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MBP #2: How Greg Go at Wisebread Used Collaboration to Reach 2,000,000 Visitors a Month

Greg Go, Wise BreadThink about two of your friends from high school. Any two will do.

Now think about starting a business with them and how that might turn out. Oh, did I mention you all work virtually?

That’s exactly what Greg Go, Will Chen, and Lynn Truong did and the results speak for themselves. They are the three co-founders of Wise Bread, a personal finance blog that reaches over two million visitors a month and is easily one of the largest independently owned personal finance blogs. They are leaders in their space, they work with the biggest of brands (financial and otherwise), and they do it all without ripping each other’s heads off!

How did they get that big? What is their secret to getting three friends to work together without getting into partnership-killing fights? How have they been able to stay friends for over six years and work with big brands like American Express, Intel, and other Fortune 500 companies?

Making sure the spirit of collaboration is at the core of everything they do.

What will you learn in this episode:

  • How Greg, Will and Lynn teamed up to form Wise Bread
  • The benefits (and drawbacks) of a partnership
  • How they split up roles and responsibilities (the answer may surprise you)
  • How they use daily “Founder Chats” to make sure they’re all on the same page
  • How they use a “Final Decider” for tough decisions
  • What they look for in freelance and staff writers
  • How they structured their freelance writer relationships…
  • … and then made a painful change from a revenue sharing to a flat rate plus bonus compensation plan.
  • How they hired their first few full-time employees, what they look for, what roles they play
  • What Greg thinks has changed in the last seven years
  • How Wise Bread focuses on relationship building and why it’s important to their business
  • Greg turns the tables on me and asks me about scotch 🙂

If you enjoyed this podcast, I just ask that you show your appreciate to Greg for his generosity — Click to tweet @gregorygo and tell him he was awesome on the podcast!

Resources and links mentioned in this chat:

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Raw Transcript

Announcer: This is a Microblogger podcast, Episode 2

Announcer: Welcome to the Microblogger Podcast. If you’re looking to build
a business, you can be proud of, you’re in the right place.
Here’s your host, Jim Wang.

Jim Wang: Hello. Welcome Microbloggers. Today’s show is with Greg Go.
He’s one of the three co-founders of Wise Bread. It’s a popular
personal finance blog that reaches over two million people a
month. Greg does it with his two partners, Lynn and Will, and
it’s a great example of what you achieve if you put aside your
ego. We discuss how they make it work, how they make the tough
decisions and what they do to make sure what they do stays about
the business and never gets personal. You’ll be surprised at how
they make those tough decisions. I know I was. I’ll see you at
the end to fill in anything that they missed and I hope you
enjoy it. Hey, Greg, how’s it going?

Greg Go: Great. Thanks for having me on.

Jim: Yeah, thanks for joining us. I wanted to bring you on because, as a
lot of people know, you are one of the trio that runs Wise
Bread, a pretty popular personal finance blog. Can you tell us a
little bit about how you guys got started, how big you are, all
the good numbers and stuff like that that you’re comfortable

Greg: Sure. Me and two friends, Lynn and Will, seven years ago we
wanted to change our careers, do something on the web. Will told
me at that point that he just wanted to build websites and not
be a lawyer anymore. We got together and at that point we
thought people in their 20-somethings needed help with their
finances, like we did. So we wanted to start a site that helped
people in their 20-somethings really get a handle on their first
paychecks. Wise Bread, at this point, seven years later does two
million unique views a month. We have four staffers in addition
to the three founders, and we have two dozen-plus freelance
writers helping to write content on the site.

Jim: Wow, that’s amazing. So the three founders are you, Will Chen, and
Lynn Truong?

Greg: Correct.

Jim: You know, I think you guys are one of the rare success stories where
it’s a site that you started from scratch, grew it to the size
that it is right now-which I think you told me, two million page
views a month-which is amazing. And you did it all with a
partnership. I mean, I think that’s rare, but what do you think
you can credit to the success of that type of collaboration?

