Ep. 227: From Broke and Frustrated to $100,000/Month Blogging in Less Than 3 Years with Alex Nerney from CreateandGo.com

Today's guest grew his blog to over $100K in revenue in just three years.

In 2016, after side hustling on their blog for about a year, Alex Nerney and his girlfriend Lauren McManus decided to go all in on themselves. They sold everything they owned, quit their full time jobs, and moved in with Alex’s dad in Seattle and became full time bloggers.

When I first heard about createandgo.com, I was on Alex and Lauren’s website, reading their story on their about page, and there were two things that really stood out to me and made me want to invite them on the show:

The first thing was this quote:

We were blessed and plenty thankful for what we had, but there was one feeling we couldn’t escape. Is this really it?

Really… Is this really IT???

Yeah, getting drunk on the weekends when you’re young is fun and who doesn’t love going to the movies for the bajillionth time in your life, but we couldn’t escape the feeling there had to be more to life than this.”

And if you guys have listened to this podcast for awhile, you know that the exact same thing happened to me when I was sitting at my desk at my day job one day, this feeling of dread just washed over me and I was like, “Is this IT? Is this really all there is?”

I felt an instant connection to their story.

The second thing that stood to me (aside from the fact that Alex and Lauren grew their online business to over $100,000 a month – yes, a month –  over the course of span of 2 years) is that they share in detail on their About page every single failure and misstep along the way.

Most people don't share all their mistakes. They just want you to see the good stuff, and they don't talk about all the hard times, mistakes and lessons learned that got them where they are… And then you feel like you're doing it wrong because everyone else makes it look sooooo easy.

That's why I love bringing you stories of people who found massive success AND share all the obstacles they overcame along the way. Those are the stories you can actually learn something from.

So I’m gonna stop here and let Alex tell you the full story.

But what I really want you to take away from this interview is that you gotta try a lot of different things, you gotta make mistakes and learn from them and try something new, and just never stop because you eventually will find your way, just like Alex and Lauren did.

Alex and I talk about:

  • How Alex and Lauren quit their day jobs and went all in to run their health and wellness blog full time
  • How Alex and Lauren leveraged Pinterest to gain traffic to their blog
  • What content does best on Pinterest
  • What common themes Alex sees that separates the people that become successful from the ones who flop
  • The exact steps they took to monetize their first blog, Avocadu.com
  • How Alex and Lauren build trust with their audience by marketing towards deeper values
  • The importance of being honest with your audience
  • Alex’s advice for starting a YouTube channel
  • Alex’s belief that he had to change about himself

My favorite quotes from Alex:

“If people are telling you that you work too hard, you are probably on the right track.”

“You have to give up things that are good for something greater.”

“Growth in anything requires an obnoxious amount of effort.”

“If you feel like you are a hard worker but you are wondering why you are spinning your wheels, these are solutions for you. These are real solutions that literally just take a hustler’s mindset and stickability.”

Shannon Mattern: Hey there, Shannon Mattern here and welcome to pep talks for side hustlers where I share tips, motivation, and actionable advice to help you grow your side hustle. Welcome to episode 227 of pep talks for side hustlers. And my guest today is Alex Nerney of CreateandGo.com.

Shannon Mattern: So in 2016 after a side hustling on their blog for about a year, Alex and his girlfriend Lauren decided to go all in on themselves. They sold everything they owned, they quit their full time jobs and moved in with Alex's dad in Seattle and became full time bloggers.

Shannon Mattern: So when I heard about Create and Go, I was like of course on Alex and Lauren's website reading their story on their about page, which by the way you guys is an awesome story and I'll link that up in the show notes. But there were two things that really stood out to me and made me want to invite them onto the show. And the first thing was this quote from the story on their about page.

Shannon Mattern: They say "We were blessed and plenty thankful for what we had, but there was one feeling we couldn't escape. Is this this really it? Yeah. Getting drunk on the weekends when you're young and fun and who doesn't love going to the movies for the bajillionth time in your life, but we couldn't escape the feeling that there had to be more to life than this."

Shannon Mattern: And if you guys have listened to this podcast for awhile, you know that the exact same thing happened to me when I was sitting at my desk at my day job one day. This feeling of dread just like a washed over me and I was like, "Is this it? Is this really all there is?"

Shannon Mattern: And it was like those exact same words that I read on Alex and Lauren's website made me feel like an instant connection to their story. And the second thing that really stood out to me, aside from the fact that Alex and Lauren grew their business to over a hundred thousand dollars a month.

Shannon Mattern: Yes. A month over the course of a two year span is that they share in detail on their about page every single failure and misstep along the way. And I just love when people share all the ups and downs of the journey and not the highlight reel and not, you know where they're at now, but like all of the things that they had to endure to get there.

