Mar 19

Investment of a lifetime

Investment of a lifetime!

So it’s been a little quiet here on ThirtySomethingInvestor.com for the past month or so, but it has very much been the quiet before the storm!

Behind the scenes, things have really been moving forward with a number of key investments and passive income opportunities for this year, some completed and many nearing completion.  As always, I will be telling you all about them just as soon as they are all finalized.

Remember not to count your chickens before they hatch! :)

 

After what now seems like endless coffee fueled late nights designing, building, writing and marketing, my first niche website is up and running!

3DPrinterPrices.net was launched about 2 months ago and is my first dedicated affiliate marketing website. The site provides up to date pricing information and specifications on a wide range of home 3D printers, along with guides and information to help people learn about all about what 3D printers are and why they are becoming such a hot industry.

Along with the website, there is a Facebook page and a YouTube channel is under construction for sharing the latest 3D printing news and showing examples of 3D printers in action. if you get the chance to take a look, I’d love to hear any feedback!

 

So what’s next for the ThirtySomethingInvestor?

 

After a disappointing experience with a freelancer (more on this in a later post), my wordpress plugin is now back on track and fast approaching the finish line! It’s taken considerably longer than I had hoped to get the software to this point, but it has been a process that I have learned a lot from and will share my expirence with you, so you can avoid the same old mistakes.

 

Last but not least, I have also taken a big step and began the search for an investment property.

For many of us, buying property is the biggest investment we will make in our lives and so choosing when and where to buy has been a long process of research. After finally deciding on the perfect location for my budget and financial aspirations, I can finally get down to the fun part of tracking down the perfect property.

I don’t want to give too much more away right now, but I look forward to telling you all about the process and any obstacles I encounter along the way. Along with the house itself, I’ll be talking about some of the reasons why I’m buying an investment property and the plans I have for that project. It’s a big step but one I hope will reward both financially and personally.

 

So until then, let me know how your own plans for 2013 are starting and be sure to check out  3DPrinterPrices.net and let me know what you think!

 

 

ThirtySomething.

 

 

 

 

 

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Jan 23

Opening My IRA Account

I finally took the plunge and opened an IRA.

But before I get to who I decided to open an account with, I want to talk a little about why I opened an IRA account and what you might want to consider before opening one too.

IRAs are a great way to save for retirement as they offer you a chance to buy and sell investments while, in one way or another, side stepping the tax man. For me, what makes an IRA an attractive option is the control over how my money is invested. I decide when to buy and sell stocks or bonds, and get to control what I invest in. The success or failure of my investments is in my hands. If you would like to learn more about IRAs and Roth IRAs check out our basic guide here.

For some, it’s easier or more preferable to have a broker invest on their behalf. Many a fortune has been lost as well as made and for the more cautious investors among you, it can be better to have a pro guide you through your investment decisions.

Personally I will be opening my IRA with the maximum contribution for the year (currently $5000), as there is a particular new technology that I think is going to become a household name and so I’m keen to invest in it. More on what that technology is, and why I think it will be so important, will be revealed in the coming weeks.

 

Important!

For anyone who doesn’t have an IRA or may have forgotten, the deadline for making contributions for this tax year is April 15th.

 

When deciding whether or not to start or add to your IRA, there are (at least for me) two things to consider:

 

1. Access

How much money can you comfortably afford to have at limited access? While an IRA allows you to trade stocks, bonds and the like, it is not the same as a regular trading account. IRAs are intended for retirement and so whatever money you put in your IRA needs to stay in your IRA. There are penalties to keep in mind for anyone thinking of withdrawing from their account before retirement, so think hard about how much you can afford to pay in and not take out. There are a number of exceptions where penalties for early withdrawal are not enforced, for more information on  IRA charges and penalties, click here.

 

2. What To Invest In

If you’re unsure of what stocks, bonds or even industries you would want to invest in, maybe for now an IRA or Roth IRA might not be the right option for you. IRAs are investing accounts, not savings accounts. If you’re looking to simply save, an IRA is not going to help you. If you find you’re reluctant to invest and you just leave your money in your account, you will gain no interest. If your money is not invested, then it sits dormant, gaining no interest and slowly depreciating at the rate of inflation. If, on the other hand, you’re looking to invest your savings, then IRAs are great – their tax benefits alone make opening one more than worth it.

 

So after these considerations, I chose to open my IRA with TradeKing and add the maximum contribution for the year. I chose them simply because I’m planning on trading frequently within my account, and they offered the lowest trade fees I could find – at only $4.95 per trade. With other popular companies charging over $10 per trade, that saving will soon add up.

 

Who you choose to open an account with really should depend on why you’re opening one at all. For people like me who want to trade often, TradeKing is perfect, but you should check them out and see if they are the right company for you.

 

ThirtySomething.

 

 

Image courtesy of ddpavumba / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Jan 18

Buying Music Royalties – An Interview with Sean Peace of The Royalty Exchange

Whether you’re looking to diversify your portfolio or investing for the first time, few people think of buying music royalties, but could music royalties be a perfect contemporary investment?

Owning music royalties is no longer the exclusive club it used to be. Buying and selling music royalties is now easier than ever with the help of TheRoyaltyExchange.com. Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing founder and director, Sean Peace. Known for being a technology entrepreneur, Sean is also the founder of SongVest.com.

