On this episode of the Winning To Wealth podcast, I talk with Marc Andre.
Marc is the founder of VitalDollar.com and has built and sold numerous blogs and websites earning over $1 million in the process.
Marc talks about how to start, scale, and sell your blog in this podcast episode.
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Marc’s Website: VitalDollar.com
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Marc Andre 0:00
Sunday nights were always a really, really depressing time for me because I think like, how did the weekend go by so fast and like, I've got to go back and I don't know how I'm gonna get through five days, like five days seemed like such a long time. And you know, I haven't felt that once in the past 1112 years.
Unknown Speaker 0:18
You're listening to the winning to wealth Podcast, where you'll hear real stories from real people who are on the path to building real wealth. These stories will show you how to earn more money and pay off debt, start investing, and make better money choices so you can build wealth for your future. Now, here's your host, Michael Lacy.
What's up? What's up? What's up teammates? Welcome to Episode 28 of the winning to wealth podcast where we share real stories to help you build real wealth. It's the final week of our side hustle series and we're talking about building and selling websites for the millions of dollars with Mr. Mark Andre. Now, Mark
Michael Lacy 1:00
currently running vital dollar comm which is a personal finance site focused on helping other people manage money better, save more money, or increase your income. Now this episode is for you if you've ever thought about starting your own blog, and I say that because Mark shares all the details about how he started scaled and sold a few different websites for over $1 million.
Hey Mark, welcome to the show. I am just crazy excited to learn more about how you've built and sold blogs over the last few years. But can you start by sharing how you got started with blogging in the first place? Sure, I had done a little bit of web design work like for small business and entrepreneurs. It was just very small businesses at first and I had done some websites for family and friends. And I was looking to make a little bit of extra money. And after I'd done a few sites for family and friends, I was looking to find some other clients. And so I created a portfolio site, set it up and you know, puts my work samples on there and I needed a way to get traffic to the site. So I decided to start a blog. And I didn't really know what a blog was. I was writing some articles and I had put some articles on the site and I kind of came across WordPress and blogging and thought
Marc Andre 3:00
know, this could be a good way to, you know, make it easier to manage the content. So initially, I was really just looking to use my blog to start to get some, some clients for web design work.
What was the topic or what was the niche that you were focused on at that time?
Marc Andre 3:15
I was writing about web design, I was at the first several articles I was writing, were mostly focused towards people who might be interested in hiring someone to design a website. So I wasn't writing for other web designers. At that point, I was writing for people who would potentially be clients. But once I got started, I wrote a few articles. And I wrote one article that was targeted, other web designers. And that article actually did really well. And so I tried it again, and you know that those articles were the ones that I was getting results with. And so I kind of shifted my focus at that point. And then I wasn't really writing for clients anymore. I was writing for other web designers, and the traffic was really growing. So I didn't Continue to get some clients through the website, even though I wasn't necessarily writing for those people, like, people are still searching for stuff. And we're coming across my site and contacting me. So I did get some clients, but I kind of shifted my focus so that instead of really aiming to get client work, I was really just looking to grow the blog, because I realized that I liked running the blog a little bit more than I liked doing the client work. Some of the clients client work was a little frustrating at times. So I kind of just decided to focus on like growing the blog and like, hey, these articles that I'm writing for web designers are doing really well. Maybe I can grow the blog and make money in other ways aside from doing client work, like putting ads on the site, or affiliate programs or something. And so that was, you know, just a month or so in I kind of shifted my focus already
around that time. Did you consider yourself a really an expert on this? Or was this just something where you saw an opportunity and thought it would you know, you had the skills to capitalize on that opportunity?
