Beat the 9 to 5 http://beatthe9to5.com Moving from the Rat Race to Entrepreneurship Fri, 18 Apr 2014 04:55:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.3 My Monthly Income Stream Report – March 2014 http://beatthe9to5.com/my-monthly-income-stream-report-march-2014/ http://beatthe9to5.com/my-monthly-income-stream-report-march-2014/#comments Thu, 10 Apr 2014 07:15:11 +0000 http://beatthe9to5.com/?p=2752 My Monthly Income Stream Report – March 2014 is a post from: Beat the 9 to 5, your online resource for Entrepreneurship, Solopreneurship, Freelancing, and self-employment.

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income reportI can’t believe that, as I’m writing this, it’s almost tax day.  That means we are 25% through 2014.  Where has this year gone?  It seems like just yesterday it was Christmas – I’m really feeling time fly.  I’m also shocked by how fast my son is growing up.  A little over a year ago I announced my first child was on the way, and now he’s crawling all over the house and standing against everything he can pull himself up on.  It’s just crazy!

Wbeing said, it’s been another good month both online and offline.  Let’s get to it!

 

Important Happenings

Several great things happened this month that I’m really excited to share with you.  First, I’m excited to announce that I’m now writing for Forbes about education and personal finance.  It’s something that I’m passionate about, and so far it’s been a great fit.  You can check out my articles here: Robert Farrington Forbes.  It’s a paid gig, and you will start seeing the income from it in the coming months.

Second, my job saga keeps evolving. Since I declined the last promotion (you can read about that here), I figured that I would be stagnant in my current job for the foreseeable future.  Well, that didn’t happen.  In fact, the opposite happened.  I was instead offered to interview for an even better promotion that would actually make sense and raise my salary even higher than the last one.  It would take a couple months for the opening to materialize, but the fact that this is the next step is great.

However, this whole thing makes me look at my job more like the movie Office Space.  It just seems like the less I do, the more I get recognized for what I do.  Whatever works, and it helps pay the bills in the short term.

 

Income and Expense Report

Alright, onto the multiple income stream report!  By now, you should know how this works, but I like to break down my multiple income streams into categories so you can see how I make my income.  You can read more about my investing income stream here.

I don’t include my salary or my wife’s, although I do consider those part of my multiple income steam strategy.  Remember, this is about building income streams beyond your 9 to 5.

Income Breakdown

  • Investments
    • Dividends: $811.42
  • Other
    • Writing: $821

Gross Total: $5,741.02

Difference from Last Month: -$3,249.36

Expense Breakdown

  • Advertising: $403.45 (Facebook Ads)
  • Commissions Paid: $25.68
  • Hosting: $8.65
  • PayPal Fees: $115.01
  • Subscription Software:
  • Subcontracted Services: $1,914.00

Total Expenses: $2,782.65 

Difference from Last Month: +$348.63

Total Income: $5,741.02
Total Expenses: $2,782.65

Net February Income: $2,958.37

Difference from February: -$3,597.99

Remember, you can find all of my income reports here, but last year I didn’t break down gross vs. net income like I am this year.

 

What I Learned

Last month, as you can see, my income was much lower than what it has been.  Working online for several years now, I’ve learned that it’s so hard to have truly sustainable income.  You just never know what you’re going to earn each month.  That’s why it’s so important to me to build multiple income streams (salary, freelancing, business, investing).  Hopefully, if one stream has a rough month, the others can supplement.

This is my key strategy as I move forward to escaping the rat race.  I can’t just depend on income from advertising on my websites – it’s relying on others too much.  That’s why my goals this year include creating products for my sites to sell myself without relying on others.

 

What To Expect This Month

This month, don’t expect me to write too much – I’m planning on one other article.  But, I’m going to continue to focus on this site and building it out.

Thanks for another great month!  How was March for you?

My Monthly Income Stream Report – March 2014 is a post from: Beat the 9 to 5, your online resource for Entrepreneurship, Solopreneurship, Freelancing, and self-employment.

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Multiple Income Stream Goals for 2014 http://beatthe9to5.com/multiple-income-stream-goals-for-2014/ http://beatthe9to5.com/multiple-income-stream-goals-for-2014/#comments Thu, 13 Mar 2014 07:15:00 +0000 http://beatthe9to5.com/?p=2698 Multiple Income Stream Goals for 2014 is a post from: Beat the 9 to 5, your online resource for Entrepreneurship, Solopreneurship, Freelancing, and self-employment.

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Welcome to my goal post for 2014 – finally.  Yes, I realize that it’s already March, but I think it’s important from an accountability standpoint to publish a goal post online.  In reality, I actually already crafted my goals, and I spent a lot of time in December really hashing out what I wanted for the year.

Last year, my wife made me a beautiful whiteboard (not really white, actually canvas), that I’ve plotted out my goals and milestones for the entire year.

framed canvas whiteboard

 

Now, I’m just codifying publicly what I’m already working towards.

 

2014 Goals

Alright, so here is what I’m working on this year, and the reason why.  If possible, I’ll also share any tactics I’m using and any progress made.

Monthly Epic Posts:  One of my big content marketing strategies for my blogs is to create epic posts each month.   The goal of this is two-fold.  First, I’m a big believer that epic posts can add a lot of value to readers, which is always a good thing.  Second, epic posts get shared a lot – and that is always good for traffic and exposure.

So far I’ve been on schedule with my epic posts on The College Investor, and they have been driving a lot of traffic to my site.  So far, I’ve charted out the posts I want to write through the first half of the year, making sure that they fit in my overall editorial calendar (which I’ve also plotted out for the first half of the year).

To give you an idea of what I’m going after, here are the posts I’ve done already:

 

Build My Email Sales Funnel: One of my big marketing goals this year was to create a sales funnel for my site.  After the great launch of my Investing 101 Course, I quickly learned that it was hard to make a course sustainable.  I tried a bunch of different options, by soon realized that the key was an email marketing funnel to drive traffic to my course.  Basically, it was hard to get “cold” leads to sign up for a course they knew nothing about.  My initial launch was successful because it was marketed to “warm” leads – the existing readership base of my site.  However, why would new readers simply jump into a course without knowing me?

