How Daniel Friedman Dropped Out of College and Earns 6 Figures/Year From His Lifestyle Blog
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Daniel Friedman has always had a strong, entrepreneurial spirit.
And although he finished high school early and went to college, he ended up dropping out and starting a blog. As he was a teen, and he wanted to help other teens, Modern Teen was born.
His site was by no means an overnight success. He plugged away at it for years and watched it grow very slowly.
Today he helps teens and college students around the world become better people and earns 6 figures per year.
Keep reading to find out:
- His other entrepreneurial projects
- Why he created his website
- How big his team is now
- Where his income comes from
- How much traffic his site gets
- How much time he spends on his blog
- His top marketing strategy
- His thoughts on SEO
- His approach to keyword research
- How he creates content
- His favorite resources and tools
- His biggest challenge
- His greatest accomplishment
- His main mistake
- The advice he would give other entrepreneurs
- Meet Daniel Friedman
- Why He Created His Website
- How Much He’s Earning
- His Top Marketing Strategy
- The Importance of SEO
- Daniel’s Content Creation Process
- His Email List
- His Favorite Resources
- His Go-To Tools
- His Biggest Challenge
- Daniel’s Greatest Accomplishment
- What He Wishes He Knew When He Started
- His Main Mistake
- His Advice for Other Entrepreneurs
Meet Daniel Friedman
Hi, I’m Daniel! I’m from Los Angeles, California, and have been living here ever since I was born. I grew up with great parents, but I was also raised to be very independent and teach myself how to do most things.
In the end, I preferred that way of learning. Independence can teach you a lot, especially when you’re younger.
I graduated high school early at the age of 16 and went straight to college. School was never for me, and I ended up leaving college early, before I received a degree.
Entrepreneurship was always a part of me, though. From selling duct tape wallets and running lemonade stands to selling music software on Instagram, I was always making money without a traditional job.
Now I spend my days blogging from wherever I want!
When I’m not blogging, I’m usually playing volleyball, tennis, electric guitar, writing, exploring new food in LA, or traveling the world while I work from my computer!
Why He Created His Website
When I was around 17 years old, my only goal was to be the best version of myself possible.
Whether that was by working out, following a skincare routine, being financially smart, educating myself, or developing healthy habits, I was always on the hunt for improvement.
And because so much of that information online was geared towards adults in their 30s, it was hard to find that information as a teenager.
By the time I turned 18, I had accumulated so much information and learned to utilize that information as a teenager and college student.
I wanted a way to compile that information into one place so that others could use it as well. That’s when I came up with the idea to create a blog that was geared towards teenagers becoming the best versions of themselves possible.
Modern Teen was born out of the necessity to organize my own ideas into a reader-friendly outlet.
At first, it became a hobby without any intention of making money (until I finally realized that I could).
So I took $120 to pay for hosting, a theme design for the blog, and a security plugin that all lasted 1 calendar year.
I would come home from class every day and write a new post in the hopes that someone would find value in it.
For the first 18 months of blogging, I didn’t see a single penny of earnings, but sometimes that’s what business is all about. Pushing through on the front end to reap the benefits later on down the road.
Today, I have 2 writers, 1 editor, and myself working together to create new content and keep Modern Teen running smoothly.
After running the blog for over 5 years, it was easily the best decision I’ve ever made in my life so far!
We produce around 12 new posts per month with the help of my team and update our SEO and Pinterest strategies regularly to stay up to date.
On top of that, I recently started a blog with a partner/friend called Manly and Modern where we discuss self-improvement tips for men.
Additionally, I contribute weekly as a freelance writer to a finance blog called This Online World as another way to share my passion for business and produce another stream of income.
How Much He’s Earning
In the last year, my blogging income for Modern Teen has ranged from $6,000 to $12,000 per month.
The blog was recently hit by a Google update, which dropped views in the last month or 2, but all should recover by the time January rolls around.
In the most up-to-date month (October 2023), the blog made $9,866.33 in revenue from 3 main sources:
- Mediavine Ad Revenue = $5,966.26
- Amazon Affiliate Revenue = $3,650.07
- Paid Sponsored Posts = $250.00
This level of earnings is fairly consistent for me now with Modern Teen, but it took me around 4 years to get to this level.
The other blog (Manly and Modern) is still in development but has earned me around $300-$500 per month for my half of ownership.
Writing for This Online World has provided a great side stream of income at around $1,000-$1,200 per month.
