Making Money Online Online Business Passive Income Plan Review

Improving Time Management to Improve Passive Income

While I was figuring out my passive income goals for 2010 – I went thru the tired but true exercise:

  • What went well last year?
  • What went badly?

Oddly enough – it was quite easy for me answer both questions – I think this is an important skill that being in business for yourself develops – one thing I cerainly hadn’t expected to learn while working online was to be much more aware of my own faults and weaknesses. Anyway back to the point – what went well – I haven’t had to get a real job that’s more than good! When someone asked me the other day whether  Iwas going to get a job on my return to NZ – I looked him in the eye and said, why? I made over US$4000 last month – what would I want a job for?

What went badly – well unfortunately that was equally easy to answer  my time management sucks! This is not a new development – but now my inability to focus is costing me money not just an employer! This has to stop and like now.

So what has NOT worked for me so far as time management is concerned;

  1. Public accountability – that was one of the reasons I stated this blog so that I could report and measure progress – after all I totally get about having goals and even about setting up SMART goals No the goal setting wasn’t the problem.
  2. I decided to record all the time I spent online and look at the time wasted. I found a free online time recorder system called SlimTimer that I recommend – the only problem with it was that it couldn’t tell me to turn itself on when I conveniently “forgot” for a week or two!
  3. I tried to get my head around GTD (Get Things Done) system – but frankly it seemed like  I’d have to study for a week to even get to the start – it appeared more a way of life than a way to boost productivity – I wasn’t sure that I was ready for a way of life!

Pomodoro Technique to Rescue?

Several people of a forum a frequent mentioned they had found the Pomodoro Technique helpful – even though they usually struggled with focus – sounds like me I thought –  I will give it a shot – oh and the comprehensive e-book is free – even better!

The system was developed in Italy by a guy who is now an IT Project Manager – but at the time was a student. Its well worth reading the e-book becuase it acutally explains the science behind why it works – with references eve – a slight change of pace to a lot of what you come across these dasys. Any – in essence the Pomodoro technique is:

  • start working on your first task – work on it for 25 minutes then take an approximately 5 minute break;
  • repeat until you have down 4 1/2 hour “pomodoros” (named for the kitchen timer from Italy);
  • then take a longer 20 minute break.
  • if an urgent interruption comes along (say the sudden urge to check your email) – you right it down on an urgent list and keep working. (It will either become another real pomodoro in its own right or it will be a quick task you do in a break, or you forget about it);
  • if a really urgent thing comes along – house burns down or similar – you abandon the pomodoro and have to start again with that particular pomodoro;
  • each task should be at leas 1 pomodoro (30 minutes) long – no task should be longer than 5-7 pomodoros – either group similar tasks together or split larger tasks down to fit this criteria.

My current implemenation of it looks something like this:

  • write a list of everything you need to do (I tend to work in a “this week” or “this month” list);
  • put the top priorities on today’s todo list – with a box per a pomodoro – in black – which get ticked off as I do them. If I have underestimated the time required which – I seem to do more than I realised – I re-estimate by adding more boxes in red so I can see where I under and over estimate. If I have an interurption I use a ” ‘ ” symbol to note it.
  • At the end of the day I retrospectively fill in what I did over the day using Slimtimer and tag the activities as pomodoros – meaning I can easily see just how many hours of my so-called 10 hour days  I was actually doing focussed “pomodoros” (4 or 5 at the start!)

Initially what I found that basically focussing for 1/2 an hour isn’t that hard – in fact it was a lot easier than I thought it was going to be. My issue seems to be more the time wasted in between pomodoros – but I can work on that.

Pomodoro – without the Kitchen Timer

The original is with using a tomatoe shaped wind-up kitchen timer – your grandmother may use one – I personally thought that was what the micowave was for. And in the midst of packing I certainly was not going to buy a kitchen timer! Fortunatly there is a software solution for that. Initially  ithought I wanted a silent timer  – but in some way I find the annoying ticking sound actually makes me focus – not sure if that will work long term but I have it turned  for the moment.

Options for the timer abound – I ltried Pomodeiro and FocusBooster both of which are free and run on the Adobe Air (so will work across most operating systems). Neither really deals with the reporting on the amount of work done though – or not in format I liked. There are quite a number of Pomodoro apps for Macs but the only software I found came close for Windows was PomoTime – I really like this software – again free and a very cute interface unfortunately it had a couple of major flaws for my use: only 7 items on a ToDo list a day and only one ToDo list a day.

However the developer did respond to my comments so mayit will be upgraded.

UPDATE: PomoTime has now been upraded I am using it in preference to manual method I described below – up to 12 items on the daily todo list seems to make all the difference – try it you may like – and its free!

Pomodoro without Software

So currently my sytem looks something like this:

  1. A long todo list – about a week’s worth – on paper.
  2. Daily todo list –  using the paper system described in the original Pomodoro e-book. Different colours when I underestimate tasks – which I appear to do more often than I thought…
  3. Slimitmer – to retrospectively fill in day – using tags to count tasks with pomodores – result can t rack total hours and total hours of pomodores a week

What Pomodoro Technique Has Taught Me So Far

  • not as many internal disruptions – haven’t had to cancel a pomodoro over the first few days;
  • the ticking actually seems to work! Although wish I could disable it during the breaks;
  • I badly underestimate how long keyword research and installing sites takes.

So what do you use for time management – have you heard of the Pomodoro technique before – like it? Used another technique that you’d recommend.?

Photo Credit

Moving Overseas Passive Income Australia/NZ

Move to New Zealand – Australia Compared

Well as always its always quite amusing going home after being overseas a while. Leaving Australia after nearly three years – I am back in New Zealand.  Moving back to New Zealand after not setting foot in the country for 18 months has been interesting. Here is my entirely non-scientific first impressions of  living in New Zealand compared to living in Australia – well actually its about moving from Perth to Wellington –  as always the devil’s in the details -your mileage will vary depending on where in Australia you are familiar with and where in New Zealand you are moving to!