This is one goal I’ve already implemented, but I’m continually tinkering with and working on.  To set this up, I put together a 3 part Free Video Online Investing Training series, where I cover 3 essential steps to getting started investing.  It has been incredibly successful for me, and it is helping get subscribers on my email list, and converting them into paying customers.

 

Boost Email List to 5,000 Subscribers: Along with building a sales funnel for my course, I want to get my email list to 5,000 subscribers.  Right now, my list is 1,576 subscribers, and I’m currently averaging 3.3 sign-ups per day.  If I continue at this rate, I will add about another 900 subscribers this year, which will bring me to almost 2,500.  That’s where I need to step it up.  I need to start averaging about 12.5 sign-ups per day to get to my goal of 5,000.

I’m going to do this two-fold.  One, I’m going to continue to promote my Investing Training Course on Facebook using sponsored ads.  Second, I’m going to launch a strictly email-based free training targeting more advanced investors, not just new ones.  And finally, I’m going to ping my readers soon and ask them what they want to see – and hopefully that will help bring in new subscribers as well.

 

Develop 1 Paid Product for Beat the Nine to Five: As you know, I don’t have any paid products here on this site yet.  I also don’t have any advertising.  But, at some point, I need to move from the free model to the freemium model.  Don’t worry, I’m still going to provide great, useable content, but I’m also going to shoot to create at least one paid product for this site that I think will really add value to what side hustlers and other small business owners are looking for.  I have some ideas already, but I’m always open to your input as well.  If you have some thoughts, share them below!

 

Develop Another Paid Product for The College Investor: I’m also planning on creating another paid product for The College Investor.  This one will be much more targeted to advanced investors and those that want to improve what they are already doing in the stock market.  It will be very similar in layout to my current course – with text and video, and simple, easy to follow modules.  Hopefully it will be a hit as well!

 

Checking In On My 2013 Goals

Truth be told, I didn’t reach any of my goals for 2013.  But that’s okay – because I set high goals and I moved the ball forward in ways I would have never imagined before.

I had two key goals set for myself:

  • 1,000,000 visitors combined
  • $100,000 in revenue

For overall total visitors across all my sites, I hit 402,385.  I’m happy because that is a 72% increase in traffic from 2012.  However, I’m even happier that in the first two months of the year, The College Investor has already received 150,550 visits, including it’s first 100,000 visitor month!  Kids Ain’t Cheap is also boosting it’s traffic significantly, up to 6,840 visitors last month, which is up over 200%.

For overall revenue, I made $64,660.  Not bad for a side hustle, but still short of my goal.   I’m not truly setting a revenue goal this year, but I do want to go after than mythical 6-figure mark.  I think that is a big milestone, and while money isn’t super-important today, it becomes more important as I look to convert from a side hustle to a full time gig.

 

What Advice Do You Have For Me?

So, there you have it – my goals for 2014.  What advice do you have for me?  Have you gone after any of these things before and have success or failure stories you can share with me?  I’d love to know!

Multiple Income Stream Goals for 2014 is a post from: Beat the 9 to 5, your online resource for Entrepreneurship, Solopreneurship, Freelancing, and self-employment.

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My Monthly Income Stream Report – February 2014 http://beatthe9to5.com/my-monthly-income-stream-report-february-2014/ http://beatthe9to5.com/my-monthly-income-stream-report-february-2014/#comments Fri, 07 Mar 2014 08:15:48 +0000 http://beatthe9to5.com/?p=2697 My Monthly Income Stream Report – February 2014 is a post from: Beat the 9 to 5, your online resource for Entrepreneurship, Solopreneurship, Freelancing, and self-employment.

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Feb Income Report

February was a busy busy month for me, both online and offline, and I totally skipped out on creating content here at Beat the Nine to Five.  However, I made some key changes that will hopefully free up my time to allow me to focus better on creating content versus doing other stuff.

Beyond the craziness, February was also a great month for my business – even better than January.  I’m excited to share with you the good and the bad from this month, and what I’m doing to better myself, my business, and my family.

 

Important Happenings

I had a few key learnings this month that I wanted to share.  Like I mentioned earlier, this was a month of craziness, and it led to being fully overwhelmed by mid-month.  This was due to a crazy work schedule and a lot of things going on in my online business as well.

The only free time I was having was in my car – when I was also listening to Chris Ducker talk about his new book Virtual Freedom.  Anyway, listening to him, in combination with everything that was going on, really led me to realize that if I want this to be a viable business, I need to stop focusing on so many things that I don’t need to do.  I’ve always been keen on outsourcing, but I learned last year that I wasn’t improving the operational excellence of my business while outsourcing.

So, I made a focus on changing that.  I actually hired a new virtual assistant that will be much more like an assistant instead of simply a social media manager.  Already, it has taken a huge load off my shoulders, but this week has been a recovery week from the overwhelm before I can really start to move forward.  With my new assistant, we are really getting into a groove, and she is really helping me drive my business forward, instead of just doing silly tasks that can be automated.

Second, I was offered a promotion at work – for a really terrible job that paid a lot of money.  Last year, I saw this coming, so I asked you guys if you should accept a promotion if it’s not your dream job?  Well, now let me give you a little breakdown of this job, and what I did.  This job would have increased my salary by 30%, but at the same time it would have:

  • Required a 90 mile commute through the mountains everyday, which would take about 1 hour and 20 minutes each direction in good weather (and that’s with no snow, rain, or wind).
  • It would be long hours on top of the commute
  • After commuting costs are taken into consideration, it’s really only about a 18% raise
  • It would really suck

On top of that, I have a young son who I would really want to see grow up.  I have so much fun at home with him, I would hate to be so far away and not being able to make it to things easily.

So, in the end, I turned down the money and the job.  What are they going to do?  Fire me?  Ha – I got offered the job because supposedly I’m a top performer, so I still have plenty of job security in my current role.  Do you agree with me?

I’d rather spend my time building my online business and focus on getting out of the 9 to 5 anyway!

 

Income and Expense Report

Alright, onto the multiple income stream report!  By now, you should know how this works, but I like to break down my multiple income streams into categories so you can see how I make my income.  You can read more about my investing income stream here.