As for traffic, Modern Teen gets over 300,000 monthly page views in recent times, but the average is closer to 200,000-250,000 pageviews over the last couple of years.
Here are some more stats to take a look at for 2023 (some details are not fully accurate compared to Google Analytics, but they’re close enough)...
I spend around 3-5 hours per day on average for Modern Teen. That comes out to around 18-30 hours per week.
I spend the rest of my time working on other websites like Manly and Modern or writing content for This Online World.
I also have a lot of hobbies like tennis, volleyball, electric guitar, and writing which I like to devote my time to when I can.
His Top Marketing Strategy
While this answer is a bit unconventional, I have to say that my number 1 marketing strategy is consistency and authenticity.
Without those 2 things, my entire business would crumble.
I think something that a lot of people don’t talk about much in the blogging world is the fact that Google is looking for reputable sources to put at the top.
Sometimes Google sucks at doing that job, but more often than not, it finds a way to give authority to blogs that post consistently and provide real insight into any topic.
Sure, you can hire people to write just about anything or utilize AI to mass-produce content for a new blog.
However, you’ll start to feel the backlash in comments from other people, in pageview drops, and in your overall SEO strategy.
But for a more practical answer, here’s a strategy I like to use often for new content ideas and updating old posts.
Google Search Console gives you the ability to see what keywords users are searching for to land on your site. Sometimes you might not have that keyword at all within the post or title.
Consider adding it once or twice to help that search build authority even faster for your site.
The Importance of SEO
SEO currently accounts for over 85% of Modern Teen’s traffic, so it's massive for staying relevant and continuing to grow at a steady rate!
My SEO strategy consists of a few small (but insanely important) things that I implement into the blog:
- Performing keyword research with tools like Semrush and Ahrefs
- Competing in topics that I know I can rank for based on my authority and reputation
- Implementing sub-keywords within posts that cover the full keyword/phrase in its entirety
- Being sure to add image alt text to help Google find my posts through images as well
- Comparing keywords to other competitors to see where I’m missing content and how I can improve my current posts
- Updating posts regularly with important changes and up-to-date info
And if you have writers/editors that work with you, I highly recommend you have talks with them regularly and teach them SEO if they don’t know it already.
It makes the strategy so much easier when they understand how it all works!
I conduct most of my keyword research with Semrush. They have resources like the keyword magic tool and competitive searches that allow me to maximize the amount of content ideas I can find.
I will usually search for keyphrases that I already have authority in (such as “teen outfits” or “teen hairstyles”) and work my way through Semrush’s tools to explore related ideas that have a relatively easy ranking difficulty.
The other important aspect of my strategy is competitive research, which helps me fill in the gaps of missing content that my competition may have and I don’t.
It’s both good and bad that I’m in a weird niche that doesn’t have too much similar competition.
On the one hand, I get to take advantage of all the missing content that wasn’t there before. On the other hand, it’s hard to come up with new content ideas when competitors don’t really post what you post.
Either way, I regularly check up on my top 5 most competitive sites and export a keyword sheet to my computer with the top ideas that they’re ranking for in order to write similar/better content.
To me, link building was always about being authentic and letting links build themselves. I understood that this strategy might lead to a slower growth rate when starting out, but it was something I couldn’t initially do without feeling guilty.
To this day, it’s still hard for me to utilize any link building strategy, so I can’t say I’m much of an expert in link building thus far.
I have experimented with a few sites that help with link building and have tried out social media sources like Reddit and Quora to build some authority in those spaces.
Quora helped a little bit, but it was never anything drastic that made me want to continue it.
Daniel’s Content Creation Process
We currently produce around 12 new blog posts per month on Modern Teen.
Here’s how I go about getting content live:
- Conduct keyword research to add to my long list of keyword ideas
- Pull 10-15 fresh keyphrases from the list for any given month
- Create outlines around each keyphrase with word count limits, formatting, and any other necessary notes
- Send those outlines to my writers in a folder
- They send back fully written posts that are ready for review
- Those posts get sent to my editor for adding images, changing spacing and format to fit the blog theme, and making minor SEO changes where necessary
- Those edited posts wait for me in the WordPress dashboard, where I take a final look and make any changes that are needed
- Then those posts get published on Modern Teen
Here’s an example of what an outline might look like to give you an idea:
His Email List
My email list is easily my biggest weak point at the moment. And that’s because I was never consistent with it.
