Guina Wide

SEO and Monetizing Websites with The Military Wallet’s Ryan Guina

Providing Necessary Resources to Get Through Life.

Ryan Guina is the Founder of The Military Wallet and Cash Money Life.

The Military Wallet serves military families by placing resources that are important to military families in one place. Cash Money Life serves its audience with personal finance and investing resources.

Learn more about how the resources of The Military Wallet and Cash Money Life can guide you and your family by listening to this episode of The Thoughtful Entrepreneur above and don’t forget to subscribe on   Apple Podcasts – Stitcher – Spotify –Google Play –Castbox – TuneIn – RSS.

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Welcome to The Thoughtful Entrepreneur Show. I'm Josh Elledge, Founder and CEO of We turn entrepreneurs into media celebrities, grow their authority, and help them build partnerships with top influencers. We believe that every person has a unique message that can positively impact the world. stick around to the end of the show, we're all reveal how you can be our next guest on one of the fastest growing daily inspiration podcasts on the planet in 15 to 20 minutes. Let's go.

And with us right now, we've got my good friend of many, many, many, many years. Ryan Guina. And Ryan, you are the the Founder of Cash Money Life and one of my favorite websites, Military Wallets. So thank you so much for joining us. Hey, thanks for having me on, Josh. So, first off, if you could kind of share your story of how you came up with or what gave you The idea to develop a website that would you've got two of them. One serves more of a consumer audience. The other one serves more of a military consumer audience. Maybe you can kind of differentiate the two for us. But you have a background, serving the military, you're still presently serving. But can you kind of take us up to the point where you you started, started these brands?

Yeah, Josh. Thanks. So when I got out of the military in 2006, I was enlisted. I was an aircraft maintenance guy. And I was looking for a change. So I got out of the military and found out that I didn't know what I didn't know. So I started reading everything I could about personal finance investing. I got married shortly after I got out. My wife already had a house but I was learning about things like mortgages, 401, K's life insurance, basically all those big decisions that the military takes care of for you. I had to learn on my own. So I found these things called blogs. And keep in mind, this was 2006 when blogging was a very new term. Yeah. And you, you could start a blog without much tech background, but you really had to learn a lot. It's not as easy as it was not as easy then as it is today. So I got started, I found a guy that showed how to do it. And I just started a website, I did it as a hobby to kind of keep track of what I was learning, hold myself accountable, and then share things as I went. And through that process, I started Cash Money Life, which was mostly about all those big topics I was talking about. But I had a few articles that were about military topics. And I realized that a completely different audience was reading those then was reading Cash Money life, so I split it into two different sites. And so I actually started the sites in 2007. But I've been running them since then. And I've been doing it full time since 2010.

Wow. Yeah, that's pretty old square back. I bet if we go back in the Wayback Machine And look at what they look like in 2007. they've evolved a little bit since

I would say they've evolved a lot. I'm actually looking to overhaul my sights now because the military wallet hasn't been updated since probably 2015.

more so. So it's it's it's way, way overdue for an overall but I spend most of my time writing content and making sure I can help people. So that's that's been my focus, but I do need to do a brand overhaul, if you will.

Why the Military Wallet?

Yeah, great question. So my focus is on military and veterans benefits and then financial topics as it relates to the military. So I wanted there to be something in the name that indicated there's a financial aspect, personal finance, investing, helping people get the benefits that they deserve and have earned. Those are all passions of mine. So I just wanted to let people know from the name that when you're coming here, you're gonna get military stuff, you're gonna get financial stuff, there is a marriage of the two

So Ryan, there's two things that I know that you do very, very well. Number one is Seo. And I should say that a few years ago, you spent a lot of time with me. And I really, really appreciate it for savings Angel, you gave me a lot of great intel on some best practices that I was able to employ. And it absolutely looked at my analytics absolutely had a huge positive impact. So thank you for that. My pleasure. Yeah. So let's, let's talk SEO first, and then we'll get into the other thing in just a minute. But so in terms of what is working today, in SEO, you know, I think in the past, you know, yet a lot of this, you know, kind of people just trying to blackhat gray hat link building kind of thing. And that was the secret to getting great ranking in Google. Well, Google is like the infinite growing intelligence that keeps getting smarter and smarter and smarter. It's like that. I don't know what movie that But there's like some kind of robot. And every time you fight it, it keeps keeps learning you your fighting style, and it keeps adapting and getting smarter and smarter. Like Google's like that. Right? Anytime you try to outsmart Google, Google just gets more smart. You can't Yeah, you can't ever stay ahead for long.