 

 

Media royalties are perhaps not on as many people’s radar as they should be. Can you explain to me what royalties are and why they can be a good investment?

 

Basically every time a song is sold or played on the radio, tv, or internet, royalties are generated for the songwriter and most of the time the artist.  These royalties are true alternative investments because they are not tied to the fluctuations in the market.  Additionally these royalties have incredibly long life spans of 70 years after the death of the writer.

Most of the songs we sell are over 10 years old, so the royalties are usually flat or in a very slow decline.  We usually don’t see big drops in income, only spikes when something good happens.  The royalties can definitely bounce around a bit, but mostly they are pretty predictable.  Of course this depends on the type of royalty.

We sell any type of royalties around music.  This can range from performance income, to digital or CD income from songwriters, artists or producers.  Also we plan on selling complete publishing catalogs, like the one Michael Jackson bought of the Beatles.

 

 

TheRoyaltyExchange.com offers everyday users access to previously hard to find royalty investments. Can you please tell me how The Royalty Exchange came to be and how it works?

 

I am a technology entrepreneur at heart and fell into music through a conversation with a good friend of mine in the music business.  After she explained to me how music royalties are bought and sold, I immediately saw a lot of inefficiencies that we could fix. I initially started with SongVest in 2007, selling individual song royalties as the ultimate memorabilia to fans.  This never really took off, so like all good entrepreneurs we pivoted and started a new company focused on the bigger picture of all royalties as an investment instead of memorabilia.

Our basic premise is to make it super easy for the investor, by taking care of everything for you.  We package the investments into easy to understand language and financials and then auction them off to the highest bidder.  For the winner we do all of the legal paperwork for the transfers and then manage the royalty streams.  They can then see all of their investments in our dashboard and just get one check from use for the payments.

This consolidation is key for our next phase which is a secondary market where a buyer can split his royalties into hundreds of shares to sell at smaller price points to our investors.  That is going to be very cool and a lot of fun for the investment community.

 

 

Does investing in royalties require people to have large sums of money to get started?

Right now it does, meaning $25K and up.  In the future the secondary market will allow you to buy in at $100 units.

 

 

Your partner site songvest.com also offers auctions of music to everyday users. How is The Royalty Exchange different from SongVest?

SongVest is not for investment, it is for memorabilia, where it might take 20 to 30 years or more to see a return.  At SongVest you get a cool gold record to hang on the wall and it is usually on a song by song basis.

 

 

How often does your site hold auctions?

Depending on how much content we have, we usually try to do one auction a month, or if we don’t have an item that sells immediately we will put it in our “store” where people can RSVP.  Once enough people RSVP for an item, then we can put it up for auction or people can always make an offer on any of our items.

 

 

Can anyone get an account or are there minimum requirements to bid?

There are no requirements at all to bid.

 

 

With the ever growing demand for digital content, the future looks bright for those investing in music and video.  Would it be fair to say the 21st century makes royalties the perfect contemporary investment?

I believe so.  The music business is going through a lot of changes, and the good news is there will always be music and people who want to listen.  For the first time digital and CD sales have increased, so I see things definitely getting better.

 

 

What can people expect from The Royalty Exchange in the future and how do you see media royalties looking ahead?

The next big thing is the secondary market with additional royalty streams coming on board.  We are currently looking at Pharma royalties and I bet you will see some patent and trademark royalties hit soon.

 

 

If you would like to know more, check out www.theroyaltyexchange.com

 

 

ThinrtySomething.

 

 

Jan 15

Investing In Antiques: A Basic Guide

Recently I had the pleasure of talking to antiques appraiser, and all around lovely lady, Jaime Corbacho. Some of you already interested in antiques may recognize Jaime from “America’s Lost Treasures” on the National Geographic Channel.

She has a wealth of knowledge on the world of antiques (as anyone who has seen the show will know!) and has very kindly agreed to share a basic guide to Investing in antiques with us. If you have some treasures of your own in need of appraisal and would like to get in touch with Jaime, you can find her contact details at the end of this article.

That’s enough from me, I hope you enjoy this guide to what can not only be a profitable investment, but a fun one too!

 

ThirtySomething.

 

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Investing In Antiques

By Jaime Corbacho

 

With the proliferation of reality shows focused on the buying, selling and salvaging of antiques, the spotlight is focused on the world of collecting.

While these shows have served to stimulate flea markets, auctions and antique stores with aspiring collectors, there has been an injection of antiques “prospectors” into the community. Though I am very much in favor of the exciting new energy these collectors bring to the world of very old things, investing in antiques, collectibles and art requires the same research and acquired savvy as an investment in the financial world. With this in mind, ThirtySomethingInvestor has kindly asked me to provide some simple tips for those looking to invest in art and antiques.

 

 

Is Investing in Antiques Right for You?

