Tips for New Bloggers

BLOG IDEASAs a blogger, I am constantly asked what my top tips for bloggers are. I even have people in the offline world ask me to spend a day with them and teach them.

Blogging is something that I don’t think that you can exactly “teach.” Learning as I went is what worked for me. However, there are some things that new bloggers can learn in order to improve their blogging skills.

Have direction.

No, you don’t have to settle on one niche or settle on one direction, but it does make things a little more easier. My main website, Making Sense of Cents, is sort of a mix of everything possible, but I do try to make everything relate to money in some way.

Are you a beauty blog? Lifestyle blog? Personal finance blog? Mom blog?

Determine why you are blogging.

Are you blogging anonymously? Are you trying to get your freelance services out there? Is your blog a part of a business? Are you blogging for money? Determine why you want to blog.

Don’t copy others.

Yes, you might like that post that someone else wrote. However, should you copy it? NOOOOOO!

If you are looking at an article for inspiration or research, don’t copy it word for word. Read the article and then look away. If you read it sentence by sentence, then your article will most likely be exactly like the article you are researching.

Publish interesting content.

Yes, you can run a content mill where all you do is crank out articles that no one will read. However, if you are looking to entertain and keep readers, then having high quality and interesting content is key.

Start a Twitter account.

I didn’t start my Twitter account until maybe a year or so after I started blogging. I really regret that because I was missing out on an important way to interact with readers and other bloggers.

Allow sharing on your blog.

If you want to gain new readers, then having a share plugin such as Shareoholic is key. This way readers can easily share your content.

Do your social media icons actually link to something?

Something that really bothers me is when I find a new blog that I really like, and they have social media icons on their sidebar that lead to nothing. Does your Twitter button just link to Twitter’s homepage? WHY do you do this to me?!

Try not to look at your stats too much.

I know that as a blogger, it is hard to just ignore your blog stats completely. However, stressing over them and looking at them multiple times each hour will not increase your stats.

Network.

Just like with everything else, networking is very important. Talk to other bloggers. Interact with readers. Reply to emails. Have conversations on Twitter. Attend blog conferences if you can. Guest post on other websites.

What tips would you give a new blogger?

What’s something that you wish you knew when you started?

 

When Should You Quit Your Job?

It's 5 o'clock somewhere!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/cletch/9188784916/

I’ve had a lot of people ask me if I’m making a mistake quitting my job. Well, I hope I’m not! It’s a weird question to ask someone.

So, how do you know if you should leave your job? Below are some reasons why you might want to leave your job.

However, I am not saying that if one of the below things happen that you should march into your boss’ office on Monday morning and quit immediately. A job is a job and sometimes it just needs to be done.

Also, I do realize that most people have bills to pay. If you quit your job and have absolutely nothing lined up and have no emergency fund, please realize that this may not be your best idea. Having something lined up or some sort of plan is always best if you quit your job.

Sundays are the worst day ever.

Wait, why would Sundays be so bad? Well, if you are off from work and all you can think about is how much you hate your job, then you probably have a problem.  I’m not saying that you should always quit in this case, because let’s be honest with ourselves, how many people want to go into an office on a Monday after an awesome weekend?

You should sit down and think about what is bothering you with your job. Why do you dread it so much? Is it only because you don’t want to work and you wish you were a millionaire? In this case, then this doesn’t seem like a good enough reason to leave 😛

You tick off the minutes until your day is over right when it starts.

I actually know of someone who ticked down every SINGLE minute that they had in the day. I don’t even want to think about how unproductive this person was because I’m pretty sure all they did was pay attention to how many ticks they had left in the day.

You are extremely stressed and it’s ruining your life.

Is your job so stressful that you can’t even function outside of work? Do you have no work-life balance? Sometimes you need to think about your health and how your job is affecting your life and your family’s lives.

You see value elsewhere.

Do you have a business on the side? If this business has grown and you see a better future with your side business, then it may be best to leave your day job and switch to full-time self-employment.

You are not productive at work.

