Interview with Mike Greig - The Ninja Budgeter
Mike Greig is the founder of NinjaBudgeter.com, a personal finance blog dedicated to helping Millennial parents learn how to budget, earn more money and save more of what they earn. He is a father of 3 living in one of the most expensive cities in Canada.
What's special about NinjaBudgeter?
NinjaBudgeter is a personal finance blog focused on Millennial parents. Everything I write on my site is intended to help young parents save money, earn more and ease the financial burden of raising a family.
Why did you start NinjaBudgeter?
There is lots of general finance advice out there, but three years ago, I couldn't find much in the personal finance space that was directed at people like me, parents with children trying to keep their heads above water.
As blogging and finance are both interesting to me, I thought it would be fun to add my voice to the conversation and create such a space. That's how NinjaBudgeter was born.
How did you start it? Did you have any previous experience as an entrepreneur? I had experience both with blogging and as an entrepreneur so I was able to get my site running in less than a day. In the past I have owned a lawn care business, a blog about electric car conversion and an appliance flipping business. My wife is a self-employed horse trainer so you could say that entrepreneurship runs in our family.
How did you validate your idea? Honestly, I didn't. That's an area where I lack diligence. I went from idea to functioning website in less than a day. In hindsight, I wish I had taken the time to define my ideal reader more and create a long-term plan for monetization before just starting up.
How did you finance your project? I have written all of my own content (except for a few guest posts) and still use cheap hosting so I was able to cover my costs up front.
How did you market and promote the NinjaBudgeter when you were launching? In the beginning, I really pushed hard to build my Twitter audience. I would say that 90% of the bloggers I've met and the opportunities that have come my way are a result of my efforts on Twitter.
While it's not a great driver of traffic, I highly recommend building a following on Twitter to anybody who is just starting out. It's pretty easy to do. I promoted my stuff in some Facebook groups as well. I've since moved onto Pinterest and SEO and those two things drive most of my traffic.
How long did it take you to start getting the first results and see you could create a viable business ? It took me about eighteen months to build to around 10k pageviews/month. It was a really slow grind in the beginning and to be honest, my traffic is still insignificant compared to some of the big-time finance bloggers out there.
In the Spring of 2018 I published an article that went mini-viral. It was controversial and not my usual style, but my traffic went through the roof and that was the first time that I really believed that people wanted to hear what I had to say. I was starting to find my voice.
You started NinjaBudgeter as a side hustle. How did you organize to work on your side project while having your day job? I don't know that I've figured that out yet! I'm a heavy equipment transport driver during the day and my hours can fluctuate a great deal day to day. It's hard to build a blogging schedule around a job that is inconsistent and also prioritize my family.
In the beginning I worked on my site when I could carve out a little spare time and that's still what I do now. In the future, I would like to have a remote office that I could go to and work without the distractions of home.
What are the main ways in which you are able to monetize your blog? Right now I focus on ads and affiliate marketing. In the future, I would like to start creating my own products.
What has been Ninja Budgeter revenue progression? Sloooowwwww haha. I'm now three years into my blog and I'm making several hundred dollars per month. In the grand scheme of things, it's not much but it reflects my issues with time management.
When do you expect to switch full time to the NinjaBudgeter? I'm not sure I'm going to. Most bloggers have a long-term goal of making their site their primary job. I want to create an income stream that rivals what I make at my job (and more!), but I really enjoy what I do and I can't imagine leaving.
If I could get to a place where my blogging income was significant enough to make going full-time an option, I might consider it. For right now, I'm content building slowly and working my regular job.
What do you like most about being an entrepreneur? I like being in complete control of my message. I don't have to run my ideas by anybody and it's really the only place in life where I have 10% autonomy. At home and at work, I consult with my wife or my boss before making decisions.
That's fine, but I like having a place that's just for me. I can say what I want and not to have to run it by anybody.
What has been your biggest challenge/failure as an entrepreneur? Confidence, hands-down. There have been days when I have doubted myself so severely that I have considered shutting my site down. It is hard for me to believe in myself and my message sometimes.
It gets even harder on days where I get negative comments on my blog. It's a challenge for me to remember that there are many people out there with whom my voice and my story resonates.
What are your business goals for this coming year? Diversification. I want to get my traffic up to 50k pageviews/mo or more. This will allow me to grow my advertising revenue. Additionally, I have a few product ideas for 2020 and am aiming to release my first product by the summer.
I have also taken Michelle Schroeder-Gardener's affiliate marketing course and have a lot of work to do on that front as well.
How can an aspiring entrepreneur start building a side hustle business now ? What would be a good business type to start as a beginner? Just start. It doesn't have to be perfect. It's much easier to change direction once you're in motion than it is to get started in the first place. As far as a good business type, that depends a great deal on the individual.
Blogging isn't for everybody. Find something that really motivates you, something that you love and enjoy and build a business around that. Motivation is easier to come by when you're working on something that you enjoy.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur? I try to start every day by writing down my goals for the day, the month and the year. It helps give me focus and perspective. Doing it first thing when I wake up puts me in a productive mindset for the day.
What's your favourite quote? This is my favorite business quote:
"If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you've launched too late." - Reid Hoffman
Any good book to recommend to an aspiring entrepreneur? Yes! The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg has been my favorite read so far this year. Learning how to build healthy habits is really the key to everything you want to achieve in life.
Learn more about Mike Greig at www.ninjabudgeter.com
And check out the resources he offers to help you save and make money.
Read another interesting interview of Mike Greig on IdeaMensch
Check our guide on how to start a blog part time and make money from it
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