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I Started Investing 3 Years Ago, Best Decision I Ever Made

I Started Investing 3 Years Ago, Best Decision I Ever Made

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE BELOW FOR MORE INFO.

In the beginning of 2015 I paid off my credit card debt for the first time and started to learn about investing.

It was terrifying, but so totally worth it!

How I Perceived Investing As A Kid

Up until 3 years ago (I was 28), I knew NOTHING about investing. To me, investing was some insane, chaotic spree that made rich people rich and the middle class poor. I didn’t know how it worked, but I knew tons of people who lost money during the recession.

If you’ve ever watched any movie that talks about Wall Street or Investing, it’ll have your brain swimming in confusion trying to understand it. Were they just trying to make it look hard and impressive? (Yes).

I was terrified of investing, I just shut down anytime someone talked about investing and assumed they were a financial genius if they owned stock. Someone who had enough money to pay their bills, live their life and put something extra away investing for retirement was a financial god to me.

I Started to Learn About Money On My Own

Like I said before, at the beginning of 2015 (3 years ago) I paid off my credit card debt after paying countless $70 monthly payments. So once I paid it off, I wanted to use that $70 for something else, something reasonable.

I will admit my company did have a financial planner come into our office and talk about our 401(k) plan. While the company plan was pretty awful, the financial planner did a great job at terrifying me to death.

I will always remember their words “Running out of money in retirement is worse than death”

Well f*&k, that was more terrifying than Halloween. So I started to learn more about money and how it worked.

I started reading finance books like “Total Money Make Over” by Dave Ramsey. I consumed it in a day.

I started listening to finance podcasts. Not the hardcore stock analysis ones, but the more Investing for Dummies type of podcasts like “Listen, Money, Matters”. I LOVED that podcasts and in my mind, being surrounded by those announcers talking about money and finance as a regular thing, I began thinking of money in a different way.

After reading books and listening podcasts. I started to view money not as static thing to sit in my bank account, but more as income streams.

Understanding how much money I had in my bank account mattered less than how much I had coming in each month. That’s why investing became a fascination because it’s one of the most common income streams for people.

I Tried Investing $100 To See What Happens

On the podcast “Listen, Money, Matters” they raved about the investing app “Betterment” (Adam uses Betterment and did a review). They brought the Betterment team on the podcast and explained it and how it’s meant for people who know nothing about investing but want to start. That was me!

I remember how nervous I was signing up. I had to put in my info and social security number. I was convinced that I would immediately lose all my money straight away and because they knew my social security number, the IRS would start to hunt me down.

This was a legit fear I had.

Since I had so much anxiety, I only invested $100 to see what happened. I invested in a “moderate risk” portfolio which they automatically invested for me. All I did was put in $100 and waited to see what happens.

They say not to check it daily, but I did. Oh my goodness, for the first week I checked it hourly. I wanted to see EXACTLY how the stock market worked. After a week I limited myself to daily. So for 5 months, I checked my Betterment account every day, scruitinizing everything that happened.

However, I found that my money fluctuated. One day it went down to $99 then up to $102 and slowly kept rising. This helped me understand how the market moved (at least during those 5 months), how it worked and it slowly became less mysterious.

In fact, I started to notice little things like every once in a while, I would receive extra lumps of change in my account. Just a few pennies, but they were dividends. I received money just from owning certain stocks. I couldn’t tell which stocks with Betterment because it doesn’t show that amount of micro detail, but it was a great feeling.

Then I started to invest more and look at other stockbrokers (companies which you need to invest) like the Robinhood App (I still use Robinhood, here’s my full review on how it works). With Robinhood I could start to pick my individual stocks and it was amazing! I chose stocks that were on the safe side such as Apple, Realty Income and Johnson & Johnson that were well known and established. I knew if these companies tanked, there was something seriously wrong with our economy, so I felt comfortable.

I Wasn’t Addicted, But I Was Obsessed

After I learned how the stock market worked, I felt comfortable but wanted to see more gains than the couple of cents I had been earning. So I could have gone in two different directions. I could have started to invest in risky stocks for bigger gains (don’t recommend) or find new ways to earn money so I could buy more stocks. I did the latter.

