Author

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

October 2017 (Online Income: $78.36)

My online income and blog stats in October 2017

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 $78.36 this month? First, the breakdown:

Bluehost : $0 (vs $0 in September)
Affiliate marketing : $29.26 (vs $116.09 in September)
My book : $49.10 (vs $49.10 in September)
Consultancy fees : $0 (vs $0 in September)
Google adsense : gave up!
Paid surveys : $0 (vs $0 in September)
Sponsored posts on other sites : $0 (vs $22 in September)

Total : $78.36

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.

This month, 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 – the BOOM I’ve been waiting for!

Still dizzy and nauseous (for 10 months now!), but I’ve been able to work more and publish more often. I haven’t posted as much on Quora – I actually prefer to invest my time on awesome posts for From Cents To Retirement. I have been targeting posts with at least 2000 words, that are really comprehensive on the topic I post on.

However, what really increased the traffic this month was a series of features on other blogs and huge sites. For instance, I wrote a very nice post for Budgets Are Sexy, called “What I Learned From Interviewing 19 Millionaires“, which was very well received by the audience and was worth a mention on Business Insider!

But wait, this is not the end!

In the same month I was featured on Budgets are Sexy and Business Insider… I was featured in one of the biggest newspapers in Portugal – Jornal Económico – which decided to write about my story. You can check out the article here (in Portuguese). This site receives between 4 and 6 million views per month!

As a result, my story went viral (having been shared for 3300 times) and my blog and my Facebook page went crazy!

The good news is that next month there will be more. 🙂

Being featured on big sites is the dream of every blogger. Here’s why:

views october 2017

This has allowed me to achieve the second best month ever for the blog! And check out the number of sessions:

blog sessions october 2017

Look at these juicy stats. 🙂 Let us put the spikes (the biggest being from Jornal Económico) aside. The number of sessions per day has increased since last months and I am finally getting closer to respectable bounce rates. I really hope I can get to under 60% until July 2018. The average session of 3 minutes is awesome.

I have also written many guest posts, which is definitely helping with my SEO. Right now, I am above 100 sessions from organic search every single day. Hopefully, I will hit 1,000 sessions until July 2018 – that is the goal.

My authority hasn’t moved a bit: the domain authority is 33 and the page authority is 43. We’ll need to wait until all the new links are considered, which will raise both authorities a lot, I hope. I will also continue to publish more and more guest posts and promoting the blog further to help with this process.

My Alexa rank started to reverse due to the huge traffic boost:

alexa october blog 2017

Social Media

Being featured on large sites is also great to social media. My Facebook page grew from 1158 likes to a total of 2015 likes. This is an increase of about 42.53%, which is of course not sustainable in the long term. If it was, I could hit almost 35,000 likes by July 2018. I would love to grow my Facebook page to this number, but being sick and tired doesn’t help!

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

As for the subscriber count, I was able to grow it from 1259 to 1726, which means an increase of about 27%. This is the largest increase in subscribers ever, and it has to do with the massive exposure I had this month. Last month I said I’d hit 1500 subscribers until the end of the year and this is vastly surpassed already! 🙂

Goals for October 2017:

  • Increase the number of likes on my Facebook page to 1400. VASTLY SURPASSED. Being featured on big sites is GREAT!
  • Increase the number of blog subscribers to 1400 (aggressive goal, but I think I will get there). VASTLY SURPASSED. Being featured on big sites is GREAT!
  • Write at least 2 guest posts. SURPASSED. I wrote 5 guest post and I was featured on big sites as well!
  • Make about $250 online. FAIL. Honestly, I think that I need to push affiliate sales or consult a lot to make decent money. Being dizzy most of the time, this is difficult to do.

Goals for October 2017:

  • Increase the number of likes on my Facebook page to 2200.
  • Increase the number of blog subscribers to 1800. Note that I will lose some subscribers as I will send lots of newsletters this month.
  • Write at least 2 guest posts.
  • Make about $200 online.

In the meantime, let me know if this information is useful to you by commenting down below.