In order to successfully invest in antiques and art, you must have an interest in them. Even if this is a very basic admiration that can be cultured into a connoisseurship, the tinder must be there. I find that people who claim not to understand art or are intimidated by antiques often lack exposure. Developing a taste and love for decorative art and furniture begins by deciding what you like. I meet people who cringe at “antiques” because the word immediately evokes the heavily carved mahogany and precious trinkets of the Victorian era. Yet, when I introduce the same people to Danish mid-century furniture or primitive pottery, they swoon. Art has existed for over 30,000 years. From the drawings of Chauvet Cave to a digital photographic print, the world has centuries of diverse art styles and mediums to offer those yet to find their passion. Likewise, history provides a variety of objects to collect. If you’re a kid at heart, collect toys. If you love to a good nap, collect chairs (though I must admit, most of the world’s valuable chairs are uncomfortable). The important thing is to enjoy what you decide to collect because investing in antiques is not easy. You must do ample research before big purchases and invest hours in the hunt. If you are excited about expanding your collection, these hours will be painless. But if you decide you just don’t have an interest, then I would recommend investing in another area. There is no shame in being indifferent to antiques, they are not for everyone. I am often accused of being “cash poor, furniture rich,” but I invest in what interests me. I think this is the touchstone of all successful investments.

 

 

Where to Start?

My first suggestion to would-be collectors is to start visiting local museums, antique malls, antique stores and auctions at regular intervals. Avoid flea markets, garage and estate sales. The reasoning behind this is you must first get an idea of what the high end of the market is before you go looking for it in the wild. You need to get a sense of how to separate the wheat from the chaff or you will be easily overwhelmed in a flea market or estate sale environment. Though they are often the best places to discover hidden treasures, you first must establish what you’re looking for.

I also recommend watching as many antiques-based television programs as your DVR will allow. Shows like Antiques Roadshow, American Pickers, Pawn Stars, Storage Wars and America’s Lost Treasures are just a smattering of programming that serves to entertain and educate people on antiques. Most people watch for the characters (who doesn’t love Barry?) and are inadvertently exposed to sound collecting advice. The web also provides a wealth of knowledge for the beginning collector. From numismatics to Wagner and Griswold cast iron and aluminum cookware collectors, there is a society for everything—each with a website rich in tips. Other websites I visit regularly are liveauctioneers.com, artprice.com, rubylane.com, worthpoint.com and ebay.com. Most of these sites have free registration but some require paid subscriptions. In the case of artprice.com, I would highly recommend buying a subscription if you plan to invest in art. Their $200 annual fee could end up saving you thousands of dollars over time, as I find people generally overpay for fine art.

 

My other recommendation is to find a local antiques store whose wares and aesthetic you like and become a regular. I’m not saying drop in every day, but visit once a month or every other month, giving the shop time to turn over its merchandise. Choose a shop where the owner is typically onsite and helping customers. Introduce yourself and express interest in what he or she is selling and ask questions. Buy something from time to time to let them know you are a legitimate customer. Don’t haggle with the price initially, even if this means buying something small to stay in your budget. Owners hate people who are constantly questioning their prices. As time goes on, you may be able to ask for a bit of a discount and successfully get one, but stay to the sticker in the beginning. People who buy and sell antiques love to talk about them and ingratiating yourself with someone who has years in the business offers you access to a wealth of information as well as a new friend. Your shopkeeper can offer insight on trends you can’t get from websites and may be able to broker your purchase of a hard-to-find piece.

 

 

Into the Wild

Now that you are more comfortable with the art and antique world and have decided what you’d like to collect, it is time to let you loose into the wild. It is also time for a hard truth. Most of the television programs create an improbable situation where a basement find yields a multi-digit paycheck. Does this happen? Rarely. Money breeds money and the collections of wealthy families reflect that. If you come from generations of one-percenters, chances are you have inherited some valuable items. If you come from a lower tax bracket, chances are what you have inherited is just old. I don’t mean to sound disrespectful and I hate saying this, but not everything old is worth money. Antiques appraisal can be a particularly difficult business because objects often serve as vessels of sentimentality, and it is hard to break the news that memories don’t translate into income. I think this a good thing; I don’t want to put a price on my grandmother’s “Made in Japan” porcelain elf sculptures from the 40’s. They will likely never be worth more than $5 except to me. To me, they are priceless.

This is not always the case. Sometimes a prudent relative will splurge or purchase something that becomes highly collectible. I’ve also seen wealthy houses full of inexpensive objects that will never accrue value. But this is the exception, not the rule.

So what if Aunt Agatha’s postcard collection isn’t worth a plug nickel? The good news is you can invest in antiques on a modest budget. At the same time, I must dust off the adage: you must spend money to make money. I absolutely know people who, through years of picking (i.e. buying on the cheap) and researching antiques, can make over 1000% profit by buying an item for peanuts and turning it around in the appropriate market. Yet everyone I know who can do this does this for a living. As in, this is their job 24-7. Also, they have a raw gift for it, it’s in their blood. The best picker I have the honor of knowing is Jess Sturtevant of Braden River Antiques in Florida. It runs in his family three generations back, and he has been doing it every day since he was 4 years-old.