Greg: Actually I’m a little surprised to hear that partnerships,
successful partnerships, are so rare because I credit all of our
success to our partnership. And I guess the difference is our
partnership has been really complementary. Lynn keeps his trains
running on time, Will is a great strategic thinker and doing biz
tabs and building relationships, and I’m kind of the tech mad
scientist in the background. So right from the get-go we’ve had
really complementary partnerships. And we’ve built on each
other’s skills, which has helped keep the partnership strong and
interesting, I guess.

Jim: What’s been interesting about it?

Greg: We’ve had some interesting fights. I won’t say that the
partnership has been smooth sailing the whole way, but our
fights come from our different points of views. Lynn is really
good at getting checks paid on time, getting posts published on
time. I’m really good at seeing opportunities and investigating
those opportunities, and Will has been kind of the bridge in the
middle to see the opportunities and also how we can build on it
and maintain it to actually build a business from those

Let me give you an example. If I was going at it alone, I would
probably try a whole bunch of different things and after a
couple of months I would get bored and be really terrible at
maintaining stuff, and things would fail. So our complementary
partnership has really helped each other to build a successful

Jim: It’s funny you say that. Thinking back to when you guys were
building this, or coming together to build it for the first time,
did you sit down at, like a table and say, “All right, you do
this, you do this, you do this,” or did it sort of like fall out
naturally based on what you’re all good at?

Greg: I think we’re really lucky. And maybe a lot of
partnerships weren’t so lucky in the beginning. What brought us
together was all three of us all wanted to change our careers. I
was in IT, doing systems administration for a visual tech studio.
Will was a lawyer. Lynn was doing ad sales for a TV show,
actually for the Oprah and Dr. Phil show.

Jim: That’s pretty awesome.

Greg: Yeah. And all three of us wanted to build websites, wanted to
work from home, wanted to build a business that was our own, and
honestly when we started, we canvassed a bunch of our friends to
see who else was interested in this. But the three of us were
the only ones who really wanted to change our careers and do
something and that’s how we got together. And the complementary
part of our skills and passions, I guess, was the lucky part of
our partnership.

Jim: When you were asking around for other people to see if they wanted to
contribute, how did you know that-at least in your case-Lynn and
Will were as committed as you were?

Greg: Yeah, that’s a good question. And I’d love to say that we were
really intentional when we started this business. But, like I
said, all three of us were doing different things before we
started Wise Bread. So we had no idea what it took but I think
one of our best decisions was to not go at it alone. And I’ve
seen some friends try to build sites on their own and maybe get
a little too hung up on the hassles of a partnership, but those
people who’ve gone at it alone have failed, too.

Jim: I know one of the things that, when I was doing Bargaineering on my
own, there were times when it becomes a challenge and it’s nice
to have someone else to sort of lean on and share ideas and talk
to and just have a sounding board to keep you sane.

Greg: Yeah, the sounding board thing is really good. All three of us
have had ideas-good or bad-and it’s great to have the other two
kind of provide their perspectives and just after talking it
out, we’ll end up with a better plan than if we had gone at it

And the other thing I want to point out is actually burnout, I
think, is a big problem when people start their own blogs and
stuff. So it’s been nice to really lean on others, and sometimes
one of us needs to take a break and it’s nice to have the other
two keep the site going and make sure the readers don’t have to
wait weeks before they see another post.

Jim: Yeah, that’s sort of the upside of having a partnership. It’s hugs
and rainbows and unicorns.

Greg: Right.

Jim: You mentioned earlier that you guys have had your share of fights.
Have you done anything special to make sure that those fights,
at least initially, don’t become partnership-breaking issues?

Greg: Yeah, I think there are probably a couple of keys. One is we
talk daily, so we always start the day with kind of a founder’s
meeting. Most days, 90% of the time, it’s really boring, day-to-
day stuff but that daily touch has helped to make sure, you

Jim: You do this every day?

