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Tag Archive: Income-Earning Ideas

4 Ways to Make Money With Your Home

Guest post by Kyle Taylor from The Penny Hoarder

I started clipping coupons with my mom when I was just 10 years old. At the time it wasn’t just a fun hobby, but a serious way for us to help make ends meet. Nearly ten years later I started college and I really put my coupon clipping hobby to work to help pay for the costs of my schooling.

The only problem was that every semester my tuition bill seemed to get a little bit higher, until suddenly clipping coupons was no longer enough. I simply was already cutting every corner I could and I needed to increase the other side of the ledger–my income.

I already had a full-time job, along with school, so I had no choice but to get creative. I now blog full-time about my wacky adventures to make extra money and I think some of my favorite ways to make money are when you can leverage the assets and skills you already have at your disposal. For many people the biggest asset that they have is their house, so I wanted to share with you four of my wacky ways to use your house to make extra money.

1. Rent out Your Closets, Attics, Storage Areas

As we Americans accumulate more stuff, huge storage facilities have been popping up at a rapid pace. A few years ago, two veterans had the novel idea to start an online marketplace that gave homeowners the opportunity to rent out their extra space thereby creating a lower-cost alternative for storage seekers.

The result is a great website called Store At My House, where you can create a free listing to rent out your attic space, extra shed, spare closet, etc. As the renter, you get to choose who to rent to, what is allowed to be stored, and how long the contract will last.

2. Rent Your Backyard to Campers

A few years ago I worked for a non-profit organization that wanted to do some environmental work in Key West, FL. We had a very small budget and thought that we could save some money on a hotel by pitching a tent in the state park.

The only problem is that campsites in Key West are booked six months to a year in advance and we needed a space in a few weeks. Our solution was to contact one of our members who graciously offered up their backyard as a place for us to set up camp.

Camping in backyard ended up being tons of fun and a great way for us to save money. Well, it turns out the idea is not so novel because there is a whole website dedicated to letting people rent out their backyard to campers called Single Spot Camping. It’s free to list your backyard or extra lot. However there are several terms everyone must agree to so that your property is protected and the camper enjoys their stay.

3. Find a Roommate

Roommates aren’t just for college kids anymore. More and more families are taking in renters to make use of an extra bedroom or a mother-in-law suite. It’s a great way to make extra money and despite the connotation some of us have, it can be a fun experience to have someone new around the house.

If you do decide to rent out an extra room, be sure you run both a background check and a credit check before agreeing to rent. If you need helping finding a roommate there are several great resources online such as Roommate Locator and Craigslist.

4. Rent Out Your Driveway

If you live near a large city or in an area with limited parking, you probably know that parking costs are skyrocketing. This may surprise you but according to a new report the average monthly parking costs in downtown Manhattan are $541! Agh, can you imagine?

It turns out that parking garages aren’t the only ones taking advantage of skyrocketing prices, because you can actually rent out your driveway on site called ParkAtMyHouse.com. You also get to decide how much to charge and the terms of the contract. If you’ve got an extra lot on your property why not think about renting it out for special events?

For more information about ways to make money, visit The Penny Hoarder, where you an read about topics like how to make money selling crafts, how to make money attending movie premieres, and how to make money as a used book hunter.
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How to Make Money Blogging: 10 Ways to Build & Increase Your Readership (Part 3)

Read Part 1 and Part 2 if you missed it.

9. Network with other bloggers.

Back when I first starting blogging, if you blogged semi-consistently and were even remotely interesting, you had no problem getting readers. Nowadays, there are so many more blogs and it’s a lot harder to build your readership. One of the key components — aside from so many of the other things we’ve discussed in this series — is to network with other bloggers.

I’ve learned everything I know about blogging from more experienced and wiser people. They’ve given me counsel, they’ve taught me things I would have never figured out on my own, they’ve encouraged me with I was feeling burnt out or discouraged and they’ve challenged me to better myself as a blogger and writer.

Find bloggers you can connect with (either online or in your local area) to bounce ideas off of, to keep each other accountable and to share new things you’re learning or experimenting. These friendships can be invaluable — and it’s also nice to spend time with people who “get” what this whole blogging thing is about!

