Lessons from the “NerdWallet Model” with Philip Taylor of FinCon

PT shares his thoughts on what he’s now calling the “NerdWallet Model” of monetizing your personal finance content. In the show, you’ll learn what the model is, why you should care, how to begin implementing it in your own way, and you’ll also hear a preview of the FinCon Marketplace, a new resource for you to help monetize your site to it’s fullest potential.

There’s a lot of talk about monetizing your blog. Everyone seems to have different opinions on how to do it. Maybe that’s left you wondering if you should use ads, affiliates, or something else? Even if you’ve already started to monetize, you might be questioning if you’ve found the best way.

Philip Taylor of FinCon and Part Time Money sat down with us to unlock all of the potential behind a monetization strategy you’ve maybe never heard of but will instantly recognize: the NerdWallet Model. Find out exactly how big name sites borrow a page from the NerdWallet model to drive traffic, boost revenue, and become the one-stop-shop for all things personal finance that their readers needs.

What is the NerdWallet Model?

If you’re familiar with NerdWallet at all, you probably already have an idea of what this model entails. Essentially, Taylor says NerdWallet serves up a marketplace of financial services and products that allows them to monetize their site via traffic and affiliate marketing.

The part of the model that is so trailblazing is that the comparisons are shown across all verticals. In fact, their comparison pages really are the bread and butter of the site.

Even if NerdWallet didn’t invent this model, they’ve certainly perfected it, Taylor says. They use these comparisons to be the standout leader in the personal finance digital arena.

We know what you’re thinking. If I’m not NerdWallet, why should I care?

It actually doesn’t matter how big your site currently is, this model is something that even small creators can utilize effectively.

Why care about the Nerdwallet Model?

Why bother understanding this model? The short answer is that it works.

Various blogs and websites have followed the NerdWallet Model, and they have becomes some of the biggest successes. Taylor says it helps them develop a mega reach online. This is partially why huge sites like Dough Roller and Bargaineering have been able to sell for millions and take part in these major acquisitions.

Even if people aren’t looking to sell their sites, this model is a way to build passive income and do really innovative things with their sites.

While Taylor knows people might think of this as an old site’s game, it’s definitely still fresh. The NerdWallet Model is used by newer creators who are doing big things. Sites like Dollar Sprout, College Investor, and even his recently rebranded Part Time Money site uses aspects of the model.

If you’re interested in learning more about selling sites, check out our comprehensive guide.

How does the NerdWallet Model work?

The NerdWallet Model works based on an understanding of human nature. Humans are naturally curious. We use the Internet to learn things, to research, to explore. People want to know what is out there and want to be able to make comparisons.

By following the NerdWallet Model, your site can fulfill that need for your readers.

What is interesting about the NerdWallet Model is that it doesn’t require you to become a salesperson for a particular product. You don’t have to say that this particular product is the absolute best or that people shouldn’t use any other products that are similar. Instead, you can details the ins and outs of the product and let readers make the choice themselves.

How to Become a One-Stop-Shop for Readers

To get a better understanding of how this works, think of a grocery store.

Once someone enters a grocery stores, it isn’t up to that store to tell people what is the best product to buy. Instead, they simply house the six different kinds of peanut butter side by side, leaving customers to make the best decision for themselves. The grocery store isn’t known for being the best peanut butter salesperson. Instead, they build their reputation on giving customers access to everything they need in a single place.

That’s exactly how you want to frame your site: a means for readers to have access to information about products so that they can choose what works for them.

Once you commit to using this model, you don’t have to reformat your entire site. Instead, you can offer these reviews and comparisons in the background. They might be housed in the menu or another place where readers can look at content. You may also want to look for ways to build business on the back end of existing content.

Because all of these results will be largely SEO-driven, you don’t even need to worry about letting this new content hit your feed. In fact, you could create an entirely separate page on your site if you’d like.

The NerdWallet Model is exciting. It can also be helpful to your readers and can be profitable for you. However, Taylor says it’s important to not turn into an overly commercialized site. You want to make sure that you are still adding real value to your followers. He underscores that if you want to maintain a following, you need to serve up things that are interesting.