Shannon Mattern: So I'm going to stop here and let Alex tell you the full story or in our interview. But what I really want you to take away from this is that you've got to try a lot of different things. You've got to make mistakes and learn from them and just try something new and just never stop because you will eventually find your way just like Alex and Lauren did. So in today's episode, Alex is sharing all about:

Shannon Mattern: - how they quit their full time jobs and that whole story, how they went all in to run their health and wellness blog full time, how they leveraged Pinterest to gain traffic to their blog and the strategies that they used. And he'll share what content does best on Pinterest, which is super interesting. We'll talk about a common theme that Alex sees that separates people that become successful from the ones who flop. Um, we'll talk about the exact steps that they took to monetize their first blog, www.avocadu.com how they build trust with their audience by marketing towards deeper values and the importance of being honest with your audience, which is what really resonated with me.

Shannon Mattern: And then Alex is going to talk about his best advice for starting a YouTube channel and the one belief that he had to change about himself to get where he is today. So let's go ahead and dive into my interview with Alex Nerney of CreateandGo.com.

Shannon Mattern: Alex, thank you so much for joining me on the podcast today. Can you share a little bit with our listeners, more about you and kind of how you got started and how create and go evolved into what it is today?

Alex Nerney: Yeah, for sure. So my name's Alex Nerney, born and raised in Dallas, Texas. So what originally it happened in, and we had talked a little bit about this, is that we were just feeling, Lauren and I, my co founder, we were feeling a lot of frustrations with our jobs and what we're doing and kind of where our life was headed. And I went to a conference, actually something called the Millionaire Fastlane Conference for some book. It was this random story where this personal training client, uh, like told me to go. He ended up bailing out. So like I had his ticket and stuff like that. It's pretty crazy. But I went and I saw these entrepreneurs and I just realized like, my life isn't heading the way that I want it to or the way that I wanted to end up. And so the first thing that I thought of, and I had done different things before this was it was that we should start a health and wellness blog because that's what I was into.

Alex Nerney: And that's what Lauren was into. So we started this blog called avocadu.com, built it out, you know, quit our jobs before we're ready. Uh, it's crazy stuff in itself. We can talk about any of this stuff. Uh, quit our jobs. I'll give you the 50,000 foot view right now. Um, so we quit our jobs when all in with Avocadu, built it up to making 10 grand a month. And then we kind of looked around and realized that the people who are teaching other people how to blog, um, you know, not to name names or anything, but like I didn't agree with a lot of the ways that they were doing it. I didn't feel like the information was relevant anymore. Uh, made made sense. And so we were like, "Hey, we need to start a blog and teach people how to do this." And so that's why we started Create and Go, ah, that's why I'm here today. I'm teaching people. So we teach from the aspect not of, um, how to make money blogging. We teach more from like, "Hey, here's our health and wellness blog and here's how we did it with this completely separate entity." Um, which I think distinguishes us from the pack a little bit. Um, but that's, that's us.

Shannon Mattern: Yeah. So I have a lot of questions that I want to ask. I want to start off with you guys quitting your jobs before you were ready and what that looks like. And the reason I want to dig into that a little bit, this is this podcast is Pep Talks for Side Hustlers. All of my listeners have that dream of quitting their day job and building this business that gives them the freedom and flexibility and financial independence to travel and you know, kind of takes the cap off of off of their earning potential. And so I have tons, I love to ask every single guest like, what did that transition look like for you? Because everybody's story is so different. And I just like to highlight that there's like no one right way to go about it. So tell me a little bit more about what that looks like for you and Lauren.

Alex Nerney: I love that.

Shannon Mattern: Yeah.

Alex Nerney: Because to preface this, it cannot always be imitated. You know, like you, you're going to have your own journey, um, for doing this. And so the way that it happened for us was so came back from that conference and started working on this blog in this website. So Lauren and I were spending our weekends and our nights pretty much working on trying to make this blogging business go and we were working through a lot of things. Um, at the time I was a personal trainer. She's a CPA so she is a very typical nine to five I um, more flexible hours but crazier hours. Like, you know, you're working at 5:00 AM 6:00 AM some mornings. And so what happened is we are working, um, and building this blog and it's finally started to get some traction due to traffic from Pinterest. We started to get some serious readers to our blog and our website and at the time, right Lauren, I were always hard workers.

Alex Nerney: We weren't slackers by any means. And this was our side hustle project that we were essentially building up trying to make it a regular thing. And we were actually on a hike in Seattle, Washington. We are hiking, Mount Ranier are around the base. And, um, we just had this crazy idea of like, what if we just quit? Like, what if we just quit? And we just went all in and just gave it a year, you know, like really just saw, like, just gave it a full year of like undivided attention. Like what would happen? Do we have, um, the savings? Do we have the means to carry that? And, uh, we did at the time. Um, and, and you'd kind of be amazed whenever you burn the bridges like that, how, how quickly things start to work because you're just like, well, this has to work or I have to go back to being a personal trainer.

Alex Nerney: She had to go back to being a CPA. So really it's a law firm, this hike and then December, 2015, we were just like, all right, let's do it. Let's go all in. And um, and that's, uh, and we quit on that, that January started January 7th. It was like, we hit the ground running and you've never worked harder at a business, uh, whenever your backs against the wall. Um, but that's really the fire that led to us making the first thousand, $10,000 now $100,000 a month was us putting ourselves in that position. Not right for everybody. Right. I don't, some of you have, you know, kids and like much greater responsibilities than, uh, than we do. Um, but sometimes forcing yourself in those situations, especially for us, uh, it was a super crazy thing to do but was helpful. I mean, we did, we did it all. We sold all of our things. We, I have still have a photo of our five bags that we own, five bags to our name. Um, and we moved in to my dad's house to, to create this thing. And so that, that was our story. That's, that's kinda how we did it.