You quitting does not always have to be entirely about you. So, if you see that you are not the best fit for your job, then it might be best for you to leave.

One example for this is if you are devoting all of your time to your side business, and then when you go to work you sit there and do nothing because you are too tired. This is not fair to your employer.

Are you only actually working 1 hour out of a full workday?

You want to move up, but there is no room for growth.

Do you feel stuck at your job? Not everyone wants to move up, some people are perfectly content with their position. However, if you do feel stuck, then you should do something to change it.

Start looking for other jobs or companies that can fit you better. Maybe talk to your manager and see if there is any chance that you can be promoted.

You work in an abusive environment.

This one is a case where you should definitely leave. If you feel uncomfortable with how you are treated at work, then you should leave. Or try to find the best solution to the issue at your work. Do not continue to work in the same stagnant horrible situation if you can help it.

Why did you quit your last job? Share!

 

If you are interested in leaving your job, then I highly recommend the book How To Engineer Your Layoff. The author of the book negotiated six years of current living expenses and gives tips on the best way to leave your job.  Click here to get the book today.

How Much Do I Need in My Emergency Fund?

Our emergency fund is finally fully funded. WHEW! Since I am switching to full-time self-employment,  we have been really focused on building it back up. A couple of months ago, I drained our emergency fund completely so that we could pay the ol’ student loans.

Currently, we have around 12 months of expenses in our emergency fund. If we didn’t have some sort of emergency fund, I honestly don’t think that I would feel as comfortable about self-employment.

I am confident in my services that I offer, but you never know. What if I have a completely uneventful month where my expenses are higher than my income? What if something in the house breaks or our basement floods?

Luckily, we also have a fairly low budget. This makes saving up for 12 months of expenses a little bit easier. However, I will of course not say that saving up for a fully funded emergency fund is the easiest thing on earth. It is definitely hard. Saving up for an EF is a lot more enjoyable than paying off student loans though 🙂

Holly is another fellow freelancer, who recently made a post about why she’s happy that she has an EF. They are important!

 

Why is an emergency fund important?

An emergency fund is important for many reasons. For the sake of this post, an emergency fund covers all “emergencies,” even though I do understand that some families have a “job fund,” “house fund” and so on all in different categories.

An emergency fund makes living life a little bit more comfortable. If you don’t have to worry about living paycheck to paycheck, or about how to pay for the next thing that breaks, it’s probably because you have an emergency fund. Of course, you don’t want things to break, but if something unexpected does happen, then it does not have to be the end of the world.

An emergency fund can cover all types of events. Maybe a medical problem arises and you need to pay for some of it out-of-pocket.

Did you lose your job? An emergency fund can help keep you afloat until you find your next job.

An emergency fund can also cover something going wrong or breaking in your house. What if you need a new roof? Or a new furnace? Or your basement floods? These things are not cheap.

 

How do I determine how much I need?

It is a little difficult to determine how much each person/family should have in their emergency fund. I would say that it should be whatever you are realistically comfortable with.

Some people feel perfectly fine about not having a large emergency fund and consider their credit cards their emergency fund, whereas others really think that a large emergency fund is important. I am one of those people who think that a large emergency fund is best. I am a big worrier that something will break!

If you have debt, some say that you shouldn’t carry more than $1,000 in your emergency fund. This is because you should be focused on debt instead of emergency funds which don’t gain much in interest.

Since I plan on switching to self-employment, I want a larger emergency fund. I don’t want one bad month to make paying my monthly bills feel impossible. Having 12 months of expenses feels like a comfortable amount to me. My EF could potentially cover 12 full months of $0 earnings, or it could cover a mixture of lower income and something happening to our home.

Generally, if you own a home, have an unstable job (such as a commission-based job), have an older car that might need repairs soon, or a larger family, then you will want a larger emergency fund. With a home, things break. With an unstable job, you might have a bad month, and an EF can give you peace of mind. An older car might need a repair, and if you have a larger family, well, there is a bigger chance that something unexpected may happen.

Do you have an emergency fund? Why or why not?