Investment: How I Invest my Money

Investment: How I Invest my Money

I’ve seen several friends lose thousands of dollars since the year started.

It wasn’t because of job loss. It wasn’t because of the pandemic.

It was because they invested everything they had into stocks like GameStop and AMC. And I saw this happen last week with Dogecoin.

By the time the general public starts investing, it’s already too late. They’re left holding the bags.

It’s easy to make fun of these people, but here’s how I see it. 

  • Some people were never taught anything about money.
  • Society has trained us that it’s not appropriate to talk about money.
  • They don’t see other paths to wealth. They’re desperate. 

Social media has made it easier than ever to get caught up in hype bubbles!

If you click on one GameStop video or article, then the social media algorithms will keep sending you more of them.

You get sucked into this bubble of confirmation bias.

People have asked me over the years about how I invest my money.

I’ve always been hesitant to talk about it because of imposter syndrome. I’ve never had any formal training in investments. 

I had to learn about investing the hard way. Here are some mistakes I’ve made along the way.

  • I wrote in detail about how I lost money in cryptocurrency.
  • I bought a ton of Apple and Amazon stock in 2009… and I sold them in 2011.
  • I didn’t know how retirement vehicles worked. I invested after taxes money for years rather than invest directly into my retirement accounts. 

Over the past decade, I’ve devoured countless sources of information in regards to investing, and feel comfortable enough now to talk about it.

So I’m going to share my personal portfolio and my thought process behind it.

This is the article that I wish I had to guide me years ago.

A few notes:

This is for informational purposes only and not investment advice. It’s intended to show you how I approach managing my money. Any investment comes with risks. Do your own research.

And second, you have to figure out what works best for you. I don’t know your goals. I don’t know your financial situation or how old you are. I want to plant some seeds with this article, and you can do more research on your own.

Where I Invest My Bread

Here’s a peek at my personal portfolio.

This doesn’t include assets from my businesses. 
The % changes daily because of volatility in Crypto and the Stock market. 

Cash

The inflation rate is now around 2.5%. It’s possibly higher since the government keeps printing money.

This means your money in the bank is losing value.

I keep enough in the bank for my day-to-day, and we have some savings for our wedding. Experts recommend 6 to 12 months of living expenses saved up.

Hopefully, the pandemic woke everyone up to the importance of an emergency fund. An emergency fund makes your financials more robust.

I can’t think of too many emergencies that can’t be solved with credit cards.

Unless of course, someone mugs me and demands cash… ”Uhhhh… do you guys take Venmo?”

Stocks

Warren Buffett is the most successful investor in history. What does he recommend that the average person invest in?

Invest in low-cost index funds.

Buying an index fund share means you have a piece of ~3000 different companies. It’s an easy way to keep you diversified.

I don’t know much about the stock market. I can’t read candlestick charts or do any technical analysis.

But investing in index funds means I outperform over 90% of stock experts.

This study shows how index funds have outperformed hedge funds for the past decade.

One thing you have to watch out for is fees. They’re the silent killer… way worse than farts.

Some funds are managed by people. These suits do analysis to determine which stocks to invest in. This increases your fees.

Index funds are managed by algorithms. That’s why the fees are so much cheaper. 

My Vanguard index funds have an expense ratio (fee) of 0.15%.
The average mutual fund has an expense ratio of 1%.

That 0.85% matters when it’s compounded over decades.

Do you want that 0.85% difference to go towards your future or to pay for the fund manager’s sugar baby’s monthly allowances?

Read the following article to see how important expense ratios are.

The True Cost of a 1% Expense Ratio

Next, which funds to invest in? Here’s what I do:

  • 70% VTSAX  (index funds for American companies)
  • 30% VTIAX (index funds for international companies)

You can buy these at Vanguard.com. Why do I use Vanguard over Fidelity or their competition? Vanguard has a unique ownership structure. It’s owned by the customers. Their long-term incentives are aligned with mine.

You should figure out how to balance USA vs. international funds. I like 30% international. Most future growth is happening over in China and India. I want exposure to those markets.

I don’t own any bonds. Bonds can balance out the stocks in your portfolio. They’re much safer, but with less returns. Right now I’m young and aggressive. I want maximum growth. I’ll start allocating parts of my portfolio towards bonds once I’m in my 60’s.

