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About this category:

This is the everything else category where you’ll find site announcements and thoughts on things that don’t fit nicely into another category.



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Anatomy of a Perfect Business April Fool’s Joke

Who doesn’t love April 1st?

The perfect April Fool’s joke needs to do two things:
1. Be Funny and/or Clever
2. Highlight Why You Are Awesome

Seth Godin’s April Fool’s post today about Tuber was awesome.

I’m definitely a big Seth Godin fan. My three year old asked me once if I’ve ever seen a blue monster with three ears and no eyes. When I said no, he said he’d draw me one and started laughing. It was the best joke ever. Whenever I turn the tables, I always ask him if he’s seen a purple cow.

We did an April’s Fool’s joke on $5 Meal Plan – we just sent out this “kid-friendly” plan.

Why is this funny or clever? Other than the obvious that it’s chicken nuggets and a bellini, it’s also about as unexpected as you can be on 4/1. We frame it as a kid-friendly plan, which is something lots of people have asked for, and it actually is kid-friend. It’s chicken nuggets, can’t really get more kid friendly than that.

How does this highlight why we are awesome? We use humor in a lot of what we do in our service, we try to make the service as entertaining as possible. We put food trivia in our emails, we tell jokes, and we otherwise try to make each email delightful. You look forward to the email for the trivia and jokes as well as the plan.

In addition to showing you we have a sense of humor, it shows you what a plan looks like. You can see we use icons to identify recipes, our directions are easy to understand, and the plan is simple to execute.

My personal favorite from this year, CERN researchers confirm the existence of the Force. My favorite result from an April Fool’s Joke is this one from Tesla.

So, what did you do for April Fools’ this year?

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What Have I Been Up To?

If you’ve been a long time reader of Microblogger, you’ve probably noticed that I haven’t produced a podcast or written a blog post (regularly) in quite some time.

What gives?

Like a lot of blogs, the answer is – “other projects.”

Blogging, and any business, is a matter of opportunity cost. When I started Bargaineering, the opportunity cost was television time. Instead of watching TV at night after dinner, I’d write blog posts and network with other bloggers. For me, that’s not a difficult trade at all.

Nowadays, blogging comes at a cost to other priorities. In my case, I co-founded two new businesses with two separate but equally fantastic co-founders. The businesses are doing well, they’re challenging me in new ways that help me grow, and they’re a lot of fun.

I’m sharing this with you for two reasons:

  • I’ve learned a tremendous amount. I’ve learned a lot as a result of starting these new businesses and working with other people in building these businesses. What I’ve learned I hope to share with you in the future.
  • I miss writing. I did copywriting and other types of writing in support of those businesses, but I wasn’t writing blog posts. I wasn’t putting ideas on paper, as it were, and working my writing muscles in a way that kept them strong. I used to write three blog posts a day for Bargaineering and while it was great to write zero blog posts a day, I felt like I had an itch I just couldn’t scratch.

When I started Microblogger, it was to give myself a year to build up a business and investigate new technologies that became popular in the last few years. I produced a short email course, 50 Days to a Better Blog, and a podcast that made it to 36 episodes.

The mindset that Microblogger was to be a business made me evaluate Microblogger as business and as a business, it wasn’t doing well. Microblogger earned a few hundred dollars a month through hosting referrals and course sales. If Bargaineering made a few hundred dollars in the first year, I’d be ecstatic. But Bargaineering was a hobby and something I did for fun, I didn’t approach it as a business so I didn’t let the numbers tell me it wasn’t a business yet after a year. Microblogger wasn’t cutting it financially so I put it on hold while I pursued other more promising projects.

But I realized I enjoyed Microblogger because it gave me the opportunity to share ideas, have conversations, and it helped me express myself creatively. I missed all of that. It’s my way of saying I missed you.

So I’m going to rekindle Microblogger and this time I’m going to approach it like I approached Bargaineering – this is a hobby, let’s learn from each other, have fun, and I’m not going to think about whether the ROI on my time makes business sense. 🙂

What’s on tap? I’ll share the ins and outs of how I started the first of the two new ventures, $5 Meal Plan, including why I approached Erin Chase to start it, how we launched our beta, how we launched for real, and a lot of the learnings along the way. There’s a tremendous amount involved in a membership site, in billing folks on a regular basis, and I’ll share it with you.