Shannon Mattern: So that makes me sweat, just even thinking about doing that. Cause like I on the flip side, like gave a seven months notice at my job. Literally seven months,

Alex Nerney: seven month notice. You can do that?

Shannon Mattern: Yeah. I mean, I was in an executive role at the time, so I'm like, you guys, you know, they needed time to like do a search and all of that stuff. But yeah, seven month notice. That's like the kind of person I am like, but you know, I can always back out at the last minute if they don't like hire somebody. So it's, it's so funny, like, you know, I always admire the people that are like, yep, I'm just pouring kerosene on the bridge. Like we're done, we're doing it. And uh, because you are, cause you're gonna, you know, you're gonna make it work at that point.

Alex Nerney: For sure. For sure. And again, it's like each section's a little bit different. So like for me, like personally, like I just started to hack off clients, right. So like up until that point, so probably that October to that December, um, you know, I just started to slowly wean away, um, until two my top clients. Right. And so I was holding on to like the, the few clients that paid me the most, uh, at the time. But I, that way I could spend more hours on the thing. But yeah, it was definitely a very much like, let's like the bridge on fire and just see what happens sort of mentality.

Shannon Mattern: Right. And it's like, you know, the thought that I could always go back to corporate like really didn't occur to me because I wanted to leave so bad that it just really wasn't an option. So it's, it's kind of funny to think. Of course. Yes. I would go back if, you know, the internet broke and I could no longer teach people how to build websites or you know, all that I do. Um, but it's just, that was kind of like a burn, a bridge burned in my mind too, is like, Hey, once I do this, I'm never going back. So I want to be really, really sure that this is the right thing. So I want to dive into, um, how a couple of things that you said. You said one, you didn't really agree with the way people were teaching people to monetize their blogs. Um, so I want to ask you a little bit more about that and then dig into Pinterest, you know, and how, how you guys really started driving traffic to your blog with Pinterest.

Alex Nerney: Yeah. So let's start with the zero. One, this was, it wasn't that the techniques they taught or always like bad, it was more that they were not effective, if that makes sense. So like, so when you're in, so I know this better than anybody else is that when you are in a making money niche, um, when you are in that type of niche, then um, making an income is significantly different and a lot easier than when you're trying to make money as a knitting blog or a health and wellness blog or something like that. And it's because of the transactional nature of what you're selling. You are saying, Hey, buy my product, spend $100 and you might make 200. Right? People can objectively look at that when I'm telling somebody that, um, if you buy my weight loss product, you're going to look and feel better.

Alex Nerney: That's a very different transactional thing. And so what we saw is that a lot of the blogs that were making money, um, the value that they provided was only, you know, through the making money section. It's like they didn't really understand like, Hey, some people have like a knitting blog and some people have travel blogs and, and there's a guy that sells herbs on the internet who makes 20 grand a month. And like it's those people you know, that are the typical person. And so that's the person that we wanted to reach is like, we're like, Hey, we want to really speak what is effective for these people. And, and that was the big differentiator I feel like. And I, I do feel like that's still to this day, the lessons that it taught us, um, are so valuable.

Alex Nerney: So how then you mentioned Pinterest and how you're using Pinterest to really drive a lot of traffic to your blog. How did you even, you know, think that that could be a strategy for yes, that comes from the shout out to a brand called DigitalMarketer.com um, Digital Marketer was, um, the lead in to that. So I was actually a part of a DigitalMarketer.com/lab, which is kind of, they're like private members saying now this, the content here is really for like companies, uh, doing digital marketing is really not for the individual, you know, you and I type person. But I was back there and I was, I was watching this tutorial and you know, one of their websites that they had one of their web properties was like raking in like a lot of traffic from Pinterest. And my God, I'm like, I'm a guy who's literally never used Pinterest in his life.

Alex Nerney: I don't know what this is. Like. I'm looking at it and I like what it's like. This is, you know, for interior design and like pictures of your tattoos. And like I was very confused at the beginning. Um, but we were struggling so hard with what everything else was. I mean we tried everything. We tried Google traffic, which seemed slow, monotonous, hard to get. We tried Facebook, which I mean you have like 0.05% organic reach. Now it's virtually nothing. We tried Facebook ads. Then I saw somebody doing Facebook ads effectively and that didn't work because we didn't know how to convert. We didn't know how to bring in somebody and make a sale and make that profitable and so it was like Pinterest was the only thing that when we started we got traction.

