What’s the first thing that pops into your mind when you think of a blogger? Perhaps you think of an Instagram “influencer,” traveling the world trying to get free hotel stays in exchange for a post on their website.

Or, a mommy blogger trying to make some money on the side while helping her peers. Or, a fitness coach trying to grow a personal brand.

Either way — in today’s over-saturated online space, it’s hard to believe that blogging could actually be a lucrative career.

Most of the time, bloggers slave away and write content for years, only able to scrap together a few advertising dollars or the occasional exchange for free stuff.

In the same vein, most “influencers” with massive follower counts are unable to actually influence purchases. It’s widely known that an Instagrammer with 2 million followers couldn’t sell 36 t-shirts – and this isn’t rare.

But this is not the case for Adam Enfroy, an ex-digital marketer turned full-time blogger who launched his blog just last year and is on track to make 7-figures in 2020.

With over 450,000 monthly readers, Enfroy’s mission is to teach the next generation of online entrepreneurs how to scale their influence at startup speed. His blog lays out the exact steps he took and how it’s possible for new bloggers to make life changing money in months, not years — since he just did it himself.

In this exclusive interview with Enfroy, we uncover his personal struggles, his journey, and the steps that anyone can take to build out a successful and profitable blog:

Celinne Da Costa: Tell me about yourself.

Adam Enfroy: I grew up in a middle-class family in a small town outside of Detroit.

In grade school, I was put in the “gifted kids” class. I was separated from my friends and bullied on a daily basis for being different. From then on, I discovered my two main goals — avoid conflict and fit in at all costs.

During my teenage years, I eased the pressure to fit in with alcohol. Being the life of the party made fitting in easy, but I was slowly abusing myself to do it.

I did well in my first few years of college, but it didn’t take long for my old habits to catch up with me. By senior year, I was completely lost and had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I (barely) graduated with an alcohol problem, student loans, and a degree I didn’t know how to use.

I moved back home and started working at a pizza place for $8 an hour. I remember thinking, “Well, this is it,” and started accepting this as my likely future.

On the surface, I pretended I was doing okay but deep down I was still struggling and couldn’t pinpoint exactly why.

My early twenties came to a crashing halt after a DUI, a night in jail, and two years of probation.

It was rock bottom. I came to the cold realization that I wasn’t living up to my own expectations of myself.

I was sick of the misery and knew something had to change.

Da Costa: How did you kickstart your career?

Enfroy: About a year later, I got really deep into personal development and went to a few seminars. It was there I discovered I feared rejection and avoided conflict as an adult because of the bullying I dealt with as a kid.

I wasn’t being my true self or living up to my potential. This had to change.

So the next day I got off work and decided to try to run a marathon by myself. I’d run 6 or 7 miles before, but nothing near 26.

My legs almost gave out, but I finished a little after 1 a.m.

I remember collapsing on a grassy hill and staring up at the sky. I’m not sure how long I laid there, but I know that at that moment, I felt reborn. I thought to myself, if I can do this I can do anything.

So I set my sights on my next goal — building a career.

I couldn’t really use my degree, so I started teaching myself everything I could about the digital world – SEO, PPC, Facebook Ads, etc. I padded my resume with certifications and got my first job at a marketing agency.

Throughout my early career, I found the secret to getting ahead wasn’t technical knowledge, but social skills. And office politics paralleled the social situations I learned to maneuver through as a kid.

Only this time around, I’d been through the wringer and understood myself on a deeper level. I came to realize three things: we only have a short time on Earth, human connection is all there is, and there’s absolutely nothing to be scared of. Building personal connections became my biggest strength.

The secret to getting ahead was actually a gift from my childhood.

I was promoted to six different roles in five years.

I managed digital teams at an agency, ran marketing for some big e-commerce brands, then moved to Austin, Texas to work for BigCommerce as the head of digital marketing.

Da Costa: How did you create a multi six-figure blog in one year?

Enfroy: I’ve always been fascinated with people making passive income and constantly had ideas swirling in my head.

I followed a lot of big marketers, but I found their advice pretty generic.

