Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hello, I'm Michael, and I run the personal finance and pop culture blog, Your Money Geek. We like to joke that the website is a personal finance blog for people who are not personal finance junkies.
Our readers are the people who won't read other blogs because they are too 'judgey' or too 'preachy.' We use lots of pop culture references and gamification to make personal finance topics fun and accessible.
The blog grew to over 250k monthly page views in our first nine months. In our second year, we set out to hit six figures in revenue, which we hit in only eight months. Currently, the site makes over 10k a month.
Today, I run Your Money Geek and our product is a paid blogging mastermind group, branded as Money Mix Insiders which I developed with two other blogging partners. Our Insiders program is where we take a hands-on approach to help site owners increase traffic and grow their revenue.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
The blog was a complete accident; before blogging, I worked in personal finance. A marketing company talked me into launching a blog to recruit more clients.
Having no experience with blogging, I was reluctant, but they assured me that they would do everything, all I needed to do to wait for customers to beat down my doors.
Which, sadly, this did not happen.
Even to a novice such as myself, I could tell that the content that they were producing was poor. I assumed I could do better. So I relieved the company of command and crafted my posts.
I went about learning how to blog, and more importantly, drive traffic to a blog. As I was learning about blogging, I realized that people were using their blogs to make money on the side, and I fell in love with the idea of a side hustle blog.
Initially, the plan was to have a blogging side hustle to bring in a little extra money.
About one year into my blogging journey, I realized I had more passion for blogging than I did working in personal finance. After a particularly rough week at the office, I decided to leave my old career path and blog full time.
With just a few thousand in an emergency fund, I threw caution to the wind, left my job, and never looked back. Comically, within 45 days of leaving my job, our good pump died, and the car needed massive repairs evaporating our emergency fund. While it certainly was motivating, in hindsight, I wish I had more cash cushion instead of relying on a fight or flight reaction.
Luckily, we persevered and I'm thankful that blogging has been able to improve my family's financial situation.
Besides helping readers improve their financial lives, I am on a mission to help bloggers grow their sites and become more profitable.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
Our product grew out of necessity. In my journey to launch the website, I came across several “how to blog’ courses, newsletters, podcasts, etc. that often came up short or left out some pretty critical information.
Whatever your product or service is, make sure that you are solving a need for your customers and delivering so much value that they can not afford to say no.
For example, a course might suggest you build an email list, but leave out how to get people to sign up for your newsletter.
Our rapid growth led to site owners reaching out and asking for us to release a course or blogging training. Instead of releasing a cliche “done a million times” blog course, I teamed up with two other fabulous bloggers to launch a paid mastermind group, branded as Money Mix Insiders.
We looked at what was currently available on the market and decided that instead of a mass appeal course, we would build a white glove service to take a more hands-on approach.
In our Insiders program, we provide our members with one-on-one support, marketing, tools, and coaching to help them build profitable blogs. We modeled the program on the techniques we used to grow our sites.
Additionally, we designed it to be the program we wish we had when we started blogging.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Since we take a very hands-on approach with our members we can be extremely responsive to their needs. This has helped us with retaining our members.
We regularly hold coaching and training sessions with our members where we discuss the challenges they are facing and how they can fix them. Not only is this a huge value add but it has provided valuable feedback for us to improve our service.
Since launching the program we have added several new features and benefits based on the needs of our members.
Our best recruitment tool has been the success of members and word of mouth. The majority of our members have joined on the recommendation of our current members.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Currently, Your Money Geek is growing after a small dip after the May 4th Google update. The Google update hit home how important building an email list is for smaller digital publishers.
Google, Pinterest, Facebook seem hell-bent on making life for hard content producers. An engaged email list is the best way to protect yourselves from the algorithmic whims of big G.
We are committed to doubling down our effort to boost our email list and have recently deployed technology by Get eMails. Last month we gained over 10K new email subscribers using their system. Our goal is to continue to keep optimizing our email list and grow it to over 100k subscribers over the next year.
At Your Money Geek, our goal is to grow to one million monthly page views. We see having a large engaged email list as being critical to our goal.
We also hope to grow our Insiders network over the next several months. We are starting to see our members increase traffic and reach critical blogging milestones like getting approved for premium ad networks such as Mediavine and Adthrive.
We already have several amazing case studies but as more and more bloggers experience growth with our program we expect to see more recruitment.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
“Everyone wants to be a Bodybuilder, But No One Wants to Lift Heavy-Ass Weights” - Ronnie Coleman
I wish there was some grand secret to success, however it usually just comes down to showing up and doing the heavy work. In blogging, blogs are pretty much a dime a dozen.
However, not all bloggers are successful. It’s not because they are not talented, but rather it's because they don't put the work in. 80% of success in blogging is putting in the work, and the rest is being willing to spend money.
It's amazing how many bloggers won't spend money promoting and marking their blogs.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
I am absolutely in love with Grammarly, if you are going to produce content for a living pick up Grammarly premium. It is pretty much a necessity.
We use Slack for communicating with our mastermind group. It's one of the best tools going for organizing and sharing information with multiple people. I also use Slack to communicate with my freelance writers.
I do some consulting on the side and love the Symposium App, the app lets me schedule, conduct consulting sessions, and handle billing all in a handy app.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
I’m a huge fan of Gary Vaynerchuk and his podcast.
I also like to look for inspiration and motivation in unusual places, In particular, I love reading interviews with entertainers, actors, and filmmakers where they discuss their rise to success.
If you think launching a business is hard, imagine trying to become a professional actor or comedian. Becoming a famous comedian or being cast in a leading role is a nearly impossible task.
Those that make it know more about success and determination than most business leaders and exponentially more than those pitching “how to make it big” e-courses.
One of the highlights of my blogging journey was an interview I did with Jim Thalman, who dropped more wisdom about success in a single interview than a stack of fancy business books.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
My business philosophy has always been to give so much value that everyone would be stupid not to work with you.
I firmly believe that the path to achieving your own goals is to help others achieve theirs. So whatever your product or service is, make sure that you are solving a need for your customers and delivering so much value that they can not afford to say no.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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