For the second episode of the DNQ interview series, I’d like to welcome Jason Wuerch from Frugal For Less! I met Jason in Bucharest, Romania and after a few group hangouts with other nomads I discovered he was a successful blogger, making a full-time living from his site.
Us being Jedi masters at Breakout Escape Room in Bucharest
(I’m on the left, Jason’s on the right)
I became extremely curious about his story, so I decided to bother him with questions while we hung out at a cafe. Jason taught me a lot about what a strong work ethic really looks like, and in our interview, he explains how his hard work and persistence made the blog a success.
How to Grow Your Blog with Jason Wuerch
Sharon: Tell us about your story!
Jason: My name is Jason Wuerch, and I make a full-time income blogging at FrugalForLess.com. I went to the University of Washington for Psychology and Spanish, and after I graduated I took a corporate sales job for 10 months. I realized I hated it and quit. I packed my bags and headed to Taiwan to teach English for about 2 years. While I was there, I began blogging. I was initially planning to live in Taiwan permanently, but the hot weather changed my mind. So I came back and continued working on my blog while living at my parents’ place.
Sharon: Why did you blog? What got you started?
Jason: I had always thought about blogging, but it took me 3 years to act on it. It’s always been a hobby of mine to find simple ways to save and make money online through sites and apps. I noticed many people were unaware of the unique ways to save money so I thought I’d start a blog to teach people. The more I blogged the more I saw my site traffic growing, so I started increasing my post frequency from 2 times a week to daily.
Sharon: Wow 1 post a day takes an extreme amount of hard work, consistency, and dedication! You told me you went to a coding bootcamp before you came to Bucharest, Romania. What made you do that?
Jason: After moving out of my parents’ place I decided I wanted to live abroad, but I knew I wouldn’t leave my hometown until A) I was making enough money to support myself and B) I had a big enough reason to leave. So I did a coding bootcamp to learn more about back-end programming since I thought it might be a career I was interested in. I coded and blogged for 70-80 hours a week, and from that point on I was able to monetize Frugal For Less. I finished my bootcamp, but I decided that I wasn’t ready to jump into a corporate job just yet. So instead, I left to travel with my best friend while continuously building my blog.
Sharon: Awesome! Why coding specifically?
Jason: Well I learned a lot about web design through blogging on Frugal For Less. But I wanted to build other projects as well. The bootcamp helped me learn more about backend programming so I could take my projects a step further.
Sharon: What was the bootcamp called? And what languages did you learn?
Sharon: How much did the bootcamp cost?
Jason: I paid $4,000 upfront, but since I didn’t do the internship program I got $750 back. So I paid a total of $3,250 for the 5-month bootcamp. I believe the costs are a bit higher now. During that time I was able to pay for all of my living expenses with my blog income.
Sharon: Wow, $3,250 for a 5-month bootcamp is amazing. The bootcamps we have in the bay area cost around $20,000! So back to the blog – does the frequency, length, and quality of the posts matter a lot in terms of gaining site traffic?
Jason: When I was at the coding bootcamp, I felt like the quality of my posts suffered because of the little time I had to work on the blog. The traffic was stagnant for a while.
Later I started writing longer, higher quality posts and found an increase in traffic. Now, I refuse to write posts under 1000 words. I try to put as much detail in my articles as I can and insert numbers/statistics – anything that will be informative for the reader.
Ever since I’ve been in Bucharest my visitor count has increased from 40,000 to 55,000 per month.
Sharon: Because you have time to write good posts?
Jason: Yes. I’m not coding for 50 hours on top of blogging anymore. Also I was initially stressed because the blog income was low – I didn’t have time to think.
Sharon: Ok let’s see. You started writing in 2014. Can you tell me how your traffic has progressed since then?
Jason: In my first year, I wrote a post that became extremely popular and it’s still one of my most popular posts to date, because I wrote a topic nobody covered at the time. I was kind of lucky.
When I had written merely 10 articles, I was already getting 100 visitors a day and I thought that was pretty decent. Again, most of them were coming from that popular article I wrote at the start of the blog.
Now I have about 580 posts, but not all of them get read every day. Out of my 1400-1500 daily visitors, 500 of those people come from just 3 popular articles. You never know which posts will do better than others.
13 months ago, I started writing every day for the rest of the year. Around August – October of 2015, my traffic was stagnant, and I couldn’t make enough money from the blog to leave my hometown yet. Then around November – December, my traffic started to pick up.
Sharon: Was there a reason for the traffic increase?
Jason: I have no idea. My guess is that my traffic amounts are just seasonal. Summer isn’t as good for my blog or most sites in general. I think people become broke or depressed around winter time, especially when the holidays come around, so they’re visiting my blog trying to earn some side money!
Sharon: What channels do you get your blog income from?
Jason: I make most of my money through advertisements (Google Adsense) and affiliate marketing such as Amazon Associates.
Sharon: Do you promote your blog at all? Do you spend time on SEO (search engine optimization) or social media/paid marketing?
Jason: I used to do a bit of SEO for my blog, but for the most part I’ve just gained my traffic through writing a lot. I don’t really do social media promotion, however I’ve started generating paid ads to my articles.
Sharon: What are your goals now?
Jason: I’m currently looking for a full-time job in coding to gain experience. And I want to continue building the site, then expand with books and video courses to teach people how to support themselves just through money-making apps. You can actually make around $1,000/month from apps alone!
Sharon: Do you have advice for other bloggers?
Jason: Here’s what I did and what I would recommend. I set a goal for myself to write every day. It was initially extremely difficult, but the more you do it the more you get used to it. It’s like building a muscle. After the first 2 months, it became super easy. When you finish an article it’s amazing how quickly you can spin off another article. You don’t have to write every day to be successful, but make sure you’re passionate about your topic.
I found it interesting that Jason gained his traffic without extensive marketing strategies or promotion. I’ve learned from other influencers that the marketing side was key, but it seems like writing strong and consistent articles can also be one path to blog success.
I want to thank Jason for speaking with me and motivating me to push out useful content more frequently. If you have any thoughts on the interview, let me know in the comments below!