Category: Money

How To Become a Freelancer and Make a Full-Time Income

by Phillip Warren

Today, I have a fun interview to share with you that will show you how to become a freelancer.

I recently had the chance to interview Ben Taylor. Ben has been freelancing since 2004, and he has worked for dozens of companies.

Yes, this is a career path that you can learn!

As Ben will tell you in the interview below, a freelancer can be anything. You can be a freelance designer, personal trainer, nutrition coach, online teacher, virtual assistant, writer, and more.

If you are looking for a new business or even just a side hustle so that you can learn how to make extra money, learning how to become a freelancer may be something that you want to look into.

In this interview, you will learn:

  • What a freelancer is, who they work for, what they do, etc.
  • How much a new freelancer should expect to earn
  • How a person can find their first freelancing job
  • The steps needed to take to make money as a freelancer

And much more!

He also has an informative course called Freelance Kickstarter. This course takes you through the step by step process of creating your own freelance business.

Check out the interview below for more information.

How to become a freelancer.

 

1. Please give us a background on yourself and how you started as a freelancer.

I'm Ben, and I live by the sea in England with my wife and two young sons.

I started a career in tech back in 1998, and by 2004 was Head of IT for a government department. It didn't take long for me to tire of company politics, and the endless meetings that were more about displays of ego than really getting anything done.

I came from an entrepreneurial family and my parents both had businesses rather than jobs. The businesses weren't always successful, and there were definitely periods of “feast and famine.” However, I was well used to that and I think that branching out on my own was something I was destined to do.

My move into freelancing splits into a couple of clear phases:

Initially, in 2004, I quit my IT job, walking away from business class travel and a gold-plated pension with nothing more than a vague plan to begin to work as a freelancer!

I started to provide IT support and consultancy to both businesses and individuals. I do actually still do some of that work for a select group of long-term clients, but by 2009 I had managed to burn myself out with it. The business was going well, but I was working ridiculously long days and every holiday I tried to take was interrupted by constant phone calls and emails.

So phase two began when I sold off most of my client-base and moved to Portugal! That's when I really started to broaden my freelance horizons. I had to start from scratch, with an unclear intention to start writing for a living, and no real plan for how to do it.

I did lots of things, including wasting a LOT of time down fruitless blind alleys. I wrote for content mills, started blogs, found clients on freelance job boards, and – slowly and steadily – started to build my income back up. The difference was that I was doing it all completely on my terms with work I really enjoyed. 

I was also living in a dream destination whilst doing it.

 

2. Can you explain what exactly a freelancer is, who they work for, what they do, etc.?

This seems like a basic question, but it's very worthwhile. There's a considerable difference between freelancing and remote working that not everybody appreciates.

First off, a freelancer can be anything. For some reason many people immediately think of writing when they think about freelancing. But you can be a freelancer designer, personal trainer, nutrition coach, online teacher, virtual assistant, and dozens of other things.

It's also worth noting you don't only have to be one of those things. I AM a freelancer writer, but I also still dabble in IT consultancy, run my own blogs, provide coaching, and even build websites for people (if they ask nicely and the price is right!)

Regardless of what you do as a freelancer, the important thing to realise is that you are running your own business. The big plus of this is that you are in total charge. But the big negative is that you don't have any of the safety nets you have if you are employed by a single company. This means you're responsible for everything from your own insurance and healthcare to your own technical support!

Freelancers typically work for several different clients. There are myriad places to find those clients. It's quite common for freelancers to find clients within their existing professional networks, and not at all unusual for ex-employers to be among them. Then there are freelance job boards like Upwork and PeoplePerHour, which provide an endless stream of new opportunities.

 

3. How much should a new/beginner freelancer expect to earn?

This is an incredibly difficult question to answer! I can think of one freelancer I coached who's in a very specific writing niche. He went onto Upwork with an initial rate of $100 per hour and found lots of work. I started out in IT consultancy charging a similar rate and was quickly earning more than I did in my full-time job.   

However, at the other end of the scale there are people with limited experience or specialist skills who will need to pay their dues. This means building the foundations of a freelance career by proving yourself and taking low paying jobs to build up examples of work and positive feedback. My move into writing was much more like this!

I think “job replacement income” is a useful target for new freelancers to keep in mind. That can vary vastly from individual to individual. Obviously replacing and exceeding a corporate-level income takes much more than freelancing as an alternative to a part-time, entry-level job. That said, people with senior-level experience command much higher freelance rates.

Related content: 20 Of The Best Entry Level Work From Home Jobs

 

4. What do you like about being a freelancer?

Not having a boss!

The difference in lifestyle is massive when you work for yourself. This is always brought home to me when I'm making plans with friends and family, and people say “I'll see if I can get the time off.”

This makes me shudder, because it's SO alien to me now. The example I always use is that I never have to ask anybody before I can tell my children I'll be at their sports day or nativity play.

When you have what I call a “traditional job,” you DO have the security of healthcare, and perhaps things like holiday and sick pay. But you give up a tremendous amount of freedom in return. Freelancing is profoundly different, and it's rare to find people who've given it a go that would ever choose to go back to full-time employment.

So that's a huge thing for me, but there are other huge benefits too. I love the fact I can pivot into different things, which always allows me to keep things fresh.

About four times a year I reassess my priorities and lay out new goals for the short, medium and long term. They might involve starting a new blog, writing another book, learning a new marketable skill. For somebody like me who relishes variety, I love having total control of this.

 

5. How can a person find their first freelancing job?

There are SO many ways to find freelance jobs. I have an article listing 50 different options!

However, they broadly split into two categories that I call “real world” and “online world.”

It's always worth starting out by thinking of your real life networks. As I've said, many freelancers do their first self-employed work for people who already know them. I'd advise people to think about any contacts who've already seen the kind of work they're capable of. These are “warm leads” that are well worth perusing.

It makes sense to think about personal contacts as well as business contacts, too. Plenty of freelancers find clients who are their “wife's best friend's brother” or something like that!

Remaining in the “real world,” there are also options like local business groups and networking events – although they are obviously far less accessible at the present time.

Moving to the online world, the freelance job boards are the place to be. They can be intimidating places initially, and it's crucial to learn how to use them and how to avoid scammers and low paying clients. But there are plenty of great clients out there, including many household name companies who use those boards to hire freelancers.

Often, a quick one-off $50 job can evolve into a long and lucrative client relationship. My wife and I both have clients who we first met on the freelance boards years ago. We still work with them now.

There's no one-size-fits-all answer to where to find the first client, but there are options for everybody.

 

setting rates when learning how to become a freelancer

6. How does a freelancer decide what to set their rates at?

This is a question I'm asked a LOT! The answer leads to lots more questions, and I think many of my readers are disappointed when I don't just give them an answer of “$x per hour” or “$x per article!”

It's a subject I cover in my Freelance Kickstarter course, and I'm happy to share a slide from that particular lesson here. The factors to consider include tangible things like the “market rates” for specific types of work, and how each client's geographical location could impact how much they expect to pay.

But there's much more to consider beyond that: How much does the gig align with your long-term goals? Will the job produce a great example of work that will help you win more clients in the future? Is this a job that could lead to on-going, long-term work?

I guess a simpler answer is that your rate needs to be fair and competitive, and sufficient to make it worth your while to do the job. However, the rate for each job really needs to be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

The reality is that there are millions of freelancers out there charging vastly different rates, often for very similar services. There's a bit of an art to working out where you sit on the pricing spectrum, but it's an art you can learn, and it gets easier with experience.

