Is Blogging Worth It?

Escape Nine to Five is an exploration of the lifestyle business or career, we look at ways of making a living that don’t involve slugging your guts at a nine to five in an office cubicle. The first thing that springs to mind for a lot of people when a”Lifestyle Business” is a blog – after all, there are a load of people who make good money selling ad space on their blogs and websites, and blogs have even changed hands for millions of pounds in the past.

I am not going to question whether blogging is a viable business, I’ll save us both some time and say that yes, you can make money from a blog, for those of you who are still skeptical, a quick peek on Flippa.com will show you the value of certain websites as well as what they’re earning. What I plan to talk about is whether blogging is worth your time and effort.

Slow Grower

Any successful blogger will tell you that in the vast majority of cases, it takes a long time, and a lot of hard work, to get your blog to the point where it is making any sort of meaningful profit, if you’re looking for instant cash you should probably pursue another route. The best blogs have hundreds of articles, a big social following and are well respected by google, meaning lots of free search engine traffic. All of these aspects take time to build up, and you will spend a lot of time feeling like you’re working for pennies an hour. You need patience, and to keep going when it feels like you’re getting nowhere. Not easy.

If all of that hasn’t put you off too much, you should also know that blogging is a great way to earn your living if you can pull it off, and yes, it is worth it. There are ways you can make the long haul night quite so long, and optimise your blog to make profits.

  • Make your blog all about one subject. Calling it yourname.com and writing about anything is all very well, but you won’t attract a specific audience.
  • Have something to sell. Someone else’s product, your own product, or of course your advertising space (least profitably)
  • Utilize affiliate links, and write articles that tie into affiliate topics.
  • Guest post on other authority blogs to gain traffic, links and exposure.
  • Promote a service such as consulting or something you do locally.

Conclusion

Overall, I’d say that blogging is more “worth it” for some people than others, and if you already have a product or service to promote and sell you’re off to a good start. Blogging is a powerful tool to promote something you are already doing, but blogging for the sake of it is going to be more tough. There are many people who do manage to start without a product and make their blog their living. Bear in mind at all times that if you want to make money from your blog, directly or indirectly, you have to be a salesperson of some description, if you can’t find a way to do this, you’re going to struggle to succeed.

Self Employment Ideas – Work For Yourself and Be Free

One of the best ways to escape your nine to five job is to go self employed, escaping the boss and work for yourself. You’ll still have to work, unfortunately there isn’t a career that involves scratching your backside and getting paid for it (if there is, somebody please email me), but the point is that being your own boss brings a freedom and flexibility that you’re probably never going to get in a workplace where you don’t have a special relationship with your boss.

We can’t go self employed without knowing what we want to do, so these self employment ideas will hopefully help you to work out what you might be able to do away from the shackles of traditional employment.

Become a Consultant

Perhaps your years of work have given you a good knowledge of a specific subject. Especially if you have worked in a B2B environment, you may well have a skill or knowledge that people are willing to pay to hear all about! A lot of people leave their 9 to 5 job and carry on in a consulting capacity to make some cash while they chase another dream. It’s a good way to pay the bills and get a slice of freedom back. Another major plus point is the low startup cost – you don’t really need anything other than a website (you can make one yourself) as you are simply selling your time.

An Online Business

Tough to set up, these, but if you can get to the point where you’re making enough money to live on via the internet then you don’t need to worry about location or time, you can work when you want and where you want, the ULTIMATE definition of freedom. There is a lot of work involved getting to where you want to be, but that’s just the price you’re going to have to pay if you want to get there. Online businesses include things like eCommerce, niche sites, blogs, even services such as writing. The world is your oyster in the modern age of internet.

Freelancing

Again, you’re still in a ‘cash for time’ business model, but that doesn’t mean you can’t expand and move into work you want to be doing. Freelance work can be anything from photography to marketing, only you know the skills you have that people would pay for freelance. Set your hourly rates and reach out to some companies and you’re underway.

A Physical Business

The more traditional route into self employment is probably to set up a ‘buy and sell’ style of business such as a store. Physical businesses can also include things like Photographic studios, rehearsal rooms and physical spaces you can rent out, hire businesses…the list goes on. A business like this may well mean big overheads and you might need staff too, something to think about before taking the plunge.

Conclusion

Self Employment is full of benefits, and though there is an added risk factor, the potential to grow is massive and you can build the career and life you want, not be molded to what a company want. I hope these self employment ideas help you onto the path you want to be on. Take that leap!

