We Make Personal Finance Content For Beginners And Are Generating $5.6K/Month

Published: May 20th, 2023
Sammie Ellard
Founder, Up The Gains
Up The Gains
started December 2021
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Hello! Who are you, and what business did you start?

Hello, my name is Sammie Ellard-King, and I’m the Founder of Up the Gains. I started the company in 2021 to demystify personal finance and empower people to take control of their wallets.

I realized there was a lack of quality information available that wasn’t packed full of jargon, and from here, the idea for ‘Up the Gains’ was born.

Our main hub is the website, and we provide over a million words of free content for people relating to investing, budgeting, saving, and making money. It’s the full spectrum of personal finance aimed at the beginner, so we can guide them when it comes to something they don’t understand or need help with their finances.




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

My story comes from being deep in debt throughout university and my mid-20s. I was a bit of a party animal and funded my lifestyle with credit cards, overdrafts, and loans, racking up over £24,000 in credit card debt alone. If you factored in student loans and other credit, this was over £60,000!

I grew up close to London in a small city called St. Albans. I’ve always had a passion for business and had my own clothing re-sale business from age 14.

At 18, whilst at university, I started my own events business which ran very successfully for four years until I realized I needed to move back to London to make a real go of it. This would have set me up for life if I didn’t spend all the profits partying!

Once back in the capital city, I moved into marketing for hospitality groups and moved up the ranks, quickly becoming one of the industry's youngest Heads of Marketing at just 25. I was earning great money but spending it as soon as I made it.

Soon after, while traveling in Vietnam with a group of friends, my debt issues all came out. I’d been hiding it from my friends, who were all young entrepreneurs or in successful careers. After a long night in a small town called Hoi An, my friend asked me a question that would stick with me for the rest of my life.

He asked, when do you want to retire? I said no later than 45. He then said, when do you want to live? I said, until my mid-70s. He told me to times that number by the amount I spent each year and then said, do you have that number? This changed everything; a spark had gone off in my brain.

Fast forward 24 months later, I was debt free, investing in the stock market, and close to my first deposit on a house after self-teaching myself everything I could get my hands on about finance.

Soon after this, I realized there was a lack of quality information available that wasn’t packed full of jargon, and from here, the idea for Up the Gains was born.

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

I’m a branding guy. I love creating visually appealing content, products, and experiences. I knew that because personal finance is such a crowded market, the branding had to cut through the noise, so I spent a lot of time planning and designing the feel of Up the Gains.

I knew I needed to build an entire website, but the problem I had was I’d always had teams or agencies to do this for me. I built the first version of the site on Squarespace, which is a rookie mistake if you’re planning on building out a massive content site. You need to be on WordPress, so I taught myself how to custom-build a site on Elementor.

It took me 3-4 months of heavy studying Elementor to meet the standards I wanted. This was a lot of late nights and early mornings trying to figure it out, bearing in mind I had no coding experience or knowledge of building websites before this.

1st version

During my first few months working on the brand, the site looked awful, but the content was solid, so traffic was starting to come in. My strategy was to grow organic traffic first. SEO takes time, and because this started as a side hustle, I knew I needed to develop this side of the business before branching out into socials, YouTube, and paid ads.

It was just me working away on the site in my spare bedroom for the first 12 months. I was up at 5 am (how cliche) and doing 2-3 hours of writing before heading into London to run my hospitality business. I would also try and squeeze in 2-3 hours in the evening after dinner. It took its toll on my social life, but I was determined to make something out of it.

Be prepared to go the distance. You will succeed if you’re passionate about something and are genuinely solving an issue or piquing curiosity.

Describe the process of launching the business.

The business was launched really without me telling anyone. I had a 250-article content strategy and knew that if I got my head down and put out great content, Google would eventually send me traffic. This worked, but it’s a long road, so you must be prepared.

After six months, I’ve bootstrapped the entire operation and started to outsource Digital PR campaigns to get the word out and some backlinks to help with my site's authority.

I was lucky enough to meet an agency starting a new service for Digital PR, so I got in early. They now charge double what I was paying at the start, and because I was one of the first clients, there was a lot of energy from them initially.

