5 Key Ingredients To Starting A Successful Blog For Your Business

Having a simple 5-page static website for your business is no longer good enough. Chances are you won’t be reaching people searching for the products and/or services you offer. If you do, it’ll be by sheer luck that a visitor happened to come across your website.

This is a horrible online marketing strategy. You’re leaving a good chunk of your marketing to luck. Why would you gamble with your company’s future like that?

There is a very easy answer that too many businesses simply overlook. Blogging is one of the best ways to increase your website’s search engine visibility, increase visitor engagement and show potential customers you’re an expert in your field.

How To Start An Effective Blog

1. Post to your blog regularly. Posting whenever you feel like it isn’t enough. You need to stick to a regular schedule. At the minimum, you should be posting fresh content once a week. This will show visitors you are active in your respective industry and that you’re dedicated to your business.

2. Write posts with your reader in mind. This means keeping paragraphs short, using headlines, sub-headings and lists. Most visitors only scan web content to find something that interests them. Making finding that interesting piece of information on your blog as easy as possible.

3. Don’t populate your posts with affiliate links, shameless plugs and other marketing gimmicks. People are coming to your site to learn something. Nothing will turn them off faster than if every post is nothing more than a sales pitch.

That said, it’s okay to place a call to action at the end of your posts. There just needs to be substance to what the visitor is reading.

4. Be engaging. Leave your blog posts open to comments. And if someone leaves a comment, by all means, reply (just be careful to avoid flame wars if someone leaves a negative comment). Ask your readers questions. Invite them to share their own wisdom.

5. Don’t get discouraged. It takes time for a blog to really take off and draw in a healthy readership. As long as you’re posting quality content, you’ll see a rise in the number of visitors to your website. The key is consistency.

My Own Blogging Experience

I began blogging in December of 2006, with a little blog called Brad’s Reader. It’s gone through several makeovers, including different subjects to focus on. I started writing about literature and writing, which morphed into ebooks and self-publishing and then it became kind of a catch-all for anything I found interesting.

At its peak, Brad’s Reader was averaging about 10,000 unique visitors per month. Not huge, but still a very respectable readership. My affiliate networks (mainly Google Adsense and Amazon) did very well.

My biggest blogging mistake: I was too broad in my niche. I should’ve kept my focus on a smaller subject, like blogging just about ebooks (for example).

I can’t think of any business that wouldn’t benefit in some way from a blog. You’ll see a rise in visitors to your website, you’ll establish yourself as an authority and you’ll be able to generate buzz on social media networks that will increase your exposure even more.

 

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Authors: 4 Reasons Why Customers Aren’t Buying Your Book

I’m not just a writer, but I’m also an avid reader. It’s safe to say most of my money goes to buying books. Recently, I began thinking about why I decide to buy the books I do. What catches my attention first? What puts me over the edge to click the BUY button?

I just pick one out of the pile and hope for the best.

So on my latest book buying binge (I joined Amazon Unlimited so I’m not breaking the bank anymore), I took note about what goes into my own buying decisions. (Note: I only did this experiment on Amazon.com.)

How does this help you? If you’re a writer, take note of these factors. More importantly, take note of the order they go in. I discovered there is a definite progression in what I look at when browsing books and deciding to buy.

1. Cover/Title: Both are equally important and go hand-in-hand. An uninteresting title can turn a reader off to a book just as easily as a cover can. However, I found that if a title does pique my interest, I’ll still click on the book regardless of what the cover looks like. But more often than not, aside from a good title, the book cover also had to grab my attention.

2. Book Description: Immediately after clicking on a book link I read the description. Any description that is too flowery, “mysterious,” or tries to be clever always turns me off. On the other hand, descriptions that are straightforward and get my imagination going usually have the most success. I just want to know what the damned book is about!

3. Reviews: I can’t think of buying any book without at least browsing the reviews. That said, a book doesn’t need a perfect five stars for me to buy. I’ve bought books with three stars. The more reviews a book has, the more weight I give the average number of stars.

