This is an interview with Daniel Anderson of The Money Maniac.
Hey, Daniel. Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.
Hi, I’m the founder of The Money Maniac, where I write about building and keeping wealth. After leaving Wall Street, I became a digital entrepreneur and experimented with a wide variety of side hustles and online businesses. Now I am sharing my experiences and helping others make more money and reach their financial goals.
How did your life look like as an investment banker?
Life as a young investment banker was very challenging. I loved the substance of the work, but the job was all-consuming and didn’t leave much time to pursue my passions or enjoy a social life. I typically worked from 9am to midnight or later, and often on the weekends as well.
At what point did you begin considering a change? What steps did you take first?
After about a year on the job, I remember my boss going on his first vacation since I started. He took his family to Paris for a week and, based on our email exchanges, he clearly worked the whole time.
I quickly realized that no matter how much money he made – that was not the kind of future I wanted. Before long, I began joining Facebook groups and watching YouTube videos for side-hustle ideas and to see what other opportunities were out there.
When and how did you start your first online venture?
My very first online venture was an eBay store when I was in middle school.
But I launched my first Shopify store in 2015, which is when I became serious about making a living through digital marketing and ecommerce.
Was it while at your day job? If so, how did you make time for both?
Yes, I was still working as an investment banker. I used my free time late at night or on the weekends to learn the ropes, and I definitely sacrificed a lot of sleep in the process.
Fortunately, I didn’t feel like I had a deadline – I just did what I could when I could. As long as I was moving forward, I was excited about the new journey.
Why did you pick eCommerce? What did you like the most about this business model?
Ecommerce was appealing because there were such low barriers to entry. To start, I experimented with dropshipping so I didn’t need a physical location to hold inventory or process orders.
I also didn’t need to hire a team or risk much money. If was the perfect lightweight way for me to learn new skills and begin to understand what my strengths were.
What role did social media play in that business?
Social media was huge.
The power of Facebook ads was not well understood yet, so it was very cheap to acquire new customers. Of course, this also meant there were fewer courses, gurus, and resources to learn from.
How long did it take the business to take off?
It probably took about a year before I was generating consistent revenue. I had absolutely no previous experience and really stumbled my way through just about every mistake in the book.
In hindsight some of my miscues are fairly embarrassing, but I just tried to view it all as a learning experience.
What were the big moves you made that led to its first $1 million in sales?
Early on most of my learning came from experimentation and trial and error. But once I started to gain some traction, getting to $1 million in sales was really about doubling down on what was working.
I found a niche that I understood well, and then scaled my ad spend and launched products more frequently. Speeding up this feedback loop from customers was huge.
How important was creating systems in your business?
Creating systems was an important part of freeing up my own time, so that I could work on my business not in my business.
The first two processes I worked on were customer service and fulfillment.
For customer service I set up HelpDesk software, aggregated a huge list of FAQs and best practices, and then trained a freelancer.
For fulfillment, I opened a warehouse, outfitted it with shelving and tables, and developed processes for receiving inventory, picking and packing, and managing returns. Those two systems and a small team of four supported the business for quite a while.
Why did you decide to step away from your eCommerce business and how did you go about it?
I never liked the volatility of ecommerce. Every single day is a search for new customers, and a treadmill of new content, new products, new ad creatives, etc.
After a few years I realized that I wanted to grow an asset that would be more stable and resilient over time. So I actually still run the marketing for a couple of stores, but I continue to allocate less of my time to ecommerce and more of my time to developing new skills.
What made you decide to give blogging a try?
Even after leaving investment banking, I was still passionate about finance. I especially loved personal finance and found myself helping friends and family members put together budgets, invest their money, and think about the future.
Eventually I realized that I could help an even larger audience by sharing these lessons on a blog.
When did you start The Money Maniac and who’s your ideal reader?
I started The Money Maniac in March of this year. My ideal reader is anyone who wants to make wiser decisions about money. From making more with a new side hustle to keeping more through investments and tax planning, I am creating guides that cover it all.
What were the challenges of being a new blogger?
The hardest part has been gaining some initial traction. When your blog is brand new it’s tough to convince strangers that you’re worth looking at or listening to.
Over time, as you gain traffic and influence, the process gets much easier. But starting that flywheel is definitely a challenge.
How do you currently monetize the blog?
I haven’t started monetizing yet, but I imagine the answer will eventually be ads and affiliate partnerships. For now, I am focused mostly on providing value and finding a voice that resonates with readers.
How do you bring traffic to it? And what are your strategies to grow further?
I am very focused on guest posting and creating actionable content. My goal is to build credibility in this first year and write articles that genuinely answer a question or solve a problem.
Once I have done that I will shift to “double-down mode” and focus on the areas of my blog that are seeing the most success.
How does your investment portfolio look like?
Like most others, this year it looks crushed! Fortunately, I have a large cash position that I plan to deploy in the stock market over the next six to twelve months.
As far as my holdings, I am currently in low-cost indices like VOO and a few mega-cap tech names. I also own both Bitcoin and Ethereum for the long term, and I am an LP in a rolling fund.
What does financial independence mean to you?
To me, financial independence means being able to work on what you want, when you want.
What are your long-term financial goals?
I personally find myself in the fat FIRE camp. I plan to build businesses and invest until my annual expenditures represent only a small percentage of my net worth.
What are the top financial mistakes you see people make?
The number one mistake I witness again and again is simple: not saving.
Those at the very bottom of the income spectrum may not have much of a choice, but many middle-class and even high-income households allow themselves to live paycheck to paycheck.
To protect yourself against an uncertain future and capitalize on investment opportunities, it is incredibly important to live below your means.
What’s next for you and The Money Maniac?
I plan to continue building The Money Maniac for years to come. I want it to be a resource for people seeking to better themselves financially. And once I am able to build out a team, I hope to continue spinning up new businesses and sharing my learnings along the way.