Overcoming Writer’s Block for a Great Blog

Blogging is one of the top ways to make money online and escape the nine to five, and even if you don’t make money directly from your blog it is a platform in which you can promote your online business and entrepreneurial pursuits. Keeping your blog regularly updated with content is important, but even writing about the most straightforward of subjects is a creative process, and as with any creative writing a form of writer’s block is inevitable at some stage, but there are things you can do to tackle this state of mind and push through it! Here are my tips for overcoming writer’s block for bloggers.

  1. Ship some content, even if it isn’t written. This shouldn’t be a long term solution but there are loads of ways of creating content that don’t involve writing, if you’re finding it difficult to put your thoughts down in words, try to record content on video or start a podcast, if the subject of your blog is particularly visual, you can even incorporate photos or video.
  2. Take a break! A lot of writers block comes from trying to “force it”. If content isn’t flowing then it is tempting to just keep going in the hope that you manage to pull something out of the bag, but the chances of this happening when you’re not on form are slim, and it is a much better idea to take a break and return when you feel more inspired, the chances are you’re just tired or overworked.
  3. Try not to put pressure on yourself. Though it is really important to publish regular content on your blog, you shouldn’t let this become an added concern when you’re already struggling. You know that feeling when you’re laying in bed and you can’t sleep, so all you can think about is how much you need to get to sleep? Well, it doesn’t help, does it? You’re better off accepting that you might not get there today with your blog and come back to it tomorrow.
  4. Watch or listen to something that inspires you. I do this sometimes when I’m struggling. At the heart of most great work is inspiration. I listen to my favorite internet marketers’ podcasts, watch a movie I know will inspire me or put on my favorite album. Taking an hour or so out as ‘inspiration time’ can vastly improve your output.
  5. Do something else useful. Ok, not so much a way to tackle as a way to avoid your writers block. As a blogger there are always things you can do to push forward and they don’t always involve writing. If your content isn’t flowing today then do some SEO or Networking, research some topics you’d like to write about or even improve the design of your site. Writing is at the heart of your blog, but it isn’t everything.

 

So there we go, five tips that have served me well when my brain isn’t in ‘content mode’. I hope they help you overcoming writers block, and please do add your own tips in the comment section below to help out other bloggers in the same position.

Money is Important – But it Isn’t Everything

We’ve all heard a load of mixed signals about money in our lives. From when mother told us that if we really wanted something we had to save our pennies and watching our parents sweat it out in a tough job to put food on the table to when the Beatles told us that they didn’t care for money because it couldn’t buy them love. With all of those messages flying around it was hard to know who to believe, well, I’m sorry not to make it any simpler but they are both right.

The Importance of Money

This is a bit of a “well, duh” moment in a lot of ways, but yes, I am going to talk briefly about the importance of cash in your life. Unless you life in a self sufficient environment without anything to pay for then you need it to get by, everything in life costs money from rent to food to entertainment, but how much do we really need?

  • Enough to feed us properly
  • Enough to clothe us
  • Enough to feed and clothe those who depend on us
  • Enough to put a roof over our heads
  • Enough to pay our medical and heating bills
  • Enough not to be depressed

One word that sticks out there? Yep, enough. I remember reading a Tim Ferriss Quote about living with the bare minimum. Putting ourselves in the position we often fear, where we do not have a huge amount of extravagances, and often when living in this environment we realize that in fact our lives do not entirely depend on our bank balances. Perhaps our perspective of “enough” has become skewed?

It is really hard to write about this stuff without becoming extremely cheesy extremely quickly. It is however true that money is not everything, and there is so much in life that doesn’t depend on it. Lets talk about some things more important than money.

  • Friends and Family
  • Health
  • Hobbies and enjoyment
  • Security (the two do not always go hand in hand, trust me)
  • Wisdom
  • Life experience
  • Time

I understand that sometimes you need money to fuel some of those things, but not usually millions, you don’t have to be CEO of a multinational to have a hobby (in fact it probably makes it a lot less likely). It is the last on that list that people often have a problem with, TIME. You might well be one of the people who slaves away for 50 hours a week in search of a better job, more money, promotions and pay rises. Besides that perhaps not being the best use of your time in terms of getting rich, you should ask yourself if that is really how you want to spend your time. You could be doing so much with those 50 hours and though you probably need to use them to do the things we mentioned such as eat and have shelter, some of the luxuries you have such as cable TV or gym memberships could be sacrificed for more time in which to chase your passions and do what you want to with your life. Ironically, this might make you more money in the long term anyway.

Remember that you can’t take money with you. One day you are going to be six feet under and your bank balance will not matter. Live your life and value your time enough not to devote it all to money and you’ll live a happier life.

