Dear Jack: You Flew Your Kite in the Rain Like Benjamin Franklin

8 years, 5 months.

Dear Jack,

Perhaps it was a perfect coincidence that as you were preparing your class presentation for the following week, there happen to be a perfectly windy and rainy Sunday afternoon.

You wanted to take your kite out in the perfect environment, but neither Mommy nor I wanted to go outside and get wet with you.

So I suggested a compromise:

You got to go outside and fly your kite in the field behind our house, while I supervised from your bedroom window overlooking the scene.

Granted, it didn’t take too long before the wind caused the string for your kite to catch itself in a knot that was impossible to untie.

But at least you were able to feel like a boy who was getting to break the rules in some way.

Love,

Daddy

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My 5 SEO Side Hustles, Which All Made Me a Minimum of $1,000 Each in 2018; Creating Passive Income

What is SEO? It’s search engine optimization. SEO is knowing how to cater to the free market of the Internet by publishing articles, links, videos, and social media messages, based on what people are already searching for. It’s behind-the-scenes marketing knowledge and skills that allow people like me to make money on the side by helping other people grow their brand name online; as well as my own.

I remember back in high school (my 20th high school reunion is coming up this summer!) when I was planning my proposed future career: I wasn’t that inspired by the thought of making money, but instead, just to be “happy”. But several years later, having entered the work force with thousands of dollars of debt from college loans, then getting married a few years later during the Financial Crisis of 2008, I think it sort of scarred me. Or at least it rewired my brain in regards to how I perceive finances:

Use your time, energy, and talents to control money before it controls you, by default.

That serves as my SEO Side Hustler backstory. It explains why one of my superpowers is the ability and the drive to be constantly making money on the side; no matter how great my actual full time job. I’m sure there’s some psychology in there, that having felt helpless and hopeless with finances in my late 20s and early 30s, I now feel the need to reverse my role with money and instead be in complete control of my finances. I have basically adopted my Italian grandfather’s mindset, as he lived through the Great Depression as a 1st generation Italian-American in an orphanage; and was one of the most financial conservative men I knew. 

What are my hobbies, besides hanging out with my wife and kids? The answer: My 5 side jobs. 

My brain interprets these SEO side hustles as (mandatory) fun. Last year, in addition to my well-paying full-time job in HR at a Fortune 500 company in Franklin, Tennessee (though my wife actually makes more than me at her full-time job), I made thousands of dollars on the side by basically goofing off on the Internet after my wife and kids fell asleep each night. Granted, I don’t get a lot of sleep myself, except on Saturday mornings when my wife gets up at 6:00 AM with kids and lets me sleep in around 8:00 AM! 

Here’s how I made thousands of dollars, on the side through passive income, in 2018 by utilizing my knowledge and skill set of SEO; and plan to make even more in 2019…

#1 My 1st YouTube Channel:

Named after myself, Nick Shell is a YouTube channel with over 6,200 subscribers. I serve as a mentor who helps young men find their own masculine identity and confidence, despite their perception that early male pattern baldness takes away their value as men.

Thanks to the ads that play before each video, I made nearly $3,000 in 2018 from this channel; see below. It also helps that for 3 months straight in 2018, I kept shaving my head, which made me a lot of money as I have since then been able to casually yet effectively sell the electric clippers I used to do it, through the use of Amazon links. (More on that in a minute.)

#2 My 2nd YouTube Channel:

Named after this blog itself, Family Friendly Daddy Blog currently has over 1,500 subscribers. I named it after my blog, as a way of extending my brand name online. On this 2nd YouTube channel, I mainly talk about DNA test results and cultural perceptions of society. Some of my most popular videos are where I feature vehicles that car companies send me because of my blog. (More on that in a minute.) I have learned that producing nearly 3 videos per day, on each channel, grows my audience more than producing fewer, yet higher quality videos.

Quantity over quality is my formula. Even though I have the skill set to make polished, edited videos with music and words that pop up on the screen, I’ve learned that I earn more revenue from the dozen videos I can make in the same amount of time it would take to make one high-quality video.