When you think about it, most of them found success a long time ago. Today, competition is more cutthroat — what worked in 2010 may not work in 2020.

Plus, blogging advice isn’t getting anyone anywhere. New bloggers are told to “write about their passions” and “maintain consistency” so they can “push through failure to succeed.”

In my digital career, I watched this approach fail over and over again. By 2019, I felt like I had finally learned enough to build a successful blog – and teach others a better way to do it.

I thought, “What if I create a new blog (in 2019) and document my journey, providing specific, actionable steps to make money blogging – starting from zero?”

This way, the advice is real, up to date, backed by proof, and isn’t selling a fantasy.

However, at the time I had a demanding, full-time job. I had to figure out how to scale my blog and spend my limited time in the most meaningful ways.

So I took what I learned in my digital career and created a system to scale my blog like a startup. To do this, I planned to focus less on writing and more on pulling levers that made the greatest business impact.

If you think about it, a restaurant owner doesn’t cook every meal — they hire a chef. So why do bloggers manage everything on their own?

Instead, I decided to treat my blog like a business from day one.

I started putting 40 hours a week into my blog outside of my day job. I bought the latest software and blogging tools. And I hired an assistant to help manage my guest blogging process, a content writer to help with first drafts, and called up a few developer and designer friends.

It didn’t cost much and allowed me to focus my energy on what I’m really good at — building relationships in my niche.

In short, the process worked.

In 2019, I published 85 articles on my blog and 82 guest posts on other blogs. This equates to around 500,000 words, or 8-10 novels worth of content.

This was only possible by creating this new system and scaling my blog.

Seven months after launch (July 2019), my blog income surpassed my full-time salary. I waved goodbye to my 9-5, packed my bag, and lived in seven different countries for the rest of the year.

Today, my blog makes over $80k per month — mainly from passive affiliate income. I have over 450k monthly readers, an email list of 35k, and a Facebook community of 3,500 “Blogpreneurs” looking to do the same.

I’m on track to make 7-figures in 2020 with a 90% profit margin and I spend $0 on advertising.

Da Costa: What were the challenges you faced?

Enfroy: Maintaining a work-life balance was tough while building my side hustle. For seven straight months, I worked 50 hours a week at my full-time job and another 50 on my blog.

One good thing I grasped was that you don’t have to go as nuts as I did. I learned how to scale a blog the hard way so that hopefully others won’t have to.

Second, I honestly didn’t know what I was doing at first. I stumbled and made a lot of mistakes. Even though I had years of digital experience, I’d never built a blog before.

For example, I started my blog on Squarespace, then moved to WordPress because of limitations. I published a lot of content that I’ve since deleted. I struggled to gain early traction and wasn’t taken seriously.

But I had the most important thing in my corner — perspective.

The intense demands I faced were nothing compared to my struggles in the past. For the first time in my life, I was working toward something bigger than myself.

The struggle was worth it knowing that I was helping others.

Da Costa: What advice would you give people looking to create their own high paying blog?

Enfroy: 1. Be a business owner, not a writer. Hobby blogs and money-making blogs are two entirely different things. To be a profitable blogger, you need to be disciplined in digital marketing and treat your blog like a business from day one.

2. Give your blog the freedom to pivot. Quitting is the enemy. When your blog’s niche is too narrow, it’s easier to run out of ideas and quit. Aim to be an expert in one niche, but try not to pigeonhole yourself so that you can’t evolve.

3. Get really good at SEO. Every blog post you write should be optimized for one keyword phrase and written to get backlinks. You can write content all day, but if you don’t have links from other reputable websites pointing to yours, search engines won’t take you seriously.

4. Use your professional leverage. Nurture your current working relationships to help build your blog’s early momentum. If you have a lot of experience in your field, build your personal brand around that expertise. I see a lot of bloggers go into niches where they have no experience just to chase money — that rarely works.

5. Focus less on writing about your passions. I’m passionate about a lot of things, but if I had to write about them incessantly for years without making money, I’d quit 100% of the time. Not every niche is easy to monetize. In blogging, I firmly believe that success drives passion more than passion drives success.