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1 Easy Way to Monetize A Blog Instantly with Affiliate Marketing

1 Easy Way to Monetize A Blog Instantly with Affiliate Marketing

I get it, you have a website or starting a new website and you’re asking yourself How to Monetize a Blog? I did the same thing 5 years ago when I started my first affiliate website. Since then I’ve come a long way monetizing websites with affiliate marketing. While the designs and websites have changed, I’ve always monetized my blogs the same way.

*If you’re not familiar with Affiliate Marketing keep reading, if you know all about it, skip to “1 Easy Way to Monetize Your Blog”.

Most Bloggers Monetize A Blog With Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate Marketing is the idea that when a visitor is on your website and clicks an outbound link to Amazon or Toys R’ Us from your website and buys something, you receive a commission of that sale.

Most bloggers do this because they are then earning a commission off products they already have or heavily recommend. Amazon encourages this because they are receiving customers they wouldn’t have gotten without your website. Everyone wins.

What does an Affiliate Marketing Link look like?

It’s super simple, Affiliate Marketing links just look like regular hyperlinks. Here are some examples:

  1. If you’re writing about gym equipment, how about a Pull Up Bar?
  2. Maybe you really love writing about Harry Potter decorations?
  3. Or you write about upcoming events like Mother’s Day and mention flowers?

All of these are affiliate marketing links. If you clicked through them and bought any of those items. I would make a commission and it’s simple to set up. Here’s how to do it for your site.

1 Easy Way to Monetize Your Blog

It’s super easy to start monetizing your blog and it can be set up in minutes! The easiest way to start affiliate marketing is to partner with an affiliate marketing company.

Secret: 1 Easy Way to Monetize your blog is to sign up with an Affiliate Marketing company that turns every outbound link on your website into an affiliate marketing link automatically that you can earn a commission on.

There a lot of different affiliate marketing companies out there, but I’m sharing my personal experience with Viglink which has made monetizing my blogs insanely easy. I’ve used them the last 5 years. They have a great WordPress plugin that turns every outbound link into an affiliate link. Plus they partner with over 2,000 merchants, so nearly every online store (Amazon, Target, Etsy, Finish Line, etc.) will pay you a commission through the Viglink network.

Here’s How To Start

I use Viglink for Affiliate Marketing, here’s how.

Step 1 – Sign up with Viglink
Go to Viglink and fill out their forms.

Step 2 – Install the Viglink Plugin on your WordPress Blog
Do a search for the “Viglink Plugin”, activate the plugin and insert your account code from your Viglink account.

Step 3 – Add links on your website and get paid
Now any regular link going to any of Viglink’s partner merchants (2,000+ of them) on your website are an affiliate link automatically. Just check into your Viglink Account to see how many times people click on your links and if those clicks turned into sales, paying you a commission.

It’s that easy, you can monetize any blog in 5 minutes.

How much can you make affiliate marketing?

Most companies will pay you a percentage of the sale made. Each company within an affiliate marketing company is different. For example within Viglink, Amazon will pay 1% – 4.5% commission depending on the product category. Yet also in Viglink, 1-800 Flowers will pay an 8% commission. Usually the larger the company, the smaller the commission.

You’ll make more money the higher priced items you have on your site. For example, a 4% commission on an $11,312 Outdoor Inflatable Movie Screen is a lot different from a $30 Stainless Steel Kitchen Set. FYI 4% of that inflatable movie screen would be a $452.28 commission for you.

It’s a balancing act of having high priced items that could give you a higher commission vs lower priced items which the average person is more likely to buy.

Using an Affiliate Marketing Company vs the Vendor directly?

I think if you worked with Amazon directly through their Amazon Associates program, you may make a slightly better commission on each sale. However, you would be limited to only making money with Amazon.

Working with an affiliate marketing company like Viglink, you can sell Amazon products and products from 2,000+ other companies (here are the companies). You may lose a bit of the commission for the ease of dealing with only one platform. In my experience where I link to products all over the web, it’s worth it.

There are other Affiliate Marketing Companies too

I talk about Viglink just because I use them and like them. There are other companies that offer affiliate marketing like Clickbank, Skimlinks, LinkBridge and more. I’m just going off personal experience.

Affiliate Marketing is preferred over Website Ads

I always prefer Affiliate Marketing over Website Ads because ads are hugely distracting. Website Ads blink, flash and sometimes don’t even relate to the content your reading.

Affiliate Marketing simply creates a hyperlink in the content you’ve already written. It’s not any more obtrusive than any other link you create on your blog versus ads like on the right side bar, over on the right there. =)

Personally: I use Google AdSense for Ads in addition to Affiliate Marketing, but if I had to choose one, I’d stick with Affiliate Marketing. Most of my Google Adsense revenue is in cents from views of the ads, I rarely see people click on the ads. However, I see a lot more people click on my Affiliate Links and those lead to sales which pay a lot more.

Start Monetizing Your Blog Today

You don’t have to use Viglink, but you should at least be signed up with some affiliate marketing company from Day 1 of your blog to start monetizing it. It’s a non-obtrusive way to monetize your blog, earning extra money on products you’re already recommending.

Let me know if you have any questions about monetizing your blog this way!

Domain Flipping: Make Money Buying and Selling Domain Names

Domain Flipping: Make Money Buying and Selling Domain Names

There’s an entire underground world on the internet of people buying and selling domain names, it’s called Domain Flipping. Thing is, anyone can do it and make money. Think of it like flipping real estate, but instead, you’re flipping website domains.

What is Domain Flipping?

Similar to real estate flipping. You are flipping website domains. These are the addresses you type into your internet browsers that direct you to the website you’re looking for. These are the addresses that end with (.com), (.org), (.biz), (.net) and so on. In total there are about 280 different domain extensions.

Domain Flipping is buying these addresses for a low price and then selling it for a higher price.

Crazy Domain Flipping Success Stories

If you’re curious to how much people have made while buying and selling domain names or domain flipping, here are some examples of success stories that have hit the news.

Page Howe once owned the domain name “Seniors(.com)”. He originally purchased the domain name for $100,000, which is a lot mind you, most domains sell for $12. He later sold “Seniors(.com)” for $1.8 Million or $1.5 Million after his broker commissions.

In a similar fashion, Page Howe also owned the domain name Guy(.com) and he sold that a few months later for $1 million. If he bought that for the average $12 for a domain name, he made an 83,333% profit buying and selling domain names.

Here are some other crazy sales in the millions

  • Cameras(.com) was sold in 2006 for $1,500,000
  • DataRecovery(.com) was sold in 2008 for $1,659,000
  • Computer(.com) was sold in 2007 for $2,100,000
  • CreditCards(.com) was sold in 2004 for $2,750,000
  • Candy(.com) was sold in 2009 for $3,000,000
  • Toys(.com) was sold in 2009 for $5,100,000
  • Business(.com) was reported to have sold in 1999 for $7,500,000
  • Hotels(.com) was sold in 2001 for $11,000,000

What these success stories have in common

All these success stories have one major thing in common, they are typically one, generic word. There is a HUGE advantage in having a small, easy to remember domain name. If you’re a company that sells cameras, having the domain name Camera(.com) is beneficial. You’re in a prime marketing spot online for people to looking to buy a camera.

Think about these common word website domains as the New York Times Square of real estate in the digital domain world. You’re buying these website domains because people are familiar with those words. The more common a word or phrase is, the more valuable it can be.

Currently, the (.com) domain extensions are the most popular, but like I mentioned. There are 280 different types of domain extensions possible. Most people though associate a web address with a (.com) extension. So I will focus on these.

In the future, other well-known extensions like (.co) will become more popular but we’re not there yet. If you’re looking to buy a domain and sell it, you’ll likely want a (.com) extension.

Here’s How To Start Domain Flipping (I tried it)

Looking at some of these success stories, I wanted to give it a try.

I likely couldn’t find any one-word domain names (most are taken) but I could find a couple popular phrases that have an available domain name.

Here’s how I started.

Step 1 – Find Popular Phrases

To find popular phrases I opened up the Google Keyword Planner. This free tool by Google, allows you to find out how often a word or phrase is searched in Google. A phrase like “Yoga Mat’ has on average, about 10K – 100k monthly searches. That’s A LOT. However a more niche phrase like “Good Yoga Mats” only has 100 – 1K monthly searches. These seem similar, but I wanted to focus on the exact popular phrase that people are searching for.

The more searches your popular phrase gets, the more valuable your exact domain name could be. Try finding popular phrases with the Google Keyword Planner.

Google Keyword Planner for buying and selling domain names

Words/Phrases to consider:

Choose Niches that make money: People will buy a website domain if they think they can use it to make money. So buying popular phrases/words that could be associated with selling something like computers(.com) or hotels(.com) could be used by a company to sell computers or hotel reservations. However, something like Warof1812(.com) may not have the same business potential.

Local Domain Names: Something like TireRepair(.com) may be taken but you should also look into DenverTireRepair(.com). Sometimes local cities have high search rates that may have an available domain. It’s definitely decreasing your audience the more you niche down, but your chances of having an available domain increases.

Future Potential: Think about what’s next in the world and see if you can buy the name first. Do you know rocket powered sneakers are the next big thing? Try buying the domain name RocketPoweredSneakers(.com) and sell it when it’s at the peak of popularity. It’s currently available, I checked, you can buy it now.

