For Folks with no Free Time

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I’m going to take you on a roundabout today. The premise is simple: if you’ve got no free time, then you should optimize the time you do have. And I promise I’ll end up with some useful personal finance ideas at the end.

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A Newt, a lion, and mouse walk into a bar…

Newt Gingerich—even if I find his ideology questionable—tells an interesting parable about the field mouse and the gazelle. Why do lions hunt gazelles, when they could just hunt field mice? A field mouse would certainly be easier to catch.

The answer is simple: calories vs. effort. Let’s compare a gazelle to a field mouse. A lion might need to spend 100x more energy to chase and kill a gazelle compared to a mouse. But the gazelle will offer the lion 1000x the caloric intake over a mouse. Over the long run, a lion will starve on mice—too much energy spent on too little reward.

Newt Gingerich used this idea when deciding how to best use his time in Congress. Go after the big political fish.

I implore you to use this idea in your life, be it in personal finance or otherwise. And we’ll get to some of those personal finance ideas.

But first, I have to tell you about my friend, Shel.

Meet Shel

Shel is full of creative ideas. Always thinking, always searching, the epitome of curiosity. It’s a great way to think.

But only a few of Shel’s ideas are good ideas. That’s normal. Many of history’s most influential creatives (Beethoven, Shakespeare, Edison) were chock full of terrible ideas. But among all the terrible ideas were small nuggets of gold. These icons produced a sufficient quantity of ideas such that quality ideas eventually appeared.

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.

-Thomas Edison

While creating bad ideas is perfectly normal, there is a problem in Shel’s life worth discussing.

Shel tends to chase his ideas—including all the bad ones—down to the bottom of rabbit holes. He spends precious mental energy and time on the never-to-be-realized minutiae of bad ideas. What do I mean?

Shel’s (Too) Deep Thoughts

Here’s an example:

I want to start a business that sells sea shells to people in a midwest city.
They don’t have ocean shores there, you see?
Shel Sells Sea Shells, LLC.
So Midwesterners who want sea shells would order sea shells from me.

But then I began to read and study.  
Iowa has a tax that will affect the shipping fee,
for customers returning the sea shells to me.
If I had a deal…buy a dozen, get the 13th shell free…
then this tax law could ruin the company.
So I need to figure out how to solve that difficulty.

-Shel

Deep breath.

Shel spent time researching the mollusk-FedEx industrial complex in Des Moines. It applies only to returns, and only if there was a “free” deal in the original purchase.

This is the kind of analysis that doesn’t work for someone with no free time.

Shel has too much time…

What do you think about Shel’s analysis? I hope you’re screaming to yourself…BUT SHEL, IS THIS BUSINESS IDEA ANY GOOD!?!?!

IS THERE DEMAND? DOES ETHEL FROM SIOUX CITY ACTUALLY WANT SEA SHELLS?

WHAT ARE THE SIMPLEST ASPECTS OF THIS BUSINESS MODEL?

Answering questions is a good thing. But the key, you see, is identifying the best questions to answer. That’s where Shel hits a wall.

If you’re not careful, you can waste a lot of time answering bad questions. Here are some good (bad?) examples.

  • Why is course almost the same word as source?
  • How many hairs are on Tom Cruise’s feet?
  • What would the prize be for a limbo contest on the Moon?

These are peculiar questions. They’re also pretty pointless. If we’re to maximize the time that we have, then we should focus on answering good questions.

Focus on the best ideas

Answering bad questions makes your brain feel productive, but it’s not a worthwhile pursuit. And that’s the end of the article. Or, it could be. I think this point is important enough that it can stand on its own merits. If you’ve got no free time, then don’t waste time on bad questions. But!…there’s a parallel in personal finance.

Spending energy on improving your personal finance is a good thing. But the key is identifying the best improvements to chase.

Some people pick up every coin they see. Over the course of a year, they’ll pick up $5 or $10 or $20 in change. Not bad! But I think these people are hunting field mice.

Some people only shop at thrift stores. They save 80% or more on clothes, home goods, and little knick-knacks. Each year, they save a few hundred bucks. That’s better! But again—is this a field mouse, or a gazelle?

Other people focus only on the big three: transportation, housing, and food. These people spend time and energy trying to minimize these three biggest expenses in their budget.

They only buy economically efficient vehicles but prefer public transit or bicycles. They look for roommates, or for minimalist living arrangements. No McMansions. And then they reduce their grocery bills and dining out costs, looking for deals and prepping weeks’ worth of meals at once. By chasing these big three, one can easily save thousands of dollars every year. That’s great!