Now I write articles online for money, use interest checking accounts, sell stock photos, sell things on Craigslist, use a cashback credit card and more to earn extra money each month and invest it!

Today, It Absolutely Was Worth It.

I’m not advocating for a certain investing approach, but I do want you to see money as income streams rather than a lump sum. It absolutely changed my life.

Before I was happy with $2,500 in my bank account. It was more than any of my friends had. I now keep $4,000 in both my checking and savings account as an Emergency Fund and invest the extra money each month in my investment portfolio.

Knowing I have the extra money and extra streams of income each month gives me SO MUCH more confidence to know I’ll be OK if an emergency comes up or I want to go on a vacation. That piece of mind is one of the greatest feelings ever.

How I Started An Amazon Affiliate Website To Start Making Money

How I Started an Amazon Affiliate Website to Start Making MoneyHow I started an Amazon Affiliate Website to start making money

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE BELOW FOR MORE INFO.

Recently I’ve committed to building an epic Amazon Affiliate Website in a new competition we’re calling the Epic Niche Site Battle. A contest over a year to see who can build a better niche website. The competition started January 1st, 2018 and this is the entire outline of how I plan to create an awesome Amazon Affiliate Website under $300.

Step 1 – Find a Niche

What do I want my website to do or sell? Do I want to be an entertainment website where people go to be happy and find cool stuff, or do I want to be an authority website where people visit to learn words of wisdom from someone who knows more than them? Or do I want to create another blog that shares silly stories?

There are a lot of choices here, but I wanted to do an entertainment website. I like being fun and frankly if it’s going to be another website to manage. I NEED this to be fun!

Specifically, I chose to niche down to a fun, witty and entertaining website on Holidays. I like holidays because people spend money (or at least expected to spend money) during these times of the year. So I’m going to create an entertainment website based on the traditional things people buy for the holidays. Cool right!

Cost – $0 to think of cool niche ideas.

Step 2 – Find a Clever Domain Name

This part takes time, give yourself plenty of time, like 3 months to come up with a clever domain name for your website. Usually, you want your website/business name or purpose to be reflected in the domain name. You want this to be memorable, easy to type, shorter is better and capable of building a brand around.

I spent 3 months thinking about a domain name. Yes, the Epic Niche Site Battle started 10 days ago, but I could still think of my website beforehand. To think about my holiday website, I came up with over 237 different domain names, slowly fine-tuning them, and emphasizing keywords that made sense to my brand. Those 237 domain names were just the ones that were available when I researched them on GoDaddy.com, there were hundreds more I tried that were unavailable. I went a little insane finding the right domain name.

This is how I felt…..

Eventually, I find a domain name that I absolutely loved! This is personally important to me because if I don’t like it, I won’t be motivated to work on it every week. If you’re not passionate about something, you WILL quit halfway through when the going gets tough. I don’t plan to quit.

Cost – $12 Domain Name + $12 Domain Privacy
*Always buy domain privacy, otherwise you’ll get calls/emails daily from companies trying to sell your new website different services. It’s like telemarketers on steroids.

Step 3 – Create A Fun Logo

This doesn’t seem like a big deal, but I’m a graphic kind of guy and I NEED an awesome logo to rally behind. Honestly, I started to think about how the website logo will look when researching domain names. I wanted to create more than just a name in a silly font, I want to create a whole brand.

Once I had my domain name chosen, I started to research different creative logos on websites like Logopond.com and in Google Search Images. I typed in my keywords and compared what other company logos looked like. I started from there and fine-tuned until I had something that looked different, creative, but familiar.

I had about 5 pages of tiny thumbnail logos sketched out.

I needed and created something that looked professional. I used Adobe Illustrator to create it myself, but you could hire a freelance graphic designer off Upwork.com of Fiverr.com. It just depends how much money you want to spend. I personally hate spending money, so the more I can do myself, the better.

Cost – $0 if you do it yourself, I did.

Step 4 – Claim Your Social Platforms

Right before I create a website, I go through and start claiming all my social media platforms for the new company name. Chances are that if your domain name is unique enough, it should be available. If not, at least a similar enough name should be.

