You May Be Right, I May Be Crazy – September Side Income Report

I may be crazy - Side income report - September 2015. How I make money on the side

Last night I went to a friend’s house for dinner, and we were all sitting out on the balcony which overlooks the Gulf of Mexico (yes, I am lucky to have such friends). So there we are, drinking wine, and having a great time. As the sun got lower in the sky, it was shining right on us, and it was pretty warm, so we decided to go inside where it was cooler (#firstworldproblems), and it hit me that it’s October.

While the rest of the country is starting to get the first inkling of fall weather, we’re sitting in Florida, where it’s a balmy 85 degrees, completely oblivious to the fact that the seasons are changing. And while there’s always a twinge of jealousy when I see the new fall trends with all the cute scarves and boots filling up my Pinterest feed, I gotta say that aside from two days a year, I never miss the cold weather. (Those two days are Thanksgiving and Christmas – for some reason, they just don’t feel the same when it’s 80 degrees outside!)

Our friends and family up north are already gearing up because they say it’s going to be another bad winter (is there ever a good winter?) and for the life of me, I can’t figure out why anyone wouldn’t want to live on a boat – where you could dictate your body’s comfort level in accordance with the outside temperatures by simply sailing north or south at the appropriate time of year. Where every day, you have views that the real estate market charges millions of dollars for.

We tell people we live on a boat, and they look at us like we’re crazy (and they’d be right, but not because we live on a boat), but I feel like we’re in on the best kept secret of all – that we’re part of this supersecret society that has it all figured out, and by God, we should all just stop blogging about it RIGHT NOW lest everyone catch on and sell their shit to follow in our footsteps, at which point, they would just ruin it for us all!

But that won’t happen, because as a society, we love our big houses, big cars, and our big closets filled with big collections of super cute scarves and boots, and most people would never dream of getting rid of them to live in a 200 square foot space with a 2 foot wide closet.

Whew. Distaster averted. Thanks, consumerism.

September Side Income Report

Back when I was younger and dumber, I worked as an independent contractor for a software company making pretty good money. And like any irresponsible young woman, I decided to spend more of that money shopping at Bloomingdales and Nordstrom than on my taxes. (That young woman would have never lived on a boat then.)

Due to my stupidity (and some mis-reporting of income by my former employer), I incurred a 5-figure tax bill that I’ve been making payments on for several years now, and guess what? In September I paid that sucker off!  I can’t tell you how amazing that feels! The IRS was even kind enough to send me a refund check… to the tune of $3.04 for overpayment of my taxes. (Couldn’t they have just applied it to my refund for next year rather than send me a check for a whole 3 bucks?)

September was pretty quiet as far as side hustling went. We spent over half the month traveling from St. Simons Island down to the west coast of Florida (by way of the Okeechobee), so while we were out, I did zero hustling for new gigs, and actually turned a few down, because I wanted to enjoy our trip. Even still, I managed to bring in a little bit, mostly from my online jewelry shop (which I’ve got some cool news to share soon!) and a new writing gig I landed (yay me!).

Anyway, so even though my side income wasn’t stellar this month, the combination of new clients with the payoff of old debts makes me very happy. Now for the numbers:

My side income report numbers are an accurate depiction of what I’ve made on the side, bad or good, compared to the previous month. These numbers don’t include my income from my full-time job as a QA Specialist (aka glorified proofreader), or my handsome hubby’s income (from his music, book, and freelance work).

Webmaster/Web Design: $0
Online Sales: $268.75
Affiliate Income: $43.56
Adsense: $20.40
Writing Gigs: $152.81
Misc: $49.70
TOTAL: $535.22 in extra income (Down $1049.55 from previous month)

So not great, but still not bad. Anything over $500 for just a few hours of extra work is worth it to me, and helps build the cruising kitty, or rather, the new boat kitty (did I just let the cat out of the bag on that? Yes, we’re going to be relisting our boat for sale to start the process of getting our forever boat…listing to go live hopefully this weekend!)

I’ve also saved a total of $375.77 so far with Digit, the free automated savings app that I am absolutely in LOVE with. You’ve heard me talk about it before on here, and it’s really an awesome way to save money. I love that it just pulls a couple dollars here, a couple dollars there – amounts so small that they are inconsequential to your banking balance, but when they sit and accumulate in your Digit account, they add up relatively quickly. I highly recommend the service. And it’s free!

October Goals

So I’m still working on a few things that I hope to be able to share more about very soon. It just seems like sometimes there aren’t enough hours in the day, so it’s time for me to really get focused.

Right now, I’m working on a website for a new service I’m creating, so that’s one of my bigger goals/priorities right now. I hope to have it up and running by the end of the month – crossing my fingers! I’m also working on a bunch of stuff for my nautical jewelry shop and I’ll be sharing more about that in one of my next couple of posts.

One of my other main goals is to start working out more. We already eat pretty healthy, but I understand that simply eating healthy doesn’t make you healthy. And sadly, I don’t get nearly enough exercise, so I want to start making a point to get fit. I’ve been looking at gyms in the area to find the right one for us, so I hope to get into a regular routine. And even though we do eat healthy, I want to incorporate some new recipes into the mix. If you have any good, healthy, easy-to-prepare recipes, send ’em to me!

So now, I have a question for you guys – what would you like to know more about as far as side income, or working from a boat? I want to make this blog as useful as possible, so if you have questions, please put them in the comments and I’ll try to answer them, or write about them!

Market First, Write Second

Market First, Write Second - Advice from Author Annie Dike via

Many of you have written to me, expressing interest in self-publishing your book. I’ve got some info coming on the logistics of self-publishing, but in the meantime, this post is a guest post written by Annie Dike, a sailor who quit her job as an attorney, and now writes books, in addition to a hilarious blog at She’s smart, funny, and she’s going to give you her best piece of advice on marketing your book (although I think this advice could apply to marketing other things as well). You can get her books on Amazon. Now, without further ado, heerrrreeee’s Annie!

“You know, it’s funny. I thought they would just fly right off the shelves.”

That’s me. It’s a quote from a podcast interview I gave recently about how to make money remotely and I was talking about the first book I wrote — the one that I polished, perfected, self-published and watch sit stagnant for months. Why? Because I did zip marketing for it.

Marketing? Why, what is this marketing of which you speak? Long story short: in a former life, I was an attorney and the first book I published was a practical guide to hourly billing: The Billable Hour. Ooohh… But simply because it was a good idea — I had a certain skill-set that would be incredibly useful to thousands of young attorneys if only I shared it — I got delusional in thinking this little book might be my #1 bestseller, my thank-you-I’m-going-to-go-live-in-the-Bahamas-now book if I just wrote it.

I’m here to tell you it was not, not initially anyway. After a year of hard-fought, heavy marketing, I’m proud to say it was finally picked up by a legal publisher. I made mountains of mistakes and learned a ton about marketing in the process, though, and I’m happy to share.

When I talk to budding authors about self-publishing, marketing is always my primary focus. This is because I believe anyone can write and self-publish a book. I didn’t say a good one. Writing skills are different. But, the mechanics of self-publishing are not really that hard. You write the book, you fit it into Amazon’s user-friendly template (or hire a graphic designer to do that), you upload, you publish. Then it’s out there. That’s really about it.

While I am happy to answer any questions and share the totality of my experience about the actual writing and publishing aspects of being a self-published author (please contact me if you’re interested in discussing further), I believe the more critical advice for a new author is a discussion about marketing, because publishing a book that sells? For me, and many other struggling authors, that is the real hard part.

There are probably hundreds of thousands of amazing self-published books on Amazon that no one knows about. I don’t want that to be your book. I meet so many cruisers who say they have many stories to share and that they want to write a book. I want them to! I want them to enjoy the process, take pleasure in watching their stories grow and blossom on the page. But, most importantly, I want their book to sell so their stories actually reach and impact people. As an author, isn’t that the true goal?

