Personal Profitability Podcast Episode 3

PPP003: I’m Jeff and I Own Six Niche Sites

This week I welcome our first guest, my very good friend Jeff Fruhwirth of Sustainable Life Blog, 2013 Best Sustainability Personal Finance Blog at the personal finance blogging awards – The Plutus Awards.

In this episode, Jeff shares his insights and experiences making money online with his six niche sites, his online services, and how he received $750,000 in benefits from his health insurance plan.

PPP003-Im-Jeff-and-I-Own-Six-Niche-Sites

What we’re drinking:

Eric – Alaskan Amber

Jeff – Avery’s The Czar

Sites and Resources Mentioned:

Useful Related Posts at Personal Profitability:

Full Transcription:

Eric Rosenberg: Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages, welcome back to the Personal Profitability podcast. My name is Eric Rosenberg, your faithful and trusty host, live here in Portland, Oregon. And today, this is our 3rd episode and I am very excited to have our 1st guest on the show. This guest is a good friend of mine, someone I met at my very first Financial Blogger Conference in Chicago. (Now it’s just known as FinCon). We actually found out that we are meeting up this year in Charlotte, North Carolina, which I’m pretty excited about. That’ll be the next time I see Jeff unless we can get a chance to hangout before, who knows if that will happen. But we always chat online and on the phone and he is here right now.

So say hello, Jeff, introduce yourself to the crowd.

Jeff Fruhwirth: Hey everybody, how are you all doing today? Like Eric said, I’m Jeff Fruhwirth and we’ve known each other for about 4 or 5 years at this point.

Eric: Yeah. We’ve been to four FinCons together.

Jeff: We lived in the same city growing up, went to the same University and didn’t actually get connected until we both found each other’s blogs. So thanks for having me on, Eric. It’s great to be here.

Eric: Yeah for those of you who want to look Jeff up right now while you’re listening, his website is sustainablelifeblog.com. He has a bunch of other websites too that we’ll talk about more and even a couple we’ve worked on it together. But to start off, because we do so in every episode, we have to talk about our having a beer. So if you are listening at home, not in the car or the office, unless your office allows it, this is your opportunity to pause, go grab your beer so you can come back and join me and Jeff. Right now I am having an Alaskan Amber, which has a little soft spot in my heart because I’ve been to Alaska. Actually I went to Juneau on a cruise with my mom and we were looking at taking a bike ride to the Alaskan brewery, so I could see where they made it. But instead my mom surprised me with a helicopter ride and we got to land on the Mendenhall glacier, which was actually pretty sweet. I missed going to the brewery but I got to go on a helicopter ride and I thought that was pretty cool. So here’s a cheers from Alaskan Amber. Jeff what are you drinking on your end?

Jeff: Tonight I’ve got a 22-ounce bottle of Avery’s The Czar, Imperial Stout.

Eric: Very good choice.

Jeff: It’s been a little cold here today; the humidity is high for the area. So it feels even colder than normal. So this is a nice way to warm me up.

Eric: For those of you who are not familiar, Avery is a brewery just on the outskirts of Boulder Colorado, where Jeff is from. He mentioned that we both went to school in Boulder. So I’ve had many, many Avery beers. They do make it up this way to Portland, so I am guessing they make it to most parts of the country. So if you have never had an Avery beer, they are delicious, same thing with Alaskan Amber. So here’s a cheers, Jeff. I’m trying to clink your glass over the Internet.

$750,000 Health Insurance Benefit

Eric: All right so to start off as we’ve done before, I am going to start with the personal side of personal finance and then get into the business side. So a few things that I’ve gotten to know with Jeff over the years, I mean we met when we were both not married guys and in the last 4 years we’ve both gotten married. Jeff has become a dad and I’ve gotten to meet his beautiful little girl. So I just wanted to start off a few questions about that because of the financial things about having a kid. So Jeff had just changed jobs pretty recently and I don’t know if that was before you had your daughter or after. But could you tell us just a little about the time line in that?

Jeff: Sure. Well we found out my wife was pregnant a few months before the financial bloggers conference/ FinCon in St. Louis. She was supposed to be due at the beginning of May and our daughter decided that she was ready to come in February. So we got to live at the University of Colorado Hospital in Denver for 2 1/2 months while they took care of our 28week-old baby and they kind of fed her and made sure that she was going to make it to a point where we could take her home.