Some experts recommend 110 – your age = % in stocks. 

For me it’d be 110-36 = 74% stock, 24% bonds. Once again, I’m more aggressive than the average investor. 

Investing in a Tax Efficiency Way

The government always wants a piece of the pie. You can invest in tax-efficient ways to legally lower your taxable income.

Here are the ways that I do it:  

SEP IRA via Vanguard: 25% of my salary

(If you pay yourself $100,000 a year, then you’re able to invest $25,000 a year through a SEP IRA. There’s a catch, though. You have to extend this to every full-time employee in your company. If you’re a small operation and only work with independent contractors, then SEP IRAs are the way to go.)

Traditional IRA via Betterment: $6,000 (Max allowed)

Health Savings Accounts via Lively: $3,600 (Maxed allowed. Only if you have health insurance that qualifies)

Now that I’m about to get married, I’m slowly combining my financials with my fiancée. We’re maxing out her 401k through her work, and she has an IRA.

I actually can’t touch most of my investment funds until I’m 59.5 years old. This is a good thing. It keeps me from fucking around with my investments.

What if you want to retire earlier? There are some legal hacks.

One of the more popular ones is called a Roth IRA Conversion Ladder.

I invest a lot into my retirement. I want to make sure that I can take care of myself when I’m old. I don’t want to be a burden on my kids.

So many people don’t have retirement plans and will have to depend upon their kids. That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.

What if you’re estranged from your kids?
What if your kids won’t make enough money to support you?

The greatest thing you can do for your kids is to not be a burden to them.

You have to take care of your own future, old ass. The government is stupid—they can’t even reliably send stimulus checks to people. You don’t want to depend on them when you’re old.

Speaking of kids, how can you invest for your kid’s education? The best way is through your state’s 529. I live in Georgia, so I’m using this site.

Money Hack: You can invest for your kid’s university before they’re born. You simply open it in your name and start investing. Once they’re born, you can transfer the account over to them. Those few extra years can mean an extra 5 figures due to compounding.

The biggest thing I’m wondering about is if higher education will even be relevant two decades from now. There’s now more and more higher education alternatives such as Lambda School. Google is getting into certifications and treating them as if they’re college degrees when hiring.

Colleges are getting too expensive for the value that they’re offering. I won’t be pressuring my kids to go to college.

Cryptocurrency

I was heavy into crypto in 2017, like the rest of the affiliate industry. What a hell of a rollercoaster ride.

I invested money into Bitcoin early. Then I transferred some of those Bitcoins into altcoins. Those altcoins exploded… and then some of them crashed. Some of those altcoins I invested in turned out to be scams.

My portfolio at one point became 100% alt coins because I got greedy.

So how do I feel about crypto now?

I am bullish on cryptocurrency. I took some L’s, but I’m a better investor because of it. 

Boomers were able to generate massive wealth through real estate.
Generation X were able to get into stocks during the 90s.
Cryptocurrency is our generation’s opportunity for massive wealth.

What happened in 2017 with crypto?

It reminds me of the dot-com bubble. There was too much hype and speculation before the technology and adoption were ready.

The bubble deserved to be popped.

It helps to visualize crypto like the stock market.

Coins like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Binance, Vechain, etc. are like the FAANGs. Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google.

They’re the safest bets in a risky investment class.

Investing in altcoins is like angel investing. Sure, you might discover the next Uber or Airbnb. But there’s a higher chance of your coin becoming the next Enron.

There has been a lot of great progress in crypto over the past few years. Look at Decentralized Finance. There’s so much inefficiency when you cut out 5+ layers of middlemen.

Crypto is here to stay, but I don’t know which projects will be around ten years from now. That’s why I’m a lot more conservative with my investments in crypto.

If you want to keep it simple: 50% BTC, 50% ETH. Put it in a Ledger wallet. Don’t touch it for a decade. 

Another way of allocating Crypto is the 50/25/25 portfolio. 

50% BTC: The KING. You can’t talk about crypto without talking about Bitcoin. Network effects. Institutional investments are going straight to Bitcoin. The most battle-hardened and proven coin. This provides stability to your portfolio. 