Whether you like it or not, one must market. I used to hate it. It made me feel like a sleazy car salesman because I was piss-poor at it. When it finally dawned on me that I might have to — aha! — tell people about my Billable Hour book, I decided forceful email was definitely the way to go. I created a Constant Contact account, gathered some emails (I won’t say how) and fired off 250, 500, 1,000 unsolicited epistles thinking surely I would sell at least a hundred books. Surely!

How many did I sell? Two. After weeks of vigorous, aggressive marketing? Two. Why? Because my efforts were just that — vigorous and aggressive. My outreach pitches reeked of desperation. I sounded like I was literally begging people to buy my book (because I was).

Don’t be me. Stand on my mistaken shoulders and get a leg up. Once I learned what marketing really is, I embraced it, and I’m going to let you in on the secret. All marketing really boils down to is sharing yourself — your vision, your passion, your content, your stories, your struggles, your everything.

Market First:  Grow a Loyal Audience

You have to give away SO much content away for free, over and over and over again, every day — good, quality, took-you-a-long-time-to-create content for free (yes, free!). People expect that. They get it elsewhere. Once they start to connect with you and your free (yes, I’ll say it again — free!) content, you eventually gain the reward of their attention.

If they sign up as a follower (and still haven’t bought a darn thing), reward them for that simple act by giving them exclusive good free content. Give and give until you’re almost exhausted creating it. But, trust me, once you learn what “good content” is, you’ll find it’s rather easy to sweep up off the floor under your writing desk and share.

People want to be a part of your writing adventure. They want to know what stories you scrapped, what settings you like and why, what characters you’re thinking about killing off. Think of it like rolled-out cookie dough. Your book is what you punch out with cookie cutters but there is always so much good dough left in between that can be mashed up, re-shaped and used again. That’s what your followers are interested in — the in-between stuff. Share this with them, every day, for free, for a long time. Feel free to check out any of my examples shared via the blog, Facebook and YouTube at

Take the time to grow your audience, reward their loyalty and attention with valuable free content and then, one day, you announce the all-too-exciting, the unthinkable: “Guess what guys. My book is complete.” Now — before your book has even been published — you have a whole audience salivating for your stories, eager to buy your book.

The reason I always talk about marketing first is because I think it’s the most important part of self-publishing and, actually, should be the first thing you think about. You can market — a.k.a. share the journey and grow your following — the entire time you’re writing the book. Why would you not? Think of how much more fun the writing process will be — to have “fans” following you for the whole adventure.

I want to help you self-publish a book. But, more importantly, I want to see your book reach and impact people. You’re writing to share yourself, so start doing that now. That is always my first word of advice. And, speaking of, since I’ve got your attention: “Guess what guys. My second book is complete!” Keys to the Kingdom goes to print in October!

annie-dike-1 annie-dike-author Annie Dike, author of Salt of a Sailor

Got a question for Annie? Leave a comment below, or go visit her at!

Untie the Dock Lines – August Side Income $1584

Untie the dock lines - August Side Income

Untie the Dock Lines

This side income post is fun because I’m writing it from somewhere south of St. Augustine. I’ve mentioned before that after awhile at one spot, we grow a little restless and feel the need to get moving again. After all, if we can’t quite get to the Bahamas or the Caribbean just yet due to work restraints, the least we can do is see places we’ve never been before.

We’ve heard a lot of cool things about the Tampa area. There’s apparently a great music scene in both St. Petersburg and Sarasota, and awesome sailing in Tampa Bay. Chris is currently working on his 4th album (you can check out his last EP here), and we want to be somewhere where there’s a healthy music culture. So, on Labor Day weekend, we decided to take a drive down and check the area out for ourselves.

Chris has an old friend who lives there, and he and his wife acted as our unofficial tour guides, and we had an awesome time. Checked out some marinas, and finalized our decision to check out the gulf side for awhile — why not, right?

See, that’s one of the things I love about this lifestyle… if you want to go somewhere else, you just untie the dock lines, and that’s that! I mean, obviously we did a little more preparing than that for our trip down and across (as in, I went shopping and bought enough food to feed a small army). But other than that, all we did were some weather checks, checked the oil, and off we went.

You know how they talk about being “sail-ready in 15 minutes”? Well, we can be sail-ready in less than 10 minutes. 5 if we’re really diligent. (We always keep a full tank of diesel, even when sitting at a dock – for both condensation purposes, and because you never know what could happen, so we’re always prepared).

Anyway, we’re excited about our trip across the Okeechobee. We’ve never done it before, and it’s bound to be a learning experience, what with the 49-foot bridge that we’ll be going under with our 53′ mast… I’ll keep you posted on that.

Side Income Summary – August 2015

Now, for the side income summary. If you’re new here, I post my side income each month. My side income is just that — money made from what some call “side hustles”, minus any expenses directly related to my side income. This income report doesn’t include my income from my full-time job (which I do remotely from the boat), or any of Chris’ income.

I post these numbers in order to hold myself accountable, to see my progress (which motivates me to keep working hard), and most of all, to inspire others — to show them it can totally be done.  I would have never thought before that I could make hundreds, let alone thousands of dollars each month in side income. But, inspired by other stories, and by my desire to live more freely and not be tied down to a desk from nine to five for 250 days a year.

The below numbers are an accurate depiction of what I’ve made on the side, bad or good, compared to the previous month.

Webmaster/Web Design: $0
Online Sales: $446.31
Affiliate Income: $19.93
Adsense: $36.70
Writing Gigs: $1008.00
Misc: $73.83
TOTAL: $1584.77 in extra income (UP $810.42 from previous month)

I was super excited that my side income for August was up from July. The extra money covered some of our honeymoon expenses.

So, a quick breakdown of the above numbers, so you can see how I did it.

The web design/webmaster income was zilch in August. Which isn’t terrible, as sometimes building websites can get tedious, so a break was kind of nice!

Online sales is money I made online a few different ways. Most is from my handmade nautical jewelry website, Maggie & Milly. It also includes money I made by selling a couple domains I owned that I decided I wouldn’t be using. Note that there is not much profit in selling domains, and I do not buy domains in order to flip them. I just have several that I got in the past “just in case”, and since I’m not using them, I’m simply getting rid of them.

My affiliate income is made from a few different affiliates. I am an Amazon Associate, meaning that if you click on one of my Amazon links within the blog (sometimes I link to books or products I love), then I get a small commission off any sales made via that link. Small as in 4% commission, so no one’s getting rich here, but it all adds up. I’m also an affiliate for a few other companies, such as Bluehost (I use them for all of my web-hosting). Some money is made from affiliate links that I share on this site, and some comes from other sites that I own.

Adsense income is simply that – income from Google Adsense ads that I have on the site. I try not to have too many of them because I like keeping the site fairly uncluttered and would rather give value to my readers than make a few cents in ad clicks from more ads. That said, they do bring in a little bit, and basically they help pay for my website hosting and not much else.

Writing was definitely up in August, and I would love to keep that trend going! August writing income was from a few sources. I wrote reviews of various pet breeds I’ve owned for a website that matches pet types to people based on their lifestyles, a couple of SEO articles, and a customer service manual for a company. I’ve even gotten paid to write photo captions, and Pinterest descriptions before! This just goes to show that you can make extra money by writing in ways that aren’t what you typically think of when you think of freelance writing jobs (such as writing for magazines, etc.) Some pay better than others. I try not to discount the smaller jobs, as they are low-hanging fruit, but they can be tedious and a bit of a time-suck, so I just choose my battles.

Miscellaneous income is from little things here and there that don’t fit into one of my standard job categories. Usually what I put here is the cash back rewards from using my credit card (which I pay off each month). I’m also reserving this spot for my big lottery winnings one day (I’m a very lucky person — seriously), but I think you have to actually play the lottery in order to win something, and I’m too frugal to do that. Oh, well.

So there you have it. I’ve mentioned before that I’m exploring new avenues for side income, and I’ll talk more about those as we go along. In the meantime, my next post is a guest post from a totally awesome (and hilarious) cruiser and blogger, so stay tuned!

Have anything in particular that you have questions about or want to share? Drop me a comment below!

