#182: Alex Nerney on Launching a Money-Making Blog as a Side Hustle

Freelancing doesn’t automatically give you more freedom.

Sure, you can set your own schedule and have more time flexibility. But you also give up the regular, steady paycheck you may have had as an employee.

And the income variability that comes with freelancing often drives writers nuts!

There are many ways to deal with this income variability. Today we’re going to talk about one them: launching a money-making blog as a side hustle.

My guest is Alex Nerney, co-founder of Avocadu, a popular and profitable health and wellness blog, as well as Create and Go, a website dedicated to teaching people how to build a profitable blogging business.

In this candid, no-nonsense interview, Alex explains why adding a blog to your freelance writing business is a great way to supplement your writing income and add more predictability to your business, while also enabling you to make better client and project decisions.

I think you’ll appreciate Alex’s realistic overview of what it takes to do this successfully. There’s no hype and no get-rich-quick advice here. Just straightforward, honest talk about the ins and outs of making this happen for yourself.

The notes that follow are a very basic, unedited summary of the show. There’s a lot more detail in the audio version. You can listen to the show using the audio player below. Or you can subscribe in iTunes to get this show delivered straight to the Podcasts app on your smart phone, tablet or iPod.

Tell us about yourself and your business

Alex and his partner run a few different blogs and websites. The main two are: 1) Avocadu, a healthy living blog and 2) Create and Go, a blog about making a living by blogging.

They monetize these blogs in a number of ways:

  • Selling courses (70%)
  • Affiliate marketing (20%)
  • Other strategies (e.g. ads) (10%).

The blogs provide free advice (the what). The courses they sell go deeper (the how).

How did you arrive here?

Alex had worked in corporate America but hated it. Eventually, he became a personal trainer. He liked controlling his own schedule, but he didn’t like trading his hours for dollars.

A client invited him to a meetup that was filled with online entrepreneurs. This inspired him.

In 2015, he started a website. His co-founder, Lauren, soon got involved.

His first business was “Health and Happy Hour.” It got some traffic from Pinterest. But it failed.

After that, he started Avocadu. He was a personal trainer and Lauren was a vegan, so it was a good fit. They got some traction, but they were making no money. Eventually, they decided to quit their jobs, sell their stuff and work on it fulltime.

They tried every method possible to monetize the blog. Most of them failed. But a few worked. They started to double their income every month. At one point, they made $40K in one month.

They started to see that many “gurus” who taught how to make money from blogs didn’t know what they were doing. They knew what worked — and what didn’t — through their experience with Avocadu.

So they started Create and Go. Create and Go teaches entrepreneurs how to create a passive income through blogging.

Some people have made six-figures and more by following their advice.

How did you stay motivated when you weren’t getting good results at first?

Alex has what he calls “dumb” optimism. He would go to bed anxious but then wake up ready to go at it again.

They made a lot of sacrifices. They had no money or time to hang out with friends.

Blogging is an A to Z activity. You have to master all steps for it to work, not just a few of them. But these are skills you can learn along the way.

Is this model a viable way of supplementing the income of self-employed writers?

Self-employed writers have the huge advantage of already knowing how to write. And because they work for themselves, they know how to manage their time. Writing and managing your time are often the biggest challenges that people face — and they stop a lot of people from even trying.

How can people wedge blogging into their schedule when they’re already working fulltime as a writer?

When Alex first started, he was working long hours as a personal trainer.

He read the book The Millionaire Fastlane. It taught him to look at where he was spending his time.

He started to let go of clients to get some hours back and used that time to work on his blog.

It required a lot of discipline. You have to be a diligent manager of your time.

Start by figuring out where you’re spending your time. Then remove the easy stuff, like Netflix. Remove things that don’t give you joy. Wake up a bit earlier.

When you add all these things up, you can actually get a lot done.

Because you’re making sacrifices to get this time, you’ll make good use of it.

Running a successful blog is less about talent and more about being willing to do the work.

What steps should people take to get started?

  1. Throw stuff on the wall and see what sticks. You only get feedback when you take action. So try things out and then listen and pay attention.
  2. Watch Alex’s videos on their YouTube channel to get their advice.
  3. Read Millionaire Fastlane. Force yourself to look at where your life is heading and decide if that’s what you really want.
  4. Choose a topic you’re passionate about. Don’t try to find “hot” categories.

Imagine yourself sitting with friends and family at Thanksgiving. What topics would you want to talk about?

After all, a blog is basically just a long conversation. You don’t have to know everything about a topic. But you should be curious and want to learn more.

Having a second stream of income, gives you the freedom to make better decisions for your core business.

A second stream of income gives you the latitude to pursue better clients. You don’t have to take on every client to pay the bills.

Where can listeners learn more about you?

How to start a blog

How to make money blogging

Create and Go


YouTube channel

The book Millionaire Fastlane

Honest Bloggers Create and Go Blogging community

By the way … whenever you’re ready, here are 4 ways I can help you grow your freelance business:

1.  Grab a free copy of my book for ESTABLISHED writers/copywriters.

You’ll discover how to quickly and predictably reawaken dead leads, generate new client opportunities and convert not-yet-ready prospects into freelance writing clients. — Click Here

2.  Download a free copy of my new book for writers who are NEW to freelancing.

I’ll show you the 3 things you need to do to get your business off the ground safely and land your first paying client faster.  — Click Here

3.  Join my implementation program and be a case study.

I’m putting together a new implementation group this month. If you’d like to work with me to grow your income quickly with better clients (and become one of my new success stories). Just email me at [email protected] and put “Case Study” in the subject line.

4.  Get a 1:1 strategy call with me.

Are you a 6-figure writer who’s trying to earn more in less time with less stress? Let’s jump on a quick call and brainstorm some ideas for getting you there. Just email me at [email protected] and put “Brainstorm” in the subject line.