Author

seo mistake
Blog, SEO,

Ups, I made an SEO mistake!

“I like learning from errors. In fact, I like that so much I am thinking about making some more.”

The SEO mistake you don’t want to make…

Making mistakes is awesome if you learn from them. If you follow my blog, you know that I’ve been working very hard on SEO, as I want to diversify the sources of acquisition in terms of readers, and SEO is a very solid way of doing that.

In early April, I set a few challenges for the second quarter. For a 1-year-old blog, I was doing very bad. My Page authority was 24 and my Domain Authority was only 10 (trust flow was 7 and my citation flow 17). This was because I only had 524 follow links – yes, only a little over 500 links after 1 year of blogging! This was less than 10% of all the links pointing to my blog. Or, in other words, 90% of the links pointing to my blog were nofollow links.

I started to do a few things that should help my SEO, including link building (mainly through guest posting) and keyword researching. I aimed at 42 guest posts in 3 months. In fact, I spent hours and hours doing keyword research, until…

I figured I was ranking well for the keyword “my stocks”, which has a volume of hundreds of thousands a month. If you’re new to SEO, that is A LOT and only the biggest sites will get these. If you manage to rank page 1 of Google to a keyword like that you’ll get tons of traffic from that keyword alone. I got excited and went for it… but  I forgot the exceptions!

So, here’s the thing. I started working on boosting my page that ranked to that keyword. And in about 1 month, I brought my blog from page 3 to the beginning of page one. And in one week, I brought it to number 5. I thought “this is it, I’ve won”. I’ll sit down and enjoy the traffic boost. I was so wrong…

I was so wrong…

At first, I thought I made a mistake with the volume of the keyword – it would not be possible to have hundreds of thousands of searches on that keyword a month. I re-checked on different sources and I wasn’t wrong. Maybe some tools told me I ranked 5 but I was ranking something else?

When in doubt, check out Google Analytics. And that was what I did:

seo impressions google 2017

You can see that my impressions spiked from 560 impressions a day to 5,300 in early April (a 10x increase!!!), and eventually reached over 10,000, in early May!

This means that, without a doubt, my website was shown by Google to 5,300 a day. Therefore, I should have received way more clicks, right? Wrong!

seo clicks google 2017

Although I’ve been increasing the number of clicks I get on Google, they haven’t increased with the same proportion of the impressions. Have a look at this graph, where this is probably more clear:

seo clicks impressions 2017

Check out the number of impressions (dark blue) vs the number of clicks (light blue). Let us get to the bottom of this… How the heck can I rank for a high volume keyword so fast, 10x my impression count but having an ever lower click count?

Mistake 1 : don’t go after a shark if you are a small fish…

I am still a small fish when it comes to SEO. I managed to boost my authority over the last months (to 43 and 33 – page and domain authority, respectively) but these are still small fish numbers.

Going after a big keyword when you’re small can lead to terrible results and a huge waste of time!

First off, build your authority and see what you rank for – don’t try to rank for any keyword. Once you start to understand what keywords you can easily rank for and your authority is large enough target keywords…

Mistake 2 : check the semantics of the target keywords

In my case, it was not even an authority problem. Tthe first hit on Google for the keyword “my stocks” is an Android App, and that is the reason why everyone googles out that word. Therefore, even if you rank 2nd, you’ll get very little traffic from that keyword!

The lesson?

Keywords are not all the same. Some keywords have specific semantics and nobody will try to rank for them because even if they rank, the first hit will get 100% of the traffic, simply because it is not a topical keyword but a keyword with a specific semantic.

Let me give you another example: if you manage to rank 2nd for  “Ben Davis From cents to retirement”, I bet I will still rank 1st and you’ll get almost 0 traffic from that keyword. Why? Because the people who google that keyword are actually interested in coming to the best blog ever, not yours 😉

I personally find myself googling “From cents to retirement XYZ” when I want to reach a post I wrote on XYZ. Yes, I could do that through my blog (in the search bar up there) but I find it more convenient to type this in the URL field of the browser – which ends up in a Google search in my case.

The bottomline

First off, build your authority before thinking about targeting keywords and see what you rank for naturally. Then, go after those keywords if you think they are worth it.

Secondly, I advise to check out the semantics of every keyword you target. Go after keywords that don’t pertain to a specific brand or don’t have a specific semantic. I know it may be easy to rank for those keywords, but that won’t generally translate into traffic.

Any comments? Let me know down below!

rental property renovation
Daily life, Planning, Real Estate,

Renovation of RP#3: the second phase has begun!

The moment has arrived. My favorite part in REI…

In fact, if you read about renovating properties, this can be quite fun!

I am very excited to say that the second renovation phase of RP#3 has finally begun!!! In this post, I will go through the nuts and bolts of the renovation and the deal itself.

Property specs

I have bought this property more than one year ago, but at the time I only renovated part of it. This property has 6 different units and I only renovated two of them when I bought it. I rented out those two units quite fast, for a total of €515/mo, which eventually became €500/mo as some problems popped up in one of the units and I decided to lower the rent to keep the tenants happy.

You may recall that the cost of that renovation was largely undercalculated, and I ended up spending way more money than I anticipated at first. The first renovation covered two units and one common area inside the building.

The building is divided into two parts, each of which contains 3 units:

6 unit building

Sketch of my 6-unit building.

After the renovation, I decided to put off the renovation of the second half – or right half, in the figure above – of the building (and I actually ended up renting out one of the units as it was (LINK)). The main reason was to preserve liquidity. Now, that my real estate company did well, I decided to cash out some monies and go ahead with the renovation on the second half of the building. This second half is promised to be rented out to the sub-leasing company I work with, for €540/mo, which will be instrumental for me to hit €2,000/mo until the end of the year.

Renovation Costs

First, the costs:

  • Labor: €24,000.00 (this includes renovating the facade, the electric part, plumbing and all the material for the walls and ceilings);
  • Tiles, tubs, taps, vanities and what not: about €4,000.00;
  • Kitchen cabinets and countertops: about €3,300.00;
  • Windows and outdoors: about €2,000.00;

Total: about €33,300.

