Entrepreneur: Tim Stoddart 

Biz: Stodzy Inc.

Tilt: How to create multiple income streams  

Primary Channels: Website, newsletter, Sober Nation, LinkedIn (15.6K),  Twitter (27.4K)

Other Channels: YouTube (803), Instagram (1.6K), TikTok (99)

Time to First Dollar: Tim checked a box to indicate he was game to monetize his original blog on Blogspot. He didn’t even really know what that meant. At the time, he was going through his sober recovery journey and reading The Secret, which encouraged him to imagine a check in the mailbox each time he walked to it. In 2011, about a year into blogging, a check arrived from Google. “It was $23, and I still have it,” he says.

Our Favorite Actionable Advice:

  • Start but don’t tell anybody: Tim followed advice from Seth Godin, who suggested people start a blog in private. Eventually, Tim’s blog turned into Sober Nation. 
  • Treat social media as a marketing tool: Tim grows his email list from his social media channels, finding particular success with LinkedIn and Twitter.
  • Publish a lot: Don’t painstakingly perfect each post on social media. Go for volume because you don’t have a clue what could go viral.

The Story of Tim Stoddart

Looking back, Tim Stoddart feels duped. In 2012, thanks to the power of Facebook, Sober Nation, the blog where Tim writes about his addiction recovery journey, was booming as he provided resources and connected with those on the same path. 

In that heyday, Tim remembers posting a link on Facebook, opening up Google Analytics, and watching people flood to his site in real time. “And just all of a sudden one day, it didn’t work anymore,” he says. Facebook changed the algorithm, curbing the number of people who could see his posts and others like them from businesses on the platform.

For Tim, that experience triggered a longtime skepticism of social media. Today, he’s still not its biggest fan, but he’s come around, recognizing the connecting-building benefits – and, more importantly, the building benefits for his email lists for his newsletter. 

“The whole goal for social media for me is to build my newsletter,” he says.

@TimStodz says his whole goal for social media is to build his newsletter list. #ContentEntrepreneur #CreatorEconomy Click To Tweet

Starting a secret blog

Tim’s content journey began in earnest while recovering from alcohol and drug addiction; his last drink was in March 2010. At the time, his sponsor, a mentor in his recovery, gave him a subscription to Success Magazine. Its CDs arrived in his mailbox with interviews of business leaders. He popped in one featuring Seth Godin, entrepreneur and author of Purple Cow: Transform Your Business By Being Remarkable. In the interview, Seth recommended listeners launch a blog and not tell anybody. So, that’s what Tim did.

He wrote about everything – from how to make a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich to his recovery journey. That blog eventually became a well-rounded site called Sober Nation. Its success triggered the launch of Stodzy Internet Marketing, a drug rehab marketing agency. He also is the managing partner at Copyblogger and principal and SEO specialist at Digital Commerce Partners, which builds digital commerce products, among other ventures.

Following the advice of @ThisIsSethsBlog, @TimStodz launched his own blog and didn't tell anybody. Eventually, he did share it with the world and evolved it into #SoberNation. #ContentBusiness Click To Tweet

Along the way, Tim gave a side-eye to social media, seeing it as a place for know-it-alls to share their alleged expertise. But his thinking shifted during the pandemic. He realized social media could be just another sales tool, and it could provide a big value as an avenue to collect emails from fans, followers, and leads for his newsletter.

In turn, growing his newsletter audience expanded the promotion of his three branches of content – free content (blogs and podcast episodes) that he monetizes through ads; front-end products, such as his Copyblogger Academy; and his high-ticket agency work.   

“There’s no value inherently in social media if I’m not getting my newsletter out of it,” Tim says. “But I undervalued how effective especially Twitter and LinkedIn are in generating email addresses.” 

Advice for content entrepreneurs

For content creators who haven’t yet captured the full benefits of social, Tim shares these tips: 

Use social to grow the business, not be the business

As Tim learned early, you can’t control social media algorithms. “Use social as a tool to build your business, don’t build a business on social because it’s a race to the bottom,” he says. 

Share your experience 

Before he embraced social media as a business tool, Tim worried he might come off as a hack. “Social media just annoys me because everybody has this advice, and they all think this is how you need to do it,” he says. “Nobody knows what they’re talking about, myself included.”

But, in a moment in the shower, Tim had an epiphany: For those in addiction recovery, sharing their experience is important to help others. And, he realized, instead of positioning himself as somebody who knows it all, he would just share his experience. “There’s no arguing with experience,” he says. “That was really the mindset shift where, all of a sudden, it didn’t seem like this big, daunting task.” 

Don't pose as an expert. Instead, share your experiences on social media to help others, says @TimStodz. #ContentEntrepreneur Click To Tweet

Make volume your goal

Post content, he says. “You just have absolutely no clue what’s going to go viral and what’s not. Once I learned that, that was another easy way to free my mind because you, quite literally, can just post whatever you want. And then, for whatever reason that nobody can predict, it’ll explode and go viral.”

To stay disciplined, Tim uses HypeFury, which allows him to schedule posts for both LinkedIn and Twitter in one session. And if a tweet gets more than 100 likes, HypeFury automatically populates his newsletter with a comment and a link. 

While content creators focus on volume, however, Tim also recommends you don’t get too caught up in analytics. Viewing the ups and downs can be distracting. 

“Don’t worry about the results; stay focused on the process,” he says. “It’s just really good for my success, but also for me as a high-energy and anxious person and my ability to continuously work without getting bogged down.

Join Tim Stoddart at Creator Economy Expo May 1-3, 2023, where he’ll talk about making money from social. Register today!

About the author

Sarah Lindenfeld Hall is a longtime journalist, freelance writer, and founding editor of two popular parenting websites in North Carolina. She frequently writes about parenting, aging, education, business management, and interesting people doing remarkable things.