: Not, not, it didn't happen the next night, but it did happen what seemed like immediately and then we started to implement more and more things and more strategies and then we really went all in on it. At some point we realized like, okay, we're getting all this traffic from Pinterest. Let's just go all in on it because it was free. It was organic traffic and the best part is is it's a jquery search engine. So what that means is if, if you're on Facebook for instance, and you have a post to go viral, let's say you write about a topic and it goes viral, that vitality is limited, right? It'll one day peter out. But when you get something that goes well on Pinterest, that is organic traffic that comes in forever. It's very similar to a Facebook or YouTube because people use the search bar in Pinterest. And so because of that, I mean, we just, we kept doubling all in, all in, all in on Pinterest. And we just became hounds, like scouring every little bit of data, you know, what, what, what software is API approved by Pinterest, what's not, what's right, what's wrong? Like how are they doing this? Doing testing of like what seemed like every theory out there. And eventually we kind of carved out our, like our Pinterest strategy and our method and how we did it. And yeah, and to this day, I mean, we still get over 100,000 visitors per month to our blogs, probably 200, 300,000, um, just solely from Pinterest.

Shannon Mattern: So I also was not a Pinterest user like in my personal life until, you know, and I started going to like Social Media Marketing World and all these other conferences and I'm like, Pinterest is just where like my sisters talk about like they made this recipe at this party from Pinterest like that. Or like somebody who's getting married and they have a wedding board and they want me to like look at all their stuff. Like I never thought of it as like a legit place to distribute my content. Um, and so because I personally didn't spend any time there, I didn't use it. I was like, whatever. But then once I figured out like, Oh wait, like Pinterest is really, they care about the creators creating the content. I want to make sure that like the people who are searching for it find it and like you said, it's, it's evergreen. It doesn't go away. It's like always there. So I think it's a fantastic strategy for people who have pinnacle content. Do you have any opinions on like what content works better on Pinterest? Um, then things that maybe don't translate so well on Pinterest?

: Yeah, there's going to be things because the audience is so skewed towards women and still they're just going to be things by nature that work better than that don't. So, and I and I will buffer that a little bit with a, with an example. But one thing is like technology, if you're like super into like a, if you want to make like a wired.com or like let's talk about Apple watches or, or that sort of thing, that's not as much going to fly on Pinterest. It's just not right. It's just not gonna work. But if you're in the health space, if you're in the travel space, um, if you are, um, almost providing any form of written content that a 35 to 55 year old woman would be interested in, Pinterest is probably going to work now. And I will give one.

Alex Nerney: Um, one example that was really shocking was that one of our customers, um, his name's Rusty Moore, great dude, um, been around the fitness game blogging game for a long time. Uh, he took our course and like went soared through the roof. Right? He already had a ton of blog content, but you know, I went to getting like a million visitors in a single month. It's less than that now, but a ton. And he got it, uh, mostly in the guy space. And I think that was because the small demographic of men that were in that space were like his only, he had no competition, so they were the only ones like coming. Um, but I will say though that there, like, I think about that target demographic and think about, um, your product. If your product is like, again, male focused, it's probably not gonna perform as well as other things.

Alex Nerney: Um, especially if it's like technology focus, but I mean you recipes you can say Pinch of Yum, you know, those guys are in, you know, probably tens of thousands just off Pinterest alone per month. Um, you have all sorts of travel bloggers who blew up their personal influence and became personal influencers, um, by leveraging Pinterest into Instagram and using Pinterest as a leveraging platform for other things as well. Uh, because of that like it is, it is a solid, solid place, especially for beginners who have the heart of hustle. Um, but don't have yet. The tactical mindset that it takes is like kind of being that marketing side of things cause Pinterest really is, I mean, you can hustle it, you can out hustle other people on it and yeah. So what do you mean by out hustle? Other people on Pinterest? So I mean that, um, there are just certain things that take work. So there are things like joining group boards that are exhausting and it's painful and nobody wants to do it right. But that is great, right? You've got to think those things are great things because especially as you as a side hustler, right, you want the things that have some barrier to entry to them because that, that weeds out all the shaft, right. That weeds out. Is it chaff? I think that's the term or something. I've been talking but, but it weeds out all the people who are going to be, um, intimidated by doing the work. And if you can, if you can be the one who's like, no, I'm going to really dedicate myself to being the best at this, then you're going to win. That's what we did when we, when we, when we started off at [inaudible] on there, I just, we looked around at all the other health and wellness content and we just said, not only can we do this, we can do this better than anybody who's ever did it. And that, that was what we focused on. Um, and it worked because we, we became, became known for that, became known for doing that. And I think, I think that opportunity is still wide open today, um, depending on your space. But I really do think so.

Shannon Mattern: So for the, the people that you see in your network in, in, you know, in the blogging space and your students, what's the, what, what separates the people that find success from the people that don't, in your opinion?

Alex Nerney: It's really simple and it's kind of what we talked about, just, just right there. It's that they're, I, I, when somebody is going to be successful, there's always like, there's signs. Have you ever noticed that? There's like, yeah, there's like, um, there's these things that go on in their life that you can relate to a want. Here's a, here's a common one that I used to hear. I used to hear "You work too hard." That was like a really common like yeah, I can tell from that smile is that you, you yes, that's a thing. Right. And I've noticed that in just about every person that I've seen go from nothing to a lot of things is that everybody around them always not, didn't work trying to bash them. You know, they, they wanted you to come out and party with them or do whatever.