To pay for this renovation, I will withdraw as many funds from my RE company as possible. At first, I thought I could cash out €30,000, but due to the amount of taxes I will pay to do this, I will only be able to cash out around half of that (unless we have big sales until the end of the year). I am also relying on a €2,500 work bonus that I will collect by Christmas. At the end of it, I will have no money in the bank, which means that I will feel comfortable – remember, if you have money sitting the bank something’s wrong! 🙂

The deal

This is a building in the very center of a mid-east city in Portugal, with a very big and reputable university. The building is also relatively close to the university, so renting it out will be easy in the long run. Just to let you know, I wrote a post entirely on this unit a while back ago.

How much I spent so far

This has been my biggest deal so far, if we account for renovation costs. I have bought RP#3 for €31,500 but I was 100% financed. Here’s the rest of the costs I’ve had with this property so far:

  • Closing costs summed up to €3,900. These were especially high, as closing costs in Portugal tend to be lower, especially if you’re 100% financed.
  • Renovation cost to this day €26,600. Keep in mind I do clever renovations.
  • Appliances and equipment €500.
  • Total mortgage costs paid to this day €1,700.

Total invested to this day = €32,200.

Given that I will invest another €33,300 into this renovation, at the end of it, I will have €65,500 invested, and I will have a mortgage of €31,000. 

Yield

As this property will safely yield €1,260 in December, we’re talking about a 23% cash on cash return and a 16% yield. I am not sure about you, but this looks like a great investment to me!

As I will write off the expenses with the renovation of the property, I will get, at least, 2 years of tax-free rental income on this property. This means that the 16% yield will be net. Well, to be fair, we need to deduct the property taxes and the insurance (together that is something like €500/yr). Therefore, the net yield is 15,15%. Still awesome, right?

Next year I will pocket €14,520 after all the renovations. I will get a line of credit on this property, of about 175k. On a 3%, 13-year credit line like this, I will pay €1,220 every month, which is essentially the rental income of the property. Note that, in the first year, €837 of the €1,220 is principle. After this, it allows me to have about 150k to go out for shopping. 🙂

Aspects of the renovation

I didn’t want to show much of the building online, but here it goes a little bit of unit. This is the lower unit of the right side of the building, which we just guttered:

renovation of rental property guttered portugal

As well as part of the 4th unit in the picture above:

rental property #3 renovation

We are still working on guttering it, actually, as we simply torn some walls down up until now. As you can see, they seem like a very small 1-bedroom (which in fact they are) that you would typically rent out to one student.

I have actually decided to start by tearing down the walls of every unit, so that we can plan the several rooms in a better way.

More to come soon! Stay tuned!

new rental property fix and flip
Planning, Real Estate,

The perfect flip?

It finally happened! Property number 4 has finally been transferred into my name. After a few months of going back and forth, we finally did it. I am actually not calling this property Rental Property 4 (or RP#4 as I usually write) because this may well not be a rental property.

Wait… no?

I explain. This was originally meant to be a rental property. The real estate agent called me over “a beautiful property” that had just been listed, whose price was “clearly” below its actual worth. I was intrigued and I needed to see the property. When I had a look at it, I confirmed that it was listed way below its market price. That is why I decided to go all-in with my cash* and buy it. I truly believe the property is worth €75,000 if not more. BTW, as for going all-in with my cash: as I could not get a mortgage I had to ask my parents for a loan of €25,000. Continue to read to know how I plan to pay them back. I will add 25k to my liabilities, in the net worth reports, from here on.

If you follow my blog, you know that I am not a big fan of fix and flips. I understand that many investors prefer to go that route, because they think that flipping is more profitable than buying and holding, but I personally don’t. The discussion of buy and hold vs flipping is an old one. I would consider that the majority of investors prefers to fix and flip, but you can still find investors like me, who do not like to flip.

The reason why I am reluctant to call it a rental property is because it cannot be rented out without a major renovation. There was a big fire in the property a few years ago, and the roof caught fire. The owners never bothered to fix it – they are both over 90 years old! However, the property has a nice backyard and a garage, and the garage is already rented out! Yes! The garage is currently rented out for €190,00/mo, which means an annual net cash flow of €1,519.00. Although this is not particularly attractive (a net yield of 3%/yr), it is not a very bad investment per se. Plus, it allows me to hit practically €2,000.00/mo until the end of the year (as announced earlier):

rental properties net worth income appraisal cash flow

As I also said last month, I am renovating the other half of RP#3 and I will rent it out to a sub-leasing company for €520-€540/mo, thus hitting the €2,000.00/mo until the end of the year. This also means an annual net cash flow of €11,182.70, the highest I achieved to this day.

All in all, this could be yet another rental property, which although more expensive than the other ones and yielding less money, could play a role in my portfolio. However, that is not my intent…

My first flip – the perfect flip

If you have been reading my blog, you know that I don’t particularly like fix-and-flips. I think in terms of cash-flow and every asset has to yield money at the end of the month, quarter or year. This is also why I don’t particularly like stocks that don’t pay dividends (LINK).

What really got me interested in this property was its potential to be flipped. It is one of the very few properties in downtown with a backyard, and this one is very nice and goes all around the property:

new rental property's backyard

I don’t plan to renovate the property myself. As I know I bought it undervalue, I listed it right after I bought it, for €89,990. I hope to receive an offer of at least €70,000, which after the commission (€6,150) means €63,850. To this, I need to take out the closing costs (€1,400) and the capital gains (€1,800), thus resulting in a net profit of a little over €10,000, or 20%.

In fact, I am confident this will happen until the end of the year. For one, I know that €50,000 is well below its market price. For two, the real estate agent actually presented me this deal as one “I could flip without spending money”. He actually told me from the beginning that he could find clients willing to pay at least €65,000 for it… so if I bought and gave him the chance to sell it within 9 months.

The main reason why I accepted this is the loan I got from my parents. Holding onto this loan for a long time may not be a wise decision – or a least a comfortable one! I want to pay them back. Fast.

