September 23, 2013, 5:00 am

Home Daycare – No Pain, No Gain

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Project $1500

 

home daycare

Exactly 20 days ago, my wife started a daycare at home. For most mothers who would like to stay at home a little longer with their kids, opening a home daycare seems logical. While you can stick around with your toddler, you are also bringing a few bucks home. No more rushing to the daycare; YOU are the daycare!

 

Well…it’s not that easy. While there are several steps you must follow before you open your daycare, there are several things to consider when you truly start as well. We took it on together as we realized we needed a little bit more of income if we wanted to reach financial freedom before the “normal age of retirement”. My wife also felt that our toddler started to run in around the house and get bored when she had to do household chores.

 

After 20 days living this new life, I’m ready to tell you what life looks like we have a daycare at home.

 

How It Works

 

You know by now that I’m fairly organized in all aspects of my life. This is why we looked at the “process” of having a daycare at home and see how we can maximize our time and not burn out. Opening this side business meant more work for my wife and more work for me too. Since she was at home, I used to not be so implicated in the household chores. It was somewhat part of “her job” to keep the house clean.

 

This is why I find myself participating more than I was before… and this is also why we ended-up hiring a cleaning lady! Hahaha! NO, seriously, cleaning the house over the weekend meant that we couldn’t spend quality family time and this was non-negotiable for us. It’s important that our children can do their activities and that we keep up with a social life.

 

The daycare is opened starting at 7am. This means I take care of my kids from 7 am to 7:30 (the time the two oldest go to school and the toddler goes “into the daycare”). Prior to 7 am, this time is mine. It’s why I wake up at 5 am, eat breakfast alone, do my workout, wake up the kids, take my shower and then it’s 7 am and time to make breakfast for the family.

 

The daycare is opened until 5 pm but my wife is lucky and most of her kids leave before that. My two oldest stay at school until 4:15 pm and then walk home. Homework is done when I come home around 5 pm.

 

My wife didn’t want to offer just a place where kids can play safely and eat during the day. She is providing a very high quality daycare including weekly themes, homemade, healthy food with several different play areas inside and outside the house. This requires more hours for planning and designing activities where kids will not only have fun but will learn and grow.

 

Funny enough, simple things get complicated: how do you prepare lunch when you need to head the kitchen while you have 5 kids in the daycare? Or where will they will sleep for their afternoon nap? How to you go outside thinking they have to use the stairs when you have 3 kids around 18 months of age? These are all questions you have to find answers for before you open your daycare at home.

 

The Revenues

 

Gross revenues are quite easy to calculate: $25 per kid per day, 5 days per week. She has 5 kids (plus our toddler) so it adds up to $125 per day or $625 per week. My wife takes 5 weeks vacations that are not charged to the parents so the total annual income is roughly $29,375. It doesnt look so bad when you think that she stays home, huh? Well… again… it’s a little bit more complicated than this. There is more on this later, but let’s go to the expenses first to see the net income.

 

The Expenses

 

I was happily surprised to discover that the daycare expenses weren’t as high as expected. We had to disburse a lump sum payment to open it (furniture, painting, materials, etc). After that, it becomes more affordable. So far, we show an increase of our grocery bill of roughly $50 to $75 per week. It’s hard to determine what is used by us or the daycare but this is probably within the ball range. Then, we decided to have a cleaning lady once a week to spare us the burnout. She charges $75/week.

 

Besides that, there will not be many additional expenses considering we have three kids and already have tons of toys ;-). So far, I can see a monthly expense of $600 at most. This is why I forecast to net $1,900 with the daycare.

The Hours Worked

 

When you think about it, the daycare is opened from 7am to 5pm. This makes 10 hours where my wife must remain accessible to kids. While there are breaks (the kids nap is roughly 1h30), there are no real and official break during the 10 hours. If one child doesn’t want to sleep one day (trust me, it happens often), the 1h30 pause just disappears! So working 50 hours per week to earn $625 makes an hourly wage of $12.50. But it’s more than 50 hours because you have to count time for planning, cooking, cleaning that is not within the 50 hours. So it’s more like 60 hours of work or $10.42/hours… and I didn’t count expenses and taxes. Gulp!  If I take the net income ($1,900), it comes down to $7.92 per hour minus taxes.

 

Taxes won’t be much so we can almost consider the $1,900 to be net income. Still, its not the Klondike when you look at all the hours worked.

 

What Truly Sucks…

 

As you can see, life with a home daycare is far from being perfect. What truly sucks with this job is the incredibly repetitive routine you have to follow:

#1 Wake up at the same hour

#2 Prepare everything before the children arrive

#3 Welcome the kids – free play

#4 Activity #1

#5 Eat some fruit

#6 Go outside

#7 Activity #2

#8 Prepare lunch – free play

#9 Eat lunch

#10 Nap time

#11 Activity #3 – free play

#12 Kids leave

#13 You Clean up / prepare supper

#14 Our kids’ homework

#15 Eat

#16 Wash the dishes, prepare things for the next morning

#17 free time… HAHAHA!

 

I’m well aware that this routine looks like a lot like any other job (just change the word Activity by client or another task and the word “outside and nap time” by taking a coffee 😉 ). The thing is that you can’t really skip it as we were able to before. We can’t skip the dishes as the children will be around the next morning so it can’t be done later. Same thing with everything else. This is also why my wife takes 5 weeks off!

 

Why It’s Still An Awesome Choice

 

Having a daycare at home is definitely a lot of work, but it brings a whole package of great things too:

 

#1 No transportation costs to get to work

#2 We eat healthier than ever

#3 5 weeks vacation

#4 Easy to find clients (it took my wife less than a week!)

