How Ling of FinSavvy Panda Earns $20K/month as a Personal Finance Blogger

This is an interview with Ling Thich of FinSavvy Panda.

Hey, Ling. Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.

Hi, I’m Ling, the creator of the FinSavvy Panda blog, which focuses on personal finance and ways to earn extra money. 

I’m quite the introvert who prefers to be alone, which is why blogging has become such a big part of my life.

I am all about work-life balance and I like to avoid stress whenever possible. That’s why, outside of my blog, I like to go for walks and exercise at home—these are activities that give me energy and support my mental health. 

I’m also dedicated to self-care and healthy living. This includes cooking nutritious meals and experimenting with skin, hair, and other personal care routines. It all contributes to my overall physical and mental well-being, which is what I am truly passionate about improving in my free time.

What was your life like before becoming a full-time blogger?

I must say that life was very different before I started a blog. I view myself as a completely different person now compared to who I was back then.

Before launching my online business, I worked in the wholesale banking sector for a major financial institution. Back then, I was working more than the typical 9-5 hours, and I frequently went out for food and drinks with coworkers and friends. Looking back, I realize that lifestyle was detrimental to both my health and my finances.

Despite going out frequently and wasting money just to fit in with society (though I admit it was fun at times), a big part of me remained committed to building my net worth.

Through investing, engaging in side hustles, and sticking to a reasonable budget, I was gradually saving for my financial independence in the earlier days before becoming a full-time blogger.

passive income blog boss graphic

When and why did you start FinSavvy Panda? 

I started the FinSavvy Panda blog around November 2017 while I was on the hunt for different side hustles to see what would work for me.

Back in my corporate days, I couldn’t see myself working in an office for someone else forever.

As I mentioned, I was keen on growing my wealth so I wouldn’t have to rely on a day job. But even after consistently saving over 50% of my paychecks and investing it, I found out that it wasn’t enough to retire early, like what most “FIRE” (AKA “financial independence, retire early”) enthusiasts say.

I really disliked office politics and didn’t want to be part of that environment, so I was on the lookout for side hustles and business ideas to increase my income.

That’s when I stumbled upon blogging. My friends, family, and even coworkers often asked me for financial advice, so I thought, why not start a blog about it?

And ta-da, that’s how the FinSavvy Panda blog came to life.

How did you decide on this cute name and pick a niche?

People were always asking me for money advice, so it was almost a no-brainer to go with the personal finance niche.

Still, I debated choosing the DIY crafts and home decor niche because I was really into crafts and flipping furniture. An example is one of the first coffee tables I picked up for free and successfully flipped for $120.

I actually wanted to start a blog about DIY projects to share my flipping experiences. But, in the end, I’m glad I went with personal finance because I’ve been actively saving and investing since my early 20s.

The idea for “FinSavvy” came to me while I was thinking about the term “tech savvy.” Although I’m not tech-savvy, I realized I could be financially savvy. However, the word, “financially savvy” felt too long, so I shortened it to “FinSavvy”.

I chose the panda because I’ve always loved collecting bear stuffies, pandas included, since I was a kid. I guess I’m still a kid at heart – haha! Also, pandas are naive and have a free-spirited nature, which I feel represented my personality well when I first started my blog. ฅ՞•ﻌ•՞ฅ

How long did it take you to make your first money blogging? And what did that income come from?

I can’t remember exactly, but I know that I made my first $1,000 within about six months. Most of it came from affiliate marketing.

How did your first year as a blogger go in terms of traffic, income, and site growth?

The first year was extremely challenging. There were moments when I felt like I was just being a big dreamer, too optimistic about blogging.

I recall seeing months with almost no traffic and zero earnings. At the time, I believed I had done everything possible, but in hindsight, I simply didn’t know what I was missing.

That’s when I decided to focus my time and effort on Pinterest. When I did, everything changed.