The Pareto Principle: no free time might be ok

The Pareto principle states, for a given event, that 80% of the outcomes are often created by 20% of the causes. If you have an hour to spend optimizing your budget, you can probably complete the most important 80% of the work in the first 12 minutes (20% of 60 minutes = 12 minutes).

Ignore the pennies on the ground; you can do better! Field mice, I say! If you focus on identifying the best opportunities to affect your personal finance, you can profoundly improve your life without wasting time. The problem of “no free time” is minimized, because you’re focused on the biggest ideas.

Not sure where to start? Think about the “big three” that I call out above: housing, transportation, and food. For me, these three take up over 50% of my monthly spending (and that’s after the fact that I’ve owned my car for 8 years and no longer have monthly payments on it).

If you’re interested, here’s my full monthly spending breakdown.

A Fun Exercise

Answer these three questions. I’ll give you some of my answers as I ask them.

  • What do I love and spend a lot of time on? (i.e. gazelles)
    • Relationships (though I ought to spend more time with family—hi family! More on this below)
    • Squash—my best workout, a game I love, and even a source of side income
    • This blog—I love writing! And I hope you enjoy reading it.
  • What do I spend too much time on that isn’t worth it? (i.e. field mice)
    • My phone. Nobody, to my knowledge, has hoarsely whispered on their death bed, “I just wish I had seen more Instagram stories…”
    • Work—at least kinda. In one way, work is the biggest gazelle for me, since it funds every other aspect of my life. But what I mean here is that I spend too much time on my work, and I feel like my long-term work prognosis is that of a mouse-hunting lion. It gives me the calories I need, but saps a lot of my energy in the process.
    • Bad moods. This is a tough one for me. Brain chemistry is a cruel mistress. Similar to my comment for “work”—I can’t recall too many moody days that I feel nostalgic about. Improving my mood has been a decade-plus effort of two steps forward, one grumpy step back.
  • What do I love that I want to spend more time on? (i.e. gazelles that escape your grasp). My list is loooooong. I hope yours is long too. These are all the things that you find amazing about this world, but that our 24-hour existence makes challenging to fit in. Here are just a few of mine:
    • Family. This semi-famous article “The Tail End” illustrates my thoughts extremely well. If you’re over 18, you’ve probably already lived through 95% of the days that you’ll ever get with your parents. The percentage is not quite as high for siblings, but still significant. Make the most of those remaining days. I’d like to move this entry up into the first section.
    • Making music. I really like playing the guitar and singing
    • Playing games—chess, cards, nerdy role-playing games.
    • Traveling. I’m 40% of the way through life, and feel like I’ve seen approximately 0.004% of this planet. Not a good ratio.
    • Getting outdoors. I get outside a lot, but not enough for how badly my itch itches.

Parting Advice

At life, at work, in personal finance, wherever…identify the field mice and identify the gazelles. And don’t be a Shel, if you can help it.

And, as always, thanks for reading the Best Interest. If you enjoyed this article and want to read more, I’d suggest checking out my Archive or Subscribing to get future articles emailed to your inbox.

-Jesse Cramer  

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Tagged food, free time, Housing, ideas, pareto

Source: bestinterest.blog

How Knowing Your Happiness Style Can Help Your Marriage

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Recently, I had the chance to read The Happiness Dare by Jennifer Dukes Lee.

The primary message of the book is that you should discover your own personal happiness style so you can fill your life with activities that make you happy, rather than trying to follow what activities make other people happy.

As part of the discovery process, she offered a happiness style test.

(Take it yourself at thehappinessdare.com).

Five Happiness Styles

happiness-styles

happiness-styles

Dukes Lee defines five happiness styles:

The Doer

This person is ambitious and most happy when completing tasks and being productive.  This person appreciates the weekend but is equally as happy to go back to work on Monday.

The Relater

This individual enjoys deep connections with other people.  She derives energy from being surrounded by family and friends and tries to guard against loneliness.  This person might be the one who starts chatting to the person next to her on the airplane and knows the person’s whole life story by the end of the trip.

The Experiencer

This person doesn’t place much value on physical objects and buying things but on experiencing.  He would much prefer to take a spontaneous trip or adventure and live in the moment.

the happiness dare

the happiness dare The Giver

Givers like to give to others and make them happy.  They don’t mind doing work behind the scenes that others may not notice.

The Thinker

This person needs time to spend alone, to have quiet and time for reflection.  She loves reading, and at a party, she’d prefer to have an in-depth conversation with one or two people rather than mingling and engaging in small talk with many people.  Some people see The Thinkers as aloof, but they’re not.