We Got Married!

we got hitched

[Note: We got married on 8/8 and this was supposed to be published as soon as we got back from our honeymoon, but apparently I set the publish date to 2016… I’d blame it on technology, but who am I kidding. It was the wine. It’s always the wine.]

Yep – on Saturday, August 8th, (the 9th anniversary of our very first date), we made it official and got hitched. While I could gush all day long about how happy and honored I am to now be a wife to my very best friend in the whole world, I’ll spare you all of the mushy stuff and simply say that my heart is full.

We had planned on eloping and it just being the two of us, for a few personal reasons. One, I didn’t want a normal wedding because having lost both of my parents in the past couple of years, a big ceremony without them just didn’t feel right and made me sad even thinking about it.

Another reason we chose to forego a wedding ceremony is because my brother is currently deployed, and Chris’ Dad has Parkinson’s disease and has a hard time getting around, therefore, travel for him is out of the question. This meant that we would have had to have had the wedding in Philadelphia, but without knowing exactly when my brother would be coming home, and the fact that I didn’t want to wait too long (because when you get a proposal after 8 years together, you jump all over that as quickly as possible!), we chose to have a private ceremony.

We decided to get married on Jekyll Island at a place called Driftwood Beach. The moment we saw it, we knew it was the perfect spot. It has these huge monolithic driftwood trees that give it a mystical look that is unlike any other beach we’ve seen. It is simply stunning.

We hired a non-denominational minister from Jacksonville, FL (we liked her spunk and didn’t want anyone too formal), and everything was all set.

Or so we thought.

We got a call from one of Chris’ sisters begging for us to let her “crash” our “non-wedding” because she just couldn’t stand not getting to see us marry. She also wanted to bring Chris’ mom, so I called my sister and told her that if she wanted to come, she could, and she said, “Oh I was hoping I could crash it!”

So at 10am that morning, accompanied by Chris’ sister Mary, his mom, and my sister Michelle, and after spreading a few of my Mom and Dad’s ashes at the tree where we stood, we said our vows and committed our lives to each other, and it was absolutely perfect.

Where we got married - Driftwood Beach, Jekyll Island

Wedding day!

For our honeymoon, rather than go to a relaxing beach resort (since we practically live at the beach anyway), or to Europe (August is a bad time to go there because so many businesses go on holiday, and it’s super expensive in August), we opted to go to New York City, because although I’ve been a couple of times, I’ve never had the chance to really “do” New York.

We rented a couple different rooms in different parts of the city, so we could see downtown, uptown, and even Brooklyn. Our first night was at the Jade Hotel, an awesome boutique hotel, and let me just say, if you ever go to NYC, I cannot recommend it enough. When we checked in, the girl behind the desk asked what brought us to New York. I gushed that it was our honeymoon, and she casually asked us to have a seat while they finished getting our room ready.

Turns out, she was upgrading us to a room with an amazing view of the Freedom Tower, and shortly after our arrival, just as we were taking in the breathtaking view of the city, we get a knock on the door from room service. The girls at the front desk had sent up a complimentary bottle of champagne, chocolate covered strawberries, a cheese plate, and a card to congratulate us. Our friend Margaret knew where we were staying, and she had called ahead, too, and sent us up a bottle of wine! We promptly popped open the champagne and I was totally feeling like Julia Roberts’ character in that scene in Pretty Woman… minus the hooker part.

Freedom Tower, NYC

Stunning view from our room at the Jade Hotel

Honeymoon "treats"

Champagne and strawberries… a perfect kickoff for our honeymoon!

The rest of the week, we slept on big, comfy beds in hotels with killer views, ate food that we haven’t been able to get anywhere else we’ve been, went to art museums and a Broadway show (Phantom of the Opera), walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, saw Henry Winkler walking down the street, and took in all of the big-city sights and smells that we’ve not experienced in so long. We even got matching tattoos of our wedding date in Roman numerals. (My first tattoo!)

We spoiled ourselves and enjoyed every second of it. And this is just the beginning…

You Can Get Paid to Write – Keys to Getting Published in Magazines (Part 2 of 2)

Get paid to write - keys to getting published in magazines

*This is part 2 of a series on writing for magazines. You can read part one here. I also wrote about sailing magazines that pay for articles to introduce this series.

Imagine for a minute that you’re the editor of a popular magazine. You arrive to work one morning, settle in with your coffee (the first cup of many), fire up your computer, and open your emails. Wow – already you can see that you’ve got at least 100 submissions sitting in your inbox, waiting to be read. It’s going to be a long day.

One by one, you read your emails, shaking your head as you quickly hit the delete button over and over. The submission guidelines specifically say not to send attachments. Guess some people apparently felt that it didn’t apply to them. *Sigh*

As you skim through more submissions and queries, you do one of two things: delete those that are poorly written, irrelevant, or just plain uninteresting, and flag those that look halfway decent, so you can read later.

After an hour or so, you grab a second cup of coffee, take a few phone calls, have a quick meeting with the managing editor, then settle back in with your third cup and start reading the emails you flagged earlier.

At this point, you’re getting hungry for lunch. You’re also feeling pressure because the next issue goes to press in 4 days, and you still need a couple of stories — good stories.

You read through each email, saving the ones with potential, when one catches your eye.

The subject line is a headline, and it’s a great headline. You recognize the name of the sender — this person sent you a good query letter a couple of days ago — hmmm, they turned that story around fast.

You open the email and as you read it, you notice that not only is it well-written, but the writer even took a suggestion you made in your initial response to their query and used it in the finished piece. You don’t see any typos or mistakes on your first read, so you say a silent thank you to the person who just made your job easier.

This writer just hit the jackpot. Not only will their story likely get published, but the good impression they made just elevated them to “dream writer” status. This is what I call writers who get paid to write for magazines on a consistent basis because editors love working with them.

Contrary to what you might think, it’s not that hard to get into the “dream writer” club. There are tons of great writers out there. Sadly, there are a lot fewer writers who can follow directions. If you can do both, you’ve already beat out at least half of the competition.

Below are some tips to use when writing your article that will make you stand out like a beacon in the night to editors and help elevate you to “dream writer” status.

First Impressions: It Starts With a Good Query

Depending on who you’re pitching to, and what type of story you’re pitching, a query letter may not be necessary, but it will boost your chances of getting published overall.

What’s a query letter? It’s a one-page proposal offering to write a specific piece for the magazine you’re targeting. It can be a good way to gauge interest from an editor first — without going to the trouble of actually writing an entire article. Typically, the format is as follows:

  • First Paragraph: The lead-in or the hook is meant to draw people in. This paragraph should be written in the style that you’d write the article in… in other words, it could double as the first paragraph of your finished article. This will give the editor a quick idea of your writing style, and whether or not the topic is compelling or will interest their readers.
  • Second Paragraph: A summary of what you’ll be offering and how you’ll tailor it to their audience. You can give a brief description of your focus or angle.
  • Third Paragraph: The actual pitch – this gets down to the nuts and bolts of your article. If you’ll be using sources, talk about those and what you plan to glean from them here. Show the editor that you’ve not only got a great story idea, but that you’ve got some research and sources to back it up.
  • Fourth Paragraph: The “Why I’m Awesome” paragraph. Do you have any writing credits worth mentioning? Do you keep a regular blog? Talk about it here.
  • PRO TIP: The “Ask”: Even though an editor knows that you’re sending the query in hopes of getting published, you still don’t want to leave this important step out. Most advice I’ve read about writing a query doesn’t even mention this step – they always just say, “Don’t forget to follow up!” (and you shouldn’t forget to), but my marketing background tells me to put a clear CTA (call-to-action) at the bottom of my query. It’s human nature for us to want to answer a direct question (after all, it would be rude to leave an open question unanswered, right?). This is a psychological hack that encourages a direct response, one way or another. My advice is to make it a yes or no question that doesn’t require much thought to answer.

So, for example, if I were going to write a query about this post, it might look like this:

Dying to get your name in print? Want to break into a freelance writing career and get paid to write, but not sure where to start? Or worse, is your inbox filled with rejection letters? You’re not alone. Many writers have the ability to tell a story, but can’t seem to crack the code that takes them from the editor’s inbox and onto the glossy page.