Your biggest fan,
Ben Davis

net worth update
Reports,

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

My current net worth is €269,073.99 (40.16% of my first goal – €670K).

net worth october 2017

After a very decent net worth increase, I have started to go downhill! This will last for a big while, as bills on RP#3 will come every second week and I will need to pay them as I go. I will also be able to pay some of these bills with the dividends I will get from my company, but until I am able to cash them out entirely, I will need to use my checking and investment accounts.

Here’s the breakdown of expenses on RP#3 that I expect until the end of the year:

  • Renovation materials (2nd batch): about €500.
  • Renovation materials (3rd batch): about €1500.
  • Renovation materials (4th batch): about€500.
  • Kitchens: about €2000.
  • Appliances: about €900.
  • Labor: about €13,500.

I also know where this money will come from:

  • €3,000 from savings until February 2018 + €1,200 from my German account.
    • With some budgeting, maybe I can use this money to pay for all the materials, appliances and kitchens.
  • €4,000 in dividends from my company.
  • €6,000 from my toxic credit (which I hope to recover until February 2018).
  • €2,500 from a job bonus in January/February 2018.
  • €1,000 from my salary from February.
    • These together should be able to pay for the costs with the labor associated with this renovation.

Hopefully, there will be no hidden costs and this will be all of it.

If I do sell RP#4 until the end of the year, as I expect, this math will become way simpler because I will have another “spare” 10k. 🙂

This month, I finally made peace with my net worth and how quickly it is growing. Actually, I think that, should my projections for the next 2 years be right, I should actually be able to retire by the time I turn 31! I am on track to retire by 33, and given that I expect my income to increase over the next 2 years, I will beat the projections. During this time, I will definitely be enjoying life way more because I will exclusively work from home! Hopefully, this will help me with my health issues – and with my dizziness being the most important one!

As for holding on to cash, I plan to increase my liquidity right after I finish the renovation of RP#3. If RP#4 is sold until the end of the year, I will definitely keep that cash in interest bearing accounts with maximum flexibility.

As for my health, I am still struggling with permanent dizziness but this month was way better than the previous ones. As I am writing this posts, I feel nauseous and dizzy, but I feel that I am getting better and better, as I started a new therapy I really rely on. I hope to have exciting news for next month!

Rental income

RP#1 is now 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 €1,460, the highest ever. As I said before, this should be very close to €2,000 in December or January next year, once the renovation or RP#3 is finished. My plan actually changed a bit, of what it pertains to RP#3: I actually agreed with the company to only rent them out two units, for €290/mo. The third unit I will rent out to one of my tenant, who is happy to pay €400/mo.

Online income

My online income in October was kinda low, because I let it go on auto pilot. Honestly, I don’t think that I can make a lot of money on my blog if I don’t push it. This is because I don’t sell anything other than my book and I chose not to have ads on the blog. I will need to think more about my strategy and how to monetize the blog without looking spammy. If you want to have instant cash do NOT replicate my strategy; this one is for the long haul!

My Real Estate business

My Real Estate business is still 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 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. Partially DONE. I was definitely more able to relax and enjoy life more, and I convinced myself that I am on the right track to retire early, so this is a big victory!
  2. Take 3 days off to finish my second book, relax a lot, watch movies and TV series. FAIL. I did indeed write another chapter of my book but I wasn’t able to finish it.
  3. Put the computer away on Sundays. Partially DONE. I am so hooked on to the online world it seems impossible to put it down every now and then. I really want to follow this rule so I will try to do this next month.
  4. Write 8 posts on the blog. DONE!
  5. Go to bed before 11pm every day. FAIL. I did go to bed earlier in the second half of the month, but not before 11pm every day. However, I know this is very important for adrenal fatigue, so I will religiously go to bed at 10.30pm every single day next month.
  6. Continue the nofap protocol (for health reasons, not social phobia or anything like that). FAIL.
  7. Make at least $200 online and write 5 (yes, FIVE) guest posts. DONE! I will talk about this in the online report, but I am very happy with this goal!
  8. Increase my page authority beyond 50. FAIL. It hasn’t moved yet, so I guess it wasn’t updated at all. Let’s see what happens next month. 🙂

Goals for November

  1. Continue to calm the f* down even more, and make it a commitment to enjoy life every single day. Use the power of attraction (beyond visualization) by starting the day with a simple question:

and by applying these:

which Jim Carrey really puts simply here:

  1. Finish my second book and upload it.
  2. Put the computer away on Sundays.
  3. Write 8 posts on the blog.
  4. Write at least 3 guest posts.
  5. Go to bed before 10.30pm every day – this is a serious 30-day challenge.
  6. Follow the nofap protocol aggressively (for health reasons, not social phobia or anything like that).
  7. Make at least $200 online.
  8. Increase my page authority beyond 50.