Alex Nerney: But they'd say things like, "Oh, you work too hard" or "Oh, Oh, you're on your side. "They get these kind of like a side comments from their friends and family. I think if people are telling you that you're probably on the right track. And I also think if nobody's telling you that you might want to do some introspection into your life, because I explained to people when, especially when you're side hustling, right, you, you are sacrificing a period of time in your life to build something better. Right. And, and that's an important equation to keep in mind because your life doesn't always have to be like that. Your life doesn't always have to be, you know, 60 hours, 70 hours a week, you know, on your grind you can build up something better, but for a period of time you certainly have to sacrifice. And so that, that's a common theme that I see. I'm sure there's plenty more.

Shannon Mattern: Yeah, I think, you know, being willing to just take a whole bunch of action and, and you know, try a lot of different things, finding the things that are going to work and then like you said, going all in and out hustling like anybody else that's there I think is, is key. And I think it's funny that you mentioned that people saying you work too hard. Like you said, you heard that all the time. Like I'd say, Oh, I can't, you know, go out Friday cause I gotta do this thing on Saturday. And my friends are like, "Well aren't you your own boss? Like your boss is a jerk." And I like, I guess I should said that a little bit differently. Like I really want to do this thing on Saturday. Like I don't have to, you know, and it's just like changing. Like I would prefer to not have gone out with you all night on a Friday and sound horrible recording podcasts on Saturday then, um, then then do that. And so it's like your priorities changed a little bit too. And, and it's it, if you really love it, it doesn't always feel like a sacrifice either. You're like so excited to do it.

Alex Nerney: I agree. I think, I think one of the big things is that you have to give up things that are good, you know, like, oh for something greater. They think that you have to give up the things that are bad and that's not the case. Like some things are overtly like, you know, not good for you, but sometimes things are there. Fun things that you are going to have to say, like, eh, you know, like I'm giving that up for now, uh, to get something a little bit better. And yeah, I mean that, that just happens all the time as an entrepreneur. I know you, you feel the same way where it's just like, yeah, sometimes your friends are like, Oh, I thought you your own, you know, like they're just, they're playing at you and they're not doing it. I don't like the idea that people are like, Oh, they're just like trying to bring you down. Some of them they want a buddy to hang out with. Like, Oh, that's so personal. It's not that grateful. They don't really like think that much about it, but it's more just like, Hey, you know, it's like that little, they're just like, and a little bit. Um, but yeah, if you're getting those prods, I'd say you're, you're probably on the right track.

Shannon Mattern: So you guys hustled, you built your blog to making $100,000 a month. Is that correct? When I read that stat, yes. So what is your days look like while you were working up to that level? And what's the difference between now and then, if, if any?

Alex Nerney: Yeah, so what I tell people is really, there's two phases, um, in any success, kinda like what I've been talking about, you have this, this growth phase and growth and anything requires an obnoxious amount of effort. If you are not putting, just, just don't, if you think for a second that you're going to get away with like, just like going out and partying and occasionally working, like sort of at this thing, give up, go do something else. Like this isn't for you. The beginning takes a bunch of sacrifice and, and, and a bunch of momentum to build up. So for awhile there, like I said, we were working jobs and we'd work our nights and weekends and then when we quit our jobs, we worked even harder because it's like, Oh, we have to. Um, but what happens is once you gained some traction and once you start to build systems, which you should be as an entrepreneur, um, once you start systematizing things and scaling, you'll start to take little breaks here and there.

Alex Nerney: I told the story of the, of this one time I was at my mom's house in Colorado. We were there for I think Thanksgiving and uh, I binge watched, um, Entourage, like the entire, the entire, the entire volume of Entourage, I think one to two days. Like I just watched Entourage. I was like, Lauren is like, you're going to work today. I was like, Nope, today's Entourage day. I just watched Entourage and I think it was just like my reset from like ever working so hard that I needed some time where it was just like, I just need to zone out and not think about things. Um, but, but now today it's much different. So today it, I went on a 50 States road trip here seven months ago and it took five months to complete and I probably didn't work 10 hours a week most weeks. Um, now I'm back at it.

Alex Nerney: Now I'm working, working harder again because I see some potential in Create and Go and I want, I'm back. It's sort of this, uh, this growth mindset again. Um, but the growth, you have that growth phase and they also have a maintenance phase where, again, that's the beauty of online entrepreneurship of, um, creating something, creating your own business is that you can, you have the more maintenance phase and you can go take a vacation and you can relax about things - when you want to. But what you'll find, it sounds like you've found the same thing, is that you end up liking it, and you end up liking the work. Like when I did the 50 States road trip, I missed THIS, you know, I missed getting back after it and working and building something. So yeah, that's the beauty of kind of owning your own thing.

Shannon Mattern: That's very cool. I love that. And so I want to touch a little bit more on Avocado and Create and Go. Avocadu is the fitness and health blog, right? How do you guys, what's your monetization strategy for, for that blog?