#5 Stable income over time

 

And the most important: My toddler can stay at home with his mommy AND play with friends all day. Honestly, he just loves it! When we compare the other alternatives (finding a job elsewhere), we wouldn’t enjoy any of these advantages. When you consider the daycare cost, transportation and obviously more clothes, working outside the house wasn’t a good idea for her.

 

We will not buy a new BMW with this money but we will surely pay our debts pretty fast. Considering this additional income, I don’t need my year-end bonus to close my budget in the black. We will now be able to use the extra monthly cash flow to pay our debts along with my year-end bonus. So if I’m lucky, I will take less than three years to pay all my consumer debts other than my mortgage. If I only have my mortgage by the age of 35 to pay off, life will be great!

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September 16, 2013, 5:00 am

Financial Planner – Car Salesman or Personal Finance Superhero?

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Career

 

 

Ever since I wrote about my day job and told you the difference between a CFP vs a CFA, I receive emails on a continuous basis from readers about becoming a financial planner. Today, I’ll try to answer most of these questions with some kind of “reference” for all students who love personal finance as well for all those thinking of a career change… that will pay the bills big time!

 how to become a financial planner

How to Become a Financial Planner

 

A while ago (back in 2008!), I wrote a quick piece about how to become a financial planner. The article was short and sweet and today I think there is more to add now that I’ve been one for the past 6 years.

 

School & Other Prerequisites

 

I’m pretty sure school requirements differ from one country to another but generally, you need a bachelor’s degree. If you have one in finance or at least a certificate in financial planning, that would be ideal! If not, I think the certificate in financial planning is enough to pass the CFP exam in most places.

 

A financial planner usually deals with wealthy clients; therefore, it’s kind of stupid to think you will be able to impress your clients with a simple certificate in financial planning. This is why I strongly suggest getting a bachelor’s degree. I personally decided to complete an MBA to add more letters to my business card but that’s a choice ;-). If you are going for a master’s degree and you are not afraid of working, a master in taxation could be even better (most people hate paying taxes and they would love someone who can manage to save a few bucks through tax optimization).

 

Once you have your certificate in financial planning, you are not done yet. You need a professional title called the CFP (Certified Financial Planner). You can read more about the certification process at the CFP Board (US), Canadian Securities Institute (Canadian, duh!) and IQPF (Quebec). This certification make sure you know the basics in all the financial planning fields:

 

1. Estate Planning

2. Personal Finance

3. Insurance

4. Investment

5. Legal Aspects

6. Retirement Planning

7. Taxation

 

You don’t need to be a pro in all fields. Your role as a financial planner is like a family doctor; you look at your clients’ financial situation and deliver a diagnostic on all 7 fields. Then, if there is a need for a professional to step in (like a lawyer, accountant, insurance rep, etc), you can refer your client to the specialist.

 

It is good that you have your own specialization. If you are very strong in one or two aspects of financial planning, this will give you an edge against your competitors and will also help you with sales. On my side, I’ve decided to focus on investments, credit (personal finance) as well as retirement planning. I also have good knowledge of taxation and insurance. But my USP (Unique Selling Proposition) is based on Honesty, Efficiency and Proactivity.

 

Now that you have a certificate in financial planning and your CFP title, there is another big decision to make: Investments or Insurance?

 

Ideally, you will need an investment license or life insurance license. If you want to be self-employed, you can even get both! But to start, I suggest you get one or the other and start with one specialization. This is a lot of stuff to learn and doing everything at the same time is not always a good option. If you plan to start your career in a bank, you will need the investment license and won’t be able to use a life insurance license (this is the case in Canada, I’m not sure about the US).

 

So if you want to become a financial planner you will need:

In addition to the following, I suggest:

#1 a Bachelor’s degree

#2 a Specialization in at least 2 fields

#3 a Master’s degree

how to become a financial planner

What’s Your Job as a Financial Planner – Selling or Advising?

 

If you have read everything above and are still with me, that’s a good sign. Advising people about their personal finance should not be taken lightly and this is why it is important to study hard and acquire as much financial knowledge as possible. Now…. Is a Financial Planner a used car salesman or a professional advisor?

 

Like it or not, sales is a part of the job when you are a financial planner. But you are not selling what you think. The point is not to sell a financial product. The point is to sell your vision, your knowledge, your trustworthiness. If you can sell yourself as a professional advisor, your clients will want to do business with you.

It has nothing to do with products, nothing to do with your best rate. It’s all about trust.

If you are capable of selling yourself, the sales part will be done. So if you hate selling stuff, don’t worry, good financial planners are not salesmen.

cfp salary

CFP Salary – How Much You Make?

 

That’s a tricky question in this field since you can be self-employed or work for a firm. And you can be 100% commissions, 50/50 (or any other kind of mix between commission and base salary), base salary only or fee based (independent financial planner specialized in writing financial plans where you pay for the plan only).

 

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistic, a CFP makes anywhere between $100,000 and $168,000, bonuses and commissions included (I got the stats here).

 

For Canada, I’ve found 2 sites showing salaries from CFP working in several independent firms and banks. Average CFP salary seems to be around $70,000. Check out Glassdoor and Payscale for more info.

 

From my own experience, a CFP can start with a base salary of roughly $50,000 to $60,000 depending on his background (and level of commissions). If you have a high commission payout, your base salary will be lower (duh!). At the end of our first year, you should bring in around $60,000 to $80,000 if you are good at your job. Here’s how much I made from this job per year:

 

2008: $64,000 (worked 9 months as financial planner)

2009: $96,000

2010: $103,000

2011: $136,000

2012: $99,000

2013 (estimated): $100,000

 

*if you have followed my blog for a while, you probably remember the article about the chronology of my income. The amounts differ since the previous article included my employee benefits along with my online income.