25% Ecosystem play: Ethereum, Binance Coin, Vechain, Cardano, etc. These guys are like different operating systems for blockchains. Think of it like crypto’s version of iOS vs Android. I’m personally invested in the Binance Smart Chain Ecosystem (BNB)

25% Small Cap Coins: Go to CoinMarketCap. This would be something in say #11-100. More risk, but also potentially higher returns. I’m personally invested in PanCakeSwap, and do a lot of Yield farming.

A few lessons I learned about Crypto:

  • Know when to take profits. When are you going to cash out? I’ve set different formulas for myself so I don’t get caught up in emotions. For example, if / when BTC hits $75,000, I’ll cash out a percentage of my portfolio. 
  • Keep a certain % in Bitcoin. When there’s a bull market, the altcoins are going to rise the fastest. It’ll be tempting to move over Bitcoin -> altcoin. But sooner or later the bears will come. Bitcoin provides stability.  
  • Don’t get scammed. Take your coins off exchanges and into cold storage. 

Real Estate: 0%

I’m not into real estate. (Although, I’m sure I have some REIT’s due to my index funds)

I like to keep my investments as simple as possible.

We’re living in Atlanta now, but we’re not sure if we’ll be staying here. So it doesn’t make sense for us to buy a home until we’re 100% sure where we want to be.

I’m not interested in being a landlord, ever.

The pandemic revealed some risks of being a landlord that I never knew were possible.

If someone doesn’t pay their rent on time, you can evict them. But then the pandemic happened. People lost jobs and couldn’t pay their rent anymore.

The CDC banned evictions. So you have landlords who are subsidizing the rent of their tenants. They’re not getting any relief from the government.

I don’t know what the answer to this problem is. But my point is that the pandemic revealed some unrealized risks in being a landlord these days.

You can always invest in REITs if you want real estate exposure, without any of the headaches. 

Other Thoughts on Investing

Here are some other principles I have when it comes to investing.

Create an Automated Financial Machine with Dollar Cost Averaging

Let’s say you have $6,000 to invest this year. Most people will want to know WHEN they should invest their money.

Should they invest it all now? Will the market dip at the end of the year, and they should buy then?

I try to remove as many emotions out of investing as possible. I do dollar-cost averaging instead.

Spread that $6,000 out over the year. Automate your accounts to invest $500 every month and forget about it.

I spend less than an hour each month on my personal finances. Everything’s automated.

My bills are paid automatically. Investments are made at the first of each month.

I don’t think about money because I know my machine’s working. My emotions aren’t affected if the market’s down for the day.

Pay Off Your Debts Before Investing

I know many people are in debt. You might have student loans and a mortgage. You want to save up for a wedding, but you also want to save for retirement.

How do you balance everything?

Imagine trying to run but your foot is chained to a cannonball. That’s what it’s like to invest while you have debt.

You should figure out what your interest cut-off is. The stock market has averaged 7% returns over the past century.

4% is a solid cut-off rate.

Let say someone has the following debts:

Mortgage: 3.5%
Student Loans: 7%
Car: 8%

They should not invest at all until their car and student loans are paid off. Investing comes with risks. Paying off the car is a guaranteed 8%.

But of course, money is not just math. There’s a psychological component to it. Realize that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You can always put money towards the loans, and some money towards retirement.

Emotional Simplification

I designed my investments to be as simple and boring as possible. I don’t want to touch my investments outside of re-balancing it once a while.

I don’t want my portfolio to be fun or interesting. I don’t want to get dopamine fixes from my investments.

Checking my portfolio 20x+ a day isn’t productive. Bad market days can completely drain your emotions.

So that’s why I don’t invest in individual stocks like TSLA or GME. It’s why I don’t invest in altcoins anymore.

I’d get too emotionally invested.

It’s why I don’t seek alpha. Seeking alpha means to look for returns beyond the standard. I’m merely trying to “match” the standard with index funds and safe cryptocurrency.

It’s important to stay within your circle of competence.

My time and energy are better spent improving at business and marketing. That means more money I can put into the market to invest.

Once you get to a certain milestone, don’t fuck up. Meaning, I’ll reach my net worth goals soon if I stay on the path.

I won’t reach it if I start doing stupid shit and taking unnecessary risks.

Protect Your Money

Imagine if you got into a car accident tomorrow.

