June 30, 2011, 6:00 am

Why Earning More Money Trumps Frugality

by: MD    Category: Other Financial Articles

Earning More or Saving More?
Do you subscribe to the philosophy of daily frugality or would you rather just make more money? I often think about the discussion of comparing making more money with frugality. For some reason I haven’t really covered this topic in my writing here. Yet it’s a topic that I often discuss in my real life interactions. I’m positive that this discussion is also something that you guys have though about before. Let’s jump into it.

Why do I prefer to focus on earning more money instead of wanting to always cut back on spending?

There’s a lot that I want to do and experience.

I find that money is a tool for me. Money is a tool that allows me to experience new things. I figure that the more money I make, the more that I can experience in life. Saving money allows me to plan for trips and new experiences. Making more money gives me the opportunity to go on more trips and experience more. I just find that there’s so much you can do when you have more money available to you.

Earning more money is fun.

I’m not sure why, but I get excited every time I close a new advertising deal. I love the idea of using my God given skills to make some extra money. I find it much more fun to use my spare time to earn more money than I do clipping coupons or cutting back on things that I enjoy. What do you think? Is it more fun to make extra money or to save money?

Cutting back can be painful.

I wanted to share a quick story here. A few Saturdays ago a bunch of us were planning on going out to this club in town. I personally like to go for around midnight because that’s when the place picks up. The only setback is that you have to pay a cover of $7 after 11. My friend (a very frugal man) that was coming with us persisted that we show up around 10:30 to get free cover. Long story short, everyone had to rush to make it there on time. This put a few people in a bad mood. All of this hassle to save some money. The worst part was that we didn’t even make the cutoff and still had to pay the cover. I got to hear this friend complain about it all night. For me, making more money allows me to have some financial flexibility that I normally wouldn’t without an additional cash flow.

There are many ways that you can be clever and tactical with your frugality. Sadly, there are also many instances where frugality can be painful. I need my morning coffee. I enjoy going out for dinner with friends. I don’t want to have to cut back on these areas. I would rather find ways to make more money so that I can enjoy myself more often.

There’s a ceiling on saving money.

There’s only so much money that you can save. I really don’t think that you can frugal your way to riches. When it comes to making more money, there really is no limit. You limit yourself. The only thing holding you back is you. Sure you can use the excuse of time and hours in a day. The counterpoint to the time argument is that you can read the 4-Hour Workweek and learn how to scale your business to earn money when you sleep. The other reality is that very few of us actually use our time effectively. We could all find an hour a day or so where we turn off the television and work on some productive projects. When it comes to saving money, there’s just only so much that you can save from if you’re not earning a good chunk of change.

Turn it over to the readers: Do you see yourself attempting to save more money in the future? Do you want to earn more money going forward? What’s your take on this discussion? Which strategy do you prefer for building long term savings?

(photo credit: lisaclarke)

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June 29, 2011, 3:47 am

How To Market an eBook

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: eBook

Yesterday, I told you how to write an eBook following 9 easy steps. The point of this post is to share my experience when I wrote Dividend Investing – How to build a never ending cash distributor. In a single month, I was able to reach more than 5,500 downloads. Even if the eBook was free, it was still quite a challenge to market it the right way in order to generate so many downloads in such little time. Also, this does not include those who just emailed the eBook to their friends. So how do you market your eBook? Here’s what I did :

Create a Buzz Before the Launch

One of my favorite marketing tricks is to create a buzz around the eBook before it was launched. I started my marketing strategy before I even wrote the first line of my book! I asked my newsletter subscribers what they would like to find in a dividend investing eBook. I used my Dividend Guy Blog Newsletter to contact people who know about this strategy and that would be able to help me create the right content for the most readers. By involving my readers, they were more likely to download my eBook once produced.

The second thing I did was to talk about my eBook with as many people as possible.  This included mentioning the creation of my eBook through my other newsletters, on my other blogs, on twitter and on forums. People that know The Financial Blogger automatically knew that I was working on a book. Some of them even offered me to write a guest post to market my eBook on their blogs.

