It’s sometimes thought that financial success comes down to luck. A person launches a business and hits it big coming out of the starting gate. Maybe that does happen – occasionally – but it’s not typical. One of the best ways to prove the point is by following up with someone several years after starting a business and finding success. That’s what I’ve done, and guess what I found?
More success, much more!
Back in 2019, I covered the incredible story of Kelan and Brittany Kline in How This 28-Year-Old Couple Quit Their Jobs And Make $100,000 A Year Working From Home. But after catching up with them recently, I knew it was time for an update. The Kline’s no longer make $100,000 a year working from home. They left that threshold in the dust and are now closing in on $100,000 per month – most of it through passive income streams.
How have they managed to continue their incredible success?
Kelan & Brittany Kline – A Quick Review of Their 2019 Story
In my first report on the Kline’s, Kelan and Brittany – each 28 at the time – and their blog, The Savvy Couple, was up and running for just three years. At that time, they had built the blog into a $100,000-plus income source.
What made this story truly remarkable was that neither had any previous experience running an online business, let alone one generating a six-figure income. Brittany had previously been a teacher, while Kelan had held a series of unrelated jobs including law enforcement. In addition, they live in a small community in upstate New York – hardly a location you might expect to launch a successful online business from.
The blog started out as a way for Kelan and Brittany to show others how to better manage their finances, based on their own experience in providing for their new family on a limited income. With $40,000 in student loan debts, their initial hope was that the blog would eventually produce at least $500 per month in additional income.
But as time went on, the popularity of the blog and the income it generated increased steadily. As it did, and the couple saw the income potential it presented, the Kline’s were eventually able to quit their respective jobs and turned The Savvy Couple into their primary occupations.
Having an online,work-from-home business brought tons of benefits. Free from the constraints of traditional, 9-to-5 jobs, the Kline’s enjoyed control of their schedules, more time with each other and their young daughter, Kallie, a truly creative occupation, and the prospect of unlimited income.
It isn’t hard to see how that combination wasn’t the end of their story. The blog, and its income, have continued to grow since.
Kelan & Brittany Kline in 2023
Kelan and Brittany’s family has expanded to four since 2019, with daughters Kallie, four, and Kennedy, two. Their business success has enabled them to split their business and parenting time. Kelan works mornings and then takes over the parenting role when Kallie comes home from preschool in the afternoon, enabling Brittany to work.
By their own reckoning, they’re living their dream lives. They wake up when they want, have breakfast with the girls, and set up their daily schedules. They have been intentional about setting up their lives to have as much freedom as possible. That includes taking plenty of days off and going on three or four vacations each year.
“This is definitely a different way for our kids to grow up than how both of us grew up with our parents going to work in the traditional 9-5 every day,” Brittany observes. “We’re working hard on teaching them you can create your own life of freedom with hard work, discipline, and dedication. Even though we work from home or online, we still have responsibilities and deadlines that need to be met.”
How the Kline’s have Grown their Business Over the Past Four Years
The Kline’s have implemented four specific strategies to keep their business growing steadily over the past four years.
Leveraging Talent by Building a Dedicated Staff
If you’re a solo entrepreneur, you’ll eventually bump up against the limit of time. After all, there are only so many hours in the day and the number and extent of responsibilities involved in running a small business are practically unlimited. As so many other small business owners have learned, the way to overcome this limitation is by hiring talented individuals to perform an increasing number of necessary tasks.
This has been one of the biggest revelations for the Kline’s, and a critical component of their ability to expand. They managed to add staff, while staying within budget, by employing part-time contractors.
That started, first and foremost, by hiring a virtual assistant (VA). That person functions as a jack of all trades, handling customer service and content writing, among other functions. The Kline’s also work with an editor, as well as a monetization expert who largely handles revenue-generating affiliate arrangements for the site. Tying it all together is an operations manager overseeing the big picture.
Employing these four specialists has freed Kelan and Brittany to only have to work 10-20 hours per week and to concentrate on expanding their business. That has enabled the couple to improve existing product lines, as well as add new ones. They can more easily maintain that focus knowing the day-to-day details of running the business are handled by their part-time staff.