I don’t include my salary or my wife’s, although I do consider those part of my multiple income steam strategy.  Remember, this is about building income streams beyond your 9 to 5.

Income Breakdown

  • Investments
    • Dividends: $936.96
    • Capital Gains: -$19.36 (Read about this here)
  • Other
    • Writing: $568

Gross Total: $8,990.38

Difference from Last Month: +$1,725.74

Expense Breakdown

  • Advertising: $417.33 (Facebook Ads)
  • Commissions Paid: $13.00
  • Hosting: $7.49
  • PayPal Fees: $169.78
  • Professional Fees: $495.42 (FinCon14)
  • Subscription Software:
  • Subcontracted Services: $915.14

Total Expenses: $2,434.02 

Difference from Last Month: -$493.21

Total Income: $8,990.38
Total Expenses: $2,434.02

Net February Income: $6,556.36

Difference from January: +$2,218.95

Remember, you can find all of my income reports here, but last year I didn’t break down gross vs. net income like I am this year.

 

What I Learned

I learned a couple of key lessons this month.  First, focus on what really matters.  This was a hard lesson that I learned in several ways.  First, in my business, I realized that I was spending a lot of time on tasks that I should be delegating or automating, and not enough time on things that only I can do.  But, I also learned it takes the right person to help you delegate to and automate with.  I think I have that now, but that is something that I’m continuing to focus on.

Second, I learned that I need to focus on what really matters more at work.  I essentially took the “promotion” offer as a big fuck you.  Basically, I worked really hard to be offered a piece of crap job.  Yes, the money’s great, but there is so much more than that.  I’ve given a lot of time and effort into my job, have been considered a top performer, already make good money, and this is what I get?

Thinking back – one of the big reasons why I started side hustling was because I had a bad boss.  I tell my story in How a Bad Boss, Boredom, and a School Crush Led Me To Entrepreneurship.  Now, I am much better equipped to handle my work situation – so this is what I’ve decided.  I’m focusing on my side business and my family, and not this job that doesn’t truly value me.  So, will I be leaving early to take Skype calls?  Yes.  Will I feel shame in answering emails on my phone during the day?  Nope.  I’m focusing on what matters.

Finally, you may have noticed that I started writing again.  I’m not writing much, but a valuable proposition came along and I couldn’t pass it down.  You will see writing income the next couple of months, and I hope to do more if the right opportunities come along.

 

What To Expect This Month

This month, I finally plan on tackling that goal post I was talking about last month.  I also want to share with you some other insights I learned from this month of overwhelm.  Hopefully, you will start to see some changes here as well.  I’m changing up a few things, and have them penciled out, but whether I have the time to implement them will be another story.

Thanks for another great month!  How was February for you?

My Monthly Income Stream Report – February 2014 is a post from: Beat the 9 to 5, your online resource for Entrepreneurship, Solopreneurship, Freelancing, and self-employment.

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The Key To Side Hustle Success: Focus On What You Know http://beatthe9to5.com/the-key-to-side-hustle-success-focus-on-what-you-know/ http://beatthe9to5.com/the-key-to-side-hustle-success-focus-on-what-you-know/#comments Tue, 11 Feb 2014 08:15:00 +0000 http://beatthe9to5.com/?p=2659 The Key To Side Hustle Success: Focus On What You Know is a post from: Beat the 9 to 5, your online resource for Entrepreneurship, Solopreneurship, Freelancing, and self-employment.

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passion online businessI had two interesting exchanges with readers over the last several weeks, and I wanted to share a key takeaway from them.

First, I had a reader ask:

Why don’t you tell us how you went about choosing the web sites you bought last year, why they were doing so poorly at that time, and how they are doing now. It might be good to explain how you went about monetizing them, and why you  chose certain ads for that purpose.

The second reader asked the following:

How do I get started with an online business and how do I figure out which one is best?

And what do you think my answer was to both of them?  Focus on what you know!

 

The Key To Success

The absolute key to success in everything I do is focusing on what I know.  Every website I own is based around some experience I’ve had or passion I want to share.  I’m not the only one who thinks this.  Warren Buffett is famous for investing in what he knows – he usually avoids hot tech stocks because he doesn’t understand them.  Instead, he focuses on consumer goods and railroads – things he knows a lot about.

 

Where To Start

When starting something, there is always an unknown.  You can’t know everything.  But you can do some simple things:

  • Let your passion shine through (this can especially help online as you work through the technical stuff)
  • Ask others
  • Read a lot
  • Find a mentor
  • Pay for advice or help by hiring a coach or taking a course

Last year, I bought several eBooks and took an online course.  I’m all about continuing my education online.  There’s always stuff to learn, and sometimes it’s worth paying.

 

Final Thought

Finally, if you still just know know, you could also focus on what you don’t know.  Some of the most successful bloggers started by using their blogs to chronicle their learning – because they didn’t know.  It’s why JD Roth started Get Rich Slowly, and it’s why Pat Flynn originally started his Green Exam Academy site.  These guys didn’t know, but used their blogs to chronicle their learning.

There is so much potential and opportunity, don’t let fear of the unknown hold you back.

What are you passionate about?

The Key To Side Hustle Success: Focus On What You Know is a post from: Beat the 9 to 5, your online resource for Entrepreneurship, Solopreneurship, Freelancing, and self-employment.

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My Monthly Income Stream Report – January 2014 http://beatthe9to5.com/my-monthly-income-stream-report-january-2014/ http://beatthe9to5.com/my-monthly-income-stream-report-january-2014/#comments Sat, 08 Feb 2014 08:15:00 +0000 http://beatthe9to5.com/?p=2644 My Monthly Income Stream Report – January 2014 is a post from: Beat the 9 to 5, your online resource for Entrepreneurship, Solopreneurship, Freelancing, and self-employment.

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January 2014 Income Report

Happy New Year!  Welcome to my first income report of 2014 –  and I’m really excited to share it with you.  I just got back from an amazing vacation with my family and baby, and it was great to get away.  All of our friends told us to take the baby on a trip before he was able to walk, and they were right – it was fun to just take him along with us everywhere!

Each month, I share what I’m doing to develop my multiple income streams.  I try to share what’s working, and what’s not, so that you can learn from what I’m doing online and offline.  I also share all of my earning, down to the penny.  Starting this year, I’m also going to share my expenses for each month, so that you can get a real sense of how much I’m actually taking home.