I’m currently going through and claiming a Gmail account for my new company (people trust Gmail), along with a Facebook Page, Pinterest Page, Instagram, and Twitter Profile. I’m doing this now so I at least have all of these claimed in the digital world.

I will use the graphic I created for my logo, as the profile photo for the new social media accounts. =P

You may not need/use all of these in the beginning, but having them for safekeeping is a nice reassurance moving forward.

Cost – $0 for the basic accounts.

Step 5 – Set Up Your Initial Website

I personally use WordPress for all my websites. It’s frankly easy to use, flexible and I like the simplicity. This new website will also be on WordPress. Most websites are.

Setting up a website is easier than you think. I personally use Bluehost (you can use whoever you want) to set up all my websites because they have a 1-click button that sets up a WordPress website for you, if that’s scary, here is a detailed post on how to start a blog written for some friends. Let me know in the comments if you have any questions. We’re happy to help!

Full disclosure, I use Bluehost for all my websites. I’m a big fan. If you want to learn more or use Bluehost, I would LOVE if you used my Bluehost Affiliate Code to check it out. It really means a lot to us!

Cost – $202.32 for 2 years of Bluehost hosting.

*You can absolutely do only 1 year, but there is a better discount the longer you go. I also paid for the Site Backup Pro (in case I accidentally delete something) and SiteLock Security (in case my website gets hacked). Overall $202.32 for two years is pretty awesome! If your website hasn’t made that back in 2 years, we should chat.

Step 6 – Find The Right WordPress Theme

So I went to the same place I buy all my WordPress themes (Themeforest) and searched their hundreds of demo WordPress Themes to find the right one that made sense for my Amazon Affiliate Website. This is the style and look your website will have. I needed a clean looking blog (it’s great for SEO) and I needed a warm looking homepage. I found something flexible and looked professional after a couple hours searching.

I’m a big fan of websites that look professional. If your website looks like it was made by a 5th grader, it will be instantly judged and people will feel uncomfortable. Take the time to give your website a nice look upfront and it will pay dividends for the success of your website. WordPress themes are a great way to give your Amazon Affiliate Website a professional look for a cheap price tag.

All you do with your WordPress Theme is hit “Upload Theme” once you create your WordPress website. It’ll then give you the look and feel of what you saw in the demo theme from Themeforest.

Cost – $60 for a WordPress theme from Themeforest.

Step 7 – Add these WordPress Plugins to Improve your site

There is an infinite number of plugins you can add to your site, but the more you do, the slower your site can run and Google hates slow sites, read Adam’s experience here with decreasing website load times. Here are 6 free plug-ins I add to all of my WordPress Amazon Affiliate Websites to keep them fast, looking good and efficient.

  • Akismet Anti-Spam – Frankly getting spammy comments suck and make your website look crappy. Akismet is one of the most popular plugins to protect your Amazon Affiliate Website from spam. Or turn comments completely off to eliminate spam if you don’t want a comment section.
  • Compress JPEG & PNG Images – This is a plugin we use to automatically reduce the file size of our images. Having smaller file sizes keep your website load times quicker since the web pages don’t have as much to download.
  • Google XML Sitemaps – This helps Google bookmark your website. The plugin does everything automatically. It basically creates a roadmap for Google’s crawl bots to quickly index your site.
  • WP Fastest Cache – Cache plugins help your website load faster and this is one of the best. We’ve tried a couple different cache plugins, but keep coming back to this one.
  • Yoast SEO – One of the most popular free SEO plugins. This will tell you how well your page/post is optimized to be search friendly. I live by this plugin!
  • Viglink – This is an affiliate marketing plugin that’s associated with my Viglink Account (Here’s my experience with Viglink). If anyone clicks on a product on my website, Viglink will track this and I get a commission if they buy something. You can use Amazon Associates for your Affiliate Marketing, but I like Viglink because it has partnerships with 2,000 different stores including Amazon. Viglink is how I plan to make money with my new Amazon Affiliate Website. Here is my personal affiliate link if you want to learn more about Viglink and how it works.

Cost – $0 for all of these plugins.

