11 Tips to Grow Your Business During Hard Times

This is a guest article by Kylie Travers, the CEO of Occasio Enterprises, an award winning blogger, author, speaker, and writer. She is based in Canberra, Australia, with her two daughters. She has a real passion for helping others, raising awareness and funds for issues surrounding homelessness and domestic violence, as well as helping others with their finances.

Kylie Travers

I’m not going to sugar coat this. I have been through hell and come out the other side.

This post may have triggers; if you’ve ever been raped, abused, assaulted, a victim of domestic violence, homelessness, suffered mental health issues, been or still are a parent of disabled children or anything similar, be prepared.

I’ve overcome all that (although still parenting my daughters!) and it was during this time that I won the Plutus Award for Best International Personal Finance Blog, expanded my business and drastically changed my life so much so that I don’t even recognize my past.

At the risk of sounding obnoxious, in the past five years I have gone from being a stay-at-home mum of two under two to a CEO, international speaker, author, youngest director on a board for a charity here in Canberra, an ambassador for homelessness and domestic violence, a winner of various awards and most recently a finalist for Young Australian Of The Year in the ACT, one of Australia’s highest awards.

It has certainly not been easy. I am pretty open about my life. I compartmentalize so when I discuss it, I don’t tend to choke up. I’m going to be very honest and share not only some of what happened to me, but mostly, how I overcame it all and built the business and life I have now. (more…)

Jeff Rose: How One CFP Started a Blogging Movement

Jeff Rose is a Certified Financial Planner and the founder of the Plutus Award-winning Good Financial Cents. Jeff has inspired his readers and clients to make positive changes, but he’s also worked hard to encourage cooperation and mutual success among his colleagues in the financial media community.

I asked Jeff to spend some time with me discussing his work. It’s clear how his passion for his business extends to helping not just himself and his family, but the community at large.

Jeff Rose

Before you had published your first blog post, you had already been in the financial industry. That sets you apart from the many publishers that come from an amateur position. For instance, I started blogging because I needed to start a journey. You were all ready in a position to help people. What experience in the financial industry led you to start Good Financial Cents?

I initially got started in the business as a financial advisor with AG Edwards and Sons. They were a regional firm based out of St. Louis, and I was with them for five years until they were bought out by Wachovia. At that point in time, I decided to see what else was out there, so I started researching other firms. I looked at the big New York firms like Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch, and then I also looked at smaller regional firms like Raymond James and Stifel Nicolas.

None of them really offered the independence that I was looking for, so I and three others joined the independent broker dealer, LPL Financial, which allowed us to operate as a DBA, Alliance Investment Planning Group. That was in December of 2007 — about five months before I even knew what a blog was and seven months before I launched Good Financial Cents. The blog had been going on for some time and compliance was becoming a burden, so in 2011, I decided to drop my Series 7 license and become a registered investment advisor forming my own firm, Alliance Wealth Management.

How did you expect a strong online presence like Good Financial Cents to help with your wealth planning and management business?

I initially founded Good Financial Cents because I thought it would be an amazing marketing tool to bring new clients to my practice. I’ve always been passionate about educating individuals on the basics of investing. Prior to my blog, I had started an investment class through or local community, initiated a stock market game at our local high school, and conducted several seminars across the region.

While all my efforts had some impact, I always felt that it could be on a much larger scale. When I discovered what a blog really was, that’s when the light bulb went off. Good Financial Cents was founded July of 2008 and I haven’t looked back ever since.

What was your inspiration? (more…)

Find Your Voice, and Make It Unmistakable

This is a guest article from Donna Freedman, who writes about personal finance for Money Talks News and many other sites, and she blogs at DonnaFreedman.com, a Plutus Award winner for Best Frugality-Focused Personal Finance Blog. This article was adapted from a presentation she gave at FinCon12. Fun fact: She is the only person to have spoken at all four FinCons.

Donna Freedman

The phrase “content is king” gets bandied about a lot in the blogosphere. But this assertion needs an adjective: great. No matter how compelling your topic, bad writing (or even mediocre writing) will have readers looking for the exits.

Click! Hear that? It’s the sound of someone leaving your blog midway through a dull or confusing post. To get people to stick around you need great content, or at least really good content — and the surest way to deliver it is to develop an unmistakable voice.

Face it: People can get information in plenty of places. What makes your site worth visiting?