I am not trying to dishearten you, I’m just trying to make you an informed buyer. So when someone tries to sell you an original Renoir for $100, you won’t be out a $100. An investment is just that; if I went to a broker with a check for $15, I would expect to be laughed out of his office. But if I went in with a check for $1,500 or $15,000, chances are I might be able to find someone who would work with me to invest that money in something that would yield a dividend over time. The same rules apply to the antiques world. If a client came to me with plans to invest $300 in 100 plastic toys he found at a flea market for $3 apiece, I would caution against this purchase for 3 reasons: 1. If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. 2. Selling off 100 of anything is a challenge. 3. Storing 100 of anything will take up space and may result in storage costs until the market is right to sell them. Now, if the same person said he went to the flea market and was able to talk a merchant into accepting $300 for a 1950’s Eames DCW (Dining Chair Wood) chair priced at $475, I would advise him to purchase it. If he decided to sell, mid-century Eames chairs hold their value and he is getting it for a good price. Also, it’s a comfortable chair and a versatile piece that fits nicely into a modern home and doesn’t take up much space. If he decided to sit on it (both literally and figuratively), it would make a nice addition to a living space. In essence, it would be a good investment.

The important thing is to enjoy the hunt and don’t be afraid to make mistakes in the beginning. A wise person once told me that in the antiques world, you pay for your education one way or another. Don’t let a few bad purchases or dishonest sellers discourage you.

 

 

What’s Hot, What’s Not

As you might have gleaned, investing in antiques is not all that different from investing in commodities, real estate or other areas. Collectibles and art have fluctuating markets, like anything else. When choosing your poison, a little bit of research can go a long way. For example, say your mother collected vintage Fiestaware, brightly colored ceramic dinnerware made by the Homer Laughlin China Company from 1936-1973. You always admired your mother’s collection, have already started a collection of your own with pieces she’s given you over the years and remember her selling some for hundreds of dollars in the 80’s and 90’s. You go onto eBay and do a search for Fiestaware. Instantly, over 5,000 active listings pop up. This is always a red flag. You want to be collecting things in high demand with low availability. Looking at the active listings, you are encouraged. There are some pieces being sold for $1,000-$5,000. However, these are active listings, meaning they have not sold for those prices yet. Lucky for you, eBay now has an option where you can customize your search to “sold listings.” Clicking on this option will give you a much better idea of the market. Here, you can see a few rare pieces of Fiestaware selling for just over $1,000, but the majority is selling within the $50-$150 range. In 5-10 minutes, you have done “market research”…not too difficult, huh? Though there is still a market for Fiestaware, it is not what it once was due in large part to eBay, and you might consider investing in something else.

Like other investment markets there are things on their way out, things on their way in and perennially valuable items. You will pay more for this last category, but there is also a greater chance of these items holding their value. Here are some examples:

 

Losing Value: Books, antique appliances, rugs, Old Master prints, furs and clothes. Obviously if you have a Gutenberg bible or a dress worn by Marilyn Monroe, there will be an exception, but generally, these items have a dwindling marketplace.

 

Gaining Value: Mid-century modern, art deco and industrial furniture and objects, early 20th century posters and advertisements, obsolete medical tools and curiosities, repurposed antiques (think Etsy), Post Modern and Abstract Expressionism artwork and early Native American items. There will be things in all of these categories that are less valuable than others, but modern décor has caused a demand for these items.

 

Always Valuable: Fine jewelry, sterling silver items, well maintained pre-19th century furniture and items with important and traceable provenance. “Important and traceable provenance” is a fancy way of saying a documented history of the item being owned by a famous individual. No one is going to want your multiple-great Aunt Catherine’s kerchief but they will if you can prove she was Catherine the Great.

Lastly I would like to leave you with a quick list of things to consider when investing in antiques. It has the added benefit of being an acrostic of my name so you will be forced to think of me every time you make a purchase (wink!):

 

  • JUDGE whether collecting art and antiques is right for you.

 

  • ACQUIRE knowledge and market information on your planned investments.

 

  • INVEST only after you have researched your investment and only in objects that are within your budget, that you have space for and will enjoy until it is time to sell them.

 

  • MAINTAIN the condition of your investments by storing and displaying them in environments that will not damage them. Seek restoration only when it will increase their value and only by trusted and trained professionals.

 

  • EVALUATE the market before selling and try to engage in single party sales whenever possible.

 

 

 

Feel free to contact me through my website www.corbachoappraisals.com or at lacorbacho@gmail.com with any further questions. Thank you for your interest and invest wisely, ThirtySomethingInvestors!

 

 

 

 

Jan 10

Starting 2013 With A Bang!

We’ve been a little quiet here on Thirty Something since the holidays, but this year we’re already off to a very busy start….

 

Get your year off to a good start!

2013 is already starting to be a very busy year and I have been frantically trying to complete a number of projects that I will be sharing with you starting next week!

One thing I have learned in the past month is how easy it is to get carried away and start too many projects at once. I asume that many of you (like me) have a full time job and are building online businesses and Investments in your “spare” time. Managing your work load is absolutely crucial in order to maximize how productively your time is spent, and most importantly to get the most out of your Investments.

 

 

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Coming up this month…

Interviews

First, we have an Interview with the co-founder and director of TheRoyatyEchange.com, Sean Peace. He has kindly given his insight into how and why The Royalty Exchange came to be and how easy it is for anyone to invest in media royalties.

We have also been very fortunate to have the chance to talk to antiques appraiser, Jaime Corbacho, about personal property as investments. Those of you already interested in antiques may recognize Ms.Corbacho from National Geographic’s “America’s Lost Treasures”.

