Jason Butler runs The Butler Journal where he discusses debt, side hustles and travel. In this interview he will talk about the importance of not giving up even when it’s hard to see results.
Revenue of $350/mo
Email list size of 870
Founded in 2013
Hello! What’s your background, and what is your blog about?
My name is Jason Butler. I am a financial aid counselor during the day and a side hustler and blogger at night. My blog is The Butler Journal. I discuss debt, side hustles, travel and financial aid info.
My readers consist of millennials and hard-working adults that want to get out of debt. My site motivates people to keep going even when things aren’t easy. My blog makes around $350/mo.
What motivated you to get started with the blog?
I started my blog in 2013. I was turning 30 that year and realized that it was time to get my finances in order. I had started reading personal finance blogs the previous year. I saw people making some serious changes in their lives and figured that I could do the same thing.
I didn’t have much experience with blogging but I knew that it had to be done. I helped my friend with his blog, but I was ready to start my own thing. I did my research and watched some videos on YouTube. Then I created, The Butler Journal. I considered several names before I started the blog, but The Butler Journal sounded the best.
When I stared my site, I was in over $72,000 worth of debt. I still have over $60,000 worth, but I’m in a much better place. In 2013, I ended up quitting a job and traveling cross country. I saved money up and attempted to make money with blogging and side hustles for the next few months. Once the money ran out, I started working two-part time jobs. I also put my debt repayment on hold. I simply didn’t have the money to pay down my debt. I stopped putting extra money towards my debt for over a year.
What is the revenue model for the blog?
I currently make money three different ways with my blog. I earn money through ads, sponsored posts and affiliate marketing. I made my first money via Google AdSense in the middle of 2013. It was a whopping two dollars. With AdSense, you get paid every time you get to a $100 threshold. That didn’t happen to me until 2015.
As I stated earlier, I’m currently making around $350 from my blog. As my traffic continues to increase so will the income. For me it’s been a long road. I went from writing articles that were less than 300 words to now having posts that are over 1500 words. That’s huge. I had no background in writing and my first couple of years with the blog showed it. The good thing is that I got better.
If you’re a new blogger I suggest that you keep at it. If you work at your craft and figure out your niche, you will get better. Also, don’t copy people’s content word for word. It’s cool to get ideas from other bloggers, but add your own flair to the article.
What are some strategies you have used for building up the traffic?
Have you ever heard the saying, “If you build it, they will come?” Well when it comes to blogging, it doesn’t work like that. When I first started blogging nobody read it. I started telling my friends and family about it. They supported very little in the beginning.
I started to get more traffic when I would engage and leave comments on other bloggers websites. A funny thing happened. Those bloggers would come to my site and leave comments as well. Some of their readers also came over to my site and commented.
I created a Facebook page, Twitter and Pinterest account to help me promote the site more. Over time that has helped me get more readers. I also stopped trying to focus on every single social media application and put most of my focus in Pinterest and Facebook. Pinterest went from being in the middle of the pack to referrals to now being my number one referral.
The one recommendation I have is to make sure that you’re on Pinterest. You can get a lot of good traffic from that site.
How have you grown the email list?
I don’t have the biggest e-mail list. It’s currently over 870 names. It’s something that I’m actively trying to work on this year.
I e-mail my list every Tuesday & Friday because those are the days that I publish new posts. I also send out a monthly newsletter with updates and information about a freebie.
The sooner you start asking for e-mails the better. I blew it because I waited about 6 months to start my list. I also didn’t e-mail them for at least a year after I collected the e-mails. That was a huge mistake.
How do you write great content that performs well?
I typically write on Saturday’s and Sunday’s. I write my post on a sheet of paper and then type them in WordPress. It’s easier for me to get my ideas flowing by doing it that way. I’ve been doing it that way since the beginning.
I get ideas all the time. Sometimes I see topics that other bloggers wrote about and decide to add my own voice to the topic. I also did a reader survey a couple of years ago. It helped me come up with over 100 ideas alone.'I typically write on Saturday’s and Sunday’s. I write my post on a sheet of paper and then type them in WordPress.'Click To Tweet
I use SEMrush to help with keywords. I like list posts a lot. For example, I wrote about an article talking about 40 side hustles that you can do to make extra money this month. That post was received very well. Make sure that your content solves a problem or is something that your readers will be interested in.
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?
In the beginning, I had writers block a lot. I couldn’t get a blog post to 400 words or more to save my life. Over time, I got much better. It’s nothing write a post that’s over 800 words nowadays.
If I could start my blog over, I would take it serious in the beginning. I started blogging in 2013, but will admit that I was bullsh*tting until early 2015. That’s when something clicked and I started getting better with my writing and everything.
I also didn’t know that blogging would be this much work. It’s not easy. You must make sure that your grammar is correct. You have to make sure that your site is running and updated. You have to make sure that you’re using SEO. You have to approve comments and more.
Have you found anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Other bloggers have helped me out a lot. I’m in a mastermind group with a few of them and they motivate me to be better. When it comes to blogging, there’s a great chance that your friends and family won’t be able to help you with WordPress or anything blog related, but other bloggers will.
Having the discipline to work on content each week is something that will make you stand out too. A lot of people claim to be bloggers, but you then check their site and see that their last post was 2 months ago. That just won’t cut if you are trying to make money from blogging.
What’s your advice for bloggers who are just starting out?
If you’re a new blogger, figure out what your niche is. Jot down as many ideas as possible and get to writing. Come up with a content strategy and schedule. Think about how many times you want to post in a week.
I see people thinking that blogging is super easy. I’ve seen tons of people start blogging and then quit before they reach six months. It’s not a joke. You have to enjoy blogging if you want to be in it for the long haul.
I think every potential blogger should check out the website ProBlogger by Darren Rowse. It’s full of great content.
Where can we go to learn more?