How I Started A $6K/Month Personal Finance Media Platform For Women

Published: May 10th, 2023
Marjolein Dilven
Founder, Radical FIRE
Radical FIRE
from Amsterdam, Nederland
started December 2018
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Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

Hi all! I’m Marjolein Dilven, and I’m the founder of Radical FIRE. Radical FIRE is a personal finance platform that talks about financial freedom and financial independence, done by women for women. We’re aiming to help women all over the world by teaching them about investing, saving money, and making money.

Creating this business has helped me live the life I want while helping others create their dream life. I am currently traveling the world with my partner, after quitting my day job in September 2022 to work on Radical FIRE full-time. I currently have around $6,000 in monthly revenue, which is a 120% increase compared to last year. That’s why I felt confident enough to take the leap from my 9-5 job to entrepreneurship. It’s always been my dream to travel and I’m happier for it.


What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

I didn’t get to the point where I could quit my job overnight. I started the Radical FIRE platform in December 2018, after I was sick of my day job, and googled “how to retire early”. That’s when I found the Financial Independence, Retire Early (FIRE) movement. The movement aims to make (and invest) as much money as you can in a short timeframe, so you can quit your job and retire early.

As I had a negative net worth of over $30,000 at that point, it wasn’t the best starting point of my financial journey. I saw a lot of people blogging about their FIRE journey, and I decided it would be a great way to motivate myself and work on this FIRE idea.

I made a plan to become financially free. Making the plan came naturally to me because I love numbers and enjoy crunching them daily. It helped that I studied economics and have a master's in Corporate Finance. Sticking to the plan was easier now that I had the accountability of the blog, plus I enjoyed writing and connecting with other personal finance bloggers.

After a couple of months, I saw that people were making money off their blogs. That’s when I started treating the blog as a business, a financial platform and started to wake up at 6 a.m. daily before work to write. I saw the opportunity to accelerate my journey to financial independence and help others along the way, so I took it with both hands.

I’m happy that I just started, without making things perfect. I made things how I wanted them.

Take us through the process of building the first version of your product.

Starting the website wasn’t as hard as I initially thought. I set up my blog with a hosting company, paid $180 for 3 years of hosting, and they did most of the work for me. I spent no time thinking about a logo, branding, or brand colors. I just used the default settings and went from there.

It took over one year before I gave some thought to anything related to building a brand. I didn’t even know if I would like blogging and working on my site, so I had to start somewhere.

When I started writing, I didn’t know what I was doing. At all. I never wrote before and I didn’t know what SEO was or how to get people to your site. I figured it was best to start writing. My first blog posts were terrible, I still cringe when I read them. I didn’t try to compare myself to any other website, I just wrote as well as I could, and I pushed out 3 articles per week. I learned to be consistent more than anything else, and that’s what got me to where I am today.

I am of the mindset that 80% is good enough, especially on your first try. And especially when the probability is very high that you’ll never do it if you go for that 100%. I adjusted the site to 100% where I could, later on, when I knew more about how I wanted to website to look and feel.

Describe the process of launching the business.

I started the website as a way to keep myself accountable for my plan to become financially independent. I didn’t want to overthink it. My domain name had to be something with FIRE, and in nature, I’m quite radical, so this seemed like the perfect fit at the time. I set up the website in 20 minutes and started publishing articles. I didn’t overthink it, I just started writing. I had an arbitrary goal of publishing 3 articles per week, just so that I would get started and keep going. It wasn’t until 4 months later that I had 1,000 monthly visitors to my platform.

I knew nothing about SEO (Seach Engine Optimization) or how to get traffic to my website. I remember being super excited when someone visited my site in the early days. I would sit at my computer and check how many people were on my site, and I vividly remember when I would see someone live on the site. A real person was checking out the platform that I had started, right now, how cool is that?

Would I do it differently if I had to start from scratch today? Certainly. That’s the thing about these decisions. You do the best that you can at the moment, and it got me where I am today, so I’m certainly happy with how it turned out.

Here’s what the website looked like in the first months, no fancy front page or even my full name. Just setting it up and going from there:


Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

When I started working on my site, I didn’t know that SEO existed. Not a very good starting point if you ask me. After 6-12 months without much traffic to my website, I was wondering how all these other people got their traffic. A lot of things that I read online were about focusing on social media for traffic growth, so I stuck to that for a while.

As it turns out, in my experience, social media isn’t such a good driver of traffic when you’re not on social media most of the day. I didn’t like promoting myself on Twitter, didn’t want to show my face on Instagram, and the only platform I did put the effort into, Pinterest, was harder to grow than the online courses led me to believe. Nowadays, my social media sharing is automatically done with tools like Zapier.