Yeah, yeah. So what's working today that Google is smart, they do adapt. They're constantly changing their algorithms. So the focus is always should be on creating great content. But then the next focus is to get that content out there, not just publish it and let it wither on the vine, but you do need to promote it, whether that's through social media through your newsletter if you have other channels such as a podcast or YouTube. Any way you can bring exposure and bring traffic to your website is going to be a good thing. Links still work. I do not do any kind of gray hat or black hat. And for those listening who don't know what that means that it just means like buying links or Trying to gain the system, if you will. So any, anytime you can do some positive outreach though, whether that's to other bloggers or publishers, other people who are running websites, and you can ask them, Hey, I've created this great resource. Would you mind sharing this with your readers? Or would you mind linking to it? Those can be good ways to bring extra value to your website in terms of SEO.

And what about, I guess, just to two sizes, obviously. So in terms of like, when you publish an article, what are you thinking? What are your biggest priorities? Or, you know, if you have a checklist for each article, what are the things that need to get checked off to make sure that Google is going to love it?

Yeah, great question. So I have a little checklist that I created years ago, and it's basically making sure that you're formatting the article correctly, and you're doing it in a standardized way. So if if you don't run a website, You can kind of tune out for 30 seconds. But But come right back. It's having good headers making the article scannable. So as you're scanning down the page, you've got a good header that talks about what this section is. So if you're talking about investing, for example, this is what investing is, here's how to start investing. Here's how much money you need to invest, here's where to invest, like what types of investments, make those your big headings, use bullet points, make the articles scannable, so that you can quickly and easily see if this article is going to be valuable to them. And as they're scanning, if something catches their eye, they'll they'll pay a little bit more attention. And then you want to have a good image. You want to have links to other articles on your site. And then what you want to do is make sure that you have your a good catchy title, you want to make sure you have a description of the article. And you don't want the URL to be too crazy long. You don't want a 30 word URL like how How to invest is a great URL as compared to 33 ways to invest when you're just starting out and don't know what to do, you know, that would be a terrible URL. But yeah, you just want to make things clean, easy to read. And, you know, break, break the page up, you don't want a wall of text, you don't want a 500 word paragraph you want, you know, think about if you're reading it on your on your phone, what does it look like? Your phone has a pretty narrow field on which to read. So basically, if it's two or three sentences long, that's going to take up half your screen. So you know, that's probably a good good amount of space on on the internet.

Yeah, you know, and I think too, if we look at how consumers have changed when it comes to reading content, you know, you don't you know, I remember in, you know, when doing design and layout way back when I was a journalist in the Navy and so, you know, you don't want too much gray, you don't want to stare at a page and it's just nothing but Great. So to your point, you know, with breaking it up with bullet points and different headers, and it's so important. And in fact, now kind of my rule of thumb is like, I don't think any paragraph today needs to be longer than three sentences. I mean, it's, you know, a long paragraph, the average consumer today is going to just look at that and be like, Oh, that's too much, and they're just gonna skip it. Or it's like, it's getting too much work. I'm just gonna stop right here. Yeah, and

that's, that's just how things have changed. So we were talking about when I started my websites back in 2007, that was not the common way to do it. Everybody was, you know, iPhone hadn't even come out yet. So it was still you read on your laptop or your desktop and you you know, you had a decent sized screen. So, as I go through and update old articles, I chop those paragraphs up, I add pull quotes or bullet lists or headings and really make the article. Try to pull your eye down the page. So if you can do that, and give a good user experience. that's a that's a big element of SEO these days. It's also just great for your users.

Yeah. Do you generally fall adhere to long form versus short form content?

Both actually, you know, last year, year before everybody was saying long form, you need 2000. You need 3000 words, you need 4000 words. Now I'm hearing it's it's swinging the opposite way the pendulum is coming back. And articles that were three or 4000 words long aren't doing as well as some of the shorter ones. Now, I think Google is making a bigger focus toward user intent. So Google is looking at, you know, what is this user really asking? And is it the longest article that they really want? Or do they just want an answer quickly, so they can move on? And for each query, you'll think about when you go into Google, if you type, how to invest? There's two ways you can look at that is it what should I invest in and how do I actually do that? And Where should I put my money? Or is it How do I log into my 401k? And move money? Right? So the answer to the first one, you could have an entire book on the second one is a very quick and easy answer, right? So Google is trying to figure out what users are really looking for and reward the websites that are giving the user the best or most appropriate answer for that specific query. Now,

and then, Ryan, in terms of getting placements on media placement, specifically, what do you think the value is of that? And then I think one other thing I hear from time to time is, you know, while getting a follow backlink is always kind of like the Holy Grail. You know, if you don't get it, it's it's still not a bad thing.

