Book Review: The Quick Start Guide to Making (Real) Money With Your Writing Skills

While perusing Twitter a few weeks ago, I saw a tweet from Michele Lashley offering a link to sign up to receive a free copy of her new book, The Quick Start Guide to Making (Real) Money With Your Writing Skills. Since I’m always a sucker for a freebie, especially one promising to teach me to make more money doing something I love, I signed up.

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I downloaded the book on my Kindle on October 13th and finished it less than a week later. (I could have finished it faster but I’ve been working, volunteering at church, and tending to my family.) The book is a quick and easy read at just 102 pages long, but it offers lots of helpful, practical advice for anyone looking to get started making money from writing.

The book’s eleven chapters offer advice on naming your business, soliciting professional help from attorneys and accountants, getting a logo, equipping your workspace, building a portfolio and website, deciding how much to charge, and how to find (and keep) clients.

As a CPA, I have experience setting up my own businesses and walking clients through setting up theirs, but I still found helpful advice that I hadn’t considered, especially when it comes to choosing a business name. One of her tips, “Don’t use the name of the geographic area you’re in,” would have been helpful to me in the past. Shortly before we relocated from Northern Nevada to Arizona for my husband’s job, I set up my own bookkeeping and tax business and named it Battle Born Accounting & Tax Service. Everyone in Northern Nevada knows what Battle Born refers to, it’s the state motto. I tried using the same name and business cards in Arizona and people wondered why the heck I named an accounting firm “Battle Born.” The name didn’t translate across state lines.

I really appreciated her advice to work with an accountant when you’re getting your business started. Many people that try to set up a new business on a shoestring budget see an accountant as an extravagance, but they can save you a money and headaches in the long run. I’ve had clients that don’t know the difference between a debit and a credit buy Quickbooks, thinking they’d be able to handle their own books. Without basic bookkeeping knowledge, you can make a real mess of Quickbooks really fast and it will take an accountant twice as long to fix your mistakes than it would to get you started on the right foot from the get-go.

Each chapter ends with a Quick Start Takeway: simple, actionable advice that you can put into place right now.

While I don’t see this book becoming a reference tool that I keep on the shelf and refer back to time and time again, it does offer very good, basic information on a wide variety of topics. If you’re interested in getting started in the freelance writing world and don’t know where to start, it’s a quick and easy read that won’t steer you wrong.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase through my link, I may receive a commission for it. This doesn’t cost you anything additional. These commissions help to keep the rest of my content free, so thank you!

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The Purpose and Magic of an Emergency Fund

3369405130_861cb2a743_qI’m a huge Dave Ramsey fan. I read The Total Money Makeover last year and it was like I’d been hit by a bolt of lightning. I immediately purchased copies for several friends and family members and started putting his plan into action.

One of the first steps in TMM is to start an emergency fund of $1,000. Luckily, I already had this amount (and a little extra) in a savings account thanks to the 52 Week Money Challenge.  I just hadn’t been thinking of it as an emergency fund.

Despite having this money sitting there, when an emergency came up like a big car repair or medical bill, I pulled out a credit card thinking that’s why I had them.

Following Dave’s advice, I no longer use credit cards. Instead when a big, unbudgeted expense occurs, I first ask if we can cash flow it? Cash flowing an expense means, instead of touching my emergency fund or using a credit card, can I cut back on some other budget line items this month to cover the expense? Can we forego eating out this week, spend less at the grocery store, or not purchase something else I was planning on buying this month? So far, the answer has always been yes.

This Is Where The Magic Happens

What I’ve found to be the magic of an emergency fund is, once you have the money there, you’re better aware of what an ’emergency’ actually is. When a credit card was my emergency fund, an emergency could be an auto repair or a medical bill, or it could be ‘needing’ a new dress for an event this weekend or needing to book a hotel room for a vacation.

Now that my emergency fund is in place and I know that if  touch that money, everything else is on hold until I replenish it, I will do anything to avoid using it!

Being willing to delay pleasure for a greater result is a sign of maturity. – Dave Ramsey

If you’ve been relying on credit cards for your emergency fund, take them out of your wallet and hide them somewhere right now. (Dave would tell you to cut them up, but I’ll admit I had a hard time with that one at first, too.) If you don’t have an emergency fund, start one today! The 52 Week Money Challenge is a great place to start, or just put aside as much as you can each month until you’ve saved $1,000. If you don’t already have a savings account set up, a Capital One 360 account is a good option. I initially set up my savings account with them because they have no monthly fees, pay better interest rates than the bigger brick-and-mortar banks, and I could easily set up automatic weekly transfers from my outside checking account to Capital One. I liked them so much, I’ve since moved all of our family’s banking to Capital One.  What are you waiting for?

Photo credit: frankleleon via Flickr CC

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase through my link, I may receive a commission for it. This doesn’t cost you anything additional. These commissions help to keep the rest of my content free, so thank you!