June 24

Funding Fiction: Three Ways To Pay the Bills While Waiting for Book Sales

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Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could just contact an independent publishing platform, tell them your amazing idea for your book, then accept a big, fat advance for your efforts, so you could spend your days doing nothing but writing your book? Wake up, dreamer, that doesn’t even happen to traditionally published authors anymore.  The truth is, it’s hard to break into self-publishing if you can’t work at it full time, because when you self-pub, you also have to do all your own promotion, sort out your covers, find an editor, format the book…I could go on and on.

This article is talking mostly to self-employed writers, because those of you with full-time jobs are probably making enough money to pay the bills and writing in your spare time, which is completely smart and a good idea, but if you’re like me, with no other consistent source of income, you’ll need to keep the bill collectors away somehow while you pen that bestseller. Here are three ways you can earn money to pay your bills while you’re focusing on fiction, or non-fiction, book writing and selling.

Freelancing

Okay, you knew I was going to open with this, didn’t ya? In my personal experience, freelance writing is nearly perfect for keeping the wolf from the door while you write your book. It allows you to practice, practice, practice while you earn, and it’s totally flexible, especially if you find some really great clients who understand the difference between high quality content and mass produced garbage.

If you’re new to freelancing, you might struggle to find your feet, but then again, you might not. Who knows. But I do know that if you put yourself out there, check the freelancing job boards regularly, and value yourself, you’ll be able to earn enough to get by while you create your masterpiece.

Get a job

Ooh, didn’t see this one coming, did you? Before you throw your hands dramatically up in the air and declare me a hack, just listen. Could a 20-hour-a-week job pay your basic bills so you could focus the rest of your time on your writing? Now, if I didn’t freelance, this option wouldn’t work for me, because I have three kids and a husband who works crazy hours to help keep a roof over our heads.

If I did seek a J-O-B, it would be online, maybe as a virtual assistant or possibly a transcriptionist, if I could teach myself to type and listen at the same time. There are actually a crap-load of online, work from home jobs with reputable companies that are hiring every day.  Customer service jobs from home can be a very lucrative way to finance your fiction, and your customers could provide plenty of material for your book.

Crowdfunding

This is becoming more acceptable as a way to finance your literary ventures, but it’s really not all that dissimilar to the old days of patronage. People support your venture (your book) by paying a few dollars or more into a crowdfunding campaign so you can focus on writing instead of worrying about paying your bills. Beware, this really only works if you know a LOT of people who are willing to fund you, or you are charismatic enough to convince complete strangers to support your venture.

It seems to help if you can offer some sort of reward to your donors, like a copy of your book once it’s finished, or tickets to the Superbowl. Check out Kickstarter for a lot of really good examples of how it’s done.

Now you have no excuse not to write, so get out there and write that book!

March 3

Planning, Perseverance, and Getting Stuff Done

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I recently made some changes to the way I get my work done. Let me back up a little bit, and explain why I needed to make these changes.

I am not, nor have I ever been, the most organized or patient person on the planet. Actually, I’m not really organized at all, and I have a little patience, but only for certain things, and success isn’t one of them.

I am a wonderful beginner of things, but have had a pretty lousy track record of finishing them, at least until recently. I have lots of wonderful ideas, but somehow never seem to get them wrangled into a completed thing.

When I grew tired of writing content for mills, I started focusing on my freelancing career for private clients. Not long after I began actively seeking out new clients, I decided I wanted to work on self-publishing, specifically on Kindle. Mid-book, I realized I wanted to open my own PLR store selling articles to marketers and businesses. Oh, and did I mention I also write children’s books? Is your head spinning yet, trying to keep up with my twisty, curvy career path?

Well, I haven’t given any of these up, (and I actually do more, since I have this blog, another toy review site, and a holiday blog) but not all of them make a ton of money…yet. Since I have bills to pay, I’ve had to fall back on the mills, continue approaching private clients, and trying to market my books. It’s hard to justify marketing and working on things that aren’t paying money NOW, but I knew that the only way these things would ever become real earners for me is if I keep on working them.

