This is a follow up story for Millennial Moderator. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published about 4 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
My name is Aleksey Weyman and I am the founder of Millennial Moderator. MM is a growing blog that shares articles and listicles about all things business, technology, and innovation.
You might be asking yourself- how do you differentiate from other players in the market? Simple- we break down the easiest ways to take advantage of the most emerging tools and strategies in the game, typically from other startups! Best of all, we NET between $500 - $1000 profit each month.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
Since my last article with Starter Story, the business has been about the same. I’m at an interesting place where it’s difficult to keep up with demand, and so I’ve had to put some systems in place to keep things moving along effectively. Some of these include:
- Automated invoicing for our advertising partners
- Hiring virtual assistants
- Onboarding new writers
- Developing custom (browser-based) tools to automate workflows
Right now we see between 6000-10,000 readers each month, with some of our top articles receiving 200-500 views per day. This has been pretty consistent with the same time last year (we’ve been around since 2019) and I expect the holidays to result in a predictable seasonal spike to the 10,000-12,000 range. One of the ways that we; as an educational resource, target holiday trends is to write pieces that address key, holiday-related topics like time management, tech tools that assist in financial activities, and more. It’s always an exciting time and I can’t wait to see which topics our writers come up with this year!
No matter what your plan or goal or vision is, you have to just dive right in and start learning/participating in the industry. Even if you don’t know where you start- you have to.
Oh yeah- I’ve also hired more staff since last time! With growing demand (for our advertising solutions, as well as general readership), I’ve had to onboard new writers and virtual assistants to help with the workload. My VAs perform a variety of tasks, from CRM organization to lead acquisition. My writers, on the other hand, are seeing more consistent work, which leads them to more consistent pay and output for me.
This additional labor has certainly cut into my margins, but the amount of work we are getting has also increased, so the scaling is (so far) going well and our top company partners from 2020 (year recap) have appreciated the increased output.
As for existing customers, we’ve had a few repeat advertisers come to us time and time again for publication support, which is always a great sign that they are happy with the results. Because we leverage more than just our primary blog (articles on Linkedin, Medium, not to mention our highly coveted newsletter), it can be tricky to measure conversion rates, but we’ve been doing well enough so far, haha!
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
This year, it has been very challenging (a good thing) to figure out how to balance quality with quantity, especially as it pertains to financial decisions. What I mean to say is that, while I have been scaling upwards (hiring writers, VA, etc) it has been interesting to figure out how to ensure consistent quality while paying more money for services. There’s an interesting trade-off between quantity, quality, and potential output, and the biggest lesson I’ve learned this year (so far) is to not compensate for quality, no matter how well you can manage time.
To do this, I had to learn how to better communicate expectations with new hires, as well as better time management on my end. With increased output, there’s a strong desire to sit on top of the “machine” and drive it, instead of getting stuck in the logistics of how it’s operating. But if the quality starts dropping, then you need to hop back in under the hood and correct the issue. For me, this primarily looked like the lower quality of writing, which (according to Google SEO experts) is detrimental to a website ranking online. To this day (as I’m writing this) I am still going in and revising content from throughout the year that may be deemed lower quality than previous work. It also negatively impacts our users/readers, and damaged trust can be difficult to bounce back from.
On a more positive note, this year I’ve had to learn a lot about negotiation, as many of our advertising clients had begun requesting new methods of payment. While traditionally we have only accepted direct payment for services provided, now we explore other opportunities like commissions from traffic conversions, free memberships, etc. One such area that has proven to be useful is PR exchanges, where the client will give us credit in their platform/service as a trusted resource and we would in turn of our standard advertising package. It’s a fast-growing (has been for awhile) digital marketing strategy to consider, just be mindful of how often you do it. Through this and other means, we have been able to gain new readers in markets that we previously had not been in. Hooray!
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
Oh boy… this year my goal is to give the blog a makeover. I’m talking an entire facelift, both front and back end. Operating as a static hosted site has certainly had its benefits ‘cough’ financial ‘cough’ but in terms of keeping up with the latest trends in web performance, it’s a pain to make updates. I think I even harped about this in the last interview on Starter Story, but now I am feeling the pressure, even more, to make these kinds of technical changes. Right now I am looking at making a more thought-provoking UI, developing a backend for writers to more easily upload articles, and connecting a search parameter to our site, so that users can easily find topics that they’re interested in. Yes.. as of now MM does NOT have a search option- silly, I know!
In addition to this big makeover (hopefully happening this year), I also have a strong desire to build out some better automation processes, to ease workflows. I’m already in discussion with a few freelance developers to create tooling for us; and have had a lot of luck with freelancer groups on Reddit, primarily. I come from a freelance/ bootstrapped background, so it’s easy to connect with people like this.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
Two pieces of advice that I think can help anybody and everybody out:
Get started right now. No matter what your plan or goal or vision is, you have to just dive right in and start learning/participating in the industry. Even if you don’t know where you start- you have to. If you jump into the wrong part of the learning funnel, you’ll be directed back to the basics, there’s just no way around it. When I started MM, I had zero ideas how to build a website, let alone a blog that would attract thousands of readers per month. I started by jumping into simple HTML courses online, then began recreating my favorite website layouts until I was familiar enough to make my own. If I hadn’t taken the time to jump right in, I would have never been where I am today.
talk to people and find who your customer is. Don’t go into a business idea with a solution that you’ve created for someone else. Ask other people to tell you the kind of solution they would prefer, and then find a way to create that for them. I started MM as a hobby project but once I began seeking customers, I had to seriously assess how I was going to provide value. My original thought that clients would hire me as a freelance writer based on my blog's content was quickly discarded, as a more pressing demand for third-party articles (post on our site) came to light. If I had stuck in my original way, I would be hard-pressed for business today.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
I’m always looking to hire new writers! Our writers are diverse and work on a freelance basis, so we have a relatively high turnover. It’s a great way to build a portfolio and, if you’re passionate enough about MM, more opportunities will become available! Anyone can feel free to contact me via this page.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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