Out Of New Ideas For Articles and Blog Posts?

2987926396_87eb3c3494_zA few months ago, Wes told me he was interested in starting a blog of his own.

We finally bought the domain name the other day, and he already has a few blog posts in the works. He’s had many questions about blogging, and one question that he keeps wondering is how a blogger comes up with blog post ideas.

He didn’t really know where to start, and he didn’t know how people could blog for so long and continually come up with new article ideas.

I won’t lie, there are many days when I sit down to write a post and I just cannot do it to save my life.

However, over the past few years, I have become much better at this. I have over 1,000 published posts on Making Sense of Cents alone, and I still have a few hundred ideas in my notes as well.

Here are my tips to keep the ideas and posts flowing whether you are a brand new writer or you have been writing for years:

Use questions you receive from readers.

Some of my favorite posts have come from ideas I’ve received from readers. Sometimes I receive an email, sometimes a tweet, or sometimes a reader will comment and ask me to expand on a topic.

This is a great way to think of new blog post ideas. You could even create a survey or directly ask your readers if they have any questions they would like you to answer. I’m sure there is something!

Use questions you have had yourself.

I’m sure there have been times where you have Google searched a question you’ve had. Maybe you dived in and completely researched the topic. If this is the case, then you may have a great blog post idea right here.

You know the saying that if you have a question, then others probably do as well?

Well, that’s true! I’m sure there are others who have wondered your very same question.

Think about your life experiences.

One thing I love about have a personal finance blog is that it’s PERSONAL. I can write about whatever I want, and that’s what I always do.

Many of my blog posts on MakingSenseofCents relate directly to my life and what I’m currently going through. These can be positive, negative, boring, fun, and more. It’s whatever I want them to be.

For example, the other day I published the post Easy Ways I’m Currently Saving $1,200 Each Month. This post is all about how I’m saving money in my life right now and that’s how I thought about the idea.

Also, I’m a nerd. Whenever something “interesting” happens, I almost always write it down because it may have the possibility of turning into a blog post.

Have a running list of possible post ideas.

For me, it would take a very long amount of time for me to run out of ideas. I have ideas both in my phone and on my laptop.

My phone is full of ideas I’ve thought about on the go or right before bed (I get a lot of my ideas then). My laptop is full of ideas from when I sit down and try to have a brainstorming/research session.

I probably have a few hundred ideas, which is something I am proud of. While I am not too far ahead when it comes to actually writing these posts, it is nice to know that I have possibilities for when the time comes.

 

Do you ever feel like you are out of article and blog post ideas?

What do you do to overcome this feeling?

 

Image via Flickr by Rennett Stowe

Learning to Say NO

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A few months ago, I published the article Why You Need To Start Saying Yes. In that article, I talked about how I’m a shy person and I often say no because I am afraid to step out of my comfort zone.

I’ve been learning to say yes more, and it’s been pretty awesome so far. I feel like I have opened up a lot and I have also learned a lot about myself. It’s been great trying new things lately.

Well, on the opposite side of that article, what do you do if you are constantly saying yes?

I recently came across someone who took a freelancing job they absolutely disliked.

Actually, they didn’t just dislike it - they hated it.

It didn’t start as hate though. In the beginning, their freelancing gig started just like any normal job. However, the work and the client were becoming more and more demanding and yet the pay wasn’t increasing.

They didn’t know what to do, and they e-mailed me recently about what their options may be. This isn’t one of their first freelancing gigs, but it is the very first one that they’ve actually ever wanted to quit.

So, what do you do when you want to start saying no in your life? Maybe you want to quit a job, free up some time in your schedule, stop getting stepped on, or get some sleep.

Find out why you have a problem saying no.

Do you know why you’re always telling people yes? There are multiple reasons for why you might be like this:

  • You try to please everyone.
  • You’re afraid if you say “no” that you’ll be hurting someone’s feelings.
  • You fear missing an opportunity.
  • You don’t want to be rude.

In order to determine what your next step is, you need to figure this out. If you’re running yourself ragged just to please others, then you need to re-evaluate your plan.