Enjoy life guys!

Ben

 

2 or more checking accounts
Daily life, Lifestyle,

Why I have 2 or more checking accounts

Why I have 2 or more checking accounts

Sometimes, when I release one of my net worth reports, I get asked a lot why I have multiple checking accounts.

Right now, I’ve got 3 checking accounts: one for investments, one for fixed expenses and another one in Germany, as I needed an account there for some money I need to get, still. Just so you don’t get confused or misled, I pay taxes on my investment account. I am currently thinking about opening a 4th checking account.

You may have heard of other people opening multiple checking accounts and may wonder how that could help you. Not only that could help you in terms of a better control over your overall spending, as it can also help you relieve stress from managing your finances.

In this post, I will comment on the benefits of having 2 or more checking accounts.

Benefit number one: separate things

If you can use multiple checking accounts, assign each account a specific purpose. In my case, I will open a 4th checking account merely for paying bills (utilities, gas, eating out, groceries, rent, fun, etc). I will transfer €500 to this account at the beginning of the month, and force myself to live off of that.

This is a great way to check where your money is going. I am kinda lost when I don’t do this. The other option is to cash out, but this may not be convenient if you need a lot of money for your month.

Benefit number two: it takes much less time to manage your money

Knowing precisely where your money is going to can be a painkiller. Back in the day, I use to have all my expenses in one card, and I would spend a lot of time checking the expenses and what they pertained to. With a second checking account, you pretty much get the slip at the end of the month, look at it and you’re all set. Ultimately, this is a hell of a stress avoider… With two checking accounts, you’ll track your money flow like you never did before.

What I truly recommend you doing is applying Amdahl’s law to your finances: if you spend 80% of your money on X (say groceries), optimize that and forget the rest!  Within your groceries expenses, if you spend 50% of your money on meat alone, optimize that! You get the idea…

Benefit number three: a motivation to save and invest

Everybody knows this: if you have no limits when spending your money, chances are you’ll invest less. Forcing yourself to spend less money, by separating day-to-day money from investment money into 2 or more checking accounts will motivate you to invest more, as you spend less. At least it worked out well for me.

What many people with two checking accounts do is to separate fixed bills from variable ones. This is a very good system, but I personally like to factor in my fixed costs into the €500 I transfer over to my account at the beginning of the month.

Benefit number four: an actual profit on your investment money

If you decide to open a checking account with interest (for instance, check this one out), you’ll actually make a profit while you don’t invest your money. I tend to park my money until I need to renovate a rental property or I have enough money for a downpayment. This can sum up to $10,000, if not more. Parking all this money without interest means losing money. Quick tip: set up a checking account with interest for the money you save every month.

Benefit number five: create history with a new bank

I leverage a lot. For me, having a credit and non-credit history with many banks is crucial. Why? I don’t know which bank will give me the best offer on my next mortgage. Or which bank will have the best offers and fees. I want to diversify as much as I can, so creating 2 checking accounts will help you with that. If possible, use secure loans on different banks, so you develop a nice credit score with all of them.

 

What to pay attention to if you have multiple checking accounts

If you decide to go with multiple checking accounts, you’ll probably have to spend time opening and monitoring them. I have personally programmed a small Java software which collects information from my bank accounts and tells me everything I need to know. It even sends me an e-mail every day with the amount in each account, variations in regards to the previous months, and where the money went to. I know, it’s awesome, right?

However, keep in mind that some banks may charge you maintenance and even inactivity fees, so stay tuned into your account. You don’t have to code a program like I did, but you should monitor your accounts and don’t forget them.

Also, you can choose among different types of checking accounts. Make sure you’ve got a strategy before you open a second or third account and choose the type of your accounts (with interest, banking packages, etc) wisely. If you have a small business, consider opening an account just for that, and never ever mix your business’ expenses with your personal ones.

