Ashley Barnett is producing, editing, and publishing content for three major sites. She is the owner of and has shown Dustin good content and what it looks like. 

How Ashley Barnett Makes Money

Ashley helps bloggers create content for their blog. This includes editing, writing, and making sure the content goes out that she runs. Ashley had her site that she started in 2008 just having her 12 year anniversary this year.

She says that as you are blogging, you meet other bloggers. You start going to conferences to hang out and meet people. You start to find out the parts of blogging that you like and are good at that other people need help with.

Most people don’t realize blogging is a huge job, and you may not like all aspects of it. Ashley loves working with other bloggers and gets to do the parts that she likes and doesn’t worry about what she doesn’t.

Dustin runs a handful of sites, and there is a lot of things he likes about it, but there are some things that he doesn’t like. Dustin enjoys the things that generate revenue for him.

Even though he is very frugal, he realized hiring someone to do the things he doesn’t like to do, was a good idea. The people he hires make him money and alleviate time and tasks off his plate to do the things he wants to do and is good at. 

Ashley runs three major sites. There is a lot of money made from running three sites that are big enough to pay the writers and someone to manage the site. When you realize how much value you get from Google and SEO it is incredible.

What Ashley Did Before HitPublish

Ashley used to work at a call center, answering customer service calls. She thought it was awful. Her son was born in 2006 so she quit her job and became a stay-at-home mom.

She got into blogging at that point because she was at home with her babies. Ashley was on the internet, while her kids were sleeping one day, and she came across a personal finance blog.

She didn’t realize it was a thing that people did. Merely 15 minutes later she was all in and had her site. Ashley wrote content six days a week for at least two years.

Around 2008 when the economy was crashing, her husband was in jeopardy of being laid off. This freaked them out a little bit because her blog was only bringing in $500 at the time, and they had two small kids. 

Choosing To Help Others

Together they decided they would start a temp-agency and hire the laid-off workers from her husband’s company. They contracted about five to six guys for skilled labor jobs.

They called the company and told them that they have their guys. The company then contracted with them, and they would do on-demand labor for the company. Ashley believes it worked out beautifully.

Her husband was one of the only guys that were not laid off but still wanted the temp-agency to work and help out the coworkers who were laid-off. 

Dustin likes how they saw a need and there was an opportunity. He thinks people who have their business need to be able to figure out how to solve problems.

Dustin thinks their idea was brilliant and that he maybe would have tried something else because he never thought about going to the company doing the layoffs.

The company did eventually hired the guys back. At that time, they could employ the guys for the hours needed instead of full-time and paying benefits like insurance.

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When Ashley got started in the personal finance space, the idea that you could make money in a different way than a regular job, she was hooked. She decided there was no in-between so if she was going to do it, she had to go all in. 

Dustin mentions that Ashley has been into real estate a little bit where she bought at the right time, rented it out, and then sold at the right time. A little shoutout to Dustin’s passion. 

What Came Next For Ashley

When you start getting into an industry, also true for any small business, you get to meet people and begin to make friends. Ashley had a vendor table at 2013 FinCon in Phoenix, and one of the speakers stopped by her table and they just hit it off.

They had never met, but he came to say hello and ended up hanging out with Ashley the whole weekend. They talked about a lot of stuff but most importantly he needed help on his site.

He was doing it on his own and it was successful, but he didn’t hire because of the risk and the cost. 

Ashley really just wanted to help out a friend and she feels that is something you should be doing when you first get started anyway. Find someone you can help and charge whatever you feel at that point, and just start building your business.

Ashley started editing for him and doing some writing. The site was a large site, it was successful and he was doing really well. She was able to see behind the scenes how to run a big site.

The business started to click for her when she realized a different and higher level than she was used to is where she wanted to be.  

In business, Dustin believes the more people he helps, the better he does in his businesses. If you are seeking to help someone, make it into a paid gig by freelancing or writing.  

One of the big things about this guy’s site was his audience was very clearly defined. He knew the exact audience he was speaking to and about the topics that they wanted.

In fact, it was so important to him that he stayed true and closest to his ideal audience, he wouldn’t even choose affiliates just to make money. If he believed they didn’t fit the audience, he wouldn’t use them.

Learning this about him was a game-changer for Ashley. The way he thought about content and SEO was in a way she had never done. She was always chasing readers and got caught up in statistics and page views, but he was far beyond that.

He was creating something bigger than just getting a hit article and that was an important thing to learn at the time for Ashley. 

Research Competitor’s Websites

What Dustin learned to do at one point was to go to a competitor’s website and pull out the keywords they used and were ranked for. He looked for the high ones like 1,000 page views a month.

Then he looked for ones that have a low ranking and he assumed he could write in between the two. 

Ashley says it is more about strategy. For example, posting a controversial topic and getting a lot of page views as opposed to Dustin’s strategy which is more beneficial long-term.

Beyond the keywords, you want to reach the reader’s intent then search for similar articles and answer the same types of questions that they are responding to. 

Ashley once wrote an article about how to host a Christmas party. The keywords “office Christmas party” seems like a logical choice. However, Googling that title, she realized it is an actual movie title.

All of the rankings were for the movie so she had to come up with something else. Knowing what is ranking and trying to match that is a big part of the strategy of blogs.

She goes after the minimum page searches per month and just wants to make sure that there is traffic to the page. If it was zero, that is not a good sign because that means that no one is searching that topic or keyword and no one cares.

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Pro Tip: You don’t want to write an article that no one cares about the content, or even knows to search it in the first place. 

Ashley says any volume works but Dustin has heard that if it is over 1,000, that is something to go towards and mimic on your site. This can be on an individualized basis, but Ashley shoots for anything over zero.

Finding Keywords For Better Ranking

Ashley says you can go straight to your audience such as a Facebook group and ask questions there. Any Facebook group about your topic is a great way to get ideas. Additionally, you can ask for guest posts with new topic ideas. 

How to Land Your First Client

If you already have a blog, you probably know what you like to do already. If you have a regular job right now and feel the need to get out of there, start blogging in your free time.

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