Wellington on a Good Day
Wellington on a Good Day

New Zealand Weather Compared to Australia’s

Eastbourne, Wellington
Eastbourne, Wellington

Crap – totally un-redemmed crap – well its probably better than the UK or Ireland – but  only the Poms would believe that New Zealand has a decent climate.  It should be a hint when the TV weather calls an expected maximum of 25C – as  “warm”!

On the plus side – there is a lot more daylight than in Australia – in Perth, thanks to not having daylight saving – it was light before 5am and dark at 7pm – in New Zealand its light before 6am and dark at about 9pm –  New Zealand has daylight saving – and I was really, really missing it in Western Australia

Wellington has stunning beautiful beaches and coastline – but unless you are insane ie. have never swum elsewhere – 14C water temperature is unacceptable. When we left Perth the water temperature was a pleasent 20C odd. More to the point unless temperature hits 30C ( global warming where are you?) – who wants to go swimming anyways?

Standard of Living in New Zealand Compared to Australia

Historic Pub, Thorndon, Wellington
Historic Pub, Thorndon, Wellington

Impossible to call IMHO – there is no one size that fits all – it depends on what is important to you and what is not. My partner is earning more money here than he was in Australia for the same job. – but if you are unskilled then the wages are definitly higher in Australia. If you are preapred to work in the remote mining areas and you have the relevant trade skills – the money is a lot better in Australia.

Food and all things electrical appear a lot cheaper here. In the last couple of days we have bought items such as a microwave, electric frypan and restocked a kitchen – prices for food are the same in NZ in $ as they are in Australia – with the curent exchange rate that makes them 25% cheaper.

Eating out in Perth is outrageously expensive – you will often pay $10 for a beer in a pub – in New Zealand a beer is NZ$6.50 in a restaraunt. We bought Western Australian wine in New Zealand supermarket for the same $ price as it is in WA – again 25% cheaper – there must be a lot higher sales tax on it in Australia. Oh yes you can buy beer and wine in the supermarket in New Zealand – and the supermarkets are open seven days usually to at least 10pm – sometimes 24 hours. In Perth there is one (!) late night shopping night a week – no big shops open on a Sunday – its a crazy system which favours some retailers and almost certainly keeps the prices high.  Why electronics are cheaper in NZ is beyond me – they have further to come (from China)- and its a smaller market –  34litre microwave cost me NZ$140 – enough said.

Anyway back to the eating out: Indian sit down meal -very nice two mains, rice, bread, 2 beers – NZ$48 – it would have been at least A$60 in Perth. I believe you can also get fish and chips for two at around N Z$10 (A$20 in Australia) – haven’t tried that yet – too much Christmas eating.

In Perth we were paying $320/week for a 2 bedroom flat 15 minutes walk from the beach and 10km from town.  In Wellington we are paying $225/week for a 1 bedroom flat 5km from town but further from the beach and poorer quality property. In Wellington I own a very nice home 5km from the CBD in one of the best suburbs – its valued at around NZ$600k – the same price (say around A$480k) in Perth would get me a new home 3 bed/2 bathroom 25km from the CBD. To buy the equivalent home in Perth – we would have to pay at  least A$800k – say around NZ$1 million.  That said a basic home in Perth is  brick, well insulated and has air-con. In New Zealand you don’t need the air-con but you definitly need heating and as the typical home is wooden and built at least 30 years ago you will probably need to bring the heaters with you. The old wooden houses make for quaint streetscapes – but they cost a fortune to maintain and are definitly not so comfortable to live in.

Telecommunication Connections in New Zealand

Wellington Waterfront
Wellington Waterfront

Local hint – if you are talking to  teleco provider in NZ and they ask if your modem has a telepermit sticker on it – the correct answer is YES! You will need a different modem connection cable to fit the hole in the wall – and you will need to change some obscure settings – but my Australian adsl2+ modem is working just fine in inner suburban Wellington (like Australia, New Zealand rural areas don’t do broadband )  – about the same cost – and although the claimed speeds was slower – I am not noticing any difference. Still have the bullshite about needing a phone line to have the broadband – but I went with the existing provider to our current rental place – haven’t phoned around yet.

Also my existing cell phone -charged up and remembered who it was after 2 years in a box – retained the number and even the credit – amazing – in Australia you lose the number if the phone is not used for 6 months.

I believe you can retain your cell phone number between provders now and even your home phone – but too late for me – I use  a SkypeIN number now which is portable anywhere in the world.

Driving in New Zealand

Historic Houses, Tinakori Rd, Wellington
Historic Houses, Tinakori Rd, Wellington

The left hand turn rule is different – the standard urban limit is 50km/hr not 60km/hr. The open road is a maximum limit of 100km/hr  – not 110km/hr. All of these  lower limits make a lot of sense when you realise just how narrow Wellington’s roads, and how little shoulder there is – you can hardly ever pulloff the road entirely even on the motorway (that’s what we call freeways).

The drink driving limit is still a reasonable 0.08 – unlike the revenue gathering one of 0.05 in most (all?) Australian states. You don’t lose your licence for a first offence on a holiday weekend either! The driving is pretty much the same level of competance as in Perth i.e. not very. The cars are smaller – but  you’d struggle to get Holden Commodore around quite a few corners in Wellington suburbs – that’s because Wellington has hills – Perth doesn’t have very many – and they rarely build homes on the top of them. BTW if you are booking for the 2012 World Cup – check the number of steps from road to front door – I’m not kidding.

The price of petrol is about the same $1.65 in New Zealand – it was A$1.21 when we left Perth. Cars are a fraction of the cost – that’s because we don’t support a domestic car industry –  the 1996 Commodore we sold in Perth for $1800 – wouldn’t have been worth NZ$500 here – if you could give it away.