Greg: …we’re all still friends. Yeah, every day.

Jim: You do a five-minute conference call chat, or video chat or how do
you guys do it?

Greg: Yeah, it’s just a cell phone conference call. We try to aim for
15 to 30 minutes. Sometimes it’s five minutes. Sometimes its two
hours. But the key is that daily touch among the founders. The
other thing is-

Jim: How did the others decide to do that?

Greg: Actually when we first started, we all wanted to work from home
and we had different times. We started with three times a week
doing calls, and it was in the afternoon. But over time it
evolved and we figured that the morning daily chat was the best
way to go about it. And now that we have staff, it’s helped to
have a founder’s call in the morning before we do our email and
talk to the teams that we’re responsible for.

The other thing I want to point is when we do talk, and when we
have fights, we remind each other that we’re all working towards
the same goal. It’s like, “This is not a personal attack.”

Jim: Right.

Greg: I disagree with your idea, but it’s all for the good of the
company. And sometimes we do go away a little angry with each
other, but by the next day a lot of times-the funny story is-
we’ll switch positions and we’ll see the other person’s point of
view and suddenly advocate for what that person was arguing for
the day before. And the key is all three of us are working
towards making the company better, making the site better, and
so whenever we yell at each other or feel a little angry at the
other people, we have to keep in mind and remind each other that
it’s all for the good of all three of us.

Jim: And that can be hard sometimes, but one of the benefits that I see,
at least with you three, is that it’s an odd number. Do you ever
get into these big company decisions where you don’t have full
consensus, and you have to sort of vote and maybe make a
decision based on two versus one or anything like that?

Greg: Absolutely. And that’s been part of the evolution of the
partnership. In the beginning it was all about voting. Each
founder had an equal vote, but over time we’ve discovered that
we needed to come up with a decider. And Will Chen is now our
decider, because he can see both sides of it. The expense and
the work it would take to get a project going, that’s one side.
And my side: all these awesome opportunities that I’m seeing,
but may never really translate to revenue. And he has to take
both those sides and kind of come up with the plan that will
actually be good for the readers and good for our company
revenue. So between the three of us, we still vote, but we’ve
decided between the three of us that Will gets to be the

Jim: How did you decide that?

Greg: He just came up with the best arguments and the best decisions
over the years.

Jim: I think that’s a good way to do it.

Greg: Right, and based on our conversations and our fights, it’s
always been about the good of the company, and we found that
Will had both the strategic vision and tactical vision to make
the good final decisions. And to tell you the truth, a lot of
times because we have an odd number, the three founder’s votes
often coincide with what Will would decide. But at the end of
the day, it’s helpful to have one final decider and have the
other partners agree to abide by that decision.

Jim: Yeah. I mean it can get tough if you have extremely large egos, but
it sounds like you guys have always sort of checked your ego at
the door and said, “This is all for the common good.” For these
major decisions, everyone will have their voice, but Will can
sort of put it all together and it’s good that you guys have
that trust in one another. Do you think that’s because you were
friends at the start?

Greg: I think that helps, but I think also that we’ve all seen that
all of our opinions and thoughts have been towards making the
site and the company better and so we trust each other to know
that what we’re fighting for, what we’re yelling about, is about
the good of the site. So that’s built up over a couple of years.
We were friends before Wise Bread but we weren’t business
partners. So it’s taken a couple of years to adjust our
friendship to set a business partnership.

Jim: Have you guys actually yelled at one another in one of these sort of
decision moments?

Greg: Yes, actually.

Jim: Really? On the phone or in person?

