I was first acquainted with people making a living online around 2005. At the time, I had attended a seminar in business school about how to make your own website and knew the basics about Dreamweaver, I even documented my round-the-world trip in 2003-2004 with my own website, uploading FTP files and performing other tasks WordPress would have taken care of today, but I hadn’t earned a penny from it. So when my friend said he was making about $2,000 per month in Adsense revenue from a Salsa music website, I was skeptic. Another one was taking advantage of the small delay in technology implementation in Guatemala to teach university classes and hold online seminars at the age of 20. He is now one of those digital nomads everyone wants to be, jetting from country to country to teach webmasters how to be better at their jobs. I wish I had listened back then. It took me 7 more years to start my own website, Reach Financial Independence.
What changed? WordPress, for once. The little I knew about Dreamweaver and HTML had not improved since business school and the world wide web had changed drastically, preventing me from creating anything that looked better than the first webpage ever created. I didn’t know a thing about PHP, Flash, or attractive designs. WordPress put thousands of lovely themes at reach for free or a small fee.
I also had been reading Personal Finance blogs for over five years and felt like it was a niche where I could have a voice too.
Lessons learned: It is easy to start. And cheap. If you want to monetize your site, you will have to opt for self-hosting, not WordPress or Blogger hosting, and buy a domain, but the whole thing should not cost you more than $100 to start. I bought my domain from Godaddy for $12, and hosting from Hostgator for about $60 per year. I also bought Genesis, a premium theme for $80, but you can start with a free theme. You can get your site up and running in a couple of hours. Money will take longer to come, at least a few months, but the set up costs are minimal.
Money made: It took me 6 months to start making consistently more than $2,000 on my first website, with some months better than others. I am hoping to reproduce it with MMYW and will document my progress as I go. Again, I am no expert and if you invest more time than I did to learn about optimizing your website for search engines, making your code faster to load, and other programming techniques, you may achieve better results much faster. Likewise, if you take blogging as a hobby and write irregularly, don’t network that much to get your site out there, it may take years instead of months before you start making decent money. I will be sharing my results, and even with the same person behind this site, they may differ greatly for MMYW.
This money came exclusively from advertising, Adsense and affiliate programs, as well as a little ad referral network that I run (let me know if you would be interested in joining!). It did not come from freelance writing, something I am not doing in the personal finance niche, only travel, or from other related activities such as blog consulting, royalties from an ebook, paid commenting… The revenue was solely generated by the website.
I will be sharing my journey building MakeMoneyYourWay so you can see the work behind building a website, as well as tips I learned when starting RFI, mistakes I wish I would have avoided, and other blogging tips to improve your stats. If you have any questions, please let me know!