Current Craze: When PokémonGo was HUGE last year, my domain flipping friends (Matt of Handshakin.com is one) were all about buying domains like PokeStopNearMe(.com) and other related domains associated with the PokémonGo craziness. It’s like the day trading of the domain world. You’re buying domains during the hype and hope to sell them for a higher price quickly before the hype fades.

Date Names: Do you like to think about future events like the 2030 Olympics? Think about buying the domain 2030OlympicStadium(.com) or other Date Names that could be a hot item to buy when the date gets closer.

Avoid Trademarks: You do need to be careful from a legal standpoint. If you choose a name that too close to a trademark name like McDonaldsBurgersSuck(.com) it could result in a lawsuit that could force you to give them the name for free. In general, I try to avoid buying and selling domain names close to a trademark name.

Step 2 – Filter Popular Phrases with available domain names

Once I did a search of any phrase, I would immediately download the results from the Google Keyword Planner and export the list to excel. Usually, you could only download around 750 results from the Google Keyword Planner at a time.

I would copy and paste those phrases that had above one thousand searches a month into GoDaddy’s Bulk Search Option to see how many of those phrases are available. It’s great you can search up to 500 phrases at a time to see if there is a (.com) domain extension available.

GoDaddy Bulk Search find finding the right domains for Domain Flipping

Now I used GoDaddy because it’s a simple and easy way to search for available domains, but it’s definitely not the only game in town. I use my hosting service, Bluehost, to actually buy my domains, to keep them all in one place.

I repeated Step 1 & Step 2 a lot, like 5 hours on Sunday to find popular phrases that have high monthly searches or future potential.

In the end, I had a small list of available domains with how often they’re searched for online. The longer you do this, the larger your list could be of popular phrases of available domain names to buy.

  • Domain Name
  • IHateCold(.com)
  • ReallyFunnyJoke(.com)
  • ThisExists(.com)
  • FunnyOfficeGifts(.com)
  • BoredDefinition(.com)
  • CharityDefinition(.com)
  • OfficeBoredom(.com)
  • WaysToEarnMoneyFast(.com)
  • ThingsThatAreBlack(.com)
  • Average Monthly Searches
  • 100 – 1k
  • 10k – 100k
  • 100 – 1k
  • 1k – 10k
  • 10k – 100k
  • 10k – 100k
  • 10 – 100
  • 1k – 10k
  • 1k – 10k

Step 3 – Buy your Domain with the most potential

After veting my list for a while, I knew I only had a budget to buy 2 domain names. So I limited my selection to the very best.

The two domain names I bought were:

  1. ReallyGoodJoke.com – The phrase alone “Really Good Joke” has between 10k – 100k average monthly searches, this is the highest searched name I found. Meaning that people are regularly looking for a really good joke. So having the domain name that matches exactly this search, will be very valuable.
  2. IHateCold.com – This phrase only had 100 – 1k monthly searches but I think it’s a phrase that has winter sports gear potential. Typically when people are buying cold weather gear they are thinking “I hate the cold” and if a business capitalizes on that feeling with this domain name, it could be profitable.

Sad Fact: I bought both of these for $11.99 but that’s only a 1 year license to own these. So it’s more like leasing. You have to renew your ownership of domains every year. So holding both of these domain names for 10 years will cost a total of $260.

The two domains I bought for my first Domain Flipping experiment.

Step 4 – Market Your Domain Names for Sale

Just because you bought the domain name, people aren’t magically going to email you offering millions of dollars for your domain. You have to let people know you have it for sale and how it can benefit them.

My next steps:

  1. Parking the Domain Name: When you park a domain name, every time someone enters IHateCold(.com) into their web browsers, a page with a few ads and sales info is shown. So you’re letting the visitor know that the domain is for sale and you make a few cents on the ads displayed for views. There are several domain parking services for when their buying and selling domain names, but I’ll go into that in another post.
  2. Contact Potential Buying Companies: With my domain IHateCold(.com) I will email the marketing teams of some of the large winter clothing companies and let them know of the available domain to buy and a few potential slogans they could use with the domain name. This is a very “I’m here to help you” scenario that I’m curious to see how it plays out. They’ll have to learn about the domain name for sale somehow, right?
  3. Wait for people to contact me: When I bought my two domains, I didn’t pay the extra $12 for Domain Privacy, learn about Domain Privacy here, so anyone can look up the owner of IHateCold(.com) and ReallyFunnyJoke(.com) in the ICANN WHOIS Database. It can tell you whoever owns any website unless that domain owner pays for domain privacy. So if someone was really interested in any of my websites, they could look me up and shoot me an email about their interest.
  4. Auction: There are numerous auction sites where people buy domain names. Just because they didn’t think about the potential name IHateCold(.com) before doesn’t mean when they see it in an auction, they won’t buy it. You may make a few bucks just because you thought of a creative name they didn’t think of.

If you’re looking to Auction a name, here are some popular sites you can auction your new domain name.

Usually, these auction sites take 20% – 30% of the sale. They take so much because they are providing the audience that is actively looking for buying and selling domain names. Otherwise, it’d take forever to sell a name.

Don’t expect to sell your domain right away, it sometimes takes months or years to sell a domain name. Sometimes not at all. Not many people make buying and selling domain names a full time business. For most domain buyers and sellers, it’s a part time job.

A lot of people who are regularly buying and selling domain names have a portfolio of hundreds of domain names. A sale of a website name for $6,000 might sound like a lot, but often times it only pays for their library of domain names they’re paying an annual subscription to hold.

In the end, a domain name is only as valuable as the price a buyer is willing to buy it.

Conclusion on Domain Flipping

We covered a lot, what is domain flipping, some crazy success stories and step by step guide to buying and selling domain names. This is something you could totally start right now as another way to make money.

I’ll be honest I’m just excited to own a couple of website domains, they’re my own little piece of the internet. I’ll likely hold onto these for a couple of years if I can’t sell them right away.

The fun part of this is the potential to discover those hidden gems like hotels(.com) and sell it for $11M down the road. It’s not likely to happen for the domains I have, but I now know the process. I can be on the lookout for website domains in upcoming trends. I’ll let you know how it goes!

How to Start a Blog – When You Know Nothing About Blogging

How To Start A Blog Header Image

How To Start A Blog

Two of my friends want to learn How to Start a Blog. Justin wants to start a cooking blog and Emma is going to start a travel blog. Since I’ve created over a dozen websites/blogs, I wrote them a guide on How to Start A Blog When You Know Nothing About Blogging. They’ve never set up a blog before, so this is a complete guide (tons of screenshots) for setting up your first blog.

No matter if you want to set up a Finance, Fashion, Travel, Cooking or Photography blog. This guide will set you up with your own unique blog in 20 minutes.

Why Do People Start Blogs?

Both Justin and Emma want to learn how to start a blog so that they can do what they love, write! They want to write about topics they’re passionate about and knowledgeable on. Their goal is to make enough money with their blog, so eventually, they can quit their job and work from home blogging. It’s entirely possible and super easy.

Other popular reasons people start blogging are:

  • Make Money from blogging Anywhere – Many people make a great side income or full income from writing about what they love and know. Plus you can do it anywhere, at home, in a coffee shop or in an RV traveling the United States.
  • Self-Publish Writing – If you have a story you want to tell, but don’t have the resources to find publishers and print hundreds of books. Try starting a blog and share your story immediately. You can start to build an audience and become an expert in your field with a website.
  • Promote a Business – If your business isn’t online, it doesn’t exist. This is how people find if a company is open, what it does and how it affects the community. A blog is a simple and FAST way to get your business online and start reaching customers.

Save time, don’t use third-party blogging websites.

Save yourself so many future headaches when learning how to start a blog by NOT using a third party blogging site. Some people start blogging on these because they think it’s easier than setting up your own blog, but it’s not.

If you use a third party website like Blogger, you won’t have a custom domain (like WalletSquirrel.com, it’ll be something like www.blogger.walletsquirrel) which comes off odd, then you’ll pay tons for add-ons to get the look and feel you want and you’ll never have complete control over your own blog.

One of the biggest reasons to start your own blog is so you can later make money off of it. You just can’t easily monetize if you use a third-party website. Click here to start your own blog on WordPress.

WordPress is the most popular Blogging Platform, use it!

Most blogs use WordPress, in fact, 25% of the websites on the internet are run by WordPress. That’s the ENTIRE internet. Every website I’ve ever built runs on WordPress because it’s SUPER easy and convenient. If you learn the easiest way to start a blog, start your blog on WordPress.

Easy Steps on How To Start A Blog

Here is the basic overview on how to start a blog. It’s really simple to set up a blog in 20 minutes.

  1. Figure out what your blog is about
  2. Decide on a domain name
  3. Choose a web host (I use Bluehost because it’s one of the best, and cheap)
  4. Click 1-button install for WordPress
  5. Start writing for your blog & customize

Easy Step 1 – Figure out what you want to blog about

Whether you’re creating a finance, fashion, cooking, travel, photography or business blog. You want to have a solid idea of what you’re going to write about.

