Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hi everyone, I’m a finance expert who built a business around creating fun and educational financial content, notably blog posts and articles. My business, Narrow Bridge Media, is the parent company for my blog, podcast, and video channels at Personal Profitability and my content creation work for clients around the world.
My bread and butter are writing articles for banks, investment companies, fintech startups, and anything else with a dollar sign attached. In 2020, after five years of running my business mostly on my own, I brought on a small team of writers and editors who can help me scale and expand beyond what I can write on my own.
I started writing about money when I launched my blog way back in 2008. That led to my freelance writing business, which made about $40,000 in 2015. Inspired by my success, I quit my job in 2016 and saw my income grow past $10,000 per month later that year. I’ve only seen my income dip below that point a couple of times since and continually operate as a six-figure business with very high margins.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I went to business school at the University of Colorado and left with a finance degree and a dream of sitting in the CEO suite of a Fortune 500 company. While I had friends growing up who dreamt of the Sports Illustrated cover, I was more interested in Fortune and the Wall Street Journal.
A successful retired CEO once told me that the best way to succeed in your career is to be making something or selling something. Once you’ve done that, your next step is making it scale. That’s where I’m at now with my business.
After leaving my first job working in a bank, I realized that I enjoyed blogging and had a wealth of knowledge about building wealth, thanks to my finance degree and experience in banking. That inspired me to launch my blog to help people with money and hopefully make a few bucks in the process.
At the FinCon conference, I met my first clients who offered to pay me to write blog posts for their websites. My freelance business grew from there to a full-time income that comfortably supports my family.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
My product is articles like this one you’re reading right now (though usually not Q&A formatted), though I’m usually not lucky enough to write about myself. My “prototype” was actually my blog, though I didn’t realize it at the time.
My own blog and guest posts at other financial blogs acted as a portfolio that helped sell my services to clients. Every time I write a new article with a byline, I’m working to give my client the best possible product and might land a new client who was impressed by what they read. I landed my first national brand as a client after attending the FinCon conference in 2014, and they helped me realize the potential I had for the future.
Describe the process of launching the business.
I didn’t have an exciting launch with fireworks and a big kickoff bash. I started slowly with an article here and an article there. Most of my early freelance work came from other small websites in my niche. As my confidence and reputation grew, I was able to expand to work with a wide range of businesses.
These days, I primarily work with funded startups, Fortune 500 companies, and mid-sized to large enterprise business clients in the finance and technology industries. Along the way, I’ve written about everything from the best men’s wallets to running an efficient warehouse and everything in between.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Warren Buffet famously said that it takes years to build a reputation and only moments to ruin one. When you run a service business that relies on repeat business and your reputation, the best way to attract and retain customers is to deliver an exceptionally good product every time.
In writing, sending in an article with errors and mistakes is like a car dealership selling a lemon. If you sell too many lemons, your reputation will suffer and you’ll struggle to stay in business. I always tell new writers to underpromise, overdeliver, meet deadlines, and submit a product as good as they would want to read themselves.
In the early days, finding new clients was much more of a hustle than it is today when I have some online recognition. Online writing boards, conferences, and networking were key in building my early client base, where now I’m mostly focused on building and fostering direct relationships.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
After a death in the family and a concussion mid-year, I had a dip in revenue toward the end of 2020. But as my brain recovered, so did my business. I had near-record months at the start of 2021 and I’m on track for a potential record year.
As I’ve worked to scale beyond what I can do on my own, I’m seeing another potential area for revenue growth. However, that revenue comes at a lower margin than what I write myself. In the case of most service businesses, however, lower margins are the cost of scale.
As of now, I have a very positive outlook and see only growth in 2022 and beyond!
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Having two business school degrees, I always knew that employees work to make someone else money. When I worked as a financial analyst earlier in my career, I once ran a project that generated $100 million in cash flow, but I didn’t see a dime of those newly available funds. When you own the business, you keep the profits.
My wife’s uncle, a successful retired CEO, once told me that the best way to succeed in your career is to be making something or selling something. Once you’ve done that, your next step is making it scale. That’s where I’m at now with my business.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
As a writer, I spend most of my day using Google Docs. Outside of there, my Gmail / Google Workspace inboxes are my next home away from home. I also rely heavily on Google Calendar and Evernote to stay organized and on top of my schedule and to-do list.
In addition, I’m a big user of WordPress, Twitter, Wavebox, and Slack. I use the privacy browser Brave, which is built on the same framework as Chrome but does a bit more to prevent trackers and creepy advertising tools.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
There are a few books that have helped shape my views and success in business. Those include The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau, The 4 Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris, The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach, I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi and The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo.
If you know books, The Alchemist is a fiction book. But it’s my favorite book ever and the only book I’ve read more than once. If you want to follow a dream, give it a read.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
Just get started already! I know many would-be entrepreneurs who have spent hours agonizing over small decisions before ever launching their product. Figure out an MVP (minimum viable product) and get out there.
Don’t let perfect get in the way of progress.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
Right now I’m lucky to have a good team of writers and editors and don’t need additional outside help. But I couldn’t be where I’m at without my team, including two virtual assistants that help run the day-to-day operations of my little online empire.
Where can we go to learn more?
And here’s a little freebie for all of you: Personal Profitability Bootcamp! A free week-long video course to help you get started on the path to Personal Profitability.
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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