What happens to your money?

Can your loved ones afford a funeral for you? Or do they have to go on GoFundMe?
Can people access your bank accounts? What about your cryptocurrency?

Will the government take a huge % of your money due to estate taxes?
Will you family have to lawyer up and go through probate court?

Tony Hsieh is one of my heroes.

He did NOT leave a will for his family.

Fortunately, his father and brother were able to gain custody of his fortune.

Now people are starting to sue his estate to get a piece of the pie.

The solution is simple: create a will.

Hire a lawyer. Seriously, don’t print some shit from the internet and hope that’s enough. Hire a lawyer.

I spent several months working with a lawyer to establish my Living Trust.

This means my family avoids lawyers and probate courts. As soon as I die, everything goes immediately to them.

Put More Coals in the Fire

This is the compound interest formula.

Principal = How much money you put in.
Interest Rate = Your rate of return. For example, investing in TSLA or Bitcoin would’ve gotten you an insane return!
Time = How long you’re in the stock market.

I focus on two things.

First, I try to put as much money into my investments as possible. That’s what I mean by putting more coals in the fire.

This is as simple as increasing your income, and decreasing your salary. But sometimes simple is the hardest.

Living in the Present vs. Delaying Gratification

I was hanging out with some friends over the weekend. We were talking about how do you balance out living in the present vs. delaying gratification?

Investing is delaying gratification. That $19,000 in your 401k this year is $19,000 that you could use to live it up now.

Some people don’t believe in delaying gratification. 

“I don’t know if I’m going to be alive several decades from now”

or

“I don’t want to travel the world when I’m old. This is the healthiest that I’m going to be”

There’s no correct answer to this because it’s a philosophical one.

Here’s my take on it: I try to find a balance. One framework that I’ve come up with is the minimum effective dose.

I learned about this from Tim Ferriss. Basically, what’s the least amount of effort that it takes to start getting results?

Water boils at 212F. Boiled water is already boiled. Making the water hotter will not make it “more boiled”. Instead, it’s a waste of resources. Basically, there’s a “sweet spot” before you hit a point of diminishing returns.

Let’s relate this to money.

John wants a new Tesla. Let’s say it’s $55,000 with all the bells and whistles. What is the Minimum Effective Dose? What’s the cheapest car that he’d be satisfied with?

Let’s say it’s a used Audi for $22,000. No, it’s not a Tesla and doesn’t have auto driving. But it’s still a nice and comfortable car. He scratches the itch of driving a luxury car.

But the difference is he can invest the $33,000 instead. 

$33k at 7% rate of return over 20 years is $127,700. He can buy his Tesla then, and have an extra $72,000!

This is one of my approaches to decision-making. 

I love staying at the Ritz Carlton and other fancy hotels. But I’ll only stay there if it’s free via credit card points. I can’t justify $500 a night for a hotel.

$150 a night in a modest hotel is good enough for me, and I rather invest that $350 a night. That’s the minimum effective dose in action. I find the “sweet spot” where I’m content, and I invest the rest. I don’t feel as if I’m sacrificing at all. 

Becoming Wealthy is a Responsibility

My parents were refugees from Vietnam. They came to American with nothing.

I experienced bitterness throughout high school and college. Some of my friends got allowances and didn’t have to work in college.

I had to work at the gas station every weekend for $8.25 an hour. I was envious whenever my friends got expensive gadgets for Christmas.

And this envy put a chip on my shoulder. I channeled that energy into working 12 hours a day after college. 8 hours a day at my day job, 4 hours at night trying to run campaigns.

Eventually, I became successful.

Looking back I realized that I developed this relentless work ethic. I observed it from my parents growing up. I developed it by having to juggle so many responsibilities in college.

I view success as a duty and a responsibility.

The world has changed.

My parents didn’t have access to a 401k or know about the stock market. They just knew to buy property or to buy gold.

The world has changed. We will be going through a period of exponential growth.

So, I view it as my responsibility to understand how the modern world works.

I have a responsibility to take care of my parents when they’re older.
I have a responsibility to my future wife.
I have a responsibility to make sure my future kids learn what I was never taught. And to surpass me.

I hate when people try to virtue signal about money.