Eric: About how far of a drive is that hospital from where your house is?

Jeff: It’s about 90 miles, a 100 miles.

Eric: So it’s a couple of hours drive, depending on traffic?

Jeff: Yeah. It was about 2 hours, usually a little less.

Eric: Was that when you were at your old job or your new job?

Jeff: That thankfully was when I was at my old job because at that point I had been there for about 3 1/2 years and I had a lot of vacation time available to me and I had a lot of sick time available to me. And once we kind of got everything sorted out, we were able to work ourselves into a schedule where I would live in town at our house and work Monday through Thursday and then Thursday night I would go down to Denver and be with my wife who lived in Denver full time basically.

And you know, it’s one of the things in finance that people talk about frequently is having an emergency fund. But usually they just talk about having a bunch of cash sitting on the sidelines, kind of waiting for your water main to break or your car to break down or something. But I think that that large amount of cash should only be a portion of your emergency fund. Like me for instance, I keep like a whole boat load of frequent flyer miles stashed aside for emergencies just in case I need to go to a funeral or an emergency visit with family for some reason. I also try and keep about 5-8 days’ worth of sick or vacation time so I can take time off from my job and not have to worry about making up the hours later in the event of an emergency.

Eric: All right so that’s definitely a good idea. So in this case with your daughter, you know, with her being born early and having to spend so much time in the hospital, the medical bills must’ve been like pretty crazy. Are you willing to share anything about what those costs would’ve been if you hadn’t had insurance or what insurance took care of?

Jeff: Well at the time I worked for the government.

Eric: State government, correct?

Jeff: State government.

Eric: Ok.

Jeff: And I had a pretty good benefits package. So I paid a $100 a month for insurance for myself and the rest of my family. They basically took care of well north of three quarters of a million dollars in hospital bills. In all honesty, it should’ve been higher than that but we got transferred to a more local hospital about a month before we could bring our daughter home for good and that hospital was not as highly rated nor as effective as the one we were at previously. They also billed about 10 times less than what we had in Denver. Which ultimately didn’t matter because we ended up paying I think out of pocket less than a $1000 for the entire thing because we had good insurance and they took care of a lot of it. And the portion that they didn’t take care of, we got put on Medicaid for it because our daughter weighed so little at birth that she was automatically enrolled in I think it was called the ‘SSI Disability Program’.

Eric: That’s the Social Security Disability program I believe, right?

Jeff: Yeah. She got enrolled into that because of her low birth weight and that automatically qualified her for Medicaid. So after a little bit of haranguing with the Medicaid office in Wyoming, I got them to pay everything but about $500 of our deductible, so we came out of that really, really good, all things considered.

Eric: So just to recap for everybody if you missed anything there, the total cost would’ve been $750,000 and Jeff had to pay out of pocket about a $1000. I’ve talked about insurance on the blog before, back in the days when it was called Narrow Bridge Finance. You can still go back and find some of those posts where I talk about how important it is to have great insurance. That’s why I’ve been a big advocate for Obama Care, getting everybody who doesn’t have insurance, insurance. Because if you don’t have that….; what would’ve Jeff have done had he not have that. They might’ve kicked him out of the hospital. They might not have treated his daughter with the same length of time that she needed or what not. Or she wouldn’t have had the care she probably needed. And now she’s going to live a great healthy normal life and insurance was a huge part of that. So you never know. Everyone expects things to just happen the way you’d expect but if life always happen how you expected then we wouldn’t need things like insurance or emergency funds or a lot of the other stuff we talk about in the personal finance world. So thanks for sharing that, Jeff.

Earning from Niche Sites

Eric: So now I want to change gears a little and get to some more professional questions. Like me, Jeff has a full time job and he also does some online work for himself and some other clients on the side. Could you just give kind of like a general break down on the different projects you are working on right now?

Jeff: Sure. Like you mentioned Eric, I have a full time job where I work as an Environmental Consultant at a firm in my town and I run 2 blogs, like Eric mentioned earlier, I run sustainablelifeblog.com and I also run a blog about my journey towards earning a full time income online called onlinesideincome.com. In addition to those, 2 sites I’ve also got 6 niche sites that are in various stages of being built. And I’ve had success with those before, in building and ranking those and earning a bit of money off of Amazon. So I am really looking forward in 2015 to continue building on the sites I have, earning more money and hopefully flipping them at some point in the year.