 

7. What steps does a person need to take to make money as a freelancer?

The first and most important is working out what it is you actually want to do. That may seem obvious, but my inbox is full of emails from people asking what they should do, without telling me what they're capable of and what kind of work would make them happy.

I will attempt to lay it out in a fairly simple series of steps:

  1. Work out what skills you have and what market there is for them.
  2. Look at who else is providing those services, what they charge, and what you can provide that will make you stand out and appeal to clients.
  3. Identify any gaps in your knowledge and experience, and work to fill them. This could mean doing some training, or doing some voluntary jobs to bulk out your portfolio.
  4. Establish a personal brand. This isn't as big a deal as it sounds, but does mean having a solid resumé and LinkedIn profile, and sometimes some other ways to demonstrate your expertise.
  5. Learn how the freelance job boards work. Even if you have a rich personal network to draw on, it's wise to understand the wider world of freelancing.
  6. Put yourself out there, and start pitching and applying for things.
  7. Make sure you provide perfect work and delight your clients, so that they want to work with you again and recommend you to others.

Repeating and refining these steps is the essence of becoming a successful freelancer.

 

8. How much does it cost to start this type of business and how much on a monthly basis to maintain it?

Freelancing is generally a low-cost venture, but that's not to say it's free. Depending on what you do, you may need specialist equipment and / or software. And if you're switching from an employed position, you may have to buy things like this yourself for the first time.

A good computer is a must, as it's often the key tool of your trade. You may also need to budget for things like insurance, possibly including healthcare cover if you are somewhere like the US where this isn't covered by tax payments.

When it comes to monthly costs, the main things I pay for include software subscriptions and insurance policies. Thankfully these tend to build over time and no individual thing is particularly expensive. You can start out as an online freelancer without even having a personal website, and add things like that once you gain some momentum.

I also recommend budgeting for ongoing training and learning. Thankfully there are all kinds of ways to learn online inexpensively. Companies have training budgets, but when you're a freelancer, keeping your skills on point is on you.

 

9. What kind of training is needed to become a freelancer?

I'd say the training splits into two: learning about freelancing itself, and building skills around the specific work you want to do.

Courses like my own Freelance Kickstarter cover the first part. Freelancing is a skill in itself, and we've covered some of the important areas in this interview already. Stuff like setting rates isn't immediately obvious, so learning from those who have been there and done it already is very valuable.

When it comes to skills-specific training it depends what work you're doing. Let's say somebody wanted to work as a freelance social media manager. Not that long ago it would have been all about Twitter and Facebook. Nowadays Pinterest is a much bigger deal for many people, and TikTok is emerging as the latest trend.

So as that freelancer, you need to decide what you're going to focus on. Do you want to be the “go-to guru” for TikTok, or be more of a generalist with social media in general?

It's wonderful to have the choice.

 

10. Are there any other tips that you have for someone who wants to become a freelancer?

I have many!

The one I repeat over and over is that you have to eventually go for it and make the jump. I see a lot of people who never get past the “thinking about it” phase. Meanwhile the go-getters have taken the leap of faith and started to build success.

Moving to freelancing is one of those things where there may never be a perfect time to do it. Those who keep waiting for that time to arrive can easily find themselves looking back ten years later with the same commute and the same job.

Another thing I'm like a broken record about is the importance of “paying your dues.” There are often plenty of less-than-ideal gigs to finish successfully before you arrive at the amazing ones.

I wrote about some really dull topics in my early days of freelance writing, for example. But I had to wade through that stuff to build my reputation. It all felt thoroughly worth it a few years later when I was being well paid for travel articles and restaurant reviews!

You learn something from every job along the way: How to handle clients, renegotiate rates, refine your skills, and get work done more efficiently so that you're boosting the value of your time. Freelancing isn't supposed to be easy but it's almost always challenging, interesting and rewarding.

And let's face it, many people don't feel that way about their jobs.

 

11. What can a person learn from your course? Can you tell us about some of the people who have successfully taken your course?

OK, so Freelance Kickstarter expands on all of the topics I've touched on here, and many others. It's intended to remove confusion, and that feeling of overwhelm that often descends when researching this stuff online. It helps new freelancers make a clear plan for getting started. As the strapline goes, the idea is that people “stop wasting time, and start making money!”

I never intended to create a course, but after running the HomeWorkingClub website for several years, it became clear there was a space for something like this. I make it very clear that it's not some kind of “get rich quick” scheme.

To be brutally honest, I don't want students who are looking for shortcuts. There is real hard work involved in being a successful freelancer, but it's a more than viable option for those willing to do what's required.

The course starts with the basics of working out what you can do and want to do, and presents LOTS of different options. It then moves on to auditing your skills and experience, building your brand, and working out your own personal goals. I particularly like that section because it helps people learn the exact process I use myself every few months to keep things moving forward.

The next lessons cover finding clients, and there's a big module on learning how to use freelance job boards like Upwork. Once people have completed this, they will know how to uncover the good and genuine jobs, and how to side-step the time-drains and scams.

Students also learn about setting rates, and all the other practicalities of running a freelance business, from getting the tech right to taking undisturbed holidays! We also cover side gigs, and long-term slow-burn projects like blogs and self-published books.

I provide personal support on the course, and people can ask me all the questions they need as they go along. There are also regular exclusive podcasts with extra advice and news of industry developments and new opportunities.

In terms of people who have already taken the course, I recently published a case study from a lady called Lyn. She now has “more work than she can handle” as a freelance writer working via Upwork. Two things that have particularly pleased me about her situation is that she's cherry-picking projects that interest her, and that she's been able to do exactly what I suggest in increasing her rates as she builds experience and reputation.

I've also had great feedback from people at a much earlier stage. I've kept the course price low so that people can use it to help decide if freelancing is for them – just dipping their toes in for the first time.

As one student said, the course is “ideal if you are considering going freelance and don't know where or when to start, or even if freelancing is for you.”

Several of the testimonials so far have aligned perfectly with the original objective, which was – essentially – to help people see the wood for the trees in an environment than can seem very daunting to begin with.

I set out to create the course I wish I'd had! I've made more than my fair share of mistakes in over 16 years of freelancing. The people taking Freelance Kickstarter should hopefully be able to avoid the same ones!

Click here to learn more about Freelance Kickstarter.

 Are you interested in learning how to become a freelancer?

The post How To Become a Freelancer and Make a Full-Time Income appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.


Source: makingsenseofcents.com

How to File for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance in Every State

by Phillip Warren

Note: This article has been updated to reflect the new programs and provisions in the second stimulus package.

For the first time nationally, independent contractors and gig workers can receive unemployment benefits — through Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. Millions of Americans have relied on this program since it was created by the first stimulus package in March 2020.

Depending on your state, PUA effectively expired on Dec. 26 or 27. At the 11th hour, lawmakers rallied to pass a second stimulus package, extending the program for 11 weeks. However, some states had to pause making PUA payments as they implemented the new rules.

The Penny Hoarder looked at the application process in all 50 states, plus Washington, D.C. when the program was first created. We compiled the information into an interactive map that shows you how to file in each state, then updated the information based on new provisions laid out in the second stimulus package.

This guide will explain everything you need to know about Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

What Is Pandemic Unemployment Assistance?

  • How the Second Stimulus Package Changes PUA
  • A 50-State Interactive Map to Help You Apply for PUA
  • Documents Needed to File for PUA
  • This $300 boost is known as Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC).

