The Personal Finance Industry is insanely profitable
You have the likes of Michelle over at MakingSenseofCents.com pulling in 100k A MONTH (which is made up mostly of selling a course, being an affiliate for a web host and online surveys)- and you now have what was once a small personal finance blog on weird and fun ways to make money on the side, thepennyhoarder.com now making 20 million dollars a year.
It’s truly astonishing. Just like watching Pete Cashmore grow mashable.com from a personal blog into almost a billion dollar news website – the pennyhoarder.com is quietly crushing it online in his part of the internet.
Let’s break it down.
The launch of the PennyHoarder.com
The Penny Hoarder website was originally launched way back in 2010 by Kyle Taylor. This simple, ugly and unassuming website is where it all started. You reading this could have totally started this website yourself. So before we continue, you ready to create your own website?
The things that thepennyhoarder.com got right from the get-go was having GREAT copy, interesting ideas and staying on point and currating content around a theme. You won’t see advice about budgeting or credit card scores because that sort of content just does not fit into the overall theme of the site.
Their titles are some of the most clickable on the internet and are actually a really helpful resource if you’re ever looking to figure out a great title for your own YouTube video, blog post or Pintrest pin steal the formula they use for their titles:
- How I made $5,000 Buying Beer
- How To Make Money Selling Your Hair
- Make Money Playing Videos Games
- This company will pay you $2,000 to watch TV for 100 hours
You read these titles and they simply make you want to know more. What ends up happening is that you start clicking around the site, increasing the page views the site gets as well as the time on site. This is a good signal to search engines and it simply starts to snowballs from there.
How Did The PennyHoarder.com Grow?
ThePennyHoarder.com did not actually have some spike in traffic early on. Instead is was just a matter of publishing content and letting Google do it’s thing. Kyle was actually quoted as saying that in the beginning he would try to post as much as he could then he would get busy and not post for a month. He was totally inconsistent as it was just a blog that was not getting much traffic and was not making any money.
I know it’s not the most interesting strategy, and publish and pray DOES NOT work – but content is none the less king. You simply need to create content people want and are looking for if you want traffic. Otherwise you’re just creating a blog mess instead of a content asset that can help grow your website.
So assuming you’re actually taking some time to create content people are interested in, a good strategy is to simply create a better blog post than what is ranking, a blog post that is more detailed or specific and incorporates various keywords better – Google will love you for that.
So you should totally go after big keywords, write long posts (no fluff though!) and get the long tail keywords as a byproduct. What is a long post? Again, anyone can write a long post, but a proper long post should be as long as it needs to be. For the PennyHoarder.com, looking at their recent content from the past few years, they seem to have pivoted more towards email and SEO as they tend to have post titles that follow this format:
Keyword: Interesting sentence
Literally. Take this post for example how to make money online: 45 ways to make money online
WAIT – I know you’re going to click away but continue reading here first 🙂
You see how good they are with titles!
It’s being able to craft content like that which is targeting the keyword “how to make money online” with a massive blog post of 3000 or so words providing various ways to actually make money online.
Their content is good not simply because of the title but also because they deliver on the end result. They do a great job at meeting the search intent and that’s also critical for growth as well. If Google was to rank that content on the first page of Google, would people who find it be happy with it if they found it by doing a Google search for “how to make money online?”
The answer is yes, absolutely.
You need to think about how your own content works in this regard too.
It should be noted that because thepennyhoarder.com is now a big media company with a staff making millions of dollars a year, they also get a ton of traffic from Google news and are constantly linked to from other websites.
But again, this goes back to the content. Study reveals parents cope with massive child care costs -this article was linked to by a dozen or so news outlets.
It’s a page that is not even that complicated to make. About 1200 words and 2 graphics that can be made fairly easily with Canva or Gimp if you have two hours or outsource easily for cheap. But the end result is a ton of links that help improve the overall site authority, and authority that will allow them to more easily rank for other keywords and phrases without any link building or promotion.
Key take away – meet the search intent
Too many websites I’ve personally reviewed will have a homepage where they have it targeting a competitive keyword (or worse no keyword or even more worse – keyword stuffing). If you’re going after a keyword you always need to think about the search intent of the visitor.
If you’re targeting something and are using a home page with a title like “best dirt bike, best motorcycles, best scooter reviews” – you’re doing it wrong. That is keyword stuffing. Instead pick one keyword as it makes the most sense for the homepage.
If you’re going after a keyword like “keetle experts” – you’re also doing it wrong. Google and people don’t like product review sites because they come across as spammy. The keetle thing was an actual site all about kettles used to boil water. Instead, create a quality site on say coffee and then incorporate products like espresso machines as it makes sense.