“Money doesn’t make you happy.”
“Money is not everything.”

It’s true that money alone doesn’t bring you happiness. But having money means you’re free from all the negative emotions and stress of being broke.

Where I Read About Money

Photo by David McBee from Pexels.

How to Make Money Blogging

How to Make Money Blogging

Disclosure: This content is reader-supported, which means if you click on some of our links that we may earn a commission.

Is it actually possible to make a living out of blogging? Or is it just a myth?

Here’s the good news: You CAN make money from blogging. You just have to do it right.

Take my blog as an example.

Blogging played a crucial role in my success. But reaching this point did have its fair share of obstacles, mistakes, and lessons.

Currently, my revenue is $381,772 for 30 days.

Now, that’s a LOT of money, especially for a blog.

But how am I able to pull this off?

I was completely dedicated and put in tons of hard work to create useful and detailed content and use relevant images to provide accurate and thorough information to my readers.

This helped me become an authoritative figure and thought leader in my niche.

And no, it doesn’t have to take you years to become a successful blogger.

Knowing the art of consistently churning out top-quality content, driving search engine traffic, leveraging social media, and generating leads is great. But you also need to know how to make money from your blog.

The process is certainly challenging, especially with the internet painted with a lot of bad advice.

But this isn’t one of those articles.

In this guide, I’ll show you the exact way to make money from blogging by avoiding the mistakes I’d made in my 10-year journey. So not only will your blogging success be easier, but it also is quicker.

Excited? Let’s begin.

Your 2-Minute Cheat Sheet

The very first thing you need to start making money is to come up with an idea and the name for your blog. Think through the topics you’d want to write about often.

After that, sign up for the Basic plan with Bluehost. Even if you don’t have much of a budget, this is practically a steal at just $2.95 per month.

Set up your account, taking care to skip all the add-ons except for domain privacy and protection. A few extra dollars for better privacy and security is an investment.

And with this, you’ll have your own blog domain. Hurrah!

The next steps will have you installing WordPress and then finally writing and publishing your first blog post.

Once you’ve posted a couple of blogs and have started to attract some traffic, you can work on monetizing it to make your first dollars.

For this, you’ll have to sign up for a Google AdSense and Amazon Associates account to make money through ads and affiliate marketing, respectively. You can also sell your own products and services after successfully driving high traffic to your site.

That was the basics. Let’s get into the details now.

Step 1: Figure Out Your Blog’s Niche

The first on the agenda is to decide what your blog is going to be about. Whether you want to talk about marketing, CBD, veganism, or just random life stories, figure it out.

Remember, your idea doesn’t have to be revolutionary, but you do need a unique voice.

Here are two tips for deciding on a blog niche:

Choose Something That You Enjoy

I know that this sounds like a cliche, but it makes no sense to blog about it if you don’t love the topic.

Never start blogging about something that you don’t love–it will show in your writing and your readers will know. Moreover, you won’t be able to consistently produce top-notch content to build your audience and later monetize from it.

Make a list of things that get you naturally curious and that you enjoy learning about. Or think about what your friends and family come to you when seeking advice.

Find Out Whether a Prospective Niche Has a Readership

The only way you can earn money through your blog is if you have enough site visitors.

Let’s assume you’ve already figured out your blog niche and want to write about arts and crafts.

You make a smart decision to niche down further and develop a blog exclusively dedicated to either paper art or scrapbooking. While you enjoy writing about both topics, you prefer to focus on one primarily.

But how do you choose between the two options?

Answer: Do a quick Google search.

As you can see, there are far more results related to paper art as opposed to scrapbooking. Therefore, it makes more sense to write about paper art, which is what audiences are searching for.

I would also like to add that it’s better to avoid broad or generic topics. Don’t be afraid to get specific as long as you have takers for it.

For instance, if you want to create a food blog, don’t use words like “food.” Instead, use “barbecue” or “vegan.”

Get my point?

Step 2: Name Your Blog

Once an idea is in place, you need to work on naming your blog.

Does the name Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta ring a bell? Thought so.

But I bet Lady Gaga does.

Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta is Lady Gaga’s real name. She decided to go with a catchier and easier-to-remember alternative that aligns better with her music.

That’s the power of the right name.