When I noticed social media didn’t work for me, I went back to the drawing board and started googling again about how to get traffic. This time, I found some posts about SEO and getting traffic through Google. I should have been working on that much earlier, but as they say, you don’t know what you don’t know.

I started working on SEO and saw success from that after a couple of months. I was still writing all my posts myself and still didn’t see much revenue from the blog even after 2 years. That’s when I found this group of bloggers that started amastermind, and I joined them. Looking back, that’s the moment I started to take Radical FIRE seriously as a business endeavor.

I invested money in the site, and pretty quickly I got my return on investment. I hired writers, which freed up my time. I didn’t need to write all day every day anymore, I could also look into other ways of growing the blog.

I worked on affiliate marketing, meaning that I was searching for an affiliate program to services or products I was using. It’s as simple as including a Google search for product X + affiliate program, to see if they’re offering an affiliate program that you can use to promote their product or service.

Also, I spent time on my email list and started building links back to articles I wanted to rank on. Especially the email list is something that can be valuable down the line, as you own your list. It's no Instagram or Pinterest that can just take all the traffic away by changing the algorithm. I’ve worked with several lead magnets on my site in the past, collecting emails in high-traffic posts and my website footer.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

One thing that’s amazing about having an online platform is that the costs are relatively low. You only have to pay some yearly costs to maintain your website, and you can spend as little or much as you can free up to grow the website.

Once I started to make a profit with Radical FIRE and was still at my day job, I didn’t need that money to live on. I decided to invest as much as I could back into the business. As it turns out, it’s not hard to spend a lot of money. We started to produce more articles and ended up hiring people full-time to edit content and schedule it in WordPress.

At this moment, we’ve grown to $6,000-7,000 monthly revenue with around 100,000 monthly pageviews back to the site. We’re not running any ads, all traffic is organic. Now that I’ve quit my job to grow the company and travel, there will be money taken out of that revenue for me to live off of. I’m hoping to finally make some “passive income,” as most people call having a website.

The debate on AI is very hot right now. I’m staying away from AI for creating content for my platform for now. The content quality isn’t up to par just yet, plus I like the insertion of personality, recent events, and anecdotes from experience. Of course, that can change in the future.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

I loved learning to build sites, navigating WordPress, and learning the basics of various coding languages. It’s not something I ever had to do, and it does make my life a lot easier now that I know where to look when there’s something wrong with my site.

I’m happy that I just started, without making things perfect. I made things how I wanted them. I didn’t feel comfortable using my full name, so I didn’t. I didn’t feel comfortable sharing my photo, so I didn’t. That helped me get started. If I tried to do everything according to the book, I doubt if I’d ever have started.

I did experience some serious setbacks. It feels like I’ve wasted a whole year not knowing about SEO and Google traffic. Plus, I’ve had some employees who weren’t delivering quality work and I had to have hard conversations with, ad problems where my ads didn’t show up on my website on some of my highest traffic months, and days where my website was down for some unknown reason.

It’s a challenge for sure, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

I personally love Zapier. It’s an automation tool that’s very easy to use and set up. For example, when I push a new post out on my site, it gets shared automatically to LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and various other sources. It makes life very easy for someone who doesn’t get energy from social media.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

When I started out with my journey to financial independence, I read Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin. They explain a concept in that book that you’re exchanging your energy for money, and when you spend that money, you’re also spending your energy. Is that thing that you want to buy worth what you’ll pay for it? That was a life-changing concept for me.

Besides that, I love the Manifestation Babe podcast and the Niche Pursuits podcast. Kathryn Zenkina from Manifestation Babe is teaching life and how to live it to the fullest, which inspires me to continue my current path. While the Niche Pursuits podcast interviews people with online platforms and how they’ve grown them.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

I would say starting is the most important thing. You don’t have to do everything perfectly, no one expects that from you. Try not to overthink it, and go for what you want in life.

What if you didn’t take that one chance that would’ve ended up in your greatest success? Living your best life and doing exactly what you want? If you don’t start today, that’s something you’ll be missing out on. One thing for sure is that you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

Many people have asked me: is it too late to start blogging in 2023? The answer is it’s never too late. There will always be a disruption or change to the industry, and you’ll have to adjust and adapt to the best of your ability when that happens. If you’re the one who is adapting, and not all the competition can, you’ll have the opportunity to grow and continue to expand your brand. If starting your platform is truly something you want, it’s better to start right this moment.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

I am currently looking to expand our team of freelance writers. If you enjoy writing about travel or personal finance, you can shoot me an email at [email protected].

Where can we go to learn more?