Neeraj Joshi

@jneeraj0807

How Pradeep Goyal built a Profitable Blog generating more than $3000 per month

January 5th 2018

PushInterview 07:

The journey of how Pradeep Goyal built a Profitable Blog generating $3,000 per month without spending money on paid marketing.

With the rise of platforms like WordPress, Wix, and Medium, starting a blog has become a One-hour activity.

Millions of Blogs are launched every day via these platforms let alone the whole of the internet.

Yes, it has become easy to start a blog, but building it into a Profitable Business is still challenging. Blogging.org also agrees with this:

Blogging.org

I got a chance to interview Pradeep Goyal, the founder of CashOverflow.

Through this interview he has shared:

“How he built a Profitable Blog generating more than $3,000 per month without spending money on paid marketing”

This is the seventh interview of the series “PushInterview: Interviews that help you Pushstart powered by Pushstart.

Check out our previous interview on “How I built one of the most active startup communities of India” if you happened to miss it.

🕴Who are you?

Hey Pushstarters! Pradeep this side :)

Hey Pushstarters! I am Pardeep Goyal, a finance geek, content marketing expert, and a growth consultant for early-stage startups.

I worked with an IT company for 7 years as the Tech lead before quitting to co-found two startups — SchoolGennie and PocketScience.

After not finding success with my first two startups, I founded CashOverflow in May 2015 to help people generate passive income and achieve financial freedom.

Since our launch in May 2015, CashOverflow has grown organically and currently has a traffic of 200,000 visitors per month.

🤔 What’s the deal with CashOverflow?

The current version of CashOverflow

CashOverflow is a personal finance portal focused on two things — financial abundance & financial freedom. Although they sound similar there is a subtle difference between both.

Financial abundance is about fulfilling your desires through certain ways even though you might not be wealthy yet.
Financial freedom is about building enough wealth so that you no longer stress about money and care about things in life that are beyond money.

With that focus, CashOverflow provides practical insights on Saving money, Investing money, and Earning passive money.

My vision is to help people in establishing a second source of income — and then hold their hands to manage their money & business whether they are earning through Freelancing, Consulting, Blogging or Startup.

If you land on my website, you will learn something to save money or earn money.

💯 What motivated you to start CashOverflow?

When I started my first startup in 2013, I was 90% technical and 10% marketer.

As a co-founder, I took it upon myself the work of digital & content marketing in the form of writing sales copies, blog posts, social media marketing, and so forth.

My first startup failed and I shared the case study publicly on LinkedIn, YourStory and StartupKarma.

I failed but it was clear to me that I had to start an online business given my love for entrepreneurship and the freedom I would get to work & execute on my ideas.

To figure out what I really wanted to start, I did the following exercise:

Step 1: Wrote down my ideas.

Step 2: Wrote down my primary & other side skills.

Step 3: Wrote down my core interests including the areas that I am passionate about.

Step 4: Recalled when I helped someone the last time and made him happy.

Here is the real snapshot of my exercise that I did in 2015:

Post this exercise, I realized that personal finance is one area that I really like. From financial news, financial products, credit cards, money saving hacks, investment related philosophies, income tax laws, and so forth.

I enjoy talking every bit of financial stuff for entrepreneurs and freelancers.

This combined with my growing love for Content Marketing made CashOverflow a no brainer for me.

That’s how I started CashOverflow and worked on it part time almost for a year. I slowly got a hang of it and started loving it but I was not making any money from CashOverflow.

I joined another startup called Babygogo in child healthcare space as the Head of Content Marketing. I helped the startup in setting up initial content marketing, viral articles, and videos. I established organic growth channels on the web and social media.

One of our videos went viral and hit 1 million views in a single day, till now the video attracted 7 million views.

After working for a while at Babygogo, I realized that the startup’s ambitions changed from where they started and restricted me in doing what I believed is best for the company in my capacity as Head of Content Marketing.

So, I quit my job and decided to work full time on CashOverflow from September 2016.

Honestly, I was afraid of taking the risk as it could turn out to be a major loss. But, I had the confidence in myself that I will definitely figure out some source of income by December 2016.

I published my annual income report for my readers and will keep publishing income report every year.

So, without worrying about money and failure, I went ahead to build CashOverflow full time.

As Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO, says:

I knew that if I failed I wouldn’t regret that, but I knew the one thing I might regret is not trying”.

🤑 How are you running your blog as your business?

