How MoneyCrashers.com Grew from 10K to 800K Monthly Readers – With Andrew Schrage

Andrew Schrage could have continued working 40 hours per week at the hedge fund that employed him after college and made a nice living doing so. Instead, he took control of his destiny and began working with a friend a few hours a night on a website that teaches personal finance.

Their purchase of a website with about 10,000 monthly readers for a nominal financial amount grew over four years to what it is today – a site that serves 800,000 monthly readers and provides an income that rivals Schrage’s hedge fund salary, with enough to invest in the continued growth of their business. Best of all, he and his co-owner are now fully in charge of their own work lives, and they’re building their retirement plan in sweat equity. Learn how they did it.

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Andrew Schrage

Andrew Schrage: MoneyCrashers.comAndrew Schrage is co-owner of Money Crashers Personal Finance, which has a strong focus on business-related topics. Starting your own business while working another job is exactly what Schrage did at Money Crashers, and recommends you do too.

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Here’s your program.

Michael Cyger: Hey everyone. My name is Michael Cyger, and I’m the Publisher of DomainSherpa.com – the website where you come to learn how to become a more successful domain name entrepreneur and investor directly from the experts.

Ever since the Internet bubble of the late 1990s, I have personally watched, tracked, and learned from the community websites that have started, grown and, later, exploded with traffic. I am always enthralled with the stories of growth; so, when I get a chance to speak with somebody who has experienced such growth, I jump at the opportunity to ask them the questions and learn from their experiences.

Today we have one of those stories of growth. We are joined by Andrew Schrage from MoneyCrashers.com – a website whose tagline is “Your Guide to Financial Fitness”. We are going to discuss Andrew’s online strategy for MoneyCrashers.com, how he marries his passion for helping others understand financial market with the online community where anyone can learn the most effective methods to handle their finances, how MoneyCrashers has made him a recognized authority in the financial industry, how it has led to explosive growth on the website, and how he monetizes it.

Andrew, welcome to the show.

Andrew Schrage: Thanks for having me, Michael.

Michael: So, first off, we have to talk about the domain name because a lot of our readers are passionate about branding; they are passionate about search volume. You have chosen a brandable domain name – MoneyCrashers.com. At first blush, it sounds ominous. Like the site is warning of impending financial doom. Why MoneyCrashers?

Andrew: Yeah. It is a good question. So, basically, we wanted something that had a money element so people knew what they were getting into when they came to the site, but we did not want to do something boring and mundane like a lot of financial sites out there. Like, GetOutOfDebt.com, SaveMoreMoney, and LiveOnLotsOfMoney.com. We wanted something that had more of a branding element. Something a little more unique. And the way we interpret MoneyCrashers is the site is a way for readers to come to kind of a community – a place where they can crash and talk about money. Their tips. Their questions. More friendly environment community where people can come and get their questions answers, give their tips, and hopefully find some good value in the articles that we produce on the site. And I know some people will come to me and say that it reminds them of Wedding Crashers or something like that, so that does not hurt. It gives it a little more of a humorous element to it as well.

Michael: And that is one of my top ten movies of all time. If you have not gone and seen Wedding Crashers, you definitely have to watch that one. So, when did you acquire the domain name MoneyCrashers.com?

Andrew: Back in 2008. So, we were debating whether want to create a domain name from scratch and we tossed a lot of names around that had not been claimed before, and we also looked at ones that were out there and available. And we definitely did not start with MoneyCrashers.com and then look for it. We saw it and said, “Hey, this kind of has a nice ring to it. Yeah, it might kind of be ominous to some people, but I think, as we can build a brand over time, it will be associated with more of a positive financial element”. And that is kind of what we hope we have done in the last few years.

Michael: Yeah. Okay. And so, let’s talk about today and then, let’s go back in time. If I were to look at MoneyCrashers.com today, which, until you and I first started talking a couple of weeks ago, I had never been to MoneyCrashers.com. It is clearly a fully developed website with a lot of opportunities. What is your traffic today in unique visitors per month on the website?

Andrew: It is right around the high six-figure mark on the monthly basis. So, around, say, the eight hundred thousand number.

Michael: Wow. That is a lot of unique readers per month. And how many page views are those readers taking a look at?

Andrew: That is a good question. Probably close to the million number mark. Maybe a little more than that. Obviously it fluctuates depending on readers coming back or sometimes we will come up with a specific guide that people will come back repeatedly within a month whether it is a tax guide or couponing guide. Something like that. So it does fluctuate here and there as far as repeat visitors, but probably right around that mark.

Michael: Yeah. Excellent. Okay. So, it is clearly a website that is well trafficed. And we are going to talk about some advertising, how you have gotten onto major news networks, why people on the news are reaching out to you as an authority to talk about money and how people can save it, and how people can grow it, and all those sorts of things. I had a good time going through YouTube and watching your videos on those news shows and so, we are going to figure out how you got to today at a site with seven hundred to eight hundred thousand plus unique visitors per month. So let’s go back in time, Andrew. You said that you, in plural, were looking at different money related domain names, so you have a partner in the business. Can you tell me who your partner is?

Andrew: Sure. It is Gyutae Park. And well before we launched MoneyCrashers and launched this whole endeavor, we both had, I think, chatted over drinks for the first time. We both wanted to do something where not only would it be a little more entrepreneurial were we have our own business and can really be invested in what we are doing on a daily basis, but also something that gives back in some way whether it is education or community based stuff, and we decided, especially, in 2008. That was kind of the height of the Recession – height of things kind of going down the toilet for lack of a better term – and we thought having a financial education site would be the perfect fit. I mean both, myself and Gyutae, had gone through college and never took a personal finance course. No one ever taught us about credit scores, bank accounts, dangers of credit cards, and things like that. And I think a lot of people go through that and, unless you have parents, or older siblings, or teachers who maybe went out of their way to teach you about this stuff, then a lot of people are young adults right out of college starting families who do not know a lot of these basics; and that was kind of our way to marry our desire to do something entrepreneurial, but also something that will really add value to people’s lives.

Michael: Yeah. So, you and Gyutae — did I pronounce his name correctly?

Andrew: Yeah. Very good.

Michael: I love his bio on your website. It’s like, ‘my name is Gyutae Park. Good luck pronouncing that”. So you two met in college, or you met after college?

Andrew: We met after college. We both were living in Chicago. Met through mutual friends and, just chatting, kind of found some common ground on interests and things we wanted to do long term.

Michael: And what were you doing after college when you two met?

Andrew: I was working at an investment fund. So, right out of college, I graduated from Brown in 2008, moved right over to Chicago, worked at a fund in Downtown Chicago, and that is what brought me out there. Gyutae graduated from Northwestern and he was staying in the Chicago community also working on his end. And that is kind of what brought us together in Chicago.

Michael: Got it. And so, you had the economics – the financial background – and Gyutae brought technology background to the team?