As I was reading this book, it helped me understand my own temperament.  I took the test and was primarily a Thinker, followed closely by a Doer.  My husband took the test and was a Doer, followed closely by a Thinker.  Perhaps that’s why we agree on many things.

Understanding Your Spouse

As I was reading, I realized that The Happiness Dare test should be taken by couples before they marry.  Too often, spouses try to change one another, which is very difficult, if not impossible to do.  Plus, couples often fight over money, and how they want to spend money is likely directly related to their happiness style.

For instance, a Relater may find outside entertainment important.  He may value spending Friday night going out for drinks with friends or out to eat or to a show.  He may want to host friends at his house and cook a big meal for them.

If this Relater is married to a Thinker, she may resent the money he spends on what she sees as frivolous activities that aren’t really necessary.  Because she enjoys spending time at home in quiet, she may be distracted by his friends and the constant need for company.

However, if they both took the test, he might understand why she doesn’t want to work overtime at her job (since that would cut into her time to think, reflect, and enjoy the quiet that she so needs).  She may understand that being with people is essential to his happiness.  Perhaps she could coax him to be around people in a more frugal way, or she could just accept that going out with friends on Friday night is important.  As a couple, they could designate a specific amount for him to spend when he’s out with friends.

When a couples’ happiness style aligns closely, as my husband and mine do, there usually isn’t much conflict about money.  However, when their happiness styles differ significantly, there is a high probability that they may also disagree about how to spend money.  Knowing each other’s happiness styles can help eliminate some of that conflict.

Do you think you and your spouse would differ significantly if you took the happiness style test?  How do you handle your financial differences?

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Source: biblemoneymatters.com

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

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. 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. 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. 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 (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, 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 (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

Source: fancypantshomes.com

Shigeru Ban-Designed Home in Sagaponack, NY is the Prized Architect’s Only Project in the Area

Many million dollar homes come with name-bragging rights. Sometimes, it’s because a celebrity once lived in the house, or because a famous designer left its touch on the home’s interiors; or maybe the address itself is well-known, for one reason or another.

But there’s a whole other level of name dropping that comes with owning a home envisioned by one of our generation’s leading architects. And that’s exactly the case for this modern glass home in Sagaponack, NY, designed by world-renowned architect Shigeru Ban.

In fact, the property is the award-winning Japanese architect’s first and only work in Long Island, and has recently hit the market with a $4,995,000 price tag. Listed with Matt Breitenbach of Compass, the architectural masterpiece was already marked as Contract Signed on the brokerage’s website mere days after it came to market, which means it’s likely that an architect buff has already seized on the opportunity to own a home designed by the Pritzker-prize winner.

Shigeru Ban-designed home in Sagaponack, NY. Photo credit: Compass
Shigeru Ban-designed home in Sagaponack, NY. Photo credit: Compass

Famous for blending traditional Japanese elements with modern Western architecture, Shigeru Ban was named to TIME magazine’s shortlist of 21st-century innovators, won the 2014 Pritzker prize (the biggest distinction in the architecture world), and left his imprint on structures like the Aspen Art Museum, Centre-Pompidou-Metz in France, and Tainan Art Museum in Taiwan.

Despite the many accolades, the Japanese architect is most known for being a champion for sustainable architecture and has been instrumental in designing disaster relief housing from Rwanda to Turkey.  His design philosophy is centered around creating uniquely free and open spaces with concrete rationality of structure and construction method, and the Sagaponack home is a perfect embodiment of this.

With a design based on Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s unbuilt Brick Country House (which dates back to 1924), the 8,000-square-foot home boasts unique architectural features, including a row of pillars that line the path to the front door — and that can double as hidden storage.

Shigeru Ban-designed home in Sagaponack, NY. Photo credit: Compass
Shigeru Ban-designed home in Sagaponack, NY. Photo credit: Compass
Shigeru Ban-designed home in Sagaponack, NY. Photo credit: Compass
Shigeru Ban-designed home in Sagaponack, NY. Photo credit: Compass

The 5-bedroom, 5.5-bath home comes with exceptional furnishings by renowned designer Shamir Shah. It has floor-to-ceiling windows, an oversized living room (with a wood burning fireplace and wraparound views of the landscaped lawn), and a massive workout room that is more akin to a private high-end gym — complete with floor-to-ceiling mirrors and every piece of equipment you could think of, including a spin bike, elliptical, treadmill, press machines, and more.