Alex Nerney: So that blog gets monetized? Um, I'll start, oops, I'll start from the way that we monetize, uh, the most, and uh, trickle down. So the top way is that we sell our own products. We sell a Yoga Fat Loss Bible and a 21 Day Challenge. Um, both of them are very popular, uh, in our audience and in our space at the 21 Day Challenge is really awesome. And, um, we have this group of like 5,000 women and like just awesome community where like my mom is a part of it. It's like, it's, it's really cool. Yeah. She's in there interacting with people. I'll get text messages from her. "Did you see Esther's results today? Blah blah blah." It's like, no, unfortunately not. Cause like, you know, like other people are maintaining that business now. Um, but it's, uh, so that's the main way is with our own product.

Alex Nerney: So what happened there is that what we started by doing is in the next step down, as we started with affiliate products, uh, we started products, um, other people's, like we sold another person's yoga product for awhile. And, uh, and at one point in time we just said, Hey, I think we can do this a little bit better, uh, than what they're doing. And so that's how we scaled up by creating our own. Um, and so that, that was that step. So some affiliate marketing will sell things like, you know, Amazon associates is a very common one that people always refer back to. Still works to this day for us. Um, the final way is we do have ads on avocado. Uh, we don't have ads on creating go and I can talk more in depth about why that is if you wanted. But, uh, with avocado, uh, the ads make us probably two to four grand a month.

Alex Nerney: Um, and we partnered with AdThrive, uh, for that. I really encourage people, if you're going to monetize with ads on your website, get a premium network, and if you can't get a premium network yet, probably not the best decision at the beginning when we tried it at the very beginning, uh, Google, uh, I think our Google AdSense earnings was like three bucks. And I was just for like a week. And I was like, that's not enough for, for Taco Bell tacos. We're going to have to, we're going to have to rethink some things here. But later on we partnered with AdThrive and realized that ad ads can work, uh, if you partner with the right crew. Seems

Shannon Mattern: so. Yeah. Tell me a little bit more about creating go and the audience or serve over there and why you've chosen not to put ads on that site. Yeah, for sure.

Alex Nerney: So the audience we serve there is really the beginner blogger. Um, I say that we beginner to advance like our six figure blogger courses probably as advanced in blogging as a gets, uh, at least I feel like, um, but we start mainly with, with the newbie coming in fresh to blogging, looking to start looking to begin a business looking to, um, yeah, just looking to get started with the blogging world and see if they can, uh, see if they can do it as well. The reason why we don't do ads on that site, um, is simply because it takes away from the clicks to our current products and stuff. And I really don't like want someone's, um, you know, how to make money. The how to make money niche is like seedy enough as it is. Right? So like, I don't want some of these like Lamborghini ad, like on my blog content, you know, like, do you want a Ferrari? Do you want hot babes on the beach? Like, I really don't want that showing up on my content before somebody goes through. So because of that, because of the make money online space is the way that it is. We, uh, yeah, no ads on there. Um,

Shannon Mattern: so that brings me to another question. Like, the how to make money online space is kind of seedy. Um, but so what are some of the things, and I'm in the make money online space in a very roundabout way as well. Um, but so tell me like, how you build that trust with your audience so that they don't think that you're just going to rip them off and go away and never act and never actually help them get the results that they're after. What are some tactics that you use?

Alex Nerney: That's a, that's a great, uh, great question. So I feel like, um, I'm going to use my words carefully here, but this is a good example. Um, so there are two types of marketing in my opinion. Uh, I w well I heard it put like this is there are two types of guys in this world. There are guys who like beers and chicks and there are guys who like strippers and cocaine, like, uh, one is like, uh, the more like positive, fun bro. And the other one's like, ah, it's like a little bit much like I'm much, I'm a beer and chicks kinda guy. Uh, not as much into that stuff. Uh, and, and the marketing I feel like is very much the same. I feel like the marketing falls into kind of two categories where you can be the beers and chicks person or you can be, you know, the cocaine, like, like Lamborghinis and babes on the beach and Dan Bilzerian and stuff like that.

Alex Nerney: And it's just not, it doesn't appeal to me. Uh, and I think the other side of that marketing is marketing at a deeper values. In my opinion, things like freedom, like freedom is a very, very deep value that people hold. And I feel like if you market towards that, uh, you kind of avoid this other side of things. And so we try to market towards that towards, um, Hey, the freedom to travel, the freedom to quit your nine to five to live life on your terms and we focus much less on the stuff, right? The things that you can buy in the, um, those things. I believe that that is what endears our audience to us as well as just being open, you know, like just being honest about the dumb things that you, the mess ups that you have, you know, the mistakes that you made along the way.

Alex Nerney: The, um, those real vulnerable moments where you're like, yeah, I'm, I'm a screw up and here's the way that I screwed up. Uh, you know, there are times when we've, we've made mistakes with our audience that we've had to give away products for free. And you know, there's just, there's those things I think people are watching for that. And I also think too in the day and age of the internet is people are really watching for that authenticity. And they can, they can see through that a really great strategy or tactic, which I don't think there's really a strategy or tactic to being authentic. I think it's just is or it isn't, but it's getting on YouTube. Um, I think it's very hard to fake who you are, uh, with the camera rolling. Uh, and I feel like, I feel like people like when somebody lies, like the problem with lying is that like you have to like change your story over time.

