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businessGetting your business, or at least your name, in a news story isn't as difficult as it used to be.

Long before the Internet gave businesses an easy way to sell themselves directly to customers, a business owner might best find their name in print by building a relationship with a reporter for the business section of the local newspaper. If the reporter was working on a story about the economy, for example, they may call the business owner for their take on it.

It's a lot easier now to promote your business online. You can reach customers from your website, where you provide content that they'll want to come back to again and again.

Or you could be cited as an expert source in a news story to run online or in a newspaper by answering a query on HARO — Help a Reporter Out — a site that connects reporters with sources. Other sites do this too, though I think HARO is the best out there.

However you connect with reporters, being seen as an expert source in your field can go a long way in giving your business free publicity.

A message gap

As a journalist, I've had the help of many sources throughout my career. As a freelance writer since 2008 who specializes in online personal finance content, I've found that most sources prefer a link back to their website in exchange for helping me as a source. I'm happy to provide the links (though that decision is in the hands of my editors), and I'm thankful for their help.

But too often, people who want to help as sources don't do the best job providing the best information in the best way possible. There's a gap between what they want to say and how they say it.

To help potential sources deal with that so that they're quoted in the media and make the most of such opportunities, I've written a short book called "Sources Say," with my best tips for being a great source.

Here are a few ways to be a great source and have reporters call you often: ...continue reading


favorite appsAs a freelance writer and owner of  various websites, I'm busy with a lot of things on my to-do list each week. Some of my favorite apps help me get through the week, though having a to-do list app isn't one of them.

Here are my four favorite apps for running my business:

I get dozens of emails every day, many from public relations firms pitching me story ideas. I also subscribe to too many emails from businesses, many of which I found it difficult to unsubscribe from. takes care of this easily for the two email accounts I have. With one click on's website or app on my phone, I can choose to either unsubscribe from an email, "roll it up" into an email that sends me every day and read in a digest format, or keep getting the email.

For my business email I've so far unsubscribed to 397 emails, rolled up 44 in its "rollup," and kept 46.

The numbers are less impressive in my personal email account: 169 unsubscribed, 68 rolled up and 137 kept. ...continue reading


why begin blogging?A year ago, I bought from the original owner with the goal of using my blogging skills and personal finance knowledge to help readers improve their financial lives.

As a reporter who worked for years covering personal finance for other websites, I was ready to start writing for my own website. Two things motivated me: To make money on my own as an entrepreneur with my writing, and to cover the topics I wanted to cover in a way I wanted to cover and write about them.

What I learned about money

It has been an interesting year for me and Add-Vodka. Financially, the site is doing well, though my goal in 2016 is for the site's income to double. Income is a good thing for websites, because creating quality content takes time, and I like to be paid for my time working on this site.

I won't go into the specific numbers because I want to keep them private, but after paying for the site and the expenses of a tech consultant and a virtual assistant, Add-Vodka turned a profit in November.

My plan was to put all of the income each month either back into the business by hiring writers, and to put the money that was coming in toward paying myself back for the money I took out of our savings account to pay for the initial purchase. The payback was complete in November, and I'm now focusing on increasing income and looking to hire more writers and keep my assistant busy. ...continue reading