Eric Rosenberg started Personal Profitability blog in 2008, and left his full-time day job as a Senior Financial Analyst to turn the side hustle into a full-time gig. Learn how it all began.
Revenue of $11,000/mo
Email list size of 1,900
Founded in 2008
Hello! What’s your background, and what is your blog about?
I’m Eric Rosenberg, a personal finance, business, and entrepreneurship freelance writer and blogger/podcast in sunny Ventura, California.
I started my blog, Personal Profitability, way back in October 2008, which makes me a dinosaur in blogger years. I started my blog as a small side hustle just after leaving a job working as a bank manager, and slowly built my blog and freelancing business on the side while earning an MBA in finance and working in cubicle land in corporate finance.
I quit my job to go full-time in April 2016, and had my first $10,000 month online in October. I’ve been doing income reports since 2012. This year, I’m on track to earn about $130,000 in online revenue, primarily from freelance writing.
What motivated you to get started with the blog?
I started reading other personal finance blogs in 2006, the year I started my first blog as a hobby (don’t bother looking, it’s long gone!). I saw people without the strong finance background I have writing about money, and I started thinking, “if they can do it, so can I!” On October 7, 2008, I added a new blog to my Blogger account and my new career path was born!
Having come a finance degree and banking experience under my belt, I knew I could help people with their biggest money questions and problems. I’m proud to keep that trend alive for nearly a decade. I added the Personal Profitability Podcast to the mix in January 2015.
What is the revenue model for the blog?
I thought my blog would turn into some six-figure a month cash cow, and as my income reports explain, that never happened. My site does make more than a few bucks per year, and it led to my biggest income source today.'It’s easy to compare yourself to huge bloggers with years of experience, but everyone started somewhere.'Click To Tweet
I earn revenue on my blog and podcast primarily through affiliate advertising. I used to take sponsored posts and made a good income from them, but Google hates paid links and I’ve mostly turned off that monetization strategy.
Launching this month, I’m adding a new Personal Profitability Pro Mastermind, a group mastermind with up to 7 members that will meet weekly, with a monthly one-on-one check-in with me, for a monthly fee. This is the first service/product I’ve sold directly through the site outside of a book I published a few years ago.
The big way my blog makes money is helping new clients find me for freelance writing. That’s typically a $10,000+ income source each month for me on its own. I’m happy to do better from affiliate and other sales. Without the blog, however, the freelance business wouldn’t exist and I’d still be working in a grey cubicle, much farther from the beach.
What are some strategies you have used to increase the blog’s traffic?
I have to be honest, blog traffic has never been my strongest skill on my own site. Articles I’ve written elsewhere have millions of views, but my own blog doesn’t get a ton of traffic compared to many peers.
I attribute this to Google’s ever-changing algorithms. I did something once that Google still penalizes me for, but I do get a trickle of traffic there. Lately I’ve been working on more epic posts, like the 137 Ways to Earn Your First Side Hustle Dollar article, which has performed very well in social media and for backlinks.
Lately my biggest traffic boost has come from Pinterest, where I have a great virtual assistant running the show. After Google, that’s my number two traffic source over the last month. High five for Pinterest traffic!
How have you grown your email list?
The best strategy I have tried to grow my email list is the full-size landing page I built with Sumo. I use ConvertKit for my list, and a combination of ConvertKit, Sumo, and Gravity Forms to funnel readers to my email list.
One of my best strategies to convert readers and visitors is my free weeklong course, Personal Profitability Bootcamp, which I give away to new subscribers who opt-in via one of the bootcamp forms.
The list is nearing 2,000 subscribers.
How do you write great content that performs well?
This is what I do best, and what I do for about a half-dozen clients each month. I take complex finance and business subjects and distill them down to a format easily understood by a wide range of audiences.
One of my favorite tactics to engage readers is examples, where I create a relatable example with numbers based on the average reader profile. This makes the posts feel more actionable as well.'Don’t let perfection get in the way of progress. You don’t need permission to do anything on your own site, and you don’t have to emulate others.'Click To Tweet
I’m also very open with my own story, from the numbers to the successes and failures, as that authenticity makes me more trustworthy (I hope) in the eyes of readers and listeners.
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?
My biggest challenge has actually been traffic and Google related. While I’m a fan of Google browser, phones, Wi-Fi, and other goodies, they have not been kind to me in terms of traffic. I even shared the story on Problogger once upon a time.
I think the experience ultimately made me a better writer and blogger, but it sure hurts to see your traffic fall off a cliff!
Have you found anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
One of the single biggest contributors to my success is attending the annual FinCon conference, which takes place every fall. The biggest financial blogging and media conference is the highlight of my year, and a place I see friends, build relationships, and learn more about growing my online business.
I am a big fan of blogging and media conferences, and have also been to the last two Podcast Movements and the last TBEX North America. I work hard to get myself in a position where I can jump on stage, share my experiences, and build a following.
What’s your advice for bloggers who are just starting out?
Don’t let perfection get in the way of progress. You don’t need permission to do anything on your own site, and you don’t have to emulate others. Just get started and figure it out as you go.
It’s easy to compare yourself to huge bloggers with years of experience, but everyone started somewhere. If you go back into the archives of some of your favorite blogs, you may be surprised to see that the quality wasn’t always as high.
Where can we go to learn more?
You can also get my week-long course, Personal Profitability Bootcamp for free here.