 

Websites

I have also been assembling my first dedicated ”niche” website. I won’t be revealing too much about the niche subject just yet as the site is still under construction, but I will be writing a guide all about setting up your own niche website in the coming months. I’ll take you through some of the tools and techniques that I’ve used to make the site, as well as giving you the chance to learn from any mistakes I’ve made along the way.

Along with my niche site, I have bought a couple of domains for development this year. They are not full websites as such, they are more of an information and sales page for another exciting investment opportunity I have been pursuing……. software.

 

Software

I’m currently developing both a WordPress plugin and an iPad app to add to my passive income portfolio. Naturally, I won’t be revealing all the details with you lovely people until the software is released. As soon as it’s available, you will be the first to know. ;) But for the moment I will say It’s been a very exciting and educational process, and I look forward to sharing a guide to the whole outsourcing process along with my reviews of the services that I’ve used.

 

Guides

Niche Sites:

As mentioned above, I will be writing (amongst others) a guide on building your own niche site from scratch,  highlighting all the techniques and processes that have been working well for me. Just as Important, I will be talking about the things that went wrong, why they failed and how you can avoid it.

Investing In Antiques:

Following on from the upcoming Interview with Jaime Corbacho from “America’s Lost Treasures”, Jaime has kindly written a basic guide to Investing in antiques which we will be sharing with you in the coming weeks.

 

 

So for now, it’s back to the grind stone for me, looking forward to sharing with you all soon!

 

 

ThirtySomething.

 

 

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Image courtesy of jscreationzs / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Dec 20

My Personal Financial Plan for 2013

The end of 2012 has brought quite a change to my life. In October I left my job of 7 years to further my career at a new company, and during the 4 weeks in between those jobs, I discovered blogging.

2013 Financial PlanningThis discovery came from a desire to understand finance. As a new arrival on American shores, I needed to better understand the American financial system and so I began to explore the often complex subject of personal finance. Along the way, I started to write some notes about what I had learned. Just a few short months later, those notes have developed into the site you’re reading now.

The desire to better understand my personal finances is still my main focus, and with that in mind I have decided to make some broad stage goals for the coming year. These are basically broad steps to get to your ultimate goal. Before I talk about what they are, here’s a little about what I have been doing this year.

In the last 6 – 8 weeks I have built a website for my “on demand” online store at zazzle.com, built my first affiliate website, started development of my own premium WordPress plugin and of course started the site you’re reading, thirtysomethinginvestor.com. The plugin is still a work in progress (as i guess  all my projects are), but it’s something that I never thought I would be able to do, let alone imagine how easy it could actually be for anyone to put their ideas in motion.

 

What I have learned over the past couple of months has given me more than just a better understanding of my personal finances, it’s changed the way I see the world and opportunities. I’m not just talking about opportunities to make money, but also opportunities to make time. Whether it’s time you spend pursuing your interests or time with your family and the people you love, smart investments can earn that for you. I deliberately chose the word “earn” because those investments do have to earn their success and that takes time, effort and most importantly understanding.

With earning success in mind, I’d like to share with you my rough outline for 2013. It’s not meant as a set of mandatory goals, but instead a collection of things I hope to establish this coming year.

 

1. Release WordPress plugin.

This project is actually close to completion. I have outsourced the development of the plugin and the design of the logo for the plugin’s main sales webpage. This was a plugin that I personally wanted but it didn’t exist, so I decided to build it. As soon as I release it, I will tell you all about the process of outsourcing its production and how you can build your own.

 

2. Build new niche site.

Having learned so much this year about building niche sites, I feel pretty excited about starting a new project. I may build a membership subscription website for my niche, or maybe an affiliate site promoting products or even develop and promote my own product, like a guide or piece of software.

 

3. Pass realtor exam.

Ideally I would like to take a class in person, but may find it hard to make it to class. There are some highly credible courses online, so I may take that route to better fit it into my schedule. Either way, I will be writing about the process of taking the exam and sharing the whole experience with you.

 

4. Buy first investment property.

The “crown jewel” of my plan :) This year I’m looking to buy my first investment property, but since property prices are very high here in Los Angeles, I’m looking at investing in a vacation home outside of LA. This is not because I’m rich and want a second home, this will be the first home I’m buying of any kind, and once the paperwork has been signed, I’ll tell you all about it.

 

You should always know as much as you can about an investment before you invest, and so this year my biggest goal is to invest in my knowledge and understanding. The realtor exam is a large part of that and if anyone else is thinking of taking an online course, comment below and maybe we can all take the exam together!

 

Happy Holidays and have a prosperous New Year!

 

 

Dec 14

How to Build a Membership Website

What are membership websites?

The concept of a membership website is simple: users create accounts (free or paid, depending on your service), which then grants them access to premium content and/or support. If a fee is charged in order to become a member, then each month you will continue to be paid by that member for as long as they retain membership.

The key thing here is retaining members – this is what makes membership websites so lucrative and keeps your workload to a minimum. If you keep members interested, your website’s income can soar. Imagine charging only $5 per month for access to your amazing premium content website and only adding 100 members per month. If you retained all those members after 12 months, your monthly income would reach $7,000!