Choosing a blog name is equal parts exciting and daunting. After all, this will be your brand name and dictate how people will remember you.

Don’t overthink it, and don’t name your blog something random or offensive.

Keep in mind the following questions when deciding on a name:

  • Does it reflect what your blog is going to be about?
  • Would your target audience like it?
  • Is the name easy to say and spell?
  • Is it short and concise?

I chose my own name as my domain (NeilPatel.com) simply because Neil Patel is who I am, and it’s also my brand. You could do what I did or come up with something entirely different.

Whatever name you come up with, make sure it’s available as website domains.

You can use Bluehost’s domain name checker for this purpose. Type in each potential name in the search bar, and click Check Availability to know.

I’d recommend opting for a .com whenever possible.

Don’t buy an available domain at this point. I have something up my sleeve to help you get it for free.

Step 3: Sign up With a Web Host Like Bluehost

You need to sign up for a web hosting service to get your blog live, along with a registered domain name that will serve as your blog’s address.

I recommend Bluehost as its hands down one of the best web hosting companies—not to mention affordable—that assures excellent service and a free domain.

And did I mention that as a NeilPatel.com reader, you get an additional discount?

You’re welcome.

Head over to Bluehost.com, and click on the green Get Started Now button.

Next, sign up for the Basic plan. You can always upgrade later, but since you’re just starting a blog, it’s better to stick to the Basic plan.

Register the domain name you came up with without having to pay anything extra. Just make sure the drop-down is set to .com before you click Next.

Following this, you need to sign in using your Google account. You can also manually enter your personal credentials.

Scroll down to choose your registration term, which can either be a 36-month, a 24-month, or a 12-month agreement. To get the best deal ($2.95 per month), you’ll have to sign up for a three-year contract.

It still isn’t over yet.

You’ll find package options like Domain Privacy + Protection, Codeguard Basic, Bluehost SEO Tools, Microsoft 365 Mailbox Trial, and SiteLock Security Essentials.

In my opinion, you only need Domain Privacy + Protection to protect your contact information against scam callers and unsolicited emails. Ignore the others.

Finally, enter your payment information, read the terms and conditions, and hit submit.

This is the point where you’ll have your blog! 

Complete all the remaining instructions to set up your account, and then move onto the next step.

Step 4: Install WordPress CMS

You have your web host, next you need blogging software.

I trust WordPress to run all my blogs as it is user-friendly, feature-rich, and free. Plus, you can install thousands of free plugins to make your blog more functional and customize it however you want.

After signing up for Bluehost, you will have a free domain and hosting account. Log in by filling in your credentials and then click on Install WordPress.

Next, select Do it yourself (FREE) and hit Install, followed by Check Domain. Lastly, acknowledge WordPress’s terms of service and finalize your install.

Ta-Da! You now have a fully functional WordPress blog ready to roll.

Step 5: Design Your WordPress Blog

To design a blog, you need to select an attractive and affordable WordPress theme.

Why do you need this? Well, after signing up for WordPress, your blog will look something like this:

Not exactly what you’d call sleek and welcoming, right? The way your website looks can help drive more website traffic, which, in turn, will enable you to make more money.

Luckily, WordPress has thousands and thousands of themes for you to choose from. I’ve even done a roundup of some of the best ones. Here’s how you can select a WordPress theme:

  1. Log into your WordPress account.
  2. Click on Appearance in the sidebar menu on your dashboard.
  3. From the drop-down options, select Themes.
  1. Go to Add New, located at the very top of the screen, to gain access to thousands of fancy WordPress themes. You can also click on Feature Filter to filter your search to see options more suited to your tastes.

You should choose a theme that fits your personal style, but at the same time, it should also be in sync with your blog niche.

  1. Preview the theme to see what it will look like.
  2. If you like the sneak peek of a specific theme, click on Install and then Activate.

With a nice new theme, your website will get a much-needed upgrade that makes it look appealing to visitors.

Step 6: Come up With Interesting Blog Topics

If you want to increase your website traffic or encourage more email signups, you need to offer your readers interesting content.

My tip is to make a list of questions you get often. Trust me, within just 30 minutes, you’ll be able to come up with a bunch of potential blog topics. Your priority should be to look at things from your reader’s viewpoint.

You can also focus on higher-level questions.