New Zealanders v. Australians

Pretty much the same – the odd term is more American in Australia. Perth was a very white city – most of the immigrants are Poms and (white) South Africans and New Zealanders. Wellington has a substantial minority of Pacific Islanders and Maoris – and a useful range of minorities who can cook (Vietnamese, Chinese, Indian to name a few).  Seriously the differences between the two countries are pretty darn trivial. On balance if I was gay or black/brown I would probably feel more accepted in  Wellington than Perth e.g.  – there was no gay dance scene in Perth -there’s a big one in Wellington.

New Zeland Economy v. Australia

At the moment I can get a better deposit rate with a bank than the mortgage rate I pay in New Zealand –  a situation I can’t recall happening- ever really. The  Australian economy took a breather last year -but is set to take off again – welll at least in Western Australia and to a lesser extent South Australia and Queensland.  Unfortunately most New Zelanders move to Sydney – don’t would be my advice – well not if you want a job anyways.

The New Zeland economy seems to be muddling along as it generally does –  its primarily service and agriculture based and that hasn’t changed – probably never will. NZ will never be the big player that Australia is set to become over the next 10 years or so – frankly it doesn’t really matter so long as New Zealanders have the right to live and work in Australia (and vivce versa) – the free flow of people between the two countries will even it all out.

Making Passive Income Online – Which is Best Australia or New Zealand?

The NZ$ is always weaker against the US$ than A$ – so my US$ (which almost all my earnings are in) – in effect I have had a 33% payrise for just moving country… Yes the NZ tax rates are slightly higher than the Australian rates (if you earn less than around $100k) – but the tax system is a dream of symplicity – I am almost looking forward to dealing with it. The sales tax issue (GST) here is simpler than in Australia too. As I still run paypal accounts in US$ the banking system here is irrelevant – but they are very comparable (in fact most of the banks are the same). I am booked in for  some major dental work which will cost me 1/2 what I was quoated in Australia 18 months ago.

The downside is that medical insurance is not transportable – invariably if  you move countries a lot you will lose your medical insurance – I  refused to pay A$400/month in Australia (because we hadn’t been insured since we  were 30 in Australia) – the NZ insurance you could only put on hold fora year.

Making Money Online Online Business Passive Income Plan Review

Passive Income Goals 2010

I’ve been doing some planning – well its better than doing some work right? Although you many of you, like me, will have sat through the annual corporate planning wank – “failing to plan is a plan to fail” – in the business of making passive income online planning is a often just another way to procrastinate for many people.  After all  planning the next big thing is much more fun that getting a few more backlinks!

Passive Income Planning
Passive Income Planning

Working in IT put me off planning for a quite a long time.   I never had a plan to succeed when I starting trying to earn an online income – I didn’t have a plan at all. Which wasn’t a bad thing  – lets put it this way if you are 16 and have just decided to go to medical school – should you have a plan of which speciality you want to end up in and what income you want to be making by the time you are 30? To be honest you shouldn’t – you have no idea what life is like, haven’t met your life partner yet or had kids or not, you  don’t know any thing about medicine – you have no background knowledge to make a reasonable plan.  Ten years later you may have the basic knowledge (preference for medical speciality, costs involved and lifestyle of that particular speciality, know how much money you need to earn, have a partner or not etc) to make some sort of reasonable plan. If you don’t understand how to make money blogging or how to make money “placing google ads” (both search terms this site has been found for in the last month – I suggest you forget the big picture and go read How to Make Money with HubPages

Last week though – while I was surfing rather than working – I came across a planning post which actually sounded like it might be useful – it was over at The Art of Unconformity- Unconventional Business Goals. To be honest Chris’s business model is nothing like mine – I don’t want a book contact nor do I want to be recognised public speaker and coach. Nor do I want to go to every country in the world – for the sake of crossing it off the list!  Those are all his goals. What I like about him though is that he’s an excellent writer, and a lot more transparent about his business model than most.  His planning model made a lot of sense to me.  I took a couple of days and really thought about my goals for 2010. Now  I am still a reluctant goal setter and I certainly am not doing it for any thing else in my life apart from my business (finding nice beaches with warm water – seems to happen anyway doesn’t need a written plan!). But for my business I came up with three key goals:

Passive Income Goals 2010

  • Make a consistent  profit of US$5000/month of which at least 60% ($3000) should be from residual income websites e.g. affiliates, eBay, Amazon and Adsense
  • Develop website trading business to improve diversification of income sources
  • Develop my own products to improve diversification of income sources

I am sure someone will point out that US$5,000 is not very much – what about planning for the future blah,blah. Well I already did that – my  partner and I have property and and the (rare) winning stock picks so essentially all I am looking at doing is replacing an income not building a nest egg. I am not supporting any kids either – I’ve heard those are expansive! We own our own home. We don’t need flash cars or new clothes – though our dancing and travel habits don’t come cheap! Oh and the goal is in US$ because that is what you get paid in on the Internet – the exchange rate I can’t control – the fact that A$ has appreciated 30% against the US$ in the last year hurts – but there is  nothing I can do about it. You goals have to be within your control – I’d love to plan to win the New Zealand Ballroom Champs next year too – unfortunately that’s not in my control either (too old, too fat, not enough talent etc).

For me the most useful part of the planning exercise was what is not on the list – I spent all day thinking about and researching the market for starting a local SEO business for New Zealand small businesses – in fact if you want to go for that niche knock yourself out – you will have to educate your clients but there is hardly any competition targeting the SME sized market and at the newspapers and Yellow Page advertising rates leaves plenty of room for a profitable service which will save your clients money.   Why am I telling you this? Because I am not going to do it. The more I thought about what I value  about earning income online:

  • keep my own hours, control my  own time;
  • answerable to know one except the Google Gods;
  • dress optional

Would have been severely impacted by working for clients! The more I looked at the streams of income I did have – and matched them against my income goals – made me realise that I was nearly there – in the last five months I’ve averaged $1300/month from passive income sources. In November my actual income (including freelancing and it probably won’t hit that level for a few more months) was over US$4500 – an all time record for me and pretty much what I would make in a professional job in New Zealand. I didn’t need the distraction of starting another business, certainly not one that impacted on mycore values of being answerable to no one!