Eric: So for those who are not familiar with niche sites, could you just walk them through how you picked what your niche sites would be and how you’ve developed them and tested them and what’s worked and what hasn’t worked?

Jeff: Sure. For those of you who aren’t familiar, a niche site is kind of a smaller website about a very-focused topic, for instance, you could have a niche site about double strollers. So you would find all of the double strollers that were for sale on Amazon, review them, write articles about them, compare them all and do your best to give a recommendation on which double stroller you think is the best and why. And with a product like that you would be monetizing using the Amazon Associates Program which is really great and it is easy to get accepted into.

They will pay you a commission of every item sold that goes up based on how many units you sold. So if you sell 1-5 units I believe you get 4% and then if you sell more than 5 up to 20 or so you get 5% and then if you sell between 20 and 40, you get 6%. Then if you sell between 40 and 300, you get 6.5% and it’ll all top out at 8% of the item that you sold in. For those of you who don’t have children and don’t know how ridiculously overpriced strollers are, they start out at about 100 bucks and the strollers specifically for twins can go well over $250 to $300. So you are talking about $15 to $20 per conversion.

Eric: One really cool thing about Amazon Associates Program that a lot of people don’t realize is, let’s say that someone was searching for those strollers and went on Jeff’s site or whoever’s site, this is hypothetical. So they went to that site, find out about the strollers and clicked through an Amazon link on that site to learn about that stroller on the Amazon site and let’s say they didn’t buy that stroller but the next day they opened up that same browser and they were searching and decided to buy an Xbox game or something. If they buy that within a certain length of time after clicking through from the referring site you get a payment for that as well or an addition whatever you buy for that certain period time which, I don’t remember if it’s a day or more.

Jeff: It’s 24 hours.

Eric: So 24 hours after you click through, which actually, a little plug for myself, if you go to personalprofitability.com website and click on the podcast link on bottom of the page, towards the bottom in the middle, there’s a link to go through and do Amazon shopping using my site as a gateway. So if you do that, that’s actually a way I can try to help pay for the cost of this podcast; the computer I’m using to record it and the web hosting that I’m using to send it to you, so by all means it doesn’t cost you a penny more but it means the world to me. So if you bookmark personalprofitability.com/amazon and put that in your bookmarks as Amazon.com, doesn’t change your experience at all but it helps me quite a bit.
That’s a big way that they monetize a lot of websites and niche sites in particular.

Did you use any other type of revenue generation like AdSense or any other popular ways to make money?

Jeff: Well right now I’ve got one other site that’s earning money on an AdSense revenue model. Not including the one you and I worked on which was also AdSense. This was built before I kind of knew what I was doing with AdSense, so even though I get about 10 to 13 thousand visitors per month on the site, I don’t have 100-dollar months very often.

Eric: Okay, so how much do you typically make with that kind of traffic?

Jeff: With as low of a cost per click as I’ve got, I think I made $70 in November, $96 in December and today is the 22nd of January, I believe, and I have earned so far this month, about $50.

Eric: Ok, so not the kind of money you can retire on but if you are brand new to making money online that can cover your beer or bar tabs for the month, depending on how much you drink. When I started out just like you Jeff, I didn’t actually make all that much online but that’s kind of like an exciting number.

Jeff: No it definitely is, I mean everybody has to start somewhere and this is a great spot to start even though it’s a small dollar amount, it’s still better than nothing.

Eric: And all that adds up and over time you can build that on a different income streams if you have like AdSense, then the Amazon Associates and then the other websites. Jeff’s approach is of 6 niche sites plus the ones he has worked on before with me. So if you build up different sites and one doesn’t work, if you are covering the costs of the ones that don’t with the ones that do and then some, you can end up with a bit of a profit and that’s what profitability is all about.

Overcoming a Setback

Eric: So since Jeff breached the topic a little, we have a couple of sites together. One worked a little bit; one was a miserable failure as you might say. So Jeff, can you share a little bit about our Elk Hunting site and what you think went right and went wrong with the readers or the listeners.

Jeff: Sure. I think the Elk Hunting site when we started it we were doing well, we did a lot, we had a good site model, we had a good content plan and we had a fairly solid site structure. We were getting some love in Google. What really happened was we kind of sat back passively and just expected that since our content was the best out there, or so we thought, that Google would all of the sudden pull us up to the top of the search engines and traffic would start flowing like something out of a fire hose and we would be filthy rich, quit our jobs and play darts all day.