I went from no traffic to 100,000 monthly pageviews within my first year. Reflecting on those moments, I realize they were some of my happiest. Even happier than my $20k months, due to the novel experience of making money online.

How much traffic does your blog get now? What are your top traffic sources?

Most of my traffic still comes from Pinterest. It can fluctuate anywhere between 100,000 to 200,000 monthly pageviews. Sometimes even below or above this range depending on the algorithms, trends, and seasons.

For more information, I wrote a separate post to elaborate on how I generate most of my traffic from Pinterest, providing all the juicy details. 

In addition to that, I also created one of my best-selling guides, The Golden Compass to Pinterest Traffic to help bloggers skyrocket their blog traffic to the next level.

Besides Pinterest, I receive a small portion of traffic from Google. Although the volume decreased after the HCU update, it still contributes to the bottom line.

What’s your current content strategy like? 

I am not hardcore with publishing frequently but I am consistent at publishing once a week.

I also spend time updating older articles to make them feel new and fresh again.

When did you get into SEO? And do you optimize every blog post?

I began learning about Google SEO between late 2018 and early 2019. However, I admit that I haven’t consistently applied it. My main focus has been on Pinterest traffic strategies, which have been more successful for me.

I haven’t optimized every blog post, particularly the older ones that tend to be more Pinterest-friendly.

From my experience, SEO optimization hasn’t significantly increased my Google traffic. I’ve tried inserting phrases and keywords from my Google Search Console and answering frequently asked questions from Google searches, but this hasn’t led to a surge in traffic. 

Interestingly, I must say that the posts that are less optimized often perform better than those that are heavily optimized. Not sure what it is but it seems like the harder I try with Google, the worse off it is for me.

Also read: SEO for Bloggers: How to Rank Higher on Google

What’s one SEO strategy that has worked well for you, and that you constantly rely on?

There hasn’t been anyone or specific SEO strategy that worked well for me to be honest.

I would have to say the best is publishing articles that contain highly searched keywords. In addition to that, long-tail keywords work too on Google and Pinterest.

What do you do if you notice a significant drop in your blog’s traffic?

My motto, regardless of traffic swings, is “business as usual” (BAU). Just keep swimming and doing what you normally do. For me, that means continuing to publish one article a week, updating old content, and engaging with my readers.

I always have my blinders on, which helps block out problems and eases any stress or worry. But that’s just my way of dealing with it. 🙂

How have you grown your Pinterest account over the years?

I’ve been diligent with my Pinterest presence by consistently publishing and pinning content weekly on my business account. 

In other words, I don’t neglect it. 

While you may hear other bloggers claim they pin infrequently, like “I haven’t pinned anything on Pinterest for months” or “I only pin 10 times a month” and still drive substantial traffic to their blog, earning over $10K a month “without trying,” I focus on their actions rather than words. 

I observe and implement what successful bloggers do, not just what they say. 😀

What are your top tips for bloggers who want to see more traffic coming from Pinterest?

Pick a Pinterest-friendly subject and be consistent. What works for one niche may not work for another. On top of that, sometimes the algorithm may favor someone else over you and that is something you can’t control.

However, there are things you can do and control, which are:

  • Ensuring your profile, boards, and pins are optimized.
  • Writing new content consistently
  • Pinning consistently
  • Reviewing your own Pinterest analytics and tailoring it to your audience
  • Engaging with your readers
  • Building an email list

I also have more detailed tips in my post about how long it takes to get traffic from Pinterest

How much are you currently earning as a blogger?

My monthly earnings can vary, ranging from $15K to $25K per month. In my experience, the nature of this business is volatile and unpredictable, and at times, even analyzing the data doesn’t provide any clear insights as to why.

Although the distribution fluctuates, affiliate marketing consistently contributes more than half of my total income.

All of my income streams include affiliate marketing, Mediavine display ads, and sales from my own digital products such as:

Tell us about the other blogs you run.

I have several test blogs, and I haven’t been able to dedicate much time to managing all of them.