Yeah. So I mean, think about your business as a brand, right? Anytime you can get your brand mentioned in a high quality publication. That's huge. So in the last six months, I'd say My website has been mentioned in not all of them have been links, but it's been mentioned as Ryan get off from the military wallet. Yeah. New York Times, Forbes, US News, Yahoo. I want to say a couple more. But that's, that's just in the last few months. You know, keep in mind, I've been doing this for, you know, 12 years now. So, but those are our big brand mentions, and you have to think that Google will be able to scan an index those Yeah, they're picking up those words like so the military wallet, there aren't many companies using the military wallet, right. And so we're up my influence, right. So if you get mentioned in there, Google is going to make that association with your name or your brand. And you know that that could only be a positive thing. The links are great. Absolutely. You always want those but even without it, it's still a great brand mentioned.

I you know, I'm looking at your US News, one right here, how much will I receive when I retire from the military, that's, you know, people looking for that content, that those are the kind of You probably want to be in front of.

Yeah, absolutely. So if you could get mentioned in an article that's completely aligned with your brand, you know, for you, for example, if you're talking about PR or branding or any of those big topics, you absolutely want up my influence to be mentioned with that. If you're an accountant, you actually absolutely want to be mentioned on the TurboTax or h&r block. websites, you know. So anytime you can get those kind of brand mentions for your company on a major well recognized new site or major brand in your industry, that's just huge, huge for your business.

Yeah. And so the second thing, Ryan, that I wanted to talk about that I know you do very well, is working with brands. So obviously you need to monetize a website and that's one thing you've done very, very well. Would you mind sharing, like, how does the Military Wallet make money?

Yeah, so you know, websites make money in a lot of different ways. You know, there's probably, I'd say hundreds of ways you can do it. Now. The main way is Do our display ads. So think of the banner ads that you see on a website. We have Pay Per Click ads like a Google AdSense where if somebody clicks on it, a little text ad, then you can make a few pennies to a few dollars per click. Every one of the there's there's no set amount for per click on those. Some brands also have Pay Per Click offers for widgets. So for example, if somebody's looking for a VA loan, and there's several different companies that have offers, you can click on the one that interests you, and you'll go to their website. There are also affiliate relationships. So if I recommend, again, we could just say VA loan and you go to their website and you sign up to get more information or you actually buy a house through them, then I could receive a kickback for that just kind of referral fee. Those are the big ways there are also sponsored posts or just outright sponsorships. So I've done those from time To time, the key for me though, is anytime I advertise with somebody, and I've left probably hundreds of thousands of dollars on the table, I will not advertise for somebody that I do not believe represents what I feel should be for the for the military community. Basically, if I wouldn't recommend it to one of my family members, or a close friend, it doesn't go on my website. So people looking for things like payday loans or forex trading, you know, most people don't even know what you know, binary options are and things like that. But I, I get people pitching me these things all the time. And I've turned out five figure offers before, but it's not a short term play for me. You know, keep in mind, I've been running these websites for 12 years now. This is a long term thing, and I have a very trusted community. So I won't recommend or put anything on my website if I don't feel it's an appropriate offer for the military.

So yeah, when you write it out there and pen that you know, you're Getting behind something that's a little shady. You know, the military community is, you know, they're very protective.

Yeah, yeah. And and I'm very protective of the military community as well. You know, as, as a fellow veteran, you know, that there's this immediate rapport that you have with another military member. And when you first meet them, you're going to give them the benefit of the doubt right away, doesn't mean you're going to give them that forever, but you're going to give them that benefit of the doubt, until they give you a reason to, to no longer trust them or, or to say, you know, what, you know, thanks for your service, but we're just gonna go to part ways. But I have to really live that all the time. And I can't, you know, I just feel like I'm a steward for this website. And that I represent, I still represent the military community, I actually still serve in the international guard. So there's nothing I'm going to do to jeopardize that or my standing in the in the within the community. So it's just not worth it.