Naturally, no one retains 100% of their members, even if your content is amazing. Some people will sign up mistaking your service for something else. The good news, however, is that popular websites can expect to add many more than 100 members per month, so the potential income that these sites generate can be limitless.

 

Why you should build one.

Membership websites can offer a mulititude of different ways to generate income and for this reason should be a consideration for any budding online entrepreneur. As with any website, you can naturally make money from affiliate links and advertising, but you also have the potential to generate a monthly income from membership subscriptions. On top of that, membership websites can be easily sold to other entrepreneurs wanting a site without the hassle of setting one up. Services like Flippa.com are a great place to sell your sites, or if you want to skip to marketing someone else’s site, you can buy an established website and get up and running fast!

While having all those options is great, the main reason for building a membership site is membership subscriptions. If your content is good enough and you’re positioned well, your membership will grow and grow. Keep people interested with updated content or user generated content like auctions or image and video submissions, and they will continue to pay for their monthly account. The key thing here is to first write killer content. No one is going to pay for something they can get somewhere else for free.

 

What should your site be about?

We all know something about something. Maybe you have a special interest or hobby that you know a lot about, or have a friend or relative who is a specialist in their field. Even if you don’t know a specialist or have any specific technical knowledge, find a special interest you are personally interested in and show others what you learn as you learn it. This is what ThirtySomethingInvestor is doing, although this content is free! Whatever subject you choose, think first about how your site could help others who share your interest.

If your hobby is making things in your wood shop or shed, offer a membership site with downloadable plans and access to “how to” videos and demos where you show how easy it is to do it yourself! You could invite users to send in their DIY problems and you could respond to one each month in a quick personalized video. For example “Mike emailed saying the wood always splits when he blah blah blah…” and then respond with the quick tip solution. “Well Mike, this is what you should do: first take the wood blah blah…” you get the idea. The tools used in the videos could also be affiliate products, and you can offer a store or “Our Tool shed” or products you endorse. The possibilities are endless if you look from the right perspective. This type of interaction is great for adding what I call “premium value” to your site. When you interact directly with your audience, members feel they are a part of the site and that they are getting the personal experience that their membership fee warrants.

 

Planning is everything!

Plan, plan, then plan some more. I can’t emphasize enough how important planning is to your site. Before you start to build your masterpiece, think about what pages and information you’re going to have. Think about how users will interact and contribute to help your site to grow. What content, if any, will be free, and what will be restricted? What content will be available in your launch? What will you add after launch to increase membership? How will you keep members interested and ultimately paying your subscription every month? Consider mapping out your site on paper first or try some mind mapping software to see how your site will work as a whole. Good planning at the start can avoid having to re-build or re-design your site later. If you start with the big picture in mind you can plan the growth of your site in efficient stages.

 

Building your first membership site.

Building websites ain’t what it used to be. When I was at college I had to learn HTML, DHTML, PHP, JAVA, the list went on and on. No more! I’m pleased to report those days are over. As you may well know, I’m a huge fan of wordpress for building any kind of website and membership sites are no exception. With a simple plugin anyone can turn their website (or part of their website) into a ‘members only’ site. You really don’t have to be amazingly technical, or write any code whatsoever.

WishList Member is the main player when it comes to ‘Membership plugins’ for wordpress. We can do an article later on the different ones and compare them, but for those wanting to get started quickly, WishList Member is for me hands down the best option and what I personally use for my membership website. Remember, do your research. I’m not a membership website plugin salesman, I’m just telling you what I use and what’s working for me.

Installation is simple. First you purchase and download the plugin HERE. Next in your ‘add new’ plugin tab go to upload. Choose your WishListMember install zip and upload, simple.

I will be compiling a complete step by step guide to building a membership site with WishList Member soon so check back for details or subscribe to our newsletter.

 

Before you rush off to build your site.

There are many things to consider when building a membership site and at this point, you’ll be forgiven for thinking the task ahead is a daunting one. This is, after all, a basic guide to membership sites, and successful sites can become very complex. Let us take a moment to assure you, however, that anyone can build and manage one of these sites. The greatest difficulty in building membership websites is in the planning and management of the project. Each stage of the construction is fairly straight forward, many people just get lost in the sea of pages and give up. Remember, investing in good planning at the start of your project is essential for creating a step by step plan to take you through the project with minimal time wasted and help you stay on track piecing your site together.

 

Best of luck to all of you.

Let us know how your projects are developing, we’d love to hear about them.

 

ThirtySomething.

 

 

Image credits.

1st Image courtesy of Master isolated images / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
2nd Image courtesy of jscreationzs / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Dec 14

Zstore Project Complete!

Recently I have been talking a lot about zazzle.com and their free print on demand online stores. I mentioned that I was working on a passive income project and wrote a guide on opening and marketing your first Zazzle store. Well my new Zazzle wesite is up and running and can be seen here.

For anyone who missed the guide on starting your own Zazzle stores, you can read it here.

 

I decided to write the guide as I have been a pro seller on Zazzle for about 5 years now and it’s never been easier to add a zazzle store to your own hosted website. In the past you would have had to navigate (and code) the PHP files in the store builder, build a it into your design and upload them to your site. Premium Zstore Plugin for WordPress changes all that and makes adding a store to your site simple.

