Tag Archives: alternative income

Glimpse

Here is a Glimpse from next week’s schedule:

Make Money Monday:  From Employer to Employee.  I will look at why some are choosing to reenter the workplace after years of entrepreneurship or pursuing alternative income sources.  I encountered individuals that have done this or are thinking of doing this and it comes as kind of a blow to my own psyche.

Techy Tuesday:  Home Office Series: I will continue the discussion on finding the right Internet service for your home office.  I will discuss appropriate speeds and whether you should purchase separate Internet plans for your residence and your home office. 

Wedded Bliss Wednesday: Handling Disagreements in a Long Distance Relationship.  When your spouse is not with you, disagreements can be very delicate.  There are ways to soften the blow and still communicate your feelings. 

Tough Life Thursday: Discontinued Until Further Notice

LITE FARE FRIDAYS is anything thing that I feel like discussing on that day.  I will try to keep it light just in time for the weekend! .  If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive updates by email or RSS reader.  

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Filed under business, Career, Family, Home Office Series, Light Fare, marriage, Marriage and Military, Marriage and Relationships, relationships

Making Money with eHow

This week, I am preparing to try my hand at writing an article for eHow.  I planned to write my first article this past weekend but got tied up with completing the painting of a room in my house.  I will work on writing my first article this week and let you know when I get it posted. 

So, instead, I only managed to set up my eHow account.  Here are the things I observed while setting up my profile.

Setting Up a Profile

I had created an eHow account a while ago but had never set up my profile.  I completed the setup this past Saturday. 

I started with the avatar for my profile.  An avatar is the image that you will use to identify yourself.  I am using this animated avatar, which I got from my account with Yahoo! Answers. 

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I did a brief search online for an interesting avatar, but soon grew bored.  I didn’t want to use an actual photo, so I cheated and took the avatar that I made for my Yahoo account and pulled it over to eHow.  I simply saved the avatar as a file in my iPhoto library on my Mac and uploaded it to eHow.  Fast and simple. 

There was a time where I didn’t place much stock in animated avatars, but they have grown on me.  I think it is important to have an image that identifies you and provides a consistent visual reference for your audience.  I’m not sure at this stage whether a photo is better for building creditability on a site such as eHow.  I wouldn’t have a problem with using a real photo, I just don’t have one suitable for this forum at this time.  I may change my avatar later. 

I also enabled Twitter in my profile.  eHow will notify Twitter whenever I publish or comment on an article.  I will set this up initially.  Once I publish a few articles and/or comment on other articles, I will be able to gauge what, if any, value there is in having Twitter enabled on eHow.  If it looks too spammy then I will disable the Twitter notifier.  Although I am very interested in marketing my works eHow and on here, I am very sensitive to things that might be perceived as spam.  So, I will play this by ear. 

Lastly, I completed the remaining fields in the profile builder, which include inputting Interests, Expertise, Education, and Favorites.

Earning Compensation for Writing

In order to earn compensation for writing articles on eHow, you must enroll in the Writer Compensation Program.  Only legal residents of the United States are permitted to enroll or the opportunity to earn money for articles.  When setting up a payment account with eHow, the site asks for your taxpayer name and ID.  So, if you are like me and write under a pen name, you will be required to enter your real name and social security number or employer ID number under which you pay your taxes.  eHow indicates that all such information is kept confidential.   

The Supplemental Terms of Use applicable to your Writer Compensation Program include the considerations used to determine whether and how much the author will be paid for an article.  The criterion is rather subjective and is in the sole discretion of eHow.  They are:

  • Popularity of the article;
  • Number and quality of inbound links to the article;
  • Topicality and newsworthiness of the article content;
  • Usefulness and applicability of the article content;
  • User response to your articles, such as positive reviews and comments;
  • Degree of specialization of the article content; and
  • Quality of the writing.

I would imagine that things like ‘quality of inbound links’ and ‘usefulness and applicability’ could be pretty nebulous as applied to your work.  In addition, eHow also does not disclose the percentage of your earnings that they are taking, which is a negative in my opinion.  That being said, there is some earning potential here.  Since eHow articles tend to be basic how-to references on subjects in which the author may be an expert or at least very knowledgeable, there may not need to be a lot of research and other preparatory work that goes into writing articles for eHow.  In that case, the somewhat small effort that may go into writing an eHow article may offset the negatives of nebulous criterion and vague percentage breakdowns. 

