5 Breakout Bloggers Share Their Secrets To a Massively Successful Year

The first couple years of blogging are the hardest. It’s tough, lonesome, and most people quit. But not these bloggers. They have persevered and seen major growth.

I’ve asked 5 bloggers who’ve had massive success in 2017 to share their secrets. They’ve quit jobs, created new courses, published books, and had their traffic triple.

Take notes on what they’re doing.

You’ll see they all take their own approach and have their own unique way of going about it. But you’ll also find some commonalities. If you’re struggling to find success as a blogger, you need to read their answers and learn from them. Oh, and they’re all going to #FinCon17 – So meet them there and tell them what you learned!

JillianMontana Money Adventures


Q1: What’s happened in 2017 to make it a big year for you and your blog?

This year has been crazy so far, and about to get even bigger. My writing was featured on bloggers sites that I have been reading for years, which was like a fangirl dream come true. I had a write-up in Glamour. I released a Beta course for people wanting to take a mini-retirement that 25 people joined in 12 hours, with one email.

In over a 100 conversations with other bloggers and readers, I’ve made some great friendships. I built another course out of the one-on-one coaching I was doing with bloggers. And maybe the biggest win, I did it in 3 hours a day, as a mom to 5 little kids and taking 16 weeks off for travel/family.

Q2: What are the top 3 things that have contributed to this success?

1. Connecting: Instead of just hiding in my little corner of the internet, I reached out and built relationships. I hosted Skype get-togethers with other bloggers, emailed, talked on the phone, collaborated, did peer mentoring, and tried to say yes to every single person who reached out for help or advice.

2. Serving Well: I spent a lot of time really getting to know my readers: their desire, their hopes, their frustrations, pain points, and life stories. Not only did it help me learn what my audience really felt they wanted, but it built community and engagement.

I’ve Skyped one on one with at least 2 dozen readers, talked on the phone, emailed, hosted book clubs, did a bunch of free mentoring (then paid mentoring), reader surveys, and even have given my cell phone number to about 40 readers with a “call or text anytime” motto. There are a LOT of things we can do as new, small bloggers that bigger blogs just can’t really do anymore. So take advantage of that!

3. Take Risks: I just tried a bunch of stuff! In small ways, I tested and scaled lots of ideas. I recommend starting with a test that will take you 4 hours. See how it goes! Take notes, learn something and then pivot.

Q3: How long have you been blogging? 

16 months

Q4: What advice do you have for new bloggers? 

Create a budget! Carefully budget your time, energy and money. Start with great free resources, then work on some professional trades. I’ve done trades for photos, graphic design, web design, editing, coaching, and email help. And spend a tiny bit of money. Set a money budget as well and diversify it. I started with a $1500 budget. Don’t blow it all on a $1500 course! Buy 15 $100 tools that will give you the time-saving and momentum you need.

Budgeting your time! Make sure post writing is NO more than 50% of your blog time. You will need time for everything else. People starting often think it will be 90% writing, 10% the other stuff. Well, even with professional trades, free resources and a small budget, the “other stuff” is a big freaking learning curve!

Q5: What’s your next big goal with your blog?  

I have a LOT o’ big goals! But at the end of the day, they all boil down to creating a dramatic trajectory shift for the people I serve. At this point I want 1,000 people to say, “Because of Jillian’s XYZ, my life trajectory shifted. I’m living a very different life now than I would have been. A life that’s much more aligned to my goals, values, and dreams.” The means is inconsequential to me. More than anything, I just really want that outcome!

Bobby – Millennial Money Man


Q1: What’s happened in 2017 to make it a big year for you and your blog?

2017 has just been crazy all around so far. From January to August, the monthly users on my site have tripled from 50,000 to 160,000+ and still going up. I’ve seen a ton of growth in all of my social accounts and email list as well.

Basically, everything that I imagined the site could be when I first started it has finally started to happen. Oh, I’m also making quite a bit more money as well these days thankfully haha.

Q2: What are the top 3 things that have contributed to this success?

1. I’d say that the biggest change has been my message and the way I deliver it to readers. I think when you first start out with blogging, you feel like you have to be edgy or controversial to stand out. At the end of last year, I just decided that I wanted the site to be way more positive and accepting of different life situations and strategies for getting ahead other than strictly paying off debt really fast. That shift has translated into every aspect of my business. I listen more to my readers and try to create real connections with as many as I possibly can.

2. I became way more strategic with my content and marketing and started paying attention to the numbers. I used to just stumble around with my content and hope that people liked it or that my story would be picked up by some big money site.

Now I’m a lot more serious about keyword research, experimenting with different headline copy, conversion rates, etc. If the numbers show that it works, I try to stay disciplined and do more of what the analytics say I should do.

