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When you think about successful personal finance bloggers, a few names come to mind right away.
Michelle from Making Sense of Cents, JD Roth from Get Rich Slowly, J Money from Budgets Are Sexy, and a handful of others top the list.
Not only are these bloggers very talented and great writers, but they’ve also been at it for many years. It’s this combination of time plus talent and hard work that has made them the cream of the crop.
That’s one of the things that makes Millennial Money Man Bobby Hoyt so unique.
Great writer? Check!
Hard worker? He’s a former band teacher (early morning practices, jazz band at lunch and week-long band trips?? You couldn’t survive as a band teacher unless you knew how to really put your nose to the grindstone).
Longtime blogger? Nope. Bobby has only been blogging for 3 years, at the same time an eternity in the online space but a microsecond compared to more veteran bloggers. In the 3 years since he quit his teaching job to go all in on blogging, he’s turned his little blog into a million dollar juggernaut that is regularly changing people’s lives.
Not only is the business incredibly profitable, the community of readers and Facebook members he’s created is full of fiercely loyal followers.
It’s been almost a year since I first dipped a tentative toe into the blogosphere waters. Part of my initial investigation involved following personal finance bloggers on Twitter. One of the first that I came across was Bobby.
Immediately I was struck by the fact that not only was he a teacher like myself, he was building a brand and community around the idea of getting control of your money and changing the direction of your life.
I was immediately hooked by this flip-flop wearing, boat owning blogger who told it like it was and connected with readers on a level beyond what’s possible in the listicle blog post we’ve all become so accustomed to (I’m guilty of this too)
I couldn’t believe that when I reached out to Bobby with an idea to guest post on his site, not only did he agree, he was genuinely excited! And when he agreed to take part in Band of Bloggers, I was PUMPED!!
Bobby is a rockstar, plain and simple. He’s living the life that many aspire to by turning his side hustle into a full-time gig that has made him wealthy financially and with the knowledge that he’s helping people change their lives
He’s humble but crazy smart, tells it like it is but isn’t a jerk, and is full of wisdom when it comes to both life and blogging.
1. What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last year (or in recent memory)? The more specific details the better!
Ha, I don’t want this to sound lame, but honestly…the hosting for my blog. It gets a little surreal sometimes when you sit and think about the potential that a blog can have. For less than $100, I was able to start a business that will likely bring in close to $1,000,000 this year. And the crazy thing is that I’m only three years in! Who knows where all of this could be in 5 years?
Now don’t get me wrong – what I’ve been fortunate enough to do with my blog so far is the exception and not even close to the rule. Most people give up on blogging long before they even make a single dime, which sucks. There is so much potential in starting an online business, and the barrier to entry is lower than it has ever been before.
Me (in red) When it comes to the barrier to entry, you’d be hard pressed to find an equivalent to blogging.
Now I’m not exactly raking in millions like Bobby (I’ve made a few hundred), but I plan on this being just the start of my online career.
Recently I read a book called The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy. The basic premise is that small decisions in one’s life often don’t result in early large gains. But, if these small decisions are continually made over and over, after months or years they lead to IMMENSE impacts!
My site is in the early stages of its life. I’m sure I’ll look back on it and wonder what was I thinking? (I’m only a year in but have already made multiple changes to my site, including a complete overhaul a few months ago.
It’s easy to get discouraged when your site doesn’t take off like a rocket, or you don’t get the pageviews of some of your Band of Bloggers colleagues, or you’re not making as much money as you’d like.
As I’ve said before, blogging isn’t a sprint. It isn’t even a marathon. It’s an ultra-marathon, followed by an iron man, followed by the Tour de France. If you’re still standing after all that, not only will you succeed because most others won’t have made it that far, but you’ll also have gained an immense volume of wisdom and insight into what it takes to be a successful blogger.
2. What one thing has been most effective for increasing traffic on your blog?
Facebook ads. I still don’t think the blogging community truly has caught on to how powerful they are. Yeah, you have to pay for them, but if you know what you’re doing, you can drive tons of VERY high-quality traffic for pennies per click. I’ve been able to use FB ads to build out my private groups, website traffic, and my email list. Nearly all of that has been through FB.
You’re probably wondering why I think it’s a higher quality traffic source than Google or Pinterest, right? To me, it’s pretty simple. I take my best content that tells my story and message, and then show it to people who are really likely to be interested in it based on my existing audience.
So not only am I able to drive a lot of traffic, but I’m building communities.
Now, of course, that’s just one way to do it. I have friends that have been massively successful on Google, and massively successful on Pinterest. It just depends on your goals and what platform you understand the best right now.