At the end of the day, the “net” is really all that matters, so if I make $10k gross, but only make $1k net, is that as good as making $5k gross and taking home $4k?  I think $4k is definitely better.

Finally, before we dive into it, I hope you take action from these reports.  Don’t just take them at face value, but look at what is working and learn from my mistakes.  Ask questions – I’m here to help!

 

Important Happenings

I actually took a little detour from my original plan this month.  I did share how I repurpose content from my life in my online business.  I think this is the best way to really create content – take from life and show others online.  It’s genuine, and it’s helpful.  If you had to do something, chances are someone else will have to do it as well.

Where I failed was creating my goals post for 2014, and checking in on my goals post from 2013.  I also failed at putting together my annual income report from last year.  I’m working on both of these right now, and I’m making them my focus this month.

My detour was writing about operational excellence in my online business.  In public companies (like where I work in my 9 to 5), there is a huge focus on operational excellence.  So, shouldn’t there be a focus on this in small businesses and side hustles?  YES.  But it was something that I was lacking in, and so I made that my focus near the end of the year, and I wanted to share my progress with you on that front.

 

Income and Expense Report

Alright, onto the multiple income stream report!  By now, you should know how this works, but I like to break down my multiple income streams into categories so you can see how I make my income.  You can read more about my investing income stream here.

I don’t include my salary or my wife’s, although I do consider those part of my multiple income steam strategy.  Remember, this is about building income streams beyond your 9 to 5.

Income Breakdown

  • Investments
    • Dividends: $66.97
    • Capital Gains: $41.66
  • Other
    • Amazon Sales: $42.81

Gross Total: $7,264.64

Difference from Last Month: -$3,439.66

Expense Breakdown

  • Advertising: $137.34
  • Hosting: $383.10
  • PayPal Fees: $276.42
  • Postage: $4.91
  • Professional Fees: $56.25
  • Software: $49
  • Subscription Software: $344.86
  • Subcontracted Services: $1,675.35

Total Expenses: $2,927.23

Total Income: $7,264.64
Total Expenses: $2,927.23

Net January Income: $4,337.41

Remember, you can find all of my income reports here, but last year I didn’t break down gross vs. net income like I am this year.

 

What I Learned

I hope you can see a big shift in my thinking so far this year.  It’s a focus on net.  As I look to escape my nine to five job, I need to boost my net income.  Even the $4,337.41 net above isn’t truly net, because I will have to pay taxes on that.  And if I’m going to depend on my income, it’s important to remember that.  So, I may actually be taking home after taxes closer to $2,600 (remember, I live in California…not very business and tax friendly).  That doesn’t cut it.

My goal is to push my gross income up towards $10,000, so my net income is around $7,000 to $8,000, and that way my after tax income is closer to what I need it to be.

Second, if you look at my income report, you’ll notice that my affiliate income increased across almost every property.  I’m trying to make that a focus going forward, because I think there is value in promoting affiliate products that match your core audience.  I’m only promoting products I believe in, and I think that’s where the value lies.

Finally, I put together a new free online course at The College Investor.  I’m really proud of this short video course, and I’m using it for lead generation.  It’s working pretty well right now, but I won’t know for sure until the end of the month.   You’re welcome to check it out here: Free Video Investing Training.

 

What To Expect This Month

This month, I plan on catching up on my annual income report from last year, as well as highlighting my goals for this year.  I think that having goal posts are important because it puts accountability on what you’re wanting to do for the year.   I also have an updated tools I’m using now post coming down the pipeline, since many of the tools I’m using have evolved from when I first started blogging and building my business.  I get so many questions about what I’m using, so I wanted to share an updated list.

Thanks for another great month!  How was January for you?

My Monthly Income Stream Report – January 2014 is a post from: Beat the 9 to 5, your online resource for Entrepreneurship, Solopreneurship, Freelancing, and self-employment.

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How to Actually Repurpose Content That Works http://beatthe9to5.com/how-to-actually-repurpose-content-that-works/ http://beatthe9to5.com/how-to-actually-repurpose-content-that-works/#respond Mon, 20 Jan 2014 08:15:00 +0000 http://beatthe9to5.com/?p=2607 How to Actually Repurpose Content That Works is a post from: Beat the 9 to 5, your online resource for Entrepreneurship, Solopreneurship, Freelancing, and self-employment.

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repurpose contentEverywhere I turn, I’m reading another article or listening to another podcast that tells me to repurpose my content.  I never fully understood what it meant to repurpose my content, but over the last few months I’ve finally figured it out.

I wanted to share with you several ways that I’ve found to successfully repurpose content, and how you can leverage this strategy in your business.

 

Repurposing Life Into Media

The first things that I’ve found to be highly successful to my business has been to repurpose things that I’ve done in life into my online business.  What?  Life…  Yes, things that I’ve done normally, or struggled with.

For example, after my wife’s baby shower, she struggled to put together thank you notes for all the random stuff she got.  She wanted to be polite, but really, there was some crap given.  So, she Google’d what she should write, and found nothing.  So, she put together thank you notes, and then I put together a blog post highlighting what she wrote: Great Baby Shower Thank You Card Templates.  It’s now one of the most popular articles on Kids Ain’t Cheap.

Another example would be my search for an online accounting program.  I tried out so many different free online accounting programs, but just wasn’t satisfied.  That led me to create The Best Online Accounting Software Programs.  Another very popular post.

The bottom line is that you can use what you’re normally doing in life, and write about it online.

 

Reusing Already Created Content

Another strategy that I’ve leveraged this last year is reusing already created content in other ways.

First, I created a free investing video training series using blog posts I had already written.  I simply took the blog posts, turned them into PowerPoint slides, and then put my audio over it.  Very simple, and it has been a highly successful opt-in freebie.

Second, I did the same thing for my online course – Investing 101.  I had written so many investing introductory articles over the 4 years my site has been live, but they were spread out all over the place.  I simply spent a weekend, combining everything into a neat and clean package, and then added some videos (using screenshots and the strategy I described above) to create more value-added content.