 

As you can see, I had built my portfolio from 2008 to 2011 then I moved to another job closer to where I live. I had to start a new book of clients and this is why my income in 2012 and 2013 has decreased to roughly $100K. Still, it’s a pretty good income as you can see and it is fairly stable over time. I expect to see the numbers growing in the upcoming years. Since I work with a base income structure, I don’t expect to make more than $150K per year.

 

If you go the self-employed route, you can go anywhere from $20,000 to $1,000,000 per year and even more. This is not BS or a sales pitch, I’ve seen notices of assessment (Gov’t verified revenue) showing over $1M from a top adviser. But the guy was bringing in between $25M and $50M per year in his book.

Car Salesman? Superhero?

 

As I’ve mentioned before, this is up to you to become a car salesman or not. Some people like more money than their clients and this is obviously an easy job to make tons of money if you keep on selling. I’ve met true salesmen during my career and they are making a lot of money. While compliance has become very important in this field, it doesn’t mean that some people prefer to push highly paid financial products down their clients’ throats while following the rules.

 

The good news is that you don’t need to be like that to make a good living. If you advise your clients and truly work for them, the money will come. The only difference is that you may not be a shooting star the first year, but income will gradually increase year after year. The best part is that the job becomes a lot easier once your portfolio is established and your clients trust you. Even better, at one point, they will refer their friends and family to you and the cold call sessions will become history!

 

Therefore, I suggest you become a personal finance superhero for your clients instead of another car salesman. It will pay over time!

One of the Toughest Jobs?

 

If you want to have an idea of my day at work, I’ve already covered what a financial planner does, but it goes beyond that. I’m not ready to tell you that it’s one of the toughest jobs on earth (far from it) but it’s not as easy and glamorous as you think.

 

#1 There are tons of paperwork

 

#2 You will be told “no” by prospects almost everyday

 

#3 You will have fight to get new clients, and fight again to keep them away from competition

 

#4 You will have to comfort your clients during market volatility

 

#5 You will have to face angry people when it doesn’t go well and there is nothing you can do about it

 

#6 You will face the pressure of “selling” while you need to advise clients

 

Going to the latest point, the pressure of selling will come regardless if you are self-employed or if you work for a firm. For self-employed financial planners, the pressure comes from their commission statement. As self-employed, you will probably be 100% commission base. Therefore, no sales means no pay check. If you are not sitting on a comfy emergency fund, you might find this situation uncomfortable.

 

If you work for a firm, you will get monthly (I’ve even seen weekly) performance reports of everybody on your team. You don’t want to fall into the last spots. Your boss may ask you how many calls, meetings, plans you have done in your week. What is coming next and how your “pipeline” (list of potential deals to be closed shortly) looks.

 

Overall, the financial industry is not made for the faint of heart. If you bring the numbers in, you are a superstar. If you don’t, well, maybe it’s time for you to look for another job.

 

Some places are more edgy than others, I can only advise you to meet with a few branch manager so you can gauge which one prefers to serve their clients well vs the one who prefers to see the money first. You can usually tell which one is which after your 1hr interview.

 

CFP fast track

CFP Fast track: Independent, Affiliate or Bank Employee?

 

As a final note on this exhaustive article, I thought of sharing a few CFP fast track tips. I believe I’ve accomplished some serious achievements during my career as a CFP and I should share them with you.

 

#1 Start in a Bank – It’s a Great School

 

If you are not ready to make the big jump towards a 100% commission job, I suggest you start out working for a bank. You will get a great base income, employee benefits and additional commissions if you are a good financial planner. I’ve learned a lot by working for a bank. The best part is that you have the time to learn even if you don’t bring in the money the first month, you still receive a pay check!

 

#2 Work for a Reputable Firm

 

Regardless if you are going self-employed or for a bank, it is important to choose a reputable firm. Clients are more likely to trust you if you work for a known institution then if you work for John Doe investing Inc. It makes your first approach easier (remember my Primerica reviews)….

 

#3 Find your USP (Unique Selling Proposition)

 

I’ll be honest; there are tons of competitors out there. What makes you a better CFP than the guy with the same suit and the same tie next door? Your USP will make the difference. Find out what you are truly good at, prepare your speech and be interesting. This is why it is so important to be strong in a few fields of financial planning where your clients will see you as an expert. You have to become #1 on their list for anything related to money.

 

#4 Ask for references once you have done a good job

 

Asking for references from your clients is never easy. But when you do something awesome and truly help your clients, it’s easy to only suggest: “Do you like what I’ve done for you? Don’t you think you can let your friends benefit from it too?. People tend to hang around with the other individuals in the same social demographic situation. Therefore, if you hit someone with $500,000 to invest, chances are that this guy has a few friends in a similar situation. Don’t ask for referrals, ask your client how you can help his friends as you helped him.

 

#5 Do the extra mile… all the time

 

I remember when I started my career; my assistant was complaining that I was doing too much for my clients. That it was up to them to do this or that and not me or… her! But this is exactly the point: going the extra mile will make you a superhero for your client. People refer their contacts to someone who provided a wow experience, not to someone who did an okay or a good experience. If you can flabbergast your client, you will have more money coming in!

 

Don’t think you do too much for your clients, you can always do more!

 

That’s it! Do you have any questions?

