4 Facebook Advertising Strategies For Local Businesses

Facebook Advertising is an ideal platform for local business owners because of its low cost and local targeting capabilities. Furthermore, Facebook friends tend to live and work near you. Therefore, for the most part, your Facebook newsfeed is a “main street” of sorts in your town’s digital world. Similar to putting up a billboard on a local highway, Facebook Advertising can allow a small business owner to quickly get his or her brand in front of a whole community.

But wait – what about investing in pay per click ads in which you can go after people already looking for your service? While Facebook can definitely target users a great deal, it is a different platform than a search engine. People go on Facebook to connect and share with their friends. As a result, people are spending more time on Facebook: currently, the national average is 40 minutes per day. Therefore, it’s completely possible that your ad could appear multiple times on an individual’s Facebook page, each of those times building your brand awareness in a similar fashion to that billboard you see every day on your way to work.

You may, in fact, be showing your ads to someone who already has a barber they go to, but then again… would that same person likely be looking for a barber in a search engine? With a compelling FB ad, you can get your brand in front of that potential customer who would not have found you otherwise.

After working with dozens of local small businesses as well as a few national brands, I’ve noticed what works for a national client doesn’t always work for the local ones. In order to create that compelling Facebook ad, I’ve compiled 4 strategies to help a local business owner.

  1. Take Advantage of Local Awareness Ads

Local Awareness Ads were really one of the first methods in which Facebook truly made it clear that they were an advertising platform for local small business owners. This ad objective – which is actually titled “reach people near your business” in Facebook Ads Manager – is definitely one worth taking advantage of if you are a local business.

The greatest advantage comes from the fact you can make your targeting hyper-local, targeting Facebook users as close as within 1 mile of your business. In contrast, traditional Facebook advertising location targeting only lets you get as granular as targeting a particular city.

This feature is great to capture individuals who may be dining near your business, working near you, or even traveling in the area. In the above ad, we call out the fact that the user is nearby. The user’s proximity to your business makes the ads automatically personalized to your user at that exact moment. G/O Digital surveyed users and found that 60% of users looked at a local business’ Facebook page before they visited that local business. This indicates there were quite a few users looking on Facebook prior to visiting a particular location.

One critique of local awareness ads is the lack of more robust targeting segmentation, which is often praised as one of the strengths of the Facebook Advertising platform overall. The lack of more robust targeting segmentation is in reference to the fact that, at this point, you are not able to specify beyond gender, age, and location whom your ads will show to for Local Awareness Ads. While it is true this targeting is missing, it stands to reason your audience size for an ad like this would be incredibly small.

Additionally, unlike the other Facebook ad objectives available, the ad objective for Local Awareness Ads is to go after people near your business. The local targeting is the main objective of the ad itself; therefore, it would be deviating from the point of the ad to include interest-based or behavior-based targeting.

Local Awareness Ads also allow you additional call-to-actions, namely “Get Directions” and “Call Now.” The reason the calls-to-action are a little different with this ad objective is because you are reaching customers who are nearby, oftentimes on a mobile device. In the example below, I included a “Call Now” button and indicated that the potential customer could call and book their service appointment within the ad text.

facebook local awareness ad example

 

  1. Use Images Of Your Storefront In Your Ads

When it comes to Facebook Advertising, images really are a crucial part of your ad. A lot of my clients obsess over what image they should be using in their ads. A few spend a great deal of money on graphic designers to bring to life what they think is the perfect image often times including a great deal of text. However, most of my local clients simply don’t have the resources to spend on creating a custom image.

One engaging image you can use without the help of a graphic designer – and one that most local businesses have – is a picture of your storefront. If you are targeting local customers, whether through a Local Awareness Ad or simply a city, chances are that the person has passed your business at some point. Seeing your storefront in the ad should immediately look familiar to them. Just as you scroll through Facebook and stop to look at a picture of your friend in front of a new car they just bought, you’ll immediately stop and look twice at an ad with a familiar place in the image.