Don’t be afraid of getting bad reviews because they won’t necessarily kill your book sales. In fact, if a book has all five star reviews, I start to get a little suspicious about the integrity of those reviews.

4. Price: This is the last thing I notice. Anything over $9.99 is off the table unless I’m really interested in the book and think it’s a “must have.” Ever since buying my Kindle in 2011, my price threshold has decreased. Most books I buy are under $5.

Then again, I since I joined Amazon Unlimited, price has no bearing on my buying decisions since I pay a flat $9.99/month. Hint: make sure your book is available in the Kindles Unlimited program! You still get paid as long as 10% or more of you book is read.

Final Thoughts On Book Buying Decisions

The evidence here is just my experience, so it’s very anecdotal. That said, it is pretty well known that a book cover (for example) can really make a big difference in book sales. Hopefully my own thought process that goes into purchasing a book is similar to most Amazon customers.

Use this as a sort of roadmap when getting your book ready to publish. I’d say if you want people to at least click on your book, make sure your title and cover are the best they can be. Then go from there.

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Does An Author Need An Ego To Be Successful?

If you want to be an author, especially a self-published one, you have to be able to promote yourself. There’s really no way around this if you expect to sell any books. But self promotion involves something that many authors cringe at: having an ego.

I don’t mean have an ego like Donald Trump (for example) does, where he thinks he’s God’s gift to the world. No. I’m talking about being confident with your own writing and being able to sell yourself to new readers on a consistent basis.

The Writer-Ego Paradox

By it’s very nature, writing is a solitary endeavor. We sit at our keyboards alone while we pound out sentence after sentence of a work created in our imaginations. There’s no one watching us. No crowds cheering as we write the last sentence of our latest novel. A lot of writers, including myself, don’t even like people around during the writing process.

At the same time, an author just starting out who has no name recognition, must be able to get in front of people (in real life and/or online) and say, “Hey, I wrote this book. You should read it!” While many see this as mere self-promotion, it feels like having an inflated ego. I think that this feeling of having an inflated ego holds a lot of promising authors back because they’re scared of turning people off.

Self-Promotion vs. Ego

I think the two terms have a lot of overlap and there is no distinct line of when self-promotion turns into a big ego (the key word here is “big”). The good new is this: because of that overlap, you have some flexibility. This means that if you’re a shy person, you can probably go well out of your comfort zone to promote yourself and still not have people thinking, “Damn! His ego is bigger than Donald Trump’s.”

What exactly does it mean to promote yourself? Here are a few items that come to mind:

  1. Be active on social media and promote your book/s. *
  2. Never be afraid to tell someone you’re an author.
  3. Keep your name out there with new books, a good blog, commenting on other blogs, etc.
  4. Network with other authors and be a useful resource for them.
  5. Brand yourself in your genre or specialty.

* Be extremely careful promoting your work on social media. On Twitter, for example, only about 1 out of 10 tweets should be of a promotional nature. Be equally cautious on other platforms. Spend most of your time on social media engaging with others and sharing ideas. Others should see you as a relatable human, not a marketing gimmick.

In Social Media, You Reap What You Sow

Imagine this: you’re following someone on Twitter and all they do is talk about themselves, constantly link to their own books and ignore everyone else. Chances are you won’t be following them for very long, right?

But if you’re following someone who is engaged with others, offers insight, promotes other people’s books (if you like a book you just read, give it a shout out on Twitter!) and generally adds a lot to the community – you’re going to keep following that person and maybe even buy one of their books. And if you’re an author, and this person is promoting your book, chances are you’ll reciprocate the favor.

I think the key to good self-promotion is twofold: be human and be engaging. People like others who are relatable. If you do this, then promoting your work to others will be a lot less “This guy has a big ego” and more of “I like this guy, I’m gonna check out some of his books!” Okay, maybe it’s not that cut-and-dry, but you see my point.