“Why Am I So Lazy?” – What Causes Your Laziness?

Lots of people in the world consider themselves lazy, in fact lots of people are lazy at some time in their life, but it certainly isn’t terminal and getting to the bottom of your laziness is the first step to overcoming it. If you’ve found this article via a search engine, you can consider that a very good sign, if you’re at least looking for answers and wanting to overcome your current funk, you’ve started to move in the right direction.

As with all matters of the mind and soul, there are often more deep-lying issues at the heart of the problems we encounter. Laziness can be caused by all manner of things, and knowing what some of them are give us the opportunity to start to tackle them.

Depression

Laziness is a lack of motivation. A lack of motivation is commonly caused by depression. The two are not to be mistaken for one another as they often are. Feeling down and depressed often makes us want to avoid a lot of aspects of life. Depressive traits make day to day life feel trivial and we often cling to the comforts of our bed or avoid leaving the house or doing anything meaningful due to the situation we find ourselves in. Depression is a serious issue, and there is no sure fire cure. The irony is that activity can often help us to get away from these kind of feelings, but rebuilding happiness to a state where we feel ready to face the world can seem impossibly hard. If you feel like you are depressed, seek medical help to get you out of your situation.

Too High Expectations of Yourself

A number of people who consider themselves lazy probably aren’t lazy at all. Sometimes feelings of laziness are just our bodies way of telling you to slow down and get some rest. If you have worked hard for days and days and on your days off feel like doing nothing, it could just be that you are extremely tired and need to do nothing, both mentally and physically, to recharge your batteries. Think objectively about your situation, we all need rest days, the only issues arise when most of your days are dedicated to rest and lethargy.

You Don’t Feel Passionate About Life

Laziness can come from a lack of passion, you might not have any fulfillment in life, no goals to meet and no lifetime achievement to work towards. Not having this ultimate vision of the future to drive you forward can leave you feeling like there is no point in doing anything constructive. If you don’t enjoy your job, you might spend 40 hours a week doing something you hate, your main focus in life not being a source of fulfillment for you will of course grind you down after a time and leave you feeling unhappy and demotivated. A career change or rethink of life ambitions might give you that spark to get yourself going.

Emotional problems spring from a variety of places and laziness can be rooted in a number of different issues. If you are concerned about your mental health  and other serious parts of your life, seek help from a professional as soon as possible.

Too Old For a Career Change?

If you’re a regular reader of our blog here at Escape Nine to Five, you’ll know that a lot of what we cover revolves around careers, and specifically dissatisfaction within careers. So many people are staying put in jobs they don’t enjoy for all the wrong reasons, and though my chosen path was to try and run a business and escape the rat race altogether, for some people a career change (whether employed or self-employed) is a great way of getting away from a job they don’t want or enjoy.

Colonel Sanders was 65 when he started KFC, and sold his business (which he invested very little money in starting) just ten years later for $2 million. The company now is of course worth a lot more but the Colonel did well out of his investment and is surely the ultimate proof that it is never too late to make something big happen. Though not a big career change Sanders proved that you could go in a different direction and still be a success even later in life, it is all about drive and passion.

Of course, writing this I do not have the luxury of knowing your circumstances, your age, financial commitments, current career and future plans for a career, but I do assume that you are not thinking too strongly about retirement just yet and that your proposed new career is one you would care a lot about, otherwise why would you be changing?

It is easy to forget just how long we spend working. Here in the UK it is not unusual to work into your 70′s, so if you’re in your 40′s and wondering if it is too late for a career change, think again! You could have 30 more years working, would you deprive yourself of the change you desire for a whole 30 years? I have seen people as young as 30 wondering if they are too old for a career change, a ridiculous idea when you consider they may be only 7 years into a 40 0r 50 year career. You might have to take a step backwards in your earnings but hopefully you can prove that your skills learned elsewhere can relate to your new job.

Retraining

Depending on your ambitions you may well need to retrain to work your new job, and some sacrifice could well be in order. If you absolutely have to get a new qualification though, options are available, consider home learning, evening classes or saving money for a  career break. It can be expensive and sacrifice earning potential, but it will probably be more than worth it in the long run.

In summary, we are all about following your passions here on Escape Nine to Five. There is always a way, and age should not be an obstacle. Don’t let your fears stand in your way, it might be hard work but you can make it happen.

Work Life Balance For The Self Employed

During the times when we are supposed to wind down and relax, the issue of work life balance can often come to the forefront. It can be really difficult for the hard worker to get the balance between work and play right, but it is so important for your health and productivity to get your ration of working and “life” (time to chill out, relax and do exactly what you want) correctly tuned.