Arbitrary Termination Provisions

Although this may not be a deal-breaker, every author publishing an article on eHow should be aware of the biting arbitrariness of eHow’s discretion to terminate your account “for any reason or no reason.” 

So, technically, eHow could just decide one day, for example, that it does not like that you spell your username, Marianne, with an ‘i’ and not a ‘y’ and terminate your account while blocking your access to the site.  Once your account is closed, eHow may continue to publish the article(s) that you have written, subject to its own terms for the removal or modification of content by you. 

It is not clear from the terms whether eHow will continue to compensate you for content you have published on the site once your account is terminated or whether you are able to get a distribution of monies already accumulated to your eHow account. 

It is important to have at least a marginal understanding of eHow’s terms and conditions before using the site to avoid surprises later on and to better leverage your awareness of the existing terms against your participation on the site. 

I may write a follow up post once I publish an article to eHow if I make any additional interesting observations.  Have you published any articles on eHow?  What have you observed about using the site?

MAKE MONEY MONDAYS is a forum to discuss ways in which you can create additional sources of income.  I try to focus on particular ideas and steps you can take to create alternative income and passive income sources.  I have also begun a series of posts called “Rental Property Conversion.”  This series follows my husband and I as we turn our property into a rental property.  I will also research and post other useful information in this category. If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive my content updates by email or RSS reader.  

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Building A Blog: Is It Time For Paid Hosting? Pt. 1

I have been blogging now for a little more than three months.  My goal with Aspire to Grace has always been to get to a point where I could earn passive income directly or indirectly from this site. 

I still have a ways to go building and marketing this website and receiving enough traffic to enable me to earn an income.  As part of this process, I have been thinking more and more about moving over to a hosting service for which I would pay.  I had always intended to do this down the line and even possibly before traffic levels get high enough to warrant such a move. 

My question today is whether now is the time. 

When I sat down to write this post, I realized that I had quite a bit more to say about this topic than I thought at first glance.  I also realized that I am short on time to get this post published.  So, I will break this post into two parts and post the second part next week.  But, you will have to wait until next week to find out whether I have decided to move over to paid hosting at this time. 

When is it time to switch from free to paid hosting?

In a previous post, I discuss some of the benefits of owning a domain name, especially for a business.  Owning your own domain name and coupling it with a paid hosting account, gives you complete control and discretion when it comes to the content and applications on your site. 

Sometimes free hosted, subdomain sites such as WordPress.com and Blogger have restrictions.  For example, some free services won’t allow you to post ads on your page.  Therefore the alternative income side to blogging is severely limited.

The benefits of paid hosting include web support to help you when you are having a problem with your site and the ability to increase bandwidth to accommodate a growing website. 

Great bursts of traffic can take down a subdomain site.  With a paid host site, you have a lot more control over the function of your site.  With the right design, paid hosted sites can look and feel like a higher quality site, which will be good for your business. 

Am I there yet?

I have not yet reached the traffic levels that would compel me to move to a paid host service.  However, traffic levels would not be my only reason for making the switch. 

With a paid host service, I will be forced to learn a lot more and a lot faster.  I will also be able to improve the look and design of this website.  Part of the process of building this website and increasing traffic will include improving the look and feel of Aspire to Grace.

I notice the better quality of sites like The Smart Passive Income Blog and Trish Jones.  These sites include graphics that are a bit more enhancing and compelling.  The visual quality of the sites, in my opinion, is more appealing. 

On this site, I am currently hosted by WordPress.com’s free host service.  I have limited capabilities to manipulate the appearance and functionality on this site as far as improving visual quality and efficiency.  I realize that I may not have tapped into the full potential of WordPress.com’s applications, but I am aware that there are limitations to these types of sites even though I may not be equipped to specify all such limitations here.  That’s why I will need to do a little more pecking at the surface to really figure out whether this is the right move at this time.  Who knows, with a little more research, I may discover additional improvements to make to this site before making the switch to paid hosting.