Marc Andre 4:56
Yeah, no, I definitely didn't see myself as an expert. Like I mentioned, I I've done a few small websites. But I was learning as I went, I was mostly just kind of learning on my own. And I was limiting myself in terms of what I was writing on the blog, two things that I could cover. So there were a lot of technical aspects of web design that I wasn't going to cover because I wasn't experienced enough to know them or I was going to write, you know, detailed coding tutorials like some other web design blogs are doing. So I was sticking to things like list posts and resources and you know, some more basic concepts and things that I was learning, but I wasn't really doing, you know, anything too complex. So yeah, I definitely wasn't an expert. I was I was learning as I went. And the interesting thing was, as my blog grew, it kind of grew pretty quickly. And so having a web design blog with high traffic, a lot of people assumed I was an expert. I never said I was and I never write like I said, I didn't write about topics that you know, I couldn't cover. But when you have a high traffic web design blog, people think you are An expert and it really wasn't the case.
So can you talk a little bit about going back to the beginning of this like was your plan all along? Because you ultimately ended up starting to sell blogs or started to sell your sites and all that. So was that the plan all along? Or would did that just happen naturally kind of what was that journey? Like?
Marc Andre 6:19
Yeah, that just happened naturally. So when I was first getting started, I was reading everything I could on blogging and growing traffic, SEO and online marketing and everything. And occasionally, I was reading articles about you know, this blogger or this entrepreneur, whatever selling their business and it was something that I thought was really interesting because some of the dollar amounts are pretty high. And they were actually pretty small compared to now in terms of the valuation that you would get for a business people weren't paying as much back then but when I was just first getting started, I hear somebody sells a blog for $25,000 It sounds like a ton of money. You know when you're not making any money with your blog yet. So CDs Numbers thrown out and kind of got me interested. It was one of the things that made me think like, yeah, this is a really a legit opportunity to make money. It's not just, you know, something to mess around with my spare time. But then as I started to grow my blog, I didn't really have any intentions of selling. I knew at some point I probably want to but the first blog that I started, I started in 2007. And I actually did wind up selling it in 2013. So I ran it for about six years. And it was, you know, a few years in, I knew that at some point I wanted to sell but I didn't want to sell it until I felt like I turned the corner and kind of done everything with that. I could kind of like maxed out my potential with it. Because obviously, the amount that you make while you're running the site is going to impact how much you can sell it for and I didn't want to sell it until I felt like I'd kind of turned the corner and taken it to as high as I could.
And so let's talk about that journey of getting in as high as you could or as high as you did, and what were some of the challenges that you faced in in doing that,
Marc Andre 8:02
the biggest challenge, I think, that I faced early on. And the biggest challenge that I've always faced doing this now for about 12 years is time management. When you're running a blog, there's any number of different things you can be doing with your time. You know, you could be working on new content, you could be updating old content, you could be redesigning your site, you could be writing articles for other people, you know, spending time on social media, trying to build links, you know, there's no limit to what you could be doing. But not everything is equally productive, or equally important. And, you know, it's very easy to get distracted on things that may not really make that much of a difference. And so, you know, the biggest challenge for me has always been time management and making sure that I'm working on things that are really growing the business and to really do that I kind of, you know, try to have a big overall picture of like my priorities at any point in time like, and it's usually the things that are actually making money and you know, if some thing is making money, then it's going to get my attention is going to be a priority. And then I also usually have some other things that I want to work on and decide when I can. But that kind of helps me to stay focused a little bit so that I don't get distracted and spend all my time doing, you know, all my time on Facebook or something when it's really not driving results.
Okay. And so let's talk about that. From a time management perspective. How much time were you spending on your blog in those early days, versus the later years when you finally sold?