The reason I am writing this guide for the self-employed as opposed to the employed is because there is a distinct difference between the two. If you are a salary or hourly rate payed employer with a boss who sets your hours for you then leaving work behind at the office can be pretty easy, you learn to sign off at 5 and switch off until 9 the following morning – easier for some than others but it is an important skill to teach yourself. We self-employed on the other hand have dreamed of a life without a boss and set hours, which is great, but can be a double edged sword. For hard workers, it can be tough to switch off from a business or income you have created, knowing that you could be chipping away at tasks or working towards your goals.

Here are my tips for getting the right work life balance for the self employed:

  • Set yourself hours of work. I know it might be what you wanted to avoid, but having set hours is actually very helpful, and even by structuring your days you can still be flexible and make sure you work when it is convenient for you. This way you have work time and down-time, and it will be easier to differentiate.
  • Set a place of work. Another way to differentiate, when you’re at your desk, you’re working, when you’re not, you’re not! This works really well for a lot of self employed people I know, and some even have different laptops for work and play. No murky grey areas.
  • Tell your clients when you work. It is fair to have time off, and days off, and not to have to be at the beckon call of your clients 24/7. If your phone goes off at 5, make sure they know that, and that post 5 o clock is your time.
  • Value your free time. This is a hard thing to come to terms with, but if you see your free time as wasted then you’ll never value it enough to insist on having it! You need to rejuvenate and you need to rest sometimes, burnout is a sure fire route for failure, avoid it at all costs by making sure you know that your mind and body need holidays. Time that you enjoy wasting was not wasted.

Tim Ferriss Quotes – The Best Of Tim Ferriss

Here on Escape Nine to Five we’re all about getting out of the rat race, being the boss of our own time, traveling and being the masters of our own destiny. If you’re interested in all or some of those things you probably know who Tim Ferriss is and what he has done for the world of the solopreneur and “New Rich” (a term that Tim himself coined). Many of his quotes have been greatly inspirational to me and I hope that by sharing some of my favorites I’ll do my bit to help out your endeavors.

Here are the best of Tim Ferriss Quotes from his books, interviews and speeches.

From the Four Hour Work Week:

“It’s amazing how someone’s IQ seems to double as soon as you give them responsibility and indicate that you trust them… People are smarter than you think. Give them a chance to prove themselves.”

“The opposite of love is indifference, and the opposite of happiness is… boredom. Excitement is the more practical synonym for happiness, and it is precisely what you should strive to chase.”

“True freedom is much more than having enough income and time to do what you want. It is quite possible – actually the rule rather than the exception – to have financial and time freedom but still be caught in the throes of the rat race. One cannot be free from the stresses of a speed-and size-obsessed culture until you are free from the materialistic addictions, time-famine mind-set, and comparative impulses that created it in the first place.”

“For all of the most important things, the timing always sucks. Waiting for a good time to quit your job? The stars will never align and the traffic lights of life will never all be green at the same time. The universe doesn’t conspire against you, but it doesn’t go out of its way to line up the pins either. Conditions are never perfect. “Someday” is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you. Pro and con lists are just as bad. If it’s important to you and you want to do it “eventually,” just do it and correct course along the way.”

“A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.”

“I’ll repeat something you might consider tattooing on your forehead: What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do.”

“Pacifists become militants.
Freedom fighters become tyrants.
Blessings become curses.
Help becomes hindrance.
More becomes less.”

“By using money as the scapegoat and work as our all-consuming routine, we are able to conveniently disallow ourselves to do otherwise: ‘John, I’d love to talk about the gaping void I feel in my life, the hopelessness that hits me like a punch in the eye every time I start my computer in the morning, but I have so much work to do! I’ve got at least three hours of unimportant email to reply to before calling prospects who said ‘no’ yesterday. Gotta run!”

Other Quotes:

“The commonsense rules of the “real world” are a fragile collection of socially reinforced illusions.”

“I have quit 3 jobs and been fired from all the rest. Getting fired, despite sometimes coming as a surprise and leaving you scrambling to recover, is often a godsend. Most people aren’t lucky enough to get fired and die a slow spiritual death over 30-40 years of tolerating the mediocre.”

For the full low down on Tim’s amazing entrepreneurial career and outlook on life, check out his books on Amazon:

Tim Ferriss On Amazon

Tips For Writing a Novel

Writing and publishing a novel is simpler than it has ever been in the modern age. We have so many routes to get our books published, whether it is through a large or independent publisher or you decide to go alone and self publish on kindle or through a similar method. It isn’t necessarily easy to make a success of your book, but getting it published is something anybody can do.

