How To Make A Living By Learning Languages

Today, I bring you an interview with Benny Lewis, Irish Polyglot and language hacker. Benny Lewis is the founder of Fluent In Three Months, speaks 11 languages, and travels around the world while making a full-time living from his computer.

I was lucky enough to meet Benny at BlogWorld and was fascinated by his story. A former electronics engineer, Benny actually didn’t speak any foreign language until he was twenty one years old. He had always struggled with foreign languages in school, and quickly realized that there were far more effective ways to learn.

Once he had mastered several languages, he set out on a mission to teach others how to quickly becoming fluent in a foreign language. This led to the creation of the “Fluent In Three Months” blog, and the Language Hacking Guide which sells enough to provide Benny with a full-time income.

Today, Fluent In Three Months attracts 40,000 visitors each month. Benny also makes a full-time living from the Language Hacking Guide. Here are some of Benny’s techniques for analyzing and catering to the needs of his audience:

When did you realize there was a serious demand for a language hacking product?

Benny: I started the blog about a year and a half ago, actually with no intention of monetizing. I had a little "contact me" form on the side, and pretty much every day I was getting questions. I quickly realized that people needed these questions answered, and they weren't answered in a typical language learning course. The real tipping point was when I went to Thailand on vacation, and I met some bloggers and internet entrepreneurs who encouraged me to create an information product. The result was the language hacking guide, which even today, sells enough to provide me with a full time income.

That's awesome! You mentioned that you meant some bloggers – people like Adam Baker  - what were some of the specific pieces of advice that they gave you?

Benny: A big part of it was actually encouragement. Adam Baker especially was very helpful in pushing me forward. The other big thing was to create a "guide," not an e-book, because then it could be priced at a higher starting point. It contains multimedia, worksheets, and thus is more like a course, which allows me to sell it at a higher overall price. 

It's also important to remember that sometimes you should ignore advice. Some of the bloggers actually advised me not to translate my guide into multiple guides, and I went against this advice. I'm really glad I did, because languages are my niche, and it adds a ton of credibility and drives more sales. 

How did you develop the content for your product?

One great source is interviews. I interviewed many multilingual people who have learnt languages in the past. Interviews are quick, they add credibility, and are a great addition to just about any product.

How do you sell and market your product?

I actually am pretty weak on this front. I've never guest posted, and I'm planning to do more of that going forward. My blog has actually grown through other channels, such as social networking tools like facebook and twitter. The big thing here is to understand your audience; mine is less technical, so things like RSS feeds are less important. I'm actually up to around 40,000 visitors per month now, which is pretty good considering I've done little to no promotion.

Last question: How did you come up with the title – Fluent in Three Months?

It was totally random. It was a domain that happened to be free; I registered it and started blogging. In hindsight, it was really lucky, because I never realized how many people were searching for this term! 

Visit Benny's blog at to learn languages and find out about how Benny makes a full-time income doing what he loves!


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