Do you have more than 2 checking accounts? What is your opinion on multiple checking accounts?

Let me know in the comments down below.

stock portfolio update
Stock Market,

Stock portfolio update

Stock portfolio update

I hope to increase my stock portfolio and P2P lending amount. Right now, doing that depends on selling RP#4, which should net me about €10,000. That will be used to pay for RP#3 renovation, which means that all the money I save from November on can be used towards the stock market and P2P lending.

For now, I am assuming I don’t have any extra cash, and so I can only play with my stock wallet. As I had about €1,000 free, I decided to look around for hot stocks and buy them. These are temporary, small purchases that will enable me to mark a few stocks. Hopefully, if I flip RP#4 until the end of the year, I can increase my stock portfolio to €10,000 this year alone.

How I am picking stocks

I have written before about assessing the stock market as a whole.

For single stocks, I follow a free cash flow model, which essentially means that I pick cash flow over appreciation.  In stocks, that is no different. I look for stocks with high yields and moderate appreciation prospects. This means that I sadly discard companies I really believe in, such as Tesla Motors. Plus, I don’t do mining stocks, which have been a great way to FIRE for some.

Based on this, I look for high dividend stocks, but this can be quite tricky sometimes. Many high dividend stocks are not sustainable over the long run. One company may distribute more in dividends than what it has made in the past calendar year. If that happens, it is certainly not a very sustainable decision. In my opinion, there is a variety of factors that make a company sustainable, and I typically look at:

  • Dividend yield: even if one company is highly sustainable, I only look at dividend yields that are higher than 8%. Anything below that is definitely not interesting for me.
  • Payout ratio: I typically look at payout ratios between 10 and 30, which means that a company pays between 10% and 30% of the earnings of the previous year in dividends.
  • P/E: The price over earnings is a very important indicator for me. It basically tells me the performance of a given stock in comparison to its price. Ideally, I pick stocks with P/E <= 6.

This being said, keep in mind that this is merely a set of filters to select the best stocks. I personally wrote an algorithm that finds these stocks and sends me a message whenever they are found. Then, I look closely… and I end up buying whenever I like the company. Sadly, I haven’t been investing much over the last months, but I hope to change that in 2018!

Many people ask me where they can find good stocks for free. I think that this guide together with Ben’s Sure Dividend site cover most of the deal.

The transactions

Based on my criteria (along with a few good hours of work), I decided to add the following stocks to my portfolio:

  • Armour Residential REIT (ARR). This REIT has been paying monthly dividends of $0.19 in 2017 ($2.28/yr). I bought shares at $25,76, which means a yield of roughly 9%.
  • Concurrent Computer Corp (CCUR).  This is a software/solutions company that develops applications and being a software guy, I see the merits of it. I bought shares at $5.84. If the dividends are $0.12 per quarter (meaning $0.48/yr), the yield will be above 8%.
  • Oxford Lane Capital (OXLC). This is essentially a financing company, that finances growth, and acquisitions, among others. It was recommended to me by a Canadian friend, who knows the company inside out. With quarterly dividends of $0.4 ($1.60 per year), I expect a dividend of 16%, as I bought shares at $10.
  • Big 5 Sporting Goods Corporation (BGFV). Big 5 Sporting is a sporting goods retailer with 420 stores across the US. I like to be exposed to retail as well, so this will be a minor position yet a long one. With quarterly dividends of $0.15 ($0.60 per year) and a buy in price of $7.45, this stock will yield a little over 8%.

I’ve got some more purchase orders following similar logic, but I will only post about those companies if the orders go through.

How my stock portfolio looks like now vs the future

Adding these stocks to my previous portfolio, here is my current portfolio:

stock portfolio update

I have built my portfolio with relatively balanced positions among the stocks by purpose. My goal is to continue to grow it buying different stocks such that the portfolio is not too imbalanced. Over time, the positions may become imbalanced again, due to appreciation or depreciation, but in the long run, they should be fairly balanced. Right now, RENE is very big in value but that is due to my expectation of appreciation, and so I bought a decent amount of stock so that I can sell when the moment presents itself.

