Mar 7, 2009

A Day of Writing

Don't forget to check out The Great Blog Off! Personal finance posts will continue on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Check back soon!

So my quest to become a writer has begun. A full week has not yet passed, and yet in that time I feel as though I have taken the first few baby steps towards the potential of a dream.

As I wrote earlier, I signed up for Associated Content. What happens when you first agree to be a "content publisher" for AC is that you write a few articles, submit them, and wait. Someone behind the screens reads your articles, presumably, and either accepts or rejects your work. After you have had three articles confirmed (as in, you are not a robot), you can then publish content instantly. It took a couple of days, but my first two articles were published.

Now, I'm a bit of a perfectionist, so I'm not terribly keen on linking to them. I often find that I dislike the majority of what I write, thinking that I could have written it better, communicated more clearly, or picked a better way of saying it. However, I've read a number of the articles on AC, and I have no shame in admitting that I think I am terribly better than them. Unfortunately, there are also a lot of decent writers out there as well, and they are getting all the traffic. So I am going to link to my articles, not because I want your page views (and those miniscule fractions of a cent), or because I want you to share them with your friends (though I suppose it would be nice). I am going to link to them because I have to get used to other people reading what I write, no matter how bad it is.

Like this article - a review of The Police's album Synchronicity. When I first signed up for AC it had a section called "Calls for Content", where it basically suggests articles that you could write. One of them was a review of an album from the 1980s. So I popped open my iTunes, found the only album in there from the 80s, and wrote that joke of a review. Its not that I have terrible grammar, or that what I'm saying is completely pointless, it's just that I know I could have done so much better. I have done better before. In college I had a class called Rock Faith and Pop Culture, and our three major papers were album reviews, essentially.

In fact, they were so much better that I decided it might be worthwhile going through one of those old papers and seeing if I could publish that on AC as well. There's no law against publishing a paper I wrote for a bible college, now is there? So I quickly edited and published my review of Pink Floyd's The Wall. They are essentially the same thing, these two articles. Two reviews on albums that were released three years apart. Yet they're written completely differently.

I've submitted two more articles that need to pass the publisher before I can link to them as well. I've got one article about watching mixed martial arts, and I wrote a how-to about getting engaged. I think the nice thing about this "work" is that I enjoy it, and that it has such variety. In what other profession can I spend a lazy Saturday listening to old rock albums, watching men hurt each other, and dream about my fiance? I'm going to continue to post links to my articles here, as a form of encouragement to myself. Five days ago I was just another guy sitting in his sweat pants on his couch, but as of today, I'm published.

Mar 6, 2009

What's Your Time Worth?

Lately I've been trying to put a price on my time. It's not that I'm charging my fiance a couple bucks an hour to spend time with me, or that I'm racking up huge debt with my television, it's that I've been attempting to wire my brain to think differently about time and money. There's the classic saying that "time is money". Well, great. But how much time, and for how much money?

Most of us are familiar with an hourly wage. We go to work for a certain number of hours, and get paid a certain dollar amount for each of those hours that we work. The price that we are paid is dependent on the job that we are required to do. For example, a highly skilled specialist would be paid a greater salary than a common labour position that did not require previous experience. In addition, a job that requires more effort would result in a higher wage than a career that simply necessitated showing up. But what happens at the end of the day, when we clock our final hours and return home? How much is that time outside of your employment worth to you?

I ask because I find myself having very conflicting ideas about time and money. On one hand, when I was unemployed and looking at minimum wage jobs, I scoffed at the amount of money that I would earn. I think of my time as being worth more than 8 dollars an hour. On the other hand, something within me is constantly striving for the best deal possible. That means that I feel the need to call six different locations looking for the best price on a DVD. All in all, I might save about $1.50. That work might have taken me about an hour. Yet for some reason that seems more "worth it" to me. Over the past few months as I've read different personal finance blogs, I've noticed some strange frugality tips out there for saving money. I could save money by learning how to brew my own beer, make my own laundry detergent, or wash and reuse my ziploc bags. Yet honestly, I just don't think that is worth my time. I would rather spend two dollars on new ziploc bags than go through the hassle of cleaning them.

I believe that there are two major dynamics going on here. The first is the availability of these finite resources. If a person has a lot of time on their hands, but little money, they may be more willing to spend time saving and earning what money they can. If a person has a lot of money, but little time, they don't mind paying more money, or paying other people to do the things they don't want to do. Neither of these are right or wrong, they are simply the facts of life. Each of us must decide what we have, and we would like to have, and reconcile the two.

The second major dynamic, and the point of this post, is the attitude that we have towards our money and our time. Again, there are many possibilities here. Some see time as a limited and precious resource; something to be treasured without regard for other materialistic annoyances. Therefore, they are more than willing to give up financial security or safety, as long as it doesn't continue to waste their time. Others see money as something that we must be responsible with, and therefore must not waste a penny more than we ought. I believe that the only wrong answer here would be ignorance. We ought to realize and accept where and how we are spending our time and our money. If we are not okay with where our money is going, or how we are spending our time, then of what point is life if you are upset with your own fundamentals?