Suppose you want to start a parenting blog for stay-at-home moms. Below, I’ve created a list of questions to ask yourself, along with a list of answers concerning the mom blog.

Q1) What could be an intriguing or exciting talking point for your readers?

For stay-at-home moms, topics related to sleep training, homeschooling, and budget-friendly meal ideas could be a great place to start.

Q2) What are your reader’s pain points and challenges?

Common household challenges for stay-at-home moms could be meal planning, understanding developmental milestones, and so on.

Q3) What are your readers’ character traits?

Moms are typically patient and caring and appreciate a sense of humor.

Q4) What niche topics would appeal the most to your readers?

A child’s mental, physical, and emotional development could be attractive talk points for stay-at-home moms.

Q5) What topics would your readers hate about my niche?

Stay-at-home moms don’t like to be looked down on by others. So, you could write blogs about how society views them and their impact.

Similarly, you can use the above questions to come up with ideas according to your niche. While you’re at it, don’t forget to work out a catchy headline that will make the reader instantly click on your blog.

Step 7: Optimize Your Blogs for the SERPs

Search engine optimization or SEO is a crucial step to earn money via blogging. Here, you will optimize your website to rank higher in search engines for specific keywords and phrases.

If you’ve been following me for a long time, you may already know how SEO is my trump card.

By incorporating particular keywords and phrases, I’ve successfully driven more than 30 million visitors to my website. Shocked?

That’s the power of SEO.

On WordPress, you can optimize your content and blog by downloading a plugin called Yoast SEO.

Go to the Plugins menu, and click on Add New. Search for Yoast SEO in the search bar, and then install the plugin.

Don’t forget to activate it to complete the installation process.

You’ll find that this plugin will give you all kinds of improvement tips and suggestions based on the keyword you select to help you optimize your content. I’d recommend incorporating as many suggestions as you can to improve SEO and content readability.

Step 8: Sign up for Google AdSense

Setting up ads is the best way to monetize your blog. But you need to be smart about it.

The biggest mistake people make is to bombard their sites with blinking ads. Avoid this at all costs.

Instead, focus on using targeted ads that appeal to your customers without annoying them.

To start earning money through ads, you need a Google AdSense account. Head over to the AdSense page, and click on Sign Up Now. If you don’t have an existing Google account, you have to set up a new one. If you already have a Google account, simply sign in.

Fill out all the relevant information before submitting your application. The AdSense team reviews every application, and if everything goes well, you’ll be in!

Next, follow the below steps to set up your account:

  1. Go to your AdSense dashboard and click on My Ads > New ad unit.
  2. Select the size of your ad and the type of ad. Once you’re done, select Save and get code.
  1. You’ll get a bit of code that you’ll then have to copy and paste between your page’s tags. Here’s how it’ll look.
  1. Once you’ve pasted the code, your ad will be live. Your AdSense dashboard will have all information about your earnings, so check it regularly.

While you can use ads on as many as you want, I would recommend starting with just one–maybe two max–to get an idea of how your audience responds to them.

If you see a higher bounce rate on your dashboard, you should consider repositioning your current ads for better results.

Step 9: Create an Amazon Associates Account

You might have already heard of affiliate marketing. If your goal is to earn passive income, leveraging the power of affiliates is your best bet.

You can start by signing up for Amazon Associates, which allows you to start earning right away through referral links, display ads, or Amazon-based shopping carts.

If your visitors decide to use your referral link or click on the display ads, you’ll get a small commission.

To sign up for Amazon Associates, all you need to do is visit the website and click on Join Now for Free.

This can be pretty effective. Just check out these earnings of Brendan Mace for definitive proof.

Amazon Associates isn’t the only affiliate program.

You’ll be happy to know that there are plenty of companies with their own affiliate programs, some of which pay higher commissions than Amazon. Just make sure to research before signing up to be an affiliate for a brand.

That said, I’d also like to emphasize the importance of advertising only those products or services that you’ve used yourself or genuinely believe can help your audience.

Step 10: Offer a Product or Service for Sale (Optional)

Many people think that advertisements are the only source of income for bloggers. This might be true for a few, but you’ll also find many bloggers make quite a bit of money by selling a product or service.