If you’re like Justin wanting to create a cooking blog, it helps if you niche down to a Gluten-Free Cooking Blog or Farm-To-Table Cooking Blog. If you don’t niche down, your blog will likely get lost in the sea of other cooking blogs. When you niche down to a specific cooking blog, your blog will stand out more and be recognized as THAT Gluten-Free Blog or whatever you want to write about.

Also when you’re thinking about “How to Start a Blog”, think about how your blog could grow and make money in the future. If you want to create a Gluten-Free Cooking Blog, start thinking about how you could incorporate affiliate links into your favorite recipe books and cooking tools or where advertisements may go in a sidebar.

The better you can visualize and plan what your blog may become, the easier it will be to come up with a name and direction for your new blog.

Easy Step 2 – Decide on a Domain Name

Domain names are what people will type into their website browser to find your website. It’s your online address.

Not going to lie, when I started Wallet Squirrel I had over 100 domain name ideas. I would daily write new domain name ideas on my phone like “MillennialRetirement.com” and search GoDaddy.com to see if they were available. It wasn’t….

I always use GoDaddy to see if a domain name is available because it has a nice and clean search option to find available domains. So think about different domain ideas that relate to your website and use GoDaddy to see if they’re available. A good domain can really help your website. However, don’t buy a domain through GoDaddy. When you sign up for web hosting through Bluehost later, you’ll get a free domain name.

I always chose a (.com) domain because those are the most trusted domain extensions. If I chose “MillennialRetirement.net” it would only sound cheesy and made up to me. People might be hesitant to click on it because most websites are (com). You could take a risk choosing a different extension like (.net) or (.co), but I wouldn’t.

Get creative and find a unique (.com) domain that’s:

  • short
  • easy to remember
  • easy to type
  • reflects what you want to write about

Before I settled on WalletSquirrel.com I went through TONS of different domain name possibilities. Here are a few.

Potential Website Names When I Started this Website (Wallet Squirrel)

  1. Dividend Student (.com)
  2. Millennial Dividends (.com)
  3. Get Dividends Monthly (.com)
  4. All Dividend Revenue (.com)
  5. The Dividend Experiment (.com)
  6. Perpetual Dividends (.com)
  7. Dividends Wanted (.com)
  8. Invest The Hustle (.com)
  9. Dividend Army (.com)
  10. Div Push (.com)
  11. Dividend Entrepreneur (.com)
  12. Div Effect (.com)
  13. Dividend Pursuit (.com)
  14. Test Earn Invest (.com)
  15. Dividend Invested (.com)
  16. Dividend Theory (.com)
  17. Div Rule (.com)
  18. Think Dividend (.com)
  19. Dividend Passive Income (.com)
  20. Wallet Squirrel (.com)

You may get the idea that I was pretty focused on Dividends. However, like I mentioned in Step One, think about the future of your site. I considered expanding beyond dividends and the stock market, so I went with Wallet Squirrel with the tag line “Save your nuts”. It was relatable to finance with the word “Wallet” but fun with “Squirrel” and the tag line “Save your nuts” is pretty memorable. This way I would have some flexibility on how I wanted to grow Wallet Squirrel.

When you’re planning how to start a blog, think about how your website may grow. I usually think of my websites like TV seasons. Where do I want my website to be in season 4? Does my domain name idea still make sense?

Easy Step 3 – Choose a Web Host (Important)

This is the virtual cloud that will host your blog. Think of it digital real estate that will house your blog on the internet. Your web host will affect how fast your site is, how much you pay and how good their tech support is.

 

I personally use Bluehost for all my websites (including Wallet Squirrel) because it’s the best price for how fast Bluehost runs my websites (Google ranks faster websites higher) and their tech support is amazing. I just shoot them a text on their website if I have a question and they solve any issue in minutes, it’s the best. You can even just chat with them before you sign up on how to start a blog.

For reading this post, you can use my referral code to get a great discount on hosting and start at $3.95 per month. Plus you’ll get a free website domain (your internet address), which normally costs $12.

 

Other reasons to use Bluehost for your first blog

  • WordPress through Bluehost is free!
  • There is a 1-click button to automatically set up WordPress on Bluehost (EASY & FAST)
  • Bluehost is faster than most web hosts, which will better your Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Hosting your own website on Bluehost looks more professional than a third party site like Blogger
  • Their Tech Support works with tons of new bloggers like you, and you can text them rather than calling (I love that!)
  • 30-Day Money Back Guarantee. No risk if you don’t like it.

Fill Out Some Info

Select the plan you like (you can upgrade/downgrade anytime) and fill out the general account and billing Info. This is what the General account information will ask you.

It’s really not that intrusive. You don’t have to fill out a social security number or anything too personal. Once you fill out the “account info” you scroll down for the package you want. The “package information” or hosting options seems really intimidating to someone who’s never signed up before, but only because you’ve never done it before. Here are the options.

Here is what I choose for my websites.

  • Account Plan – If you’re just starting off, keep it cheap and choose only 12 months. If you really like blogging, you won’t mind paying for a new plan in 12 months. If you don’t like it, you didn’t spend that much money and you always have your 30-day money back guarantee.
  • Domain Privacy Protection – The internet has a database for which websites are owned by who. Domain Privacy allows you to keep your name off that list so you don’t get bugged by salespeople who found your email as the owner of your new website. I usually order this.

Everything else is not really needed. I’d consider adding additional services only once you get more familiar with your website and find a need. There is no need to pay for things before you realize if you need them or not.

You’re Signed up!

That’s it! Once you sign up, you’ll get a confirmation email that will take you to your Bluehost menu. You can start right away, no 3-5 business day set up time.

Easy Step 4 – One Button Install For WordPress

So you planned what you want to write about, you picked a domain and signed up with Bluehost to host your new blog. Now you just need to install WordPress. This part is easy. The menu on Bluehost is called their cPanel. This is the main menu that you’ll be directed to once you click their confirmation email.

Select the “Install WordPress” button. It’s a one-click install button. Once you do that, you’re in the process of installing WordPress, you’ll just need to:

  1. Select your domain name, from the options to install WordPress on
  2. Select Advanced Options and choose a username and password. Remember that websites sometimes get attacked. So choose a username and password that’s long. The longer the password, the harder it is to break.
  3. Select “Install Now”.

At this point, you have a WordPress blog!

Easy Step 5 – Design and Start Writing for Your Blog

From now on, all you have to do is go to your new domain “yourwebsitename.com/admin”. To sign into your WordPress Blog. You no longer have to deal with Bluehost at all. Everything you do from here on out is all on your new WordPress blog.

Once you log into your new WordPress Blog, Your Admin Menu will look like this.

How To Start A Blog - WordPress Admin Panel

This is close to what every WordPress Blog looks like, the main options for every WordPress blog are:

  • Posts – These are where you write you daily, weekly, monthly articles for your blog. These are your cooking articles or travel adventures. This is the “blog” portion of the blog.
  • Media – Every image/video you upload to your blog, all those media files live here. You can add images within your actual posts and pages, but all your media content can be viewed here.
  • Pages – These are the “About Me“, “Contact Us“, “Ways to Make Money” pages. These are usually static pages that aren’t your daily, weekly, monthly posts.

Customize the look of your blog

If you want to want to change the look of your blog, you can change the theme under “Appearance”. Themes are like costumes for your blog. Different themes will change the colors, fonts, and style of blog. I personally use the Enfold theme, bought from Themeforest. It’s very user-friendly (plug and play) with tons of documentation.

*Bonus* – Make money with your blog

Don’t come off cheezy placing ads everywhere, instead install a plugin like Viglink for affiliate marketing. Now, anytime you reference a blender (my personal blender) on Amazon, Viglink will automatically track clicks on that link and you’ll receive a commission if someone buys. Viglink is partnered with over 2,000 online merchants (including Amazon), chances are your favorite websites are included. So once you learn how to start a blog, your blog can start making a little money.

Done, You have a blog!

I ran through this (while talking) with Justin and Emma to set up their blog in under 20 minutes. They took it from there and immediately started writing and designing. Again, I set up their blog through Bluehost, which made it a lot easier. You could probably set up a blog on your own (not talking) even faster.

Let me know if you have any questions on how to start a blog! I’d love to help or share more of my experiences!

*Disclosure – I host all my websites on Bluehost and we receive a commission if you sign up using our referral links.

How I published my first article on Seeking Alpha and got paid

Over the last 2 years, I’ve done SO much writing for this blog. I wanted to branch out, stretch my creative muscle and financial know-how writing for a larger publication that pays per article. I started out on the financial website Seeking Alpha since it’s common place now for me to write/talk about finance. Here are the blueprints to How I published my first article on Seeking Alpha and got paid.

First, What’s Seeking Alpha?

Seeking Alpha is an online financial journal for investment research covering stocks, bonds, assets classes, ETFs, and investment strategies. It looks a bit like this.

Why Write for Seeking Alpha?

Anyone who is first starting out as a freelance writer should start with a small publication, getting their feet wet and then lead into larger publications. You shouldn’t expect to be published in the New York Times with your first article.

I heard other bloggers talk about writing for Seeking Alpha so I looked into it. I even heard it was easy to get published on Seeking Alpha. So I decided to start small (FYI, it’s not that small).