Alex Nerney: Right. But I feel like when you have like a YouTube channel, you have like a lot of video and a lot of evidence on you, uh, people are going to be able to look back and be like, Hey, this guys is gay, seedy. Like I don't trust him at all. Um, but I would say really targeting those values honestly I think is what separates Mmm. That seediness you can, you can avoid that icky like flavor from a message whenever you are not marketing at like those lower base or values that we all have, have a big house like be better than the Jones's, you know, instead freedom to spend time with your kids. Freedom to live the way you want to, you know?

Shannon Mattern: Yeah. And I think showing the mistakes and the messy stuff in the vulnerable side really helps people understand that they don't have to be perfect to be successful too. Totally. Because I feel like a lot of people that I teach, I teach web designers how to market their web design business. It's one of the things that I do and one of their big things is there, they have this, this imposter syndrome and how do I, you know, I am not an expert in this. How could I possibly market, you know, and it's like you're, you know how to do this, you're going to show up and do it. Like don't worry about that. Like, be yourself, be authentic and just show up and people are going to want to hire you over the person that is one person in their dad's basement saying we like, they have a whole company like people can tell

Alex Nerney: for sure. For sure. I am a big believer and you know what, people are going to get better and better at it. So you just better get used like those. Have you ever seen like a teenager use their cell phone? They're like a thousand times smarter than you. So like just stop faking it right now because like the sooner you get to like that state of like, no, it's just me. Like the more received you will be.

Shannon Mattern: Yeah. So I want to touch a little bit, you talked about YouTube, but tell me a little bit more about how you're using YouTube to drive traffic to your blogs.

Alex Nerney: Yeah, so like anybody who has website content and has the gonads of getting on camera, I would say go for it because like how we do it in our circumstance. So we grew actually YouTube to over 400,000 subscribers. Wow. Uh, and so, and that's this YouTube actually called the health nerd. Now here's how this worked. We had avocado and we had people visiting our pages and I was like, do you know what, we can embed videos on here. So we actually started a completely separate brand, uh, at the time called the health nerd. It's like this animated cartoon that teaches you health and wellness. And what we did is we leveraged the traffic we're already getting from Pinterest or we already have the reader there. So we inserted our YouTube video, um, and put like, Hey, click here to go to YouTube and then underneath it, you know, can click this button to subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Alex Nerney: Um, and the hardest part actually about starting on YouTube is like kind of that beginning. Uh, but like, so that kind of speeds you up through that process. And that channel I haven't posted on a year and a half and still like grows like a thousand, 2000 subscribers like every week or something like that. It's crazy. Um, but like with creating go, it was a similar deal where we put embedded videos into our blog content. And then what happens is, because YouTube is a search engine, then it goes the opposite way. So we built up this YouTube channel and started building up subscribers and then we sent people back to our blog, I'm sorry, slacking me. And then we said, then we sent people back to our blog. And so it just ended up being this great, um, leveraging tool to kind of go back and forth. And so what you can do, these videos don't have to be complex.

Alex Nerney: These videos for me, I hold up my iPhone, I record, um, the last ones I created a little more complex, but some of our most popular ones, I'm literally just holding an iPhone just like, Hey, what's up? I'm teaching about X today. And then I just screen record my computer of me walking through an article. And that's how we built like over 50,000 subscribers. So it doesn't have to be complex and it's, again, it's such a great way to endear yourself to your audience and to help them see if they're making the right decision with you. I don't ever want to present authenticity like this thing that you can manipulate. So it's really not supposed to be, it's just supposed to be who you are. Um, but so yeah, you can hold up your phone and just talk and let people make their own decisions on that.

Shannon Mattern: So do you feel like YouTube is another one of those places where most people aren't gonna show up and do the work it takes to like put a lot of content on there?

Alex Nerney: Yeah, if you don't, if you don't want to do Pinterest, do you tube? If you have a hustler spirit, because YouTube can be learned. YouTube is a learnable thing. So we, let's see here, we've taken that channel to 400,000 subscribers. Creating goes at almost 50,000. We have another completely separate channel, a travel channel we just made for shits and gigs. That's up to 6,000 subscribers. I have another YouTube channel that's just Crested the 2000 subscriber Mark. It is not, it is a formulaic thing. It is not like some sort if, and if you have the hustle and you have the drive to tag you to videos correctly and edit them and do that sort of thing, it is totally a way that you can get out ahead of the competition. Um, and for any side hustler who feels, again, I'm just, I'm trying to speak to those people right now. Who are, you work hard. That was never not a hard worker in my life. There was never a time when I didn't [inaudible] I did not put my all or my effort into it. If you feel like you're a hard worker, but you're wondering why you're spinning your wheels, these are solutions for you. Like these are real solutions that literally just takes a hustler's mindset, uh, and stickability, uh, to make it work. And YouTube is absolutely another one of those things.

Shannon Mattern: I love that word. Stickability I'm gonna steal that and start using it. So I have a few more questions for you. One is one that I ask every single guest on the podcast. What belief did you have to change about yourself to get where you are?

