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Welcome to another interview in the Design Your Dream Life series!

This is a series where I am interviewing people who have designed their dream lives. You can find all the interviews here on the Design Your Dream Life Page.

I am soo excited to have Laura Pennington on the blog today to share her story of designing her dream life through her online business.

Side note – I’ve had Laura on the blog before when she shared her story of how she built her business. You can check it out here.

Here’s a look at Laura’s bio, to give you some context: Laura Pennington is a virtual assistant, freelance writer, and coach to other freelancers. She blogs at www.sixfigurewritingsecrets.com and www.betterbizacademy.com and enjoys traveling with her husband, John.

Here’s a a look at how Laura answered my questions…

Finish the sentence “I knew I was living my dream life when…”

I knew I was living my dream life when I was able to take a three-week vacation a couple of years ago and not have to stress about any of the materials I deliver to my clients. I have been so organized in only selecting my dream freelance writing clients and virtual assistant clients that I was able to step away from my business and enjoy a three-week vacation in Europe in which I ultimately ended up engaged. This gave me a great deal of freedom and flexibility and is something I still reflect on to this day.

What was your life like before all this that led you to make a change?

In 2011, I was working as a middle school teacher in Baltimore. It was the hardest career year I’ve ever experienced.

The working conditions were awful and there was little to no support from the administration.

As a result, I gave up my entire adult life plan of working towards a career as an educator. I resigned my position and googled “how to become a freelance writer.” I’ve never looked back, and I believe it was the best leap of faith I’ve ever taken.

What’s your lifestyle like?

I currently work from home and I travel regularly.

We usually take 4 to 6 weeks of vacation every single year. If I have my laptop and Wi-Fi, I can work. Sometimes I choose to work in other places such as a library or a coffee shop just to get some variety. I also alternate between sitting and standing.

How many hours per week do you work?

I currently manage a fully booked freelance writing business.

I have courses and coaching sessions with freelancers aspiring to hit the next level or to launch their business and I am writing my PhD dissertation. So the hours I work are influx as a result of that.

I commit 15 to 20 hours per week working on my freelance projects for my clients and the remainder of the time gets distributed between having a life, my coaching and course creation business and my dissertation.

How do you make money?

I make money through affiliate marketing, selling my own products (e.g.: Your Way To VA), strategy sessions and coaching for freelancers who are looking to start their business or those who are looking to go to the six-figure level. I also make money from serving as a virtual assistant project manager and freelance writer.

How long did it take for you to make $1k per month?

As a virtual assistant and freelance writer, I made $1000 in my second month altogether.

I started in the middle of June and racked up nearly $800 in that first month. It is definitely possible to make a great deal of money as a virtual assistant, project manager or freelance writer.

How long did it take for you to make six figures per year?

I was initially fired from my day job after I had been running my freelance business part time.

In less than 18 months, including the 12 months I spent part time and the 6 months working full time, I hit the six-figure mark. Since than my business has been on a growth trajectory. In 2017, for example, I increased my business by 67% and 2018 is on track for a 30% increase, even though I’m working fewer hours than previous years!

What do you wish you knew when you were starting out that you know now?

It’s very difficult to make the transition from working as an employee to working as a business owner, but it’s also an exciting transition to make.

I wish I knew when I started that I didn’t have to take every freelance writing or virtual assistant client who came my way and that I could instead me more selective and choose to only work with my ideal clients.

What advice would you give to someone who is starting out and wants to design her dream life?

The most important advice I can give to you is to find a mentor who will work with you personally or provide you help through courses and other materials to build your dream life.

Finding someone else who has already built something you want to have is extremely important for articulating your goals and ensuring that you have a proven path to get there.

Working directly with a mentor has been instrumental in helping me start my business and in doubling it in recent years. Focusing on choosing a mentor who has built the exact business model I intend to have was extremely helpful for me and I know it is extremely helpful for everyone who will consider using this method.

A Final Note!

I LOVE Laura’s advice about finding a mentor. It is just absolutely perfect. A mentor or coach can change your life. I think it’s totally undervalued in our society.

THANK YOU so much for being a part of this, Laura!

If you want to check out Laura’s course for becoming a virtual assistant – it’s called Your Way To VA (it’s super popular with my readers). You can also read more about her story here.

Have you thought about working from home as a VA? Does Laura inspire you? Let her know in the comments! 

P.s. If you want to learn more about blogging, here are a few free resources…

You can also get 5 days of a free blogging course sent to your email – just add your email to the form below!

The post From Inner City Teacher To Six Figure Virtual Assistant appeared first on Natalie Bacon.

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80% of success is due to psychology—mindset, beliefs, and emotions—and only 20% is due to strategy—the specific steps needed to accomplish a result.
– Tony Robbins

I really thought I was inventing an entirely new philosophy and theory, but it turns out that Tony Robbins already did it in this one-liner.

This quote is exactly what I’ve been saying for the last year, and what I want to talk about in this post…

There are two reasons why your blog isn’t making money – and that’s it.

  • Reason #1: you have a mindset problem (80% of people).
  • Reason #2: you have a tactical problem (the other 20% of people).

The bigger problem is that everyone thinks they have a tactical problem, when in reality 8 out of 10 people have a mindset problem.

I’ve made over $60k this year from my blog (at just six months into the year) – last year I made $45k for the whole year.

I’m sharing this with you so that so that you know it’s possible to make money blogging.

When I started blogging, I had both a mindset problem and a tactical problem.

Once I solved my mindset problem, the right teacher appeared for the tactical problem to be solved (they say “the teacher appears when the student is ready” and I truly believe that). I cleaned up my mind, then I started learning the right strategies and everything clicked.

You can’t get to the tactical problem fixes until you have the mindset problem fixed.

I’ll go through each problem in this post, including examples from my audience to show you what each problem looks like.

Reason #1: Mindset Problem 

Your level of success will seldom exceed your level of personal development.
– Jim Rohn

Having a mindset problem means the problem is how you’re thinking – it’s in your head.

Examples of mindset problems:

  • Fear of the unknown
  • Fear of failure
  • Making excuses
  • Having the victim mentality (aka blame game)
  • Having a scarcity mindset

Let’s look at examples from my readers. I love my readers so much, and I find that using examples is super helpful for everyone.

Here are a few example of what having a mindset problem looks like…

Reader #1: fear of failure

This reader commented in my Facebook Group that she’s afraid of it not working out financially.

Fear is normal. This is just your brain trying to protect you from the unknown. Your primitive brain – the cerebellum – is always trying to avoid pain, seek pleasure, and be as efficient as possible (this is known as the motivational triad). It likes to repeat the past because it knows you stayed alive by doing what you’ve done before. When you want to do something new, your brain goes into fight or flight mode. It’s just trying to keep you safe and alive. Historically, this has kept humans alive. It helped us evolve. However, it’s not so useful for modern times.

Your brain doesn’t know you don’t need protected from your goals and your future.

This is great to know because it means you don’t need to make fear and doubt mean anything. They don’t mean stop. They don’t mean slow down. They don’t mean something has gone wrong. All they mean is that your brain is trying to protect you and keep you alive.

For me, knowing that any time I try something new my brain is going to freak is helpful. I expect it. And I sort of have a pep talk with my brain where I say “I see you brain – I know what you’re doing. This isn’t useful and isn’t going to stop me.”  This way, I acknowledge the fear or doubt (I don’t avoid it), but I don’t let it change my decision.

I wrote about all the fear I had leading up to quitting my job – it was crazy!

If you want to create new results in your future, you have to be willing to experience doubt and fear. It’s how we’re wired as humans and if you won’t experience those emotions to design a new future, you will continue to repeat the past.

The truth is that there’s no way to know if your investment is going to work out financially for blogging. All you can do is decide, commit, and take action until you get the results you want. Usually, this is more than enough. 


Reader #2: scarcity mindset, I don’t know, and the technician

Let’s take a look at this reader’s mindset, which is stuck in scarcity…

This reader says she’s not good at computers, she’s tried this for over 10 years, and she’s always out of work and laid off. She also wants to turn her love of writing into a job.

When you decide that you are going to be a certain way, you will be that way. If you decide you’re going to be bad at technology, then you will be.

Alternatively, you could say “I haven’t been good at technology in the past, but I’m learning and trying.” You could spend one hour every day watching YouTube videos and reading tutorials. Trying and implementing things.

Here’s a blogging secret: you don’t need to be good at technology.

You need to have an abundant mindset and take action.

This reader is stuck in scarcity. She’s thinks that her life is happening to her and not for her. When you live like this, you don’t take action. You stay stuck.

I love the Wayne Dyer quote, “You are not stuck unless you decide to be.”

You can take action and change your future if you want to.

“I don’t know” is one of the biggest dream killers. When you say you don’t know something, you’re giving yourself permission to sit and not take action. This keeps you stuck. You don’t get results.

One way to overcome this is to put a rule (aka constraint) in your life that you won’t let yourself indulge in “I don’t know.” If you think you don’t know, do a little research and try something – anything. If it doesn’t work, then try something else. Always keep moving forward to figure it out.

The finally part of this reader’s comment is that she thinks her love of writing means she can make money blogging.

You don’t make money blogging as a writer.

From the book The E Myth, I learned that there’s the entrepreneur and the technician in any business.

The technician is the person who practices a skill in the business. The entrepreneur is the person who sells the skills, and therefore makes the money.

Another way to put it is how Russell Brunson says “you don’t make money from the thing. You make money from the selling of the thing.”

You don’t make money writing when you’re a blogger. Writing is what you do as the technician. Marketing and selling that writing is how you make the money. This is more of a technical problem that could be addressed after the mindset is cleaned up, but it’s worth mentioning here because it’s in her email, so I couldn’t resist mentioning it!

The reader below is a perfect example of a mindset problem that can be cleaned up easily with the right personal development work.


Reader #3: fear of the unknown

This reader is another fear mindset issue – this time is fear of taking risks. He says he has a long way to go in his career and doesn’t want to mess it up. He’s afraid that blogging isn’t sustainable.

At the heart of this is the thinking that having a secure job that takes care of you is a good thing.

It’s worth mentioning that this type of security is a bit of an illusion. You can still get fired, laid off, become disabled, or lose your job for another reason. Security isn’t real. It just feels comforting and we, as humans, like comfort.

But obviously, there is a different sort of risk associated with entrepreneurship. That’s why entrepreneurs can earn so much money – they have to risk a lot, too.

There is no certainty with starting a business. Most businesses fail. But that has nothing to do with blogging being sustainable – that’s just business.

You don’t make money blogging. You make money from running a business. Blogging may change over time, but business is here to stay. 

Looking for certainty feels like a worthy cause, but in reality, it’s not as rewarding as seeking alignment with your purpose.

When you’re totally aligned and on fire with what you’re doing for work in your life, you don’t think about security – you think about how you can provide value to the world. It’s a completely different value system. You’re not concerned with protecting yourself. You’re concerned with serving others. This is where the magic happens.

