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May 23, 2013, 6:00 am

Are Blog Comments a Waste of Time?

by: MD    Category: Alternative Income

What do you think about blog comments? Do you look forward to blog comments? Do you ignore them?

Commenting on blogs is an interesting topic. When blogs first started popping up, leaving comments on popular blogs was the best way to gain traction and possible traffic. Every single blog about blogging was telling us to leave comments. It was a thing the thing to do. You had to leave blog comments.

Now things have changed a bit. Zen Habits and Seth Godin’s blog have disallowed comments. Many other sites have followed suit. It’s not rare to see comments disabled on a blog now. It’s no longer trendy to have comments allowed on a popular blog.

Where do you stand when it comes to blog comments?

The biggest problem with blog comments is…

You’re always writing for those that speak the loudest. You’re always worried about the critics. You worry about the outliers. You don’t think about the reader that’s actually applying your tips. There are readers that will consume your content, enjoy it, and never leave a comment. There’s no particular reason for them not leaving a comment.

Your readers are amazing. You just have to remember that someone complaining about an article doesn’t represent your whole audience. One person could just be having a bad day and in desperate need of a vehicle to vent on.

You can’t let this one person prevent you from posting or allow you to get distracted with a useless argument.

We also need to stop looking for things to react to. There’s always going to be someone to respond to or some email to check out.

Are you always looking for something to respond to?

I am.

I get stuck in this nasty cycle. It’s easy to get caught up with this. You always want someone to communicate with and someone to argue with. You can go on your own blog or other blogs and argue for hours. You can dissect the article. Mock the blogger. Disagree on a certain viewpoint. And go on and on.

I have to say this…

Stop reacting. Start creating.

When you create content that’s polarizing or leads to a plethora of reactions, you shouldn’t stop or get nervous. You keep on going. Reacting can easily take you in the wrong direction. Constantly creating keeps you focused.

Reacting is dangerous. You’ll never win. Someone will always be mad at you. Someone will always disagree or complain about something.

There’s also the time issue.

It’s really simple to spend a whole day on busywork and never really get anything done. This happens far too often for most of us. We respond to comments. Get distracted by comments. We let comments on our blog and other blogs dictate our days and how we spend time.

Screw that. Don’t let time slip by you. You can’t always be caught up in what others are saying on blogs.

Watch how you spend your time because creating awesome content will always trump everything else.

Should you forget about blog comments?

Nope. I don’t think so.

Don’t get me wrong. I love interacting with readers. I enjoy reading comments and replying as well. I also look forward to feedback.

The problem is that feedback can be crippling. Think of all of the people that will read an article, thoroughly enjoy it, and then walk away without leaving a comment. Those are the people that we forget about. There will be those that leave a positive comment with a few words of encouragement. Then there are those that complain.

Have you ever been afraid to post an article because of the potential backlash? It has happened to all of us. We hide our best work from the world because we’re afraid of what will be said in the blog comments section.

I suggest that you focus on pumping out quality content. Don’t let a few nay-sayers prevent you from putting your best work out there.

What are your thoughts on blog comments? Do you engage in discussions on other blogs on a frequent basis?

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May 2, 2013, 6:00 am

Struggling to Focus? Get Another Job

by: MD    Category: Alternative Income

Are you struggling to stay focused? Are you finding it impossible to get anything done?

This happens to the best of us. We have all of this free time to get work done, yet we get nothing done. We sit around. We do the laundry. We check email. We go and do the laundry again. How much dirty clothes could we possibly have? We just keep on wasting time. We all know that time is precious and that once it goes away it’s gone forever. Still here we are wasting valuable time.

I have a solution for you.

Get another job.

Find another gig. Instead of spending your evenings or weekends or days on trying to be “an entrepreneur,” why not get another job where you actually get paid for working?

How does getting another job make sense?

But wait, how does this make sense? Another job isn’t passive income. You’re not following your passions if you find another gig. You’re not channeling your inner strengths.