The indoors seamlessly open to the outdoor areas, where there’s a heated in-ground pool and a pool-side terrace with multiple lounging areas — adding to the tranquil zen garden area (with a modern stone fountain) which greets visitors as they enter the property.

Shigeru Ban-designed home in Sagaponack, NY. Photo credit: Compass
Shigeru Ban-designed home in Sagaponack, NY. Photo credit: Compass

More beautiful homes

This Brooklyn Condo Has a Dreamy Backyard that Will Make You Forget You’re in the City
Power Couple Loren & JR Ridinger Selling Palatial Unit in Jean Nouvel-Designed Building
This Stunning Former East Village Synagogue is Seeking Renters
Former Home and Office of Marilyn Monroe’s Psychiatrist Listed for Sale in Manhattan

Source: fancypantshomes.com

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

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:

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.

 

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:

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?

Related Posts

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Source: makingsenseofcents.com

DoorDash vs. UberEats: Which App Is Right For Your Next Side Gig?

For better or worse, apps like DoorDash and Uber Eats have disrupted the food-delivery industry. Since their launch in 2013 and 2014 respectively, restaurants across the country have outsourced delivery services to independent drivers who use the apps to make extra cash.

During the pandemic, these services have seen demand like never before. For customers, the apps make ordering food from just about any restaurant as easy as opening their smartphones. For drivers, it’s almost as easy to land a delivery job hawking food from local eateries.

But before you download your next job, take some time to review the key differences between DoorDash and Uber Eats so that you can make the most of your delivery gig.

DoorDash vs Uber Eats: The Top Food Delivery Apps Duke It Out

The general premise of the two apps is almost identical: Customers place food orders at local restaurants. The apps alert drivers in the area with the order details. The first driver to accept the order picks up the food and drops it off to the customer. Simple enough, right?

Several differences are worth noting, though. Some minor and some major. We took a deep dive into those differences, looking at pay, vehicle and job requirements, available locations, driver reviews and more to help you make an informed decision before you start delivering.

And if it’s too close to call, you can always sign up for both to see which one suits you better.

Round 1: App Reviews

A woman looks at what's offered on Uber Eats.
Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder.

Because the apps are so popular, they’ve amassed more than 4.1 million driver reviews. Both companies require their drivers to use different apps than customers, a huge perk when trying to get a sense of drivers’ perspective. Worker reviews from Glassdoor are also included.

DoorDash Driver (Dasher) Reviews

Feedback from Dashers is overall mixed, but there’s a clear preference for the iOS version of the app. Trends in negative reviews across all platforms show that many drivers have trouble with glitches and crashes, especially Android users, and that the nature of the work takes a toll on their vehicles. Many negative reviews mention that DoorDash’s strict performance metrics are a hassle.

Workers reviewed DoorDash more than 760,000 times.

App Store (iOS) review: 4.7 out of 5.
Google Play (Android) review: 3.3 out of 5.

Glassdoor review: 3.7 out of 5.

Uber Driver Reviews

More than 3 million drivers reviewed Uber. A caveat worth noting is that Uber has one driver app. That means it’s hard to get the opinions of only Uber Eats drivers because general Uber app reviews are mixed in. Overall, reviews are positive.

Trends in negative delivery reviews on Glassdoor indicate GPS issues and trouble contacting customer service. Several drivers mentioned problems with promotion and surge pay (bonus pay during in-demand times). Negative reviews regarding vehicle wear-and-tear are common.

App Store (iOS) review: 4.6 out of 5.

Google Play (Android) review: 3.8 out of 5.

Glassdoor review: 3.9 out of 5.

Round 2: Job and Vehicle Requirements

A woman drives for Uber.
Carmen Mandato/ The Penny Hoarder

To become a Dasher or Uber Eats driver, you have to meet a baseline of requirements. Some are vehicle related and some are age and experience related.

DoorDash

To qualify as a Dasher you must be at least 18. Dashers need to have a valid driver’s license. There are no car requirements, but auto insurance is required. In some markets you can make deliveries on scooters, bicycles and motorcycles.

Uber Eats

To make automobile deliveries, the minimum age requirement is based on your local jurisdiction, plus at least one year of driving experience. Vehicles must be no more than 20 years old. Drivers must be properly insured and can use bikes and scooters in certain markets. The age requirements are higher for those who prefer two wheels — 18 for bicycles and 19 for scooters.

Round 3: Sign-Up Process

Becoming a delivery driver for DoorDash and Uber Eats is simpler than landing a part-time job. You can complete the entire process from your smartphone or computer.

DoorDash

You can sign up to become a Dasher on the driver app. You’ll have to consent to a background and motor vehicle check (and pass both). They could take as little as a few days, but err on the side of a week or two.