Its obvious writing it down now – but I have been thinking about the SEO thing off and on now for a year   – now I have come to a decision about it and can move on.

So – I do actually think that if you are just starting off online you don’t need a detailed business plan. )Pan to spend little to no money on gurus and a lot of time on educating yourself. Find one approach which sounds liek it might work for you – and then take action, rinse and repeat.

If however you have been in this game for a year or more – I do think you might want to take a look at Chris’s approach to planning and try out his spreadsheet  – you may be surprised at the results –  I was!

And I like the idea of  doing an annual plan for your passive income business in December not January – why?

  • December is often an outlier income-wise for many  people – looking at Dec to Nov figures rather than Jan-Dec figures will minimise the feel good/deep despair effect those Dec figures will have on you;
  • December is often a disrupted month workwise (even if you aren’t moving countries!) –  go with the flow and do a plan instead of trying to stick with the routine;
  • SEO : in January everone else will be googling “passive income goals for 2010” – or so I hope!

Check out my attempt at improving my time management to actually realise my passive income goals for 2010


Global Warming is Just Like the Y2K Bug!

The whole Copenhagen/ Climate Change is tediously boringly dominating the Australian news at the moment. Its right up there with the irritating Christmas carols in the malls. So you have to love the people who combined the two annoying things to come up with a rather good youtube video:

What gets me – is that we have all (most of us anyway) – have been there before – remember the y2k bug – the issue with the year “clicking over to “00” running computer programs first written in the 1960’s and therefore bring Western civilisation to its knees: nuclear power plants would melt down, electricity girds would fail, planes would crash mid-air as air traffic control systems failed. Most businesses in western countries spent billions of dollars on consultants and billions more on fixing the so-called problems. It was indeed an excellent time to be a computer consultant! Consumers hoarded water and vital supplies – y2k kits were popular Christmas presents for 2000 – perhaps they can be recycled for the forthcoming 2012 disaster?

The trouble was that it all sounded plausible to the non-computer programmer i.e. most politicians, journalists and CEO’s so they reacted to it.

Not every country bought into the y2k hysteria. Italy – said decided to pick up the pieces afterwards – they figured it would be cheaper. Guess what they had to fix – next to nothing! Notice how the lights kept working, the water kept flowing and the planes didn’t fall out of the sky?

I was looking forward to seeing the aftermath in the media – the examination of why so many peole were conned fo so much money – never happened though – never saw a sensible piece of discussion about why y2k didn’t happen.

And now its 2009 and global warming is a crises – sea levels are rising, ice caps are melting and its all the fault of  anthropogenic (man made) effects.  Don’t get me wrong – I do think the climate is changing –  if the climate stopped changing we would be serious trouble – Mars has a stable climate – no oceans = stable climate . Earth doesn’t – only 10,000 years ago Europe was covered in glaciers. Only 300 years ago the Thames routinely froze. Many people who were children in the 1930s in New Zealand remember long hot summers – they told me on rainy days in the 1970s when it was too cold to go to the beach. To this day I am unlikely to swim in Wellington again 🙁

Thw whole golval warming debate is a worse beat up than the y2k debacle – that at least had a a fixed end date! This could go on for years.  Its also complex and even climate scientists don’t understand how the atmosphere works in detail – look at how rubbish we are at predicitng weather! The climate is dynamic and changes – sure man effects the climate – the introduction of camels, horses, and other cloven hoofed animals to Australia – a country who had no animal with hard feet before the Europeans- has done irreparable damage to the country – just ask the people who were living there at the time! The  animals destroyed the top soil – the vegetation was destroyed and replaced – now there are bad dust stroms – cuased by man – certainly – caused by climate change – doubtful!

Is there drought in Australia? In the Murray Darling maybe  – in the north  where the fertile land is and the arms aren’t – no. Anyway you can’t tell unless you have at least a few hundred years of good quality data – wherei n the world has that? Nowhere.

Murray River @ Swan Hill, Victoria
Murray River in drought at Swan Hill, Victoria

Is sea level rising – maybe in Tuvalau and the Maldives  (or is the land sinking? the effect is the same for the local population but cap and trade regimes wouldn’t help them)- there is no record of it doing so in Australia. The beach I knew intimately as a child  in the 1970’s looks the same today.  On the other hand the whole shoreline changed dramatically in about a minute in 1841 – earthquakes have a much greater effect on coast lines than sea level. Venice has been sinking for  500 years – nothing to do with cows farting in the US – more to do with too many heavy buildings on poorly compacted footings and made worse by the amount of boat traffic in the lagoon.

So yes sorry – just felt liek a rant about how humans seem to require an inpending disaster to keep them interested in life! The world was going to end  on 31/12/999 – it didn’t – then on 31/12/1999 – it didn’t. Climate change doesn’t have an end date but according to Mayans 22/12/2012 – the end of time! So hows your business planning going for  the next few years!

Moving Overseas Online Business Passive Income Australia/NZ

Passive Income – Leaving Australia – the Practicalities

OK I have confession – although I love travelling I bloody hate packing – and leaving a country is like the worst packing in the world because everything has to go or be shipped. We have only been here two years – why we have so much crap is beyond me! Oh and its Christmas so we are into the usual social round of Christmas – Australia style. i.e. lots of drinking and eating really. Oh and the weather has suddenly come good so I would rather be swimming to be honest!

Rottnest Island, Perth, WA
Rottnest Island, Perth, WA

Does this have anything to earning passive income – well it seems that working from home is a bit like being the stay-at-home mum/wife – you get to do all the running around. Partner went to work today I spent 3 hours selling the car – successfully but still. And then I came home and cancelled the insurance and arranged the rental car – which I will pick up tomorrow.  Over the last few weeks I have found us a sub-let for the first two months home – our house is still rented to tenants – arranged for the New Zealand car to go to the garage, though it did apparently get started after two years of sitting – impressive! Cancelled the power, cancelled the phone/Internet and generally run around.