Eric: Just so everyone knows if you want to look at this website, it’s still on the internet, elkhuntinghq.com. If you go through a lot of those articles, there are a few different categories that we covered. Jeff as an elk hunter, a seasoned Elk hunter, he has told me some stories of his glories in the woods and what not. So he knew quite a bit about the topic going into it, so he wrote a lot about the rifles and what not, that you use.

Me, I actually don’t even really believe in hunting. It’s not something I would ever do. I couldn’t even eat the animal if I did, it goes against my religious beliefs, but you know you can sell out your morals for a certain price, right? I mean I didn’t have to go out elk hunting myself just because I was writing about it. So the part of the site that I was working on a lot was about the different laws and regulations. If you go through there and you see like ‘Elk Hunting in Colorado Laws’, ‘Elk Hunting In Wyoming Laws’, ‘Elk Hunting In…” all those states, I wrote most of those.

I had to learn a bit about it as I went and it’s not an uncommon thing for niche sites. You don’t have to know everything going into it. You can learn a lot, as you go through research and what not.

When Things Don’t Go As Planned

Eric: So Jeff, lets fast forward to a couple of months ago, it was actually when we worked together in New Orleans this last October, at the most recent FinCon, within a few days of that, I don’t remember exactly which, we got an e-mail from Google, it came from Webmaster tools. If you have a website you can go on webmaster tools, just type it in Google and it’ll come up. That’s the place for website owners to enter their site information if they want Google to know. So you can enter your sites map, so that Google knows what the pages are of your website. That is also the place for Google to tell website owners if anything is going wrong with their site. Jeff, could you share a little bit about what went wrong and what we got from Google and just tell a little story about that day.

Jeff: Sure. That was a particularly rough day for me and my journey to hopefully entrepreneurship at some point in the future. That was the day that FinCon started and I had left my house, I had a niche site going at this time and it was on its way to earn definitely over a thousand dollars that month and it was probably closer to $1500 once everything was said and done.

So I got on the plane to head down to New Orleans and when I got off the plane and checked my e-mail, I had around 45 e-mails from some friends of mine and there had been a huge shake up on the Google rankings. My big earning niche site, in addition to the one Eric and I were working on about Elk Hunting, got what is known as a ‘Thin Content Penalty’ from Google. We were severely booted from the rankings and our profits went with them unfortunately.

Eric: Yeah. So since then I put a little time in the Elk hunting site. I put a new theme on there so that I could freshen things up; make it look a little more exciting. We haven’t really added a lot more content but still making around $2 a month from the site from AdSense.

So that Thin Content penalty is a pretty tough thing to come back from. Do you know anyone who has ever come back from that before?

Jeff: There have been a few people who have come back from that and with our domains it’s probably not worth it. What I did for my other major earning website was bought a new domain name and pointed that to all my old content. I’m hoping at some time this year that will pick back up and it will start earning again like it was last year.

Eric: So at the peak, I know it was growing and growing and things were going great right before that penalty happened. About how much were you making per month or projecting to make per month at the rate you were going?

Jeff: Let’s see, I got $300 in June, $600 in July and FinCon was in August, correct? Or September?

Eric: I think it was September. They’re usually in the fall. Let’s say September.

Jeff: Yeah, so FinCon was in September so I got $300 in June, $600 in July, $700 or so in August and I was on paced to earn between a $1000 on the conservative end and $1500 on the high end from just one website.

Eric: So if you could go back, do you think there was something that you might have been able to do to avoid having gotten that Google penalty? What lessons did you take away from that?

Jeff: Well one of the big lessons that I took away from it was that it’s very difficult to be reliant on one thing for all of your income and this not only goes for people who are looking to build websites, but people in general. For instance, if your day job is the only source of your income you could be setting yourself up for a world of hurt. I had a job so it didn’t hurt a lot to lose that extra revenue, but it was definitely painful and I wasn’t happy about it.

The other major thing I learned is that everybody kind of has a plan until they get punched in the mouth, as Mike Tyson famously said. So even though things were going well and I didn’t see a downside in it, I got punched in the proverbial mouth and I spent about a month picking up the pieces and sulking around. Then it was time to pick myself back up off the mat and get to work.