Of course, this will only work when you already have a loyal readership with steady website traffic like Nomadic Matt. Once you’re at this stage, you shouldn’t be afraid to take the leap.

Here are a few things that you can consider selling:

  • Training courses
  • Books
  • Video courses/webinars
  • Coaching services
  • Consulting services

Next, you have to figure out how you want to sell your product. Services like Shopify or WooCommerce plugins on WordPress, Amazon, or Etsy are great options for digital products. If you’re selling a physical product (like phone cases or clothes), you’ll have to set up a more comprehensive ecommerce store.

Finally, let your audience know about your product or service by sending them emails. You can also consider developing lead magnets like pre-recorded webinars, PDFs, and whitepapers to build your email list.

Conclusion

There’s a difference between simply having a blog and monetizing a blog. To make this transition successful, you’ll need to adopt a more proactive and focused approach.

You’ve got this!

Just remain focused and work consistently to keep improving your blog and build trust between you and your audience. And follow my steps above to get things started on the right track.

Remember to stick with what works, and you’ll have a successful formula.

Have you tried blogging yet? Let me know about your experience.

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how htaccess impacts SEO

Your .htaccess is kind of like the front door in your home or the directory you see once entering an office building.  It helps you find the right path to the room you’re looking for, a direct route to the person you are visiting, or to navigate to the nearest restroom if you have to go.  However, in many cases when it comes to SEO, .htaccess is more like the attic.

It’s where you store items you use once a year like holiday decor, things you don’t want to throw out, and all the junk which could land you a runner-up position on the show hoarders.  When you have to open your .htaccess (much like an attic), you remember all of the things you’re supposed to do, but you put it off and let the clutter continue to pile up.  That is where you run into a lot of SEO issues that can prevent your rankings from growing.

By not having a clean and direct .htaccess, you make search engines have to work to find the right pages and versions of your website.  Think about showing up to an interview and being 10 minutes late because the directory was wrong, and the security desk kept giving you wrong instructions to find the HR team, then the administrative assistant sent you back downstairs to start over again.  Now that you know what the .htaccess does for SEO, here is how we used this to increase a client’s positions from the lower part of page 1 in Google to the upper.

Our team is working with a client on SEO, and they have tons of content and backlinks, but their positions had plateaued and they couldn’t figure out why.  It turned out to be a tech SEO issue with one of the big fixes being .htaccess.

During the first round of cleanup, we reduced the file by more than 1,100 redirects and instructions.  We also reset other directives to properly point to the correct pages, or versions of the pages.  From there we reduced redirect chains by stripping them out, and reset the options that needed to remain.  This was only round one.

After this round of cleaning, the results helped the client to remove the stagnant positions, and get them to climb higher on page one.  Often times your SEO will say you need content or backlinks, but that often isn’t true when you already have them, and the content is good.

In the screenshots below you’ll see current ranking positions in the columns (Google, Yahoo, Bing), and then the search volume for the keyword phrases.  I pulled the report on 7/29/2019 with a comparison to the previous 30 days because I want to show the climb that happened once the pages and files were reindexed.  The green number next to the ranking position is the amount of spaces it moved up.  I used this tool to track, just like I do all clients.  If you’re wondering why there are some with 0’s across, we haven’t launched those sections or the content yet.  I add the tracking first so we can watch as it appears and properly monitor.

The niche is fairly competitive with lots of big money players.  The goal was to move from the lower part of the first page to the upper, and this is the way we started the progress.  Keep reading below to learn more about how .htaccess impacts SEO (without all of the other things it does).  BTW, if you’re a programmer and yelling about the explanation above, don’t continue down.  This post isn’t for you.  It is for people like me in marketing, so I changed it to be non-techie for marketing teams.

how htaccess impacts seo results

seo gains from htaccess cleaning

How .htaccess Impacts SEO

Your .htaccess file is going to be big, scary, and complex.  This is especially true for older sites which have had numerous designs, URL structures, and developers working on it.  Knowing how to properly implement, test, and then retest is an art form rather than a science.

.htaccess files require a lot of patience and frustration, so if you’re going through a clean up, get ready.  Here are some of the things that the programmer will be doing, looking at, and trying to fix. [Read more…] about SEO Case Study – How Your .htaccess Can Increase SEO Rankings