Hey! Today, I have a great article from Alex Nerney and Lauren McManus, owners of one of my favorite courses, Six-Figure Blogger. Alex and Lauren, former personal trainer and CPA, are now full-time bloggers that own Avocadu.com, where they write about health, wellness, and weight loss for women, and Createandgo.co, where they teach others how to blog. They've been extremely successful, and earned $818,105 in 2017 blogging. Below is their story.
My boyfriend and I met in Dallas, Texas on a tinder date three and a half years ago. He was a personal trainer at the time and I was an accountant studying to get my CPA license.
Our jobs couldn’t have been any more different, but we were both motivated and hard-working young professionals looking for success just like everybody else.
Alex always knew that he wanted a different kind of life. He wanted to stop “trading his hours for dollars” as he put it and he wanted the financial freedom to design his work days and travel when he wanted to.
All of that sounded great to me, but I was honestly just fine with climbing the corporate ladder. I was subscribed to the idea anyway, because I had been indoctrinated to it early on in life. Go to school, major in something that you can make a career out of, and them work a 9-5 until you can build up a solid retirement fund.
That’s what everyone does, right?
Alex and I discussed a lot of “what-ifs” relating to working from home, starting your own business, etc., but we only really entertained the ideas. I know that I didn’t take them all that seriously because I couldn’t do anything like that, surely (aka the fear was talking me out of it).
There were a few really important steps that we took along our journey to becoming six-figure bloggers before the end of our first year.
- How I Successfully Built A $1,000,000+ Blog
- How To Quit Your Job And Become A Full-Time Blogger
- 5 Ways I Made My Blog Go Viral – 2,000,000 Views A Month In One Year!
1. We decided to decide.
After attending a conference called The Millionaire Fast Lane, Alex made the decision that he was going to start a blog and run his own business.
He decided to decide. No more talking, theorizing, and dreaming. It was time to take action.
Everyone is guilty of entertaining ideas but not taking most of them seriously enough to just MAKE IT HAPPEN. We are no different. But Alex made his decision.
Being a personal trainer, he wanted to stick with what he knew. It would be a health and fitness blog. I loved the idea because I was just coming off my stint as a hardcore vegan of two years and I loved learning about all things health and wellness.
I was on board to support him in whatever capacity he needed me to and in the beginning, I offered to help him with a little bit of design work on the blog. I quickly realized that I really enjoyed the work and it didn’t feel like “work” to me.
Slowly, I started helping more and more until we began to work on it side-by-side every night, weekend, and extra hour that we had to spare outside of our full-time jobs.
After a few months of blogging and making absolutely zero dollars (and spending some money to run our blog), we realized that we were still giving away our most productive hours to our full-time jobs.
One day, after a particularly trying day preparing taxes at the accounting firm I worked for, I made my decision as well.
I called Alex on my way home from work and said “I’m done. I can’t do this anymore. I’m all in [with the blog].”
We had the opportunity to move to Seattle to Alex’s dad’s house, which was empty for the winter, and we jumped on it. We weren’t making a dime with our blog, but we knew that the isolation in Seattle away from family and friends would give us the focus we needed to give this our all.
It was terrifying and our family and friends thought we were insane. I thought we were insane. I had JUST passed my CPA exams and gotten my license.
But, we had saved up enough money that we could give it try for a year. If we failed, we could always crawl back to our full-time jobs with our tail between our legs.
We ended up making $103,457.58 with our health and wellness blog by the end of that first year.
The very first step in this process was deciding to decide. Making the decision to start a blog, venture into the unknown, and make it work no matter what.
You can live your life on the fence, waiting for good things to happen, or you can get off of the fence and make them happen.
2. We stayed focused on our goals.
Now, we’re not talking monetary goals. We did have a goal of making $10,000/month, but that wasn’t our north star.
The goals that mattered most to us were to be able to quit our soul-sucking day jobs, work from home, workout when we wanted to, travel when we wanted to, and completely design our days.
