I’ve explained before how I was laid off from my job back in 2010, and it totally changed my perspective on life. I always figured I was young, promotable, and even in the most dire circumstances any company would keep me even when shrinking the rest of their workforce. I guess that was my ego talking, because they sent me walking with two months severance, just a mere two months after buying my first home! It really wasn’t the layoff that was the catalyst that led to me righting my finances. It would end up being the realization that after 6 years in the workforce, post-college, I had a negative net worth of about $35,000 to show for it. I had some good bullet points on my resume, and some good skills I had acquired at previous employers, but I didn’t have any fruits of my labors to show for it. I liken my situation to an NFL player who made millions during his career but squandered it all… I was in the same situation, except that I never made millions! I used to shake my head at those stories of the extremely rich that had it all and then lost it all. How was I any better?
It All Began With One Blog
It all started four years ago this past January. I signed up for my first hosting account and registered my first domain. That was all very easy actually. It was when I tried to create the design and layout of my first site that I kept getting tripped up. I am not a technical person AT ALL, and even after four years of blogging I still can’t do much other than write and post articles. Anyways, I actually had the domain and hosting all ready to go for a month before I got the site going, simply because I gave up on it for a month after not being able to figure it all out.
I started writing opinion pieces on contrarian thoughts I had to the typical finance articles I kept reading about on every site in existence. For instance, I had an article about why you shouldn’t pay off your mortgage, or why Coinstar sucks. They were just atypical thoughts to the usual articles I was reading, and they were things I truly believed. But let me tell you, there is nothing more de-motivating then spending several hours writing and editing a post only to have ZERO comments, and maybe 3 views a day. After my first few articles I almost gave up since I didn’t see how anyone would find my tiny little site in the vast world wide web! Then I stumbled across a forum of like minded personal finances junkies, all with burgeoning sites and similar issues to mine. The best part was, this forum had a ton of people who were a little more seasoned as well, and could offer up advice on how to grow my site….all of which happened.
I grew traffic, social media, and search engine hits fairly steadily. Random posts that once went unnoticed were starting to get picked up by Google and Bing based on certain “keywords” I was now ranking for. For those unfamiliar with keyword, this is the text that you type into a search engine, and depending on how you rank it puts you on a certain page of Google. For instance, if my site ranks high for the words “make more money” then my site might show up on the first page of Google whenever someone searches that term (in case your wondering, my site does not lol). This eventually led to emails from advertisers offering me money for posting ads. I even started to cold call companies, and email lending sites to see if they wanted to place banners and ads on my site. It took about 8 months from my first article until I received my first ad payment, and I still remember the amount to this day, $300 for placing a banner on the sidebar of my site for 1 year. I was going crazy, it took me 5 minutes to throw the banner up and I received $300 in my Paypal account!
Duplicating, and then Triplicating the Results
My initial inclination was to take that money and spend it on shit! Fortunately, I checked myself and decided to just hold the cash. I still had a mountain of debt at that point and I figured paying it down was probably the prudent thing to do, but for the next few months I just let any money I earned from ads pile up into my paypal account. This wasn’t a ton of cash mind you, but for someone who had never earned a single penny outside of his day job it was getting very exciting for me! Shortly, about the one year mark since I started blogging, I had a couple thousand dollars saved up in my account. I realized that I had a business model that could be duplicated, and possibly even triplicated with a little effort. I also remembered how much time and effort went into building up my site before I could monetize it. I decided to use that money I had saved in my paypal account as an investment on future earnings. I started to seek our bloggers who had posted less frequently on their well established sites, and then I would email and offer to buy them out. I quickly found two sites that were of equal quality to mine and I purchased them outright. Just as I suspected, I was able to triple my earnings each month! Those first few months owning three sites was like a dream. I was making really good money (for me at least) and saving it all up. But alas, all good things must come to an end.