    [Back to top ↑]

    How the Second Stimulus Package Changes PUA

    Initially, the CARES Act authorized PUA payments for a maximum of 39 weeks. The second stimulus package extended PUA to 50 weeks total — or 11 extra weeks.

    PUA now sunsets on March 14, 2021, unless extended by Congress and the Biden administration. Those who haven’t exhausted their PUA benefits as of March 14, 2021, may continue receiving benefits until April 5, 2021.

    One new and notable limitation: PUA used to be available retroactively as far back as January 2020. The new stimulus law tightens the window for retroactive PUA payments to Dec. 1, 2020, through March 14, 2021.

    All PUA recipients should be expecting to file more paperwork, too. To curb fraud, the second stimulus deal forces current and new PUA recipients to submit documents related to employment or self-employment, according to the DOL.

    The exact documents needed will be determined by your state agency, which is required to notify you. The deadline to file those documents is March 27, 2021. Defer to your state’s deadline if different.

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    How to File for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, State by State

    Our interactive map includes PUA filing instructions for all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

    Based on The Penny Hoarder’s analysis, 35 states and D.C. process PUA applicants using the same application for general unemployment. Only 15 states have separate PUA applications.

    Here’s how we broke it down on the map.

    General Unemployment

    To determine PUA eligibility, most states funnel applicants through the Unemployment Insurance system first. Those states require you to file two applications: state unemployment first, then PUA.

    In such states, you must get denied Unemployment Insurance (UI) before applying for PUA. Only a handful of states have one streamlined, general unemployment application that determines your eligibility for both PUA or regular benefits.

    For simplicity — and because in both instances your first step is filing a general unemployment claim — both methods are categorized as “general unemployment (UI)” on the map, in dark  blue.

    To see if you need to file two applications or one streamlined version, click your state on the map for specific filing instructions.

    PUA

    States marked in light blue have a PUA application separate from the regular Unemployment Insurance system. If you are a resident of one of these states, you can file for PUA directly so long as you meet the eligibility criteria.

    [Back to top ↑]

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    Documents Needed to File for PUA

    If you’re ready to file for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, you’ll need to gather several types of identification- and income-related documents.

    Your state may require a few additional documents, but here’s an overview:

    • State-issued ID card.
    • Social Security Number or Alien Registration Number.
    • Mailing and residential address (if different).
    • Bank account information for direct deposit, otherwise your benefits will arrive via a prepaid debit card or check.
    • Tax return: Form 1040, Schedule C, F and/or SE.
    • As many income statements as possible: bank receipts with deposit information, 1099 forms, W-2s, paycheck stubs, income summaries and business ledgers.

    Income statements and related documents are crucial to proving how and when the coronavirus affected your earnings. For freelancers and independent contractors, it may be difficult to compile everything. Include as much as possible.

    [Back to top ↑]

    Pro Tip

    Depending on which gig app you use and how much you earned, you may not have received any 1099 income forms in the mail. In that case, log on to the app and download your income statements.

    Expect Delays

    Due to new rules outlined in the second stimulus package, state labor departments are once again scrambling. Hiccups should be expected while applying for, asking about or submitting documents related to PUA. Many gig workers and independent contractors warn of website crashes, unavailable customer service, confusing questionnaires and more.

    Perseverance is key.

    Adam Hardy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. He covers the gig economy, entrepreneurship and unique ways to make money. Read his ​latest articles here, or say hi on Twitter @hardyjournalism.

    This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.


    Source: thepennyhoarder.com

    How to Build a Photo Scanning and Digitizing Side Gig

    by Phillip Warren

    As simple as it sounds — and actually is — most people are overwhelmed by the thought of taking hundreds or even thousands of photos and organizing them into searchable, digital files.

    Then there are the videos filmed on various versions of clunky cameras over the decades.

    Perhaps the most daunting version of unorganized photographic memories are slides. Once the butt of so many jokes about boring dinner parties, now they are covered in dust with no hope of ever seeing the light of a projector again.

    Well, anyone armed with a $229 scanner and a computer can make searchable digital files of photos and slides. To turn videos into digital files, it takes the original camera they were filmed with or a VCR, an $87 adapter and a computer.

    Here’s how to make photo scanning and digitizing your new side hustle.

    Five years ago, professional photo curator Sabrina Hughes decided she could make a business out of helping people organize their photos, videos and slides. Her company, PhotoXO, has a compelling slogan: “Show your photos the love they deserve.”

    Her years as a photographer, plus a graduate degree in art history and experience as a curatorial assistant at the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, Fla., combine to make her an astute photo archivist. But all of this expertise and experience is not required.

    “There’s a certain point when I’m not doing anything you can’t figure out on your own,” she said. “A college student or really anyone could do this to make extra money.”

    Hughes offers a self-paced online class called Disaster to Done for $297, which includes lifetime access to course materials. But she’s also sharing her tips with The Penny Hoarder.

    Get the Right Equipment

    • Scanner. There are hundreds of scanners out there, but she prefers the Epson v600, which sells for $229.
    • Video adapter. Hughes uses the Elgato Video Capture for digitizing VHS tapes. It can be bought online for $87.
    • Storage. “When I first started out, I was giving everything back on hard drives,” Hughes said. “I was trying to get away from DVDs, since most computers don’t even play those anymore.” She then offered flash drives filled with the photos. Though they are also becoming less common, this is still probably the best tool for beginners. Hughes now uploads everything to her website, which offers permanent storage.
    • Software. Hughes uses Adobe Lightroom ($119), which enables her to label photos so they can be searched and has photo editing functions. Software isn’t required to organize unlabeled photos into folders, however.
    A stack of old black and white photographs sits on a person's desk.

    Develop and Perfect Your Process

    The first step to starting your photo scanning business is setting aside a space in your home. It can be as small as a corner of your bedroom or a desktop if an actual office or spare room isn’t possible.

    Next, create a storage system for clients’ photos and video tapes while your work is in progress. Of course clear boxes that stack are great, but they come with a cost. Cardboard shipping boxes work just as well. Place white adhesive labels on the ends with the name of the client and the date the work started. You can place new labels over these when one project is done and the next client’s photos go into the boxes.

    To digitize photos and slides, scan each one with the scanner to upload it to your computer. Make files for certain years or topics such as “1970s beach trips” or “kids’ birthday parties.” Drag and drop the photos into the appropriate file.

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    Deciding What to Charge

    It’s smart to charge by the hour when you start out, and give an estimate of how long the project will take.

    Determine ahead of time how many photos you can scan in an hour. If you are sorting and scanning, that may be harder to estimate, but it probably adds another 30 minutes onto each hour of scanning. Say you can scan 40 photos an hour, then it would take you five hours to digitize 200 photos that don’t require sorting.

    A high schooler or college student might charge $30 to $50 an hour, or approximately $150 to $250 for 200 photos. Allow an extra hour for computer glitches, labeling files and calling the client with questions.

    A woman looks off into the distance toward a window with an old photograph on a television screen behind her.

    Hughes started out charging by the hour, but found clients were spending so much time “pre-organizing” their photos themselves to save money, it would take them six months or more before they were finally ready for her to start archiving. So she switched to a flat fee of $2,222 for unlimited archiving of slides, photos or videos. To do all three formats, she charges $7,777. She also offers small projects a-la-carte based on the amount of work.

    How to Attract Clients

    You might have to offer to digitize photos for one or two friends at no cost first to get an idea of how long the process takes and what you will charge.

    Then spread the word on social media. Give an estimated price of how many photos you can do for a certain price. Ask your early clients to share something about how wonderful it feels to finally have photos organized and saved forever.

