9 Things I Love and Have Learned After 9 Years Of Blogging

I still remember the month I started my blog. I don’t really remember the exact first day, but I remember the first month and how excited I was.

In August of 2011, I started Making Sense of Cents.

That was exactly 9 years ago!

Back then, I had no idea what I was doing, and I also had no goals for my blog.

I didn’t even really know what a blog was, or that they could make money.

I also didn’t even like to write at that time!

In the past 9 years, so much has changed for me.

It’s crazy to think that I started my blog nine years ago, especially when I consider all of the amazing things it has done for my life.

It was something I started and worked on in addition to my full-time day job as a financial analyst, and around two years after I started this blog, I quit my day job to blog full-time.

Some numbers on Making Sense of Cents:

  • My first blog post was published on August 10, 2011. You can read it here.
  • I have published 1,878 articles here on Making Sense of Cents. That number was higher about a month ago, but I recently deleted several hundred articles that I thought weren’t good enough.
  • I have 70,816 comments on my blog posts.
  • I’ve personally replied to 21,080 comments.
  • It took me 6 months to earn my first $100 from Making Sense of Cents.

First, a little backstory on how I began.

You may have heard this from me before, but the funny thing is that I created my blog on a whim after reading about a personal finance website in a magazine. It started as a hobby to track my own personal finance progress, and I honestly didn’t even know that people could make money blogging!

I knew NOTHING about running a website.

At that time, I was working as an analyst at an investment banking and valuation firm. I chugged along working the 8-5, Monday through Friday grind and didn’t see myself having an enjoyable future there. I had a stressful job filled with lots of deadlines and responsibilities that just didn’t interest me. Yes, I know this is the norm for some people, but I just couldn’t imagine myself living like that for 40+ years.

Blogging was an outlet for my stressful day job, and my interest quickly grew, even though it was just a hobby. It gave me space to write about my personal finance situation, have a support group, to keep track of how I was doing, and more. I did not create Making Sense of Cents with the intention of earning an income, but after only six months, I began to make money blogging.

A friend I met through the blogging community connected me with an advertiser, and I earned $100 from that advertisement deal.

That one deal sparked my interest in taking my blog more seriously and learning how to make even more money blogging.

I now earn a great living from my blog, and it all started on a whim, not even knowing that blogs could make money.

Blogging completely changed my life for the better, and I urge anyone who is interested to learn how to start a blog as well.

Blogging has allowed me to take control of my finances and earn more money. It means I can work from home, travel whenever I want, have a flexible schedule, and more!

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And, all of this happened because I started some random blog nine years ago.

I made so many mistakes, and I still make mistakes today. But, I continue to learn and improve, which has shaped this blog into what it is today.

I was so afraid to quit my job when I did, especially for a blog.

So many people thought I was absolutely crazy and making the worst decision of my life. Especially since my husband quit his job at the same time!

Today, I want to talk about the the 9 things that I love and have learned about blogging over the years. I feel like what I enjoy about blogging as well as what I’ve learned go hand in hand.

Oh yeah, if you haven’t yet – please follow me on Instagram.

Here’s what I love and have learned about blogging.

 

1. I love being my own boss.

When I first started my blog and realized I could make an income from it, I quickly learned how much I love being my own boss.

I love being in complete control of what I do, and becoming self-employed may allow you to feel that way as well. I enjoy deciding what I will do each day, creating my own schedule, determining my business goals, handling everything behind the scenes, and more.

I actually have a rule in my life/business where I don’t do anything unless I want to. While I still say yes to many amazing opportunities, I’m not doing anything that feels like a total drag or is against my beliefs. This has really helped improve my work-life balance, which is great because being able to choose how you earn a living amounts to making sure you love everything you do.

I honestly love each and every service I provide – writing online, promoting, networking, interacting with readers, and more.

Running an online business (and being your own boss) may not be for everyone, but it’s something I enjoy.

 

2. A flexible schedule is one of my most favorite things.

One of the best things about working for yourself and being a blogger is that you can have a flexible schedule.

I can work as far ahead as I want to, I can create my own work schedule, and more.

I love being able to work for a few hours in the morning, do something fun during the day (such as a hike), and then work later at night when I have nothing planned. I can also schedule appointments during the day and it’s really no big deal.

I can work at night, in the morning, on the weekends – I can work whenever.