Long story short, I was spinning my wheels, trying to do everything, every day, but inevitably, some things would get neglected, and my earnings started dropping. Eeek! So, I decided to do something I hate doing. I sat down and made out a schedule for myself.

Now, I don’t mind planning things out, not at all. In fact, I love making my “to do” list every day and ticking off the items on it. But, I hate forcing myself into a set schedule, primarily because I am a poor time manager. There, I said it. I should probably be in a support group or something, whatever, lol!

I printed off a blank March 2015 calendar, and sat down with my list of things I want to work on. This list includes:

  • Freelancing
  • PLR
  • Children’s books
  • Kindle
  • Blogging

I scheduled myself for Monday through Friday, and left the weekends for “catching up”, or for those things that don’t get done during the week because I ran out of time, or had an emergency come up, like an unexpected job from a client. Family emergencies don’t really count, because I’m treating my business like a business!

I’ve also decided that on the days my youngest goes to daycare for three and a half hours, I’ll just work while she’s at daycare, and stop when she gets home, so I can focus on her and the house stuff. Before, I was at my computer all day long, most of which was spent frustrated over chasing work or revising stuff for content mills. Yuk! I will work after the kids go to bed, and I’m aiming for at least six hours of work a day, which is doable if I get up a little early, work through naptimes, and make notes in a notebook when I’m not on the computer.

This is the first week of my new schedule, and so far, so good. I set myself a daily goal for earnings from freelancing, and surpassed it yesterday, almost met it today, and feeling good about tomorrow. I’ll work on PLR every day, and alternate Kindle with my children’s books, blogging on Kindle days.

Today was a Kindle day, so I began a short ebook on credit, debt, and money management, and now I’m writing this blog post while I watch “Chicago Hope”. So, I think I’m getting that “work-life” balance I’ve heard so much about.

I know that the only way to succeed is to simply start, then keep on persevering until I get to where I need to be.

How do you manage your work and family life? Do you schedule, or do you wing it? Are you overwhelmed, or sailing through the days? Let’s talk about it in the comments section, and help each other succeed!

January 18

Honesty and Openness In Online Business

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When I first started looking for ways to make money online, I was shocked at some of the really outrageous people who were trying to sell me stuff on promises that I’d “make money overnight”, or I could just buy their product and push a button in order to earn thousands of dollars. Yeah, right. Whatever! See, I might have been new to the business of earning online, but I wasn’t stupid. So, I made sure that I was super careful about who I listened to, and where I put my own hard-earned dollars.

I was immediately drawn to anyone who confirmed my own suspicions that you don’t have to spend lots, or any, money when you are just starting out. I valued the advice of people who told me to slow down, take the time to hone my skills, learn new ones, try new things, and not be afraid to fail.

I loved finding out that there were actually people who built six-figure earnings every year from patience, hard work, and being honest with their audiences. It made me feel like, “Hey, if they can do it, and they started with nothing, so can I!” So can you!

What I really wanted to say in this blog post is that not everyone who earns a living online is honest and open about how they do it. Some people sell you products and make claims that they can’t really substantiate. They make a killing selling to desperate, needy people, then move on and sell another product to a different group of desperate people once the first group catches on. Kinda like those old timey snake oil salesman, but a lot slicker.

In my experience, the best way to build an online business is to start by doing what you already know how to do, whether that’s writing, taking photos, helping people, or just being yourself. Heck, some people make good money by just being themselves and putting all in a blog, adding some ads and monetizing the whole thing.

If you don’t have any “skills”, learn some. If you can spend a few hours reading posts on Facebook or keeping up with celebs, you can spare half an hour a day to learn how to write a blog post or how to build a website.

One of the smartest people I know in online business is Tiffany Lambert. She is as honest and open as it gets when it comes to making a successful living online. She started the same way many people do…by chance. She didn’t have a clue when she started out, but she’s one of the most successful people I know now. Check her out, and take a look at people like Dennis Becker and Mike from Maine. These are all real people, just like you and me, who wanted to be successful, but didn’t really know what to do. So, they taught themselves, learned from others, and shared what they know for free or very little cost, so that we could do the same.