Partner with other bloggers to create series (see Honoring the Man They Call Daddy for an example), team up with other bloggers to raise awareness about issues you care about and guest post on each other’s blogs. Always be looking for ways to join forces with other bloggers in a way that will benefit your readers — and theirs, as well.

10. Create a community.

Finally, if you want to build your readership, you need to be there for them. Don’t just write a post and then disappear and let readers talk amongst themselves in the comments. Respond to questions asked and interact with your readers on a regular basis. In fact, when you are first starting out, you might to try to respond to all comments left. It encourages people to stick around and it makes them feel a part of a community.

Even if you can’t respond to every comment, whatever you do, don’t just show up to respond to commentors. As Jon Acuff says, “If you only respond to jerks on your blog, eventually you’ll create a blog that only jerks read.” It’s totally okay to explain yourself to those who misunderstood your post or are offended, but it’s much more important to respond to the faithful, encouraging commentors. They care much more deeply about you than a fly-by-night nasty anonymous commentor ever does.

In addition, listen to your readers: ask for their advice, welcome their input and let them know how much you appreciate them.

A Word of Caution

People always ask me, “How do you do it all?” I think the important thing to remember is that I’ve slowly added new things — Facebook, Twitter, email newsletter, etc. If I had tried to set it all up all at once, I would have been completely overwhelmed.

Pace yourself when setting up a blog. Challenge yourself to try new things little by little, don’t go and implement all these ten things at once. Pick one or two to focus on for the next few months. Set goals for each month, break these goals down into weekly goals and then work on them for 10 or 15 minutes each day. Over time, it will likely start to become old hat and you can add new goals and experiment with new ideas.

However, remember to compare yourself with yourself only. There will always be another blogger doing a better job of this or that or the other. Don’t let it discourage you. Look at the progress you are making towards your goals — even if it seems very slow and miniscule — and be encouraged by that.

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How to Make Money Blogging: 5 Tips for Writing Top-Notch Content

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If you missed it, be sure to read: 5 Necessary Traits of Successful Bloggers (Part 1) and 5 Ways to Set Up Your Blog for Success (Part 2).

1. Be You

One of the greatest hindrances to successful blogging is trying to be someone else. You are not someone else. You will never be someone else. You are you!

You are unique and one-of-a-kind. You have amazing gifts and talents that many people don’t. You have a perspective on life that no one else in the whole wide world does, because no one else is you. Learn from other bloggers, but figure out who you are and be you.

2. Be Confident

It’s easy to become discouraged and to feel completely inadequate when you see other bloggers who seem to have more creativity, a cuter blog, a more-frequently-updated blog, more traffic, more comments, more Facebook followers and on and on it goes. You can spend so much time worrying about not measuring up that you completely lose sight of what you have to offer as a blogger.

As I used to tell a dear friend of mine who often felt incompetent as a blogger (and who has now gone on to create a wildly successful blog), “Don’t be mouse-y!” Any time spent sitting and sulking about your lack of ability or worrying about what people will think of you is time that is wasted.

3. Be Engaging

Interact with your readers and respond to their comments and emails as much as you can. Ask your readers for their advice and input and listen to what they have to say. Your readers want to know that you value them. And you should, because without them, you’d have no audience to write for!

Don’t be afraid to try new things — even if they fail. Don’t always post the same things in the same way. Throw in some off-topic posts, photos or videos every now and then. Occasional surprises and unexpected posts will help keep things exciting.

4. Be Real

Readers aren’t looking for perfectionism, they are looking for real-ness. We all make mistakes and we all have our areas we struggle with. Don’t try to pretend that you have all your ducks in an alphabetized row.

Be honest, be open and be vulnerable (when appropriate). People will connect with authenticity but they will run from hypocrisy.

5. Be a Perfectionist

This might seem to fly in the face of being real, but I’m not talking about being perfect as a person, but about being thorough and detailed as a blogger. Frequent typos and blatant grammar errors are irritating.

Sloppiness will never get you far. Always proof your posts at least twice before publishing them. Constantly seek to improve as a writer. Read books and blogs written by good writers. Critique your writing and ask others to do the same.

Please, please, please do not use massive paragraphs without paragraph breaks. This is one of the easiest ways to turn people off from reading your blog. Blog paragraphs should be no more than a few lines long so that people can read them easily on a computer screen.