As I was approaching the launch date, I intensified the promotion in order to make sure that everybody knew that I was expecting to launch my eBook at the end of May. In the end, due to designer problems, I had to wait until June 2nd to launch it.

So the « before buzz » was created through :

–          My newsletter

–          Mentions on all my blogs

–          Social Media such as Twitter

–          Mentions on forums

Create a list of possible ways to market your eBook

A week before the launch date, I sat down and established my complete marketing strategy to launch eBook. In this list I included:

–          An email list of all my contacts (bloggers) that could be interested by the eBook

–          An email list of “big guys” which I would contact personally

–          A list of influential people that could help promote my eBook outside of my circle of contacts

–          Articles ready to be sent through my different newsletters

–          A few guest posts

–          Twitter users I wanted to reach

–          Forums I wanted to appear on

–          Creation of a launch page on The Dividend Guy Blog

–          Keywords to use that will rank for my eBook

From this list, there are a few points I want to cover with you that made a huge difference in the launch. Here they are:

Go Viral, Talk to your friends!

When I think of big guys, I mean huge bloggers. When I think of influential individuals, I’m thinking of financial journalist or other bloggers that are not in my niche (investing). Interestingly enough, most people I contacted were more than willing to take a look at my eBook and try to promote it. It could go from a simple retweet to a mention on their blog.

Referrals are very important when trying to market your eBook. You need to reach as many individuals as possible. Between June 2nd and June 24th, more than 6,000 visitors saw my eBook launch page. Since I have about 5,500 downloads, you can guess that my landing page is pretty well built (but we will get back to this later on). Here are the best referrers (and a big THANK YOU to all of them):

Rob Carrick from The Globe & Mail (crazy how a simple tweet to this guy brought me 1,814 visitors!)

Dividend Growth Investor

Million Dollar Journey

Dividend Ninja

Dividend Monk

Passive Income Earner

The Div-Net

Dividends Value

Walletpop

Free Money Finance

My Money Blog

Canadian Dream

Dividend Partisan

Budgets Are Sexy

DivGuy

Money Index

The Dividend Pig

Bank Nerd

Beating the Index

I Love Dividends

Dividend Mantra

My Journey To Millions

The list is actually longer but I have to stop at one point, right? I even had the chance to write on Free From Broke and on Yakezie. I also had the opportunity to exchange a few emails with Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income and Baker. As you can attest, I have sent a huge load of emails ;-).

Connect with your most important public audience: Your Readers!

Building newsletters was one of the best moves we made in 2010. Through your newsletter, you have the chance to build a privileged bond between you and your readers. Once the bond of trust is established, it is a marvelous medium to reach out and advise folks that you have something great for them. On top of that, since the eBook was free, subscribers just jumped on the offer. Within the first hour, I had more than 100 downloads. I actually asked my partner if there was a problem with the plugin reporting the count. But everything was working fine, I was just so lucky to have awesome readers that believe in me!

It also gave me a unique chance to ask them what they thought of the eBook after a few weeks. I was able to gather enough feedback to help me write another book (which will be done later on this year 😉 ).

Get the Best Landing Page And Grab Your New Visitors

Don’t underestimate the time you should invest on the landing page where your eBook is offered. This is your most powerful marketing tool. When you go to my landing page, here’s what you get:

 

The first point is to highlight your eBook.  While I have it at the beginning of the post, you can also see it in the right column (which appears on all my pages). It makes it easy for people who want to download it right away and don’t care about reading your landing page.

But for those who want to read before making the move, you have to tell them why your eBook is so great. This is your chance to market your eBook. You have to make it easy to read and skim. I’ll repeat: easy to read AND skim.

By using big titles with different colors and not too much text in each paragraph, your readers are able to get the main message without taking too much time on your page. I also mentioned who should download this eBook (beginner investors) and what they will find in it (the chapters outline).

Then, I finish my landing page by reiterating that the eBook is free and ready to be downloaded. This is how I plug my 3D cover once again.