When you shift your mindset from acting out of fear to one where you act from a place of abundance, you feel better and get better results in your life, despite having less security.

The truth is that it’s riskier to start a business, but if it’s what you want to do to serve the world, it’s worth it. If you want to serve through a government job, then do that. But know your reason for choosing your job and like it. Don’t choose your job based on security. Choose your job because that’s how you want to serve the world.

Reader #4: victim mindset

This reader calls me lucky for having had so much student loan debt that I “had” something to blog about.

I had to step away before replying to this email because I was so taken back.

This reader is looking at my life from the outside and making it seem like it’s better than hers – like it’s a better set up for starting a blog and turning it into a full time job. But that’s not true. This is just the meaning she’s attaching to my story. She can do the same thing with her story if she wants to.

You can make your past, your current circumstances, and your future mean whatever you want.

There is opportunity everywhere. For you, for me, for everyone who wants it.

The truth about business is that you want to go into a hot market. That’s a must. She says that this is a reason she can’t make money blogging, but that’s wrong. The opposite is true. She just has to find the right angle in that market. Rule #1 of biz is go into a hot market.

She also mentions one of my curse words – dabbling.

You can’t be really successful at anything if you dabble. To be successful, you have to choose one thing and go deep. You have to commit. You have to go all in. If it doesn’t work out, quit. Then, do something else. Whatever you do, do it all the way – never dabble.

When you say to yourself you don’t know how to do something, you give yourself permission not to act. This feels safe. Your brain loves it because it keeps you doing the same things you’ve always done.

The truth is this reader does know how to start – she’s just scared. There are a bajillion tutorials out there about how to start a blog, including mine. It’s not hard to figure out. It’s just new and unknown and therefore, scary.

It’s okay to be scared. You just have to feel the fear and do it anyways (as they say).

When you feel like your life is happening to you and you allow yourself to dabble, you won’t take action and therefore, you won’t get results.

Want new results in your future? Take action right now. Even if it’s small. Do it. Do it without being certain. Do it scared. Then, do more tomorrow.

Final thoughts about having a mindset problem…

These examples are from the last month. I didn’t have to look back far to find them. I get these emails all the time.

And I love these people. These are my people. There’s nothing wrong with them. The problem is that they have a mindset issue that won’t be solved with anything other than personal development.

When you try to solve a mindset problem with a tactical problem, you lose 100% of the time.

What I recommended to these readers, and what I recommend to anyone with a mindset problem, is that they do the mindset work first – not the blogging work.

The biggest problem is not identifying it as a mindset problem. That’s why I’m including these examples. I want to help you recognize what a mindset problem looks like.

I used to have a mindset problem, too. I doubted myself. I wanted security. I felt like my life was happening to me instead of for me. Then, I dove into personal development and I changed my mindset. It wasn’t overnight, but it was totally worth the time and energy spent because happiness and success aren’t possible without it.

After I fixed my mindset, everything in my world shifted for the better. I am truly living exactly how I want to. I’m happier, healthier, and have more success than I ever could’ve imagined, and I know the best is yet to come.

Some people are just naturally gifted with having an abundant mindset – whether it’s from their upbringing or their own teachings. But for everyone else, if you have a mindset problem, you have to fix it before fix any other area of your life – including blogging.


Actions to take if you have a mindset problem…
  1. Recognize you have a mindset problem
  2. Start thinking about how you’re thinking — pay attention to your mind
  3. Immerse yourself in personal development
  4. Take 7 Days to Design Your Dream Life Free Training (my free email course)
  5. Read How To Improve Your Mindset (blog post)
  6. Read The Best Personal Development Books I Recommend
  7. Listen to podcasts – here are my favorite personal development podcasts
  8. Take Design Your Dream Life Academy (my personal development course)

Once you have your mindset right, you’re ready to address tactical problems.

Reason #2: Tactical Problem

Steve Jobs understood Apple is not in the business of iPhones – Apple is in the business of selling iPhones.
– Every successful entrepreneur

If you’re in the 20% of people who do have a tactical problem – not a mindset problem – this is great news.

Tactical problems are pretty easy to fix, especially in business.

You just need to find someone doing what you want to be doing and figure out what they did, then do that in your business.

The end.

Okay, but really, it is that simple.

For example, when people ask me how I became I six figure blogger, I say I sell information products on my blog, and a great course to take to start is Six Figure Blogger. This is the course I took and how I got to the six figure status.

  • If you have a mindset problem, you will come up with a bajillion reasons (excuses) why you can’t take this course – time, money, you’re scared, you’re afraid, your circumstances won’t allow for that, etc.
  • If you have a tactical problem, you will take Six Figure Blogger, implement everything in it, and also become a six figure blogger. It sounds simple because it is. Will there be ups and downs along the way? Of course. Building a business is super challenging. But that’s what you sign up for when you launch a business.

Having a tactical problem is the best place to be in because, while it’s challenging to build a business, it’s much easier than fixing your mindset.

Examples of tactical problems:

  • Focusing on popularity – not on profitability
  • No monetization strategy
  • Focusing on being the technician – not the entrepreneur
  • Taking passive action instead of massive action (consuming instead of implementing)

Russell Brunson says that $0 to $1M in your business is figuring out the what and the how – what are you selling and how are you selling it.

This is such a simple concept that I have found to be 100% true in my own business and when I’m coaching clients.

Let’s look at examples from my readers…


Reader #1: focusing on popularity not profitability


This reader posted in my Facebook group what she is focusing on with her blog.

She listed many social media growth metrics she’s tracking and one affiliate sale she’d like to make.

It may be hard to see the mistake here, but I want to point it out because there’s often so much going on with blogging that it takes most bloggers 10x as long to make money blogging than it should (speaking from experience!).

For this convo, it looks like the blogger is focused on becoming popular and maybe making money. She lists growing her Twitter following at the top of the list as well as guest posting. Later, after I ask her what her strategy is, she says that it’s affiliate marketing.

This is where the mistake is.

If your goal is to make money from your blog with affiliate marketing, you need to have a plan to do it. And the right plan.

My friends Alex and Lauren make over $100k per month blogging and don’t have a Twitter account.

Twitter is good for networking in your industry. It’s great to connect with people on, and it’s useful to have an account so people can find you if that’s where you are, but it’s not a monetization strategy.

If you want to become an influencer and make money through sponsorships, then you need to focus on growing your brand, primarily.

But you can see from her last comment that she wants to focus on affiliate marketing.

There’s nothing wrong with what this person is doing on the face of it. As bloggers, we all want to grow our platforms and our income.

It’s just that each takes a completely different strategy. If you focus on doing both at once, you’ll have to dabble.

If your primary goal is to build a profitable business through your blog, the sooner you focus on a specific monetization strategy for your business, the faster you’ll get there. Then, the social growth can be secondary.

I know this personally because I did exactly what she’s doing. I used to have a book where I wrote down my follower count every week. My monetization strategy was to write blog posts and include affiliate links in them. I was putting out content and holding my breath hoping I’d “grow” and “make money” without a real monetization strategy. This is not how you make money blogging.

You have to figure out what you’re selling and how you’re selling it. Once you have a specific monetization strategy in place, switch over to the influencer stuff. Of course, you can focus on the influencer stuff first, but then don’t have the expectation of making money from affiliate marketing. The problem is when you try to focus on too many things at once.

One caveat I want to mention…  I’m not saying you shouldn’t focus on Pinterest or grow your traffic (something she lists). Traffic is definitely part of monetizing your blog (and I highly recommend Pinterest Traffic Avalanche, while we’re talking about it). But email marketing, creating and selling products, and increasing traffic are the components that really matter. Measuring your twitter followers does not matter 1% for monetizing a website. I’m inferring based on how she listed what she did that she’s focused on general “growth” in the same way I was a couple years ago, which doesn’t lead to turning..

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I spent the last three years of my life working at a registered investment advisory firm that managed over $1B in assets under management.

I learned a ton about managing money and investing, and I became a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER.

I like to explain what I did on a daily basis as being an assistant to rich people.

I worked at the type of firm that I definitely plan to hire to manage my own money in the future. It is a fee only firm that is one of the best. It was a huge privilege to learn under such a great team.

What I know for sure is that investing is something you can learn and do yourself, but there is a learning curve that is part science and part art.

The list below is 21 tips for investing in your 30s that gets to the heart of the science part of investing. It’s the general information that you can use to learn more about investing (whether you decide to do it yourself or hire someone).

21 Tips For Investing In Your 30s

Here’s a list of 21 tips for investing in your 30s that will help you set yourself up for success for the rest of your life.

I broke up each section by parts, since this is such a long post. Here’s a look at the parts listed below.

Okay, let’s get started!

Part 1: Get ready to invest

Before you start investing, you need to make sure you’re ready to invest.

I know it seems like overkill, but seriously most Americans would be in 100x better financial health if they just did the first items on this list.

So, it doesn’t feel right not including them.

Here’s what I mean by getting ready to invest…

1. Set financial goals (why are you investing?)

Set financial goals for yourself and your family.

If you’re not sure where to start with setting financial goals, ask yourself these questions:

  • What are your short term and long term financial goals?
  • Why do you want to invest?
  • Do you want to retire? At what age?
  • What withdrawal rate do you want to take off your investments during retirement (e.g.: 4%?)
  • What is your money philosophy (e.g.: do you think time creates money or do you think you’re responsible for creating more money?)?
  • Do you want to pay off your mortgage, if you have one? How soon?

Don’t let yourself indulge in “I don’t know” or freak out about setting financial goals. You can set simple goals like “get out of debt” and “maximize retirement savings.”

Nothing sophisticated is required here. Just clarity. You need to be clear about your financial goals before you start investing.

Here are a couple posts to help if you’re feeling stuck on financial goals…

2. Pay off your debt (student loans, cars, credit cards, etc.)

Before you get to investing in the stock market, it’s a good idea to have your debt paid off.

Here’s a post about the general savings and debt ratios the pros recommend (this is what I learned in my CFP studying).

Before you start investing, having your consumer debt paid off is a really smart idea. Otherwise, you’re just trading interest rates and not factoring in the risk with debt. (Example: having a car loan at 3% interest rate and credit card debt at 15%, then saving for retirement with a rate of return that’s unknown and can’t be guaranteed.)

When you have consumer debt, you’re guaranteed to lose exactly what the interest rate is on your debt every month, compounded over time.

For this reason, investing rarely makes sense when you have consumer debt.

I also know that most people in their 30s want to invest because it sounds sexy. This is not a great reason to invest.

Pay off the credit cards. Pay off the car loan. Pay off the wedding loan (yes, I see this a lot!). Pay off the student loans.

Then, invest.

Mortgage debt and business debt is a little different. But for purposes of “paying off debt” before you invest, generally, you want to pay off consumer debt first because it’s not collateralized (e.g.: you can sell your home; you can sell your education).

Here are a blog posts to help with getting out of debt…

3. Save an emergency fund

If you don’t have an emergency fund, you are in a state of emergency.

It’s not a matter of *if* an emergency will happen – it’s a matter of when.