My rationale on the sale was quite simple: if he gets to sell it for €70,000, I will make a decent return on my investment and move onto the next deal (which right now can only be fix-and-flips as I prefer to hold onto cash because I can see a stock market correction happening soon). If he doesn’t sell it, I will renovate the property myself using part of my line of credit, make it a two-family property and sell each half for €150,000. This would also result in a monstrous return.

Either way, I am very happy with my purchase. I would prefer it to sell because it would be my first flip and one hell of a flip. The perfect flip (after all, it yield some money in the meantime and I didn’t have to spend a dime). It would also give me another €10,000 to play with in the next stock market correction. If I don’t get an offer at or above €70,000, I will renovate it myself in the future.

What do you think of this deal? Let me know in the comments down below.

online income report income diary report how to make money online
Reports,

September 2017 (Online Income: $225.19)

Welcome to my income diary. If you wonder how do websites make money and how to make money with a website, you may find my reports useful.

I release reports on my online income every month. In 2017, I am projected to make $15k on online income.


I’ve received many e-mails concerning this matter. Most people ask me “What can I do to start a side online business?” or “What can I do to make a few hundred bucks at the end of the month”? First, know that I offer consulting services for this, on 1:1 consultations. Either way, let me hash out a general recipe here:

0) Choose a niche. Many people choose niches based on keyword search. I highly recommend people to blog about what they are passionate about instead. If you add value, any niche will work out for you.

1) Set up a website. I host my website on Bluehost, which I highly recommend. For one, its cheap, two is highly reliable. If you are interested in starting a blog of your own, I created a tutorial here, to help you start off.

2) Blog. A lot. You may have noticed that I’ve posted twice in the month, on specific months when I started From cents to Retirement. Doesn’t work. It won’t tie people in, it won’t please search engines and your blog will rapidly be forgotten. Note that I am not saying “publish crap”. Do not, if you expect to have loyal fans and grow. But do not forget to publish.

3) Promote your blog. A big part of having your blog out there for people to see is through high-quality posts – eventually, people will share. Promoting your blog will not only get it out there faster but deeper. Promoting your blog can be very hard, but its necessary.

4) Monetize. Adsense is an option. I like Amazon a lot. If you offer consultancy services, as I do, you need to show you can do it yourself first, but clients will pop up eventually.


So, how did I make $225.19 this month? First, the breakdown:

Bluehost : $0 (vs $0 in April)
Affiliate marketing : $116.09 (vs $54.75 in August)
My book : $49.10 (vs $23.40 in August)
Consultancy fees : $0 (vs $170 in August)
Google adsense : gave up!
Paid surveys : $0 (vs $0 in June)
Sponsored posts on other sites : $60

Total : $225.19

Disclaimer: the BlueHost and the Amazon links are affiliate links, which means that I get commissions if you buy products or services through them. The amounts reported above are before any fees, taxes or expenses. I can’t say exactly how much I will net from this.

I haven’t consulted as I am still sick and I don’t feel like consulting. I feel dizzy and overwhelmed, and I experience nausea throughout the day.

Note that although I am committed to release my income diary and help those who want to know how to make money with a blog, if they and blogging for money, my primary focus is not to make money with the blog, but create a very valuable platform that people love.

Expenses

I didn’t have any expenses with the blog this month.

Views

Even though the dizziness and nausea don’t seem to want to go away, I was able to publish more posts and to post more on Quora, which increased the traffic a bit (check the figure below) I still have no time for proper promotion and write some awesome posts I had in mind, but at least I could do more. I hope to get these things fixed until the end of the year, otherwise I will never come close to what I thought I could do with From Cents To Retirement.

blog views September 2018

and the number of sessions:

 

sessions september 2018

It is funny how the number of sessions went up by 35%, compared to last month, and the average session duration didn’t even change by a second. Remarkable! 🙂 The bounce rate decreased a little bit (although I think I’d be getting like 60% at most) and the rest of the stats improved altogether.

Like I said before, being in a state where I experience dizziness and nausea on a daily basis, I can’t keep up with the expectation of writing 10 guest posts a month. Even one guest post sounds like a very hard challenge to me right now, but I was able to write one this month. Next month, I think I could write 4 or 5.

My authority decreased slightly since the last update (domain authority decreased from 34 to 33 and page authority from 45 to 43). I need to reverse this aggressively but publishing more guest posts and promoting the blog further, which I hope to do next month!

My Alexa rank continues to tank but I am not that concerned with it, as there is a strong connection with traffic:

alexa rank september 2018

 

 

Social Media

I’ve been working really hard on my Facebook page, and I could grow it by almost 100 likes this month, to a total of 1158 likes. This is an increase of about 8.3%, which, if maintained, would mean a total of 1470 likes by the end of the year. I know, this is so far away from my goals that I feel that I threw a random number out there, but we must consider that I’ve been sick and not hustling as I thought I would do!

 

As I said before, I am not keeping track of Pinterest.

As for the subscriber count, I was able to grow it from 1181 to 1259, which means an increase of about 6.2%, much better than 2% in August. As I will send a few newsletters until the end of the year, this number will decrease, I am sure, but I hope to be stable at 1500 subscribers at the end of the year.

Goals for September 2017:

  • Increase the number of likes on my Facebook page to 1250. FAIL. Again, an aggressive goal, which resulted in failure. I need to work more on my Facebook page.
  • Increase the number of blog subscribers to 1250. DONE! This is actually a very good result
  • Write at least 1 guest post. DONE! Not bad for a guy that seems best friends with dizziness! Check my interview for PhysicianOnFire, here.
  • Make about $350 online. FAIL. I still managed to do almost $250, which is not bad at all given the circumstances.

Goals for October 2017:

  • Increase the number of likes on my Facebook page to 1400.
  • Increase the number of blog subscribers to 1400 (aggressive goal, but I think I will get there).
  • Write at least 2 guest posts.
  • Make about $250 online.

In the meantime, let me know if this information is useful to you in the comment section down below.