Because of that I have been able to redesign my website around a broader subject for my niche. Adding things like information and resources for my niche, downloads, videos, guides etc, I can attract a larger audience first to my new site and then to my store.

The design of the site is still a work in progress but I thought I would share with you now, so anyone following can see how it develops. I’ll be sharing what’s working for my new site and also what’s not. It’s only a mistake if you let it get you down, otherwise it’s another lesson learned and a step closer to understanding better!

 

For anyone interested my new store can be found Here

 

I read some time ago now that Atheists or non believers were the fastest growing demographic in the world, and for that simple reason, I choose it for my niche Zazzle store. It proved an instant success and met the pro seller threshold after just 1 month!

The point I want to make here is that I did my research and it paid off. If you want to stand out from the crowd and get your products seen, be sure to do the same. For more tips on starting your own store see my guide to building and marketing your first Zazzle store.

 

If you get the chance, I’d love to hear what you think of the new store, all feedback welcome.

 

Let me know if you use the  Zstore Plugin on your site, I’d love to see what you do with it. Drop us a link in the comments box and share the love!

 

ThirtySomething.

 

 

Dec 13

Blogging Tool Box

Our “Tool Box” is a collection of plugins, services and software that we have come to use on almost all of our websites.

 

Blogging Tool Box

Our most frequently used tools

There are tons of add ons and extra services available for you to use, so look around to see what might be useful on your site.  Some tools you could end up using over and over so we thought we’d keep our most frequently used things all in one place and share them with you.  We hope you find this list useful and good luck with your projects!

As we explore investments and passive income, we will be adding any new products or services we find useful, so bookmark us and keep checking back for updates!

ThirtySomething.

 

Disclaimer: Some of the links below may pay us a commission if you buy their product.

This will NOT affect the price you pay.

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Themes & Graphics.

 

Theme ForestTheme Forest

These guys have a bunch of great wordpress themes to get your site looking smart and professional fast.

 

 

 

Graphic RiverGraphic River 

A great place to find graphics and icons to legally put on your websites.

 

 

 

Code CanyonCode Canyon

Here you wil find plugins and bits of code ready to add to your site. They have tons of stuff so if you can’t find what you’re looking for here, build it yourself and sell it! :)

 

 

Photo DunePhoto Dune

Loads of great images ready for your site. It’s tempting to source images from google, but copyright theft is no joke. Photo Dune gets you the pictures you need, the right way.

 

 

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Hosting.

 

BlueHostBluehost.com

This is where all of our websites are hosted. BlueHost are one of the cheapest options available and offer tons of great features. You can host multiple sites from one account making organizing your sites easy, and their one click wordpress install gets you up and running fast. Highly recommended!

 

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Plugins

 

All in one seo for wordpressAll in One SEO Pack 

WordPress SEO plugin to automatically optimize your WordPress blog for Search Engines. This is a must have for any online project!

 

 

 

All in one webmasterAll in One Webmaster 

Tracking your site and installing webmaster tools can be a pain in the neck. This makes installing tracking code into your sites simple, with no complex code for you to worry about.  All In One Webmaster gets you ready to analyze and improve your site in minutes.

 

 

 

Optinskin PluginOptinSkin.com

This is hands down the best opt-in plugin available for wordpress. Opt-in forms are a great way to add subscribers to your site or invite people to share your content. OptinSkin offers a great range of templates for you to use or easily modify to get you up and running fast. Installation and configuration is simple and clear.

 

 

Zazzle aStore PluginPremium Zstore Plugin for WordPress

As someone who has been a big fan (and a pro seller) on Zazzle for a number of years now, this plugin is a MUST HAVE for anyone making or incorporating a Zazzle store into their website or blog. Previously, in order to customize your store, you would have to download Zazzle’s store builder and modify the PHP files contained inside. Now you simply install the plugin, add your referral ID and away you go! Choose which products (and how many of them) you wish to insert into a page, then simply copy and paste the short code into your site wherever you want them to appear. Easy.

 

Wish List MemberWishlist Member

This little beauty is a one stop membership website shop! You can effortlessly create a private website with user registration all from one plugin. Wishlist Member then manages your users accounts and access privileges private content. You can use teaser style intros to premium content where an article is cut short by “subscribe to read more” etc. Basically, if you want a subscription website (and there are reasons why you might here),  these guys are my number one choice. Simple and easy.

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Research.

 

Google Keyword Research ToolGoogle Keyword Research tool

This is everyone’s first stop for searching for those elusive keywords to really help your site rank in Google. *Requires free Google Adwords account.

 

 

Market Samurai Market Samurai

This little piece of software has been the beginning of thousands of successful websites. Market Samurai helps you search out frequently entered, low competition keywords so you can position your website at the top of Google’s search results. It can even help you search out the best possible domain names for your sites. Industry standard and a must have for any serious blogger or web entrepreneur.

 

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Advertising.

 

Google AdsenseGoogle Adsense

I know people who look down their nose at Google Adsense, but for many it’s a great way to monetize their sites. Google looks through the text on your website to determine it’s subject, then generates small text adverts for relevant products or services. This can often generate significant income when used on high traffic sites.

