How Cyber Monday Can Grow a Blog

It was around this time last year that I got serious about turning this blog from something entirely personal to something more helpful to the general public. I would say that it was this exact weekend that I implemented a number of changes and additions that eventually led me to publishing TWO courses this past year (How to Create a Budgeting Tool That Works and Mastering a Budget). While there are other cyber Monday deals out there that you can spend your hard-earned dollars on, here are a few that actually gives back in terms of profit, making it more like an investment rather than a purchase.

Teachable – the platform I used to create both my online courses

If there’s anything I know, it is that you have valuable skills, experiences, and expertise in something. Every one of us, including you, has something to share with the world — something that others would love to learn.

And while creating an online course is one of the fastest ways to leverage on your time and increase your earning ceiling — it’s also one of the best ways to help more people.

When you create an online course, you’re able to change your student’s lives.

So my question for you is: who’s going to be grateful for you this year when you create your course and share your knowledge with the world?

Yes, you can earn a side-income from your course. Maybe even a full-time income from your course eventually. But there are so many other benefits to creating your course and sharing what you know with the world.

A surprising number of people have found that having their own online course becomes an amazing creative outlet. You get to share your passions and knowledge with the world!

And best of all, you get to do it on your own terms. You get to be your own boss, and you can pursue your biggest, craziest ideas without anyone saying that you can’t. When was the last time you had that kind of creative freedom?

On top of that, you’ll find it’s a real joy to interact with your students. 

Whether you have a course on parenting, or building a vegetable garden…watercolor painting…or even playing the guitar… (yes, these are all real courses on Teachable). 

You’ll find yourself losing track of time. You’ll be fully immersed in the course creation process, and you’ll get to talk all about a subject you love. (With people who love to listen!) 

You don’t need to be a big recognized expert to make a big impact on the world. 

We’ve seen it time after time. Newbie course creators will start off filled with self doubt, but then they take the plunge and share something.

They have zero expectations at first. But all of a sudden, one person enrolls…then ten more…and eventually hundreds, or even thousands.

These course creators are thrilled beyond belief. They never thought “lil’ old them” could be in demand like that.

The bottom line is this: You have hidden talents that the world needs you to share. 

You deserve to feel great about doing work you love. 

You can be the one who helps other people reach their goals. 

I 100% believe this.

That’s why I want you to take advantage of Teachable’s best deal of the year.

Not only do you have a chance to get annual access to Teachable for just $299 (saving $169), but in a couple of months, when you put in the effort, you’ll be able to ask yourself, “Who’s grateful for me?” And there will be a whole bunch of students excited to raise their hands. (And hey, you can be earning a pretty nice side-income as well.)

So if the idea of creating an online course excites you—if you’ve even thought about it for a second—you gotta check this deal out.

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ConvertKit –the platform I use to build an email following

It helps to have an email following. Subscribers are people who have a genuine interest in hearing what you have to say. They are a great group of people to connect to and if you are hoping to teach a particular topic to an audience, there is no better collection than your squad of subscribers.

My followers are amazing, supportive, interactive, and optimistic. They ask a lot of questions about budgeting, paying down student debt, and living a simple lifestyle. It is very gratifying to be able to help this community, and it is because of them that I continue to write.

Having an email following is also useful if you want to reach out to people en masse, or if you have something to share with like-minded folks. Convert Kit has an easy way of organizing people by category, so that those interested in simple living will not get emails about budgeting.

I would highly recommend Convert Kit to any online writer who wants to build a community.

There is a 30 day free trial for Convert Kit for those who are unsure about Convert Kit, but one thing is definite: do not wait to create an email following! It is something that I wish I did early on. It has brought me closer to my readers and has made my writing more meaningful, both to me and others.

After a year of trying it out, I have finally switched from a month-to-month subscription to an annual subscription today, thus saving me $86.

PicMonkey – the site I use to create banners for the blog and Pinterest

PicMonkey is an easy-to-use website for creatives using visual aids to accompany their work. It is especially useful for Pinterest if you want visually captivating banners. Most people who go to Pinterest are in search of something in particular. The ability to catch their attention and redirect them to what they are searching for is key.