This is one of those advantages that not all national brands can leverage and one that a local business owner should consider adding into their Facebook ad.

It’s also worth noting that Facebook actually has a 20% text rule for their ads. This means that if your image has over 20% text on it, it cannot be used in your ad. This rule exists because Facebook wants you to use engaging images not covered in text. They want this so much that they even provide stock photos within their ads platform. So don’t worry about all the text in your images – a high-quality photo is worth a 1,000 words.

  1. Provide Local Context In Your Ad Text

While you may be ditching text in your images, you can convey your message in your ad copy. In a Facebook ad, there are a few places to include ad copy, depending on which ad objective you choose.

What makes a local business unique is your proximity to your market. Leveraging this information in your ad copy is a no-brainer, but you don’t have to just take my word for it. A recent study found that 4 out of 5 consumers want ads customized to their immediate surroundings.

Consider including the name of the shopping center your business is situated in or even local landmarks near your business.

  1. Leverage Videos In Your Ads

Earlier this year Facebook’s COO, Sheryl Sandberg outlined the benefit in video ads specifically for small business owners. Sandberg spoke to the fact that video ads on Facebook present an opportunity for small business owners who might not have the resources to hire a film crew and buy a television ad. Sandberg has a point. Facebook, much like television, is a form of entertainment that has a large captive audience. Getting in front of that captive audience with a video that is engaging is a new ad format worth exploring.

But can a video ad on Facebook viewed on your mobile phone really compete with a television commercial on a 50-inch television? An interesting study, released this past June, actually examined the neuroscience behind viewing ads on a smartphone versus a television. The study found that people were more attentive and tended to feel more positive towards information presented on a mobile phone. I suspect part of the positive impact on those viewing the ads may simply be because the ads shown to users on Facebook may be more targeted to that specific user.

In order to begin introducing video ads to your local businesses’ Facebook advertising campaign, it’s good to go back to a point that Sandberg made reference to earlier: that you do not have to hire a film crew to put an ad on Facebook. Video ads can be completely unique to your business. A car dealership might highlight the inside of a vehicle in a video ad, whereas a bakery might show footage from the kitchen of a variety of pastries being made.

Keep in mind that this ad is showing up in someone’s newsfeed; therefore, you want engaging content that is going to catch a user’s eye. While you can include sound with your video, it’s important to note that 65% of Facebook video views occur on mobile phones. So take a second to think about where your users might be if they are on their mobile phone, such as waiting in line at Starbucks or taking a break at their desk at work. The user may not be able to listen to audio. That being said, having a video that can convey your message without sound is incredibly important.

In Conclusion

Whether you employ all or just one of these local Facebook advertising strategies, you will help your local business build brand awareness in the populous digital highway that Facebook has become.

 

5 Chrome Extensions You’ll Need In Online Marketing

The famous philosopher, Confucius, once said “The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools.” While Confucius lived centuries before computers or the Internet ever existed he had a point that is still completely valid, we all need to sharpen our tools every now and then.

Chrome extensions might be one of the most undervalued tools we have at our disposal, and every once in a while it’s good to see what extensions you could be using to a greater extent. Especially if you spend all day on a computer and happen to work in online marketing. There are so many extensions out there but I have a few which I find truly helpful on weekly basis. I’ve outlined 5 of my favorite Chrome extensions that help me do my job in online marketing. Hopefully, they can help you “sharpen your tools”:

google tag assistant extensionTag Assistant (Google)

One of the most frustrating things a PPC manager can deal with is an improperly placed tag of any sort. I’ve been victim to far too many Webmasters who either didn’t place a tag or failed to properly implement my conversion codes and remarketing tags. The good news is Tag Assistant from Google will save you from all that by allowing you to quickly check your pages for your tags. It goes one step further and actually troubleshoots any issues with the tag so you can identify problems quickly.