In my article “You Can Get Paid to Write – Keys to Getting Published in Magazines,” I’ll share proven tactics to help writers improve their writing and capture the attention of magazine editors. From writing hacks such as coming up with ten different headline ideas, to technical tools that help automate the editing process, I’ll show writers how to drastically improve their chances of an article being accepted by a publication.

For example, I’ll offer tips from magazine editors, such as:

-Become intimately familiar with the publication you’re pitching.
-The importance of explicitly following instructions in submission guidelines. This proves that you are paying attention, and that you can follow simple directions.
-Don’t send anything that requires heavy editing. It’s not the editor’s job to rewrite your piece for you, no matter how compelling the subject matter is.

I’ll also share tips from professional writers:

-Write compelling headlines that are engaging and relevant
-Be succinct in your writing – get to the point (and tools you can use to help you stay on track)
-How the Hemingway App (a free online tool) can help you write better

I’m a freelance writer in Florida who lives on a sailboat and writes about saving and making money on my blog, I’ve also written for blogs like Making Sense of Cents and Budgets are Sexy, and have been featured in the magazines Nashville Lifestyles, Nashville Arts, and Spinsheet. As a professional proofreader, I understand the behind-the-scenes details of the publishing process — and as a writer, I know how to translate them into readable and interesting articles.

Is this something you’d be interested in for your magazine?

 There. See how easy that was? The more you write queries, the easier they will get. Some other articles on writing a good query can be found here, here, and here.

Write Headlines They Can’t Help But Love

Every writer is different in their approach, but one thing I do produce interesting content is to write the headline first. (It’s kind of like buying the shoes, then buying the outfit to match the shoes.) I often do this when writing for my blog. (Write a headline… not buy shoes.) By selecting the headline first, it gives me a precise target to aim for.

In fact, don’t just write one headline. Write ten headlines. Yep.

I know that sounds like overkill, but how often is your first idea your best idea? Not often, I bet. Brainstorming for different headlines gets your creative muscles warmed up, and a killer headline will almost guarantee that an editor will open your query or read your article.

I just recently learned about an amazing tool for analyzing headlines that’s totally free. It’s called the Emotional Marketing Headline Analyzer, and it measures the emotional impact of your headline and assigns it a score, based on how Intellectual, Spiritual, or Empathetic it is. Most professional copywriters see a 30-40% EMV score, while the most gifted writers will score in the 50-75% range for their headlines. It’s rare to see 100%.

For this article, I analyzed several potential headlines, and the one I chose scored a 38.46%. Not too shabby!

If you want to read a really interesting article I found that goes into detail about the power of headlines and how effective this EMV headline analyzer can be, check out this post at

Build a Foundation: Creating an Outline for Your Article

When you’re writing for money, you can’t just write willy-nilly and expect good results. Like it or not, you need structure — just as we put a lot of thought into our topic and our headlines, we should be putting as much (or more) into the article itself. You wouldn’t build a house without a foundation, would you? The key to writing good content is to organize the points you want to address ahead of time.

I consider an outline an essential part of the writing process. This was one of my least favorite things to do when writing in school, because I felt that it was unnecessary. I knew what I was writing about, and I wanted to just get started writing, so come on, already. Don’t add yet another process to it!

But now that I’m writing for an actual audience (and money!), I understand that an article needs structure in order to make sense, and to maintain relevancy. A basic outline with topics and points you want to cover will help you immensely.

The tool that I use to help me with this is a software program called Scrivener. I use this regularly to help me organize my thoughts and my draft. You organize your ideas on virtual index cards that are easily rearranged by dragging and dropping onto the virtual corkboard. It’s perfect for writing articles and even books. There’s also a distraction-free writing mode so you can block out the rest of your desktop as you write.

Scrivener writing tool

Scrivener is an awesome tool for organizing your article or storyline

Scrivener is also what the hubby used to write his Amazon best-selling e-book You Gotta Go To Know. It’s a great tool, and I highly recommend it for anyone doing any serious writing. You can get your own copy of Scrivener using my affiliate link for just $40 (Windows) or $45 (Mac).

Put Your Best Foot Forward and Start Writing

Now that you’ve studied who you’re pitching, picked a great topic, written a killer headline, and have an outline for your article, it’s time to write the piece. I could fill an entire blog with ways to improve your writing, and as I mentioned earlier, there are plenty of books and websites about writing techniques that you can research yourself. Frankly, the best way to get better at writing is simply to write.

The main thing you want to keep in mind when writing is your audience — or rather, the magazine’s audience. Be interesting. Write clearly and succinctly, so it’s easy to read and understand, and be sure to stay on topic. When you’re writing a blog post, you have a little more leeway in your writing style — you can meander a little bit, but when writing for magazines or print publications, you need to stay on point.

PRO TIP: Don’t try to edit your article for grammar and misspellings as you’re writing. When you’re in writing mode, be in writing mode. If you try to edit while you’re writing, it puts you into a critical thinking mindset instead of creative mindset, so for now, just get the article written.

Unleash Your Inner Grammar God(ess) and Start Editing

Once you’re happy with your draft, that’s when you want to go in with an “editor’s eye” and start making changes. One of the first things I do once I’ve got a draft finished is to read it once or twice to make sure that the content flows and is easy to read. I often catch most of my mistakes during this process.

Revise. Then revise again. As my journalism teacher used to love to tell us, “Trim the fat!” Cut out the fluffy words. Make every word count. If you’re unsure about something, take it out, re-read the paragraph, and if it still makes sense, leave it out.

Keep revising until you have something that’s worthy of being read by thousands and thousands of people. After all, you’re name’s going to be on it, so make it great!

You can also get someone else to proofread/edit it for you. My Dad (who was also a writer) used to just send everything he wrote to me for editing. That way, he didn’t have to worry about getting distracted. He knew if he started picking things apart or analyzing each sentence for errors, he’d get so focused on that, and it kept him from making progress on the actual writing.

No matter which way you do it, it’s still a good idea to have a few tools in your arsenal to help you with the editing process.

My Can’t-Live-Without Editing Tools

One great tool I like to use is the Hemingway Editor. Just input your text and it will analyze it for readability, as well as grade level (lower grades are considered better – you want your writing to be clear and concise).

Hemingway Editor writing app

I used the Hemingway editor to test the readability score of these posts on writing

I don’t always use its suggestions, but it does alert me to hard-to-read sentences. I mainly use it to get the readability score (also known as the Flesch-Kincaid Score). Optimally, you want to write at a 6th-grade level or lower in order to reach the broadest audience. Write too complicated, and people could lose interest. They have a free version and a paid version (paid version is just $10 and can be used offline).

My favorite app for editing (which I use both personally and professionally) is Grammarly. To say it makes my life easier is an understatement. I’m a full-time proofreader* by day, and this makes the editing process so much more efficient. It checks for spelling, grammar, overuse of words, run-on sentences, plagiarism, and more.

They have a free version and a paid version. I use the paid version because of the additional features, and my subscription for the entire year was only around $70. It has already paid for itself because I use it so often, and it saves me so much time. Click below to get your copy of either the free or paid version (affiliate link).

The #1 Writing Tool

Grammarly is my go-to editing tool for everything I write

While the editing tools I’ve mentioned can help you with your writing process, it’s always good practice to never rely on just one tool. Here is my method for writing and editing:

  1. Create an outline in Scrivener
  2. Do my actual writing in either Scrivener or MS Word
  3. Input text into Hemingway App to get readability score/grade level and make necessary changes
  4. Copy/paste into Grammarly to correct grammar, spelling, and readability
  5. Go over the piece word by word, line by line, with my own eyes to see there are any other issues
  6. Once I’ve made all edits, I sit back and read the piece in its entirety again from a reader’s perspective to make sure I’m happy with it
  7. Rinse and repeat as necessary

Submitting Your Article

First, make sure you don’t submit the same article simultaneously to other publications to avoid copyright infringement should more than one publication accept your article.

