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  • How to Budget With an Irregular Income

     

    When I first started budgeting, I had a regular full-time job and knew exactly how much would be on each paycheck. I loved the sense of control that came with it. I knew exactly how much I made and how much I spent. 

    But within a few years, things looked very different. I had started freelancing, which brought in an inconsistent income. Then I met and married my current husband, who had an irregular income that relied heavily on tips.

    Not long after that, I quit my job to run my business full-time. Now my income is more irregular than ever, and there are no guarantees like there were in my government job. 

    Over the past few years, I’ve learned how much more challenging it can be to budget when you have an inconsistent income. 

    If you’re dealing with income that doesn’t look the same from one month to the next, I know these tips will help you too!

     

    How to Budget With an Irregular Income

     

    Determine your bare minimum budget

    The first step to budgeting with an irregular income is to figure out your bare minimum budget. In other words, how much money do you actually need to live on each month?

    This number should include necessary expenses such as rent, loan payments, insurance, utilities, groceries, etc. 

    Your bare minimum budget shouldn’t include discretionary spending such as excessive eating out, travel, or entertainment. 

    What good is knowing this number?

    First, it’ll give you an idea as to whether you actually make enough money. If your irregular income doesn’t allow you to pay all of your bills, it’s time to figure out how to make more money. 

    Your bare minimum budget also gives you an idea of how much you should have in savings. In other words, how much do you need to have set aside in case you stop earning income. 

    Finally, your bare minimum budget tells you when (and how much) you can spend on discretionary expenses. If you have $2,000 per month in expenses and make $3,000 per month, you know you can probably afford to spend some money on fun.

     

    Give yourself regular paychecks

    I like the idea of taking away some of the irregularity of an inconsistent income by giving yourself regular paychecks. 

    So how does that actually work?

    Let’s say you are a freelancer who makes anywhere between $3,000 and $6,000 per month after taxes, depending on the season. That money goes into your business checking account. Your monthly expenses are about $3,000. 

    Rather than transferring all of the money from your business checking to your personal checking each month, give yourself a monthly paycheck of $3,000. 

    By doing this, you are no longer budgeting on an irregular income. You know exactly how much will be hitting your bank account each month. You’re also able to start building a bit of a buffer in the months you make more than $3,000.

    If you have a variable income but don’t have a business account, open a checking or savings account to deposit your income into that is separate from the one you use to pay your bills. 

     

    Move excess money into a savings account

    So if you’re making between $3,000 and $6,000 per month and only paying yourself $3,000 per month, you’re going to have some money left over. 

    In the months where you make more than $3,000, set that money aside into a separate savings account. Then, if there’s ever a month where you don’t make $3,000, you can supplement your income to still give yourself that $3,000 paycheck.

    Another nice thing about this savings strategy is that once you have enough set aside that you feel comfortable you’ll be able to cover any low-income months, you can start using that money for other things! You can put it toward debt or use it to save for other financial goals.

     

    Live on last month’s income

    One of the best pieces of advice I can give to anyone with an irregular income is to live on last month’s income. Actually, this is great advice for anyone regardless of if you have a regular income or not! 

    So how does this actually work?

    Most people living on the income they earn each month. So the paychecks they get in September are what they use to pay September’s bills. 

    But for someone who doesn’t know exactly how much they’ll earn this month, this type of budgeting is a bit of a gamble. 

    Instead, I like to always budget ahead. So the money that goes into my bank account in September doesn’t get transferred to my personal checking as my “paycheck” until the following month. 

    That way, before October hits, I know exactly how much money I have available. 

     

    When necessary, dip into your savings account to supplement your income

    One of the downsides of variable income is that some months your pay is a lot lower than others. In the time I’ve been freelancing, I’ve learned that my income can vary drastically. 

    In a perfect world, I would make at least enough each month to cover my bare minimum budget. But just in case that doesn’t happen, I want to be prepared. During those months where your income is lower than normal, you can dip into your savings account (the one you funded with your excess income) to help pay your bills. 

     

    Have a large emergency fund

    Separate from your buffer account, you should also have a hefty emergency fund. 3-6 months is a good size savings account, but I think closer to 9-12 months is ideal for someone who is self-employed.

    That buffer account is to help pay the bills during any months where you earn less than normal. But the emergency fund is to help with any crazy expenses (like home repairs that cost thousands of dollars). More importantly, your emergency fund is there to replace your income in the event that you lose your job. 