Eric: Before we get to what you did next, I wanted to quickly talk about another project that Jeff and I had together. If you go to the website, in personalprofitiability.com, I actually have every income report for how much I’ve made online every month since the beginning of 2012. That’s all publicly available, I actually just put a shortcut to that on the menu on the top. So if you click that little hamburger logo to pop out the menu, then you can see a page that has my online earning income history.

Learning Experience

There’ve been months that I didn’t do so great and I started out making a lot less than I do today. It has built up over time and it could grow a lot more but some projects, as we were talking about, don’t work out. One of those, Jeff and I tried a learning experience, we bought a site on http://www.flippa.com. Which, for those of you aren’t familiar, it is a website where you can buy and sell websites on. It’s kind of like the eBay for websites. You buy and sell from other people and we were totally on this, that we were going to buy cool niche sites, that’s already making money and build it up to make even more money. Jeff, do you want to share a little bit more about how we ended up with what we ended up and what we did there?

Jeff: Sure. We bought an e-commerce store selling re-usable shopping bags and we were under the impression that the revenue was good and we just could never quite get it done. I mean when we got it we migrated it over to WordPress, to save on hosting cost.

Eric: But that was after we had already spent about $500 on the old host-site, which was ‘Big Commerce’. That’s a site you can use to host e-commerce sites. It costs about $30 a month there.

Jeff: Right. We were just not seeing the traffic that we had expected and I think that kind of punched a hole into our sales, so to speak, with that project. We put a little more time into it after that but, all told, we probably would’ve been better off lighting five $100 bills on fire and recording it for YouTube. We probably would’ve gotten more hits to that video.

Eric: Well, five $100 bills each. So when we bought that the purchase price was $500 and we did that through an escrow process that Flippa offers. So we put the money out, then they transferred the website to us. Once we got everything we were expecting, we hit ok, they got the money and we got the website. So it’s about $500 to buy the site and another $500 in hosting costs that we lost before we moved it to a cheaper option that I built myself. If you want to see that dreadful project it’s still available on the internet as of right now at reusablebagstore.com. I turned off all the sales features, as we weren’t selling much so we didn’t want to keep up with all the work with vendors and what not. So that was a $1000 loss and we split the loss. It was a tough hit.

Recognizing Income Opportunities

We’ve also had lots of great successes and one that I want to ask you about Jeff, if you can share about, I know I have quite some freelancing clients that I use, that I do writing for and I build some websites for people. You’ve also built some websites, could you share how you got started with that and how that developed?

Jeff: Sure. I was listening to the ‘Side Husstle Show’ with Nick Loper, which is a great podcast if all of you haven’t heard of it. But the guy he had on there from videofruit.com, his name was Bryan, he said “The easiest way to start making money online is to find a ‘How To’ article and then offer that as a service to somebody.”

So I had this idea myself about a year ago and I had a lot of web domains that I needed to build out so I could start putting content on them and hopefully that they would rank in Google, but I was too busy with other projects to actually sit down and take the time out to build them out. I was chatting with Eric one night and I was like, you know if I am having this problem I’m probably not the only one in the niche site arena that’s having the same problem. So I put up a page on my website real quick and I mentioned it to some friends in the space. Since then I’ve gotten about 10 or 15 clients and I’ve earned about $5000 to $7500 doing that.

Eric: That’s great income. $7500, that’s enough to buy a used car or to pay off a huge chunk of your debt or take a trip to Europe a few times out. That’s some serious income.

Getting Out of Debt

Eric: Speaking of debt, when you started your blog you had quite a bit of debt and well, your debt situation is quite different now, how have you paid off your debt over time? How did you get all that debt? How is your online income helping your general financial situation for your family?

Jeff: Well I got most of the debt when I left undergrad. I was fairly irresponsible with my finances. Like a lot of students in college, I told myself this would be really easy to pay off once I get a real job and start earning real money. Some of it was on a credit card and some of it was student loans. Right when I got a job, I moved to the town that the job was supposed to be in. They kept pushing back my start date and the minute they told me that the first time I thought to myself, ‘Well this isn’t going to go through, I need to start looking for something else’.

Eric: So did it end up going through?

Jeff: No, they kind of strung me along for 6 weeks and then finally I called them and I was like, ‘Listen, what’s the deal? Are you guys going to be able to bring me on or not?’ They said, ‘no’ and I was like, ‘all right fine’. So this was in July of 2009.

Eric: Were you living on credit cards this whole time?