Step 8 – Create Your Initial Pages

I want my website to be easily manageable, so I’m going to initially set up my Amazon Affiliate Website to be pretty simple. I’m having essentially 3 pages.

These pages are:

  • Homepage where I’ll sell products
  • Blog to write engaging SEO posts
  • About Me/Contact Page

I thought about separating the About Me and Contact Page, but they essentially are the same thing, I’ll have a contact form on my About Me page. In my head, the website is more manageable with 3 different pages (plus future blog posts).

I’m currently setting up these 3 pages and loading the homepage with products to sell for the upcoming holiday. Once these 3 pages are done, you’re website is almost done.

Cost – $0, just takes time.

Step 9 – Write AWESOME Blog Posts (4-5 for Launch)

In most cases, your website will be found by SEO or Search Engine Optimization blog posts. You’ll likely market your website in other ways, but most times blogs are found on Google, Bing or Yahoo. Here is Wallet Squirrel’s SEO strategy.

This is where the hard work comes! Every one of my blog posts must follow the 5 rules I discovered during my research on 50 Amazon Affiliate Website Examples Making Money in a Niche. There were the 5 important variables when investigating blog posts on these successful Amazon Affiliate Websites.

  1. Use Specific Keywords – The more specific the keyword is, the better it’ll likely rank in Google
  2. Review Posts are Popular – Before someone buys something, they want to know what others think of it. So if I have an opportunity to review something for a post, people may use my review post to click through to the product they’re thinking of buying.
  3. Content Is King – Most successful blog posts that rank well have between 1,500 – 3,000 words.
  4. Mix High & Low Priced Items – Don’t have a blog post with affiliate links to all high priced or all low priced products. Keep a diversity of price ranges and don’t overwhelm the reader with products to buy. Provide honest reviews and recommendations.
  5. Get People to the Amazon Store as Quick as Possible – The goal of an Amazon Affiliate Website is to get people to the store as quick as possible. Amazon does a great job at convincing people to buy their stuff, let them do the work and collect your affiliate commissions.

Lastly, always do your research and NEVER suggest/promote products you dislike or don’t agree with just for money. People will ALWAYS see through that.

I’m trying to create 4-5 awesome blog posts for my initial launch. Don’t worry about publishing these all at once. This just gives Google more time to crawl these pages and bookmark them for future Google Searches. After that, I’ll create a new post weekly or bi-weekly. Honestly whatever feels better with my time constraints. Either way, quality blog posts are better with Amazon Affiliate Websites.

Cost – $0 unless you pay someone else to write articles for you, but I write all my articles myself.

Step 10 – Launch Your Amazon Affiliate Website & Market It

After I finish my 3 website pages and 4-5 blog posts. I’ll be ready to launch my website!

This involves more than making it visible to the world. You need to get people to the website. Here are some ideas on how to promote your website and increase web traffic.

  • If you have an Email List, email them on the new website!
  • Create a social media campaign on your social media accounts about the launch. Add lots of hashtags if you don’t have a large following. Also, share with your friends and family, they’ll be likely to share because most people want you to succeed.
  • Post to Facebook Groups asking them for feedback on your new website. Maybe they’ll have ideas on how to make it better. You may even get a few new followers.
  • Submit the URL of your new Amazon Affiliate Website to different News Aggregators like StumbleUpon.com.
  • Try syndicating some of your blog posts to syndication sites, especially if they’re good posts. This may help you tap new audiences.
  • Create an infographic and share with different graphics platforms like Slideshare, Flikr, and other bloggers.
  • Reach out to Bloggers and/or News outlets if your new website or blog posts match their content.
  • Reach out to companies you mention in your blog posts.

Cost – $0 You don’t have to spend anything on marketing the website if you don’t want to. Find free ways to promote your website before resorting to paying for a press release or PR companies. Don’t ever try to pay for links to your website, Google may penalize you for this.

Step 11 – Repeat Writing New Blog Posts and Marketing

Remember the old shampoo commercials of rinse and repeat? That’s how Amazon Affiliate Websites work. Your goal is to attract as many visitors as possible, help them, and send them onward to Amazon to buy a product.