     

    Keep ideas on-hand to increase your income

    One thing I’ve learned since becoming self-employed is that I have to be prepared to increase my income at any time. 

    You never know when you might lose a freelance client or when a client might start sending you less work. And if that happens, I have to be prepared to immediately replace that income.

    The same goes for other types of workers with irregular income. In 2020, the foodservice industry is taking a huge hit. Even as restaurants re-open, fewer people are going out to eat. This means fewer tips for those employees. That’s a situation in which you might want to have some ideas in your back pocket for increasing your income when things head south quickly. 

     

    Use a budgeting app to stay organized

    Keeping track of your budget when you have an inconsistent income (or even when you don’t) can be a lot to manage. And especially when you’re just getting started, you might want to use a app to help you stay organized.

    I think You Need a Budget (YNAB) is the absolute best budgeting app, especially those who don’t bring in a consistent income. It’s specifically designed to help you get one month ahead on your budget so that you’re using last month’s income to pay your bills. 

    I actually use YNAB for both my business and my personal budget! First, I keep a separate business budget to track my business income and expenses. Taking my own advice, I budget a month or two ahead for my business expenses and set money aside for taxes.

    Then, I pay myself a monthly paycheck, which I use to budget ahead on my bills.

    Using YNAB has gotten me so into budgeting ahead that I actually try to budget ahead two months at a time rather than one. This single habit has made the cost of YNAB more than worth it! 

     

    Final Thoughts

    Budgeting is stressful enough for most of us. And when you add on the extra layer of an inconsistent income, it can quickly seem like too much to handle. 

    After years of learning the ropes of budgeting with irregular income, I’ve streamlined my process and hope you find it useful for your own budget! 

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  • How to Start a Blog in 2022: A Step By Step Guide

    How to Start a Blog in 2020

     

    In 2015, desperate for a creative outlet when I wasn’t at my government job, I started my first blog.

    Years later, that job has not only made me a lot of money, but has also helped me to launch my six-figure freelance writing business, quit my full-time job, and completely change my life.

    Whether you’re starting a blog just as a creative hobby or because you’re hoping to grow it into a side business, this post is for you! This guide for how to start a blog in 2022 will go into the technical aspects of setting up your blog, as well as helping you to figure out what you want to blog about and how to get started with the creative side of blogging.

     

    How to Start a Blog in 2022

    There are affiliate links in this post, meaning I may make a small commission at no additional cost to you. For more information, see my full disclosure policy here.

     

    Step 1: Deciding What to Blog About

    There are plenty of general lifestyle blogs that have turned out to be successful, but you’ll see the most success by choosing a specific topic to blog about. 

    I’ll be honest, my blog was kind of aimless for the first few years. And while I did alright and was able to earn some money from ads, sponsorships, and affiliate marketing, it was when I narrowed in on a particular topic that things really started to change.

    You might find that your blog topic changes over time, but just start somewhere. If you’re struggling to figure out what you want to blog about, take some time and think about what you’re really passionate about. What do you love to talk about? What do you know a lot about and can pass that knowledge onto others? That’s your sweet spot.

     

    Step 2: Purchasing a Domain Name

    Next up, it’s time to choose a domain name! You can click here to purchase your domain whenever you’re ready!

    Choosing a domain name for your blog can be challenging. Finding the right name for your blog is probably going to take a lot of brainstorming and, unfortunately, a lot of the great ideas you have are probably already taken.

    Here are just a few guidelines to help you. First of all, do a brain dump and just write down anything that comes to mind. I found my current domain name by doing a brain dump, and then using the thesaurus to find synonyms of each word until I found some that sounded really good together!

    Second, make your domain name easy for others to type in. This means making it short, memorable, and easy to spell. I recommend going with a .com if possible as well because that’s what most people naturally search for.

    Finally, remember that it can be changed later. It’s certainly easier if you get it right the first time, but I changed my blog name after two and a half years of blogging and was able to easily switch everything over without losing any traffic or social media followers.

    Once you have some ideas, head over to SiteGround and start checking to see what’s available! You may find the occasional domain name that is for some reason super expensive, but most of them are going to be pretty reasonably priced for under $15 per year.

    Note: SiteGround is the company I recommend for blog hosting so also purchasing your domain name there helps streamline the process a bit. Click here to purchase your domain name with SiteGround

     

    Tip: Secure Your Social Media Handles

    Before purchasing a domain name, I recommend checking to see if the corresponding social media handles are available on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. Though it’s not absolutely necessary to have the same name on every platform, it will be a lot easier for people to find you if your social media pages match your blog name.

