Update: My Financial Education Website Now Makes Me $40K/Month With SEO And Paid Traffic

Published: April 23rd, 2023
R.J. Weiss
The Ways To Wealth
from Geneva
started August 2016
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Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.

I’m R.J. Weiss, founder of the financial education company The Ways To Wealth.

This is my third time sharing my story with Starter Story. You can check out my first story and my second story to see the evolution of the company.

Our flagship product is written content designed to attract visitors via Google Search. We drive revenue through both advertising and affiliate marketing.

While I’ve been doing this full-time since 2017, the site was hit hard by Google’s 2019 algorithm updates. It took nearly two years to recover. As recently as mid-2021, I wondered whether I could continue running the company full-time or whether I should find a way to supplement my income while continuing to build the site.

I’ve tried to focus on projects I know I can do repeatedly that will move the business forward — even if many experts say those aren’t the highest ROI strategies.

Fortunately, the recovery finally came (which I detail in my second story), and we’ve been on a solid trajectory since. The site’s current revenue is around $40,000 per month, though I do drive a significant amount of paid traffic to targeted pages, so not all of that revenue is derived from SEO.


Tell us about what you’ve been up to. Has the business been growing?

2022 was The Ways To Wealth’s most successful year, with net income up over 300% from 2021.

I invested heavily in content in 2021, and there were some months in which I was glad to break even (which had me diving into my savings for living expenses). That’s not something I would do all over again, especially when you’re trying to homeschool three kids due to a pandemic. But I’m happy to say that in this case, the gamble did pay off.

Our bread and butter remain long-form, expertly-written content.

Before starting The Ways To Wealth, I was in financial services for 10 years and still hold the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification. While I still write a lot of content, we have other writers, and in this case, I’m overseeing all the content and using my experience to craft the best possible articles.

On the research side, we strive to go above and beyond to ensure that we deeply understand the products and services we write about.

To achieve this, we prioritize testing and evaluating the financial products and services we write about. One of our core values is never to recommend a financial product or service to someone else you wouldn’t recommend to a close friend or family member.

Often, multiple team members will download an app or sign up for a financial product to comprehensively understand its features, benefits, and drawbacks.

We then share our experiences and insights, which allows us to create well-rounded, informed content.

This hands-on approach sets us apart from other publishers who might rely solely on secondhand information or promotional materials from companies.

We're doubling down on our research even more so this year in a world where AI makes content easier to produce. Furthermore, we're being more restrictive on potential topics to cover.

With AI improving, we're going after keywords where AI wouldn't do as great of a job. An example is food delivery service reviews, where we're spending the money to get the food delivered, taking custom photos, and sharing our experience with recipes.

The more reps you get in (like in weight lifting), the more you’ll improve your money-making skill and the better entrepreneur you’ll be.

This year, we’re making a big push into email marketing. We have a decent-sized list of around 20,000, but we haven’t yet put a lot of focus on growing or leveraging that list. We’re striving to have this be our primary promotion channel for new articles versus social or playing the game with Google.

Long-term, the goal is to build a relationship with the list that has them think of us as the first place to check when making a financial decision.

What have been your biggest challenges in the last year?

Our biggest challenge over the past year has been being able to produce high-quality content at scale.

Any recommendations on the site we take seriously? So, for any new link or partner, quite a bit of due diligence is involved.

Here, I’m a bit of a bottleneck, as I’m picky about what we say about certain products and services. Then again, I think this also separates us from other publishers in the space who can produce more content but who do not necessarily perform a high level of due diligence.

Even when we review a simple cash-back app like Upside — which in the grand scheme of things is more about saving $10 a month versus a life-altering financial decision — we’re still manually testing the app and collecting real-world data.

Often, that testing and data are performed by multiple members of the team over weeks. We feel this is a level of research and a commitment to accuracy that is unmatched in the industry.

When it comes to financial products that will significantly impact someone's long-term financial outlook, like the investing platform Alto IRA, it takes a long time for me and the team to vet the service to see if it’s something we want to talk about.

What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?

The thing I have reflected on a lot as of late has been the importance of consistency. It’s not so much about what you do. It’s about doing it consistently.

So when going through my year-end planning, I’ve tried to focus on projects I know I can do repeatedly that will move the business forward — even if many experts say those aren’t the highest ROI strategies.

Take link building, for example. I’ve tried the spray-and-pray approach, where you’re emailing 100 sites hoping to get a few to respond. It works for some people, but I just don’t like doing it. So all the effort I spent to get the project going ended up being wasted.

Other methods of link building — say reaching out to reporters, connecting with other publishers to form long-term relationships, or writing for high-quality sites — is something I can do consistently, so it’s become a core part of the site’s strategy.

What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?

The plan for the next year, and really five years while I’m thinking of it, is to build a brand that is well-respected in the financial media space. I have a lot of respect for people like Clark Howard, who has been in financial media for decades and has always acted with a lot of integrity.

My goal is to build a company that’s going to be around for decades, helping people make better financial choices.

That means we’re going to have to always be adapting and trying new ways to reach people.

It’s crazy to think about how much the concept of a media company has changed in five, ten, and twenty years. But that’s why I like to think of it more as an education company, that utilized digital media to reach our audience. I love the idea of helping educate others on making better financial decisions. How I accomplish that going forward is likely going to change.

What’s the best thing you read in the last year?

The best book I read over the past year was The Almanack of Naval Ravikant.

As someone who has read well over 100 books on finance and investing (here’s my list of the best personal finance books), this was the first book in a long time that captivated my attention and had me thinking through many long-held beliefs on building wealth.

I immediately reread it, and I continuously reference it.

A new podcast I’ve picked up over the past year has been My First Million. It’s such a great mix of being laugh-out-loud funny while providing a lot of great insight into what it takes to start and scale a business.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their businesses?

One of the things I talk about consistently in The Ways To Wealth is thinking of making money as a skill. Your goal then becomes to get some real-world reps in, just like you would while lifting weights. The more reps you get in, the more you’ll improve your money-making skill and the better entrepreneur you’ll be.

So, long story short: just go start or try something. It’s only then that you can get real-world feedback and make adjustments if necessary.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

In the near future, we’re looking to hire on-camera and podcast talent to help build our brand in that space. If you have experience here, please reach out to [email protected].

Where can we go to learn more?