Seeking Alpha has TWO different publishing platforms. One is like a blog where you sign up and they’ll publish any article you write to your own “mini blog” and the other is for exclusive articles that Seeking Alpha will pay you for. I discovered that was MUCH harder to get published on.

What does Seeking Alpha Pay-Per-Article?

Every article exclusively published on Seeking Alpha receives a base payout of $35 PLUS $0.01 for every page view. So no matter what you get published, you will receive $35 and if it’s widely viewed you’ll receive $10 per every 1,000 page views.

The higher the page views, the more money you make. Plus there is no timetable for payments, so you’ll continue to receive paychecks from high visited articles for months.

The average article on Seeking Alpha makes $68.79, meaning the average article receives 3,379 page views. It’s way more then what Ebates pays.

Here’s How Writing for Seeking Alpha Went Down

Don’t expect it to be easy

I went into this thinking it was easy (like the other bloggers said) so I spent a little time on my first every article. After recently selling off a majority of my portfolio to pay off my car, I sold my position in Coca-Cola first. So I figured I’d write about that.

My first article was titled “3 Reasons Why Coke is Basically Just Backwash Now”. I spewed out some opinions, ran up about 600 words and hit submit. I submitted it to the “mini-blog” AND their exclusive article submission platform that actually paid per article.

Well, it was published to the mini-blog no problem, that was easy! However, I discovered it’s MUCH harder to get published in their exclusive journal where they pay-per-article. Here was my first Rejection.

HOLY CRAP, that is not easy, they flat out rejected the article. I honestly wasn’t expecting a rejection and it kind of hurt. I REALLY wanted to give up. I only tried again I made it a goal to get paid for an article in my May Income Report. Stupid goals.

I only tried again because I made it a goal to get paid for an article in my May Income Report. Stupid goals.

They gave me some great feedback though, so I revised my article and tried again.

I revised my article and re-submitted

I have to admit, they at least read the article close enough to give me valuable feedback. I’m pretty sure if I ever went back to school to get my MBAf, I’d submit all my articles to Seeking Alpha before my professor.

So I narrowed my focus more and concentrated on one of the reasons why I wanted to abandon Coca-Cola. I narrowed down my focus into the health movement and how the Soda Tax is affecting the soda industry. I sourced every thought with hyperlinks and fleshed out opinions replacing them with facts. I was quite proud of my article.

It still wasn’t enough, Rejected.

SERIOUSLY! Was this the editor for Berkshire Hathaway? I had over ten sources and a well-written piece covering an interesting topic. However, they wanted more on how it specifically affects Coca-Cola. My article should cover how exactly is A is affecting B and how it relates to C. So they wanted to get in the weeds with how exactly is the Soda Tax directly affecting Coca-Cola and how is the company responding to the growing health concerns.

All illusions that publishing to Seeking Alpha was easy, were now shattered. I started going finance ninja and pulling stats.

I revised my article once more and was accepted!

I spent more time looking through Coca-Cola’s financial reports, understanding how the current 8 cities who passed a “soda tax” have affected both their tax growth, the decline in soda sales and future growth of the tax. As well as read Coca-Cola’s Letter to Share Holders about the future of the company and their responses to the current cities enacting the tax.

I now had a pretty good idea now how the Soda Tax is affecting Coca-Cola and Seeking Alpha loved it.

YES! The final article is now published on Seeking Alpha, Coca-Cola And The ‘Soda Tax’. In the first 2 days, it’s received 1,340 views which equals $48.40 ($35 base pay + $13.40 for page views).

As well as receiving over 38 comments, primarily from people who REALLY hate taxes.

Conclusion

It’s exciting to think of oneself as a finance writer, once you’ve been officially paid for an article to be published. There is so much that goes into an article that gives it substance and obviously a bit more difficult than I originally imagined. However, the process I feel is similar to other freelance writing jobs if you want to earn extra money.

I will absolutely do a couple more Seeking Alpha articles in the future. Maybe once a month, it’s a great learning opportunity, and I’m all about residual payments from page views as a new passive income stream.

May 2017 Income Reports Roundup

Income Reports Roundup

There are so many great financial blogs on the internet that we all can learn from. All of them provide great advice and deserve some recognition. Andrew and I want to give that recognition by starting a new series highlighting some of the other financial blogs around the web. After some thought we decided that I should write these highlights around their latest income report (Some blogs are a month behind compared to when I post this article). These income reports show exactly how others are making money. Hopefully this will give you some amazing ideas on how you can expand your own little empire.

I want to highlight people from all phases of their financial freedom journey. This is why you will find big wigs like Pat Flynn and Michelle Schroeder on this list but you will also find lesser knowns such as Nadya from Living Off Cloud. I also want to show a wide variety of how people are making their extra money. You will read of people using affiliate marketing, dividend income, niche websites, and so on.

I look forward to updating this list every month for all of us to learn something new together. This list will not be the same every month as I might find a different blog with something new to share. As always, I am open to suggestions.

Oh yeah! Do not forget to keep up to date with Andrew’s Income report by reading his May 2017 Income Report!

Alright, enough with my rambling. On to the income reports!

Pat Flynn – Smart Passive Income – $102,915.99 (April 2017)

Compared to March, Pat had a rough month. He dropped from a $212,111.33 income in March to $102,915.99 in April. That sounds horrible but he explains that in March they launched two new online courses, Smart From Scratch and Power-Up Podcasting that gave their income a surge. In April, that surge settled and he is now back to normal numbers.

In April, Pat made most of his money from affiliate marketing such as Bluehost and Market Samurai. He also makes money through books sales, consulting, his podcast, niche sites. It looks like Pat has also made it into the software and WordPress theme development business as well. Just off of his Smart Podcast Player Licenses and the SPI Pro Them from StudioPress he made a whopping $12,706.32.

Pat really has diversified since I started following him a few years ago. Seeing what he is accomplishing really motivates me to diversify Wallet Squirrel!

Michelle Schroeder – Making Sense of Cents – $120,104.93 (May 2017)

I found Michelle’s blog about three months ago and check in on her updates a couple times a week. Michelle provides excellent content that highlights real life events allowing her readers from all walks of life to connect. Each month I check in for her income reports they have gone up and up. Sadly in May she broke that streak by bringing in $120,104.93 compared to $131,448.35 in April. This is still really impressive even if her numbers dropped slightly.

In May Michelle made just over half of her income from affiliate marketing such as Bluehost and Ebates. Another major income source is from her Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing Course. This course helps bloggers increase their income by tapping into their own blogs affiliate marketing potential.

Andrew and I have talked about creating a course ourselves but have not yet sat down together to bring that to life. Have you thought about creating one yourself? What is holding you back?

Stefan Sharpe – Millennial Budget – $11.06 (May 2017)

Stefan had an awesome May! He is our first of several income reports that focus on making extra money each money from dividends. Dividend income is special to us at Wallet Squirrel because dividends are at its roots. This is why Andrew started the blog a couple years ago.

Stefan was able to double his dividend income compared to his February report where he made $5.78. He made a killing after purchasing PAYX, Paychex Inc. This purchase brought in an extra $4.60 in May alone.

Keep up the good work Stefan! Learn more about what dividends are and dividend investing.

Investment Hunting – $47.58 (May 2017)

Now, to be fair, this is not an income or dividend report from Investment Hunting. This is his month four report on how his experiment with Lending Club is going. I thought I would share Investment Hunting’s story here because it is looking like a great way to earn some extra money. Lending Club is a lending network that is funded not by the banks but by regular people like you and I.

Investment Hunting started his experiment by investing $5,000 into people on the network. He had a really good month in May by getting a total of $158.38 back. This included receiving back $110.77 in principal and $47.58 in interest. Throughout the four months he has made $134.27 off of the interest.

Andrew has a great article on getting started with this unique way to invest, Lending Club Review, My Experience With Them.

Lanny and Bert – Dividend Diplomats – $275.54 (Bert’s May 2017)

Lanny and Bert are, “Two 20 something dudes who are blogging about #Investing, #Frugality, Passive Income & attempting to Reinvest Our Dividends to Financial Freedom!” Just like Andrew and I, they are two best friends that are striving for that ultimate goal of financial freedom.

This month Bert shares his dividend income summary for the month of May. He and his family (his wife contributes as well) made an amazing $275.54 in May. This is a 61.90% compared to May 2016 or a 14.41% increase if you take out his wife’s portfolio who hadn’t joined the cause yet last year.  Either way, this is some impressive growth!

Bert’s wife was the biggest reason for the enormous increase of income in May. We are only as strong as the woman next to us, right Bert? I must say, my wife helps out so much in the background so I can be a part of Wallet Squirrel for which I am so thankful for.

Keith Park – DivHut – $584.38 (May 2017)

Keith is another one of our featured dividend income gurus. All in all he had a very strong May 2017 compared to May 2016. He increased his dividend income by 11.3% compared to last year. This helped him rake in $584.38 just off of dividends. That is really impressive!

Overall in 2017 he has made $2,672.69 just off of dividends. This really goes to show you that dividend income can help bring in some extra income for your family. It seems like he has a really healthy curve of growth going. Let us all hope that this growth continues for Keith in the second half of 2017.

Keith shows that dividend investing can be very beneficial. If you are interested at getting started here is Andrew’s Dividend Investing Strategy.