    When I was rebranding my blog last year and brainstorming new name ideas, I checked every single one on social media first and crossed out the ones where I wouldn’t be able to get matching names across platforms. And once you’ve checked social media and purchased your domain name, I recommend securing those social media usernames right away!

    You can use a free tool like Namecheckr to check the availability of your name on every platform at once.

     

    Step 3: Choosing and Installing a Platform

    Once you’ve purchased your domain name, it’s time to get started setting up your blog! First things first, it’s time to choose a platform. There are several options, including free platforms (Blogger) and paid platforms (WordPress and Squarespace). I highly recommend choosing one of the paid platforms. They aren’t that expensive, and it’s the only way to truly own your blog content.

    Since I use and recommend WordPress, this tutorial will be for those setting up a blog on WordPress using SiteGround hosting.

    First things first, head over to SiteGround and click “Sign Up”. This is where you’ll choose your hosting plan. If you’re setting up a brand new blog, I recommend going with the cheapest plan available. You can always upgrade later, but this plan will be a good starting place, and it’s a bargain at only $3.95/month!

    Seriously, that’s less than $50 per year!

     

     

    Finish signing up. Go through the signup form, filling in every space. Most of this is pretty self-explanatory, such as contact and payment information. When you get to the bottom, they’ll present you with additional services available. These are totally up to you, but I do recommend purchasing the domain security.

     

     

    Now that you’re all signed up with SiteGround, it’s time to install WordPress! In your SiteGround dashboard, you’re going to want to head to the “My Accounts” tab and click that red button that says “Go to cPanel”.

     

     

    Head down to “WordPress Tools” and select “WordPress Installer”, which is the first button in the box.

     

     

    This is what you’ll see next. Click the blue box that says “Install”.

     

     

    Fill out the form that comes up on the screen. This is where you’ll have an opportunity to name your site, fill in a site description, and choose a username and password. You can also choose to install a theme here if you already have one, but we’ll wait on that part for now.

    Once WordPress is fully installed, all that’s left to do is log in! Head over to your admin page (yourdomain . com / wp-admin). When you see the following screen, just log in and you’re all set!

     

     

    Tip: Why SiteGround?

     

    SiteGround is the hosting provider I recommend to all bloggers, both new and old. When I first started blogging, I was using a different hosting company (one you’ve probably seen promoted by other bloggers). It was a struggle for two years. My site was going down fairly often and the customer service was hardly ever any help.

    On the recommendation of quite a few other bloggers, I switched to SiteGround and haven’t regretted it once. My site hasn’t gone down a single time, and I literally cannot say enough good things about the customer service!

    Plus they offer SO many services that you otherwise would end up paying for separately, such as daily backups for your blog, free moves from http to https, and WAY more.

    The best part is that despite being (in my opinion) the best hosting provider, the pricing still cannot be beaten! You can start your blog for just $3.95/month with SiteGround, which is an amazing deal!

     

    Step 4: Installing a Theme

    Your work is far from over once you install WordPress, but there’s just one more technical piece we’re going to go through today – installing your theme! There are lots and lots of free WordPress themes available, but I really think purchasing a premium theme is worth it when it comes to making your blog as easy to use and aesthetically pleasing as possible.

    On my blog, I used the Divi Theme by Elegant Themes. I’ve used quite a few different themes over the years. The reason I ultimately chose Divi is how customizable and easy to use it is. Everything is drag and drop, meaning even someone who doesn’t understand code (like me) can totally customize their site however they want it.

    That’s why I think it is hands-down the BEST theme for beginners!

    Elegant Themes has TONS of tutorials on their website to set up your own blog with the Divi Theme. I’m planning to do a post at a later time sharing how I use it to create my site!

    Remember as you’re searching that most things in a theme such as fonts, logos, and colors will be customizable. The best bet is to focus on the overall structure and features of the theme when making your decision.

    Once you’ve downloaded your theme, find the “Appearance” button on the left side of your WordPress dashboard and select “Themes”. This is where you’ll be able to upload your new theme.

     

    Final Thoughts

    Everything I shared above is a lot of technical information that’s probably going to seem overwhelming if you’re brand new to blogging. But don’t worry! Take as much time as you need to get everything set up before you start creating content. 

    Plus if you ever have questions or technical issues, SiteGround‘s customer service is AMAZING and they can help you get over any roadblocks you might run into.

    Plus, you can ALWAYS reach out to me with any questions and I am happy to answer as best I can!

