As I mentioned in my last post on How I Made Over $300K These Past 2 Years With An Email Autoresponder, MyWifeQuitHerJob.com made more than my day job salary this past year.
And as a result, a seed has been planted in my mind. Would I ever give up my tech career to blog full time? What does blogging for a living really feel like? Is blogging something that could keep me happy in the long run?
Unfortunately I don’t have all of the answers to these questions but luckily I do know many people who blog for a living that I can ask.
So to get some perspective on the life of a full time blogger, I decided to bring my friend J in today for an interview.
J is someone I met at the Financial Blogging conference and he runs the popular blog BudgetsAreSexy.com.
Now I’ll be straight up honest here. When I first met J, I never would have thought that we’d be friends.
First of all, I was a bit taken aback by his appearance. The dude rocks a mohawk and comes across (looks-wise) as a bit intimidating. He’s definitely not someone my parents would have approved of when I was growing up:)
But as soon as he opened his mouth, I quickly realized that he was a total goofball (in a good way) and very approachable. Anyways, J was nice enough to come by today provide his perspective on blogging for a living. I hope you all find his story inspiring and relatable.
You’ve had over 35+ jobs. How the heck did you settle on blogging for a living? What’s the story behind BudgetsAreSexy and why did you start this blog?
Oh man, it was all kinda by accident to be honest with you. I was literally just trying to make myself useful years ago instead of wasting more time on Myspace like all my co-workers were (remember that site?) and I kinda fell in love with it and randomly started making some money.
I had no idea that was even possible at the time, but as my community grew and the stats kept ticking higher, the opportunities to make a living kept inching closer and closer until one day I got laid off and blogging took over as my new “real” job And now here we are, almost 6 years later from the day I published my first post.
How did tracking your budget ultimately lead you to your financial success today?
Writing down where all my money went was probably the best thing I could have ever done with my finances (the second being a “no spend” challenge I took on for 40 days straight).
My perception of how “good” I was doing, and where all my money was going, was completely off-base when I actually looked at the cold hard facts I had been tracking.
I literally thought I was saving $200 a month back then, when the reality was that I was LOSING almost $200 a month – that’s a $400 discrepancy! So my first tip to people is always to just *track stuff* for a good month or two FIRST, and then consider creating a budget afterwards.
You’ve got to know what you’re dealing with before you can wrap goals around it! How’d that saying go from back in the G.I. Joe days? “Knowing is half the battle?”
Did getting fired make you a better entrepreneur? Looking back was getting fired a good thing?
Hell yes. Getting fired was one of the best things that ever happened to me, and the timing couldn’t have been better as I was literally in the process of putting in my two weeks notice anyways, but couldn’t quite pull the trigger yet.
I’m one of those people who always gets stuck in that “what if” scenario and I was constantly doubting myself with what I should or shouldn’t be doing. So when I got called into that office and was told the news they were letting me go, it felt like all the weight was lifted off my shoulders and there was no more pussyfooting around – it was time to be a full-time blogger!
Why didn’t you look for another job after you got fired? After all, you loved your job didn’t you?
I did love customer service and graphic design (I was at a startup so naturally we all wore different hats), but I had been wanting to give blogging a REAL go for a while there, so I made a deal with my wife that I was going to give it my all before I went back to the 9-5 life again.
She was certainly worried at the time, considering we were living mainly on just my income, but I promised her if it didn’t work out that I’d start looking for a job after 6 months of trying. She agreed, and I haven’t applied to one since
When did you realize that you could run a blog full time for a living?
When I started seeing all the *OTHER* opportunities pop up outside of the blog. I was starting to make a nice chunk of money as the months/years went by, but it was really all the other opportunities that were coming up when I realized this could be more of a career than just a blog.
Things like getting interviewed from larger media outlets, requests to freelance write or even come out with my own book (that one was cool!), buying up other income-producing finance blogs, and more recently starting my one-on-one blog consulting gig.
Blogging really opens up the doors to so many other things out there you wouldn’t expect, and as crazy as it sounds, all my best friends and business partners have since come from the online world as well. It’s pretty amazing.
How exactly do you make money with your blog?
Via advertising, affiliates, consulting, owning multiple blogs (which then increases your reach w/ advertising and converting more deals), starting other projects, blog consulting, and so on.
I’m not the best at monetizing my sites, so to make up for it I end up creating more of them to help make up the difference You gotta run with what your personality and passion takes you.
How long did it take before you started making significant money with your blog?
It took me about 6 months to make my first $100, and then maybe 4 months later to hit my first $1,000, and then around $10,000 the next year and has been growing since.
But with anything in business you have up months and you have down months (for example, I was making double my income this time last year than I am presently).