It was goals more like “Traveling to Europe before I’m 30 years old!” that motivated me more than anything. And a year and a half later, at 29 years old, I lived that dream on my first trip to Portugal:
We wanted control over our lives, financial freedom, and the ability to build our own dreams rather than someone else’s.
It was all of these things that kept us pushing forward. So, when it came time to make hard decisions like telling our friends that no, we couldn’t go out and have fun this weekend, there was a clear answer.
You NEED these personal goals to be your north star or you will end up giving up along the way. I’ll tell you right now that our path wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows.
Our first blog failed after 2-3 months of working on it. We had visitors but couldn’t seem to make any money. We were too focused on what WE wanted to do rather than what our audience wanted and needed.
We ended up scratching that idea and starting a new health and wellness blog, Avocadu.com, that focused more on the health and well-being of others
But the point is that we didn’t give up. We had fears and doubts every day that kept us awake at night, but our dreams of a different life overpowered those feelings.
Stay focused on WHY you want this kind of life and know that personal goals are more important than monetary goals. Sure, money gives you the freedom to live life the way you want to, but it’s those FEELINGS that motivate you and drive you forward.
In our first month in Seattle, we made our first $200 blogging. The next month, we doubled that amount. The month after that, we doubled it again, and repeated this process for the first 5 months of blogging.
The reason we were able to do this was because…
3. We tried everything and weren’t afraid to make mistakes.
I’m talking a LOT of mistakes. We have a sort of ‘motto’ that we live by after those first few months of blogging: Fail fast and learn faster.
We tried literally every technique and tactic we came across related to list building and email marketing, affiliate marketing, creating products, running webinars and launches, and more.
You name it, we tried it. Some of these ideas were great but we just went about them the wrong way or at the wrong time.
We ran a webinar once and only had about 20-something people show up, two of which were our moms, and most of which left the webinar halfway through… I cringe just thinking about it.
It was embarrassing and disheartening to say the least and was definitely one of the lowest moments we have EVER had in blogging. But we picked ourselves back up and tried something else.
Yes, we were afraid of failure, but we didn’t let it stop us from trying and reaching those goals that were so important to us.
The key is to fail a lot and learn from your mistakes. Don’t hold on to ideas for too long just because they are working for someone else and don’t force it.
Trust in the process and find what works for YOU. Perhaps the coolest part is that some things that you try might not work at the time, but they may work for you later on down the road.
We created a diet plan to sell on our first blog only to have it completely flop. It was like trying to sell ice to eskimos. But a few months and a LOT of mistakes later, we rebranded and repackaged that same diet plan to sell on our new blog, and now it’s our best-selling product.
4. We diversified our income.
Along this process of trial and error, we began to figure out what was working and what was not.
We made our first couple hundred dollars linking Amazon products on our blog with the Amazon Associates program. This was the first bit of passive income we had earned and that $7-10/day meant everything to us.
Naturally, we tried to become millionaires with the Amazon Associates program and failed pretty quickly at that. You need millions of blog views a month to make any kind of real money that way.
So, we moved on to the next thing, which was to dive a little deeper into affiliate marketing with other types of affiliate products. We had built up a list of a few thousand subscribers at that point thanks to our success with driving tons of free traffic to our blog with Pinterest.
We began creating email opt-ins and funnels with free videos and written content to try to sell a yoga for weight loss product that we found on a popular affiliate marketplace, Clickbank.
We only made $5/sale on the product, but it was more than double the average sale we were getting from Amazon affiliate products ($1-2/sale). This is how we doubled our revenues for that second month.
After learning that our audience was interested enough in yoga for weight loss that they would buy a product, we decided to create our own. If we could successfully sell our own program, we could control our margins and turn that $5/sale into $20 or $30/sale.
So, we spend the next couple of weeks researching and writing what became our Yoga Fat Loss Bible. By the end of that third month, we had sold our first few eBooks and doubled our revenues again.
We had now created a diversified revenue stream because we were making $300-400 from Amazon + $2,000+ from our yoga program sales.