MozBar 

Are you really an SEO Manager if you don’t have the MozBar extension? Alright, maybe that’s too harsh, but seriously this extension is a big time saver when it comes to doing a lot of the research I find myself doing as a SEO manager. MozBar is capable of quite a bit for just an extension. For starters, you can quickly check out SEO metrics right on the search engine results page. Speaking of search, another valuable feature of MozBar is the ability to create custom searches with modifiers like city, state, and even search engine. Then you can take it one step further an actually get an analysis of your on-page elements such as title, meta description, headers and more.

mozbar tool

Facebook Pixel Helper 

If you’ve ever done a FB ad… you will understand how valuable this tool is for your advertising campaigns. This is essentially Tag Assistant for Facebook Pixels (custom audience pixels or conversion tracking pixels). You can quickly see if the pixel is placed on the correct page and also see if there happen to be any issues with it that you may need to troubleshoot.

Bit.ly

This nifty extensions allow you to quickly shorten links to share wherever you please. Since you are signed into your bit.ly extensionBit.ly account it saves all of them so you can still go back and check out your latest stats on links you’ve recently shared. So if I come across an article I love and I want to share on social media I can select the extension and right there on the page copy my shortened url to share.

Eye Dropper

Eye Dropper is pretty much the perfect extension for a graphic designer or an online marketer who occasionally needs to function as one. I’m relatively new to Eye Dropper, but I already like it a lot because it allows you to quickly pick a color from any website and save it for later. It’s very much like the eye dropper tool in Photoshop except now you can do it all while surfing the web without having Photoshop open at all.  You can save it to use in photoshop or in presentations you might be working on. In particular, I find it useful when creating custom infographics or social content for clients and wanting to use their company’s colors in it.

Pin It Button

This one is more of a personal favorite, but I originally found it two years back when I was purely a social media manager so it is still completely applicable. To get things started you download the Pin It Button and  sign in to your Pinterest account. From that point on when you’re browsing the web and you see a pair of boots you want to check out later you can hit your Pin It button and it will pull the image and link to web page into a pin and pin it to your board of choice all while not even leaving the webpage. I use it as a way to save gift ideas or just create a dream board of things I want on Pinterest. You can also use it to save articles to go back and read later. It’s a visual way to bookmark pages you want to check out later.

What are some of your favorite Chrome extensions? I always love finding new ones, so comment below!

Competitor Research In Adwords

Want to know how you stack up against your competition when it comes to Adwords? There’s actually a handy report easily accessibly in Adwords that will tell you JUST that.

Here’s how you get to it:

Select the “Details” dropdown menu on the all campaigns dashboard view after logging into your Adwords account and select all under “Auction Insights.”

auction insights

Once in the Auction Insights Report there are some pretty interesting insights. First, you’ll see who Adwords considers your competitors based on the keywords you are bidding on. In this example (screenshot below), the competitor sites are blurred out, but in your account you’ll have actual URLs of competitors. You may find you have some competitors you weren’t even aware of who are running on the very same keywords as you.

There are some terms in the report that are familiar to you if you’ve been running ads already such as “average position” this is the average position of your ads. However, the rest of these columns may be new to you, so I have written out explanations below:

auction insights

Impression share: shows you how often you are showing up for your keywords. The higher this is the better you’re doing at this. (We’re getting close to 94% of the impression share in the above example which is great!)

Overlap rate: the percentage of times that your ads show WITH your competitor’s ads.

Position above rate: this is the percentage of times that a competitor is ranking above you.  Perhaps you have a competitor who is ranking above you a good amount of time. In this screenshot below I have one competitor who is ranking above me over 70% of the time. Crazy right? Don’t freak out just yet. Take a look at the overlap rate, we only overlap on terms under 9% of the time. So while looking at this report, focus on your main competitors and don’t get caught up in trying to out bid every competitor on every term.

Photo 4

Top of page rate: another interesting metric calculates the percentage of times you or your compeitior’s ads are showing up in the top three ads on a page.

Outranking share: this one is a bit of formula which I’ve written out below,

Number of times your ad ranked higher in an auction than a competitor (plus) the number of times your ads showed when your competitor’s did not (divided by) total number of ad auctions you participated in.

