Ron Stefanski realized during his teaching years, that many of his students kept asking the same question: “How can we make a living online?” Instead of pointing his students to outside sources, One Hour Professor blog was born.
Revenue of $8,000/mo
Email list size of 9,647
Founded in 2015
Hello! What’s your background, and what is your blog about?
My name is Ron Stefanski and I run the blog One Hour Professor (OHP). I’ve been working at this online business thing for about two and a half years. I worked in Corporate America for 13 years prior to making the leap into online business.
During that time, I was in sales for about 7 years, then after I got my MBA I was able to focus on Marketing, which is where my passion really was. In my corporate life, I was an account manager at a digital agency, then a digital marketing manager for a startup and finally a marketing manager at an international educational services company.
While employed at those companies, I taught marketing at a few colleges as an online adjunct professor and I still do this today.
My blog focuses on helping people create and market their own online business. The people who read my blog are typically those who have a job and are looking to start something on the side. They read the blog because, like I did, they aspire to leave their job and would rather work for themselves for a number of reasons.
As of now my online business, which is a portfolio of websites, makes around $8000/month in revenue. Actual profit from that is right around $5500-$6500.
What motivated you to get started with the blog?
I came up with the idea for this blog because of my students at the colleges I teach at. Long story short, near the end of the course they would always ask where they could learn more and I’d point them to outside sources.
Then, one day, it hit me. I should start my own blog to help students understand marketing, but also focus on online entrepreneurship because so many of my students wanted to work for themselves. Things have evolved and changed since then, but this was the original inspiration.
For me, this blog was a perfect fit because I had years of experience in internet marketing and knew quite a bit about marketing as a whole. When creating it, my thought was that worse case, it would be a good thing to show to future employers if the whole online business thing didn’t work out.
At this time, I was very comfortable professionally in a corporate job making just under six figures. However, I couldn’t stand the hour long commute each way from work every day and absolutely hated having to answer/take direction from my bosses.
While I respected them, I genuinely felt that I had more knowledge than them in marketing and if they just let me work, the company would have positive results. But the politics of Corporate America impeded my progress regularly and I usually spent more time explaining to outsiders what my job was and why it was valuable versus doing the job itself.
What is the revenue model for the blog?
Because I now own a portfolio of websites, my income comes from various sources. That said, the good thing is that 95% of them are considered passive income, so I’m able to take a day off whenever I’d like and not be impacted. My primary income comes from display ads (Google Adsense) and the secondary income I make comes from Affiliate marketing. I also have some consulting agreements from time to time and make money selling courses on Udemy and my website itself, but my primary goal is to make a bunch of websites that, in aggregate, make me over $10,000 in passive income monthly.
I still remember my first dollar I made which was on Google Adsense on the OHP website. It really wasn’t much and definitely not enough to live off of, but it’s undoubtedly the best dollar I ever made.
I started making real money from my websites when one of them went viral and made a couple thousand dollars in a few days from display ads. That was definitely a turning point for me.
In terms of advice for new/fellow entrepreneurs – I think one of the most important things I do prior to creating any new website is force myself to think of at least three different revenue sources for the website itself.
This is key because it forces you to think long term and estimate what the website could eventually make. You don’t need to start the website with these revenue sources, but just understanding the money that it can make and having multiple income strategies makes the website more likely to succeed.
Walk us through some strategies you have used to build up the traffic?
In terms of getting that ever-elusive initial traffic, it’s all about creating QUALITY content and then getting backlinks. I know, it sounds cliché, but this has worked for me across my entire portfolio of websites and continues to work with each new website I launch.
I usually will start a website and hire a good writer to create 25-30 pieces of quality content. From there, I will then begin to reach out to other websites and try to build links through various strategies. What you’ll notice is that when you start a website and have 25-30 articles, you’ll have VERY minimal traffic. But once you start building links (all white hat strategies through personal outreach), your website will increase in ranking and traffic will begin to flow in.