So if you think you have this online business sorted out and want to get out to see the world, with your new independence I seriously suggest the follow strategy:

  • sell everything;
  • if you think you can’t bare to part with it see point above;
  • if you need it rent it: car, house, whatever.

If you are planning on travelling with your business: don’t plan on getting any work done a week both sides of the move – if you do it will be a nice bonus. The month before you move plan on losing at least a few days with the annoying admin details I’ve mentioned above.

Must Haves for Moving Country Easily and Keeping Your Business Going

  • Think about where your Paypal account is linked to. You can’t move a paypal account to another country-  you have to close it and re-open it.  There is however nothing stopping you retaining an Australian bank account with an overseas address – so this is a loophole – which at least means that you take your time moving the account.
  • Have a location independent email address – NEVER get caught up with using your ISP’s email address – use your own domain or a free yahoo or gmail account.
  • I’ve now done the same thing with my  phone number – I have a SkypeIn number which looks like a local New Zealand number, costs around Euro40/year and I can answer anywhere in the world, without  the caller realising I am not in the country!
  • Have your important files backed up – just in case the laptop doesn’t survive the airline!
  • Think about leaving a bank account behind – its the easy way to receive refunds for bonds and car insurance after you have gone – you can always electronically transfer the balance out after you leave. If you are using this bank account for payments from affiliates such as Adsense – remember to change them BEFORE you close the account be aware you will have to do this several months in advance.
  • Let your online contacts know that you are heading  off and might fall of the great Interweb for a  little while – that’s from around the 20 Dec for about 10 days if I get unlucky re connections being promised just before Xmas in New Zealand.

Leaving Australia Count Down

  • Give notice to the phone company and power company. In Perth the power company , Synergy, will send you final bill overseas, the Phone company has always billed us electronically so the email stays the same.
  • Cancel any subscriptions you might have picked up along the way.
  • Start advertising what may be saleable, decide where you are going to give it to if you don’t sell: we took cents in the dollar for a lot of books rather than spend time selling them individually – we took the lot to the second hand shop. We will do
  • The rental agent is some sort of clean demon – I have never cleaned the tops of doors I own never mind those of a rental – apparently it has to be done, ditto the carpet cleaning – I’m hiring someone to do both – too hard for me!
  • Selling a car varies dramatically state by state – in Western Australia – its buyer beware there is no requirement for a mechanical check before sale – the paperwork is available online and you then just mail the sellers portion back with the buyers details included.  Gumtree is the local equivalent of Craig’s List and worked for the car!
  • The airlines have got tough on overweight luggage – instead we will ship our overweight bags via air freight a day or two before we fly and even with $80 worth of fixed charges the $3.50/kg is a lot more attractive that $10/kg Qantas charges! You do need to collect the stuff from the receiving airport.

Some link love – must be Christmas or something:

Todd has restyled his blog to being all about Home Business Tips – nice new look Todd and solid advice about not changing domains every 5 minutes – you can get ANY url to rank for a term with enough backlinks – this blog being a case in point.

My Prague friend  – Hospitalera – is after one of the most obscure anchored links I’ve ever come across Oes tsetnoc – I thought it was some weird Czeck term – even I know enough it wasn’t German – but I was wrong, check her link to find out what its all about.

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I joined the cloud – do me a favour and join too!

I joined the Cloud! You know cloud computing, personal PCs are so 2008 and now everyone lives in the cloud – well that’s what the Economist said a week or two back so it must be true.  Seriously though – I have just migrated all my important files onto an online backup system and I think you should too.

(cc) Kenneth Yeung -
(cc) Kenneth Yeung -

I am seriously old and remember when hard drives broke – a lot! I remember when tape backups took hours and hours to restore your files – and then you discovered that the tape was corrupt …  Lets just say telling someone the file they have been working of for weeks is unrecoverable is not something you want to have to do too often in one lifetime.

Now I do have a backup system- I have a portable hard drive which I back up to on a hmm semi-regular basis – and always before the laptops go travelling. But I was becoming more and more aware just how stuffed my business would be if I lost some crtical files.

I have a client who raves about googledocs and I use googledocs from time-to-time – quite honestly if that is what the future is I’d say bring back the quill pen – clunky, slow – unattractive. Not impressed at all. Anyway I don’t really want to work on my files from a remote location – I just want them backed up and safe from me and hardware disasters, or even the theft of laptop. I am also moving back to an earthquake prone country – having an onsite backup is less than useful in those circumstances too.

So I vaguely knew I should do something about an online backup and when surfing around I came across a review of dropbox. Now I read the review but didn’t go with dropbox – entirely because with dropbox you can only share one folder – I had 2 distinct folders I knew needed backup and didn’t really want to rearrange my hard drive to accomodate this program. Instead I signed up with SugarSync and I am loving it.  I have one small problem though – I have a free account which gives 2GB of space – that was enough for the important stuff – but not for my photos. 🙁

My photos need your help – but its a win-win situation.

Sign up for a free account using the above link and you will get a free 2GB account with an extra 250MB just for using my link. I will get an extra 250MB too – so that’s a classic win/win. If you have a whole lot of files and need 30GB then still use the link (you can try for free for 30 days the bigger plan or upgrade from the free account later) – and you will get an extra 5GB free (and me too).  The 30GB costs $5/month $50/year.

How it works is that you nominate which folders you want synced and then sugarsync starts uploading them – it took a few hours on my connection – but it just worked away in the background. Once synced then as you make changes on files it automatically syncs files to the cloud.

Now regardless of whether you are running a multi-million dollar online passive income business empire, a small online business, or just have a whole lot of family photos and boring stuff like tax records on your computer. You really should be backing those files up somewhere, and if you live somewhere that  computers get stolen, houses burn down, earthquakes/cyclones/floods etc happen – you shouldn’t have that backup in the same building or even town as your main computer.