Life happens. Things cost money.

You need to have some cash stashed away that is not invested to cover emergencies.

The pros say to have 3-6 months of non-discretionary expenses saved. I would say this is the minimum you should have saved. If you lose your job, have a medical emergency, or something else that’s super expensive, you need cash ready to cover it more than you need it invested in the market.

Here are a blog posts to help with saving an emergency fund…

4. Stop calling your primary home an investment

Can we be honest here and admit that your house is your primary residence, and the primary purpose of it is to house you and your family?

Calling it an investment and being house poor is not helping your financial life.

Yes, your house goes on your net worth statement as an asset, but that’s against your mortgage, and that doesn’t even consider all the money you have to put into it.

Buying a house is great for having a home. Hopefully, when you sell it, you make a profit.

But, let’s not call your primary residence part of your overall investment strategy.

5. Educate yourself (books + listen to podcasts)

Get reading and listening to podcasts about investing.

No one will ever care more about your money than you will, that much I know for sure.

Investing is like learning a foreign language and it can feel overwhelming. But if you learn a little bit every day, by this time next year, you’ll be in a totally different place.

It’s your responsibility — not your spouse’s, not your financial advisor’s, not anyone else’s — to learn about your money and know exactly what’s happening with it.

The great news is that you’re living in the information era where you can learn so easily (and for free).

Start with these books (I love them!)…

You can check out my favorite money podcasts here.

6. Start small if you’re scared ($100 at a time, for example)

After you’ve done some research, even if you’re a little nervous, start to invest with small amounts of money. This is better than doing nothing (assuming you’re out of debt and have an emergency fund in place).

Like anything new, when you start it’s going to be uncomfortable.

I remember when I first put money into an employer retirement account and saw the money go down – it was horrible. I was so freaked out.

Now, I don’t think that way at all. I’ve completed changed my mindset around investing. I did this by learning a ton about money and investing and immersing myself in it (I even did it as my job).

No one is born knowing how to invest. You have to start somewhere!

Part 2: Decide where to invest

After all the prepping is done — you set goals, you’re out of debt, you have an emergency fund, you read up on investing — the next step is deciding where to invest your money. This includes account types and institutions.

7. Start with your employer’s retirement plan (like a 401k, 457, of 403b)

Generally, a good place to start investing is in your employer sponsored retirement plan.

Examples of employer-sponsored retirement plans are:

  • 401k
  • 403b
  • 457

To find out what plan your employer offers, ask your HR department. There will be one place where you have to open an account if you use your employer’s retirement plan (e.g.: Fidelity).

There are many reasons to start investing by using your employer’s retirement plan:

  • It’s easy.
  • You can have your contributions auto deducted from your paycheck.
  • The contribution limits are high (in 2018, you can contribute $18,500 or $24,500 if you’re over 50, per year).
  • If your employer offers a match of any kind, this is free money that you don’t want to leave on the table. (Law firms hate their employees and never did this, but for the rest of you, take advantage!!)
  • There are legal protections in place that will generally prevent you from being charged obnoxious fees that you could be charged in a taxable brokerage account if you don’t know what you’re doing.

If you are self employed, you can open up your own “employer” retirement account in a solo 401k.

As an employer, I highly suggest contributing up to the employer match. After that, you should look at the investment options in the plan to make sure that they’re the best. The technically correct thing to do at this point would be open your own investment account (the following two steps) if you could get better investment options and lower fees. I’m including this because it’s the technically correct thing to do. But, proceed with caution. You’re more likely to get ripped off via expensive funds, with hidden fees when you’re doing it on your own if you’re figuring it out for the first time yourself.

A good *ambitious* goal for most 30 somethings is to “max-out” your employer sponsored retirement plan. This means contribute up to the maximum allowed by law, which is $18.5k this year. Usually, this is where my investment advice stops with my friends because so few 30 somethings are debt free, have a six month emergency fund, and can invest $18.5k per spouse per year.

Here are a blog posts to start investing in your retirement plan…

8. Supplement that plan with a Roth IRA or Traditional IRA

After you’ve maxed out your employer sponsored retirement plan (or contributed up to the match), another retirement plan to go for is a Roth IRA or Traditional IRA.

The difference between a Roth IRA and Traditional IRA is whether you contribute with pre tax or after tax dollars. If you make more than a certain amount of money every year, you can’t contribute to a Roth IRA. In that case, you’d invest in the Traditional IRA. For 2018, if you’re single and make less than $120k, you can contribute to a Roth IRA. If you’re married filing jointly, the income limit is $189k and starts to phase out from there. See the IRS rules for details.

The difference between the accounts is tax treatment. In the Roth IRA, you contribute after tax dollars (meaning, you pay tax now and your contribution and earnings grow tax free). In a Traditional IRA, you contribute pre-tax dollars and have to pay tax when you take distributions during retirement.

The contribution limit for 2018 in both types of accounts is $5,500 ($6,500 if you’re over 50).

You can open these accounts at any brokerage house. Some of my favorites are Schwab and Fidelity because of their exceptional customer service and help with investing (something to consider besides cost if you’re investing on your own).

If you start contributing $5,500 per year in your IRA at age 30, assuming a 6% return, you’ll have about $740k at age 67.

A *super ambitious* goal for most 30 somethings is to max out an employer retirement plan and a Roth/Traditional IRA. If you’ve maxed out both these types of accounts, you are winning the retirement savings game (contributing $18.5k + $5.5k for a total of $24k per year).

Here’s a blog post to start investing in a Roth IRA…

9. After you’ve maxed out all your retirement accounts, open a taxable investment account

I don’t know anyone personally who is in their 30s maxing out all their retirement accounts and ready for this step, but I do know a lot of people investing in taxable investment accounts anyways.


Because it’s sexy.

Yes, that’s the only reason. Everyone loves talking about “investing” so they open an “investment account” (which ends up being a taxable investment account) and starting throwing money into it.


It’ ain’t pretty.

Why is this so bad?

Because there are so many ways for you to get screwed.

Here’s my favorite example of my friend getting screwed. I have a lawyer friend who decided not to invest in his employer’s 401k plan (for no apparent reason). Instead, he decided to invest with his friend, who is a commission-based advisor one of the big financial firms (think Northwestern, Wells Fargo, etc.). I took a look at the fee schedule and he is paying  a FOUR PERCENT FRONT LOAD on his investments. This means for every investment he makes, the advisor is taking 4% off the top. This is INSANE. Industry standard for total fees (advisor and fund) should be under 2%. But he claims he’s only paying $25 per month! How can this be? He makes his contribution and never sees the 4% come off the top. This is why the fiduciary rule is such a big deal. A fiduciary (or fee-only financial planner) would be prohibited from doing this because it’s not in the client’s best interest.

If you know what you’re doing, investing isn’t that complicated. You don’t have to know the financial details of stocks or analyze Morningstar reports. But you do have to know how not to get screwed.

The best resource I know of that explains this very clearly is the book by Tony Robbins, called Unshakeable. I highly recommend this book before you invest on your own so you can understand the industry.

You can open a taxable investment account where you have your Roth IRA or Traditional IRA (aka any brokerage house). Again, my favs are Schwab and Fidelity.

A *super duper ambitious* goal for most 30 somethings is to max out an employer retirement plan, and a Roth/Traditional IRA, and invest in a taxable investment account, at a certain percent of income, such as 5% or 10%.

10. Use a health savings account (HSA) for additional tax savings

One thing you can do alongside investing is contribute to a health savings accounts (HSA) if you qualify.

You qualify for an HSA if you have a high deductible health plan. The idea is that you contribute pretax dollars and can invest that money to use down the road for healthcare.

There are contribution limits for HSA’s. In 2018, a single person can contribute up to $3,450, and a family can contribute up to $6,900.

When you make your election / contribution, you’ll receive checks and a debit card that you can use to pay for qualifying medical expenses. You can keep your contributions as cash in the account or invest in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc.

Most health insurance providers offer an HSA account option. If yours doesn’t, you can open one at a separate financial institution.

There’s really no reason not to utilize an HSA other than having debt or not having an emergency fund. But if you have these things covered, an HSA is a great way to lower your tax burden and save money for healthcare in an investment vehicle.

11. After you have yourself taken care of, save for your kids’ college

You know how on airplanes you’re instructed to put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping your kids?

That’s how you should think about your financial life. You should take care of yourself, then help your kids.

I see people with their own student loan debt investing in their kids savings accounts all the time, which is a huge mistake. It’s super understandable that you want to take care of your kids, but you have to fight that urge with better information that says take care of yourself first.

If something happens to you, your student loans don’t go away. You have to pay for them no matter what. But if something happens and you’re investing in your kids college, you can just stop. Student loan debt is forever. It’s not good debt.

Once you’re covered, saving and investing in your own retirement, the next step is to save for your kids. Just make sure you do it when you’re actually ready. Typically, this is done through a CollegeAdvantage.com plan, but there are many options that are state specific and have tax advantages (e.g.: in Ohio, you can deduct up to $​4k of contributions per beneficiary, per year on your state tax return).

When the time is right, save for your kids education as part of your overall financial plan.

Part 3: Decide how to invest

Once you have your accounts opened, you have to decide what to do in them. This is where I see most people freeze.

12. Know how risky you want to be

Before you decide how to invest your money within an account, you need to decide how risky you want to be.

Risk tolerance is how comfortable you are taking risk.

Risk capacity is how much risk you can take on given your circumstances.

For example, if you have a crap ton of money but you’re terrified of investing, you have a low risk tolerance and high risk capacity. If you have a very small amount of money to invest but are very comfortable investing, you have a high risk tolerance and low risk capacity.

Aside from risk factors, there’s your age, your time horizon, and the purpose you’re investing for.

For purposes of this post, let’s say you’re a 30 something investor who wants to invest for retirement. Meaning, your time horizon is really far away. You feel somewhat comfortable investing and you plan to max out your retirement accounts.

In this scenario, I’d want to be pretty aggressive with the asset allocation to give the money the chance to grow a lot over the next 30 years. If you needed the money in 5 years, my answer would be totally different (with a much more risk averse allocation).

If you want to have some fun in the market, do it. But do it for fun. Don’t do it for your retirement strategy. For example if you love crypto currency, set aside some fun money to invest in it with. Do not use your retirement money for this stuff. It’s too risky!

There’s nothing wrong with having a little fun in the market, you just have to have your expectations in the right place.

13. Pay more attention to how your portfolio is allocated than to the specific funds

To decide how risky you want to be, you’ll need to decide on an asset allocation.

The way your portfolio is allocated matters more than the specific securities you have in it. 

Think of a bag..

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Welcome to the Design Your Dream Life series!

This is a series where I am interviewing people who have designed their dream lives. You can find all the interviews here on the Design Your Dream Life Page.

I am soo excited to have Abby on the blog today to share her story of designing her dream life.

Here’s a look at how Abby answered my questions!

