The past two years have been both the slowest and fastest years of my life. They were the slowest because building a business is a day-by-day, month-by-month project. You can never really look too far ahead, because you have no idea what is going to come up that day.
They've been the fastest because I can't believe what I've been able to accomplish in two years of writing my thoughts about personal finance online. Just a year and a half ago, I was a band director that woke up at 5:30 AM to go teach my first class at 7:15 AM (the kids were still half asleep usually).
Since then, I've turned a website that most of my peers thought was a total waste of time into a viable business. I basically went from making $50,000/year working myself into the grave to bringing in $11,000+ per month typing on a computer from coffee shops. It's crazy.
Here are some things that happened in M$M's second year:
I started making a decent living from my work
Let's not get it confused – $10,000-$11,000 per month is great money, but I'm not getting rich or anything right now. However, when I first went out on my own I wasn't really making enough money to support myself, much less my wife too. The progress lately has been pretty freaking awesome.
The crazy thing is that I haven't even scratched the potential for what my brand can do. I truly believe that I can make $1,000,000/year from this site. But, I know it will take a lot of time.
I study other bloggers' income reports pretty closely (Pat from SmartPassiveIncome.com and Michelle from MakingSenseofCents.com to name a few), and so far I feel like M$M is “on track”. It seems like the minimum to start making 1% type of income from blogging is about five years.
Like anything else, you just have to learn a ton of crap about the trade. I've got some goals for 2017 that I'll detail a little later in this post. I really wish I had learned about blogging and earning income online sooner, because I'd be closer to that $1,000,000/year goal. If you are thinking about starting a blog, my best advice is that you start now instead of later. Just trust me.
You can see my income reports for 2016 below:
I was featured in some pretty legit news sites this year
One of the toughest things about blogging is getting mentioned or featured by major news publications. It's the easiest way to add some legitimacy to your site and bring in loyal readers.
CNBC picked up my story about paying off my student loans on a teacher's salary, and it completely changed my business. That made M$M go from a pipe dream to something I could actually live on.
Since then, I've had various features or mentions on other sites like Business Insider and Forbes. I have been labeled a “personal finance expert” and “Millennial expert” a few times now, which is super weird haha. I still feel like I'm just some random dude playing around on my computer.
Here are the articles I was either featured or mentioned in this year:
How a teacher paid off $40,000 of student loans in 18 months – CNBC/Yahoo Finance
A teacher who paid off $40,000 of student loans in 18 months gave up 5 things –CNBC/Yahoo Finance
Don’t pay off your student loans – yet. – MarketWatch
Millennials Fear Tax Season, But Breaks and Youth-Friendly Policies Mean They Don’t Need To – International Business Times
7 Ideal Summer Job Options for Teachers – U.S. News
I've learned that companies have no idea how to talk to Millennials
I was flown out to Boston and New York this year to give my thoughts to some large financial corporations on reaching Millennials. I can just tell all of you that right now, these financial giants don't really understand us at all and are really worried about it.
It seems that with baby boomers you could just throw up a TV personality with a credit card and that was all they needed to convince them to buy crap. Millennials are still (wrongly) perceived by these financial institutions as lazy, aloof young idiots on their phones that want special treatment.
The disconnect for these financial institutions is that we just straight-up don't trust them. It's not us…it's them. They crashed the damn market with reckless, criminal activity in our formative years that screwed over both us and our parents. I don't care what clever app they make or what “action advice” they put on their company's home page, it's not going to “connect” with young people that hate them.
So, anyways, I'm going to try to get them to understand that haha.
M$M grew a ton
Partially because I was featured on the above mentioned sites, and partially because I learned how to advertise effectively on Facebook, the site has grown considerably. The site averages somewhere over 100,000 views per month, and my Twitter and Facebook following have both grown to over 10k follows/likes. If you have 100,000 views a month on your site, you should be able to make a living online (in my opinion).
The site's total reach is getting closer to 100,000 PEOPLE (like actual humans, not just views) per month. I want to say my total reach across all my social media channels and site traffic is sitting right around 90,000, which is a lot of damn people when you think about it.
That's the equivalent of filling up a NFL stadium to capacity once a month and talking to them about money and entrepreneurship. That's pretty cool, right?
Here are my goals for M$M's third year:
Well…there are a lot honestly, but I'm trying to keep my main focus to building my Pinterest traffic and building my email list. There are a few others though!
Build the email list
I'm closing in on about 5,000 people on my email list, which is pretty small in relation to the size of the site. The honest reason is that I didn't put enough time into that aspect and was more worried about starting to build affiliate income. That will change in 2017.
Generate substantial Pinterest traffic
Coral and I have made some pretty awesome strides on getting our Pinterest account set up correctly. It's crazy how much work that takes if you didn't focus on it from the beginning! I've really spent some money there for coaching sessions and getting pins made, and we have a clear plan going forward. I will attack that the same way I did Facebook, and I fully expect to kick @$$ there too.
Double my online income
I don't quite have the final numbers this year, but it looks like I will close the year having made about $80,000 online this year from my marketing income and site income combined. Based on some things I know that are coming up in January and beyond, I expect the site to do very well next year and see no reason why I can't make $150,000 – $200,000 next year online.
Update the website
As I'm writing this, I've got a phone call scheduled with a web developer in about five minutes. I'm going to make some changes to the site to clean a few things up and capture more email addresses/feature my income reports! I'm super excited about this, and I think it will definitely maximize my advertising efforts.
Meet more bloggers
I went to FinCon for the first time this year (it's a conference for personal finance bloggers), and it was awesome! It's cool to meet people that actually know what I do, because “professional blogger” isn't the most relatable profession to tell people about.
When it comes to networking with other bloggers and participating in the PF community, I really haven't done a great job. I've managed to do a lot of this on my own, but I definitely recognize the value in meeting and helping other bloggers grow their sites. This profession is pretty scarce, so there isn't really a competitive feel to it like you might see in other lines of work.
Keep helping people
Easily the most important one on the list! I really appreciate everyone so far that has reached out and let me know that my story, the site, or my message has inspired them. Personal finance is hard. Student loans suck. Making extra money on the side isn't easy. My goal is to make all of those things a little easier to deal with.
I'm looking forward to another year of growing the site and talking to more of you! Thank you so much for being a part of the site. Let's kill it in 2017!
Question for you:
What would you like to see more of in 2017? Side hustles? Student loan stories? Let me know in the comments (I DO take your advice to heart)!