It’s worth noting that as an author, writing your book is only part of your job. The other part is promoting that book. And to do so you might have to step outside of your comfort zone.

We All Have An Ego

Yes, everyone has an ego to a certain extent. So an ego isn’t some nasty thing we should all avoid. It’s part of human nature. No author, at least starting out, can just sit back and watch his/her books fly off the shelf. Your ego is what will allow you to tell people you wrote something worth reading.

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These 5 Writing Tools Will Help You Survive NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) starts on November 1. Are you ready to write an entire novel in one month? If not, I’ve listed a few tools below that might help make this writing marathon a little less stressful.

Scrivener

Scrivener is a powerhouse and no list of writing tools would be complete without it. It’s more than just a word processor because you can literally use it to write all your drafts and then format the final draft into an ebook. From start to finish, Scrivener has it all.

Pros

  • You can create multiple drafts, organize folders and research in any way you want.
  • Has pre-made templates for novels, short stories, essays, etc.
  • Allows you to easily format your novel for Amazon Kindle, Smashwords and most other popular ebook formats.
  • Lets you set project target goals. Want to write 2,000 words/day, Scrivener will help you. This is why it’s such a great tool for NaNoWriMo.

Cons

  • Scrivener has so many features that it’s overwhelming at first. Definitely a learning curve.
  • Distracting. It’s easy to spend more time playing around with folders and other features you spend less time actually writing (this happens to me a lot).
  • Designed mostly for Mac users. I’ve heard the Windows version doesn’t have all the features the Mac version does.

Google Docs

Google docs is another word processor that let’s your writing live in the cloud. A lot of companies and organizations use it because it makes sharing documents a breeze. But even writers participating in NaNoWriMo can benefit from using Google docs. Here’s the rundown:

Pros

  • A full-featured word processor
  • Your draft can be edited anywhere you have an internet connection.
  • You can share drafts with others for editing.
  • Very user-friendly. Almost no learning curve.

Cons

  • Required to set up a Gmail account. Many worry about Google’s privacy policy.
  • Internet access required. If you can’t get online, you can’t access your draft.

I’ve used Google docs for everything from fiction projects to school papers. It never failed me and I loved the convenience of using any computer with an internet connection to access my work. Highly recommended.

Microsoft Word

Every writer is familiar with Word. It’s the industry-standard word processor. So it doesn’t need much of an introduction. But here a few observations anyway.

Pros

  • Reliable word processor for distraction-free writing (if you use it for writing-only)
  • Still has quite a few features for writers who need something more advanced.
  • Spell check and grammar check are surprisingly accurate (still, don’t rely on them 100%).
  • Easily available for PCs and Macs.

Cons

  • Might be too basic, especially if you do a lot of research for your writing.
  • Word can format your novel into an ebook, but it’s not nearly as easy as Scrivener makes it.
  • File sizes. A lot of meta information is also saved along with your document. This makes your Word file unnecessarily large.

Evernote

While Evernote isn’t a word processor (though it can easily be used as one), it’s still a tool I use daily. I use it to organize everything from writing drafts, ideas, article clips from websites, and more.

Pros

  • Easy to use. Create a notebook and start adding notes. That’s it! You can also add tags to each note for easy searching.
  • Available as an app across multiple devices. I have the Evernote app on my Mac, iPhone, Kindle Fire and iPad. Plus you can access your account online using any computer.
  • Once a note is synced, it can be accessed/edited from anywhere.

Cons

  • Evernote has been criticized for their TOS and privacy policy.
  • As with anything being stored “in the cloud,” your Evernote account is a possible target for nefarious hackers. Change your password often.

I really can’t think of any other cons. Evernote has always been a great tool for me and hasn’t let me down yet. If you need a place to organize all the different digital “scraps” in your life, then I highly recommend Evernote.

Dropbox

Backing up your writing is not optional. If something were to happen to your computer and you didn’t have a backup, all that time you spent during NaNoWriMo would be a waste. Dropbox offers one of the easiest ways to backup your work without using USB sticks.