If I consider the benefits of paid hosting, which include the ability to improve the quality of this site and have full discretion to design and implement alternative income functions, I could be ready to move to a paid host.  But, there are still some other considerations that I will take into account. 

Next week, I will discuss what it would mean to move over to a paid host and what I would have to do to make the switch.  I will also look at whether it is worth the move at this time, considering some of the other things that I need to get done before my move to Mississippi in July. 

Stay tuned for the rest of this discussion. 

In the meantime, do you have any stories to share about moving over to paid hosting?  I’d love them. 

TECHY TUESDAYS is a forum to discuss various technologies and web applications.  I am currently hosting a series of posts called “Building a Blog.”  This series discusses all of the things that I am doing to build this website.  I will also discuss tips and suggestions for building your blog based on my own progress, as well as feed back from others.  If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive updates by email or RSS reader.  

 
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Dividend Stocks, My 1st Quarter Results

Progress of Dividend Stocks

 In February, I wrote Choosing Dividend Stocks to explore parameters that you can use to select dividend-paying stock investments.  I started with the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats, a list of publicly-traded companies that have consistently increased their dividends over the last 25 consecutive years. An updated list, as of March 18, can be found here.

Based on the parameters I referenced in that post, I chose to invest in Avery Dennison Corp. (AVY) – maker of beverage labels, retail tags and vehicle graphics- and Bemis Co. Inc. (BMS) – maker of flexible packing and pressure sensitive material for labels, decoration and signage.

At the time of my initial purchase of these companies, Avery Dennison was $28.03/share. It offers a dividend yield of 5.70% and will pay an annual dividend this year of $1.64 per share.  Bemis was $22.85/share.  The dividend yield is 3.80% and annual dividend is $0.90 per share.

So far, my 2009 investment has appreciated 5.9% and I have made $15.77 in dividend payments on top.  My gain is not realized yet because I still own the stock, but I expect continued growth of these stocks into the second quarter.  I have also purchased them with a long-term outlook so, unless I get wind of distress at one or both of these companies, I plan to hold on to them.    

In addition, my dividend payment was based on my original investment in these stocks. I purchased additional shares after the dividend payment.  Thus, my next quarterly dividend payment will be based on a higher number of shares.  This is in addition to other investments I have in stocks, but the other investments were made prior to January 1 and have mixed results.  I may report on that later, but I don’t find it worth it to hash out here now. 

Here is a snapshot of my progress with these companies:

 

 

AVERY DENNISON

BEMIS

Yield

5.70%

3.80%

Annual Dividend

$1.64/share

$0.90/share

My Total Divs.

1st Qtr

$15.77

 

 

 

1st Buy Price (1.22)

$28.03

$22.85

2nd Buy Price

(3.31)

$22.28

$20.80

Value a/o Fri. (4.24)

$29.76

$24.18

My % Gain

5.9%

 

Have you done any dividend stock investing this year?  What parameters have you used to choose dividend stocks?  What is your experience with dividend stocks in this market?  Please share your comments in the comment section below.    

MAKE MONEY MONDAYS is a forum to discuss ways in which you can create additional sources of income.  I try to focus on particular ideas and steps you can take to create alternative income and passive income sources. If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to
receive my content updates by email or RSS reader.  

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Glimpse and Round Up

Glimpse

I must admit that I am getting a slow start toward my schedule for next week. So far, I only know what I will discuss at the beginning of the week:

Make Money Monday: Rental Property Conversion Series: Now that I have completed refinancing my mortgage, what are my next steps toward converting my residence to a rental? I only have a few months left to complete my conversion and offer the property for lease.

Techy Tuesday: I am ready to purchase my copy of Intuit’s Quicken Rental Property. This software will at the same time help me organize my personal finances and provide additional resources as I prepare to convert my residence to a rental property. In some ways, this will be an extension of the Rental Property Conversion Series.

That’s all I have so far, but will use this weekend to prepare a full schedule for next week.