Three more don’ts: Don’t center the text. Don’t use exclamation points, all caps or ellipses excessively. Don’t use multiple fonts.

Use paragraph headings or points in articles that are longer than a few paragraphs. Include graphics and/or photos on most posts. And did I mention how important it is to proof-read your posts before hitting publish? 🙂

Bonus Point: Be Careful

If you share something in a public forum like your blog, you can never completely take it back. Always assume everyone in the whole world may read what you write.

Don’t use names, photos or other identifying information without thinking carefully about the potential ramifications. It’s better to be safe, than sorry.

What about you? What are your best suggestions for creating top-notch content?

Next week we’ll talk about five ways to increase your blog’s readership.

How to Make Money Blogging: 5 Ways to Set Your Blog Up for Success

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If you missed part 1 of the How to Make Money Blogging series, read it here.

1. Pick a Great Name for Your Blog

Your blog name should encompass your blog’s mission and should clearly articulate your blog’s purpose. Don’t hurry through the process of picking a name: it’s your brand and you want to make sure you love it and it’s something you’re going to love for years to come.

Take a week or two to consider potential names. Ask a few trusted friends to give their input. Toss around ideas and, when you land upon ones you like, check to see if the domain name (the www website address) is available on GoDaddy.com before jumping ahead and settling on any one name.

Important note: Blog names can be federally trademarked. This means that an individual or company owns the federal rights to a particular name or phrase and it cannot be used by others or you will be subject to fines and required to discontinue using the name. To be safe, search thoroughly online to make sure no one is using the name you come up with or a very similar variation of it.

2. Purchase the Domain Name and All Variations

As soon as you land on the blog name you love and have double-checked that no one is using it, buy the domain name immediately. It usually costs around $10 to $20 per year for this and it’s worth every penny to have your own domain name for your blog.

I always purchase domain names from GoDaddy.com just because, well, that’s what I’ve always done. However, if you are planning to set up your blog through Blogger (see point 3), it’s much, much easier if you purchase the domain name directly through Blogger rather than through a separate domain name service as it will be automatically set up for the domain name to point to your Blogger blog rather than you having to go through some complicated process to manually input the code and do it.

I also suggest, if you want to think long-term and hope to turn your blog into a successful business, that you purchase all variations on your domain name. That way, you don’t have to worry about someone else setting up a site with a domain name very similar to yours.

3. Choose the Right Blog Platform From the Get-Go

Not too long ago, I was asked what is the one thing you wish you had done differently when setting up your blog. I instinctively replied, “I wish I had started with WordPress.”

I started with Blogger because that was pretty much the only blogging platform in existence. I moved to TypePad when the Blogger SPAM bots marked my blog as SPAM in 2008 and I was locked out of my Blogger blog for 10 days.

Near the end of 2009, my blog outgrew TypePad and I was forced to switch to WordPress. Making the leap from TypePad to WordPress was daunting and tedious. We had to move thousands of posts and hundreds of thousands of comments. There were all sorts of glitches and it was a big learning curve.

Truth be told, though it was a major headache, it was one of the best blogging moves I’ve ever made. WordPress has allowed me to have a much more organized blog and offer many features I couldn’t with TypePad and Blogger.

So, if I were to suggest a blog platform, I’d highly recommend WordPress. It’s more expensive, but it gives you many more options than other platforms offer. Plus, you don’t have to worry about your blog getting locked or outgrowing TypePad.

Another big perk of WordPress is that it has much more sophisticated SEO capabilities (i.e. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and basically refers to optimizing your site so it comes up high in search engines. People will find you a lot more easily if you come up on the first page or two of Google rather than page 133!). I don’t do a lot for SEO at this point, but I’m all about doing small things to help improve where MoneySavingMom.com shows up when you search for “money-saving blogs” or “grocery budget”. WordPress makes it extremely simple to accomplish this.

4. Hire a Designer

Back in the “olden” days when there weren’t many blogs, if you had great content and updated regularly, you’d have a good number of readers — even if you had a basic, free Blogger blog design. Today, because there are so many more blogs, great content is paramount, but a nice designer and ease-of-use is also very important. If people find your blog design dull or your layout disorganized, they are much more apt to just go find another blog.