Finish the sentence “I knew I was living my dream life when…”

I knew I was living my dream life when… Donnie and I could take our boys on vacation whenever we wanted, for as long as we wanted without having to ask for permission from a boss!

We love the freedom that we have as a family, that we never have to miss any of the boys’ events because of work, and that we can help at their school or hang with them in the middle of the day on a weekday during the summer.

Getting to spend that quality time together and be involved with our kids has definitely been a dream come true!

What was your life like before all this that led you to make a change?

I had been a stay at home mom before I started my blog. I loved it, but I also felt like I needed something I did that didn’t 100% revolve around my boys. A blog was something I could do from home while they were napping and would still let me use my writing skills (I am a former English teacher.) and creativity a bit, so it was a good fit for the things I enjoyed doing.

I published my first post in January of 2013 with fear and trembling. In fact, the only way I could bring myself to hit the “publish” button was to tell myself that no one was ever going to read my blog because I was so nervous about it! I quickly caught the blogging bug, though, and kept plugging away, posting to my blog and to social media and learning everything I could about blogging. I guess you could say I became a bit obsessed!

After about a year of blogging, I started to get a stream of emails and messages asking me blogging questions, and Donnie suggested that I write an eBook about how I managed to start and grow my blog during the first year. I shot down the idea immediately, but he was persistent, so I wrote the eBook that become Building a Framework: The Ultimate Blogging Handbook (which is now a full blown course and is in its third edition).

Donnie has a brilliant business mind and helped me with the launch process, and to this day we have helped more than 11,000 people start and grow their blogs through Building a Framework!

After being laid off from his job in oil and gas when the industry tanked, Donnie began working with me full time at the beginning of 2015, and having us both able to work on the blog full time really made it skyrocket into a thriving business, and we’ve been at it ever since!

What’s your lifestyle like?

Donnie and I each have a separate office in our house, and we work there most of the time, though sometimes we will head to Starbucks or another place with WiFi for a change of scenery. My blog is primarily about home decor and organization, so we spend a good amount of time completing projects and photographing them or shooting video as well.

When the boys are home from school, we switch off, alternating who works and who is spending time with them. (Though next year they will both be in school all day, so we’ll have a lot more time on our hands!)

We love having the flexibility to be able to help out at our kids’ school and with their activities as well as volunteer at our church. Donnie is an awesome vacation planner, so we go somewhere different every summer, depending on what our boys are interested in. (We’re heading to Canada this summer to visit the hockey hall of fame since they are obsessed with hockey at the moment, and we’ll be doing other tourist-y things as well.)

How many hours per week do you work?

I would say that each of us work 30-40 hours per week, plus we have my sister/amazing assistant that works about 15 hours per week to help us.

I do a lot of the writing and content creation, photography, social media and anything forward-facing, like video, speaking, and podcast interviews, while Donnie does a lot of the technical and behind-the-scenes aspects of the business, including setting up landing pages and email funnels, researching tools and systems that we use, and managing all of the little details that go into maintaining a website. He also is my handyman, doing a ton of work on our house projects. Brittany helps us with email, social media, and various projects that come up throughout the year.

How do you make money?

Our primary income comes from our own digital projects and affiliate income associated with those.

We have our course that teaches people how to get started with blogging, Building a Framework, and a course that teaches bloggers how to create digital products, BookBoss.

We also have organization-related products: an eBook/course called The Paperless Home and a collection of organizing printables.

We also take on other selective affiliate partnerships like bundle sales and online summits, and we will occasionally work with brands on sponsored posts. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of my favorite brands like IKEA, Behr, Home Depot, InterDesign, and more, which has been one of the really fun perks of blogging!

How long did it take for you to make $1k per month?

I would say about a year. (I started blogging in January of 2013.) At the time, that $1k was made up mostly of ad revenue and affiliate sales, with an occasional sponsored post.

After launching our first digital product in June of 2014, our income began to grow more steadily and would increase each time we added another digital product.

We did income reports from 2014 through 2016 which chronicled how we built up our income, and those can be seen here.

How long did it take for you to make six figures per year?

Donnie began working with me full time at about the two year mark, at the end of January 2015, and we made six figures starting in that year.

The longer we work together, the more I realize that our “secret weapon” to being able to blog as our full time business is the combination of our two personalities. Donnie has a really unique gift for figuring out how to take people’s strengths and monetize them. He has a brilliant business mind and can always predict what the next big “thing” is going to be when it comes to marketing strategies and just general direction of where online business is heading. I am just willing to show up and work really hard day in and day out, trying to learn more and get better in whatever way I can. I think you have to have both parts—the business sense and the tenacity—to make it all work. It definitely isn’t “just a girl and her blog”—it takes both of us to to make the business “go.”

What do you wish you knew when you were starting out that you know now?

Grow your email list!!!

  • Side note from Natalie – They don’t say “the money is in the list” for nothing! It’s true. You can read more about .

Donnie told me to start growing my list from day one, and I didn’t listen because I was too busy churning out blog posts. I waited about a year before I got serious about email, and I wish I would have started earlier. I would say even if you have to skip posting for a week or two in order to get a strong opt-in and email list set up, it is more than worth it.

My email list has been by far the biggest asset to my business.

What advice would you give to someone who is starting out and wants to design her dream life?

Show up consistently every day and be willing to work hard to get better and better at your craft.

I feel like everyone is looking for that “silver bullet” to help them grow really quickly, but ultimately it’s more of a marathon than a sprint.

Even people who seem like they start a blog or online business and are an instant success have typically put in years of hard work leading up to that point in order to get there.

Blogging and online business are not “get rich quick” schemes by any stretch of the imagination, but if you’re willing to keep learning, getting better, and working for it, the rewards can be so great!

A Final Note!

A HUGE thank you to Abby for taking the time to do this interview!

I have been following Abby for a long time, and she is a decorating, organizing, home queen!

Does Abby inspire you? Let her know in the comments?

P.s. If you want to learn more about blogging, here are a few resources:

You can also get 5 days of a free blogging course sent to your email – just add your email to the form below!

The post How This Stay At Home Mom Turned Her Blog Into A Family Business appeared first on Natalie Bacon.

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I discovered that when I believed my thoughts, I suffered, but that when I didn’t believe them, I didn’t suffer, and that this is true for every human being. Freedom is as simple as that. I found that suffering is optional. I found a joy within me that has never disappeared, not for a single moment. That joy is in everyone, always.
— Byron Katie

This quote is everything.

Before you can use any tactic effectively, you have to have the right mindset. It’s the key to everything you want in life.

I learned this over the last year, and it’s completely changed my life. I’m a new human. I went from a scarcity mindset to total abundance and a completely different way of thinking in a matter of weeks. So much so that this is why my first course I created was Design Your Dream Life Academy. More than anything, I’m super passionate about helping people design their dream lives, which always starts at the mindset level first.

This post is most of material that made the biggest change in my life… yes, it’s that good.

How Your Brain Works 

Your brain is like a computer.

It’s your job to make sure the computer code is programmed for optimal performance.

Your brain is not static or fixed – your brain can change and adapt (this wasn’t always known to be true). Your brain can reorganize itself due to your environment, behavior, thinking, and emotions.

How does your brain change and adapt? By practicing something over and over, strengthening the connections of neurons over time.

The way you do this is through understanding how to reset neural pathways in your brain.

There are two main parts to your that I want to talk about here – the cerebellum and the prefrontal cortex.

The cerebellum is your habit brain. It seeks efficiency, aims to keep you alive and protect you, and works really fast. This is your “fight or flight” primitive brain that wants to keep you alive.

The prefrontal cortex is your goal setting brain that focuses on planning and is slower, and future focused.

Both parts of your brain play a huge role in your ability to create new results you want in your future.

Here’s an example. Let’s say you set a goal from your prefrontal cortex and rationally know it’s what you want and the right decision. As soon as you take action to do something new, your primitive brain freaks out and you’re overwhelmed with fear and doubt.

  • When you know how your brain works, you understand this is normal and it’s just your primitive brain trying to protect you, despite not needing protected from your goals. Your brain is just trying to keep you alive by alerting you to the fact that it doesn’t know what to do when you do something you’ve never done before. When you know this, you don’t make the fear mean anything and you act in spite of it. You design your future from a place of abundance.
  • When you don’t understand how your brain works, you mistakenly think that the fear and doubt mean something – that you’re headed in the wrong direction and should stop. This keeps you stuck. You don’t act, and instead of creating a new future, you repeat your past over and over.
Thoughts, Feelings, Actions, Results 

Here’s the life changing magic I learned from Brooke Castillo…

Your thoughts create your feelings. Your feelings create your actions. Your actions create your results. Circumstances are neutral.

  • Thoughts → Feelings → Actions → Results

Your brain has approximately 60,000 thoughts per day. Most of us haven’t been trained how to think and “rewire” the computer inside our heads.

This leads to chaos.

When you start to understand how to think differently, you’ll feel differently. Those feelings will drive your actions and your results.

This is why people with the same financial means can be equally as miserable or as happy as someone else. It has nothing to do with the circumstances.

You have the capacity to be completely happy right now regardless of your circumstances.

You know some people who just seem to always have drama in their lives? This is why. They don’t actually have more drama than the rest of us. They’re just making their circumstances mean so much more than everything else.

When you understand what you think and believe ultimately creates the results you have in your life, there is total freedom. It means you can create new results in your life by changing your thinking.

Don’t Believe What You Think

A belief is a thought you’ve repeated so much that you believe it to be true.

A thought is just a sentence in your head.

(Sit on those two sentences for a minute – crazy!)

You can believe anything.

No one can tell you what to believe. There is huge freedom in this.

When I learned this, it rocked my world. I immediately just changed soooo many thoughts I had been believing simply by choosing to.

No one had told me I could do this before! How silly that I needed to hear it, but I’m so thankful I did.

You don’t have to believe what you think.

If you want different results in your life, you have to start by changing your beliefs. Some beliefs will be really easy to change and can be done instantly. Other beliefs will be harder to change because they’re so deeply rooted that you believe them even though you want to change them.

Some Beliefs You May Want To Change

Most people….

  1. Have stories about their past that don’t support them.
  2. Believe they are damaged in some way.
  3. Believe they should make a certain amount of money (usually set by the socioeconomic class they’re in).
  4. Believe they’ll be happy when [fill in the blank].
  5. Believe they’re not supposed to have problems.
  6. Believe that bad things aren’t supposed to happen.

These statements are only true if you believe them. And most of them will harm your wellbeing if you believe them.

The good news is you can change them.

1. Have stories about their past that don’t support them.

 You can believe whatever story you want about your past no matter what happened to you.

I’ve heard people do this exercise who have had horrible childhoods told in two completely different ways. One story is the victim mindset of “poor me” and the other is “my life is happening for me and my past allowed me to become who I am today and design the future I want” (or something like that).

Try telling the story of your past from a victim mindset and then again from an empowered mindset. It’s a really fun exercise.

2. Believe they are damaged in some way.

You are not damaged. You are a human who has made mistakes in your life. That has nothing to do with your worthiness as a human.