Even if you don’t want to make loads of money online, I recommend checking them out. Their stories are quite interesting, and they are just “good people,” as my Nanny Padgett likes to say. When I think about how I want to build my own online business, I know that I want to be the kind of “good people” that others can trust. I am learning, I don’t know it all, I mess up, I don’t make a fortune yet, but, you can trust that what I tell you is the truth. I wouldn’t want to be lied to or swindled while I’m building a business, and I promise that I won’t do those things to you, either.

How do you feel about online business people who are less than honest? Is there anyone you have had amazing experience with online that makes you think they’re “good people?” Please feel free to share in the comments section below!

January 12

Building An Online Empire In Five Bucks A Day

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I’ll bet you think five dollars is nothing, if you’re talking about earning money online. Spend five bucks a day, however, and you’ll see it adds up fast. Five bucks a day adds up to $25 per week, if you don’t count weekends, and who counts those? If you want to start earning money online, you need to start somewhere. Whether you want to build an online empire or simply earn a little extra money every month, these opportunities will help.

 

Write something, get paid

Were you a good writer in school, and can you still remember how to string sentences together? You can easily earn money writing for online content mills. Google the phrase ‘content mills’ and you’ll see lots of reviews, good and bad, about them, plus you’ll find several listed that are begging for writers. Some have waiting lists a mile long. My recommendation is to sign up for several, be sure to read the fine print so you’ll know how long it takes to get access to your cash, and start writing.

Some pay really poorly, some pay well, and others pay extraordinarily well. You will have to do your own research on which o;nes fit you best, but it’s how I got started and still earn a huge percentage of my income. Most importantly, it’s highly flexible…you write as little or as much, whenever you can grab work.

Writers are notoriously funny about sharing their work sources…after all, more writers means less work available, but here are a few you can try that I’ve used and that I maybe won’t get hunted down and executed for sharing. Yes, there are writer ninjas, and they will do anything to protect a source of income…

Textbroker

WriterAccess

Blogmutt

 

Do small tasks that add up to big money

Ever heard of microtasking? It’s basically where big companies hire lots of people to do small jobs to get the work done faster. My favorite microtasking site is mTurk, but there are loads of them out there, just search ‘microtasking sites’ and you’ll get a whole slew of them popping up. My only real tip is to avoid the ones that pay, like, a penny for doing something that takes ten minutes. Aim higher than earning a third of the national wage per hour, please!

Most sites let you sort the tasks by the amount they pay, and some tasks pay really well. I earned several thousand dollars last year from one site alone, primarily doing writing tasks. You can also do surveys, check how websites are functioning, do secret shopper telephone calls…the list of jobs is varied and long. A lot of them you can do while you watch TV, which is more than I can say about some jobs. 🙂

 

Do some gigs on Fiverr

Okay, so you’ll actually have to do more than one gig on Fiverr to earn five bucks, because they keep a dollar from every gig you do, but it’s a real and viable source of income for many people.

Basically, you do a service of your choice for five bucks. For example, I hire people to design book covers or make logos for five bucks, then I use them on my own products. You could do anything from dress like a chicken and dance for your five bucks to write an entire novel, if you are so inclined. I haven’t done this one much…I just haven’t had time to develop a good gig that I want to do, but I earned about $12 in under a week there before I got distracted, I mean, moved on to other projects.

Oh, and if you sell a certain number of gigs, you can add extra services like ‘speedy delivery’ for additional money, so some people end up earning $30 or more dollars per gig in very little time at all.

Fiverr

Freelancing

Okay, this is where you can really make a lot of extra money, especially if you are good at things like web design, writing, creating press releases or copywriting. I have done well with the two sites I’ve listed below, but I could do better. The key to being successful on these sites is KNOW YOUR WORTH, don’t undervalue yourself, and do a good job, on time.

People will hire you to review their books and products for them, to edit things they’ve written, to draw illustrations for them, and so much more. You can meet awesome clients from around the globe, and you get to do things you are good at, for money. Why would anyone do anything else? 🙂

Check out oDesk and Elance. These are two that I use personally…you can find my profiles on there pretty easily to see what I’ve been up to.