How To Get 100 downloads/day without promotions

During the first 3 days of your launch, will be see a huge amount of visitors and downloads. That’s normal as your marketing plan is being executed and the product is hot. After this huge peak, you will see the number of downloads dropping significantly. So for the past 2 weeks, I am no longer doing any promotion. And still, I average of 100 downloads per day. How can it be possible? Through simple keyword optimization!

When I finished my eBook, I did a search through Market Samurai in order to know which kinds of keywords should be used to promote it. It appeared that Dividend Investing was a great keyword with low competition and still a decent amount of visits per day. This is why I named my eBook: Dividend Investing – How To Build a Never Ending Cash Distributor. Each time I mention my eBook, I use the anchor text “dividend investing”. Guess who’s sitting in the first spot of Google for “dividend investing”? you got it right 😀 The Dividend Investing eBook!

So with a great landing page and some Search Engine Optimization with Market Samurai, you can get some great passive downloads over time. I expect the number of downloads to be fairly stable in the upcoming months and therefore generate more and more readers through the promotion of my eBook.

Have used any other strategies? How do you think I can get more exposure?

 last minute edit: I ran a search this morning and I’m no longer on the first position in Google for “dividend investing”… I’ll have to work on that in July ;-).

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June 28, 2011, 5:00 am

How To Write an eBook in 9 Must Have Steps

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: eBook

how to write a ebookAt the beginning of this month, we launched our first eBook: Dividend Investing. We wrote this eBook to help young investors build their dividend portfolios. The main goal was to explain to investors that they can and should start investing as soon as possible in order to build their nest egg. Within the first month, we were able to generate more than 5,500 downloads.

The only thing that comes to my mind right now is how much I would have made if I was selling the eBook at $17… ;-D

How did we market our eBook? That is another question. Today, I’ll share how I wrote Dividend Investing in 2 months at a cost of less than $500.

 

 

How to write an eBook: Where to start?

 

All right, so you have a good idea, you are a blogger or you write easily on a computer. Is that it? Now you can jump into the eBook fray and start your writing adventure? Think twice, it’s not that simple! Writing an eBook is like writing a paperback; you need to know how to start.

 

Step #1: Plan Your eBook Itinerary

Writing an eBook is like going on a trip: you need to know where to start, where you are going and how you will get there. So the first thing you need to do is to setup a schedule. You need to define how many hours you want to work on it per week. If you don’t do it this way, chances are that you will end-up writing your eBook “when you have some spare time”. Well the problem is that we don’t have time, we use it. So make the time and determine when you will work on your eBook.

 

Writing an eBook is a big task, if you want to get through it and be proud of what you have written, you had better be disciplined and do one thing at a time. Personally, I have discovered that I am more effective when I work on the same task for several hours in a row. Therefore, when I start writing my eBook, I used blocks of 3 to 6 hours in a row to work on it. You get a better flow of ideas and you are able to make more sense the first time you write. Since you are in your “writing bubble”, all pages written within the same block of time will be coherent and follow the same train of thought.

 

Step #2: Define Your eBook Mission

You have a great idea for your book, awesome! But how can you write a full eBook about a single idea? Have you taken the time to define the mission of your blog? The mission of any projects? Defining your eBook mission is more than writing a simple idea on a piece of paper. You are about to tell the world what you want to do with your book and who will be interested in it. Here’s my example:

Title: Dividend Investing – How To Build A Never Ending Cash Distributor

Idea: Write an eBook about dividend investing. Teach the basics of investing and why dividend investing is a very good strategy.

Mission: Walk young investors (young being not related to the readers’ age but to their investing experience) through a solid investment process. Explain the investing basics so they can make sound investing decisions. Provide the reader with an understandable and easy investing method in order to build a dividend portfolio. Support them with several investing resources so they can find answers to all their questions.

 

As you can see, I have divided this step into 3 points: the Title, the idea and the mission. Technically, you should start with your idea, work on your mission and then, come up with the title (which is more a marketing exercise than anything else 😉 ).

 

The idea is a very general statement while the mission will include action verbs to define what you will write about and will also identify your readership. You can’t write for everybody, so you better off writing for people that will like what you have written ;-).