 

Making Content More Awesome

Finally, this last year I’ve created an epic guide to student loan debt, and I did it by adding and updating my old content.  This is a combination of the other two strategies mentioned above, and it was a very successful way to use content.

I created my Definitive Guide to Student Loan Debt by simply combining existing content, updating it, adding some more relevant content, and then making some cool graphics.

Once again, a simple repurpose that was highly successful.

Have you repurposed your past content?  Any other strategies that have worked for you?

How to Actually Repurpose Content That Works is a post from: Beat the 9 to 5, your online resource for Entrepreneurship, Solopreneurship, Freelancing, and self-employment.

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Refocusing on Expenses and Operational Excellence http://beatthe9to5.com/refocusing-on-expenses-and-operational-excellence/ http://beatthe9to5.com/refocusing-on-expenses-and-operational-excellence/#comments Sat, 11 Jan 2014 08:15:14 +0000 http://beatthe9to5.com/?p=2613 Refocusing on Expenses and Operational Excellence is a post from: Beat the 9 to 5, your online resource for Entrepreneurship, Solopreneurship, Freelancing, and self-employment.

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Online Business ExpensesDecember was a month for me to refocus on the actual nuts and bolts of my business.  As you’ll see shortly, I spent a lot more than I should have this past year in unnecessary expenses.

I think it’s key to analyze the cash flow report of any business and see what makes sense and what doesn’t – and online business is no exception.  That’s why I did a detailed line by line analysis of my expenses and looked to what was truly needed, what could be cut back on or consolidated, what should be eliminated, and what could be added.

Here’s some of the changes I made this month to make 2014 not only the highest grossing year online, but also the most profitable.

 

Products and Services

The first area I looked at were products and services that I used on my site.  I spent a lot of money on random software and products that I didn’t really need or use – honestly, some of them just looked “cool” and so I gave them a try.  Way to blow money, right?

The first one I cancelled was Unbounce.  This is an awesome product that makes great landing pages and easy split testing.  But they charge $49.99 per month.  After using them for about 3 months, I decided I could do exactly what they did, but cheaper and easier.  So, I dropped them and now use LeadPages.  It does everything I need (and better) for only $16 per month.

I was also using a service called OnlyWire that helped with social bookmarking of your posts.  Well, since Google changed up how things work, the value of this service really became minimal.  Plus, I adopted CoSchedule, which does all my social media.

With CoSchedule as well, I was able to drop my HootSuite subscription down from the Pro plan to the regular plan.  This saved me $10 per month.

I also looked at software I bought that I just didn’t need or use.  One example was the plugin WP Courseware.  The plugin was buggy on my site, and I didn’t even need it for my course – I could do the same thing with pages in WordPress.  I emailed the developer and asked for my money back for this one.

Finally, I cancelled Aweber.  You may be thinking whoa – you’re crazy.  But, in this case, I opted for more, not less.  I moved to Office Autopilot, which is much more robust and had a lot of the tools I needed for my business built in.  Aweber is still a great choice for starting out, but once you have several products and sites, it may make sense to move over to Office AutoPilot.

 

Subcontractors

This is one area that I spent a lot (and I mean an awful lot) of money on this last year.  I really had to decide what ws going to get me the most for my money, and in a lot of cases, I opted to scale back.

One of the biggest changes I made was letting to of my virtual assistant.  She did a lot for me, but a lot of the new tools I’ve adopted took away a lot of what I really needed her to do.  I felt that the it was redundant, and so I decided to make this change.

Second, I let go of some of my writers as well.  This was also a conscious effort to scale back the amount of posting on several of my sites to once per week – which I think will make them more profitable over the long run.

Errors I Found

When I was going through my expenses, I noticed that I was getting charged each month for hosting.  I thought this was odd, because I swore I signed up for the quarterly plan (to get the discount).  I went through my emails, and guess what – they were billing me wrong.

Now, I love my web host.  And as soon as I let them know, they rectified everyone and gave me a free quarter of hosting.

It’s sad, but I was being incorrectly charged for 6 months and I didn’t notice.  Shame on me.

Also, I noticed that on my bank statement, I was being charged a service charge each month of $0.99.  Totally random, so I called and they said it was a debit card processing fee.  That’s annoying, so I made an effort to open a business credit card for my business.  I found a sweet deal with a 0% APR in balance transfer and purchases for the first year through Totally Money credit cards, so I signed up.

 

Stuff I Added In 2014

Finally, I did add some stuff in this year.  First, I added in CoSchedule, which I reviewed last week.  I love it, and it’s what enabled me to save costs in these other areas, like HootSuite and my virtual assistant.

I also added in Office Autopilot as my email provider and customer relationship manager.  It’s amazing.  I’m so glad I made the switch because it has everything I needed for my business, from advanced email lists and rules, to payment processing, to integration with QuickBooks.  Everything I need in one simple place.

Have you looked at your expenses lately?  Have you considered cutting costs in your business?

Refocusing on Expenses and Operational Excellence is a post from: Beat the 9 to 5, your online resource for Entrepreneurship, Solopreneurship, Freelancing, and self-employment.

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My Monthly Income Stream Report – December 2013 http://beatthe9to5.com/my-monthly-income-stream-report-december-2013/ http://beatthe9to5.com/my-monthly-income-stream-report-december-2013/#comments Fri, 10 Jan 2014 08:15:00 +0000 http://beatthe9to5.com/?p=2598 My Monthly Income Stream Report – December 2013 is a post from: Beat the 9 to 5, your online resource for Entrepreneurship, Solopreneurship, Freelancing, and self-employment.

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income reportDecember is always an interesting month for me.  For one, it’s extremely busy for me at my nine to five job.  Second, you never know what you’re going to get online as well.  This year, December was slower overall, but that’s okay.  Given everything that I was doing offline, it was much needed.  However, it also gave me time to plan.

However, last month I dominated when it came to investing, which was fun.  This year, I’m also participating in an investing throw down with several other bloggers, so hopefully I’ll be able to hold my own there as well.

 

Important Happenings

A few important things happened last month.  First, for the first time ever, I really sat down and mapped out what I want 2014 to look like.  I’ll share more about this in my annual income report coming later this month, but needless to say, I planned out the first quarter of 2014 in full.  I feel really confident now about the direction I’m going, and I think it should prove to earn more as well.