I’ve learned over the years that more time doesn’t equate to more work getting done. This is the harsh reality. You can often get more done in that less hour before deadline than you did in the days or weeks building up to the deadline. We’ve all experienced this.

I have friends that work two jobs and manage to get so much done in between. They’re always on top of things. More work also doesn’t stop them from going out and doing fun things. They simply don’t have the luxury of slacking off or being bored.

Then I know people who are unemployed and can’t even respond to a basic text message over the course of a day. They never have time for anything, yet they have all of the hours in a day.

Actually nevermind, I’m a perfect example of this.

When I have a whole day off, I get nothing done. It sucks. I tried an experiment in school. One semester I tried to work less hours. I thought that this would improve my grades. Did it? Not at all. I just slacked off more.

The next semester I went back to working full-time. I was forced to get the most out of the hour on the bus or the hour before work. I was forced to get an article done in between classes. I had to manage to squeeze in a date with my girlfriend at the time.

Having less time meant no time to waste.

Should you always be working?

Not at all. I just want you to see how valuable time is and how much of it you really have.

This isn’t mean to be permanent. This might not even work for you. You might be perfectly productive and already on top of things. That’s cool. This article isn’t for you. This is for those of us that waste time when we have so much of it available to us.

Try it out.

Find another job or add another commitment to your life. Reduce your free time. Notice what happens to your productivity. You’ll get more done than ever before. You’ll appreciate time.

When you no longer have the luxury of sitting around all day, you’ll get down straight to business.

Once you get better with your time and productivity, you’ll realize that you already have more than enough time. This is when you can quit that job or free up more time to get more done.

Oh and I wrote this article in between commitments. I had limited time at Starbucks. I grabbed a coffee and got straight to work. No time to waste!

“You don’t want to take initiative or responsibility, so you check your incoming mail, your Twitter stream, and your blog comments. Surely, there’s something to play off of, something to get angry about, some meeting to go to. I know someone who goes to forty conferences a year and never seems to actually produce anything.” — Seth Godin

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April 22, 2013, 4:36 am

When the Hobby Becomes a Business

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Alternative Income,Blogging,Business,Career

 

 

 

 

Who ever thought of making money out of their passion? Is it not the best financial scenario? Making money while you do something you truly enjoy. Most hobbies and passions require that you pay to enjoy them. If you can find a way where you can be paid to enjoy your hobbies, you have just found the Holy Grail! I’m not sure it’s true. A few weeks ago, I read a very interesting article about not turning your hobby into a money maker @ Retire By 40. Joe outlined a list of reasons why making money from your hobby isn’t as perfect as you may think.

 

A few years ago, I would have argued actively with him. I turned my blog into a business back in 2008. At that time, I saw the same thing as Joe: I can make money online. I can make money out of my hobby. Where I’m a bit different than him is that I started The Financial Blogger back in 2006 with this objective in mind: making money online.

 

Where It All Started

 

When I start writing my blog, I knew I could make money from it. My friend (who became my partner in this adventure) was already making money from his website. He made enough to pay for his tuition fees and go on a 6 months foreign exchange student program. He never had a summer job, he was simply working online a few hours per week from his bedroom.

 

Then, I started to do some research and found John Chow. He had the first “make money blogging” blog I followed. When I was telling people in the Personal Finance Blog niche (we were less than 100 at that time) that I was in to make thousands of dollars per month, they all told me that I would be lucky if I could make $200 monthly! I decided to continue nonetheless as I knew that other people were making money.

 

Then I Started To Love the Business

 

This is why I started blogging: to make money. I wanted to share my financial knowledge as I thought that most people don’t get the right advice from financial advisors and journalists. The second goal was to improve my English writing skills. But behind all that, I knew I could make money from this business.

 

What happened is that the more I wrote, the more I wanted to write. I’ve always love writing and even thought of becoming a writer when I was a kid. When I realized that most writers are starving, I thought a career in the financial industry was a better idea ;-).