Pros

  • You can literally drag-and-drop your document file into your Dropbox folder, where it is immediately stored in the cloud.
  • Dropbox gives you 2GB of storage for free. That’s plenty of storage for several drafts.
  • You can share files with others.

Cons

  • Anything in the cloud is a target for hackers. Dropbox has had recent security problems.
  • If you plan on storing more than just your writing in your Dropbox account (pictures, videos, etc), you’ll need to upgrade to a paid account – starting at $9.99/month.

I personally use Dropbox to share pictures between my iPhone and computer. Most of my documents are backed up using Google Drive.

 

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Review: ‘The Martian’ by Andy Weir

Very rarely do I come across a book that excites me as much as The Martian does. It’s even more rare that I enjoy books that relies heavily on alternate narrative style. In this case, much of the novel is written as journal entries by the main character, Mark Watney. But author Andy Weir really blew this one out of the park.

The concept behind The Martian is simple: a deadly sandstorm forces the Mars crew to abandon the first manned mission to the red planet only a few days after landing. Watney is injured during the sandstorm, and the crew thinks he’s dead, so they leave him behind.

What follows is an amazing story that is told by Watney himself via journal entries. His style is witty, funny and very easy to follow. I also loved how he solved complex problems. He reminded me of Macgyver because he was able to sustain himself with the little supplies he had by jerry rigging some interesting machinery together. The original mission was supposed to last a month, so he had to figure out ways to increase his food supplies for well over a year. Watney’s solution is genius.

The book also breaks away from Watney’s journal entries and heads back to earth to show how the good folks at NASA are trying to bring Watney home and the challenges associated with it. If you’ve ever seen the movie Apollo 13, then you’ll get an idea of what the agency is up against – only multiplied by 100.

I’m not going to go into anymore detail lest I ruin the book. I will only add that I was satisfied with the ending and it’s left wide open for a sequel (Mr. Weir, please!). I’m a stickler for book endings, so when one leaves me satisfied, you know it’s good.

I have to give this book FIVE STARS. It’s thoroughly engrossing and a great story. I highly recommend reading ‘The Martian.’ You won’t regret it.

Disclaimer: I paid the listed Amazon price for this ebook. The Amazon link in this post is not an affiliate link. 

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Why Aren’t Your Twitter Followers Clicking On Your Links?

One thing I noticed since joining Twitter is that it’s extremely hard to get people to click on links within tweets. I track my links very carefully by using bit.ly and Google Analytics to view the performance of everything I post. Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for ALL my followers on Twitter. So I’m not dissing anyone here.

Twitter Statistics On Clicks and Retweets

In fact, I’m not the only one who has noticed how hard it is to get Twitter users to click on links. A study done by HubSpot confirmed that people will retweet you without even clicking on your links. I’ve made it a personal rule to never retweet anything without clicking the link and reading the content.

The study, conducted by Dan Zarella, found there is no correlation between the number of retweets and the number of clicks. He found 14.64% of retweeted tweets had 0 clicks and 16.12% had more retweets than clicks.

5 Tips For Better Twitter Engagement

I’m not a Twitter expert. As of this writing I have less than 1,000 followers.  The guy who delivers my morning paper probably has more followers than I do. But I have learned a lot over the last few years on what works and what doesn’t. Here are a few tips that have worked for me to get more clicks (and engagement):

1. It’s called social media for a reason. Be social. Reply to tweets, retweet ones you find interesting (don’t forget to click the link if there is one!). Engage others.

2. Don’t promote yourself and/or your business too much. A good number is about 1 in 10 tweets can be promotional. Much more than that and you’ll start turning people off. Remember, you should be on Twitter to interact with others, not just promote yourself.

3. Experiment with different headlines and “hooks” if you’re promoting a blog post or other material. You need to get creative and make your tweet stand out. If I’m following 500 other users, that’s a lot of tweets in my feed. Make yours different so I notice it.

