My blog made a profit in six months! But not in the traditional way.
Many experts have said, "To have a successful blog, focus first on writing good content." I took this advice to heart, and it lead to some surprising results. They were not results that could be measured in page views, site visitors, or affiliate link revenue; but they did lead to $1,000 per year in unexpected extra income.
I did not start a blog as a side hustle. I value making good decisions with my money, but I also value my time. I never would have started a blog if I'd thought of it as a second job. I had four main reasons when I got started: 1.) To share my enthusiasm for the freedom that comes with eliminating consumer debt; 2.) To keep me accountable with my spending and life choices; 3.) To learn new things about finance and blogging; and 4.) To make time in my everyday life for writing. (I may have also had delusions of grandeur in wanting to someday turn my writings into something as awesome as Anna Newell Jones's "The Spender's Guide to Debt-free Living.")
I have enjoyed writing since around 6 years old, when my dad gave me my first diary. Much like my initial diary entries about petting bunnies, seeing deer, and attending baseball games, a personal finance blog is not necessarily groundbreaking creative writing or sexy current event journalism. However, creating an interesting or inspiring piece on a topic that could put a whole college classroom to sleep comes with it's own challenges. In this way, blogging has definitely fulfilled my desire make writing a more regular part of my life. In addition, I have learned absolutely a million new things about finances, building a website, running ads, and developing a social media presence. (And I will be the first to tell you that I have much more to learn in these areas.) I believe that blogging has helped me remain more accountable and create a deeper, longer lasting life change.
One thing I have not been successful with is monetizing my blog. In my first six months, I have racked up a whole $.83 in earnings through Amazon Associates, and $1.41 by using Google Adsense. It's true that I used ads very sparingly until just the last few weeks, but I don't expect to see a huge jump in these numbers anytime soon. Until last week, these paltry numbers and a couple $5 referral bonuses were the only revenue stream I had to show for a blog that costs me roughly $15/month to run. Obviously, I have a lot of room to grow here.
But that was last week. This week, my friends, I am a bonafide freelance writer with a signed contract and the whole nine yards (insert the emoji with the sunglasses here). My contract provides me with $1,000/year for quarterly submissions to a reputable company based in my own backyard (Close anyway, they're about an hour north in Seattle). No, it wouldn't put dinner on the table for long, but it's a time commitment that I'm comfortable with. More importantly, this never would have been possible without my blog.
Those who have followed Mindfully Spent since the beginning know that I am passionate about local government. Writing is something I've done for city websites, council reports, memos, or secretly at home. I've daydreamed a bit lately about being a contributor for a small town newspaper (if they still exist) when I retire, but I had no writing resume to speak of except an obscure award for an undergraduate paper on the difference in unionization rates between the U.S. and Canada (yes, there are some specialized niches out there, folks).
By writing a blog, I unintentionally created a sample work portfolio for freelance writing. When I reached out to the above mentioned business because I had a piece that I thought would fit perfectly in their company blog, they did not see a real-life version of Parks and Rec's Leslie Knope. They saw someone with enough writing chops to offer a paid contract for ongoing quarterly publications.
So, writing a blog has officially generated some revenue. It also unexpectedly sent me headlong into my first side hustle that didn't include hawking used goods on Ebay or OfferUp. I can now claim writing as a much-enjoyed second profession, albeit a part-time one. Someday, it may even give me a leg up on the competition when I try getting that small town newspaper gig... If I'm lucky.
Enter our Giveaway!
Mindfully Spent subscribers get periodic email updates on what's new, and we share every post as it happens on our social media accounts. This week only (in celebration of Mindfully Spent's Half-Birthday) everyone who joins the journey will be entered to win a $40 Amazon Gift Card! There are 8 easy ways to enter, but don't delay! Contest ends at 6pm (Pacific Time) this Sunday, 3/19.