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Beginner’s Guide to Becoming a B-List Blogger

beginners-guide-b-list-bloggerThis is a guest post that covers an interesting and important subject, especially after coming back from FINCON, a personal finance bloggers conference with nearly 600 attendees. I think it’s an important subject because in any industry, you have the rock stars and the “regular folks.” Call it A List and B List and C List and whatever List.

There’s a sense that if you don’t one day get to A List, you’re a failure – but that’s not true.

Eric builds his case and I’d like to hear what you think about it in the comments.

Ramit Sethi. Darren Rowse. Pat Flynn. JD Roth. Chris Brogan. Eric Rosenberg. Which of these names doesn’t belong? Clearly Eric Rosenberg isn’t an A-List blogger.

Since you’ve likely not heard of me, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Eric Rosenberg, and I am a B-List blogger. You might have heard of me, or my site Narrow Bridge Finance, when perusing personal finance tips online over the last few years. But maybe not. And I’m okay with that.

Most Bloggers Don’t Last

There are lots of bloggers, and lots of blogs. Millions of new blogs join the internet each year thanks to free blogging platforms like Blogger and WordPress.com. It is easier than ever to start a blog and get your thoughts on the internet.

With the low cost and easy startup costs, there is no surprise so many people start blogs. However, most blogs fail. New bloggers are quick to learn that it is hard to get more people read your site than your Mom on a regular basis. It is hard to stand out from the crowd. Most people don’t really care what you have to say. It is a tough reality, but being a successful blogger is very hard work. Keeping up with a regular content schedule alone leads people to burn out in a few weeks. Most bloggers don’t make it past a few months. Very few make it past a year or two.

The core of my online business is Narrow Bridge Finance, a personal finance blog I started about six years ago. That blog is what propelled me to the elite inner circle of B-List bloggers.

What Makes a B-List Blogger?

So, what gives me the cockiness to declare myself above the rest? What makes me a B-List blogger? A lot of things. Here are the basics.

Blogging Pays My Rent – Yes, you read that right. My online business has made enough for the last few years to cover my mortgage payment each month. I was very excited as I climbed the online income rankings to cover my beer tab with my blog. Then one day I realized I was earning enough online to cover my car payment (which has since been paid off), then one day I knew I had done something special when my online income was more than my monthly mortgage payment. I have a goal of making over $2,500 online each month, and I have done that a few months in a row. Maybe I should increase my goal? If you are curious exactly how I did it, this is my last online earnings report.

Some People Have Heard of Me – All bloggers have to have some sort of an ego. It takes guts to put yourself out there and think that people are going to care what you have to say. Over time, I must have done something right. Some people actually do care what I have to say. While my traffic has grown and shrunk over the years thanks to Google’s bi-polar algorithm disorder (yes, that is a post I wrote for Problogger), I have built an audience that comes back again and again, engages in my site, and cares what I have to say. I have an email list well into the three figure range, and a lot of them open my emails when they show up in their inbox. And I get that special feeling each year at the Financial Blogger Conference when a first year attendee tells me they have heard of me and they are excited to meet me.

I am a Recognized Expert – I have been quoted in a handful of big new sources, but not quite the biggest. As my cool “as seen on logo” proudly tells visitors, I have been featured in local news sources like The Denver Post and 9News, and recognized online sites like The Consumerist, MoneyTalksNews, and ProBlogger. Sure, that isn’t the Wall Street Journal or The Today Show, but hundreds of thousands of people have been exposed to my writing, opinions, and thoughts on my topic.

Friendships with A-Listers – When I send an email to people like J Money from Budgets or Sexy or pitch an awesome post idea like “How to Become a B-List Blogger” to big names like Jim Wang, they respond to me. When I see Adam Baker from Man vs. Debt at FinCon, he knows who I am when I say hello. When it is time to bust a move at a conference after party, Pat Flynn is right next to me rocking out some sweet moves. It doesn’t make me a millionaire, but it helps to know bigger names when you do want to share a new project or bounce an idea off of a successful member of your niche.

