Personally, I never considered myself to be much of an entrepreneur, although I often looked at situations in life and thought about different ways money could be made or was being made. I watered some gardens and mowed some lawns as a kid, but then I devoted myself to becoming educated and getting a good, normal doctor job.
It wasn’t until I saw people I respected online sharing stories and making money talking bout money that I was once again intrigued. I achieved financial independence the old-fashioned way, and I had knowledge and stories that could help others do the same. Could I make money with an online business?
In my third year of blogging, I did have a 6-figure business, and this year, we’ll be donating six figures as a result of bringing in multiple six figures. The internet is amazing, and so are all of you!
Today’s guest post comes from a reader named Sa El who reached six figures of revenue more quickly than I did, and with far fewer readers. He found a lucrative niche and excelled at growing his site and its income. Take it away, Sa!
How I Built A 6-Figure Online Business In Less Than 2 Years
Starting an online business can be one of the most overwhelming experiences in your life, and making money from one can be even more difficult.
However, if you stay consistent and don’t give up, your online business can give you a better income than your full-time job or career, and free up your time in ways you didn’t know were possible.
In this post today I will go over the steps that I took for my website to generate 6 figures a year in revenue and how I grew traffic as well.
Blogs Can Make Money?
Finding out that a blog can make money without you being around can be mind-blowing.
I had my website Zionfinancial.com for over 10 years and it never once made me any money, heck it didn’t even generate leads.
As more of my customers were requesting online quotes and asking for e-apps, or to be only emailed and not called, I realized a shift was happening.
I started my research online and realized that while there were plenty of blogs talking about life insurance, none of them addressed this idea of coverage without an agent.
I decided to start Simply Insurance and at the time I had to purchase the .co version of the site because the .com was $10,000 at the time.
There was no way I was going to invest that kind of money before I knew this would work.
Now that I had my domain name and an Idea of what I wanted to offer (an online insurance agency where customers can buy without an agent), it was time to get educated on how to actually make it all work.
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Show Me The Knowledge
When it comes to understanding insurance, I have over 11 years of experience, but when it came to building a blog that would create an income, I had no clue where to start.
So, I decided that I needed to become educated and purchased a few courses.
These courses ranged from things like SEO, Content Marketing, Writing and Setting Up Funnels.
While I still review these courses from time to time, it is important to note that it is nearly impossible to be a success at anything if you don’t get the correct education.
The best thing about courses is that you can research the person giving the course, you can confirm that they, themselves are successful in the space they are trying to offer as a course.
I spent months reviewing and refining my knowledge about anything that had to do with blogging and online marketing.
Once I got the jest of the education it was time to decide on my business model.
I’d Rather Be An Affiliate
The first thing I decided is that I didn’t want to be part of the back-end of the transaction.
As an insurance agent, this meant that instead of getting paid once the customer was approved for their policy, I will be getting paid earlier in the sales process.
I opted for either a per lead or per application fee because I wanted to be sure that the efforts of my site weren’t in vain.
When I sold life insurance, my biggest agony was getting a customer to agree to buy, get them through the entire application process and then they get declined and I don’t get paid anything.
As an affiliate, I also wouldn’t have to be licensed in each state that I offered the product.
This is important because if you aren’t licensed in a state and you sell a life insurance policy for a commission, you will not be paid.
This new business model allowed me to offer the product online and to start generating revenue after only a few months of having the blog.
It is important that you determine how you want your blog to generate money in the beginning.
- Will you offer a course?
- Will you be an affiliate?
- Will you sell a product?
- Will you sell ads?
If you build traffic without knowing how you want to monetize it, it can be much harder to change your strategy and process later down the line.
The next thing I realized is that people will not buy anything from you if you don’t offer them some sort of value.
While the insurance itself has value, what else am I offering my customer for them to trust me?
The answer for me was a solid insurance education that was in plain English that the average person could understand.
These posts consisted of:
A list post is a post that goes through a list in either an ordered or unordered fashion of a specific topic.
For instance, my first List Post was – 21 Most Effective Ways To Get Cheap Life Insurance, which you can check out here.
It goes over 21 ways to save money on your life insurance, it is very actionable and has a ton of value to the customer.
An Ultimate Guide is a post usually 3,000 to 5,000 words long that goes over everything about a specific subject.
You should be able to leave these guides with almost 100% knowledge on that subject. My first ultimate guide was How Does Term Life Insurance Work, it was well over 15,000 words and you can read it here.
Crowd Source Manuals – life insurance proceeds
The Crowd Source Manual is a type of post where you have experts weigh in on a subject that you might not be well versed in.
For instance, I have a ton of experience selling life insurance, but I don’t know anything about how the surviving family members should invest their funds.
I reached out to over 30+ personal finance experts and asked them, “How should a surviving spouse invest their life insurance proceeds.”
This post was great because it answered a question that I couldn’t answer, for my audience, and the information was given by experts.
You can check the post out here.
After creating this educational content for my readers, it was time to get more eyeballs in front of it and I did that by getting votes.
Vote For Me
Building backlinks or as I call it, getting votes, is a very important part of building your blog.
Whenever someone links back to your content, the search engines(Primarily Google), see that as a vote that your content is worth people reading.
In a nutshell, the more votes you have, the higher you can rank for specific keywords and the more traffic you will generate.
I obtained my votes mainly by the below strategies:
Writing a guest post is a great way to build your link profile because you can write about almost anything that relates to your business and create free content for the site owner.
There is no better way to build your profile than to get relevant sites to allow you to write content for them
For instance, I created a post about RV Insurance for a site called The Wandering RV and not only was I able to get 3 backlinks from doing the guest post.
But they are now ranking position 4 of Google for the keyword RV Insurance which gets thousands of searches per month.