4. Use short links in your tweets. I use bit.ly because it gives me stats on each link. But there are a ton of other link shorteners out there that are just as good. Long links take up valuable characters and just look bad. Don’t clutter your tweets with useless characters.

5. Share interesting and unique content. This means giving your followers something valuable in each tweet. If they know you consistently link to good content, then they will probably click on your links and share your content with others.

Like I said, I’m not a Twitter expert. I have been more active on Twitter this year than most years in the past, which has really improved my follower numbers. I’m slowly building a follower base.

The 5 tips I’ve listed above do work if applied consistently. I’m doing this and seeing good results. So if I can do it, pretty much anyone can.

 

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Review: ‘Escape From Camp 14’ by Blaine Harden

If you think your life is tough here in America, you’ll want to keep reading because I guarantee it’s not so bad here. Better yet, read the book ‘Escape From Camp 14’ and you’ll better appreciate your life.

This book tells the story of Shin Dong-hyuk, a young man who was born in a North Korean labor camp. He knew nothing of the outside world except the little bits and pieces (mostly lies) his teachers/guards told him. His schooling consisted of learning just enough to be barely literate. A lot of his time at school was spent with his classmates doing hard labor. And this was when he was barely a teenager.

The Dirty Details of Notorious Camp 14

The author, Blaine Harden, doesn’t sugarcoat anything Shin told him during the countless interviews he gave while Harden was doing research for this book. It quickly becomes obvious that Harden spent a lot of time winning Shin’s trust, considering Shin spent all of his formative years in a place where snitching on friends and family was not just a normal part of life, but encouraged by the guards.

Some of the horrific parts of the book that are burned in my mind include:

  1. Watching the teacher in school beat a girl to death because she had a few grains of rice in her pocket.
  2. Watching the execution of his mother and brother, as a direct result of Shin snitching on them.
  3. Horrible months of brutal torture after he told a guard about the escape plan his mother and brother were hatching.
  4. Eating insects and rats around the camp just to stay alive because the extraordinarily small rations given to prisoners were hardly enough to sustain life.
  5. Little to no access to health care. Salt was literally rubbed into a wound as a disinfectant. Amputations were done with no anesthetic. Forget about antibiotics.

I could go on and list more, but I don’t want to take away from too much of the book. Harden goes into the gruesome details by using a chronological narrative of Shins life.

An Impossible Escape

It shouldn’t be a spoiler that Shin escapes from Camp 14 (given the title and the fact Shin was in the US being interviewed for this book). Escape from a “total control” prison like Camp 14 was virtually unheard of. Even someone with a good knowledge of the world outside the camp would have slim odds of making it. And for someone like Shin, who spent his entire life, from the moment of birth, in Camp 14, escape seemed like a pipe dream.

But a combination of a lot of luck, Shin’s determination to be free and his common sense approach to dealing with the world outside the electrified fence, all worked in his favor. He knew he’d have the best chance to make it through the fence (which was designed to kill those who touched it) while they were working close to the fence on a work detail. While he and his co-conspirator were running towards the fence, Shin tripped and fell, which probably saved his life (read the book to find out how).

Shin managed to make his way into China, then to South Korea and eventually the United States. Even after he crossed the border into China, he still wasn’t safe because Chinese authorities will deport all North Korean defectors they catch.

Conclusion

Harden does a great job weaving Shin’s story into the greater story of North Korea, its history and how the average citizen lives in the most closed-off nation on earth. I read this book in about 3-4 days because I simply had to find out what happened next. The author’s writing is direct and to-the-point. A reporter by trade, Harden doesn’t use flowery language to tell the story.

I absolutely recommend this book! You’ll have a much greater knowledge about North Korea, plus you’ll really start to appreciate your life in a free society.

Disclaimer: I paid the listed Amazon price for this ebook. The Amazon link in this post is not an affiliate link. 

