Last year was an absolutely insane one for me and the Millennial Money blog. It has made more money and opened more doors than I could have ever imagined. It has literally changed my life. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2018.
In total, more than 1.5 million people visited the website from around the world and of the 10 blog goals that I set for 2017 I was able to accomplish 7 of them, including making $401,681 in blog income from the platform. I also rejected a seven-figure offer to buy the website in July because I’m still just getting started with my personal mission, which is to teach as many people as possible how to make more money and reach financial independence. My goal has never been to sell the blog for millions of dollars.
In addition to hitting 7 of my 10 goals, I also got to speak at FinCon, be a guest on 41 podcasts, was featured in over 100 media outlets including CNBC, NPR, and The Washington Post, signed a book deal with Penguin Random House, left my corporate 9 to 5, wrote my first contributor article for CNBC on Bitcoin, was filmed for a financial independence documentary, (got to meet, then chill, then work with Vicki Robin, the author of my favorite book of all time Your Money or Your Life), and also started coaching a select group of entrepreneurs one-on-one. While all spots are currently filled, if you are interested in personal coaching you can sign up here.
Before we dive into the goals and blog income report, here are the most viewed and shared (aka most popular) Millennial Money posts of 2017.
Most Popular Millennial Money Posts of 2017
- Money is Not The Goal, Time is
- 67 SEO Tips for Bloggers (published in 2016, but still #2!)
- $50 a Day Early Retirement Strategy
- My $1 Million Side Hustles
- How To Retire in 10 Years (or Less) – Guest Post from ESI Money
Below are the 10 goals I set for the blog in 2017, what I was able to accomplish in 2017, and my goals for 2018. These also include a detailed breakout of the $401,681 in blog income I made from the Millennial Money website.
2017 Blog Goals, Results, and 2018 Goals
2017 Goal: Reach 100 total Millennial Money Minute podcast episodes
2017 Reality: We recorded 232 episodes in 2017! (accomplished!)
2018 Goal: Record another 200 episodes
Matt and I started the Millennial Money Minutes podcast in December 2016, so when I wrote my goals for 2017, we had really just gotten started. But recording 100 episodes felt like a massive goal! But through a consistent recording schedule and the fact that we didn’t have to cancel any recording sessions for the first half of the year, we were able to absolutely crush the goal and record 232 podcast episodes in 2017. That’s an insane amount of talking. Not only that, we were voted one of the top 10 business podcasts on Podbean (coming in at #4!) and have made many other podcast “best of” lists. If you are interested in starting a podcast, definitely check out Podbean – I’ve been super happy with them. If you want to binge listen or search all the episodes click here. But of the 232 episodes we recorded in 2017, here are my top 3 favorite episodes of the year:
2017 Goal: Get 100,000 total podcast downloads
2017 Reality: We had approximately 1,256,400 episode downloads in 2017! (accomplished!)
2018 Goal: Hit 5,000,000 total podcast downloads
To be honest, I’m not a big podcast listener myself so this one really blew me away. I think a lot of the popularity ended up being because of the 5-minute format and the banter between Matt and me. Sometimes we agree and sometimes we don’t. We also try to balance the mechanics and the philosophy of money. I also chock up some of the success to the fact that we just kept at it. Recording 232 episodes took a ton of time but we’re both really committed. We also have a ton of fun recording, especially now that we both work online full-time. So for all of you who downloaded, listened, or shared any episodes we really appreciate it. As long as you keep listening, we will keep recording. We are planning to record another 200+ episodes in 2018, so hit us up for any topics you want us to cover.
2017 Goal: Write 100 new posts
2017 Reality: I wrote 71 new posts, which included guest posts (nope)
2018 Goal: Write 100 new posts (setting the bar high again, definitely need to pick up the pace)
Womp womp. I wrote a ton of blog posts the first half of 2017, but slowed down dramatically once I signed a book deal in June. Writing a book is no joke. For all of you who’ve written a book, mad respect. Some days it absolutely crushed me. I also had a really hard time writing consistently for both the blog and the book. In reality, I wrote about 80,000 words on the blog from January to June 2017 and then put most of that energy into writing over 120,000 words for the book from June to December 2017.
But as much as I loved writing the book, I’m excited to put my time and energy back into blogging. Thank you to all of the readers who’ve stuck with me. While it was a tough decision for me to spend less time blogging and more time writing the book, for me it was about the long game. Writing a book is a ton of up-front investment that will hopefully pay off in the future by reaching new audiences. It was also a great way to lay out my entire strategy for making as much money as possible and fast-tracking financial independence. For updates on the book and for free stuff sign up here.