But, this can also be something to be careful with as well, as it can be difficult to have a good work-life balance.

 

3. Location independence is AMAZING.

Being location independent for so many years has been great.

I love being able to work from wherever I am, and it’s allowed me some of the best experiences I’ve had, like living in an RV and now on a sailboat. All I need is an internet connection and my laptop.

The only problem with being location independent is that it can be hard to separate work from the rest of your life. You may find yourself working all the time, no matter where you are, and while that may seem great, being able to take a true vacation can be a hard task.

However, I’m not going to complain because the work-life balance I’m rocking right now is great.

 

4. Remember, success takes time!

Many bloggers quit just a few months in.

In fact, the statistic that I’ve always heard is that the average blogger quits just 6 months in.

I completely understand – starting a blog can be super overwhelming!

But, good things don’t come easy. If blogging was easy, then everyone would be doing it.

It took me 6 months for me to earn my first $100 from Making Sense of Cents. If I would have quit at that time, I would have missed out on so many great things!

Remember, success takes time!

 

5. Don’t write when you feel forced.

One thing I have definitely learned about myself over the years is that I write best when I’m not forced – i.e. when I’m on a deadline.

Instead, I always try to write content ahead of time.

I used to write content for Monday on the night before (Sunday!), and I found that to be super stressful. Even a week in advance was too stressful for me.

I like to be at least a month ahead, as then I can truly write when I feel inspired and happy to write.

 

6. Get ready to learn.

Pretty much everything about having a blog is a learning process.

Blogging is not a get rich quick scheme, and anyone who tells you that it is (or acts like it is) is lying.

Blogging is not easy.

And, you won’t make $100,000 your first month blogging.

Blogging can be a lot of work, and there is always something to learn. Something is always changing in the blogging world, which means you will need to continue to learn and adapt to the technology around you. This includes learning about social media platforms, running a website, growing your platform, writing high-quality content, and more.

This is something that I love about blogging – it’s never stale and there’s always a new challenge.

 

7. Stop seeing other bloggers as competition.

Okay, so this isn’t exactly something that I’ve learned, but I want everyone else to learn!

I have always had this mindset – that there is plenty of room for everyone in the blogging world. However, not everyone feels the same.

So many bloggers see other bloggers as enemies or competition, and this is a huge mistake.

I mostly see this in newer bloggers, and this can really hold them back.

Networking is very important if you want to create a successful blog. Bloggers should be open to making blogging friends, attending blog conferences, sharing other blogs’ content with their readers, and more.

Networking can help you enjoy blogging more, learn new things about blogging, learn how to make money blogging, make great connections, and more. If you want to make money blogging, then you will want to network with others! After all, networking is the reason why I learned how to make money blogging in the first place!

The key is to be genuine and to give more than you take, which are the two main things I always tell people when it comes to networking. I receive so many emails every day from people who clearly aren’t genuine, and it’s very easy to see.

I’ve made great friends who are bloggers and influencers, and it’s truly a great community to be in.

 

8. You don’t need previous experience to be successful.

To become a blogger, you don’t need any previous experience. You don’t need to be a computer wizard, understand social media, or anything else.

These are all things that you can learn as you go.

Nearly every single blogger was brand new at some point, and they had no idea what they were doing.

I’m proof of that because I didn’t even know that blogs existed when I started Making Sense of Cents, and I definitely didn’t know that bloggers could make money. I learned how to create a blog from the bottom up and have worked my way to where I am today. It’s not always easy, but it’s been rewarding!

With blogging, you’ll have a lot to learn, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. It’s challenging, but in a good way.

 

9. You can make a living blogging.

This is probably one of the best things that I’ve learned since I first started my blog.

You can actually make a living blogging!

No, not every single person will become a successful blogger (it’s NOT a get-rich-quick scheme), but I know many successful bloggers who started in a similar way as I did – blogging as a hobby and it just grew from there.

For me, I have earned a high income with my blog, and I have enough saved to retire whenever I would like. I am still working on my blog, though, as I enjoy what I do.

 

What’s next?

I’ve never really been much of a planner, so I don’t want to commit to anything HUGE haha.

But, for Making Sense of Cents, I do have some plans. I am working towards improving traffic and readership, and coming up with more and more high-quality content.

I am so grateful to all of you readers, and I want to continue to help you all out by writing high-quality content.

That is really my only goal for now!

