Three years ago, I became a line item in someone’s income report.
OK, fine. I wasn’t a whole line.
But I certainly contributed to their affiliate income for the month when I launched this blog with Bluehost.
I was promised that blogging was a way to make money on the side. Or full time.
Luckily, I am equal parts optimist and skeptic. I never set out with the intention to make money from my blog. Instead, I wanted a space to write through my thoughts and journey toward a more purposeful way of living. I was aching to leave the frenetic pace of rampant consumerism behind.
Now, three years later, I can happily report that blogging is everything I hoped it would be and then some. My experience bears little resemblance to what a lot of people might hope. But that’s life, right?
I’m not an expert. I’m not a noob. I am caught somewhere in between as someone who loves to write and is figuring out some serious things about money and mindfulness. Here’s what I’ve learned along the way.
Be the Best You
In a world that already includes Tim Ferriss, you don’t need to be a second-rate version of him. The same holds true for Dave Ramsey.
It would be doubly unfortunate if you tried to be a copycat Dave. Because you’d have to block me on Twitter and refuse to work with me because of the kind of pants that I sometimes wear.
Related Post: Dave Ramsey, Trolls, and Going Off-Brand
But I get it. It’s an easy trap to fall into. Emulation is a powerful human tendency.
For so long, I felt an enormous amount of pressure to follow in the footsteps of other frugal bloggers. If mine was going to be a blog worth reading, I needed to spend even less and save even more.
But I will never out-frugal The Frugalwoods. I will never write their story better than they do. You don’t need me to.
I don’t need me to.
The story that is most worth telling is my own.
Insincerity is Easy to Spot
If someone puts out a call for a contribution, a collaboration, a partnership, a guest post, or anything else, be sincere.
If you are using someone solely as an opportunity to build backlinks, it’s obvious. Unless you have a time machine and can interact with me in my first few months of blogging. In that case, you’ll probably land a guest post that is actually a unpaid sponsored post on my site with me being none the wiser.
But really, even if it isn’t always obvious, it is kind of dumb. Especially if it’s my blog that you’re using.
Just like all my classmates who learned in a senior talent show song that my friend knew people tried to copy her work so she changed her answers right before submitting her tests, the joke’s on you.
I don’t even have Google Analytics up in this blog.
You Don’t Have to Chase Money
It’s almost like I’m a terrible money blogger telling people to not pursue dollars. But hear me out.
In three years of blogging, I have made exactly $350 directly from this site.
I’ve made another $100 or so from Ibotta referrals. (That might actually be generous. It could be more like $50. Ok, I am a terrible money blogger.)
That means that I lose money on my blog each month.
But blogging has also connected me with so many opportunities online. From social media management and freelance writing to ghostwriting and copy editing, these opportunities are all the result of my blog.
Now, I fairly regularly break the four-figure mark each month side hustling right from my laptop. If I had even the slightest desire to work remotely full-time, I’m increasingly confident that I could. But as someone who still can’t figure out how people use their laptops beachside in the bright sunshine and as someone whose son managed to recycle all of the icons on my desktop and break the 4 key off my keyboard, I think I’ll leave that life to the professionals.
But I do earn money online. Real dollars (and a few funny-money Crypto ones that I won from Campfire Finance). How did this happen? My sights certainly weren’t set on money. Instead, I welcomed every connection and learning opportunity that came my way. Some of those led to income.
All of them let to something more.
Comments Mean More than Cash
One of the absolutes lowest points in my life inspired this blog post. I was physically, mentally, and emotionally incapable of giving anything more than I was already giving, and yet people kept telling me to be like Beyonce.
So I wrote that post as catharsis, nothing else. It was politely received. (Thanks, fam! You da best.)
But then something magical happened.
Earlier this year, WordPress trapped a comment. It was the first time I was actually thrilled that WordPress asked for me to approve something.
A 17-year-old found that post. A post I had written more than a year ago. As a lifelong Beyonce fan, she took great comfort in my assertion that she didn’t have to be Beyonce to appreciate her.
Just the other week, someone left me a comment that she was a long-time reader and lurker, but she was following my decluttering posts and finally decided to leave me a comment.
It made my
A month ago, I wrote about how messy progress is despite every self-help anything that makes it seem like it should be one linear trudge up the crest of a mountain. Someone left me a note that she was returning to work after staying home with her kids. My words mattered to her.
Would I love to earn millions, thousands, or even hundred from my blog? Maybe. I mean, I’d like the money, but I’m not entirely sure I’m cut out for the kind of work that the money entails.
But honestly, comments like these are what I’m focused on, not cash.
Celebrations are Better than Competitions
I am competitive.
I am a perfectionist.
I have a nasty habit of comparing myself with everyone else. (It’s true. No matter how many visually-stunning Pinterest pins remind me that comparison is the thief of joy.)
When I first started blogging, it felt like this was another area of my life where there would be victories and defeats, winners and losers. After all, there were likes and shares and retweets and even awards.
Like when Des from Half Banked nominated me for the Sunshine Blogger award about two months into my blogging tenure and I decided that I was officially a prestigious, award-winning blogger. ::flips hair::
But I quickly realized that this is not a game to be beaten, and I will fail infinitely more than I will win. But that’s where the learning and the growth happens.
Blogging and money and life are not zero-sum games. Plus, these are friends, not foes. This community feels like family. It is family. I’m not interested in competing with any of them.
One of my proudest moments blogging moments was launching my Money Wins series this summer. I promised to try to use whatever tiny platform I have to lift up others. Now I’m doing it one GIF at a time.
I am sharing successes, cheering others along on their journeys, and trying to remind the world that you don’t have to be a million-click, book-deal-wiedling success story for your wins to be worth celebrating.
Final Thoughts on Three Years of Blogging
Blogging isn’t everything it’s promised to be. It’s better.
For me, it isn’t a passive income stream. It isn’t my full time job. It isn’t a Bluehost affiliate link cash cow.
It also isn’t just a hobby. It’s exhausting and exhilarating. It’s equal parts grueling unpaid internship and labor of love. It gives me purpose and direction.
Real direction. It’s helping me slowly replace my consumerist tendencies with things that are much more fulfilling in the long term. It’s even painfully pushing me toward real personal growth.
More than any of that, though, blogging is fun. Now that I’ve learned to let it be fun, that is.
It’s an opportunity to hang out with friends, to see the world from different vantage points, to challenge my notions of how things are and will be.
In short, blogging is worth every penny.
So Tell Me…Whether you are a writer or a reader (or both!), what’s your favorite thing about blogs?
In case you want to really stroll down memory lane, here are two other anniversary posts:
(Penny’s note: I’m also totally going to figure out how to give away two of my favorite money books and an Amazon gift card or two. More details on that soon-ish. I told you I’m not a pro. I wasn’t lying.)