Transcript for Q&A with Leigh Storz of Fat Finances Skinny Debt
Question: I’m 50 years old and I’ve been a massage therapist for about 10 years. I work for someone else and am basically making it from paycheck to paycheck. I would like to retire at some point, but don’t see that happening anytime soon. How do I start to save for retirement?
Leigh: It is never too late to start! I found that the best process for me was, if you were able to have automatic payrolI deposits, to specify two different accounts and have a portion of your earnings go to savings/retirement. If that is not possible, then just set up online banking and do manual transfers every time that you receive a paycheck. If you pay yourself first, it will be easier than waiting till everything else is done.
If you think you don’t have money for retirement, start tracking your finances (I use Quicken which is awesome), and look for ways that you spend money – things like Starbucks runs, Eating Out, Entertainment , even cutting off your cable TV and using your Internet to watch shows – all these types of things can help find some extra money for savings/retirement!
Question: “What account software package do you recommend and why?”
Leigh: I’m a huge fan of QuickBooks – Industry leader for years; For Personal Finance and self Employed earnings – I like Quicken! For taxes, I have used Turbo Tax for years. Quicken/Turbo Tax integrate together!
Question: I noticed that you have worked for the government along the way. I’m wanting to “phase out” of my day job, bit it’s a bit scary (Not. It’s a lot scary.) Any suggestions? I know that’s a BIG topic, but for those of us over 60, it begins to be THE topic.
Leigh: Find something that you can do part-time at home while you are still working the day job. I had worked for the City of Roseville for 10 years and had 4 years Govt prior to that. They offered the Golden Handshake deal to all over 50, when they started having layoffs. I took it. I had a few months to decide.
I had started looking into eBay – and so I set up an eBay store and started selling Collectible Items. I made enough to supplement my PERS retirement, that I went ahead and retired early.
I was allergic to mold and we had it in the ceiling where I worked, so I was sick every winter, 4-5 months, so for me, it was something I did for health reasons to retire early. I would have got more money in retirement staying till I was 55, but I was sooo tired of being sick, and they would not relocate me to a healthier area of the building.
Question: I don’t have a website right now. Do you think one is really necessary? And how can I start one that is affordable and easy to update? I’m not really interested in learning HTML or whatever that is.
Leigh: Absolutely! You can no longer be competitive if you are not high tech and have a website! Brie has a website / Genbook for 24/7 online appointment booking / The Gift Card Cafe for selling instant online-gift certificates / Paypal buttons on her website for accepting all Debit/Credit Cards + Paypal accounts for payments.
Question: In a previous answer you mentioned monetizing your websites, what is that and how do you go about doing that?
Leigh: Monetizing is just creating money off of something! With a website, you can create some passive streams of income (you do the work up front to set things up, and then they keep earning money for you, whether you are working or on vacation)
Question: You mentioned monetizing your websites as a way to diversify your income. I’m a big believer in diversification. What other ways do you recommend for MTs to diversify?
Leigh: I’ve just started up with some affiliate programs for Brie/Myself/and my sister. We signed up for Amazon.com (at the bottom of their page, they call Affiliates/Associates. You can sell products for them on your website, and they give you a commission.
Linda adds: Any other affiliate programs you recommend besides amazon? I know that I search from products on ClickBank.
Leigh: I’m just starting into it! Click Banks is one that I will be using! Google Affiliates has a program as well. I’ve currently just started with http://www.avantlink.com/ because for my Truckee site, I wanted to be an affiliate for Liftopia and sell discounted Ski Resort tickets on my site, and REI for Summer/Winter Outdoor Sports Equipment – I’ve been very impressed with their program and the ease of setting up.
Julie Onofrio adds: In general, you just can’t put affiliate links on your site and make a lot of money. The best way to do it is to talk about the product or what it does and how you use it and then just put a link to it so people if interested will click and buy. Also having adsense on your massage business website is not really going to make you a lot of money and it will actually take potential clients away from your site. The best way to use adsense is on an information rich website on a specific topic (any hobby, interest or most anything). If you have about 500 visitors a day and about 500 pages you could be making about $500 a month just in adsense depending on the topic – the more traffic and pages of course the more you make. I was just writing a page on it and it isn’t quite done but it will help you get the jist of it.
Leigh: My site and my sister’s site are information sites, so we will have more Google Ads etc. than Brie’s site will. I’m planning on a minimum of 500 pages on my Truckee site, and I can see my sisters being easily 200-300 pages.