Greg: On the phone. Wise Bread is a totally virtual company so a lot
of our contact is through Skype, Skype Chat or phone calls, and
so we don’t meet face-to-face with each other that often. But
yeah, on the phone we have had some pretty contentious
arguments, but-

Jim: So, not talking about the actual argument itself, because that can
change week to week or whatever, but how do you make sure that
after all is said and done that there aren’t any hard feelings,
that everyone’s sort of okay with the decision that was made
even if didn’t come in agreement with them?

Greg: So this is where Will is a genius. So at the end of the call
we’re all mad at each other but he’s going to bring it back to
the good of the company. He’ll say things like, “Okay, you guys
said this, and you guys said this, and this is our goal for the
company and based the industry, blah blah blah, I think these
are the important points.” And then when he sums it up, it’s
like, “Oh, yeah, we actually all agree.” But when we’re yelling
at each other, maybe we’re a little too focused on what we are
personally passionate about, but at the end of the call it was
always about, “We’re all on the same page and want the website
to succeed.”

Jim: Will should have been like a divorce lawyer. It sounds like he’s a
good mediator. It makes sense that you guys chose him
collectively as the decider or the arbiter in some of these.

Greg: It might be his attorney training that really helped. So he’s
been really good on focusing on the important points and what
we’re really trying to say because a lot of times arguments will
devolve into very minute things. And at the end of the call
he’ll bring it back to like, “Okay, we talked about all this
other crap, but what you guys really care about is this and
this, and that’s not far different at all actually.”

Jim: That’s great. Here’s the other interesting thing that I remember
about Wise Bread. So you have the sort of three-person
partnership of the founders and now you guys have full-time

Greg: Right.

Jim: But originally, you guys had a lot of, I guess, staff writers,
freelance writers and a sort of collaborative mentality extended
towards them as well because I know you guys were doing a rev
share. Can you talk a little bit about that and then why you
moved away from it?

Greg: Yeah, okay. So when we started, we did rev share with the
writers and we called it “100% rev share,” and it meant that all
the ad revenue that was on their articles went to the writers
and the company and the founders only took what was on the
category pages or at the home page. The reason we had to do that
was because we didn’t have any cash in the beginning. It was all
boot-strapped, but we found that that wasn’t really a great
model and the reason was the site was only taking about 20% to
25% of the income but it was really up to the founders and the
company to market the site and the writers.

And writers just want to write, so over time we’ve had to evolve
that rev share model and not give 80% of the income to writers.
A lot of what makes a website successful is the marketing and
the brand authority of the site. This was discussed at ThinkCon
actually. The model has changed, where 80% of what a blogger
does has to be marketing and not writing.

Jim: Yeah. When you write, you just put it out there. You’ve got to get
people do it and so you’re building this entire infrastructure
in place but you’re giving almost all of the revenue to the
writers. It makes sense that moving forward it’s just not
sustainable really, and not really fair for you guys.

Greg: Yeah, and it was bad for the writers too, because without the
marketing and without the SEO and the brand authority of Wise
Bread, nobody would be reading those articles. So we had to
shift it a little bit, but it’s in our DNA to be collaborative
with the writers. Even now, we’re not a single voice. We want to
bring in passionate experts to write about what they’re
passionate about. So the person writing about travel versus the
person writing about emergency funds, they’re different writers
and we don’t just have a staff of freelance writers who can draw
up any topic. We think bringing in experts and being
collaborative with our writers provides the best value for our

Jim: It’s interesting; I mean, it’s not that interesting you say that, but
the fact that you realized it so early on. I remember when
Bargaineers was like, “Oh, I’m going to bring in all these other
writers because I want these different perspectives.” And the
thing that you guys have keyed on is the passion portion, which
a lot of people, at least four or five years ago, weren’t as
keen on, because back then with SEO and you get so much traffic
just by churning out a lot of content. And then you have your
demand media and all those content farms that sort of ruin that
game. Now you need the passion, which is what I think is one of
the big reasons why you guys have done so well is you get all of
these different passionate people.

Greg: It might be lucky that we didn’t have any cash in the
beginning, so we had to bring in passionate people to write
about what they’re passionate about for no money up front.