Round Up

Here are a few tidbits I found interesting this week:

Sneaky YouTube, Facebook point to better office productivity suggests that workers that can surf the net during breaks are more productive. 

Historic Baltimore Hotels – if you are in the Baltimore area as I am, it is definitely worth checking out these historic hotels.  

The Active Ingredient in Marijuana Kills Brain Cancer Cells – isn’t this ironic? Marijuana actually kills brain cancer cells while leaving healthy cells intact, according to this study.  

LITE FARE FRIDAYS is anything thing that I feel like discussing on that day.  I will try to keep it light just in time for the weekend! .  If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive updates by email or RSS reader.  

 

 

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Building a Blog Series: Forward a Domain Name to an Existing Blog URL

On Techy Tuesdays, I host a forum to discuss various technologies and applications. 

The Building a Blog series discusses the steps that I am taking and have taken in establishing a blog from the ground up.  While there are many other more established forums discussing how to build blogs, my forum will allow you to follow this blog as it unfolds.  Hopefully, you will be able to learn from me and will have input of your own to add to the discussion. 

Last week, I purchased a domain name – www.aspiretograce.com.  I had thought long and hard about when the appropriate time would be to purchase a domain name.  I started this blog about a month ago and am currently hosting off of WordPress.com’s free blogging application because I wanted to get acclimated to blogging on a regular basis before investing in paid hosting and purchasing a domain name.  I also felt like I had a long way to go with learning the basics of coding before I could think about maintaining my own site. 

After doing some research on the topic and trying to get a feel for when buying a domain name is appropriate, I concluded that now is as good a time as any.  I even wrote a post about buying a domain name.   Based on my research, I discovered that buying a domain name now might be a good thing to do for a number of reasons.

Owning Your Website Outright Provides More Freedom

In my Building a Blog post last week, I cited to a great video by Trish Jones in which she urges anyone that is serious about blogging to purchase a domain name.  By owning your own domain name, you have the greatest liberty and control over your content and any monetization sources you want to include on your website.  As Trish pointed out, many free blog hosting services have restrictions against advertising and other blog monetization sources.

At least one exception exists where you own your own domain name but are redirecting that domain name to an existing blog on the free blog host’s website.  In my case, although I have purchased my domain name, I am not yet out from under the reign of WordPress.com.  I have decided to temporarily forward my new domain name to my existing wordpress.com URL until I am ready to go to a paid hosting application.   Therefore, I am still subject to WordPress.com’s policies and restrictions.  But, I am one step closer to freedom.  Once I am comfortable with going to a paid hosting service, I can host my domain name on that host’s servers and reap the full benefit of owning my own domain. 

Your New Domain Name Can Be Forwarded to Your Existing URL

For those of you that are like me and are technologically challenged or are just not ready to take the plunge to hosting your own blog, you can take a half-leap by purchasing your domain name and then forwarding that domain to an existing URL.  I have been able to do this with my WordPress.com URL, but you will need to double-check the policies of your own blog host to ensure that this is consistent with that host’s policies. 

Forwarding my new domain name to my existing WordPress URL was simple with GoDaddy.com,the registrar from whom I purchased my domain name.  They have a tutorial on their website that walks you through the process of forwarding your parked domain name.  Once you purchase a domain name with Go Daddy, it is parked on their servers.  The parked domain name can then be forwarded at your leisure.  

Once your domain name is forwarded, anyone that types your domain name into their address bar will be redirected to the existing URL.  Once redirected, the existing URL will show in the user’s address bar unless you mask the existing URL. 

Mask the Existing URL and Your Domain Name Appears In the Address Bar

Once your domain name is forwarded to the existing URL, you can also mask that existing URL so that only your domain name appears in the address bar.  On Go Daddy’s website, it also gave me an easy function to mask my existing domain name.  I had to wait for the forwarding function to fully process and once my domain name forwarded to my existing URL, I masked that URL.  Now, if you go to www.aspiretograce.com, that URL will appear in the address bar, but you have actually been redirected to www.aspiretograce.wordpress.com.  