The auction insights report is incredibly simple but a great resource to use to see how you stack up against the competition.

Google Analytics For Social

Understanding the impact your social campaign is having on your overall website traffic can be difficult if yoSocial - Analytics (Photo 1)u’re not sure where to look. Did you know that Google Analytics has a whole section devoted just to social? Below I’ll take you through it!

First, how do you get there? The social section sits right under Acquisition (see screenshot). Once you’re there I recommend starting first on the overview section. Please keep in mind that this section  is really only helpful if you have goals set up in analytics (goals=conversions). Otherwise you have no conversions to track. Not familiar with goals? Check out how to set up goals in analytics here.

Overview

While in overview, you’ll see just that, an overview of conversions that your social channel is driving (the social channel can encompass multiple social networks). The circle graph shows your total conversions, contributed social conversions and your “last interaction” social conversions.

Social - Analytics (Photo 2)

 

Before we dive any further let’s define these three terms:

Conversions: A conversion happens  when someone takes an action that you’ve defined as valuable to your business, such as an online purchase or filling out a form on your site.

Contributed social conversions: The number of conversions that any of the social networks in the social channel assisted in converting. This happens whenever the social channel appeared anywhere along along a customer’s conversion path except as the final channel.

Last interaction social conversions: This is the number of conversions that the social channel completed. Another way to think of this is this was the last channel that a customer interacted with before converting.

This is valuable because by looking at this chart along with the breakdown on the side of sessions and conversions you’ll start to see exactly how much your social channel is helping you not only drive customers to your site but also convert your customers.

Tip: I would recommend also checking out  “shared URLs” to see some of your most popular content on social.

Conversions

While we are on the topic of conversions let’s hop down to the conversions tab of this social section. Here, by clicking on Assisted vs. Last Interaction Analysis we can zoom in further on assisted or contributed conversions and last click or direct conversions. Keep in mind in this particular screenshot below we are looking just at Facebook. I see there were 2 assisted conversions and 1 last click conversions on this network in the selected time frame.

Social - Analytics (Photo 3)

In the final column I can see a ratio of Assisted/Last Click Conversions. If this number is over 1 that means that this social network, in this case Facebook, is more effective at providing assists than last click conversions.  So why is this valuable?

If you know Facebook is a more of a “first click” interaction as opposed to a “last click” interaction you can better target your social messaging to those new customers who have little to no knowledge of your brand.

Network Referrals

The network referrals section is interesting because it provides a side by side chart of your overall sessions (in orange) with your sessions from social referrals (in blue). This is a great way to quickly identify a post that did really well on social and resulted in a lot of sessions. Additionally, I like how down below all of this it breaks out the different social networks and the average time on site from each network. This might be a good way to identify which social network is driving your ideal customers to your site.

Social - Analytics (Photo 4)

User Flow

The one thing I don’t like about the user flow functionality in Analytics is how much traffic there is condensed into one large chart. That being said, the social channel only user flow is neat because it is only a portion of your overall sessions (just those from the social channel) and breaks it down by social network.

Social - Analytics (Photo 5)

 

Even though I didn’t go through everything in this post I would highly encourage exploring the other parts of this social tab in analytics. If you’re active on any of Google’s Data Hub Partners, there’s a whole section for that called Data Hub Activity.  The one Data Hub Partner that most of us are familiar with is Google+. This functionality allow you to dive into specific social “conversations” about your site. Beyond that, the landing pages tab is incredibly helpful as you can take a closer look at the most popular landing pages from your social channels.

Those are just a few of the tools in Analytics to help you dive deeper into your social analytics. Hopefully, a few of them can be helpful.

 

 

How To Claim A Duplicate Unmanaged Facebook Page

Have you experienced random duplicate Facebook pages popping up in searches on Facebook? This is not uncommon and often these Facebook “place” pages are auto-generated by Facebook. The good news is you can claim these pages and delete or in some cases actually merge them with your official page. Here’s how:

  1. Make sure you are logged into your personal profile versus your business profile.
  2. Navigate to the page you would like to claim.
  3. On the right hand side you should see the question “Is this your business?” unclaimed page example

4. Once you select this you will be able to follow the on-page instructions to claim ownership (through a phone call, email verification or with documentation).