Evaluate your schedule.

There are plenty of times when saying yes can be very helpful. There is a reason I published the “Saying Yes” post. Saying yes has helped me greatly.

However, if you don’t have time, then it can be a really big negative in your life. You should evaluate your schedule and see whether or not you have time to say yes or no to others’ requests.

Perhaps you just need to rearrange your schedule? Of course, there are plenty of circumstances where you actually need to say no.

Flat out say no.

There are multiple reasons for why you might say no.

You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.

One reason might be because you might don’t have enough time. If you don’t have enough time you should let the person know. They should respect the fact that you have a lot on your plate already. Everyone deserves sleep, right?

Or, you could tell them you don’t think you’re the best fit. Everyone’s not the best fit for everything, and I’ve personally turned down freelancing jobs that I knew for a fact I could not truly do. If you’re not the best fit, then it’s always best to be honest about this because you don’t want to waste your time or someone else’s.

Offer something else.

If you know you don’t have time but you don’t want to hurt the person’s feelings, then you may try offering something else in order to help them out still.

For example, the person in the freelancing story above could perhaps help their client out by quitting politely but also giving their client recommendations for others who may fit the position better.

Tell them you’ll think about it.

If you don’t want to hurt the person’s feelings, then you may want to try telling them you’ll think about it first. There is no need to say yes right away, and giving it a little thought is probably best anyways.

Of course, only do this if you are actually going to think about it. You don’t want to string the person along if you know for a fact that you will be saying no in the end anyways.

Do you have a problem saying “yes” or “no?” What are you doing to change that?

 

Image via Flickr by abhi_ryan

How To Prepare For An Audit as a Freelancer

How To Prepare For An Audit as a FreelancerOkay, this is probably a post that isn’t exciting or fun. I’ve never met someone who thought tax returns were a fun subject (except for my tax professor I describe below), and I definitely have never met anyone who wanted to be audited.

Even if you’re doing everything correct, an audit is still not a fun thing.

I took a few tax classes with the same professor in college and my professor was actually a tax auditor. He often shared his audit stories and they were something that would put fear in any normal person.

According to Turbotax, around 1% of tax filers get audited. That’s not very much, but there are little things you might be doing that are increasing your individual chances of getting audited.

Some of these reasons include failing to report all of your income, deducting business expenses that aren’t actually business expenses, and earning more than $200,000.

Also, according to NOLO, once you go over earning more than $200,000 the chance increases quickly to 2.66% and those making over $10,000,000 have a 29.93% chance of being audited. That’s a much bigger chance! Of course, the chance of you making over $10,000,000 and reading this blog is probably fairly slim, but I just wanted to throw that out there :)

How will you find out if you’ve been audited?

You will find out if you’ve been audited usually by receiving a letter from the IRS. This letter will tell you mostly everything you need to know about your audit. Make sure you take plenty of time to read this letter from the IRS and that you fully understand each word.

Get help.

For most people, you will need help when it comes to your audit. If you don’t know what you are doing or you don’t understand the letter you received from the IRS, then you will definitely want to seek help from a tax professional.

They can help represent you because they most likely understand tax law better than you do.

Organize your papers.

For most people, their biggest fear of being audited is having to collect all of the needed papers because they are not well-organized. Once you receive your audit letter, you need to start gathering every paper related to your business that you have. You should try to organize them in the best possible way and make sure everything that you have matches what you stated in your tax return.

You will want to find any receipts, invoices, bank statements, and other paperwork that the auditor has requested from you.

Attend the meeting with a smile.

Here it comes, the audit meeting!

You will have to find a time that works for you, your tax professional, and the auditor.  You want to be nice and respect this person. Too many people go into their audit meeting yelling and angry, and that is just not the way to do it. You should be professional and have at least somewhat of a smile on your face.

However, it is also worthwhile to note that this is a professional meeting. You probably do not want to be cracking jokes and sharing gossip with the auditor. You should only share information that they are asking for, and nothing else because that could lead to other time-consuming investigations.

Have you ever been audited? What happened?

 

Image via Flickr by Joe Hall