Many bloggers underestimate Pinterest as a social media platform, but it is actually the most useful platform to bloggers. Imagery makes it easy to catch the attention of users who are searching for something, and the linking can redirect them to a specific blog post or page.

Off course, PicMonkey has other uses. I specifically use it to create banners for my website, or to create imagery that promotes my courses.

I will even use PicMonkey for personal things, such as invitations to parties or holiday cards. It’s as easy as Paint, but with more functions.

You can try PicMonkey for FREE for 7 days, and then decide if it’s useful to you.

Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing – the course I took that taught me how to monetize a blog

All of this, I learned from a course called Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing written on Teachable by Michelle Schroeder-Gardner. I have spoken extensively about how this course helped me monetize my blog, so if you are looking to invest in a course about blogging, I think this is it!

Off course, the final Cyber Monday deal that I’ve got to offer is one that is my own.

Get 75% OFF my course Mastering a Budget by doing the following:

  1. Subscribe to TheDebtist below

2. Follow TheDebtist on Instagram.

 

All subscribers and followers will receive a discount code in their inbox tomorrow that will give them 75% OFF of the course. This is my way of saying Thank You to all my followers. I couldn’t be here without you.

Also, I would like to open the conversation up to those who wish to see something different or new in 2020. Reach out to me below, or just say “Hi!”

My Favorite Things

1.This bakery

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for all the joy its brought me and for giving me something to be thankful for.

2. This stack of books

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for reminding me of that special day.

3. This cat curled up in a ball

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for keeping us warm in the night.

4. This matcha latte and agenda pad

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for keeping me energized and on task, respectively.

This hand-thrown espresso mug

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for mornings full of pondering and reflection.

Images of White Fridays

I once wrote about the blackest of Fridays in dreary fashion, and reminisced on Black Fridays past, moments I could not take back. I wanted to write, this year, of bright Fridays ahead, away from all the frenzy. For the past three years, Black Fridays have been spent at dental offices helping Turkey-eating-sufferers and kids who are taking a break from school. But if it wasn’t spent here, I have many images of what it would be like.

Waking up late in a wooden cabin, sitting fireside with a cup of tea, for there would be no need for coffee. A book by the side table, ignored for now, to allow thoughts to passively wander in one ear and out the other. An occasional getting up for a bar of chocolate, but invited back into the loveseat by a cozy tabby. Wireless, eventless, motionless, all things timeless. Stockinged feet, and blanketed messes. We’ll let the candle burn out, let the windows frost, let the soup simmer a little too long. It snowed on the Grapevine only a few days ago, so is it too much to imagine snow?

Can we call them White Fridays?

I know this doesn’t send shivers down everyone’s spine. Most people will not be excited by nothing-ness. Some may even be itching to get to the end of this post to hear the deals. For those who are, I suppose there is value for this day. It gives us the opportunity to shop small, support local, and consume ethically. On this day, I’d like to support those small business owners who support this blog throughout the year. In the name of gratitude, here’s to you.

A guide to shopping slow, small, and sustainably this Black Friday.

+ This all-weather boot, and a Christmas shoe. (Select styles are 60% off and with the code DEBTIST25, you can receive 25% off all Nisolo products)

+ This mug for fireside mornings, and a cake plate for, well, cake. (Free shipping today!)

+ A photo book, for mornings in bed. (Use code VERYMERRY for 10% off site-wide, and tiered discounts for $100+ and $175+ purchases).

+ This gift wrap set for the upcoming holidays, and this notepad to organizing upcoming weeks. (40% off everything today only)

+ A toothbrush for after the Thanksgiving feast.

+ These earrings, paired with this dress, for simple gathering.

Thank you to all of you.

XOXO

 

Simple Things: Photo books from Artifact Uprising

This post is sponsored by Artifact Uprising, a paper company celebrating memories for paper people.