I have built a small email list of around 3,000 subscribers over the last 5 years by including a pop-up form that shows up halfway through every post on the blog.
I used to send emails a bit more frequently, but now it’s something I rarely focus on.
However, working on emails is at the top of my list of goals for 2024.
So, I’m hopeful to see what kind of new traffic and audience-building it can bring to the table next year!
His Favorite Resources
I drowned myself in books, podcasts, YouTube channels, and blogs when I first started out as an entrepreneur, and especially when I started my blog.
Some of my favorite resources include:
- The E-Myth Revisited: A book that helped me learned how to automate my business
- Blue Ocean Strategy: A book that helped me separate myself from the competition
- How to Win Friends and Influence People: A book on improving your socialization skills (also transfers well to talking to readers on a blog)
- Valuetainment: YouTube channel with tons of resources and tips for entrepreneurs
- Create and Go: A blog for blogging that gave me a lot of insight into getting started with little investment
His Go-To Tools
The 3 most useful tools I use as an entrepreneur are:
My Planner: Without this tool, my life crumbles into a million pieces. For me, the more information I can get out into a planner, the less information has to be stuck in my head. It helps relieve my stress, organize my schedule, and keep me moving forward with new projects/tasks.
Google Search Console: Being able to monitor my performance with Modern Teen while also being able to view popular searches for my site in Google Search Console is invaluable. It makes updating old posts much easier as well.
Semrush: This tool accounts for 80% of my success with Modern Teen. Without it, I can’t continue to create new pieces of content that will actually rank. Plus, monitoring my SEO performance over time is incredibly simple this way.
His Biggest Challenge
The one thing that always shocked me when I was reading other peoples’ blogging success stories was how much they were making and how quickly they were able to make that much money.
The harsh truth that I realized for myself was that blogging is not that easy and it’s not consistent at all.
My biggest challenge was trying to turn a blog into a consistent business. Oftentimes, that’s just not possible.
I grinded for 60 hours per week in the beginning to jumpstart Modern Teen and I didn’t make a single penny for the first 18 months in business.
There were tons of times that I wanted to quit.
I even had a rough phase of terrible anxiety that made it impossible to get any work done for a good few months, let alone get out of bed.
I didn’t finish college and put everything I had into making this blog work. Otherwise, I would be stuck in a terrible position in life.
Five years later, it’s my favorite thing about my life and I couldn’t be happier with how everything ended up!
Daniel’s Greatest Accomplishment
My most important accomplishment has to be the comments I receive from other teens when they tell me their life has changed for the better because of my advice.
There’s no feeling more rewarding than that.
So many teens and college students have benefited from my guides in school, fitness, fashion, and more.
It reminds me of why I started blogging in the first place and how much I wish I had these resources for myself when I was a teen trying to improve myself.
On top of that, being able to create a 6-figure business by 23 years old without a college degree has always been a dream of mine and I’m proud to say that I have accomplished it!
What He Wishes He Knew When He Started
There are a few important things I wish I knew when I started:
- I wish I learned SEO immediately after starting (my blog could’ve grown much faster)
- Reaching out to other bloggers in your niche/age range is a great idea to learn quickly
- Don’t be afraid to invest time and money into something you believe in
- Just like having a job and then starting your own business with what you’ve learned, go write for another blog you’re passionate about and gain some experience on the side
- Your mental and physical health is not only more important than your business, but your business will benefit dramatically from a healthy lifestyle anyway
- As harsh as it sounds, most people don’t care who you are or what you like and don’t like. They want you to provide value for them so they can go on about their day. In other words, avoid using “I, me, and my” when you’re writing and use more “you, your, you’re” in your content.
His Main Mistake
My biggest mistake was not riding the wave of momentum when I was given the chance.
Sometimes, your business is going to do really well one month or your blog is going to get significantly more traffic.
Those moments make you feel like you can sit back and relax and watch the numbers climb. I know that’s what I thought.
But the truth is, that’s exactly when you should work on publishing a course, focus on monetization even more, double down on content creation, take a step back and learn why you’re doing so well, etc.
His Advice for Other Entrepreneurs
Do you believe in your business? If you answered yes, then stop worrying about how much time you put into it.
If you truly believe it’s going to be successful, then go all in and don’t stop.
I’ve had tons of rough patches. I wanted to quit multiple times. I had my doubts about the blog.
Those all go away once you realize your only choice is success.
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