    Digitized photos make a great Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or Christmas gift. Promote your business online and in emails during these times and throughout the year.

    This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.


    Source: thepennyhoarder.com

    What is Panic Selling & How Does it Work?

    by Phillip Warren
    woman covering eyes

    Panic selling is when enough investors want to sell their holdings at the same time that it creates a profound drop in prices. That drop scares other investors into selling, which causes prices to fall still further, which frightens more investors, and so on.

    The resulting panic can erase vast amounts of wealth. It can take weeks or even years for the markets to recover from a serious panic.

    markets can crash.

    Throughout the history of every kind of market, panic occasionally sets in. Sometimes it’s a major global event that sets it off, like what happened with the stock markets in March of 2020 as the global COVID-19 pandemic picked up speed and countries entered lockdown.

    Other times, it’s simply a matter of a given asset—like housing in 2008—being bid up to unrealistic levels, followed by the mass consensus of what it’s worth changing seemingly overnight.

    What Causes Panic Selling?

    While panic is a very human response to the prospect of major financial loss, there are also other factors that can trigger investors to start panic-selling stocks.

    Panic Selling and Margin Calls

    In the Great Crash of 1929, there were many investors who had borrowed heavily to invest in the stock market. When the markets dropped, they received something called a margin call, requiring that they pay back the loans they took out to invest. Those margin calls required that they sell potentially even more stock to pay back the loans, which caused the markets to fall even further.

    Panic Selling and Stop-loss Orders

    Similarly, there are trading programs that can throw fuel on the fire of a bout of panic selling. These can be as simple as a stop-loss order, a standing order to buy or sell a particular security if it ever reaches a predetermined price, which investors commonly use in their brokerage accounts.

    A stop-loss order can be a way to take advantage of price dips to buy a stock at a discount. But during a sudden drop in the markets, stop-loss orders often lead to automatic sales of stocks, as investors try to lock in their gains.
    These automatic sales—in large enough numbers, can accelerate the decline in a market, and contribute to the panic.

    Panic Selling and Algorithms

    There are algorithms employed by major financial institutions and professional investors that will automatically sell if the price of a given stock falls to a certain level. The crash of 1987 was caused in part by some of the first computerized trading programs. And in 2010, one trader who lost control of his highly sophisticated trading software was responsible for the “flash crash,” which caused roughly a trillion dollars of market capitalization to disappear in under an hour.

    The system-wide risk presented by these tools is one reason that most major stock exchanges have installed a series trading curbs and “circuit breakers” in place to slow down panic selling and give the traders who use these programs to recalibrate them before a full-fledged selling spree can run out of control.

    The Risks of Panic Selling

    When markets drop suddenly, it can be scary for investors. And one of the biggest risks may be to give into that fear, and join in the selling.

    But one thing to remember is that markets go up and down, but an investor only loses money when they sell their holdings. By pulling their money out of the stock market, an investor not only accepts a lower price, but also removes the chance of participating in any rebound.

    Loss is a big risk of panic selling. People who invest for goals that are years or decades away can likely weather a panic. But if a person is investing for retirement, a sudden panic just before they retire can create a major problem, especially if they were planning to live off those investments.

    The danger of sudden, panic-driven drops in the market is one reason it makes sense for investors to review their holdings on a regular basis, and adjust their holdings away from riskier assets like stocks, toward steadier assets like bonds, as they get nearer to retirement.

    That risk is also why most professionals recommend people keep 6-12 months of expenses in cash, in case of an emergency. That way, even if a financial crisis causes a person to lose their job, they can stay in the market. It’s a way to protect their long-term plans from being jeopardized by everyday expenses.

    Finding Opportunities in Panic Selling

    During a panic, there are typically enough scared people making irrational decisions to create valuable buying opportunities. The stock-market crashes in 1987 and in 2008, for instance, were each followed by a decade in which the S&P 500 rewarded investors with double-digit annual returns. (As always, however, past performance is no guarantee of future success.)

    The problem is that there’s no way to know when a panic has reached its end, and when the market has fallen to its bottom. Professional traders with complex mathematical models have had mixed results figuring out when a market will rebound. But for most investors—even savvy ones—it’s a guessing game at best.

    There are two ways an investor can try to take advantage of a bout of panic selling:

    1. The first is not to panic.
    2. The other is to keep investing when the market is down, while stocks are selling for much lower prices.

    Dollar Cost Averaging

    One way to take advantage of panic selling is with dollar cost averaging. With this long-term plan, an investor buys a fixed dollar amount of an investment on a regular basis—say, every month. It allows an investor to take advantage of lower purchase prices and limits the amount they invest at when valuations are higher. As such, it’s a strategy for all seasons—not just during a panic. Most investors already employ some form of dollar cost averaging in their 401(k) plan.

    The Takeaway

    SoFi Invest® offers an active investing solution that allows members to choose their own stocks, or take advantage of an automated investing solution that invests their money based on personal goals and risk tolerance.

    Find out how you can get started investing today with SoFi.


    SoFi Invest®
    The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . The umbrella term “SoFi Invest” refers to the three investment and trading platforms operated by Social Finance, Inc. and its affiliates (described below). Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of the platforms below.
    1) Automated Investing—The Automated Investing platform is owned by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor (“Sofi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC, an affiliated SEC registered broker dealer and member FINRA/SIPC, (“Sofi Securities).
    2) Active Investing—The Active Investing platform is owned by SoFi Securities LLC. Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
    3) Digital Assets—The Digital Assets platform is owned by SoFi Digital Assets, LLC, a FinCEN registered Money Service Business.
    For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above, including state licensure of Sofi Digital Assets, LLC, http://www.sofi.com/legal.

    Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
    SOIN20283

    The post What is Panic Selling & How Does it Work? appeared first on SoFi.


    Source: sofi.com

    Wayne Gretzky is Selling his $22.9M California Home Designed by ‘The Megamansion King’

    by Phillip Warren
    When he retired in 1999,

    Source: fancypantshomes.com

    Is It Real? The Creepy Mansion in ‘The Haunting of Hill House’

    by Phillip Warren

    We recently covered the new Haunting of Bly Manor, director Mike Flanagan’s so-called sequel to the epic mini-series The Haunting of Hill House. And while we were anxiously waiting for the series to drop on Netflix, we thought we’d try to distract ourselves by taking a trip down memory lane and re-watching the first season. 

    Are the two seasons connected? Kind of.

    Now, the two parts have nothing to do with each other in terms of plot, but you’ll get to see some familiar faces from the first series. Director Mike Flanagan is obviously taking cues from American Horror Story, which tends to re-cast the same actors in each season, much to our delight. 

    Another thing that the two seasons have in common is a central character in the form of a mansion that brings all the other characters together. Both The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor are based on iconic gothic novels, namely Shirley Jackson’s Haunting of Hill House and Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw

    While Bly Manor, according to James’ short novel, is welcoming and warm, bearing no signs whatsoever of anything evil lurking inside it, Hill House is a different story. Mike Flanagan might have strayed from the plot and the characters found in Jackson’s novel, but the central character is the same: a classic, creepy, dark and mysterious haunted mansion. 

    The House in The Haunting of Hill House.
    The House in The Haunting of Hill House. Image credit: Steve Dietl/Netflix

    Hill House’s dark allure

    Hill House, both in the novel and in the Netflix adaptation, is sinister-looking, unwelcoming, ominous even, like a warning to those who dare enter. In Flanagan’s version, Hill House is a living and breathing organism that manages to haunt the Crain family for decades, luring them back one by one. 