Andrew: Yeah. He has very strong technology background and website background. Knew a lot of the ins and outs. I did not know, back then, the ABCs of how to start a website, or what it is, or how you can monetize them. None of that really made sense to me; but I did have kind of the financial background. I majored in Economics. A real passion for personal finance. Business savvy. And it was kind of a nice meeting of the minds to take advantage of both of our skills.

Michael: Definitely. So you two met through a mutual friend. You decided that you had aligned interests. Did you actually become friends before you decided to go into business together?

Andrew: Yes. We were friends. And we had thought a little bit about it. Well, what if things go wrong? Is it going to sour the relationship? Things like that. But we really did feel like we complimented each other well personality-wise, skill-wise, and had the same long-term interests in mind. And also, understood the business risks and hopefully we did not, at the time, envision anything going wrong with the friendship and things like that. We felt it was great if we could do it; to team up and partner up with a close friend.

Michael: Yeah. So you had the idea for personal finance based on what you did not learn in college and what you saw a lot of your friends and colleagues having to deal with. The economy. Clearly, a bad time. 2008, 2009, 2010; some people even say today although it looks like the economy is on the right track – a right trend. And this is the same time that all the deal sites were coming out. A million different deal sites in every single industry and category. Living Socials, the Groupons, and then every single niche under there. So, definitely financial space was a great place to be because people needed to save more money and were looking for opportunities. So, did you come up with the idea and Gyutae agreed to that, or did you both come up with it together to target that? Did you have some other ideas that you were thinking about as well?

Andrew: Yeah. I mean we knew we wanted to do something online-based. We just felt like it was such a big growing area of business and of the world. Everything was moving online. Advertising. TV Shows. Everyone was watching those online, so we just felt like that was a good space to be in. And then, from there, we had to pinpoint what area we want to be in. We were not going to be a news site and talk about all the current events and breaking news. We wanted something very focused; something niche. And we tossed around a couple ideas, but I think that the large reason we went with the financial niche is not only because anyone can relate to it – everyone has financial problems in their life, so we felt like we had a big readership community that we could kind of choose from and reach out to a very wide audience across not only the US, but even the world – and also, with my background, it helped us. I mean I started out as Editor and Chief, so investing topics come in – investing articles come in – from our contributors and it was nice to have someone who had that expertise and knew here is what is accurate, here is what is not, or here is what we need to write about based on this breaking news. Maybe we talked about Government budget deficits back when that was a big topic and I could kind of figure out what we should write about, what angle we should tackle it from, and make sure everything is accurate before publishing. So, by going with the financial niche, it allowed us to at least utilize my skills and my background, which we felt could add even more value to the site, and credibility as well.

Michael: Yeah. Definitely. So you looked at the different options. You thought that that was an enormous pie that you could get a small chunk up and do really well, clearly. And so, did you both quit your jobs or stay in your jobs and then start this? How did that work?

Andrew: That is a great question and something that I suggest to most people. If possible, if it is especially an online business, try to build it up to a point before you start going at it full time. There is just going to be too much pressure. Too much pressure on yourself from other people to make money right away. And that is a recipe for disaster. You might create just a bad site totally geared and with the one goal of making money, and that is going to turn off readers. If you do not make money quickly enough, you are much more likely to quit and go back to the full time job. So, to answer you question, what Gyutae and myself – we both – did is we kept our full time jobs and kind of just started MoneyCrashers as kind of a side hobby – side business. Spend a couple hours a day or few hours a day. I would come home from work and work on it at night. And something I really enjoyed and seeing it grow slowly was very rewarding. I was not making money for months, if not the whole first year. And that was okay because I had money coming in from my full time job. But traffic was, at least, building on the website. And so, after a couple of years of kind of the dual, full time job and working on MoneyCrashers, that is when we both made the leap within a couple months of each other where we felt, ‘hey, we are not only getting burnt out because the website has gotten big enough where we are spending many, many hours a day, but being able to devote full time hours to the site, at this point, will really make a difference in its ability to grow and its ability to reach out to more people’.

Michael: Yeah. Definitely. Okay. So, you two decided that you wanted to work on this. You two decided the industry that you wanted to be in and the topics that you wanted to address – personal finance. Everything from the college student up to the individual professionals working, to the married couple, to the people planning for retirement. You have got a whole range of topics to cover there. Enormous amount of content. So, you looked at domain names. You thought about, ‘Should we build it or should be we buy it?’ And how did you go through that decision process of build versus buy and then come to the decision that you wanted to buy MoneyCrashers.com – the website?

Andrew: It was a very big decision. Something that we weighed kind of back and forth. It was almost 50-50 for a while. And a lot of it did come down to the domain name. We really did like the domain name. We felt that it had a good ring to it and it just kind of gave us a nice little starting point at where we could go in. And we also made the decision that, if we were going to buy a domain, we did not want to pay hundreds of thousands or some crazy amount of money and take out loans. We did not feel like that was worth the money. We just wanted a quality name for a nominal price – a very insignificant number – that we felt would kind of give us a nice little platform – a nice brand – to build off of.

Michael: Great. How did you determine that MoneyCrashers.com was available for sale?

Andrew: It was available through — I can’t remember the site. I want to say it was one of the website reseller platforms where sellers come, list all their sites, and buyers come to buy sites. And we did some kind of filter on financial sites. Maybe we searched the word money or finance.

Michael: Sure. So you just went to Ebay or Flippa.com, or something like that.

Andrew: Yeah. It might very well have been one of those two. That is all we did. We kind of used that to kind of give us a starting point.

Michael: And so, what was the traffic and revenue of MoneyCrashers when you bought it back in 2009, I think you said?

Andrew: Yeah. Very insignificant. I mean I would say very low five figures. So, maybe around ten thousand, if that. It was definitely something which was nice to have a starting point.

Michael: Ten thousand readers per month?

Andrew: Yeah. Exactly. It was nice to have some traffic and that was another reason that we felt MoneyCrashers.com was a good starting point instead of starting at zero and having zero visibility. Anyone who started a website knows how difficult it is to start from scratch. And just kind of psychologically to have something to have as a base – a foundation – was nice as well.

Michael: Definitely. Yeah. When you publish something, and then you can look at the Analytics and see that it was read a hundred times, or a thousand times, or you get some comments on it. And you know that, for every one comment you get, there is probably ten or a multiple of people thinking the same way, but they just never replied. That is satisfying that you know that you are actually doing something to help somebody. So about ten thousand readers you said. How much revenue was it generating at the time?

Andrew: Very insignificant. Maybe a hundred dollars a month. Maybe less than a hundred dollars a month.

Michael: Yeah. So, negligible essentially. And then, do you remember how much you paid for the website way back then?

Andrew: Three figures maybe. Very, very insignificant amount.

Michael: So under a thousand dollars you bought it?

Andrew: I would say so. Yeah.

Michael: Yeah. Okay. So, you got a brand. You got ten thousand readers. Maybe it came with a newsletter list or something, or was it just the traffic that came to the website?

