Last week, I gave you a brief outline on how to join the online hustle. I also gave you the caveat that your first few hustles are likely to fail. This isn’t a commentary on your intelligence, work ethic or whatnot; it’s just a statistical reality. We all know that line about how anywhere from 50 to 95 percent of small businesses fail within the first five years, and a hustle is basically a small business. What if there was a way you could go from being a chump blogger to a success without wasting time and money?
I’ve got one: the tiered model of hustling.
Full disclaimer: I didn’t invent this concept. The blog that I originally learned it from is long defunct, though, and in the time since I stumbled across it, I’ve put my own spin on the idea that makes it work better.
In my post last week, I mentioned that you should “pick [a hustle] that you’re good at and [is] saleable.” Thing is, how do you narrow things down and start a hustle that will work? You could just start up a site like “Roadrugrecipes.com” because you’re really into cooking roadkill, but you’ll likely end up quitting in frustration six months later with nothing to show for it but a $120 hosting bill and a few nice pictures of yourself flambeing squirrel on your George Foreman grill.
How you do find out what people will pay you for with minimal effort?
The answer is simple: start a tier-3 blog. A tier-3 blog has no purpose and no mission aside from being a place where you can write stuff and other people can read it. What do you write on a tier-3 blog, you might ask?
Anything and everything.
Whenever you get the urge to write, write. It doesn’t matter what, so long as you write. Local politics, your favorite music videos, book reviews, celebrity gossip, the corn content of a pile of shit; if it crosses your mind, blog about it. Fisk some feminists, rant about your co-workers, and generally do what you want, when you want. If you feel like writing a post at three in the morning on a Sunday while drunk off your ass on Twisted Teas, go right ahead.
A blog that thematically scattered published on a completely random schedule is not going to make you anything more than pennies, and probably not even that. That’s perfectly fine. The purpose of a tier-3 blog is not to make money, but to do two very important things:
- Improve your writing skills.
- Allow you to find out what people want to hear from you.
The first is self-explanatory. Even if you think you’re a good writer, you still need to practice. As I’ve mentioned before, blogging is a form of writing that lets you both write to your heart’s content and get feedback on that writing, in the form of blog comments, links from other bloggers, emails, Tweets and the like. Criticism and repetition will allow you to refine your talents over time.
The second part is also crucial. After blogging for an extended period of time (say a year or two), you’ll be able to look at your most popular articles and get a good idea of what people care about most in your body of work. Let’s say instead of starting that site Road Rug Recipes, you start an everything-and-the-kitchen-sink blog titled Bob’s Rant Emporium. After blogging for a while, you might find that your articles on fricasseeing dead raccoons don’t get much traffic, but your digressions on English romantic poetry are widely read, shared and commented on.
You just saved yourself $120 and six wasted months.
Once you’ve gathered enough data from the tier-3 blog, you advance to tier-2: a tightly-focused and organized blog. A tier-2 blog has a particular topic of interest and a set schedule of publication. The articles you write for a tier-2 blog are well thought-out and value-add; you don’t simply pick something that’s happening in the news and grouse about it, you write something that will genuinely enlighten people and continue to be relevant months, years after it’s published.
More importantly, tier-2 blogs can (and should) be monetized.
You won’t be getting rich off of a tier-2 blog, but you will make enough to pay down your hosting costs and buy yourself some beers. You can monetize via affiliate marketing (driving traffic to websites like Amazon in exchange for a cut of products sold), by running ads, and by soliciting PayPal donations. Your ultimate goal with your tier-2 blog is to establish a name and a brand by creating free, accessible, high-quality content in your chosen field.
While you can keep or discard your tier-3 blog once you’re ready to make the jump, one thing you don’t want to do is attempt to convert your tier-3 blog into a tier-2 one. Start a new blog and put your tier-2 content there. You need to start off looking professional and focused right off the bat. Going back to my earlier example, instead of trying to turn Bob’s Rant Emporium into a blog solely about English romantic poetry, you start a new site called She Walks in Beauty, post a link to it on Rant Emporium, and either leave that site to rot or keep using it as a brain dump.
