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How That Fit Friend Makes Money

When I tell people that I run a shoe and apparel review website (and YouTube channel), one of the main questions that always follows is, “And you make money doing that? How?”

Side note: the other big question that I get is, “Well, then, what’s your favorite cross-training shoe?” But I’ll save that for another article.

On my social channels, YouTube channel, and even on my site, I’m always trying to be as transparent as possible. Believe it or not, I still naively believe that you can make money on the internet ethically running review channels without selling your soul to big companies.

The reality is that it’s a weird time to be running an independent website (media company) at the moment, and how That Fit Friend makes money is ebbing and flowing with the times.

If you follow me on social media or lurk in the That Fit Friend Sub-Reddit, then you’ve likely seen me discuss this in-depth, but in the event you don’t, here’s how I make money below.

Website Ads

Gasp, ads?!

Yes, the ads displayed on That Fit Friend are one of the revenue streams that help me keep my lights on. Believe me, I know they can be annoying at times.

I try to keep them turned relatively down and walk the fine line of generating revenue without killing your reading and user experience, but ads do help a ton with keeping this business alive.

I’m adamant about sharing how I buy the products I review and that’s what a lot of this revenue goes to.

Nearly every product that I review is purchased with money out of my own pocket and with revenue That Fit Friend generates through things like ads, so while ads can be annoying at times, they are how I keep that arm’s length distance from retailers.

The ad network that I’m apart of is called Mediavine, and while I don’t love how pushy they can be about me “turning up ads,” I’ve developed a relatively healthy relationship with them to get off of my back while keeping ads relatively low.

For the record, I push back often and or ignore their wishes to increase ads on That Fit Friend. I’m a consumer like you and HATE sites that have so many ads you can’t even read the content.

Yes, my website has ads on it, but they’re not the only reason and motivation for having this site. They just help me re-invest into building better content.

I Don’t Want Ads When I Visit That Fit Friend

While it helps to view the content with ads, I totally understand this sentiment.

Even if you have Adblock on and you’re reading in Google Chrome via Google Search, Mediavine ads will typically still display. However, I have a cheat code for you — and this is what I use.

Change your search engine to DuckDuckGo.

DuckDuckGo doesn’t track you nearly to the same extent as other search engines and ad networks and it will limit ads on site. They also have a solid UX for what it’s worth.

On top of this, and just as a personal note here — DuckDuckGo hasn’t completely tanked That Fit Friend’s reach in search like Google which I’ve discussd at lengths on Instagram, my Sub-Reddit, and even in this Washington Post article.

Go figure, the independent site run by one guy who buys the gear he reviews gets his traffic tanked. This site (to me) is built as a last frontier to save you from the BS big media sites push regarding reviews, but alas, here we are.

That Fit Friend's Search Traffic

How wild is that graph above? That’s highlighting how traffic has changed over the last 12 months. If you do want to read more about this and how Google has impacted small publishers like me, read my Reddit thread here.

Okay, I’m done. I’ll save this rant for another time, though, because it is what it is. Life rips, LOL.

Affiliate Links

Affiliate links? Those are sketchy, right?

It depends. You won’t meet someone who finds affiliate links more cringe than me when they’re getting pushed for the sake of just generating revenue.

That’s most of my mission with That Fit Friend, which is to be an ethical user of affiliate links. I truthfully believe there are ways to use affiliate links without selling your soul and pushing stuff you don’t actually use.

This is my main gripe with most big media sites that push thousands of links without testing gear or having skin in the game. It’s so painfully obvious — and that’s why fewer people trust anyone using affiliate links.

I get it. Even when I look up reviews in other industries, I’m as skeptical as ever about affiliate links and whether they’re legit or just getting pushed for money.

On That Fit Friend, the affiliate links that I use will generate anywhere from 8-20% of revenue based on the item being purchased. This varies from company to company and most companies have baseline rates.

This doesn’t cost you anything extra, and a click-through of a That Fit Friend affiliate link is basically a nod of trust and support for the brand.

Let’s say you use a link in my Nike Metcon 9 review and the commission is around 8% (standard for Nike).

This means that That Fit Friend will generate around $10ish for that sale. This money is then used to purchase more products, pay my video editors, and make a small amount to keep the business running.

That Fit Friend Affiliate Links

How Do I Use Affiliate Links Ethically?

Great question, and this is where I can get a little soap-boxy.

There are three key way I try to keep affiliate links ethical in my content. These have been formulating after learning more about the industry and seeing just how messed up it is. Spoiler alert, most sites are lying to you about products.

  1. I don’t take extra commissions for more exposure. Oftentimes, companies will do the whole, “We can increase rates for more exposure,” which then incentivizes media companies to push their products more for bigger payouts. This makes the product seem better than it is in most cases.
  2. Bigger payouts for higher placement. Another sketchy thing sites do is take bigger affiliate payouts for higher placements in ranking lists. This is royalled messed up to me and it completely nullifies any legitimacy, in my eyes. Are you putting that product #1 because it’s actually the best or is it the under the table 30% commission you’re getting?
  3. Remain open and objective with you. If you ever have questions about products, I’ll never push you towards products you’re not interested in. I reply to anywhere from 10-50 DMs and comments a day and never do I push products on anyone. My goal is to provide you with options based on what works best for you — not be a salesman. Your trust in me is too important to me than to push for the sake of making a few bucks.

If you have additional questions about affiliate links or just want to rant about influencers and media sites abusing them, feel free to reach out and we can rant together.

YouTube Ads

My YouTube videos are another way I generate revenue for That Fit Friend.

Revenue from these videos directly comes from ads displayed by the platform. Simply reading my articles and watching YouTube videos is one of the easiest ways to support my business regarding revenue.

Side note, much like using DuckDuckGo to avoid ads, I’d HIGHLY suggest switching to YouTube premium.

I watch a ton of YouTube videos every day (read: an unhealthy amount), and Premium has been a game changers to get rid of eyesore ads. Well worth the money if you watch YouTube a lot.

Yes, if you use Premium, I still get paid the same. I just think life is too short to sit through YouTube ads if we can pay to get away from them.

Personal Training and Coaching

I’ve been a personal trainer now for nearly 12 years.

With my CSCS and an MS in Sports Science, I like to coach year-round to stay sharp in the game. I also have bad imposter syndrome at times and if I’m publishing fitness content without actually coaching — I end up feeling like a fraud.

I started my personal training business when I just turned 19 in college and have been coaching clients ever since. These days, I have a few personal training clients and do a lot of my programming through TF2 Strength.

That Fit Friend Strength Programs

This is a way that I like to both 1) diversify revenue to not only rely on review content but also 2) test training protocols and theories that I have by doing programs myself and with others to gather better data.

TF2 Strength is my training app that offers over 10 different workout programs to choose from. It costs $9.99 a month and I keep it cheap to make it inclusive to a wider range of lifters who can’t afford expensive individual coaching.

Exclusive That Fit Friend Group

I also have a private That Fit Friend community, which costs $4.99/mo, that I’ve been slowly building.

Think of this community as a Patreon that gives you additional perks each month. That’s my end goal with it. I want to give you back more value than you feel like you’re spending.

This group will have more exclusive giveaways and deals as 2024 progresses. This is a project that I’m still having a good think on as I flesh it out, but if you want to support in the meantime, it helps a ton.

As I dive into products later in 2024, group members will get discounts for them.