 

Slowly but surely, my passion for blogging and this whole “new world” started to grow inside of me. At that time, I was thinking about my blog non-stop. I used to get ideas at any time of the day and night and sent myself emails to keep track of them all. I developed a passion for building a business online.

 

At that point, I had reached the perfect balance: doing something I truly enjoy while making money from it. Unfortunately, nothing is perfect…

 

When The Passion Becomes a Job

 

I mentioned this on the blog already but 2012 was a crappy year for us. The combination of having a new (very demanding) job, not sleeping with our newborn, getting stuck under $10,000 of unexpected expenses plus getting kicked in the nuts by Google was a lot of downers in a very short time span.

 

My passion started to fade away and I temporarily lost the desire to work like a maniac on my blogs. I still liked the fact of having a company and running projects but it looked a lot like a job at one point. The obligation of writing weekly, the tracking of our income and expenses, the projection updates we are doing to make sure we are on track with our objectives… All that sounds a lot like a job vocabulary and not a hobby or a passion.

 

This was a rough period as I know I need this money in my budget. A good part of my overall income is derived from my online company now. It represents roughly 30% of my income; I just can’t let it go. But having a second job (on top of being a father of three!) seems just like a recipe for a burnout later on. It hurt to think that I needed to work on my company instead of wanting to.

 

Going Back to Basics

 

I can describe myself as a very difficult individual when it comes to work. I’m a real beast of productivity and do not fear completing humongous tasks within a ridiculous timeframe. However, I must be happy to do so. If I don’t have fun doing what I do, I become mediocre. I didn’t have the flame burning inside throughout 2012. This is when I started to question myself.

 

I had to go back to the reasons why I was having so much fun with my business and pulled them back to the top of my priority list. I love managing my business and seeing growth. Results are definitely the most inspiring factors for me. This is why I started to concentrate on how I can bring results to the table.

 

Cutting the crap, do what I love was the first thing I changed. I decided to write only the stuff that I want to write about. Too bad for Google and too bad if you don’t like it, I’m going to please myself with this blog!

 

Being part of a Master Mind Group was a clever move. I now have a weekly meeting with motivated people that help me bring results to the table. This is a true motivator for me.

 

Having a meeting with my partner was another great idea. Each year, we meet-up over the weekend to work on our company. We had a great discussion about the future of our blogs and our involvement. This has boosted my motivation through the roof.

 

Is it working?

 

It is! I’m feeling free to do what I like and this is probably the most important thing when you have a business or a hobby; never feel that you are forced to do something. This is probably the beginning of the end if you keep on to this route.

 

Do you find it difficult running your blog now that you are making money out of it? Is it changing anything to your writing style?

 

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April 3, 2013, 4:48 am

How to Change a VA into an Extension of Your Brain

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Alternative Income,Blogging,Business

 

 

If you have been following this blog for a while, you know that I’m obsessed with productivity. I feel sick each time I see inefficiency. If you plan on doing something, take a few minutes to organize yourself and make sure your work will be 100% productive. I’ve highlighted my productivity techniques in the following 8 articles:

 

  1. Stop Trading Time for Money
  2. Get Your Things Done 100% of the Time
  3. Why I Miss My 1 Hour Drive
  4. The Not To Do List
  5. The Cure for “I don’t Have Time”
  6. What’s the Power of Sticky Notes?
  7. The Face You Should Be Making Each Day of Your Life
  8. Tricks to Gain 1 Hour Per Day

 

These are all great tricks but there is a common problem with all these articles; they all rely on YOU! I don’t know if you have noticed but YOU are quite limited when it comes down to productivity:

 

–          You only have 24 hours in a day

–          You automatically have to spend a few hours eating, sleeping and… well… working 😉

–          You get tired

–          You have a life

 

For all these good reasons, you can’t be always be productive. If you are working on your sideline from time to time, you probably find it frustrating to fall behind on everything else all the time. I know the feeling; I’ve been through this pain.