Second, I as part of the planning, I decided on some major changes this year.  A few of them are technical – I switched over to CoSchedule for my editorial calendar, and I’m looking at changing email providers as well.  I also downsized a bit when it comes to my staff writers.  I still employ some staff writers, but it was getting to be a little much for a while, and I wasn’t fully seeing the returns I wanted to.   Also, after reading Financial Samurai’s 2013 Year in Review, I realized that I wasn’t getting the operational leverage I needed, and I was also getting lazy.  That’s all changing this year.

Finally, near the end of December my Premier Investing Forum passed 50 members.  That’s pretty cool.  You can see that some of them signed up for recurring monthly billing as well, which is great.  Still slow inside the forums, but consistently building over time.  If you’re interested in learning more about investing, check it out.  I’m going to be offering a free 30 day trial period this year to try and boost memberships even more.  I think the value is there for people to stay on.

 

Income Report

Alright, onto the multiple income stream report!  By now, you should know how this works, but I like to break down my multiple income streams into categories so you can see how I make my income.  You can read more about my investing income stream here.

I don’t include my salary or my wife’s, although I do consider those part of my multiple income steam strategy.

  • Investments
    • Dividends: $3,109.98
    • Capital Gains: $3,671.04

Gross Total: $10,704.30

Difference from Last Month: +$3,954.05

This is now my best month of the entire year – all due to the investing wrapping up for the year!  Remember, you can find all of my income reports here.

 

What I Learned

Once again, the biggest thing I learned this month (and this year), is that multiple income streams are the way to go.  I don’t like having all my eggs in one basket.  You never know what could happen.  Yes, some of the income streams above are pretty small – but everything contributes, and you never know what will grow best over time.  While The College Investor and my own investing are what has been driving the business, each site plays a role.  And if something happens to one, I can easily dedicate myself to the others if needed.

I also learned the importance of spending time with family.  This was my son’s first Christmas, and it was so much fun.  That’s why you didn’t see me around as much, but I’m a firm believer that family comes first, and you work to live, don’t live to work.

 

What To Expect This Month

I’m going to be sharing two things with you this month.  First, I’m compiling my annual income report for you, and will also be looking at if I made or missed my goals for 2013.  I think this article will have some great insights, especially for new bloggers and online entrepreneurs.

Second, I’ll be looking at a system I use to repurpose content.  It seems like everyone these days is talking about repurposing content.  But what does it mean, and how can you do it successfully?  After listening to Michael Hyatt’s podcast last week, I wanted to share my thoughts on the subject, and give you a fool-proof way to do it.

Thanks for another great month!  How was December for you?

My Monthly Income Stream Report – December 2013 is a post from: Beat the 9 to 5, your online resource for Entrepreneurship, Solopreneurship, Freelancing, and self-employment.

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Review of CoSchedule – My Favorite WordPress Editorial Calendar http://beatthe9to5.com/review-of-coschedule-my-favorite-wordpress-editorial-calendar/ http://beatthe9to5.com/review-of-coschedule-my-favorite-wordpress-editorial-calendar/#comments Thu, 02 Jan 2014 08:15:00 +0000 http://beatthe9to5.com/?p=2554 Review of CoSchedule – My Favorite WordPress Editorial Calendar is a post from: Beat the 9 to 5, your online resource for Entrepreneurship, Solopreneurship, Freelancing, and self-employment.

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CoSchedule LogoIf you’re blogging or running a business online that relies on content marketing, developing an editorial calendar is key.  We briefly talked about this important topic when Developing a Blog Marketing Plan, but it’s really one to hammer home.

Content serves a purpose – just randomly throwing it out there doesn’t do anyone any good.  Your readers won’t be able to follow you, you won’t get the conversion you want, and your blog or business site will become a garbled mess.

A very simple example is one that I just did this week on The College Investor: I scheduled the article “5 Ways to Learn About Investing in the Stock Market” before my “Investor Challenge” article.  Now, in my Investor Challenge article, I could link back and say “hey, if you want to join and participate as well, look at the 5 ways you can learn to do it”.  Simple, but the order matters.  Would it make as much sense in the reverse?

 

The Editorial Calendar Challenge

I started using an editorial calendar last year and it made my life so much simpler when it came to planning my blog posts.  Here’s how my content strategy works:

  1. I read a magazine, blog, or watch a TV show
  2. I get 1000+ ideas about things to write
  3. I write them all down
  4. I use my editorial calendar to schedule them out in an order that makes sense
  5. I save unused ideas in my drafts

For The College Investor, this actually means that I have 3 articles scheduled out every week until April, and another 76 article ideas in my draft folder.  Overboard?  Possibly.  But you see, January through April is the peak traffic for my site due to tax time, and I wanted to lay out a very specific content strategy during this time – including round-up posts, giveaways, and more.  Timing is crucial, because there are many different stages to tax season and it’s important to be timely and relevant.

 

Did You Notice What Was Missing?

Did you notice what was missing though?  Social media.  It’s one part of the equation that has been challenging to plan out.  Until last month, I literally had a virtual assistant dedicated to scheduling social media posts, and I found it to not be as value-added as it should have been.

Don’t get me wrong, social media is huge, and it’s a huge driver of traffic to my sites.  But needing to have one person doing it?  That’s ridiculous and it’s also a pretty boring job.  Especially when I have a clear system in place for social media.

The only way I could schedule before was with HootSuite.  And don’t get me wrong, HootSuite is great – it’s just that it is another program that you have to use, and it started to become cumbersome when managing five different sites.  My virtual assistant was great about it, but it was challenging none-the-less.

 

CoSchedule – The Missing Link

Now, what if you could combine a basic editorial calendar with a social media platform like HootSuite?  That’s what CoSchedule is, and I’m LOVING IT.

The simplest way to explain CoSchedule is to show you what it is:

CoSchedule Calendar

 

There’s a lot going on there, but let’s break it down.

First, you can schedule your posts in WordPress like any other editorial calendar.  It’s drag and drop, so you can literally pick up a post and move it to a better day.  On the right side (currently out of view), you have all of your drafts, and you can drop them into the schedule as needed as well.