Jeff: No, I had money saved. Thankfully I was able to get my finances together in Grad school. I didn’t have any credit card debt at the end of Grad school. I had paid it all off.

Eric: How much did you have at the peak that you paid off?

Jeff: Probably about 7500 bucks.

Eric: And how did you come up with the money to pay for that?

Jeff: I worked two jobs in Grad school.

Eric: Ok, so that’s seriously a hustle. I also worked full time when I was in Grad school. I only had one job, but I feel for you. So you paid off those credit cards and then what happened?

Jeff: Well then I was a lot smarter, even only being 2 years removed on from undergrad, but I knew that the small town I lived in probably wasn’t going to have a job for me. So I started hoarding cash basically for a year, because I knew I would need to pick up and move somewhere when I graduated and I knew I needed cash to do that. I didn’t end up having to move very far, so I didn’t need to use a lot of that cash but most of that ended up being used for me to live on during that summer when I didn’t have a job.

I ended up going back to my old job where I was working as a student and working there full time. They were paying me hourly and I was driving 50 miles one way to get to and from work. And then I got another job, also in a different town from where I lived, also about 50 miles one-way. So I kept the other job and I was working both of those jobs for about 2 1/2 years to pay off what was left of my student loans and then the car I had to buy because my old one was giving up the ghost and I needed a reliable way to get myself to and from work.

Eric: So how much student loan debt did you pay off in total?

Jeff: All told, it was 55 grand, between the car and the student loans. The student loans were $25,000 or $28,000 of that and the car was $23,000 or $22,000.

Eric: Okay, so did you get completely debt free at any point?

Jeff: No.

Eric: So what was your next debt after all this that you’ve been working on?

Jeff: Well my wife and I bought a house in 2012 when I probably I had about 4 or 6 grand left of car and student loan debt. So now we are debt free except for the mortgage.

Eric: Great. How much, if you don’t mind sharing, left do you have on that mortgage balance? And do you plan to try to pay it off early or do you plan on paying it on the regular schedule?

Jeff: We took out a 15-year note in 2012 and we have about $103,000 left on it and we pay early. We pay our payment plus an extra half payment every month.

Eric: When you bought the house, what was the house worth and what have you put into it? What do you think it’s worth now?

Jeff: We bought it for $153,000 and we probably put 18 to 23 grand in cash into it. I would bet, based on what other things in the neighborhood are selling for, that we could probably move it for $210,000 to $225,000.

Eric: That’s a pretty good increase in value. You’re also being a little modest there because you put a bunch of money in but Jeff is a very, very handy guy, way more than me. I get really excited when I change a hard to reach light bulb or something like that. I’ve actually done a few more complex projects like changing a toilet or what not, but I would never really go deep into the plumbing or the electrical.

Jeff has pretty much rebuilt the whole house by hand on his own. His wife helped a little but he did a lot of the work. Could you share a little bit about what you’ve remodeled, what you did and how you learned to do what you did?

Jeff: Sure. We basically spent the first year in the house sleeping on a mattress, with all of our belongings in the basement while we gutted the upstairs kitchen and bathroom, painted everything, redid the floors. The entire upstairs got rewired because that was still done with the 1920’s-era wiring for when the house was built.

Eric: Yeah. I can see why you want an upgrade.

Jeff: Yeah. And now we are living only in the upstairs of the house while we got the basement torn up. We are working on reframing and rewiring that. We just had a structural wall removed and replaced with an I-beam. So we’ve done quite a bit of work. I really kind of learned to do this when I was a teenager and my dad made me help him finish the basement of the house that my parents used to live in. So I was familiar with what to do, but I had never actually kind of taken the lead on it myself. And I kind of delved right in because I figured if I could call somebody and pay them the money to do it or I could try it myself, if I do it right I can save the money and if I screw it up I’m going to call somebody to do it anyway.

Eric: Right.

Jeff: And they’ll still probably charge me about the same amount.

Eric: Were there any good resources that you used along the way that helped you do all these and kind of you learn as you go?

Jeff: I had a couple of books from Home Depot and Lowes and stuff and then anything I really couldn’t figure out, Google and YouTube.