Your biggest fan,
Ben Davis

net worth update
Reports,

Net worth update: September 2017 (269,935.44€)

My current net worth is €269,935.44 (40.28% of my first goal – €670K).

net worth September 2017

Finally, a decent net worth increase… After so many months of sideways updates, I finally have a decent increase. However, this one is primarly due to rental property #4, which has finally been transfered into my name. I bought the property for €50,000, but I suspect I can sell it for at least €70,000 – I will do a complete post on this soon.

I have already started to cash out some dividends out of my real estate company, which will go exclusively towards the renovation of rental property #3. Therefore, they don’t show up here, as the renovation has already started and I moved the funds directly to the contractor’s account. I will update the value of rental property #3 in the next net worth update.

Despite I have a considerable net worth increase this month, I still think my net worth should be growing faster. In fact, this increase has exclusively to do with the acquisition of rental property #4, and I hope that I can sell it until the end of the year (the post will say exactly why). If I don’t sell it, this net worth increase will not mean a lot;

You can see that I am also having less and less cash. This will not put me in a comfortable situation if there is any significant market correction soon (both in the stock market and real estate). This is another reason why I want to resell RP#4, for a profit. I will definitely hold onto the cash then, unless I see another quick flip like what RP#4 seems to be.

It is too bad I am still anxious about getting financially independent, but pragmatically speaking, I am quite on track. I feel I should be enjoying life calmly, while testing small things here and there to accelerate my growth. I wouldn’t mind being this uncomfortable with my growth, if I was completely healthy because I actually happen to think that it could play to my favor. However, being dizzy, tired and weak, I wish I was more calm.

I am still struggling with permanent dizziness but I could post quite more often than in the last months. I also prepared some awesome posts for October and hopefully I will stay one month ahead so that there is no shortage of posts on the blog.

Rental income

RP#1 actually become my Primary Property (PP), as I said before, so it will show up as such in the next reports.

The rental income in September was, again, €1,055.  I said that I was going to cash in €1,270, but I forgot that one of the units in RP#2 doesn’t pay rent in August. In October, I will cash in €1,460, which will be the highest rental income I’ve ever received in a month. As I said, this should be very close to €2,000 in December or January next year, once the renovation or RP#3 is finished.

The renovation of RP#3 has already started, as I said above, and I’ve been using the dividends from my company to fund it. I will do a complete post on this renovation later this month (I will even include pictures ;)).

Online income

My online income for September was better than in the last months, because I posted more, which generated more sales. I will comment on this in the online income report/income diary.

My Real Estate business

My Real Estate business is growing steadily. I still expect to make about €25,000 net with my company until the end of the year. Next year, I will try to make about €100,000.

Goals for September

All goals for September were achieved!

  1. Calm the f* down, and enjoy life without thinking about Early Retirement and how to grow my net worth faster. Partially DONE. Still not as I would like to, but better than last months.
  2. Take 3 days off to write my second book, relax a lot, watch movies and TV series. Partially DONE. I could indeed write another chapter of my second book and did watch a movie. Need to improve this next month.
  3. Write at last 4 posts on the blog. DONE.
  4. Go to bed before 11pm every day. DONE. In the future, I will try to do it at 10.30. For now, let’s stick to 11pm for another month or so.
  5. Start the nofap protocol (for health reasons, not social phobia or anything like that). DONE. This is a really though protocol, but I can see the merits. I will go clean in October again.
  6. Make at least $200 online and write 1 guest post. DONE. I actually wrote 2 guest posts and made more than $200 online. 😉

Goals for October

  1. Continue to calm the f* down even more, and enjoy life without thinking about Early Retirement and how to grow my net worth faster.
  2. Take 3 days off to finish my second book, relax a lot, watch movies and TV series.
  3. Put the computer away on Sundays.
  4. Write 8 posts on the blog.
  5. Go to bed before 11pm every day.
  6. Continue the nofap protocol (for health reasons, not social phobia or anything like that).
  7. Make at least $200 online and write 5 (yes, FIVE) guest posts.
  8. Increase my page authority beyond 50.

Enjoy life guys!

Ben

lines of credit real estate investing
Planning, Real Estate,

Acquisition lines of credit – jumping to the next level

Given that I’ve been very dizzy and unable to work in the past 3 months, I decided to invest most of my time thinking about how to accelerate my early retirement. This doesn’t mean that I started to rush all the time again (as I said in my net worth reports). Although I truly want to have a set of assets which will allow me to retire early, I will take my time to get there. I have achieved more in 28 years of life than most of my peers in 40. As I’ve been saying, enjoy your life, wanting everything now is going to kill you.

My rationale was actually pretty simple. I’ve been doing pretty well with my Real Estate investments, so I should increase my portfolio and gain scale. In my next book, about stuff I learned by interviewing millionaires, you’ll see that paying a lot principle every month is key to achieve real wealth. And this can only be achieved with scale; One has to create a lot of sustainable debt and leverage.

I’ve been approached by some readers, who asked me why I don’t leverage on my current portfolio to grow it.

For instance, many of my readers asked me “well if your Rental Property #3 is appraised at almost 200k and you only asked for 30k, why don’t you cash refinance and leverage on the equity you have?”. Well, Lin Portugal, cash refinancing is not possible.

This consumed me for almost one year (as, as you know, I wanted to run faster) until I found something that will be equivalent to cash refinance, but has the advantage to scale more and faster. I would like to share that – called lines of credit – with you.

Ways to finance your portfolio growth

As a real estate investor, you have many different ways to finance the acquisition of new properties. The most common include:

  • Common mortgages
  • Seller financing
  • Private investors
  • Partnerships
  • IRA funds
  • RE equity (cash refinance)
  • Hard money loans
  • Credit card debt

From these, some are easier to get than others, although most are hard (and time-consuming) and most importantly, not scalable! Recently, I found something that will be a game changer for me: lines of credit. Note that acquisition lines of credit are different from personal lines of credit, and unsecured lines of credit.

The whole point of real estate investing lines of credit is that the bank will lend you money if you provide them with a collateral. In my case, this is pretty straightforward: let me give them my properties (which were appraised high) and invest that money into more properties.

