7 min 57 sec

Marathon Runner Earns Full-Time Income Trying On Shoes

A decade-long “marathon distance” project earns six-figures in affiliate commissions for this patient runner.
Affiliate High Profit International Product Reviews Sports

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What It's About

A product review site that goes the distance right out of the gate!

Business Model
Skills Required
Content Writing & Running Knowledge
Profit Potential

Words of Wisdom

If you want to build a successful affiliate review site, try to build something that is truly going to be helpful to your readers. That's the secret!

Following the latest trend or shortcut might get you somewhere in the short-term—but it's only if your readers like you, share your content, and come back to you that your business will endure. The key to being a successful affiliate is to realize that you are there to serve the customer, not the retailer.

Fun Fact

In 2016, there were 64 million people who the USA who went running or jogging. In that same year, Ruggero quit his job to work full time on Running Shoes Guru and the site received 500,000 unique visitors per month from all over the world. That means 6 million people visited his site that year, equivalent to 10% of the running population in the USA.

Notes from Chris

Episode 625
Ruggero Loda has been an avid runner his entire adult life. Few things give him more pleasure than lacing up a pair of shoes and hitting the road. It never occurred to him that he could use that passion to earn an income. That is until he lost his job as head of merchandising for a major shoe brand.

Ruggero's side hustle story is like running a marathon. It spans over the course of ten years with a lot of hard work along the way. But before we get to what his side hustle is, let’s jog back to that day in 2009 when he lost his job.

He viewed the sudden time off like a rest day in marathon training. A rest day is when runners relax and rebuild energy for more training in the week ahead. In this case, he’d regroup for a couple of months and then start looking for work. Like any good runner though, he couldn’t just do nothing so he used the time to read a few books. He was able to distill several lessons that would lead to him creating a side business of his own.

That side business turned out to be a running shoes review website. He started the site because he was shocked to find that no such websites existed, at least no good ones. Some running publications were doing short reviews but there was no one doing in-depth research. With that, his side hustle Running Shoes Guru was off and racing.

The first version of the site was nothing special. It launched with a few running tips and reviews of 8 running shoes Ruggero was familiar with. But that was fine, he didn’t have any grand plans for the site in the beginning. He figured it would be a fun project to work on and that he may be able to show prospective employers for his next job.

However, he’d heard he could put affiliate links on the website linking out to products he reviewed. If anyone purchased a pair of shoes after visiting his site, he’d make a commission. So he added the links.

The next Sunday afternoon he made his first commission, $9! Not a record-breaking sum but still something to get excited about. His first online income! He earned a few more dollars over the next month but it wasn’t enough to live off.

A year later, in 2010, the site was receiving 30,000 visitors per month and income had also grown. Ruggero began buying new pairs of shoes so that he could review them and create more high-quality review content. In 2011, he started to build a small group of remote testers to help trial and review the shoes. The strategy was working, and by the end of 2011, the site had grown to 80,000 visitors per month and it turned out he has just hitting his stride.

He continued that same strategy for two more years and by 2013 the site was picking up the pace Traffic had grown to 300,000 visitors per month and his mind began to spin like a treadmill. He thought that Running Shoes Guru had the potential to become his full-time job. However, he wanted to make sure that if things didn’t work out he would have a soft landing. In other words, he wanted a good plan B. If Running Shoes Guru failed, he wanted to be certain he had a career to fall back on.

The site is regularly reaching one million visitors per month and is generating six figures in profit every year. Ruggero and his team of testers test over 100 pairs of running shoes annually and views this as his competitive advantage over the other review sites, where many don’t even try the product they’re reviewing.

Over the coming year, Ruggero plans to double down on his effort and hire a few more employees so that he can delegate more. That will give him more time for running, and not just running the business.

Ruggero's story proves that a good side hustle can be a marathon, not a sprint. With consistent, deliberate work you can push through the wall and cross the finish line. As a reward, you’ll get paid in more than just Gatorade and bananas!


  • Running Shoes Guru: Run—don't walk—to Ruggero's website to learn more about this fast-paced side hustle!

Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,

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Quote of the Day
"I would recommend always having a 'Plan B.' When I left my job, I made sure I was in a position where if I was to leave my business in four, five, or ten years, I would have enough work experience and results to fall back to a job that was appropriate. This way if I HAVE to go back to a job, I can go back to a nice job."
—Ruggero Loda #SideHustleSchool

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This week, Side Hustle School is brought to you by Crazy Enough to Work, a popular podcast and film series. 📈

When the rest of the world is still zigging, some companies know when it’s time to zag. Elizabeth Banks has teamed up with State Street Global Advisors to make a series of podcasts and films that uncover the bold moves mid-cap companies make to thrive and survive.

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau