How did you get started in blogging and what is your blog about?
While my first website was created in 2006, I didn’t start a blog website until 2013. I tried starting a photography-related blog as a supplement to a part-time photography business I had. Since I didn’t understand the ins and outs of researching a good niche and growing a blog, the site didn’t gain any traction, and I gave up on it a year later.
I first saw the value and potential income in building a profitable website sometime in 2015 after reading about the niche site Pat Flynn created for security guard training. I decided to try creating a similarly structured website in a different niche, and monetize it with Adsense. The website would provide information specific to each of the 50 US states for a particular subject.
How did you choose the niche you’re in?
I can’t remember the various ideas I initially brainstormed at the time, but I eventually decided to simplify the process and look into something I was already familiar with. Since my full-time job (then and now) is running my own small roofing business, roofing was on my short list of website possibilities.
After some initial research, I saw there didn’t seem to be any websites dedicated to starting and running a roofing business. While not an expert in every area of roofing, I felt I could provide enough information from personal experience and additional research to help those looking to start their own roofing business. I tried to come up with a good name for the website, and ended up with The Roofer’s Helper.
Describe the process of launching your blog/site and getting it off the ground.
Besides getting WordPress setup as I wanted, the initial research for how to start a roofing business in each state seemed daunting. Every state has different laws for starting a business, along with varying contractor regulations. I also found some state’s websites were very difficult to navigate. I didn’t want to go through all the time and effort of researching and creating the site only to find the whole idea to be a failure. I decided to start with a few of the states with the highest population, as I felt those pages would be more likely to get traffic sooner. I got my first visitors in March of 2015.
How long did it take before you starting making money?
Pageviews grew to about 1,500 in August of 2016, so I decided to apply for Adsense. After getting Adsense up and running, I made $18.76 in September. I had read suggestions to wait until traffic reached at least 5,000/month before using Adsense, but I’m glad I started sooner. Even making just a dollar a day in the first few months motivated me to keep working on the business startup requirements for the remaining states. January of 2017 brought in just under $125.00 in Adsense revenue from about 5,600 pageviews. After some testing of various ad formats and switching to a different WordPress theme, I saw a big increase in click rates and revenue.
How do you monetize your blog/site?
Currently, the two main sources of revenue are Adsense and a single sponsorship. I have also run a few ad campaigns for companies and helped host some giveaways on social media. With both the sponsorship and the ad campaigns, the companies reached out to me. I have been compiling a list of roofing-related companies that I would like to contact in the future to pursue further sponsorship/ad opportunities. I also have a few different affiliate links on certain pages that bring in an extra $30-$40/month.
I have been working on a few products and services to offer that hopefully will be ready to promote sometime this year. I have already been able to help some roofers with marketing and branding consultation at no cost.
Moving ahead, I may possibly phase out Adsense and replace it with paid ads, sponsorships, and my own product/service ads. While my initial goal was to create a passive Adsense site, I don’t want to limit myself it there is an opportunity to grow the site in other ways.
Currently how do you drive traffic to your blog/website?
At this point, I have not put a lot of effort into driving traffic. Most is organic from Google searches. I also post links on social media occasionally.
What obstacles have you had to overcome to start and grow your business?
Fear of failure is one of the biggest obstacles that I am still working to overcome. Doing something bold that could lose money, be criticized, or result in a failure often holds me back. I’m learning that stepping out into the unknown can bring new opportunities.
What mistakes did you make as you built your business?
I’ve definitely made mistakes, and continue to make them as I still consider myself a rookie in the niche website space.
I think one of my biggest mistakes was not focusing on collecting emails from the start. At the time, I couldn’t see the need for an email list with an Adsense site. If I could go back and start again, I would without a doubt start collecting emails from day one. I’ve had a few hundred thousand people visit my website, get the information they needed to start their business, and then leave with no way for me to contact them in the future. Now that I’m considering creating a digital product along with possibly offering some services, I wish I had a list of those previous website visitors to offer it to.
Another big mistake (which I just now am realizing) is trying to do too much at once. I tend to have many different ideas flowing through my head, and am constantly shifting priorities and going in multiple directions. As soon as traffic started growing for The Roofer’s Helper, I tried starting another five websites, taking on way too much. This resulted in pulling efforts away from The Roofer’s Helper, while getting very little accomplished. To correct this, I have tried to focus on the most important goals, and set aside the other ideas for another time.
What are some of your favorite affiliate programs to promote?
I have been in the process of testing various affiliate programs including the Amazon affiliate program, ZipRecruiter, and FlexOffers. As of now, there are just a few sales per month.
Which ad networks do you use?
Google Adsense brings in approximately 50% of The Roofer’s Helper revenue so about $500 per month.
Do you have any tips and tricks you used to help your blog/site to grow?
One of the biggest boosts has been the Instagram account I started back in September of 2017. I don’t have any active personal accounts on social media, but after talking with a friend, decided to start an account just for fun. The account features the best and worst of roofing from around the world. I was going to keep it separate from The Roofer’s Helper initially, but after it started to quickly grow, I thought it might be a good way to drive traffic and build a brand. After 1 year, the account gained 24,000 followers without using many of the common growth techniques (follow/unfollow, paid ads, purchasing of likes/followers, and DM groups). I decided to just let the account grow organically.
While the main traffic to The Roofer’s Helper website is US-based individuals looking to start a roofing business, the followers on Instagram are a worldwide mix of business owners, employees, and anyone else who likes roofing.
I have decided, at least for now, that I am going to stay focused on new business owners and try to develop some business startup and marketing products to promote on social media and The Roofer’s Helper. I am also going to use the influence of the Instagram account to connect with possible advertisers.
Who has had the greatest impact on your decision to become an entrepreneur?
Growing up, my Dad had his own roofing business. He always took the time to be at sports and school events I participated in, even if it meant adjusting his work schedule. I learned the freedom that is possible in running your own business, and how you can choose to do what you feel is most important, rather than be tied to a 9 to 5 schedule. I decided that if possible, I would want to own my own business someday and set my own schedule.
Do you have any words of advice for people thinking of getting into blogging and build niche sites?
I am just starting my journey in building an internet business, but am already starting to profit, even if it is only supplemental income for now. Make sure you are flexible, and open to new opportunities, as your journey may go a different direction than you originally intended.
How Can we learn more about you?
You can learn more about Rich and The Roofer’s Helper at his Blog and Instagram.