This Solo Founder Grew A Personal Finance Blog To $102K/Year

$8.5K
revenue/mo
1
Founders
0
Employees
product
The Modest Wallet
from Toronto, ON, Canada
started December 2018
$8,500
revenue/mo
1
Founders
0
Employees
159K
alexa rank
212K
followers
5.68K
followers
57
subs
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Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

Hello, my name is Ricardo Pina, and I’m the founder of The Modest Wallet, a personal finance website helping millennials make smarter money decisions.

The revenue model of The Modest Wallet is entirely based on affiliate commissions, where brands in the finance space compensate us when our readers perform a certain action (i.e. sign up for a promotion, download an app, purchase an item, etc.) after clicking a specific link on our website.

For instance, we created a guide to the best stock screeners to help investors pick their own stocks. Some of our partners are listed within the article (note: only if they in fact are the best service for our readers), if one of our readers signs up to their service, we earn a commission in the process at no extra cost to our reader. It’s a win-win for everyone, our readers find something they were looking for, our partner acquires a new customer, and we make a commitment to help us run our business.

The commissions earned by The Modest Wallet can be anywhere from $0.50 to hundreds of dollars. For certain products or services, The Modest Wallet gets paid on a percentage basis.

Today, after almost two years of being in business, The Modest Wallet brings in an average of $8,500 per month in revenue and has amassed a following of more than 200,000 people across various social media channels.

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

I’m an engineer by profession, but I’ve always wanted to start my own business ever since I started university. After graduating from college, I started working in the construction industry and also started saving money to invest and to start my own business one day.

Throughout the years, I invested in a startup that didn’t work out and also started my own business ventures (2 in fact), but they both flopped. It may not have been the right time for me, but that didn’t prevent me from believing that one day I would start my own business.

About two years ago, after being frustrated with working with financial advisors that didn’t give me access to the best financial products that would help me achieve my financial goals, I took it upon myself to learn more about personal finance and investing so I could carve my own financial future. I believe that you shouldn’t need a finance degree to be good with your money. Everyone should be able to manage their money and have the necessary tools to succeed financially.

I knew there were probably more people like me out there that felt the same, so that’s when the idea of starting a personal finance blog came about. I wanted to share my own experience and help people achieve their financial goals.

The idea behind The Modest Wallet is that you don’t need a finance degree to understand and manage your own money. We want to make money simple!

The Modest Wallet started on Instagram where we (and when I say we, it’s actually just me at this point) started posting personal finance and investing content to help as many people as I possibly could. After the first glimpse of success, I quickly realized I needed a platform that I owned. The issue with Instagram, or any other social media platform for that matter, is that you don’t own your audience, it’s rented space. Instagram may decide to ban me overnight and my entire business is gone. This is when I started the blog.

After six months of working on Instagram and the blog, I didn’t have a plan on how to make money. I didn’t know much about blogs or how they drove traffic or made money. So, I took several courses and read content on how to monetize a blog. Affiliate marketing was the revenue source that made more sense for me, so I went all-in on that.

Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.

Since our main focus is to help and educate our readers via our blog, the main focus for us was our website. The first iteration of our blog was nothing like it looks today.

I hired someone to create a website for me using Wordpress. However, it turns out that the first website that the developer created was not what I wanted. I basically paid him for nothing because I ended up scrapping that website and building something on my own.

This was the landing page of our first website:

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The second iteration of the website was better than the first, but it also didn’t last long. I kept improving it and adding more features and functionality.

To this date, the website is still a work in progress. I feel that you have to keep adapting and changing with the times. Focusing above all on user experience!

this-solo-founder-grew-a-personal-finance-blog-to-102k-year

Describe the process of launching the business.

I didn’t have a clear strategy or path on how we were supposed to make money at the beginning. We started writing and publishing content to try to get people to read it. But in the beginning, no one was visiting our website. It was really frustrating spending all this time writing content that no one cared about, or so it seemed.

I started learning more about what SEO meant and how I could leverage it to drive traffic to our website. I was also learning to improve on the content and making it more complete and better overall.

Little by little, I started seeing more and more traffic. So, I doubled down on what was working for us and tried to cut back on things that weren’t moving the needle.

It took about a year of hard work to start seeing some meaningful results. I’m very optimistic about what the future holds for The Modest Wallet.

You don’t have to start the next Apple or Amazon to run a successful business, you need to find something you’re passionate about and make a decision to see that through no matter what.