You were born as a baby 100% worthy and no matter what you believe or anyone else tells you, you are still 100% worthy as a human being alive on this planet.


3. Believe they should make a certain amount of money (usually set by the socioeconomic class they’re in).

How much money do you think you should make annually? Why not double that amount? Most of us just make up our money mindset and philosophy based on what we’ve been taught in the past without giving much thought to it.

Read this post on creating a money philosophy for yourself here.

4. Believe they’ll be happy when [fill in the blank].

Do you think happiness comes later – on the other side of something you’re waiting for? More money, a better job, the right partner, when you lose weight?

The truth is that you have the capacity to be totally and completely happy right now just the way you are, regardless of your circumstances. Nothing in your life needs to change for you to feel happy. Happiness is an emotion that comes from how you think. If you want to be happier, you need to change your thoughts.


5. Believe they’re not supposed to have problems.

You are supposed to have problems. You are going to have problems forever. How do I know? Because that is how life was designed – full of contrast (good and bad). Since the beginning of time, humans have had problems.

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have problems.

This is great news. When you know you’ll have problems no matter what, you can let go of striving for happiness later and enjoy the moment now, knowing that your life is happening for you and you’ll be okay despite your problems.


6. Believe that bad things aren’t supposed to happen.

Bad things are supposed to happen. You can stop fighting and standing up for every righteous thing that you think isn’t fair. Life isn’t supposed to be fair. How do we know? Because that’s how life has been since the beginning of time.

This doesn’t mean don’t participate in making the world a better place. It means you can let go of trying to make everything right and fair. You can focus on your life and serving the world how you want to, without worrying about defending yourself or other people.

Changing Your Mindset To Support You

All the thoughts and belief systems you have are from your past. It’s your primitive brain repeating old thought patterns.

You can stop believing these things right now.

You can believe anything you want.

Here is how you change your belief systems:

  • Step 1: Separate yourself from your thoughts.
  • Step 2: Observe your thoughts.
  • Step 3: Decide what you want to think, feel, and do. You can choose ANYTHING.
  • Step 4: Create new thoughts that support what you want.
  • Step 5: Transition from negative to neutral and from neutral to positive thoughts.
  • Step 6: Ask supportive questions (e.g.: how can I start believing in “xyz”.).
  • Step 7: Practice the transitional neutral thoughts until you believe them.
  • Step 8: Move incrementally to the more positive thoughts until they’re your new beliefs.

This process works if you work it.

For something that’s easy for you to believe, you can just decide in this moment to believe it.

But for other things that are hard for you to wrap your head around, you can follow this process for changing your belief systems.

If you change actions without changing your belief systems, you’ll struggle because you’ll fight the underlying thought and feeling.

My favorite step is Step 6 –  asking questions. Your brain will find the answers to the questions you ask it. Remember, your brain is like a computer. It wants to find answers. Whenever you what to solve a problem, change a belief system, achieve a goal, implement a new habit – anything – ask supportive questions.

Here are example of supportive questions.

  • For more happiness: “How can I be happier tomorrow?”
  • For more love: “How can I love more?”
  • Fore more money: “How can I save XYZ dollars?”
  • For solving a problem: “How can I solve this problem? What does this make possible?”
  • For getting out of a funk: “What’s wrong love? Why are you upset?”

Ask yourself questions is a great way to notice and change your thinking without forcing it, which won’t work. Just make sure your questions are supportive. If you put your brain to work on negative questions, it will come up with those answers and crush you (example of a negative question: “why is this always happening to me?”).

Once you start letting go of belief systems you have, your life is limitless.

Abundant Vs Scarcity Mindset

The difference between an abundance and a scarcity mindset is everything when it comes to your mindset.

An abundant mindset

An abundant mindset means there is always enough.

  • There’s more than enough time
  • There’s more than enough money
  • There’s more than enough energy
  • There’s more than enough opportunity for you and everyone else
  • You feel lucky
  • You welcome competition
  • You design your life from your future without knowing how to do it
  • You come from a place of giving
  • There’s always enough

The abundant mindset is based in more than enough and a feeling like your life is happening for you.

This doesn’t mean you don’t have problems, feel pain, or have all the ups and downs that everyone else has. It means that you think about all those things very differently than someone with a scarcity mindset.

A Scarcity Mindset

A scarcity mindset means there is never enough.

  • There’s not enough time
  • There’s not enough money
  • There’s not enough energy
  • There’s not enough opportunity for you
  • You’re very unlucky
  • You fear competition
  • You repeat your past over and over
  • You don’t have enough to give
  • There’s not enough fill-in-the-blank

The scarcity mindset is based on fear and feeling like your life is happening to you.

Scarcity is ripe with defensiveness and righteousness. You can seem to be very in control and strong and have a scarcity mindset. The strength comes from an effort to control your life because you’re afraid of what will happen if you don’t.

I used to have a scarcity mindset and seemed very in control. This was confusing to me at first because I didn’t understand how I could be so strong and in control but have a scarcity mindset. Oh, but did I live in righteousness, control, fear, and fairness. When I started to do this work and let go of all these unsupportive beliefs, I became much happier. Not only that, but all the wonderful characteristics of an abundant mindset fell into place. I love more, I’m generous, I believe there’s enough opportunity everywhere, and I know my life is happening for me. It’s a beautiful thing.

If you’re not there yet, don’t be hard on yourself. Awareness is the first step to making the change you want.

I have a list of 7 action steps you can take right now to start to change from a scarcity mindset to an abundant one. This is how I started my change, too.

7 Action Steps To Take Right Now To Change Your Mindset

If you want to change your mindset form a victimy scarcity mindset, do these actions (these come from the Design Your Dream Life 7 Day Free Training).

1. Write for 15 minutes straight.

Anytime you feel a certain way that you don’t like (or are feeling scarcity), write for 15 minutes straight without lifting your pen (or fingers from the keyboard)! Don’t judge yourself during this exercise. Just write.

E.g.: You’re having a bad day. Write for 15 minutes straight about the thoughts you’re having. Then review what you wrote.

When you do this, you’ll be able to see how your thoughts directly cause your feelings. You’ll be able to separate you from your thoughts and recognize it’s just your brain. You’ll discover the magic between changing your thoughts to support the life you want.

2. Create a list of the new beliefs you want to adopt.

Make a list of your ideal beliefs. These should be specific.

E.g.: I am going to make $10k per month blogging by the end of this year. I am going to be a full time blogger. I can make $1M from my blog next year.

This list can be for anything – health, career, money, relationships, etc.

Then, make a list of laddered thoughts from where you are now to where you want to go (these should be thoughts that transition you from your current thinking to the thinking you want).

E.g.: I haven’t made $10k per month yet, but I know that it is possible that one day I could.

Whatever the neutral thought is, the key is that you have to actually believe it to be true.

Practice your thoughts daily.

3. Ask yourself one question every day that supports your thinking.

As I mentioned above, questions are the secret ninja tip that will change your beliefs without much effort on your part.

Choose one question you want based on the area you want to change in your life.

Here are examples:

  • What thoughts can I think to support my happiness and success?
  • How can I be happier tomorrow?
  • How can I accomplish my goal?
  • How can I lose 10lbs?
  • How can I become a full time blogger?
  • How can I work for XYZ company?
4. Make a list of the emotions you consistently feel versus the emotions you want to consistently feel.

Since most of us don’t manage how we think, we aren’t deciding how we want to feel either.

Make a list of the top 2-5 emotions you feel regularly (e.g.: anxious, stressed, and worried).

Then, make a list of the top 2-5 emotions you want to feel (e.g.: loving, generous, and ambitious).

Notice that you may want to feel different emotions for different areas of your life (your relationships compared to your work).

This awareness and intentionality alone will help you start to change your life.

5. Create a vision board with images that inspire the beliefs you want to manifest in your life.

 Vision boards work because they help you focus on something you want to create in your life.

You can create a vision board digitally on Pinterest or Canva or a good ole fashioned paper and magazine board.

Imagine if you started scrolling through your Pinterest Vision Board every morning with things that inspired you to create in the future instead of scrolling through your Instagram feed? #gamechanger.

6. Make a list of daily intentions.

Think of your dreams as a plant. The plant is the life you want to design. All day, weeds grow around the plant. At the end of the day, you need to pull the weeds so that the plant can grow so you can still see it. If you don’t pull the weeds, your plant will start to look like the weeds and you’ll lose sight of it.

To make sure you’re living in a proactive place where you’re designing your dream life from an abundant mindset instead of a reactive state where you’re putting out fires and living other people’s dreams, do the following:

  • Write down what your dream life looks like.
  • Write down your why.
  • Write down your purpose for living.
  • Write down what’s most important to you.
  • Look at this every day. Forever.

I also created the 10 Minute Morning Checklist for you to do this. You can download it here.

There is always going to be a lot thrown at you every day. You have to be clear about your life. You have to decide what you want. Then, you have to set up systems to focus and remember those dreams every day.

7. Ask “What am I thinking?” daily.

Your thoughts and beliefs create all the results you have in your life. To change those 60,000 thoughts you have daily, you’re going to need to figure out what’s going on in your head.

Make it a daily practice that you ask yourself “what am I thinking?” You’ll start to separate yourself from your thoughts and realize you are not your thoughts. There is enormous power in this.

A Final Note!

Learning how to think differently and change your mindset from a scarcity mindset to an abundant mindset is the first set to designing your dream life.

This is the first module in Design Your Dream Life Academy.

Once you have the mindset down, you’re ready for all the “how tos” and tactical actions. If you make the mistake of trying to change your actions without changing your mindset first, you will have enormous difficulty succeeding.

But once you have the right mindset, it’s almost like the tactical stuff just appears (it’s like the quote – “the teacher appears when the study is ready.”)

I know this is true for me.

Once I moved from a scarcity mindset to an abundant mindset, all of a sudden the right teachers appeared and I was suddenly able to get all the “how to” information I needed to design the life I wanted.

Cheers to designing your dream life!

The post How To Improve Your Mindset (7 Steps To Take Right Now) appeared first on Natalie Bacon.

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It’s super fun and exciting that I’m officially a full time blogger.

Three years ago, I knew nothing about blogging. I was in massive student loan debt, and I was in a career I hated.

Fast forward to now, and I build a completely new career online that started with my blog.

The way I did this was to transition slowly from working full time to being a full time blogger by building up my blog income one month at a time as I worked in my job.

So, I want to go over how I suggest working full time and blogging.

How I teach blogging is different than most people. Instead of focusing on writing, building your brand, and working hard, I teach how to make money from a website with your blog as the marketing tool.

If you want to blog just to write for fun (or about your life), then this post is not for you. If you want to start a blog that’s a business (i.e. you actually make money from it), then this post will help you.

I spent the last 3 years blogging and working full time. I did pretty much everything wrong for the first 2 years (created products that didn’t sell, barely had anyone visit my site, and had no real strategy for making money online).

Last year, I made $45k blogging while working full time.

