Blogger of the month: Ricky Willis

Blogger Ricky Willis
Ricky Willis, our March blogger of the month
"Within a few months my traffic started to go through the roof from people reading my money-saving tips. It was then that I realised there was potential to monetise the blog and turn it into a full-time business"
  • | by Kristian Dando

Our blogger for the month of March is Ricky Willis, the man behind money-saving blog Skint Dad.

Ricky’s story is remarkable as he turned a bad situation into a good one – faced with living on very little money at all, the 35-year-old father-of-three turned his and his family's lives around and started making a living through his blog.

We had a chat with Ricky to find out more about his story…

You started your blog amid some pretty dire-sounding circumstances but managed to turn things around. How did blogging help with that?

Initially, I started the blog to keep track of our finances and record the different ways in which we were reducing our debt.

Within a few months my traffic started to go through the roof from people reading my money-saving tips. It was then that I realised there was potential to monetise the blog and turn it into a full-time business.

What’s your proudest achievement since you started blogging?

Wow! There have been so many but one does stick out.

Last September I attended the Mad Blog Awards, which is run by the parent blogger network TOTS100. I’d been shortlisted in the category for ‘Best Thrifty Blog’ along with four other awesome bloggers.

I never expected to win so when the time came to announce the winner and they called out my name, I was pretty choked up.

It was definitely a highlight and the award sits proudly on my desk at home.

What posts are you most proud of? Are there any that've surprised you with how popular they are?

I wrote a post entitled ‘Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle’ last August and it really resonated with a lot of people.

About a month after I’d published the post it was shared on Reddit and went viral. In less than 12 hours I received over 10,000 page views on that post alone.

How do you find inspiration for your posts?

So many places! A lot of the posts are from personal experiences but I also take inspiration from forums I use, social media and current news.

I always have my phone with me and make notes when an idea pops into my head.

Some of my best ideas have been when I first wake up so I have a notepad by my bed to jot them down.

What other blogs do you like reading, and why?

I use Feedly to keep up to date with around 40 blogs. A few stand-out ones for me are Miss Thrifty, Making Sense of Cents and Budgets are Sexy.

I also love Pinch of Yum for their amazing recipes, and even better photos!

I notice from your posts that you’re very kitchen oriented. How did you get into cooking and what’s your speciality?

Cooking isn’t something that came naturally to me. When I was working in London I would always be home after my wife, so she would cook.

Once my role changed and I became a stay-at-home-dad it was then down to me to prepare the meals.

I was useless at first, but after a few weeks of finding my way around the kitchen I started to get better.

Now I’ll give anything a go but I really like to cook Italian dishes and my homemade Bolognese sauce is pretty tasty… Or so I’ve been told!

At what point did you decide that blogging could be a full-time occupation?

As I mentioned, it was a just a few months after I’d launched the blog that my traffic started to increase drastically.

It was at that point when I realised this could really have the potential to generate an income.

I started exploring ways in which I could monetise the site such as Adsense, affiliate marketing, working on brand collaborations and freelance writing.

Within a few months I was earning a good income. 

When you’re not blogging, what do you get up to?

It feels like I’m blogging pretty much all of the time but when I do catch five minutes I make sure that I spend quality time with my wife and children.

For a long time we struggled financially and it’s only in the last 12 months that things have become easier.

I know it’s blogging that has empowered us to create a better life for ourselves but we don’t let it consume our lives. I make sure we have time together as a family whenever we can and if that means me working until the small hours then so be it.

Finally, what nuggets of advice would you have for anyone looking to make a name for themselves in blogging?

If you really want to be a successful blogger then you need to find a topic you’re passionate about. If you don’t it'll soon show through your writing and the readers you have could drift off.

My second tip would be to write every day. Even if you don’t publish a post, still try and find time to write. It'll help you with consistency and, like everything, the more you practise the better you'll become.

Lastly, I would seek out other bloggers for advice. I’m actually launching a new site called the Blogfather in April which will be full of advice and tutorials on how bloggers can take their site to the next level.