Why No one Should Be Paying Their Student Loans.

Lets talk about student loans, shall we?

I have spent a billion hours researching the student loan market, and have decided that there is absolutely no reason for a college graduate to pay their loans.

I have resisted writing this post because everyone is going to say it’s your obligation to pay your student loans and tell me I am a horrible person.

The biggest reason you will tell me to pay my student loan debt is the trillion-dollar deficit currently hanging over the US economy, but hear me out.

1. The reality is that the system is broken.

Student loans are forcing young adults to move back in with their parents. We are officially calling it, “The boomerang generation.” Of course, this trend is going to totally deplete Gen X’s retirement funds, which means nobody is going to have money for a very long time.

 2. Your loans will be forgiven in 25 years.  

The government has created absolutely no incentive for paying your student loan debt off.

When you graduate from college, you can choose to have your student loan payments based on income.

If you make twenty thousand or less a year, you are not required to make a monthly payment. (The average new grad makes less than $20K a year)

Don’t forget that your student loans are forgiven after 25 years. This means a portion of all of this debt will be added to the deficit at the end of 25 years.

In fact, Professors are investing the majority of their retirement funds into Sallie Mae loans. Professors are making money off of the students who cant pay their loans back. And it is backed by the government!

3.Paying your loans will ruin your career

In the past, “young adults with student debt made more money, had better credit scores and had more car loans than young adults who had not attended college.

Now the opposite is true, students will student loan debt have worse credit scores, do not take out car loans and are most likely living with their parents.

This could be the reason that student loans are more likely to default than any other type of loan.

Now young adults are getting creative in how they pay their loans back.

One dentist stopped paying his student loans off, so he could start his own practice. Student loans are the last bill you should pay.

Think of creative ways you could use that money to increase your income.  (Like the girl who used $17K of her student loans on plastic surgery)

4. You don’t need credit

The only reason left that you would pay your student loans is that you need credit. But the reality is that the whole “credit score” industry is falling to pieces, and startups are finding new ways to measure whom will pay them back.

5. The industry is broken

The student loan industry is broken. The next generation will be left with an insane amount of debt, and an economy that is falling to pieces.  You submitting your three-hundred dollar payment each month wont change that.

Instead, focus on finding the career path that is going to work for your life. Learn how to earn money in the gig economy, and make a plan that is sustainable. Student loans are not sustainable.

How to build a career working from home

I have spent the past seven years working remotely. My first position was a freelance gig I landed on eLance. Some shady couple paid me $10 an hour to collect email addresses they could market to.

I had no idea I was simply a low-paid spam bot. I wouldn’t have cared. The only thing that mattered was that I could earn money from my own home.

Since that day I have held positions at major PR firms, traveled around the country, and learned the hard facts about what it means to be a remote worker in todays economy. My last position was working remotely for Disney Interactive.

Today, I run a freelance consultancy where I build online marketing programs for leading consumer brands.

Next week, I am launching a brand-new course that will show you how to build a career working from home. (details here)

This course wont show you how to get paid to take surveys or make a billion dollars from your coach. Instead, it will give you a wide lense view of the career opportunities for remote workers, and help you find the path that is right for you.

The reality is that most remote working opportunities are not meant to build sustainable careers. We wont show you any “get rich quick” schemes.  We will explore sustainable remote career opportunities, and help you create a career path that works for you.

I will show you the exact tactics I used to land full-time remote working positions, and everything I learned along the way.

Here are some of the topics we will cover:

  • The future of remote workers and the career paths available to them
  • How to identify legitimate remote job opportunities
  • The secret to landing a job working remotely and tips for managing your workload
  • Real-life examples of sustainable careers you can build from home
  • A break-down of how much income you can make working remotely
  • How to land insurance, retirement and other benefits you get with traditional jobs

We will have three live-streamed video sessions, and daily emails packed with resources. The course begins next Monday June 30th, but don’t worry if you cant make the live sessions. Everything is recorded so you can watch on your own time.

The cost of the course is $25, but you can get access for $10 if you use the code “BLOGVIP.”

Register here! 

Master the art of pitching for your career

A man is sitting on a sofa and writing notes in a notebook

Most people think pitching is something only publicists and startup founders do. The reality is that professionals in every industry can use pitching to further their career.

What is pitching?

Pitching is simply the art of introducing an opportunity that offers the other party something of value in exchange for something that is valuable to you.

For example:

  • PR professionals are offering media something of value in exchange for coverage on their client.
  • Startup founders are offering investors a great opportunity in exchange for money to launch it
  • Event organizers are offering sponsors the chance to connect with their community in exchange for a fee

In all of these examples you will notice that both parties get something they want out of the opportunity presented.