What the future will bring…

I use DeGiro as the broker, and quite honestly I am not quite sure it is entirely reliable, so I will be opening accounts on other brokers eventually. When I hit my first goal in terms of net worth (€680,000), I will have about €100,000 of that on dividend-paying stocks. This should generate about €6,500 net a year. Although 6.5% net a year is not that easy to get, I will be choosing high dividend, low appreciation stocks, so it should be very attainable. If I do it right, it enough to pay for my fixed expenses, including property taxes on my primary property, condo fees, utilities, and groceries.

In the near future, I hope to double my portfolio and increase my positions in energy and retail. Ideally, I want to have a high dividend portfolio, with moderate exposure to Portugal (for tax purposes) and the US.

If you have any comment, let me know down below.

online and passive income ideas
Daily life,

101 online income streams and passive income ideas you can use right now!

Given that I report on my online income here on From Cents To Retirement, I’ve been asked many times how to make money online. To make things easy and make a comprehensive post on this, I decided to come up with a huge list of ways to make money online. If you are on your way to FIRE, this may be interesting for you!

I am so very much liking these huge lists of ideas for a specific topic… For example, check out my list of ideas to save money which I will update over time. Just like that list, with ideas to save money, I wanted to post a mega list of passive income streams and passive income ideas.

So, without further due…

Online income streams and passive income ideas you can use right away

There are tons of ways to earn money online these days, but many people have troubles starting out. I can definitely say that not all ways are probably suited for you, but there should be ways for virtually everybody making money online. Here are my favorite ones:

1 – Start a blog

There are gazillion ways to monetize a blog and most of them are pretty much passive. Check the previous link for a more detailed list, but just so you have an idea, this can range from sponsored posts to advertisements that pay you if people click on them.

The hardest part is obviously growing the blog. And that is really (I mean really) hard. Once you’ve hit 100k views per month, you can pretty much start monetizing it big time. My rule of thumb is that each 1000 views per month translate into $10 of passive income (e.g. 100k views translate into $1000/mo). Write down how much you want to make and go grow your blog!

To start a blog, check out this tutorial.

2 – Write an e-book

Amazon has enabled every single one of us to self-publish a book. You can pretty much write it on Microsoft Word, format it accordingly, get a cover (which you can outsource from Fiverr for as little as $5) and upload it to the Kindle marketspace or iBooks.

You know that I have some experience with this topic, because I published my own book in March. I can tell you that publishing a book is relatively easy (mine took a little bit more than 3 months of hard work to write), but selling many copies can be hard. The reason being the fact that in order to sell, you need to promote your book effectively (something I suck at!). Now, if you’re good at this and you’ve built a big audience, this may be your thing.

The topic is probably the most important thing about books. I haven’t written my book because of the money, but rather to share the message and keep myself motivated, but if you truly need the money from your book, I suggest you write about a topic that sells (and you also have some knowledge about, of course).

Another thing to pay attention is pricing. It can be hard to sell books if you don’t have the right price for your audience. I will soon publish a post on how to publish a Kindle book and link it to this page.

3 – Make a course you can sell

In April 2017, I met a blogger who made very little money through his blog but reached more than $50,000 on Udemy, by selling a course. After 3 years blogging about medicinal plants, he decided to put together a course based on the material that he published on his blog, Q&As he did for his readers and questions he answered via e-mail. I found it staggering that he used to answer almost 20 e-mails a day (honestly, that is way too much for me as long as From Cents To Retirement remains a side gig) and was able to pull out almost 80,000 words of content out of those e-mails!

Instead of writing a book, he decided to go the online course route and succeeded. But he is not an isolated success story. Have you heard of a math teacher who made more than a million bucks selling an online course? Yes, it is possible to make fortunes this way, if you are committed.

I should point out that, even though these are big numbers and they may sound very appealing to you, keep in mind that you’ll have to produce wonderful courses and promote them big time. Just like blogging, promoting something is very hard and takes a lot of work. In about one and a half years of blogging, I managed to hit about 1300 subscribers and 20,000 views per month. Promoting a blog (or an online course, for that matter) is a full-time job per se, in my opinion.