Andrew: It did not come with a newsletter list. It was just the traffic. There were some RSS subscribers. Things like that, but no newsletter list. It was pretty barebones. I mean there was traffic, there was some content on the site; and that was great to have some content that we could build off of and improve. The previous writer who was writing on the site, we were able to keep him onboard and have that consistency going with the site, which was important for us. We wanted to kind of have that same message going and not just buy a site and completely revamp it, especially for readers who were coming back. So, yeah, that was kind of the setup there.

Michael: So, it was not just an owner operator prior? They actually had a writer on staff?

Andrew: They had a single writer on the staff, which was nice, again, that we even had a writer; but we, fairly quickly, wanted to delve into other areas and other topics of expertise. And, obviously, one writer could not do that, so we, fairly quickly, started bringing on additional contributors and team members.

Michael: Okay. So, you and Gyutae realized that you not only needed to spend a few hundred dollars to buy the domain, and the content that came with it, and ten thousand readers, which was probably a pretty good deal even back in 2008/2009; but you realized you need to put money into it. You could not just put your own time into it. Gyutae could not just upgrade the technology and you could not just write articles on your own. You needed to bring in some outside writers to have more content?

Andrew: Right. That is exactly right. I think we decided, while we could, theoretically. I mean I could write all the content, and edit, and publish, and he could take care of the website. One, I would probably get burnt out doing so much content creation and it would also become boring probably for readers to just hear one voice. But also, just purely on the side of being able to reach as many people as possible, being able to tackle as many topics as possible, and have expertise in areas that we did not have expertise, we knew it was a good idea to kind of go the multi-author route and have multiple contributors on the site.

Michael: So how much were you and Gyutae willing to put into the business the first year or two? Do you remember you two sitting down and saying ‘We have got some savings or we have got some cash flow from our day jobs in addition to our time of a few hours per day. Let’s put in this much money to hire some outside people’?

Andrew: Yeah. That is a good question. I mean the strategy we used, and what I would suggest people do, is not to try to grow too quickly. We literally went from one to two contributors to three. We did not bring on ten, or twenty, or thirty all at once. And that is, in large part to your question, which is we did not want to and not only want to, but it just was not feasible for us to bring on that many people and be able to sustain it for a long period of time. So, we kind of incrementally tried to build how many people were writing for us and working with us. And, as that kind of grew slowly as traffic grew, then monetization grew a little bit, advertising grew, and we kind of just jumped back and forth between the two. Add a writer. Give it some time. See if we can get some visibility for the site. Hopefully, revenue goes up. And try to, at best, have the website kind of sustain itself even with its own cash flow and kind of go that route.

Michael: And so, were the writers full time when you started off, or during the first years let’s say, or were they contracted and you paid per word, or per article, or per hour?

Andrew: Yeah. They were contracted; and it was per article. So, again, that gave us control over how much we had to pay out in expenses each month because we could say “Hey, do this many articles. Don’t do anymore for the rest of the month”. Whatever it might be. And that was part of the strategy there as well.

Michael: Definitely. Okay. Do you remember how much you were paying per article back in the beginning?

Andrew: I am not sure what it was, but it was not significant. I know a lot of the writers that we did hire, especially at the beginning, were kind of full time freelance writers or full time freelance contractors and we were kind of filling in – a lot of them would not admit – any extra space they had. And sometimes, they could not write as much as we wanted them to write because of the setup we had.

Michael: Yeah. You and I, when we did our pre-interview call and we chatted, I asked you a bunch of questions like we are doing right now. And I said, “You know, Andrew, I have got the exact same situation that I went through back in 2000 when I started my prior Media Company”. And how I grew it while working at my day job. And worked in the evenings and on the weekends. And I remember when I first started. I was willing to pay fifty dollars an article and I was publishing one article per week, so I always knew that they were going to be decent articles and I only had a two hundred dollar outlay per month for content as well as the user generated content on the website like Dictionary definitions, and discussion forum posts, and things like that. And then I always knew, later on, as my community grew, I would be able to then get user generated content from people that wanted to say they were published on our website. Does fifty dollars per article sound like it was high for you given the personal finance base? Or does that sound like it was probably the order of magnitude that you were paying?

Andrew: No. I think that is a reasonable amount for sure. I have heard of people paying five dollars an article or seven dollars an article even in the financial space. And you can tell when that is what is being compensated because there is a huge reduction of quality. As you get anywhere from, at the low end, hopefully twenty or thirty dollars, but up to hundred or more dollars per article – or whatever the setup is you have with the writer -, I think you do get a big quality tradeoff and a big increase in quality. So I think that is definitely a reasonable amount.

Michael: Yeah. All right. Great. So you hired some writers. Do you remember what your publication schedule was at the very beginning? Were you publishing an article a day? An article a week?

Andrew: We were publishing probably, at the very beginning, one article a week. And then, the next publication schedule, probably three to six months after that, was three articles per week. So, still, very gradual. Then, one article per weekday; and that is probably a year to a year and half after starting. And then, where we are now, is anywhere from one to three articles a day at least.

Michael: Wow.

Andrew: Yeah.

Michael: Yeah. That is significant. Okay. So you basically just added more articles, as the cash flow – as the revenue – would allow you to do that.

Andrew: Right. Exactly. And we tried to also, as much as we could afford because the more experienced writers generally expected more compensation, increase the quality of the writer at all times. And doing that also kind of reduced the work that I had to put in. I mean I still am; but back in the first two to three years, I was a very hands on Editor and edited everything top to bottom. Made sure everything made sense. And, as you might expect, as you bring on higher quality writers, it does take some of the pressure off the time that needs to go in on the editorial side.

Michael: Definitely. So, when you started out, the very first day that you launched and you had a writer, do you remember what day of the week you published that one article?

Andrew: That I could not remember. I am not sure.

Michael: Was it always the same day when you published? Do you remember?

Andrew: No it was not. We definitely did not have a set schedule. I mean it was typical kind of startup. Article comes. I finish it today. I’ll just go ahead and publish it. We did not have a firm schedule. We were not organized enough and it just, partially, because we were working full time jobs too and might not have time on a Monday and more came in on a Thursday. So, it was a little erratic and I am sure any readers and subscribers that followed the site might have been bothered by it a little bit because of the inconsistency, but we definitely did the best we could.

Michael: Yeah. Well, clearly, you are not hurting for it today, so I was just wondering if there was some sort of consistency. So, you were the self proclaimed Editor and Chief at the time. You wrote some articles. You edited the articles that came in. Who actually set the editorial direction? Did you go to your writers and say “I need an article on something related to college students, something related to married couples, and something related to retirement over the next three weeks”, or did you allow them to pick their own topics and submit them to you?