 

Commission JunctionCommission Junction

This is a one stop marketplace for affiliate programs. Search from hundreds of products and services from internal brands, all offering cash for referrals or sales from their websites. You can search by keyword or browse their list of categories. You may want to find some specific products and services for you to be an affiliate for, but Commission Junction is the best place to get a good range of products fast.

 

Click Bank Affiliate ProgramClickBank

They guys are in many ways similar to Commission Junction in that they have a huge database of products waiting for affiliates to start selling. ClickBank differs in that it tends to be better for digital products like plugins and eBooks offering guides and how tos. They can be great for finding products very specific to your niche. No matter how specialized your subject, someone has probably written a guide. As always, if no one has, you write one and make 100% of every sale!

 

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Outsourcing.

 

Freelancer.comFreelancer.com

Got an idea but not the computer skills? Freelancer.com has thousands of freelance web programmers, designers, and developers ready to work on your project. First, you post a “brief” of what you want and your budget, then people from all over the world working freelance bid to build your idea. Freelancer holds the payment until you release it, so you’re protected. Got an idea for an iPhone app and a couple of hundred bucks? These guys can make your idea a reality.

 

99 Designs99Designs.com

In a similar vain to Freelancer.com, 99Designs.com has freelance designers ready to answer your brief and compete to design your logo. Designs from multiple designers are presented to you and you get to give feedback on all of them before narrowing it down to your favorite designers. After 3 more days of feedback and changes, you pick your winner. The legal copyright is owned by you and you receive high quality vectors of your logo. I like 99designs for my logo work as they seem more focused on creative projects as opposed to coding and programming.

 

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eBooks & Course’s

 

Start A Blog That MattersHow to start a blog that matters by Corbet Barr

Corbet Barr is an online entrepreneur or “digital nomad”, as he says. His guide is a week by week walk through to building a successful blog. This course takes you though finding the right idea for your site and getting the perfect domain name and keywords to build your site around. Next, you’re taken through how to build and prepare your site for its launch. Finally, Corbet explains what to do after your site launches. It’s a must read for anyone serious about starting a profitable blog.

 

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Free Online Stores.

 

Zazzle Free Online StoresZazzle.com

Zazzle is (for me) hands down the best print on demand service on the web. Unlike it’s main rival in the print online business Cafepress, Zazzle is completely free to set up and is backed by owners Google, so you know it’s highly visible in search results.

For a guide on building and maketing your own Zazzle store click here.

 

 

Etsy.com Sell your stuffEtsy.com

Now Etsy.com is one service I must admit I have yet to use, mainly as all my products are digital delivery. Etsy is an online market place for physical goods. If you can make it and ship it, Etsy will help you sell it. Personally I don’t like to have much in the way of physical assets. But if you do, Etsy could be perfect for you.

 

 

If you have any “must have” products or tools when blogging or investing, let us know in the comments below!

 

 

ThirtySomething.

 

 

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Nov 07

Own Music from Seinfeld!

Well, to be honest, Seinfeld is just the beginning.

The entire catalog of Emmy Award winning composer/guitarist Brian Tarquin is going up for auction, but be quick! Bidding ends November 12th!

The Royalty Exchange - buy music royalties online

Buy music rights online and get paid royalties.

For your chance to own the rights to all the music in Brian Tarquin’s extensive catalogue, you need to head over to theRoyaltyExchange.com Spanning a number of high profile national and international shows, Brian’s work has generated an average annual royalty payment of $58,337 and will continue to generate income for as long as the author is alive 70+ years.

One of the most successful television shows of all time, Seinfeld has entertained and is loved by millions of people around the world. Its nine award winning seasons continue to play on television stations globally, entertaining a whole new generation. Seinfeld’s future as one of the world’s favorite shows is an almost certainty, but what isn’t for certain is who will benefit from the show’s continued success.

Bidding on the catalogue starts at $300,000, which may seem like a huge investment, but think of it like this: For 300k you’re “buying” yourself a 60k/year salary without ever having to go to work to earn it. Plus, with the royalties coming for the next 70+ years, it’s an investment to pass on to your children. You’ll have a safety net making money if you ever lose your job temporarily or can’t work. Remember, the collection and ownership of assets like these are they key to financial independence.

 

Accounts are free!

You will need to create an account with TheRoyaltyExchange but it’s completely free.

Auctions previously have been slow to be added as the demand grows, as Royalty Exchange is a new (and almost exclusive) way to buy media royalties. I’ve had an account there now for a while and they are starting to regularly add new auctions. If all this sounds way out of your budget, I’d encourage you to visit Royalty Exchange anyway. They have a range of auctions at different price levels, although the income they generate is reflected in their price.

Current auctions include music from “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air”, “America’s Next Top Model” and classic HipHop track “Everlasting Bass”, and bidding starts at $1,000 so it’s not all hundreds of thousands to get into royalty ownership. Previous auctions (including some music from Disney’s “Bambi”) have sold for a final price as low as $1,200!

 

Royalty exchange provides an easy doorway into what has previously been a very privately traded asset. Expensive? It sure can be, but this new marketplace for royalties is an interesting browse and if nothing else, you may be surprised at how affordable getting into royalty ownership can be.

 

ThirtySomething.

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