 

All right! I’m pretty much done with all I have to share with you about becoming a financial planner. I can tell you that it’s the perfect job for me and that I truly like it. If you have any questions, it’s the time to share them with your comments 😉

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September 9, 2013, 5:00 am

The Book I Read While Camping, My Debt Level Once Back Home

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Pay off your Debts

 

 

During my vacation, I went camping for a few days with my family. For the first time since I have owned a Blackberry, I made a deal with myself: not to touch this devilish tool for 72 hours. If you have a smartphone, you know that 72 hours without your phone is longer than the entire ice age period.

 

Good news; I did it! It seems that canoeing, lighting a fire and eating marshmallows is so fun that I didn’t need my phone to see what was going on at work, at my online company and with my investments! During the afternoon, I pulled out a book that was recently sent to me for a review (one advantage of being a blogger… hehehe!). It’s called Give Yourself a Raise, written by Gordon Bennett Bleil. The title was cool enough to catch my attention, the rest of the cover page convinced me to open the book:

 

How to have

#1 More money

#2 Less Stress

#3 Financial Freedom

 

So Let’s Do It! What’s Inside?

 

I’ll tell you upfront – I was divided, some disappointment somewhat happy about the book. Disappointed because I thought that I would learn more about how to reach financial freedom by raising my income. This is why the title inspired me. I guess I should have read the back cover as well and discover that it’s more an entry level book about starting to manage your personal finance correctly. You know, the usual “control your spending”, “start saving”, “pay yourself first”, etc. These kinds of books are pretty helpful for people without any financial education but they can become boring pretty fast.

 

Wow… that’s some serious critique for a free book I received to review, huh? But at least, I was also half happy about the book too!

 

I was away camping and only brought one book. I didn’t expect to read much during these three days as my three children were around as well! So I kept on reading even though the topic wasn’t as exciting as I hoped. It turned out that Gordon is nailed down personal finance problems with practical answers. I have read so many books about personal finance that are quite entertaining and motivating but never put the tools in your hand. I don’t care about how to turn a screwdriver clockwise to screw something in properly – I want to receive the darn screwdriver with a box of screws! This is what this book does.

 

It has a financial quiz to determine how much you suck with your personal finance (I do suck at times! Especially when it comes to paying off my debts… but you know this already!).

 

It shows you how to build a bucket system from A to Z with online banking.

 

It provides you with a useful chart and checklist to track your goals and achievements.

 

The rest of the book will explain you the basics of credit, retirement planning, investing, insurance and so on. Basically, anything that has already been very well explained in the Wealthy Barber. Overall, I think it is a very good book for anyone who’s looking for an introduction book to control his/her personal finance. The practical tools will not leave you empty handed and provides motivation. You will have a chance to use what you have learned and apply it.

 

If you are looking to start taking control of your finances, buying this book it a great move!

 

 

Back From Camping

 

Can camping be so expensive that it increased my debt? Nope! That’s not it! While I was on vacation, I didn’t look at my computer and completely forgot about banking. This was a very good move as I disconnected totally from my day-to-day life. But when I came back home, I put my nose back into my finances and looked at my credit card statement… ouch!

 

During the month of August, we have incurred several expenses totaling several thousands. Just to name a few:

Furniture, toys and other goods related to the daycare opening

Children’s clothing for fall (not just the “back to school” frenzy, both kids grew so much, all jeans and shirts were too small!)

Children’s activities for fall and winter (gotta pay for everything upfront!)

A few expenses related to my 2 week vacation (hotel room, dining out, wine, gasoline and camping)

Furniture and paint for my kids’ bedroom (moving #3 and #1 into the same room)

Municipal and School taxes (why do they have to fall within 2 weeks of each other!)

 

This is why I have more debt now than I had before my vacation!

 

 

Here Are A Few Things I Will Do This Fall to Cut My Expenses

 

I don’t know if it’s related to “Give Yourself a Raise”, but I’ve decided to make a few more changes in my life to make sure that my year-end bonus combined with the new revenues from the daycare will pay off my consumer debts.

 

As the book says; you have to identify your leaking buckets. You need to know where you spend money that you could cut back on. And this is what I’m doing right now…

 

Eat less. I love eating and know that I exaggerate with at least 3-4 meals per week. I’m pretty sure I spend at least $100 per month on non-essential food items and I’ll start reducing my portions and eating habits accordingly. In fact, I’ve already started since September 3rd! I guess it will also help me dip below the 180 lbs psychological bar!

 

 

Drink less. Arf! By writing this; the smile on my face disappears. I love drinking wine but it’s darn expensive. From now on; no wine except on Fridays and Saturdays and never more than 1 bottle for my wife and I per day. It’s not rare that we open 3 to 4 bottles per weekend, since we pay on average $17 each bottle, this means I can save between $68 and $136 in wine per month. I guess $100 is a good target.

Skip Winter Soccer. This sucks too as I really like playing soccer. However, the winter season cost $260 and I really can’t dig my hole much deeper with such expenses. I’ll do my workout 5 days per week with my home gym that is 100% free and wait until my personal finances are better and maybe register next summer.

 

Put my RX-8 For Sale. I’m telling you, if it doesn’t hurt, it won’t do any good! Over next weekend, I’ll do a big clean up and make my car shine. I’ll put it up for sale on the internet and see how it goes. I know it’s a sport car so I might have to keep it until spring, but I will give it a try now. Since my wife stays at home during the day (with the daycare), it’s impossible for her to use the SUV anyway. I’m pretty sure we can manage with 1 car. The fact that I can save money on gasoline, insurance, car maintenance and can get a few thousand back from the sale was enough to convince me that I didn’t need a cool looking sport car to be happy in life ;-).

