When I was in school, I enjoyed doing algebra. When I discovered this mathematical language, I fell in love with this system right away. Why? Because it is the simplest expression of how powerful life is. If X=10 and you want to make more, you just have to multiply the X’s so 10X=100. What’s even better is when you can scale your project and grow exponentially the number of X’s so 10X?= 100,000. This is exactly what I am doing with my online company: building a business model that multiplies income and that is scalable.
For those who don’t know me here’s a brief intro:
My name is Mike (like half of the financial bloggers!). I am 29, married with 2 young children (William; 5 and Amy;3). I work in the financial industry (my day job) and with my best friend, I run an online company. I work 4 days a week at my day job and about 20 hours a week on my online company. My overall income is over 135K and my company (which I don’t take much out of it) had gross income of 125K in 2010.
Today I will explain how I manage to generate 125K with my blogs without burning myself out (curious about it? Go read how I went from 18K to 125K in 12 months). I actually had the idea of sharing this part of my business model with you as I am taking part in the Smart Passive Income Challenge to write a Pillar Post. What is a pillar post? It’s a lengthy article explaining step by step something very specific. So I am trying this technique to show you how I have built my online business.
If you have been reading this blog for a while, you already know that I am running multiple blogs. If you want to learn more about them, I suggest that you look around in my archive under Alternative Income and Make Money Online. The purpose of this post (that will be way longer than usual) is to show you how I manage multiple blogs, make money and not work more than 20 hours a week on them. Wait! I wrote 40 hours in my title right? It’s not a mistake; I’ll come back to this point later on.
This is where the algebra comes into play. If you can run a blog and earn $1,000 per month with it, your X = $1,000. So what happens if you have 5 blogs? 5X = $5,000. Sounds appealing? This is how I started. I wanted to make more money alongside my day job. I have read that a person could make money online and thought that if some were able to do it, I should give it a try. This is why I started this blog.
Since I didn’t know much about the internet and new technology, I partnered up with my best friend, who is an internet wiz (according to me anyways!). I’ll cover this partnership aspect later on. The important part is to know that I am not alone in this venture. This is actually why we play with the exponent of our algebra formula. Running multiples blogs generates tons of opportunities
You can diversify your topics, therefore readership, your sources of income, your traffic sources, etc. It’s like running a real business and offering 5 products instead of just one. It allows you to have a more steady income flow as well as overall traffic stats. It is easier to generate lots of traffic via a great deal on one different website each month instead of hoping to replicate success with the same blog on a monthly basis.
You can create your own little network in a single niche and share both link juice and readership. The goal here is not to build a link farm (that’s bad) but more to use an interesting article from one of your sites to promote other sites at the same time. Chances are that your reader on site #1 may be interested in reading site #2 as well. Sometimes you will only have 20% of your readers interested, other times it will be as high as 80%.
I didn’t build all my websites from scratch. This would have been too time consuming and defeat the purpose of scalability. Therefore, each time I buy a blog, I learn something. Each blogger has their own level of knowledge and they leave their legacy within the archive of their blog. So if I have 5 different financial blogs today, I know 5 times what I used to know when I had just one. One taught me the power of community while another showed me how to use keywords carefully. So instead of learning by making mistakes (while I still do this as well!), I learn from others’ mistakes as well as their successes (which is way faster by the way!). If you want to learn more about buying blogs, I suggest you read How to buy a blog in 3 easy steps.
I consider each of my blog as mini money making machine. I think the more you have, the more money you make. But I can see the question mark on your face while reading this post: how can you find something to say everyday for each blog? Since the heart of a blog is its content, we will take a few minutes to take a look at the different techniques I use:
I am lucky to have been born with the gift of creativity. I rarely lack topics to talk about as I always have something to say. However, if you are a blogger, you are probably like me and even though you can write almost everyday, running several blogs is a totally different ball game. You need to get your ideas organized in order to be fast and productive. Writing an article usually takes me less than 30 minutes. Here’s what you need to do in order to achieve this speed:
You have probably read about this technique elsewhere. Don’t think I’m using mind mapping somewhere or anything like this. I like simple things. All you need is a piece of paper and a pen. For each site, I do the same exercise:
#1 I write down the main topic of the blog
#2 I branch it to other sub-topics (that will become my blog categories)
#3 I branch another level where I think of articles related to each sub-topics.
Here’s what I did when I bought The Dividend Guy Blog:
As you can see, there is nothing sexy about my mind map but it’s clear enough that I know where I want to bring my blog and which kind of topics I want to cover in the upcoming years. Overtime, the mind map can change as new topics and sub-topics will cross your mind. If it’s too different, you may want to consider starting another blog.