This was expensive and cost close to £16,000 for a 6-month campaign, and I also brought on a writer at £180 an article (finance is costly) to help with the workload. Regarding hiring the writer, I am part of a UK financial blogger group on Facebook, and I reached out to a few people initially and finally selected one that I thought would be right for the project. He was flexible and could deliver one article a week, which I could afford at the time.

Alongside subscriptions and hosting, I’ve put in close to £28,000 to the business overall.

To help with this, I took a small start-up business loan of £10,000, but the rest came from savings and my paycheck. My most significant learning would have been to front-load content onto the site before launching.

I think I had six pages on the site for the first six months, and now I have close to 200. If I had front-loaded 30-40 pages and/or articles before going live, this would have helped the site grow much faster.


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

We have three main goals for our traffic, as each person will have different intent. We categorize these individuals as motivated, unmotivated, and unsure. By doing this, we can create revenue opportunities for each strand, leaving no chance for lost revenue.

These revenue streams are as follows:

  1. To convert you onto a buyer's guide or the ‘best of’ article related to your query. Then once on the buyer's guide, we optimize for an affiliate conversion.
  2. To convert onto our mailing list, which we attract via a lead magnet. We use a net worth calculator with text that changes depending on the type of article you are in.
  3. To convert into a digital product buyer. We have an ebook, budgeting spreadsheet, debt spreadsheet, and life coaching calls.
  4. Finally, should you not convert, we can still make money via digital ads.

Our current traffic levels are 44k page views monthly, growing 60% MoM. In finance, the affiliate conversions can be huge and up to £750 per conversion on some products, so we only need 15-20 modifications per month to be profitable.

Regarding SEO strategy, I researched and targeted longtail keywords with relatively little to no competition. I used Ahrefs to find low-authority websites and looked for thin content I knew I could beat.

Most of the success is your on-page SEO and how you implement that. You need to beat your competition, which means finding ways to do that through unique data or an opinion that makes your article unique. I talk a lot about this on my Twitter.

Phase 2 of the brand strategy is video. We’ve just launched the podcast, which is filmed, but we have just brought on a video editor to help with short-form and long-form video content.

At first, we will focus on creating videos for high-converting articles and then branch out our strategy to focus on trends or current affairs. Our videos will be educational with CTAs on the mailing list and an affiliate offer.

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

Our current revenue levels are £4.5k profit per month, so there is nothing to shout about here but from a side hustle built a bedroom, I’m pretty pleased with the results so far. The opportunity with this brand is enormous, and we’re forecasting £147,000 in revenue over the next 12 months.

In the following 12 months, we’re forecasting £290,000 in revenue with a net profit margin of 82%. Content sites are highly profitable if you can scale them up, and that’s why I’m very excited for the next few months and years ahead.

We plan to launch additional digital products as we scale our mailing list and video channels. There have already been a few sponsorship conversations, and the money within this space can be enormous. This is why video is essential to provide brands with advertising opportunities.

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

I think the decision to begin SEO early has undoubtedly paid off. The site now functions and makes money without me adding to it, but obviously, this is just the beginning.

On reflection, I would have liked to have started the podcast or YouTube a bit earlier, but I wanted to make sure the website was firing before putting eggs into other baskets.

Regarding the personal finance conversation, I believe this is just the start. I’m excited to bring my bubbly personality into the video, even if I am a bit camera-shy!

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

I’m huge on podcasts. It’s where I consume and learn 90% of my information. This is why we launched our own because the channel is just growing from strength to strength.

My favorite podcasts are Niche Pursuits with Spencer Hawes and Jared Bauman. I also love Authority Hackers with Gael Braeton and Mark Webster. Regarding finance podcasts, Motley Fool Money and StockTwits Founder / VC Howard Linzon’s ‘Panic with Friends’.

My favorite book is Atomic Habits by James Clear, but the audible book which kickstarted this whole journey is ‘How to Achieve Financial Independence and Retire Early’ by JD Roth.

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

Be prepared to go the distance. You will succeed if you’re passionate about something and are genuinely solving an issue or piquing curiosity. It’s a long, challenging, and sometimes lonely road, but it is worth it once you get there.

Where can we go to learn more?