One of the things I always make sure I setup for that initial traffic is an email list opt in form. I typically don’t even have an email marketing strategy when the website starts, I just create an opt-in and start building my list because it would be a shame to waste the traffic. As time goes on, I add to the email list weekly and begin asking and finding out what my email subscribers need and cater to them.
In terms of actual marketing strategies, I tend to focus most of my efforts on SEO. I like this approach because keyword research will show you all of the demand for each query and there is no guessing involved. In terms of my strategies, I have many.
But my most successful SEO strategy is to focus on optimizing website content and then create posts that answer questions people ask in a search engine. Things such as, “What is the best workout for my bicep?” I let keyword research steer my content and strategy, but if you just answer what people are looking for in a quality manner, it works.
How have you grown your email list?
My email lists have grown significantly over time. At present, I typically add 50-100 subscribers per day across my websites. One of my websites generates about 90% of the email subscribers and for that one, my list is right around 7,000 people. That said, I actually clean out my email list every single month to get rid of inactive subscribers. This is because I’d much rather have 7,000 engaged contacts versus 30,000 who are not engaged.
For that website, I send an email every single day to the list for the first 28 days. Saturday through Thursday they get an automated email that includes helpful information or a resource that they need, and Fridays I send a “weekly digest” to all of my email subscribers letting them know what I’m building for the website and seeking feedback.
These weekly digests are by far the most effective method of connecting with my audience and many people open/read/reply to them. This isn’t the same strategy I use for every website, but it works well for this one.'One of the things you absolutely must have when you start this journey is patience and consistency.'Click To Tweet
If you’re looking to grow your email list, it’s a pretty simple problem to solve in my opinion. Create content – get traffic – have an opt-in that’s interesting to them. The opt in “hook” doesn’t have to be a full course or an ebook, it can be as simple as a one-page document that helps them understand one specific topic.
I actually advise that you make the opt in something quick and easy to digest that will deliver a lot of value. If you make it too much, people won’t read/review it and the value is lost.
How do you write great content that performs well?
Well, I typically don’t. Aside from the OHP website, I outsource all of my content to writers that I hire. I do this because it’s simply not feasible for me to write all of my own content and frankly, I wouldn’t want to.
That being said, I definitely have a very specific process I follow and make writers follow to accomplish these goals.
First off, I spend 3-5 hours doing keyword research. I do this because I’m trying to find everything that the website should cover in every single blog post for its lifetime. Although my initial list usually has a couple thousand topics to write about, I’ve found that as time goes on I will expand on that as I learn more about the niche. Once I have all the queries, I run them through various tools to understand the organic competition and search volumes.
Second, I create templates for writers to follow. Typically, this is a one to two page document that will help writers understand my website, target market, and how to structure their blog posts. In my opinion, you should have a template for every single type of blog post. If the blog post is answering a question, you need a template for them to follow. Want to create a top 10 blog post? You need a template. Want to talk about the best products for X? You need a template. The idea is to create a template for every blog post type to take the guessing out of the format of their writing.
Third, I will then let them write and submit articles to me. At that point I become a copywriter and it’s important that I look at and tell them everything wrong with their work. I do this over and over each week until I don’t have any feedback for them on improvement. At that time, I know that I’ve done a good job training my writer and though I still read their articles thereafter, it’s with a much-less critical eye.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced and obstacles you’ve overcome with your blog? If you had to start over, what would you do differently?
I’d say that my single biggest problem in my website portfolio is trying to understand the best monetization strategy for each website. Getting traffic isn’t always that difficult for me, but monetizing the websites correctly is. Truth is, Google Adsense is usually one of the lowest forms of monetization out there, so there is a lot of room to grow. But growing to that next level and trying to find the right strategy is difficult.