#3 My website, Family Friendly Daddy Blog:

Yep, you’re on it right now. I created this website over 9 years ago and have regularly maintained it with new posts. (If nothing else, I publish 2 new posts every Thursday: A letter to each of my children, which I have been doing since my wife announced her pregnancy for them both, accordingly.) That’s one of the reasons it has such strong SEO; making it very easy to find when people Google nearly anything. My blog is a dragnet for search terms.

The name of this blog itself, while it may sound a bit corny, was something I strategically created for the purpose of SEO. Therefore, on a daily basis, I have requests from 3rd parties requesting to be featured as a guest blogger on my site, to boost their own website’s SEO. For the right price, I say yes. From these fees alone, I cleared well over $1,000 in 2018.

That’s not including the free vehicles my family was loaned, complete with a free tank of gas, for our family vacations: Mitsubishi sponsored our trip to Sacramento, Mazda sponsored us for Lake Tahoe, and Chevy took care of us for Destin. Plus, I got sent on an all expense paid trip to Florida for the Grapefruit League Baseball Series, thanks to Toyota. Additionally, my kids also get some free toys this year and our family is regularly offered free tickets to events in Nashville, like Frozen on Ice. And all of this is simply because of this blog’s very healthy SEO.

#4 Handling SEO for a major university in the Nashville area:

I’ll keep the name and dollar amount confidential on this one, but I serve as the behind-the-scenes SEO independent contractor for a particular department. I handle their Twitter account, I’ve produced promotional videos for their YouTube channel, and I manage an ongoing blog series which features its employees in a more casual light, so that people in the department can learn more about one another; while increasing the university’s presence online. 

#5 Amazon Associates:

Anytime I place a link to Amazon for a product like this really cool Mama Bear t-shirt for moms, whether it’s in a description for one of my videos on either YouTube channel, or in one of my blog posts, I get a cut of the sale that is made. Even if the person doesn’t buy the actual product, as long as they buy something while they are browsing through other suggested items, I still get a cut of that sale. It’s Amazon’s way of thanking me for directing a new sale to them. In 2018, I made right over $1,000 from these links; even though I didn’t even start the program until February. See below.

I am a huge fan of the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. The book focuses on the importance of creating venues of passive income; making money while you sleep, which is especially what my YouTube videos and Amazon links do for me. The author explains that it’s not enough to become and remain debt-free or pay off mortgage your early, but also to start making side incomes (ideally passive ones) and then investing that money. He presents that formula as the way to graduate from the middle class. So far, it’s working for me. 

At this point, our family could move into one of those McMansion homes in the next neighborhood over; increasing our square footage by 50%. We could afford it, but we instead choose to keep our current lower overhead and send the extra income towards paying off our mortgage early, building our kids’ college fund, growing our retirement, and focusing on our financial investments through Charles Schwab. I could also pay cash for a brand-new vehicle, trading in my old 2004 Honda Element with 180,000 miles and a salvaged title; and still have thousands more in the bank and investments. But instead, there’s a sense of pride in knowing I’m living below my means; not simply within them. 

So while I don’t get much sleep at this stage in my life, I can at least known that I am constantly making money even when I do sleep.

I am Nick Shell- and I am the SEO Side Hustler. 

Stay-at-Home Dad 101: Don’t Drink (Coffee) and Drive (the Grocery Cart)

I found out this afternoon while doing a mid-week grocery store run for my wife, that it’s not as easy as one might think, to push the grocery cart with a kid, while drinking coffee.

As I entered the Super Kroger in Spring Hill, Tennessee, I thought to myself, “Okay, this is my first time as an official stay-at-home dad buying groceries. Enjoy this errand and make it part of your identity. This is part of your job now. So… what would my wife do in this situation to make it more fun?”

And there it was, Starbucks. She would definitely buy a $5 coffee to begin her journey. So I ordered an Eggnog Latte with coconut milk, as my daughter played inside the two-seater Kozy Coupe-looking car attached to the front of the shopping cart.

I tried to order the manliest drink I could think of, but unfortunately, they don’t make the Spicy Mocha that High Brew in Franklin makes: cayenne, cinnamon, and mocha.