 

Life will surely be a little bit more boring with less food, wine, sports and a nice car but I’m sure it won’t be that bad. I hate making sacrifices and reducing my lifestyle but I think it has become necessary if I want to change my situation and not look after my next year-end bonus to close my budget. After all, I’m pretty sure I’ll be darn happy to  have made these choices in a year from now where I will see my debts melting!

 

I’m curious, what’s the biggest sacrifice you have made to pay off your debts?

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September 4, 2013, 5:00 am

Start a Blog & Make Money- As The Money Dried Out of Blogging?

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Make Money Online

 

 

I love to tell people that when this blog started back in 2006, I told other financial bloggers about wanting to make money with my site. I didn’t know how I would achieve my goal yet, but I was reading about people like John Chow and Pro Blogger making 6 figures with their sites and thought I should join the party. Most bloggers told me that was dumb and that the day I would be making $200 per month, I would be a star PF blogger… well! Ah!

 

I didn’t let these “encouragements” get to me and grew a thick skin. I concentrated on writing cool stuff that inspired me, thinking I would eventually reach out to people. It worked out pretty well and I now run several financial blogs. But it wasn’t that easy at the beginning…

 

 

Back in March 2008, I had been blogging for about 18 months when I decided to buy half of my partner’s existing websites to create a corporation. We called it M35 because we want to become millionaires by the age of 35 (the clock is still ticking… only three years left!). In order to buy his sites, I had to put several thousand into the kitty. It was my leap of faith to be part of a much bigger adventure.

 

I had to prove myself as a writer and a marketer for 18 months before my friend offered me this partnership. He was working part time on his site and part time on our new ones. During this period, I proved to him (and myself) that I could work long hours without seeing immediate results. That I could simply hold the fort as long as was necessary to earn a penny at the end of the day. I still remember I used to fill an Excel spreadsheet with my hours each Friday night. I was counting everything!

 

Once we created the incorporation, we took what used to be a hobby to another level. We wanted to make money – I wanted to make some money back from my investment! We started to get a few emails from advertisers to place links on our homepage. We were making slightly over $1,000 per month and I felt like a king!

 

In 2009, we made our first important deal when I remortgaged my house to buy a website. Who would pay the price of a brand new car to buy a domain and a few posts? I was crazy enough to do it. A year later, our gross online income went from $18,403 to $124,514. We sold some websites, made some great money and I reimbursed my loan.

 

This is when we understood that we were darn good online at buying and optimizing existing websites. All our investments generated at least 30% return on a yearly basis. For three years in a row, my partner and I grossed over $100K/year (so 50K gross each) without working more than 10 hours per week. The derived income from our company was the equivalent of roughly $30K each per year. Those were the good years…

 

how much money blogging

 

The Personal Finance Blogosphere has changed a lot since 2006. Back then, we were roughly 100 known blogs sharing a huge pie. Google liked blogs a lot back then and offered a special place in search engines for any good content. I remember at one point that I could rank on the first page of Google within 2 days after writing an article about this topic. Believe it or not but I used to rank on the first page for keyword like “Primerica” due to my Primerica Reviews and its 1,000+ comments.

 

Making money online today is definitely harder than it was back then. The competition in the financial niche has increased to the point where there are now over 1,000 active PF blogs. I doubt there are 10 times more readers to read them! On top of that, gaming Google has become more popular and blogs don’t have special place in search engines anymore. Therefore, if I had to start a PF blog today, it would be a lot more work to reach the level that I am at right now. Most people I know hit a plateau around 10,000 visitors per month and stay there forever.

 

Is it still a good idea to start a blog today? How much can you earn with it?

 

These are pretty good questions. Starting a PF blog today means a lot of work. It’s not like you can simply write about your quest to pay off your debts and review the latest balance transfer credit card hoping people will sign-up for it. The commission on a credit card is still pretty good (between $50 and $70 depending on the card) but the web is so crowded with credit card reviews, that I doubt you can actually base a business model on it.

 

There are tons of affiliate offers out there but making money selling stuff online isn’t the Klondike. It’s not that easy. Just think about how many times you have bought a financial product (savings account, credit card, consolidation loan, investment account, book, etc) online from a blogger… yeah…. the answer is probably close to ZERO. You need to create a feeling of trust and build a psychological funnel that will direct your readers towards buying the product or service you use and recommend. Still, it’s a long process and involves a lot of trial and errors.

 

The most popular way to make money online has always been going through Adsense. In the finance niche, this is a great bet as you can make over $0.50/click pretty easily. Some topics such as insurance are paying easily over $1 per click. Therefore, you don’t need 10,000 clicks in your month to make a thousand bucks. Still, Google is using is double hedged sword here again. If you optimize your Adsense earnings to the point where Adsense is more important than your content in the eyes of Google, you will lose your ranking in search engines and will make less money. Therefore, you can’t be too good at Adsense, you have to use it with parsimony. If you do so, making a few hundred per month is feasible but you won’t buy a BMer with that income either! I wrote a full post about Adsense Optimization for PF Bloggers.

 

The most popular source of income for PF bloggers had long been private advertising. Selling links on your blog to company trying to game Google. Sounds risky but darn lucrative! At one point, I was making between $6,000 and $8,000 per month simply by selling links. Companies were willing to pay up to $75/month for a link on my homepage! This window of opportunity is now closed as Google hit the financial industry early in 2012. At this point, most of the easy money has dried out from the private advertising field. Buying links and gaming Google is still very popular, but methods have changed and big clients are staying away from this. If you sell private links on your site you will be able to make a few hundred per month, but it will never bring you to a 6 figure income.