Jim: Right, right.

Greg: That may be one thing. And the other thing is I do see a lot of
fellow bloggers starting their own sites now, and I don’t know
how they do it. They do the writing, they do the SEO, the
checking of stats, making deals with people and marketing. I
wouldn’t be able to do it alone if I were starting out.

Jim: It sounds like you could have. You could have done it for about three
or four weeks until you wanted to start another blog or start
another business project.

Greg: Right. So I would have 100 dead blogs at this point if I
went at it alone.

Jim: Right. This is where you make fun of me and my 100 dead blogs. I
should have found my Will and Lynn, but so it goes. One of the
things that I remember was that your rev share agreement, not
only was it 100% but it was essentially forever. So do you want
to talk about how you guys have moved away from that sort of
that unlimited liability?

Greg: Right. So I don’t want to make it sound like we were geniuses
from the beginning. That 100% rev share was because we didn’t
have cash in the beginning. But over the years we’ve found that
it prevented us from growing the site a little bit, and we’ve
had to make tough decisions. We’ve had to change those
agreements with those first half-dozen writers that helped Wise
Bread get going, and it was really tough. It was tough for them
and it was tough for us to make the decision. I liken it to big
companies having pension problems and those pension problems or
pension obligations prevent their operations and continuing to
grow. But we’re just really honest with these writers.

Jim: How did you do it? It sounds like an uncomfortable…well, first of
all, who did it? Was it you, Will or Lynn that went and spoke
with all of these writers?

Greg: Right, so after a lot of fights between the three founders,
Lynn was the one who had to go to the writers and she’s in
charge of the writers and she’s our editor-in-chief and has to
have a relationship with the writers. But she had to send out
the tough emails and do the tough phone calls with these people.

Jim: So what did you guys transition to?

Greg: So what we’ve done now is we still want to reward good writers
with amazing content that suddenly gets really big on social
media or gets a lot of traffic. So we switched from that 100%
revenue share model to a kind of bonus for having big traffic.
Every month we pay a bonus to the top ten articles, and it’s on
a sliding scale. The top is $250 for the top article of the

Jim: This is all based on traffic numbers?

Greg: All based on traffic numbers; correct.

Jim: How do you make sure that the promotion you’re doing for each of them
is equitable?

Greg: Hmm. Good question.

Jim: I guess it’s hard.

Greg: We don’t really have a control for that. So a lot of our

Jim: This is where…I ask the tough questions here.

Greg: Right. Yeah, man, you’re putting me on the spot.

Jim: Oh, sorry.

Greg: It’s all good.

Jim: So the top one gets $250 and then its’ just a sliding scale from
then, so it’s the top ten based on traffic.

Greg: Right. And this is only based on the first 30 days that the
article gets, so that controls it a little bit.

Jim: Right.

Greg: And most of the traffic an article gets is from its home page
placement. A lot of the traffic is based on it being on the home
page and so a lot of, I guess, the popularity is based on how
interesting the topic is and how good the headline is and how
good the article itself is because then it gets more shares and
it starts 30 days being live.

Jim: And it’s also incentivized as the writer-him or herself-to promote it
on social media as they see fit and everything else that they
can to try to get more views?

Greg: Sure. Yes. When an article goes live we definitely tell the
writer that it’s gone live and, based on the guest host usage
you submitted to us, you know that as you submit it, it could
take one week or three months before it goes live. But we make
sure that the writer knows that the article has been published
so they can promote it on their own social service.

Jim: Yeah, there was an automated email today that I think I got that said
it’s going up today or something like that.

Greg: Yeah, that’s one of the better tracking things that we do.

Jim: Aren’t you the tech guy?

Greg: I am, but…

Jim: It’s a good job.

Greg: …tech is a tiny part of Wise Bread’s success.