When it comes to gift receiving, I err on the side of sentimental, favoring things such as freshly baked goods and home-made candles over easily store-bought trinkets. The more effort to make or find an item, the more value I place on it. This, of course, is my own bias, one that requires a bit more patience and generosity from those who are kind enough to tolerate my tendencies.

For those who have like-minded acquaintances but who wish to ease the holiday gift shopping, might I suggest a material gift worth buying that is equal in thoughtfulness?

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These Artifact Uprising books are my most cherished books. Despite the dust that hovers over the cover from infrequent use, they are books that consistently bring a smile to my face when opened. Their ephemeral practicality is offset by their long-lasting insinuation of good vibes only. Apart from these books, I keep a small handful of physical photos that reside in a wooden box, most of which were, too, taken from the night we wed. These books are a collection of snapshot moments from that happy time.

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In it lies all the hope of a future ahead,
roads unpaved and in our control,
challenges accepted which we did not yet know,
triumph from overcoming hurdles which taught us we can
and trust in what forever is supposed to bring.

Custom photo books from Artifact Uprising are nothing short of gorgeous. Their layflat album is made from premium linen and comes in 12 color options and 5 album sizes. The wedding variety includes foil stamped text, preset or of your own design, in either gold, copper, silver, or white.  There is an option to include a protective wooden box to house your book and keep it safe. It’s similar to my own wooden box that keeps my prints and memory sticks.

Multiple book options are available as well. I personally chose a simple hardcover book with a sleeve depicting my most favorite photo. I like the simplicity of uploading and re-arranging that digital scrap-booking has to offer these days. Less fuss, for an equally fine finished product. The books are just as beautiful with or without the cover.

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However, if you prefer a more creative or tangible collection of memories, there is a scrapbook that you can physically put together, old-school style. The book comes as a binder, which makes the addition and removal of pages simple. There are envelopes for those who are inclined to pick up sea shells or fallen leaves as commemoration of stolen moments in time. Each scrapbook comes with a credit of up to ten free prints, as well as pen, note cards, picture corners, and adhesive. The option to provide the supplies makes it easy to gift to those acquaintances with whom you share very little or no photos, or who you know have a particular way of doing things … thinking only of myself here. I never said I was easy to love.

All Artifact Uprising products are made with utmost consideration for our environment. They use Mohawk Options Paper which contains 100% post-consumer fiber. All of the electricity used to manufacture the paper is matched with renewable wind generated electricity.

“Occasionally you’ll find a storied spec of this paper’s past from the recycled fiber within—we see these as beauty marks of a better choice for the environment.”

For their wooden products, they use reclaimed wood from already fallen pine rather than source from completely healthy trees. 250,000 feet of fallen pine has been reclaimed from the Rocky Mountain forests as AU works to harness wasted resources into products that  accompany life’s best experiences.

Photo books aside, if you are looking for other sentimental holiday gift ideas, here are a few.

+ A single large format print, and a minimalist frame to hold it in for the decorator.
+ Walnut desk top calendar, plus a wooden desktop frame for an office worker.
+ Table numbers for the engaged, and thank you cards for the newly wed.
+ A baby book for a new momma, and a baby board book for what the stork brought.
+ Custom folded cards as this year’s stationary set for someone you love, holiday cards for yourself.

A shipping reminder:

If you are gifting Artifact Uprising for the holidays, products must be ordered by December 15 with USPS shipping in order to arrive in time for December 24. Orders placed between December 16 and December 22 will need to be shipped using FedEx shipping for arrival by December 24.

This post is sponsored by Artifact Uprising, a paper company celebrating memories for paper people. TheDebtist may receive a small commission on the goods purchased from this post’s affiliate links. My utmost thanks for supporting brands that support this blog. 

Living Slow: Season of Becoming

This post is in partnership with East Fork Pottery,  a company slinging hand-thrown, timeless pottery in Oregon using regionally-sourced stoneware clay. Their beautiful food-safe glazes are made in house and lend their pieces character, but in an unfussy and classic manner. The collection is, truly, a treasure trove.