How to Get Here

So, now that I’ve told you all of the benefits of becoming the equivalent of the James Rebhorn of blogging (you probably don’t know his name, but if you Google him you’ll be like, Oh! That Guy! I know him), here’s how to get there.

Consistency – Half of the challenge is just showing up. All the time. Again and again. If you can be consistent in your blogging and keep it going for years, you have a lot of what it takes to make something of yourself. If you are not a part of the crowd, you won’t be able to stand out from it someday.

Networking – The single biggest turning point for my online blogging was joining the Yakezie Challenge on March 8, 2010. Joining the Yakezie Network, a network of personal finance bloggers with the motto “selflessly helping others,” my blog would be something very different today, if still around at all. Joining that group helped me build relationships with other bloggers that helped my site gain recognition online.

Quality – If your site sucks, no one is going to read it. I always try to be professional, high quality, and helpful when I publish a new post or make a change to my site or any of my online businesses.

Something Special – No one wants to read something that is just like everyone else, so you have to do something to stand out. Whether it is your personality that comes through in your writing, your superb insights, or your outstanding value to readers, you need to have something that makes people want to visit your site and help it grow.

What Could I Have Done Differently To Join the A-List?

This is something I’ve thought about time and again over the years. What could take me up to the A-List where I am a pseudo celebrity like Chris Guillebeau or Tim Ferris? What would take me a to a point where I could sell my site for seven figures like Jim did with Bargaineering, or like JD Roth or Flexo did with Get Rich Slowly and Comsumerism Commentery?

If I knew the exact answer, this post wouldn’t be about joining the B-List, but I do have some ideas that I’ve put together on my own and feedback I’ve taken from people who have made it bigger.

  • Really Stand Out From The Crowd – J Money is a finance blogger with a Mohawk, and he stands out from the crowd for a reason
  • Do a Better Job Promoting Content – Derek Halpern is the king of content promotion, and his blog Social Triggers has very clear data as to why it works
  • Build Site Value – Ramit Sethi is able to sell $12,000 courses for a reason

The Big Benefits of the B-List

I wouldn’t mind joining the A-List of blogging, but I don’t hate where I am either. It lets me write cool posts on sites like Microblogger and name drop like a douchebag trying to pick up a hottie at an LA bar. And there are some actual, tangible benefits.

The Money – As I mentioned above, I cover my housing cost each month with my online money making activities. That is pretty cool. It isn’t a full time income, but it is a lot of money.

Business Opportunities – Writing my blog has helped me learn a hell of a lot about personal finance and running a website. I now have a successful freelance writing and web design business on top of my blog. I even have a fancy business name for it, Narrow Bridge Media.

A Fun Ride – I get to travel to cool places each year like Chicago and New Orleans for blogger conferences. The friends I’ve made have helped me learn and teach cool things like travelhacking and making money from something that started as a hobby. I’ve partied with startups, shared a drink with millionaires, and made awesome, close friends through my blogging adventure. That might be the best part of all.

If You Shoot For the Moon and Miss, You End Up Among the Stars

Because you are reading this today, you obviously want to make something of yourself online. Or you are my fiancé or mother that I told to read this really cool article I wrote on a popular blog. This advice is for the bloggers, not my Mom.

The cliché expression that “if you shoot for the moon and miss, you end up among the stars” is totally true in blogging. If you try hard and do everything right, you might not replicate the success of Apollo 11 and land on the moon. However, you still got to be an astronaut and do some amazing things online. If you work hard, follow great advice, replicate what works well for your site, and keep at it long enough, someday you will be able to join the club and introduce yourself as a “semi-pro blogger” too.

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MBP #27: How Bob Lotich Married His Faith & His Finances to 55,000+ Subscribers

Bob Lotich, Christian PFEveryone agrees that differentiation is crucial.

If you want to avoid being another face in the crowd, you have to stand out. This means you have to figure out what makes you different and showcase it to the world.