How can you use this for your career?

Everywhere you look people are telling professionals how valuable their network is. The key to success is having a great network. Your network is your net worth. The problem is that no one tells you what to DO with that network. What is the point of having an amazing network if you cant tap into it?

Here is an exercise you can do to help better tap into your network:

  • Choose 5 interesting people in your network that you would love to work with
  • Identify what they could do for your career or business, and what you have to offer them
  • Send them a pitch outlining how you can work together (free template below!)

Here is your free template:  

Hi, X.

I am working on (insert interesting/relevant project you are working on), and wanted to see if there might be a way to work together.

(Write 2-3 lines describing the opportunity, and why you thought it would be particularly interesting to them)

Let me know if this sounds like something you might be interested in, and we can set up a quick call to discuss further.

Happy to answer any questions you might have.

Thanks!

(Your Name)  

You can use this pitch to land new consulting clients, land media coverage, get an introduction to someone who could be influential in your career.

 Test it out, and let me know the results in the comments!

How to monetize your blog with online events

Hosting events can be a great way to monetize your blog.  The beauty of hosting events is that you earn revenue from both the registration fee and sponsors. In addition, events create new opportunities you can offer existing advertisers.

The biggest obstacle in launching an event business is the amount of risk that is involved. You may need to invest a ton of money into securing a venue, catering and marketing materials before any revenue is coming in.

You can often save money by cutting corners and creating strategic partnerships with vendors. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box when launching a new events.

Here are a few of my favorite examples of how bloggers have built amazing event businesses from scratch:

1. Founding Moms

Jill is the founder of Founding Moms,  a support network for mom entrepreneurs. I met Jill at TechWeek Chicago, and was blown away with how great she was at cutting corners and building successful businesses from nothing. Jill started hosting meet ups for mom entrepreneurs in her local area, and received so much positive feedback that she spun it into a business. She started partnering with mothers in other cities to host similar events, and using smart blog content and ebooks to reach new entrepreneurs. Today, Jills network hosts meet ups for 8,500 entrepreneurs in more than 42 cities across the country.

2. Bloggy Boot Camp 

 

Tiffany is the founder of Bloggy Bootcamp, a series of mini-conferences hosted in 6 new cities every year. Tiffany is a powerhouse in the blogging space, and was able to leverage her community to build an amazing series of events.

Large conferences can have huge overhead costs, which is why most of them only happen once or twice a year. Tiffany saw that bloggers in smaller areas were desperate to connect ith other bloggers, but didn’t want to spend thousands of dollars to attend a conference.

She created amazing one-day workshops, which allowed her to launch multiple events all at once. Not only did her events sell out almost immediately, but major sponsors came on board because they were so interested in the opportunity to connect with large groups of regional bloggers.

3. Maria Killam

Maria Killam is a nationally-recognized color expert, and the founder of a popular home design blog.  Maria developed a system that allows you to find the perfect paint color for any room. Maria built a huge following by sharing her techniques and design advice on her blog Colour Me Happy.

Today Maria host private workshops to show designers how they can use her methods and business tools to build their businesses. Marias events are so inspirational, because she is giving designers access to everything she has learned building her business.

4. Penelope Trunk 

Last year, Penelope Trunk started hosting live-video courses through her well-known career blog. Her courses were so successful that we spun it into a company.

The beauty of online events is that you have no overhead.  You no longer have to invest time and energy into developing an event without knowing if you will make money.

 

How to get a business loan when your credit sucks

We are coming to a point in history, where almost everyone has terrible credit. If you managed to not get sucked into bad credit card deals,  or the home loan crash you probably at least have a few insane student loans you forgot to pay.

Almost no one in America has a good credit score. Banks have more regulations than ever before on how they can approve loans. And the entire system is about to come crashing down.

We need a new system for assessing who is likely to pay a loan back.

I have like the worst credit in history, so I have become obsessed with all of the startups trying to fix the system. I have been doing tons of research, and found the most interesting startups in the lending space.

1. Earnest

Earnest was created to give financially responsible people access to short-term loans for big life changes. I love this company because they give you a super-low interest rate, and only allow you to borrow the money for up to 2 years. This is perfect for those unexpected things like….relocating to a new city, buying a house, etc. Earnest has created a merit-based system, which takes many different pieces of your financial history in account. This is perfect for people who have a regular income, but a terrible credit score.