Marc Andre 9:26
So I mentioned I started a blog in 2007. So I worked on it for about a year and a half until I quit my full time job. So during that time, where I was doing it as a side hustle, I was pretty committed, and I was spending about 30 hours a week on it, which is more than most people are going to put into a side hustle at the time. I was married, we didn't have kids yet. And I hated my job and I had been in jobs I hated for like six or seven years. So I got out of college and I immediately went in two jobs that I didn't like and I had never had, you know, I never had a full time job that I like. So I started this blog in my late 20s. And, you know, I liked it, it was doing well. So I kind of just put every bit of time into it that I was able to, you know, my wife and I talked about it, and she was real supportive. So I was putting in about 30 hours a week working evenings and weekends. And until I got to the point where I could quit my job. And then after that, when I did quit my full time job, I probably was working the first couple of years, I was probably working like 50 hours a week on my blog. And by the time I sold it in 2013, I was probably only putting in about 20 hours per week on that. On that blog. I did have other projects that I'd started that I had, you know, taken more time for, but they're the reason I cut down to about 20 hours a week, the last year I own the site. It was kind of twofold. Number one like I mentioned I had started some other projects were taking more of my time but I knew that I wanted to sell and one of The first thing that anybody is going to ask you if they're considering buying a website or an online business from you is how much time are you putting into the site? How much time are you spending running the site, the people who are buying your site are our investors, they're not looking to buy a job. So the last time that you spend running your site, the better it is for you as a seller, because that person who's buying the site is most likely going to be outsourcing the majority of the work and hiring somebody else to do it. So they're looking at the work that I do. And like I said, I had been doing like 4050 hours a week. They're looking at that and saying, you know, I'm gonna have to spend so much money hiring freelancers do 40 or 50 hours a week of work. Compare that to, I could tell them I'm only spending 20 hours a week on the site. It's a lot cheaper for them in terms of what they have to outsource and so it can kind of increase the value of your site a little bit. So I really the last year I cut out anything that wasn't completely necessary anything that wasn't getting results. You know, I spent less time on social media has been on Time on email. So I really just cut down to the bare essentials, and was able to cut my time in less than half. And it really helped me when I did go to sell the side.
So let's talk about some of those bare essentials that you mentioned there. I mean, what were some of those tasks? I know you mentioned, you know, you wanted to focus on things that were profitable things that were moving the needle. So specifically speaking, what were some of those things?
Marc Andre 12:22
content, obviously, was one writing blog posts. But I cut back on the the amount of content I was writing. So I had been publishing like three or four articles a week. And I thought, you know, like, let's see what happens if I cut down to two, and it didn't have any impact on traffic. So that was one and I really just wrote, you know, articles that I thought were ideal for monitor monetization. So it was things that I thought were targeting a specific keyword for search engine traffic, or articles that I was creating for the purpose of promoting an affiliate product or including an affiliate link in the article and things that I thought could make money. I wasn't just writing articles just to have something to publish that day, which before I was saying, okay, I published three or four times a week. So I have this spot in my calendar, I need to fill it. So I need to spend half a day writing an article to publish. Whereas at this point, I was saying, Okay, I'm going to cut back and I'm only going to publish things that make a difference, I'm only going to publish things that make me money, basically. So that really cut out some time and didn't spend as much on social networking. I wasn't writing guest posts for other blogs. At that point, I wasn't, you know, doing anything off of my blog, I was really just spending time you know, working on content on my site. And you know, any emails that I got that I had to deal with, like customer service emails, or anything like that. So it's really cutting out any type of promotion, which at that point, my site was like six years old, so I didn't have to do promotion because it had established traffic and stuff. So it's not really something that you can do right on like your first year, you couldn't really cut out some of those things or else you wouldn't be able to grow. But in that situation, I was able to kind of leverage the work that I put in the previous life. Six years and really cut down and, you know, eliminate a lot of that time that I really didn't need to be spending on the site.
You know, Mike, let's go into some of those, the back to those early days when you're talking about, you're gonna have to spend a little more time promoting, I mean, what are some of the the key things that you did to help you grow and eventually start monetizing your site.