ThePennyHoarder.com does an excellent job of meeting search intent while at the same time doing what they do best, fun an interesting ways to make extra money.
Have a Unique Selling Point
Your unique selling point is the reason why anyone should pay attention to you over someone else. This applies to your website. People set out to create these low quality Amazon affiliate sites and totally fail because they simply don’t provide enough value nor do they have a unique selling point.
Take the coffee vs kettle idea. A website with 100 pages on how to brew and buy coffee with products mixed in from Amazon is how you build an Amazon affiliate site right. Why? Because you’re creating an asset that is helpful by meeting the search intent for Google as well as a site that helps people improve some aspect of their life.
Building a niche site that is only about a product that people don’t even care about that much is not going to get any traffic. Also, for a kettle, that’s the sort of thing I’ll just buy at a local store or search on Amazon. It’s not something I’m going to research to any great depth because it’s a kettle!
How The Penny Hoarder Makes Money
Did you know that Kyle almost quite thepennyhoarder.com in it’s early days when his AdSense account was banned?
That is the sort of thing that happens that makes you want to quit. It is extremely disappointing, particularly when at the time AdSense was the main earner for the website ($2,000 dollars a month at the time). With the sort of sharable, click worthy content he was creating, it seemed like the best way to earn money.
It’s a model that a lot of sites use today – take Bored Panda for example. It’s primary traffic source is Facebook. But Bored Panda is a click bait site. Not in a bad way mind you, but they have content that simply entertainment junk.
The Penny Hoarder is in a much more profitable niche and can excel without needing to rely on any sort of display advertising. From various interviews with Kyle, he claims that only 5% of that 20 million a year comes from display advertising – a massive amount mind you, but what is the rest made up of?
Affiliate Marketing and the Penny Hoarder
The Penny Hoarder weaves in affiliate offers as it makes sense.
Let’s take this page for exampe: thepennyhoarder.com/smart-money/overcome-procrastination/.
Now, what is the keyword this page is going after? Obviously, it’s going after the highly competitive phrase of “overcome procrastination.” The title for search engines is:
9 tips for overcoming procrastination and getting your money in order
But the actual page title is: Experts Reveal the 9 Reasons We Procrastinate With Money — And How to Stop
Why? Well with Yoast SEO you can give two titles, one that is more optimized for the SERP results and one optimized for on your website.
They are double dipping with this page as getting your money in order is a highly sought after keyword as well.
They also have great SEO because they have this page within the category related to money. If you check the URL you’ll see “smart-money.”
So! What is the search intent for a page like this? Well if I Google “overcome procrastination” or something like “how to get my money in order” am I going to be satisfied with finding this page?
Yes I am because they provide helpful actionable tips with products and free services mixed in.
What the PennyHoarder.com does right is they don’t ALWAY link out to affiliate programs, just sometimes and in the financial niche, affiliate programs can pay out hundreds of dollars. Blooom is an affiliate link but they use great copy to make you click by saying it takes only a few minutes and you get a free 401 k analysis.
They also link out to their own internal pages that leverage affiliate marketing. For example:
So even if you’re not interested in any of the products or services, you may way to take a look at a page listing out books which again would link to Amazon. Books and affiliate marketing is a terrible choice as the payout is really low BUT it’s still worth doing because thepennyhoarder.com is a high traffic website.
Page Structure of the Penny Hoarder
One last note to mention is the page structure.
I simply love the page structure of their site. When starting a blog or website the best structure is /page-title. But as a site grows, it may make sense to throw in a category into the URL IF you’re going to be creating a lot of content.
The advantage of this is it simply allows you to go after more keywords and gives your website a much more clear structure for search engines.
For example in the post above you could have:
This page could be about procrastination and money.
But you could also have smart-money/budgeting/overcome-procrastination/ which could be about procrastination and budgeting or travel/overcome-procrastination/ which again could be about procrastination and travel.
Again, don’t stress out about this too much. If you’re just starting out use /post-title is fine. But if you start bringing on writers and growing it may be time to consider a new structure.
How to Replicate The Success of ThePennyHoarder.com
You need a unique selling point within a niche. You also need at least 1 alternative traffic source to Google. Last, you need to be authentically you as cliche as that sounds. Kyle was all about finding ways to make extra money. It was something he did and just started a blog about it as a natural extension of this interest.
That’s not to say you can not go out and create a site on coffee because you’re not passionate about it, it just means don’t jump into a topic you don’t know a whole lot about. One where it will be difficult for you to write on and come up with interesting ideas.
So, let me know what you think and how you plan on using some of the ideas listed here.