I got links and they got the free content that is now bringing them tons of traffic.
HARO Stands for Help A Reporter Out, this is a place that allows you to be a source for writers and editors for stories they are working on.
The reason this is a great opportunity is that you get 3 chances per day to respond to a request to be a source and you don’t always know which sites you will get linked from.
I have received mentions from places like Readers Digest, Reviews.com and GoBankingRates just to name a few.
HARO can really help you grow both your overall presence as a real business or blog and give you backlinks from places that wouldn’t normally link to you because you are a smaller blog.
Last but not least, if you create good strong resources, some sites will link to you so that their readers have access to your resource.
For instance, I created a pet insurance resource and all of the pet blogs liked it and started linking to it.
Resource pages are a great way to get more votes.
Getting educated, figuring out my business model, writing strong content and getting backlinks allowed me to build my blog to a Six-Figure business in under 2 years.
I was finally able to purchase my .com as well in January of 2019, it had gone up to $25,000 by then.
Check out my results below.
My Timeline & Results
Below are my results in a quick timeline format; I wanted to do this so that you can see how I used the above information to grow my site over time.
Insurance customers started asking about purchasing life insurance online and most of them didn’t want to speak to me on the phone. I decided to look more into this trend and follow my gut.
April 2017 – Revenue: $0.00 | Site Traffic – 230 Visitors
I started the research into online life insurance products and realized there wasn’t anyone offering the ability for people to just sign up online, so I started Simplyinsurance.co, couldn’t purchase the .com because it was $10k
May 2017 – Revenue: $0.00 – Expenses: $2,500 | Site Traffic – 156 Visitors
I knew everything about insurance, I didn’t know anything about online marketing. I decided to take a few online courses to educate myself about writing, blogging, and SEO.
June 2017 – July 2017 – Revenue: $0.00 | Site Traffic – 896 Visitors
I created my first blog post and established my first affiliate relationships, during those two months my site generated about 448 visits for those 2 months.
August 2017 – Revenue: $120.00 | Site Traffic – 298 Visitors
I received my first commission check from an affiliate partner for $120.00
Sept-Dec 2017 – Revenue: $24,983 | Site Traffic – 2,612 Visitors
During these next few months, I created more content, built more affiliate relationships and continued to do outreach and guest posting. My traffic was averaging about 653 visitors per month.
Jan 2018 – Dec 2018 – Revenue: $122,457 | Site Traffic: 22,883 Visitors
During this entire year, I changed my content focus to include long tail keywords. I also continued to do sitewide content audits and build backlinks. My site traffic averaged around 1,900 visits per month.
January 2019 – Revenue: $14,254.00 | Site Traffic: 4,316 Visitors
I was finally able to purchase simplyinsurance.com, the domain was now priced at $25,000.
Feb 2019 – March 2019 – Revenue: $28,333 | Site Traffic 7,402 Visitors
During these months we have been transitioning the site over to the .com. There was a drop in traffic as expected when doing a site transfer. My traffic went down to about 3,700 visitors per month on average.
However, I am sure this will correct itself in the next few months and since 100% of my revenue is from my Affiliate relationships I don’t have to worry about people getting approved or declined.
Take Action… No Need To Wait
If you are willing to put in the work, there is no reason to wait, you should start your blog today.
The more I think about it, the more I wish I would have started sooner than later and if your excuse is that you aren’t good with technology, then that is just an excuse.
You don’t need to be a programmer or a great writer to start a blog and you can hire people to help you with things you don’t know much about.
My path may be different than yours, but the goal is still the same, to build a business that gives you the ability to live life on your own terms.
Do you have an online business idea? What’s keeping you from implementing it? Have you failed or found success with an online business? Share your story below!
7 thoughts on “How One Man Built A 6-Figure Online Business In Less Than 2 Years”
You made a lot of money quickly but the most impressive part is that you messed with a gigantic insurance industry in your spare time.
You’re like the Elon Musk of insurance (whereas he is messing with rockets or cars or whatever he’s up to these days).
That HARO tip is gold – just signed up. Getting back into blogging after about a ten year absence has been interesting. The ad monetization has gotten a lot better – I’m making almost the same as my previous one with about 1/12th of the traffic. I built a Japanese pop culture blog into a site that was getting 800-1,000 hits per day. But my new FI/bicycle blog is far more on point and consistent in its branding and message, and growing at a more steady pace.
Sometimes you never know what is going to hit. I wrote a post called “The air conditioning apology I owe Mr. Money Mustache” (got a tweet from Mr. ‘Stache himself on that one!) and it has been one of my consistently best performers – and gets a lot of HVAC workers commenting. (Funny, because it was a post on NOT using AC.)
Anyway, thanks for the post! Some very interesting tips for any blogger to think about.
Congratulations Sal. An inspiration to all of us who are on the beginning end of this journey. I like the advice to hire others to help you along the way. I’ve been experimenting with that via upwork and have appreciated the inputs I’ve received so far. All the best!
Thank you for sharing your journey, Sal. Congrats on your success. Nice to meet you virtually.
Thanks for sharing your journey! It’s a very interesting business model that I think could be exported to many different industries. I really enjoyed reading the timeline of your traffic/revenue and how it grew.
Congratulations on your rapid success. Being the first in a particular niche/space gives you a headstart that will make you stand above your competitors when others try to emulate you after seeing your success.
Running a website is challenging and there are so many behind the scenes things that the casual reader will never know. I was surprised how long it took me to write a 5-min read article when I first started out (easily 4-6 hours of time could vanish just to put out one post).
But like any other venture, there is a lot of upfront work (front-loading) that will hopefully pay dividends down the road as your audience builds.
Wow! What a great guest post with lots of great tips! I’m new to blogging and this is very helpful!!