Yeah. And so what are your plans, then in terms what? Before I asked that? if somebody wanted to start a blog today, how long do you think it would take them? You know, obviously, there's a lot of things you could do to change the rate. But I think some times people are like, well, how soon Could I make like a full time income as a blogger? Like how much work does it require? And it's such a loaded question, but

it is a loaded question. It's

there's there's no no set size timeline when I started my websites and keep in mind, there weren't many how to guides back in when I started in early 2007. It took me seven months to make my first hundred dollars. But once I hit that, it was like a tipping point. I made at least $100 every month after that, wow. It was early 2010 when I went full time, so almost three years from the time that I started to the time I went full time, but I would say was about a year and a half to two years before I was able to fully replace my day job income. However, we're still this is we're talking 10 years ago. So things have changed, it's a lot more competitive landscape. So you, you really need to approach it like a business, if you want to do that, you can still approach a website as a hobby and make hobby income with it. And by hobby income, I mean, you can make date money up to a couple thousand dollars a month. And you can do that in your spare time. But if you're really going to turn it into a business, and you want to do it full time, you want to replace your day job. You're going to need to be very strategic, you're going to have to know what you're doing doesn't mean you can't start from scratch, but you're going to have to learn as you go. And you're probably going to have to hire and outsource pretty quickly to be able to scale and make that happen.

Yeah, so that's my other question then is like Who do you have on your team currently?

Great question. I've done a very, very poor job of that. If I'm being honest with you, and this is a struggle many entrepreneurs have Yes. And I've, I've hired many people throughout the years. And I've realized that I have done a poor job of setting those people up for success and took a lot of self reflection and thinking about myself and why it wasn't successful with it to come to that determination. And it all comes down to having repeatable documented systems. And I didn't have a good job of that. So when I would hire somebody to write an article, for example, I would spend probably as much time as they spend writing it, I would do that just going over and editing and formatting and doing that. So a few months ago, I hired a business coach, and she is helping me to build those systems. So I've spent, we have both spent a lot of time building systems, building templates, creating those, and that's working out really well. I've hired an editor right now, who's helping Be on cash money life. And I actually just posted a job hiring template for the military wallet to hire an editor for that site as well. And then once I have those editors rocking and rolling with my systems, I'm going to hire a few more writers. And that's what I really want to start scaling. So yeah, I think the key though, is, is having those documented systems. Yes, without without having that without being organized. You're not gonna be as successful as you could be just the the other thing is when I said when I told you a minute ago, told all your listeners that you have to treat it as a business. I started my websites as a hobby, and I treated it for too long as a hobby, even though I was making a lot of money. I was happy as a lifestyle business, if you will. And I realized in the last couple years, I have way too much work on my plate. And if I want to grow beyond where I've been, then I need to treat it more seriously. So it's been a mind shift for For me and mindset shift, and I'm still working through that, but I'm really building those systems and really helping to scale and do a lot more. So don't get me wrong, it's been good. It's been a great run. But I'd like to I and I know that we can really build this site to be a lot larger and better than than it has been.

Yeah. You know, just surrounding yourself with people that are really good at, you know, being in their lane doing what they do. It's so exciting. I, you know, to me, that's, you know, like, I've got a dream on vision for myself, obviously, in business I always have and then, you know, I've obviously, I've got a dream and vision for my clients, the people that I serve my readers, my audience, you know, but I've also got a dream and a vision for my team, like I want to make their dreams come true. I want them to be able to have, you know, work life freedom and schedule freedom and make a great income working at whatever schedule, they want to work and I want to create that environment for them. And that's, that's, you know, that desire to create that has been, you know, for the past, you know, 30 Been 14 years has been just really fun to be able to see, you know, and create those opportunities for other people. It's, it's, it's really rewarding and so Ryan, thank you so much man. So again, your website's and the The Military Wallet is one that I check on a regular basis as a veteran myself and Ryan, is there anything else that in terms of like, you know, getting to know you and kind of jumping in and taking advantage of everything that you're producing? Is there anything else that people should make sure that they add to their to do list?

In terms of getting to know me?

Yeah, yeah, well, resources. Um,

yeah, resources. Question.

No, I think my websites kind of standalone. I'm not super active on social media. I like to do my writing on the websites, and when I interact, it's usually one on one and more private stuff. And that's that's usually where I go Get a lot more, it's more rewarding to me to instead of just blasting a whole bunch of information out there, I prefer to help people and just know that instead of just throwing this resource out there in which I do a lot of writing for that, but I like to help people one on one because I know at the end of the day that problem is solved, or at least pointed somebody in the right direction. So it's it's kind of a I don't want to say tangible but it's a more concrete resolution, I guess.

Awesome. All right. Well, Ryan, you know, you're Founder and CEO of the and Thank you so much for joining us.

Thanks, Josh.

Have a great day.

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