Second, you can also schedule social media posts on your calendar as well!  This is the best part! You can link up your various accounts (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Google+) and you can schedule social media posts across all of your accounts.

It’s not just blog posts that you can schedule – you can schedule any type of message to any account.  Do you like to post questions to Facebook?  You can do that.  Share pictures?  Yup, you can do that too!  Take a look:

Social message

 

Also, say you’re writing an article and think of a great tweet – maybe it’s the sub-heading that you just wrote, or you have a quote from an interview.  Well, you can also schedule social media messages right from your blog posts as well, while you’re still typing:

CoSchedule Review

 

My goal with using this is to have not only my post done, but I can also have all of my social media promotion done in one exercise.  No more writing, then scheduling once live.  You can schedule your social media posts as you do, and have them be incredibly relevant (no more “just title” tweets)!

Finally, if you have multiple writers or a content team, this is the software you need to be using for your editorial calendar.  Not only does it allow different privileges for different levels, you can also send messages to writers, schedule tasks, and more.  This is incredibly helpful if you run a multi-author site.

 

The Pricing

This one blew me away.  How much do you think this costs?  Now remember, HootSuite Pro is $9.99 per month, and hiring a VA is about $250 per month or more.  CoSchedule is only $10 per month per site.

I made the switch, dropped HootSuite Pro (still use the basic version as my Twitter feed), and I am so much more productive when it comes to social media!

 

Final Verdict

If you’re looking for a better way to manage your blog this year, I highly recommend that you check out CoSchedule.  I’m not an affiliate, I just truly believe in the product.  I’ve been using it for about 2 months solid now, so if you have any questions, or are unsure if it’s right for you – leave a comment below and I’ll answer it!

Review of CoSchedule – My Favorite WordPress Editorial Calendar is a post from: Beat the 9 to 5, your online resource for Entrepreneurship, Solopreneurship, Freelancing, and self-employment.

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How To Buy Websites, Monetize Them, and Run Them While Working Full Time http://beatthe9to5.com/how-to-buy-websites-monetize-them-and-run-them-while-working-full-time/ http://beatthe9to5.com/how-to-buy-websites-monetize-them-and-run-them-while-working-full-time/#comments Wed, 11 Dec 2013 08:15:00 +0000 http://beatthe9to5.com/?p=2544 How To Buy Websites, Monetize Them, and Run Them While Working Full Time is a post from: Beat the 9 to 5, your online resource for Entrepreneurship, Solopreneurship, Freelancing, and self-employment.

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buy monetize websitesOwning a website has become a lucrative way for people to make money online.  However, it’s not as simple as just buying a site, throwing up some advertising, and watching the money roll in…  I wish it was.

I’ve bought three websites over the last year, and I’ve learned a few lessons along the way I want to share with you.  If you read my last income report, you’ll noticed that I added another website to my portfolio.

The biggest, and overarching theme of my online website buying strategy is that I view online property similar to how real estate investors view physical property – and you should treat each and every website you own, or want to buy, the same way.

This is a long article, but you can navigate to the sections below if you wish:

 

Different Ways to Look at Online Real Estate

Just like in real life, there are a lot of different ways to look at online real estate.  In real life, you have your home, you could own a multifamily complex, you could buy a condo to rent, or you could even own a huge apartment complex.   Online, you would equate this to your own website, owning a small portfolio of sites, or owning hundreds of different sites.

And just like offline, there are different ways to manage your online real estate – you could go high-end, middle class, or low end.  For example, Chris Guthrie buys more high-end websites, and pays over $10,000 per site.  On the other hand, I buy middle-class websites, and am willing to pay up to $2,000.  If you want to buy low-end websites, check out Flippa.com, where you can find cheap sites for less than $100.

Finally, location matters – just like real life.  Online, your niche makes a huge difference, and your content matters.  Once again, look at the different levels of content and how it might play out offline:

  • High End Content – 1,000 to 2,000 Words – Luxury
  • Middle Class Content – 500 to 1,000 Words – Middle Class
  • Low End Content – Spammy, Less Than 500 Words – Slumlord

Now, just like in real life, all of these strategies can make you money.  The choice is yours about what you want to be.

 

Why Buy a Website vs. Building a Website From Scratch

So, now the question is this: why buy a website and spend $1,000 when you could simply buy a domain and hosting for $50 per year.  The reason?  Time. 

You can start a new website from scratch.  But with every new website, it takes a little bit of time to gain traction, be indexed in search, and gain some type of following.  It also takes time to gain rankings.  If you want to make money with your website you need targeted traffic, or at least 2 of the 3 the following:

  • Page Rank
  • MozRank
  • Domain Authority

If you start a new site, chances are you have no traffic, no page rank, no MozRank, and no Domain Authority.  You can get traffic, MozRank, and Domain Authority, but they all take time.  Even the best web masters I know can’t get all of this quickly.  It takes them several months at best – it took me years.

Let me share with you two stories. The story of Entrepreneurship Life, and the story of Cult of Money.

I started Entrepreneurship Life in October of 2011.  I didn’t make any money on the site until March 2012, when I made $110.  In 2012, I made $3,208.54 on Entrepreneurship Life.  Of that amount, $1,235 was from direct advertising and $1,973.54 came from affiliate earnings.  How did I make that?  Well, in 2012 I had several articles start receiving targeted traffic of about 50-100 visits per day.  And I also got my Page Rank from Google.  Those two in combination helped foster those earnings.  However, it took 15 months to make $3,200 – and a lot of time and effort.

Now, let’s look at Cult of Money.  I bought Cult of Money in June 2013 – a little over six months ago.  I bought the site for $2,400 – the most I’ve paid for any website to date.  In the six months I’ve owned the site, I’ve already made $4,335.30.  That’s a net gain in six months of over $1,900.  The revenue in six months is already higher than the revenue I earned on Entrepreneurship Life in 15 months.  Why the difference?  Well, when I bought Cult of Money, it already had targeted traffic, and it already had a Page Rank, MozRank, and Domain Authority.  The end result?  It was much, much easier to monetize in a much shorter period of time. 

What To Look For When Buying a Website

Now that you know why I like buying websites, you need to look for certain things in buying a website: traffic, Page Rank, MozRank, Domain Authority.