Marc Andre 14:21
I did a lot of social media. So back then, in 2007, social media was a lot different than it is now. I wasn't using Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest, those sites weren't very popular back then especially not for driving traffic. And I don't think Pinterest even existed at that point yet, but it was sites like digg.com delicious, stumble upon some sites that either aren't around or aren't popular now. So it's definitely a little bit different now. But it would be the same concept like if you're spending your time on Facebook or Pinterest or whatever. So I just spent a good bit of time on social media and that was driving a lot of traffic to the site. I also spent a lot of time networking with other bloggers, other bloggers In my niche people, you know, just emailing getting to know people. And that led to links led to writing guest posts for other people just connecting. And the more connected you are, you know, the more opportunities seem to find their way to you. So I'd say those were the two biggest things I was doing early on social media and networking with other bloggers,
part of your strategy, just from hearing you on other podcast and reading a little bit about you, you have this time where you were creating projects like digital project projects to sale. And so going back to that part of your story, what was it about those products that made them so successful? And then how did you know which products that the market was asking for at that time? Yeah, so
Marc Andre 15:42
I sold downloadable products and on that web design blog, and then also I had some photography blogs after that, that I sold digital products and I'd like to have a, you know, more impressive answer about you know, doing some market research and surveying people to find out what people wanted But the truth is I just saw what the types of products that were selling at other sites and created something similar. I saw you know what types of things web designers were interested in. And later on what types of things photographers were interested in and got an idea for, you know, what people were buying from other sites and kind of created my own versions of those products or my own my own take on those products. And my my approach with the products was always to try to offer as much value as possible. There's a lot of similar products. So I tried to make them as good and to price them reasonably well. I didn't try to necessarily be the cheapest product. But I tried to offer the best value in terms of you know, high quality product at a reasonably low price to give customers a good value. So they would be happy when they purchased and then they would come back and buy something else. Or I also did some bundles of products, which worked really well. So somebody buys one product. They're happy with the price they paid and they like it. Maybe they upgrade and come back and buy a bundle of more products. And when I'm spending more money,
let's talk about because you've got the traffic flowing, you've got products that are selling. So where did that idea come from to, to start sell to actually sell the sites.
Marc Andre 17:17
Like I said before, you know, it was something that I came across early on in terms of seeing stories of other people selling it. And, you know, seeing that you could make a pretty good lump sum of money from being able to sell a website. But really, what it came down to is after running the site for like, four or five years, I started to get kind of bored with it and just want to do something different. I don't really I've never been the type of person who just can sit and do the same thing for like, long periods of time. I've never had a job for a really long time. The longest job I had before, you know, becoming self employed was like three and a half years, almost four years, I guess. And a lot of that time I was working on my my side hustle Until I wasn't really focused, you know, outside of my job, I was really just focused on growing my own business. So I would just go up, wake up and go to job go to work and kind of go through the motions at my job. And so I've never really done one thing for a really long time. So I just kind of after a while, like kind of get bored and want to move on and do something different. So after I'd run this site for like, four or five years, I started to think like, Okay, I'm about ready to, to do something else. And so I kind of tried to maximize the revenue I was making from the sites and be able to maximize what I could sell it for. And then with the photography blogs, it was a little bit different. I've actually had two sales there I in 2016, I sold two photography, photography blogs together. And the main reason I sold those was actually because my wife and I had started a business selling on Amazon, and it was taking off and doing really well and I didn't have time to do both. And so I wound up selling my photography blogs because I had a buyer who was interested and I knew I wasn't going to be able to increase the value Have them because I didn't have the time to put into it. So that was part of it. But really, in most cases, like, over the years, when I've sold something, it's mostly just been because I've been ready to move on and do something else.
And so what is that process? Like, you know, going to sell a website? Like, are you shopping it are people approaching you like for your, in your experience? What's that process been? Like?