Now I basically use only one computer but if you regularly filesharing between mutliple computers/blackberries,/iPhones whatever then SugarSync could really make life easier by automatically syncing files between different devices. All too complex for me but I have to say the straight archive thing works like a charm. Also once your files are uploaded you can access them directly from a web browser if you are away from home.  Oh and you can stream music/video too if that’s important to you as well  (not that I’ve tried). And apparently it works on Macs too.

So I am sure you could waste hundreds of hours working out which is the best online archive system – or just sign-up for SugarSync – it works for me and if you sign up and save your important files along the ways you will improve my photo’s earthquake survival odds (must admit I have no idea where Sugarsync keeps their servers but I am pretty sure its not Wellington, New Zealand!

Adsense HubPages

Warning From Adsense!

I think a few people at HubPages recently have had warning emails from Adsense – in censorshippart the email goes something like this:

While reviewing your account, we noticed that you are currently displaying
Google ads in a manner that is not compliant with our policies. For
instance, we found violations of AdSense policies on pages such as
Please note that this URL is an example and that the same violations may
exist on other pages of your website.

As stated in our program policies, AdSense publishers are not permitted to
make prominent use of “Google Brand Features” on sites displaying Google
ads. This includes any sites that attempt to create a false association
with Google or use Google trademarks in the URL.

So apparently you can’t use Adsense or Google in urls – note this was just in the end part of the url as well not actually the domain name. Not on a site which uses Adsense anyways. I’m not the only one to have been affected on HubPages and the Hub support team suggested I unpublish or change the url’s on any hub which contained “google” or “adsense”.

So I did – about a month ago – and now they are all gone from the cache  now they – are back right here on this site – which does not, never has, and will never run Adsense! Unfortunately I have lost the comments – which as usual on hubpages were useful – anyway here is the text!

Adsense Placement on HubPages

This never made me a lot of Adsense – but it ranked pretty well because it had so organic links – oh well. Useful information if you want to know why you have a single digit click thru rate on your hubs.

SEO Google Explains How to Do It

I went through the latest Google Webmaster guidelines and applied the “official” “suggestions” to hubpages.

How to Earn $1000 a Month with Adsense

Obviously sarcasm doens’t work with Adsense employees! This was actually the hub they named as in breach of their TOS! I must admit though I made a few dollars because yes  I was triggering plenty of get rich quick Adsense ads and the odd idiot did indeed click on them!

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Making Money Online Online Business

Is It Worth Trying to Make an Income Online?

I quite often get people emailing me because they saw my semi-illiterate ramblings somewhere on the Interwebs. I had another one recently which asked – “are my efforts going to be worth it?” – or in other words – is worth trying to make an income online?

What I wrote back was – in part:

I can’t tell you whether your efforts are worth it? What are your income goals/what’s your time frames/ do you have financial support on the learning curve? What are your cost of living? To be honest I would never have made this a full-time income if I was doing it part-time – the motivation wouldn’t have been there  and I would be too burnt out after working for someone else all day.

Full-time though has its issues though  – I now tell people they should have enough savings for 2 years living expenses if they are contemplating doing this full-time.  Then there is the isolation of doing this alone (that’s driven more than one person I know back to employment), the sheer frustration of seeing a site take up to a year to settle down and be a consistent earner.

For me going back to a well paid professional job would be purgatory – but that’s just me! I’m 47 and my partner is 57 so I am looking for something that will support us both in “retirement” – and pretty much and am at that level now. I’m not satisfied with that – but I am sure this is what I will be doing for some time to come.  As recently as 6 months ago I was only semi-seriously saying “I was playing on the interwebs” when asked what I did. I still don’t know what to call what I do online to friends – but I do know its definitely worth it for me – your mileage may vary though 🙂

I had a particularly good freelance payment into my Paypal overnight – and when I logging in to transfer the money (don’t ever leave large sums in Paypal BTW people) – it occurred to me to check and yes since the start of the tax year, 1 July in  Australia, I had now earned enough to start making sure I make some provision for paying tax  –  that made me smile quite broadly and caught my partner’s attention (probably because his contract finishes in 6 weeks). Oh and don’t bother dropping a comment about how paying tax is awful – paying tax means you are making money what’s bad about that?

Yeah I look like a success right – but as recently as March I made a grand total of $141 from Adsense and affiliate sales –  Iwas pissed off, frustrated and guilty for living of my partner’s income. I thought long and hard about what I could do instead of this game of trying to make an income online. I came up with two:

  • I could get a job in IT or geology;
  • I could retrain – probably at university – but I couldn’t think of anything I wanted to do

and I didn’t want a job. Fuck it – I’d just have to make this work. And oddly enough from the day on I have made more and more money 🙂  Not every month do I make more than the previous month, sometimes Adsense is up, sometimes affiliates are down, sometimes freelancing pays really well. Swings and roundabouts – but they don’t make me question what I will be doing in 6 months or 6 years.


I will still be making an online income – because its basically the single best option for me. Here’s why:

  • its location independent. I’ve always lived to travel, now so long as the country has a reliable power supply and Internet (and that removes surprisingly little of the world) I can live there an earn an income;
  • I don’t answer to a boss. I really have a problem with authority, particularly with stupid authority – my definition of stupid can be a little too broad for many bosses to handle;
  • Its not boring – the whole game of working out how to persuade the search engines I am the best – that’s an ever changing game complete with deliberate obfuscation and an ever changing landscape of competitors and (unseen) rules – I find it fascinating. No real world job has held my attention for more than 18 months – after that I generally know all I care to know about that particular organisation!
  • I hate to have my life down to organised 1/2 hour intervals. I hate having to plan my lunch hours so I have the time to go to dentist or meet someone for lunch;
  • I don’t have to get dressed in the mornings, when I get dressed its neither business casual, or even smart casual – its down right comfortable and scruffy.;
  • In short working online gives me freedom to be who and what I am – without having to conform to some truely irritating social norms!