5. Facebook will prompt you after they have verified you are the owner.

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 10.09.11 PM

6. After you have ownership (otherwise known as admin access) of the page navigate to the Settings section on the page.

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 10.28.48 PM

7. From here navigate to the General section and find the Remove  Page option at the bottom of the options.

Move Page

8. You will be prompted asking if you want to delete the page. At this point either the page will enter a deletion mode and you will have 14 days to undo this. Occasionally, the page will automatically be deleted.

9. As another option, you can select merge pages (right above the Remove Page option) and submit to have your page merged with another page. You will want to select the page you want to keep as the top dropdown and the page you want to merge into the page you are keeping as the second one. Facebook will decide if you can merge these pages, one important factor is the names need to be similar. Please note only likes and check-ins will be carried over not reviews, photos, username or any other content.

For more information please check out some of Facebook’s community forums. This particular post does a good job of addressing this question.

New Facebook Feature: Page Event Subscribers

Facebook has begun rolling out an exciting new feature that has a potential to offer tremendous benefits for small businesses. You can now get fans to subscribe to your events so they will automatically be notified anytime you are hosting an event near them. By clicking the subscribe button you have the unique opportunity to automatically notify all of your fans without investing additional money in Facebook Advertising to go after getting your event in front of fans. I noticed this new feature when one of my pages had a message this morning prompting us to “gather a community for your event” which is shown below.

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 12.47.53 PM

So I know what your thinking- “I’m a small business who doesn’t host events all the time- is this really worth it?” I think this feature can be utilized beyond its basic premise. One way is for contests. I know one challenge I’ve run into working with small businesses is that when we host a contest, we struggle to get the contest in front of all of our fans due to the limited organic reach on Facebook. By creating an event for your contest you create an easy way to quickly notify all of your subscribers about your contest and keep them posted on updates/and the final winner.

Another neat aspect of this is with the increasing focus on mobile these days in the aftermath of the Google algorithm update last week is that it takes into account the user’s location and notifies them of the event when they are nearby. Grabbing the attention of a fan of your business when they are in the area creates a strong call to action for them to attend your event.

I know I for one can’t wait to start gather my community of subscribers for events.

feedstory

Near Me Or Bust

I’ve always found it funny, and somewhat fascinating how the internet works. In a lot of ways the “world wide web” stands true to its name of truly being world wide, and has contributed in many ways to globalization in the 21st century. The online marketplace is thriving, and the collaboration of various individuals across multiple continents is happening every second of the day. Brands could broadcast a product or service on a global level. Global celebrities could happen overnight via a viral Youtube video.   So that’s why it’s funny to me that in the last few years local search has become more and more relevant. We have the world at our fingertips and yet our search results are tailored to uncover things in our own backyard?

There are probably a lot of reasons for this, but I think one stands out among the rest. That reason is we as a society are impatient and that impatience is a result of world wide web (talk about irony!).

“We have the world at our fingertips and yet our search results are tailored to uncover things in our own backyard?”

We have become accustomed to having answers right when we need them, to having devices in the palms of our hands that can be our wallet, communication device, and answer all of our questions. True, we can order things online and have it shipped to us in a day (perhaps in a few years via a drone in mere minutes). But we are more impatient now, we want services and things as fast as we want Google to answer “What’s the tallest building in North America?”

I think this impatience is why local search has become so important today. Also, it’s important to mention that the fact a person is using a search engine in the first place shows some intent on their part to travel to, to buy, or otherwise take action from that search. That’s also why local search matters so much because someone can act on their intent right that second. They can drive to that hair salon right now.

As a business owner it’s important to recognize local search and to leverage it. This all ties into an announcement from Google recently that caught my attention. Google announced a study that shows “near me” searches have surged 34 times since 2011  and 80% as to be expected came from mobile devices. The study goes on to say that brand loyalty did not seem to be a factor in these searches, users actually preferred the closest, or most convenient location for whatever particular service or product they needed.