Marc Andre 19:20
Yeah, so there's a few different ways you can do it. The easiest way is to list it with a broker. So you could hire a broker and most brokers don't charge you a fee unless they sell the site. So they would take a commission anywhere from usually like 10 to 15% unless you're in a really high like if you're selling a site for millions of dollars, the commission will usually be a little bit lower percentage. So the easy way is to sell with a broker. I have done that once. In 2018. I sold a photography blog with a broker and it actually was really good. I kind of wish I tried it earlier on because a broker has has they have such a big database of contacts and people who are interested. So when you're listening with a broker Your job is basically give them all the information, they're gonna ask you for all of the finances and you know, all the information related to the site, their potential buyer would ask. And then they'll list it for you. And they'll introduce you to people who are potentially interested in buying the site. And, you know, maybe you'll have a 30 minute or 60 minute phone conversation with somebody who asks you all kinds of questions about the business. And then the broker kind of helps you through the process of selling it. So that's definitely the easiest way especially if you don't have experience, if you do have some experience selling a site, you might be a little bit more comfortable trying it on your own. And most of the sites that i've i've done over the years have been on my own so that way you don't pay the broker commission. But the thing like that I found out with the broker, I wound up getting the broker got a higher price than I would have been able to get on my own. And I know that for a fact because I spoke to some potential buyers on my own and the price that I was looking at, and the price of the broker got for me, we're pretty far apart. So even going with a broker and paying the broker fee I still made off better by going with a broker. But anyway, if you want to do it yourself, yeah, it's it's really just in my case, it was going through my personal network. So with that web design blog that I sold in 2013, I got my numbers together, meaning I, you know, got all the finances together for the last year. So I had everything broken down by month, you know, revenue, profit, all my expenses. I had my traffic numbers, Google Analytics, everything ready. And then I just reached out to people that I knew I'd been running the site for six years. So I had a lot of contacts in the industry. I reached out to other other web design blogs that I knew had either been bought or sold in the past. I reached out to people who work for companies that owned multiple sites in the industry, because they're the ones who are most likely to buy, reach out to other people that I just knew were well connected and said, Hey, you know, I'm interested in selling my site, if you know somebody who might be interested, let me know. And I got a few people who are interested that way and ultimately, one Have them wind up buying the site within a few months. So it was basically just a, you know, finding somebody who was interested in answering their questions negotiating. And the nice thing about doing it on your own is if you're selling to somebody who knows you, the process does go smoother. So like the person who I sold it to knew me, and there is mutual trust between us. So, you know, the process was a little bit smoother. When I went through a broker, I didn't know the buyer, he didn't know me. So there's a little bit more work in terms of due diligence for the buyer, like I had to provide a lot more information like bank statements, credit card statements, you know, I had to prove everything a little bit further, whereas when it's going through somebody, you know, it's a little bit easier because, you know, they probably trust you a little bit more than just some random person. So, really, it was just, you know, going through that due diligence to, to get to the point where the buyer felt like everything was in line and everything was like, as it should be, and then We had to agree on a contract. So um, basically, we just took a contract template that we found online, you know, went through it changed any details that that we weren't comfortable with got to a point where we were both comfortable signed it. And then in that case, just did a wire transfer for the money. You could also do escrow comm or a wire transfer, whichever you prefer.
And so up to this point, right, you started in like, 2007, I believe you said. So up to this point, we're at year 13. How many sites have you sold and roughly about how much have you made from the sale of those sites?
Marc Andre 23:31
So I've had about six different transactions of selling websites and blogs, but some of them have multiple sites, like I mentioned that photography blogs, I sold two blogs together. There were a few transactions that sold multiple sites, but it's been about six different transactions. And then there was a seventh that Amazon business that I mentioned a few minutes ago, my wife and I started an Amazon business selling Amazon products. We sold that as well. So if you include that it's like seven Different transactions and it would be See there were two transactions were five for 500,000 apiece. So that's 1,000,001 was for 225,001 was for 216,000. And some others were smaller. So it's about I guess about a million and a half total. If you're including the Amazon, the one that was Amazon business that we sold was for 225,000. So if you take that one out to blogging, sales, were probably about one and a quarter million dollars.
Okay, wow. So what has that done for your quality of life? Because going back to the beginning of the interview, you were talking about working jobs you didn't like and you know, all these other things. And so then, you know, you've gone through this this 13 year period where you've sold sites for, you know, a million and a half almost, what has that done for your quality of life?