4 – Set up a Youtube channel

I am pretty sure you have asked yourself how much YouTubers make, right? I am sure you know at this point that there are many of them doing millions every year. The Entrepreneur website even has a detailed guide on how to make money off youtube.

Although it is clearly an option if you’re good at shooting videos and talking to big audiences, I need to let you know right away that setting up a large YouTube channel is no easier than setting up a large blog. In fact, they are very similar when it comes to gain traction. Driving traffic online is the key to success, but it is something hard to do. Online ninjas are highly rewarded today. 🙂 Even though I have experience with driving traffic to a blog (as I try to do that with mine), I have no experience doing that for a YouTube channel, as I don’t run any. Fortunately, there are some guides online, including this one from Forbes.

5 – License out your ideas

Perhaps you are the inventor-type of a guy. The good news is that it can also pay off big time.

There are two different things that you should be aware of: selling vs licensing. Selling your intellectual property means that you cash out but you don’t own it anymore. The ownership is transferred to another entity. Even if the idea gets a royalty down the road, it won’t be yours unless you agree to that prior selling it.

Licensing, on the other hand, means that you still own your idea and you get money for other people to use it. This is especially useful if your idea involves distribution, which you may not have. You can license it out to a company that already has distribution and employ your idea from day 1.

If you are inventor starting out, please check the top 6 mistakes inventors usually make.

6 – Create a product and sell it online

If you have an idea for an awesome product, this is your thing. The world is starving for awesome products priced correctly. Just create a product and let everyone know about it. Go online, create a website and shout on social media. You must look at the price though: it has to be right. Some products are not meant to survive in today’s economics, so make sure yours has a place.

My advice would be: spend slow promote fast. Do not spend much money, especially in the beginning. Check out the market and grow from there. Do create value, always. That is the beauty of becoming an entrepreneur.

I always use the Scrab daddy sponge example: it went from thousands to millions super fast, because it solves a true problem, is priced correctly and managed to grab enough attention.

7 – Create a dropshipping business

The dropshipping started to get popular a few years ago. Essentially, it is a great way to become a successful e-commerce entrepreneur without having to deal with inventory (and customer service, for a good chunk of it).

If you look around, you’ll find many histories of successful entrepreneurs who went the dropshipping path. Some of them did it very fast. Like very fast. How about zero to a million in 8 months? Powerful, right?

Today, there are a gazillion services that make it easy to start a drop shipping business. You can go to Shopify and actually automatically link to a source in Asia. Just look around and educate yourself. Dropshipping has never been easier (although it never had so much competition).

8 – Write for other sites

I need to write for other sites as a way to promote my blog. That is why I tend to write so many guest posts: exposure. However, if you are a good writer, this may be a great fit. There are many sites out there starving for great content and willing to pay you to write articles. Check out this list of 50+ blogs that pay you to write for them. If you want to write a guest post for me, shoot me a message (check the “work with me” tab in the main menu before that).

9 – Sell your consulting services

I personally made decent money out of consulting, so I know for sure that it can be done. Eventually, I personally started to become fully booked and eventually raised by hourly fee high enough so that I have enough clients to make reasonable money but I don’t spend much time consulting – as I don’t have that time…

Everyone who I tried to convince starting a small consulting business told me they would not get clients. They priced their services at $100/h. That is not the way you should start, in my opinion. I also started from the bottom, charging $30/h and I gradually raised my price until it met the sweet spot in terms of customers and time.

If you want to start your consulting business, the first thing is set up a platform to promote your services. A blog typically does the trick, but using social media appears to work best.

If you want to hire me (for any topic from FIRE and personal finances to real estate investing) shoot me a message.

10 – Work as a virtual assistant

Many of the previous ways to make money online include consistent hustle. For instance, consider a blog: we need to create content for our blog, create content for other blogs (as a way to get exposure), promote the blog, develop relationships with other blogs and a gazillion of other things I would spend this entire post talking about.

As a result, most of us decide to hire virtual assistants. I don’t recommend bloggers to hire VAs right way, but at some point I think that it takes money to make money. If you are good at managing social media, doing outreach, etc, this may be your thing. Simply make a profile at Fiverr or Upwork and get the ball rolling. If you manage to have a set of blogs your YouTube channels to manage, it can be quite lucrative…

As of October 2017, I am hiring a VA! If you are interested, send me a message.