Writing your novel is probably the biggest challenge, and it can be broken down into simple steps in order to gradually work your way through and make sure you don’t get stuck half way or lose your way in your novel.

Here are our top tips for writing a novel:

Plan and Outline Your Book First

You don’t have to know every single detail of how your finished novel will read, but you should have a structure to work around. I find a great way to do this is simply to break your writing into chapters (something you will want to do anyway of course) and write a couple of sentences about what will happen within. Your writing then simply becomes padding out the story, and you don’t have to worry so much about plot.

Get a Draft Finished, Then Revise

I know some writers tend to write a few paragraphs and then go back and change bits and pieces, but in my opinion this makes the whole writing process disjointed and is an almost sure fire way to get caught up in details. There is plenty of time for revision later, get through to the end of your novel and then treat it as a draft, go back to the start and make alterations as needed.

Feedback, Feedback, Feedback

Hopefully you wont be short of well educated people you can run your book by before it goes forward to publishing. Whether you choose to finish your draft before getting feedback or distribute each chapter to your feedback helpers and letting them take notes, you simply must get people to read the book before you start making money out of it, and their contribution may end up being vital to your finished product.

Set Targets

You can do this in whatever way you see fit, but don’t just let yourself drift off target. Set aside an hour a day to write 400 words or promise yourself 3,000 words a week. That is just an example and some people will have more time than others of course, but if you don’t have a goal, you’ll never get anywhere.

Have Accountability

This ties in well with the above point. It isn’t always enough just to say “yeah, well I’m going to write a bit each day and then finish in March” but you might not stick to it if there is nobody breathing over your shoulder checking that you’re getting it done. Promise to send somebody a chapter a week to read or have a deadline to finish your novel by and you are far more likely to get it done. I also use my blog as an accountability journal, and I’m happy when people nudge me in the right direction.

Enjoy Yourself

Structure is great, but you need to enjoy writing a novel, that’s often the whole point anyway! You’ll enjoy it far more if it is finished, but you must make sure you enjoy yourself along the journey.

 

Of course, tips are just that – tips. Different techniques and methods will work for different people, but as I always say on my advice posts, in my experience sticking to the above points wont see you far wrong.

Bootstrapping Techniques For Your Business

Bootstrapping is the art of starting and running a business without a huge pot of money or capital from investors to delve into. To bootstrap a business is to get enough cash running through it simply to keep going before growing from there. You might be surprised to know that some of the biggest companies in the world were initially bootstrapped, companies such as Apple, Microsoft and Coca Cola.

Bootstrapping is very much the “in thing” in the world of start ups, and the business community, and in an economic climate where it can be nigh on impossible to find investment for your new business, forcing many people into this method of getting their business off the ground.

So what are the best bootstrapping techniques?

  • Get together what cash you can, whether it is from savings, borrowing from family or friends and for the braver among us loans or overdrafts. Another way to raise cash is to sell things you don’t need or make a drastic change like downgrading your car. It is all about cash flow in the early stages.
  • Try and find suppliers who you don’t have to pay instantly, or that offer payment plans. Some businesses will only operate on cash on delivery, some will give you 30, 60 or even 90 days to pay your invoice, others may even let you pay in chunks. This way you keep the cash within your business.
  • Don’t buy things you don’t need. It can be tempting in the beginning to go ahead and buy a lot of luxuries, or stock up on things you may need for the future, but it is important to resist this temptation and operate with the bare essentials.
  • Utilize a home office. This is so important in the beginning as offices or commercial premises are a ridiculously huge expense, and one you may be able to avoid right at the start of your empire. Plan for the future, and an empire with many important buildings, but know that you might only get there if you sacrifice your need for a property in the beginning.
  • Do what you can yourself. A lot of people outsource marketing and other business processes and services in the beginning, but doing what you can will cut down your costs and could keep your business alive. You can even do basic legal processes yourself such as patent applications.
  • Don’t hire experience, hire hunger. If you’re going to have to hire somebody in the early stages, hire young graduates or people you can train yourself, they’ll be a lot cheaper. If you’re worried about the future of your business you could also offer them a short term contract to see how it goes, protecting you if your business goes down the drain.
  • Start off selling services. Some types of business rely on income that they receive after they’ve done a job or created a product, and even if this is your long term goal, starting off as a service provider or consultant will put some valuable cash behind you so that you can expand into other areas.

 

Remember, it’s all about cash flow at the start, getting money through your business however you can and allowing yourself time to grow. You may have to make some sacrifices along the way, but bootstrapping is all about daring and being frugal. Work hard and you’ll get there in time.

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