At this time, we were also successfully selling an affiliate product on weight loss. So, we decided to sell our own diet plan. Alex was, after all, a certified personal trainer and nutrition specialist.
This is when we spruced up our previously failed diet plan from our first blog. We improved and expanded upon the content and gave it a new name and a new look.
By the end of that 4th month, we had successfully launched our second product, the 21-Day Fat Loss Challenge, to our list and doubled our revenues again.
Add another $2,000+ to our bottom line and you can begin to see how it grows.
Diversifying your income both helps secure your income on your blog and helps you increase your monthly revenues.
5. Growth can be exponential if you do it right.
During the next few months, we worked on trying out new affiliate products. improving our current products, learning how to sell better, and driving more traffic to our blog. All of these factors helped us continue to make more each month with our blog.
This doubling of revenues led us to making over $40,000 in a single month with our health and fitness blog just 7 months after we quit our jobs and weren’t making ANY money at all.
Blogging is like a puzzle. Get a couple pieces put together, and the rest will begin to fall into place.
Figuring out those first couple of pieces is the most difficult part and it does take a lot of time and work, but it becomes really fun when you start to get those first few small wins.
By this point, we had learned a TON about blogging, online sales, and marketing, a process that was both fun and incredibly interesting to us because we are both business majors.
We wanted to share our story with the world and show others that they could do this to..
Now that we know what we know, when we look back on our mistakes, it feels like we should have seen a lot of the failures coming. But it’s not always easy or obvious when you’re deep in the trenches just trying to get through each day.
Figuring out those first couple pieces of the puzzle was the most difficult part for us, and we felt that sharing our process could help other new bloggers navigate through this period of uncertainty a little easier.
So, we started Create and Go, where we now help and teach others how to create their own successful blogs, work from home, and hopefully have the ability to design their days like we do.
We still continue to run our successful health and wellness blog, Avocadu, and have diversified further with our first physical product, a probiotics supplement, and even branched into selling a few other physical products on Amazon with Alex’s sister.
On Create and Go, we have a quickly-growing YouTube Channel where we teach others about how to blog and about the successes and failures we have experience through our blogging journey.
Despite what some marketers might tell you, blogging isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme or a way to make millions and never work again. It’s still a job, but one that provides a LOT more enjoyment and personal freedom than most do.
The truth is that we came across a lot of both very good and very bad advice along the way. When you try just about everything, you see a lot and learn a lot.
Our goal at Create and Go is as honest and transparent as possible about our journey to becoming successful bloggers so that others can relate and hopefully apply similar strategies to their new or growing blogs.
We have created four different courses on blogging that further help to diversify our income and we now make over $75,000/month between both of our blogs.
- Make your first $1,000/month with Make Money Blogging for Beginners.
- Drive tons of Pinterest traffic to your blog with Pinterest Traffic Avalanche.
- Scale your blogging income with Six-Figure Blogger.
We also sell a discounted bundle of all four of the above courses called Pro Blogger Bundle.
We’ve achieved all of this in just about two years and have been able to travel around the world, including to Peru, Portugal, Bali, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and other places.
To wrap things up, here is a quick summary of the most important factors that helped us go from $0-$10,000/month in less than a year:
- Decide to decide. Stop talking, theorizing, and dreaming and start taking action.
- Stay focused on your goals. Feelings are a far more powerful driver than money. Your north star should be what that money will provide for you (freedom, travel, happiness, etc.)
- Try everything and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Fail fast and learn faster. Sometimes in order to find out what works, you must first learn all the ways that it work work.
- Diversify your income. Adding additional revenue streams to your bottom line is one of the quickest ways to reach $10,000/month even while traffic remains the same.
- Continue to challenge yourself and improve for exponential growth. The moment you are comfortable and satisfied with where you are at is the moment that you stop growing.
Blogging has opened doors for us that we didn’t even know existed because we stayed focused on what mattered most to us in our lives and didn’t allow fear to hold us back or failure to keep us down.
What are you doing to grow your income?
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