It’s been a bit quiet here for the past week, which should be indicative of the fact that I’ve been restless in real life, struggling with a personal decision that’s difficult to make. Usually that’s how it is. Cyber silence equates to a madness that requires its own space and time. But I wanted to put thought to digital paper for a moment, as an observance of this period of growth.

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Last week, I was presented with an alternative job opportunity that, when on paper, holds better weight than my current position. However, there are some non-practical reasons why I want to keep my current position. Ultimately, it came down to production limited by the number of days, or production limited by fees. I had to consider adding a 1.5 hr  round-trip daily commute to my currently non-existent one in exchange for much easier work. I had to decide whether having newer and better materials that made my job easier was more important than sweeter and easier patients who made my job easier. I was pulled between something new and something familiar. It was a week full of angst, emotion, and pressure to make a decision. I sat by the window sill staring into space, deep in thought, reflection, and sometimes just straight up brooding. Tears were involved.

If I took the easier job that is farther away which has more difficult patients but newer materials, I would only work 2.5-3 days a week, and still make the same amount of production at 4 days a week. But when you add the hours of commute and subtract the amount of money spent on gas, those 3 days really equate to 3.6 days, and is that difference worth it. The physical work will be easier due to newer materials, but demanding patients increase the mental and emotional energy required to work. The gratitude will be centered around the ease of work, rather than meaningful work. Both cups are half-full. Which would you choose?

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The paradox of choice is real. Both options are starkly different, but both are also good. My husband pointed out that I couldn’t go wrong either way. It’s a fantastic position to be in. But the fear of choosing wrong is what cripples. If the opportunity didn’t present itself, it wouldn’t be hard for me to continue what I was doing. There would be a distant nagging of the things I could improve if the practice were my own, but I wouldn’t be restless like I am now. When there is an alternative, it is much harder to ignore what could be.

Equally crippling is the feeling that a choice needs to be made. If I am going to leave  the first office, it would be best to tell them as soon as possible. Meanwhile, the office of opportunity is waiting on the sideline, seeing if I would take their job offer. I think it’s hard to be in-between. The pressure prevents any real growth.

In my life, I‘ve tried to reduce choice in order to increase bliss. In general, it has worked very well. While I don’t like choicelessness, I like having reduced options. But I know making choices is the hard part of growth. So choices need to be made.

I have an evasive tactic that I turn to when faced with difficult decisions. I just pick one -the one that intuitively seems most appealing – and then I move on with my life. I do that because I know I can always pivot. I do that because I know that there are worse things to choose from, and that outcomes in general are not bad  in the grand scheme of things. But I also know that I do it to alleviate the guilt, stress, and responsibility of that choice. I am only ever choosing one real thing – to run a way from my own discomfort.

This has led me to even deeper consideration for things beyond the job itself. The job, it’s just a stage in my life. In the end, neither choice is perfect, but neither is also wrong. Both are transient, not one being the end point. But I’ve thought about my tendency to run when things get difficult. My wish to reduce, in order to ease. My need to asphyxiate in hopes of control. My obsession with doing, instead of just being.

I can say I’ve been much better the past two years. Slow living has been a great mentor in that. But this is one of those moments where I need to tell myself, “Wait“. Instead of searching for clarity, wait for the fog of emotions to roll out and clear. Instead of wishing to tell people about it, wait for them to ask you of your thoughts. Instead of trying to get every answer imaginable, wait for that inner knowing to surface from within. Stay to see what happens, instead of going to see where the river runs.

I came across this quote  from @trustandtravel’s Instagram, and it spoke.

“Do not fast-forward into something you are not ready for, or allow  yourself to shrink back into what’s comfortable. Growth lives in the uneasiness. The in-between. The unfinished sentence. You are a season of becoming.”

-Danielle Doby

Becoming is a hard thing. But it’s also necessary. So much of the time, we do, and therefore we are. But we never just “be”. How do we ever expect to become?