Jim: Right, right. Well, so actually I wanted to move into…you said
that, I think you said that Wise Bread has four full-time
employees now?

Greg: Right.

Jim: Can you talk about how you decided to make the first full-time hire,
and then the second, third and fourth, how you went through that
decision and what sort of roles they play in the company?

Greg: Yeah. I think the very first hire that we had is what people
would probably call an admin assistant or a virtual assistant.
And that was really important because what the founders are good
at is trying to create big wins for the company, instead of
formatting posts or publishing posts or picking pictures for
posts. And so Amy, our first hire, has allowed all three
founders to free up a lot of their time doing more of this.
She’s our copywriter, she’s our picture-picker, she’s-

Jim: How did you find her?

Greg: She was actually a friend of Lynn’s, and what was important to
us was that she was reliable and she was smart. So, again, we
were lucky in finding her and we are holding on to her.

Jim: Yeah, those are two of probably the most important qualities in an
employee, or in a person.

Greg: Yeah, when we first hired her, she had just graduated from
college and was looking for a job. And we’re really glad that
she has stuck with us since then. It’s been four years now since
we hired her.

Jim: Yeah, and I think it’s smart that you guys realize that the founder’s
job is to look forward, and big wins is a biggie. It’s a big
idea that I don’t think a lot of-especially bloggers, but a lot
of business people-don’t realize. It’s smart to outsource the
day-to-day stuff that isn’t going to move your company forward.

Greg: Right.

Jim: How about the other full-timers? What are they into?

Greg: So we have three other full-timers. One is Ashley Jacob. She
helps with social media and marketing and doing direct sales. So
she’s really good at relationship building and she helps Will,
she talks brands and she talks with other bloggers about how we
can work together with Wise Bread.

Meg is our lead editor, and she helps set the tone for the
website and the site’s content. So she deals with writers and
comes up with topic ideas and she’s the face of Wise Bread if we
need to send somebody on media opportunities. She’s been really

And the other one is Alex, who is my hand, who helps me with the
backend text of the other, more technical things that we have to
do in the background, like affiliate program firms, dealing with

Jim: It sounds like a fun job.

Greg: And I think they like it because they get to work from
home, so-

Jim: There’s always a benefit to working from home. So when was Wise Bread

Greg: We started in December 2006. So that’s a little over seven

Jim: Wow, that’s great. What do you think has changed in the last seven,
eight years that you guys have been around?

Greg: So I think two big things actually: one, what hasn’t changed is
that there are only ten spots in the Google home page or first
page of results. But the second thing is there’s been an
explosion of finance blogs since then. We were pretty lucky to
get started at the time. We were inspired by Bargaineering, Get
Rich Slowly, Consumerism Commentary, the granddaddy of personal
finance blogs, so we feel like we’re in that second wave of PF

But since then, there have been thousands more finance blogs
coming online. But there are still only just ten slots in the
first page of search results for Google. So, in the beginning we
would write about emergency funds and we might show up in Google
search results, but now personal finance blogs have to be more
creative and more niche and better at marketing to compete with
other finance blogs.

Jim: How do you feel you guys have adjusted your strategy in terms of
marketing, given more noise, more activity?

Greg: Right. I think we’re pretty good at being in between the
mainstream media sites and the solo blogs who are starting out
now. That means it’s not all about the technical SEO stuff but
it’s a lot about brand. So Wise Bread has certain brand
authority that allows us to, for example, get media
opportunities. Also, Wise Bread isn’t all about personal

Jim: True, true.

Greg: So we like to say we’re more of a lifestyle blog, and we talk
about recipes and travel and we kind of fit into everything that
our readers spend money on. And that kind of brand positioning
has helped us survive. Google outgrew us in changes over the

Jim: I think that’s true. I mean, I know you guys do a ton of weekly tweet
chats; I’ve actually done a ton of those. It’s just a lot of
outreach with other bloggers, sort of the top list puts you-and
I know the maintenance of that sort of has been on the back
burner a little bit, but it sort of puts you there as a leader.