Nadya – Living Off Cloud – $1,672.04 (May 2017)

Nadya is new on my radar for bloggers to follow. Her blog really caught my eye because of all the niche sites she manages. It is really impressive that she is able to keep up four niche sites. She does not name her sites by name but gives them a code name instead such as Elephant, Horse, Rat, and Honeybee.

What really intrigued me is that she does not make these sites from scratch like most people, she has purchased them! I did not notice this until I realized that she mentioned that she has just paid off the Elephant site after purchasing it. She was able to pay it off by using its own income. Way to go Nadya!

Overall she made $1,672.04 in the month of May. This income mainly came from her Elephant and Horse websites through Amazon affiliate and Adsense.

Check out some more Affiliate Marketing sites in Andrew’s, 50 Amazon Affiliate Website Examples article.

Sarah Brooks – The Frugal Millionaire – $2,716.75 (May 2017)

Like Nadya, Sarah is another new blogger on my radar. I really liked her site, it is very clean and well organized. The only thing that really annoyed me was that little ad at the bottom of the screen in the blog post that stayed with you no matter where you scrolled. I guess that might be why she made $356.09 just off of ads in May!

Sarah makes most of her income off of affiliate sales, totaling $2,232.70 in the month of May. This is very impressive as we do not come even close to that. It makes me wonder what Andrew and I can do to get Wallet Squirrel to that level. Well done Sarah! Keep up the good work!

Outcomes

I personally learned a lot from my research to find other bloggers to write about. Looking at what other people are do has me think about where I focus my energy when working on Wallet Squirrel. Lately I have been so focused on SEO items. Which is good and we are seeing massive organic traffic growth. Now I am thinking that I need focus on marketing and getting more people to the site.

Hopefully these income reports give you some more ideas on where real people are making more money and what the next steps are for your site.

Do not forget to take a look at our comprehensive list on ways to make more money in 2017.

Fluid App Review – Make Money Renting Your Stuff Out Instead of Selling It

I stumbled upon the Fluid App also known as Fluid Market a few months ago after a friend, Matt Holmes of Handshaking.com, told me about it. It’s an app that lets you rent out your stuff for money instead of selling it. Since then I’ve been using the app and testing it for this Fluid App Review.

What is the Fluid App?

Fluid Market is a Start Up making some big waves in Denver. They have essentially created an online marketplace (through the app only) that people can rent items from other people.

Think Craigslist, but instead of selling your items, you rent them out for money. Or you can rent items you only need once, like a carpet cleaner, instead of buying one. This is what it looks like.

Fluid App Review Infographic of Screenshots

The idea being, if you only need an item once like you want to rent a scooter for the day. You can find one on Fluid, see how much it is per hour/day and contact the owner to rent it. You pay everything through the app so you’re not actually exchanging money with other people. Take that Craigslist!

My Experience Using the Fluid App

If you’re like me, you’re thinking “This looks like an awesome way to earn more money, but I don’t want other people damaging my stuff”. I was nervous too, I’ll admit that. Their $1 Million insurance policy helped me feel a little bit better, but still, it’s my stuff and I don’t want to deal with insurance hassles, so I started small for the Fluid App Review.

I searched around my 583′ square foot studio apartment for stuff that was valuable enough people would want to rent, but I didn’t mind getting banged up a bit. Not that it would, but again, I was hesitant.

The ONE thing I found was my Clothing Iron. I figured someone in the area may need a clothing iron, so what the hell.

I Downloaded the Fluid App and Created an Account

To start my Fluid App Review, I downloaded the app from the android store (it’s also on the Apple Store). At first, it was a bit slow and clunky. However, it’s gotten SO much better from what it was a couple months ago. Someone in their tech support is doing something right. Plus it’s a StartUp up, so I’m sure they’re constantly updating and improving it.

After downloading the app, I get a screenshot like this

Fluid App Review - Log In / Sign In Screen

It gives you the option to use an email or Facebook, I selected email only. I’m sure there’s a social component to the app that’s nice, but I just wanted to try it out. I didn’t want to message all my friends on Facebook about it.

Then I got that clunky loading screen (again it’s gotten a lot better!).

Fluid App Review - Loading Screen

Once in the app, you have categories on top and a random assortment of items below. I haven’t figured out how it chooses what items are on the home page. These are all the items you can rent. From each quick view thumbnail, you can get an idea of what items they have. Including the name of the item, photo, the cost per hour/day/week, the item’s rating and how far you have to travel to pick it up.

Fluid App Review - Items for Rent

If you click on an item, like the scooter I want to rent ($15 for the day!). You’ll get a more detailed description of the item and lender, along with additional photos, which really helps! At that point, all you have to do is scroll to the bottom and click “Check Availability” to rent it.

Fluid App Review - Scooter for Rent

How I Rented Out My Stuff On The Fluid App

So I had my Clothing Iron and I was ready to start renting it out. I go to the top left icon to see all their options, and select “Add Item”

Fluid App Review - Menu

Then I start filling in the info on what kind of Clothing Iron, add photos (either from your gallery or take them on the spot) and set my price. Once you add the category, you’re pretty much done. Anyone can add an item and it’s incredibly easy through the app. It took less than 5 min.

The Fluid App will take 20% of every transaction, they say this is to help pay for the insurance and upkeep of the marketplace. Keep that in mind when pricing your item.

The last thing you do is add how people are supposed to contact you about renting it out through “Pick Up/Drop Off” instructions. I asked them to email me, but you can have them call you as well. Do this in a public location like I talk about in How To Sell You Stuff On Craigslist.

FYI – No one can see your number or email until AFTER they have paid. That part is SO nice.

Fluid App Review - Clothing Iron Upload

Then I waited. So far, I haven’t heard from anyone about renting my clothing iron. Lol I guess it’s as useless to me as it is for anyone else.

If I do make any extra money from this, I’ll add it to my monthly income reports.

So now I’m looking at other items to try and sell on the Fluid App.

How To Rent From Other People On The Fluid App

This process is equally as easy. You select the item you want, hit “check availability” (in case it’s rented out already) and you’ll get a list of times in hours that you can rent it out for. Select how many hours you want it and that’s how it’ll calculate payment.

Then you submit your request and pay via credit card. There isn’t a paypal option that I’ve noticed during the Fluid App Review. It’s credit card only.

Afterward you get in touch with your lender to coordinate the pickup. Basically, the app just provides the marketplace of items to rent and the payment option, the rest is up to the renter and lender to coordinate.

Pros/Cons After The Fluid App Review

Pros

  • It’s a great way make extra money renting out your old stuff. You can make regular revenue off your old stuff rather than selling it once.
  • It’s a great way to try items before you buy them or likely only use once like a steam cleaner.
  • They have a growing marketplace of items. Every time I open the app, they have new items I can rent out.
  • People can only contact you AFTER they paid, so unlike Craigslist where I got multiple inquiries a week over the same questions from people who may or may not actually buy something. The Fluid App only gives the renters your info after they paid for the item. That is SUPER nice.

Cons

  • All the photos are of people’s unique stuff and people SUCK at taking photos. It lacks that crisp look because they are working with crappy photos. It just hurts the overall look of the app.
  • They are leaning heavily toward renting out high price items like cars. So it’s becoming similar like Turo in some ways which I’m not sure they wanted to do. I hope they continue to rent out the low priced items like extra pots and pans I could use for a large family brunch.
  • The Fluid App handles the marketplace and money exchange, but I still have to spend my time meeting with people for pick up/drop off. I wish there was an easier way.
  • It’s still a small “Denver” community to rent from, however I can see these guys growing, like big.

Don’t get disparaged about my Cons, I’m being pretty critical of the new start up, but I really am impressed by this company. In fact, I was so impressed by these guys during the Fluid App Review, for the fun of it, I checked to see if they were hiring. Who knows, if they do things right, it could be the next SNAP. So I submitted a quick resume to their marketing team. What the hell.

My IPO dreams were rapidly cut short the following day when Fluid’s HR team contacted me to say they were looking for someone with a little more “Rental Experience”. I guess my couple years in college renting out outdoor gear to students wasn’t enough. LOL it’s ok, I’m still a fan of the app.

Conclusion

This is a pretty exciting app that I hope grows because now I’m constantly looking for new stuff to rent out. It’s a really neat idea to make extra money. PLUS a sustainable revenue source if you have an item people really want to rent (bouncy houses, VR equipment, and cars are high demand items). What do you think of my Fluid App Review? Would you rent out any of your stuff?

Here’s me contemplating what to start renting out next. FYI that’s an electric scooter, totally bad ass I know. =P

Ebates Review – I wish I started this 2 years ago

Ebates Review Blog Post Image

Three weeks ago, I received a message from my buddy Cameron over at SquirrelBox suggesting to do an Ebates Review. I initially scoffed because I DON’T NEED ANOTHER APP!

You, like me, have seen “Ebates” pop up on your social media and thought the same thing. So let me explain what Ebates is.

SPOILER: It’s awesome, and not just another app.

Ebates Review – What is it?

Ebates is an online company who partners with over 2,000+ stores (many popular stores you regularly shop at). Whenever you go to one of your favorite stores, like Amazon, from the Ebates platform and make a purchase. Amazon assumes you would have only visited their site because of Ebates and gives Ebates a 4% commission. Then Ebates passes on those savings to you, and gives you 3% cash back for your purchase.