With Your Own Domain Name, You Can Start Building a Search Engine Reputation

Owning and implementing a domain name allows you to begin immediately to build a reputation for your name.  If you are using various methods to market your website, including posting comments on blogs, submitting articles to directories and utilizing search engine optimization, you will be able to build a reputation for your domain name.  Otherwise, if you are only using a free blog host’s URL such as wordpress.com or blogger.com, once you purchase and implement your own domain name, you will have to transition your marketing efforts to the new domain name at that time. 

These are just a few of the reasons that owning a domain name is advantageous. As you can see, a domain name can have as little or as much impact on your blog situation as you desire.  But, it preserves your control and liberty for a time when you are ready to take full advantage of its benefits.   

I’d love to hear about your experiences with buying and owning a domain name.  Do you think it is advantageous?  Please share your feedback in the comments section.  

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Rental Property Conversion Series: Refinancing Mortgage Loans

Make Money Mondays

Make Money Mondays is a forum to discuss ways in which you can create additional sources of income.  I try to focus on particular ideas and steps you can take to create alternative income and passive income sources. 

My husband and I have decided to turn our primary residential property into a rental investment property once we move to our next duty station.  In a previous post, I talked about how turning our property into a rental property is one of the things I want to accomplish while he is deployed.  My husband and I have a small row house in a Washington, D.C. suburb.  I purchased the home in 2004 in a seller’s market, but fortunately our house has maintained increased value since it was purchased.  Today, we have at least a 35% increase in the value of our home, which has fluctuated higher in recent times. 

We have decided to place our house on the market as a rental property instead of selling it, however.  Right now, it is a nice little investment that is poised to bring in a little additional income for at least the next couple years.

REFINANCE

The first step we are taking before converting the property to a rental unit is refinancing the mortgage loan.  I originally purchased the home before meeting my husband.  So, the loan and title are in my name.  I had a 7 yr. adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) with a fixed rate of 5.75% for 7 years.  The loan is set to readjust in 2011 to a variable rate. 

The purpose of refinancing the loan is to obtain a lower rate, which will result in a lower monthly mortgage payment.  But, refinancing a loan comes with some costs.  Therefore, if my husband and I were going to sell our house this year, it would not be worth it to refinance now.  Even if we were to obtain a lower mortgage payment, if we were to sell the property within the next year, the money we spent on the closing costs of the refinance would cancel out our lowered mortgage.

Although our refinance transaction has not yet closed, we were lucky to have gotten in while the mortgage rates were lower and have locked in a 5% rate, which is lower than our current fixed rate.  We will also add my husband to this loan and to the title of the home.

Once our refinancing transaction is complete, we will be able to confirm how much lower our mortgage payments are and can determine where to set the rates for rent.  We will also need to update our research of the rental market in our area to stay abreast of changing trends. 

If you are planning to refinance a mortgage, here are some of the factors a mortgage lender will take into account to determine your rate:

·      Annual income of the loan-holder(s)

·      Income during the past 30 days

·      Recent credit acquisition – incl. new credit cards, consumer loans

·      Credit worthiness – incl. FICO scores

·      Other assets – incl.  cash in savings & other accounts

·      Existing homeowners insurance policies

·      Equity in the property – taking into account your balance on the existing loan and any appreciation or depreciation value in the property.

If possible, find a lender that can lock in your assessed rate for as long as possible.  In recent times, mortgage bankers such as Suntrust and Wells Fargo have seen a significant rise in refinancing transactions and are sometimes running at a rate of 90 days to complete a refinancing transaction.  This data will depend heavily on your location and your lender.  The longer the rate lock-in, the less chance that your rate will expire before the lender has the chance to complete your transaction.  Articlsbase.com offers additional information about how the recent surge in financing has impacted financiers in Mortgage Refinance Surge Tips for 2009.

Have you thought about refinancing your property?  What has your experience been in this market?  Please share your comments in the comments section.  

UPDATE: Please be aware that some loans may have certain requirements that owners remain in the property as a primary residence for at least a certain period of time after closing on the refinancing.  In my case, there was a restriction that we maintain the property as a primary residence for at least sixty (60) days following settlement, which we had already planned to do.  

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Filed under Alternative Income Sources, Make Money Mondays, Real Estate