Andrew: Yeah. That is a good question. On that latter idea where I go to them, we generally try to keep that to a minimum. We do that a little bit as kind of current events come up. So, for example, the Libor Scandal. The recent Libor Scandal. I happen to know a lot about it and some of my friends were asking me not about the scandal, but what is Libor. What does that mean? What is the history of it? So that is an example where I went to a qualified writer and said “Hey, can you do an introductory post to Libor. You can include a little section at the end about the scandal and what happened, but keep the focus on what Libor is”. So, that will happen once in a while. Generally, as I see a current event come up or some economic policy up for debate and I think we might have a hole in the site related to that topic. But, for the most part, we encourage our writers to come to us and say, “Hey, here is what I want to write about. Here is my background; my experience. What do you think of me writing about this topic?” And it is more of a collaborative process of us going back and forth with them on their initial topic idea. I will often say “Yeah. That sounds great. Go ahead and maybe touch on these points that I am thinking of, or let’s tweak it a little bit”. And what we found is, by giving the contributor – the writer – a little more flexibility, it will increase the quality of the pieces because it is areas and topics that they are comfortable and that they have expertise in. And also probably it help them enjoy the writing aspect more if it is something that they are not being told to write and that they actually want to write for the site.

Michael: Sure. And it makes your job easier too, which is great because then you do not have to micromanage every single little topic in the editorial calendar. But do you worry that people are going to pick topics that are comfortable to them and not topics that are most needed by your audience?

Andrew: Yeah. And if that happens, especially as new contributors come onboard, as part of the collaborative process, we say “Hey, these topics are not hitting the mark because of A, B, and C” or “Hey, we already have so much content in this area. I know your background. I know where you worked before. Well, why don’t you try writing about some of these topics, which I think you could add a lot of value?” And kind of giving them your opinion and your feedback, especially at the beginning, helps them get more of a feel because they need to adapt to the role as well. It gives them more of a feel of what you are looking for and what topics and areas that might be best suited for them.

Michael: Yeah. How do you determine if the articles that they are writing are actually on the mark or off the mark?

Andrew: Pretty much from reading them. I mean every article goes through at least a couple editors on our team before being published. And, basically, we all have the background necessary on a given topic to kind of deem whether it is on the mark, off the mark, or not hitting all the points that it should hit. And you can probably ask any contributor on our site, probably to their frustration at some point, we will often send articles back to them saying “Hey, this is inaccurate” or “Hey, you missed this aspect that we want to delve into”. And that is kind of our process. We never publish anything directly to the site and everything has to go through a fairly rigorous editorial process just because we need to maintain the integrity and quality of the content.

Michael: Yeah. And I love hearing that. I was afraid that you were going to say ‘Well, we look at the Google Analytics or Analytics system and, if it does not generate more than a thousand per day, then we ax the writer or we tell them to write better subjects that suck people in’, or something like that. So you do not really look at the Analytics to say if it is useful. You are saying: is it a topic of need to our readers? Did they cover it from an editorial standpoint in enough detail in that people can understand and implement?

Andrew: Yeah. I am glad you bring that up because a lot of writers do say “Hey, I could write about this” if I suggest something to them, but they will say “Actually, where I wrote before, these topics do not get a lot of traffic. I don’t think you really want to me write it”. And we will never base a topic solely based on traffic potential and things like that. If it is an interesting topic or an interesting area, even it is the most niche-specific topic where there might only be a few hundred people who have any interest in it, we will gladly have them write that and we encourage them to write about it as long as they are knowledge and have experience in it.

Michael: Good. Yeah. If I have to read one more article like The Top Ten Ways to Retire By the Time Your Thirty, or those top whatever numbers. Those always kill me because they are so superficial and the headline is just written to get people to click through. And maybe it will generate the click through today, but it is not generating a loyal reader in me for sure.

Andrew: Right.

Michael: Okay. So, let’s back up to the technology. When you and Gyutae bought the website, was it using a content management system or was it hand coded? Do you remember?

Andrew: It was on WordPress, which was something we wanted. We wanted to work with WordPress. Gyutae had a lot of experience with WordPress and it is just a very user-friendly platform to build a website on. So it was on WordPress and it is still on WordPress today.

Michael: Great. So you just kept it on WordPress. You upgraded the core files as WordPress came out with new features. So, open source content management system. Any other special technology that you guys use on the website?

Andrew: It is pretty low tech for the most part. I mean we will put in plugins via WordPress to help put in certain widgets and things like that. But, for the most part, it is WordPress at its core. We do not have any other fancy software programs. We try to keep it pretty simple, which also helps writers submit their pieces directly to the site. We do not deal with e-mail or things like that.

Michael: Yeah. Definitely. That is useful. So, was it just you and Gyutae that funded – that bought – the website, that put in the time, or did you take outside investment from anybody?

Andrew: Yeah. It has just been Gyutae and myself from the beginning. And we have had people come to us throughout the past few years. And we have thought about it as well. Hey, well, what if we try to raise some outside funds? That might help us grow more quickly. Hire full time editors. More full time writers. And we just decided having the control and ability to implement what we envisioned for the site was pretty invaluable. And, while it might slow the growth a little bit, we felt, over the long run, if we could sustain it with our current model of trying to have the website sustain itself and pay for expenses with the website with minimal out-of-pocket expenses, that was the way we wanted to go.

Michael: Yeah. Okay. So, my next question was around the budget; but if you were doing some of the writing and Gyutae was doing all of the tech side – the background, keeping the website up and running -, your costs were minimal at the time. You had to pay for hosting. You had to pay for some writers. Back to my previous question that I can’t remember the answer for – I’m sorry -, did you and Gyutae set aside a certain dollar amount that you were going to invest in the business the first year or two?

Andrew: We did not just because we kind of had a strategy. We felt pretty confident. We also did not want to limit what we could do. We did not want to grow the site and then hit our max amount that we could invest and then kind of stop growing the site. We kind of just assessed things as we went. Hey, how is the site growing? Are we seeing legitimate increases in traffic and revenue? Do we see the potential there? And if we were reaffirmed with those kind of statistics and seeing that what we were doing was making a difference, then we felt more comfortable paying more in expenses, hiring other people, and basically just becoming more invested in the site overall.

Michael: Yeah. Do you remember the day, or the month, where you finally broke even where the advertising revenue from the website was actually equaling the hosting? Not counting your and Gyutae’s time of course, but the out-of-pocket expenses were actually equaling the advertising income coming from the site.

Andrew: Yeah. I think it was right around the one-year anniversary where we kind of reached that amount. I mean it is not exactly apples and apples. It is more apples and oranges because we were increasing expenses that first year, so it pushed out our break-even point because we were increasing expenses even while revenue was lower than expenses. But I would say right around that one-year mark. But, as you mentioned, if we did account for time we put in during that first year, then the break even point was way further out. Just because anyone who is starting, you put way more sweat and tears than you are going to get out, at least, financially at the beginning.

Michael: Definitely; which is why you need to keep that day job. So you do not become disgruntled or disappointed. Then it is just sheer will and determination. If you push through for that year, or two years, or whatever the point is where you break even or where you start to become profitable and you start seeing progress towards that, that progress will help motivate you to continue to do it. So if I look at your website today, I see Google Adsense being delivered on it. I can see the Google Ads on there. Did you show Google Ads — I can’t remember in 2008/2009 if Google Ads were in place. I believe they were.

Andrew: Yeah. That has been and is still our main source of revenue on the site; is Google Adsense. Just because it is so liquid. It is so accessible. There is not a limit on how much you can make on it each month. And while the revenue might be a little bit lower than you could get with direct ads and, I guess, other forms of revenue, it just has been a nice kind of option to place on the site. And we can kind of see how it is doing or what articles that does better on; and we will compliment that with other forms of advertising, which we can talk about as well. But Adsense was around. That was pretty much solely what we used back when we started and, while we have diversified a little bit away from that, it is still an important part of the site.

Michael: Yeah. Okay. So, it is easy to implement; very easy to pull off if you want. So, you put up the code, which is just JavaScript and it is displaying ads. How have you augmented that income with other advertising opportunities, or with other income opportunities?

Andrew: So, I mentioned that kind of, I guess, compensation that you get from Adsense is on the lower end. So, there are people that come to us or we will reach out to other networks and, basically, third party advertising. That works. That replicates what Google is doing, but on a much smaller basis. So, there will be a financial middleman – someone who is just an entrepreneur – who wants to compete and do something in the financial space, so we will gather up ten/twenty financial websites and they will do all the work. We will find advertisers and find companies and say “Hey, I have these sites in my network. If you give us X amount of money, then you have full access to these sites”. That is something that we have utilized. We have experimented with third party network A, B, C, what is done well, which ads do the best; and as long as those networks are relevant and the things that they are promoting on our site are something that we are comfortable with. So, as long as it is not stuff like Payday Loans or kind of encouraging people to take on debt, then we are fine experiments and seeing what sticks and what might do better than one network or even Adsense. So, that has been a big part of it.

Michael: So, you are currently using those third party ad networks in addition to Google Adsense?

Andrew: Correct.

Michael: Okay. And is the revenue that you generate from those higher than Google Adsense?

Andrew: It is higher on kind of a per unit basis, as I mentioned, just because Adsense is so low; but a lot of those networks will have built-in stopping points of either revenue, or traffic, or whatever it might be where you are not supposed to or you are technically blocked from posting those ads until the end of the month. So, Adsense still remains the highest but, again, that is why it is a great tool, because they generally do not have any kind of mechanisms in place. They have the liquidity with their advertisers that run through them to kind of fulfill whatever you want to fulfill on their site.

Michael: Yeah. And if I go to your website, and I encourage all the audience watching this to go over to MoneyCrashers.com and look around. And if look down the right-hand side, under the Facebook box, there is a recommended box and it has categories like banking, and credit cards, and stockbrokers, and financial tools. And if I mouse over a lot of those, Andrew, I can see that it is MoneyCrashers.com/Ally-Bank-Review, or ING Review, or what have you. And then, when you go to those pages, which are on your website and I assume that they are editorially written, the links from those to the websites like Ally Bank or Lending Club are, I believe, affiliate links. Is that correct?

Andrew: Yeah. So, yeah. All those links you see in the recommend section go to reviews that we had done of certain products. So, just pulling it up here. As you mentioned, Ally Bank; ING; Mint.com; Zillow, which is kind of the real estate site. We will do reviews of products that either we have tried, or one of our contributors has experience with or has researched heavily. And it is, in large part, due to readers asking “What do you think of this product?” or “Tax Season is coming up. What is the best tax software to use?” And we will review these products and a lot of these products also have, as you mentioned, affiliate networks setup. So, say someone signed up for Turbo Tax and pays whatever the fee is for whichever product they get. They won’t pay anymore for that product and, sometimes, they will get a cheaper rate than they would getting it directly through Turbo Tax if we have some kind of discount for the site or for our readers; but the affiliate side where we get a commission based on that is also part of the revenue network.

Michael: And is that affiliate income significant on a monthly basis, would you say?

Andrew: That is a good question. That fluctuates. I mean a lot of these affiliate stuff is very volatile. I mean one month a program might have an affiliate system set up and they might drop that, and we will still get people signing up through that and we won’t make any money; but we would not pull the post down or anything like that. I mean I would say it is relevant, but it is not hugely significant as far as a portion of the site. And then I do want to stress and what I would suggest people do is, if you do kind of go the affiliate income route, that you try to maintain as much credibility and genuine reviews as you can. I would not try to just blatantly promote, for example, Payday Loans, which I know people can make lots of money on; especially, on the affiliate side. That is something we would never promote. And we will also do reviews and promote products that do not have affiliate networks set up. If you go down our review column, you will see a lot of products there where we are doing exactly what we would for an affiliate network company, but we would not make any commission or anything like that; but we do see it as a valuable resource – a valuable tool – for our readers.

Michael: Got you. So, some months, it may be good revenue; some months, it may not be good revenue. Either way, it is a nice addition to the total revenue stream that you have at MoneyCrashers.com.

Andrew: Yeah.

Michael: And the editorial is written from an Editorial’s perspective. You are not going to review CashForGold.com just to have an affiliate link from your website to their.

Andrew: Right. We try to approach the reviews exactly like we would our day-to-day articles. Having them be valuable education. Sometimes we will do a little combination review where we will compare all the, for example, tax preparation online software. Compare them all in one article. It is still a review, but it is a little more valuable to see them all compared together.

Michael: Sure. Okay. So we have talked in general terms about the revenue. Adsense producing the biggest slice of the pie of the total revenue for the site, but you clearly have your third party ad network offers that come in and you have your affiliate links. Are there any other ways that you are monetizing the website currently?

Andrew: Those are the main ways. It is a combination of all those aspect that you just mentioned. I guess that is pretty much it. What I would say is, for people out there building up a website and monetizing, try to not have all your revenue come from one source just because who knows. If you are with a third party network and they go bankrupt, all of a sudden, you might be kind of starting at square one and having to lay off people on your team. I also know a lot of people will sell links and text links, which is, I know, something Google frowns upon. That is not something we do. I know a lot of people make a significant amount of money doing that; and I would suggest not going that route even in the short term if you are just trying to make a quick dollar because you do not want to sacrifice your site both, from a credibility perspective, but also if someone like Google frowns upon your site because you are doing things like that. That kind of just manipulates the whole online blogosphere-website kind of legitimacy. So, that is something we have stayed away from. We get questions and offers for that kind of stuff everyday and we could probably double, or significantly increase, our revenue, but we just won’t.

