Interested in earning a Passive Income ? This week’s success story is an interview with Matt Allen from the Popular Blog “Dumb Passive Income”
As well as being a dedicated family man with a full-time job, Matt earns himself a very consistent amount of money through the websites that he has created which are bringing in a passive income every month.
Can you tell us about yourself and your background?
My name is Matthew Allen. I’m happily married to my beautiful wife, Susie and we have three children (current ages 9, 6 and 4). I work a full-time job as a (local) truck driver – meaning I’m home every night and sleep in my own bed. I work Monday thru Friday just like people do at most normal jobs. In my spare time – I jumped into the world of internet marketing and now I earn a pretty decent chunk of change each month on the side.
My background is not typical at all. The college I attended after high school was located 5 hours away from my home. After many drives back and forth, I realized that I absolutely loved being on the road. I loved it much more than anything I even remotely liked about college – so I dropped out of college and pursued a career in trucking. I still love trucking to this day and have no plans of quitting my day job anytime soon – even when I start to earn ridiculous money online.
You still carry on with your day job as a truck driver, is it hard to combine the two roles? Can you tell us about your daily routine?
It’s not hard to combine the roles because I don’t combine them! I believe that it’s very important to set priorities in life and mine are as follows: God and family first, day job second, internet side business third, recreation and everything else after that. Typically, this is how I prioritize my life and my daily routine.
I typically wake up at 5 am and ‘work’ online until I have to start getting ready for day job. During the school year it is a little more challenging because I also have to help get the kids ready and off to school. I start at my day job at 9am and usually get home between 6pm and 7pm. We have dinner and a little bit of family time, and try to get the kids to bed before 9pm. I sometimes ‘work’ on the computer at night for a little bit – then wind down for the rest of the night by watching TV with my wife and eating a monster-sized bowl of ice cream! I usually try to get to bed by 11pm so I can get my precious 6 hours of sleep.
What made you decide to move into the world of online business such as affiliate links and Niche websites?
I originally tried creating a website on a free website platform as a way to promote a pyramid scam, errr… a multi-level marketing (MLM) company that I got talked into. It didn’t work – but then I saw how easy it was to create and publish content on the internet. I started a few different very basic websites and blogs. One thing kept leading to another, my knowledge and skills increased over time and next thing I know, I’m actually earning money online regularly! I’ve tried lots of different tactics and finally settled on affiliate marketing on my main blog and creating niche websites as ways to earn income online.
How did you learn about SEO, backlinking, WordPress etc?
Everything I know about websites and SEO is 100% self-taught. I started out with that first MLM website in 2010 – and slowly, over time – I’ve just taught myself everything as I go. I would read other websites and blogs and network with their owners/writers. I would get ideas and motivation from others and if I couldn’t figure out how to implement something on my own site(s), I would look it up on Google or YouTube and/or ask somebody in a forum or by email.
This definitely wasn’t the easiest or fastest way to learn everything – but I boot-strapped my entire operation. Meaning I NEVER spent money on anything related to my internet business stuff unless I had already earned that money online. Think of it as the ‘debt-free’ way to start a business.
Was the first website you created a success?
No. The MLM website failed majestically. The problem was that it didn’t get any traffic at all and I had no idea how to drive traffic to it. The next few blogs I created also didn’t get very much traffic and made almost no money. In fact, I spent probably the first year and a half blogging with zero income to show for it. It was all a learning process for me.
What have you learned from your failures? What made you keep going?
I’ve learned everything from my failures! I think failing is the BEST way to learn! So many people never even start because they are afraid of failing – but those same people never succeed either because they have no failures to learn from. Look up almost any great success story from any entrepreneur and you will almost always find that they failed before they ever found success.
What made me keep going? Seeing others who were having success with what I was trying to have success with. There are so many great blogs and podcasts on literally any subject you can think of. All you have to do is look them up and start reading and/or listening. Not only can you learn from your own failures – but sometimes it’s even better to learn from other people’s failures. And the best examples always tell you about their failures – not only their successes.
What advice would give our readers who are looking to create a niche website?