2017 Goal: Hit 100,000 monthly page views consistently
2017 Reality: Hit this within one month of setting the goal and now average over 500,000 pageviews per month (accomplished!)
2018 Goal: Hit 1 million page views per month by the end of 2018
Despite writing a lot less frequently, due to a solid SEO foundation, my traffic has actually continued to increase. If you haven’t yet checked it out here are my top 67 SEO tips for bloggers (this post has been viewed over 200,000 times!). Execute the fundamentals – they really do work. SEO truly is the compounding interest of digital marketing. I’ve been able to capitalize ranking on the first page of Google for a wide variety of topics including side hustling, house hacking, early retirement, make money blogging, and a bunch of others. But I still haven’t yet hit that inflection point needed to get to 1 million monthly page views. It could happen in 2018. The more frequently you write, the more chances you have to rank, so I need to really ramp up my posting volume to hit the 1 million page views per month goal. So that’s the plan.
2017 Goal: Make $100,000 from Millennial Money revenue and partnerships
2017 Reality: I made $401,681 from the blog (accomplished!)
2018 Goal: Make $500,000 and donate half
Ironically, I didn’t start this money blog to make money. I started it to share my financial independence story and strategies with anyone who was interested. But when a $5 bill is on the ground, you should always pick it up. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve spent my entire career building websites for other people and Millennial Money is the first website I’ve built for myself. I also really love the challenge of making money online and teaching others how to do it too.
Within the whole making-money-online realm, it really feels like the Wild West. It’s never been easier in history to make more money, so it’s a ton of fun to test and share new money-making strategies. It’s also never been easier to launch a business and build an audience and network to get your message out. But I’m still learning just like everyone else. That’s what makes it so fun. Making money online feels a lot like playing a potentially really profitable game. Here’s what I’ve learned: I think a lot of people have the formula completely backward since they focus wayyyyy too much on social media or tweaking every SEO dial without first creating quality authentic content. Here’s the formula that seems to be working best for me:
Here’s a Breakdown of My 2017 Blog Income of $401,681
If you actually want to make money online, then you have to build a strategy and be prepared to put in a lot of work. Anyone who tells you making money online is easy probably doesn’t make much money online. While 1/3 of the money I’ve made on this blog is passive income, at least 2/3 has been active income because I’ve had to actively trade my own time and expertise to make the money.
While sitting back and making money on affiliate or display ads is nice, your revenue slows down if you aren’t consistently creating new content and getting more traffic. This is why it’s essential to think about a blog not as a blog, but as a platform. Because on a platform, you can make money in a ton of different ways, as you’ll see below. To learn more about turning a blog into a platform, check out this post on how to make money blogging.
Direct Advertisers and Sponsored Content $17,800
I get a ton of sponsored content and direct advertising requests, but most of them are super random or for crappy products. I say no 99% of the time, but occasionally a brand will reach out with a cool new product or idea that can actually help you save money or make more money, so then it’s a win-win. I’ve sold a few sponsored posts (less than 5 in 2017) and will keep selling them when they make sense. There are also other brands that reach out and want to buy a display ad placement on the website. If it the brand aligns and the price is right, then I’ll sell the placement.
Brand Partnerships and Consulting (SEO and marketing): $92,900
I signed my first direct brand partnership with Fannie Mae in late 2017 to help bust the myths of homeownership. I also sold 14 SEO clients directly from the website (or more specifically, this one post on the best SEO tips and this Rockstar Finance thread on SEO). Of those 14, four of them were very profitable SEO engagements. In 2017, I also had the opportunity to help four of the top 20 finance bloggers in the world with SEO issues, so I was both able to add some value and peek under the hood of some really successful money blogs (win-win). Finally, two finance companies also hired me for consulting gigs that took very little of my time but were a lot of fun. In total, I have really scaled back my consulting work and plan to only work with a few brands and other bloggers in 2018, not because I’m not interested, but because it takes so much of my time. Stay tuned for an SEO for bloggers course dropping soon.
Affiliates and Display Advertising: $127,400
My affiliate revenue fluctuates a lot month to month, but I’m going to try and make it more consistent and grow it in 2018. Most, but not all of the affiliates I work with are listed on my best money tools page. I am in the process of scaling a few of my affiliate relationships that align well with Millennial Money. I also run display ads through the AdThrive network and work with MyFinance – both have solid payouts per pageview, but I’ve been scaling them back a little bit to make the reading experience cleaner.
