As one of the largest personal finance websites in America, The Penny Hoarder is quickly learning how to make one historically taboo topic, personal finance, a topic worth talking about.
I recently sat down with Liz Cole, Director of Media Relations and Communications, The Penny Hoarder, to learn more about the company’s roots, its ability to create engaging content and to uncover how the brand has become one of the fastest growing private media companies.
Aaron Kwittken: As a six-year-old company, can you talk about The Penny Hoarder’s humble beginnings and when you joined?
Liz Cole: Kyle Taylor, Founder and CEO of The Penny Hoarder, started the company in 2010 after finding himself in debt with student loans. He was very passionate about politics and worked various political campaigns, but often found himself in a bind financially, which is when he started blogging. At the time, he was embarrassed by his financial situation and wasn’t comfortable sharing his situation with friends and family. He created a blog, made himself a logo and would post here and there about a unique side job he would work on a weekend and share his story of how he was getting by. Along the way, he would offer advice to readers about how they could deal with similar struggles.
Back then, Kyle was not an experienced writer or editor and had no staff helping him, but pretty soon, his blogging caught on. A couple of years later, he finally began to earn an income through advertising and with little overhead, he watched his blog grow. By 2013, he realized it was becoming a serious business and stated earning income from it.
Kwittken: How did Kyle bring other people in to professionalize the blog?
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Cole: He first wanted to find a blogging content expert. He searched on Google and came across Alexis Graham, a journalist with a long history of working in the editorial world. At the time, she owned a company that specialized in creating content for blogs and had a small staff. They began working together and Kyle outsourced the content to her. Next, he started thinking about taking the blog to the next level. With Alexis’ help, he turned the blog into a full-fledged website and within six months, he acquihired her company and many of her staff members.
Kwittken: The acquihire was a clear pivotal moment. What drew them to join forces?
Cole: Alexis was at a point in her career where she was interested in this powerful message and unique voice they could have and yearned for a steady partnership. With the acquihire, she and Kyle could give full time jobs to many of her writers. But, Kyle also needed to bring someone in to figure out how they were going to monetize. He brought in Vishal Mahtani who had a strong background in e-commerce, the monetization of websites and SEO.
After Vishal joined, Kyle hired a Human Resources leader immediately. Even though several writers and staff members were working remotely, Kyle understood the importance of having a…