This blog is a business.
At least, that’s what I want it to be. When I started it I had big ambitions of becoming a world-class personal finance blogger and living off the income that I knew this site would produce.
I had no intention of blogging because I’m a really nice guy (I am a nice guy though, promise!). My goal was to provide incredibly valuable, ass-kicking content that would attract visitors. Eventually, I knew I could somehow earn money via affiliate referrals.
I’m a year in now and as you probably have guessed, it hasn’t quite worked out that way.
Many bloggers start like me, with big plans and big expectations. Most of us think we have what it takes to be the next Pat Flynn, Michelle Schroeder-Gardner or Bjork and Lindsay Ostrom and few of us ever make it. Why is that? Why is it so tough for myself and thousands of other ambitious bloggers to get to that point where our blogs are producing income?
If you ask bloggers who have been successful with their business, many of them will tell you that success is not only simple, it’s formulaic. This post by Smart Blogger says in not-so-subtle terms that it’s a repeatable, 5-step process.
So why aren’t more of us making it? A quote from the Smart Blogger article mentioned above might give a hint.
“The moment you decide to use your blog to make money, you’re no longer just a blogger. At that moment, you also become an entrepreneur, and your blog becomes a small business.”
Jon Morrow – Smart Blogger
Most of us are giving our blogs the commitment of a hobby, and expecting the results of a business.
Do What The Pros Do
Most of us like to think we’ve started a “side hustle” when in fact, building a successful blog takes a mountain of work and quite a bit of time (and maybe even a bit of luck).
As I mentioned before though, there are many who have ‘cracked the code’ and built their blogs into income-generating businesses. Some have achieved astronomical levels of success. Me? Not so much.
What am I going to do about it?
A few weeks ago, I stumbled across a post by Jeff Proctor at Breaking The One Percent titled: [Blueprint for $1K] How to Get Your First $1,000 Month as a Blogger. I have followed Jeff and his business partner Ben for a while and know that they’re the real deal.
You can find them at the link above or at their personal finance blog, DollarSprout. They have managed to bring their personal finance blog from obscurity to profitability in a fairly short period of time. Naturally, I paid attention.
According to the post, making $1k from a blog is as simple as following 5 steps. Jon Morrow from Smart Blogger also indicates that it’s a 5-step process…see a pattern here?
I’m going to summarize the steps listed in the BTOP blog post below.
Step 1: Decide what you want your blog to be about
This one’s easy for me as my blog is live already. Ninja Budgeter is focused on personal finance for families. There are many profitable personal finance blogs out there so I know that this is a good space to be in.
Step 2: Set up your blog
Easy – already done! This blog is built on WordPress.org and hosted by Hostinger. My blog isn’t perfect aesthetically, but I’m fairly happy with it. I like a simple theme and simple design. This blog is built on the Generatepress theme. I chose Generatepress because of it’s clean, simple design and how easy it is to customize. The support is also really helpful and it’s more affordable than many ‘premium’ themes out there.
Get the GeneratePress theme here.
Step 3: Set up my first blog posts
Legit’ not a problem. I’ve got around 30 posts on this site already. This is starting to look like a piece of cake!
Step 4: Pick one social media network and own it.
Ok, so here’s where things start to fall apart for me. I don’t have a Facebook page, Google+ page (why bother anyways?) or Instagram account for this site. As for Twitter, I’ve built a modest following of around 3400 that brings in around 10-15 visits per day.
As you can see, though my traffic is growing, it certainly isn’t anything to write home about…
I have a business Pinterest account but have by no means mastered it. Currently, Pinterest is swamping my server with an overwhelming 2-5 visitors per day, and I suuuuuuck at designing pins. This is where I need to focus my time right now.
As of the time this post went live, I have a paltry 54 followers on Pinterest. Let’s be Pinterest friends!
Step 5: Begin monetizing my blog
Before reading the BTOP post mentioned above, I thought this was the point I’m at with my blog. Turns out I hadn’t really “owned a social network just yet. I’ve spent quite a bit of time on Twitter but as I said above, it doesn’t send much traffic my way yet. I need to get my Pinterest on before I get too carried away with monetization.
So there it is. According to the pros, that’s what it takes to make $1000 from a blog.
But is it actually possible for a small-timer like me? Surely the guys over at BTOP wouldn’t have published this if they didn’t think it could actually be done. Shouldn’t somebody check over their work though? Shouldn’t somebody follow the steps to the smallest detail and prove that it’s possible to earn $1000 blogging?
My $100 Challenge
After spending some time studying the steps necessary to make my first $1000 from this blog, I decided to do a personal challenge to get there. This post is the first in a series that will document my journey to blogging profitability.
Right at this moment, $1000 seems a little lofty. But I need a goal. I need something to aim for.
I will continue this challenge until I’ve earned my first $100.
This right here, is the $100 challenge.
Like most of us, I don’t have the luxury of working on my site for 4-6 hours per day but I can do a heck of a lot more than I have done in the past. My goal is simple: I am going to follow along with the steps in the BTOP post until I’ve earned my first $100.
My goal is to prove that it can be done, and that it’s as simple as the pros say.
In order for anything to work in life, we need to put the hours in. I can chat all day about growing my site but if I don’t put the time and effort in, nothing is ever going to happen. Here are the things that I am committing to do in order to get to my first $100 in site income:
- I’m going to invest a minimum of 10 hours per week into into my blog
- I will follow the steps outlined the aforementioned BTOP blog post to the letter
- I will sign up for a Tailwind (or Boardbooster) account and start getting serious about Pinterest
I’m going to document the hours to be sure that I’m putting them in. As I work through this process, I’m going to share how I’m doing.