That said, I think the key here is that people need to first get traffic before they think about monetization. In my opinion, you shouldn’t focus on monetizing your website until you have at least 10,000 people monthly. There are, of course, exceptions to this with something like a micro-niche website with a high-ticket item, but this is usually a good rule to follow.If I had to start over I would only focus on one website until that website made enough money to support new business ventures.Click To Tweet
Beyond finding the best monetization style, the other big issue I struggle with is “shiny object syndrome”. Like many of those who read this, I assume one of the biggest problems is that they have so many ideas. In the past, I’ve been known to act on all of those ideas and build 3-4 websites at a time…which is a great way to fail.
The way I’ve been able to solve this is limiting myself to two projects at a time. I know, I should probably just focus on creating one website at a time, but it becomes boring to me if I just focus on one thing.
Knowing what I know now, if I had to start over I would only focus on one website until that website made enough money to support new business ventures. In the beginning, I really struggled and tried so many strategies to make money. The only time I really had success was when I laser-focused on one project.
Nowadays, I am able to spread my attention across 2-3 projects at a time because I have figured out a business model that works, I’m just trying to scale it in different industries.
Have you found anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
I’m not a big reader mainly because it takes a lot of time. That said, I am obsessive about listening to Podcasts and I usually do this on 2x speed. For me, podcasts have absolutely been my saving grace. I exercise 6 to 7 days a week and during these workouts, time is wasted. I do not like wasting time…..so I spend it listening to podcasts and exercising. Doing this allows me to exercise my body and mind at the same time, which I think is an amazing concept.
In terms of the podcasts I love, below is my list:
- Smart Passive Income – Hosted by Pat Flynn, this was the first podcast to really inspire me to actually act on this online business thing.
- MyWifeQuitHerJob – Hosted by Steve Chou, this is a podcast mostly about running an online store/ecommerce business, but I’ve found he does a lot of crossover into online business as a whole.
- Authority Hacker – Now my favorite, this podcast really focuses on helping people create authority websites, which is all I do. They have some really good information and absolutely no fluff, which is what I love.
- Empire Flippers – This podcast is focused on explaining internet marketing as a whole and is typically good because it interviews a lot of people who have “been there, done that”. A lot of good golden nuggets dropped here.
- Digital Journey Podcast – Pretty new, but has a real focus on people that are currently in the trenches and in the process of building their businesses. This isn’t interviews with people who are making 100,000 a year, but instead people who are making a couple thousand dollars a month and the journey their going through.
- How I Built This – This is an NPR sponsored podcast and it’s really cool. This podcast just interviews founder/creators of very successful companies and you get to hear a lot about the founders and how they were able to do it. I think my favorite thing here is how you start to understand how they think and there is so much to learn.
- Masters of Scale – Hosted by Reid Hoffman (Creator of Linkedin, and the former COO of Paypal) this guy brings some of the most prestigious guests on to his show. Mark Zuckerberg (CEO Facebook), Reed Hastings (CEO Netflix), Brian Chesky (CEO Airbnb) and more. Great podcast, shares a lot of the mindset of some of the greatest CEO’s out there.
What’s your advice for bloggers who are just starting out?
I have two pieces of advice for those that are looking to start.
First, make sure that you understand this is not a short-term thing. It’s not uncommon to have to wait 6-12 months before you see ANY income come from a new website. Even then, the income you make at that time is likely to be very small. One of the things you absolutely must have when you start this journey is patience and consistency.
Second, share your content and get links! The thing that amazes me when it comes to bloggers is that they’re happy writing 2-4 hours to create an epic piece of content, but then they won’t spend more than 20 minutes sharing it. As I see it, one of the most important things you can do is share your content and get people to see it.
This shouldn’t only be sharing it on social media, you should also reach out to people in your niche and see if they’re willing to share it or link to it. It makes more sense for someone to write one great blog post a week and spend most of their time spreading awareness about the post as opposed to writing 3 great pieces of content a week that no one will ever see.
Where can we go to learn more?
Getting a hold of me is best on the OHP website. This is my “home base” and although I have various other businesses, this is my go-to and has been since I started TranscriptionJobsHQ.com years ago and forgot all about it, but I’m now working on reviving/growing it much larger than its current state. Feel free to check it out as well.