This year, I built my blog up to the point where I could quit and become a full time blogger.

For the last couple months I’ve been making $14k blogging per month (crazy!).

If you would’ve told me 4 years ago I’d be blogging full time and in my third career in 4 years, I never would’ve believed you. I had no experience in business or online marketing at all. I had a ton of student loan debt, and I was working full time.

In this post, I put everything I’ve learned about blogging into a 5-phase system for how to start a profitable blog with a full time job.

I’ve always talked about 3 phases of blogging (starting, growing, and monetizing), but I’m adding 2 more phases because I think they’re super important for your success.

The phases of starting a profitable blog when you work full time are:

Within each phase, there are steps you need to take to do it right the first time.

This is a “big picture” blog post so you can really see the forest instead of the trees.

My first 2 years of blogging, I spent so much time in the wrong “trees” without having an idea of the forest. If you’re anything like me, this post will help you see the big picture when it comes to making money blogging with a full time job.

I included resources for each phase at the end of each section to help you go to the next level for that phase.

And with that, let’s get started!

Phase 1: Prepare and plan

When you are starting a blog when you work full time, the preparing and planning phase is SOOOO important. Don’t underestimate this phase because it sets the foundation for everything else.

This phase is not about passively learning, though – it’s about taking action to set yourself up for success.

1. Master your mindset

The first part to preparing and planning is mastering your mindset.

You can learn all the how-tos you want, but if you’re not committed to focusing on your blog, you’re not going to make money while working full time.

More than half of the questions I get form bloggers are about fear, doubt, time, focus, planning, or lack of commitment. These are all mindset problems – not tactical problems.

Be very clear about whether you have a mindset or a tactical problem. If you have a mindset problem, a tactical answer won’t fix it.

2. Set goals and expectations

The second part of preparing and planning is to set goals and expectations.

You need to have an end goal for your blog so you can choose a strategy for turning it into a business. You can always change your goal down the road, but you need to have one to start with.

The most important end goal to make is whether and how you want to monetize.

For example, if you want to make money with affiliate marketing and selling your own products or services, that’s going to be a very different strategy than if you want to make money as an influencer, working with brands and sponsorships.

I prefer going the product and service route (not the influencer route), but the choice is yours.

Don’t just wing it. Make sure you choose. Otherwise, you won’t do either and you’ll just hope your blog will make money without a strategy, and it won’t.

3. Plan and be productive

The third step to the preparing and planning phase is to plan and be productive.

For blogging with a full time job, this step is soooo important! You cannot just “work on your blog” whenever you have free time and expect it to become a business.

This doesn’t work.

You need to come up with a specific plan for when you’re going to blog, what you’re going to do during that time to blog (what you’re going to produce during that time), deadlines to complete tasks, and what you’re going to give up to make sure you have time for this.

My first 2 years of blogging, I kept allllll my other activities and didn’t give anything up. I kept cooking, reading, going out with friends, and doing everything else I was doing before blogging. The result was that I barely made any money. I wasn’t putting in enough time to do it. It wasn’t until I stopped all the other extra hobbies and solely went all in on blogging in my extra free time outside of work that made the difference.

4. Understand the blogging game

The fourth step to the preparing and planning phase is understanding the blogging game.

Everything in life is a game. The key is to figuring out how to win the game ahead of time, so you don’t lose.

I heard Dean Jackson on I Love Marketing say once that humans love games – they just don’t like games they don’t know how to win.

Keep this in mind when you’re blogging. You need to learn how to win the game.

There are many ways to frame the rules of the blogging game and what it takes to win, so keep this in mind – the way I articulate it may be different than what you’ve heard before and it doesn’t mean that other ways are  wrong.

Here are my rules of the blogging game…
  • Blogging is a business.
  • To succeed in business you need to find the target market you want to serve, ask them what they want, then create it. Never fall in love with an idea and bring it to market if you don’t have evidence for it being profitable (money, health, and relationships are great niches to start with, btw).
  • Once there is a product to market matchgrow your business through direct response marketing. This means using your blog as a medium to connect with your audience and provide results ahead of time. Your blog is the marketing tool – not the product or service that you make money from.
  • Always provide more value to your audience than they expect in return. Always over deliver.
  • Your readers must know you, like you, and trust you.
  • Your job is to serve your audience — not to become popular.
  • Traffic, email marketing, and building relationships are the biggest factors to building a profitable blog.
  • Sequence is everything in marketing, and therefore, business. The sequence to launching a profitable blog is your sales process and it looks like this: Search/Social Media/Podcast –> Blog –> Freebie –> Email Funnel –> Sale

Said differently, you need to…

  • Know who your target customer is
  • Know what your offer is
  • Have a solid product to market match that’s potentially profitable
  • Get traffic to your website
  • Use your blog as a tool to provide results ahead of time to your readers
  • Build an email list
  • Have a good relationship with your readers so they know you, like you, and trust you
  • Make sales
5. Brainstorm your biz plan

The fifth step to the preparing and planning phase is for you to brainstorm your business plan.

You need to niche-down your focus and decide 3 things:

  1. Target market or customer
  2. Service or product
  3. Medium to market it (presumably, your blog)
  • Target market or customer

The first part of your business plan is defining your target market or customer. You need to decide who you’re going to serve – and be intentional about it. This can make or break the success of your blog, so do this carefully.

Do not choose a topic to blog about just because you love it or are passionate about it. Like Dan Sullivan says, never fall in love with a business idea until you have proof in the market that people will pay for it.

Here are tips for choosing a target market or customer.

  1. Choose a market that is already pretty saturated because that means there’s opportunity to make money in it.
  2. Choose a market that is willing to pay for the product or services you’re thinking about offering.
  3. Choose a market that’s similar to you because you’ll be able to identify with the people in it.
  4. Choose a market that you have experience with serving.

You want to be able to have a product to market match. What this means is that the product (or service) you’re offering matches the market you’re offering it to. You have to choose the market carefully.

Suggestions for choosing a niche:

  • Money
    • Make money
    • Business
  • Health
    • Wellness
    • Personal development
  • Relationships
    • Family
    • Home

There are opportunities to monetize a blog in any of these categories.

If you niche-down even further, you’ll get stronger relationships with your audience and be able to serve them more easily (e.g. single, working women who want to make money online). The narrower the better. You can always go broader down the road.

When I decided who I was serving everything changed. It made the biggest difference in my blogging success. I can’t emphasize this enough. I transitioned from “talking about my debt” to serving young, professional women in their 30s who want to design their dream lives, with sub niches in blogging, personal development, and money mindset.

You’ll also need to come up with a blog name during this part of the process. Do not spend more than 3 days brainstorming a name. It doesn’t matter that much for your blogs success.

  • Service or product

The next step in creating your business plan is to decide on the product or service you’re offering.

There are many ways to do this, and you can change your offerings as you go.

You can make money with affiliate marketing. You can offer coaching. You can create your own eBooks and eCourses. You can become a freelance writer.

“Blogging” and writing blog posts is not how you make money. You make money from people paying you for proving value.

You need to decide what that value is going to be.

Here are suggestions for what the product or service offering you can create to offer in exchange for money through marketing on your blog:

  • Affiliate marketing
  • Selling eBooks
  • Selling eCourses
  • Display advertising
  • Coaching
  • Freelance writing
  • Sponsored blog posts (brand relationships)

The best way to find out what your target audience wants that they’re willing to pay for is to ask them. This is hard if you haven’t built an audience yet. But as your audience grows, one of the advanced strategies is to ask your audience through surveys, social media sites, or email marketing what they want that you can offer them.

  • Medium to market it (your blog)

Once you have the target customer and the product or service you’re going to provide, you need to market it.

You can market your product or service to your target customer in many ways, including through a blog, podcast, social media, YouTube, or something else!

Again, the key takeaway here is to understand that your blog is the medium that you’re using to market your products and services to – it’s not how you make your money. It’s the medium through which you market your offering.

You run an online business and you market that business through your blog. This is how the big time bloggers make their money online.

Your blog is not what makes money – your business is. Your blog is how you market the product or service you’re selling. Even if you are monetizing through affiliate marketing, you’re still selling affiliate products.

You can market your business through other ways, like a podcast. But for purposes of this post, I’ll assume you want to market your biz through your blog.

This is how you win. You don’t get too tied to the medium. You get tied to serving your target customer. When you do it this way, it doesn’t matter if the Pinterest or Facebook algorithms change because you’re not committed to the medium. You can change the medium and always find where your customers are.

Phase 1 Prepare and Plan Resources:

Once you’ve prepared and planned, you’re ready to move on to starting and launching your blog.

Phase 2: Start and launch

Once you are committed, have your mindset in tact, have a schedule in place, and a specific business plan for how you want to monetize your blog, you are ready to enter Phase 2 – starting and launching.

This phase is about the nuts and bolts of getting your blog up and running.

I like to use the house analogy for understanding how a website operates. The land is the domain. The house frame is the host. The decorations are WordPress.

I am only offering instructions for starting a blog using Bluehost (as the domain registration and host) and WordPress (as the software). There are other ways to start a blog (that are free), which I do not recommend. You’re starting a business – you’re going to have to pay for your website if you want it to be profitable.

1. Register your domain name

The first step to the starting and launching phase is registering your domain name.

You can check your domain’s availability here:

Register your domain name with Bluehost here to get started.

After you register your domain name, you’ll sign up for hosting. Then, you’ll have to sign up for WordPress. I like to use the analogy of building a house: your domain is the land, your host is the house, and WordPress is the inside decor. You need all 3 to run a blog successfully.

2. Register with a host

The second step to the starting and launching phase is registering with a hosting company.

You can get Bluehost hosting using my discounted link for $2.95 per month. For this discounted price, you pay for 36 months upfront.

Once you sign up for Bluehost hosting, you are ready to install WordPress and design your site.


3. Install WordPress

The third step to the starting and launching phase is installing WordPress.

You’ll be prompted in Bluehost to install WordPress, which you should do. This will allow everything to sync properly.

Once you have your hosting up and running and WordPress installed, you can move on to designing your website.

4. Design your site

The fourth step to the starting and launching phase is designing your website.

This can be a nightmare for so many newbie bloggers, but it really does get easier as you go. So, just commit to the process and know that you’re in good company and the problems of headers and footers and spacing will resolve over time.

There are so many ways to design a site. The good news is that your site design won’t make or break your ability to make money blogging.

The bad news is you still have to design your site!

Here are my best tips for choosing a theme…

  • Not all theme are equally as good.
  • Free themes won’t be updated as regularly and it will be harder to get support with them. They’re going to have less features and customization options, too. You’ll spend a lot more time dealing with a free theme trying to fix it than a paid theme.
  • Divi Theme is a great beginner theme to get started with, and it is very popular because of the customizable page builder. You can build a theme just like my blog with Divi (I’ve done it, so I know it’s possible). For those of you who like my theme, Divi is a great option.
  • I use Genesis and Parallax Pro for my actual theme because that’s what was recommended to me a couple years ago. It’s great and advanced, but fair warning – it takes a lot of customizing and more work to get it to look the way you want (I recommend this only for intermediate bloggers).