My goal here is to verify what the blogging greats claim, that there is very little (if any) luck in building a successful blogging business. They say it’s a repeatable formula; something that anybody can accomplish.
I hope to be able to show you all that small-time bloggers can ‘make it’ to the point of profitability.
That’s it! So will you join me on this journey? Will you follow my progress or maybe even work with me and try to get your own site to the point of profitability?
UPDATE: This challenge has ended! I was able to make my first $100.
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27 thoughts on “Extreme Side Hustle – My $100 Blogging Challenge”
Excellent article with some really good resources! This was very aptly timed as I just started learning about Pinterest today (I know, I live under a rock), and have started trying to incorporate it into my blogging. Right now I am only working on driving more traffic to the blog but maybe in a few months I will try to join you in a $100 blogging challenge! I look forward to seeing you hit your goal! Take care and have a fantastic weekend.
Thanks for commenting Mr. Debtfree! I see these articles all the time about how simple it is to start earning via a blog. I want to see if it’s possible following the steps! I only started using Pinterest a couple of months ago so don’t feel bad! Thank you for the encouragement, please let me know if you decide to join me!
I’d be very interested in how it goes! I also do similar ‘challenges’ and I also find that things don’t go always as planned. I recommend you take a free Pinterest or Twitter course so you know how to properly manage it.
Thanks for the advice Araminta! Do you have a recommendation for a free Pinterest course? I want to do the BTOP course but I’m trying to keep my budget down for the time being.
Yes me too, I only have the budget for free courses these days haha. The only ones I’ve done so far are with Moms makes Cents: https://www.momsmakecents.com/ and Pete’s at DYEB: https://doyouevenblog.com/blog/
There’s no harm in doing them all: free knowledge! 🙂
I’ll check those out, thanks!
Very interesting. I was nodding my head as I read this post. Like you, I’ve heard plenty about how easy it is to find success in the blogging space and wonder if there is a repeatable formula for success or if it’s a myth. I’ll be interested to hear more about what works for you and what doesn’t! And I’ll definitely be interested to hear if you find an effective way to master Pinterest! Good luck. Looking forward to hearing your success story 🙂
Thanks for reading Cato! I’ve wondered the same. There are literally dozens of posts out there like the BTOP one referenced above. I chose to use the BTOP post because I like how Jeff & Ben invest a great deal of time into their community (I highly recommend you join their Facebook group BTW). As for Pinterest…it’s a huge learning curve, and I’ve long thought that it’s so saturated that getting traffic would be too difficult and slow. Everybody I speak to about it though says it still has huge potential, so we’ll see.
Thanks for taking the time to comment and follow my little project!
All the best Mike,i just started following BTOP.Very interested to follow your journey. I must say you got my attention.Keep up the good work.
Thanks Harish! I have been dabbling in blogging for a long time and I thought it was time to take some action and the BTOP post gave me the inspiration to challenge myself. I appreciate you taking the time to comment and follow!
Hi Mike! I love the idea of this project – just subscribed so I can follow along on your exciting journey!
This quote really stands out to me: “Most of us are giving our blogs the commitment of a hobby, and expecting the results of a business.”
I’m excited to follow along!
Thanks for reading/subscribing! I’m glad you’re here. That quote hit me hard as well, that’s why I included it. I had a blog once before. It was live for more than 3 years and had potential but I never gave it the effort it deserved. Not this time…
Hi Mike! I want to join you! I love BTOP and this $100 Challenge seems like a really cool idea. I’ll also be following along with your own journey 🙂 Do you mind if I blog about this on my own website if I give you full credit for the idea?
Thanks for stopping by! I’d love if you’d join me and please by all means blog away! Keep me posted, I’m interested to see how it goes.
That’s awesome, thank you!
This is great! I’d love to join in on this challenge as well. Really respect the openness and honesty in this post. Best of luck to you!
Thanks for the kind comment! Please do join in! I want to see others succeed with me!
Ooo following along for sure! I need to be better about scheduling time for blogging. I tend to do it in bits and pieces when I have a few minutes but would be so much more efficient if I set aside bigger chunks of time. It’s a hard balance though!
My day job has been so busy lately that I’ve just wanted to veg out at night!
Here’s to that $100 🙂
Thanks for the comment Sarah, and for following along!
It is really, really hard to find the time. But just like anything else, it’s a habit. The more I do it, the easier it gets.
You’re so brave to publish your website traffic. A lot of people want to talk a big game but I’d venture to say that most of us are at the same place you are. Ive never made money from my blog but I’ve mostly done it for the love of writing. I just always feel blogs that make money lose their authenticity. One stand out example that has kept authenticity would be J Money at Budgetsaresexy. Good luck on your $100 challenge Mike we’re all cheering you on.
Thanks Elsie! I don’t mind posting my traffic numbers because the reality is, most of us are in the same place. I’d rather promote my awesome content than promote what a traffic baller I am. I might eat those words when i make the big leagues….:D
I agree with you that I think it’s important to be deliberate about maintaining authenticity after you become bigger and start earning. I want my blog to continue appealing to my audience for years and decades to come!
I love this idea! I’m in the same boat as you. I really want to start monetizing my blog and I think Pinterest is my next big challenge. To be honest it intimidates the crap out of me, haha.
I’m looking forward to seeing how your challenge goes. I’ll be working hard right along side you to gain some profitability too.
Let’s do this!
According to the BTOP article, I should wait until I’m at 5k views per month, so I’m being patient 😀
Good luck on this challenge, I just subscribed! I started a brand new blog recently as well. Keep it up man!
Thanks Hayes, I’m heading over to check out your site now!
Challenge accepted! Will be following your journey . . .
Awesome! Keep me updated, I’d love to know how it goes!