Michael: Yeah. Well, you have got a site that has a Google page rank of six. Some people argue it does not matter or whatever, but clearly it is a high authority website. I have done some looking at your website. You have over a quarter million external backlinks coming back to various articles on your website as well as your homepage. I think you are in Alexa top five thousand or six thousand ranked website. Clearly, people who are searching through websites and if they want to get a link from a financial-related website and they look at you as one of the top websites, they are going to want to approach you and see if they can buy that. So, speaking of stats, I went onto Alexa.com and I went onto Compete.com. Last week’s tutorial – actually, by the time this runs, it will be a few weeks back; but if you look at How To Spy On Your Competitors on DomainSherpa for starting up a business. I use them just to check out different websites that I am looking at. Alexa.com and Compete.com show traffic trends. I warned, in the video, that they are not exact numbers clearly. It is just trends because they are buying data and they are putting it all together and they are trying to estimate what it is. And I give a good example of how I got burned when I bought a website in the past looking at this and thinking it was close to. Even the trending numbers are close. But when I look at it and I look at the past couple of years, Andrew, on Alexa.com, it looks like your traffic, over the past six months, has literally doubled or tripled. And when I look at Compete.com, over the past couple of years, it looks like it was right around a hundred thousand and then it slowly increased and sort of the slope of it is continuing to increase over the past year. It shows two hundred and fifty thousand unique readers per month. Clearly, you are doing higher. As you said earlier, eight hundred thousand. Have you seen a massive increase in traffic over the past six months, or are these trending charts not correct?

Andrew: Yeah. That is a good question. I mean I know we chatted about where we started back in 2008. And I would say, in the last couple of years, there has definitely been a big jump in traffic. Nothing in particular about the last six months. I think doubling and tripling is pretty accurate in the last couple of years and, again, that is just kind of putting your head down and doing what you know is good for the site and seeing that grow. But there definitely has been an increase in traffic, subscribers, and social media followers on Twitter and Facebook. They have all gone up significantly; especially in the last one to two years I would say.

Michael: How do you have so many backlinks coming into your site, Andrew?

Andrew: Yeah. I mean it is definitely multi-fold. What our kind of internal strategy is to try avoid any of the spamming and e-mail marketing where you just e-mail thousands of contacts and websites and ask them to link to you or to kind of send their readers your way, or whatever it might be.

Michael: Yeah. I get those e-mails every week. Just like you do I’m sure.

Andrew: So, the best that we love to see, and I’m sure you love to see or anyone loves to see, is natural links. So, we try to create every article to be unique enough, to be valuable enough, and to be interesting enough that a reader reading it will be likely to share with their friends and family on Facebook and Twitter. If they have their own blog, they will link to it or if a report is doing research on mutual funds and obviously will look at other mutual fund articles out there might see enough value in our mutual fund post to link to it. That is something that we try to think about on each and every post that we do. Is it quality enough? Is it unique enough? It is different enough? Does is add enough value such that someone reading it will want to share with their friends, family, and things like that? Kind of outside of that, I will gladly, for example, like this. I will take part in interviews. A lot of times reporters will be working on a story on couponing, or getting out of debt, or how do you find a job, and we will get multiple contacts a day asking, “Hey, can we interview you or one of your contributors?” And that is something we always encourage our writers to do and myself, I will gladly participate whether it is a written article, video, or radio show. I have done all of the above and that is a great way not only to get direct links from whoever is doing that – they will generally offer a link back to your website -, but just reaching out to vast readerships through their own networks is a great way just to build traffic to your site. Visibility. And it can kind of sustain itself. It is kind of chicken or the egg. Is it traffic or links? And it all kind of morphs together in their own coordinate. And that is something we have tried to do and make it as natural as possible.

Michael: Yeah. Okay. So you are not actively going out and offering to guest blog on other people’s sites, or actively seeking news reports to be a source for them, or things like that – putting out press releases on a regular basis?

Andrew: Yeah. I would say two things. One is no on press releases and actively seeking reporters. We will contribute guest articles to outside sites. Sometimes, either we will do our reach or an outside website might come to us and say, “Hey, we are building up a expert blogger network. Do you want to be a part of that?” and we will, mostly, never turn that kind of opportunity down. As you know, even free articles – writing them on other sites – is a great way, even if you do not get a link, just to get visibility; just to get more readership. People have seen the quality of stuff that you might write on MoneyCrashers. And we also try to build great tools in addition to the content that people will come back to and link as a resource. So, for example, we have a Top Personal Finance Blogs List, which, if you go to the top right of our homepage, you will see Top Personal Finance Blogs. And that is a very rigorous, in-depth, took a 1+ years to put together a list that takes into factor all these parameters and kind of ranks all of the personal finance – more, financial and business based site – and puts them all into a list. Because there are jus hundred and thousands of lists out there of websites that are trying to get in the space, so a lot of them are low quality. A lot of them are just trying to make a quick buck. So, that is what that tool has been. And what has been great is, because so much thought went into something like that and we spent so much time and money putting that together, that it has been giving back to us, which has been great as far as readers coming to check out what sites are doing the best, those websites will come and see how they are ranking, and that kind of thing. So, that is another great strategy; is if you can create a great tool like that.

Michael: I saw that. When I check it, there were 622 Top Personal Finance Blogs listed. Do you require all of those blogs to link back to you by providing a link to them?

Andrew: No. There is no requirement at all.

Michael: Some of them are going to voluntarily do it, right?

Andrew: Yeah. Some will voluntarily do it; some will maybe write about the list or update their readers on how they are doing, but there is no requirement. As long as it is a quality site. We were not going to accept any site onto the list, but if it meets the requirements and is quality enough after take a look at it, then we will add it to the list with no requirement to link back.

Michael: Okay. So you will do some guest blogging where you are asked or where you see the opportunity. Do you do any advertising? Do you advertise on like CNNMoney.com, or try and get your educational platform in front of people interested in the news to try and cross-pollinate?

Andrew: Yeah. I mean, generally, we might have experimented that less than five times within the last four years. We do not do any paid advertising or anything like that. We have tried to, again, keep that as natural as possible; but also, just budget. We just don’t have the budget. Especially, on those high visibility sites like CNN or Wall Street Journal, or whatever it might be to afford what it would cost to gain advertising or visibility on those sites. So, we have not done that. We also have not done things with no-sale like Google Adwords where you can bid for spot in the rankings for certain keywords. We have avoided that as well.

Michael: So, is it fair to say that your traffic has continued to increase over the past four years because you publish so much and you have focused content that is good content that it rises up the search engines for the long-tail traffic?

Andrew: Yeah. I mean I think, for us, the success has really come down to the content; and that is something we have really tried to keep in mind as we go. And I know search engines, for example, are getting smarter and smarter about that. They are trying to set it up to force you to do good content. And that is something we have tried to do the entire time. But, for example, with the Panda Updates in Google, those are trying to not outwardly penalize, but make it so that the website is producing the highest quality. The most unique content are the ones getting the most visibility in their search engine. So, it was nice to see kind of updates like that from Google and other search engines that are recognizing websites or people that are genuinely producing content; to really help people as apposed to just making a quick buck or ranking in search engines.

Michael: Yeah. Every time one of those updates comes out by Google, there is always chatter on Twitter, or in the newsletters, or on the community websites like Search Engine Journal, or Search Engine Watch, or SearchEngineLand.com. Do you worry about it? Do you check your traffic when you hear of an update or does it sort of pass by without much worry by you and your partner?