Once the nice young man handed me my unregulated caffeinated beverage, I made my way towards to organic section. But immediately, I found out it’s quite difficult to make a right turn when your right-handed and are pushing a shopping cart with a giant car attached to the front of it, still while holding a $5 drink in your other hand.

How was I going to make it all the way through a ten acre grocery store without spilling my coffee?

The answer: I wasn’t.

Historically, I have stayed home with the kids while my wife buys the groceries early on Saturday morning. I have yet to memorize where everything is in that grocery store so big it needs its own zip code.

Some of the items on the “scavenger hunt” were in the baby section, some were in the organic section, and some were just mixed in with the regular stuff.

In case my Instagram photo doesn’t show the details, then just believe me:

Each time I suddenly had to jerk the cart to make a turn in time, or simply bumped into the corner of the aisle I was trying to enter, an eager ounce of the Starbucks magnificently shot out of the adult sippy lid of my coffee cup and landed in the cart.

Needless to say, my daughter’s clothes still smell of Eggnog Latte, as she had eventually exited the faux Kozy Coupe and asked me to place her in the normal kids’ seat; right where the majority of the two dollars’ worth of Starbucks had made a miniature puddle.

I know there will be a learning curve to this stay-at-home dad thing, but today I learned that I shouldn’t be drinking Starbucks and driving the grocery cart.

Dear Jack: The Mad Rush to Get You to Your 1st Violin Lesson on Time!

6 years, 7 months.

Dear Jack,

Today was a pretty interesting day…

This morning was an exciting in itself, as it made the first morning that you and your sister got to ride in the 2017 Toyota Highlander we are driving this week. With almost with no words necessary, you immediately adopted the 3rd row seat as your own.

Your sister was jolly as usual, enjoying the view up at you from her 2nd row seat. You loved how I let you out; through the back hatch door, so you could just jump out.

But while it was a good morning, it ended up being sort of a strange afternoon…

I received a call from Mommy while I was at work, which was unusual. She explained she was stuck in stand still traffic on I-65 and that it would be impossible for her to be able to pick you up in time from your school, then take you to your first official violin lesson. (A couple of weeks ago you got fitted for your violin, but today was the big day to actually start learning how to play it.)

Mommy told me your violin lesson would be beginning at 4:00. That only gave me 40 minutes from that point to finish up at work, drive to your school, then rush to the music academy where your lessons would be taking place.

Normally, to drive from Cool Springs to Spring Hill, on a good day, would take a solid 45 minutes… if I was lucky. But because the Interstate was essentially shut down, I would have to take the back roads instead; which only increased the challenge.

By the time I was pulling out of the parking lot, it was 3:25 on the dot; that gave me just 35 minutes to get your to your violin lesson on time.

It take a miracle to make this happen!

With a little bit of high tempo inspiration from Metallica pumping through the speakers (because, of course, who else?!), and the power of the 4Runner’s V-6 engine, I took advantage of my ability to make it through every about-to-change-from-green-to-yellow traffic light.

I can honestly say I didn’t speed, because in Nashville traffic, that’s just not an option: there are too many cars in front of you even if you tried. It must have been because I left work at an unusual time, far enough ahead of rush hour traffic, that I was able to achieve the impossible:

At 3:58 PM, with 2 minutes to spare, you were flying out of the back hatch of the 4Runner!

I still think that we must of cheated the laws of physics to get there on time, but somehow, we arrived with moments to spare!

And what can I say? Hey, you’re a smart kid. You soaked up every word your violin teacher, Gabrielle, had to say.

Tonight, after Mommy read you a bedtime story, you impressed her by giving her a violin lesson of her own.

So yeah, it was a pretty interesting day.

Love,

Daddy

This is 36: Taking Shifts with My Wife, As the Baby Sleeps in the Car

As you know, our family recently spent a week down in Destin, Florida for a family vacation over Memorial Day weekend. As you can imagine, with a 1 year-old little girl in tow, we largely had to base our schedule and activities around her sleep schedule.

For example, on the way down to Florida, we left our home in Tennessee immediately after an early dinner so that we could get to our condo in Destin by 1:30 AM. This created an environment for our daughter to be able to sleep through the entire drive. Granted, we only stopped once during the 7 hour trip for a bathroom break; to help ensure she didn’t wake up.