    The Crain family, which includes Hugh and Olivia and their children, Theo, Nell, Shirley, Luke, and Steven, moves into Hill House as the parents have a passion for flipping houses. Hugh and Olivia plan to renovate the crumbling mansion and then sell it to build their dream house, designed by Olivia herself. However, Hill House has other plans in store for the Crains.

    Repairs take much longer than anticipated, as if the house itself was committed to causing trouble and keeping the family close. Gradually, the family starts experiencing some strange phenomena. Kids are seeing ‘bent-neck ladies’ in the night, hearing strange noises, while Olivia becomes increasingly unhinged, much to Hugh’s concern. 

    Inside the house in The Haunting of Hill House
    Inside the house in The Haunting of Hill House. Image credit: Steve Dietl/Netflix

    Things progress and get worse, until one fateful night when Hugh and the kids are forced to flee and escape Hill House, apparently leaving Olivia behind. What truly happened that night is only explained at the end of the series, when the kids, now adults, return to Hill House with their father to finally learn the truth. 

    We don’t want to give too much away, in case you haven’t seen the series yet – if that’s the case, stop reading right now for crying out loud and go binge-watch some Netflix. Basically, the house has a strange grip on each of the members of the Crain family, and many years later it manages to lure them back, one by one, for reasons that are only revealed in the final episode. 

    Inside the house in The Haunting of Hill House
    Inside the house in The Haunting of Hill House. Image credit: Steve Dietl/Netflix

    Is Hill House a real place?

    Fortunately, Hill House is an entirely fictional place, so no worries about being inexplicably lured to it like the Crains. However, there is a real place that inspired the look and feel of Hill House, located in LaGrange, Georgia. 

    bisham manor
    Bisham Manor (courtesy of Zillow)

    Dubbed Bisham Manor, the imposing estate at 1901 Old Young’s Mill Road might look like the house in the series, but that’s pretty much where the similarities end. The interior shots were filmed on a set, and they look nothing like the interior of Bisham Manor, which is far from creepy. In fact, Bisham Manor is a popular and charming wedding and event venue, so it’s safe to say it’s attracting visitors for non-evil purposes. 

    Bisham manor
    Bisham Manor (via Zillow)

    Bisham Manor, according to Zillow, boasts roughly 11,000 square feet of space, and is a 1920s English Tudor-style home that was redeveloped in the early 2000s by master-builder Ben Parham. The four-story estate is being used as an event venue for corporate events, meetings and team buildings, weddings, parties, and so on.

    Though it might look like an old English castle, it comes decked out with modern amenities like a gym, spa, sauna, steam, wine cellar, and an outdoor pool. Nothing evil about that, as far as we can see. But Bisham’s former owners might disagree.

    Interiors at Bisham Manor
    Interiors at Bisham Manor (via Zillow)

    Neil and Trish Leichty purchased Bisham Manor in 2013, and they reported that the house is definitely haunted by a couple of ghosts of its own. The couple described music playing in the basement despite there being no sound system installed, strange smells permeating throughout the house, and things disappearing in the night.

    The Leichtys soon moved to a different home, but continued to experience strange events, much like the Crains were haunted by Hill House decades after they left it. Coincidence? We’ll let you be the judge of that.

    If you haven’t watched The Haunting of Hill House, you still have some time until The Haunting of Bly Manor drops on October 9. Prepare to be spooked, but don’t worry, the house is purely fictional. If, on the other hand, you’ve already seen it twice, then check out these other haunted houses we’ve covered here on Fancy Pants Homes. Halloween season is not too far away, so you better start getting ready!

    More haunted houses

    Behind the Evil Eyes: The (Real) Story of the Amityville House
    The Haunting of Thornewood Castle – Where Stephen King Filmed the Rose Red Miniseries
    Is It Real? The Creepy House in Stephen King’s ‘It’
    The Winchester House — The Haunted Mansion that Inspired the Name of Supernatural’s Winchester Brothers

    The post Is It Real? The Creepy Mansion in ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ appeared first on Fancy Pants Homes.


    Source: fancypantshomes.com

    What Is A Blog, How Do Blogs Make Money, & More

    by Phillip Warren

    What is a blog and how does it work? Can you really make money blogging? How much do bloggers make?

    Over the years, I have received many questions about blogging. People want to know what is a blog, how they work, is it really a way for people to make money, and so on. 

    I completely understand all of the questions. While blogging has now been around for more than a decade, it's still a fairly new way to earn money. I still have people give me funny looks when I tell them what I do for a living.

    But, I didn't really know what a blog was when I first started mine. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.

    I didn't know how people made money from blogs or anything else like that.

    Pretty much everything I learned about blogging was through trial and error, and I made a lot of mistakes over the years, haha! Honestly, it's because of those mistakes that I'm where I am right now.

    My life has completely changed because of blogging. I was able to quit a job I didn't love, I travel full-time, and I can retire pretty much whenever I want. 

    It's funny to think about how far I've come, especially since I had no idea what blogs even were.

    Back then, I also never realized that you could learn how to earn money blogging. I don't think I even looked into it because that was never my goal when I first learned how to start a blog. I certainly never thought blogging would drastically change my future, but I'm so glad I gave it a shot.

    I had so many questions when I started my blog, and I learned 99% of what I know the hard way – by making mistakes.

    I know that many new bloggers probably have some of the same questions I had because I receive hundreds of emails a day from readers asking how to start a blog, how to make a living through blogging, and more.  

    Today, I'm going to help you by answering some of the most common questions I receive about blogging.

    Some of the questions I talk about include:

    • Is 2021 too late to start a website/blog?
    • How do I come up with a blog name?
    • What blogs make the most money?
    • How do you design a blog?
    • How many views do you need to make money blogging?
    • How many blog posts should I have before launching?
    • How do I get my blog noticed by Google?
    • How long until a blog makes money?
    • How do blogs make money?
    • How do bloggers get paid?

    I know that blogging can seem scary in the beginning, but remember that most other bloggers were in the exact same place you were when they started.

    Blogging, just like any other hobby or job you start, takes time to learn what you're doing. You have to do research, read about what other people have done, and learn as you go.

    For some people this can be frustrating at first, but good things always do take time.

    Blogging isn't as easy as it looks from the outside. Even the most successful bloggers still spend time learning how to do new things. I am constantly signing up for new courses and learning from other people.

    Even though it takes time and can feel difficult, blogging is something you can do. You can earn money blogging so that you can work towards living the life you want. 

    One of the reasons I love blogging so much is that you can do it all on your own time. You don't have to learn everything at once. You can start your blog and grow it at your own pace.

    While there is no 100% guarantee that you will be able to earn a full-time living by blogging, I know many bloggers who are full-time and are very happy with it.

    Content related to what is a blog:

    • 12 Free Resources To Grow Your Blog Fast
    • How I Successfully Built A $1,000,000+ Blog
    • How To Quit Your Job And Become A Full-Time Blogger

    What is a blog? And your other top questions about blogging.

     

    What is a blog?

    Before we begin, I want to go over what is a blog definition and some other basic blogging questions.

    A blog is a website.

    Google's definition of a blog is, “a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style.”

    A blog is content that is written on a website. It usually consists of articles, like the one you are reading right now.

    What is a blog used for? Blogs can vary from person to person. 

    You may create a blog to journal, to teach on a topic, to sell something, to tell a story, and so on. There's no exact rules about what your blog has to be used for.

