August 10, 2019
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What’s up, Career Movers! My name is Alex, and I’m a 27-year-old marketer from LA. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to run my company — probably because I watched both of my parents run their successful ventures. When I graduated from college, most of my friends were excited to start jobs at large, well-known corporations. I was less enthusiastic, knowing deep down that I’d only ever feel fulfilled at the helm of my own.
But right out of school I had no experience or credibility, so I decided to join an early-stage startup. I figured I had a lot to learn from other entrepreneurs, and couldn’t think of a more fertile training ground. Plus I’d save money that I’d need to later invest in my venture. On nights and weekends, I would brainstorm ideas and tinker on side hustles to satisfy my entrepreneurial itch. While splitting focus between a day job and side-hustle/passion project requires a ton of discipline, I’ve found it to be extremely rewarding.
Currently, I spend most of my waking hours outside of work building Finvsfin.com! It’s a simple review site focused on direct-to-consumer wellness products that are starting to generate significant passive income through affiliate commissions. You bet this traction has made it even harder to focus at work, but I mean that in the very best way possible. I’m hoping that Fin vs Fin is the project that gets me out of the rat race for good.
This is the story of Fin vs Fin, how my partner and I got it off the ground, and my vision for leveling up a side-project into a legitimate full-time hustle.
It was Tuesday, and I had no idea my life was about to change forever.
Just kidding. I have no idea what day of the week it was. But what I do recall is slaving long hours at an early-stage fin-tech startup in San Francisco when rather unexpectedly, the CEO pulled me aside to let me know he’d just fired my boss. One too many strategic differences, and just like that, I was to inherit the marketing department.
Excited for the opportunity? Yes. Challenge accepted. But I knew I’d miss working with my old boss. We tried hard to remain in close contact and ultimately decided that starting a small side project together in our spare time would be a fun way to stay in touch.
“And who knows. Maybe we can build something that nets us an extra, like, $3-5k in passive income per year?” With that humble goal, we started kicking around ideas and uncreatively landed on a fintech review site since we had both just worked in that space together. I bought finvsfin.com for $9.99/year on a whim with the plan of comparing SaaS products head to head. (Fin vs Fin was short for “fintech vs fintech”.)
It was a few months before I finally built out a simple WordPress site for our project. We started producing content and yet a few more months passed before our first articles began to rank on Google. Things. Moved. Slowly. But a small trickle of organic traffic was encouraging enough to keep us going.
The question of how to monetize traffic from fintech reviews loomed. Given heavy regulation of space, most players didn’t offer formal affiliate programs to pay for leads/sales. Could we work with financial advisors? Maybe. But that sounded messy. So we began searching for another niche with more affiliate revenue potential.
A “lightbulb moment” occurred when my partner mentioned how much venture capital investment was going to telehealth. Companies like Hims and Roman were raising hundreds of millions of dollars and would start spending fortunes on TV, radio, and billboard ads. This would buoy organic volumes for branded searches, and we could find a way to capitalize.
We both decided to switch our focus to direct to consumer wellness products to try and anticipate this wave. I remember when we made our first $10 commission and I thought it was an error. It was a meaningless sum, but I couldn’t have been more excited. When my partner and I realized that we had achieved our unambitious goal of an “extra few thousand dollars a year” in passive income, we decided not to slow down. How far could we take this thing?
As an affiliate site that relies primarily on organic traffic, our secret to success is dead simple: find high-intent, low-competition search queries, and then produce the most helpful piece of content on the internet. We’ve been diligently combining the following motions into a commission-generating machine:
If you check out the site, you’ll notice that posts on finvsfin.com compare two or more popular D2C products. This kind of content can attract visitors with a high level of purchase intent. Although volume for these queries tends to be relatively low, traffic converts at high enough rates for a profitable funnel.
That’s because this kind of search is typically done near the end of a shopper’s evaluation, so we can attract a relatively high level of intent. Although search volumes for these queries tend to be relatively low, the high purchase intent translates into high enough conversion rates for a profitable funnel.
From our first $10 commission back in February 2019, our revenue has swelled to several hundred dollars/day. Our site costs essentially nothing to maintain and profits are split two ways (between my partner and me). Thus Fin vs Fin has blossomed into a very meaningful side hustle and I still think there’s a ton of room to expand.
While most of our traction has been in the wellness space, specifically among telehealth providers offering treatments for hair loss and other common health conditions, there is a bigger play. I’d like to grow Fin vs Fin into a destination for direct to consumer products reviews more generally, and help people discover new disruptive brands that they can’t find on Amazon or in a brick and mortar retail store.
To this end, we are reinvesting profits into content creation. That means doubling down on categories we already know to be profitable, while also exploring new niches that we hope could be lucrative in the future.
We’ve also thought about plowing earnings back into the business by acquiring existing sites and creating a portfolio of affiliate sites. This seems like a smart way to diversify risk, and there’s also likely a profitable site-flipping strategy we could explore down the road.