The more you write new content and market your website, the more visitors you’ll bring in and the more products you’ll sell.

Total Cost to Start an Amazon Affiliate Website – $274.32

Conclusion

I just laid out my entire Amazon Affiliate Website template for you to copy. If you follow this outline and track my progress, you’ll find some success for your new website.

I’m currently in Step 8, setting up my Amazon Affiliate Website now. It’s going really well! I should be at Step 9 or Step 10 by the end of January, having only spent $274.32 total. That should easily be made back in the next couple of months, I’ll continue to track and post my progress!

Leave me a comment on how your website is doing and I’ll continue to leave updates on how the Epic Niche Site Battle is going!

Happy Holidays from Wallet Squirrel – A Look Back at 2017

Happy Holidays from Wallet Squirrel – A Look Back at 2017

Fun fact. Did you know there are a total of 29 holidays celebrated between Thanksgiving and New Years Eve?

So on that note, we at Wallet Squirrel, would like to wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hannuka, or any other holiday you might be celebrating!

Andrew and I personally would like to thank every single one of you for an awesome 2017!

Because of you, in 2017 we saw a tremendous amount of growth of interest in our journey to becoming financial guru’s, investing ninjas, and financially free. You all have decided to join us on this journey as we all learn together from our personal experiences.

Today, I would like to take a look back at our more popular and well-liked posts of 2017. Let the reminiscing commence!

Side Hustling

We, like everyone else, love to find new ways to earn more money and to see how others are making money. This is why we started searching around the globe for new awesome ways to earn more money outside of our 9 to 5 jobs.

How Andrew made $1.88 Selling Stock Photography in 10 Days – Both Andrew and I wrote several articles about stock photography throughout the year. His about how he made $1.88 within 10 Days of being accepted performed the best. I still own the title for making the most money off of one photograph though, $1,000 and counting.

Earn Money While Working Out With the Achievement App – Achievement is a fun application that syncs up with all of your activities, including your tweets. You earn more points the more you walk, workout, sleep, tweet healthy thoughts, and so on. Let the point earning begin!

How to Sell Something on Craigslist and Make Money – Andrew was able to sell some old stuff on Craigslist. He walks us through the whole process from posting his items to meeting up with the buyer. Pretty cool!

I believe he sold his old guitar. Now that he has a girlfriend, I guess he doesn’t need to walk the streets of Denver serenading women anymore.

Investing

3 Reasons Why Monthly Dividends are Better – Andrew talks about why he believes that monthly dividends are better than other dividend stocks. He walks you through why you should think they are awesome too and how to find those stocks that hand out monthly dividends.

Come learn how you can learn extra money on top of the normal gains of investing.

Cost-Benefit Analysis Example to either Pay Off My Car or Invest? – Andrew was not sure if he should pay off his car or invest the extra money he had. Enter the cost-benefit analysis. He walks through his thought process and how to properly perform a cost-benefit analysis. Check out the article to

see what he ended up doing.

Latest Stock Purchases – Andrew informs us throughout the year about the latest stock purchases he makes. This is intended to help inform us all about new stocks that might interest you. This is one example of those articles.

You can look at his entire portfolio in the investments page.

Personal Finance

How to Pay Off Your Car Loan Faster – Paying off our car early freed up $405 a month! This money has been great so we can be more aggressive at paying off our student loans. This article walks through the different ways we were able to apply to pay off $7,000 in only three months.

How and What to Teach Your Kids About Money – A lot of us have young kids. One question I had was, “How should we go about teaching them about money?” So I did some research and this is what I found out.

9 Bad Spending Habits that are Killing Your Budget – We all have bad spending habits that we need to drop ASAP. For me, I had a lot! Luckily, I have a loving and patient wife that has helped me break most of these bad spending habits.

What are your bad spending habits?

Blogging

How to Start a Blog – I could not believe blogging was still so hot! I thought I was caught in an episode of How I Met Your Mother where Barney was only focused on his own blog. Well, the blogging world is still massive and still hot! It is time for you to start your very own blog!

50 Amazon Affiliate Website Examples – The money that can be made off of affiliate marketing is amazing! This article provides 50 examples to get the ideas flowing in your mind.

