This is an interview with Anastasia Belyh of Cleverism.
Hey, Ana. Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?
I am Anastasia and I run 3x companies.
First, Finance Club which is one of the largest groups on Linkedin with 1.2 million members. Second, Cleverism.com which is helping millions of people find their dream job and get ahead in their careers. Third, FounderJar.com which helps people turn their skills into a profitable side business.
What’s your background and how has it helped you get to where you are today?
I was raised in Kyrgyzstan, a poor country of the former Soviet Union. It helped me to stay hungry and start businesses in a lean way.
When I came to Germany to study Finance and later working in management consulting, it helped me work in a very number-driven and structured way.
What was your life like before starting an online business?
I was working 70+ hours a week as a management consultant. I loved the job and the people, but I wanted more life and more impact on people’s lives.
What was your first business idea and how did it go?
We tried so many different business ideas when we were at University. That’s the best training for developing your entrepreneurial muscle.
We thought about building a platform for Universities, Students, and Employers. We even had some first customers signed with just a pitch deck, but investors did not want to invest in 2008 and developers did not want to work for equity.
So, we decided to start a business with the resources we had… time. This is how we started Finance Club.
When and why did you and Martin start Cleverism?
We started Cleverism.com in 2014, mainly because we wanted to share our business learnings from Finance Club.
In 2016, we started to focus more on the career niche, because we saw that the match making between talent and employers was still mediocre… and we wanted to change that.
How did you grow the traffic in the first years?
We focused on guest posting, Facebook page, and writing helpful SEO-optimized content.
Also, we’ve interviewed 200+ leading entrepreneurs and VCs.
Read also: How This Blog Gets 1 Million Monthly Page Views and Earns $200K/Month
How many page views does the blog get now and in what ways?
Currently, we are getting around 1.2 million monthly views to Cleverism.com which mainly comes from search engines like Google, and a little by referral traffic and direct traffic.
What was the first blog monetization method you had success with?
We started with Google Adsense, but switched fast to Monumetric.com which currently manages all our advertising.
Read also: Make Money Blogging for Beginners: How to Earn $1000/Month from Your Blog with Ads
How much are you earning from Cleverism now and in what ways?
We are earning between $10k to $25k revenue per month mainly from advertising, and online courses, and our resume builder.
Where is the majority of the revenue coming from and how did you grow that income stream?
We earn most of our revenue from advertising, so we try to balance revenue with user experience. We put more focus on having a good user experience though.
We are working very closely with Monumetric in optimizing our ads and getting more high-paying ad inventory on our platform.
What goes into scaling a blogging business?
Most bloggers write content themselves. We started very early to see blogging as a business. So we are working with WordPress developers and DevOps for optimizing our site, and we are working with dozens of writers to write SEO optimized content that people actually get value from.
So, you need to learn to trust other people in doing the work, be fine with that the results are only 80% of what you would do (but that wouldn’t be scalable), and delegate work packages clearly.
Do you always validate an idea before investing time and resources in it?
Yes, but you should validate the key assumptions enough.
It’s great to validate that you got a problem people are willing to pay money for to get solved, and it’s great to validate that you got a better value proposition than your competition. And you should definitely validate key metrics like CAC and CLV, and what marketing channels you should use.
But you should not over-analyze it to a point where you’ve written a 100 pages business plan or market research without ever talking to potential clients or building something such as an MVP.
Read also: How Liza Went from Being Stuck to Starting a Successful Coaching Business at 23
What strategies have helped you grow to 6 figures with your online business?
Focus on a few things that you are really good at. In our case, we are very good at writing content and SEO.
Also, you should think in terms of how much ROI you will probably earn for every Dollar you invest in content, marketing, product, sales, and such.
When you look back at the past years, what are the turning points to becoming a successful serial entrepreneur?
We saw some role models who started and exited their businesses. And we thought those people are not smarter or working harder than we do, so why not take a shot, if you know how to create value for customers?
What’s your advice for aspiring bloggers and online business owners?
Don’t wait for the perfect business idea. It will never come.
Validate that there’s a market and you can offer a compelling solution, then give it a go.
It’s about how fast you move, so always try to learn faster than others.
Also, think more as a business owner, not just blogging for fun.
What’s next for you, the family and your blogs?
Our current focus is on FounderJar.com where we try to share all our key learnings in 10,000+ words guides on what business to start, how to grow revenue and profits, and what tools to use to grow faster.
Besides that we focus on our other startup.. our little daughter 🙂