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Apple Might Pay Consumers Up To $400 Million In Ebook Antitrust Case

I just received an email regarding the class action lawsuit against Apple for violating anti-trust laws. This means, in the near future, me and others affected by Apple’s nefarious ebook pricing strategy might get a few bucks as compensation. Yay! The email said, in part:

Records indicate that you could be affected by two lawsuits against Apple Inc. (“Apple”) about the price of electronic books (“E-books”). The Court ordered this notice and decided that these cases should proceed on behalf of two groups of people that could include you. The case is scheduled to go to trial to determine if Apple must pay any money.

What the Apple Settlement Provides

The Apple Settlement provides for three possible outcomes, depending on the decision of an appeal of the Court’s July 10, 2013 finding that Apple violated the antitrust laws (“Liability Finding”). First, if the Court’s Liability Finding is upheld, Apple will pay $400 million to Eligible Consumers. Second, if the Liability Finding is sent back to the District Court for further consideration of whether Apple violated the antitrust laws, Apple will pay $50 million to Eligible Consumers. Third, if the Liability Finding is reversed, Apple will make no payments.

If Apple is required to pay Eligible Consumers under either of the first two options and if the Court approves the Apple Settlement, you will receive a credit to your iTunes account that may need to be activated. The amount of your payment, if any, will be determined based on the qualifying E-book purchases identified by Apple in your iTunes account.

The email goes on to give details about receiving benefits under the terms of the settlement and other legal jargon.

Background of Apple’s Antitrust Case

Basically, Apple and publishers met, in secret, to discuss ways to thwart Amazon’s low ebook price point. They came up with a scheme to force Amazon to sell most bestsellers at either $12.99 or $14.99.

After the plans became clear, an uproar ensued and  the Attorneys General from 16 states filed suit.

Three publishers decided to settle: Hachette Book Group, Simon and Schuster inc, and HarperCollins Publishers LLC.

You can read all the details of the case in this Wall Street Journal article.

 

 

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Review: ‘Fool For Love: F. Scott Fitzgerald’ by Scott Donaldson

I’ve been a fan of F. Scott Fitzgerald ever since I read The Great Gatsby back in high school. Between his writing style, subject matter and interesting life, I always read everything I can about him. So I was pretty excited when I stumbled across Fool For Love.

This isn’t a biography in the traditional sense. It doesn’t give a chronological account of his life from birth to death. Rather, this book focuses on a few parts of Fitzgerald’s life and then goes into great detail about those parts. The big focus here, as the title suggests, is how love played such a huge role in both his life and writing.

Love

Fitzgerald had a penchant for women, especially women that came from wealth. He sought and needed their approval to keep his self-esteem at a healthy level. On top of this, he also aspired to be part of a higher social class (the same class he often criticized), escaping his modest middle-class childhood. The idea of how money affects the concept of love, and how Fitzgerald views women, is a major theme that runs through much of his work.

Given the book’s title, a considerable portion of the book talks about Fitzgerald and love in one way or another. It’s the common thread that binds everything else together.

Alcoholism

Another part of Fitzgerald’s life this book focuses on is probably the most tragic: alcohol. In the end, it’s his alcoholism that kills him at the age of 44. I wrote in a previous post, 5 Reasons Why Many Writers Drink, the relationship between writers, creativity and alcohol, so I’m not going to go into much detail here.

This book details not only the consequences of alcohol on Fitzgerald’s health, but also how it affected his social status among friends and fellow writers. I found it amazing that he had any friends at all by the time he died given his horribly offensive behavior when drunk – which was a lot. Both he and his wife Zelda fed of each other’s alcohol-induced immaturity and, to put it bluntly, made asses of themselves in front of others.

Other Psychological Issues

The book also touches on Fitzgerald’s personality, which is characterized as one who seeks out a lot of drama. He not only sought out drama, but was the cause of a lot of it. While the book doesn’t claim to make a psychological diagnoses, it does suggest Fitzgerald could’ve suffered from histrionic personality disorder.