Ebates is essentially an affiliate company that pays you to visit their site first before you start shopping.

My Experience Making Cashback with Ebates

I’m running the Bolder Boulder in 5 weeks and I need new shoes. I’ve used the same running shoes (type & size) the last 7 years, so I’m going to buy them online.

Here’s my process.

I go to Ebates.com and search for ASICS since I’m going to buy a new pair of ASICS from their online store. Sure enough, the ASICS store pops up and Ebates tells me right away that their partnership provides me 1.5% cash back on purchases. Cool!

Ebates Review - Asics Page

 

In addition, Ebates also has all of ASICS best deals right now. Also Cool!

Ebates Asics Page Deals

 

It doesn’t matter which deal you select, these are all just notifications. Any of them you select “Shop Now” will just send you over to the actual ASICS Homepage. You’ll see a loading screen like this.

Ebates Review - Sending Page

This entire process takes 30 seconds, now you’ll be on the ASICS page and anything you buy, you will make 1.5% cash back. Plus if you have the Ebates Chrome Extension like me, you’ll be reminded in the top right, how much you’ll save.

So as I look at my costly shoes, I’ll be reminded to of my 1.5% cash back on my $109 running shoe. So I’ll make $1.64 through Ebates on this purchase. I’ll make more since it’s my first purchase through Ebates and I used Cameron’s affiliate code (we’ll get to that in a second).

Asics Shoe Purchase

 

Remember, I use my 2% cash back credit card for everything, so I’ll gain an additional 2% off the purchase + plus the 1.5% from Ebates. Wahoo!

When does Ebates pay me?

Every time you make a purchase (like a new pair of ASICS), Ebates will hold onto your cashback rewards. The companies, like Amazon, ASICS, Walmart, pay Ebates and Ebates pays you, quarterly. So 4 times a year, you’ll receive a check from Ebates. This can also be PayPal or you can donate it to a charity or organization.

Here is their quarterly payout schedule:

Ebates Payout Schedule

If your account is less than $5.01, Ebates will roll that balance into next quarter’s payout. It just a lot of processing fees for them, so they do $5.01 minimum payouts. I can’t blame them for that.

 

If you’re thinking that my $1.64 is too small for a payout, I’m actually at $11.64 because I used a friend’s affiliate code and earned $10 extra dollars. Use my affiliate code for your $10 extra dollars.

PLUS any cashback you recieve from Ebates isn’t taxed because the IRS considers “cashback” as a “discount” to your purchase like coupons. That’s why when you sign up for Ebates, all you need is a email, password and address for them to send your “big fat check” (their phrasing), not tax forms for you to fill now.

How do YOU sign up for Ebates?

It’s easy, go to Ebates here and enter a quick email and password. No more info than that. It takes less than 30 seconds and you can start looking around their marketplace and checking out all their partnerships. You’ll only have to add your address once you’re ready to cash out.

Use my Affiliate Code!!!

If I’ve educated you enough about Ebates to at least check it out. PLEASE use my affiliate code. This way YOU will earn an extra $10 at payout and it gives us at Wallet Squirrel an extra $5 through their affiliate program, so we can pay for things like internet and electricity.

I would never recommend something unless I REALLY like it and I’m a fan of after this Ebates review. In fact, wish I started using it 2 years ago when I first started to really get into Online Shopping.

I would have $68 if I started using Ebates 2 years ago.

I wish I did this Ebates Review 2 years ago when I first started Online Shopping. I know I’m a late bloomer. My parents told me that hackers would steal ALL my info and identity, so I was terrified. Since then I’ve learned how security works, feel more secure against Nigerian Princes and now LOVE online shopping!

In the last 2 years, on Amazon alone, I have spent $1,145.64 according to my purchasing history. So since Ebates has 3% cashback on Amazon.com. I could have made $34.36 from Ebates in the last 2 years!

Plus I spent nearly that much through Non-Amazon purchases. So if we apply the same 3% (it’s about average for Ebates), I easily could have made $68.73 in the last 2 years using Ebates.

I missed out on all this cash that I could have used to invest. Why didn’t I? Because I didn’t know how awesome saving money was, nor what Ebates was.

Conclusion

In the last week, I have realized what exactly Ebates is and their tons of partnership stores. This site is quite large and trustworthy at this point! Now with their Ebates Chrome Extension, I’m told how much cashback I can make at my favorite stores without even visiting the Ebates website.

I just wish I started this Ebates Review sooner and started making more cashback to start investing with.

To all my investor friends. It’s definitely worth a shot to earn some extra cash to start investing with.

Do you use Ebates?

How I made $1.88 Selling Stock Photography in 10 days as a new Shutterstock Contributor

How-to-Sell-Stock-Photography

I’ve always been fascinated with stock photography a way to make money. So I decided to try it and share my success as I sold my first stock photo in 10 days as a Shutterstock Contributor.

Honestly, I’ve been wanting to try this for a while since discovering Adam of Team Squirrel, mention he made $1,000 off a single photo (sold multiple times)! Ironically, he took it of the St. Louis Arch while supporting me as I ran the St. Louis Marathon in 2012. #humblebrag

This is my 10 day my review as a new Shutterstock Contributor!

What is Stock Photography?

These are digital photos that are sold online, usually for commercial purposes. Sites like iStockPhoto and Shutterstock are great examples of websites that sell stock photography.

It’s an interesting business model because all you have to do is upload a photo once, as a digital product, and people can download it thousands of time without any effort on your part.

picjumbo.com_HNCK3991

Great Stock Photography Example

 

How I Started and Sold my First Stock Photo in 10 Days

I’m not a professional photographer or a good photographer by any means, but I applied to both Shutterstock and iStockPhoto, two top stock photography websites, on the off chance they’d accept an amateur like me.

Oddly, I was accepted into both.

There are other Stock Photography websites out there, you can apply to. Here is a list of the top 10 I discovered in my research, but I’ll only focus on one (Shutterstock) for this article. I assume they all have some similarities.

Day 1 – Understand what stock photos sell best

In order for me to start submitting photos, I had to understand what stock photography sites were looking for, and sell best. People aren’t going to want to buy photos of you took of clouds from an airplane.

In fact, they specifically ask you don’t submit photos of clouds. They have MILLIONS of them.

You need to submit photos that you believe could be used for commercial purposes. Some photo types that sell best are Portrait Photography, Food Photography, Landscapes (usually with people) and fine art photography (artsy). Above all, nice photos with people sell the best.

Now I knew what stock photography sites were looking for.

Day 2 – Find the Best Photos I’ve taken

I had to figure out what photos I already have. I assume some had to be pretty good.

So I plugged in my external hard drive carrying every photo I’ve ever taken through college, life and traveling. In one night, I went over 4,000 photos.

I sat at my tiny desk with Netflix on in the background as I clicked on my computer’s right arrow button nearly 4,000 times to go over every photo I’ve ever taken in the last 10 years. Most of these were point and click cameras so the quality wasn’t that great, but I found a few gems. =)

I dragged all the good photos I found into a folder. I ended up with 100 great photos.

That’s still too many! I had to limit those 100 great photos down to 60 awesome photos, then down to the 30 all-time best photos I’ve ever taken. Later ranking them 1 to 30.

That was hard, very, very hard.

I had to keep in mind, I can’t control how these photos will be used. A family portrait may be used in a prescription depression magazine ad, so I was cautious and respectful to other people in the photos. Plus I would need any persons in the photo to sign a “photo release” you can get these online, but I just avoided photos with people to make it easier.

I was ready to apply to Shutterstock.

Day 3 – Apply to Shutterstock

Yes, you have to apply, they don’t just take anyone with a Kodiak camera.

So I submitted to Shutterstock & iStockPhoto, but we’re still focusing on Shutterstock. Shutterstock was A LOT faster with the review process, taking around 5 business days. iStockPhoto took around 30 days.

So I went here to apply to Shutterstock.

Shutterstock Contributor Page

I created a profile (basically username, password and verify email address). Then they requested I upload around 14 of my best photos. They would review these for the application process. Yes, it was a process, they have an official review team that reviews each photo uploaded to make sure it matches their quality.

Luckily I already went through and had my top 30 ranked. I added my top 14.

Upload to Shutterstock

Then I hit submit and started the waiting game.

ShutterStock Submission

Day 4 through Day 8 – I wait

During this time I contemplate questions like “Am I in the Truman Show” and continue to wait.

Waiting

Day 9 – I’m approved

Finally, on Day 9 I get the “You’re approved” email. I was honestly a little shocked. I knew the photos I submitted were MY best, but there are MUCH more talented people out there doing photography. I wanted to email them back and say “really, are you sure I’m approved”. However, kept my mouth shut and moved on.

ShutterStock Submission Acceptance

So I hop into their platform and start familiarizing myself with their dashboard. It looks a little something like this.

Shutterstock Dashboard

I spend time filling out the rest of the information and verifying who I am for taxation purposes. They are very keen on this, in fact, they ask you to submit a photo of your driver’s license to confirm who you are. That part was a little weird uploading a photo of my driver’s license but figured I’ve gone this far.