If there’s anything you’d like me to write about on Making Sense of Cents, please send me an email at michelle@makingsenseofcents.com or leave a comment below.

Thank you for being a reader!

 

There’s a ton of valuable free resources.

I know I’ll be asked this, so I am going to include this here.

One of the great things about starting a blog is that there are a ton of FREE blogging resources out there that can help you get started.

In fact, I didn’t spend any money in the beginning in order to learn how to blog – instead, I signed up for a ton of free webinars, free email courses, and more.

  1. First, if you don’t have a blog, then I recommend starting off with my free blogging course How To Start A Blog FREE Course.
  2. Affiliate Marketing Cheat Sheet – With this time-saving cheat sheet, you’ll learn how to make affiliate income from your blog. These tips will help you to rapidly improve your results and increase your blogging income in no time.
  3. The SEO Starter Pack (FREE Video Training)– Improve your SEO knowledge in just 60 minutes with this FREE 6-day video training.
  4. The Free Blogging Planner – The Blogging Planner is a free workbook that I created just for you! In this free workbook, you’ll receive printables for starting your blog, creating a blog post, a daily/weekly blog planner, goals, and more.

Do you have any questions for me? Are you interested in starting your own business?

The post 9 Things I Love and Have Learned After 9 Years Of Blogging appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.

Source: makingsenseofcents.com

How and Where to Find Good Deals on Furniture

If you want to actually see your items in person but don’t want to drop top dollar, stores like Target and Walmart give you that choice. Most of these stores have partnered with celebrity designers or just plain celebrities, like Chip and Joanna Gaines and Drew Barrymore, to create stylish collections that look like your favorite luxury home items at a fraction of the price.
Many furniture stores have outlets, including one you may not expect: Anthropologie.
If you really want to save money on furniture and get high quality, the best option is to go vintage. Not only is it environmentally sustainable, but you’ll likely find really interesting styles at a much lower price than anything new.
When the time comes, you’ll have a Zoom appointment with an employee who will take you through the store. If there are specific items that catch your eye, they’ll stop and answer any questions about things like price, dimensions, details. This is likely the cheapest you’ll ever find unused Anthropologie furniture, but that comes with a caveat. I found that the best deals were on damaged merchandise, which ranged from a fabric stain to a chipped piece of wood furniture.
For me, I knew I would be much happier having the style I wanted in a light fixture, even if it wasn’t as well-made as independent, artisan options.
How do they work? First, email anthrohomeoutlet@anthropologie.com to get an appointment. In my experience, they respond fairly promptly with a 30-minute time and ask if there are any kinds of furniture in which you’re particularly interested.

Shop the Outlets

There’s a reason I use the term investment. Purchasing furniture isn’t like buying an item of clothing or a car — its value doesn’t drop the second you walk off the lot. You can take your furniture with you to any space you live in. And if you get rid of it, you can generally make up some of your cost by selling the pieces on sites like Facebook Marketplace and Nextdoor.
I had an exact vision in mind. I wanted a teal velvet fabric to go with my already-planned design scheme and an L-shape that would allow for two people to lie down separately while watching TV.
For all the best advice on vintage furniture, I went to Paul Donofrio, owner of St. Petersburg’s Vintage Marché, a monthly market of vintage furniture from a variety of vendors.
One pro trip: when searching for things like light fixtures or even bigger furniture pieces online, be as specific as possible. I do this by identifying a “dream item,” the model item I can’t afford but want to find something similar to, and then use generic terms to describe it.
My biggest piece of advice: watch their Instagram story @anthro_homeoutlet if you’re on the hunt for furniture. Their home outlet is a great choice if you’re looking to totally rework your style because they have so many options.
I love how the style adds flair to my dining room but also didn’t break the bank. When making investments in furniture, it’s important to think about your values. Do you value comfort or style more? Do you view furniture as part of your life or more like pieces of art?
Other spots I always check for unexpected discounts are the clearance sections of department stores like Macy’s or Nordstrom. Macy’s even has a Last Act section for their deeply discounted items — these usually aren’t couches or bed frames, but you can almost always find plates, curtains, throw pillows and home accoutrements here for heavily reduced prices.
When I moved into a house this summer, my first big task was to buy a sectional couch.