 

The idea for this post was inspired by Dennis Becker’s book, 5 Bucks a Day: The Key to Internet Marketing Success. It’s aimed at internet marketers, but is pretty inspirational for anyone just starting out online.

Have you tried any of these methods? Which works best for you? Let me know in the comments section, and maybe we can help someone boost their income a little. After all, a little bit every day makes a big difference!

November 20

If you want to build an online presence, you need a website

How-to-Create-a-Simple-Website-CLICK-HERE

I know some of you are reading this just to earn a little extra money. Some of you want to build a business, and still others aren’t sure what you want to do, but you know that the Internet is the place to do it, whenever you figure out what ‘it’ is!

I built my first website to promote my children’s book, “Roast Potato”. I was clueless, terrified, and convinced I’d screw it up somehow. But, I did it anyway. Yes, it took me ages because I had to learn everything by myself, and no, it’s not perfect, but I did it.

I wish I’d had help when I was trying to work out the steps, or that I’d at least had someone to reassure me that I wouldn’t completely break the internet if I didn’t do it right. Lucky for you, you can always email me if you need help, but if I were you, I’d turn to someone who knows a little more than me!

You could spend hours searching online for all the steps (like I did), or you could check out this fantastic product by my friend, Victoria Virgo.

Victoria-Virgo-photo

How To Create A Simple Website is exactly what it says, an easy to understand PDF plus videos walking you through the entire process. Victoria walks you through everything you need to know, from how to choose a domain name and what exactly ‘hosting’ is (and why you need it), to putting content on your site to share with the world.

For just under ten bucks, you can have the entire, mind-numbing experience made easy for you.

Victoria is also top-notch when it comes to internet marketing, and she is just an awesome person.

Do yourself a favor and check out her informational product. It’s one of those things that will definitely help make your start at working from home a lot less confusing, and her British accent is totally worth the cost, lol!

Let Victoria help you make your first simple website, and begin your own adventure in earning money online!

November 13

Big changes, exciting new stuff!!!

I’m officially pooping my pants hereI have just made some big steps towards spreading my wings on the world wide web!

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I have been half-heartedly blogging on this and a couple of other sites for a while now, but I finally decided that I wanted and needed to take this blog in a new direction. I am going to be focusing much more on how to help families improve their financial situations through working for themselves, especially working online, but also through starting their own small business ventures.

I have a lot of friends who I see struggling on a daily basis, and I struggle, too. My family earns good money, but we are up to our eyeballs in debt, struggling with medical bills for a kiddo who goes for weekly doctor’s visits, and trying to keep ahead of the bill collector from month to month.

I have friends who are single parents, working two and three jobs to make ends meet and who still can’t find the extra money to enjoy their time with their kids.

I have young married friends who have little babies and struggle to afford the necessities, and even young married friends who are afraid to have babies because it’s too expensive.

Well, I say screw that. I know from experience that there is money to be had online and off, if you just know where to look and are willing to WORK for it.

Yes, I said the ugly, four-letter word that a lot of people don’t want to hear when it comes to trying to make real money online. But, the truth is, it takes time and effort to make money online. But, I know that there are ways to make small amounts of money online that can help add to your main income, or big amounts that can replace it, if you take the right steps and put in the sweat equity, so to speak.

SO…in summary, expect some BIG changes around here. I’m going to be detailing my own journey as a self-employed freelance writer/internet marketer and I’ll be introducing you to others who can help YOU make money on the internet and beyond. Look for video blogs, links to useful products and websites, and a real dose of, well, reality.

I hope you will follow me on this journeyI know we’re going great places!

 

Jess

August 7

Five Ways To Earn Real Money Online Fast

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If you think you can’t earn money online, think again. I used to think that you had to struggle and spend every hour of the day piddling around online just to see any real money, but I was wrong. It is definitely possible to earn real money online fast, in as little as a few days in some cases. Here are five tried and true ways that anyone with a little extra time, skill and determination can easily earn a great side income or even earn a full time income online.

Become a Content Provider

On the Internet, content is King. Every website you visit probably has loads of information on them. Someone needs to write that information, and it could very well be you. Don’t expect to just approach any popular blog and become a staff writer overnight. Unless you’re a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, you’ll need to earn your writing stripes.