Julie, could you let me know the link of the article when you are finished and I will repost it in the Q&A Transcript. –Linda
Tiffany Blackden adds: Our site for our massage practice is making us $800-1,000 a month just on AdSense. The local search pages, related to our local business is not where we put our ads. We put them on the pages related to different pain patterns, etc. We also sell our Couples Massage DVD on our site, and Amazon (plus have an affiliate program for MTs who want to sell the download on their sites, and make 50% commission on the sales). We were making about $200/month on Amazon affiliate sales related to the pain patterns (cold packs, lumbar cushions, exercise balls, etc) until Amazon dropped all Colorado affiliates a few years ago. We also have another website we market locally to families, which makes us some nice advertising income, as well as running networking groups in town, and monetizing those with sponsorships, advertisers and affiliate products for local businesses.
I knew NOTHING about online marketing and websites when we bought our first SBI site through Julie a little over 4 yrs ago, now we have a hefty income from our online streams, as well as teaching others how to market themselves online. We’ve taken hundreds of hours in classes in the last four years to understand more about building online revenue, but would never have understood the basics of how to do with without the system SBI has for people new to internet marketing.
Leigh: Great Comments Tiffany! Tiffany and her husband Gary are pros’ at SBI! What I had liked about it was, the instructions, the ease of use, the community forums for sharing info, the support is great etc. But as mentioned before the software does a lot of back end work for you that takes time. I have used other website software before and I describe SBI as “Pure Genius” if you want to actually build a business with passive streams of income vs. just a 10 page website with the basics. I started http://www.truckee-travel-guide.com/ in Jan 2011, have 60 pages now out of planned 500, and I already ranking in the top 21% of websites per Alexa.com (I put an Alexa ranking button on my Contact Me Page). I started Brie’s new site http://www.sacramento-massage-by-brie.com/ a few weeks after mine and she is already in the top 25% of all websites. Our rankings will get better with more pages/more traffic to our sites!
Update: Just had a BIG weekly jump on our Alexa Website Ratings. My Truckee site is now in the Top 17.17% of All sites, Brie’s Massage Site just jumped to the top 17.97% of All Sites, and after 3 DAYS on SBI, my sister’s first Alexa rating shows her site at 14,237,937 out of 100million Websites. SBI Rocks for websites!
Question: Do you do websites for other people or just family? If so, how much do you charge?
Leigh: I don’t do them for others, because I am running an eBay store, and have three websites in the early stages (My site has 60+ pages, Bries 40 pages, and my sister’s is 25 since we just started that 2 days ago)
Question: What other passive income streams do you recommend doing besides Google Adsense on your website?
Leigh: Google Adsense – you get paid when people click on the ads. Affiliate Advertising – you get paid when people click through and purchase something – each company sets up their own Commission structure and time. On my site, since it is a Travel site, I will be doing Direct Advertising for local Truckee Businesses. They can purchase a basic directory listing on my site, or they can purchase an entire page. I am also setting up a “Referral Program” with a local realtor in Truckee who sold my Truckee house for me. I refer my website readers to her, via a form that goes to her email, and she will pay me a Referral Fee.
With Massage Therapists, Brie will be selling Tiffany & Gary Blacken’s Couple’s Massage video on her site shortly. They have their own affiliate program with a 50-50% split. You set it up, put in on your site, and it keeps earning for you!
Question: Where can I find a web program or site that I can build a membership and give every member their own login? This would be massage therapy related.
Leigh: You can do that on SBI.
Linda adds: You can also have a membership program with WordPress.
Question: I see you like to do a lot of residual income for your income streams that will still work for you even when you are retired, but do you invest in a 401K or stocks for your retirement plan as well? What do you recommend?
Leigh: If you have the ability to get “free money” from an employer via a 401K or 457 (tax deferred comp) plan, DO IT!! I also recommend ROTH IRA’s to whoever can get them. You put money in each year, and don’t get the tax write off that year, but your money + your earnings grown tax free, so you don’t owe taxes when you pull the money out. I use these for my most aggressive investments!
Question: How much money do you personally make with your Adsense? How long does it take to set-up? Do you have to keep checking on it?
Leigh: Adsense is easy to apply for. The set-up is easy, but just takes time, because you have a bunch of choices for ads, and you have to put them on each page individually.
Ryan Hoyme adds: I know some people hate looking at ads, but the alternative is have people pay for viewing the information. Some big news organizations are going to a subscription basis and that cuts down on people viewing their information…but they will make more profit that way.
Adsense is profitable, but it also depends on how much traffic your website has, because its pay-per-click.
Julie Onofrio adds: To make money with adsense you need a high traffic site – like at least 500 people a day or more and probably at least 500 pages of content. It can be done. It is a process. find a topic you like to talk about and know alot about and start writing about it in a website that is optimized for the search engines. I am explaining how to do it in my new website -www.guidetomakingwebsites.com
Tiffany Blackden adds: If your pages are focused on keywords and generating traffic through quality content, there’s little reason to check up on it after you create good pages. Many of our pages with AdSense are pages we created years ago, but they keep drawing traffic, and making income.
Leigh: Thank you for all the great questions! I’ve really enjoyed this
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