Are you planning on starting an affiliate niche website in 2018? Andrew is doing one!

An SEO Strategy – What Works and What Does Not – We saw a 1,500% in traffic growth during 2017. This growth mainly comes from our SEO strategy (also our Marketing Strategy). This is the perfect next step after you start your very own blog!

A New Year

I love the end of a year as it is a great time to look back on the goals you succeeded at and failed. This is the time of the year to prepare how you will concur the upcoming year.

For me personally, I do not succeed at every goal on my list. I am alright with that as long as I learn from my mistakes to make the next year the best year yet!

Next week I will dive more into this concept.

 

Cheers!

Adam

Teespring Review: Make Money Designing Custom T-Shirts

Teespring Review - Make Money Designing Custom T-Shirts

Teespring Review: Make Money Designing Custom T-Shirts

This is the second time I ever tried Teespring, but my first time writing a Teespring Review. As a designer, this is a fun way to earn extra money designing fun tee shirts and other gear. You essentially design funny/clever t-shirts and then market them to be sold.

What is TeeSpring?

Teespring is a website where you can design custom tee shirts and other apparel such as hoodies, socks, mugs etc. using their proprietary online design software. Once you create a custom design, you can share a link with your friends who can buy your t-shirt design.

The difference between Teespring and other custom t-shirt design places is the shirts aren’t actually made until you have a minimum order.

This way you don’t have to buy a bunch of shirts you aren’t sure are going to sell or not. Thus filling your garage full of crappy shirts. All you do is create the design and TeeSpring handles all the orders, payments and shipping once a minimum amount of shirts are sold.

Yes, Teespring Pays You!

The biggest bonus to Teespring (and why I wanted to write this Teespring Review) is that once you get the minimum amount of orders and the shirts are sent out. You as the designer get a cut of the profits for creating the design!

Teespring handles all the heavy work, but since you are the one that created the shirt design and marketed it, you get a portion of the money made. Of course, Teespring takes their share, but you get yours too.

It’s a unique sidehuslte if you’re a creative type that can create some clever t-shirts and market them.

How Does Teespring work?

Head over to Teespring.com and hit “Start Designing”. It’ll ask you to create an account with them. It’s just the basic name, email, and password. They don’t ask for any payment information when your first setting up an account or first creating a shirt design.

You’ll then be asked to “Pick Your Canvas”. They have a number of options since they originally started. You can create unique/clever designs on a wide variety of items including:

  • Canvas Prints
  • Beach Towels
  • Phone Cases
  • Wall Tapestry
  • Posters (12″x24″) & (24″x36″)
  • Flags
  • Indoor Pillows
  • Socks
  • Apparel
  • Stickers
  • Tote Bags
  • Mugs

I am going to focus on t-shirts for this Teespring Review since that’s what made them famous. So I selected apparel. This takes you immediately to their proprietary design software where you can create a completely unique t-shirt design from scratch. You really just jump right in.

It’s a bit intimidating, I just created a basic word print to go with the design. I obviously didn’t get too crazy, but you have a lot of options of what you can do including uploading your own custom designs.

It’s a really good program. If you don’t have any design software to create a t-shirt design on your own like Adobe Illustrator, I’d definitely recommend checking out Teespring’s online designer. This is what it looks like.

Once you finish a design, Teespring will let you set the price for how much you want to sell the shirt for. You can set the price for whatever you want. Maybe you have a clever design and people want a shirt made by you, so you could set your price at $50. It’s not smart, but you could.

Luckily Teesprings has a recommended sell price.

In addition to what you set the price at, Teespring will show you how much of a profit you’ll make based on how many shirts you sell and the price you set them at. So simple economics, the higher price you set and the more you sell, the more profit you’ll make. In the Teespring Review example below, if 7 shirts are purchased, I would make $70 or $7 per shirt if I sell for $23.99.

Once you set the price you create a profile on your new shirt design with campaign name, t-shirt description and create a custom URL for people to visit. Take some time with this. Giving your campaign/shirt description a clever description can really help sell your shirt to people on the fence of buying.