In the following, I will explain you the entire model.

How can I take advantage of lines of credit – and scale my business

The coolest thing about lines of credit with RE as collateral is that they are highly scalable if used correctly.

The key is to find properties that are appraised at way more than what you pay for them. This will allow you to achieve scalability. However, you must be confident you’ll be able to monetize the properties effectively, otherwise you’ll default much more quickly than with regular mortgages (because you scale much faster).

In the following example, I start with RP#3. Let’s assume that after some renovation works (which I’ve recently started), the property with the be worth 220k. As I can pull out 70% of this valuation, I can effectively pull out 150k in free cash.

As for the renovation of RP#3, I have secured a renovation budget of about 28k (for the 3 units that are yet to be renovated), and a leasing contract of €520/mo for the 3 units. This leasing contract possibility was offered by a sub-leasing company I work with, when I look for properties for investors.

I don’t have 28k in the bank right now because my 30k in interest accounts are frozen as I decided to buy another rental property. Next month, I will write a post on this… I will get this money from my RE company, a bonus from my job (5k) and savings from my salary. Probably, I will be able to draw 10-15k from my company, in the form of dividends.

After the renovation is done, I will appraise the home and settle the (presumably 180k-) credit line.

How I will escalate my real estate portfolio

With 150k from the bank (because I need to pay off the current mortgage on RP#3), I will look for RP#5 and RP#6 (I may actually look for three properties). These properties have to abide by the following rules:

  1. They are worth (before the bank) at least twice more than what I pay for them. Let us assume I pay 70k for each property and use the remaining 10k for closing costs with the properties. This means that each property should be worth 140k. Assuming I can pull out 65% of the appraisals (which is typically the case after the 1st line of credit), I could get a second line of credit of 180k.
  2. RP#5 and RP#6 (or any other property I can close on with the line of credit) should generate enough money (with a very strong guarantee) to pay for the installments of the 180k line of credit. A strong guarantee of yield/occupancy rate is easily achieved if I lease the properties to the sub-leasing company, however, these are typically must lower rents than renting directly to the public. At the same time, it becomes a hands-off investment, as they run the entire show for me.
  3. There should be no limitation whatsoever to replicate the process.

Of course that finding such properties is very hard, and having high guarantees that they will be always rented out is probably even harder. From my experience, these properties are big properties that cannot be rented as they are. I am sure I can find them over the course of a few months. Until July 2018, I hope to have bought all of them.

Now, the real trick: I will create a new LLC to hold these new rental properties so that I escalate even faster in the future. I want a fresh start with this money because this will allow me to get even more money from the bank. With the 150k I will get from the acquisition lines of credit, I will start the new LLC and buy rental properties putting down

With the 150k I will get from the acquisition lines of credit (after paying off the 30k mortgage currently on RP#3), I will start the new LLC and buy rental properties under this LLC. At first, I will try to put down only 50%, so that buy even more properties. If I can do that, I will buy 4 or 5 properties. If I have to buy the properties all cash (it is actually possible for the bank to turn me down, as I’ll have no credit history with the new LLC), I will finance new properties with lines of credit on the free-and-clear properties. Note that within an LLC, you can write off interest, so that is why I am so keen on creating debt there.

As for the future, this is the very minimum I expect to hit as far as my real estate portfolio:

real estate portfolio projection

Making sure I get a balanced portfolio

Real Estate is definitely my primary way to retire early. I hope to lower my exposure to Real Estate by increasing my stock portfolio over time. BTW, I’ve been making some purchases, I need to update this soon. For now, I will escalate my Real Estate portfolio because I finally hit the sweet spot of creditworthiness. As for buying stocks to balance things out, I don’t think I will be buying much before 2018.

If you have any comments on my strategy, let me know down below!

Ben

advertise real estate for free
Real Estate, Tricks,

Real estate free advertising… a crucial tool for landlords

Hi guys!

So I’ve been thinking about ways to minimize my vacancies on my rental properties. Up until now, I’ve had almost 100% occupancy rates, so this hasn’t been a problem for me yet. However, a savvy landlord has a load of free advertising strategies ready to use, should he need them.

Advertise real estate for free can be quite tricky, so over the last months, I decided to come up with a few methods that can be used. Check out the following strategies…

Create a facebook page

As I said before, Facebook pages are free (at least until now) and they are a great way to reach a lot of people. A Facebook page is a great asset because it will also provide you stats on the people who liked the page. Therefore, you can have a lot of people around the area you want to advertise your rental properties.

To grow a facebook you can use a number of strategies:

  1. Invite your friends to like it;
  2. Ask your friends to invite their friends to like it;
  3. Share posts/images within the page in Facebook groups.

I personally have more than 2500 people on my facebook pages to advertise my real estate. I am growing my pages whenever I can, either by asking my tenants to invite their friends and ask their friends to invite their friends as well. A good relationship with your tenants will pay off in the long run. Treat them well!

Use Craigslist (or a Craigslist-alike platform)

Most platforms like Craigslist are free to use because they make money with advertisement. This is great news for landlords because this is such a great way to advertise real estate for free!

The biggest trick with Craigslist and similar platforms is to promote your brand. Find a way to do it, in a non-spammy way and in a way that doesn’t violate the platform’s terms.

I like to put a logo of my brand (the same I use on my Facebook pages) in the pictures. This works nicely for me.

Check out more sites to advertise your real estate for free.

Use pictures taken by a pro (for free!)

I had such a great idea pertaining to this…

I convinced a professional photographer to take pictures of my rental properties for free. Wait… for free? Yes! All I did was to put his name and company logo at the bottom of my pictures!

Makes sense for both! This is free advertising for him. Remember that I have pages with 2500 people? Well, that is one hell of an asset. See what it can do for me? Awesome, high-quality pictures for free!

high quality picture advertise real estate for free

Yes, I know. Awesome! 🙂

Build a list of local e-mails

It is quite difficult to build a large list of e-mails if you don’t know what you are doing.

This comes down to internet marketing. Essentially, you can use a landing page platform to create a landing page that connects to MailChimp or any other e-mail list manager.

