We’re big fans of motivation around these parts. It takes a motivated individual to start their own business and work from home. It also takes commitment to see that business venture through the lean days and build it to success.
Mediavine publishers have these 2 qualities in spades, and our interviewee today is certainly no exception.
We asked Jeff to sit down with us and talk about his relatively short road to success as well as his goals for the future.
Welcome to the blog, Jeff!
Tell us a little bit about yourself, your family, and your everyday life.
First off, thanks for having me on the blog today!
My name is Jeff Proctor and I run the personal finance blog DollarSprout.com with my college buddy, Ben Huber in Blacksburg, VA. Ben and I both went to Virginia Tech and graduated a few years ago (I’m 28 years old and Ben is 29).
Right now I blog full time, and the *plan* is to have Ben join me full time within the next 6 months.
How did you get started blogging?
I’ve been a bit of a personal finance nerd for as long as I can remember, so about 3 years ago I decided to start a finance blog with Ben. All throughout college, Ben and I had always talked about starting our own business, but it took us a few years to finally get around to doing it. Since we both had an interest in personal finance and saw others having success online, we decided to give blogging a shot in 2015!
The first year or so involved a LOT of learning via trial and error. But, taking what we learned from our first attempt at blogging, Ben and I launched DollarSprout.com in October 2017.
How long have you been a Mediavine publisher?
DollarSprout.com joined Mediavine in January 2018 (just 4 months after launching!).
Our other active blog, Breaking the One Percent (a blog about blogging) has been a Mediavine publisher since September 2017.
What was it that drew you to us as a partner for your display advertising?
Our main form of blog monetization strategy has always been affiliate marketing, but Ben and I wanted a way to earn income on our posts that weren’t necessarily affiliate-focused. We realized that we were driving quite a bit of traffic to those types of posts, which meant we were possibly leaving a lot of income on the table.
After a little bit of research, it was clear that display advertising was going to be the best option for us. I had heard of Mediavine from many of the blogging circles that I am in, which made the choice fairly easy for us. I was never a fan of making 18 cents a day with Google Adsense and was convinced that Mediavine had to be a better option!
The biggest perk, to me, is that the ads are automatically placed in our content. Not having to tinker with ad code on every post saves Ben and I a TON of time!
How has that evolved over time?
Today, I have a deeper appreciation for the consistency in ad income that Mediavine provides. It allows us to focus on creating awesome content without worrying as much about how to squeeze every last cent out of a page view via affiliate marketing.
And of course, for the posts we have that are really geared for affiliate sales, we have the flexibility to remove display ads. The flexibility available from Mediavine has been awesome for our business!
How do you think blogging has changed since you started?
I think blogging has become much more competitive, which is actually a good thing! To stand out in a crowded eld nowadays, you need to have great content — and that’s exactly how I think it should be.
What’s the best part of the blog world for you?
For me, the biggest allure of blogging is the ability to build something really big just from my laptop. I think people underestimate how many lives you can impact with blogging! I love the challenge of constantly striving to reach more people this month than I did the previous month.
What’s the worst part of blogging for you?
Probably the last thing you would expect to hear from a blogger: WRITING!
I’ve always considered myself a somewhat “slow” writer, and sometimes it’s hard for me to write content with the same charisma and voice you see on other blogs. That being said, I’ve totally fallen in love with the marketing aspect of blogging, and the process of figuring out all the different pieces of the blogging “puzzle” needed to become successful.
Who are your FAVORITE bloggers. Who inspires you? Why do you like them?
Trent Hamm from The Simple Dollar, Kyle Taylor from The Penny Hoarder, and the NerdWallet blog have all been huge sources of inspiration for Ben and I. They are the leaders of our niche (by a landslide), and there is so much to be learned from their success!
What are your top 3 posts on your blog?
What are your 3 FAVORITE posts on your blog?
My favorite post I’ve ever written is on Breaking The One Percent: How To Get Your First $1K Blogging
Other two favorites: 20 Ways To Simplify Your Life and Find More Happiness
What tools and resources do you use to manage your blog?
KWFinder, Convertkit, Tailwind, and Shutterstock are the main ones we cannot live without!
What is your biggest traffic source?
What strategies have you used to make that your top traffic source?
Lots of hustle! SEO is a grind, and it’s one of those things where you have to have every piece of the puzzle in place for it to work. It all stems from having high quality content that helps readers solve problems – I’ve found that when we focus on value first and foremost, then all the other must-haves of SEO come a lot easier (outreach, on page SEO, etc.).
Also, not getting discouraged with slow growth has been a big factor towards our success in earning Google traffic. I think it’s easy to get discouraged when you don’t get results right away, but that’s just the nature of search engine traffic. Keep at it and eventually the work will pay off!
Do you have any advice for bloggers on how to grow their traffic?
I think it’s important to focus on building up one traffic source at a time and not spreading yourself too thin. I think Pinterest is still the best bet for most new bloggers. That being said, we are beginning to focus our efforts on building traffic via SEO. For us, it’s a more sustainable long term source of traffic. But, we didn’t start working on that until we built up our base on Pinterest.
Anything else you’d like to add to help other bloggers grow?
My biggest piece of advice is to be open to adjusting and changing your strategy if something isn’t working! In the past, Ben and I have been guilty of digging our heels into the ground and refusing to adapt, and it’s never been good.
This applies to all aspects of blogging. Your content, your marketing, your monetization — you should keep an open mind with all of them! Learn what’s making other bloggers in your niche successful, and see how you can apply that to your blog (in your own way, of course).
What’s the one thing on any restaurant menu you MUST order?
Water! I’m a personal finance writer, after all. What did you expect?! 😛
Thank you for taking the time to chat with us Jeff, it was a lot of fun! Although we may not be rushing to join you for dinner out anytime soon…. 😉
If you’re like us and can’t get enough of Mediavine publishers, read our interview with another financial whiz, Alexis of Fitnancials, our chat with culinary mastermind Melanie of Mel’s Kitchen Cafe and our convo with solo globe-trotter Kristin of Be My Travel Muse.
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