3. I started putting money back into my business whenever possible. Whether it’s been website design, paying for courses to learn more, or experimenting with ads – I’m not scared to reinvest aggressively. I pay myself way less than I could now so that I can be at or near the top later on.

Q3: How long have you been blogging? 

I technically started M$M in November of 2014, but I didn’t even start writing content for it until almost halfway through 2015. So, I guess the site is somewhere around 2 and a half years old.

Q4: What advice do you have for new bloggers? 

There’s no rule saying that you have to monetize your readers relentlessly. Focus on giving them insane value up front (with no sales pitch) for longer than you ever thought you’d be comfortable with. If you do that – they eventually start selling for you because they legitimately want to help you grow. It’s crazy.

Q5: What’s your next big goal with your blog?  

Double…or triple if I can. Everything. Readers, revenue, email list, etc. Luckily, I still have a lot of things that I could do much better on over the next 12 months.

Erin – Broke Millennial


Q1: What’s happened in 2017 to make it a big year for you and your blog?

My first book, Broke Millennial: Stop Scraping By and Get Your Financial Life Together, hit bookshelves around the country on May 2, 2017. That’s not exactly a big moment for the blog itself (even though branded with the same name) but rather a big moment for my career as an extension of the site I created.

Building a platform via a blog enabled me to be published with a traditional publisher, TarcherPergiee (a Penguin Random House imprint).

Q2: What are the top 3 things that have contributed to this success?

1. A catchy name.

2. Well-written content focused on story-telling instead of SEO and trend writing strategies (e.g. listicles).

3. A strong point of view.

Q3: How long have you been blogging? 

I published my first story on January 24, 2013.

Q4: What advice do you have for new bloggers? 

Pick a topic you’re truly interested in. Getting into blogging as a short-term way to make cash just means you’ll burn out quickly. Instead, focus on making top-notch content that you yourself would genuinely want to read if you were to stumble upon this website.

Q5: What’s your next big goal with your blog?  

Truthfully, to move beyond the blog. BrokeMillennial.com is where it all started, but my goal was never to be a professional blogger. I would like to keep writing books and continue building the speaking side of my business. I also plan to build out some digital courses in order to reach more people.

MattDistilled Dollar

Q1: What’s happened in 2017 to make it a big year for you and your blog?

2017 was the year consistency and patience paid off as the blog has grown enough where I can now live my dreams and blog full-time about pursuing financial independence at an early age.

In terms of raw numbers, 2017 allowed me to go full-time because:

* 700,000 downloads on a newly launched Podcast in 2017,
* Reaching multiples of people more than the year before
* Subscribers reaching 1,000+ (every 1 is critically important so never forget People>Numbers)
* Hitting 20K Twitter followers
* Building the Millennial Money Course, which became my first 5-figure product in terms of revenue.

The bullet list above is what allowed me to transition from Side Hustler Blogger into a Full Time, but the mentality and the emotional side of it, listed in my answers below, are what kept me fighting in the early days.

Q2: What are the top 3 things that have contributed to this success?

1. Having fun – because people pick up on that with the way we write and way we speak. If you’re having fun talking about money then you’ll attract people who want that. The easiest way to keep having fun during the process is connecting with other new bloggers. Share ideas on what’s working and not working. I can’t recall how many valuable conversations I had with someone 6 or 12 months ahead of me as opposed to someone 3 or 4 years ahead of me. While Richard Branson might be an eccentric business genius, he might not be the best person to ask, “How do I start a business in 2017?”

2. Produce a lot. I aimed and succeeded in posting 3 times a week – Monday, Wednesday, Friday. I think this is a great approach for new bloggers, but don’t be afraid to start with once a week posting, and gradually moving up from there.

3. Understanding that happiness doesn’t need to be a permanent state. Sorry for going a bit heavier on this last point but I noticed many early bloggers give up because they thought blogging would make them happy overnight. Blogging takes time, persistence, patience, all that fun and gritty stuff. Yes, you will experience amazing highs and lows in your journey, but that’s part of the ebb and flow of life. Enjoy the good moments, and keep working during the troughs – you won’t regret it.

Q3: How long have you been blogging? 

I first thought of blogging many, many years ago. Like probably most people, I didn’t take the jump for years.

My official launch was March 14, 2016, so 18 months.

In terms of writing content and working on articulating my ideas, it has been about 30 months. (lol – you can see I am a master procrastinator)

Q4: What advice do you have for new bloggers? 

Connect with other new bloggers and try to find role models who are 6, 12, or 18 months ahead of you. We can often learn more from someone near our level, than asking someone who is many, many years into blogging.

Stick to what you can commit to it, and slowly build from there. Twitter became much easier over time and so it took less and less time. Posting on my site also took less and less time. So while it may take a lot of time in the beginning, know that the bricks can be laid in a way where you don’t need to go back to the earlier part of the foundation.