I built my website on WordPress which is extremely easy. All I needed was a Hosting Service, a registered Domain Name, and a WordPress account to get things up and running.

The simple looking first version of my website:

Archived Link

It takes less than 60 minute to start your website, I explained the step by step process to start a blog or website here. (Just $2 domain and $48 for high-performance hosting)

But just the website or blog will not make anyone successful.

We should understand how to run our blog as a business that can generate a passive income every month. That’s what I talk about in my articles.

My riskiest assumption was that people were interested in reading about practical money-saving hacks (on travel, credit cards, shopping, taxes etc).

To validate my hypothesis I needed a seed audience. For that, I built a small private community and asked for their feedback on my content. (Now I have extended that community to a curated Facebook Group — Blogging to Business).

There are two ways to define your audience. The first is conventional path of

  • Defining demographics
  • Identifying the goal & interests of my audience
  • Defining emotions that trigger action
  • Figuring out what exactly my readers expect from me
  • Checking the blogs in my niche and the comments on their articles
  • Asking questions to my audience in the Facebook Groups and Quora

The other way is what I actually did — I just believed that my audience was much like me, people who love to save money.

It’s easy to write content when your target audience is like you. They have same goals in life and they go through same struggles and pain.

With that belief, I went about writing good content and published them on my blog. Often, I was writing from my direct experience.

The blog gained traffic, comments started pouring in, and my readers loved the articles. This convinced me that there was a market out there for my blog and I was providing them genuine help through my articles.

🤝 How did you get your initial users?

I wanted to grow CashOverflow organically which meant avoiding any paid channels like Facebook & Google Ads.

So, I devised the following three-step content strategy to bring that initial traction and further grow it to 200,000 monthly traffic:

  • Content Creation
  • Content Distribution
  • Measure and Optimize

Content creation involved a short-term and a long-term strategy.

Short-term strategy was writing articles that people love to share and long-term strategy was bringing lots of traffic from google search, otherwise referred to as SEO.

I published only 18 articles in the first year. But people loved whatever I published.

From the first day, I focused on the quality rather than quantity. Till date, I have published only around 50 articles on my blog.

The short-term strategy became successful as the articles I wrote became viral and brought in the necessary traffic to CashOverflow.

Web Traffic stats of CashOverflow

Similarly, for the long-term strategy, I performed keyword research and made a list of topics that people were searching for and wrote content on the same.

Here is a snapshot of how I used to identify the topics before writing:

My content creation strategy

But, content creation alone doesn’t help in bringing your targeted traffic, no matter how good your content is. Therefore, once I published the content on CashOverflow the next task was Content Distribution which again involved two strategies

  • Link building
  • Article Promotion
Link building is the process of acquiring hyperlinks from other websites to your own so that the search engines discover your website/content and rank you higher in their search results.

So, for link building, I reached out to hundreds of people in my industry including different media publications and niche websites.

Through this strategy, I was able to publish 100s of articles (guest posting) on these platforms in exchange for backlinks to my website. Some of the big names are

CashOverflow’s authority increased because the quality of these publications/websites was very high and my content started to rank well in the search results.

That’s how I grew my traffic further.

Along with link building, whenever I published a new article on CashOverflow, I reached out to people on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Email to promote the same extensively.

Lastly, as part of measure & optimize strategy, I measured my website’s traffic consistently with the help of Google Analytics and improved my content strategy accordingly.

I heavily relied on SEO because that was a natural fit to what I was doing on CashOverflow. SEO is not always a good strategy for everyone. I ask some startups to ignore SEO totally and focus on other areas of Content Marketing.

Here is the formula:

Business Goals => Content Strategy => Results

Content strategy must be aligned with business goals rather than just number of sessions.

You should know how to find paying customers from your visitors otherwise everything will collapse even after getting a high traffic.

💰 What is your business model?

I ran my blog like a business, But I consciously avoided monetizing till it was having a monthly traffic of around 30,000.

I started experimenting with Ads and Affiliate marketing in the ratio of 20:80 respectively to test which is a good fit for my business without compromising my reader’s experience.

Even today, you won’t see Ads on my website. I keep the Ads to a minimum and focus on other areas since reader’s experience is very important to me.

One of my income streams is from Affiliate marketing. I built affiliate partnerships covering financial products, website hosting, amazon affiliate, travel-related booking, and content marketing tools.

Initially, with a traffic of around 30,000, I was able to generate a modest revenue of Rs 60,000 per month.