Learn more techniques to create standout personal finance content from Sharon Epperson by clicking here.

How does someone get started with this model?

To get started with this model, consider your wheelhouse. What are you most passionate about? What niche does your site tackle effectively?

Once you’ve determined that, choose one product that fits that criteria. After you’ve selected your product, create a stellar review and link to it on your side bar or your menu.

You can then replicate this with five or ten other products. Eventually, you can also start to compare the products to one another. While not everything will hit right away from an SEO standpoint, you want to do your best with each review you create.

Taylor estimates that maybe one out of every 5 or 10 will be a winner. That product review will start to drive the traffic you need to really capitalize on this model.

Other things to keep in mind include the fact that this is not a short-term result and to continue updating your review pages. If you continue to share accurate content in an authentic voice, your readers will really come to think of you as a great place to come to when they want to try products within a particular category.

How can I profit from this model?

There are different ways to generate revenue from the NerdWallet Model. The key is to create content that adds value to your readership and then find ways to connect with the companies behind the product.

Breaking that down further, Taylor shares a handful of ways to profit from the NerdWallet Model.

Option 1

In this option, you create a good comparison or review of a product. Then, you can use your traffic combined with contextual ads–Google Ads, Mediavine, and so on–to profit from the content.

Learn how to multiply your site’s traffic with tips from Tom Drake of Maple Money here.

Option 2

You can also partner with companies that will create a clickable comparison table. Your readers are served up advertisers within that table and it enhances the comparison aspect of your site’s content. Check out how Taylor uses this option on his best savings account page.

Option 3

You can join affiliate marketing programs or utilize referral programs for the product itself. That way, when people sign up for the product, you generate income for your site.

Option 4

This option is unique because you use it with ads and affiliate marketing, or you can use this option to earn income on its own. After reviewing a handful of products, you can offer coaching or consulting services to help people get started. For instance, if your blog focuses on budgeting, you could offer a 15- minute coaching phone call to help people create their first budget. This service can be mentioned on the same page as the product reviews and comparisons.

Option 5

When your product reviews and comparisons start to do really well, you have a new way to generate income from them. If your review ranks in the top 3 on Google, advertisers will likely start to reach out to you. Why? They understand the importance of being seen. Therefore, they will approach you about paying to be a featured advertiser on your top-ranking listing page. Of course, Taylor points out that this is something that you have to consider carefully in terms of how it impacts things like authenticity and transparency.

Learn more ways to maximize the value of your website with these 7 tips here.

How do I deal with rejections from advertisers?

When you first start working with advertisers, you will wonder about rejections.

Not all relationships work out. Rejections are part of life. Still, it can be tough, admits Taylor. The good news is that no rejection is permanent and there are alternate paths that content creators can pursue.

If you are just getting started and are working on building your traffic and page views, you can reach out to a sub affiliate network. By partnering with someone like FlexOffers, you can build revenue via what Taylor calls “piggybackings”. Basically, you use the links that they create and then receive a percentage of the overall payment.

Additionally, you can also consider working from referral programs, not necessarily affiliate marketing programs right away.

Later, as your site starts to drive more traffic, it should be much easier for you to join whatever marketing program you think would be a best fit.

No matter how big your blog grows or how many years of experience you have under your belt, Taylor stresses authenticity over anything else. He says that influencer marketing is alive and well. Advertisers understand this, so if you write in a genuine voice and produce a solid review, they will want to work with you.

Introducing the FinCon Marketplace

FinCon can help if you’re ready to get started but feeling overwhelmed. Just recently, FinCon decided to create its own marketplace in the interest of helping fellow money nerds. The FinCon Marketplace gathers together everything that’s currently working for creators, affiliate networks, and ad companies.

You can join the Marketplace by creating an account. Then, you will be able to search through the various offers and opportunities, determining what makes the most sense for your site and your brand.

FinCon Marketplace is here to help you kick off relationships with ad companies and advertisers on your site.

To hear the full interview with PT and learn more about making the NerdWallet Model work for you, tune into episode 85 of the Money & Media podcast.

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About Our Host

Joe Saul-Sehy is the co-host of the Stacking Benjamins personal finance podcast and operates the Stacking Benjamins blog.

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