I Earned $500,000 Blogging in Canada (And Now It’s Over)

When I started the website wealthawesome.com back in 2019, my financial goal was to make $3,000 a month from the website and to have 30,000 readers a month. Well, I reached that goal and exceeded it by almost ten times!

In this video, I’ll go over my wild adventure of the start and eventual sale of Wealth Awesome. I’ll go over in detail why I started Wealth Awesome to begin with and what I was inspired by, how much money I earned from the site, exactly how I earned money from the website, how many people visited the site over the years, hard lessons I’ve learned, why I sold the site, and what I’m doing now. 

Why I started the site

There were a few reasons why I wanted to start the site. It was my dream for awhile to be a digital nomad. For those of you who don’t know, a digital nomad is basically someone who has a source of income, usually online, that allows them the freedom to travel the world and work remotely. 

I grew up in Alberta and spent a lot of my career there, then moved to Vancouver for a few years. I had a lot of great jobs in finance and energy, and met and worked with a lot of fantastic people.

But I still felt like I had more to see of the world and I dreamed about having the freedom of being able to work anywhere I wanted. I had spent some of my teens and early 20’s backpacking around Asia and really loved the adventure and culture and energy of that lifestyle, and I wanted to see if I could build a life that allowed me that freedom.

I also wanted to create something that was a net positive in the world and that helped to educate Canadians and I wanted to work on something that gave me a sense of purpose and joy that actually helped people.

I started my writing journey by writing for some media and investment publications in Canada for finance-related topics, and to this day I still write for publications like CTV News and a couple others. 

I started growing a following, and soon had tens of thousands of readers a month that were reading my writing. One day, my friend asked me, why didn’t I start my own financial education site, since I was already writing for all these other people and they seemed to respond well to it?

At the time, there were a few decent financial education blogs in Canada and after I took a look at the content I thought to myself hey, I can write just as good or even better than these blogs, and I had just as much or even more education and experience in the Canadian financial industry!

I saw an opportunity in the market to create great content and share my digital nomad journeys and I loved writing, so I took the plunge and started the site in September of 2019. That decision ended up completely changing my life.

How much I earned from the site? 

It wasn’t an easy path to make income from blogging. I earned my first dollar from the site about a year after I started it, in November of 2020. It was a $50 affiliate commission from Questrade, and I had written over 150 articles for the site by that time. I had spent hundred’s of hours working on the site by that time. It was a lot of work for $50, but things snowballed from there!

My initial goal was to make $3,000 a year, which I reached on Feb 2021, about a year and a half after I started the site. My biggest months I was earning over $20,000 per month, and almost reached $30,000 at one point. All told, I made over $500,000 from the website, and that’s not including the eventual sale of website, which I can’t disclose the cost due to confidentiality. 

Income sources from the website

I earned money mainly through advertising on the site, and affiliate commission. Let me explain a bit about how it works, After you hit a certain amount of traffic on a website, you can apply for these premium ad networks that will help find advertisers for your site. 

After I reached 50,000 visitors per month, I applied to one of the ad networks called Mediavine (by the way, since then, they’ve lowered the requirements to 10,000 per month!), and they were fantastic to work with.

The way these ad networks pay out is on a metric called RPM, which is a measure of how much they will pay you per 1,000 visitors. With Mediavine and finance content, the RPM’s were very high, reaching $50 USD  per 1000 visitors at one point. So that means for 10,000 visitors, I would receive about $500 USD, or close to $700 CAD, which was an incredible rate.

With affiliate commissions, you earn money for recommending and referring certain products. I would only choose products I believed in. Companies like Wealthsimple, Questrade, and EQ Bank were ones that I really loved and believed in and personally used, and they became my top affiliate partners. Think of it like recommending a product you really like to a friend, but in my case I would get paid for it. 

I’ll give you an example of how it works: I would write an article reviewing the top trading platforms in Canada and include links to my top recommended products that I’ve tested and tried out. If someone signed up, I would receive a commission, usually ranging from about $50 to $75.

Some affiliate partners paid way more, like $150 or more even! It’s a win-win scenario – people would sign up for a great product or service, and I would receive money for referring them to something I believed in.

Anyways, I was completely blown away by how much money I started earning, which way exceeded my initial $3,000 per month goal and more than provided me with enough income to live the digital nomad style I dreamed about. 

How many people started visiting the site

The site started off very slow. It wasn’t until I wrote about 100 articles and about 11 months into my journey that I started to see some traction and started getting about 5,000 visitors per month, and that was around August 2020. But it progressed rapidly from there. 

By January 2021, the traffic had increased tenfold, and I was seeing 50,000 visitors a month come to the blog. The site peaked at around 250,000 visitors per month during its height in 2022. 