Your voice, that’s what. It will bring readers back again and again to see what’s going on in your world, and to learn how to make sense of their own.

Find Your Voice

Look around the blogosphere. How many genuine voices do you hear? Too few. As a reader I want to hear irresistible tales told in evocative ways. If I don’t hear it? Click!

How do you find your voice? Start by listening to it. Read your last few posts out loud, to yourself or to someone else. You’re more likely to notice run-on sentences, irrelevant facts and the like when you hear them vs. think them.

Here’s an old but still useful tip: When you sit down to write, think about what you’ve learned and how you would tell a friend about it. How would you convey not just the facts but the excitement, fascination or terror you feel about your subject?

You probably wouldn’t do it AP-style for a friend. Don’t do it to your readers, either.

Consider print journalists, who have 10 to 20 inches (350 to 700 words) to tell what happened, what caused it to happen and what might happen next. Some of their techniques apply to blogging. For example: (more…)

14 Expert Tips for Getting Your Blog Covered in the Media

This is a guest article from Julia Scott of BargainBabe.com, a Plutus Award winner for Best Deals and Bargains Blog.

Julia Scott

I got into blogging to get attention and to this day, getting attention is still what I’m best at. Before I launched my site, BargainBabe.com in January 2009 to help people save money, I was a reporter at the Los Angeles Daily News. A reporter who sat across from me loved to brag how many hits his blog had got and what juicy comments readers were leaving. I wanted a piece of the action.

I started blogging and was addicted. Ten posts a day. An email list. A column in print based on the blog.

When I received a 10-year syndication offer for my column, a “best of the blog” piece that ran once a week, I knew I was sitting on something big. I thought about my future. Another 10 years in print? That thought terrified me. I knew my future was more secure online.

So just as the housing bubble was bursting, I quit my job and began working for myself. Nobody called me crazy — to my face.

I was so thrilled to have my own site that I would wake up at 2 a.m. to work. I literally could not sleep. I was fueled by the desire to succeed as much as I was fueled, perhaps, by the desire not to fail.

Early on, I focused on getting media coverage. I knew how to pitch because I was used to receiving dozens of pitches everyday. I knew what time of day to approach reporters. How persistent to be. What kind of storyline would appeal to them. When to back off.

But I also knew that media coverage was a quick way to establish my brand and site as trustworthy. It didn’t help much with traffic, but the intense media coverage created opportunities with other businesses, who saw me as a worthy partner.

Julia Scott, appearance on ABC's Money Matters

Julia Scott, appearance on ABC’s Money Matters

And it worked. In my first six months alone, I was covered in the media no fewer than 51 times. And that was earned media — meaning I earned coverage, I didn’t pay for it. My site was covered by some of the biggies, too: Detroit News, NJ Star-Ledger, Time Magazine, AM NY, Washington Post and the LA Times.

How did I get so much coverage? Here a few quick tips to get media coverage. (more…)

How Financial Bloggers Have Changed the Industry

Personal finance blogging has changed the financial media.

Jonathan of MyMoneyBlog

Jonathan of MyMoneyBlog

By 2005, the community of personal finance blogs had started to grow at a quickening pace. Early independent money and investing blogs like Consumerism Commentary, PFBlog, MyMoneyBlog, and SeekingAlpha began drawing the attention of mainstream media. These bootstrapped websites and those like them offered something previously unseen in the media.

Thanks to the internet, more specifically the World Wide Web and tools like Blogger, Movable Type, and WordPress, independent publishers, almost always working on their own without a writing team or editors, could start to develop an online readership like large publishers with an editorial staff, such as The New York Times. Amateur journalism had a new outlet, and one that allowed the amateurs to reach a wider audience.

For several years, an average internet user looking for information online about how to manage their money could find an article by an independent publisher as easily — and in some cases, more easily — than they might find an article about the same topic written by a professional money manager with a decade of experience or one by a professional journalist covering the personal finance beat for a newspaper or magazine. And these independent publishers began developing loyal fans and subscribers — far shy of their professional counterparts but significant nonetheless.

Anybody could start a blog to discuss (or more often, to learn) about personal finance, without a degree in journalism, approval of a hiring manager or a board of directors, or years of experience in the financial industry. Amateur publishing had existed previously, but now it had the potential to reach more readers.

(more…)