When you do send your article, be sure you follow the submission guidelines to a tee. I can’t stress this enough. Don’t send as an attachment if the submission guidelines advise not to. I’ve had writing jobs whose guidelines were so specific that I was asked to send my article in Calibri font, size 11, with specific spacing guidelines. It’s imperative that you carefully read their guidelines for things like this, as it may make or break your article getting picked up or left in the delete pile. Remember, editors want to work with someone who makes their job easier.

I email my submissions unless otherwise directed. If I sent a query and got a reply, I simply reply to that same email (so it shows the editor that there has already been contact), but I change the subject line to the following format: [SUBMISSION] Captivating Article Headline Here

The reason for the above format is that it tells the editor immediately that it’s a submission, and then the captivating headline will pique their interest.

In the body of my email, I write a very brief note to the editor to remind them about our initial discussion, and then paste the article below that (or if they prefer attachments, I attach… remember to follow their guidelines). Something like:

Dear Editor,

I’ve included my article below titled “Get Paid To Write – Keys to Getting Published in Magazines.” As I mentioned in my initial query, this includes lots of actionable tips that I think your readers will enjoy. Please let me know if you have any questions or need changes made. Love your magazine.

Melody DiCroce

Notice I keep it brief and professional, but still fairly casual and light. I don’t say, “Please let me know if this is something you could use?” or “Let me know if you’re interested.” Instead, I show a little more confidence by simply saying, “Please let me know if you have any questions or need changes made.” I then end it with a sincere compliment, and then my name and phone number (in case they have a quick question). You can put your website (if you have a writing portfolio) here, too. The main thing is to keep the entire intro brief and to the point.

 Get Paid To Write – Final Tip: Keep Writing!

Congratulations – you’ve submitted your first article! Now is where it’s important not to get discouraged if you don’t get a response right away, or even if it gets rejected. At times, you’ll feel brilliant, while other times, you’ll think you suck. And sometimes you may suck!

After some practice, your query letters will get better, your headlines will rock, and your writing will improve. Instead of feeling defeated when an article is rejected, you’ll see it as a learning experience, and even a way to build a relationship with the editor. The key is to keep writing, and keep submitting. Like Wayne Gretzky said: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

The main thing to remember is to go the extra mile for each piece you submit. Be professional. Follow directions, and make it almost impossible for the editor to say no. If you use some of the things I talked about in this post and the first post in this series, it won’t be long before you can get paid to write for magazines.


*Shameless self-promotion: I’m available for hire if you need anything proofread. I do this professionally for a NY Times best-selling author and professional blogger, and I’m very careful and thorough. Contact me if you want to discuss your project and get a quote.

What Magazine Editors Want – Every Freelance Writer Should Read These (Part 1 of 2)

What magazine editors want - tiips every freelance writer should read

Imagine relaxing on your sailboat somewhere in the Bahamas, where you’re sitting in the cockpit, enjoying a nice breeze. You look out at water that’s so blue, and so crystal clear, that you’d almost swear the water was photoshopped by Mother Nature herself.

You casually fire up your laptop and check your email, excited to see a response from the editor of Cruising World magazine, saying they will be printing an article you submitted to them a few months ago in their upcoming December issue. You then open your word processor to finish another article you’re writing for another (albeit smaller) magazine that you write a monthly column for. It doesn’t pay as much as Cruising World per article, but it brings in a few hundred dollars a month, so it actually amounts to much more in the long run.

Think this sounds like a dream? Well, for some cruisers and location independents, writing for money is a reality.

I know several freelance writers who have turned their passion for writing into a decent side income. One blog follower funds her cruising kitty by writing articles for magazines, and boasts a 15% response rate for her queries. That’s about 1 in 6, which is excellent considering the competition!

Speaking of competition, be prepared to step up your game in order to get noticed.  Some editors get thousands of submissions a month, so there’s no one just waiting to throw you money for your brilliant writing.

Obviously, in order to get published, you need to be able to write well, and if you can’t yet write well, that’s ok. Practice makes all the difference, and there are a ton of technical books on how to improve your writing.

The real key to making money as a freelance writer is to use tactics that the pros use to win over editors, as well as some tactics you may not have heard of before. After all, good writing is one thing, but there’s a lot of research and finesse involved if you want to get consistent work, and if you use these tips, you’ll have an advantage over most other writers who are pitching the same magazines.

The #1 Writing Tool

Study the Publication You Want to Pitch Your Writing To

If you look at a magazine’s submission guidelines, you’ll notice that most of them tell you to look at past issues to get to know the kinds of stories they publish.

This is a given, but sadly, so often overlooked. It goes beyond just saying, “Oh, this magazine is about sailing – I’ll write about that.” You have to niche it down. Some sailing magazines don’t accept travelogues. Some prefer “how-to” type articles. Study the magazine… study the audience. Follow the directions in their submission guidelines to a tee.

Are the articles in the magazine more technical, or more conversational? Do they show more, or do they tell more? Are most pieces short or long? (Hint: go after the short pieces when possible. Editors often will have empty spaces to fill at the last minute. They often appreciate short pieces because they fill these spots easily. The shorts get overlooked by freelance writers, but can pay surprisingly well.)

Pick an Original Topic to Write About

Get your brainstorming caps on! This is where you get out a pen and paper and just jot down potential topics. Don’t overthink it or be too specific here — we’ll do that in the next steps, but this is where you could put down general ideas you think they might be interested in.

Let’s say there’s a big regatta they cover each year. Start thinking about something that ties in with this (but not an article on the race itself, as the magazine probably has already gotten someone to cover this. Plus, more unoriginal writers will be sending submissions about the race ad nauseum). Maybe you could locate and interview (via phone or email) the winner from this race from say, 25 years ago in a “Where Are They Now” fashion. How about writing an article about ways to keep your race crew happy?

There’s always a way to put a new spin on a topic and editors will love hearing some fresh, unique ideas.

Now that you have a head start on researching your target magazines, their audience, and your potential topics, the next post will dive into the actual writing process.

In the meantime, do you have any writing hacks or tips you’d like to add? Any freelance writers out there? Let me know in the comments!

Click here to read Part 2 – Get Paid To Write: Keys for Getting Published in Magazines

16 Sailing Magazines that Pay for Articles

16 sailing magazines that pay for articles

Hey all you writers out there! The next couple of posts are all about getting paid to write. Today, I’m including a list of 16 sailing magazines that pay for articles to get you started, since, as they say, it’s always good to write what you know.

There are definitely more than 16 sailing magazines that pay for submissions, but these are the ones that I was able to get the submission guidelines AND the rates that they offer for articles and stories.

My next post will be about how to greatly increase your chances of getting published – things that most writers overlook, and what sets apart the amateurs. I’ll be sending emails with more writing tips as well as writing jobs that I find out to my private writers list, so if you want to get on that list, you’ll need to sign up here, because I won’t be putting that info on the blog, or including it on the blog’s regular email list, so you’ll want to sign up for both if you want all content (but don’t worry, I won’t bombard you with emails on either list).

The #1 Writing Tool

Cruising Outpost Magazine –

Cruising World –

  • $25 – $200 for shorts, and $300 – $1000 for technical or feature articles
  • Submission guidelines (read carefully)

Good Old Boat –

Latitude 38 –

Maine Boats, Homes & Harbors –

Description: We are the magazine of the coast of Maine with a strong focus on boating. We occasionally venture northeast into Nova Scotia or south into the rest of New England, but generally only if there is a strong Maine connection inherent in the story.

Ocean Navigator –

Pacific Yachting –

In the pages of Pacific Yachting, powerboaters and sailors share a common interest in recreational boating in B.C. and the Pacific Northwest.

Passagemaker –

PassageMaker Magazine is a publication covering all aspects of trawlers and ocean motorboats, and welcomes contributions from around the world. Our lifestyle focus addresses the realities of cruising under power and passagemaking.