Andrew: Yeah. I mean, naturally, we will check it in the days and the weeks afterwards. See what happens to us. And some of them have hurt us or been neutral to our disappointment or surprise; but, what we have tried to recognize is, no update is going to be perfect. And quality sites. I mean we have read in articles that great sites are getting penalized or traffic is falling upon these updates. So, you can call it blind faith, I guess. There is not much more we can do, but we just hope that Google will improve the update, make it more and more accurate, and make sure that there is not a lot of innocent websites getting hurt by these updates. And that is something that we have tired to do. So, we do follow it and it is interesting to see when these updates happen, and hear about the sites getting hurt, and the sites getting helped. But, for the most part, we try to take it all with a grain of salt and just keep a long term perspective in the picture.

Michael: Yeah. So, I want to come back to the financial aspect again. We know that MoneyCrashers is a business. It is not like it is just you and Gyutae working on it where all the money comes in, you split the revenue, and you put it in your pockets after setting aside some for taxes. You have got expenses like writers, and editors, and hosting, and graphic designers, and everything else that is involved. Can you tell us what your total revenue is for the website?

Andrew: Yeah. Again, that is a great question. When it comes down to revenue as well as your break even question earlier, what we are doing with the site, as I mentioned, is trying to have it sustain itself, which leads to us taking less money out of the site than we could. We could run it at a barebones level. Produce one article or a couple articles a week. Not have full time editors. Not have a team of writers contributing. And by taking that stance, we are hoping it helps grow the site over time, but it does reduce the amount that we can take in as Co-Owners of the site. So, we are not making significant amounts of money. If we wanted, I could probably be comparable to what I was making, for example, on my full time position at an Investment Fund; but we are trying to take out enough money. We can take out enough money to survive, pay food, pay rent, and things like that; but, as much as we can, we are trying to reinvent in the website. Full time editors. Hiring a new editor and multiple new writers. Things along those lines. So, it is kind of a dual philosophy of yeah, we want to increase revenue, but not so much for our own personal income; especially in the short run, but more to continue growing and sustaining the site.

Michael: Sure. So, instead of you taking the money out and putting it into your 401K or your retirement account, you are saying: ‘this business could be my retirement account. I am going to take that money that I would have put in my pocket and I am going to plow it right back into the business. I am going to hire more writers. We are going to produce better content. More beautiful graphics’. Whatever the case may be. And then, hopefully, that will come back to you in the future at some point.

Andrew: Yeah. I haven’t actually thought of it as a retirement account, but I like that way of looking at it. Hopefully, it is stable enough that I can call it a retirement account. Nobody ever really knows. I guess I do kind of look at it as a long-term investment.

Michael: Definitely. All right. So, let’s see. We talked about your writers. Are your writers employees or are they 1099 contractors to you right now?

Andrew: Right now they are all set up as contractors. And some will contribute and put in more hours than others, but that is how it is set up.

Michael: And how many writers and how many editors do you have on staff? The editors not in the industry. The writers write the content; the editors review it. They not only correct the grammar, and punctuation, and the sentence structure, but they also kick things back to the writer when they are developing a concept that can’t be easily understood by the reader. And so, it is important to have both, a writer and an editor, to review it before it goes to publish. How many writers and how many editors do you have on staff?

Andrew: We have about fifteen to twenty writers on staff and then, three editors. Excluding myself and Gyutae who also kind of help oversee and we will continue to take part in the editorial process. Coming up with topics. Looking at the pieces before they get published. But outside of us, fifteen to twenty writers and three editors.

Michael: Got you. And so, the writers are not necessarily full time because, if they were full time, they would probably knocking out a couple of articles a day and you would have thirty articles being published per day. And so, a lot of them are part time?

Andrew: Right. Exactly.

Michael: And are the editors part time as well?

Andrew: A couple of them are part time. One of them is on a full time basis, but pretty close to full time hours. It is a big part of what they are doing and it works out for them because our editors work remotely, so a couple of them have families and things like that, and it works into their lifestyle. But that is much more so on a full time basis than our writers.

Michael: Yeah. Okay. And so, you have been on news shows. We have discussed that. I have watched a few of them. I think it was CBS that you have been on. Does that sound right?

Andrew: Yeah. I have had a couple appearances both, on NBC News and CBS as well.

Michael: So what was that like? Start from the beginning. How did you even get contacted to go onto CBS and be interviewed about financial topics?

Andrew: Yeah. And that was example, again, of it was not active outreach on my part. A reporter for NBC – in both cases, CBS – contacted someone that had interviewed me for one of their written articles before. And that is how it kind of got started. The initial connection. And, from there, they wanted a financial expert on the show. There have been a few different appearances. One of them was on Black Friday Savings. Another was more on Insurance, so How To Save Money on Your Auto Insurance. That was the CBS segment. So, kind of talked with reporters, talked with the producers, and kind of built up the idea of how it would kind of be implemented on their show and went from there.

Michael: Great. So, it is a lot of prep work for a 15/30-second spot, right?

Andrew: Yeah. A lot of prep work. A lot of nerves. A lot of pressure. A lot of uncertainties when you get there, especially shooting stuff live; but it was all great experiences and great for the site as well.

Michael: What way was it great for the site?

Andrew: I think it just helps kind of intangibly with credibility. So, I think, naturally, if anyone comes to the site and sees the owner being interviewed on NBC News live television or CBS, then it shows some kind of legitimacy to the site, especially in the world of finance where you want credible experts. You want credible websites. And, definitely, we did not see, I don’t think, any traffic from those appearances. Any links in. Anything like that. But just having that presence on our site and being able to say, “Hey, this is part of my experience. This is part of what I have done in the past” helps viewers who come to the site; and, if someone contacts me and says “Hey, we might want you on the radio show. Do you have TV experience or radio experience?”, you can kind of go and talk about those types of things. So, I definitely encourage people, whenever they can, to take advantage of any opportunity. Even if it is not going to have direct financial traffic benefits, it is going to have some intangible benefit likely in the long run.

Michael: Definitely. Whenever I see big names like that, it adds legitimacy and trustworthiness from my perspective when I am going there. Especially when they link to it. So, yeah. I fully agree. So, let me ask you this, Andrew. Clearly, you have grown the traffic of the website. It is a major website in personal finance and one of the major ones in the US. Have you been approached by anybody to buy your website from you?

Andrew: Yeah. It has happened probably five to ten times over the last couple of years. Where some company – some private, some public – have come to us and, often, a fairly innocent inquiry. Just talking about the site. They like the site. What we have done with it. Talk about kind of their network of sites and how we would fit it and their interest there. And sometimes, we will have just conversations to see exactly what they have in mind, more out of curiosity than anything else. But from our perspective, more internally speaking, we have not seriously considered selling the site just because, one, we are passionately enjoying it. I can’t stress it enough. I put in more hours than I did at my full time position, but I am enjoying it ten times more and it really does not feel like work. It is truly enjoyable. But also, from a pure financial business perspective, we think that there is still a lot of room to grow. A lot of traffic to grow, revenue, or whatever it might be. We think that selling in, what we feel is, a very early part of the game is not the right move for us as well.