Remember every photo you upload, even as a contributor, has to be reviewed by their team first, even after you applied with those same photos. I guess it’s a different review team.

I started by selecting my top 8 photos for consideration to sell on their site. Now more work.

Having a nice photo isn’t enough, you have to add categories to what your photos are, such as “travel, nature, urban, etc.”. Then add around 50 description keywords to each photo. These are how people can search for your photos when they’re looking for a stock photo to purchase. This part is crucial!

Once I selected all the keywords and categories for each of the 8 photos, I clicked “Submit” to have their team review my photos with those keywords. The idea is you’re not using unrelated keywords, have proper photo release forms if you have people (yup, upload those too), categorizing the photos correctly, and the photos are of high enough quality.

2 of my photos got rejected rather quickly. They at least tell me why.

Shutterstock Rejection Email2

 

However, the other 6 photos were approved! These are the best photos I’ve ever taken right here. If you agree, feel free to purchase them, but I have no idea what you’d use them for. I just like them. Lol

Approved Shutterstock Images

Day 10 – Sell Stock Photo, Check!

Someone liked my photo and bought it! I’m not sure who it was, but I made my first sale on Shutterstock for my “dock” photo I took in New Zealand. Maybe it was my mother, she still has my Macaroni drawings from 1st grade. I don’t know.

I can see how other people may use this as a stock image though. It’s very calming. The only thing missing are some kids running off the end, into the water.

Not sure how they found it, just searching for “dock” won’t really find it, it’s pretty buried. They would have had to specifically search for the keywords I associated with my “dock” photo.

So finding the right keywords for your photos makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE. You should be spending 30 min on keyword research for each photo and don’t be afraid to look at your competitor keywords on similar images.

How much did I make?

Lesson Learned – I was most disappointed that I can’t control the pricing. This is entirely controlled by the website. The cheapest they sell photos for are $29 for 2 photos, so we can assume they sell the basic quality photos for $14.50 each.

From my one download, I made $1.88. It’s not great considering Shutterstock is taking 88% and I’m getting 12% of each sale, but it’s what I have to deal with since it’s their marketplace.

Shutterstock Dashboard - 1 Purchase

We’ll overlook the fact that I only made $1.88 on one photo, or 12% of the price online.

Some people can make a living off it for sure, but as I mentioned our own Adam in his recent article “8 Extremely Flexible Part Time Jobs for Us Grown Ups” said he made around $1,000 off one photo of the St. Louis Arch. He uploaded it once and has continued to see checks from it over the last year.

Impressed

Conclusion

I’m continued to be excited about stock photography even though I only made 12% of the total sale.

I suspect the 6 photos I uploaded won’t do great, but they’ll continue to bring in a few bucks without any additional effort on my part. Plus I can add more as a Shutterstock Contributor now.

From here, I will likely review the list I made on Day 1, of what stock photography sells best and maybe go around Denver with Adam and take a few new photos to sell. I can grab a suit and conference room to shoot for some business photos or head to my roof deck for some shots casual shots reading.

Now that I know what type of photography sells best, I can shoot some new photos to sell online as another way to make money!

Have you ever sold stock photography?

8 Extremely Flexible Part Time Jobs For Us Grown Ups

8 Extremely Flexible Part Time Jobs For Us Grown Ups

Whether it was in high school or in college most of us have had one or two flexible part time jobs to earn some extra cash. For me, my first job, was detasseling in the corn fields of Iowa. Then I moved onto being a life guard at the local water park for a couple summers.

The issue with most of these part time jobs is they do not work out for us grownups to make some extra money to pay off debt. I wanted to pull in some easy to access part time job that will work alongside your 9 to 5 full time job.

My goal for this list is to tell you several flexible part time jobs that are easy on your schedule and simple to jump right into.

Love to Interact With People? Work in Retail

This might sound like a job for only those younger people but it is not. Sure there are a lot of teenagers and college students working in retail but there are plenty of grown adults as well. Personally, I have worked a lot of years in retail and it is a pretty good place to be for a part time gig.

Back in college I worked at a major department store where I actually met my wife. Later on, after college, I worked at a landscape materials company where I helped sell rock and design yards. The latest experience was because I was in transition between careers. I worked at a major sporting goods retailer here in Denver. This gave me the time to work on my master’s degree while providing for my family.

Working in retail is one of eight great flexible part time jobs for anyone who is looking to earn more money.

Working in retail is one of eight great flexible part time jobs for anyone who is looking to earn more money.

Overall, I have just about seven years of retail experience. I found that the hours and time off needed were extremely flexible. The money is decent for what the job is. Working twenty hours a week might allow you to bring in an extra $800 a month.

Love Walking and Dogs? Try Dog Walking

There are several apps out there that are basically the Uber for dog walking. You can pay someone to walk your dog OR you can get paid by some who will pay you! If you are like my wife and I, we enjoy going for a walk almost every day after work. So why not get paid for that walk? Hop on one of these apps, Wag! or Rover , to see if one of your neighbors needs help walking their dogs.

Bonus Points! Both of these apps are not just for dog walking. They allow you to pet sit as well!

Can you Write? Do Some Freelance Writing

This is one that I do not have any personal experience with. My wife has been looking for some flexible part time jobs for this coming summer. As an English teacher, I plan on recommending freelance writing to her. It will be great because freelance writing is easy to engage into once school is out and disengage once school is back in session. For me, I will hopefully get a good article out of her experience 🙂

Freelance writing is one of eight great flexible part time jobs for anyone who is looking to earn more money.

Freelance writing is one of eight great flexible part time jobs for anyone who is looking to earn more money.

Michelle from Making Sense of Cents  recommends starting out slowly with one gig at a time. A slow start will ensure that you can focus on that article to make sure it is the highest quality. The higher the quality articles you write, the more likely people will hire you for more. It helps to find a niche you enjoy writing about. If you are having fun writing then it is likely that your writing will be even better.

So how do you find these gigs? Michelle recommends checking out the ProBlogger job boards to find freelance gigs.

Have a Computer? Fill Out Some Surveys

Look you are not going to get rich by completing surveys, take a look at Andrew’s review of surveying, No more survey apps, they just don’t pay well. You can make some decent money for your savings account every month though. Using Michelle from Making Sense of Cents as an example again, she made around an extra $100 a month from surveys. I do not think this is bad since all you have to do is sit back on the couch with your computer to fill these out.

Some of the more popular services are Swagbucks, Pinecone Research, American Consumer Opinion, InboxDollars, and Harris Poll Online.

Use Swagbucks to earn some extra money.

Use Swagbucks to earn some extra money.

Can you Drive? Drive for Uber or Lyft

Uber and Lyft are the newish hip ways to catch a ride around your city. I really love these services as they provide a very easy and simple way to hale a ride. With a couple clicks on your phone and someone is on their way to pick you up.

These services have also became a great way to earn extra money with your own vehicle. With extreme elasticity on setting your own hours this is one of those flexible part time jobs that can fit anyone’s needs. Since you set your own hours, you can make as little or as much as you would like being an Uber or Lyft driver.

Uber or Lyft are great ways to earn extra money on your own time.

Uber or Lyft are great ways to earn extra money on your own time.

I once took a ride from an Uber driver who use to drive a cab. She said that she loves working for the service. It provides her with a lot more flexibility. In turn, this allowed her to spend more time with her kids, while making more money than she used to. I thought that was such an awesome statement for Uber.

Personally, I have never tried Lyft. Have you? If so, tell me about it in the comments section below. I’m curious to hear about your thoughts.

Have a Pulse? Donate Plasma

This was my part time job back in college. Donating Plasma was one of my favorite flexible part time jobs I have ever had. The hours were super flexible, the pay was great for what was entailed, and it was very easy. I donated plasma for over three years while in college. It provided just about $300 extra dollars for me a month while conforming to my crazy academic schedule as a landscape architecture student.

If you are interested in donating plasma check out my detailed write up, How to Earn More Money – Donating Plasma.

Are you Crafty? Sell on Etsy

Etsy is one of those flexible part time jobs that is easy to jump into but does take some time to get established. I have sold a few photographs on Esty but never put the time into really establishing my shop (that is what they call your personal page). I have read that this can take a little while but can be totally worth the effort that you put forward.

Etsy allows you to sell your own crafts as a part time gig.

Etsy allows you to sell your own crafts as a part time gig.

Similar to Uber or Lyft, you put time into Etsy whenever you can outside of your 9 to 5 job. The more you put into your shop, the more likely it will succeed. In the near future I will be revisiting my Esty Shop trying to revive it and see what I can get out of it. It looks like I have some work to do as they reset my shop since I have last logged in. Stay tuned!

Good With a Camera? Sell Your Photography

I absolutely love photography. Sadly, since moving to Colorado in 2011 my life has become WAY too busy to be able to put time into the craft. One way I have found to make a little money off of my photographs that are just sitting within an external hard drive is through stock photography.

Back in 2013 I decided to upload some random photos that I liked. Some were my favorite photographs of all time and some were just good. It turned out one of my random ‘just good’ photos that I took of the St. Louis Arch was really loved by people. This photograph has gone on to make me around $1,000! I only host this photograph on iStockPhoto and ShutterStock.

I have used stock photography to make true passive income for the past four years.

I have used stock photography to make true passive income for the past four years.