Eric: Yes, YouTube is actually a pretty amazing resource site. In my old condo in Denver I changed the toilets in both bathrooms, something I had done a few times before when I had helped my parents do that, changing into high efficiency toilets and get the tax break the government was offering on that or the Denver water at that time and what not. But when I went to change them in my condo the first one I changed, no problem, everything was perfect.  The second one I changed there were some problems and I ended up going to YouTube to try to figure out if I could solve them. Actually, funny story, I had thought I had figured out was wrong, I thought the flange was broken, which is the piece that sits in the floor that you hook the toilet to, and it turned out it wasn’t the flange, it was the entire pipe was not attached to the floor anymore. So I ended up having to pay for it, but YouTube helped me learn what a flange was and taught me enough to speak intelligently about it so I was happy about that and my cost ended up being exactly what it was going to be, so I figured it out.

So we’re about 40 minutes in and we are about 5 minutes to go before we have to say goodbye.

Creating Passive Income

Eric: So what is in the future and what are you up to now? What are your plans to keep building more online and side income?

Jeff: Well like I mentioned at the beginning of the show, I’ve got 6 niche websites in various stages of development. In 2015 I am going to be focusing pretty hard on building those out, getting those ranking well in Google. Once those get to earning consistently $500 to $750 a month, I’ll probably hang on to a couple of them and sell a couple of them. Then I will take that cash and continue to expand my business.

Eric: Great. So if you want to talk to Jeff, ask him questions about what he’s done, anything he’s talked about today and what he’s working on, I actually have a great resource for you. If you go to personalprofitability.com, there’s a little form on the front page where you can add your name and e-mail and get a free download of a book, it’s called ‘Personal Profitability Playbook’. It’s something that I wrote to help you get started on that path to personal profitability for yourself. (You know lots of P words). But when you go through and read that book, towards the end there’s a secret link to a private Facebook group that is just for people who are part of the personal profitability project and Jeff is a member of that Facebook group. So if you go through, get that free download you can get the link and join that Facebook group and ask Jeff any question you like and he will be right there to listen.

If anyone wants to find you outside of that private Facebook group, where should they go to find you?

Jeff: Sure, there’s a contact form on my main blog sustainablelifeblog.com. You can just go there and hit the contact button and it will pop up in e-mail and I will get back to you as soon as I can.

Eric: And are there any other good places to find you? I mean, on any other social networks?

Jeff: Yeah, I’ve got Facebook page for the blog, facebook.com/sustainablelifeblog and I am very in frequently on twitter, my handle is @sustainlifeblog.

Mastermind Group

Eric: Great. So one last thing I’d like to share, we have talked about here before. So Jeff and I, we are pretty good friends. A part of how we became good friends is that we met at the first FinCon in Chicago. We’ve seen each other at every FinCon since. There was one in Denver, one in St. Louis and then last year in New Orleans. But the place that we really got to know each other is we became part of a mastermind group together. A mastermind group is a place where, our group has always had 3 to 5 people,there are 3 of us who have stuck with it since the beginning, right after we met in Chicago, we’ve added a couple along the way, but a mastermind group is a place where you can talk with other like-minded entrepreneurs or people who are trying to work on the same types of things you are. And you can encourage each other and go to them for feedback. Like I was building a new website and buying the new domain I went to these guys, Jeff and a couple of other guys, to ask what they thought of how I was doing, give me feedback on the website and what not.

Jeff and I had been doing this for around 5 years and it has been an immensely helpful thing. I could say it confidently, I wouldn’t be sitting here, interviewing Jeff or having a podcast at all probably if it weren’t for Jeff and our group. It’s really helped me get along when I was having those down days, when Google smacked me down and didn’t give me a lot of traffic. When things have gone right and wrong, they’ve been there to help me bring me up and build me up higher.

So I highly recommend, you guys, if you are interested in trying to build up side income and a side business, outside of your day job, or even if it’s a full time thing, to try to find other like-minded people to start a mastermind group with. We have a weekly e-mail that we have been doing now for 5 years, I don’t know what number we are on, but we usually number them. And every other week, we have a video call with Google Hangouts. So that has just been a huge thing for me. So thank you, Jeff for all you have done there and along the way in helping me to get where I am today. And thank you so much for coming and joining on the podcast to tell all the readers your story.

Jeff: Thanks for having me on, Eric.

Eric: All right, so as we said we had our beers along the way, mine is almost empty so I will say a cheers to Jeff and all of the other listeners. Thank you so much for listening to the 3rd episode of the Personal Profitability Podcast. Have a great day my friends.