Ghostwriters write content for everyone from blog owners to business, and plenty in-between. You won’t have your name attached to these ghostwritten articles, but you will earn good money for your efforts. Take a look at sites like oDesk and Freelancer to find freelance ghostwriting jobs, or Google ‘content mills’ for places you can write one or two articles at a time for quick money.

Sell Your Stuff

Ebay, Craigslist and other online classified sites have made it possible to run your own retail business without leaving your house. Take a look around your home and find the things you don’t want or need anymore, and sell them online. You can also look for great items in the clearance section of stores, and resell them for a fair price. Remember to account for shipping costs when pricing your items to avoid cutting into your profits.

Turn Your Crafting Hobby Into Cash

Sites like Etsy have made it easy to get your crafty creations out into the world and make a few extra dollars from your hobbies. The best way to make the most money is to create something unique and interesting, and make sure you put plenty of photos of your item online.

If your business really booms, you can consider moving away from Etsy and selling through your own website for even more profit.

Sell Your Photos

If you’re like me, you probably have a few thousand photos on your hard drive, but only a handful that are actually really good. Why not take those and sell them online to stock photography sites such as iStockphoto? You don’t have to be a professional photographer; you just have to have photos that are good enough for others to want to use on their websites, book covers, or other projects.

If you get really good, you may be able to set up your own online portfolio and begin taking photos for other people. I personally know a few moms who turned their love of photography into full time jobs, working at home for themselves and loving it!

Do Something For $5

Ever heard of Fiverr? It’s a site that people hire themselves out for odd jobs at five dollars a time. The site itself keeps a dollar, so you only earn $4 for each job, but after a few successful ‘gigs’ you can increase your price by adding extra services. Popular ‘gigs’ on Fiverr include things like writing short articles, writing reviews, computer stuff (editing photos, making book covers, etc.), and basically anything you could think of.

The best way to earn on Fiverr is to offer a unique service that doesn’t take long to do, and provide great service so you’ll get good reviews. Once you get a good reputation, you’ll be turning away business!

If you need extra money to supplement your income, or if you want to try your hand at earning online so you can leave your day job, give one or more of these great methods a try, and let me know what your results are in the comments section below!

July 29

How Can I Retire If I'm Self-employed?

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It’s been nagging me that I don’t have a retirement plan in place. I mean, I had a couple of 401K plans at my previous employers, but since I only had a few hundred dollars in those, I cashed them in to help cover costs when I was between jobs (i.e. having kids).

Now that I’m self-employed, I realize that, like Uncle Ben told Peter Parker, aka, Spiderman, with great power comes great responsibility. With no retirement fund in place, I don’t feel very responsible. How can I retire if I’m self-employed? I didn’t have a clue.

So, I started digging around, and found some great suggestions for retirement plans for self-employed people like me, courtesy of Forbes magazine. Take a look and see for yourself if one of these would be good for you.

SEP-IRA

If you work for yourself, this is a good choice because you can set aside up to 25% of your net self-employment earnings, up to a certain amount. The simplified employee pension is built up with pretax dollars, so you can reduce your tax liability by setting aside a little extra at tax time to reduce the taxes you owe.

It’s not a great choice if you have employees, though, since you have to also make contributions to their SEP-IRA’s as well.

SOLO 401K

This one operates a bit like a traditional 401K, allowing you to borrow against the account if you absolutely need to, but it also allows you to contribute as both an employer and an employee, allowing you to set aside more pre-tax dollars.

Simple IRA

This is more of a savings incentive plan for self-employed people with a few employees. You match their contributions to their own IRA, but can deduct the contributions from your own liability. If you need to pull money out, there are hefty fees and fines, so this is more of a long-term saving plan rather than a last minute effort to secure a comfortable retirement.

Baffled by all the terminology related to these plans, or still just not sure which is right for you? I would recommend speaking to a customer service agent at a reputable financial firm. Vanguard, T. Rowe Price and Fidelity are all very good at explaining the different options available to self-employed people, and any one of them will likely steer you to the best choice for your individual needs.