    What is a blog post? Blog posts are individual entries on a blog. Blog posts usually include text, but they can also have photos, videos, infographics, and more.

    An example of a blog post is what you're reading right now. There is a title, its own URL (that's the web address), and text where I share in depth information.

     

    Is 2021 too late to start a website/blog?

    No, it's not too late, and you haven't missed out.

    The online world is still so new, and each year there are new ways to monetize and grow your blog.

    For example, it wasn't until the past few years that companies and advertisers started realizing the value of online influencers, such as bloggers, and that means even more opportunities to earn money blogging.

    Before that, companies mainly wanted to advertise with celebrities, but it is shifting to bloggers and other online influencers (such as Youtubers and Instagrammers!).

    The online world is a huge place and it is just going to keep growing. Every blogger earns a living in slightly different ways, and everyone has a different message and story. Plus, there are so many different ways to earn money blogging, and the options have continued to change and grow since I started blogging.

    Of course, because the blogging world keeps changing, there will constantly be new things for you to learn, but that will probably always be the case for managing any kind of business.

    So, if you are thinking about starting a blog, today is the day. Don't let your fears hold you back any further! You can find my free How To Start a Blog Course here.

     

    How do I come up with a blog name?

    Deciding on a name for your blog is probably one of the hardest parts of blogging.

    Even if you know exactly what you want to blog about and have some articles written, deciding on your blog's name may be stopping you from actually creating your website and launching it.

    I don't remember how I came up with Making Sense of Cents, but I'm glad I did. It is still catchy, and I receive compliments on it to this day.

    Coming up with a blog name shouldn't lead to stress, so here are my tips for deciding on a blog name:

    • Make it easy. My blog name isn't the easiest for people to spell, and even I sometimes jumble it when I'm spelling it. So, my top tip would be to make sure that your blog name is easy for people to type or spell out loud. I've seen blog names that are extremely long, contain words that are difficult to spell, and so on. Instead, you should make it as easy as possible for your readers to find you.
    • Think about what you'll be writing about. Think about the topics you want to write about, who your target audience is, and more, and then jot down descriptive words that are related to each. Brainstorming like this is a good way to come up with a blog name!
    • Use a thesaurus to find similar words. If your first or second choices are taken or if you want to see if there are some catchier sounding blog names, using a thesaurus can help you with some new ideas.
    • Make it catchy. You may want to think of something funny, use alliteration, or something else to make your blog name catchy and memorable.
    • Use your name. If you don't want something catchy and/or if you think you're not creative enough, then just use your name. It's super easy that way, and more and more people are starting to do this. 

    See, creating a name for your blog can be easy!

     

    What blogs make the most money?

    There are many different types of blogs that make money, and you can monetize nearly any kind of blog.

    So, how do you determine what to write about?

    There is no right or wrong answer to this question. I always recommend creating a blog around a topic that you are passionate about, that you are an expert in, that you like, or something else along those lines.

    This can make blogging feel fun instead of like a chore.

    You can blog about several topics or you can blog about one specific thing, such as personal finance. For me, I cover a ton of different topics here on Making Sense of Cents. I talk about personal finance, life, travel, RVing, sailing, self-help, and more.

    Some things that you may want to think about when choosing your blog topic include:

    • What are you passionate about? I always recommend that you start by thinking about what you love doing. Perhaps it's a sport that you really love, crafts, cooking, managing money, travel, or something else. Whatever it is, blogging about your passion is great because that will show in your writing, and your readers will enjoy reading your posts.
    • What blogs do you enjoy reading? If you are thinking about starting a blog, I'm assuming it's because you probably enjoy reading blogs yourself. If that's the case, then you may want to think about which blogs you really enjoy reading and possibly blog about something similar.
    • What are you an expert in? Now, you don't need to be an expert in your blog's topic to earn money blogging (more on that below in the next section), but if you are an expert at something, then this could be a topic that you blog about. There are many successful “How-To” websites because people love to learn new things through blogs. And, there is probably something you could teach (everyone's an expert at something, even if you don't realize that yet!). Think about the questions your friends and family are always asking you about, topics that you enjoy helping others with, and so on.
    • What things do you like learning about? Like I said above, you don't need to be an expert in a topic to blog about it. People LOVE reading blogs from people who are learning or trying new things. This is because everyone has to start somewhere, and people love following the journey and seeing how something is actually done. So, if you are learning how to earn money blogging, for example, that could be where you start your blog. You can write about all of your mistakes, talk about what you've learned, show how you have tried and reviewed different options, and so on.

    To learn how to make money with a blog, your blog can be about anything and/or everything. It's entirely up to you.

    Below is a list of possible blog examples and blog topic ideas. The list doesn't end here either. Choose one, all, or some. It's all up to you.

    • Lifestyle
    • Home
    • Family
    • Finance
    • Crafts
    • DIY
    • Small business
    • Outdoor activities
    • Fitness and health
    • Food
    • Inspiration and advice
    • Animals
    • Travel
    • Games
    • Relationships
    • School
    • Electronics, and more!

    That's the beauty of having a blog – it can be about anything and you can still earn money from it.

    There are a few topics I would avoid if you aren't an expert, like blogging about legal issues, tax issues, or medical advice. You could get someone in a lot of trouble if you gave them the wrong information.

     

    What is the best blogging platform to make money?

    Your blog should be self-hosted if you want to earn money blogging. This is actually one of the first things you should do.

    I recommend that you start on self-hosted WordPress (this tutorial will help you start your blog the correct way). I cannot say this enough, but I do not recommend Blogger or WordPress.com (you want the self-hosted version, which is WordPress.org – confusing, I know). Buying that $10 domain name from Blogger or GoDaddy does not mean you are self-hosted either.

    Unless you self-host your blog, advertisers, companies, and readers will still know you are on Blogger or free WordPress, and that can look unprofessional. Plus, your blog can be deleted at any time and for no reason if you are using a free version, which actually happened to me. Even though you may save some money in the beginning, not being self-hosted can hurt your chances of earning money through your blog.

    Seriously, just trust me. Go with self-hosted WordPress, and it will significantly increase your chances of monetizing your blog.

    If you want further proof, take a look at my past income reports. You can tell that my blogging income didn't take off until I switched to WordPress. That right there is a lot of proof that being self-hosted on WordPress is the way to go!

    To recap, the positives of being self-hosted on WordPress through Bluehost include:

    • Your blog will look more professional meaning you will increase your chances of making money online.
    • You will have complete control over your blog.
    • You own your blog, and it can't be deleted for any reason.

     

    How do you design a blog?

    To create your blog, I recommend heading to my tutorial: How To Start A WordPress Blog On Bluehost.

    After that, you will have three options when it comes to designing your blog:

    1. Designing your blog on your own
    2. Paying someone to design your blog
    3. Purchasing a premade theme (the quickest option and surprisingly affordable)

    I usually recommend that a new blogger purchase a premade blog design, such as through Beautiful Dawn Designs. She provides great premade designs for just $45 and this is probably the easiest and quickest design option.

     

    How much do I have to spend before I can earn money blogging?

    When I first started my blog, I spent almost NOTHING on blogging expenses.

    I spent less than $100 the first year and not too much more in the second year.

    In fact, I probably went a few years when I was only spending about 1%-2% of my revenues on blogging expenses.

    Now, some of my expenses include:

    • My computer
    • The actual blog (design, hosting, etc.)
    • Courses, guides, and ebooks
    • My email (newsletter) list
    • Virtual assistant and editor
    • Technical management
    • Transaction fees

    But, you do not need to spend money on all of these things to earn money blogging.