Stock photography is truly a passive income. I have not touched that photo on either service in that past four years. So fun!

Conclusion

All in all these flexible part-time jobs are very easy to get started with. They all are very conforming to any grownup’s schedule. Anyone can get signed up for any of these eight positions right now. I recommend trying one that might interest you the most. This will ensure that you enjoy making this extra money.

If you are looking for some extra cash to help pay off debt then I recommend you try out any of these eight flexible part-time jobs.

We have come up with a bigger list on Ways to Earn More Money. Most of these are not flexible part time jobs. Rather this list has other experiences on how to make more money such as selling something on Craigslist.

A UserTesting Review By a Frustrated Applicant

A UserTesting Review By a Frustrated Applicant

Let us start this UserTesting review at the beginning to give you some context what they do.

A glance as to what UserTesting does.

A glance as to what UserTesting does.

Basically UserTesting will do a comprehensive review of a company’s website.

UserTesting will have a “Company A” approach them saying, “Hey, we are not sure if our website is very good. Can you help?”

User Testing takes over by asking, “What are you worried about with your website?”

Now the “Company A” could say that they are worried about their navigation or is information is easy to find? These concerns are then transformed into tasks for a website reviewer to try out.

Enter the UserTesting website reviewer, what I was hoping to try out.

Everything done by the website reviewer is recorded by UserTesting’s on their application. This application records what the reviewer is saying as they talk through their actions, thoughts, and process. Also, the application records the screen movements and actions the reviewer performs. I’m not exactly sure what happens after the review is completed. I would assume that the company gets the responses and data after some vetting/cleaning up process. The video below explains the whole process in their words.

My Experience Starting Out

When I first heard about UserTesting.com about a month ago I was excited. I thought to myself, “Man, they are going to pay you a decent amount of money for 20 minutes of work to review websites? I’m in!”

Not only was I excited for the additional income but I was excited to learn.

For me, creating websites is a passion. Being able to review many different sites would have given me the opportunity to see what other people are doing right or wrong. Personally, I was the most excited to learn! Plus, I thought I could make an awesome UserTesting review for the readers of Wallet Squirrel.

Sign Me Up!

Fast forward to this past week. I was finally able to get started on my application to be able to review websites and start the UserTesting review.

View of the sign up page.

UserTesting Review: Sign-Up Page.

My adventure started off with excitement. To begin with, they ask everyone to try out a test review to make sure every applicant can speak clearly and has the right equipment set up. I hopped on their website where I submitted my email address to start the process. Once the email arrived I could click on a link provided to begin the sample test.

Email I received to start the process.

UserTesting Review: Email I received to start the process.

Sample Test

This link in the email takes you to a webpage where I could download their application. Once downloaded, I could follow the steps to get it installed. The initial process was super easy and simple. After completing the install, I hit the continue button which took me to the next page. Because most people are not sure what to expect, UserTesting provides a link to a previous applicant’s sample video. This was nice to have so I could get my bearings for my own sample test.

The initial process was super easy and simple. After completing the install, I hit the continue button which took me to the next page. Because most people are not sure what to expect, UserTesting provides a link to a previous applicant’s sample video. This was nice to have so I could get my bearings for my own sample test.

This was nice to have so I could get my bearings for my own sample test.

Testing out the microphone. It works almost to good.

Testing out the microphone. It works almost to good.

After taking a peak at the example, I hit “Launch Recorder” to have a go at it for myself. The application opens with a test for your microphone. Annoyingly there are more pop ups to go through before I finally got to where the application is recording. Reading the instructions, the first task is to watch a short two-minute tutorial video. This video is nice as it goes through the process with you and gives you some more tips on how to use the UserTesting Application. Once complete there are three questions to answer. These are simple multiple choice questions, so do worry much about them.

The application opens with a test for your microphone. Annoyingly there are more pop ups to go through before I finally got to record. Reading the instructions, the first task is to watch a short two-minute tutorial video. This video is nice as it goes through the process with you and gives you some more tips on how to use the UserTesting Application. Once complete there are three questions to answer. These are simple multiple choice questions, so do worry much about them.

Reading the instructions, the first task is to watch a short two-minute tutorial video. This video is nice as it goes through the process with you and gives you some more tips on how to use the UserTesting Application. Once complete there are three questions to answer. These are simple multiple choice questions, so do worry much about them.

Actual Tasks

Finally! After clicking through SO many pop-ups and windows, I made it to the actual sample tasks.

I landed on the National Air and Space Museum’s website to review. My first task is to find a map with a layout of the museum in DC. As I explore through the logical places for this layout map I talk through my process and thoughts about the task. Once the map was finally found and my thoughts shared, I get to click next for the second task.

The home page of the National Air & Space Museum Website.

The home page of the National Air & Space Museum Website.

The second task wanted me to find what holiday the Air and Space Museum is closed. With this task, I looked around the website some more. This one was a little more tough to find because of the overall structure of the site is goofy. But at last! I found it! I gave my two cents about the overall site structure and then moved on.

But at last! I found it! I gave my two cents about the overall site structure and then moved on.

Once the last task was complete, I could hit “Done” to stop the recording. Next there were a few written questions to answer such as, “What specifically made it easy or difficult for you to find what you were looking for?” I inputted a detailed answer for each one because of the higher the quality of your review, the more likely you are going to get more reviews.

After answering those questions the UserTesting application starts uploading the review.

Redo Part One

Excluding allpop-ups pop ups, this is where my UserTesting review started to take a turn for the worse.

It was not an hour later after submitting my first video that I got an email saying to redo my submission. As you can see this email is very vague as to why I had to redo my test sample. I thought, “Okay, maybe the room was too loud or I did not talk loud enough.” So, I sat down, made sure the room was shut tight, and cleared my throat. It took me about 15 minutes to finish this submission.

As you can see this email is very vague as to why I had to redo my test sample. I thought, “Okay, maybe the room was too loud or I did not talk loud enough.” So, I sat down, made sure the room was shut tight, and cleared my throat. It took me about 15 minutes to finish this submission.

My first rejection email.

UserTesting Review: My first rejection email. Notice how vague it is.

Redo Part Two

At dinner, I was all excited that I had not received a rejection email yet.

Sadly, this excitement did not last long though. As we were just cleaning the dishes another rejection email came in. I started to get a little more frustrated this time as it was the same vague email.

Determined to get my application approved I sat down, yet again, to do the test sample. This time I focused harder on what I was saying during my exploration. I tried to simplify my review and be more clear. After submitting it this time I got my hopes up. I thought I had it this time.

My first rejection email.

UserTesting Review: My second rejection email.

Redo Part Three

It was not till mid-morning the next day that I heard back with, yet again, another rejection email.

I was kind of angry at this point because I did not know what I was doing wrong. The silly rejection emails do not tell you ANYTHING.

 

My third rejection email.

UserTesting Review: My third rejection email.

I only wanted some direction as to what was I doing wrong. This would be the fourth time I was to do the test sample.

After looking around some more through the test sample I determined that I might be looking for the wrong map. I kept looking for the location map when they wanted the layout map. Knowing this I started the application all over again, for the fourth time, did I mention that part? Once done, I felt very confident that I would get it. I thought I would have an awesome article to write about making money by reviewing websites.

Sure enough, I was right. I was not completing the task right. If the emails were a little more detailed, the sample test might have only had to redone once instead of three times!

Finally, A Different Email

Later that evening, I was so happy to see a different email come in from UserTesting with the subject line, “UserTesting – Your application to UserTesting.” Thinking to myself, I thought, “Man, this has to be it! I did it! I did it!”

I open the email and all my hopes and dreams were crushed (might be over overdramatizing). The email said they have more applications than they can accept so they couldn’t invite me to join the panel.

The final rejection letter after figuring out what I was doing wrong.

The final rejection letter after figuring out what I was doing wrong.

Are you kidding me?!?!? I spent two days recording the sample test four times and just now I am hearing that they are not taking any more applicants. Why couldn’t they say this on their website? I couldn’t believe it. I was very angry at the company at this point.

via GIPHY

Okay, Adam, breath…it is okay.

Conclusion

To conclude the UserTesting review, this process was very frustrating. Though UserTesting has ironed out most of the experience there are still some major wrinkles that need to be smoothed out. For one, they need to provide better emails as to why something is rejected. I do not see why this would not be hard to do. From my understanding an actual person reviews the sample tests so why can’t they be a little personable.

Secondly, they need to close their application link if they are not accepting anymore applications! This made me upset when they pushed me to keep redoing my sample test just to tell me something they already knew, they weren’t taking anymore applications.

Please fix this UserTesting!  For me, it comes off as they do not care about their reviewers even though these people make up half of their business.

For me, it comes off as they do not care about their reviewers even though these people make up half of their business.

To give some positive feedback within this UserTesting review, they do have a very nice website. It makes signing up very easy. The application used to conduct reviews is very slick and simple (though there are a lot of popup windows to click through). They do make the process very easy to perform so anyone could conduct a review. Sadly, they have the smudge marks, listed above, that ruin the program for me.

via GIPHY

Other Reviews

Andrew and I are constantly reviewing different methods to earn more money. Head over to the Blog or our How to Earn More Money section to read more reviews. If you have any thoughts on something we should review shoot us a message.