2. Fundbox

Fundbox is a lifesaver for freelancers and independent contractors. The hardest part of being self-employed is mastering the art of cash flow. Fundbox allows you to get paid for outstanding invoices faster than ever before. You can sync your invoicing software to Fundbox, and get payment advances anytime you need them.

3. Kabbage

Kabbage was created to help entreprenuers borrow money to build their business. Most entrepreneurs have terrible credit, and not having access to extra cash can totally hault the growth of your business. Kabbage allows you to take small business loans based on your paypal and stripe payment history. They assess the financial history of yoru business to decide what they should lend you. Such a smart way to approve loans.

4. Raise works

Raiseworks makes it easier for small business owners to get loans. They have created a system that allows you to get access to funding faster than traditional loans.

5. Lend Up
Lend Up helps you build your credit score by giving you access to small installment loans. The interest is relatively high, but this can be a great way for people with terrible credit to start building it up.

Best apps for your career

I love finding new apps that actually make life easier.

Here are my 5 latest must-have career apps:

Workfolio is the perfect platform for the professionals that want an online presence, but aren’t interested in blogging. This site allows you to create a simple one-page website highlighting your skills. Setting up your site is totally free. 

Blinkist is the app that makes you appear well-read, without having to actually read. The app turns books into easy-to-digest  outlines that you can quickly scan through. The app is totally free, but you will quickly need to upgrade to the paid version. ($6.99 a month)

Good.co identifies your personality type, and then shows you the companies you would be a great fit for. They have a ton of features, and an amazing blog. When you log-in they give you surveys on your past positions, and allow you to not only grade individual organizations but direct managers.

Photofeeler–Have you ever wondered what people think when they see your profile picture? This site allows you to test different images and crowdsources opinions on whether you look: likable and competent. The site is totally free to use.

Easily.Do-The best to-do app I have found to date. They sync your email, calendar and social profiles into an easy to scan to-do list. My favorite feature is that they notify you of special announcements your friends make. The app is free, with paid upgrades available.

Six weeks to a massive twitter following

Last night someone on Twitter asked if it was better to focus on building a huge base of followers, or to focus on a building a quality community to connect with.

My answer? Both.

I have spent more than five years on Twitter, and helped dozens of influencers implement strategies for increasing their following. The truth is that there are simple steps you can take to building up a twitter following, but it is a total waste of time if you don’t know what you are going to use them for.

Are you building a twitter following to increase traffic to your site? Are you trying to attract new leads for your business? Connect with like-minded professionals?

Before you decide how to build up your twitter following, you need to understand why you are doing so.

Once you know why you are trying to increase your following, you will have a clear picture of the type of people you want following you.

Below is a step-by-step strategy to building a large quality twitter following in six-weeks flat. 

  1. Make sure you have a profile picture that represents you in the best way. You can use PhotoFeeler to find out which picture makes you look the most likable and competent. Fill out your bio, include a link to your site. (aka make sure you look pulled together)
  2. Every night for a month, follow 50 new people who are relevant to your goals. (A great way to find new followers is to find influencers in your niche, and see who they follow)
  3. Each day, watch your twitter stream and unfollow anyone who doesn’t interest you, spams your feed or looks irrelevant to what you are building.
  4. Tweet 6-8 links to interesting articles each day. (schedule them ahead of time with Tweetdeck)
  5. Engage 4-5 followers each day via re-tweets & @ replies
  6. Once you have a solid base of twitter followers, start focusing on getting top industry influencers in your niche to follow you. (A few ways to get big influencers to follow you–comment on their blog regularly, retweet/@reply them often, tweet links to their articles and include their twitter handle. Just don’t go overboard, or you will look like a creepster)

If you follow this plan for six-weeks you will have a large base of highly-engaged followers whom you can leverage to meet your business goals.

A bloggers guide to affiliate marketing

There are a billion guides on how to use affiliate marketing for your blog. I have (tried) to read a lot of them and was overwhelmed with all of the details involved in making money with affiliate marketing

If you love affiliate marketing or find joy in studying data and systems, this post isn’t for you. If you are looking for easy ways to monetize your blog posts with affiliate links, this post is everything you will need.

For purposes of this experiment, I am going to cover two types of affiliate programs:

Open affiliate programs, High-dollar affiliate programs and referral programs.

Open Affiliate Programs: 

  • Low-margin affiliate programs include companies that offer a small commission for any sales you send to their site.
  • These programs offer a small percentage of sales, but have a huge inventory of product you can promote.
  • Most of these networks are easy to get into, and can be a great way to earn extra money from products you would write about organically.
  • It can take alot of time to learn a new affiliate network, so I recommend doing some research and finding the network that makes the most sense of your blog.
  • If you rarely cover products on your blog, you probably wont earn substantial revenue from affiliate networks.