    Learn more about my expenses at My Complete List of Monthly Expenses for a Multi Million Dollar Blog.

     

    How many views do you need to make money blogging?

    You do not need millions of pageviews per month to earn money blogging, but if you want to increase your income, it will be important to increase your page views.

    Every blog is different, and it isn't always the blogs with the largest number of readers that make the most money. That's because once you understand what your readers want, understand how to effectively reach out to companies for partnerships, and know how to charge the correct rate, you can make a good income online in many cases, regardless of the amount of pageviews you receive.

    But, if you want to increase your pageviews, here are my tips:

    1. Publish high-quality blog posts. Readers come back to blogs with high-quality and helpful posts. I recommend that your blog posts be at least 750 words, but more wouldn't hurt either. The majority of my blog posts are around 1,500 to 3,000 words (this one is close to 5,000 words!).
    2. Be active on Pinterest. Pinterest is one of my top traffic sources. To increase your pageviews with Pinterest, I recommend creating great images, making sure the description and title of your images are catchy, pinning regularly, and only pinning long images. I use Picmonkey to edit all of my images and Tailwind to schedule them.
    3. Be active on other social media sites. Social media lets you interact with your audience more and can help you expand your audience. Besides Pinterest, you may want to check out Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat, Youtube, and others.
    4. Post regularly. If you want to earn money blogging, you should publish something at least once a week. Going for weeks or months at a time without a blog post can lead to readers forgetting about you.
    5. Network with other bloggers. You should look at other bloggers as friends and colleagues, not competition. This means you may want to interact with them on social media, reach out to them via email, attend conferences, and more. Of course, be genuine and give more than you take.
    6. Guest post. Guest posting is a great way to reach a new audience and helps build partnerships with other bloggers.
    7. Make sure it's easy to share your content. I love sharing posts on social media, but it gets frustrating when some blogs make it more difficult than it needs to be. You should always make sure it's easy for readers to share your content. This could mean making your social media icons easy to find, having all of the info input that is needed for sharing (title, link, and your username), and so on. Also, you should make sure that when someone clicks on one of your sharing icons the title isn't in CAPS (I've seen this too many times). No one wants to share a blog post when it sounds like you're screaming at them.
    8. Create catchy headlines. The title of your post is a major factor influencing whether readers click over or not. I like to use the CoSchedule Headline Analyzer to help me with my headlines.
    9. Learn SEO. SEO (search engine optimization) is not something I could teach in such a small section, but I recommend doing your research and learning more about what it is and how it can help you.
    10. Make it easy for readers to browse. If you want more pageviews, you should make it as easy as possible for readers to read your other blog posts. Readers should be able to easily find your blog homepage, categories, tags, search bar, and so on. Also, I recommend including links for related posts in every single one of your blog posts.

     

    How often should I blog?

    I recommend publishing a blog post at least once a week.

    This is because consistency is important when it comes to blogging.

    I started out publishing short blog posts a few times a week. Now, I try to do just one long blog post each week. I find that works best for me and Making Sense of Cents.

    Others may decide to blog every single day, and some may try every other day. It all depends on what you would like to do.

     

    How many blog posts should I have before launching?

    I recommend simply just launching your blog with one blog post. You can continue to add more as you go.

    I recommend this because you won't have a ton of readers in the beginning anyways, so just getting started is going to be your best plan of action.

    Too many people overthink this question, which just delays them from actually starting their blog.

     

    What is the ideal length for a blog post?

    The ideal length varies. I usually recommend that a blog post be at least 750 words.

    For Making Sense of Cents, my blog posts are almost always at least 2,000 words, and I have written some huge whoppers (like this one) that are around 5,000 words too.

    The ideal length for your article will depend on your niche, and the topic that you are writing about.

     

    How do I get my blog noticed by Google?

    For your blog to be found on Google search results, you'll want to learn about Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

    You can sign up for The SEO Starter Pack (FREE Video Training) – Level up your SEO knowledge in just 60 minutes with this FREE 6-day video training.

    • The exact template that helped my site earn $95,000 in affiliate income last year
    • How I grew my blog to over 80,000 page views a month in 14 months
    • How to Optimize a Blog Post for SEO

     

    How long until a blog makes money?

    This is a hard question to answer, and it's also one of the most common questions I receive.

    As you can tell from my past income reports, it took me nearly a year of blogging to start earning a few hundred dollars a month from my blog. After two years of blogging, I was earning several thousands of dollars a month, which was all on the side of my day job.

    I know some bloggers who were making thousands of dollars a month after just a few months of blogging. There are bloggers out there who began a year or two after me and are making hundreds of thousands of dollars a month. There are also other bloggers who aren't making any money at all.

    As you can see, blogging is not a get-rich-quick scheme and there isn't a timeline for when you will start to earn money blogging. However, if you are serious about it, you never know what it may turn into.

    It all depends on you, the effort you put into your blog, whether you have the time to learn how to monetize your blog, and more.

     

    How do blogs make money?

    There are several ways to earn money blogging, including:

    • Affiliate marketing – I recommend signing up for 10 Easy Tips To Increase Your Affiliate Income to learn more
    • Blog sponsorships
    • Display advertising
    • Product sales
    • Staff writing

    I go in depth on each way monetization method here – How To Earn Money Blogging: Your Top Questions Answered.

     

    How do bloggers get paid?

    Many of you are interested in blogging, but you aren't sure where the income actually comes from.

    How does the money actually get to you?

    You receive blogging income from whoever is paying you.

    • If it is affiliate marketing you are providing, then you are paid by the company that makes the product or service. When someone buys something or signs up through your link, that's when you get.
    • If someone is paying you to place an advertisement on your website, then you get paid by the company who you are advertising for.
    • If you are publishing a sponsored post, then you are paid by the company who is sponsoring that post.
    • If you have display ads on your website, such as with Google Adsense, then you are paid by Google or by any number of other companies.

    There are many companies and blogging networks out there that you can use to earn money blogging, and they usually pay you through PayPal or with a check in the mail.

     

    What blogging ebooks and courses do you recommend?

    It takes a lot of work to grow and build a successful blogging business!

    If you want to earn money blogging, then you may want to look into buying ebooks and/or courses that will teach you about the topics that will help you become a better blogger from the very beginning. Plus, there are many blogging secrets that you just can't find by searching the internet. So, by taking a course or reading an ebook, you will learn the exact steps to take to help you succeed.

    I'm almost always taking new blogging-related courses because I know that there is always something new to learn.

    Here are the ebooks and courses that I recommend for bloggers:

    • Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. I share my exact strategy and tips in this very informative online course. If you're a blogger, then you NEED this course. I show you exactly how to make passive income from blogging, even while you're sleeping.
    • 21 Strategies I Used to Increase My Monthly Page Views from 17k to 400k+ in 10 Months. Lena Gott's guide is full of great information on how to increase your blog's page views. If you are feeling stuck or if you are a new blogger, check out this resource! Lena went from 17,000 monthly page views to 400,000 and shares all of her best tips in this guide.
    • Making Sense of Sponsored Posts. I launched this course with my sister, Alexis of Fitnancials, in 2018 to help bloggers earn money through sponsored posts. Between the two of us, we earn around $20,000-$30,000 a month from sponsored posts. We teach finding sponsorship deals, maintaining partnerships, and how to always make sure that you are helping your readers.
    • My favorite Pinterest course is Pinterest Traffic Avalanche. This course shows you how to get free traffic from Pinterest to your blog. You'll learn about Pinterest SEO, how to set up Rich Pins, how to create viral content, how to make Pinterest images, all about group boards, and many other valuable Pinterest strategies.
    • If you want to learn about Facebook ads, I recommend reading How One Blogger Grew His Blog to Over 2 Million Visitors In A Year.