So have we officially entered a new era of the internet? An era of localization? I don’t think it’s safe to say we’ve completely gone local, as there are still aspects of search that will forever be global. But being “near me” is definitely more valuable these days.

The Simple Guide To Multi-Channel Funnels In Google Analytics

No Conversion Is An Island

Just like no man is an island, no conversion happens without the help of multiple marketing channels. True, there are plenty of these “assists” that we cannot track. For instance, word-of-mouth is nearly impossible to track. If a friend tells you she loves her new shoes, and you go buy the same pair of shoes that shoe company may never know that it was your friend’s endorsement that got you to type their brand name into a google search bar. However, in the online world we do have the ability to track these assists to some extent, we call them “assisted conversions.” So what is an assisted conversion?

Here’s the technical definition via Google:

“This is the number of sales and conversions the channel assisted. If a channel appears anywhere—except as the final interaction—on a conversion path, it is considered an assist for that conversion. The higher these numbers, the more important the assist role of the channel.”

And here’s another way of explaining things, let’s say instead of hearing about that shoe company from your friend offline, instead you saw her comment on a photo on their company’s Facebook page. I go to that shoe company’s Facebook page, decide I really want to know if the shoes worn by the model in the cover photo come in red so I venture over to the site. BINGO! I get to the site and see that yes in fact they do come in red. But before buying, I just want to be sure there’s no other place I can find these shoes for less. So I check out a few department stores online, but they carry this specific red shoe I want. At this point I google the name of that shoe company again (because its’ easier to google things than type out the whole URL, right?) and I end up ordering those red shoes. In Google Analytics, organic search will be the channel that gets credit for this conversion, but since my first interaction with the shoe company was on social it will be considered an “assisted conversion.”  Social assisted organic in making the final conversion.

So why does this matter? Because oftentimes the assisted conversions provide us with some of the most valuable insights and we ignore it because frankly its hard to see. However, Multi-Channel Funnels in Google Analytics is here to solve that problem!

If you think “multi-channel funnel” is slightly intimidating, don’t worry, it’s actually one of the easiest things to understand in Analytics (in my opinion). You can get to it by navigating to the conversions tab on the bottom left hand side of your screen and then clicking Overview under “Multi-Channel Funnels.”

On the first half of the page, itScreen Shot 2015-04-15 at 9.23.17 PM breaks down how many conversions you had and how many were assisted.

As you scroll down to the second part of the page this is where things get interesting. You can place up to four channels in your Venn Diagram. It will show in the time frame selected how many times Direct & Social, Direct & Organic, and so forth assisted each other in making a Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 9.27.24 PMconversion.

I normally only look at two channels at a time. You can scroll over the shaded area where the two circles overlap to see the percentage of conversions the two channels assisted each other on, as well as the actual number (in case you didn’t want to both doing the extra math).

This is a fantastic way to see which of your various channels are assisting each other in Google Analytics. And the best part is Analytics does all of the work for you!

Financial Perspective: 4 Tips For Post-Grads

 

Financial Perspective The Post Grad Mindset

In post-grad life one of the biggest issues I’ve encountered is how to properly allocate money and my spending. After about of  year of implementing some of my own personal savings strategies, I’ve developed a plan that works for me. I’ve compiled some helpful tips below:

Tip 1: Reward Yourself 

Reward YourselfWhen most people embark on a mission to save money the mentality  is to take things away. In all honesty, who likes giving up something they love? In my experience, absence makes the heart grow fonder.  You’ll start to miss what you gave up, whether it’s your gym  membership or your daily cup of coffee.

So keep drinking your daily cup of coffee, and keep your gym  membership. They are part of your routine, messing with your routine will be a lot harder on you. It’s better to tackle those impulse buys first.  Sometimes impulse buys blend so well into your daily routine you don’t think twice – great example: running shoes. You’ll rationalize buying a new pair of shoes because you have a gym membership.