What is your time worth? Is reading a few blog posts each week worth $100? As you wrestle with your own inner decision, take a few minutes to think about what you've spent your time and your money on over the last week. Are you happy with that? Do you wish your time was worth more? If you continue to read this blog, and do the things that I suggest you to do, I can promise you that I can save you around a hundred dollars by the end of this month. Some of them will take a bit more time, and a bit more effort, but by the end of the month, I will help you put $100 into a savings account for you. Now how about that. Is that worth it?

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Mar 4, 2009

Life Worth Living

In April of 2008, I graduated from college. At the time I was dating a lovely girl I had met at the college, and together we decided to move out to North Vancouver to live and work for a year. We weren't sure what direction life was taking us, individually or as a couple. As April of 2009 approaches I am still living in North Vancouver, but now I'm engaged. My fiance and I are planning on getting married in August of this year (only about 5 months away), and staying in North Vancouver. A lot of big changes are going to come over the next few months. I'm going to stop living with roommates and start living with a wife. I am going to combine my finances with another human being. I am going to start creating a home.

All of this makes me think about what I'm doing with my life. When I entered college I actually thought I was going to graduate to become a youth pastor. Now I'm not sure I'll even use my Biblical Studies degree. Instead, I'm currently working as a meter reader for BC Hydro. It's a decent job, I work 8-3:30, am responsible for only myself, and get to stay in shape walking around all day. While it doesn't exactly provide me with a sense of fulfillment or purpose, it pays the bills. It's just not what I want to do for the rest of my life.

One of my dreams that has begun to form over the past year is finding a way to work for myself. There's something about owning your own business, setting your own hours or deciding your own future that really intrigues me. So I started doing some research, looking for what I might be able to do in order to create for myself a dream life and a dream job. There are precious few options, when one is not as talented or as gifted as others. I know that in the past people have appreciated my skill for writing, so I decided to check out what opportunities my writing and the internet might offer me.

After a fair few nights of research, examining all the ways the internet wants to scam stay-at-home mothers, I settled on a website called Associated Content. Over the next few months I will be writing articles for the website, hoping to generate page views and an incredibly pathetic income. I will not be jumping in headfirst, this is something that I will work on with extra time that I have. I don't want to become unemployed again any time soon.

This blog will then serve two purposes. For one, it will record and track my attempt to make money online, from stage one. Secondly, over the next month I will be posting a few of the things that I've learned over the last few months about money, personal finance, and how to create a life worth living. I will be posting at least three times a week, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, so check back frequently for updates. My hope is that I will benefit by being able to write more frequently, teach myself about writing/blogging, and win The Great Blog Off. I also hope that you, the reader, will benefit by learning something about how you can create a life worth living also.

Mar 3, 2009

The Great Blog Off

Welcome, Great Blog Off Voters!

The Great Blog Off is a joint venture between myself and three friends. We've decided to see who is the greatest blogger. So, over the next month we're going to be blogging, and we created a facebook group dedicated to those that will follow, and then eventually vote on their favorite blogger.

Now, though I am the only one to ever hold a blog (or two) before, I am at a distinct disadvantage. I am also the only one of the four who has an actual full time job. The rest are "entrepreneurs" or "working part time" or "bums who live with their parents". Therefore the time that I am able to devote to The Great Blog Off is significantly limited in comparison. And while yes, I may have a few prior blog posts (about 300 I guess), this blog was started yesterday, and this blog is the blog that I ask to be rated upon. I wouldn't do something like link to my old myspace blog or my old blogspot blog. Like I said, I wouldn't want to be rated on my entire history of work, just what I post on this here blog.

Anyways, feel free to join the Facebook group and check out the other guy's blogs. They're good people (though bad bloggers), so head on over to Adam Loewen's blog, Jeff Hawker's blog, and Tony Bookless's blog. Bookmark us all so that you can witness our month long blogging effort to out blog one another, and in the process, maybe you'll learn a thing or two.

Mar 2, 2009

So It Begins

I've begun to write content for They are a paid to write website, where they host various articles for all sorts of writers. The basic idea is based on ad revenue, where the host gets paid for advertising, and distributes it to the content providers (freelance writers) based on page views.

So my understanding is that the more (and better) articles that you write and publish on AC (Associated Content), the more income you will earn. It is not much. You need 1000 page views before they will pay you $1.50 (US), and that can take quite some time. However, it also becomes a passive income. Other pay to write sites (including AC if you're American) will pay you upfront for an article. Anywhere from $.50 to $4, depending on the article and the site. However, once you are paid, you're done. The website then gets all additional revenue from your article, regardless of how well (or how poorly) of an article you've written.

It's my intention, therefore, to write for AC a little bit each day. I might not publish an article everyday, but I'd like to work towards putting up 2 or 3 good articles each week. Hopefully over the next couple of years I'll make a bit of a name for myself, and when people start looking through other articles that I've written, I'll continue to get passive income on the articles that I'm writing today.

It is also my intention to start blogging about this aspect of my life, as well as some other topics about my life that I'm planning on starting or continuing. I'm hoping to write a little bit about what's been interesting me and keeping me busy. Personal finance, wedding planning, and life efficency stuff. Should be good!