Step #3: Write an Outline before your eBook

We are at step #3 and you have not even started the first page of your eBook! If you want the writing experience to be productive and avoid frustration, you will need a specific outline. Don’t make the mistake of thinking oh, it‘s all in my head. Go one step further; write it down on a piece of paper.

 

I ran into a few speed bumps when I started to write my eBook because I had the outline in my head. After a few pages written, I wasn’t sure where I was going. This is when I had to stop writing and go back to create the outline.

 

The outline should be as specific as possible. For my second eBook, the outline took me 4 hours to write. I wrote the title of each section and sub-section of the book to make sure nothing was missing. So you start with your big idea and you break it into pieces. In my case, here is how I started:

Dividend investing:

#1 Investing basics

#2 How to incorporate dividend investing in your portfolio

#3 Step by step method to building a dividend portfolio

#4 Resources put together to support the readers

 

This is a summary of my 4 chapters. The goal of this outline was to determine the logical path I wanted to offer my readers. Since I write for novice investors, I needed to go back to investment basics. Then, the second chapter is about dividend investing. The third one, a step-by-step guide is a revision of the first 2 chapters in actionable steps to build a dividend portfolio. Finally, the fourth chapter offers tons of resources for those who want to dig further into the adventure.

 

Can you start writing your eBook after such a minute outline? The answer is no. You have to create all the sub-sections to make sure you don’t forget anything. For example, I’ll break the investing basics section down with you:

Investing basics:

–          What is a dividend and how it works

–          Why dividend investing should be a strategy you can use

–          Overall process of investing decisions

–          Investing principles linked to this process

–          Risk profile (how to determine your risk tolerance)

–          Asset allocation

As you can see, once my sections and sub-sections are clearly defined; it is much easier to start writing. Even better, you will make sense from page 1 to page 44! Creating all the sub-sections requires time and thought gathering. However, once it is done, writing content becomes easier.

 

Step #4 Gather your eBook information sources

You want to start writing your eBook… not yet! The last step before writing is to gather all your information sources according to the sections and sub-sections of your eBook. For Dividend Investing, I had decided to use some existing content from The Dividend Guy Blog and What is a Dividend. I first copied and pasted all articles that I found relevant into my eBook draft and then, rewrote a good part of it. Why? Because I wanted to have the same feeling for the reader from the first to the last page. However, since some topics had been covered already, it would have been stupid to start from scratch.

 

I also did some research to get as much info as possible for each section. I also copied and pasted the information I used in the sub-sections before rewriting and adding my personal touch on it. I won’t suggest you copy existing information even if it comes from your own content. When I asked my newsletter subscribers what they thought of eBooks in general, several people told me they found that many eBooks were just a pile of old existing articles compiled into one package.

 

Instead of putting existing articles together, I started with ideas that were already developed on my websites or around the web and then rewrote them the way I wanted to get a unique feel for the eBook.

 

Step #5 How to Write an eBook

At last! You are finally ready to start writing some original lines in your eBook! My advice for this step is to complete one sub-section each time you start writing. Your train of thought will flow and it will be easier to cover everything you want to say. Don’t read what you just wrote, keep it for later on.

 

The creativity process is born from non-censorship. If you keep reading your last paragraph, you will waste an awful lot of time and you will forget your best ideas. Write as much as you can, you‘ll have plenty of time to correct it later on ;-).

 

The second advice I want to give you is to be emotional. Most people can write textbooks about this or that. But very few people can make them interesting. Why are some eBooks more interesting than others? Because they are able to reach you on another level while you read. How can you do this with a drab topic like Dividend Investing? By adding lines like:

Have you ever dreamed about having your own magic producing golden eggs?”

Just imagine how big your snowball would be if you start rolling it at the age of 25 before stopping at 65: you would create a freakin’ mountain of snow out of your little snowball”

“But you can also close this PDF and go back to Facebook. You won’t make money but you will surely have lots of friends!”

“I want to make sure that you don’t go climbing Mt Everest with nothing but a pair of Nikes and your iPod!”