After passing the checks, you’ll need to select what type of “orientation” you want. The pandemic paused in-person orientations. Depending on your market you may need to request an “activation kit” instead. Receiving your activation kit may take an extra couple of weeks, according to driver reviews.

The activation kit includes a Dasher manual, a hot bag and a credit card, which is used to pay for orders. Once you receive and set up the card through the app, you can start accepting orders.

Uber Eats

For drivers new to Uber, you can sign up on the website or through the driver app. Because of the stricter vehicle requirements, the application requires more detailed information on your ride. A background check is also required, which may take three to five business days to process.

After the background check clears and your application is approved, you’re free to start taking orders. No orientation or additional equipment is needed.

If you’re a current rideshare driver for Uber, it’s easy to start delivering with Uber Eats. You simply opt in to Uber Eats orders through the driver app and start delivering without any additional screening.

Round 4: Pay and Tipping

The two apps handle pay a little differently, both in how you get paid and how you pay for customers’ orders when you pick them up. Neither company offers guaranteed wages (unless you live in California).

DoorDash

As of Fall 2019, the company switched to a payment model where Dashers earn a higher base pay per order in addition to keeping 100% of their tips. Previously, a customer’s tip would subsidize the Dasher’s base pay.

Dashers report earning between $11 and $15 an hour depending on location, but those earnings aren’t guaranteed. Pay is based on how many orders you accept per hour and how much customers tip you. DoorDash pays weekly through direct deposit, or you can access your earnings early through Fast Pay, for $1.99.

When picking up orders, you may be required to pay for the order using the company red card from your activation kit.

Uber Eats

Depending on your location, you can expect to earn $11 to $14 an hour on average. Again, those wages aren’t guaranteed because your earnings are based on orders and tips. With Uber Eats, you pocket 100% of your customers’ tips. You get paid weekly via direct deposit, or you can pay a fee to access your earnings early through Instant Pay for 50 cents.

You won’t be involved in the payment process for food orders. Partner restaurants are reimbursed directly by Uber.

Round 5: Available Locations

People walk alongside a lake and tall buildings.
Aileen Perilla/ The Penny Hoarder

This one’s easy. Both services are available in most big cities in all 50 states.

Previously, DoorDash and Uber Eats ran driver support centers in major metro areas of most states. In 2020, many of these centers closed due to the coronavirus. Some still exist, but neither company offers a comprehensive, public list of remaining locations.

Final Round: Additional Perks

Promotional offers are popular with both DoorDash and Uber, but they’re temporary and vary by location. Aside from sign-up bonuses and referral codes, here are a couple perks that are here to stay.

DoorDash

A few perks unique to DoorDash include grocery delivery options, automatic insurance coverage and health care services.

After you’re screened and accepted as a Dasher, you can choose to deliver food in any city where DoorDash operates, meaning there are no hard location requirements. The company also launched grocery delivery services in some Midwest and West Coast areas.

Dashers also get supplemental auto insurance and occupational accident insurance for accidents or injuries that fall outside your current auto insurance. The insurance plan covers up to $1 million in medical costs, a weekly payment of $500 for disabilities and $150,000 to dependents for fatal accidents. Coverage is automatic. There are no deductibles or premiums.

While DoorDash doesn’t offer health insurance, the company does partner with Stride Health, which provides free health care advising and assistance to Dashers who need help finding affordable insurance plans.

Uber Eats

Uber Eats drivers get a variety of discounts and may be eligible for Uber Pro perks.

All Uber drivers receive discounts for vehicle maintenance and phone service plans. Uber also partners with Stride Health to provide health plans and tax advice. Drivers automatically receive supplemental auto insurance, which covers up to $1 million in damages. There’s a $1,000 deductible before benefits pay out.

Uber Pro perks have recently expanded to all of Uber’s markets across the U.S. Only top-rated drivers receive Pro perks like tuition and gas reimbursement, and the program is designed for Uber drivers primarily, not Uber Eats drivers.

If you drive for both Uber and Uber Eats, your food deliveries may apply to Uber Pro, but Uber-Eats-only drivers aren’t eligible.

Final Decision in DoorDash vs Uber Eats

Ding! Ding! It was an even match-up. Uber Eats and DoorDash were neck and neck throughout. No knockout punches. A good few jabs by DoorDash’s insurance coverage and grocery options and a couple of hooks by Uber’s overall ratings and ability to switch to ridesharing.

The decision goes to our judges. (That’s you.)

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

Source: thepennyhoarder.com