What's your elevator pitch?
I am a finance blogger at Narrow Bridge Finance and a freelance writer, WordPress designer, and social media manager through my company Narrow Bridge Media. My finance blog is all about saving you time, money, and headache when dealing with your personal finances.
When did you start blogging? What made you start?
I started my first blog in 2006 as a hobby. I am a passionate Israel advocate, and my first blog (that still exists) is all about Israel and conflicts with neighbors. I don't update it much anymore, but you can visit it at The Israel Situation.
It wasn't long before I was bitten by the blogging bug. After leaving my job working as a bank manager in 2007, I started Narrow Bridge Adventures, the blog that turned into Narrow Bridge Finance, as a venue to help young people navigate banking and their personal finances. That site is still alive and strong today, and up until recently was the biggest source of online income for me.
How long before you made your first dollar? Do you remember what it felt like when that first payment went through?
I made my first dollar through a serendipitous event. I had AdSense installed on my site, but it took quite a while to get my first payout. My first income came from hosting posts that I wrote about a variety of topics with advertising links back to a sponsor (Don't do that anymore, it is bad in the eyes of Google. This was before Google really made an effort to stop advertising backlinks.)
I was making about $10-$20 per month from those ads, which felt pretty sweet. That income paid for me to buy narrowbridge.net and move to my self-hosted WordPress environment from Blogger.
Do you make a part-time living online? A full-time living?
I make about 20% of my income online from my blog and freelancing businesses. I wouldn't have the freelance business without the blog, as that was the biggest source of customers and traffic when I started up with freelance work.
Can you break down your income into categories? What percentage do you make on your site?
Thanks to the volatility of the internet, my online income takes some pretty big swings. Some months I make a lot more freelancing, some months I get great traffic (and AdSense revenue) from big links in, some months I make hardly anything with the website or freelancing. You need a thick skin and a strong stomach to see how your income changes each month when making money online.
I share my monthly online income in a monthly entrepreneurship and investments update, so you can get an exact breakdown each month. Last month was pretty low due to some extra travel in May and June.
Lately, Narrow Bridge Finance has made about 20% of my online income, and the rest has come from my growing freelance business. But because many of my leads come from the blog, it is tough to break them out.
What other ways have you made money? Writing for others, organizing for others, etc.?
As I mentioned above, I do freelance work for clients online. My freelance work began as an occasional one-off article for various sites but has grown to include several clients I write for on a weekly, or more often, basis. From there, I added WordPress maintenance and design projects. The most recent addition to my online work is social media consulting.
How long before you started taking “this whole blogging thing” seriously?
The biggest turning point for me was the first time I was able to cover my bar tabs for a month with what I make online. I was in my early twenties, and I enjoyed a good party in those days, so my bar tabs were not cheap. When my online income grew enough to cover my mortgage payment each month, I knew I was onto something that had a real opportunity for me.
What are you working on now?
I recently attended a full-day course from Darren Rowse of Problogger, and I picked up some great ideas to help grow my blog. I want to do a new, fresh design that captures the essence of the site. I also just re-booted my efforts to design a 31-day course for readers.
If you had it all to do over again, what would you change? Anything?
I would have treated the site like a business from day 1 and invested the few bucks needed to get on my domain and hosting right away. I would also have thought more about my domain name and picked something a bit more intuitive for what the blog is about than Narrow Bridge.
Do you have any advice for someone just getting started?
Treat your blog like a business! Think long-term when you are getting started and research best practices early on. Cleaning up past mistakes is very time-consuming, and potentially expensive when you are months or years into blogging on your site.
Take the time to pick a great name that works well for you and the search engines, buy your domain right away, and get on your hosting right away. For the amount of time, it takes to run a successful blog, $60-$70 per year is a pretty low cost to get started.
There is a variety of ways bloggers can monetize. Which do you recommend? Which would you advise beginners to stay away from?
The list of monetization options is always growing online. I suggest people stay within Google's good graces and avoid paid links, for the most part, which is quick easy cash for new startup sites. Instead, focus your efforts on what your readers want and need.
Affiliate marketing is great if you are writing about products you use and believe in yourself. If you have a good group of strong followers, creating a product like an ebook or course can help you make money too.
Whatever you do, don't sell out your readers or yourself. Have integrity and openness about what you are doing that is making you money. You work hard on a site and should be compensated for everything you do for your readers.
Name one thing bloggers do when they're beginners that you feel they shouldn't do.
A lot of bloggers ignore the power of networking and support from other bloggers in their niche, or a similar niche. My biggest breakthrough moment was when I joined a community of other personal finance bloggers. Those people not only became some of my good friends but also my biggest supporters when I was trying something new on my site. A great network can be the difference between one reader and 1 million.