Porthole Cruise Magazine –

Practical Sailor –

SAIL Magazine –

Sailing Breezes –

Your midwest and Great Lakes sailing source

Sailing Magazine –

Southern Boating –

Southern Boating is dedicated to exploring the boating lifestyle and values the contributions of freelance writers. We cover boat reviews, cruising destinations, charter experiences, live-aboard lifestyle, boating rendezvous, boat shows, and generally anything that is related to the boating lifestyle.

  • $100 – $600
  • Submission guidelines
  • Helpful notes:  “We rarely publish first-person accounts of cruising. We look for targeted pitches with specific angles.”

Southwinds Magazine –

  • $25 – $400
  • Submission guidelines
  • It’s a good idea to inquire about payment amount during submission process, as they have a lot of writers that submit content for free.

WoodenBoat –

WoodenBoat is the bi-monthly magazine for wooden boat owners, builders, and designers. Unlike any other periodical in our field, we are devoted exclusively to the design, building, care, preservation, and use of wooden boats, both commercial and pleasure, old and new, sail and power.
  • $250-300 per 1000 words, but they pay $5-25 for short news clippings or news blurbs
  • Submission guidelines

What a Cockroach Taught Me About Fear

fear of cockroaches

The other night, it was about 1 am and I was up late (as usual), sitting at the nav desk doing some research an upcoming post on freelance writing when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw something move. I stopped what I was doing, looked around, and decided it was just a shadow and continued working.

A few minutes later, I saw it again – movement just at the edge of the nav desk. To my absolute horror, I see that it’s a big, brown, 2-inch-long cockroach…a mere 6 inches from my laptop.




First, let me back up and say that there aren’t many things that I’m afraid of. Like stop-me-in-my-tracks-paralyzed-by-fear scared. But these things are high on the list, right up there with camel crickets and Sarah Palin.

Unfortunately, we’re currently in St. Simons Island, GA, where these things run around like they own the place. The locals refer to these demon-creatures as Palmetto Bugs. I don’t care what the hell they’re called, they look like roaches, and they scare the hell out of me.

They come out at night and roam the docks, and when we take Jet out for his last walk before bed, we call it “The Roach Walk”. The hubs gets annoyed with me because I jump, scream, and dance around them, never going out without being armed with a flashlight and closed-toed shoes, lest I get caught by surprise by some brave roach that decides to run across my foot.

So there I was, faced with a dilemma… Chris was in bed and I didn’t want to wake him up. Which meant that I couldn’t scream or jump around like a crazy person either.

I had to face my fears.

So as this thing crawls ON MY LAPTOP, I quickly get up to see what I can find that will be lethal. I open the cabinet under the sink and quickly curse the fact that we’re so eco-conscious that we don’t have anything remotely toxic to palmetto bugs giant roaches on board. So I did the next best thing, and grabbed the vinegar. It’s acidic, right?

Wrong. The roach just looked at me like, “Really? Is that all you got?” then scurried away, through a crevice that leads into our electronics cabinet.

So I took a few deep breaths, moved all of the cushions on the starboard side (so he wouldn’t hide in them if he scurried out), opened the cabinet, and saw him sitting there. I knew I’d have to kill him with blunt force trauma so I grabbed the first thing I could find that might work in a tight area like this — a wooden spatula — and I very slowly began pulling things out of the cabinet. You know, so I wouldn’t break anything else when I smashed him to bits.

Let me say that this was a turning point for me. Never before would I voluntarily reach into a small space like this where I knew something evil was lurking, just waiting to do whatever it is they do if they touch you (yes, I know they don’t bite, and that my fear is completely irrational). But regardless, there I was, reaching in, over and over again, pulling out CD’s, cords, and various other containers with chargers and electronics.

And La Cucuracha just sat there and watched me. Plotting his evil plan.

After I pulled everything out of the cabinet, armed with the flashlight on my cellphone, and standing amid a cabin now in disarray, Chris comes in with sleepy eyes, looking at me like I’m a complete crazy person.

Chris: “What are you doing? It’s 3am.”
Me: “There’s… a roach. And I’m going to kill it.”
Chris: “With that?” (pointing at the spatula)
Me: “Yes!” I say with conviction.

I turn back to the cabinet to show him where the sucker is… and… the roach is gone.

We tore apart the rest of the cabinet and searched around the entire cabin, and he was nowhere to be found. Right then, I realized I had a fear even greater than seeing that huge palmetto bug — and that was not seeing it.

But… after all this time battling my demon (literally), fear gave in to exhaustion, and I just wanted to go to bed.

And then I had an epiphany. I was no longer afraid… at least for the most part. I had given in to my own imagination — worrying about what might happen if one of these things touched any vulnerable inch of skin — that I was paralyzed. When in reality, my imagination was way more evil and powerful than this sucker.

I mean, when I really sit and think about it, I’m pretty disgusted that this thing may be lurking around here somewhere, but after forcing myself to face my fear that night instead of waking Chris up, I realize that even though something may be severely uncomfortable to take on, it’s not impossible. Psychologically difficult, yes, but impossible? Nah.

There comes a point when there’s a mental shift and you just say “fuck it”, and dive right in. Sometimes it’s forced upon you and you just have to do what you gotta do to make it through something bad, but other times — the times that count even more — you have to voluntarily take a risk and put yourself in a situation that may scare you. One that takes you outside of your nice and cozy comfort zone.

And my experience tells me that usually, the reality is nowhere near as scary as you always thought. We, as humans, are actually quite resilient.

The point is to not be afraid to do something that scares you. No one gets anywhere by staying inside their little shell. As I’ve said before, complacency is the enemy of success.

What does a roach have to do with all this? I’m not sure, but I’ll tell you that now, I can do the “Roach Walk” at night without heart-pounding anxiety. I still don’t like them, and I’m still a little freaked out by them if I’m completely honest, but one day, maybe I won’t be at all.

Maybe late one night, I’ll get another visit from my old friend and I’ll name him Ralph, or Maurice, and maybe I’ll find a way to help him off the boat instead of smashing him to bits (doubtful, but hey). Who knows.

But –at least for the time being — I can go to sleep at night without being afraid to open my mouth.

So tell me… what are you afraid of? Post in the comments!

Salary Negotiation Made Easy – A Surefire Way To Get That Raise

Salary Negotiation Tips - Negotiate your salary like a boss

If I told you that I knew a legitimate way make $10k in under an hour, would you listen? Of course you would! You’re not an idiot. Show of hands on who wants the secret?  Yep – I see all of you raising your hands.

Now if I told you that the way to make an extra 5-figures in under an hour was to simply walk into your boss’ office and politely and professionally ask for a salary negotiation, would you still be as willing to listen? Moreover, would you do it?

Sadly, statistics say that approximately 57% of you would not. And if you’re a woman, then you’re even less likely to do it. This is a shame, because according to a recent study by, approximately 75% of people who ask for a raise actually got one, and of those people, 44% got the amount they wanted. That’s pretty good odds, if you ask me.

Why Don’t We Ask For More Money?

There are several reasons that people don’t ask their employers for more money, the top one being that their employer gave a raise without their having to ask for one. To those people, well lah-dee-dah! Good for you.

The second most common excuse for not asking for a raise is that it’s uncomfortable to negotiate your salary. Well, no shit, Sherlock. Of course it’s uncomfortable! If it was easy, everyone would be doing it, and you’d all be rolling around with your good buddy Benjamin and I wouldn’t get to write this blog!

But is asking for a raise more uncomfortable than going home every night after busting your ass, knowing that you’re not getting paid what you know you’re worth? Is it more uncomfortable than watching every penny in order to make sure that you have enough money to get by until your next paycheck?

Get out of your own head for a second and really think about it – what’s an hour of discomfort in comparison to another year (or 10) of misery?

I can say all this now, because up until about 7 months ago, I was the chickenshit who was too scared to ask for what I deserved. Prior to that, I was completely overwhelmed with work from my former full-time job. Business was up – in fact it had been on a very steady rise for awhile.

The problem was, as business increased, so did my workload. I was tasked with training new employees who were quickly shuffled into other departments where the need was deemed more critical. The fact was, the needs in my department were critical, but I am not the type of person to easily admit when I need help, so I simply kept my mouth shut, put on a smile, and worked harder.