 

Get a Virtual Assistant and Solve Your Problems

 

I’m a man of priorities. While I truly enjoy making more money, I didn’t want to do it at the expense of my family. This is why I’ve decided to bump up my website cost structure and hire Virtual Assistants (VAs). After a while, my two VAs have literally become extensions of my brain. They know how I process information and about my way of thinking. They are now able to adopt my methodology and make things run the way I would.

 

I don’t even have to worry about anything as they do it as well as I would do. Sometimes, I read comments, articles or email answers done by my VAs and I truly feel that I wrote that! The best part is that I wasn’t even involved in the process and don’t even influence them!

 

Here’s an Exhaustive List of What they Do for Me

 

Just to give you a few ideas what they could do, here’s a list of tasks I pay for:

–          Edit, format, add pictures and publish articles

–          Comments/read other blogs

–          Reply to emails

–          Manage marketing campaigns

–          Pay writers, brokers

–          Write articles, manage other writers

–          Keyword research

–          Find topics to write about

–          Promotion

–          Brainstorm for other sites

–          Comment/improve eBooks I write

 

Each VA has their own skills and abilities. I dispatch tasks to be done weekly or monthly plus I send them emails from time to time for specific projects. This is why most of their work is known upfront and they don’t have to communicate with me to achieve their tasks. I do spot check once in a while to make sure everything is being done according to my standards.

 

Tasks I Outsource to Single Contract VAs

 

Sometimes, I don’t need someone to work full time for me and I can’t ask my regular VAs to complete these tasks. Some tasks require more experience and background in a field my regular VAs are not familiar with. This is a list of things I have to find specific VAs for a one time task:

 

–          Blog designs / templates

–          Logo designs

–          Coding / programming

–          Edit previous posts

–          eBook Covers

 

Where in the Hell do You Find Qualified VAs????

 

I’m sure that you get the idea by now of having someone work for you. If I can make $50 an hour out of a task, the point is simply to find someone who will charge me less than that to achieve it. The difference between the VA cost and the revenues from the task is kept in my pockets.

 

The other way around is also true. If I was to spend many hours to complete a task and not even end-up with a nice results at the end, the cost of paying someone to do it for me would equal to saving several hours of work. As time is worth money, you can save by outsourcing too.

 

In order to do such magical arbitrage, you need to deal with highly competent individuals. I picked my 2 main VAs from two different worlds:

 

Pick a Blogger

 

Martin is a blogger and works online for a living. He actually authors a site called Start Freelancing Now ;-). I’ve been working with Martin for so many years I don’t even remember how it all started ;-). I appreciate his enthusiasm and willingness to work hard and get things done. If you pick a blogger to work for you, you will save a lot of time as you won’t have to train him/her too much. This is probably the biggest advantage: the blogger will be ready to work for you the next morning and provide you with great results.

 

Pick from Family and Friends

 

V is my feminine version. She’s like me on many points and I truly appreciate working with her. She is also my sister-in-law which made the decision to employ her very touchy. My partner and I thought about it for a long time before we offered her a job. Today, we feel that it was one of the best decisions we have ever made. She is able to work part time and take care of her child and we have someone working on a steady basis on various projects. When you pick among your friends and family, you have the advantage of knowing the good and the bad points of the person. You know exactly what to expect but it’s also important to clearly set expectations. If you are not clear about what is expected, the situation could result in a very delicate issue.

 

Pick a Professional

 

Bloggers and friends are very good to use as “main VA”. Those VAs will do several tasks and work with you on a daily or weekly basis. Depending on the task, I use several sites as reference to find VAs:

For logos and designs, we usually use 99 Designs. For a very cheap price, you are able to get profession work done. What I like the most about it is the option of getting dozens of designs and pick among them to buy what you truly had in mind. Dealing with a single designer will limit your options and you won’t be able to go back and forth 20 times to improve logos. With 99 Designs, you can explain what you need and you have plenty of designers offering their drafts for free. Then, you pick one and start working with him.