Have you got your retirement plan in place? How are you planning to afford your ‘golden years’? Please feel free to share in the comments section below!

March 29

Spring Clean Your Finances

Five things you can do right now to improve your family finances!

I was just reading up on a few of Dave Ramsey’s posts on his website when I found this great article. I love Dave’s no nonsense approach to getting control of your money, and these tips are so easy, you can do them today!

1. Review all your insurance policies.

Dave makes a great point about reviewing all your insurance policies–home, life, and auto–in order to see if your circumstances have changed and to see whether policy changes could save you money.

2. Cut the grocery spending.

Rather than using coupons to save on shopping, Dave advises his readers to try cutting the monthly food budget by $10, and moving that money to another area of your budget. You could use this to pay off extra debt, or simply put it into a savings account. You won’t have to sacrifice much, and the money could be put to much better use in another part of your budget.

3. Review your cell phone plan.

This one is definitely worth doing, because most of us never use every feature of our plan that we pay for. Data usage is on particular area where people often overpay, so check your usage and see if you could save money by lowering your data limit.

4. Combine two items into one.

I really like this tip…it is especially useful for people like me who tend to break their budget down into waaaay too many categories. He suggests combining budget items to save money. You could combine things like ‘eating out’ and ‘entertainment’ to save more money every month.

5. Take a look at the kids’ extracurricular activities.

Again, this one hits home with me. It can get very expensive trying to keep three kids happy and entertained with their hobbies and after school activities, not to mention overwhelming for the kids if their schedules get too out of hand. Pick one favorite activity, and find the least expensive way to do it, and everyone wins!

What tips do you have for tweaking your budget this spring?

March 28

Do you want to work at home? I didn't, but now I'm so glad I do!

I know a lot of people are struggling to make ends meet (myself included, most days!), but at the same time, they are struggling to find happiness with their job.

Maybe you took a job because you needed the money, but you’re scared to try moving on to something better. Or, maybe there isn’t anything better, at least not any J-O-B that is better than the one you currently have.

I have a confession to make. I didn’t set out to be a work at home mom. I had sort of tried that before, but didn’t know how to get myself together enough to actually make it work. I ended up stressed, struggling for money and ready to go back to the workforce. Fast forward a couple of years, and an unexpected bundle of joy put us in a tricky position financially. I could keep my job, but basically work to just pay childcare fees.

I know there are other moms out there in this boat, wondering if it’s worth going back to work just to pay for daycare. And I know there’s lads of parents-moms and dads-who would love to spend more time at home with their kids, but who are afraid of losing their guaranteed paycheck every week.

But, pay checks aren’t always guaranteed. People get laid off. People get sick, and sometimes people just get fed up with being an employee. And, let me tell you, there are alternatives.

How I Started

I started writing online when my youngest daughter was born, and at first I told myself I would be happy with an extra $20 each week. That was easy, that was doable. And it was okay, for about two weeks. Then I got the bug…I wanted $50 a week, and I became obsessed with finding out how to make a real income writing from home.

I had the luxury of a husband who earned well enough to pay the bills, mostly, and a newborn who slept a lot, so I was able to really spend a lot of time researching and writing, finding sites to write for and learning as much as I could about earning money online.

I had no special skills, didn’t finish college, and am still not the best writer out there, but I am a persistent gal who loves to write, so I kept at it. And I started to realize that being my own boss, and earning a real income, was more than just possible…it was happening!

Challenging But Rewarding

I won’t lie…working for myself is just as challenging as it is rewarding. Some weeks, I struggle to meet my financial goals. Some months, I have more work than I can manage, while others, I can barely find enough time to bring work in.

I plan on sharing much more of what I have learned about working from home here on the blog, because I really think a lot of people don’t realize that there are actual, viable ways to earn a living working from home. I mostly write, but I have friends who have started their own businesses in other platforms like photography, crafting and direct sales.

If you are wondering if working from home full or part time could be a real option for you, check back here to read my upcoming posts. I’ll try to be as detailed as possible without writing a novel worth of info!

If you could work at home, what would you like to do? Why? Please share your answers in the comments…I’d love to know!