Recently I’ve gotten super interested in Facebook ads. I listened to a whole talk about Facebook ads on Bobby and Mike Yanda’s new podcast, Laptop Empires. It got me super pumped to check out what Facebook ads could do for my site!
I know some bloggers feel wrong about paying for traffic, like it’s cheating or somehow underhanded. And I used to be in this group.
But the more I’ve thought about it, the more stupid I’ve felt.
Every large company pays for customers. What insanely successful business do you know of that doesn’t advertise? None. That’s how you get customers and build your community of loyal buyers. It’s not rocket science.
When I first started my blog I started it with a business mentality. I wasn’t just doing it as a hobby, I was doing it to make money. And now that I’ve been at it a year, I think I need to take the next step and up my advertising game.
I’d love to take Bobby’s course and if I do, I’ll write a detailed review on what it’s like for a newer blogger trying to build his traffic! (shameless ask to be a reviewer for an awesome course!!)
3. What advice would you give to a smart, industrious, newbie blogger as they start out?
Stop spending time reading about what you’re supposed to do, and start doing what you want to do. There are very, very few blogging “rules” that I follow, and even less “gurus” that I listen to.
For the longest time, I didn’t optimize anything for SEO. I didn’t do hardcore email marketing. My posts were like 800 words. I just did what I could to spread the message I was passionate about in the way that I wanted to do it, and I kept going until people noticed.
One other thing – let your personality shine through in your writing. I try as hard as I can to write the way that I talk (at least as much as Grammarly will allow me to, haha). Conversational writing makes it way easier to actually connect with a reader.
As a former English teacher (3 years, 8th grade English mind you) I can tell you that one of the things that makes a writer great and engaging is voice.
Voice is the extent to which the reader can actually hear the writer’s voice come through from the words on the page.
Bobby’s voice comes through in everything he does. Whether he’s writing about why he still dresses like a scrub or the real reason he lives debt-free, or on his podcast with Mike, Bobby is real. And that’s one of the reasons he’s been so successful, because that’s what people crave in a world where so many people are fake.
He does things his own way, in his own time. He often zigs (Facebook ads) when others are zagging (getting on the Pinterest or SEO train). It’s one of the things I appreciate most about him.
And it’s one thing we could all learn from him.
4. What common advice should they ignore?
There is some advice I’ve seen floating around for the last year that basically revolves around “focus more on sales funnels and less on interacting with your audience.” Somehow, spending a lot of time answering reader questions and hanging out with them in private groups is seen as a waste of time in the blogging community lately.
On a personal level, I don’t agree with that approach at all. One of the things that I think all of us in the personal finance community could do a better job of is listening and understanding what actual people are going through financially right now, and making sure that we’re always trying to help people first. It’s easy to get wrapped up in self-promotion and building our personal brands or increasing revenue, but the reality is that most of us got into this to help as many people as possible with our message and story.
I’m proof that you can “waste time” by really getting to know your readers and still make a crapload of money. People are starving for authenticity. They want you to become a real part of their lives because everything they see on the internet is so optimized and fake right now.
If you’re looking for an edge on other bloggers, just start asking your readers how they are doing one on one.
This is great advice from Bobby.
People CRAVE what is real. And these days, with fake news and everyone seemingly out to make a quick buck, that craving has gotten even more intense.
Being real isn’t something that a person has to “try” to do. It’s something that just comes naturally. Some people are and others aren’t, at least not to the same extent.
Bobby is real.
He dresses like a scrub and drives a beat-up truck. He’s not doing that to gain a following. It’s who he is. He’s authentic. And I have to say, in the personal finance world, most people are.
Yes, there are those with slick marketing and polished products. I don’t think that necessarily makes them less authentic, it’s just a different way to build a business.
What’s cool about Bobby’s business is that he’s both authentic and polished (see his new Laptop Empires site or his great courses). Bobby turns conventional thinking on its head and shows us all that there’s more than one way to skin a cat.
5. What is a quote(s) that you live your life by or that you find yourself repeating to yourself?
Hands down, my favorite quote is The Stonecutter’s Credo by Jacob Riis:
When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow, it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it, but all that had gone before.
Honestly, that quote has guided me through so many things since I found it. The biggest impact that it has on me is that it reminds me to approach everything with patience and hard work.
So many people want to find success quickly. They want the instant solution to everything, whether it’s personal finance or finding success with an online business.
The reality is that success is really freaking hard to achieve. If you really want to “make it”, you have to put hours, days, and years into whatever you’re doing without expecting to see any real results from it.
So every time I do have a successful moment now, I try to take some time to reflect on all the work that it took to get to that point. Then, I pick up my hammer and start going on the next stone.
Wow. Just. Wow.
