This is something special. I’ve been connected with Lauren Greutman of Lauren Greutman (she used to be “I Am That Lady”) for some years now but actually only met her a couple of times in person. She’s a lovely person and very talented and definitely knows how to make her money work for her.

Lauren Greutman

She co-hosted a local Syracuse TV show for a couple of years called Bridge Street, and still does financial segments for them but she’s literally everywhere. From hanging out with Rachel Ray to Koda and Kathie Lee, she’s literally become the frugal living authority on a national level with her mantra “Take back control of your money, and create a simpler, happier life!” She has two books out, one called The Recovering Spender and the other titled How to Coupon Effectively. Neither of those are affiliate links, so check them out at your leisure.

1. What were the circumstances that got you into the need to learn how to save money and make money go further?

In 2006 my husband and I were in $40,000 worth of debt, underwater in our mortgage, and were running a deficit of $1,000 per month. I learned how to save money out of necessity because we needed to do something to keep ourselves from going bankrupt. We learned how to set a successful budget, use coupons, and basically lived on the bare minimum for 3 years.

2. How did you figure out which way you were going to go?

We didn’t have a choice. At that time we only had 1 child and there were weeks where we didn’t have grocery money. We were living in a very expensive house but were BROKE!

3. When did you figure out that you could turn it into a business?

I started teaching coupon seminars in 2008 when we were living in Charlotte, NC. We moved back to NY in 2009 and when we got back so many people were asking me how I fed my family on $50 per week. I taught one seminar here (central New York) and there were so many people who wanted to learn more. I started with I Am That Lady and changed to using my name to help people and to make a little extra cash.

It wasn’t until a year later that it really took off and I started making good money from it. I realized that I could make a living doing something that I loved to do – teach people how to get out of debt and handle money the right way. I wish I’d had someone there to walk me through every step of the way, so that is my passion right now.

4. Do you have sponsors that alert you to different types of savings or is it a lot of research on your part?

I do a lot of research and also skim through hundreds of email from companies every day. I get pitched over a hundred times daily and I skim through those and find what my readers like the best and what I think will help them save money.

5. You’re known pretty well by many around the country. Other than being on TV, have you visited other markets and taught people how they can do what you do?

I have been to California, Albany NY, and of course Charlotte too. My readers are 30% local and 70% national, so I do get asked to speak all over the place.

6. Did you have to get used to eating different types of foods and buy different brands of clothing to take advantage of the best savings opportunities?

Yes, I had to learn how to not be brand loyal. I would buy whatever I could find a good deal on and make it taste good 🙂 Surprisingly I was finding good deals on things were were already eating, so when I found that deal I would buy a few of them.

7. On my finance blog I offer lots of advice on making small changes to save money. Are small changes enough or do some people need a radical thinking adjustment to be able to take advantage of learning how to save money on products so they can save money overall?

I think small changes lead to bigger changes. For instance, when I first started to use coupons that was a small change that led to a larger change. Because I had just spent 2 hrs planning a shopping trip to save $75.00, I was less likely to stop at Target and buy some clothes that I didn’t need or have money for. It helped me make a larger change in my budget and spending because I started to think about where my money was going.

8. What do you think the biggest misconceptions are when it comes to coupons, discounts, and saving money on things overall?

I think the biggest misconception about coupons is that they are for unhealthy foods only. It is true that there are less healthy coupons out there, but they are out there. I think meal planning is a much better way to save money when trying to eat healthy. I eat gluten free for medical reasons and still manage to use coupons and save 50% off my grocery bill every week.

9. Why do you think people avoid budgeting so much and how do you get them to face the reality of just how important it is?

I think people avoid budgeting because it’s hard and uncomfortable. I have a saying, “When the pain of being broke is greater than the pain of changing your financial situation, then you make a budget.” Many people wait until it’s too late to start budgeting, but the great thing is that if they start now they don’t have to be dead broke in a year.

Saying no to yourself when making purchases is HARD, but I think that my example of our family speaks volumes. Because we budgeted and sacrificed so much for 5 years my husband was able to quit his job and come home and work with me on the blog – that never would have happened if we never budgeted. Budgeting actually gives you freedom instead of the restriction that many people feel it places on them.

10. This is your moment; tell us about you, your business, your videos, and your new book and where people can get it.

I am a mother of 4 children. My husband Mark and I run the eponymously named Lauren Greutman website. I put on money saving seminars across New York State as well as teach at blogging seminars about how to be a professional blogger. Blogging supports our family of 6 and we are passionate about helping people change their financial futures.

We really want people to learn how to do save and manage their money better. We have a course called The Financial Revolution which comes with a personal financial planner and of course the two books mentioned above.
 

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There have been guest posts since I started real blogging over 14 years ago. Back then they actually used to mean something; these days they’re mainly throwaway pieces that don’t actually say anything.

not sharing guest posts
standing up for principles

The same goes for posts where someone’s asked a bunch of experts their opinion on a topic and asks them for 3 things they’d recommend to others. It’s grown a lot since the first posts showed up about 10 years ago but I have the same gripe about most of them. Once again, throwaway pieces that don’t say much of anything. I’ll explain more about this in a minute or two.
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Some people think it’s strange whenever I refer to the “business of blogging.” That’s because for people who don’t blog, they still think most of it is personal diaries and not something that can be used for business.