You are a leader by virtue of being enormous and just by being
present and doing everything. But having that list sort of makes
you the authority. So I’m sure this has happened, and you
probably have told me this, but media sources will come to you
and say, “Hey, we want to talk to someone. Do you know anyone
from your Wise Bread 1,000 that fits this description?”

Greg: Right, and that’s an interesting point because we built that
list to build relationships. So we didn’t just get big because
of the list; we got big and then decided to make that list, but
that list was not just one strategy but a part of a lot of
strategies to always stay connected. I want to point out that
relationships are really important in this industry now.

I think when we were starting, we were just very internal-
looking to see how we could improve and what kind of posts we
could put up, but in our middle stage I’d say, years two to
four, we realized that relationships were super important:
relationships with other blogs; relationships with media; every
time we got a media contact we made sure that we added them on
LinkedIn, made sure that we kept in contact with them, we tried
to understand what they wanted out of Wise Bread. They wanted to
have good stories and whatever it is. And if we saw an
opportunity to help them, we would email them and contact them.
And that kind of relationship-building ethos has helped us grow.

Jim: Yeah, and one of the most popular posts on Microblogger-actually, you
know this-is when Will let me share his presentation from a
couple ThinkCons ago, which is how to get big brands to notice
your blog and advertise and come back.

And it’s very obvious you guys have a very specific outreach and
connection sort of process, where you try to maintain those
types of relationships. And it’s not necessarily to get more
advertising or mentions or anything like that, it’s just sort of
building that relationship because you just want to be seen as-I
mean because you are-good people, but you also want to be seen
as good people maintaining relationships so that down the road
the business can grow much larger.

Greg: And one of Will’s first questions when he talks to an
advertiser or he gets an email from a potential advertiser is,
“What are your goals? What do you want to get out of Wise
Bread?” So it’s not just presenting our menu of sponsored post
opportunities, but to really try to craft a custom campaign that
would help the advertiser or the agencies goals. And I think
that makes agencies and advertisers think that, “Okay, Wise
Bread isn’t just trying to extract X amount of money from us.
They really want to help us get our brand messaging across.” And
it will pay off in the first sale and it might pay off in
additional sales in the future.

Jim: I think it shows a level of professionalism that most people don’t
expect whenever they hear the word “blog.” Maybe that was the
case eight, ten years ago but nowadays people are savvier and
it’s clear you can’t build a Wise Bread without being smart and
professional and all the things that people don’t associate with
the term “blog.”

Greg: Right. Professionalism is definitely a key point part of it.
Also thinking about what the other person needs is another big
part, and I’ve got to point out that Will was an attorney before
Wise Bread. It’s not like he had years and years of sales
experience, but part of this ability to be flexible and kind of
learn from our mistakes is what has helped Wise Bread continue
to grow over the years.

Jim: That’s fantastic. I wanted to ask, were there any big breakthroughs
that propelled Wise Bread sort of from one level to the next?

Greg: I don’t think there’s any one particular breakthrough that
helped us, but I would say that the key to our success has been
the complementary nature of our partnerships, whether it’s with
the founders, or with writers, or with advertisers, we try to
see how you and I can work together to make both of what we want
better. So that’s one.

Two is being willing to be flexible over the years. The
strategies that we had in the first year are totally different
from our third year, when we’re focusing on big, and it’s
totally different from what we do now.

And every year this online publishing industry changes so much
and Google changes so much that you have to be nimble, and you
have to pay attention to what’s happening and be willing to
adapt to it. So, not any one or big thing, but I’d say our
flexibility has been the key.

Jim: Well, what’s great is that you have three people with their eyes and
their brains sort of always working. Well, actually, you have
more than three people, but three founders that are always
thinking about what’s on the horizon and how to push Wise Bread
to the next level.