Here is a look at my home page that you can create using Divi Theme.

Here are my best tips for designing your blog.

  • Look at your competition as examples of what you like and don’t like.
  • Less is more.
  • Put your face all over your blog so your readers can get to know you more.
  • Use a sidebar with your bio and an author box below your blog posts.
  • Include social share icons, like Socialwarfare (what I use).
  • Put up a killer About Page, making it really long and detailed about your story and how you can help people.
  • Make sure you have other pages up on your site, like a privacy policy, disclaimer, subscribe page, and contact page.

Your blog design is important, but it’s not that important. What I mean is that it’s probably more important to you and your ego than it is to you making money online. You don’t need to have the most modern, fancy website to actually make money blogging.

Get your blog up, design it, and move forward. You can always come back to the design in the future.

Phase 2 Start And Launch Resources:

Once you’re done starting and launching your blog, you’re ready to focus on growing it.

Phase 3: Grow

Once you have your blog up and running functionally, you are ready to enter Phase 3 – the growth phase.

This phase is about developing a content strategy, getting people to visit your website (driving traffic), growing your email list (email marketing), networking (connecting with other bloggers), and building relationships with your audience so they know you, like you, and trust you.

1. Develop a content strategy

The first step in the growth phase is to develop a content strategy for your blog.

Each blog post you write should have a purpose behind it (and that purpose shouldn’t be “because I want to write it” if your goal is to make money blogging). If you are writing a blog post purely for your enjoyment and to share with the world, then you don’t need a strategy and you can write about whatever you want. However, if you want to make money blogging, you need a strategy.

Here are different purposes you could potentially have behind blog posts:

  • To increase traffic (search engine optimization)
  • To promote an affiliate product or your own product (sales centered content)
  • To build your email list
  • To increase social shares (virality)
  • To build a stronger relationship with your readers (more personal story)

There are many ways to produce content with a legit strategy behind the post. Here are examples…

  • Publishing an income report on your blog with the..
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Seven years ago, I decided I was going to learn how to get wealthy. Up to that point, I had learned approximately .00000001 things about wealth (and that one thing is not to use a credit card!).

So, that’s what I did.

I went all in on reading personal finance books and listening to money podcasts.

I became obsessed. Then, I quit my job as a lawyer and became a financial planner. That was great.

Then, I realized I was on the wrong side of the table for creating wealth.

I needed to run my own business as an entrepreneur to really amass the kind of wealth I wanted.

That’s where I’m currently at in my getting wealthy journey, and it’s been my purpose on this blog to share what I learn as I learn it, so I can inspire you to have the financial freedom you want in your life, too.

What Matters Most About Getting Rich

I learned what matters most about getting rich in the very beginning of my journey, seven years ago. But it wasn’t until this year that it finally sunk in, and I feel totally in flow with earning, having, spending, and investing my money.

What matters most is your money mindset. Tactics matter after you have an abundant money mindset. They don’t matter if you don’t have the right mindset because you’ll sabotage any chance you have at using the right tactics if you have the wrong mindset.

What you believe about money determines all the results you have in your life about money. A belief is just a thought in your head you keep on thinking so much you believe it’s true.

(Sit on that sentence for a minute and it might just change your life. It did for me when I first heard it.)

Think about how much money you have (or don’t have), how much money you earn, the debt you’re in, the standard of living you think is “normal.” This is all because of the certain beliefs you have about money.

Most people have such deep rooted beliefs that they think are normal based on the class they’re in.

We tend to think everyone outside our socioeconomic status is a unicorn — like the guy you know who is super freaking wealthy and you have know idea how, so he must be an outlier.

The truth is he’s just an outlier because you think he is.

Really, you can create any amount of wealth you want for yourself. You’ll need the tactics of how to do it, but before you can get to the tactics you have to have the mindset for it.

Below is a list of questions that will help you start to think about how you think about money. Awareness is the first step. Then, you’ll be able to question your beliefs and change them if you want to. I suggest writing down the answer to each question, or using an online tool / note / app like Evernote.

Current Money Beliefs

The questions around your current money beliefs get at what you think about money right now.

For example, if you believe that time creates money, you will always think you have to trade your time for money. On the other hand, if you believe that value creates money, you’ll focus on providing so much value to the world without thinking about time. This small different is everything for creating wealth.

  1. What do you believe about earning money? Do you think time creates money or value?
  2. What do you believe about saving and having money?
  3. What do you believe about debt? How do you feel about paying your debts?
  4. What do you believe about spending money? How do you feel when you spend money?
  5. What do you believe about rich people? Poor people?
  6. Are you open to receiving money?
Money Past

The questions about what you believe about money from your past focus on where your beliefs stem from. It doesn’t really matter. The point is that you become aware of your thinking, instead of assuming that your thinking is automatically true.

Your past only exists in your head. The past is over. Your thoughts about the past are all that exist. Making this distinction is everything because it allows you to change the story you’re telling about your past if you want to.

You can tell whatever story you want about your past, including what you make it mean about money.

  1. What are you making your financial past mean? What story are you telling?
  2. What were you taught about money growing up (saving, investing, debt, earning, etc.)?
Money Future

What you believe about your ability to earn, save, invest, and get out of debt in the future will determine all the actions you take and will therefore determine the results you have.

The person making $10 million per year believes he’s going to do that. It’s all he can see. He knows how to do that. The person making $50k per year believes that maybe $100k per year is the goal, but is really just limited by her own beliefs.

You can believe anything you want about money. When I learn this I felt total freedom.

  1. What do you believe about money for your future (saving, investing, debt, earning, etc.)?
  2. What do you wish you believed?
Money Philosophy

Most people don’t have an intentionally set money philosophy.

Instead, they’re just spinning their minds thinking about bills they have to pay and how to make more money. The question below helps you think intentionally about what you want to think about money for your life. This way, you can proactively create the financial life you want for yourself.

Remember, what you think and believe about money is what will cause you to take certain actions and get certain results in your life. So, if you want to change the results you have in your life, you need to change your money beliefs. That starts with intentionally creating a money philosophy to do it.

  1. What is your money philosophy?

I heard this exercise from Brooke Castillo, and if you actually write down the answers, in detail, it will reveal a lot about your money beliefs.

  • How would you spend $1,000,000 dollars if you received it right now? Would you tell people? Why or why not? What would you make this money mean? What would other people make it mean?
A Final Note!

Despite what you believe about money right now, you can change your money beliefs to be entirely different.

Why not make 10 times what you’re currently making? Why not have that be your belief?

When you question your belief systems and intentionally decide what you want them to be, you design your life from your future instead of recreating more of the past.

This is where you can truly design your dream financial life and start the journey of being wealthy – whatever that means to you

P.s. There’s a money mindset lesson in Design Your Dream Life Academy, if you want to dive deeper into this stuff!

The post 11 Powerful Money Mindset Questions To Ask Yourself appeared first on Natalie Bacon.

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Welcome to the Design Your Dream Life series!

This is a series where I am interviewing people who have designed their dream lives. You can find all the interviews here on the Design Your Dream Life Page.

I am soo excited to have Holly and Greg with us today to share their story of designing their dream lives through their online business.

Holly and Greg are friends of mine, and I am so happy to see how they’ve grown their biz and become so successful online.

Here’s a a look at how they answered my questions!

Finish the sentence “I knew I was living my dream life when…”

I knew I was living my dream life when I realized I could work 1/10 as much as I do now and still live financially free.

Thanks to my career as a freelance writer and blogger, my income potential is unlimited right now. As a result, I am spending a ton of time working and socking away money so I won’t have to work as much in the future. It’s hard to think of another career option where I could determine my income based on how much I want to work. It also helps that, because I am a freelancer, I can work anywhere in the world. My husband and I travel around 3-4 months per year right now, and having that freedom is truly priceless.

What was your life like before all this that led you to make a change?

I spent many years working in a stressful position for around $40,000 per year. I wasn’t going to have the opportunity to move up in my career, so it was basically a dead-end job. I also worked 40-50 hours per week including weekends and holidays. To top it all off, I only had 15-20 PTO days per year and those had to cover vacation plus sick days and personal days.

I had no personal freedom and no time to enjoy myself. Did I mention I had small kids at the time? My life was exhausting and all I could do was work, keep up my home, and take care of my kids. I am so glad I took the plunge to explore new income opportunities because my old life really sucked.

What’s your lifestyle like?

While we’re location independent, I love having a home base. I’m not one of those people who wants to be a digital nomad or live out of a suitcase. I have two kids in school and want to provide them with a home. I also LOVE my house and enjoy being a homebody when I’m not traveling somewhere new.

I usually work a few weeks at a time then take a week or two off. Traveling frequently helps me avoid getting burnt out and it keeps my life exciting.

How many hours per week do you work?

When I’m home and not traveling, I can easily work up to 60 hours per week. It’s hard to “turn it off” sometimes when you can easily work as much as you want.

When I’m traveling, I usually scale it back and work only a few hours per day.

A few times per year, I will also take a few weeks completely off work. We have a three-week trip coming up in June and I am already planning to take two of those weeks off completely. It feels good to have that option, even if it means I may work longer hours later to make up for it.

How do you make money?

My husband and I started our blog in around 2011 and I started freelancing shortly after. I was able to quit my job to write full-time by April of 2013, and my husband joined me to blog full-time in February of 2018.

These days, I earn a little more than half of our income via freelancing and my husband earns the rest with our blog.

When it comes to blog income, it really varies where it’s earned. I would say that, on average, we earn 3/4 of our income from affiliate marketing and another 1/4 from my freelance writing courses, EarnMoreWriting.com and EarnMoreTravelWriting.com.

I really like having as many income streams as possible, so we try to focus our time and efforts in several areas at one time. When you earn your entire living online, you can’t keep all your eggs in one basket.

How long did it take for you to make $1k per month?

It took us several years to earn $1,000 per month with our blog, but that’s partially because we didn’t really try to monetize at first. We didn’t really know what we were doing until around 2014 when we started experimenting with affiliate marketing and other revenue streams.

I definitely think people can earn money faster than we did, but I don’t regret the way we did it at all. Because we didn’t monetize right away, we were able to improve our writing skills and build a readership that actually cares what we’re up to. Sometimes I think people who monetize too quickly don’t do themselves any favors.

Blogging is about the long game if you want to make real money one day.

How long did it take for you to make six figures per year?

We didn’t make over $100,000 per year with our blog until 2017. In 2016, we barely missed the six-figure mark. So far in 2018, we are on track to have our best year with the blog and my freelance writing course.

As a freelancer, I was earning six figures within a few years of quitting my job. In 2016 and 2017, I earned over $225,000 via freelance writing alone.

One aspect of blogging and freelance writing I really love is the fact that you can truly earn as much as you want if you have the drive and the talent to succeed. There is no income ceiling and there are no limits.

If you can dream it, you can do it.

What do you wish you knew when you were starting out that you know now?