 

By adding analogies and by trying to touch my readers feelings (even if it means being borderline cocky), I’m able to keep them with me and interested in reading the whole book.

 

It’s important that people can recognize you by reading your book. If they don’t, you will just be another eBook they downloaded. What will make your eBook special is your personality because nobody is like you. Try to exploit this unique marketing advantage you have!

 

Before going to step #6, I want to come back on the importance of using emotions and feelings in your eBook. Try to focus on benefits for the reader as well. When you can combine emotions and benefits, you have a winner. Because people can relate to what you are talking about. Dividend investing is a boring topic, creating a never ending cash distributor sounds a lot more fun don’t you think?

 

Step #6 Read Your eBook

Once the book is done, yup, only once it is done, read it in one shot. This will give you the general feel and you will be able to identify which parts need to be improved. Don’t spend time on grammar and spelling, this will be step #7. Right now, just concentrate on the general feel of the eBook. Identify if you have a constant flow of ideas or if you get lost at one point.

 

Once you are happy with the result, have a few friends read it. They will give you another perception of your work and it will guide you to a better eBook.

 

Step #7: Correction, Correction, Correction

Man, I’m most happy to write in English since it’s not my mother tongue. Why? Because I didn’t take any chances and I had Chris from FreelancePF correct it (the dude has a Major in English 😉 ). Don’t take any chances and have your eBook edited by someone with a high level of English. You can’t make many mistakes with an eBook, people will give you the credibility with regards to your writing skills more than your knowledge of the topic you are covering.

 

Step #8: Format Your eBook

This is another part of the work that I outsourced. Why? Because I’m a writer, not a designer! One of my virtual assistants formatted the book and Peter from logosforwebsite did the cover page, the 3D book image along with the header and footer found inside the book.

 

To me, it was really important to make a very professional book. I wanted to have all these little details you find in a professional eBook even if I was giving it out for free. Why? Because I want to show what I can do and then, sell my next eBooks ;-).

 

Step #9: Launch your eBook

Nope… I’m stopping this post right here…. Hehehe! In fact, covering the marketing aspect of an eBook will be as long as this post to write. This is why I’ll do it in a few days ;-). Stay tuned as I will share with you all my techniques to promote my first eBook.

 

Note: the entire process took me 2 months to achieve a 13,000 word eBook. With my experience, I expect that it will take me the same amount of time to write my second book which will be more like 20 to 25 thousand words. It helps to have a structure!

 

Do you have questions about how to write an eBook? The comment box is yours!

 

 

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June 27, 2011, 5:00 am

Telling Your Boss You Have A Blog – Good or Bad ?

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Alternative Income,Career

 

 

telling your bossTo tell or not to tell that is the question?  So you have a blog, or better, a small business on the side. Should you tell your boss about it? Most bloggers are anonymous for this reason; they don’t want their boss to make the link between the blog (or side business) and the individual working for him.

Why is that? Is it because we are afraid that our employer would spy on us because they think that we would work on our alternative source of income instead of concentrating on our day job?

 

Is it because we are afraid to be asked to stop our extracurricular activities?

 

Is it because we are afraid of being disciplined due to “inappropriate” statements found on our blogs?

 

All these reasons and many others are related to one simple thing: FEAR.

 

In all honesty, my boss knows about my online empire. She knows about the fact that I am making money online, that I blog about personal finance and that I am a shareholder of a small corporation. I’m sure you can find plenty of reasons to not declare that you have are making money on the side through your blog or any other kind of small venture. But you might have not considered the benefits you can get from telling your employer that you run a business. This is why I am going to give you a few benefits of telling your boss you have a small business.

 

Please note that in my case, due to legislation around my day job, I have to declare any participation in a corporation and all additional sources of income. In fact, even volunteer activities have to be reported in my field!

