How I Started Making Money Online

So, I’ve followed the realm of “online” work for quite some time now. I just could never find anything to invest in, the right schedule, or the timing to make working from home a possibility. That sounds silly, I know. How could you not make time to work from home? Well, when you’re trying to provide for a family, while going to school, options seem limited. Now that I’ve graduated, and right before our big move, I knew it was a do or die moment for me.

I was either going to work toward the dream I really wanted or I wasn’t. As simple (and complicated) as that. And every tutorial on how to make money online and/or from home will tell you — it takes some hustlin’ on your part.

So, at the beginning of May…I really started hustlin. But what did hustlin’ even look like?

  • I revamped my LinkedIn profile — updating it with info that I thought would help for the jobs I really wanted. Before, I rarely even touched my LinkedIn profile except to add a new job or update my school information. I never shared it with prospective employers/clients unless they specifically requested it because I knew it was neglected. Now, I’m in a few groups, I check out job leads through the search, and can easily share the link with any new clients. It doesn’t take much to get it up and running, and once you do, it’s super easy to upkeep!

    How I Started Making Money Online

  • I found VA/Blogging Facebook Groups and started engaging — I’m an introvert. Even in the interwebs, it’s hard for me to be social. I’m that blog lurker that loves my fav bloggers, but rarely adds a comment. And don’t even get me started on self-promotion. I strive for authenticity, so it’s hard to find a way to promote my work without feeling like a spammy salesman. So, VA/Blogging FB groups are a goldmine for introverts (and extroverts!) because they’re communities that are trying to support each other, share their work, and engage in discussion over anything and everything. **A little side note about these groups: Make sure you know the groups rules. Some groups have a specific thread to share your work, others don’t allow self-promotion, only questions and such. I found my first VA job through a FB group, so they are definitely valuable in my book.
  • I worked (and continue to work) on my design — Design is a HUGE deal in the realm of online entrepreneurship and blogging. There are way too many blogs out there that function well and look great, so your blog design game needs to be strong. And if it’s not strong — you need to research how to make it better or hire someone. This is an active work in progress (literally, I’m searching for tutorials on blog design) for me. My blog still isn’t quite where I want it to be as far as look and functionality, but I continue to work on it. There is a huge, wide array of tutorials across Pinterest and YouTube that you can utilize! Financially, I just can’t swing having somebody else do my design for me right now, and yes, that means more leg work for me. But I also love searching for tutorials and figuring stuff out for myself. So, it’s not bad if you like the work, right?

Working from home has been a goal of mine for several years, and now it’s finally becoming a reality. Soon, I’ll start sharing my income reports so we can watch the growth together!

If you work from home, how did you get started?

Building my Blog – August Ups & Downs

 

AugustBlog

So, last month, I decided to start keeping track of my process from novice, hobby blogger to full-time income blogger. It’s a way to keep myself accountable and hopefully inspire someone else to reach out for the type of life they want to live.

So, here’s my first completed month on this journey (at least in writing about it!)

August Goals:

Buy my domain & host  Yahoo! It’s been a long time coming, but I have now bought my domain (and dearzoeyblog.com as well!) I have been waiting to do this forever, so I have a huge sense of accomplishment. I’m also now hosted through Bluehost.

Figure out and setup Google Analytics. – DONE. Well, the set-up part, anyway. I’m still figuring out the terms and lingo, but this tutorial has helped GREATLY:

Find/create a custom theme. – This one is super overwhelming. I like to be a DIYer, especially with design. I’m just trying to determine if it’s worth my time. I think it will be once I have a totally custom design that really reflects me. I found these two great posts that will hopefully help a lot: Somewhat Simple & Creative Kristi.

Start planning out mine and Zoey’s big project. Funny story! Zo and I recorded a great intro and announcement for our upcoming YouTube channel. It’ll be a channel called Baking with Zo (and me). Well, we recorded this great video, then I plug my (new) phone into my laptop to edit the videos, and it asked me if I wanted to restore my phone to the last backup. Without looking at the date, I say, “Yes.” Well, the backup was from JULY 2ND! So, then I thought, “Oh, well it will surely be on iCloud.” Yep…not there..even though I say to automatically upload to iCloud, but still not there. Ugh. But anyway, we re-recorded the intro and even did our first baking video! I’m learning iMovie, but it’s pretty easy so far. I’m still editing the videos, but I think the more I do it, the better I’ll become (thanks, captain obvious). I’m a total novice at YouTube (Damn you, channel art and never coming out right!!) and baking, and I’m entering my busiest school year, so this should be interesting, but we’re both super excited about it!

Start tracking my hours (when blogging, researching, planning, etc)– To take any guesswork (otherwise known as math..) out of logging my hours, I went with this free time clock. I started logging my hours on Aug 17th and ended on August 31. Total Hours: 14.5 hrs.  Given that E school started for Z, E, and me, with E going leaving to go back to his school, I think that’s pretty impressive.