Since this formula proved effective, we did the same thing for the drive back home from Florida. That’s right- just 2 bathroom breaks during the 14 hour round trip.

Uh… impressed much?

We continued to cater to our daughter’s slumber throughout the course of our vacation.

One day we took a day trip over to Pensacola where one of my brothers-in law and his wife have recently moved. After we toured their new home which is currently under construction, everyone decided to walk through some of the model homes in the surrounding neighborhoods.

So my mother-in-law and her husband (who were also in town for the weekend), my brother-in-law, his wife, my wife, our son, our daughter, and I successfully toured two model homes.

But as we drove to the next neighborhood, our daughter had fallen asleep in just a matter of minutes. I volunteered to stay in the driver’s seat of the 2017 Toyota Prius Three as our daughter took her afternoon nap behind me in her car seat.

There in the driveway of that model home, I pulled out the classic 1984 Ride the Lightning album by Metallica to enjoy for myself. Fortunately, the symphonic distorted electric guitars helped keep my little girl asleep. She’s not too picky when it comes to music, yet.

Even after my wife and son returned from the tour of that model home, they returned to the car, only to inform me that there was yet one more model home to visit before we made our way back to Destin.

Honestly, I didn’t mind one bit. It was peaceful and relaxing for me. It gave me not only a chance to think, but a chance to help my wife out by giving her some time to see something new and exciting and to take a break from constantly caring for a baby.

Of course, it was no surprise that less than 24 hours, my wife would be taking the next shift of “chill out in the car while the baby sleeps.” Because for lunch the following day, as went out for Mexican food for lunch, our daughter had fallen asleep in the car.

So I took my wife’s order, then eventually brought her food to her roadside, while the rest of us ate inside the restaurant.

This is just how it has to be right now. We’re used to it.

This is 36.

Dear Holly: It’s So Rewarding to See You When I Come Home/Your First Word?…

9 months.

Dear Holly: It’s So Rewarding to See You When I Come Home

Dear Holly,

Monday evening when I got home from work was the first time I had seen you in two days, as your brother Jack and I had been staying in the Surgical Holding Room at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville due to his near-brush with surgery for his Retropharyngeal Abscess due to Strep Throat.

I walked in the front door of our home to see you look up from the carpet, smile so big, then immediately make your way towards me like a faithful little puppy. You were genuinely happy to see me. The translation was clearly, “Daddy! Welcome home, I missed you!”

After such a soul-exhausting weekend, it was so rewarding to see you when I got home. What made it even more special was that you had apparently been practicing what appears to be your first word: Daddy.

Sure, I realize that “daddy” is probably just simply the physically easiest word to say as you’re figuring out how to speak. But I don’t mind that technicality.

So now our whole family is back together under the same roof. Jack really missed you. His new activity is to hold you in his lap. You love it!

Oh yeah, and Grandma is in town from California for a few weeks now. It was so funny- when I picked her up from the airport, I suggested she sit in the back with you, to keep you from being lonely back there.

You looked up at her and didn’t make a beep until we got to our destination. You had to figure out who she was.

But since then, Grandma has been taking care of you all day, while Mommy and I give you a break from daycare. This is the first time since I can remember that you haven’t been sick. We wanted to give your immune system a break.

We are so glad to have Grandma staying with us. And we’re so glad to all be together again!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: It’s So Rewarding to See You When I Come Home

Dear Jack: We Went to Boom Days 2016 in Fort Payne, Alabama (and Gave Mommy a Chance to Go to the Spa!)

5 years, 10 months.

Dear Jack: We Went to Boom Days 2016 in Fort Payne, Alabama (and Gave Mommy a Chance to Go to the Spa)

Dear Jack,

This past weekend, you had an unforgettable weekend! You finally were able to go my to hometown’s ever-growing festival call Boom Days; which celebrates the people and culture of Fort Payne, Alabama; where I was born and raised.

Being there reminded me that I didn’t grow up in a stereotypical Southern town, as typically featured in media. No, Fort Payne was always special.

