My Story

I first began blogging in 2007. At that time I had been practicing law for about 15 years.  I was bored stiff.

My wife suggested I get a hobby to battle the tedium. My first thought was to become a woodworker. I spent months looking at tools. I bought a router, belt sander, and even a miter saw. I built a workbench from scratch. As you can see from the picture below, I wasn’t very good.

One day I was searching on the Internet for a table saw. Somehow I came across a personal finance blog called 2millionblog.com. It was the first time that I can remember seeing a website that I recognized as being a blog. I spent days reviewing that blog as well as other personal finance blogs.

I think it was the combination of personal finance and technology that most interested me. And so in May 2007, I started Doughroller.net.

At the time, I knew absolutely nothing about blogging. I’d never heard of WordPress, SEO, affiliate marketing, or even Google AdSense. In fact, the very first thing I did was search in Google for “how to start a blog.”

The first few months of blogging were both exhilarating and painful. I very much enjoyed learning the technology behind blogging and writing about personal finance. But because the technology was new to me, I spent hours upon hours learning to do even the simplest tasks. I can recall spending almost an entire day figuring out how to add an image to a post and have text float left or right of the image.

For the first two years I woke up every morning at 5 AM to work on the blog. During the week, I would work from 5 AM to 7 AM at home. I would then work for about 30 minutes on the subway. I worked on the blog at lunch. I worked on the blog on the way home from work. And many nights I worked on the blog well into the early morning hours.

My first realization that serious money could be made online came in early 2008. On January 7, 2008, I received a flood of traffic from a major news website. I was working from home that day, and it seemed that each time I refreshed Google AdSense I made another $10 or $20. In total, I made $444.38 in AdSense that day. It was a real eye-opener.

Google AdSense in January 2008

Record day for Adsense

2008 was a turning point for my blog. It was that year that I joined a group of other personal finance bloggers in what we called the M-network. Not only did we help to promote each others blogs, but we shared ideas and resources. It was through my experience with the M-network that my knowledge of blogging increased substantially. If you are new to blogging, I can’t stress enough the importance of getting to know other bloggers.

Toward the end of 2008, I had another revelation about how much money can be made online. It came in the form of a credit card. I found a credit card that offered 0% interest for 15 months on balance transfers. In addition, it offered cash back rewards on purchases, including contributions to charities. Not only did I apply for and obtain the card, but I also reviewed the credit card on my website. The credit card was part of an affiliate program that paid about $90 for each credit card approval that was generated from my blog.

For some reason, my review received a lot of traffic from Google and other search engines. In no time, I was generating about one credit card approval every day. The result was nearly $3,000 in revenue each month from a single post promoting a single credit card. It was unbelievable.

That experience taught me not only the potential of affiliate marketing, but also the importance of search engine optimization.

By 2009, I was earning a full-time living from my blog. At the time, however, I was still practicing law. In some ways it was the best of both worlds. My family and I lived off of my income from the practice of law, while we used the income from the blog to pay down debt and save.

By 2010, the blog was generating more income than the practice of law. By 2011, the blog was generating twice as much income as the practice of law. But blogging was not without its challenges.

In early 2011, I gave serious consideration to retiring from law to blog full-time.  And then it happened. The day was April 11, 2011. The time was 12 noon. I remember the day vividly.

Up to this point in 2011, the blog was doing better than ever. Traffic was as high as it had ever been, and so was revenue. I had a staff of about three writers working for me, and a managing editor as well. But as the clock struck 12 noon, I noticed a significant drop in my traffic. What I didn’t know then, but would soon learn, is that Google had made a major change to its algorithm called Panda.

Google Analytics April 2011

Google Search Traffic Drops on April 11, 2011

In literally the blink of an eye, traffic to my website was cut by more than 50%. As you can imagine, my revenue was likewise cut in half. I was shell-shocked. My dreams of quitting the practice of law were put on hold. The writers that I had hired were let go. And my editor and I tried to figure out what we could do to reverse the damage.

Google Analytics Search Traffic Drops

Gulp!

The experience taught me several things. First, it taught me never to take anything for granted. The fact is that a successful blog relies on many external factors, ranging from search engine traffic to social media traffic to advertisers. Second, it taught me never to sacrifice quality for quantity. As I looked back at some of the content my writers had written, I realized that the quality was unacceptable. As a result, I spent months either deleting or rewriting previously published content on my site.

It’s been nearly 2 years since my site was hit by Panda. I’m happy to report that over those two years the site has grown steadily. As I write this article in February 2013, I’m in the process of retiring from the practice of law. By the time you read this, I will be a full-time blogger.  I’m going “pro” as my good friend Ryan from Cashmoneylife.com likes to say.

Life is unpredictable. Even as I transition from the practice of law to blogging full-time, my life seems almost surreal. Although I wanted to be a trial lawyer since middle school, I never had the passion for it like I do blogging. Blogging is a dream come true, even if it’s a dream I could not have anticipated just a few short years ago.

More importantly, retiring from law has given me time to start this blog, law2blog.com.  I hope it helps you on your blogging journey.

Best,

Rob Berger

P.S.   Until now, I have led two professional lives. The first was my circle of friends, colleagues and acquaintances from the practice of law. The second was a very different circle of friends, colleagues and acquaintances from blogging. I even maintained two separate LinkedIn accounts for each of these worlds.

If you’re reading this and until now only knew me as a lawyer, you’re probably a bit shocked. Many of the lawyers that I know from large law firms are very unhappy. Many a time is spent at a big firm talking about doing something other than practicing law. If that describes you, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I’d be happy to share everything I know about making money online. And I promise not to tell the managing partner you called.