All told, there were about 5 million visitors that came to the site throughout the years, which is actually a huge number for a Canadian personal finance site, and it absolutely blew me away. I’m so grateful for all the people who responded well to my writing and found something useful in it. 

I also had a separate YouTube channel tied to it, which got to almost 14,000 subscribers and 1 million visitors. 

What I’ve Learned

I’ve learned so much during this time. When I first started, I’d never built a website. I learned technical skills, like how to design and build a website, how to do Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and how to write and create graphics.

I also learned how to analyze website data, how to build an affiliate partner network, how to monetize a website, how to hire people and manage them, and how to use countless online tools to run the business. 

I was also able to use my past experience and skills to help grow the site. My previous experience as an analyst helped me analyze SEO and outreach data. My previous work in Business to Business (B2B) sales helped me promote the website. And my previous experience as a financial advisor helped me to write useful content and connect deeper with my audience. 

I also learned a lot about myself and how to run a business. This was my first “real” business, i’ve been a wantrepreneur my whole life, and I felt like I was actually running a real business finally. 

One of the most important things I learned was how to manage the challenges and the ups and downs of running a business. I used to be someone who was very reactive to good or bad results, and if things were down, I would get quite upset.  But I learned to ride out the bad results and carry on with my work. 

I realized that no matter what I did, even if I did everything that I was supposed to do, there will be things that break, results won’t go my way, there will be times where I questioned my motives and purpose for everything. When you start a business, things will go wrong, and you can’t fix everything. Developing mental toughness is probably the most important thing I’ve learned from all of this.

Timing is key, and a lot of things are luck. And honestly, I think I got pretty lucky with the timing of starting my site, which was right before COVID happened and people were mostly inside and bored and surfing the web a lot. 

The long story short is, I learned that I can’t control everything, but I can control how I react to things. My overall experience with owning this site has been overwhelmingly positive, and it’s completely changed my life and hopefully has helped a lot of others as well.

Why did I sell the site?

I sold the site for a few reasons. The first one being, I lost the passion for it. After several years of doing the same thing, I was finding it harder and harder to motivate myself to be able to produce amazing content, and I found myself being less and less excited about working on the website. That was another valuable thing I learned, is that once you start losing that fire, maybe it’s time to move on. I think I held onto the site for about a year longer than I should have. 

Another reason is that I wasn’t sure what I wanted the direction of the site to be. There is a lot of uncertainty about the future of blogging, with all the advancements of AI and the shift towards video content and unpredictable Google algorithm updates. It was causing me a lot of stress, and I wanted to diversify away from it. 

I had shopped the site around briefly before, but I decided not to sell. The way I actually sold this site was super random. My good friend Q, who I used to work with at CI investments, reached out to me and asked me if I wanted to sell the website. 

He was building a portfolio of different digital assets and wanted to add Wealth Awesome to the fold. We worked out the deal over the course of a couple of weeks, and I sold him the site. I was super happy to see it go to a close friend and someone I trusted who would have some fresh ideas for growing the site. He’s also one of the smartest guys that I’ve ever worked with, and I know he’s going to do a great job managing the site in a new direction.

What I’m doing now

Well, I am really excited to be starting a new business, which aligns perfectly with my values and skills. I started a financial planning company called Blueprint Financial, and we build customized financial plans for Canadians. I am very passionate about it because I believe that most people have not optimized their finances and that I can bring real value to Canadians and businesses all across the country. 

I was approached by my business partners to work with them. I learned and tested out how to do these financial plans, first on myself, and then I tried it on some family members. I saw the value of the plans, both for myself, and for those that I’ve now helped. I’ve added peace of mind, and also a lot of potential money to their retirements and helped people reach their financial goals. 

I’ll be focusing a lot on putting out great and free content on this Youtube channel, so if you want to learn more about personal finance from me, please like and subscribe to the channel. 

My travels throughout the journey

I want to end this by saying I’ve been so lucky to be able to do all of this, I’ve lived in so many interesting places; the website allowed me to live in Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, Bali, Malaysia, Mexico, Taiwan, Philippines, the U.S, Canada, and most randomly the country of Georgia during COVID. I’ve met so many interesting people during this time and have experienced so much. 

I also feel like I’ve impacted financial education for Canadians. The love and support I’ve been shown throughout this journey has been overwhelming. And it’s all made possible because of you, who’ve helped to support and consume my content, so thank you for everything through the years. I am so grateful for all the encouragement and positive comments I’ve received throughout the years. It’s onto bigger and better things, and I hope to have you along for the next chapter of my journey!

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AUTHOR

Christopher Liew, CFA

Christopher Liew is a CFA Charterholder with over 15 years of Canadian finance experience.