Eventually, I diversified to build a host of other revenue streams in the past 1 year that fetched me Rs 3,00,000 per month as seen below.

My income streams

These income streams include:

  • Affiliate Marketing
  • Partnerships with brands
  • Content Writing
  • Paid Newsletters
  • Display Ads
  • Consulting
  • Content Marketing Course

You can use following insights to double your profits on your blog if you are running your blog like a business.

There are two ends of blog business and most of the people are not aware of it.

Front End, that is visible to everyone on my website.

It looks like a simple blog but actually, there is a hidden conversion funnel inside the articles. We consciously keep the number of articles low to provide maximum relevant content to someone looking to save money, invest or generate passive income in India.

The flow of articles is designed in a way that people looking for starting an online business or freelance work signup for my emails.

Back End, Under the complete control of business owner.

Out of 200,000 monthly visitors, about 3000 people signup for my email every month.

I send them free PDFs and valuable content via emails. I remove 50% of people from my email funnel after observing their behaviour for a few days (email open/click patterns).

After removing non-relevant subscribers, I have more than 10,000 email subscribers who are highly engaged with my emails. I selectively share discounts on the products to my subscribers based on their interests and business level.

In that way, they get the benefit of joining my newsletter because they get free advice and discounts on their favourite products.

I keep on making money from front end and back end of my business without compromising with ethics.

I don’t promote every product that offers me commission. Instead, I selectively share products that, I’m confident, will benefit my audience. In 90% cases, I use the same product that I share with my audience.

💪 Being a Solo Founder, how do you keep yourself motivated?

I have been working from home since many years so I am habitual of working alone. I get demotivated when I don’t see the impact of my work.

That’s why I have built a community around me that keeps me motivated to generate valuable content every day.

🏁 What are your future goals and how do you plan to achieve them?

There are Two prominent future goals that I have set for myself.

The First goal is to make sure that I publish valuable content in CashOverflow that can genuinely help readers in their path of pursuing financial freedom.

I am also heavily invested in helping other people succeed in starting a blog and earning a passive income. I will give more time to fellow startup founders and bloggers who are doing meaningful work.

I am planning physical workshops in Delhi and Bangalore but those will be open to a limited audience.

I am no more worried about growing traffic or bringing in more revenue for CashOverflow.

The Second goal is more to do with marketing. I intend to build a liberal digital marketing agency — where every process will be so transparent that every member would have access to client’s proposals, income/expense reports, resource allocation, and profit distribution.

Everything will be run on a voluntary basis. I will facilitate the process initially but hope to have the community running automatically after a few years.

🌋 The biggest challenges you have faced till now?

I started premium newsletters (weekly insightful email) to help 1000 people in starting & growing an online business. The biggest challenge is making them committed to their own work. People expect the results (money) as soon as they start a website or blog.

To make them committed, I started giving them assignments and asked to fill up their progress in Google form. I removed the members from the Newsletters when they failed to submit their progress continuously for two months.

I have shared the details in this article — My Experience & Learnings of Running paid Email Newsletters for 9 Months (Highly recommended for anyone who is running a content-based online business.)

It worked both ways, I lost a few really good members who could not fill up the forms because of some personal issues, and some who thanked me for pushing them to jump the wall every month.

I stopped enrolling new members into premium newsletters because now I have filtered out a passionate and committed group of about 250 members out of more than 500 people who joined till date. I will keep working with them in the future.

🗒 What is your advice to Pushstarters starting out?

Since Pushstarters are entrepreneurs who are building an online business, I would advise them to work on their marketing even before launching their product.

Earn money by doing freelance work till you start making money from your blog or startup. Spend 30% of your time on freelancing assignments and 70% time on growing your business.

Content marketing is an economical option. I have spent zero dollars on my marketing until today. All the growth is organic and my real profit is people around me. Before doing any major thing in my business, I ask for their opinion and suggestions.

Having a community around your business is the biggest asset because they will help you build the right product. Involve them as much as you can in the planning, design, and marketing of your product.

✉️ How can we get in touch with you?

You can reach out to me on Linkedin, Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks a lot for reading! If you liked it, please support by clapping 👏🏻 and sharing the post. Feel free to leave a comment 💬 below.

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Hey! Neeraj here, the founder of Pushstart, India’s most active entrepreneur community. I release interviews with successful entrepreneurs every week.

Feel free to reach out to me on Facebook | Linkedin | neeraj.joshi@pushstart.in | Twitter.

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