 

I’ve had a hard time to find main VAs through oDesk and eLance. I’m not saying it’s not possible but I’m saying that I don’t have the experience to help you out with this. However, a good friend of mine does: Quinn from Cubicle Free is currently offering a free eBook about how to get your VA from those two sites.

 

However, I do use oDesk for several other tasks. When I need a programmer to code a few things on my site, this is definitely the perfect place to go to post your need. Within a few days, you are set with a profession that won’t charge you an arm and a leg to do the job. I’ve also used oDesk for specific writing contracts. Since you can find writers in any field, it’s easy to find what you are looking for with a great level of English.

 

Publish Your Questions!

 

I’m sure you have tons of questions about hiring a virtual assistant and I would like to hear them. I’m willing to share my experience on this topic but I’m just not sure where to start. So go for it! I’m all yours…

 

 

 

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March 28, 2013, 6:00 am

What Do You Consider to be a Great Investment?

by: MD    Category: Alternative Income

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” — Benjamin Franklin

What’s a good investment to you? What has to be involved in an opportunity for you to consider it a great investment?

Everyone’s always looking for a great investment. We work hard for our money. Why not let our money work for us? Many of my new readers or friends on Facebook will ask me about great investments and where they should be putting their money. I can never give a single answer because there’s so many factors involved. How much money are you willing to risk? What do you know? What are you into?

Today I wanted to look at the criteria involved in every investment.

What goes into a great investment?

Risk.

“I will tell you how to become rich. Close the doors. Be fearful when others are greedy. Be greedy when others are fearful.” — Warren Buffett

How much do you have to risk? What’s the risk to reward ratio? Some investments have the opportunity to double your money or make you very wealthy, but they come with plenty of risk. Other investments come with almost no risk involved, but don’t yield you any decent results.

I take all sorts of risks in my personal and social life. I try to do outrageous things. I approach strangers. I go on trips alone. I say things I shouldn’t. When it comes to money, I’m very cautious. I know what it’s like to be poor and I don’t want to lose my money.

In my opinion, I want to take risks that I can control. I invest my money into myself and my skills because I know that I can control things to an extent. I got out of the stock market because I didn’t like the feeling of not being in control. But, that’s just me and many of you guys are making a killing on the stock market.

Experience.

Will this investment come with any sort of experience?

The risk of spending four years (or more) in college and borrowing thousands of dollars for a piece of paper comes with an experience. You can live on your own for a few years. You can transition into adulthood. You can meet all sorts of interesting characters, meet your future life-partner, learn about yourself, and figure out what you want to do next.

Investing in stocks come with the experience on learning about the industry, studying market trends, and figuring out your own level of greed.

Every single investment comes with a unique experience. Is this experience worth it to you? I’ve spent thousands of dollars on trips that were considered an investment and yet I could never put a value on them because I learned so much and built valuable connections.

Reward.

What can you get out of this chance?

Most investments come with a monetary reward. A college degree comes with the reward of earning the job that you wanted. Investing in stocks comes with the reward of the price appreciating and you earning a profit. Attending a conference comes with the prize of learning and accelerating your growth. You can see where I’m going with this.

What reward can you earn for this investment? Is it worth the risk to you?

The reward you get from college can be totally valuable to some and worthless to others. The reward of attending a conference can lead to one attendee growing their business while another attendee leaves frustrated. Rewards vary and are never 100% guaranteed.

Those are my random thoughts on investments. I’m sure that you guys have all sorts of exciting and perhaps sad stories of past investments. I just want you to think about the risk involved, the possible experiences, and the reward.

“I’m only rich because I know when I’m wrong…I basically have survived by recognizing my mistakes.” — George Soros

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