I wish I never listened to all the people who claim to be super successful!

When you go to blogging conferences or pay attention to Facebook too much, you get caught up in all these attention-seekers who want you to think they have the key to making money.

The reality is, the loudest people offering advice rarely have a clue what they’re doing. Most of the truly successful people are working quietly with their heads down, not up on a stage sharing their biggest secrets to success.

What advice would you give to someone who is starting out and wants to design her dream life?

I would say that you should never wait for someone to give you permission. I still remember when people thought we were crazy or silly for starting a blog back in 2011. They didn’t understand the point or what our goals were. We didn’t either really, but we still wanted to do something.

Sometimes all it takes is making that first step to do something that can change your life.

I’m so glad I never listened to the naysayers or the people who don’t have the courage to do what we did.

If you want to succeed at creating your dream life, don’t take advice from anyone who hasn’t done it themselves.

Most people are content with their 9-5 jobs and simple lives, and it scares them to dream big. Don’t let people with no vision scare you into settling for less than you deserve.

A Final Note!

I am so in LOVE with Holly’s story for several reasons. First, I love that she’s candid about how long it took her and how she’s super grateful for the journey (similar to me). Second, I love her advice about dreaming big – there are going to be people who don’t get it, but you shouldn’t let that stop you, even though it may make it harder. Still do it. You’re worth it.

THANK YOU to Holly and Greg for taking the time to do this interview and for sharing their personal stories. I’m so grateful for them!

Are you inspired by Holly and Greg?! Let them know in the comments!

P.s. If you want to learn more about blogging, here are a few ways you can get started…

You can also get 5 days of a free blogging course sent to your email – add your email to the form below!

The post We Quit Our 9 to 5 Jobs To Blog Full Time And Travel The World Our With Kids appeared first on Natalie Bacon.

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Ahhhh time management.

It can be so mysterious and seemingly impossible.

Whether it’s a spouse and three kids, a full time job and a side hustle, or fifteen events on your calendar you’re trying to make time for this week – you probably have a full plate.

In Design Your Dream Life Academy, I have an entire module on time management.

In this post, I want to go over 47 time management tips that you can actually implement in your daily life.

You can take each one of these tips and implement them one at a time to make big changes in your life.

Let’s take a look!

47 Time Management Tips
  1. Understand that time management starts before you’re in that moment. You manage your time by planning ahead of time not by rushing around.
  2. Take 5 minutes to plan your day the night before.
  3. Be clear about your values. When you understand, clearly, what you value most, you can easily cut things from your life.
  4. Schedule everything – including down time, rest time, relaxing time, etc. Know exactly what you’re going to do during your Saturday “family time” or Sunday “personal time,” even if that means you put
  5. Use gCalendar (in month and weekly view) to get a broad – big picture look at your upcoming week and month.
  6. Distinguish between important and urgent. Something that is important to you is a top priority. Something that is urgent gives the impression of needing to be done right now. (E.g.: the phone ringing is something urgent – not important).
  7. Get comfortable saying “no”. This can’t be said enough – you need to get good at saying no without explanation or justifications. People pleasing will ruin your time management.
  8. Delegate whenever you can. Make sure you’re using most of your time to work on things that you’re the best at. Delegate the rest.
  9. Open your calendar first thing every morning to review your day before it starts so you have a plan for your time.
  10. Ask “can this wait.” This is a game changer. Ask it whenever you’re about to do something urgent. Whenever I see laundry that needs to be done, I ask “can this wait” and the answer is yes 99% of the time – this means I spend my time on things that matter and don’t do my laundry until it’s necessary.
  11. Make a commitment to honor every single appointment on your calendar that you make with yourself just like you would honor any appointment with the person you respect and care the most about.
  12. Have a plan for checking social media. For example, put a constraint in your life that you don’t check social media until 12pm every day.
  13. Time block your schedule by days of the week. For example, I prepare and write content on Sundays every week, and I record a YouTube video on Tuesdays.
  14. Spend money to create more time. If you can afford it, you can spend money to create time. You can pay someone to clean your house. You can pay someone to do your yard work. You can hire an assistant. And on and on. You can save time by spending money.
  15. Stop trying to force false timelines and extend the deadline if needed. I give myself insane timelines for blogging, and sometimes, I have to rethink them if it’s just not possible.
  16. Schedule blocks of buffer time in your schedule to give yourself a break. You need to take breaks to recoup and have enough energy to effectively manage your time.
  17. Keep a “top 3 priority list” every day. Have 3 things you want to every day, and keep them on a list, in order of priority. This way, you’ll feel like you’ve accomplished something every day.
  18. Use a task manager. Use an app or online tool for managing your tasks, so you’re organized. I use Evernote (for keeping notes online) and the Reminders App (for keeping lists of things I need to buy).
  19. Plan in 2 week increments down to the hour. Use your calendar (I use gCalendar) and plan in two-week increments down the hour. There shouldn’t be any time where you don’t know what you’re doing. This means blocking off when you eat, when you cook, when you work out, when you read, when you take your kids to their activities, when you go out to eat, when you have date night, etc. Everything.
  20. Give yourself a buffer in between your activities. At least 10 minutes of space in between your activities or plans will help you make up for traffic or other things that come up.
  21. People generally underestimate how long it will take to do something. Factor this in to your plans.
  22. Do a time journal. Keep track of how you spend your time for one day, in a journal – down to the minute (Facebook time, eating time, driving, time, etc. – track everything). You’ll be amazed at how much time you waste.
  23. Stop measuring time – start measuring results. This sounds counter-intuitive, but it works. If you start measuring what you want to produce during a specific time instead of how much time you’ll spend doing it, you’ll produce more in less time. (Instead of “blogging” on a Sunday for 2 hours, I schedule “write 1 blog post from 12pm – 1pm).
  24. Forget balance for the sake of balance. Instead, focus on prioritizing the most important things you want in your life, instead of prioritizing everything.
  25. Make it impossible for people to talk to you. This sounds funny, but it works. You can make it super difficult for people to reach you, and in turn, you get your time back. People are a time suck. How many times have you had a conversation about the weather at work that lasted 30 minutes about nothing? Russell Brunson has a rule that he doesn’t answer his phone unless it’s his wife, and he never replies to a message of “hi.” You have to specifically ask directly what you want in your message to him.
  26. Plan your day based on energy. Daniel Pink’s book When talks about how you can structure your day to your advantage. For example, you may want to do your hardest, most important task first thing in the morning and save your more administrative tasks later in the day.
  27. Stop multitasking. There is no such thing as multitasking. Your brain cannot actually do two things at once. When you say you’re multitasking, you’re actually just jumping back and forth between tasks, which takes so much longer.
  28. Reject busy. “Busy” is a state of mind. When you indulge in the feeling of busy, you are mismanaging your mind. Instead, get clarity about what you’re thinking, get organized, and plan breathing room in your schedule.
  29. Get obsessed with your calendar. Look at your schedule at least for 15 minutes total every day. I keep it up in the background of my computer, and I’m constantly reviewing it and thinking about the future.
  30. Use a calendar app to sync calendars with your family members. You can use gCalednar to sync your families calendars so everyone can see them.
  31. Whenever you have a new project or event that you have a lot of action items to do, make a massive action list with all the items you need to do. Put your massive action list in order of priority. Then, put every item on your calendar. I did this for when I quit my job and moved. I had so many tasks to do, and I never felt busy because I had each item on my calendar.
  32. Ask yourself “how can I be better at time management?” Your brain is like a computer and it will find the answers to the questions you ask it. Make sure you ask positive questions because your brain will also find the answers to negative questions (e.g.: don’t ask “why am I so bad at time management?”). Ask your positive question every night before bed and go to sleep. Your brain will come up with the answer over time.
  33. Maximize your commute or other downtime by listening to podcasts or books on tape. This is a huge game changer. If you listen to one podcast every morning when you will be a different person one year from now.
  34. Have a designated schedule for your house chores. Instead of cleaning, doing laundry, or mowing the lawn whenever you think it needs to be done, have a schedule that you stick to. The more of a routine you create – the better.
  35. Plan out a specific morning routine for before your workday starts. Whether you’re in a corporate job or a stay at home parent, the time before your workday starts can be used, strategically, for maximizing your time for the entire day.
  36. Create an evening routine to maximize your time and your priorities. Like a morning routine, if you create a specific evening routine, you can get more done of what matters most to you by intentionally planning this time out before bed.
  37. Ask “can I eliminate this?” There may be things you’re doing that you don’t need to be doing, which in effect, are time wasters. Whenever something comes your way, ask this question before you do it.
  38. Stop saying “I’m bad at time management.” Time management is a skill set that you can improve on (your brain is not fixed!). Just because you’ve been bad at it in the past, doesn’t mean you have to be bad at it in the future. Proclaiming how bad you are at it keeps you repeating the past.
  39. Download 14 Days To Better Time Management. This is a 14-day template I created with action items for you to do each day to improve your time management.
  40. Spend time now to save time later by automating things. Whenever you can automate something, it will take you more time up front to set up the automation, but it will save you time later. An example is setting up auto-bill pay. You’ll save time in the long run by spending time now.
  41. Let go of perfection. Whether you are a career woman or a stay at home parent, perfectionism can kill not only your productivity, but also your time. Let it go. Done is better than perfect.
  42. Put a constraint in your life where you are done with screens at a certain time of the day (example: no screens after 8pm). This will give you time for other things and keep you from being sucked into to the wild, wild west of the internet time suck.
  43. Get enough sleep. Cutting out sleep means you’ll be less productive and produce worse work. Don’t do this! Make sure you’re getting enough sleep (as cliché as this sounds, it works).
  44. Be okay with B- work. Designate a specific amount of time for a project or task and complete it during that time. Don’t do more than that (just like if you were in school). This means you’ll shift from the time and energy economy to the results economy. If this is your first time hearing this, stick around – I’ll be talking about it more. For now, just know you want to be in the productivity, value economy – not the time and energy economy.
  45. Create a plan for what you eat and how you exercise. What you eat fuels your body and will directly affect how you feel and therefore, how you use your time. Similarly, you need to get moving – exercise is clutch to working out.
  46. Download a time management app, such as Rescue Time, Remember The Milk, or Focus Booster.
  47. Stop thinking about the amount of time you need to spend to make more money. Time doesn’t create money. Value creates money. (More on this in my YouTube Money Mindset Video.) No one is paying you for your hours. Instead of thinking about the number of hours you need to work to earn money, think about how you can provide more value.
A Final Note!

Time management is something that can seem hard to master in our crazy, modern world, where we have so many options and calendars filled to the max.

It certainly takes intentionality, but you can become a master at time management with a little practice.

Take one of these tips and integrate it into your life. If you repeat this over and over, with a new tip every week, this time next year you’ll be a completely different person.

You can learn more about time management in my 7 Days To Design Your Dream Life – free training below!

The post 47 Simple Time Management Tips (For When You Don’t Know Where To Start) appeared first on Natalie Bacon.

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