So you squirrel away the money when times are good, and you brace yourself and up the hustle when times are the opposite It’s not for the faint of heart, but it does get pretty adventurous. You just never know what any given day can bring.
What’s the biggest challenge in making a living this way?
That the ‘net is always changing. And, more specifically, Google!. You can be doing just fine one month, and then the next for whatever reason your traffic starts plummeting and you have to figure out how to get things back to normal again – it can get pretty wild. And usually traffic equates to money, for better or for worse…
Do you enjoy blogging for a living better than your day jobs? If so why?
I do, for sure. Mainly because you get to work on whatever it is you really *want* to work on so it’s not actually “work” in the given sense of things. On the flip side I end up working a ton more hours than I normally would at a 9-5, and it can get pretty lonely working out of your own home too, but at the end of the day all that sweat and blood goes to growing the business of YOU.
Which is always better than the business of someone else’s But I have to point out that working for yourself is certainly not for everyone – as much as we like to promote it at times.
It takes a certain personality (and risk) to be able to pull it off, and there’s nothing wrong with rockin’ a great 9-5 either. Both avenues have the potential to make people happy, so you just do your best to figure out which it is and then push “go” from that point.
Are you ever worried about income stability especially with a little one?
Just about every week And even more so now that we’re actually expecting our 2nd! But I do my best to keep hustling and building out new income streams as best I can, and if the $hit ever hits the fan I have no qualms going back into the job market and doing what I have to in order to tide us over for a while.
I think of life as different phases strung together to create an entire picture, and some of those phases are going to suck balls while the others are going to be the best a guy can ask for.
So no matter what the tide happens to bring, I’ll just do my best to ride those waves and keep in the back of my mind that nothing’s ever permanent.
What are some of the pros and cons of your lifestyle?
The biggest pro is that I can wake up and work whenever, and wherever, I wish. And be able to rock a mohawk while doing so But you really have to watch out when you don’t have a boss or punch clock to hit because ultimately it’s 100% up to YOU on how successful your business/salary gets at the end.
If you only work a few hours a day, you’re not going to make much money. But on the flip side, you can easily sink 50, 60, even 70 hours a week on your stuff and just totally get consumed with everything since there’s no “off” switch.
So it’s a fine balance between working “enough” and working like you’re obsessed. And usually it skews to the latter, for better or for worse….
BudgetsAreSexy has been an extremely popular and successful blog but there must have been some obstacles along the way. What are some things that you wished someone had told you when you first started?
To just be completely *yourself* and not mimic the other bloggers out there. Everyone comes to our sites to read *our* thoughts on a subject, so it’s always good to give them that and create your own identity online rather than trying to be like someone else.
And blogging gives you incredible potential to be able to do this since it’s pretty much a diary on YOUR thoughts! Haha… We don’t need to be all corporate like and strip away the human side
What are some of the top mistakes that new bloggers make in your opinion?
When they talk about blogging itself, over whatever topic they’re blogging *about* It’s okay to mention stuff in our blogging worlds of course – it’s only natural we want to talk about it since we work so hard on them – but your general audience could care less.
They’re not there to learn/talk about blogging – they’re there to read about your topic! Which for us, is money. It took me a couple of years to learn that myself, and now I cringe when I see finance bloggers blog all day long about their stats or new plugins they’re using/etc/etc.
Again, cool to do every now and then (like maybe during milestones – “Our blog hit 1 year old – thanks so much for reading!”) but for the most part it’s better to stick with the subject matter.
Another mistake (in my opinion) is not responding to any of your comments people leave too. Engaging your community is one of the best things you can do to keep growing it, and if your readers took the time to leave some messages, or even questions, it’s always nice to acknowledge them and answer where appropriate.
Doesn’t mean you have to answer every single one of them, but it does show you care and appreciate them taking the time to share their thoughts
What other exciting projects do you have in the pipeline and what’s your end goal with the JMoney empire?
My favorite new thing I’m working on right now is my “curation” site, RockstarFinance.com. Where I scan the blogosphere for the best articles on money I come across, and then try and promote the hell out of them to help both the readers out there, and those bloggers pouring their hearts onto their sites.
It’s been launched a little over 2 months ago and has really taken off. Sites like Lifehacker and Consumerist are now watching the articles on there and picking them up as well – which means even more exposure for all those great bloggers out there!
That’s the kinda stuff I see myself doing long term since it keeps me connected to this community I love so much. And it’s nice break from always promoting *yourself* all the time too
So check it out when you get a chance! And thanks for having me here, Steve – if any of your readers have any questions/comments they want to send my way, I’m happy to answer them.
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