This is awesome. I love the picture this paints in my mind.
So often I feel like that stone cutter, banging my head against the wall and seemingly getting nowhere. I work so hard on my posts and yet my readers aren’t increasing. I spend HOURS on Pinterest, only to get a trickle of traffic. I’m busting my butt, building a course, promoting, presenting, developing, and everything that goes along with those things, and yet, the rock shows no sign of cracking.
I need to remind myself of the stone cutter. And I need to remind myself it’s not just about the stone, it’s about the process, the character traits and strength I’m developing as I hammer away at the stone.
Maybe it’s 101 blows, maybe it’s 1001. Whatever it takes, I will be successful because I’m going to be patient. I’ve decided that already.
It’s just a matter of time.
6. In the last 5 years, what new belief, behavior or habit has most improved your life?
I stopped listening to people that told me I couldn’t do something. When I was trying to pay off my student loan debt ($40,000 in 18 months on a teacher’s salary), everyone around me told me that I was crazy. It’s almost like they didn’t want me to pay them off early.
And then…I did.
The exact same thing happened with leaving my teaching job to run M$M full-time. I specifically remember my boss telling that it wasn’t a great idea, which actually turned out to be helpful because I wanted to prove him wrong so badly.
For whatever reason, some people don’t like to see others have success. I try my best now to figure out who those people are and then tune them out.
I’m so fortunate to be surrounded by family and friends who are supportive. They encourage and put the wind in my sails daily (wow, cheesy metaphor).
But some people aren’t so lucky. So what should you do?
In his book High Performance Habits, author Brendan Burchard talks about how surrounding yourself with people you aspire to be like can change who you are. It’s called Social Contagion, and it describes how we become like the people we’re around. The characteristics of a group of people spread to all those they know, and even to their friends and friends of their friends.
You’ve probably heard it said that we become like the people we spend the most time with.
If you want to be a positive, can-do, let’s get it done person characterized by a growth mindset where the sky really is the limit, surround yourself with these people.
I’ve recently done that with a new friend of mine who is mentoring me in growing my online business. He’s been so encouraging and helped me to develop my strategic thinking way more than in the past. I feel like I actually have a plan and I just need to execute it.
This has been absolutely invaluable to me and it’s something I would recommend for everyone.
So how can you surround yourself with a social circle of high flyers?
Choose a friend whose outlook on life, relationships or business you respect and aspire to have yourself. Ask them to invite one or two of their friends (who you don’t already know very well) out to your next social event. Then, take the time to invest in building your own relationships with these new friends.
You’ll find that your circle of high performers will increase and as it does, so will your growth mindset and success!
7. What is one thing you have an abundance of and one thing you’re working on building an abundance of?
I have so many business ideas. In fact, I have way too many business ideas. My mind constantly races with new things I can do or people that I could team up with. Currently, I own three businesses! I’m working on building an abundance of focus so that I don’t overextend myself on too many projects at once.
I find I need this too, focus that is. I’ve got lots of ideas.
It seems like it’s writing, my course, Facebook ads, Pinterest, connecting on Twitter, building my network, growing my email list, updating my site. The list seems never-ending.
A key for me is building my strategic game plan going forward and then only doing the things that move the ball forward with respect to that.
It’s something that I’m going to be working on very hard over the next few months.
Bringing It All Together With Millennial Money Man
Bobby seriously brought the goods in this interview. He is so darn motivating that it just makes me want to get up, take my blog by the shoulders and shake it for all it’s worth. No wonder he’s been able to grow such a following!! The combination of his ability to motivate and his authenticity is powerful.
But he’s not an overnight success.
Like the stone cutter, he’s paid his dues, writing posts only to hear crickets. He’s spent years slowly building his community before he launched any type of product. He meticulously laid the foundation for the success he’s experiencing today.
I’m so fortunate to count him as a friend and guide on this exciting journey that I’m on.
My hope is that we’d all adopt the stone cutter’s mindset, and that as we continue to hammer away, we wouldn’t lose heart, but rather take heart that the process is making us stronger, hammering us into the type of resilient, strong-minded people who not only find success but will be able to guide those who come after us in finding it as well.
Bobby is a former band teacher turned blogger and online entrepreneur who writes at Millennial Money and Man and has a killer podcast at Laptop Empires. He’s helped thousands pay off their student loans and build side incomes to experience greater freedom.
Do you want help passing on winning money values to your kids? Sign up below for my FREE course How To Teach Your Kids About Money! And share in the comments what quote you find yourself using for you or your kids to build resilience. You can also join the conversation on Twitter @method_money or on my Facebook page Method To Your Money. You can also find me on Pinterest.