On the downside there are negatives but I for me they are far outweighed by the positives:

  • Income goes down as well as up. I finally started to make some decent dollars with eBay – the month they changed their program and threw me back to the cents/day level 🙂 I used to have a salary – I knew what I would be earning – to the cent months in advance. Now I can be up or down 20% a month just like that;
  • The work you do today will see you paid months or even years down the line- there is a complete disconnect between this month’s work and this month’s earnings – of course this can be good too – if you are on holiday!
  • I don’t make as much as I used to – true my expenses have gone down – but still I want to make more – its taking longer than the 3 months I thought it would when I started over 2 years ago – but it will happen.
  • Working from home is isolating. Now I never thought I was such a loser that I went to work to make friends and meet people – but I did miss it, a little.
  • Working from home can be a disaster in terms of weight loss if you are not careful you will put on a lot of weight – thought you had a sedentary desk job before – at least you had to leave the house walk to the car,  and then walk from the car to the office at the other end! I seriously suggest that if you are doing this full-time that you take some dancing classes or something else to keep your body working!
  • I have absolutely no idea to describe what I do for a living – my current line is “I work for Google” – I’ll see how that goes!

So is it worth it trying to make an online income? For me – absolutely! But for you – I don’t know. Its certainly been the single most frustrating and annoying few years of my life. I’ve given up twice, but third time lucky – I figure. How about you – what drives your dream to making money online?

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Freelance Writing Online Business Paid Tools Product Reviews Tools

Need to Make Online Cash Now? Consider a Freelancing Business

superstar250Yup you read that right- if you are desperate to make an income right now. You have been told your job ends in two weeks and you don’t know how you will make next month’s mortgage repayments – then making passive income online won’t help you – yet.

I have been playing this website building game for two years – my income still fluctuates – I wrote that in July I had made $2000 online– I am yet to get past that approximate figure again – in fact my passive income was significantly down in October – but overall I was up because of a domain sale and some more freelance work. It swings-and-roundabouts – it doesn’t make me lose sleep at night. But it might – soon. My partner’s contract finishes at Christmas and we are moving back to New Zealand. My income suddenly becomes our only income – at least for a while – the pressure is definitely noticeable i.e. my partner now asks every month how I am doing LOL – see partners are interested when the money starts rolling in – or not!

So what do you do if you really,really need the income and you need it quickly? Well I’ve written about my Plan B previoulsy Another option is developing either a part or full time freelancing business.  Almost everyone has a skill they can sell online – be it writing, photography, designing websites, installing blogs. For a  lot of online beginners the skill is writing – we can all write right? So off you head to the usual forums or article writing content mills – and then you discover you are competing against people who will write a 400 word article for $1. You stop, you get depressed, you declare loudly to anyone who will listen that globalisation is evil, you can’t compete against the hoards of English-speakers living in third world countries writing for peanuts. You quit and get a job cleaning – well that’s what I did anyways. I found it all too hard and to be honest, I found that my writing skills were OK, but my procrastination skills were champion!

My friend Monika Mundell from sunny Queensland didn’t quit though. She kept on at it – she was desperate to get out of the hospitality industry with its Gordon Ramsey egos and unsociable hours. She persevered with freelance writing. She lives in Queensland, Australia – so a lot of the paying sites were not available to her (they don’t allow non-US-based writers). She had to find her own clients. And she is not an English native speaker. Two years later she is a successful online writer and internet marketer.

She has finally written the book Freelance SuperStar which explains how to reproduce her success. You just send $1000 to her email address and she will send you the secret to becoming a successful writer without doing any work…. OK sorry, not quite: bottom line this book a) costs money and b) will involve you doing a lot of work. Its also a step-by-step that anyone can use to launch a freelance business, if they do the work that is.

Freelance Superstar is focused on freelance writing – but you could use it get work in any related online field: programming, WordPress setup and customisation, SEO whatever. According to their own sales copy:

“The Freelance Superstar guide is a product aimed at new freelance writers and intermediate entrepreneurs who currently struggle to earn a decent income. The very affordable purchase price of USD 37 can easily be earned back if you follow my instructions in the guide. The idea is to start a business from scratch with little upfront expenses (You can get earning by spending less than $100 and this includes the guide).”

So what do you get for your US$37?

  • the 65 page eBook
  • WordPress templates for developing your own Portfolio site
  • email templates you can use to solicit for clients
  • sample writing agreements you can copy and use
  • step-by-step blogging video tutorials

This is review is only of the eBook – I have read the pre-release version of the ebook – but haven’t seen the other content. The images of the WordPress templates looked pretty cool though I imagine they would work just fine for anyone wanted to get started in business as soon as.

What I liked about the Freelance SuperStar eBook

  • nice clear layout of the ebook – type large enough to read easily but not so big I know you are artificially inflating the word count;
  • it focused on the important stuff: the chapter titled “Setting Up Your Office” had me worried – feng shui’ed interior design maybe, a quiet, private space as a pre-requisite to your business. Nope – a computer, an Internet connection, a chair and desk are nice to haves. Starting on the kitchen table is not a good reason not to start!;
  • from there on it got practical: from the basics: how to develop a develop writing samples, how to set up your own portfolio site, how to find a niche. how to set your rates. More advanced topics included are  how to manage clients, how to market your business, how to manage practical stuff like invoices, how to grow your business using outsourcing and other methods. Unless you are totally new to being online some of this will be known to you – but I found stuff I didn’t know. I partically like Monika’s practical approach to using  social media without it taking over your life.
  • review of 10 freelance bidding sites include pros/cons and costs involved- worth the price of the book alone in my opinion this could literally save you months of frustration of getting your business up and running. You can, and i have, spent days/weeks reading forum after forum trying to work out which site was best – here Monika has it all laid out in a few pages – value yoru time at $10/hour – you just justified the cost of this book!

What could have been improved

The book includes a 6 month road map chapter with steps to take each month to take your freelancing business from part-time to full-time. Now I liked the content – a lot. But I think the format could be jazzed up a bit – tick boxes, spaces to write notes of your own etc – this is the part of the book I think users should print out and post prominently above their kitchen table. Whether they succeed or fail is really up to following this time line – make it easy for them to do!