If you’re brand new to the idea of niche websites – look up and read about others who have done it first. Do your research and due diligence – but at the same time don’t spend too much time researching. This is what is known as ‘analysis paralysis’ and it can hold you back for a really long time. At some point – you have to jump in and JUST DO IT! Get started and start failing and making mistakes! As long as you’re having fun and learning – you’ll be well on your way to making a decent income online. If a dumb truck driver like me can do it – then you can too!
I actually covered this topic in great detail in one of my monthly ‘Ask Matt’ sessions on my blog. This post about making money online is definitely worth a read if you are thinking about creating a niche website.
How much money does it cost you on average to get a niche website up and running? How much time does it take to get a site established and ranking in Google?
The amount that it costs to get started can vary greatly – depending on how much work you are willing to do yourself and which tools and services you choose to purchase. You can get a really nice website up and running for (easily) less than $100 – which would include buying a domain and paying for hosting for an entire year. I have a Start Here page on my blog that explains everything and walks you through the entire process (with videos).
It typically takes 4 to 6 months these days for a site to get established and ranking in Google. It’s best to not get discouraged by this time frame – as it usually takes that long to get a bunch of content written and published anyway and it’s better to have lots of content published on your site before the traffic starts flowing in. Here is a post on my blog about how I grew a site to over 400 daily visitors just by consistently posting content over a long period of time. I continue to post content on that site regularly and now my traffic has grown to well over 500 daily visitors! Consistency and persistence is key!
Have any of your websites been heavily affected when Google have made changes to the search algorithm in the past?
Yes. I, like many others who play the SEO game, have experienced the ups and downs when Google rolls out changes. Year after year, certain SEO strategies become popular and almost everybody tries them. Then Google figures out a way to adjust their algorithm to combat these strategies. I never took a major hit as a result of a particular update. But, I did receive penalties from Google on several of my sites one day that pretty much killed the traffic to each of them. Here is a detailed article about how and why I got the thin content penalty from Google.
Obviously, I’ve corrected any mistakes I’ve made in the past and everything I do now and going forward is essentially Google-proof (meaning I do everything legit and Google has no reason to penalize me).
What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first started out?
When I first started out, I did everything (what I called) the ‘dumb’ way. I tried free blogging platforms. After I moved to paid hosting and WordPress, I used free themes and didn’t pay for any tools or anything else. I was bootstrapping this thing and I was stubborn!
I now know the importance of using paid tools. For example – keyword research is THE most important part about SEO. When I first started out – I would just look at search results pages in Google and try to guess whether or not I could beat out the current sites in the Top 10. I would literally look at the results and click through to some of the pages and determine whether or not I thought those pages ‘sucked’.
After less than a year of doing keyword research the ‘dumb’ way (and no positive results) – I finally bought Long Tail Pro and I’ve been using it successfully ever since and I’ve never looked back. I’ve learned that if you use effective and useful tools properly (like Long Tail Pro), they will end up earning you way more than they cost you if the first place. This is what is known as a return on your investment (ROI). And here is a very detailed article I wrote about the 4 ways that I’ve successfully used Long Tail Pro and made it pay for itself.
Apart from niche websites and affiliate links, do you have an income from any other types of online business?
I’ve dabbled in a few other money-making ideas online. In the past, I had a keyword research service that was doing quite well and earning me some really good money. The problem with it though – was that the income was not passive at all. I had to keep doing work in order to create income. Essentially, I was trading time for money just like I do at my day job and this did not align with my ultimate goal of creating passive income – so I quit that.
I tried the Amazon FBA thing – both retail arbitrage and private labeling a product. Retail arb earned me (and my wife) several thousand dollars for the few months that we focused on it – but again, you have to spend time (and lots of money) in order to make money. We gave that up. I attempted the private label thing and that didn’t work out so well for me.
I have one client website that I built out for a family friend who owns a local business. I charged him a very inexpensive one-time fee of $500 to build out the site originally and he pays me a very inexpensive charge of only $500/year to maintain the site and keep it updated. I also did some basic SEO on the site for him for free – just to see how easy or hard local SEO is. I know I could make a killing if I pursued building out websites like this as a business model – but again, the income isn’t exactly passive and I would rather not deal with clients and all of their demands on a regular basis.