    I hope this information was all super helpful to you and provided you with the starting blocks to get your blog up and running and figure out where to focus your blog. Now that you’ve got your blog all set up, make sure to head over to my super-detailed guide on growing your blog this year!

     

     

     

     

    How to Start a Blog in 2018 - Want to start a blog? This the comprehensive guide for how to start a blog in 2018 is just what you need to help you with the technical aspects of starting your blog! | Blogging, Business, Side Hustle

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  • How to Write an eBook That Sells

    In 2016 I wrote my first eBook and officially launched it in October. Writing an eBook had been the #1 goal on my list for that year, and writing a book has been a goal of mine for just about my entire life. When I first got the idea I was grossly unprepared. I had this idea that I would just write something up in Microsoft Word, and surely people would buy it. Well, that’s not exactly how it went, and luckily I figured that out early in the process.

    You see, just when I was getting started on my eBook Abby Lawson at Just a Girl and Her Blog launched an eCourse called Book Boss, which was meant to help you write and launch an eBook in 90 days. Since it was at a launch price that seemed like a steal, I impulsively bought the course. Let me just say – best decision ever. In this post, I’m going to run you through what I loved about the course, and give you some guidance on how to write an eBook.

     

    write an ebook

    There are affiliate links in this post, meaning I may make a small commission at no additional cost to you. For more information, see my full disclosure policy here.

     

    HOW TO WRITE AN EBOOK THAT SELLS

     

     

    Know Your Audience

     

    My eBook idea changed a LOT from the time I had the idea of writing one until the time I actually wrote one. Part of the reason for that was that my blog changed a lot too! When I first started blogging, I blogged about just about EVERYTHING. I had no clear focus, and therefore no clear audience.

    Finally, when I was really ready to dig into my eBook, I did a survey to find out more about my readers and what they wanted from me.

    At this point, I had become more and more passionate about writing about both blogging and productivity, and a quick reader survey showed me that those topics were perfect! The majority of my readers have their own blog, but most of them also have a job outside the home, meaning they’re balancing the two. The survey showed me that people were struggling to find that balance, and I knew I had my topic.

    That’s how I ended up writing Streamline Your Side-Hustle, to help people balance their blogs, their jobs, and everything in between.

     

    Set an End Date

     

    I set the goal of writing an eBook in 2015 but didn’t really start writing it until July of 2016. I continued to tell myself I would get to it eventually, just not yet. Finally, in July I looked at my calendar and picked a date about three months out that I was for sure going to launch my eBook.

    I hadn’t even started writing yet and I was already running out of time! If there’s anything that will light a fire under you to get something accomplished, it’s having a deadline. It becomes even more real when you announce to your readers months early that you have an eBook coming soon because then you have people waiting and counting on you. Accountability at it’s finest!

     

    Write a Launch Plan

     

    Despite what I thought when I first set out to write an eBook, you can’t just write something and post it online somewhere and assume that people will buy it. The launch is as important as the writing process itself! Book Boss provides a super comprehensive planner of every single task you’ll do in the 90 days leading up to your launch, so it really made it as simple as possible for me.

     

    Have People to Sell To

     

    Writing and launching the eBook is all well and good, but you have to have someone to launch to! I used a free email course on a topic related to my eBook topic to start building my email list months before actually launching my eBook. That way, when the time came to launch, I knew I would have people on my list who were interested in my topic!

    Someone on your email list is going to be WAY more invested in your work than someone reading your blog or following your Instagram account, so getting people onto the email list is key to making sales. And I knew my email subscribers would be interested in my topic because my free email opt-in SUPER relevant to my eBook topic!

     

    So what about Book Boss?

     

    I feel super lucky that Abby launched Book Boss when she did. I can’t imagine what my eBook and launch what have looked like without taking that course. The tips I shared above honestly barely scratch the surface of what the course entails.

    Instead of just telling you to have a launch plan, Abby shares the exact launch plan she uses for her own eBooks, complete with a calendar of events. She gives detailed questions she asks in reader surveys to gauge what it is her readers want to learn from her and gives lots of technical advice on setting up landing pages, shopping carts, and more.

    If writing an eBook is something you have considered (I 1000% recommend it!), then you simply can’t go wrong with Book Boss!

     

    BEFORE YOU GO

     

    P.S. If you’re ready to start or grow your blog, here are some blogging resources I recommend checking out:

     

    And don’t forget to sign up for my FREE 5-Day blog challenge where I teach you how to grow your blog from hobby to side hustle!

     

     

    write an ebook

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