    The blogging ebooks and courses above will help you to create a successful blog. They will show you how to master Facebook, get crazy traffic from Pinterest, grow your blogging income, and more.

     

    If blogging is so great, then why doesn't everyone do it?

    I hear questions like this pretty often. I also get a lot of people asking me, “If it's so easy, why don't you just start multiple blogs and make even more money?”

    Blogging is not printing money.

    It's not a scam, and it's not a get-rich-quick scheme.

    Learning how to earn money blogging is work, and just like with all jobs – not everyone wants what you want.

    And, for every successful blog out there, there are probably hundreds of bloggers who will never earn money blogging. While you can earn money blogging, not all bloggers will.

    It would be like saying that 100% of people who start a business will see success. That is just never going to happen – businesses fail, business owners have a change of heart, and others just don't find it enjoyable.

    I know I am always talking about the positives of blogging, but I also like to mention how it's not the easiest.

    After all, if blogging was easy, then everyone would do it and everyone would make thousands of dollars a month.

    But as you know, that's not the case.

    Not everyone is going to earn money blogging because it is WORK! Most new bloggers quit just a few months in. A few months is not enough time to see if your blog will be successful. It took me six months before I started to earn money blogging, and I only earned $100. Now, I have made over $5,000,000 from my blog over the years.

    It's funny/weird to think about what life would be like if I would have quit back then.

    Just like you, I went from asking “what is a blog?” to where I am now. And, I'm constantly learning new things about blogging and that is one of the reasons why I enjoy it so much.

    Once you realize that blogging is hard, you will be ahead of 99% of everyone else in the game. Don't assume, like most people do, that blogging is easy money.

    Starting a blog can be difficult. But, all bloggers start at the same point.

    I remember being so lost when I first started my blog. I had to learn everything the hard way – it sure was difficult at times.

    But, I have always really enjoyed blogging. I think that is so important when it comes to this type of business – you either need to have passion in your blog and/or passion in what your blog allows you to do in your free time (such as travel or spending more time with your family).

     

    Have other blogging questions?

    Don't fret!

    I have other blog posts similar to this one where I have answered many other blogging questions.

    Please head to How To Earn Money Blogging: Your Top Questions Answered for answers to questions such as:

    • How does a blogger network with other bloggers?
    • What processes do you have with new blog posts?
    • In what ways can I start making money from a blog?
    • What is affiliate marketing?
    • What are sponsored posts?
    • What is display advertising?
    • Can I create my own product to sell on my blog?
    • Do you have to pay taxes on blogging income?
    • Where do you get your photos from?
    • Why do I need an email list for my blog?
    • How do you think of ideas for new blog posts?

    I was going to include all of those questions here but that would have made this blog post well over 10,000 words!

    What other questions do you have about blogging?

    The post What Is A Blog, How Do Blogs Make Money, & More appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.


    Source: makingsenseofcents.com

    Flexible Spending Accounts: Rules, Regulations, and Uses

    by Phillip Warren
    clear piggy bank

    Flexible spending accounts, or FSAs, are special savings accounts offered through some employer benefit plans. They allow the account holder to pay for certain out-of-pocket medical and dependent care costs with tax-free money.

    However, “tax-free money” is a phrase that’s not used too often in personal finance articles—at least not legitimate ones.

    So it’s no surprise that FSAs come with a decent number of rules and regulations, which limit the application of this special, tax-favored savings vehicle.

    For instance, FSA rules cap the amount of money that can be placed in the account each year ($2,750 for 2021), and also dictate which types of expenses qualify for an FSA distribution.

    Still, FSAs can be a powerful tool for taking care of unavoidable medical costs that frequently wreak havoc on American finances, even with the rules that keep them in check.

    Flexible Spending Account Explained


    We’ve covered flexible spending accounts in depth elsewhere on our site, but as a quick refresher, FSAs are savings programs offered through employers—which means that self-employed people, like freelancers, aren’t eligible.

    (Psst: if that’s you, buying a healthcare plan on the market might be an option to consider, though you may also be able to get coverage through an employed spouse’s plan.)

    FSAs are also sometimes called flexible spending arrangements, and there are a few sub-types, such as dependent care FSAs (DCFSAs) and limited purpose FSAs (LPFSAs).

    However, for the purposes of this article, the focus will be on the account rules that govern plain old healthcare FSAs, whose funds can be used to cover you, your spouse, and your dependents.

    Flexible Spending Account Rules: An Overview

    IRS Publication 502 .

    From acupuncture and alcoholism to birth control pills and psychological counselling, many services do count as qualified medical expenses.

    Along with being the right kind of medical expense, services paid through FSA funds must be applied to the right people in order to be covered. Eligible beneficiaries include:

    •  The account holder
    •  Their spouse
    •  Dependents claimed on their tax return
    •  Children age 26 and under

    Keep in mind, too, that FSAs generally work in conjunction with other types of health benefits and coverage, and funds can’t be used to reimburse services that are covered under other health plans.

    It might be a valuable exercise to write out all of the expected medical expenses you’ll face as a family at the beginning of the plan year in order to decide how much to contribute, including additional coverages, in order to avoid overcontribution. While nobody can predict the future, some routine expenses can be foreseen—and a little bit of planning might save a lot of forfeited funds in the end.

    Taking Distributions from an FSA


    The process for taking distributions from an FSA may vary based on the plan. In some cases, distributions are made from an FSA to reimburse the account holder for medical expenses they’ve incurred. Some FSAs also have a debit, credit, or stored value card that can be used to pay directly for qualifying expenses.

    Fair Health Consumer , would set back an uninsured person living in Portland, OR more than $20,000. Although that cost varies depending on location, it’s clear to see that additional coverage is necessary for most.

    Furthermore, although the tax-free nature of FSAs is attractive, the prospect of forfeiting parts of a paycheck is definitely not—and there are other ways to save cash for medical expenses and other emergencies which offer not just flexibility, but growth.

    For example, the average savings account earns 0.50% APY in interest, and up to 0.80%, per the latest FDIC rate cap information, which isn’t a huge return, but is more than the 0% you’ll earn on an FSA. That said, the value of tax-free dollars could easily eclipse the interest rate if the funds in the FSA are actually used.

    While an FSA can be a beneficial tool, especially for those who know they’ll spend a decent amount out of pocket on healthcare, a SoFi Money® cash management account can add additional help in this instance; there are no account fees and account holders can earn cashback while they save and spend.

    The Vaults system allows you to set money aside for specific savings goals—including medical expenses as well as more exciting objectives like vacations or home renovations. The tax benefits of the FSA can make them an appealing and useful tool. But if you’re not sure you’ll use the funds saved in an FSA, SoFi Money could be an alternate solution. Those that will definitely use funds saved in an FSA may consider using SoFi Money as a complementary tool to work toward other saving goals.

    Want to learn more about how SoFi Money might help you get your money right? Signing up takes minutes.


    SoFi Money®
    SoFi Money is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA / SIPC .
    Neither SoFi nor its affiliates is a bank.
    Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.
    External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
    Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
    SOMN20109

    The post Flexible Spending Accounts: Rules, Regulations, and Uses appeared first on SoFi.


    Source: sofi.com