Marc Andre 24:51
It's changed a lot. I mean, like I said, When I started, I was just looking for a little bit of extra money because my salary was in the 30, thousands at the time. I was Making enough to pay the bills but I didn't have much extra to do anything at the time I was newly married and you know we didn't really we had enough to get by but we didn't have a lot to you know to do anything extra so that's why I was looking to start a side hustle and make some extra money so had a little bit more disposable income. So it's really changed everything we don't we don't live a drastically different life like we don't you know, spend a lot we try to keep our our spending reasonable. But it's definitely a lot more comfortable. You know, we have more money in our savings accounts now and more and more in retirement savings. And you know, we're on pace for being able to retire early and stuff but really, it's given us freedom and flexibility. So my wife seven years ago when our daughter was born, when we became parents, my wife left her job and she's been a stay at home mom since. So I've I've worked from home now for between 11 and 12 years full time. And the last seven years My wife has been a stay at home mom. So our kids have always had both parents in the house or our kids are seven and four years old and they've never had a parent work outside the house, which is pretty unique. I don't think there's a whole lot of kids in America right now that have that situation. So we definitely have, you know, more family time together and I work full time. I don't want to make it sound like I don't work. That's not the case at all. But I have flexibility in my work. I can kind of shift my hours around. So if my daughter has something at school or my son has something at preschool or if we're going on a family trip somewhere we want to take vacation and whatever I can do whatever I need to with my schedule, so even though I work full time hours, I do have you know, a lot more flexibility I have the potential and the opportunity to to spend more time with my family. Even just today, like right now, my daughter's home from school like most kids in America, because of the Coronavirus and so at lunch, you know, it took 30 minutes or an hour and we all played a game together. And so you know, that's something that I wouldn't be able to do if I was going to a regular job and working outside. House. So it's really changed a lot for our lifestyle. And, you know, equally important, I think it's it's given me a career that I enjoy. Like when I had the jobs I had in my 20s. I really didn't like them at certain points, I was completely miserable. I know, like Sunday nights, were always a really, really depressing time for me, because I think like, how did the weekend go by so fast and like, I've got to go back. And I don't know how I'm gonna get through five days, like five days seemed like such a long time. And you know, I haven't felt that once in the past 1112 years. That's not to say that I enjoy every single thing I do about my job. There are parts of it that aren't fun, but I'm self employed, and I'm doing it. You know, I feel like I have a lot more to gain by doing the things that I don't like. And it's just, it's a lot more enjoyable. I look forward to work. I don't dread getting up in the morning and going to work. So it's really changed my life in a lot of ways to be honest.
So let me ask you just to really kind of straight up on this question. I mean, Do you feel like this is something? And specifically I mean building in selling websites? Do you feel like this is something that anyone can learn to do?
Marc Andre 28:10
I think pretty much anyone, there's no real specific skills that you need, I think you need to have patience. And you don't have to be like tech savvy or anything. I've seen a lot of people who have no tech skills that have been able to do it, they need to have patience. So I wouldn't really say anyone can do it. Because some people to be honest, don't have the patience to do it. But if you're willing to put in the work, and you're willing to take a little bit of time, like blogging is not something that you're going to see immediate results from if you are looking to, or if you're in a situation where you need to make money right away. There are other side hustles you can do that are probably a better fit in terms of starting to generate income right away. But if you're in a situation where you're looking to build something that could turn into a full time business or you're looking to build something like long term, then it's a great fit, and it's definitely something that you can do but You do need to have a little bit of patience, you need to have some realistic expectations. I think a lot of people get into it thinking that they're going to make money in the next month or two and it doesn't happen and then they get disappointed and give up. So as long as you have, you know, realistic expectations and you're willing to put in the work, I think it's definitely something that that pretty much anyone can do.
Okay. And so what are some actionable first steps that someone here in this that maybe interested in starting a blog could take to get them started and going on the right track?
Marc Andre 29:29
I think the first thing you need to do is decide what you want to blog on. When people hear about blogging or making money with blogging, some people think of like, personal blogs, and just writing about whatever topic comes to mind whatever topic interests them at the moment, and that's fine if you're just writing for for your interest or something that you want to do. But if you hope to make money with it, you really need to take a more focused approach. And you know, write about a particular topic. So I think one of the first thing you need to do is think about what topic you want to write about and you No just narrowed down on something that interests you and something that other people care about, too.