Basically half of the city is on the mountain (where I lived) and the other half is in the valley.  There was always this artsy, Americana feel to the place. I was surrounded by DeSoto State Park and all its hiking trails, as well as well as Little River Falls (the tallest waterfall in Alabama) and Little River Canyon.

Dear Jack: We Went to Boom Days 2016 in Fort Payne, Alabama (and Gave Mommy a Chance to Go to the Spa)

It was a fun place to grow up, and apparently, a fun place to return to; and especially, with a nearly 6 year-old boy.

With Mommy’s youngest brother getting married in two weeks in San Diego, I convinced her to take the weekend off by staying in Nashville where we live, and to let me take you and you baby sister to Nonna and Papa’s house for the weekend.

Dear Jack: We Went to Boom Days 2016 in Fort Payne, Alabama (and Gave Mommy a Chance to Go to the Spa)

That way, Mommy could get us packed for the upcoming California trip, run errands, and relax with no parental responsibilities for a full weekend. I’m glad she took me up on the offer! She works full-time with a 2 hour commute round trip each day, so she definitely was in need of some down time. She got to go to the spa; getting her hair and nails done.

Meanwhile, we were with Nonna and Papa, and Baby Holly, in downtown Fort Payne at Boom Days. The first big stop for you was to go inside a “gerbil ball” which was a giant inflatable sphere in which you got to run and roll around the Alabama Band Park.

Dear Jack: We Went to Boom Days 2016 in Fort Payne, Alabama (and Gave Mommy a Chance to Go to the Spa)

You apparently got into a thrilling “fight” with another boy in another gerbil ball. I saw the two of you smiling as you both attempting to knock each other over.

It was funny because there weren’t really any rules and I was never told how long you got to be inside there. Turns out, it lasts as long as you do…

The guy running the event explained to me, as you finally were ready to come out, “He’s stayed in there longer than anyone else ever has!” You were very proud to hear that you won the unofficial contest of endurance.

Dear Jack: We Went to Boom Days 2016 in Fort Payne, Alabama (and Gave Mommy a Chance to Go to the Spa)

You also enjoyed riding a pony. I think your favorite part about that was getting to pick the one you wanted.

Next we made our way over to the jumpy house, where we definitely got your money’s worth. I paid just $3 and you stayed in that thing for over 90 minutes. You just didn’t feel compelled to leave.

Back in Nashville, whenever you get to go one of your friends’ birthday parties, you always hope there will be a jumpy house. And when there is, you are never ready to leave.

But for more than an hour and a half, I hung out with Nonna and Papa in front of the jumpy house, as we showed off Baby Holly to passersby.

That’s when I saw and flagged down two of my Class of ’99 friends, Kim Hester and Brian Winkles. They enjoyed meeting you; granted, it was the extremely sweaty version of you, as you only took a short break to get some water.

Turns out, they weren’t the only “Ninety-Niners” I saw while we were there. Out of our graduating class of 183, there were about 20 that I saw there.

Dear Jack: We Went to Boom Days 2016 in Fort Payne, Alabama (and Gave Mommy a Chance to Go to the Spa)

Therefore, I am convinced that from here on out, we need to attend Boom Days every year; that way I don’t have to wait to see my classmate every 5 years for each official class reunion.

Speaking of, a little while later on the closed down the main street, I ran into more classmates, Jason New and Kris Holcomb. Kris’s daughter Libby had just bought a pet baby turtle she had named Raphy. You loved petting the turtle.

You also got to hold a baby squirrel as well, at the pet adoption tent.

Dear Jack: We Went to Boom Days 2016 in Fort Payne, Alabama (and Gave Mommy a Chance to Go to the Spa)

So everybody got what they needed: Mommy got rest and relaxation back home in Nashville. I got to see my kids enjoy themselves at the festival. Nonna and Papa got to spend time with you and your sister.

And as for you, Boom Days made all your dreams come true. It was the perfect place for a Kindergartener boy to get to burn energy and explore.

We shall return in 2017!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: We Went to Boom Days 2016 in Fort Payne, Alabama (and Gave Mommy a Chance to Go to the Spa)

P.S.

I made this video with Papa the next morning featuring the park where Boom Days took place, which features the Alabama band monument.