Apr 30 2012

Starting Over

Carlos Portocarrero

Starting line

A few years after I started this site, I decided I would try to monetize it. I was putting in so many hours and so much work, it only made sense.

Like so many others out there, I tried it all. I tried AdSense. I tried affiliates. I tried anything I could to make some money off the pageviews I was getting.

None of it worked.

But my site had a good reputation, decent traffic, and was starting to get well known in the personal finance space.

Thanks to that reputation, I started getting emails asking to buy text links on my site. $50 for a simple little link? Easy money, baby!

The Money Keeps Coming

The money started trickling in and I got greedy—I decided to up my asking price to $100/month and the money started to really pile up.

I was so excited! I could finally tell people that I was a blogger and that I was making money.

Deep down, I felt a little icky about the whole thing.

As the numbers kept climbing, I set higher and higher goals. In order to meet those goals, I had to ramp up.

So I started selling links to anyone who asked. I rejected a few of them because they were sketchy, but most of them sent me money and I placed an innocuous text link in the sidebar.

Suffice to say, I was able to achieve my goal for 2011: I made over $10,000 (between freelance work and text links).

But the text links were the easiest money of all, and it quickly became a larger and larger percentage of my income.

The Great Delusion

Deep down, I knew this was unsustainable. I told myself I was running an online business. I told others I made “some money” by writing on this site. I started to believe that I had “made it.”

But really? I was simply selling off little bits of reputation I had worked for years to build up. Little by little, I sold off parts of my hard, honest work in exchange for a little money.

Looking back on it, it’s sad that I was willing to make that trade. This site had started as something I was passionate about and every time I got a comment it was like I had “made it.” Now all I cared about was how many dollars I could squeeze out of it.

The thing is, when you’re getting money poured into your Paypal account for not doing a whole hell of a lot, it’s hard to put your foot on the brakes.

The worst part is, I was writing less and less. I was trying to focus on some other projects I have because they actually felt like they could turn into sustainable income.

The Beginning of the End

It all came to a head a few months ago when Google sent me an alert in my Webmaster Tools account:

Unnatural links

Now, I’m not one of those people that believes everything Google does is great and fantastic. I don’t think they’re perfect.

But I definitely felt like I had been reprimanded for doing something I knew I shouldn’t have been doing. It made me realize that this was not a sustainable business model and that if I really wanted to create a business and connect with people online, this was not going to be the way to do it.

In other words, I needed to change.

I needed to start over.

But still I dragged my feet.

It took me a few months to realize what I needed to do. I had to work with advertisers to give them their money back. I had to get rid of every single text link on the site and stop accepting “free” money.

I needed to re-focus and do things differently. I needed to do the right thing.

And that’s what I’m doing today. Instead of just starting a new site with a new URL and keeping the money, I’m starting this site over again and focusing on an area that I’m passionate about and that I feel there’s a real need for.

The site is going to focus on career advice and ways to enjoy going to work.

I’ll still write about money, but right now my goal is to help as many people as I can become happier at work and to become free from the stress of wondering where your next paycheck is going to come from.

No more easy money. No more selling off bits of my reputation.

Starting today, I start to build it back up.

Starting today, I do things the right way.

Starting today, I’m back.

Apr 30 2012

How to Give and Ask for a Raise [Infographic]

Carlos Portocarrero

Here is a cool infographic I bumped into today (from the folks at Mindflash) that shows some mildly interesting data that is probably obvious to most people: if you’re a high performer in an executive position, you should expect a higher raise than the rest of us.


More interesting to me is the Employee’s guide near the end: it makes some decent points but doesn’t tell you what you can do to build your case ahead of time.

What do you think of this kind of data? Is it helpful at all or just noise?

*Favor: Can you please take my super quick survey on making more money at work? It’s six questions and won’t take more than 3 minutes, I promise! Thanks!

[click to enlarge]

Infographic on raises

Apr 21 2012

How to Change Careers Without Formal Credentials

Carlos Portocarrero

A lot of people work in one field but secretly wish they were in another.

The accountant that dreams of being a writer. The engineer that wishes he was a carpenter.

We all have these feelings. Most of us, however, suppress them.

  • It’s too hard
  • It’s too late
  • I can’t do it
  • I don’t have the money
  • My head is in the clouds

It’s because of those kinds of excuses that we stay in the jobs we’re in. It’s the reason why we stop growing as we get older. It’s the reason why we get more and more unhappy as time goes on.

And when we do meet someone who has done it, who has managed to put the work in and take a leap of faith and—surprise, surprise—show us it can indeed be done, we feel like losers. It’s that strange combination of envy and jealousy that can either motivate us or bury us even deeper into our daily rituals of normality.

Sounds pretty depressing, doesn’t it?

Fear not! This post is a positive one—I want to share a post that has the potential to get you off your ass and into action.

Most of us think that starting a new career or learning something new takes years and thousands of dollars. It doesn’t have to.

Check out Michael Ellsberg’s fantastic (and now infamous) 8 Steps to Getting What You Want Without Formal Credentials.

In it, he shows a way to get around the whole credential problem. He shows you the importance of the informal job market.

He shows you a way out.

So if you’re ready to take that leap and commit to finding a way into a career that has more meaning and depth, make sure to check out the post.

It could change your life.


Apr 10 2012

On Getting a Raise and a $1,000 Giveaway

Carlos Portocarrero

Couple of good links to share today about getting a raise.

Why You Shouldn’t Wait Til Next Year to Ask for a Raise: Sweating the Big Stuff has a post that shows how important a raise can be over time and how much money you’re leaving on the table. Even the tiniest raise can snowball into a lot of money over time, so if you’re putting off asking for a raise read this first.

5 Options for Earning More Money: Passive Panda looks at five different ways to make money and winds up recommending something he calls The Remora Method. Exotic as it seems, I think he makes getting a raise sound nearly impossible for most people. Not true…and something I hope to shed more light on in the coming days.

$1,000 Giveaway: Ramit is giving away $1,000 as a social experiment. He wants to know what people would do with some free cash. Hit up the link and enter to win.