The espresso cups in soapstone are perfect for tiny hands, mid-afternoon espresso shots, as well as after dinner green tea. For the bold, sake shots and other libations fit well within this tiny vessel. We are very much in love with this cups and can only speak highly of the quality and the beauty of these products. They are not placed in cabinets with the other dinnerware but are on display on open shelving. Today only, East Fork will be having a Seconds Sale. A discount of 30% will be applied to a handful of clay goods that did not quite make the cut. Although with slight blemishes, these pieces are still functional and beautiful. I urge people who have been hankering for dinnerware to consider salvaging these pieces and including them in your home. I appreciate East Fork for their zero waste attempt. Seconds sale begins at 12pm EST, and pieces will go fast (or so I hope). This post contains affiliate links and TheDebtist may receive a commission if  you so choose to purchase.

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My Favorite Things

I am starting a series called My Favorite Things, to showcase a few things a week that have brought joy. And while it focuses on things (sometimes), I hope that the posts translate to how joy can come from a handful of objects, and that fewer is, truly, better. It is also valuable to me that not all things are my own, neither are they all new. Lastly, not all things are physical, such as good mid-day lighting, or the first frosty morning. While it was originally created as a personal project aimed at de-cluttering my camera, always devoid of memory, it is also meant to be a weekly public reflection of my most gratifying moments. Without further adieu, here are this week’s favorites.

  1. This wreath

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… for signaling Fall at one of our favorite coffee spots.

2. This sticker

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… for re-vamping this phone case into something new.

3. This linen apron

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… for always being pretty, even when tossed haphazardly onto a chair.

4. This apple pie

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… the first of Thanskgiving pie orders from Aero Bakery.

5. These hardcover photo books

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… for a morning of perusing through mems, the makings of which were enjoyable indeed.

Prepping for a Mindful Holiday Season

It’s mid-November and I’m left wondering where the first half of the month went, let alone the majority of the year. It seems that as we age, our perception of time quickens,  as if a reminder that the time we have left dwindles. Perhaps this is why mindfulness becomes more relevant as we get older. Perhaps it’s why senility exists, as a pungent way to signal the world that we are focusing on the things that don’t really matter. I wonder if this blog brings that same sort of light, without the heartbreaking undertones of senescence. Hopefully, it has brought you something.

Today, I want to take the time, before holiday rush, to instill mindfulness in the home before good cheer takes away all thought in our fervent search for comfort and joy. Let us welcome the holiday season in all the right ways. We will be wishing and receiving all season long, which isn’t wrong per say, but I think it would behoove us to approach it with some serious thought so as to avoid the need to de-clutter and figure ourselves out all over again amidst the noise in 2020.

A few suggestions, nothing unheard of especially in this space, if I may.

  • Take stock. Make a mental note of everything you already own. Figure out ways in which they can do double duty in function. Find what is enough in your life, with an intention to add less.
  • Declutter. Always declutter. It seems my advice runs redundant but it signifies the habitual act of. Get rid of the noise distracting from the important parts of the holiday season. Hone in on what brings you true joy. Strengthen the ability to know what holds value and what does not. This will also help with the selection of which social obligations you commit to, lest you run amok trying to please everybody and not enjoying the season at all.
  • Write your wish list early. And then publish it late. In the meanwhile, edit, edit, edit. Treat your wish list like a draft. It’s similar to pausing prior to purchasing things. Sometimes, it’s even more important to do because of the ease with which we can ask for things. Sleep on it. Search the house for dopplegangers of stuff (are you asking for things you already own?). Prioritize, putting needs at the top and considering making do without the wants. Perhaps you’d like to request consumable giftsFor ideas, a simple holiday gift guide.
  • Focus on the non-material. Not just in gift-giving and wish-making, but also in the doing. Forego the stresses of perfect Thanksgiving dinners and Christmas mornings. Rather, revel in the gathering. Spend less time thinking about what to wear in to the holiday party and more time focusing on the conversations you wish to have. Et cetera. If you need a reminder, create an advent calendar for a slow holiday season. If you’d like to take it a step further, write a no-gifting letter or say no to Secret Santa.
  • Simplify. Instead of asking for ten things from one person, ask for one or two thereby lightening their need to make even more decisions. Instead of decking halls this year, maybe go bare to save you from entering 2020 with a large amount of un-decorating to do. Instead of ordering holiday cards, email a digital picture. There are many ways to simplify, some of which I’ve written about here and here.