Okay. And so then once you've got that topic you've started writing, I know, you've kind of touched on some of the other things you had to do social, you know, SEO, all those things. What would you say is like the most important thing for a new blogger to focus on, like outside of just writing good content, right?
Marc Andre 30:22
Yeah, if I did say just one thing, I probably say networking with other bloggers. It's kind of hard to say exactly. You know, what, what specifically that will turn into, like, I could say, you can focus on SEO and it will, you know, you'll be able to increase your search traffic. And I think that is important. I think search traffic is generally going to be the best source of traffic that you can have long term, but it takes a lot of time for that search traffic to kick in. Part of the reason why new bloggers don't start to make money right away is because Google usually doesn't send search traffic to a blog until it's like six months to 12 years old. You're not going to get that much search traffic the first few months. So early on, I think one of the best things you can do is just start to get connected to other bloggers in your niche. Because you know, you may wind up having some guest post opportunities where you can write for another blogger and start to get some traffic to your site start to get some exposure, you might have somebody that you can interview at your blog that will give you a really great article, you might be able to get a link from somebody you know, in one of their existing articles, you might get people to share your content on social media. A lot of people tend to share content from people that they like, or people that they know. So if you start to build a network, people will see your posts and then they'll be more likely to share it. Plus, you'll get encouragement and you know, camaraderie just with other bloggers like when you start a new blog, and you're not seeing results right away, it can get pretty discouraging. But if you're regularly interacting with other bloggers who are going through similar situations or who have gone through it already, and turn the corner, it can give you a lot of motivation and a little bit more encouragement. So I definitely think you have more staying power as a blogger if you get connected, and you just never know what opportunities are going to come, like when I started, I got some freelance writing gigs, from networking, you know, just things that were unexpected where people ask me like, you know, would you be willing to work as a freelance writer and you know, early on that helped me a lot because it did give me some income while my blog wasn't really making money yet from ads and stuff. So, you know, there's really, you just never know what's going to happen when you have a network. So I would definitely say that's probably my would be my first recommendation to a new blogger is just get connected with other people.
With so many other blogs popping up right now. I mean, is now still a good time, or do you feel like it's a little oversaturated and somebody should look into other mediums.
Marc Andre 32:46
Now, I think it's, I think it's still a good time. I think like I say, you have to have realistic expectations. And if I'm being honest with you, it is a little bit harder now than when I started in 2007. It is more saturated. That's just Fact. So it is a little bit harder, but it's definitely possible. I mean, there's a lot of new blogs that are doing well, you just have to have realistic expectations and be willing to put in the work and you know, and see it through. But it's definitely still a good opportunity. And, you know, there's other things you could do to like, you know, you could start a podcast, you could do a YouTube channel, those things are good opportunities to is not, you know, not saying blogging is the one you have to choose. But if you want to have a blog, I definitely wouldn't not do it. Because there's, you know, too many other blogs.
Let's talk about niching down. I know that's something that you had kind of touched on a little bit earlier. So how do you balance blogging, you know, with something that maybe you're not passionate about, but that's highly monetizable versus something that you love that just may not be just a highly monetizable niche.
Marc Andre 33:53
The process I've taken in the past is I've always chosen my blogs based on something that I want to work on something that I that I mentioned It doesn't necessarily have to be your absolute biggest passion, like people use your passion all the time. It doesn't have to be something that you're just like dying to work on. But I think it has to be something that you're at least interested in. I've tried starting a few blogs over the years on things that, you know, I had no interest in. But I saw like that I thought there was a chance to make some money with it. And I haven't had success with those books, because I always wanted to spending my time on something else. I started, I put a little bit of time into it, and then I get bored with it, because I don't enjoy working on it. And so especially if you're doing it as a side hustle, if you're if you have a full time job, and you're coming home in the evening, so the last thing you want to do is work on something that doesn't interest you. So I would definitely encourage people to choose the topic based on their interests. And, you know, it's a lot more fun when you're working on something that interests you.
Okay, and so I mean, do you need a ton of money to get successful and ultimately build a successful blog?