Display ads are nice when they are contextually relevant, but they can get really random and clutter up the experience. Also – a quick note: If you run a display ad network on your website, it can undercut your affiliate revenue since most affiliate commissions are based on last-click attribution, not first-click. So, for example, if someone clicks on your affiliate link, but then comes back to your website and gets served a re-marketing display ad from your affiliate and they click on it, you might not get the affiliate commission (since they clicked on a re-marketing ad for the brand last!). I realized I was losing a lot of affiliate commissions this way, so be careful if you have run display ads and have affiliates.
Everything else: $163,581
I am lumping all this together because contractually I can’t disclose how much money I am being paid for some of these projects. But this bucket of blog income includes signing a contract for my book, speaking, private coaching, course sales, and freelance writing gigs. For 2018, I expect this number to grow since I am planning to speak more, release at least two more courses, and take on a few more coaching clients.
For 2018, I’ve set a revenue goal of $500,000 which might be achievable if the new courses being developed are successful and website traffic continues to grow. I’m also planning to donate a lot of money in 2018 to support Ugandan school fees (my wife works there) and invest in financial literacy initiatives in the United States.
2017 Goal: Get 100 new backlinks each month and get at least 100 shares per post
2017 Reality: About 30 new backlinks per month and 60 shares a post (nope)
2018 Goal: I’m not setting a backlink or post sharing goal
I am combining goals 6 and 7 because I didn’t accomplish either of them. One of the top Google ranking factors is backlinks, so in 2017, I focused on trying to get as many as I could. I was pretty successful getting backlinks from the media, but didn’t take the time to connect with as many brands as I wanted. But looking back, 100 new backlinks per month was a pretty crazy goal. Also when it comes to sharing, I don’t use a social plugin that tracks the shares, but I estimate I get about 50 to 60 per post. Some posts, however, like the $50 a day early retirement strategy I know have been shared over 500 times. In reality for 2018, I’m not planning any goals for backlinks or shares and don’t have any plans to develop an active backlink building strategy. I’m going to spend my time creating quality content instead.
2017 Goal: Build to the level of 100 new Millennial Money Crew subscribers each week
2017 Reality: 400-500 new subscribers per week (accomplished!)
2018 Goal: 1,000+ new subscribers per week
In 2017, I grew my email list by about 24,600 people. While both media exposure and organic traffic drove most of my new email list subscribers, I could have done a better job of offering more value for signing-up.
I’ve been slacking on creating a welcome sequence – which is one of the benefits of using a service like Constant Contact for email marketing or a set of dedicated resources for subscribers. But I am working on both now.
Realistically, I think I can get to 1,000 new subscribers per week if I can up my content game, post 3-5 times per week, and increase my writing for CNBC. Building my email list is one of my biggest goals for 2018.
2017 Goal: Launch a Millennial Money course with Matt
2017 Reality: Yes! We built and launched a course (accomplished!)
2018 Goal: Launch Version 2.0 and 2 other courses
We were early movers on this trend. Matt and I recorded 44 videos and launched a money course in June, but the course was so popular that we closed registration less than 60 days after launching to rebuild for Version 2.0. It was amazing to get so many students from around the world to go through the course and provide feedback. Note to self: Don’t launch a course when you are traveling to Europe the next week (that added a lot of unnecessary stress)! While we both made quite a bit of money in the process, the learning was even more valuable. New courses for 2018 are already in development.
2017 Goal: Get on TV once
2017 Reality: Made it happen 5 times (accomplished!)
2018 Goal: Be on TV as much as possible
As I write this, I am getting ready to fly to New York to be interviewed on ABC Nightline which gets like 1.5 million viewers (freaking out a little bit). I also have two other TV interviews confirmed so far in just January. But in 2017, I made my first appearance on WGN News in Chicago and it was so much fun. I also learned (the hard way) that you should always wear makeup on TV simply to reduce the glare on your face from all the lights. Here’s my first time on TV for Millennial Money with my shiny forehead. It was a ton of fun though.
I couldn’t be more humbled and grateful for every person who took the time to read or share Millennial Money content or emailed me in 2017. It means so much to me and really has changed my life. I’m also happy to be done writing the book and can’t wait to share it with the world in early 2019 (old school publishing takes so long!). I’m also stoked to launch the New Your Money or Your Life platform in March with Vicki Robin to spread financial independence. And I’m also stoked to have a lot more time to write, share, and connect with all of you.
If you want to launch your own platform you can do it for as little as $2.95 per month or search for the perfect name below:
Here’s to crushing money in 2018. Much love.