Of course that the biggest trick is to grow it for free. Well, at some point, everything ties in together. If you build a large Facebook page, building a large e-mail list is easy. I also recommend asking people to share your publication with the landing page, as I have experienced a tremendous growth when I did this.

Build a site and SEO-it!

I talk about SEO often on From cents to retirement because SEO is a real advantage for any business. In a Real Estate business, it is no different. If you build a site to promote your real estate, be prepared to do a lot of SEO on it.

The bad news is that SEO is not free (and not cheap, for that matter) if you don’t do it yourself.

The good news is that SEO-ing a website for a local market should be easy because there is little to no competition.

Learn SEO yourself and kill it. In the long run, this will pay off tremendously.

Make a viral video and share it everywhere

If you market your property in a very professional way, it will sell. Try to make something that is clearly “out-of-the-box”. Focus on things that your property has that are not common in most properties. Make a video about it. And share it. Share it everywhere.

Livestream within your rentals

I’ve done this with great success in the past.

The best thing about livestreams (for example on Facebook) is that people tend to be attracted to live events more than to past one.

Test it out. Once a property gets free, do a live stream and publish it on Facebook. In my opinion, this is a great way to advertise real estate for free.

 

If you want more tips on how to promote and advertise real estate for free, check out the free books section and check out these hacks.

Any other technique you guys use? Let me know in the comments down below!

Ben

online income report income diary report how to make money online
Blog, Reports,

August 2017 (Online Income: $248.14)

Welcome to my income diary. If you wonder how do websites make money and how to make money with a website, you may find my reports useful.

I release reports on my online income every month. In 2017, I am projected to make $15k on online income.


I’ve received many e-mails concerning this matter. Most people ask me “What can I do to start a side online business?” or “What can I do to make a few hundred bucks at the end of the month”? First, know that I offer consulting services for this, on 1:1 consultations. Either way, let me hash out a general recipe here:

0) Choose a niche. Many people choose niches based on keyword search. I highly recommend people to blog about what they are passionate about instead. If you add value, any niche will work out for you.

1) Set up a website. I host my website on Bluehost, which I highly recommend. For one, its cheap, two is highly reliable. If you are interested in starting a blog of your own, I created a tutorial here, to help you start off.

2) Blog. A lot. You may have noticed that I’ve posted twice in the month, on specific months when I started From cents to Retirement. Doesn’t work. It won’t tie people in, it won’t please search engines and your blog will rapidly be forgotten. Note that I am not saying “publish crap”. Do not, if you expect to have loyal fans and grow. But do not forget to publish.

3) Promote your blog. A big part of having your blog out there for people to see is through high-quality posts – eventually, people will share. Promoting your blog will not only get it out there faster but deeper. Promoting your blog can be very hard, but its necessary.

4) Monetize. Adsense is an option. I like Amazon a lot. If you offer consultancy services, as I do, you need to show you can do it yourself first, but clients will pop up eventually.


So, how did I make $248.14 this month? First, the breakdown:

Bluehost : $0 (vs $0 in April)
Affiliate marketing : $54.75 (vs $71.80 in July)
My book : $23.40 (vs $13.55 in July)
Consultancy fees : $170 (vs $130 in July)
Google adsense : gave up!
Paid surveys : $0 (vs $0 in June)

Total : $248.14

Disclaimer: the BlueHost and the Amazon links are affiliate links, which means that I get commissions if you buy products or services through them. The amounts reported above are before any fees, taxes or expenses. I can’t say exactly how much I will net from this.

I haven’t consulted much, as I was sick and honestly, not keen on doing consulting. Yet, I collected a check from previous consulting hours.

Note that although I am committed to release my income diary and help those who want to know how to make money with a blog, if they and blogging for money, my primary focus is not to make money with the blog, but create a very valuable platform that people love.

Expenses

I didn’t have any expenses with the blog this month.

Views

Sadly, I am still sick – I experience nausea and dizziness on a daily basis. This makes me have way less time to write for the blog, produce kick ass content and promote it correctly.

Although last month was very bad, this month was even worse and the worse in the last 12 months… when it comes to visits. Remember that I am looking to my blog on a 5-10 year horizon. I don’t care about money, I want to create value and a nice platform to deliver kick ass content! The views will increase at some point, I am sure.

august blog views

and the number of sessions:

sessions august 2017

Considering the very low activity of the blog, I should be happy that my authority hasn’t decreased… Being this sick, it is impossible to keep up with the expectation of writing 10 guest posts a month. Even one guest post sounds like a very hard challenge! Since the last update, my authority actually increased (while the domain authority is still at 34, page authority has gone up from 44 to 45). This will probably decline if I don’t post more often and I don’t write guest posts…

My Alexa rank continues to tank but again, I am not that concerned:

alexa stats 2017

 

Social Media

This month my Facebook page grew by 63 likes to a total of 1062 likes, which is again on the lower end, as we are talking about an increase of about 5%. As I said last month, I had a few tricks I could use to grow my Facebook page and these seem to work beautifully. I am sure that the 5k like mark I talked about in a previous report is almost impossible…

As I said before, I am not keeping track of Pinterest.

The subscriber count grew from 1154 to 1181, which means a shy increase of about 2%. I would like to hit 2,000 subscribers until the end of the year. Let’s see how I do until then.

Goals for August 2017:

  • Increase the number of likes on my Facebook page to 1200. ALMOST DONE. I had a reasonable goal, but I am not far from it, so I am am not said with where I stand at.
  • Increase the number of blog subscribers to 1250. FAIL. I assumed that if I managed to post more often, the number of subscribers would go up.
  • Write at least 2 guest posts. FAIL. Being sick sucks!
  • Make about $500 online. FAIL. Not posting often can’t lead to much money.

Goals for September 2017:

  • Increase the number of likes on my Facebook page to 1250.
  • Increase the number of blog subscribers to 1250.
  • Write at least 1 guest post.
  • Make about $350 online.

In the meantime, let me know if this information is useful to you in the comment section down below.