FROM THE SAVE MONEY FORUM

Mix High and Low

But there are also ways to save money from the get-go while buying good furniture. Here are my strategies.
Source: thepennyhoarder.com
Anthropologie opened its first (and so far only) home outlet in Pittsburgh in the fall of 2019, according to the Pittsburgh Business Times. The outlet is now taking virtual appointments.
I typed “gold Sputnik chandelier” into Amazon and found a option that I loved.

A gold Sputnik chandelier sits above a dining room table in this screenshot taken from Amazon.

In terms of design, Donofrio holds to this adage: “if it’s on stilts, it will sell.” What that means is look for furniture with tapered atomic legs, or what Donofrio calls casually “ice cream legs.”
But when I started searching online, I was shocked by the sticker prices. In the world of furniture, it seemed there were two options: sites like Amazon and Wayfair, where you can often find a bed frame or couch for as cheap as 0 or 0, or larger luxury furniture chains like West Elm and Crate and Barrel, where almost every big piece is over ,000.

Buy Thrift, Then Redesign It

I knew I wanted to replace the chandelier above my dining room table. It might have resembled ornate crystal but it was actually just plastic. And I had a style in mind: the Sputnik design, which looks like a giant orb with spokes coming off of it.
Yes, furniture stores have sales, but they usually cap out at the 20 to 30 percent off range. That takes some of the burn off the tag, but not all of it. I ended up buying a slightly reduced custom sectional from West Elm and chalked it up to an investment.
Another great place to look for discounted furniture is HomeGoods, owned by the same company as T.J. Maxx and Marshalls. Home Goods’ merchandise varies from store to store, but they often have great bargains and stylish furniture, as well as little knick-knacks to decorate your space.

An owner of a vintage market stands next to vintage furniture and wall hangings at his store. He's wearing a blue shirt with a bandana around it.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.
But all in all, Donofrio says good design is timeless. And if you find a design you love with elements you don’t — say, a darkened wood dresser or a mustard yellow couch — you can always reupholster or stain and refinish the piece and make it different. In the case of mid-century furniture, Donofrio says, that can even add value.
His guidance is to be constantly on the lookout and ready to make a purchase for a good piece even when you’re least expecting it.
The worst part about virtually shopping the store is that they don’t offer shipping. During my virtual appointment, I didn’t fall in love with anything, so I didn’t look into shipping. But the outlet does offer recommendations for local third party delivery companies.

Spring + Summer Recipes to Fill Your Instagram Feed

SUMMER-RECIPES-TOO-PRETTY-TO-EAT

It’s officially May and that means summer is just around the corner!!  While a lot of things have changed this year, my love of summer remains!  Bring on the warm weather…am I right?  Along with sundresses and sunglasses comes a whole bunch of fresh fruits and vegetables I can’t wait to get my hands on.  The delicious recipes below from some of my favorite bloggers will all be in heavy rotation for the next month.  If you need a refreshing cocktail to go along with these delicious bites, bookmark these summer cocktails for your next read.

SUMMER PEACH BALSAMIC CAPRESE SALAD

Make-Ahead Recipes | Meal Prep Guide | One-Pot Tomato, Chickpea, and Orzo Pasta
via Whole and Heavenly Oven

GET THE RECIPE

STRIPED JUICE POPSICLES

Make-Ahead Recipes | Meal Prep Guide | Slow Cooker Butter Bean Minestrone
via The View From Great Island

GET THE RECIPE

TOMATO, PEACH, & BURRATA SALAD

Make-Ahead Recipes | Meal Prep Guide | Cucumber Quinoa Salad
via Two Peas & Their Pod

GET THE RECIPE

STRAWBERRY GOAT CHEESE CROSTINI

Make-Ahead Recipes | Meal Prep Guide | Winter Kale Salad
via Foodess

GET THE RECIPE

BAKED RATATOUILLE TIAN

Make-Ahead Recipes | Meal Prep Guide | Pizza Pasta Salad
via KELLIES FOOD TO GLOW

GET THE RECIPE

SUMMER FRUIT BREAKFAST BAKE

Make-Ahead Recipes | Meal Prep Guide | Rustic Polenta Casserole
via Eazy Peazy Mealz

GET THE RECIPE

BLUEBERRY BREAD PUDDING

Make-Ahead Recipes | Meal Prep Guide | Enchilada Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
via Spicy Southern Kitchen

GET THE RECIPE

Read Spring + Summer Recipes to Fill Your Instagram Feed on Apartminty.

Source: blog.apartminty.com