One of them, a lifestyle blog, generates income through Mediavine ads and affiliate marketing. Another, an entertainment blog, earns revenue from Monumetric ads and affiliate marketing.

Since these blogs had a decent amount of Google traffic at one point, it was impacted by the HCU update. As a result, pageviews and earnings on these websites took a big hit. 

Despite that, Pinterest is still working very well for me, so I am going to redirect my efforts to Pinterest because that is where I am seeing the biggest ROI at the moment.

How do you balance your time between 2 (or more) blogs?

I delegate tasks to my writer and virtual assistant (VA). This allows me to concentrate on other aspects of the blog, such as responding to my readers and analyzing my stats to improve traffic and income.

By focusing on my strengths, I achieve a better work-life balance.

What blog metrics do you track?

I look at both Google Analytics, Google Console, and Pinterest Analytics every one to two weeks.

What do you think are the top things you did that helped you get to $10K/month?

Implementing strategies to increase my traffic by focusing on Pinterest and tweaking my top posts has helped me reach $10K per month.

Aside from that, personally engaging with my readers has also contributed to achieving this goal.

What was different about your actions, mindset and blogging strategy to get to $20K months?

I continued with the strategies that helped me reach $10K a month without making any drastic changes to reach $20K a month. However, I found that implementing processes and systems to organize every task was crucial.

For instance, I came up with specific processes for publishing articles, creating pins, engaging with my email list, and more. These systems reduced scrambling and increased efficiency, resulting in a smoother workflow.

How do you plan your week and structure your workdays?

I would say every day is almost like a routine for me now. I work on my blog Monday to Friday and sometimes on the weekend if I don’t have plans with friends or family. But here’s a high level of what I would usually do on a typical weekday:

  • 7:00 AM – Begin the day with my self-care routine, including stretching and exercise.
  • 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM – Dedicate this time to working on the blog.
  • 12:00 PM to 2:00 PM – Prepare and enjoy my first meal of the day, following intermittent fasting practices.
  • 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM – Take a walk and enjoy a brief break after lunch, possibly running errands or grocery shopping.
  • 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM – Resume work on the blog.
  • 5:00 PM – Prepare and have dinner.
  • After 7:00 PM – Possibly take another walk and engage in blog-related tasks or personal activities such as reading, watching YouTube for educational content, or trying out different side hustles like DoorDash so I can share my personal experience on the blog.
  • 10:00 PM or 11:00 PM – Conclude the day with a quick self-care routine and bedtime.

Of course, I also take time to relax and travel, often with my husband and friends, mostly during the summer months which are typically slower for my niche. This helps me recharge just before the busy Q4 period starts picking up again.

Also read: A Blogging Schedule That Works for You: Here’s My New Daily Blogging Routine

What was your greatest blogging mistake and what did you learn from that?

Since I started blogging, I’ve made plenty of mistakes — so many that I can’t pinpoint my greatest one. 

You’ll also notice that my answer might change if you ask me again later. But at this moment, I think a big mistake was not setting up systems and processes sooner. 

Getting organized and sticking to a routine has helped me manage my time better. Every time I introduce a new process for a task, my workload decreases significantly.

I now work smarter and not harder! I often kick myself, wondering why I didn’t do this earlier.

What’s next for you and FinSavvy Panda?

I’ve mentioned how getting organized has helped me, yet I also like to play it by ear, so I’m not entirely sure. However, I plan to continue with my current work, which is maintaining the blogs I have. Should there be a need to adapt due to trends or algorithm changes, I’m ready to take on those new challenges.

For now, I am content with my life and earnings. I feel more balanced today compared to my corporate days and the early years of blogging.

I’m not looking for more money or growth. I just want to enjoy life, spend time with friends, and connect with nature, so I plan to keep things simple for now. My answer may change but this is how I feel at the moment. 🙂

Learn how Ling, the creator of the personal finance blog FinSavvy Panda, earns over $20K/month as a blogger.