Jeff Proctor is the Co-Founder of DollarSprout.com, a personal finance blog for millennials. His website aims to help people worry less about money and spend more time on the things that truly matter in life – and all of the content is free. By bringing readers to their latest ideas on how to make and save money and make smarter financial choices, they are doing their small part to help.
1) How did you get started working from home?
At my previous job, it was always my dream to ditch the regular 9 to 5 corporate grind. For about a year, I saved up as much extra money I could so I could leave my full time position and pursue my goal of working from home, for myself. Blogging is actually a very easy thing to get started in – all you need is a domain name and web hosting. To begin making a respectable income from it, however, is more difficult.
2) How did you choose the work-at-home career you do?
My biggest priority was that I wanted to start my own business. I didn’t want to work for anyone else.
That decision led me to choose blogging as my career, despite it coming with more risk. I wasn’t guaranteed a paycheck, but I also didn’t have to answer to anyone else, which was really important to me. I’ve always had a knack for writing, for blogging turned out to be the perfect fit for me to work from home.
3) How did you get started (basic initial steps)?
The first thing I had to do was decide what topics I wanted to write about and build a brand around. Oddly enough, this is a step that many aspiring work-from-home folks get hung up on.
Since my previous work experience was in the financial planning industry and I still loved helping people manage their money, I knew that I wanted to blog about personal finance topics.
From there, I honed in on what sort of readers I wanted to cater to. Since I’m 28, I chose other millennials. I compiled a list of successful blogs that fit the mold of what I wanted to build, and I studied what they did to appeal to their audience and grow their readership.
From there, I was off to the races!
4) How did you get your first client or customer or job?
Our primary business model is based on affiliate marketing (also known as performance marketing). This is essentially where you promote the products and services of other companies and get a commission on any sales you refer. So, as a personal finance blog, we chose to promote financial companies within our content.
We started off by promoting an online bank that we love, and then quickly began promoting other things as well, such as cash back apps and budget tracking software. Basically, anything that helps put more money in our readers’ pockets!
5) How do you market your business?
Since our business is 100% online (and we work from home), most of our marketing comes from social media. We specialize in using platforms like Facebook and Pinterest, but we also leverage traffic from search engines as well. Despite everything being done online, personal networking is still really important for us. Relationship building – even if it’s online – is key.
6) What does your usual day look like?
A typical day for me starts around 7-8am and is pretty normal: I start with my inbox. The first few hours of my day are usually spent on some form of digital networking, either via email, commenting on other blogs, sharing social media posts, etc. I think of it as making the rounds; there is no direct ROI on this, but it’s probably the most important thing I do every day. Getting your name out there is a non-negotiable aspect of working from home.
After the morning rush, I usually settle in and begin working on content with my team of freelance writers. I’m in charge of managing our blog’s editorial calendar, which means I’m always looking for new topics to cover. I also take the lead on working with various sponsors and managing our affiliate programs, which demands a lot of time.
One of my end-of-day rituals is to create by To Do list for the next day, which really helps me tie up any loose ends for the day and transition into my off time for the rest of the evening.
7) What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started?
I’m actually glad I didn’t know how hard it was going to be, because I’m not sure I still would have done it!
In all seriousness, though, I wish the Day 1 version of me understood how important it is to constantly audit your own performance and measure what’s working and what isn’t. I, like many beginning entrepreneurs, made the mistake of ignoring the initial market feedback I was given. I was strictly pursuing my own vision for what I thought the market wanted, and I wish I would have known how important adaptation is early on. I would have found success much sooner.
8) What advice would you give someone who wants to work from home?
If you can, do a test run before you fully commit to working from home. While it sounds great at first (and trust me, it is), there are some definite drawbacks to working from home. Make sure you can handle the freedom overload and stay focused on your work when no one is watching. That one was a big struggle for me at first!
The other bit of advice I would give is to be patient, especially if you are building your own business from home. Success takes a lot of work and it will not come overnight! Persist, persist, persist.
Find Him Online:
Website: Dollar Sprout
Facebook: Dollar Sprout Blog
Leslie Truex is an ideaphoric writer, speaker, entrepreneur, social worker and mom trying to do it all from the comfort of her home. Since 1998, she's been helping others create careers they love by providing work-at-home information and resources through Work-At-Home Success.
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