Work on connecting with other bloggers. – KINDA – This step is a big deal for me. I’m an introvert through and through. I don’t like the aspect of selling myself, and I’ve always thought that it’s a bit disingenuous to “connect with other bloggers.” Because I didn’t want to feel like I was reaching out to other bloggers purely to benefit myself. But I follow a lot of blogs (without actually “following”) and thoroughly enjoy the content, so I made a pact with myself that I would legitimately sign up for any newsletters, actually hit the follow button, and find these blogs on social media. I started commenting, but I would only comment if I felt really compelled to. I’ve started this process and have connected to a few Facebook groups of bloggers (two are in my city!)

Other stuff I did:
-Separated all of my personal social media from my blog social media. – Not sure how I feel about this one yet. I’m trying to find the best way to be able to post to my personal stuff as well as my professional stuff without constantly having to sign out and such. Pinterest and Instagram have me most frustrated at this point. I’m checking out Buffer and Hootsuite and I’ve also heard of TailWind for Pinterest. I’ll keep you updated on that one!

-Signed up for Adsense, Shareasale, Amazon Associates…doing more research and trying to figure out this whole affiliate thing. Another overwhelming aspect of trying to blog for a living. I JUST WANT TO WRITE DAMMIT!

-Started working on an editorial calendar.

Goals for September:

Really get the whole affiliate marketing thing up and running. Which will inevitably mean going back through old posts and adding affiliate links. Such is life.

-Update some graphics from older posts (particularly the ones that don’t have my new domain name on them).

-Get 50 new followers

-Really focus on my content. None of this will work if my content is shit.

-Have a new blog post up at least 3 times/week.

-Find at least 3-5 new blogs to follow and comment on their work.

-Get a custom theme up.

-Fit ads on my page so that they’re not intrusive or ugly.

 

Overall, this has been a really rewarding month. While I’m nowhere near close to being able to support myself and family with blogging, I see it in my future, and I’m excited for the opportunities that can come from working for myself.

Just keep on keepin’ on.

3.5 Ways to Plan a Disney World Vacation

I have total Disney fever. Ever since we went on Z’s first trip to Disney World for her birthday, I have been planning to go back. I have gained a ton of knowledge about different ins and outs of planning a DW vacation, and figured it was time to share it! Planning a DW vacation can be extremely overwhelming, but it is not impossible. Here’s a few ways you can plan:

3.5 Ways to Plan a Disney World Vacation

  • Plan the conventional way. You can go through a a Disney travel planner (Small World Vacations is fantastic! We had Beth as our planner) or through Disney World’s website. This way you will stay on Disney property, be able to choose to have a dining plan (or not), and have access to things like Extra Magic Hours, Advance Dining Reservations (you can make them 6 months in advance), and Disney transportation. I really like going this route because I love for my vacations to feel all-inclusive. However, if you’re on a tight budget and don’t want to build up a savings for it (which is what I had to do), this won’t be the most cost-effective way to do it. However, you can put a $200 deposit down on it (the minimum required) and then just pay throughout the year up to 45 days before your vacation, which is when it must be paid in full.
  • Rent through a DVC rental site. This is a great way to get villas and high-priced rooms on Disney property at nearly half the price (sometimes even more). DVC stands for Disney Vacation Club. It’s basically a time-share type opportunity for members who can afford that sort of thing. DVC members will then rent their rooms out during the year at various rates (depending on season). They use a point system, and the DVC Rental Store offers a great point calculator which helps see how much it will cost for the time you’re wanting to visit. Another awesome part is you can still get all the benefits of staying on Disney property: Extra Magic Hours, ADRs, Dining Plan, and Disney transportation. If you decide to go this route, I suggest you go through the aforementioned DVC Rental Store. They are the only site I’ve found that doesn’t charge you for checking availability. Every other site I’ve seen charges up to $98 just to check availability (Crazy, I know…) Once they check availability, they have a representative contact you with cost, deposit requirements, and availability. The deposit is higher for these rentals (usually 50% of the total cost of the room), but again, you can usually get into great hotels like the Contemporary, Polynesian, Animal Kingdom Villas, and The Grand Floridian for HALF the price you would pay if booking the “conventional” way.
  • Rent a hotel/vacation rental off property. So, I’ve gotten to Disney World 3 times in my life. Twice I stayed on property, and once I stayed off in a rented condo. And it was great. The perks of staying off property are price (of course), you usually get a full kitchen so you can prepare your own food, and they are more spacious. You can also find Disney/Universal themed vacation rentals, which is the best of both worlds! Not having to pay the Disney price tag, but still getting some of the magic. This also gives you the opportunity to split costs with vacation buddies or another family, making it even cheaper. And while you don’t have access to the perks of staying on property, the amount of money you can save could be well worth it. Here’s a few links to get you started: Story Time Orlando RentalAll Star Vacation HomesVRBOMagical MemoriesLuxury Disney Vacation Homes.
  • And here’s .5, Shades of GreenThe reason I consider this a “.5” is because Shades of Green is only available to Active Duty Military, Military Retirees, and some DoD employees. They offer standard rooms and suites at very reasonable rates, and even can get you discounted theme park tickets. I’m still unsure if you can get the dining plan when staying here, Anyone know the answer to that? I’ll update when I confirm. Also, here’s the eligibility requirements. You will have to provide proof of your (or your spouses/relatives) service.

There are a TON of resources out there to help you plan your vacation. Even if you save change for 6 years before you go, it’s something that, for my family at least, was so worth it. Anyone have any other ways to planning a great Disney vacation?