First, traffic.  There is no “right” level of traffic for a website.  Rather, you want targeted traffic.  When I buy a site for traffic reasons, on average the site gets 100 pageviews per day.  But, 1-2 articles typically receive all of those pageviews.  That’s targeted traffic.  The question is, can you monetize that traffic?  If so, the website could be a good buy.

If the site doesn’t have traffic, it can still be valuable for it’s Page Rank, MozRank, or Domain Authority.  Once again, there is no right answer, but I won’t pay over $500 for a Page Rank 1 site and over $1,000 for a Page Rank 2 site.   The reason is direct advertisers don’t like low stat sites.  Unless there is a lot of targeted traffic or something else very compelling, these low metric sites aren’t worth much.  But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy them.  Maybe they have potential.

I bought my last site, Before You Invest, because it had potential.  It is a Page Rank 1 site, but it has potential in terms of targeted traffic and with some consistent posting, it will probably increase in rankings very quickly.  Plus, it fit into my network very well.

So, don’t just dismiss a site because it doesn’t have something.  The question you should ask is how easily can I make up for what it doesn’t have?

 

Where To Find Websites to Buy

So, where have I found my websites to buy?  Well, most of them have just come to me and asked if I was interested.  The biggest thing I can recommend you do is network with other bloggers, because a blogger is more likely to sell directly to another blogger before going to a site like Flippa.  Instead, I’ve found most bloggers simply let their sites die than sell – which is a waste!  Instead, network with bloggers (especially new bloggers), and if you notice that they stop posting, reach out.

Another trick I use, that you can apply across various niches, is to go to List Sites, like Technorati or in the personal finance space, the Wise Bread list.  On these list pages, go to the last page, and start seeing if the bloggers are still active.  Many times, you can find sites with good stats, but haven’t been updated in a year.  When I bought Cult of Money, this is the exact strategy I used.  I sent about 100 emails to different sites, and got responses from about 20.  I was able to buy Cult of Money for a good price from this simple exchange.

 

How To Actually Buy The Website

When it comes time to actually buy the website and transfer it over, this gets tricky.  It’s also the point where I’ve lost several deals, but if the seller doesn’t want to allow me to do due diligence, the deal probably wasn’t worth it anyway.

After making the original offer, I make it contingent on the following things:

  1. Allowing my developer and me access to the site do we can check for malware and other potential technical problems
  2. Proof of traffic stats through Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools (I actually like Webmaster Tools better because it shows the search terms the site ranks for)
  3. A document showing past advertising on the site (this is important to make sure the site wasn’t selling spam links, and if they were, you know where to find them to get rid of them)

Once I’m satisfied, I offer to pay 50% upfront and then 50% upon completion of the move.

Transferring the site can be a hassle, but here is a GoDaddy Tutorial on it.  Don’t forget to take over the social media accounts for the site as well (Facebook, Twitter, Google+).

Finally, once you own the site on your own host, don’t forget to setup a new email address, and use it for all of your social media accounts.  Otherwise, people may be contacting the old owner if you don’t change this.

 

How To Make Money With An Existing Website

So, now that you own the site and have full control, it’s time to start making money.  Here’s where to start:

  1. Change Amazon links over to your username.  The easiest way to do this is to install the Search and Replace plugin, then search for the old owner’s username and replace with your username.
  2. Change over AdSense code.  The same tactic as above applies – simply change their advertiser account number to your account number.
  3. Find existing affiliate programs and change over to your name.  This is tougher, but I always start with the top traffic posts and go from there.

After you change over the existing stuff, it’s time to make money going forward.  A strategy I use is to ping my list of advertisers from my other websites and let them know I have a new site.  Since I’ve been doing this for several years, I have a list of several hundred advertisers.  I simply send them all an email that says “Hey, I have a new site, you interested in advertising on it?”  I typically get a response from a few advertisers immediately and this helps monetize the site very quickly.

 

How Do You Keep Multiple Sites Running

When I first started blogging, having one site was hard enough to run – let alone having multiple sites.  So, what tricks are there for running multiple sites?  Here’s my favorites.

First, hire staff writers.  Remember, these sites are like apartments, they’re not your house (unless you’re buying one to make it your primary site).  As a result, voice doesn’t matter as much.  Remember, I think of this as the difference between blogging and online publishing.  When you buy websites, you’re really getting into the online publishing business – which is all about content creation and advertising.  Whenever I buy a site, I find a staff writer that is willing to contribute weekly content.

I typically always do weekly content, unless the site is becoming successful, then you can up it to 2 or 3 times per week.  Over time I’ve found that once per week is the sweet spot, though, when looking at costs of staff writing versus revenue you can earn.

Second, leverage automation where ever possible.  I’m a big fan of Hootsuite, which has a great tool that can help you automate your social media – you can pull from RSS feeds to send messages.  I’m also currently using a different tool, which I’m going to write a review about next week, and I’m really loving it.

Finally, you can hire a virtual assistant to help you manage the other sites.  If you have a blog marketing plan, you can simply have your virtual assistant  help execute it for you.  Also, a big task of managing staff writers is editing the posts and making them web ready.  If your writers don’t do this for you, you can have your virtual assistant become the editor for you.   You can check out my Virtual Assistant Guide for more tips on how to leverage a virtual assistant to help you manage multiple sites.

 

Remember, These Aren’t Your Main Site

Remember, just like you treat your own home different than you would treat rental properties, you have to realize that you will (and must) treat websites that you buy different from your main blog.

I consider The College Investor my primary business, and I consider this site my personal brand site.  Why?  The College Investor is an online publishing platform (like a magazine), and this site is more personal and focused on my story.

With sites I buy, they are purely for making money.  Now, you still have to carve a niche and market accordingly, but it isn’t personal, and they most likely won’t develop into big brands.  Now, my site Kids Ain’t Cheap is actually starting to become it’s own brand for a variety of reasons, but that’s a different article.

So, now that you know how you can buy websites, monetize them, and run them, are you ready to start buying sites?  Share your thoughts below!

How To Buy Websites, Monetize Them, and Run Them While Working Full Time is a post from: Beat the 9 to 5, your online resource for Entrepreneurship, Solopreneurship, Freelancing, and self-employment.

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