One thing that’s worked for me is taking that impulse buy and “bookmarking” it. For me, I use Pinterest and pin items I want to a secret board. Then at the end of the month I’ll look at my Pinterest board and see what on the board I still want. Sometimes you’ll find those running shoes are a lot less appealing 30 days later. Other times you’ll find you still want them.

The goal is to limit yourself to one purchase per month off your Pinterest board. If you don’t use Pinterest simply keep a list. Some things you’ll actually end up buying, but generally speaking a few items won’t matter as much after a month or two. Over time you’ll transform the way you buy, by starting to buy the items you really need.

But here’s the most important part. Each month you buy something of the board. That way you’re rewarding yourself on a regular basis.

Tip 2: Save a set amount each monthsave a set amount

The same way you pay your rent or mortgage each month, you should be putting money into your savings account. I like to think of this as “paying” your savings account. It’s okay to start small, the point is getting yourself into a habit of making the same payment each month. Once you are into the routine of putting the money away, you’ll hardly miss it. One thing my dad set up for me at a young age was an automatic transfer of a small amount, $75 each month, into my savings account. You should be able to set something similar up, this way it is automated and even if you forget your bank account does the work for you.

As you start to earn more money, consider increasing the amount you save each month. Especially when you receive a bonus or raise allocate as much as possible to your savings “payment” each month.  Even if it hurts to put money away now, at the end of the day you are paying your future self. By saving a set amount each month you are avoiding living paycheck to paycheck.

Tip 3: Evaluate Your Income

Sometimes there’s opportunity right in front of you. It could be looking for opportunities in your current career or explore small side jobs that you might be able to takeevaluate your income on in your free time. It doesn’t always work but it’s definitely worth exploring for the benefits of added income. One small word of caution is to make sure your side job doesn’t take away from your overall career goals. However, if your career isn’t quite your passion then you should strongly consider a side job that falls better in line with something you love doing. The best part about this is you won’t only potentially be making extra money, but hopefully you’ll be able to invest your time in something you love.

And the money you make with this side job should ideally go straight into your savings. If you rationalize this extra money as a reason to spend more, at the end of the day you’re just falling back on old habits. Make an effort to put that extra money into your savings!

Another, lesser known way to evaluate your income is to check up on any investments you’ve made. Perhaps you’ve set up an investment portfolio or your parents passed it onto you after college? Make sure you understand where your money is going. This might also be a good time to consider making a regular contribution to your investments, the same way you transfer money into your savings (if you follow tip 2).

Tip 4: Make Sure You’re Living Within Your Means 

If you’re read this far you’ve made it to one of the hardest tips to follow – living within your means. By living in this case, I literally mean where you live. One of the largest expenses you’ll pay will be rent. That being said, as a living within your meansgeneral rule of thumb it’s ideal to keep your living expenses at 30% or less of your total monthly income. Sure, this might mean you can’t have the place of your dreams. But look at it this way, in the long-term you’ll be saving more of the money (if you follow tip 2) so one day you can afford a house, car, or other large purchase that you want.

Hopefully some of these tips help you. Happy saving. 🙂

Pillow Talk

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 12.12.49 AM

So after living in my current place for over a year I’ve decided it’s time to invest in decorating it some more. Currently, I’m in the process of creating a mini-tv lounge area in my room. I have a black leather sectional to work with and a desk (although I’m debating getting rid of the desk altogether). Since I still have yet to find a ottoman-style coffee-table I like or a TV or TV stand I figure that pretty much leaves pillows for the couch for me to work with. Currently I have two white pillows which I would love to keep but I want to add some color with a patterned pillow or two. Additionally, I’d like to add a soft throw for the area.  My aim is to lighten the area up since the rest of my bedroom is black and gray. Above are some of the pillow options I’m debating for the room but I’m open to your ideas as well so please let me know your thoughts!

I can’t wait to put together a cute little space. My hope is it will blend with the rest of the room but also show a little personality with accents such as some of my favorite purses and artwork.