On this episode we welcome Jim Wang, founder of Bargaineering.com, a personal finance blog, to discuss how you can turn your hobby into cash.
Jim began Bargaineering in 2005 while working a full-time job. After a lot of trial and error, he was able to devote himself full-time to the site within 3 years. In January of 2010, he sold the site for seven figures.
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NOTE: This is the first podcast episode of Money May. We are publishing 31 episodes in a row. That’s right! Everyday in May there will be a new episode waiting for you.
Jim now devotes himself to a few new blogs, including Microblogger.com which helps teach entrepreneurs how to build successful online businesses and two blogs dedicated to two of his personal hobbies, Scotch and grilling.
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Jim found early success with his online ventures via keyword searches, but also some social media buzz. This allowed him to sell advertising and to bring some affiliates on board. The key to driving traffic to your site is to differentiate your venture to a smaller subset of people. This becomes especially important if you are in an already crowded field like travel of the dreaded mommy blog.
There are a lot of vegetarian cooking blogs, but Thug Kitchen was able to separate itself from the pack. Everyone loves food – fewer people love food and swearing. But it was a big enough subset to win Thug Kitchen Saveur’s Best New Food Blog for 2013, and for Rodale to publish their cook book this fall.
Not everyone will get a book contract from their hobby-based blog, but what if your blog paid for your hobby? Even if your homebrewing blog only brought in a hundred dollars a month, it would offset some of your expenses.
How about an offline business? Start small, work hard, but don’t spend a lot of time in the beginning setting up infrastructure. Start your lawn care business by going door to door handing out business cards. When you begin bringing in some money, print some flyers and post them around town.
What if you find out you hate lawn care, or you aren’t good at it, or there isn’t enough demand? Then you haven’t lost a lot of money on start-up costs but you’ve learned something in the process that will allow your next venture to better succeed.
So what are you waiting for? Start small, make your mistakes on a small scale so when you’re ready, you can succeed big. Like Jim.
Bargineering.com: A personal finance blog that has been featured in the New York Times and Business Week that discusses money, credit cards, investing, and mortgages.
MicroBlogger.com: Jim’s website and podcast that teaches you how to build a successful on-line business.
ScotchAddict.com: Jim’s blog dedicated to all things Scotch.
GrillMaestro.com: Jim’s blog on that most beloved past time of America, barbecue grilling.