All the big bloggers mention the 2nd year as being bigger in terms of A) Finding your voice, B) Expanding on your first year and C) learning all the non-personal “tech” stuff. Having wrapped up my 2nd year blogging, I would say I agree with this because, respectively, A) We gain confidence in being able to share our story or advice or share what mistakes we made, B) The foundations allow us to grow and C) Tech becomes easier and easier (coming from a totally non-tech blogger here)

Q5: What’s your next big goal with your blog?  

The next big goal for the blog is making the transition to full-time as smooth as possible, and continuing to pour out great content. A lot of bloggers make the transition to full-time and struggle with isolation or their new ecosystem. My goal is to avoid those mistakes and make it feel effortless.

Now that I launched a 5-figure course, my next big goal is to launch a course 100% for FREE, with the course topic being Frugality and Saving Money. Frugality enabled us to save over half our income (as high as 60%).

In terms of actually being able to put food on the table, the last big goal for the blog is launching our “Course 2.0” in January. We’ve spent over $10K now on services and consultants who are helping us create the best product possible, plus working with the 100+ people in our Course 1.0 to make it even better down the road. I’m convinced online courses are the best way to impact massive change in people’s financial lives, so I’ll be sharing more updates on the course and lessons learned on the blog as we build towards the January launch.

Tanja – Ms. Our Next LifeOur Next Life


Q1: What’s happened in 2017 to make it a big year for you and your blog?

I could not be more stoked about the year Our Next Life has had! We’re in the last year of our careers before my husband and I retire at 38 (me) and 41 (him), and I think I’ve been able to get more readers excited about that, as well as our upcoming unmasking (right in time for FinCon!).

Traffic has spiked pretty dramatically and stayed high, and – despite what I’d feared could happen – the engagement has actually increased as traffic has gone up. My focus is on storytelling and going deep into the emotional and non-financial aspects of early retirement, and it’s incredibly gratifying to see more people connecting with our story and wanting to read back from the beginning – an undertaking that now involves nearly 300 posts and half a million words! The blog has also gotten the attention of high-level media sites like MarketWatch, which now syndicates my content and brings in different types of readers, and we’re starting to speak publicly about our story and how to do what we’ve done.

Q2: What are the top 3 things that have contributed to this success?

1. Being really intentional about making the blog super personal and never doing “finance 101” type content. There are plenty of experts out there, and I haven’t tried to make myself one of them or replicate what they’re producing. Instead, I’ve focused on our journey and thought processes, and how all of that applies to or contradicts financial principles.

2. Being singularly focused on content quality, and putting most of my time into writing well-told stories instead of the marketing aspects of running a blog.

3. Consistency. Readers know that they can come to Our Next Life and find a well-written post every Monday and Wednesday, and that works incredibly well for creating reader habits and drawing them back again and again.

Q3: How long have you been blogging? 

I started Our Next Life in January 2015, so a little more than two and a half years. I had a prior blog for a few years on a totally different subject that never took off, and which I wasn’t as passionate about, but I learned a lot of lessons from that blog that helped me get a running start with ONL.

Q4: What advice do you have for new bloggers? 

Find your own approach! I do a lot of things I’m not “supposed” to do – my posts are too long, I use too few pictures and bullets, I don’t write specifically for SEO, and I never write clickbait titles. That doesn’t work for some readers, but no blog is for everyone. And it makes the ones who connect with my approach super loyal and engaged, which wouldn’t be true with shallower content. Also don’t feel the need to master every shiny new thing or marketing vehicle – Pinterest is what everyone says you “must” focus on these days. Focus on making your content the best it

Q5: What’s your next big goal with your blog?

We’re about to go public with who we are and leave our careers, which will make a lot of things possible that we can’t do right now. I have so many posts I’m excited to write, we have two new podcasts launching, and we’ll be doing a video series. There are also a few top secret projects in the works that we’re excited to share next year!


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  • Well done! Happy to say I read/follow/know all of these bloggers in some way.

    Smart folks. Thanks for assembling this team!


    • Yeah, man! They all had some really great insights. Glad you liked it Pete.

  • How inspiring! I have so much to learn from these folks and from FinCon. I hope to make some major progress in 2018.

  • What great insights! All doing their own thing so well. Hoping to hear more good stuff like this at FinCon. Here\’s to a wonderful 2018!

    • Glad you liked it Amy! Yes, they all had awesome advice. And you will definitely hear more awesome stuff at FinCon17 🙂

  • This is a great encouraging post, thanks for this Nick. I\’m just coming up on 11 months now and it\’s important for me to remember that in the grand scheme of things, I\’m just getting started.

    • Absolutely! It\’s a long game, glad you enjoyed the post. They all have a lot of wisdom to give.

      Hang in there Mike and just keep pushing!