The entire project was bootstrapped and financed by my life savings. My wife has been very supportive. If you are reading this, thank you and I love you.

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

Since we launched the blog we tried to focus our efforts on driving organic traffic with our SEO strategy. We strongly believe search engines bring the best quality of traffic for our business. People turn to Google to get answers to their questions, and when they find our site we want to answer their questions as fast and accurately as possible.

We do all of our keyword research using a tool called Ahrefs and we focus on keywords we can rank for and that have decent search traffic. From there, we create a comprehensive outline for our team of writers to follow. This ensures the writers and editorial team are on the same page in terms of search intent. Once the article has been published, we promote it across our social media channels. That’s it!

Sounds simple, right? Well, it actually takes quite a bit of effort to create high-quality content that people want to read, share, and that is in fact useful to the readers. We create custom images and tables to go with our articles and provide better context.

All of our content is reviewed and edited by two different people to ensure it’s accurate and factual. We want our readers to get the best possible experience so they come back to read other articles.

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A big part of our SEO strategy has been connecting with journalists in the personal finance space. It’s important to build rapport with authoritative websites as this is a signal to search engines like Google to regard The Modest Wallet as an authority in a set space, i.e. Personal Finance.

For instance, a few months ago I connected with a Forbes journalist looking for sources to talk about mortgages and the pros/cons of refinancing early. I helped the reporter by providing first-hand experience with this topic. The reporter was happy with my response and showed her appreciation by linking back to my website. It was a win-win for both of us, she got a reliable source with experience in the space, and I got a link back from Forbes to help build credibility for The Modest Wallet.

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While SEO is our main focus, we are also looking for ways to diversify our traffic sources via paid traffic and social media campaigns.

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

Right now we are in a good spot, we have a solid social media presence and an amazing community on Instagram (Come say hi). I feel blessed for the amount of support we get from the community.

At the moment, all of our revenue gets reinvested into making more and better content on our Blog and YouTube channel. We are also investing heavily into our SEO strategy to bring consistent organic traffic to our blog.

In the next 12 to 18 months we are planning on publishing more YouTube/blog content around investing topics. We are also looking for new partners to sponsor our newsletter.

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

Well, I definitely learned that everything worth achieving takes time. A lot of “gurus” out there make entrepreneurship and starting a business seem easy. But, there is a lot of grinds that no one sees. Most of the time it is a lonely road (unless you have a partner), and there is a lot of doubting and second-guessing, but I’ve learned to trust my gut and go with my instincts.

The best decision I made was definitely just getting started and not letting my doubt and fear stop me from pursuing my dreams. If I fail, I’d rather live knowing that I truly tried and gave it my all. But if I succeed, it will be the greatest feeling of knowing I built a company from scratch.

I’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way and I’m sure I will continue to make them, but the key to me is not how many mistakes I make, but what I get out of them, what did I learn, what was the underlying lesson.

I recommend you to start a winning board. We sometimes tend to focus on the things that are not going well or how you wish you were further ahead in our journey, and neglect all the small wins that you have made. My winning board helps me stay grounded and remember the good moments of my journey when things are going south.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

We use a lot of tools daily to help us be more efficient and grow our brand. Here is a quick list of our favorite software to help us run The Modest Wallet.

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

The book that pushed me to start my business was Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. I think it has valuable lessons for someone that wants to be an entrepreneur and build wealth.

It really made me realize that having a 9-5 job would not allow me to achieve the lifestyle and financial goals I set for myself.

I highly recommend that book to anyone looking to get inspiration and learn about the benefits of becoming an entrepreneur.

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

Don’t overthink!

The reality is that if you think about all the things that can go wrong or all the things you don’t know or understand about running a business, you will never get started! You just have to trust that somehow you will figure stuff out. And the truth is that you will.

You have to take small, but consistent steps. If you take enough small steps every single day and you don’t let obstacles overwhelm you, you will succeed.

You don’t have to start the next Apple or Amazon to run a successful business, you need to find something you’re passionate about and make a decision to see that through no matter what.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

At the moment we are not looking to hire. However, that may change in the near future as we are growing rapidly. Our team is composed of two editors and five writers. All of our staff is on a part-time/freelance basis.

Where can we go to learn more?

You can also check out our Facebook Group to connect with us. We chat about side hustles, investing, savings, and everything in between.

-  
Ricardo Pina,   Founder of The Modest Wallet
Pat Walls,  Founder of Starter Story

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