Michael: Do you think that ten/twenty years down the road that your end goal is to sell the site for a nice chunk of change that maybe will allow you to retire or semi-retire, or are you and Gyutae looking at this as an opportunity to have a lifestyle business that affords you the opportunities to work a couple of hours a day – the Tim Ferriss 4-hour Workweek – where you have entire staff doing the work and you just sort of oversee it and check in everyday?

Andrew: Yeah. I mean I think those are both possibilities as far as the long-term end result. I think, probably, eventually. I think naturally it has to be sold at some point. Hopefully we can get it to a point where people are actively interested and want to buy it, but I think, at least for the next ten/fifteen years, what I, right now, foresee is still staying actively involved and putting in a lot of hours. Not necessarily going all the way down to the four hour workweek, but maybe a little bit beyond that if, let’s say, I’m trying to raise families, or kids, and still enjoying it enough to stay involved, and maybe trying to delegate more and more duties, but still kind of have a hand in the process and oversee things. We would always listen, but I think, long term, selling is a logical conclusion. Hopefully, again, it is a valuable asset to someone and we are at a point where we would feel like we have gotten enough out of it and we would not miss the site anymore, which certainly is not the case right now.

Michael: Yeah. And the offers that you have entertained over the past couple of years; have any of them come to a discussion of a dollar amount?

Andrew: No. They haven’t. They have not gone that far. Most of them – and if someone does approach you – they will generally – and if they don’t, then I would be suspicious – will ask you for access to all of your Analytics, your revenue, and your whole history of things. And it has gotten to the point where they have asked us for that, but just because we were not legimately looking to sell and we did not want to waste all their time. I mean they would spend days and weeks trying to analyze coming up with a number. We never made it to that point.

Michael: Yeah. All right. So the final question is this, Andrew. Now that MoneyCrashers.com is a recognized authoritative site and it has, for all intensive purposes, made it. Clearly, you have got your game plan. You are going to continue to do the same. You are going to grow you eight hundred thousand readers per month to a million, or two million, or five million. Continue to have fun running your own business. Do you have another domain or another website that you are eyeing for development that might compliment it, or that you and Gyutae have been discussing in between working hours?

Andrew: We don’t. I think that might not be the smartest move. It really is all about MoneyCrashers and we are pretty invested in the MoneyCrashers site. Just because there is so much uncertainty, I would not recommend against people building up multiple sites. If you have one solid one, there is nothing wrong with differing a little bit of focus and intention to diversify a little and have some other options out there. And while things might seem good one day, it might seem good for us today, anything can happen. And I am never surprised on drastic reductions in traffic or what I see out there on web. So there is always, in the back of my mind, a little bit of fear. A little bit of risk just because, no matter what, anything can happen at any time.

Michael: Definitely. And you never know what is going to happen in the financial markets from week-to-week either.

Andrew: Exactly.

Michael: Yeah. Andrew, thank you for your candid answers to my probing questions. If you have a follow-up question, please post it in the comments below and we will ask Andrew to come back and answer as many as he can. If you would like to follow Andrew and MoneyCrashers.com, you can do so on Twitter at @MoneyCrashers and you can also like them on Facebook, and get updates of their articles, and their tweet chats that they have going on, and everything else that goes on in the community. And of course they are at Facebook.com at MoneyCrashers.

Andrew Schrage, Co-Owner of MoneyCrashers.com. Thank you for coming on the show, sharing your knowledge of the website and financial development integrated with a uniquely branded domain name, and thank you for being a Domain Sherpa.

Andrew: Thanks a lot for having me, Michael. It was a lot of fun.

Michael: It has been my pleasure. Thank you all for watching. We’ll see you next time.

Watch the full video at:
http://www.domainsherpa.com/andrew-schrage-moneycrahsers-interview/


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20 Responses to “How MoneyCrashers.com Grew from 10K to 800K Monthly Readers – With Andrew Schrage”

  1. Eric Jenkins says:

    Michael……

    Andrew good luck with MoneyCrashers.com. It is a great looking site with a lot of really good content. Thanks for sharing.

    Eric Jenkins

  2. Tracy says:

    Andrew, where do find your writers?

  3. Joe says:

    Does Andrew write any articles of his own?

  4. Glad it provided you with some good value Dan!

  5. Scott Braley says:

    Really great interview with Andrew. What I liked most about it is showing how you invested $1k, DIDNT quit your day job, built it over time, and are now successful. Love it.

  6. Hansen says:

    Andrew: I’m interested in learning more about finding a niche that I can publish about, like you did. What do you recommend I do to find one? Visit flippa on a regular basis?

    • Thanks for the note Hansen. I’d say you want to start with choosing a niche that you have some natural affinity towards or some expert knowledge and background. Don’t just choose a niche based on potential or what everyone else is doing. You want to choose something that you’ll be motivated by over the long-term and can add some unique value to.

  7. hi
    i would like to download the pdf but unfortunately the link is bad and the document is not accessible via google either
    thanks
    jg

  8. Uzoma says:

    Another one for the books! Great job.

    Elliot should be compelled to watch these videos, of people who are actually building stuff with domain names, intelligent business men and women utilizing domain names to build thriving businesses. Some mixture of brand names, and descriptive ones. To each his own. I suspect that if Elliot were to actually watch these videos who may open his mind just a little bit, and accord a little respect to people who perhaps think differently than he does, when it comes to domain names.

    Business after business have succeeded without descriptive names, or single word dictionary names. So, insulting posters on blogs because their names have a different nomenclature is shown here to be wrong. Again, keep up the good work Michael. We all get inspiration, and education from your guests.

    • @Uzoma, sure any business can succeed without a generic/descriptive name. You just need to do extra marketing and promotional work. I’ve done it both ways, but mainly with “brandable” domain names. It’s a tradeoff, just like anything else in business.

      Which “Elliot” are you referring to?

      Thanks for your support, Uzoma. I’m glad you’re finding education and inspiration. That’s our goal.

  9. Tomas says:

    Hey mike, congratulations on all of those nominations for the traffic conference. I hope you win, you deserve recognition for providing such great knowledge value to the community. Cheers.

  10. Domainer Dan says:

    I definitely get a bunch of ideas from browsing around on Flippa and eBay, so I’ll second that way of looking for opportunities.

    Great interview, Michael. Thanks for sharing, Andrew. Continued success to you both.

  11. Cheryl says:

    So inspirational!

    • Thanks, Cheryl. I think Andrew and his partner have done a fantastic job as well. It’s a tremendously inspirational story, with enough tactical detail for people to learn form and implement on their own. Execution is the key…they worked for a couple of years until they got serious traction…now, with their momentum, they’re on a roll.

  12. don says:

    thanks for another great interview, these are really cant miss to learn and pick up ideas for everyone who is trying to make money online

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