 

Down to real expectations; if you start a PF blog today and you work really hard on it, my guess is that you will be making about $1,000 per month after 12 months. But those 12 months will be at 15 to 20 hours per week of work and you won’t be earning much for a while. Once you reach $1,000 per month, you can drop to 10 hours per week to maintain your blog. At that point, you will be making roughly $20 per hour from your blog. This is a good income but it is definitely nothing to write home about.

 

I always knew that if I want to make money in life, I need a sideline. My day job is great but it’s not exponential. I work well; I get a nice paycheck with benefits and a bonus at the end of the year. The following year, I have to start all over again. There is nothing more to gain but my year-end bonus that is not scalable.

 

If you can grow your business, it is possible to scale your results. At this point, you work less and make even more money. Plus, what you have built has a value. If I had to sell my websites today, I would certainly not get what I think they’re worth, but I would definitely be able to sell them separately at a very good price. I can’t sell my job or my brain the same way I can sell my websites.

 

I also started an online company to make sure I was independent from my day job. I know I can lose my job but I also know that I’m sitting on an income generator ready to be fired-up if I need additional cash flow. This is a lot better than an emergency fund!

 

The business has grown tougher as both money and traffic is harder to obtain your way. Nonetheless, I’m ready for another round of hard work to make even more money. I’ve created this company to become a millionaire at the age of 35 and I have 3 years before I turn 36.

 

I have written about some of my failures over time on this blog (you can read how I failed with my first eBook and how Martin failed at launching his product). These are important reality checks you will need to get before you embark upon this adventure. We are not only talking about hard work, we are also talking about the likely chances of not making it.

 

Sorry gals & guys but if you haven’t started your blog yet, you have missed the window of opportunity to do it. It doesn’t mean you can’t make it today, but it means that the easy money has been already made and there are some big players rolling where you won’t be able to step in.

 

As I mentioned before, making $1,000 per month with a new blog after a year will be quite an achievement. A few years ago, I could expect to make that within 3 months and see the blog making over $3,000 per month after a year simply by selling private advertising. This is not going to happen anytime soon and chances are that Google will take away all your traffic if you sell links on your site. With no traffic, you won’t be making income anymore!

 

If you have a chance to escape all this crap and make money with your blog, it won’t happen by using Google. I think there is a lot of room online for other successes but it won’t be done through search engines. Don’t get me wrong, Google Traffic is worth a lot and it is always nice to have it. But I’ve learned one thing about the web over the past 7 years: you can’t trust Google! One day you rank on the first page and the next morning you have disappeared from the search engines. Glenn @ Viperchill makes a shocking demonstration of how Google completely screwed its search engine algorithm here and there. After reading both posts and doing a few searches on the internet, I can only agree with his theory… Right now, Google likes fresh content over anything else. No matter how great you content is, if it’s old, it can be outranked within minutes with a poor quality article. This is Quite Disgusting.

 

So if your plan is to rely on building a great site and then doing SEO to get more traffic, I can tell you are entering the race blindfolded… good luck! It’s like playing a game where you don’t know all the rules and they can be changed at any time.

 

The key is to build a community (yeah, I know you read that a million times!), but cliché just works! My biggest success with community is my dividend network and the newsletter attached to it. Each time I send an email, I get around 100 answers. Nobody can take this away from me! If I had to start over again with a brand new site, the first thing I would do is to build a list. You can read more about how to create your newsletter and make money out of it here.

 

I once read it doesn’t matter how many readers go to your website. That’s only good for your ego but it doesn’t fill your pocket with money. The only readers that count are the one that are engaged, that comment and answer back. The rest are only there for the free stuff; they take and don’t give back. Would you feed your neighborhood with your best spaghetti sauce? That’s what happening on the web if you don’t monetize your site!

 

There is something worse than trusting Google and it’s to trust online marketing gurus. They are not evil, far from it, but they are just a bunch of people making money online and trying to figure out what is going on with Google. Some gurus advocate genuine link building, while others will tell you that gaming Google is the only way and others will ask you to register for their course so they can teach you how to write compelling content and create a bond with your readers.

 

The problem is that they are all right. They are right because they found a way to succeed in the online industry. But they found their way, not your way. There are tons of ways to make money online and you need what you are good at. It can be link building, writing awesome stuff, networking, social media, monetization, conversion, lead creation, flipping sites, Adsense optimization etc. You can find dozens of gurus for each technique. Don’t waste your time trying all of them and following everybody’s advice. Here are a few examples of how gurus make their money with different strategies:

 

Glenn @ Viperchill does a lot of SEO and link building

 

Justin & Joe @ Empire Flippers are building sites to sell them

 

John Chow @ John Chow Dot Com is making money telling people how to make money (the most common business model ;-))

 

Jon @ Authority Website Income makes money from a methodical link building strategy using VAs and expired domains link redirect.

 

Spencer @ Niche Pursuits is making money from niche websites based on extensive keyword research.

 

Chris Ducker @ Chris Ducker makes money from VA training and hiring for other people.

 

Pat Flynn @ Smart Passive Income makes money from building a deep bond with his readers and selling affiliate products.

 

They all make over 6 figures and all follow different paths. So technically, they all hold the holy grail and drinking their Koolaid will lead you to the infinite potential of the online industry… but the problem is that you have to pick the 1 way that you like, master and follow through. Trying to become all these gurus at once will burn you. This is why it is important to find your own style.

 

Further on down the road, there is another reality check I need to share with you. Working online is not different than working in the real world. If you think you can’t make it with a brick and mortar business but you can do it online; you are wrong. It’s not because you can work on your laptop in a Starbucks that makes you the next Pro Blogger. The glamorous aspect of blogging is attractive: how about working when you want, where you want and raking in a 6 figure income while you sleep? Nobody would spit on that.