Google is Fickle
It was three years ago this past March, I will never forget that month. I thought I had a business model I could continue to grow indefinitely and even had told my wife that I planned on quitting my day job at some point. Then came my own personal doomsday. I woke up one morning and Google had penalized 2 out of my 3 sites. Traffic had all but dried up, and the other metrics that are valuable to media and ad companies had been penalized as well. I used to wake up each morning excited to look at my phone because I would have dozens of emails from prospective advertisers wanting to work with me. Now each morning I woke up to virtually nothing. At that point in time I had made a total of $12,000 blogging. My wife consoled me and explained that I was lucky to have even made that much money and should consider myself fortunate. It took me about a month and I decided I just needed to get over it and move on. I still kept up with the sites, and invested a little more time into the one that hadn’t been penalized, and once again slowly saved up the money I earned off that one site…just in case some other venture should pop up that I wanted to invest in. Then another month later, as the storm clouds started to clear, I started to get more emails and inquiries into the one quality site I still had…then I got to thinking, why not buy up more sites??
And So It Began!
I started scouring forums and website lists, looking for ANY semi-inactive sites I could find and revive on the cheap. I probably bought a dozen more sites that year. Sure I was investing every dollar I was making, but at least I wasn’t spending and wasting it! Just as I had thought, the more sites I owned the more money I kept making. It got to the point where I had to hire virtual assistants to help out with routine site maintenance tasks, and writers to supply articles so I could keep up fresh and unique content on all of the sites. I also began to start some new sites from scratch. I figured if I was patient enough with them that at some point they would start earning money as well, and quite frankly I wasn’t in any rush with them as I had a ton of money making sites at my disposal already.
Branching Out and Diversify My Income
Income diversification is so important! To think that at one point in my life I relied only on the income from my day job. The point of income diversification isn’t to simply make more money, rather, it’s to diversify the income streams you have in order to mitigate your risk from a job loss or salary cut. When I lost my job I had nothing but debt and a mortgage payment that I couldn’t make. Then I had a day job, and a website earning me cash. Eventually I transformed into having a day job and multiple websites earning cash. But that still wasn’t enough! I knew that I needed to diversify HOW my sites made money, and even HOW I made money online.
Up until this point I had heavily relied on making money from placing direct advertisements from various media companies. So I decided to start using my arsenal of sites to increase my overall traffic. This led to several of my sites getting increased visitors, which inevitably led to earning more money from CPC and affiliate type advertising. These are the ads that can really pay off! When people come to your site and click on a banner or text placement they are then re-directed to that company’s website. If they buy something from that website then you earn a percentage of those sales. I tend to only place ads for items and/or services that I have (or currently) used before.
While diversifying HOW I made money on my sites was good and all, I still wasn’t satisfied, I needed to find other ways to earn money in case all of my sites ever went belly up. So branched out to writing articles for well established bloggers. I wrote lengthy, and quality pieces, for well known bloggers. This often increased exposure to my current sites and I could earn up to $50 per article as well. The only problem with this revenue stream was that it took up a ton of my time, time that I didn’t have to begin with. So I began to offer ad management services. By this point in time I realized that I knew several thousand bloggers, and probably interacted with several hundred on an almost daily basis. I began to reach out to these very busy bloggers and offered to find advertisers for their sites, sort of a passive income stream for them as I would do all of the leg work. I found the advertisers, negotiated pricing, and then passed on the details to my colleagues. In return, I would collect a small percentage of their earnings as a finders fee. It took a very long time to establish contacts with all the media companies I know today, but over the years I have built up a solid contact list.
Building My Income Over the Years
That first year I blogged I ended up making nearly $12,000! I thought I was living on cloud 9, until the aforementioned smack down on my sites that basically wiped out my earnings. However, because I didn’t give up and kept pushing forward, I ended up earning just over $30,000 that following year. I then decided to set a target of $50,000 in online earnings the year after that, which I met and exceeded by a few thousand. Then last year I accomplished something I never thought possible, I made $100,000 in blogging in just one year! It wasn’t until about a month ago that I realized I had made over $200,000 in total from my online endeavors.
I know it’s inevitable that I will receive some hate mail for posting this! Surprisingly, many people out there hate reading about success. I know because some of my previous, and more discreet posts, have received plenty of hate mail. On the flip side, I have established some very good connections with loyal readers of this site over the past couple years…some of whom I have helped start their own sites and earn their own money. Take this article for what it is, a motivator, and an example that anything is possible!
I’m telling you, the internet has opened up possibilities that used be non-existent. If I can start a website and earn money, then literally everyone else in the world can too! You just need to have a little patience, and a little persistence. If you’re inspired, I included a banner below for BlueHost, this was the Hosting company that I started with as well. They help you setup your site for free, and are one of the cheapest and more reliable hosting companies in the game!