If you want to check out the t-shirt design I did for this Teespring Review, go to Teespring.com/i-am-a-blogger-teeshirt where you’ll have the option to buy. It’s very basic. I like to set the bar low for you to create your own amazing shirt design!

That’s it. Now anyone can see your shirt and buy it. The biggest thing from here is sending the link to your friends, post on your blog or share to your social network to buy the new shirt.

A big strategy I’ve seen people try, is create a clever t-shirt idea for a specific niche of people like the famous “Don’t worry I’m a ______” tagline and create facebook ads. To give an example, I’ve seen “Don’t worry I’m a Nurse” and people created specific facebook ads for people who listed their occupation as “Nurse”. I believe it’s been really successful.

Teespring Review Pros

  • You only have to create the design, Teespring will handle the creating/paying/shipping info on their end. This is a huge space saver from the days you had to store tee shirt inventory in your garage.
  • You get paid per t-shirt. You can set your own price for your designs and that profit goes to you. So if you LOVE creating tee shirts, you can make quite a bit of money.
  • Their design software is pretty easy to use.

Teespring Review Cons

  • Even if you create the best t-shirt design ever, you have to market it completely on your own. Meaning you have to email it to all your friends or create Facebook ads to drive traffic to Teespring’s website for people to buy your t-shirt. You’re basically selling Teespring’s t-shirts for them.
  • You have a limited space on the front and back of the shirt for your design. This makes it easier for Teespring to create the t-shirts, but you can’t get super creative creating unique sleeve designs or anything like that.
  • Time Limit for your designs. Once you create the design you have nearly 6 days to sell your design or it’s taken down. That’s not a lot of time.

Teespring Review Conclusions

I like the idea of Teespring. It allows you to quickly create a custom t-shirt design to share with all your friends for them to buy. However, it doesn’t seem to be set up for a permanent side hustle. There are a lot of better/easier ways to earn more money.

Once you create the t-shirt design, it takes A LOT of effort and marketing dollars to get those shirts to sell. So unless you have a particular network of people who are willing to buy a specific t-shirt, I wouldn’t recommend this as a permanent side hustle.

We’re Starting the Epic Niche Site Battle!

“Let’s do this!” is how I responded to a LinkedIn message from Barnabas of TheDadWallet.com & SerialBoss.com.

Back in May, Barnabas reached out to Wallet Squirrel following up on all our talk about building a niche website. He’s been wanting to do the same thing and he suggested we do something like Pat Flynn’s Niche Site Duel and compete to see who could make the better niche website.

F*#k, I freaked out. This is the first time I’m going against a real blogger and sharing every step of the process. What if my ideas suck?

Although terrified, I REALLY want to do this. I want to build something awesome with everything I’ve learned the last year. So I accepted the challenge of what we’re calling the “Epic Niche Site Battle”!

Niche Site, What Is That?

In an older post, I gave 50 Examples of Amazon Affiliate Websites. Essentially a niche site is a website that caters to a particular narrow group of people with a common interest. For example, people who own large fish tanks could be a particular niche. You could totally have a website about that!

You can also monetize these niche websites and have them make money for you. I’ll admit, that’s my motivation to start this. I’m hoping to build a passive income with this new website and use that money to buy more dividend stocks.

How the Competition Works

Barnabas and I sat down (via Google Hangouts) to lay out how the competition works.

Duration: We are giving each other 1 year to build & grow our niche sites. Starting on January 1st of 2018 we’re starting our site and giving comprehensive reports quarterly on both our blogs (walletsquirrel.com & serialboss.com). We each may add additional posts, but we have to share all of our stats every three months. Whoever has better key metrics at the end of the year wins.

What We’re Competing On: We’re both building niche sites to help us grow our incomes, so making money is key but not the only factor. We are tracking 4 key metrics we both felt were vital to the success of a niche website.

Updates: We’ll share our updates quarterly with January 4th as our first post. Damn that’s soon!