Truth be told, even blogs that are more personal than business related have a business aspect to it. There are a few relatively well known people who can put together a blog and know people will come without doing much for it; some of them don’t even write anything, just add pictures like they do on Instagram. Unfortunately, for the rest of us we can’t just write a blog, add pictures, video or podcasts and think we’re going to be successful or famous without any effort. Most people don’t think bloggers are going to be famous, but many who initially get into it think if you write it people will come; this isn’t Field of Dreams.
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These days I might be the wrong person telling people how to build up traffic for one’s blog. At the same time, I might be the guy who gives you good guidance towards the possibility of getting more traffic via search engines.

writing long articles
StockSnap via Pixabay

Have you ever heard of a guy named Steve Pavlina? Back in the day, his was one of the first blogs I came across, and his posts were wonderfully written and very long and detailed. He was the precursor to Neil Patel’s type of writing, and if he hadn’t decided to invest in trails on a lot of other things he’d be even more known than Chris Brogan and others. and this guy has great content.

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Over the years on this blog I’ve talked about how I’ve made money here and there. I’ve tried a lot of things, some successful but most of them not. Because of this, I want to address the topic of making money online because it’s a major industry, lots of people talk about it, but you need to understand how insecure it can be.

5.
Dfardin via Compfight

Let’s get the first question out of the way; can you make money online? Yes you can. Let’s address part two of the question; can you make enough money online to live on? That one isn’t so easily answered.

There are basically 3 ways people can make money online, which I detailed a bit more on this post some time ago. Those 3 ways are: selling stuff, selling services or accepting advertising. There are nuances for each of these, but those are the specifics.

The majority of people who decide to try to make money online will do so; just not very much. For instance, I’ve made upwards of $700 a month online, but over the last couple of years I’ve barely made $10 a month. I made pretty good money via Adsense on one of my blogs, advertising on another. On this blog many years ago I signed up for something called Text Link Ads, which Google disapproved of. Before they caught me & clamped down on me I was averaging nearly $300 a month. Let me tell you this up front; if you want to consistently make money, don’t anger the search engine gods. 🙂

I’ve made a little bit of money where it’s concerned obtaining contracts for consulting or speaking services, even once for a webinar on a health care topic. That kind of money is rare for most people, but there are a number of people who’ve mastered that; I’m still working on it.

Let’s go back to that Adsense money for a quick moment. It took me 18 months to hit $100 the first time around. Then when I created the website that was bringing in better money, I was averaging between $500 and $700 a month from it. Not livable income here in the states, but not a bad part time job at the time. However, once Google put out Penguin and Panda, my income dropped precipitously. I know people who’ve been running Adsense for years and haven’t hit $100. Diversify how you try to make money online; don’t rely on Adsense for very long.

Let’s look at making a livable income from a high level. No matter who you are, if you’re living in the United States you probably need to be generating at least $2,000 a month at the lowest sustainable level of living. It’s hard getting exact figures because most people not making money don’t want to say and the ones making it are going to tell you if they did it so can you. For a good comparison let’s look at athletics.

In the United States, there are around 3,000 athletes in the major leagues of the 4 major sports. If we look at colleges, there are nearly 500,000 players of those same 4 sports at all levels. If you take the percentage of pros to those that don’t make that level, you’re looking at 1/200th of a percent. To break it down further, some of those sports have minor leagues, where players are making the same kind of money that someone with a nice job makes. They’re living their dream, but it’s not sustainable. I think you get the point.

Can making a livable income online be done? Absolutely. Are the odds great? Nope.

I gave three ways most people make money above. For two of those, you need to generate a lot of traffic to your websites. It’s estimated that for every $100 you make you need at least 5,000 visitors coming to your site. That doesn’t flow into every area.

For instance, if you write on something specific and you have your niche crowd that loves you, then you won’t need as many visitors. For advertising or direct sales, you’re going to need the numbers to show your worth and make any real money.

There are companies that travel across the country telling you that you can make a lot of money creating online stores. My wife talked me into going to one of these many years ago. One lady said her page made $15,000 a month selling cat toys that she didn’t make herself. Another guy said he was making $12,000 a month selling sports paraphernalia. These kinds of companies are scams, preying on the greed of consumers who think all they have to do is put up a site and the visitors will come; they’re not coming without a lot of work, and you’re never going to make the kind of money they’re professing.

A secret to making money online
Mathieu Thouvenin via Compfight

There are also companies that sell people things like travel sites, credit card sites and the like, telling them they can compete with the big boys. Trust me, after you’ve gone through your friends and family, without a compelling marketing plan, it’s not going to work and you’ll be out thousands of dollars.

If you still want to give making money a try, I recommend a few things.

One, don’t give up your job to do it.

Two, if you decide to buy some books on the subject don’t buy more than 3 before attempting to start. So many people get bogged down on different systems, get confused by the contradictory recommendations and become inactive.

Three, don’t spend more than $500 to get started. That’s on the high end; anything more and they’d better be giving you a guarantee (which they’d be stupid to do unless the contract contained some of that fine print language).

Four, learn how to write compelling sales copy because that’s what it’s going to take to entice whatever visitors you get. If you’re going to try to do it via a blog, learn how to tell stories as well as learn a lot about the products you’re trying to market so you can talk about them. For instance, even though it’s going slowly, I’ve been making a little chunk of change from when I wrote about the iDrive Cloud System, something I not only use but knew well enough to write a pretty good post about it.

Five, take at least one online course or read a book on marketing and sales. There are a lot of good ones, and if I’m asked I’ll recommend a couple for you.

Six, find one or two people online who you know are making real money and read whatever you can from and about them. Just remember that doing everything they do in the exact same way probably won’t work all that well; you’re going to have to add your own touches.

Seven, have faith in your process but be judgmental and cautious with whatever you decide to try. If it feels wrong, don’t do it. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

That’s all I have for now. Let me know what you’re trying to do or how you’ve done; I love to hear success stories, and it’s possible I might be able to help.
 

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