Sometimes that means you’ll have to do a little, or a lot, more work.

When Bob Lotich started ChristianPF, he was one of the first bloggers, certainly within the personal finance community, to put his faith front and center. You could argue that being “Christian” is very general but by simply putting it in the name of his site, he stood out.

By being “different,” it helped his blog grow… but it also came with a cost.

This was an issue that was touched on briefly in my chat with Jason Leake in MBP#8. With 100DaysofRealFood, Jason had to be diligent about what companies were advertising on a site that celebrated a life with zero processed foods. Bob was faced with the same issue and had a very clever way of solving it.

What will you learn in this episode:

  • Why Bob started ChristianPF.com when he was dead broke and was at his lowest (to how it evolved to what it is today)
  • The importance and value of differentiation, even if Bob didn’t approach it with that in mind
  • How that differentiation may limit your business
  • How he monitored ad networks so he didn’t show ads that were against his message
  • The premium ad networks on ChristianPF
  • How he started a financial adviser/planner directory…
  • … and how a coaching service evolved out of that.
  • Discusses the pressure of being a steward of the 55,000+ members of ChristianPF
  • How he started writing books & ebooks/Kindle books
  • How he finds staff/freelance writers that can write with the same message
  • Learn the 1st and 2nd thing he’d tell himself on Day One (they’re both really really good but his #2 is not one a lot of people talk about)

Resources and links mentioned in this chat:

How to subscribe

There are two main ways – Stitcher and iTunes.

iTunes
Download on iTunesSimply click on this link and you’ll be taken to the page where you can subscribe.

Stitcher
Here’s the link to the Microblogger Podcast where you can subscribe to the Microblogger podcast via Stitcher.

Finally, if you aren’t using either service and prefer RSS, here’s our RSS feed.

Quick favor…

Tell everyone you know that this is a great podcast… unless you think it sucks. Please tell me and I’ll try to make it better!

It would mean a lot to me if you could leave me a review and a rating on iTunes, it makes a big difference and helps others find the show! To leave a review, click here and thanks so so much!

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MBP #23: Agatha Kulesza on Being All Powerful, Authentic, and Fearless

Agatha Kulesza, Hey AgathaBe authentic.

That’s a common piece of advice most bloggers hear and read over and over again. I know I say it all the time.

But what does it really mean to “be authentic?” To be true to yourself even in the face of adversity? Even when life doesn’t go your way and it seems like the world is conspiring against you?

Today’s guest has lived much of life not being authentic. She was quite successful at it too, graduating college with a degree in Accounting, followed it up by working at a public accounting firm before starting up her own. On the outside, it appeared to be extremely successful but things were different on the inside.

It wasn’t until she truly lived the mantra “be authentic” that she found happiness and fulfillment in her work.

Today’s episode is extremely powerful and as authentic as you can possibly get, to the point where it even catches me off guard… I hope you get a lot out of it.

What will you learn in this episode:

  • The story of her sweaty armpits and what that has come to symbolize in her life
  • Why authenticity is so important and empowering
  • How she was able to get to the point where she was comfortable being herself
  • Why she felt the need to conform
  • How accepting she is “all powerful” has impacted her business
  • How to stay focused on a project versus testing and experimentation
  • How she deals with failure in a healthy and productive way
  • Tools she uses to recover and learn from those failures
  • What she would tell her younger self

Full Marianne Williamson quote:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some dof us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Resources and links mentioned in this chat:

How to subscribe

There are two main ways – Stitcher and iTunes.

iTunes
Download on iTunesSimply click on this link and you’ll be taken to the page where you can subscribe.

Stitcher
Here’s the link to the Microblogger Podcast where you can subscribe to the Microblogger podcast via Stitcher.

Finally, if you aren’t using either service and prefer RSS, here’s our RSS feed.

Quick favor…

Tell everyone you know that this is a great podcast… unless you think it sucks. Please tell me and I’ll try to make it better!

It would mean a lot to me if you could leave me a review and a rating on iTunes, it makes a big difference and helps others find the show! To leave a review, click here and thanks so so much!