The key here is to evolve in a continuous brainstorming mode. Everything in your life could be a source of inspiration. The key is to keep note of everything. This is why I always have a wordpad opened on my laptop where I keep my ideas. Each time I think of something, I write it down on my blackberry and put it in my “Idea Master file” once at home. I classify them under the right blog. When I lack imagination for a post, I simply open my Master and pick one idea out of the box.
Another great tip to get your ideas in order is to keep sorting your ideas according to your mind map. Technically, each box and sub-box of your mind map should be an article category for your blog. Don’t try to create too many, else you will get lost and away from your main topic. If I had to redo all my blogs, I would keep categories simple, as I have with my latest one; Do Not Wait!
The last point I want to cover here is where I get most of my ideas. Since there are a lot of great articles about the topic, I’ll simply list them (so you can read about the “real stuff” of managing multiple blogs right away 😉 ).
If you want to learn more about how I get my ideas, I wrote the following post: Where Do You Find Creativity?
If you just write when you feel like it, you are never going to make it. You will be able to handle 1 or maybe 2 blogs but you will always feel overwhelmed by the amount of work. I have setup a writing schedule which is about 1 hour every morning, 4 days a week. So between 7h30 and 8h30, I devote exclusively to writing for my blogs; no email, no websurfing, just plain and simple writing. By focusing on a single task, you get pretty fast and the fact that I already know when I do it helps me avoid the panic because I don’t have enough time or enough posts for next week. For example, this post is an “extra” contribution, this wasn’t part of my hour/day writing time.
With all the sites I have, I need to produce about 20 articles a week without counting the roundups (which are very important to get more link love over time). It is virtually impossible to write 20 articles, manage all the other aspects of blogging AND work less than 20 hours a week.
So how do you do it? Here’s my step by step method:
For each of my blogs, I determine how many times I want to write and when each article will be posted. Depending on my readership and my topics, I have different schedule. For example, for a detailed and specialized website such as The Dividend Guy Blog, I don’t need to write 4-5 posts per week. 2 good quality posts about the stock market and dividend stock analysis are enough to keep my readership happy and have them come back when I produce a new article. The schedule is Monday and Wednesday with a roundup on Friday.
The key is to determine how you can provide consistently high quality articles without burning yourself out.
If you want to scale any business, you need employees. What are the employees for? The true utility of having employees can be summarized in a single phrase: employees are useful when they can do something that you used to do so you can concentrate on other things. If I was to write 20 articles a week, I couldn’t run and manage all my blogs properly. This is how I went to look for writers.
Depending on what your niche is, you have several options:
This is more like a short term solution for a long term problem. Finding guest writers is relatively easy, as soon as you get in to the blogging community, you will find other bloggers that would like to write for your site. However, this is usually a one time shot and you don’t have much control over what they will write about.
Most of you must know about Odesk already. Then again, depending on which blog niche you are working, this could be a great (or not) idea. Personally, I experienced Odesk services and the system is great. It is easy to post a job, look into candidate’s profile and interview them. However, I wasn’t successful in finding someone who could write as a financial blogger.
Writing articles is one thing, writing for a blog is another and writing for a financial blog is something that requires a lot of knowledge. I will definitely use Odesk in the future, but not to find financial bloggers. Recently, we found a programmer to do some coding and it was perfect (and cheap!). So depending on what you are looking for (e.g. blogger spirit vs niche article writing), Odesk and other outsourcing websites could be a good place to start.
This is the route I have decided to take; pay financial bloggers to write for my site. This method has a lot of advantages:
As some bloggers get tired of managing their own blog, they sometimes prefer to let it go, and get paid per article and work for someone else. If you keep the same bloggers for a long time, it creates an additional voice for your blog and readers appreciate it. For example, I have the same guy writing every Thursday on The Financial Blogger for the past 3 months. He has been getting good response out of his blogs so far.
As you can see, my adventure into the blogging world has become an adventure in entrepreneurialism. I don’t manage blogs anymore, I manage a business. This is why you need a clear structure.
You want to make money online but html and php sounds like an ancient Mayan dialect to you? No worries, I’m part of your group (in fact, I’m a Techno Retarded Blogger). When you are building a company and you notice you have some flaws, you basically have 2 options:
In my opinion, this is not a great idea. If you want to build a company, there is one thing you must keep in mind: you can’t do everything by yourself. Learning code, design, search engine optimization, networking while managing your blogs will definitely take you way more than 20 hours a week. Some people do it but I think it’s time that could be used on something more productive.
This is what I did from the very beginning. Since I don’t know anything about technical stuff, I thought it would much easier and much faster to partner with my friend who masters internet stuff. He has been in the internet industry for a while and knows what to do and what not to do. By sharing our strengths, we have the perfect combination for managing an online company.
