Welcome to the Design Your Dream Life Series.
If you’re new here, this is a series where I am interviewing people who have designed their dream life. You can find all the interviews here on the Design Your Dream Life Page.
I’m suuuper excited to have Deacon Hayes on today! Deacon is the founder of Well Kept Wallet, which won Best Personal Finance Blog of the Year at FinCon last year. It’s the bomb.com. And so is he!
To give you some context, Deacon’s official bio reads: Deacon Hayes is the Founder of WellKeptWallet.com and WellKeptBody.com. He has been a contributor for the US News & World Report, Investopedia, Clark Howard and more. He is also the author of the book, You Can Retire Early! Everything You Need to Achieve Financial Independence When You Want It.
Basically, he’s a rock star.
Here’s my interview with Deacon…
Finish the sentence “I knew I was living my dream life when…”
I realized this when we were making well into the six figures and most of the money was passive income.
I now work because I want to, not because I have to. I get to spend so much more time with my family and friends which makes all the previous long hours and hustling worth it.
What was your life like before all this that led you to make a change?
I was working a regular 8-5 schedule as a financial planner. I thought that it was the role for me to be in as I was passionate about helping people with their money. However, this was not the case. I felt trapped. I felt like I spent most of my days crunching numbers in spreadsheets and very little time actually helping people.
One time I had asked for time off to take a family vacation to Disneyland around Thanksgiving. I thought it wouldn’t be a problem given it was a holiday an all. My boss told me that I had to work on that Friday because the market would be open for a half day. It was then I knew I had to find a way out.
What’s your lifestyle like now?
A few years ago I started working out of a coworking space. One of the hardest parts of working for myself is not being around other people in a work environment. So a coworking environment made sense. I liked it so much that I actually decided to buy the business a couple of years ago.
How many hours per week do you work?
This is difficult for me to answer. I find it hard to separate work and pleasure.
Probably 30-40 hours per week of actual work but now I only work on things that I enjoy. You think that your goal is not to work in your “dream life” but that is not the case for me. I enjoy being productive and adding value, so working is something I will always do, just on my terms.
How do you make money?
My primary income is from affiliate marketing through my site Well Kept Wallet which now gets over 1,000,000 page views per month.
We have partnered up with several brands that make sense for our audience.
Now that my main site is going strong, I decided to create a new site called WellKeptBody.com where I plan to replicate the success of Well Kept Wallet.
How long did it take for you to make $1k per month?
It took about 6 years. When I started the blog, I had no intention of making money with it. I just want to help other people get out of debt by sharing how we paid $52,000 of debt in 18 months.
Then one day a buddy of mine reached out to me if I wanted to make $150 for mentioning USAA on my site. Of course I was ecstatic and said yes.
Eventually I learned affiliate marketing and that was a game changer. I found the brands that were the best fit for our audience and began to make commissions for referring readers to these brands. This was the ticket to growing our monthly revenue.
How long did it take for you to make six figures per year?
This took around 7 years. Which is funny because it took me 6 years to make $1,000 per month.
But once I figured out how to make money, then it was just a matter of scaling the model. I decided to invest the profits back in the business and in Facebook advertising. That allowed us to grow extremely fast and catch up for all that lost time.
What do you wish you knew when you were starting out that you know now?
The importance of narrowing down what to write about. At one point I had over 40 categories and the site felt very scattered.
Today we have three main categories save money, make money and pay off debt. This has helped us focus so that we can be really good at what we do. It also has helped us create more revenue because we are finding the best affiliates to partner up for these categories.
What advice would you give to someone who is starting out and wants to design her dream life?
Start with the end in mind. Know what you really want before you start on your path.
It will help you filter out the noise and focus on what is really important. I spent years spinning my wheels because I was stretched too thin. Don’t let that be you. Design the life that gives you purpose and that will motivate you to keep going. That will make all the difference.
A Final Note!
I LOVE Deacon’s advice about starting with the end in mind. This. Is. Everything.
I also relate to loving work. I think when you’re in flow and truly doing what you love, you don’t ever want to quit. Work gives you purpose. It’s good for your brain and for your life.
Another thing I love that Deacon says is to narrow down your focus for what you write about. I struggle with this because I love all.the.things. I admire how he was able to simplify his blog so much and then scale it exponentially. It’s super inspiring!
A huge THANK YOU to Deacon for sharing his story and giving so much value today!!
Are you inspired by Deacon?! Let him know in the comments!
P.s. If you want to start a blog, you can check out these resources: