Sunday, November 10, 2013

November 2013 Newsletter for SFGF Instructors

Official Publication of Square Foot Gardening Foundation

 Harvest of  News
In this Issue:
  • Welcome to new Certified Instructors
  • Feature: How to Make Money with a Gardening Website
  • Happy Thanksgiving and Hanukkah!
  • Spotlight on Amie Guyette Hall YouTube video
  • Get Inspired! 
  • Quotes of the month
  • Upcoming Events


Darryl Whitham of Amissville, VA

 Charlene Novack of Selma, CA, with Fresno County Master Gardeners

Yohai Malul of Gilon, Israel -- Cheers everyone! Yohai is the first CI in Israel.

How to Make Money with a Gardening Website

Certified Square Foot Gardening Instructors can make money with their certification and expert knowledge in many ways. And it’s not always outside creating gardens! You can make money with a website. Here are some tips to get you started.

Start With a Website
One of the most popular platforms for websites today is Word Press®. You can build your own site or hire someone experienced to do it for you. If you just want a blog, you may choose from many sites, including the site this newsletter is published on – Blogger®. Alternatively, you can buy a .com from sites like Go Daddy® for quite low fees. If you don’t know HTML, that’s okay. There are lots of “easy” programs to guide you in building the website, or just choose a ready-made template. With these, you use a layout that someone else has already created. All you need is to add your own words and photos. A bright idea to save money on a custom site: Hire a college student to build a site for you. You can always make it more impressive and add to your content as you go along.

Add Content
Here is where your expert knowledge becomes invaluable. Share lessons on Square Foot Gardening. Use your site to announce classes that you are hosting. Keep a Calendar of Events. Announce special sales you may be having or special events in the gardening world.

Optimize your Content
This is a science and art in itself and would require a book to go over it. In a nutshell, optimizing or search-engine-optimization (SEO) is when you insert “keywords” or “search terms” into your copy so people on the Internet can find your content. This is known as "organic SEO." If you don’t want to learn how to do this yourself, consider getting someone to do it for you. There are lots of firms that specialize in SEO and, again, college students know a lot and usually will work within your budget.
What does it mean to insert keywords? Say you’re on the Internet and you want information on how to plant cabbage. What would you type in the Google or Bing search box? Most likely, you would type in “how to plant cabbage” or “planting cabbage” or “plant cabbage in fall.” All of those are keyword phrases. You can use free keyword tools (read more about them here) to find out how many times a particular keyword phrase has been searched for the month. Google used to have a free keyword tool, but it has been replaced with "Keyword Planner" which is supposed to help you choose keyword phrases to place paid ads.
It works like this: If a phrase has 500,000 searches monthly, that means it is popular. It also means forget about it. For a new website, you will have real trouble getting those searchers to your site using organic SEO. That's because bigger companies are pouring lots of money into dominating the top spots on Google search for very popular keywords. Try for phrases in the gardening niche that have less traffic, but still enough to make it worthwhile.

Make Money from Ads
Some people don’t like this idea, but it is a viable way to make money. It may be considered as a valuable service as well. If you sign up with Google® or any of dozens of sites, they will place ads on your website and PAY YOU every time someone clicks on those ads, or buys from one of the links. They trace the sale back to your site. You would want to specify the type of ads sponsored on your site would be gardening, or something of which you approve. Look up Google Ad Revenue. Some websites have ad revenue as their sole source of income and it can add up pretty quickly.

Add a Shopping Cart
You can add a shopping cart to your website to allow customers to shop from your online offerings. Check with Go Daddy® and Word Press® or simply put the term “shopping cart for website” into your search engine. Add the word “free” to the front if you are looking for the most affordable options.

Is your Website on Page 10 of Google Search?
Check into ways to build your website's ranking with search engines. Search engine optimization is the best way to move your website up closer to page 1 or 2. In addition to optimizing individual pages of your site, try to add links and back links with other gardening websites. This will build your credibility and raise your standing in the search engines.

Buy Paid Ads
While you’re waiting for your organic SEO to pay off (it does take time), you can buy paid ads on Google for certain keyword phrases. This will be an investment – it’s not too cheap. But you may find it pays off in increased traffic to your website. Learn about Google's paid ad program at Google Adwords. You can also put paid ads on Yahoo® and other search engines. Here is how this works. Say you want to be on page #1 of search results for “How to Plant Cabbage” that we mentioned earlier. You select that keyword phrase and pay to place your ad on page 1. The most popular (high traffic count) phrases cost more - that makes sense, doesn't it? Because they will potentially bring you the most traffic. But you can do very well choosing several smaller-pulling keyword phrases.

Become a Guest Author on Other Blogs and / or Newsletters
Write a guest post for another blog or a newsletter. These are usually freebies, but your payoff is your signature line. You get exposure to their audience, you’ll provide an active link to your own website and hopefully pick up some traffic, and build your credibility as an expert in Square Foot Gardening. If it’s a great article, maybe it will get passed around and your name and link to your website will go viral – one can only hope! Learn how to make YouTube videos, and put your URL on them as well.

Share Your Website
Put your website URL on all correspondence, letterhead, brochures, business cards, and guest posts! Use your website as a calling card. Refer people to it for more information. Post photos of gardens you’ve created. Give testimonials from happy clients. Use it as a teaching tool. There are so many possibilities. But you have to tell people about it before it will do great things!

Research What Others Have Already Done
It’s a good idea to look at a lot of other gardening websites before you develop your own. Spend time looking around to see what is available and let a vision form in your mind of what you want to accomplish. Then make it so! There’s an old proverb that says A Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with a Single Step. It’s a lot easier to create a website or blog today than it was just a few years ago. Find the tools that work for you and good luck! 
  Happy Thanksgivvukah from SFGF!

On November 28th of this year, Thanksgiving and the first day of Hanukkah both fall on the same day. We extend our heartiest wishes for a wonderful holiday to all of you!  
Our hearts are full of thankfulness for all that you do -- We know that certified instructors help make Square Foot Gardening Foundation great!

You all know that Amie Guyette Hall is a Co-Instructor for SFGF's online certification course. Well did you know that Amie has a thriving business as "The Square Foot Gardening Health Coach"? She does! Here are two of her many videos available on YouTube:


This beautiful SFG layout was submitted by Yohai

Malul of Israel
Photos from SFGF Showcase of Gardens

 "When I pass a flowering zucchini plant in a garden, my heart skips a beat." 

 ~Gwyneth Paltrow

"If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need." 
 ~Marcus T. Cicero
Announcements and Upcoming Events

 Mel's latest book, SFG for Kids, will be released during the Christmas Season. Mark your calendars and add it to your shopping list!
  November 28, 2013 - Norma Burnson, author of Sustainable Food for the Globe, One Square Foot at a Time, is offering a free download of her e-book on - ONE DAY ONLY.
 Help Us Stick It To Sarcoma!
SFG Foundation is sponsoring the Sarcoma Relief Group Fundraising Event on Nov 23rd, 2013. Sarcoma is a rare cancer that develops in the body's connective tissues. Join with us in giving hope and help to those affected by sarcoma. Let's put an end to sarcoma world-wide!


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