 

If you have more passive income ideas or if you use other passive income streams, please do let me know! I’d like to add them to this post and keep growing it.

invest in real estate buy property in portugal
Planning, Real Estate,

Investing in Real Estate in Portugal

Do you want to invest in Real Estate in Portugal? Here’s what we can do to help you!

The first time I decided I wanted to invest in Portugal, my family asked me why. To them, it would have been more natural to invest in Italy or Canada, where we spent some time. I am very happy I decided to invest in Portugal, for a number of reasons, but the first one because my investments have been working great.

There are a number of reasons why people want to invest in Portugal when they want to invest in Real Estate:

  1. They want to get a Golden Visa, a resident permit that is obtained when investing a certain amount (typically €500,000).
  2. They want to invest small amounts of money. The Portuguese Real Estate market is great because Real Estate can be really cheap.
  3. They are looking to invest in the coast, close to beaches. Portugal has the best coasts and beaches in Europe.
  4. and more!

If you follow my blog you know that I invest in Portugal for a while. All my investments have been performing really well and I am looking to invest more until I hit about $6000/mo in rental income (I am at about $1350 right now and will hit $2000 until the end of the year).

Buy property in Portugal

In my company, we work with many types of people:

  1. Buy and hold and fix and flip investors.
  2. Second home buyers (both coast and non-coast homes).
  3. Developers who want to develop properties.

Reasons why investors like to invest in Portugal

After working in over 20 transactions with investors, I am able to say why they typically want to invest in Portugal:

  1. There is a lot of opportunity for high-yield investments. My own portfolio has been operating at a 10%+ net profit. I have been looking into the multi-unit market and I found more opportunity there than in any other market.
  2. It is one of the cheapest (if not THE cheapest) real estate markets in Europe, therefore we should expect a correction to normalize the markets in Europe.
  3. Because it is cheap, it is also much easier for you to begin investing.
  4. The tax code offers many advantages in comparison to other tax codes (in particular, that of the US).
  5. You can get 100% financed. Have a look at my portfolio; I was 100% financed on my deals, except for the closing costs (about 2% of the purchasing price).
  6. The fix and flip market is safer than other markets.
  7. It offers a great market for time-sharing models for beach homes.
  8. It allows investors to diversify.

Reasons to buy Real Estate in Portugal

I could talk all they long about this, because there are very many (and so compelling) reasons to buy Real Estate in Portugal, especially as a retired foreigner. Here are some:

  1. If you buy Real Estate in Portugal, you’re well on your way to get a permanent visa permit.
  2. You can travel to any other location in Europe, Africa and the US/Canada spending less than
  3. The weather is great!
  4. It is one of the most beautiful countries in the world
  5. Everything is cheap, so many people buy properties in Portugal just so they can spend some nice vacation over here. I can tell you that I live where you vacation!

Where to look / what to do if you want to buy Real Estate in Portugal

Buying real estate in Portugal can be hard for foreigners. The first thing that a foreigner has to know is where to buy. However, all markets are very different from one another and from my experience investors have no idea how different they are.

On top of that, they barely know important aspects, such as tax, transactions, and construction itself.

I typically invest in mid-sized to small cities, and I typically go after motivated sellers when I want to buy properties for me or the investors I work with. I feel comfortable in those markets are I know that I can always make money when I buy, as I usually buy way undervalue.

Our services

I offer consulting services if you’re looking to invest in Real Estate in Portugal, depending on the region you’re looking to invest in. I provide reports on the markets and I look for investment properties – both buy and hold and fix and flip.

If you want to have a simple report with data on te markets where we invest in, we usually charge from €700 to €2,900 + VAT. We also provide market studies and reports on specific cities and markets.

Our second service is to help the investor with the transaction, from the beginning until the end of the transaction. Our rate is 6% of the purchasing price, with a minimum of €5,000 + VAT. We can also represent you in the transaction too.

If you are thinking about buying a property in Portugal or if you want to know more about our service, send me an e-mail to fromcentstoretirement [at] gmail [dot] com.

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