Marc Andre 34:59
No, you definitely don't You can start for less than $100 with in terms of buying a domain name and getting web hosting for a full year. And that's really, you know, that's all it's 100% essential, and I've never really had big expenses for any of my blogs. I've done a little bit of advertising but not very much at all. Even when I was selling products, I really wasn't doing much advertising for the products I have done a little bit but not much. You know, you'll want to reinvest some money that you're making for things like you know, maybe a WordPress plugin that you like, or a WordPress theme that looks good. You know, for some services like something for managing your email list like ConvertKit or something but even though services you can start off for free, there's free alternatives for pretty much anything. So for an email list, instead of you know, paying 25 bucks a month or something for a service, you could use mailer lite, for example. I think they let you have up to 1000 subscribers on a free account. Instead of paying for a WordPress plugin, you could find a free version, there's pretty much free versions just about anything. You could use a free theme. So there's really not many expenses that are necessary if you want to. There's a lot of things that you could spend money on or could reinvest money on once you start making money, but it's not like you need thousands of dollars to start a blog.
My final question for you is, can you share your best monetization tip for someone who has recently started a new blog and maybe it's just starting to get a little bit of traffic? What's a great way for them to start monetizing their blog
Marc Andre 36:32
early on, I think affiliate programs are probably the best option. A lot of vloggers look to make money with ads, and that's a fine way to make money, but you need a lot of traffic to make money with ads. So that's probably not gonna be the case early on, you can start making money with affiliate programs pretty much right away as soon as you can start getting some traffic, obviously, you need you need people to be able to convert into into sales, but I always say you know, pick more One or two products that that you use personally that you know pretty well that have affiliate programs that are relevant to the content that you're writing. And write some content specifically around those products. It could be a review of the product could be just an article where you can mention the product in the article doesn't necessarily have to be 100% the focus of the article, but start to write some articles that where you mentioned the product, the benefits of it, you could even write some tutorials that show people how to use the product or how to use a service or whatever, whatever it is that you're promoting. And with affiliate marketing, as you know, as soon as you start to get some referrals, you can start to make some money. So I would say that's a good way to start for new bloggers.
Awesome. Awesome. Well, thank you for that mark. And finally, I just want to give you an opportunity to share with the listeners where they can find you if they want to connect with you. Or if there's anything you have to offer. This is a great opportunity for you To share any courses or anything cool that you're working on.
Marc Andre 38:02
Sure. So my blog that I'm working on right now a personal finance blog, vital dollar calm is my main priority. And that's the best place to find me. So if people want to reach me, they can can go there and reach me through the contact form on the site. And I also have a course that's available on that blog. It's called blog launch breakthrough. It's obviously a course on blogging and it's intended for people who are just getting started, or haven't yet started a blog. It will cover everything from choosing a blog niche, choosing a name, getting set up with web hosting, setting up your blog, writing content, starting to get some traffic and starting to make some money. And if people go to my site, they can find out about that course. There is right now it's being promoted on the homepage. Depending on when people listen to this, it may or may not still be on the homepage, I'm not sure but if you go to the site, go to vital dollar calm up in the primary navigation menu at the top of the site. There's a link that says start a blog. If you go there, you can find information on the course.
Awesome Mark way, thank you so much for sharing not just where to find you, but for giving us some solid tips on building and selling websites. I'm going to be sure to link to everything Mark mentioned from his website to his blog building course in the show notes, which you can find over at winning to wealth comm slash Episode 28. All right, so now for the big win from this episode. So on one of these deals, Mark talks about the decision to use a broker on the sell of the site instead of just doing it solo himself. Now, he mentioned how using this broker got him more money than he would have gotten on his own. And so for me, this really spoke to the value of choosing collaboration over competition, and how just not operating in our pride can really lead us to some big wins. So Mark, thank you. So So much for sharing that part of your story. Also, if you enjoyed this episode, be sure to hit the subscribe button and leave us a five star review. I have a big goal to hit 100 of these by the end of the year. So if you could leave a five star review, I would greatly appreciate it. But until we talk again, keep racking up those wins one at a time. We'll talk soon.
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