Time flies when you’re having fun, right? Well, after finishing up a project this past weekend, I realized three months had passed me by since I quit my job. Yep, while it’s not a year, I think three months is a good chunk of time. I notified everyone right on Debt Roundup back in November that I lost half my income by quitting my full-time job. Ever since the last day I walked out of the corporate office, I’ve had a range of emotions along with some awesome successes. I wanted to share with you how my life has changed since that day. But first, why would I even do this?
Why I Quit My Job to Blog
Ever since I graduated college in 2006, I’ve worked at some company. I did a year of marketing at a medical device development firm, but then moved on to a SaaS company helping retailers sell online. I stayed there for 8.5 years before I left. I had a number of different positions at the company and watched it grow from around 150 people to over 700 while I was there. Don’t get me wrong, I still like the company and love the people I worked with. I even stopped by there the other day to say hello. I consider many my friends and try to keep in touch when I can.
As an avid side hustler, I’ve always had my irons in many fires. I don’t like to leave my life to chance and want to make sure my family and I are OK financially. I tried my hand at eCommerce in college and that didn’t end too well. I took a few years off from entrepreneur work and then jumped into personal finance blogging when I started this blog back in 2012.
There wasn’t a strict plan on what I was going to do with this blog. I just wanted to share my experience with large amounts of debt and having paid it off. I figured it would help a few people here and there. Boy, was I right. My story resonated with many, which has landed me in large publications, and even on the radio!
Over the course of almost four years since starting a blog, I realized there was potential to make good income from my online pursuits. The problem was I couldn’t keep up with the demand of a full-time job and blogging. If you didn’t know, blogging is just like a full-time job, but maybe even more. While you can be location independent, it takes a lot of work to build up a blog to a point where it’s earning money.
Related: The only “How to Start a Blog” guide you will ever need!
At the end of the long day, I had to decide what I wanted to do. I was at a company which I loved, but had lost passion with my position. The growth potential had been stagnant over the past year and it was affecting me. So, with the help of my lovely wife, I decided to jump into the blogging world full time. I left my full-time job on November 6, 2015.
I’m Working More Than Ever
If you think you’re going to quit a steady paycheck to live the life on a beach somewhere, let me squash that dream really quick. Stop flipping through your Facebook feed of people selling you a dream. You might see their feet propped up in the sand, but you don’t see the dark circles under their eyes and the cans of red bull next to their laptop. Running an online business is hard. It’s much harder than a full-time job. I’ve experienced this before with my consumer electronics company, but this was different. Now, I have a family to support with another one on the way. I have to make this work. I have to succeed. If not, I go back into the corporate world.
When I first quit, I wanted to make sure I took some time off and thought about my direction. That was a great thought, but it didn’t happen. I needed to jump right in and start working on more ways to generate income. If I didn’t have income, I didn’t survive.
Important Note: Always have money saved up before you quit your job. I had nearly a year’s worth of income saved up for the rough months.
For the past three months, I’ve been working days, nights, and weekends. While I do enjoy the luxury of leaving at any time to run errands or go for a run, the time I put in is a lot. I’m basically working the same hours as I was when I had my full-time job and this blog. It hasn’t changed. The only difference is my time it directly correlated back to my business. Everything I do is for my business and any money I bring in goes to my bottom line. It goes to no one else and that’s a great feeling. It does change the equation quite a bit.
Over the next few months, I’ll be working on some processes to streamline my business and find ways to get help where I need it. I can’t do this alone, but I also can’t pay someone more than I make to expand my business. I’m not looking to be the next millionaire. I just want to make a good wage for my time and enjoy what I do. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.
I’m Running Two Businesses
As I noted before, blogging is a business. Treat it as such. It wasn’t until I started treating my blogs like a business when I noticed a change in how they performed. If you blog for fun, that’s cool, but you probably won’t make a ton of money from it. You have to be calculated in what you do, what you write, and how you promote. You have to understand your audience and track your visitors to see how they are interacting with your blog. Numbers are here to help you with a blog.
At this point in time, I not only run a blog, but I also run a service-based business. In essence, I’m running two businesses and have two full-time jobs. The saving grace is I’m loving both of them and they keep me interested.
On top of blogging at a few different places, I also freelance write for a number of companies. That takes time and energy, but it also gets some good attention to my blogs. That’s a win-win scenario for anyone. If you’re looking to make money freelance writing, check out this awesome course.
To not be outdone, I also run a service business for other bloggers. I’ve been blogging in some capacity on WordPress since 2004. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot and I now use those skills to help my clients. My service business, iMark Interactive, provides support and maintenance for WordPress-powered sites. I do love this business and love helping out other bloggers. It’s not just for bloggers either. Anyone running WordPress can benefit from this service (shameless plug 🙂 ). I even setup people’s blogs for free just to get them started!
The technical business takes a lot of work to keep going. Technical problems come up and I’m there to fix them. I also have to market my service and balance all the other parts of running a service business. I also do a lot of work just to help others. I’m not going to debate about offering free work, but I’ve learned over a number of years that if you help people out, you will be justly rewarded. This model has not failed me yet.
How I’m Doing
I’m sure you’re hear to see how I’m doing. Maybe you only care about the financials or you want to hear about me personally. Either way, let’s share.
Since leaving my full-time job in November, I’ve been able to increase my income to match what my full-time job and my online business were bringing in. So, I’ve increased my business income by 50%. I’ve consistently made over $10,000 a month and I’m happy with that. The last three months have netted me what I would have earned in seven months at my full-time job. I’d love to see the number increase, but I’m not looking to go gang-busters here. Remember, I get a good revenue from a service-based business, so that can only be scaled up so much. The real income growth potential comes from the blogging side.
If I can increase my readership, then I can hopefully increase my affiliate and ad income. These are two factors I have the most control in. I have a few things up my sleeve, but I’ll need to take time to get some processes in place. I hope to do that throughout 2016.
I will admit to you that I did take on more than I could chew for the first two months. I wanted to take every job that came my way. I was designing websites, fixing problems, and jumping on freelance writing opportunities. It wasn’t until this past month that I realized it wasn’t going to work. I was slammed with work, but I couldn’t get ahead. So, in the third month, I made a change. I scaled back what I was providing and I’ve started to push client work out for a reasonable time. I’m not setting better expectations for myself and my clients. I pride myself on great customers service, so when I don’t deliver, not only do I let my clients down, but also myself. That’s just not cool with me.
Where I’m Going
To wrap this up, I wanted to discuss where I plan on going. I’ll still be writing here, along with one of my staff writers, but I will be focusing on creating awesome content that people want to read. I’m going to ramp up my promotion and marketing efforts to get a good base of users coming back time and time again. I have a lot of content on this site and it can be hard to find. I plan on changing that.
I want to continue ramping up my WordPress maintenance and support business. I love doing that and love helping other bloggers. It’s a true passion of mine that I’m good at. I just have to find better ways to promote it as I’m just using word-of-mouth right now. While that’s the best form of marketing, I can’t rest of my laurels.
I’ll also be on constant lookout for other revenue generating activities. I’ve thought about getting back into eCommerce, but want to figure out some ways to just sell on Amazon and have them deal with it. It’s called Amazon FBA, but finding a good product to sell is where the work comes in. I do love eCommerce, but just don’t want to get into low-margin consumer electronics ever again!
I’m excited for 2016 in general and I hope it’s a prosperous year. We’re in the beginning stages of building out our basement, so I can have a dedicated office. I get pushed out of my current office in July when our new baby arrives. Wish us luck!
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