As a result, I became miserable. Not only that, I became resentful. I resented my employer for not seeing just how much I was doing. I dreaded getting up and doing my job every day.

Luckily, my guy is from Philly. If you know anyone from Philly, you know they don’t tend to beat around the bush. They just come right out and tell you how it is.

So one day, when I was particularly stressed out and overwhelmed, did he come up to me and give me a big, long hug, telling me to hang in there… that everything would be ok? Hell no! Guys from Philly don’t do that.

He looked at me and told me, “You deserve so much better than you’re getting. They are taking advantage of you whether they know it or not, and it’s your own fault because you’re letting them.”  (See what I mean about not pulling any punches?)

And he was right. I had spent so much time inside my own little miserable shell, blaming them, but in reality, it was my fault because I hadn’t told them that I had too much on my plate or that I wasn’t being appropriately compensated. Like the saying goes, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, right? Well, this mouse hadn’t been squeaking!

So I decided to speak up. After getting some very valuable advice from Chris and my dear friend Cheryl (also from Philly), I gathered my courage, channeled my inner bad-ass, took a few deep breaths and called my boss up.

Prepare Ahead of Time

Before approaching your boss, spend some time doing some research and planning. This can take some time but it’s important not to skip this step.

The first thing you need to do is make a list of all of the things you are responsible for on a regular or semi-regular basis. Compare this to the responsibilities from when you were hired. How have your job duties increased? Sometimes additional responsibilities go unnoticed by us because they happen gradually, so it’s easy to forget just how much more work we’re doing compared to before. Making a list helps sort it all out and gives you more information to use in your case.

Once you have a list of all of the things you’re doing for the company, and the tasks that you’re assigned to, you’ll want to go to and get a free salary report.  First, you’ll want to see what the median salary is for your specific job title that your company has assigned to you. Then, you’ll want to look at your list and see if there are other job titles that might be more in line with what your responsibilities are within the company.

My former job title was Customer Service Specialist, which was, on paper, just a glorified customer service rep, and the pay was more than a regular CSR, but wasn’t adequate for the actual work I was doing.

When I looked at my list, I realized that not only was I training new hires, I was also making other decisions that coincided with a more managerial role. When I researched salaries for Customer Service Manager, the difference was quite significant, simply because of that specific title and the job duties I was already doing. I made several notes on average salaries of various managerial roles within the industry I was in based on my job duties.

What Have You Done for Them Lately?

Next, you want to make a list of ways that you’ve helped the company achieve their goals, or how you’ve solved a problem of theirs. This is actually the hardest part of asking for a raise because most of us don’t want to sound like we’re bragging, but this is business – it’s not personal.

You’re not boasting about the awesome, expensive pair of shoes you just bought or how much wine you can drink while still being able to hold an intelligent conversation or remain upright on the dance floor. You’re telling your boss how you’ve helped make them money. Bosses love to hear about how something is making them money.

Did you do something to save an account? Do you have any suggestions on ways they can increase efficiency or productivity (because time is money), or ways that they can save money? Do you have data or numbers that you can present to them showing them specific examples of how you’ve made them money?

You’ll want to spend a lot of time on this exercise because this is what is going to be your bread and butter. Go back through old emails, run reports, do what you can to get precise numbers. When it comes to asking for a raise, the more hard data you have, the better.

What To Say During a Salary Negotiation

The key to salary negotiation is to focus on benefits and results for the company. This is not about you. I repeat… this is not about you. If you go in all defensive, whining about how you feel you deserve this or that, you’re going to sound a 2-year old, and not only are you going to be less likely to get a raise, you’ll probably have inadvertently planted a seed in your boss’ mind that tells them perhaps they should find someone more grateful (and more adult).

This is all about business. You may very well deserve to be mad and resentful, and they could very well be taking advantage of you, but there is an art to negotiation, and professionalism and respect for both yourself and the company is imperative if you want to get good results.

You also want to use psychological hacks that present your case to your boss in a way that he/she can’t say no. If you go to them and show that you’ve implemented a strategy that is consistently saving them $1000 a month, when you come at them with your request for a raise, how could they say no?

Another tip is while presenting your case, follow up each point with a question that they can only answer yes to.

For example, in my role, because of my excellent relationships with our vendors (of which we had hundreds), I became the sole person tasked with problem resolution with our vendors, even on accounts that weren’t mine, because I was able to approach them from a place of mutual respect, rather than making it a battle. I was able to get results because I was professional and polite, yet firm. Our vendors liked me, and therefore, were willing to work with me to make things right when things went wrong.

So as I was stating my case, I would say things like, “I have a very good relationship with our vendors, which is a huge asset to our company when it comes to problem orders – wouldn’t you agree?”  (See, there’s a question there that they absolutely can’t say no to).

Asking several “yes” questions like this in a row gets them nodding their heads, which psychologically puts them in an affirmative frame of mind, right up to the time you ask them for more money.

Stating Your Salary Request

Once you’ve presented all of your well-thought-out examples of why you’re such an incredible asset to the company, it’s time to go in for the kill. This is where you pull out your salary research and state your desired salary. Note that I say “state your desired salary”, not “ask for a raise”. We’re not asking at this point. At this point, the answer should already be a yes (or leaning in that direction), so it’s time to be bold.

Say something along the lines of, “I’ve done some research, and although I was hired as [XYZ Job Title], my current duties and role within the company align more with a [Better Job Title] position. I researched the salary range for said new position and given my contributions and work ethic, I’m up for the challenge and I’d like to request that we formally change my job title, with a salary increase to $xx,xxx.”


When It’s Best to Shut Up

My friend Cheryl was a genius when she gave me one small – but huge piece of advice. She advised me to take out a piece of paper and write two words on it and tape it up to my laptop in front of me to look at during my phone call. What did the paper say?


I totally get that the fact that I was conducting my salary negotiation over the phone from my boat-office gave me a distinct advantage, since I could make notes, and even make faces. But if you’re doing the whole “asking for a raise” thing in person, make a mental note to stop talking, and for God’s sake, please don’t make any faces at your boss in person. (But if you do, please come here and let me know how well it went over.)

Once you give your pitch and plead your case on why you deserve an increase in salary, we (especially women) tend to keep talking and we might even inadvertently backtrack without realizing it, simply because we’re nervous or uncomfortable. In our heads, we often make it personal and we start rambling to try to justify ourselves (even though we already presented a kick-ass case), and it can backfire very quickly.

Don’t let that happen!

Shut up, and even if it’s uncomfortable, once you get them nodding their heads to all of the awesome, valid “yes questions” you’ve crafted, and once you’ve hit them with the proof of ways that your contributions help maximize efficiency and increase revenue, and once you’ve finally delivered the 1-2-punch by stating that you’d like to request an increase of $10k (or whatever figure you’ve come up with in your research), stop talking. Let them make the next move.

What to Do if Your Boss Says No

First, at this point, if you’ve done everything I’ve said, and you’ve done your research, and assuming you’re actually a good employee, then you shouldn’t have to encounter a straight up no. It may turn into a negotiation, but employers like initiative, and it takes a lot of initiative to do the kind of research you’ve done and to get this far.

However, if your boss does say no, they will most likely use the “It’s just not in the budget right now” response, or the “We’re not giving raises this year,” or “We only give raises during the annual reviews, so we’ll definitely talk about it then.”

It’s easy at this point to just say, “okay,” and walk out of there defeated and deflated. But you’re not one who takes the easy way out – easy is for suckers. Easy is for losers. Easy doesn’t get you what’s worth getting.

So how do you respond? You simply say something like, “I certainly understand that budget is an issue, but as I’ve shown, I have significantly decreased our losses and increased our client retention rate over the past 18 months, and I feel that alone warrants a second look to see how we can work this into the budget. Given the additional responsibility, I would like to begin developing systems that will help maximize efficiency within each department which will allow us to focus more on sales and less on administrative tasks, therefore increasing revenue overall.”

Notice how I use the word “our” and “we”? This makes it a team effort and psychologically it positions you as not only a team-player, but also as less of a subordinate. It makes it sound as though everyone is working together for the greater good of the company – and you are! And as such, you should be compensated fairly for the value you provide.