 

But that’s the end result a few people reach. You would probably reach the same level of wealth with any other type of business. Imagine if you had 6 rental properties or owned a $10M business recycling plastic? You would be making a six figure income while you sleep the same way you would do with blogging.

 

Can you imagine how hard it is to put money aside and build your real estate empire? Or how many hours you need to put into hard work to build a $10M recycling business? Well similar efforts will be required if you want to build a 6 figure income blog!  It’s not easier because it’s online! It will require that you work hard, long hours for almost nothing in your pocket. One day, maybe, if you are lucky, you will reach the top and make money. Or you could also fail miserably like thousands of other bloggers who quit after 12 months of writing, commenting, hard work… but without any results.

 

buying blogs

 

Is buying blogs a safe business model? Why not? After all, you buy a domain where there is already traffic and where you only have to put your links here and there to make some money. It’s not that simple either!

 

I went into a lot of details as far as my buying blog process goes. So far, I haven’t made any bad investments. However, some of them were/are not as profitable as I thought they’d have been. This is always a problem since the dynamics of a website changes every 6 months or so. A Google update, a new affiliate, a shift in trends could all be good reasons why your site generates more or less money. The problem is the dynamics are changing constantly. Before you buy a blog, you want to make sure there is some stability. Never buy something 12 months old. The site has only gone through 2 dynamic changes and could easily drop flat in a few months and you would lose all your money. If you can buy a blog with a brand, it’s even better!

 

Buying a blog such as Smart Passive Income would be an awesome deal. Most people think the opposite because they see Pat as being the main icon behind the site. However, since this site has so much powerful content and its ranking well all over the web (youtube, google, podcast, facebook, etc), you wouldn’t have any problem making $30K/month for several months, read years before it fades away.

 

I think this is a business model that will continue to work very well. Think about it; most of the time, you can buy a great blog within 4 years of gross income. Chances are that the blog you are looking at isn’t that big and you can buy it as cheap as twice his past 12 months’ gross income. When you think that buying a rental property would cost you 14-15 times the yearly gross income, buying a blog looks like the most lucrative investment on the planet!

 

niche site

 

If you are looking to generate extra income from a website, you probably found a few buzz words within your research. Since blogging requires you write content on a steady basis, this is very demanding. Most of your blog posts can’t generate money either because your readers will be bored from your credit card reviews pretty fast. Therefore, you need to spend a lot of time building your community in the hopes of making money one day. Since blogging is so rough these days, internet marketers came up with other types of websites requiring less work but generating more money. Isn’t this paradise for any online entrepreneur? Here’s a quick resume of all the cool words and how you can make money from these types of sites.

 

Niche Site: this is a small site with 5 to 25 pages of content on it. The goal is quite simple; rank in search engines and get visitors to generate income. The most common type of niche aims at Adsense, Amazon or a specific affiliate program as a source of income. Depending on the niche and its traffic, you can generate something between $25 and $500 per month. If you generate more than that, this probably means your site is bigger and you fall in the second category.

 

Authority Site: the authority site is often confused with a niche site. It makes sense since both are targeting a specific topic. The main difference is authority site is an enhanced version of the niche site. It shows more content, often of better quality, more options (such as a forum, newsletter or other types of interaction). The income potential is higher but the work required is more demanding too. It’s not as demanding as a blog in terms of content creation but adding a fresh piece once in a while is always a plus to keep your site on top of the others. While the niche site is “just another wordpress site”, the authority site should definitely add value to the world of internet.

 

Epic Shit: Many bloggers have referred to epicness over the past 3 years. I’ve been part of it ;-). There are a few variations of the word epic such as a “whale post”, “pillar article”, “authority article”, “reference”, etc. An Epic article would be like the one you are reading right now; tons of content and hindsight about a specific topic. I wrote this article to share my thoughts and knowledge about making money online in 2013-2014. I think it will be a great reference for many of you in the future and probably help you avoid making a beginner’s mistake. Epic articles are highly time consuming and don’t necessarily give something back to the writer… immediately. I’m thinking that if I write less stuff but always this quality, I might get a bigger readership! Another Epic article I wrote is how I run multiple blogs without working much.

 

I’ll be honest with you; it’s been three months that I’m lagging behind on making a 6 figure income this year. For the first time in four years I might not make over 100K this year. I’m still making good money (especially for a sideline!) but I don’t treat myself as I used to with my online money. I like to be accountable for my actions and this is why I blame it all on me. I wasn’t smart enough to see it coming and assumed that the online environment would be pretty much the same for several years.

 

On the other hand, I’m not happy with the status quo and can’t stand failing. This is why I’m currently rethinking my whole business model and looking a different opportunities. The eBook business has recouped a part of my lost income and I hope my future membership site will generate revenues as well. My first book on sale at Amazon is still generating between $200 and $300 of income one year after I’ve launched it. Writing another book would take me roughly 6 months and I would be making another $250/month of passive income.

 

As far as my membership website, the moment you reach 100 subscribers at $10/month, you just generated $1,000 of semi-passive income. The key is to offer a premium service and this is why we haven’t launched yet.

 

As far as blogging, I’m not quite sure where I will go with my blogs. We own several great sites but we need to pay for content creation and paid writers are never as engaged as website owners. So chances are that this model will eventually fade out if we keep it this way.

 

Niche sites and authority websites are still on the radar as they generate a few hundred per month without taking a second of my time.  I just wish I could create bigger sites generating higher income! This is definitely something I need to work on for 2014.