Now, please don’t let this discourage you. You don’t need a fancy-schmancy blog with lots of bells and whistles. Just a clean design that is easy to navigate can make a world of difference. And paying someone to set this up for you may be every bit worth the money.

If you can’t afford a designer, at least consider paying to have someone design your header and then take the time to learn some basic HTML so you can tweak your sidebar.

5. Plan Your Posts Ahead of Time

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a new blog advertised and been all excited to check it out, only to find there were a whopping three posts on it! If you want people to stick around, you need to have depth and series and a variety of posts.

Before you “open your doors to the public”, go ahead and post 10 or 15 posts, plus plan out and write another 15 to have in queue to post after you start “advertising” your blog. Not only will this allow you to “get your feet wet” and get accustomed to blogging before you have a real live audience, it also provides some great content for people to check out when they visit your blog.

I love Google calendar for planning out post series long-term. I also have recently begun printing out a monthly calendar to pencil in specific posts for each day. This gives me accountability, inspiration and organization — well, at least it’s better than my former “blog-by-the-seat-of-my-pants” routine!

Next week, we’ll talk about five tips for producing creative content.

If you’re a blogger, I’d love to hear your top tip for setting up your blog for success. And, if you’re brave, I’d love to hear what you wish you had done from the get-go.

How to Transition to Working at Home

Guest post by Heather at Work at Home Market

When my husband, and I were first married, we decided I would continue working for six months. During that time, I worked over 35 hours a week, and spent many hours commuting. As the six-month mark neared, I found myself exhausted, often falling asleep hours before bedtime.

My desire to work from home increased with each day. I wanted the liberty to prepare my husband’s breakfast and lunch in the mornings without being late for work. Most of all, I wanted to enjoy our married life without the exhaustion.

We were a bit leery if I would be able to work from home successfully, but we started praying about it and asking the Lord to bless our desires. Amazingly, before I even left my job, my brother offered me some part-time work that could be done from my home! I also pursued two separate business ventures. Now, over a year later, I have nearly replaced my former income, and have the flexibility I need to stay home!

Here are some things I’ve learned that have helped me be successful in working from home:

1. Set a timeline for yourself for starting to work from home. In two months? Four weeks? This is just a simple way to motivate yourself in looking for home based work.

2. Create a polished cover letter and resume. Make sure your cover letter explains that you are looking for freelance and contracted work. Send this letter to businesses you would love to work for. Hopefully, this will allow you to connect with someone who may be willing to hire you for home-based work in your field of choice.

3. Build a solid website that is a host to your resume and portfolio. This is a great way to display services that you can offer (photography, writing, editing, etc.). Include your website address in your cover letter to provide an easy way for interested clients to check out your work. If you don’t already have work experience in your field, offer to take on some jobs for free in order to build your portfolio and work experience.

4. Get the word out that you want to work from home. A simple e-mail to a few friends and family can go a long way in connecting you with potential job leads.

5. Make sure you avoid scams. As a rule of thumb, never pay to work for a company. Whenever you are offered a job, do your research on that company and ask advice from those you trust.

6. Advertise. Advertise your services in newspapers, websites and even on Facebook. For my freelance business, over 50% of my clients find out about my work through Facebook.

This is not an extensive list, but I hope it gives you a starting point. If you are serious about working from home, I encourage you to make goals for yourself and do something to pursue your work-at-home career each day, until you have found the job you are looking for. Having a home-based business does take a lot of work upfront, and even a few tears (trust me, I know!), but, as I’ve found, if this is what you’re supposed to be doing, the right job option will come along. Be patient and don’t give up!

Heather is a freelance webmaster, writer and photographer. She currently runs Work At Home Market, a site dedicated to helping others find freedom and flexibility by working from home. In her spare time, she loves spending time with her husband, cleaning & organizing their home, and traveling the world. You can e-mail her at workathomemarket@gmail.com.

Do you have an idea for a guest post? I am always looking for high-quality,original (i.e. not published anywhere else online) content with tips and ideas Money Saving Mom® readers can use. If you would like to submit a guest post, please follow the Guest Posting Guidelines.

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