It doesn’t matter if you are a blogger, online marketer or even an employee at a company… it’s all about the hustle! No one gets to the top by being lazy or not giving a damn… and that’s one of the driving forces being many of the top entrepreneurs and bloggers in the world today. Nick knows all too well about the hustle it takes to make it in business, especially when it’s your own business. For this reason, Nick created his blog at SideHustleNation to help others realize the power and benefits of “hustling”… all of this and more in this latest edition of Meet the Bloggers.
1.) Please tell us about yourself and how you got into blogging?
I’m Nick, and I’m excited to be the Chief Side Hustler at SideHustleNation.com. What that means is I get to help people earn money outside of their day jobs to create more financial freedom and independence in their lives.
I advocate the “side hustle” as a lower risk brand of entrepreneurship and that was my story. I built an online business (a comparison shopping site for shoes) nights and weekends for 3 years before I felt comfortable leaving my corporate job.
I began blogging on a personal domain in 2009, but there was no coherent or cohesive theme to tie it all together. I’d write about some online business and marketing stuff, because that’s what was going on in my life, but there would also be stories about our travels or pictures of our dog. In other words, for people who didn’t care about ME, there was very little reason to stick around and subscribe.
Still, the practice of consistently creating content, learning WordPress, and practicing my writing was invaluable.
In the Spring of 2013, I “re-branded” the site as SideHustleNation and decided to focus exclusively on content for aspiring and part-time entrepreneurs. Traffic has increased 7x since then — I guess the advice everyone says about having a well-defined niche really is true!
2.) What is the focus of your blog and why did you choose that niche?
There are a lot of unhappy people in cubicles out there, and SideHustleNation aims to provide the hope and the tactics that there really is another path. If you spend your free time working on something you care about, building an asset, I believe good things will happen.
That’s been true in my life and I hope to spread that message through the blog and The Side Hustle Show podcast.
3.) How are you currently monetizing your blog traffic?
The site is monetized in a few different ways. The primary revenue sources are a private mastermind group I run along with private consulting services.
I also earn revenue through the occasional sponsored post and with affiliate sales.
4.) What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started blogging?
No one cares about what you have to say. In some way, I guess I kind of fell into the “if you build it they will come” trap.
No — they won’t.
There has to be some compelling reason for people to read your content, and generally that reason is it will help them in some way.
On top of that, you have to be proactive about getting the word out. It’s easy to write amazing content and send it out into the vacuum of the Internet and have no one ever see it. I still have a hard time with the self-promotional bit, but if you’re 100% confident your material will be helpful, it’s not really spammy at all, but a community service.
Or at least that’s the way you have to look at it 🙂
5.) What are three blogs that you visit almost daily?
I do most of my blog reading through Feedly, but 3 of my favorites are:
6.) Can you give us three recommended tools/services that you use with your blogging?
1. Lately I’ve been using a combo-attack of SumoMe and LeadPages to maximize my email opt-ins. When I was flooded with traffic from a press mention, the (free!) SumoMe pop-up was converting at 10%.
2. Triberr is a cool service to band together with other bloggers to promote each other’s content, and their “Campaigns” option gives you an easy way to monetize your site.
3. I use a free plugin called Revive Old Post that tweets out my old articles once or twice a day. You can pick certain categories to exclude, but with 4 years of content in the archives, this is a cool way to breathe new social life into your existing material. Twitter is my #1 social referrer.
7.) What advice would you have for someone who is just starting with their first blog?
Blogging is a horrible business model. There are dozens of faster and easier ways to earn money (here are a few). If your primary aim is to make money from a blog, you’ll either need massive traffic or a really really well-defined niche you can sell products or services to or promote high-commission affiliate products.
On top of that, it’s an incredibly crowded arena. If you don’t LOVE writing, I would strongly consider starting a podcast or YouTube show instead. There’s much less competition because those channels require greater effort, but I think they’re easier to stand out in.
In fact, the podcast grew 3x faster than the blog during my first year.
8.) What’s the best advice or tip you’ve discovered about blogging since getting started?
Write Epic Shit from Corbett Barr.
If I look back on my posts that have “done well” on social media or in the comments, it’s rare to find one that’s less than 2000 words.
My most popular posts are the deep-dive case studies where I show step-by-step behind-the-scenes details of one of my projects. Sometimes they take 8-10 hours to write.
I think it all goes back to being helpful. Think of the kind of posts you share. Does the world really need another half-assed list post? (I’m totally guilty of this as well, by the way, but I’m trying to get better.)
It’s like Seth Godin’s Purple Cow — to get remarkable results, you have to build something remarkable.
9.) If you only had $100 to start a new blog, how would you use it?
The money really isn’t the limiting factor, because you can start a new blog for almost nothing and the $100 will more than cover your first year’s domain registration and hosting, but the time investment is.
I would really think about my long-term goals of the project — who do I hope to reach, how will I make money, and what do I hope to accomplish — and maybe a blog isn’t the best way to get there.
I’m re-reading some of these answers now and I’m realizing I probably sound kind of bitter against blogging, and that’s not the intention at all. But I would point out that my “hourly wage” strictly from blogging would be so far below minimum wage it would be illegal. I do it because I love to write and it feeds well into my “side hustle” mission, and I do expect that hourly rate to improve as the site grows.
One way to reposition this question would be to ask how to start building an online asset for $100. A blog may be a component of that asset, but it frees you up to think of it more as a business. Think of the blog as “content marketing” for your online business and the mindset shifts a little bit — I’m still undergoing this shift myself!
If I’m going to be investing the time anyway, and my primary goal is to build an audience, I would consider investing the $100 in a podcasting microphone ($50-90) and media hosting ($5-15/mo), and create a podcast instead!
10.) How can readers of the blog get in touch with you?
I’m also @nloper on Twitter.
Thanks again Nick for taking the time to share your advice and story with the Blogging Tips community. If you would like to learn about other bloggers and how they are finding success online, be sure to read through our blogger interview series.