Expanding Within a Very Specific Niche
The Kline’s have been careful to stay within their chosen market niche. For The Savvy Couple website, that includes topics like money management, budgeting, saving money, and investing. But the primary emphasis remains on ways to make more money, specifically through starting profitable side hustles. In an age of inflation, it’s easy to understand why generating additional income is such a popular topic.
“We’ve been writing content in the Making Money Online niche for almost three years,” Kelan reports. “We’ve also focused heavily on search engine optimization (SEO) and solving user intent within that niche. In the process, we’ve consistently attempted to rank for very competitive keywords that are lucrative and support our affiliate marketing channel. This has helped to scale our passive income.”
At the same time, Brittany has been working specifically on developing digital planners, organizers, and printables for their other brand, The Savvy Mama.
Those products include a bundle of planners and organizers that help moms organize, simplify, and generally better control the chaos in their lives. There’s now even a Savvy Mamas Membership Brittany created to help moms stay accountable, which has helped expand their business even further.
“Branching out into something of my own has been terrifying but very exciting,” Brittany reports. “As a mom myself, I know how mothers often face numerous challenges and struggles, as they juggle multiple responsibilities and roles. If I can help alleviate just a little bit of stress and help a mom feel more accomplished in her day, then I believe I‘ve made a positive impact and contributed to her well-being and overall happiness.”
Along the same line, the Kline’s developed another related site, The Savvy Kitchen. The site provides recipes, meal planning, cooking tips, and other resources to help homemakers save money while preparing healthier meals at home.
The Kline’s have also developed The Savvy Couple YouTube channel, which currently has 90 videos and more than 10,000 subscribers. Not only does the channel help generate additional revenue, but it also builds the brand name and provides visitors with additional resources.
Staying Focused and Tracking Time
The emphasis on outsourcing multiple responsibilities to staffers is providing the time for the Kline’s to get better control of their time and the income they generate with it. Unlike when they first started the blog, Kelan and Brittany now pay close attention to the hours they spend in the business, and where that time is concentrated.
“A rule of thumb that we use is to track our hours and how much we’re making on an hourly basis,” says Kelan. “That’s currently over $1,000 per hour for me. So I focus on activities within the business that are $1,000 per hour tasks. I’ve learned that everything I outsource is going to free up my time to focus on growing the business.”
Harnessing Artificial Intelligence (AI) to Grow the Business
When we think of artificial intelligence (AI), it’s almost natural to see it used primarily by large organizations. But Kelan and Brittany are an example of a small business employing AI to help grow their business.
“We came across AI tools back in 2020 while we were searching for ways to improve our content creation systems and processes,” Kelan reports. “We started using Jasper AI and Surfer to create article outlines, write the first draft, come up with titles, unique ideas and perspectives, expand on topics, and more. Our entire team now uses ChatGPT in the content creation process, including YouTube scripts, email marketing, customer service, social media, and more. Two new AI tools we are starting to use are Koala and Surfer AI.”
In fact, AI has become integrated within the business across the board in almost every system and process they have. Kelan reports that the tools continue to get steadily better allowing them to create more content and better serve their audience.
Adjusting to the Changes in Blogging Since 2019
Like virtually every other industry, blogging is an ever-evolving enterprise. And like any business with many success stories, the blogging field has become crowded and competitive in just a few short years.
AI has been one example of a major change in the industry, but there are plenty of others. For example, Kelan and Brittany have been intentional about avoiding the kinds of Google penalties that can torpedo a blog’s revenue. They’ve also increased their focus on creating high quality content.
“I think blogging has become significantly more difficult in the last few years,” reveals Kelan. “I think it would be very hard to get into the game now, especially in a very competitive niche. Google is now looking at ‘EAT’ – which is experience, authority, and trust – and you need to incorporate that into all content on your site.”