Alex Nerney: Aye. I had to, um, I had to just start trusting myself. There is, there's this mistake that people make whenever they start, and I'm sure if it's a mistake, this is a, there's a hard part because there's this transition phase that will happen, uh, in your own personal growth. The first phase is like, you need to learn from everybody. You need to read a ton of books and listen to a ton of podcasts and hear a bunch of other people's theories and stuff like that because it really expands your brain into thinking, Hey, there's something else out there and I can do this. But then what has to happen is this other thing needs to come in. And that is this Supreme ability to trust in oneself. I didn't understand that at the beginning of, of kind of entrepreneurship. I just kind of bounced around from idea, idea to theory, theory. Um, but when our business really started to blow up is the moment that I just decided that now I just trust myself. Like even if, what, even if there was some guru who was making a ton more money than me and doing way more, how was way more successful than me telling me to do this thing, I was just like, nah, I'm just going to trust myself. And the more that I got into that phase, um, the better things got. And so that, that's what I would say.

Shannon Mattern: I think that's, that's such good advice and to anyone because everyone gets so distracted by all these shiny objects and they feel like someone knows better than they do. And I definitely have gone through that phase myself. I feel like I'm in that transition of like, no, I know exactly what to do. I just need to keep doing it. But then I still get get, I still get pulled, you know,

Alex Nerney: they'll get got some times. And that's, and those are, those are the defining moments. They'll take you to the next level is those, um, those moments where even somebody you respect, like I have, there's this author that I really like and respect named Mark Manson. Um, and he wrote, he wrote some great books that really changed my life back in the day. Um, but I, I finally got to a place where this content, where not every word was gospel and where I was like, no, that's just not, not true. And those are the moments when I started to realize, Oh, I'm just believing in myself more and more and more. And the more you can kind of get into that mindset, uh, the less you will, like you said, be bouncing around from shiny object to shiny object. And the more you will know your lane, know your role and know how to crush that thing that you're working on.

Shannon Mattern: Well that is a great place to wrap up the podcast. Where can everyone find out more about creating go the six figure blogger course. Tell me all the places that we can connect with you online and I'll link everything up in the show notes for you guys.

Alex Nerney: Love it. Love it. Okay, so here are the best places. So I'm going to give you a couple of free resources then a couple of of the paid things for you to check out. The first is like we have this really Epic post on how to start a blog. Have you type in how to start a blog, create and go into Google. It's like a 5,006 word overview of like how to start. It's the step by step process. A lot of people do this, um, but I feel like we go into some serious depth on that post. Um, the same thing for how to make money blogging for a same term, type it into Google, how to make money blogging, creating, go or click in the show notes. Uh, same thing. We go into an obnoxious amount of depth on here's the next phase and here's the next phase and here's the next phase you will be on.

Alex Nerney: I feel like those things are super helpful for people. Um, launching your launch, your blog is one of our PR, our courses. Uh, it's not that expensive at $97. It's a very reasonably priced course where it teaches you everything from going from no blog to having a blog, having your email list set up, having your target audience, having your first five articles, all those really basic things. At the beginning. We also have a Pinterest traffic course called Pinterest traffic avalanche. Um, and then for anybody who's like advanced, uh, we have this other course called six figure blogger, uh, which will, um, for the few of you here who are like, you're already making your money and you really want to take it to the next level and really scale what you're doing and scale without selling your soul. Then like that's, that's the course for you. But they're all under the courses, tabs of creating go.com. Um, yeah, and we'd love to help you and love to have a anybody else along the journey with us. Um, yeah, that's pretty much all I have to say about it. That's, that's enough. Link drops, right. And it's like five links. Perfect. Love it. Cool.

Shannon Mattern: Well, Alex, thank you so much for joining me. This was awesome. You shared so much good information with our listeners. I really appreciate you being here.

Alex Nerney: Thank you so much Shannon. Appreciate you having me. [inaudible]

Shannon Mattern: Oh my gosh you guys. It was so much fun talking to Alex. He totally reminds me of like my brother in laws with his sense of humor and his personality. So definitely go ahead over to create and go.com and check out all the awesome resources that Alex and Lauren have put together for you. And in the show notes I've linked up to all the different things that we talked about so you can get your hands on his frequent

Speaker 2: and all that good stuff. And if you need a website for your side hustle, I will show you how to do it step by step with my free video training inside the free hide day website challenge you can head on over to www.peptalksforsidehustlers.com forward slash five day and get signed up for that. And then go check out Alex's stuff. Cause then he's going to help you start getting some traction with your blog content and help you start getting traffic and figure out all of the strategies that he talked about in this episode. So I'll see you right here next time.

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Alex's bio:

Alex is the founder of Create and Go, a blog that teaches others how to start a blog and eventually make money blogging. Alex and his partner Lauren quit their jobs, sold almost everything they owned and went all-in blogging. Within their first year, they made $103,000 blogging. By year three, they are currently making over $100,000 per month online! And the best thing is Alex and his partner Lauren live their life completely on their terms!

2 Responses

  1. Wow, such an excellent interview filled with so many useful tips and resources–thank you Shannon and Alex! Have shared it with my husband so that he and I can continue our partnership with popping our business to the next level!

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