 

If I had to start all over today, I would definitely start by buying a site that already works and optimize it. I still think it’s the best way to make money on the internet; let others build a site ranking in Google for you! Then, building a newsletter is probably the key for being independent of external forces. But beyond everything, I would my focus on only a few sites and work hard on those exclusively. The biggest weakness of my empire was once its strength; we are everywhere. Right now, we don’t seem being able to manage everything and have simply put too many things on autopilot. This is the biggest mistake we have made; there are no autopilots during a Google Storm!

 

How about your site? Do you have problem managing it? Would you start a blog today to make money online?

 

 

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September 2, 2013, 7:06 am

It’s Crazy What You Learn Staring at A Round Ball!

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Miscellaneous

 

 

A few years ago, when my oldest son was 5 years old, I felt somewhat relieved when he told me he didn’t want to play hockey. He’s all about sports but he doesn’t like skating too much. I am a big hockey fan but I didn’t need my son to play. Not after I saw those crazy parents screaming their heads off looking at the ice. I thought it wasn’t a good way to teach him sports’ great values such as discipline, effort and team play. In fact, I was very happy when he asked to play soccer all year round.

 soccer ball

I’ve been coaching my son for the past three years. I’ve tried to make sure he doesn’t get benched and that everybody on his team is treated fairly. But then I got hooked and I like coaching as much as my son likes playing soccer! The season just finished and I’ve learned a ton! Not really about soccer, but about psychology and relationships!

 

Your Kid is Just a Kid – LET HIM PLAY

 

I guess there is a reason why we use the verb “play” when we describe a sport. We don’t “work” a soccer game, we play it. Sometimes, as parents, we forget that playing is way more fun than working hard and performing! Last year, I had great expectations of my son. He was a very good player and was expecting him to perform. I obviously asked him to take soccer way too seriously and he lost the fun he had to play soccer. We even argued a few times before or after a game. This wasn’t smart on my part. I knew he was able to play much better than this and found he was a bit lazy sometimes. I’m pretty sure he didn’t appreciate my remarks and constant flow of advice. This year, I started the season differently. I just played with him for fun and was laughing with him during the game. He ended-up being one of the most complete players in the league out of 100 players. He finished 2nd scorer for both the regular season and playoffs. He played at his full potential because he was “playing”.

 

To all parents around, if you want your kid to perform, ask him/her to have fun instead. If your child has talent, the results will come naturally.

 

The Game is Just a Game – WE ARE NOT PLAYING THE WORLD CUP

 

Then again, I’m sure you have seen this many times; overhyped parents demanding very high expectations from their kid and their team as well. The players’ parents were forming a great crowd, but towards the end, expectations raised way too high. We heard parents asking players to “wake-up”, that “the game has started”, or simply asking bluntly “what are you doing??? Run!!!”.  It was like the kids had no other option but to win.

 

As a coach (as witheverything in my life), I’m very intense, passionate and don’t regret anything. But putting pressure on children or talking bluntly to them thinking they will wake-up and find motivation is completely stupid. Motivation is a positive feeling, how can it be created from bad feelings or behaviors? I’ve taught my team to have fun on the field and to like playing soccer. But I’ve also had to teach the parents to have fun and to cheer instead of telling their kid what to do on the field!

 

I think we should bring this to a whole new level in life. Since when do you feel good when someone is telling you that you suck at something? Would you like your boss or your spouse to tell you that you don’t work hard enough? That you are not sweet enough? That you should put some more effort into what you do?

 

How about they tell you that you are good at something and that you should do it more often? That they like when you do this or that. Doesn’t feel better when people are telling you nice things? Well… why it has to be different when you are talking to your children?

 

During our 3rd game in the playoffs, we were losing 4 nothing at half time. Parents were discouraged, my assistant screamed at his son and some players were crying. I brought my team together and cheered them up. I told them it sucks to lose 4 nothing but we can make a comeback. The only thing we needed was to have fun playing soccer and not to think about the score. Believe it or not, my son scored 4 goals in the second half time and we won 6-4! This is what we call motivation!

 

Don’t Let the Prize Win Over Your Values

 

Like any coach, I want my team to win. But more than anything else, I want the kids to have fun playing soccer. During the semi-finals, we almost lost the game. There were 10 minutes left in the game and it was still 1 nothing. I made the decision to put all my best players for the rest of the game, leaving 4 kids on the bench for 10 long minutes. I’ve never done that before. We did win 2-1 but I felt bad after that. I thought of the players that were left behind and about the parents that had to watch them wait until the game was over.

 

This wasn’t me. This wasn’t how I’ve trained my kids and how I acted during the past three years. I felt so bad that I went to apologize to the kids’ parents. This win had a sour taste. This is when I learned that winning isn’t everything. You are better off feeling good about yourself than winning the game!

 

Having Fun is More Important Than Anything Else

 

I think my son never played better soccer than this year and our team was truly great. The secret of all this is that I’ve never had more fun coaching soccer before that. The whole team enjoyed playing and this is the key. This lesson learned goes far more behind kicking a ball. It’s about everything you do in life. If you don’t have fun doing something, then drop it!

 

This works with your job – as going to work thinking it sucks makes for a very long day.

This is true about your spouse – as kissing someone goodnight while thinking about another won’t make a great family.

This is the most inspiring thing you should do – drop what you are currently doing and shift towards something you like. Then wait for a few seconds and see how great it feels.

 

The soccer season is now finished… it’s only for three weeks since my son is playing indoor soccer during the winter. I’m not coaching indoors because I want to take a break and disconnect from soccer a little bit. I think it’s a good thing for my son that he gets other people to coach him as well and I truly want to make sure he still plays next summer instead of performing!

 

What about you, do you play or perform in your life?

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