In fact, the biggest advantage of having a partner in a business is accountability. Think of it as a gym partner. If you do your workout with you best buddy, both you and your buddy will feel responsible to go to the gym and bring the other one with him. This is what happens in a business; even if you don’t feel like working some days, you just think of your partner then open up your laptop to do what has to get done 😉
I’m a firm believer of the 20/80 rules (Pareto Principles). I must say that to achieve the 6 figure income mark and not work much for it, you must concentrate almost exclusively on the 20% of my efforts that will generate 80% of the results. So in order to become more productive, I have decided to work exclusively on my strengths. This is why I am becoming better and better at what I do and that I count on my partner to cover my flaws and outsource the 80% of work that needs to be done.
This is not the first time I have talked about the advantages of having a virtual assistant. I actually have 2 VAs as my company is growing fast. While I don’t use them to their full potential yet, I need to be able to manage growth over time. We are about to buy a 6th blog and we have several projects on the standby. The VAs will be able to do a lot of things to help us manage all of our activities.
I needed someone that would be working full time for us (so I can work less 😉 ). Before hiring, I established a list of tasks to do, a list of projects to manage and a list of requirements. Hiring a VA is no different than hiring a regular employee. You need to define what the VA will do and what kind of experience/knowledge/attitude he is required to have.
According to me, the attitude is the most important point. There are tons of things I can teach my VA, but I can’t teach them much about how to get the right attitude. We hired someone with a marketing background with little internet knowledge. Why? Because she is deemed to become my brain extension. I don’t need her to know how to code, but I need her to understand how I work so she can replicate part of my job. This way, I’ll be able to go back to my favorite 3 activities in my company:
#1 creating (content, projects and eventually products)
#2 dealing (buying & selling blogs, acting as an advertiser broker, etc)
#3 strategy (creating a vision for the company, establishing the priorities, analyzing stats)
As you can see, my virtual assistants take care of several things such as:
About twice a year, my partner and I take a weekend off. When I talk about taking a weekend off, I take off from work, friends, wife and kids. We take these weekends very seriously and we prepare for them several weeks in advance. This gives us the opportunity to determine our priorities, define goals and write a business plan to achieve them. In fact, we do everything that big companies do…but we actually implement it.
This also allow us to plan “side” things around our business;
So how to go from 5X to X?? By reinvesting your profit! Since the very beginning, we pay ourselves very little dividends from the company as we prefer to invest in our business. We used our cash flow to:
All right! I have the feeling that I am almost done with my longest post ever. I hope it has helped you figure out how I manage my blogs and how you can do the same. I feel that there is still a lot more to say, but I’ll keep it for another post ;-). I thought of listing tools, techniques and websites I use to manage my company (and yes, some of them are affiliate links but I truly use all of these resources).
Find a guy that inspires you (I have recently found Baker from Man vs Debt) or a group of bloggers that wish to work together. They will drive you and help you bring your blogs to another level. Sharing knowledge is definitely a huge key to success in this continuously evolving business.
If you are looking to buy a website in order to grow your empire, this is the place to start. Be careful as there are many bad websites out there as well. Ask questions, look around and analyze carefully. This is how we bought one of our very first websites; Intelligent Speculator for about $3,000 2 years ago.
My favorite place to outsource specific tasks. It’s easy to find what you are looking for and you can monitor the work of your freelancers by automatic screen capture.
This is where I manage all my domain names. One account = much easier to manage! It’s easy to buy and play with your domains. We also use them as part of our web hosting network.
We didn’t want to host all our blogs on the same provider (security purposes). This is why our 2nd choice was Hostgator.
This is definitely the most powerful and complete keyword tool. I am using it to define which keywords to use in my articles, to orient my topic writing and to create niche websites. It’s a very cheap way to get on the first page of Google!
For each website, I have created a small excel spreadsheet that keeps tracks of all advertising campaigns and costs. It is being updated by my VA on a monthly basis. It helps me focus on the right thing and gives me an idea of what is productive and what’s not.
This is my best friend as I can manage my email anywhere and I can take all my ideas for posts in note in a few seconds. Why didn’t I choose an iPhone? Because it has too many distractions ;-). The BlackBerry is perfect for me; it allows me to write fast on a small keyboard.
This is a must in terms of traffic tracking and website analysis. Sometimes I wish I had more time to look at the incredible amount of information available in these pages!
This is a great service to manage several twitter accounts 😉
To make this long post short; here’s how I manage my multiple blogs:
#1 I have defined topics for each blog
#2 I have defined when and how I will write for each of them
#3 I have hired writers to complement my skills
#4 I have partnered up with my best friend in order to work less hours and have someone who is competent where I am not
#5 I have hired 2 VAs to take care of the administrative stuff, accounting, advertiser management and more.
#6 I concentrate on what I am good at and on what I like.
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I will discuss my future goals and how I will reach them in the upcoming weeks.
I hope that this article will help you out. If you have any questions, feel free to comment or send me an email at thefinancialblogger at gmail.
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