How did you get started in blogging and what is your blog about?
TrumpExcel.com is a blog about Excel spreadsheets where I share how-to tutorials and videos. I started this blog in 2013 when I was working as a financial analyst. My job required me to crunch a lot of financial data and create reports and dashboards from it. I was using Excel spreadsheets almost every day and was learning many things about it.
While I was learning Excel, I noticed that there were already many popular Excel blogs and they were making a lot of money. So, I started my blog as an experiment to share what I was learning and also to try and make a little bit of extra money on the side.
How did you choose the niche you’re in?
At that point in time, I didn’t know that selecting a niche was so important. As I was already learning a lot about Excel spreadsheets, this was the only niche that came to my mind.
Describe the process of launching your blog/site and getting it off the ground.
When I decided to start my own blog, I first created a free Blogspot account. I wanted to get a taste of blogging before I went ahead and invested money in it. Once I had 10 blog posts, I decided to buy a domain name and switch to paid hosting.
I was a complete newbie when it came to the technicalities of starting a self-hosted blog. I spent a lot of time reading about the process and also checked out what other Excel blogs were doing. It took me a lot of time to understand the technical aspects of running a blog. I am glad there were a lot of online resources and YouTube videos that helped me with this.
How long did it take before you starting making money?
The first dollar I made was through Google AdSense and it took me about 16 months to make this.
How do you monetize your blog/site?
Currently, I use three methods of monetization:
- I create and sell online courses.
- I have display ads on my website.
- I also pitch affiliate products/courses of other Excel websites.
Currently how do you drive traffic to your blog/website?
Most of the traffic on my website comes through search engines (~95%). I also get some traffic from Pinterest and Youtube.
What strategies have you used to build your email list?
I have experimented a lot with list building and one of the things that works really well is offering content upgrades. I have 10+ content upgrades which are specific to a blog post or a category. Because these are more relevant to what a reader is reading on the blog, these convert better.
How do you come up with content ideas?
A lot of my content ideas are actually questions that my readers ask me through emails and through comments. Apart from this, I also use keyword research to find topics that people are searching for. As of now, I write all of the content for my blog.
What obstacles have you had to overcome to start and grow your business?
The technology was a huge obstacle for me when I started. I had no idea about domain names, or hosting, or WordPress and I had to learn everything from scratch. Many times I would make minor tweaks to my website and would end up with problems. Over the years, technology has become very user-friendly. Now, a lot of things can be done with the click of a button such as installing an SSL certificate. This was a huge pain when I started.
What mistakes did you make as you built your business?
One of the mistakes I made was not learning about keyword research and SEO. Although I did get traffic without doing this, I could have reached where I am today a lot faster had I known about SEO and keyword research.
What mistakes have you seen other bloggers make?
I see a lot of new bloggers who try to cover many different topics in the same blog. This ruins the topical relevancy of the blog and often results in low or no traffic. My advice to new bloggers would be to focus on one specific niche and create high-quality content about it.
What are some of your favorite affiliate programs to promote?
Apart from TrumpExcel.com, I also have a couple of Amazon affiliate sites that I have recently started (about 8 months ago). As of now, I’m only working with the Amazon affiliate program and these affiliate sites are generating about $1000+ a month (all combined). I share all about it in this podcast by Human Proof Designs.
Which ad networks do you use?
Currently, I use Google AdSense and about 35 to 40% of my income comes through Adsense.
How do you use your own digital products to create revenue?
I have my own Excel courses and I use my email list to pitch these courses to my subscribers. These courses are always available for enrollment and anyone can enroll at any point in time. Currently, I am making about 55 to 60% of my total income through these courses.
What tools do you use to help you run your business?
While I use a lot of tools, the ones that are really important would be Drip (for email management), AHREFs (for SEO), Kinsta (for hosting), and Teachable (for hosting online courses).
Do you have any tips and tricks you used to help your blog/site to grow?
My advice to anyone starting a blog today would be to make sure you don’t ruin the topical relevancy of your blog. Start with a very specific niche and create high-quality content about it. When you create content about a specific topic, search engines consider your website as an authority in that area and your blog sometimes even outrank much bigger websites.
Did you take a course to learn how to succeed in blogging?
No, I didn’t take any course for blogging, but I did go through an insane amount of blog posts and videos to learn all about it. Now that I am making money from my blog, I keep enrolling myself in courses to learn from the experts. I have enrolled in the Copywriting course by Ray Edwards, The Authority Site System by AuthorityHacker and Webinars that Convert by Amy Porterfield.
Was there an event you attended that change the trajectory of your business?
I have not attended any conferences so far, but I will be starting this year (with the SEO conference in Chiang Mai).
Who has had the greatest impact on your decision to become an entrepreneur?
Becoming an entrepreneur was not a light bulb moment, but instead was the result of many small decisions that I took over time. Something that started as a small experiment to generate side income turned into a business that allowed me to leave my job. During this journey, a lot of people helped and supported me including my friends, family, as well as the people who joined my email list or left a comment on my blogs.
Are there any books that you have read that have helped you on your journey as an entrepreneur?
One of the books that had a great impact on me is ‘Deep Work’ by Cal Newport. Since I spend most of my time writing blog posts, this book has really helped me create more content in less amount of time.
Do you have any words of advice for people thinking of getting into blogging and build niche sites?
My advice to new bloggers would be to have patience. Blogging has a lot of moving parts and it takes time to get the hang of it. Also, at the beginning, things move very slowly when it comes to blogging. It’s important to have patience and keep working especially during the initial months of starting a blog.
What is the one thing every blogger/niche marketer needs to know above all else?
Whether you’re a pro blogger or a new one, you need to keep learning. Things are always changing in the blogging and marketing world and what works today may not work tomorrow. So make sure you’re learning every week/month. Set aside some time for this and follow industry leaders and resources to keep abreast of all the changes that take place.
What would you like to leave us with?
We are lucky to be living in a time that allows us to achieve financial independence and work from anywhere. This was unheard of 20 years ago.
More and more people are discovering online business and the barrier to entries have come down significantly. It took me weeks to get the hang of setting up a blog and today, it can be done in less than 30 minutes.
If you want to join the movement, now is the time. It’s not going to be easy, but it’s going to be worth it. If you’re ready to learn and work, a simple blog can change your life (as it did for me).
How Can we learn more about you?
You can learn more about Sumit at his blog Trumpexcel.com and on YouTube.