Usually at this point, your boss may come in at a lower offer. If that happens, or if they still say no, then you can still come out ahead by negotiating in the form of bonuses, 401k match, profit-sharing, etc.

An example:

Your Boss: “I’m sorry, but I can’t pay you $xx,xxx – we really don’t have the budget, but I’m willing to work with you and offer you [$lower amount].”

You: “That’s a great start and I really appreciate you working with me on this. I know back when you made some budget cuts 2 years ago, one of the things that got cut was the 401k match. In light of your lesser offer, perhaps you’d be able to find a way to allocate part of the budget to reinstate a 401k match for the position, or an annual bonus of some sort.”

Your Boss: “Well, I don’t know that we can reinstate the 401k match for just one employee, but I can offer an annual bonus of $xxxx at the end of the fiscal year. I’ll have our payroll administrator draw up a new salary contract and will have it for you by the end of the day.”

The takeaway from this is that even if your boss initially says no, or if they give you a lowball offer that you’re not really satisfied with, you don’t have to back down.

You have to think like a CEO. Businesses usually have a pre-set budget for each year – a certain amount is allocated for salaries, insurange, losses, etc.  When they say they don’t have it in the budget to increase your salary, it rarely means they don’t have the money – they just don’t have it allocated in the salary portion of the budget – but if you help minimize their losses, they would have the extra money at the end of each year in their loss budget. Kind of like robbing Peter to pay Paul. Got it?

The Results

When I asked my former employer for a salary negotiation, I admit was a total ball of nerves. But once I started talking it became easier. In fact, the hardest part was initiating the conversation in the first place.

The results? I was able to get my title changed to Manager, resulting in a 14% increase in salary and, had I stayed, most likely an end-of-year bonus as well.

The surprising thing was, my boss commended me afterwards for having the courage to request a salary negotiation, and for opening their eyes to the fact that my department was overworked and understaffed. I walked away kicking myself for not coming to them sooner, but you know what they say about hindsight.

I gained respect (from my employer as well as more respect for myself), and more money. And perhaps even more importantly, the knowledge that things are rarely as scary as we make them out to be in our heads. It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t hard, either.

I also got a peek into the mind of a CEO because I had to put myself in their shoes to imagine what kind of thing I would want to hear in order to justify giving someone more money. So instead of focusing on what I wanted, I focused on what was in it for them.

So what are you waiting for? If you’ve been at a job for awhile, and you’ve not seen an increase in pay in a year or more, I challenge you to take a week or two to prepare and research, and then ask your employer for a salary negotiation.

If you have questions or want tips on how you can specifically craft your pitch for your industry, drop a comment below and I’ll answer every one. This will help others learn and maybe spark some ideas. And if your salary negotiation is successful, you better let me know that, too!

July Side Income Summary – I made $774

July 2015 Side income summary

Wow – is the summer flying by or what? I swear every time it’s time for a side income post, I’m like, “Really? A whole month just went by already?”

This summer has been pretty eventful on the personal front. We left Fort Lauderdale to sail up to St. Simons Island, GA back in late June, and had a mishap with our alternator while out at sea, leaving us no choice but to divert into St. Augustine instead. Luckily we were able to get a brand new alternator shipped out and installed with very little fuss. Which, if you’re on a sailboat, you know hardly ever happens – so when things do go smoothly, you just give a nod of thanks to the universe and move on.

Once we had our new alternator, we motored up to St. Simons Island – a 2 day trip inside on the ICW – and have been docked here since. St. Simons is a lovely place! Seriously, we’ve fallen in love with it and I’m so glad we decided to spend our summer here, although we greatly miss our friends on the Chesapeake!

It’s been an interesting month and a half here in St. Simons. Since we’ve been here, we’ve had to take Jet to the vet twice, and Chris to the ER once, but thank goodness both of my boys are fine. Actually, Chris’ incident was actually quite terrifying for me – to make a long story short, we were at the vet with Jet, and Chris had a sudden, severe case of vertigo due to a bad inner ear infection that we didn’t realize he had.

I thought he was having a stroke at first, and although I’m usually calm, cool and collected, I was anything but calm this time. It was definitely an eye-opener for me, and I’ve been replaying the incident in my head, just so next time, I am not such a basketcase and instead I’m more clear-headed and helpful.

Tough way to learn that lesson, though.

Side Income Summary – July 2015

If you’re new here, I post my side income each month – to be clear, my side income is just that – money made from what some call “side hustles”, minus any expenses/payouts directly related to my side income such as affiliate payouts to others, PayPal fees, etc. This doesn’t include my income from my full time job (which I do remotely from the boat), or any of Chris’ income.

I post these numbers for a couple of reasons. One, it serves as a form of accountability for myself and keeping track of everything and posting it inspires me to keep working hard. The main reason, however, is to show others that you can make hundreds, even thousands of dollars per month on the side, from anywhere!

The below numbers are an accurate depiction of what I’ve made on the side, bad or good, compared to the previous month.

Webmaster/Web Design Stuff: $48.25
Online Sales: $441.72
Affiliate Income: $149.61
Adsense: $21.72
Writing Gigs: $15.75
Misc: $97.30
TOTAL: $774.35 in extra income (DOWN 1180.87 from previous month)

July wasn’t nearly as good as June was, but mostly this is because I was focused on my new job and other exciting stuff.

I finished a few web design and webmaster projects I had been working on off-and-on for several months, so there was a big decline in that income. Affiliate income was a little better, and I’m learning more about that. Adsense is picking up a little bit – nothing to write home about, but it’s interesting to see a steady increase over the months. The sucky thing about Adsense is that there’s a $100 threshold before you get paid, so I don’t get a check until I hit $100. That can take up to 6 months or more, so right now, I don’t get too excited over it, but I’m still learning how to increase it, so we’ll see how it goes.

Writing gigs – I had a small gig writing SEO posts for a company, but to be perfectly honest, the pay is not that great. You choose a topic from their list of clients, and if you get lucky and it’s a topic you already are familiar with, you still have to research an SEO keyword or look at the client’s site so you can adopt the correct “writing voice”… and even if you crank out an article in half an hour, the average pay is like $4.00 so for me, it hasn’t been a priority. If I find myself with nothing to do, I’ll go on there to see if I feel like writing something just for the hell of it, but this particular company isn’t one I’ll be spending a lot of energy on. They’ll probably fire me soon anyway, as they want their writers to crank out at least 1500 words a week.  Not worth the headache. I’d rather pursue writing gigs that are much more lucrative, but at least I’m getting a good writing portfolio together! I’ve got a post coming hopefully later this week on some resources and tips for landing writing gigs. (Even though I don’t yet focus much energy myself on writing gigs as of late, it doesn’t mean I don’t know where to find them!)

Miscellaneous income is from little things here and there that don’t really come from a job per se. Most of this income is from my Capital One credit card rewards – I charge almost everything to my Capital One card, then just pay the card off each month. That way it’s a win-win. I’m not spending any more than I normally would, I get the cash back rewards from all my purchases, and I pay it off every month in full, so I have never once paid a penny in interest to Capital One. So in essence, they are actually paying me to use their card! This doesn’t work in your favor unless you pay the card off each month.

New Directions

There are a few things I’m starting to think about that pertain to this blog, and I’d love your input. As I’m starting to go more in the direction of showing people how to work remotely so you can achieve location-independence, my writing focus is less about “saving to sail” and more along the lines of “learning how you can work from anywhere in the world.” I’ve been getting some new readers that aren’t sailors, and I’m wondering if the blog title might box me in a little too much.

The last thing I want to do is have to start a whole new blog – I’ve spent 2+ years cultivating this one and building my readership as well as ranking it high on Google with search engine optimization. I do want to attract new readers who may not be sailors, and who may not be interested in “saving” money, but more interested in making money. Anyone have any thoughts? Do you think I still have a chance at growing my readership outside of the sailing niche, even with this current site? What would you like to see more of? Let me know – post a comment below!