convenience. Please correct the following errors,” and list the errors in order along with the corrected information you would like on your credit report. This has worked perfectly for me and will work for you too.

Equifax and Transunion do have online disputing, but Experian has had it for the longest amount of time. I have not used online disputing at Equifax or Transunion so cannot comment on those results just yet. However, I have received letters back in the mail quite quickly from both once I sent in corrections.

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How To Make More Money With Google Adsense

When I asked myself why this site was doing so poorly with Adsense lately, I did a little research and some cleaning. To make more money with Adsense, keeping your site tidy is essential. Here are my tips for doing a clean-up and seeing results within just a few days.

1. Make sure all of your articles are very similar
Some articles here at DotResults, while techy, were not techy enough. I deleted them. Yes, it was a little saddening to wipe out posts I spent so much time on, but it’s what had to be done. I had forty posts (some were drafts) in the trash! Only about twenty posts were left when I was done. This site is for very specific tips and tools and many of my old posts did not reflect that theme. Your click-through rate (CTR) is effected poorly if you have a lot of pages that do nothing good for you. A good way to figure out what is going right and going wrong is to take a look at your categories. See if you have some categories which do not have many posts in them. You are probably better off scrapping those entirely. Try to have, at the maximum, only ten categories. This can help you keep things in check. Even five categories would be better if you really need to do a “spring” cleaning.

2. Make sure all posts have tags
I haven’t actually done real research on it, but I have personal experience with this. All of my articles with tags have performed better in Google searches, have more comments, and have more clicks from Adsense. This may be because Google loves tags. I say, tag things up and do it in a hurry.

3. Define specific keywords and titles for every post
Do not skimp on putting extra work into your titles, descriptions, keywords and tags. Every post you make must have all of the goodies to go along with it. Having an awesome article is just not enough. To make more money with Adsense, you need traffic, traffic and more traffic.

If I am totally wrong on something, or missing a boat completely.. please let me know! :)

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No Rules In Sparrow Mail Client, Saying Goodbye

It was a beautiful fall day on October 2, 2011 and I was itching to change the way I managed my email. That is the day when I purchased Sparrow v1.3.2 and immediately was so happy with it. Sparrow is an email client that is fast, sleek and just looks pretty. There, I said it. But since that beautiful day I have really missed having mail rules. You see, Sparrow doesn’t have rules. It imagines that we all live in a perfect email world without spam. Well no matter how many rules we put on our mail server, some stuff does get through. And because I heavily rely on my email and do not want to miss something important, our rules are not the crazy and overbearing kind. So at this point I really need rules and I’m going to have to stop using Sparrow. I am not sure what application I’ll be going back to at the moment, but it does sadden me to say goodbye to little Sparrow.

If there is something I am missing and there’s actually a way to have rules, please let me know.

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