 

Being Job Independent

This is probably my biggest advantage: my boss knows that I could easily live from something else than my day job. She doesn’t know about all the details obviously, but she knows that my company is generating sufficient income to support my lifestyle. This makes a huge difference in the relationship you have with your employer. They know that you like your job (if not, you have the ability to quit) and they also know that they should take care of you (up to a certain point).  Being job independent doesn’t mean that you can be arrogant, far from it! However, it helps you to negotiate with your boss in order to get what you deserve. Corporate structure dictates that, sometimes your manager will have to “put you on the shelf” instead of giving you what you expect (promotion, salary raise, etc) right away. They do it because they don’t always have the choice (they still have to generate profits and manage their whole department) but they will pick someone else if they know that you are a little bit more independent financially…

 

Create a Wow

Having my own company helped me earn credibility from my boss, my peers and my clients. While most of them don’t know the details of what I do (I make sure to draw a clear line between my business and my day job), they are intrigued and impressed by the fact that I can manage everything at the same time. When people around you are impressed, it helps you shine (and obviously increases your chances of getting a promotion!).

 

The key point is not to brag about it and stay VERY HUMBLE. I don’t talk much about my company and I keep some mystery around it. Most people just know that I run websites and make money out from it. I tell everyone that I don’t get clients from my online business and that I don’t mix my financial planner job with my blogs even when I talk about personal finance. I actually do more than tell them… I don’t mix both in the real world either!

 

Get more Exposure

I am now known for being a great financial planner as well as an entrepreneur. The last time I had an interview (it was for the Canadian Business Magazine), I had the photographer to come to my branch and my boss was quite happy of having her branch shine at the same time!

 

Be honest

The last thing I want: is to create a bad surprise for my employer. I don’t want them to find my sites or my incorporation by chance. If it happened, I would be in serious trouble. Why did you hide it from us? What are you doing exactly? This is where you get tons of questions as if you were a criminal while you actually do everything by the rules. Being honest has always served me (even though I hate paying taxes 😉 ), so I applied the same guidelines with my employer.

 

Final thoughts on telling your boss

Since I first started The Financial Blogger, I didn’t know that I was going to make some serious money with the internet but I knew that someone I know could identify me. This is why I have decided to write only things that I feel comfortable with (or that I can defend if you turn it the other way around). Since I’m okay with what is being published, it means that I am also okay with people reading my stuff… including my employer!

 

I think that it is very important that you don’t bad mouth people you know on your blog because you do have a “louder” voice than most people through this medium. Therefore, you have to be careful with what you do with it. After all, with great powers, come great responsibilities!

 

What is your take on this? Are you comfortable telling your boss you make money online?

 

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June 24, 2011, 7:31 am

Financial Ramblings

by: MD    Category: Financial Rambling

After launching our first eBook, I’m already on my computer again to write my second book! This will be a series of 4 books to reach financial independence as fast as possible. I wrote roughly a third of the first book already. If all goes well, we should be able to launch it in August.

 

To all Quebecois; Bonne St-Jean!

 

Time for the links that come along with the ramblings:

1. Debt Management Solutions: Leverage to Gain an Advantage @ DNW.

2. Dividend Aristocrats, Who They Are And Why They Matter @ IS.

3. Should You Buy or Rent a Home in Your 20s? @ PIN.

4. Resolving My Insurance Company Home Premium Scam @ Financial Samurai.

5. The Three Legal Documents Of An Estate Plan @ Canadian Finance Blog.

6. Improve Your Trading By Using Moving Averages @ TDGB.

7. Better investment fee and performance disclosure might help @ Money Smarts Blog.

8. Social Security While Working: The Earnings Test @ Oblivious Investor.

9. Investing VS Speculating: The Difference Between Building Wealth and Gambling @ Free From Broke.

10. How to Pay Estimated Quarterly Taxes @ Gen X Finance.

11. How To Add Gold To Your Portfolio @ Boomer and Echo.

12. Dave Ramsey Comments On My Post About His New House, His Debt Philosophy And Giving @ BMM.

13. Building Our Baby Fund @ Couple Money.

14. Unconventional Income From Uncommon Stocks – MLPs @ Money Cone

15. Why Are Financial Tools So Important? @ Studenomics.

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