There are lots of the normal affiliate tools available – but no 125×125 banner and no non-gif banners? Easy to fix guys – please – not every site allows gifs you know and most blogs run 125 ads …

Who Should Buy Freelance Superstar

  • newcomers to online business who want/need to make several thousands of dollars a month within six months;
  • off-line writers who are trying to figure out what this online writing gig is all about and have just been made redundant from their local newspaper/magazine job;
  • students – journalism or otherwise who need to make a bit of cash on the side. Seriously this type of business is designed to fit the student lifestyle perfectly;
  • stay at home moms/mums who are struggling to make any meaningful money running Adsense on their (or their cat’s) personal blog.  This approach will make you real money in the same tiime you are wasting currently;
  • Internet marketers who are struggling with getting their affiliate income to a stable level and need some extra cash – although the book is written assuming you are starting a freelance business part-time around a real-world job, starting it part-time and/or keeping it part-time to fund your passive income websites will work as well. You never know when Google is going to throw a hissy fit and not like your sites anymore – this is a useful second string to your bow – which may well be more palatble,  than getting a dreaded “real job”.

Who Should NOT Buy Freelance Superstar

  • information junkies who have already bought 3 ebooks this week and read none of them. Well if you really want to give me the commission go ahead but really stop with the information overload and work out what you are actually trying to achieve with your business;
  • anyone who loves to dream the big dreams, and never gets around to the real work. Honestly if you can’t make back the cost of the book within your first month you pretty much bone-idle and you have wasted your money.

Just a note. This is not a paid review – I asked Monika for a review copy and she was kind enough to provide me with one. If you click on one of these links and buy the product I will get an affiliate commission. If I hadn’t thought the product delivered on its sale’s pitch and is a realistic way for pretty much anyone to start earning an online income I wouldn’t have reviewed it.And there’s a 30 day money back guarantee – so no risk on your part. Oh and here’s that low-down affiliate link again:

Making Money Online Online Business

Buying and Selling Websites

buying-selling-ebook-straightWell its done – my first eBook is about to hit the stands! Well I decided I couldn’t really call19 pages a book – more like a long short story. I could have upped the font to 24 pitch – and triple spaced all the lines, added fluff and lots of pictures and got it to 60 pages.

But that seemed utterly pointless – so instead its a 19-page eReport on Buying and Selling Websites: A Beginner’s Guide.

I hope it has something of use to anyone who signs up for it. It is of course the classic bait  to get you to give me your email and then spam the hell out of you.

Except I am indeed using Aweber (now that was a learning curve) – so its all legit and above board.And I won’t be offering you every Make Money Online product every month.

Instead I intend to offer a

“Quiet Listings” Website Selling Service

And the idea is that the mailing list will turn into a way to have “quiet listings” of websites for sale. What on earth is a “quiet listing” you might ask? Well I don’t know if its a term ever used for websites but in my part of the world you have a “quiet listing” of real estate so that you don’t put signs up the front, don’t put a picture of the house in the local real estate agent’s window,  and the nosey neighbours don’t know you need the cash and have had to sell up.

It doesn’t work very well in real estate – you need to advertise a house for sale to get anyone to look at it! You have to give the address.Everyone wants to know the address of the house before they will look at seriously – location, location, location as they say.

But I think it should work well for websites. I don’t think you should advertise websites for sale complete with their (web) address, traffic figures and income statistics.

But that is what happens on every major site site where websites are sold (Flippa, Digitalpoint, eBay) url’s of the site for sale are often given. In fact on Flippa I think you have to give the url to list.  Then if the sites have income and traffic – those figures are given. Now often the figures are complete fabrications (sign up for the eReport to find out why).

But sometimes the figures are legit – and you have just told the whole world you keywords and their potential. (If you don’t know how to figure out a site’s keywords – yup you guessed it – sign up for the eReport).

If I like the potential I have two options:

  • I could buy the website;
  • I could thank you for doing all my keyword research for me and build my own

Now if the site is old, established, authority site I would have a hard time competing with it. But many sites for sale aren’t old established authority sites …


Vermonster Beats the wicked Lawyers- Was it SEO of Social Media ?

Well from the looks of their front page  Rock Art Brewery is claiming victory in its Rock Art Brewery vs Corporate America little fight over the Vermonster beer trademark – in fact you can even buy the T-Shirt – though I am alittle sorry to see apparently it was ‘America’ who saved them – I thought it was all of us – after all Monster Drinks sell their camel piss flavoured “energy” drinks in Australia too!

They bet me to it really cause I really wanted to do the follow up for the double-indexing but also to get some link love out there you know! In fact it was interesting little storm – who would have thought that Victor Franqui could write an entire post without swearing once, and giving those to care to read a quick lesson on US-based trademark law.

Is it Twitter? Is if Facebook - Nope its people stupid!
Is it Twitter? Is if Facebook - Nope its people stupid!

Some other excellent blogs that you should be reading:

Dirk Poulson –  who writes about how to make money online and wonders if Mondelis is a Scam

Phil who likes to say “I  Need Money Now

EJ who thinks Monster Energy drinks are screwing the little guy

Buy Made in the USA (which I don’t agree with but that’s another post)

Joomla Templates had an opinion (and can tell you what Joomla is too…)and he’s a fellow Kiwi – all good!

John has some great information and advice for small business owners

Strathy is stuffed now with a blog called Milking Noobs –  he’s gonna have to keep on posting now 🙂

NuttySquirrelBottom has a name harder to spell than mine and thinks Monster Entergy drinks are sucking the life

The coffee blog didn’t see Monster Energy drinks as viable alternative (got to agree with that!)

Poor and angry is ropable (what I think an American would call pissed but pissed down under means having consumed one too many Vermonster or any other beers! )

Oh and the Grizz got in on the act as well – but I am not linking to him cause he thinks the twitter game is pointless so how will I ever make a zillion dollars flogging a get rich quick twitter book now ?

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