Once you’ve established a presence with your tier-2 blog and gained a sizable audience, it’s time to advance to tier-1, the summit of Hustle Mountain. Tier-1 is a professional product that you sell, such as a book, an instructional DVD set, a CD, an online service or whatever. You can write all the Amazon reviews you want or run Google ads all day long, but ultimately the only way to make good money on the Internet is to sell something of your own creation. And I’m not talking about simply copypasting all of your tier-2 articles into a Kindle book; the only way to make the big bucks is to sell a product with exclusive info (relative to your blog), designed to take advantage of the particular platform that you’re using.
From Bob’s Rant Emporium to She Walks in Beauty to a biography of Samuel Taylor Coleridge: that’s the path you want to take.
Unlike with the transition from tier-3 to tier-2, you want to keep plugging away at your tier-2 blog, because it provides you with the visibility you need to make your tier-1 product successful. There is no end point where you’ll be able to do nothing but lie on the beach sipping mint juleps while the money automatically rolls in. When you’ve created one tier-1 product, you need to keep moving on to the next one, using your tier-2 blog to expand your audience and strengthen your brand. You can’t simply write a book, put it on Amazon and expect people to care; you have to give them a reason to care, and keeping your tier-2 blog is the easiest way to do this.
This method may sound complicated, but many of the more successful bloggers in the manosphere have already used it to structure their work, even if they weren’t aware of it at the time:
- Roosh is the biggest example; he began with DC Bachelor (I think he’s mentioned that he had other blogs before that one, but they were private/less well-known), a tier-3 party/lifestyle blog with forays into game and politics. He moved over to Roosh V, a tier-2 blog focused more tightly on game and travel, finally culminating in his tier-1 book Bang. Roosh has continued to use his blog to promote himself and his work, leapfrogging from book to book, turning a trickle into a flood of money. He’s even expanded into using other tier-2 blogs with different focuses (Return of Kings being the most recent, and the most successful) to initiate men into the ways of the manosphere.
- My friend Tim started off blogging at Spootville, a tier-3 blog focusing on whatever happens to be on his mind at the time (usually libertarianism). A few months ago, he created a spin-off blog about one of his passions: deer hunting. Shoot Deer is updated less frequently than Spootville, but contains nothing but well-written, value-add articles on every aspect of hunting. Tim’s announced a few weeks ago that he’s working on a book to complement the site; I’ll happily read it, because I don’t know jack shit about hunting.
- Frost, one of my long-time associates, recently created Thumotic, a tier-2 blog focused on being the best man you can possibly be: getting swole, getting a wife, getting a crew, and more. This follows two failed attempts to re-brand himself, first as “Jonathan Frost” (a blog that didn’t differ from Freedom Twenty-Five in any appreciable way) roughly a year ago, and second by his short-lived renaming of Freedom Twenty-Five to Sex and Cash last fall. Freedom Twenty-Five is midway between a tier-3 and tier-2 blog; while Frost has successfully monetized it, Thumotic is a considerably more polished and presentable site that will definitely pay dividends down the road.
Ever since I first discovered the tiered model years ago, I’ve used it as a model for my own work. I consider this blog to be a tier-2 site, though I very nearly dragged it into tier-3 territory late last year. The “info product” that I mentioned last week was derived from a tier-2 site that I had worked on for several months prior, itself based off of a tier-3 site. I’ve made no secret of the fact that mattforney.com is a launching pad for books I write.
Years of slaving away, and I’ve finally stumbled across something that people not only want me to write about, but are willing to pay me to do it.
If you have an ounce of intelligence in you, you can do the exact same. Get a blog and get your share of the booty today.
Read Next: Confessions of an Online Hustler