I am always of the mind that we need to prepare for the holidays in different ways. In doing less and thinking more. It’s worth a try, in hopes that we all enter the new decade with truer joy, and a lot more peace.

 

Intentional Living: Speaking Less

I’ve been thinking lately about speaking less. The irony of using a post to share this does not escape me. But how many times a day do we fill our lives with useless words? Trivial commentary that gets us nowhere, rhetorical questions that waste one’s breath, small talk?

I think about questions specifically. We ask each other questions not because we are looking for knowledge but rather, permission. As kind as it is to seek permission, what it actually does is inflate the number of choices that need to be made.

For example, I noticed that I ask the following questions of my husband on the daily.

  • Is this enough food? (when piling on a plate)
  • Do you want to sit here? (when deciding where to perch at a restaurant, coffee shop or even at home)
  • What do you want to do today? (or tonight, this week, or weekend)
  • What do you want to eat for dinner? (or breakfast or lunch)
  • Do you want coffee this morning? (or tea in the evening)
  • Shall we watch something tonight? (when deciding what else to clutter our minds with)

All of these questions are not rhetorical and require a response.

All of them give him additional decisions to make.

All of them are quite unnecessary.

I think about how many more I ask at work. I think about how this asking affects our lives. As if we didn’t have enough decisions to make. It’s no wonder we live in overwhelm. By asking permission, we are creating more decisions to make. In our empathy, we are wasting brain power on making choices in a society already suffering from the paradox of choice.

It’s no wonder that children these days have no direction. There are too many choices to choose from and they are so busy choosing from an early age that they never learn how to focus on one. I hear parents ask children what they want to eat for dinner. I remember growing up and never being asked that question. We simply ate whatever was on the table. More brain-power for play time outdoors. I see parents asking kids what color backpack they want for the first day of school. My parents just went and purchased my supplies for us without even taking us to the store with them. More brain-power for focusing on getting ready for the Fall semester. I see parents proudly say that their kids chose what to wear today. I wore a uniform until middle school. Think of the brain power it takes to have a kid decide what to wear, then compare them self socially with what their desk mate wore, then go home and look to their closet and see what they can wear the next day to be at least equal with their desk mate.  With Christmas around the corner, I bet kids will be writing down their lists. I didn’t write a list for my family until I was thirteen years old. My parents just bought us what they think we would want, or better yet, what we needed.

It’s no wonder college students have no idea what they want to do in life. A majority of them go to undergrad undeclared. When I was in undergrad ten years ago, half of my friends had switched majors before graduating. My own brother switched direction AFTER undergrad. Many younger people get multiple masters in different fields. Some of my closest high school friends didn’t figure out what they wanted to do until they were 25. In dental school, a quarter of the dental students had switched careers. We had engineers, doctors, lawyers, with the oldest student in his 50’s. There is simply too many choices to make.

We have created this fallacy that we live in a world where we are free to choose. But we are constantly making choices, and we have lost the freedom to accomplish much of anything else.

It’s no wonder we get home at the end of a work-day exhausted. Then to have to answer if the food on the plate is enough?! Why do we waste such energy?

I am trying to be better. I am trying to simply put food on the plate, and accept that if he wants more, he will go back for seconds. I am going to just pick a spot to sit. If he wishes to sit elsewhere, I will trust that he will say so. I am simply going to make a batch of coffee and pour half into my cup. If he ends drinking the other half, I can make a second batch if needed. Instead of asking what he wants to do this weekend, I will tell him what I would like to do and see what he responds with.

We don’t need to speak so much.

If we truly want to practice empathy, let us empathize with the excess that we all already deal with.

Let us reduce the overwhelm so that we can reserve our brain waves for the decision-making that is more important.