A few of the most popular open-affiliate programs:

Amazon Affiliates
Share a Sale
Skimlinks 
Reward Style 

High-Dollar Referral Programs:

  • High-dollar affiliate programs are companies that focus on selling one or two products, and offer a high-paying incentive for referrals you send to the site.
  • These programs are great for bloggers at every level, because you can earn such a high commission for each referral. One post featuring the product could earn you significant revenue.
  • The key to earning revenue from these programs is to pick a couple of select products that make total sense for your audience, and promote the heck out of them.

A few of the most popular high-dollar referral programs:
Shopify
Workfolio
Danielle Laporte
Quistic 

Product Credit Referral Programs: 

  • Referral programs allow you to earn free product for every new customer you refer to the site.
  • While these programs don’t allow you to earn money directly, they allow you to earn free products. This is a great way to promote companies you already love, and earn rewards for doing some.

A few of the most popular high-dollar referral programs: 

Gilt Group 
ePantry
Stitch Fix

What affiliate programs do you recommend?

How to find the best revenue stream for your blog

The key to creating a full-time income from blogging is to identify the right mix of revenue opportunities, and optimizing them so you can make the most money possible.

Here are the steps you can take to figure out the best way(s) to monetize your blog:

1. Decide how you want to spend your time

We all have different skills and interests and want to spend our time in different ways. If you love creating recipes and taking beautiful photos of food, you will HATE pitching advertisers for your blog. However, you might find creating recipes books are a great way to monetize your blog. Maybe you will love creating video content, and land your own online food show.

The best way to decide how to monetize your blog is to decide how you want to spend your time. Passive income allows you to create projects that give you small amounts of income on a regular basis, while active income is something you are constantly working towards. Take inventory of how you enjoy spending your time, and figure out what revenue streams are going to give you the best life.

Also, I highly recommend you take this myers briggs test and get your personality type. This totally changed the way I approach my business.

If you take the test and send me your personality type, I will send you my favorite fact about that type. (I am an ENTP!)

2. Determine your hourly rate

The way to ensure you hit your income goals is to tie all of your pricing to a minimum hourly rate. Figure out how much income you should make for every hour you work, and use that as a benchmark.

Don’t forget, 30% or more of your income will go to paying self-employment taxes, and make sure to include expenses your employer previously covered. (health insurance, cell-phone, etc)

Also, 60% of your time will be spent pitching new business, managing programs and handling administration details. Be realistic about how much time you can dedicate to this type of work. Here is a simple calculator you can use to find your hourly rate.

You may also find this post about how to survive the gig economy helpful. 

3.  Assess each opportunity against your benchmark

Here is an example of how you assess revenue opportunities against your hourly rate:

Potential Income from sponsored post:
-Each sponsored post sale earns $250 in revenue
-1 out of every 10 brands I pitch purchase a sponsored post
-It takes me 1 hour to find brands to pitch, 1 hour to pitch and answer questions and 2 hours to create the post.

In this scenario, I would make $62.50 an hour for each opportunity I sell. However, it pitching and closing these deals takes longer than I expected I will need to re-assess my pricing structure.

If you run every income opportunity against your minimum hourly rate, you will ensure that you always hit your income goals.

The Ultimate Sponsored Post Pricing Guide

The biggest question people have about sponsored posts is, “what can I charge?”  You know your content is highly valuable to brands, but you don’t know what other bloggers are charging or what kind of ROI brands are looking for.

Here is an equation you can use to find the right price to charge:

Time spent creating content X Hourly Rate) + (Pageviews/1000 X $10) =Price per post

If I charge an hour rate of $50, and reach 25K readers per month the equation would break down like this:

(3 hours X $50/hour) + (25 X 10cpm) =$400 per post

In addition, you can charge for the additional pieces of content you are including the promotion. (tweets, pinterest, etc) Every blogger charges for sponsored

Here is a chart of average sponsored post rates:

SPONSORED BLOG POST PRICING CHART:

AVERAGE MONTHLY TRAFFIC PRICE PER SPONSORED POST
1K-7K $50-$150
7K-15K $150-300
15K-30K $300-$500
30K-50K $500-$750
50K-100K $750-$1,500
100K+ $1,500+

SOCIAL MEDIA PROMOTION PRICING CHART:

TOTAL FOLLOWERS PRICE PER PROMOTION
0-5K $25-$50
5K-25K $50-$75
25K-50K $75-$100
50K+ $150+