I was able to appreciate this limited psychological analysis of Fitzgerald, even with a basic understanding of psychology. One cannot deny that he had problems; severe depression being among them. He used alcohol not only to party, but to self-medicate with as well. His life seemed to be a never-ending cycle of alcohol, depression and tragedy.

Conclusion

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book and have no problems recommending it to anyone who is interested in Fitzgerald’s life. Like I said in the beginning, this isn’t a traditional biography. It jumps around a lot. If you keep this in mind, I don’t think it’ll disappoint.

NOTE: The only problem I had is that it’s filled with typos, no doubt a result of lazy ebook formatting and editing on the part of the publisher. Words are misspelled in ways I didn’t even know were possible.

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5 Tips To Help You Save For Retirement As a Freelancer

Being a freelancer means you get cool benefits like setting your own hours and working in your pajamas. Those poor chumps who work for a company (AKA “The Man”) get no such luxuries.

The one thing freelance workers don’t get that their corporate counterparts do is a retirement plan. You do want to eventually retire and enjoy the fruits of your labor, right? Do you really want to be writing marketing copy or designing websites when you’re 85? I doubt it.

Here are some steps you can take to ensure you can live comfortably long after you stop working.

1. Plan Your Budget

Before you can start putting money away for the future, you need to know where your money is going now. Set up a budget so you know exactly where your money is coming from and where it’s going.

A general rule of thumb is about 10-15% of your income should go to your retirement account. You don’t want to go broke saving for retirement, but you do want to put enough away that you’ll have enough to live on in your golden years.

It’s also advisable to talk to a certified financial planner. They’re invaluable in helping people manage their money wisely. They can help you determine how much you should be setting aside each month and how much risk you can take on. I also highly recommend a good accountant, who can help you sort out the various tax issues you’ll face as a freelancer and setting up a retirement account.

2. Set Up Your Retirement Account

If you work for “The Man” you will usually have help from your company in getting this set up.

There are a lot of financial instruments available: IRAs, 401(k), SEP IRA, etc. I’m not going to go into detail about these because it can get real complicated real fast. Again, a financial planner will help steer you in the right direction.

You can set up your account easily on one of several investing websites, such as Scottrade, Options Express, Charles Schwab, etc (I have no affiliation with any of those companies).

3. Make Saving Money A Habit

This ties in to creating a budget. Get in the habit of depositing money into your retirement account every single month. Consistency will go much further than depositing a lot on month, than nothing the next.

4. Consider Additional Investments & Diversify

Even with a retirement account, you can still invest a portion of your money. There’s everything from stocks to mutual funds. Learn about the market before you do this. And most importantly: stay on top of your investments (or have someone who is qualified do it for you).

Diversify your portfolio with investments in different industries, and include a certain amount of cash as well. If you’re doing it right, you’ll see your money grow over time (there will be dips and spikes along the way).

Why make additional investments? You can access this money before retirement if you need too. You can think of it as a “rainy day fund.” Keep in mind, however, that you’ll be paying taxes on money you withdraw from your investment account.

5. Buy Life Insurance

This is an important, but often overlooked, part of planning for the future. If you have a family, having life insurance is even more important.

Why? If, heaven forbid, something happens to you, life insurance will help your family pay off expenses (ie. funeral, debts, etc). The cost of a funeral alone can put many families in the hole.

There are tons of life insurance companies out there, each with their own pros and cons. Shop around and get the advice of a professional. Life insurance is one of those things where the amount you need depends on a lot of factors (lifestyle, expenses, income, future worth).

Being A Freelancer Is No Excuse For Not Planning Ahead

I understand that freelancers are a busy bunch. We are responsible for just about every aspect of our business. There’s also the actual work you do, which can be incredibly time consuming.

Part of your job as a freelancer should be planning for the future. You need that safety net. And since you don’t have an employer matching your contributions to your retirement account, it’s even more important to stay on top of it and get your financial affairs organized.

Have more tips for saving for retirement? Feel free to comment below.

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