  • First Update – March 29th
  • Second Update – July 5th
  • Third Update – September 7th
  • Last Update – December 6th

Rules: The only rules we came up with were:

  1. No one else can help us. I can’t have my buddy Adam helping me or hire any Virtual Assistants. The same goes for him. It’s just him and I each bootstrapping a website from scratch.
  2. Paid Advertising must be deducted from profits. I don’t plan on using a lot of Paid Advertising since I’m poor and don’t want to spend money, but I may try $50 in Facebook Ads to see/track if it helps.

That’s it. All else is fair to build the ultimate niche website!

Full Transparency: We’re sharing EVERYTHING (good times and bad) except the domain names. We want to be as transparent as possible since we want to help others build niche websites and show how it’s done, but we’ve both heard horror stories of people using similar domain names and stealing traffic from new sites after the keyword research has been done.

I may share my domain name at the end of the competition, once established, but it’s up to Barnabas to share his or not. For now, we’ll call our respective sites the Wallet Squirrel Niche Site and the Serial Boss Niche Site.

My Previous Niche Site Experience

So far my previous niche site experience leaves room for improvement. In the past I’ve built 4 unsuccessful niche websites, but each one got better.

That’s right, I’ve built 4 awful niche sites in the past. It’s time to build something awesome!

Starting when I was 24 I built my first niche site reviewing online universities, it was called Top5OnlineUniversities.com. It was awful because I wrote generic school descriptions and only made money with AdSense. I hated myself for building something so lame. So I quit after a year.

At age 25 I built a website called LanguageMindMaps.com (it’s not up anymore). I wanted to use my graphic design talent to create mind maps of typical conversations in different languages to help people visually learn new languages. It was better looking but I had no way to really monetize it and knew nothing about marketing. It failed because no one was searching for the term language mind maps.

At age 26 I built a deodorant niche website that started doing well for the keyword search, but it lacked ways to monetize the website. Plus I wasn’t exactly thrilled to tell people I had a website on deodorant. So since I wasn’t excited to market it, I lost interest and it died.

At age 27 Adam (of Wallet Squirrel) and I built a Halloween Costume website. This was something that looked cool, had great keyword research and did really well. However, it was just a seasonal website so the rest of the year I lacked interest in maintaining it since it only turned a profit once a year. That lack of motivation destroyed me and I game up. By the time Halloween came around again we didn’t have the keyword strength and lost tons of traffic. It’s slowly been dying.

Now! I plan to build something that’s graphically cool, that I’m excited to share with other people, has awesome keyword strength with a topic I can write about throughout the year. These are the guiding factors for my new niche site.

Strategies

It was pretty funny when we shared our initial strategies, they were very different approaches. So we’ll get to see two common strategies in action.

I wanted to go with a traditional affiliate site where the purpose is to rank high for a particular keyword then get my audience from my niche website to a product as fast as possible. When people use my tracking codes, I get a portion of the sale if they buy anything. So my strategy is to gain traffic through keyword targeting and quickly get them to a product site quickly. The idea being the more people I get to a product site, the more products that will sell.

Barnabas with SerialBoss has a bit different strategy. He plans to make most his income from Google AdSense rather than affiliate sales. So he is focusing on ranking highly in Google in a particular niche and gain revenue through visual AdSense ads.

Overall: I anticipate I may make more money first, but he is playing the long game by trying to become the premier expert in a particular niche field. If he can rank highly for one particular keyword, it’s easier to start expanding into other similar keywords and significantly grow his traffic.

So It Begins

I’m currently in the pregame phase. I’ve built a few niche sites in the past, but none have been overly successful. I really have no idea what I’m going to do. I know I’m going to build an affiliate niche website and it’s going to follow rules I stated above from past lessons learned, but I don’t know exactly what it will be yet. I don’t even have a domain name in mind.

So I’m currently rapidly typing domain names into GoDaddy.com to see what’s available and sounds good. Rapidly strategizing in my head because on January 1st we’re going fulling speed!

Does anyone want to join?

The main Epic Niche Site Battle is between Barnabas and I, but anyone is welcome to join in. Does anyone want to join us building a completely new niche website in January? Sign up for my email newsletter below to follow the action!

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

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE BELOW FOR MORE INFO.

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 about 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

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE BELOW FOR MORE INFO.

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

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

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE BELOW FOR MORE INFO.

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 commonplace 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 to 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.