Greg: And we’re always willing to listen. That’s why I love talking
to you, Jim, and getting your perspective. That’s why I love
going to ThinkCon and getting other people’s perspectives. We’re
always willing to listen and see what other people have seen and
what they’re thinking and then we’ll take it internally talk
about it and see how that will work with Wise Bread.

Jim: That’s great. Greg, I want to thank you for coming. I mean, this has
been a great, great chat, and I think now, I never knew you
guys…I mean I knew you guys were in collaboration, but I never
knew how you guys started, about that whole story. So this has
been a lot of fun for me, personally.

Greg: Very cool. Yeah, this was fun. Now, can I ask you a

Jim: Sure!

Greg: Okay. I know you’re a Scotch fanatic, right?, right?

Jim: Yes.

Greg: And personally, I really like Macallan, single-year, their
Scotch. What should I get, in addition to Macallan?

Jim: What should you get? So, when it comes to Scotch, it generally comes
in-this is a very broad generalization-when people think of
Scotch, they either think of smoky or medicinal. Medicinal as in
smells and tastes like Band-Aids, and fire and smoke.

Greg: Okay.

Jim: And on the other side is like the more floral, fruity…you’ll see a
lot more of those in stores. But if you like Macallan, one
bottle, one distillery that I really like is Balvenie. And I
really like port finishes, because they’re sweet. They do their
magic and then they specify a couple of months, in some cases a
year, 18 months, whatever they put in port, they call them port
pipes but they’re just barrels or whatever.

So I would look for Balvenie, and any of the stuff they do is
great. I like their double-wide, which is they put it in
something like regular oak and then sherry; I’m forgetting this
because I’m sort of riffing off the top of my head.

Greg: Yeah, you’re using fancy words.

Jim: I’m using fancy words so it sounds like I’m smart. And then look for
anything in a port finish. They’ll be like sweet and warm. And
if you like port, because it’s fortified…it’s like-what is it?
Red wine fortified with Brandy or dessert wine? I think you’ll
like either of those. Next time we hang out, I’ll either bring a
bottle or I’ll buy you a drink where we’re at, probably,
ThinkCon in the fall.

Greg: Yeah. All right, so Balvenie? Something about port, and you’ll
buy me a drink at ThinkCon.

Jim: Part of why you like the last part, especially. Definitely.

Greg: It is key.

Jim: It is key. Well, Greg, thanks again, and I hope you all enjoyed this
interview. And, Greg, if we want to find you, where do we go?


Jim: Short and simple and to the point. All right, buddy, take care.
Thanks again.

Greg: All right. Thanks again. Talk to you later.


Jim: Hey, I hope you enjoyed our chat with Greg Go of Wise Bread. What
they’ve been able to accomplish at Wise Bread is extremely rare.
I challenge you to point to any blog, privately owned or
otherwise, which reaches two million visitors a month. And
they’re wonderful people, so I’m glad to see that they’re doing
very, very well.

To get the show notes, go to, that’s the
number two. Actually, if you enjoy this blog cast, I hope you
did, can you please give us a review on iTunes and tell your
friends? I’d appreciate it if you did. Thanks, and if you ever
need to reach me, I’m @Wangarific on Twitter, or you can email
me at Thanks.

Thanks for listening!

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In 2005, I founded a personal finance blog ( that became successful enough that I quit my career as a software developer in the defense industry. It is my goal to share everything I learned so that you can do the same - build an online business that let's you pursue your passion.

8 responses to “MBP #2: How Greg Go at Wisebread Used Collaboration to Reach 2,000,000 Visitors a Month”

  1. Oh my. 2,000,000 per month just sounds unreal. Definitely something I’ll have to give a listen to

  2. Greg Go says:


    I’m buying some Balvenie tonight.

  3. Forest Parks says:

    Another really enjoyable and insightful chat. I often shied away from pitching any posts to Wisebread but when I am ready I think I may give them a try.

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