Your biggest fan,
Ben Davis

investment hunting interview
Interviews,

Interview #7 – Erik from The Mastermind Within

This is the sixth interview of my interview series, where I interview bloggers blogging about Early Retirement, Personal Finance, and related topics. I have published my first book recently, and I am writing my second book, which will be on what I learned interviewing millionaires. As you can see, I love interviewing people.

This time, I bring you Erik from The Mastermind Within. I hope you enjoy it.

Q1 – Who is Erik?

Erik is a 24-year old living in Minnesota in the United States. He is passionate about learning and helping others become more successful. In his spare time, he loves playing various sports (golf, basketball, softball, etc.) and reading.

(Now to 1st person) I’ve been working on myself for the past 5 years in an effort to become more valuable to the people around me. Growing up, I was very quiet and reserved. I was a little bit socially awkward, but always aware and a great listener. I’m excellent with names, faces, and other aspects of human interaction. Now, I’m continuing to improve on my communication, public speaking, and writing to continue to grow.

[Ben: I think that is what makes your Quora and blog posts so valuable. You are quite of a learner, I can see that!]

Q2 – What do you do for a living and what do you like the most about it?

In my day job, I work at a regional bank performing statistical analysis. I have 3 computer screens and run analytics for credit risk each day. Other days, I’m involved in presenting our model’s results to regulators or senior management.

I love building things – I love to code and build models. I’m good at picturing a solution to a problem and then implementing it.

What I don’t like about it is it ties up my time and is not scalable. I’m not a revenue producing analyst, as a result I’m not going to get commissions or big bonuses. It motivates me to work on my side hustles.

[Ben: Dude, that sounds like a pretty awesome job! This actually reminds me of my previous job…]

Q3 – Why did you start your blog and what is you main goal with it?

I was sitting with my good friend Henry in Late December 2016 and we were brainstorming business ideas. We were sitting in his living room hanging out when I said, “hey, let’s start a blog and do book reviews. We both read a book a week, why can’t we spend 2 hours a week just writing up our thoughts on each book and get Amazon Affiliate revenue?” We started The Mastermind Within in December 2016 and are almost 9 months old.

The main goal is to provide value and help people. At the end of the day, money doesn’t matter. Many people will start a blog to make money and that’s not our goal. We are looking to increase the value of our site by offering freebies. In April, we came out with a FREE Debt Destruction Tool. With the Debt Destruction Tool, you type in your debts and it calculates your interest savings for the snowball and avalanche methods.

Eventually, we hope to build it into a community where like-minded individuals can come and openly share their thoughts. We do book reviews, personal finance help, posts on entrepreneurship, and self-development.

[Ben: I think you guys are hitting your goals. I can see a lotta value on your blog…]

Q4 – Any big plans for your blog for the near future?

YES. For The Mastermind Within, we are looking to continue to provide value through freebies. I’m working on standardizing my income statement and balance sheet reporting I do for my own personal finances as a giveaway to our readers and subscribers. I’m going to continue to look to produce solid content with actionable steps. We are focusing on some SEO and it’s been paying off as the months go on. We are only making a few bucks a month, but this should increase over time.

One new thing for me and my business partner Jake is a Kombucha Subscription box service called HOWLinfuse. Kombucha tea is a fizzy, fermented tea which has probiotics and a great taste. Many people in the United States home brew Kombucha, but there does not exist a subscription box which will send you the ingredients and instruction required. We are currently bootstrapping this company and grinding it out each day and night. We launch June 1st.

For HOWLinfuse, we are going big. We are doing a Kickstarter campaign, a Thunderclap campaign, and working with various virtual assistants to help with social media, graphic design, and general feedback on our ideas. This is a fantastic learning experience for me and something I’m super excited about!

[Ben: Sounds like really big projects! I wish you all the best!]

Q5 – At what age are you most likely to retire from your day job?

I’m targeting March 2018 to leave my day job. I will be 25, but I don’t think it will be retirement. For an actual retirement, I’m not sure. I want to be financially free by 35 – but I’m sure I will continue to work and strive for the next big thing whenever I get to financial freedom!

Q6 – What do you plan on doing after retirement?

When I retire, I want to do a few things: volunteer and give back my time and skills to help younger people achieve their goals.

Right now I participate in mentoring for high school and college students. To be able to give back is something that is incredibly important to me. You make a living by you get through your job, but you make a life by what you give!

Another thing I plan doing is being active with my family and friends. I love playing a variety of sports: golf, basketball, softball and like to work out at the gym.

Also, I want to travel to many different places and widen my perspective on the world.

erik the mastermind mind

Q7 – What investments do you like the best, and why?

I really like real estate. I have a house and have 2 roommates paying me rent. It’s a fantastic deal for me because my roommates almost cover my mortgage – I get to live practically for free!

  • Real estate is:
    • Accessible – Anyone can buy it
    • Appreciable – Can increase in value over time
    • Leverageable – You can buy on margin and borrow against equity
    • Rentable – Cash flow baby!
    • Improvable – Through sweat equity or contracting out
    • Deductible/Depreciable/Deferrable – Amazing tax benefits

Personally, I think the stock market is a casino, but I still do get the company match and max out my IRA.

[Ben: a casino where you take calculated shots, though ;-)]

Q8 – How about eleven places you love that you’ve visited or have lived in?

I’ve lived in 2 places:

  1. Born in Wisconsin
  2. Lived in Minnesota for the past 20 years

I haven’t traveled much, which is something I’m looking to do once I get my businesses off the ground. Honestly, can only give you 6 places! This seems to be an area of weakness for me to address in the near future!

6 places I love that I’ve visited

  1. Hawaii
  2. It’s paradise.
  3. Colorado
  4. The mountains, the atmosphere, andthe people are all great
  5. Arizona
  6. Hot and cool scenery
  7. Quebec
  8. Lots of fantastic French history
  9. Northern Minnesota to friend’s and family’s cabins
  10. Serene, peaceful, and beautiful
  11. Florida
  12. Disneyworld!

[Ben: that is a nice list, I think you’ve traveled more than you think!]

Q9 – What are your goals for 2017?