You publish your monthly income reports on your website, can you explain why you decided to start doing that?
I actually don’t publish full (detailed) income reports anymore. I did publish them for a really long time – but I stopped at the beginning of this year. However, I do still publish my overall totals (income and expenses) in the form of a chart on my Income Reports page.
The reason I started was to provide a degree of transparency for my blog and a degree of accountability for myself. If I was going to show others online how to create ‘passive income’ then I better show how much income I am actually making. Plus, knowing that I would be publishing these numbers each and every month, it provided motivation for myself to keep pushing forward. Obviously, I never want to publish the bad months when income isn’t so great – but I’ve done it anyway. This way I’m held accountable and I constantly strive to increase my internet income.
In ref to your online income reports, you seem to have established a pretty consistent regular monthly income, can you advise how much you have earned in your most successful month?
Looking back at all my income figures, I can see that November of 2014 was my highest stated total income – $6,307.89! But I will say this… I didn’t report my total expenses publicly until the beginning of 2016. So that number was my total gross income. Not my net income.
I remember that month quite well. Me and my wife had just started experimenting with the whole selling retail arbitrage items on Amazon via FBA thing. That was only our 2nd or 3rd month into the whole ordeal, and it was our first experience selling during the holiday shopping season. We made a killing! But it came with a caveat. We had to spend a LOT of money in order to make that much money.
Now that I’m reporting my total net figures – I would actually consider August of 2016 to be my most successful month (as of the time I am writing this in October of 2016). I brought in a total net income (after expenses) of $2,497.53! And do you want to hear the coolest thing about this? I completely ignored my internet business stuff for an entire week during that month while my family and I vacationed on an island in Michigan’s upper peninsula! Passive income man!! That’s what I’m talking about.
What are your goals and aims for your online business going forward in the future?
Before I tell you my goals – I first want to tell you what my main goal is NOT. This is where I differ from a lot of people who are making money online. My goal is NOT to earn enough money online in order to quit my day job. I love my day job as a trucker and I can’t imagine doing life, at this point, without it.
One of my goals has always been to be able to lift financial burdens on my family and earn enough online so that we can live a comfortable life and afford some extras – WITHOUT my wife having to work outside of the home. I’ve accomplished that and I’m very proud that I’m able to earn the kind of living that I do – without a college degree! I love that my wife is able to stay home and run the household and raise our children. I’m telling you – she works WAY harder than I do, as a stay-at-home mom. I honestly don’t know how families do it – with both the husband and wife working full-time jobs.
My overall goals with my online income revolve around keeping my passive income numbers consistent and constantly working to increase those figures. Although I state that I don’t want to earn enough to be able to quit my day job – I DO still want to earn ridiculous amounts each and every month. I’m not there yet – but I’m getting closer and closer every single month. Earning ridiculous money online has always been the goal – and it will just afford me some luxuries in life. Thing like : paying off my house early, paying cash for automobiles, paying cash for my kids college (if they attend) and taking some nice vacations
What advice would you give our readers who are looking to earn an additional income as well as keeping their current role of employment?
The first piece of advice is easy. Start! Just do it. Get started. Whatever it is you’re going to do to earn extra income on the side, just jump in and get started. Ask questions and fix mistakes later. Learn as you go.
As far as earning on the side while maintaining current employment – just make sure you keep your priorities in check. If your #1 goal is to be able to quit your current employment, then your priorities might be different than mine. Focus on your extra income gig as much as possible – but never sacrifice the well-being of your current employer. If you just want to earn a little extra on the side (like me), focus on managing your time and don’t try to over-do it with the side income thing.
Yes – making money online is real and it is possible. It’s not a hoax. I’m living proof that you can earn a Passive Income. If even a dumb truck driver (like me) can do it – then anybody can do it! It’s not easy and the income typically doesn’t appear overnight – but with some hard work and dedication – you too could be earning some decent money on the side.