“If you’re reviewing products or presenting side hustles,” Kelan continues, “you need hands-on experience with the product, including testing it against others. In that way, you’re providing first-person reviews and experiences. We spend hours upon hours evaluating dozens of side hustles and ways to try various ways to make money online and documenting the process as we do. It’s no longer as simple as opening up WordPress, typing an article, and hoping people see it.”
The Road to Success Isn’t Always a Straight Line – What Hasn’t Worked
Starting a business of any size is a process of fits and starts. That’s as true of blogging as it is of any other business. Even though some efforts are producing positive results, others are heading in the other direction. Kelan and Brittany are now well acquainted with that reality.
While the couple has found success in building web traffic through a combination of SEO and social media and creating revenue streams from display ads and sponsorships, they found some sources work better than others.
For example, sponsorships were an early revenue generator. This is a process of endorsing third-party products and services on the blog. The Kline’s have learned to be much more selective in the products they sponsor on their sites. “We’re now very strategic with the brands we work with and turn down 90% of the offers we get,” offers Kelan. “We never work with a brand unless we personally have used them in the past or are allowed to test them out beforehand. This way we ensure our audience is getting the best-recommended products and services on the market to help them increase their income, manage their money, and reach financial freedom.”
They’ve also run into some rough sledding with some of the products they’ve created and offered. “We basically tried a bunch of different courses at higher prices,” reports Kelan. “We’re talking $100, $200 and $500 per course that we’ve launched to our audience. Many have failed. But that is how you learn and improve. I don’t believe in failure. The only way you can fail is if you don’t learn and improve from your mistakes.”
The Kline’s Income Picture – 2019 and 2023
The chart below presents a clear picture of the income progression of The Savvy Couple since it started earning revenue in 2017. As you can see, income has risen in each year, except 2020 – which as we all know was the year of the Covid-19 Pandemic and subsequent economic shutdown.
But notice that in July, 2019, when I wrote How This 28-Year-Old Couple Quit Their Jobs And Make $100,000 A Year Working From Home, the Kline’s income actually finished the year at over $250,000. It then resumed its growth pattern in 2021, then topped $500,000 in 2022.
Based on the current pace, the Klines expect their three brands under Savvy Media Marketing to earn nearly $1.2 million in 2023, or an average of $100,000 per month.
The pie chart below breaks down the various sources of revenue for the site, as well as the percentage each generates. Revenue from affiliate programs and digital products sales together represent nearly two-thirds of total revenue.
The Long-term Plan: Reaching Financial Freedom by 35
Up to this point, Kelan and Brittany’s plan has been to build The Savvy Coupe into a seven-figure business. Now that that’s becoming a reality, the new goal is to reach financial freedom by age 35. That gives them just a few short years to make it happen. But given the success they’ve enjoyed over the past six years, they’re an odds-on bet to reach their goal.
That doesn’t mean the Kline’s plan to ultimately retire from The Savvy Couple. Quite the contrary. The plan is to continue to build web traffic and revenue to all three websites. In the process, they’re working to increase passive income. That’s revenue generated by the blogs with little or no additional effort on their parts.
But as they do, and their income from blogging rolls in, they’re putting more money into the stock market. That’s another part of their ultimate goal of reaching financial freedom at age 35, at least partially from the passive income generated by those investments.
That will enable them to spend even more quality time with family and on personal pursuits. At the same time, they’re developing the blogs to help serve and impact as many people as possible with the mission of creating more time and money to build a life of freedom for the many regular visitors to their websites.
Despite the increasing challenges in the blogging space, the Kline’s still believe the niche has potential for new entrants. After all, when they launched their blog in 2016 the field was already crowded. Despite that obstacle, they still hit pay dirt.
“Pick your niche, refine it as you move forward, and become an expert and an authority in the field,” advises Kelan. “Focus on SEO from the very beginning, stay connected with your audience, consistently provide new and useful content, and diversify your income sources, and you can still become a successful blogger.”
No, blogging is not as easy as it used to be. But it’s still one of the most popular ways to make money online – even a lot of it – and to achieve financial freedom in the process. The Kline’s are a living example of that.
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