I have a few blog goals, personal goals, and some newer goals.

For the blog, I’m looking to get 15k views in a month by the end of 2017. I want to have 250 posts on The Mastermind Within. Right now we are averaging about 4k views a month and are on pace for 240 posts – time will tell if we can reach our goal!

Personally, I’m reading 75 books in 2017. I’ve read 25 in the first 4 months, and am looking to crush 6-8 books in May. I want to widen my perspective on the world – what better way than to do it through books!

Another personal goal of mine is to save/invest/build equity of $35,000 in 2017. I’ve been able to get through about $18,000 of that goal so far 🙂

For other goals, I’m looking to experiment. I’m only 24 – why shouldn’t I look to take a bunch of risks? Why not go talk to that super cute girl at the coffee shop? Why not work 18 hour days so I can work 2 hour days in the future?  What can I do now that I won’t regret later?

That is what excites me about HOWLinfuse. I bought into a majority share of a company for less than $5k and now have the potential to crush it. We are the FIRST Kombucha Tea subscription box. What’s interesting… while I’ve brewed kombucha a few times and enjoy it, I’m by no means an expert and am learning each and every day. That’s the beauty of it – the entrepreneurship process is amazing and I’m learning each and every day!

[Ben: you guys are doing GREAT! I love the health benefits of Kombucha, BTW. You ship to Portugal? 🙂 ]

Q10 – What did you like the most about my blog, From Cents to Retirement? Do you have any advice for me?

I like how you mix lifestyle with your investment goals. I also love your pictures! I hope to visit you someday when I’m successful, financially free, and travelling the world!!

My advice for you is to work every day towards your goals. Consistent effort over time will lead to massive results. I’m pretty sure you already do this given your blog posts and determination, but it’s still a crucial point to make.

I’m pretty sure we would get along very well J We both have a strong work ethic and I know you will reach your goal of 670k sooner rather than later!

Thank you for interviewing me Ben!!! This was a whole lot of fun!

[Ben: please do visit me! Thanks for sticking around too!]

net worth update
Reports,

August 2017 (251467.24€)

My current net worth is €251,467.24 (37.53% of my first goal – €670K).

august net worth

Errr… “why am I growing my net worth so slowly?” is the type of thought that floats around my head most of the time, when it comes to money. Although my company is doing relatively well, I planned to hit a net worth of about 300,000€ this year. Not sure I will able to (even though I will be withdrawing about 30,000€ in dividends from my company next month).

This month, my lower increase has to do with the fact I had to pay my IRS from 2016.

There is an elephant in the room that I must address. Although I feel comfortable with my current lifestyle (not my health – that comes below), I feel that my net worth should be increasing much faster. I see people becoming rich all around me, and sometimes I feel my own wealth should increase faster. Being anxious doesn’t help health or success, so I will try to work on this very hard, and learn to live calmly and stress-free. Enjoying life should be a top priority.

As for my lifestyle, I am living alone in a renovated rental and I drive a nice car. I’ve got plenty of time to rest and do my own things, as my job only requires my presence every now and then. Yet, my job is still causing me stress, because whenever I need to go to my employer I need to drive 300km and leave my home (and comfort zone) altogether.

As for my health, I am still struggling with permanent dizziness and that is why I haven’t been posting as regularly as before. It has been 8 months feeling dizzy now, and I hope this changes soon. I made some progress, but I am still not:

  1. Meditating for 15-30 minutes every single day.
  2. Going to bed between 10pm and 10.30pm.

Until the end of the year, I will:

  1. look into diversifying my investments to land.
  2. Be a silent partner in a bigger Real Estate company.
  3. Finish the renovation of Rental property #3, and start a line of credit based on it. 

Rental income

I am living in RP#1, as I said before. This property is listed for sale at the same time and I may actually receive offers soon, according to the broker. If I do sell, I will try to strike a deal for a 1-year leasing contract and stay here until the end of the year, while looking for another primary property and investing the capital somewhere else. The plan is pretty much the same: I will put €35k to work and throw €10k into P2P lending / the stock market, as I said before.

The rental income in August was €1,055. This was due to one my leasings, which exempts the tenants from the rent in August, as they are students. In September, I will cash in €1,270. Until December, the rental income will increase by 540€, as I secured a lease on the 3 units of RP#3, after I renovate it. Sadly, I could not start the renovation of the property yet, due to legal issues, but it will start next month for sure. This will increase the rental income to €1,810/mo. As I said last month, the garage of RP#4, which I bought last month, is rented for €190/mo, thus increasing the total rental income to €2,000/mo.

This is why I said I was positive I will hit €2,000 until the end of the year. After this year, I will start a 175k line of credit (I will write a post exclusively on this) giving RP#3 as collateral. This will enable me to increase my rental income to €3,000/mo, at least.

Online income

My online income for August was also bad, as I barely invested anytime online. I will comment on this in the online income report/income diary.

My Real Estate business

My Real Estate business is growing steadily. I still expect to make about €25,000 net with my company until the end of the year. Next year, I will try to make about €100,000.

 

Goals for August

August’s goals were reasonably achieved:

  1. Spend more time in nature and do things I love. DONE.
  2. Optimize supplementation. DONE.
  3. Take one week entirely to write my second book, relax a lot, watch movies. FAIL. Permanent dizziness was the reason though.
  4. Plan the renovation of RP#3 and furniture RP#1 entirely (so I can live there properly). DONE.
  5. Write a lot on the blog. Two posts a week and do not fail. FAIL. Permanent dizziness was the reason though.
  6. Make at least $200 online and write 1 guest post. FAIL. Permanent dizziness was the reason for this too.

Goals for September

  1. Calm the f* down, and enjoy life without thinking about Early Retirement and how to grow my net worth faster.
  2. Take 3 days off to write my second book, relax a lot, watch movies and TV series.
  3. Write at last 4 posts on the blog.
  4. Go to bed before 11pm every day.
  5. Start the nofap protocol (for health reasons, not social phobia or anything like that).
  6. Make at least $200 online and write 1 guest post. 

Enjoy life guys!

Ben